The Extra Mile

The Extra Mile

Sunday, January 15, 2006

After injuries and illness, Brian Godsey has turned around his running career -- literally. Godsey, 24, from Baltimore, set track world records (as compiled in the Book of Alternative Records) for the backward 800 and 3,000 meters in 2004.

And before you scoff at the silliness of it all, note that Godsey's times were 2 minutes 50 seconds and 12:48, respectively. Moreover, Godsey ran a backward 56:14 last summer at the Quad-City Times Bix 7 Mile run in Davenport, Iowa. His pace of 8:02 per mile was good for 1,600th place out of some 20,000 runners -- all of whom, it may be presumed, were facing the other direction.

Running backward "started in junior high school when I had shin splints," Godsey said. "I was able to push off backward on my toes without as much pain. In my junior year in college [at Miami University of Ohio, where he was a four-time all-Mid-American Conference runner], I had mono, so I was training on and off and couldn't go very far without getting really tired. But it doesn't take much to get in a good workout going backward."

At track practice, Godsey, a math major, timed himself "just for fun" running backward for 400 meters and came within two seconds of the 1:14 world record. Godsey's unorthodox training caught the imagination of teammates and coaches, and his quixotic quest was launched.

Recently, however, Godsey is attracting attention for more conventional but much faster performances. In November, he ran 19:03 and finished third at the Labreque Classic four-mile run on Hains Point, then logged a 30:54 10K four days later on Thanksgiving in Cincinnati. Godsey intends to compete at the USA Cross Country Championships at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y., on Feb. 19.

"This is the best I've been training in quite a while," Godsey said. "To be honest, I'm kind of burned out on running backward. I like to see where I'm going."

· DEDICATION: Georgetown University dedicated its newly renovated Duke Ellington Track at 38th Street and Reservoir Road NW last month. The nonstandard, 320-meter, four-lane synthetic oval gives the national-caliber men's and women's programs a place to work out years after their former track was demolished for expansion of campus facilities.

· COMING UP : The Washington's Birthday Marathon in Greenbelt, one of the country's oldest such events with 43 runnings, is scheduled for Feb. 19. For more information, visit http://www.dcroadrunners.org .

-- Jim Hage

hagej@washpost.com


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