That's definitely a headline I didn't expect to write.
Deena Kastor has just won the women's race in the London Marathon, and has become one of only eight women to run it in under 2 hours 20 minutes.
Friday's Jewish Chronicle had an extended report on her, portraying her combination of general niceness and less than conventional Jewish awareness with what I assume is unintentional humour:
She added, with a tinge of regret, that a Pesach-friendly diet was unsuitable for serious marathon preparation.
"One day without carbohydrates would kill my hopes of winning this race. Andrew and I went on our first date during Passover six years ago and I will always acknowledge the significance of the time.
Although hailing from a non-religious background, Kastor and her sister try to get together for the festivals. "I've never raced in Israel, but if the opportunity arose, I would love to do so."
Her general niceness seems convincing enough when you see how she talks about other Marathon runners:
I was disappointed to hear Paula had dropped out, as she is a fantastic competitor with an admirable work ethic. She is also a humble and gracious person, which makes her a champion, no matter where she finishes a race....”
Kastor cites the previous US record holder, Joan Benoit Samuelson — whom she succeeded with a time of 2:21 in the 2003 London event — as a huge inspiration.
“To be the fastest American [woman] to run a marathon is a great achievement, but I’m sure there will be many after me who run faster. Joan was a gold medallist in the first women’s Olympic marathon and for that I continue to honour her.”
Then there's the touching love story too:
Closer to home is the contribution of her sports physio husband, Andrew, “one of my greatest supporters who travels with me to all competitions. We were inseparable when we first met and before leaving for my first trip without him, I taped a note to the inside of the medicine cabinet saying ‘I love you.’ Since then, we’ve been passing it back and forth in joyous and stressful situations and it’s a nice reminder that whatever we’re doing, we’re in it together.
I hope she goes on succeeding, and that it doesn't carry too great a cost. The only woman I knew who used to run the London Marathon had to stop when the damage to her bones of years of 26 mile and 13 mile runs got too great.
Me, I've been able to manage no more than a thirty five minute high power uphill walk on a treadmill, or a three hour five to six mile Shabbos walk.
There's one of the trainers at the fitness centre who does regular international triathlons. If anything, these are even more mind-bogglingly challenging than marathons. I watched the 2004 Olympic Women's Triathlon televised from Athens out of respect for Michelle, who's admirably unpretentious and matter of fact about what she does. Mind-boggling, especially doing it in the ninety-degree plus heat of a Greek summer.