As so often is the case, the very simple sport of running is an excellent prism through which to view life’s more complex problems. For life in all its saturated colored highs, depressing grays, and even coal-black lows can be found within the compressed world of long-distance foot racing.
The lesson, overall, is not to give in to the highs any more so than to the lows. Instead, one learns to soldier on, establishing intermediate goals that lead to more profound ones as the process itself becomes the primary directive.
Therefore, much like how individual track and field events merely share the same venue at a track meet, but don’t cohere into anything beyond that unless bound by a unifying intention (i.e. the NCAA Championship), so too are myriad Americans increasingly sharing this land of the Pilgrim’s Pride, but not its common values or cohering historic assumptions.
That is the backdrop that frames the argument du jour of whether to allow thousands of Syrian refugees to immigrate to the U.S. in the wake of the ISIS attacks in Paris last week. And it isn’t an argument that easily translates into precise lanes of right or wrong. Continue reading
Sir Isaac Newton
While science has been at odds with both churches and states throughout the centuries, and even today finds wide swaths of deniers at all compass headings, it is generally agreed that the world has been more assisted than not by the discoveries of the noodle-minded among us like Newton, Einstein, etc.
So why, for heaven sakes, can’t clothing manufacturers all get together once and for all and agree on what constitutes small, medium, large and XL? Why can’t they come up with a unified field theory of shoe sizes world-wide? How come a Nike size 10 is an Asics size 11!? How am I supposed to shop on-line or at Costco when everyone makes up their own dimensions?
If Archimedes (287 – 212 B.C.) could find a method to trisect an arbitrary angle (using a markable straightedge — the construction is impossible using strictly Platonic rules) how hard is it to measure the waist and inseam on a pair of jeans? How does one brand’s 34”-32” fit like a glove, while another brand ends up looking like Capri pants on me?
People, the world is seemingly coming apart at the seams all around us. Might I suggest we set aside our tribal, religious and political differences for just a half-second and straighten our the tailoring dysfunctions as a unifying place to begin the reconciliation? I’m certain Sir Isaac and Albert would concur. Thank you.
Last year at this time I was in Durban, South Africa to give a keynote address at a Global Athletics Conference (GAC 2014). Ato Boldon was the conference emcee, and he opened with “if you love something, you are supposed to be critical of it.” With that in mind, some thoughts on the eventful goings on in this second week of November 2015.
WADA’s scathing report on the systematic drug abuse and perfidy within Russian athletics wasn’t just an indictment of one federation. Coming on the heels of the arrest of former IAAF President Lamine Diack by French authorities for allegedly taking bribes to cover up drug offenses, the WADA Report simply underlined the scope of the moral crisis facing the sport. Continue reading
So five more Russian athletes gets popped for drugs, and so it goes. And our hands wring, and our spirits sink, and yet nothing seems to change, and the sport continues to suffer even as the new boss grinds his teeth and promises and promises to “do all that I can…”. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
They say there are eight million stories in the naked city. But on marathon day in New York the spotlight shines brightest on a mere (though still mighty) 50,000, a colorful collection of explorers bound on a magical tour through the five-boroughs in search of life in all its glory, while chancing a measure of some of its disappointments. And while my perch at the head of the pack reporting on the elite competition has long been the focus of my professional attention, I too am moved by the courage and resolve of the everyday runners who make up the rank and file of this vast army of dreamers. Continue reading
The 2015 TCS New York City Marathon produced an outcome that satisfied logic. It was a race and a result you could believe. And thank God for that.
Despite overcast skies and a steady southerly tailwind past 20 miles, the men’s splits essentially mirrored those of 2014 when the runners were confronted with a cold, brisk 20 mph headwind. Even up First Avenue, Thunder Alley, between 16 & 19 miles where the crowds are so thick and boisterous that splits free wheel in the low to mid-4:30s, this year saw one 4:49 and a 5:03. Instead of a string behind a scalded leader, we had eight men abreast at a rocking chair pace.
So what was the difference? Well, there was that little competition in late August in Beijing, China, the IAAF World Championships, where four of New York’s top guys represented their countries in the marathon. Yes, big-time marathoning takes a lot of preparation, and even then history suggests that repeating is way more difficult now than it once was when Bill Rodgers reeled off four straight New York wins from 1976-1979, or Alberto Salazar followed with a three-peat from 1980-`82. The last man to win back-to-back years in NYC was Kenya’s John Kagwe in 1997-`98.
So the fact that the one A-list guy in Sunday’s field who didn’t run the World Championships Marathon, Stanley Biwott, the one guy who came in with a full tank of gas from training went on to win the race, and the second least compromised contender took runner-up honors in the person of World Championships 10,000 meter silver medalist Geoffrey Kamworor, actually made all the sense in the world.
Imagine how would it have looked if one of the World Championship marathoners — Kipsang, Tsegay, Desisa or Meucci — had doubled back and won in a quick time? In this new age of guilt that would have certainly raised another red flag, not exactly what the sport needs after the damage from the flood of drug positives in recent times has all but drowned the sports’ image. Continue reading
New York, New York — Every marathon is a universe of one, particular to itself and its time. Yet in New York City 2015 the after effects of the IAAF World Championships Marathon still linger. Because so many of New York’s top male contenders raced for their countries in the heat and humidity of Beijing at the end of August, they had to reduce their recovery time while compressing their training for New York.
As a consequence each has a fuel tank perhaps a little under filled, which may lead to a less than aggressive first half to two-thirds of the 45th TCS New York City Marathon. That means the real fireworks of speed may be left to the latter stages in Central Park. And wouldn’t that make for an exciting day for all who live for such moments of gut-clenching glory? Continue reading