Age is relative, as we know, and so are marathon results, but it can be interesting to compare and contrast two very accomplished competitors. Two weeks ago, 71-year-old Gene Dykes of Pennsylvania ran an incredible 2:58 at the very hot, humid Boston Marathon (his 115th marathon), shattering his own age group record by 20 minutes in the process. Mike Wardian, 45, of Arlington, Virginia says he struggled throughout the race, finishing his 18th Boston Marathon in 2:33 for sixth in his age group. Less than two weeks later, both men finished today’s very hilly Big Sur International Marathon in California–Wardian strong in fourth place overall, in 2:35, while Dykes ran a 3:18, winning his age group and setting a new age category course record.
— michael wardian (@mikewardian) April 28, 2019
Jordan Tropf of Baltimore, Md. was the overall winner at Big Sur today, in 2:25:21. Adam Roach of Pacific Grove, Calif. was second, in 2:32:19, and Nobuyori Takeda of Old Tappan, New Jersey was third, in 2:33:32. In the women’s race, D’Ann Darthur of Redondo Beach was first, in 2:48:39, Tyler Stewart of Sausalito was second, in 2:56:37, and Danielle Widenmann of Vacaville was third, in 3:01:21.
“I had a lot of fun at this, my third Big Sur and first Boston 2 Big Sur,” Dykes told us today. “This was the first of seven hard races on seven consecutive weekends, so I couldn’t afford to kill myself out there, but I did want to set a new age group course record. And, I wanted to have the great fun of running with my daughter most of the race. Success on both counts! We ran together for the first half, and then I ran a big negative split for my 3:18. The 22-year-old course record was up in the 3:40’s
Dykes, also known as the Ultrageezer, famously became the first 70-year-old in the world since the late Ed Whitlock to run a sub-3 marathon, at last year’s Rotterdam Marathon. At Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, he missed breaking Whitlock’s M70 record of 2:54:48 (set at Scotiabank in 2004) by 30 seconds. Then in December, at Jacksonville, Florida he broke the record, only to discover that Jacksonville wasn’t sanctioned for record purposes.
Yeah, that hurt, my legs were heavy, I suffered the entire race but I didn’t quit & I rode the edge & was stoked to get to the finish of my 18th @bostonmarathon in 2:33:23 or so. Huge 🙏 to all the athletes to took a moment say 👋 & so many people along the course #ThankYou pic.twitter.com/Ld0KXDAcWK
— michael wardian (@mikewardian) April 15, 2019
Wardian and Dykes both like to race a lot. In March, Wardian set an FKT (fastest known time) on the Israel National Trail, covering 100K per day for 10 days. Earlier this year, Wardian set a world record for 10 marathons in 10 days, the first seven of them as part of the World Marathon Challenge, which he won, running six out of seven in under three hours.
Dykes, too, runs a lot of ultras (he estimates one third of his long races are ultras), on the trails as well as the roads. He credits the longer distances and high mileage as benefiting his speed, and the relative softness of the trails as protective of his joints and muscles. (He also hired a coach, which he says had a major effect on his times.)