2015 CARLSBAD 5000 RUNDOWN

IMG_4570Carlsbad, CA. — Warm and windy, not the alliterative conditions they were hoping for at the 30th Carlsbad 5000, dubbed “The World’s Fastest 5K”. It’s a tag-line the event has more than lived up to in its first 29 years, hosting 16 world and 8 U.S. road records. And yet, despite the conditions, they darn near got world record number 17.  But not quite.

With off-shore breezes starching the seaside flags today when the pros got around to racing, the faster overall times organizers expected on the newly designed (for elites only) two-loop course along Carlsbad Boulevard never came to pass. It didn’t help that four-time defending invitational men’s champion Dejen Gebrmeskel of Ethiopia withdrew with an illness just hours before the race. Continue reading

MIDLAND RUN 1980 – WHERE HAVE ALL THE RACERS GONE?

Midland Run 1980

Midland Run 1980 in mile two

It was one of the defining races of the original running boom era, a veritable Who’s Who of the sport coming together for a competition that came and went with the speed of a flash mob. The 1980 Midland Run 15K in Far Hills, New Jersey had arguably the best elite field in road racing history (at the time). So glittering was the collection of running stars that Sports Illustrated even sent a reporter to cover it.  And when Joe Marshall’s story came out in SI on May 12, 1980, it featured one of the best opening lines ever penned about a race site: “Not all of New Jersey looks like the back of an old radio. It only looks that way.” (reference was to the fact that Far Hills, N.J. was one of the wealthiest towns in America.)

But it’s not the SI coverage, or the star-quality of the lead pack that grabbed my attention when somebody re-posted a thread on Midland 1980 yesterday on Facebook.  No, forget about Bill Rodgers (5), Lasse Viren (second from left), Henry Rono (9), and the other legends who came together that May day in 1980 to gallop through New Jersey’s tony horse country. Instead, I want you to look at the string of runners behind the stallions.

The lead pack may be 10-wide, but notice how the entire field is held in a solid string, no breaks at all. In other words, look at all the racers who came out to play back then! Continue reading

CARLSBAD 5000 CHANGES COURSE

Carlsbad Logo 2015Carlsbad, CA. — While it was the inaugural San Diego Rock `n` Roll Marathon that set Elite Racing off onto its national manifest destiny in 1998, a status that today has gone global under the banner of The Competitor Group, it was the 1986 Carlsbad 5000 that made Elite Racing’s bones on the international racing circuit in the first place.

This Sunday morning the Carlsbad 5000 celebrates its 30th anniversary, ironically on the same weekend as the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in China. I say ironically, because the history of the Carlsbad 5000 has always been inextricably linked to World Cross, which has traditionally come one to two weeks before CBAD on the race calendar. Accordingly, one could always find Carlsbad elite athlete coordinators Mike Long and now Matthew Turnbull camped out at World Cross with a bevy of tickets for the World Cross medalist to make the trek to the legendary layout 30 miles north of San Diego for a little R & R, and, yes, a hard race in the middle. No wonder Carlsbad has been site to 16 world, 8 U.S., and innumerable other national 5K and age-group road records. Continue reading

A WEDDING TO REMEMBER

Helena & Jim Barahal -  Happy 25th Anniversary!

Helena & Jim Barahal – Happy 25th Anniversary!

Today, March 24, 2015, is the 25th wedding anniversary of Jim and Helena Barahal of Hawaii. Jim is the president of the Honolulu Marathon Association, and one of my oldest friends in the sport.  We met in 1980 broadcasting the 8th Honolulu Marathon for radio station KKUA. The following is a play-by-play of Jim & Helena’s magical wedding week in England in 1990, to this day the best wedding I have ever attended (other than my own). Continue reading

BIG 3 DOWN TO 1

Ritz pulls away from Webb at 2000 Foot Locker XC

Ritz pulls away from Webb at 2000 Foot Locker XC. Ryan Hall in a distant third.

When high school seniors Dathan Ritzenhein, Alan Webb, and Ryan Hall met at the 2000 Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in Orlando, Florida, America’s running fans were all but salivating at the prospect of what lie ahead, not just in Orlando, but in the careers to come.  All three precocious talents had flashed early signs of excellence on a register America hadn’t seen in a generation.  Now, on December 9, 2000 on the Walt Disney World Shades of Green Golf Course, the Big Three from Michigan, Virginia and California would match up head-to-head-to-head for the first time.

Temps were high that day for the boy’s race, humidity, too.  Just the same, talk of a sub-4:30 opening mile and a sub-9:00 deuce buzzed over the internet chat rooms as regional fan bases built cases for their respective heroes.

As undefeated returning champion, Rockford High School senior Dathan Ritzenhein’s game was pressure.  And after an initial 4:46 mile, the whip strong Michigander applied it unsparingly.

Pulling away from a shocked Alan “I’m ready for anything” Webb with a 4:33 second mile, Ritz went on to win that 5K battle and notch a historic second straight Foot Locker national title. His 20 second margin of victory put a hard shine on it, as it was, and remains, the largest gap in Foot Locker history. The Virginia miler held strong for second, while the California cruiser Ryan Hall showed third in the high Florida humidity (Ryan’s future wife Sara Bei went from last to first to win the 2000 girl’s Foot Locker title).

Over the ensuing 15 years the Big Three, as they came to be known, have gone on to author memorable, historic performances as records have been set, Olympic teams made, though none has yet to cop an Olympic medal. But as we enter the spring of 2015, only Dathan Ritzenhein is still exploring the outer limits of his youthful running promise. Continue reading

2015 ASICS LA MARATHON MEN’S PREVIEW

LAMarathon30thlogoThough Southern California gives the impression of soft, off-shore breezes and bronzed sun-screened skin, the actual weather in the massive L.A. basin is quite parochial to its particular neighborhood. As such, the iconic Stadium-To-Sea race course will offer some measure of assistance in what promises to be a testing weather year at the 30th Asics Los Angeles Marathon.

Beginning at Dodger Stadium near downtown, the temperature will be much warmer than along the ocean in Santa Monica where the athletes finish. But with temperatures expected to rise from near 70F at the start to high 80sF at mid-day, race officials have instituted hot-weather policies to help runners cope with the severe conditions, including starting the mass race a half-hour earlier, 6:55 a.m. vs. 7:25 a.m. Continue reading

ASICS LA Marathon – Hot Weather Warning!

LAMarathon30thlogoCall it what you will, but while the Boston Athletic Association is dealing with the effects of too much snow on the starting grounds of the Boston Marathon as it counts down to Patriot’s Day April 20th, right now in Los Angeles the high heat warnings for this weekend have activated operational changes for Sunday’s 30th Asics Los Angeles Marathon.  The following statement was released tonight by the L.A. Marathon office.

The current weather forecast for Sunday, March 15th calls for record high heat. The weather conditions pose a high level of risk for marathoners and all participants should be advised to take precaution. Everyone who participates should strongly consider running at a slower pace than they would normally plan to run a marathon.

The ASICS LA Marathon is taking the following measures to reduce the risks:

o Moving the ‘full field’ start time 30 minutes earlier – from 7:25 am to 6:55 am. Continue reading