In a move that has sent shock waves through the running and talking-about-running communities, Philadelphia native Fran Baxter spent the last five months training for a marathon and not once in that entire time did he mention it to another person or post about it online. No posts. No tweets. No links to his training apps. No watercolor talk. No slyly interjecting the topic into conversations at family gatherings.
Baxter chose 100% complete marathon radio silence, a move almost unheard of in the long history of middle-aged, run-based boasting.
Even after he completed the arduous 26.2 mile trek in a time he was pleased with (4:12:43), he did not rush to Facebook to post a photo with his finisher medal or tweet a selfie wrapped in a post-race foil blanket while giving a thumbs up.
“Honestly, it just never occurred to me to tell people,” said the slightly bemused 42-year-old admissions counselor at a local university. “I just wanted to see if I could do it and I did it. It was pretty hard but ya know, kinda fun.”
When asked what the other members of his running club thought about his selfish behavior, he replied, “What’s a running club?”
After the news broke about Baxter’s sub-rosa training method, there was much dismay, disappointment and confusion.
“It’s not something we encourage or endorse,” said Chip Newmark, president of the local City Line Striders Running Club. “One of the first things we tell runners who want to run a marathon is, ‘Tell everyone you are running a marathon!’ Then we urge you to consistently update your progress on your social media. Make it part of your training program. People love it. It’s very community building and encourages… (Newmark looked down at his phone while stretching his quad.) Ha, sorry, just got eight likes on a post-run smoothie pic I Instagrammed. Sweet!”
“I thought it was totally weird,” said coworker Denise Connelly. “I told him about the half marathon I was training for all the time and sent him links to my training Tumblr and fundraising pages. He always seemed supportive but never once did he mention he was a runner too! That’s really lame.”
Many people on a popular running community chat room have speculated that his sneaking around after work and on weekend mornings would have raised some alarm in his house but Baxter’s wife Anne was unaware of his secretive training. “He always ran a little but in the past year he started running more and he seemed happier. I thought it was nice. I found out he did the marathon because he left the medal on the floor of our car in his sweaty Phillies cap. My daughter has it now, I think one of her dolls is wearing it.”
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