A man in a local trail race Sunday decided to increase his speed at the very moment it became clear that a woman was about to overtake him—two events that were completely unrelated.
Neil Diamond, 42, was around 8 miles into the 15-mile event when the incident occurred. According to witnesses and race timing data, he had passed roughly three dozen runners by then and had himself been passed by at least six others.
Those six runners, records indicate, were male.
Throughout those first 8 miles, according to Strava data, he had maintained a more or less steady pace, averaging about 7:50 per mile along the gently rolling course. Just shy of the 8-mile park, however, Diamond surged to a 7:00-minute-mile pace.
“It was a bit strange,” said Caroline Sweet, a runner who was passing Diamond at the time. “I’d been trailing him for about half a mile by then and he was like a metronome—very steady, right around 7:45, 7:55 per mile. And then, as I drew alongside him, he glanced over and—boom—sped up.”
“I guess that was his race plan,” she said. “To run the first 8 miles at 7:50 pace and then pick it up for the final 7 miles. Funny timing, though, that I would be there at the very moment he implemented the plan.”
“I mean, what are the odds?”
If that was Diamond’s plan, however, it failed. After matching her stride for a minute or so, witnesses said, Diamond fell back and returned to his previous pace. Sweet would go on to finish the race nearly four minutes ahead of Diamond.
Sweet said she encountered Diamond after the race and reached out for a handshake.
“Man,” she said, “he really has a firm grip.”