scott black child marathon runner.jpgThe New York City marathon happens this Sunday. We know many lawyers who will be running it, and we wish them luck.

The marathon did not impose a minimum age until 1981 (16, raised to 18 in 1988). Pegged to the upcoming marathon, the New York Times had a fascinating article earlier this week about child marathoners, focusing on Wesley Paul, Scott Black (pictured), and Howie Breinan:

The adventures of Paul, Black and Breinan offer a glimpse into a forgotten aspect of the running boom of the late 1970s. Preternaturally self-disciplined, they were among about 75 children (ages 8 to 13) who tackled the early years of the New York City Marathon in a time of novelty and naïveté….

With no conclusive study, physicians still debate risks to children who compete in marathons, like muscular-skeletal injuries, stunted growth, burnout, parental pressures and the ability to handle heat stress.

Another risk: going on to become a securities lawyer. Two out of the three child marathoners profiled by the Times now practice in that field.

Scott Black is a senior trial lawyer at the Securities and Exchange Commission in New York (after several years at Wachtell Lipton, where he worked with Lat on a number of cases). Wesley Paul is a partner at Michelman & Robinson, where he practices corporate and securities law.

We touched base with Black and Paul to ask about possible connections between their running and legal careers. Read more, after the jump.

We asked Scott Black (Columbia / NYU Law) if there are any attributes cultivated by or helpful to distance running that translate into legal practice. He ticked off several: “Endurance, discipline, focus, and probably a general Type-A analness.”
Wesley Paul (Harvard / University of Michigan Law) agreed, and offered this additional insight:

I think running gave me a general awareness that every big problem can be broken down into smaller ones that are easier to handle. I broke down my marathons into separate stages, each of which was easy to complete — and then I’d mentally reset myself.

I tend to use that approach when analyzing complicated legal issues for clients. I would also pretty much agree with Scott’s take as well, but also add to the list confidence in tackling the unknown.

We are fans of running here at ATL and have a few marathons under our belts (although not at nine years old). Lat ran the New York marathon in 2005 and 2007, and Kash ran the Burlington, Vermont marathon in 2008. While Lat and Kash were amazed by the kiddie runners, and interested in finding a legal angle on the Times story, Elie’s response was: “The legal angle is, it’s f**king child abuse!”

Lat and Kash had a running group in D.C. but have not yet started one in New York. If you’d be interested in joining us for runs, likely along the East River, shoot us an email (subject line: “ATL Running Group”). And don’t worry — all runs would be off the record.

Children of the Marathon Recall a Forgotten Time [New York Times]


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