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OPINION: Frustrated? Run up to Meriden’s Castle Craig

OPINION: Frustrated? Run up to Meriden’s Castle Craig

The Bernie Jurale Tradition Run has a way of slipping right by me. Just when I’m thinking it might be fun to try it again I’m reading about the results in the Record-Journal. This time around I’m ahead of the curve, for once — it’s this Sunday – but I can’t make it. Wait until next year, as Dodgers fans used to say.

I’ve run the race twice, both a long time ago now, but I read recently about how running at any age is good for you, in terms of extending life expectancy and keeping your arteries nice and wide open and good things like that, and I figure, hey, I’m any age — so why not?

The Jurale race is not for the fretful. It sounds easy, for a runner, at least. It clocks in at a smidge over three miles. But those three miles are straight uphill, for the most part, and the last mile is as straighter uphiller as it gets. Your lungs let you know about it all the way up.

One of the charms of the race is that it’s a response to a condition well familiar to New Englanders. Jurale was a local teacher and fitness buff who celebrated his 70th birthday in 1969 by running up to Castle Craig. You can see it as a way of dealing with winter’s cabin fever frustration. Talk about a crazy idea — but it’s crazy ideas that make the world go ’round. Ever since, the Tradition is a collective expression of fed-uppedness.

As such, it won’t do to have Indian Summer at the time of the race, not without disappointing a lot of runners. The point is to have to deal with patches of ice, maybe even some snow if not a complete nor’easter. Defiance of wintry conditions is the point. This looks like a good weekend in that regard.

Aside from those who are in a position to actually win the race, an exalted bunch if there ever was one, the main goal in the Jurale expedition is pretty simple: to not stop. It’s run, not walk.

The first time I ran it I did not stop, which I consider to this day a significant accomplishment. The second time around I was a little older and, more to the point, not in such great shape, and that last mile took its revenge. I don’t remember having to walk for very long, but the interests of accountability demand I make the admission.

So here’s something that I’ve wondered about: When I first ran the Jurale race magnets were big. The Yankees had a pitcher from Japan, Hideki Irabu, who wore magnets like a refrigerator. (Irabu died in 2011.) Other athletes used them, too. The idea is that magnets work their magic on your circulatory system, or something like that. Or, that they simply work their magic.

In any event, some local enterprise that dealt in magnets had set up shop, of sorts, before the race, and I figured that since I was a newspaper reporter I ought to try it out and perhaps write about it — which I did.

So, ever since I’ve wondered whether the magnets actually helped me. Remember, I didn’t stop, and my run up the mountain came off much better than I’d expected.

And if they did help me that much, could it be constituted as cheating?

I don’t remember anyone ever thinking so. But the point is that the determination of what constitutes an unfair advantage has always been a moving target. In the sign-stealing scandal that now rocks baseball it’s generally accepted, as it should be, that stealing signs — which tells the batter what type of pitch is coming — is cheating. This is a serious blow to baseball because it violates a central trust.

It is the accusation of cheating that led to the impeachment of the occupant of the Oval Office. Is this a violation of a central trust? That the Senate appears unwilling to examine the accusation seriously ought to be a frustration for all Americans.

It’s enough to make you want to run up to Castle Craig.

Reach Jeffery Kurz at 203-317-2213, or