Wednesday, February 07, 2007
New Hero or Cocky Bastard?
Notice anything peculiar about the picture above? This is a 1500M preliminary heat at the U.S. Junior & Senior Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Palo Alto last year. If you notice, the guy on the far left is wearing board shorts and a Fruit of the Loom tank top whereas his more professional competitors are wearing their technical gear--dolphin shorts and moisture-wicking tank tops. The runner's name is Christian Hesch and he finished second in this weekend's Pacific Shoreline Half Marathon with a time of 1:06 flat. He was 16 seconds behind the winner and outsprinted the third and fourth place runners by seconds. Apparently, not only was he wearing board shorts at the championships but he also arrived in his skateboard.
As far as I know Hesch is not a professional (i.e. sponsored) runner. Last month he won the OC Marathon outright with a time of 2:21. It was his first ever marathon. According to an article in the Orange County Register, Hesch only ran the OC Marathon to win some bonus prize money based on hitting certain split times in the race's second half. He had no intention of finishing. But when Hesch found himself alone in first and his lead growing, he went all the way.
Hesch's statements make him sound either he's a ne'er-do-well with a remarkable talent or a cocky bastard who openly mocks his competitors. The board shorts at the track meet can be a) a whimsical gesture by someone who knows he has no chance of winning; b) a psychological nudge to his competitors; or c) an open show of disrespect to the USATF. I don't know the guy, so I can't really judge.
In any event, he's a very talented runner. Hesch claims he's a big guy, weighing in at 180 pounds, and based on his pictures I wouldn't doubt it. He certainly doesn't look like other elite runners. So, regardless of whether he's a cocky bastard or merely an easy-going guy who just happens to be fast, I'm quite fascinated by him. He might just be my new hero.