Bodies of Evidence

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Outside magazine, March 1996

Bodies of Evidence

A few good sports share bits on their pieces
By Cory Johnson

Body Part: Feet
Body: Ultramarathon Tom Johnson, 36, Loomis, California; North American 100-kilometer record holder, three-time winner and course record holder of western states 100 mile endurance run, third overall in 1995 IAU 100k world challenge.

Number of times the average runner’s feet hit the ground in a 20-mile training week: 35,200
Number of times Johnson’s feet hit the ground in an average 120-mile training week: 158,400
Number of miles Johnson ran in 1995: 4,000
Number of miles from San Diego to Bangor, Maine: 3,237
Number of weeks it takes Johnson to mash the forefoot of his running shoes “down to paper”: 2
Used pairs of running shoes in Johnson’s house, according to his wife, Marcia: 80
Number of times Johnson’s feet have been injured: 0
Johnson’s secret: “Shoes are cheap. Feet are not.”
Percentage of runners who incur large blisters, blisters under toes, and blisters on top of blisters in the Western States 100: 70
Percentage of runners who lose toenails in the Western States 100: 60
Number of toenails Johnson has lost since 1987: 30
Number of months required for toenails to grow back: 9
Do his pals envy his junkyard dogs? “The first time I had my shoes off in the presence of my training partner, he said, ‘Oh, God, what ugly feet!’ But I’m the best ultradistance runner in North America. And I’m not embarrassed to wear my sandals. Screw ’em!”

Body Part: Back
Body: Swimmer Mel Stewart, 27, Knoxville, Tennessee; 1992 olympic gold medalist in the 200-meter butterfly and the 4×100-meter medley relay, 1992 olympic bronze medalist in 4×200-meter freestyle relay, world record setter in the 200-meter butterfly in the 1991 World Championships

Height: 6 feet, 2 inches
Weight: 190 pounds
Jacket size: 42 long Waist size: 32 Number of meters Stewart swam last year: 3,417,000
Length in meters of the Atlantic coastline from Maine to Florida: 3,310,000
Number of hours Stewart swims on a heavy training day: 8
Number of hours Stewart swims on a light training day: 3
Number of pounds in Stewart’s weight stack for lat pull-downs: 180-220
What’s it like to have such a back? “When people see me walking away from them, I look like a linebacker. When they see me walking toward them, I look like a wimp.”
Number of Olympics Stewart plans to compete in after 1996: 0
What good is a body like that in retirement? “Every so often when I’m feeling bad about myself, I turn around in the mirror and say, ‘Wow, look at that back.'”

Body Part: Abdomen
Body: Volleyball outside hitter Teee Williams, 27, San Diego, California; current member of U.S. Women’s National Volleyball team, member of 1992 Olympic bronze-medal team, member of 1990 World Championships bronze-medal team

Height: 5 feet, 11 inches
Vertical leap: 35.5 inches
Michael Jordan’s vertical leap: 41 inches
Looks good, but what use is a washboard stomach? “I got that ripple effect when I joined the Olympic team. With all that jumping we do, the stomach muscles are key to supporting the back. Crunches are a really big part of the training program.”
Total number of crunches, reverse crunches, and twisting crunches Williams performs daily: 345
Number of earrings she wears: 2
Number of navel rings: 1
Number of Es in her name: 3. “I don’t know why, I just wanted to be different, so that’s the name I gave myself when I was a little girl.”
Name she was given at birth: Tonya
Is there an Abs of Steel in her future?: “I sure hope not. I hate sit-ups.”

Body Part: Arms
Body: Climber Mia Axon, 37, Denver, Colorado; 1993 and 1994 national climbing champion, fourth-place finisher in the 1994 World Cup in Austria, third-place finisher in ESPN’s 1995 Extreme Games, principal harpist with the Colorado Ballet Orchestra 1988-1992

Number of plastic climbing holds attached to the walls and ceiling of Axon’s basement climbing gym: 500
Number of moves on the longest climbing route through her basement: 200
Axon’s average weight in pounds, according to her husband, Dugald MacDonald: 98
Weakling’s average weight in pounds, according to Charles Atlas: 98
Number of hours per week Axon lifts weights: 0
Number of hours per week Axon climbs: 24
Axon’s maxim: “The best climbers aren’t those who are the strongest, but those who move most efficiently.”
Number of minutes in Axon’s pre-climb ritual, including stretches, pull-ups, fingertip push-ups, sit-ups, and hand warm-ups with Yin Yang balls: 40
The perils of being cold: “One thing that can happen when you don’t warm up enough is a flash-pump. It’s when your arms get so big and hard that they feel like a ham. Sometimes it gets so bad that you can’t even make a fist.”
The perils of being buff: “In Boston, where I attended the New England Conservatory of Music, the assets they look for in a woman are not strong arms. But I don’t mind wearing sleeveless dresses in Boulder.”

Body Part: Legs
Bodies: Cyclist Erin Hartwell, 26, indianapolis; bronze medalist in Olympic sprint and one-kilometer time trial, 1995 World Open Championships. road Cyclist Norman Alvis, 32, Colorado Springs, colorado; winner, 1995 U.S. Pro Championships. Cyclist Zach Conrad, 20, Colorado Springs; gold medalist in team pursuit, 1995 National Championships. Cyclist
Sky Christopherson, 20, colorado springs; winner of one-kilometer time trial, 1995 National Championships (left to right).

Circumference of Hartwell’s, Alvis’s, Conrad’s, and Christopherson’s thighs in inches, respectively: 27, 23.5, 22, 25
Circumference of Hartwell’s, Alvis’s, Conrad’s, and Christopherson’s calves in inches, respectively: 15, 15, 15, 17
Circumference of Kate Moss’s waist: 23
Why Hartwell isn’t proud of his calves: “All the guys on the team give me a lot of crap because I have the largest thighs and smaller calves. I don’t have big, fat, white-guy calves, but hey, it makes me fast.”
Number of kilometers Hartwell, Alvis, Conrad, and Christopherson cycled in 1995, respectively: 20,000, 35,000, 35,000, 15,000
Circumference of Earth in kilometers: 39,825
How Alvis got where he is: “When I was in sixth grade, the widest part of my legs were my knees. I was knock-kneed and really skinny. My mom encouraged me to go out for some kind of sport. Twenty years later my knees are the narrowest part of my leg, and I earn my living riding bikes.”
Dubious achievement: Hartwell set the Olympic Training Center record in highest lactic-acid level after three high-speed 20-second sprints.
Feel the burn: “The lactic-acid test measures how well your body can work anaerobically,” Hartwell says. “We try to get to a level where our bodies can produce so much lactic acid that it drops the blood pH. I broke the record, but I had to lie on the ground in the fetal position for 20 minutes. The pain was so severe, I could feel it in my teeth. Then I
thought to myself, ‘This is definitely very unhealthy.'”

Copyright 1996, Outside Magazine

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