Just how precious was time?
The race started at 8 a.m. The fastest runners took about an hour and 15 minutes to finish, and runner number 500 quite a bit longer. In those days, the press was supposed to start at 11 a.m. on Saturdays.
With such a large volume and variety of breaking content to handle, we pushed the deadline by more than we had hoped. Despite the freely flowing adrenaline, it was difficult to pull off.
So the paper was really, really late in rolling off the press.
But it was glorious. I bet those special editions are tucked away in many a runner's basement.
As the years went by, technology advances helped but didn't come without burps.
Runners take computerized finish lines for granted these days, but the first time that was tried in Charleston, it didn't go smoothly.
We had bicycles that year so we could fetch computer discs with runner names and times from Laidley Field. We wouldn't have to worry about street closings or parking.
By this point, I was an editor, and I remember cycling through the streets of the East End, determined to do what another staffer had not been able to.
We were furious with the out-of-state techies who had displaced the old tried-and-true phone-in system, and I aimed to pry the results from their hands.
I had to wait like everybody else. At least we seethed together.
We finally did get those results, but the press start again was late. Still, we managed to pull off stellar coverage. By that point, it had become a point of pride that we would let nothing overcome.
At last it ended. The two newspapers combined Saturday editions in the summer of 2004. It's a morning edition produced the evening before.
When longtime Daily Mail staffers realized there would be no more Distance Run editions for us, we spoke of it sadly. Yet I felt a little relief. It never got easy, and finally we could have the day off.
Looking back, I realize it meant a great deal to be part of an undertaking that was both difficult and rewarding.
And Labor Day weekend was just an extreme example of what it's like to work for a fine newspaper.
Friend recently retired as editor and publisher of the Daily Mail. Tweet to her @nanyafriend.