NEWTON, Mass.–The Boston Globe Magazine’s Bostonian of the Year award may just have another, last-minute candidate. In an amazing feat of athletic prowess and determination, the newspaper’s sports pundit, Dan Shaughnessy, ran an entire mile in 9 minutes and 58.24 seconds yesterday on a treadmill in a local gym near his home.
The milestone shatters his previous personal best, which had generally leveled off at around 12 minutes, as he famously wrote in a 2003 column entitled “A Milestone, In Slow Motion.”
While Shaughnessy’s work can be polarizing, the feat is already being universally heralded as one of the most impressive athletic achievements by a Boston sportswriter in the city’s rich history.
According to his personal trainer, Brutus Sullivan, Shaughnessy’s newfound speed can be attributed to an unparalleled desire to become the best in his profession at something. “Dan just wanted this so bad. Blood, sweat and tears, he gave it his all and pushed himself to the limit. I’m so proud of him.”
“A lot of guys his age lose their competitive edge toward the ends of their careers. They’re just going through the motions, doing radio or TV spots, collecting a paycheck and saving for a summer house on the Cape. Dan burns with an undying fire.”
Gym members on hand to witness the feat heaped praise upon Shaughnessy, who trained for months leading up to yesterday using a vigorous workout regimen that nearly forced him to reduce his frequent appearances on national shows such as ESPN’s Jim Rome Is Burning.
Kathy McQuide watched from a Stairmaster and came away impressed. “He isn’t the biggest or the fastest guy in the cardio corner. His strides are a little clumsy and he clearly gets winded pretty easily, but he wasn’t going to let it affect his performance. You could tell he had a job to do and I’ll be damned if he didn’t just stepped up on that machine and do it.”
“He might as well have shown up with a hard hat and a lunch pail…just a gutsy all-around effort,” said Pilates class instructor Eric Nielson.
McQuide and other bystanders’ accounts of Shaughnessy’s effort painted the picture of a scrappy, hard-fought struggle to prove naysayers wrong. However, Tony Reading wasn’t quite sure what all the fuss was about from his vantage point in the free-weight area.
“I didn’t have a very good sightline and I missed the last five minutes, but from what I saw Dan seemed to be dogging it a bit at the outset,” Reading recalled. “His shoes were pounding that conveyor belt pretty good but I was surprised he didn’t look more tired.”
Not wanting to draw attention to his achievement, Shaughnessy declined comment for this story and refused to take the bait when told of the non-believers questioning his will.
His personal trainer backed him up with the utmost praise, however. “That 9:58 mile time kind of speaks for itself, doesn’t it?” Sullivan asked rhetorically. “He’ll always have that and no one can ever take it away from him.”