Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Something Good, Something Bad

I saw two stories today that have stuck in my mind. First, the good one:

Marathon runner says she caught suspect after break-in at her Lighthouse Point home

Woman also has karate black belt

Marathon runner chases down would-be burglar

Marathon runner chases down would-be burglar
Margo Foster, a marathon runner who holds a black belt in karate, surprised an intruder in her house. The burglar tried to escape out this back door, but Foster chased the man down over seven blocks and held him until police arrived. (Sun-Sentinel/ Michael Stocker / January 21, 2008)

A would-be burglar met his match when he tried to elude Margo Foster, a marathon runner with a black belt in karate who also knows kickboxing and kung fu, police said.

On Friday morning, the 53-year-old Lighthouse Point resident returned home from tennis practice to find an intruder rummaging through her bedroom.

Without thinking twice, she said in an interview, she bolted through the living and dining rooms and followed the startled man out to the backyard. Police said he had one of Foster's backpacks strapped on his shoulders, filled with her property. She wanted it back. A seven-block-long chase had just begun. Lighthouse Point police corroborated Foster's version of events, and without endorsing her gutsy conduct, said she had evidently been up to the challenge.

"Luckily, it turned out OK," said police Commander Mike Oh, a spokesman for the Lighthouse Point department.

As related by Foster, the intruder began to climb the 6-foot-high wooden fence in the yard, when she "grabbed him by the neck, ripped him off the fence.. threw him to the ground, and put my knee to his chest."

The two struggled for a few minutes, Foster in her white tennis skirt, before the burglar dropped the bag and started running again.

"Go ahead and run," the former yacht detailer said she yelled. "You're not going to get away from me. I've been running for 40 years."

Police said the burglar headed north on Lighthouse Drive into the city of Deerfield Beach and then turned right on Southeast 14th Street, before he got tired and started walking. Foster followed behind and flagged down a motorist, who called police.

"I outran the kid," said Foster. "He had no cardiovascular system."

Gregory St. Germain, 24, was arrested by Lighthouse Point police and charged with burglary to an occupied dwelling, battery, possession of stolen property and grand theft. Police said Foster recovered all her property, including what Foster said was a gold identification bracelet given to her as a teenager by a boyfriend as a Christmas present. "He almost got away with the most sentimental thing I've kept for years," she said.

Oh, the Lighthouse Point police spokesman, described Foster's actions as "courageous," but cautioned that burglars are often armed and dangerous. "She's had some advance training and obviously is very physically fit and confident," he said.

Foster said she'd trained for years for such a situation. "I wasn't going to sit back and let something like this happen," she said.

Next, the bad one:

Two-time Grandma's Marathon winner slain in Kenyan violence

Article Last Updated: 01/21/2008 07:07:27 PM CST
Wesly Ngetich crosses the finish line as the first finisher in the 31st annual Grandma's Marathon, Saturday morning, June 16, 2007, in Dulth, Minn. (AP Photo/The Trubune, Derek Montgomery) (AP {SOURCE} DULUTH NEWS TRIBUNE)

Two-time Grandma's Marathon champion Wesly Ngetich was reserved and modest until he pinned a number to his chest.

Then Ngetich, who died during ethnic violence in his homeland of Kenya today, became a tiger.

According to Race Results Weekly, the 5-foot-5 Ngetich was shot in the chest with an arrow during fighting in his hometown of Trans Mara.

Hundreds of Kenyans have been killed in ethnic violence that erupted after the East African country's Dec. 27 presidential election, which opposition leader Raila Odinga accused President Mwai Kibaki of stealing.

"Words cannot express our feelings at this moment," said Scott Keenan, the executive director of Grandma's in Duluth, Minn. "Our sympathies go out to Wesly's family and friends, and our thoughts and prayers will remain with them during this extremely sad and difficult time. We loved having Wesly here at Grandma's, and he enjoyed coming here. It is difficult to imagine that he is gone."

Ngetich, 34, won Grandma's in 2005 and again last June, but it was the 2006 race where he demonstrated his competitive streak. On a hot, humid day, he seized an early lead and pushed the pace before he was finally caught on the course's famous Lemon Drop Hill in Duluth. He ended up sixth.

"Last year, I took the lead early," he said after winning the 2007 race in 2 hours, 15 minutes, 55 seconds. "I just didn't understand how the humidity would have an impact.

"This year, I hung back."

Ngetich recorded his best time of 2:12:10, when he finished second in the 2006 Houston Marathon.

Ngetich was expected to return to Duluth to defend his title this June in an attempt to become the first three-time winner of the event. Four others - Garry Bjorklund, Dick Beardsley, Doug Kurtis and Patrick Maturi - have won the race twice in the event's 31 years.

Ngetich reportedly had planned to run in the Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon in Phoenix on Jan. 13 but could not get out of Kenya because of the violence.


I hope the other fine athletes of Kenya stay safe. That is a really unfortunate story.

In other news, I was laid low with some unfortunate stomach flu virus over the weekend and haven't run since Friday. I feel great today (finally) and would really like to squeeze in some kind of a run before my Weight Watchers meeting, even with the snowfall we are currently experiencing. Today's weigh-in might be A Really Big One as my scale yesterday afternoon, if it is to be trusted, will have me at 60 pounds lost at the meeting tonight. Finally!

I don't recommend The Stomach Flu Virus Diet as a way to lose weight, however!

UPDATE: Snowstorm over. Sun currently shining (for the next few minutes, anyway...this is Michigan, after all). Outlook for run this afternoon: excellent!

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