If we can bitch and moan when things aren’t being done well — and God knows I have — then we must salute when something is. So while track & field (“athletics” to the rest of the world) may still be well behind the curve of other individual sports like golf and tennis in terms of having its own broadcast channel, under new CEO Max Siegel USATF is launching an array of media coverage for its upcoming National Championships in Des Moines, Iowa that should make even die-hard critics doff their caps in recognition of progress. The following presser was released today on the eve of the USATF Championships. Continue reading
This isn’t a running story other than I ran that day. In fact, I did a rare double. But running isn’t central to the memory, though perhaps a catalyst.
In August 1973 I moved from my hometown of St. Louis to begin a new life in Boston. It was there that I took up running before combining it with broadcasting to mount what has become a career.
But during my final full year in St. Louis I found myself hanging out at a new restaurant/pub in the Central West End called Duff’s, eponymously named by its original proprietors Karen and Dan Duffy. In the ensuing years, though I only visited home once, sometimes twice a year, every trip would include a visit to Duff’s. Not just because old friend, and one-time fellow Bostonian Charlie Moseley bartended there for 25 years or so, or that his partner Nancy Kirby was the hostess, or that Nancy’s brother Tim had joined Karen Duffy as co-owner — Tim, Charlie and I had attended St. Louis U. High together in the mid-1960s.
No, Duff’s offered an inventive, seasonally changing menu, a splendidly stocked bar, family-like staff, and such a warm bohemian atmosphere — including its famous Monday night poetry readings — that those high pressed-tin ceilings, wide wooden floors and exposed brick walls felt more like an extension of our house on Flora Place than a place of business. Over the years our family celebrated births, graduations, anniversaries, and even wakes there, and never felt anything other than at home.
A few days ago another old St. Louis friend emailed saying Duff’s would be closing at the end of the month after a run of 41 years. While it is the nature of restaurants to open and close, for tastes to change, and neighborhoods to transform, as I read the email I was flooded with memories and reminded of what a single establishment could mean to a city.
It was eerie to watch in light of this new world we find ourselves living in. Several protesters disrupted the French Open tennis final today between eventual champion Rafael Nadal and fellow Spaniard David Ferrer as Nadal led 5-1 in the second set already up one set to love.
Though seemingly of European ancestry, the mask-wearing protester and a compatriot were unknown quantities when the one jumped onto the court with flare in hand. Though later it was learned they were upset by recent legislation in France allowing for same-sex marriages, it was difficult not to think about the Boston Marathon bombings as anything seems possible in this troubled world.
Rafa Nadal scampered away as security wrestled the man to the ground, and extinguished his flare. The other protester was ushered from the stands in a headlock. And so here was another world-focused sporting event being compromised by political stagecraft. Where once aggrieved men would raise black-gloved fists in protests, today protests have turned to attacks as grievances have accelerated and means to redress them proliferated. Continue reading
12 year-old McKenna Brown grasped the pole tentatively as her father, Chris, showed her how to stand at the approach. With that final advice in mind the seventh grader from Oak Crest Middle School in Carlsbad, California moved to the runway where she stared at the pit and standards standing some eight steps away, about to make her first ever attempt in a pole vault competition.
McKenna, along with her dad Chris, mom Angela, and 14 year-old brother Kyle were part of a larger than expected crowd of competitors and supporters who showed up at last Wednesday’s Summer Night’s Track & Field Meet at San Diego’s University City High School, the first of a four meet series put on by Paul Greer and the San Diego Track Club. As cities across the world vie for selection as host site for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games — including a joint bid being explored by San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico — it is at small all-comers meets like the Summer Nights series where youngsters like McKenna Brown begin to dream of perhaps making that team. Continue reading
How quickly the big wheel turns and with it the bright glare of celebrity and fame. Just this week Bronxville, New York teen sensation Mary Cain won her third USATF Athlete of the Week award of 2013 for her junior and high school 800 meter record at the Nike Pre Classic in Eugene, Oregon. But recall that in 2011 the teen everyone was talking about was Lukas Verbicas of Orland Park, Illinois, who won two USATF AOW awards in a period of six months, the last for his 3:59.71 victory at the adidas Grand Prix Dream Mile, when he became only the fifth high school runner in U.S. history to go sub-4:00 – and only the second in an all-high school event.
Two very consequential years later we found Lukas back on the track at University City High School in San Diego competing in the mile and 5000 meters at the Summer’s Night Track & Field Meet still on the road to recovery from a horrific cycling crash last summer that nearly killed the triathlete/runner, then left him partially paralyzed and learning how to walk again.
The big wheel may have turned, but slivers of light still seek him out. Continue reading
While the Boston Marathon mapped out course success right off the line in 1897 by mirroring the route that the inaugural Olympic Marathon used in 1896 to commemorate the mythological run of Greek messenger Pheidippides in 492 B.C. from Marathon to Athens, it hasn’t always been so easy for races to find their perfect routes.
It took the Los Angeles Marathon a quarter-century to design their “Stadium to Sea”course that perfectly matched the city’s postcard image of sun, surf and Hollywood. And the New York City Marathon ran four laps around Central Park for its first six years before expanding to its iconic five-borough route in 1976.
While there may be many roads to Rome, generally there is only one route in each city that will capture both its civic booster pride while bowing to the put upon non-runner citizens who must adjust to the road closures and traffic tie-ups on race day.
Yesterday, the original Rock `n` Roll Marathon in San Diego may have found its perfect layout in its 16th running, call it the “Park to Park” course, from its traditional start in Balboa Park to the new finish line outside the San Diego Padres home, Petco Park downtown. Continue reading
San Diego, Ca. — Road racing is a people-moving retail business. To keep your current customers happy while attracting new ones event organizers around the world search for that ephemeral quality referred to as “the runner’s experience”. Yet the need for enough space to corral all the starters then re-gather all the finishers ultimately determines the parameters of the miles between. Understandably, when race fields begin to exceed 20,000, the choices become quite small, and compromise between the runners’ experience and city inconvenience often redounds on the side of the non-running population. Accordingly, locking in an ideal layout that meets the needs of both constituencies is a tricky business which may take years to engineer, if ever.
Today, in its 16th running, the founding Rock `n` Roll Marathon (& Half Marathon) in Competitor Group, Inc.’s hometown of San Diego, California may well have settled onto the courses which will define their future success. Continue reading