Los Angeles, Ca. — Three American men have taken home the Asics Los Angeles Marathon title in its 28 years, Rick Sayre in the inaugural 1986, Mark Plaatjes in 1991, and rabbit-going-the-distance Paul Pilkington in 1994. And while we already know that an American man will win in L.A. in 2016, that title will go to the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials champion, an event recently awarded to the City of Angels. No, like every other race in the world, it seems, the Asics Los Angeles Marathon has starred a primarily Kenyan cast, as their men have taken home 14 of the last 15 L.A. stagings. But this year, though there is another well-matched gathering of East Africans on hand, Kenyan and Ethiopian, an American man is actually among the nominees for the L.A. Marathon podium. Which step on that podium? That, my friends, is why they actually run the race, to answer just that sort of question.
“Oh, yeah, I feel ready,” said Alamosa, Colorado’s Aaron Braun as he sat in the Presidential Suite of the glamorous Biltmore Hotel in downtown L.A., which doubles this week as the marathon’s invited athlete suite. “You never know what can happen, but I definitely feel super fit and really ready.”
Hearing such talk from a runner of any nationality is disorienting. We generally don’t hear such potent positivity from anyone in this sport of rampant over-achievers, but timid under-staters, much less from an American making his marathon debut. But 26 year-old Aaron Braun has thought through this effort, and when you are ready, you are ready, even though L.A. wasn’t his first choice for a maiden voyage over the long distance. Continue reading
America’s innocent mid-century mythology, when neighborhoods were neighborhoods and the focus was on family, has long since been reduced to Tea Party yearnings and Toby Keith song lyrics. Today, the distance between threat and target has never been shorter. In fact, we’ve become a nation of fear, and perhaps not without reason. Thus do enterprises like two-time Olympian Todd Williams’ RunSafer program come into being in this early 21st century welcomed rather than lamented.
Todd Williams in Racing Prime
A man for whom the competitive fire burned brightly during his high school, college, and professional career, four-time former U.S. 10,000 meter champion and 15Km road record holder Todd Williams traded in his racing kit for Jiu Jitsu togs following his retirement from competitive running in 2003. In the ensuing eleven years the drive and focus Todd once summoned to earn 21 U.S. championships in running was transferred into the collection of Jiu Jitsu ranking belts. Over the years as Todd worked his way toward black belt status (2011), the idea that would become RunSafer began to take form. Continue reading
I was in Tampa last weekend to help announce the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic as the old-line road race was reintroducing prize money after an absence of 17-years. After the race I drove north to visit old friends in Gainesville where I’d spent 10 winters in the 1990s. And what happened while I was away? The track world falls apart in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the U.S. Indoor Nationals.
I tell you, I’ve been trying my best to embrace USATF as a changing, responsive national governing body, what with Max Siegel taking over in an appreciably quiet, yet focused way as CEO. And though there were momentary echoes of some benighted AAU or TAC ghost hovering near the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials selection process that chose L.A. over Houston, a closer inspection revealed both sides on firm ground with no hidden agendas, and a fair argument to bolster its case. Just sad one of the cities had to lose. And with combined trials, the sport loses inventory, too, as there is one less national exposure available.
Brooks athlete Gabby Grunewald about to pass Nike Athlete Jordan Hasay in women’s 3000.
But now again at the indoor nationals in Albuquerque we see yet another shit storm erupt in the controversy surrounding the no, no,yes, no again disqualification of Gabby Grunewald in the women’s 3000 meters. Certainly, given the evidence available to anyone who watched that race, or has ever spent any time racing or watching indoor meets over the years, while there was minor contact, (in my opinion) there was nothing suggesting disqualification. Indoor track has long been a contact sport as bodies fatigue, wits wither, and space narrows. Yet due to the current organizational structure and sponsorship arrangements of USATF, once again we saw the fuse of unrest only needing a minor spark to ignite a major controversy. Continue reading
Ryan Vail takes lead in Tampa at mile 12.
Tampa, FL. – The excitement of pro racing returned to the streets of Tampa today, as the once legendary Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic saw spirited competitions mark both the pro men’s and women’s races at the 37th running of Tampa’s premier distance events. It was the first time since 1997 that pro prize money was on offer, and Portland, Oregon’s Ryan Vail and Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s Lindsey Scherf came out on top to claim the $80000 first place checks out of a total purse of $40,000. In the 68 degree, 97% humidity conditions Vail’s winning time was 64:06, while Scherf proved her fitness for the March 9th Los Angeles Marathon with a controlled 1:13:07 win. Continue reading
Tampa, Fl. — A temperate 70 degree air temperature was blanketed by 100% humidity today as thousands of runners from the region, state, and nation took part in the 37th running of the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K and 5K along Bayshore Boulevard. Tomorrow, the half-marathon and 8K take center stage.
In the local 15K showcase, in which $10,000 was split between the men’s and women’s divisions, Tampa’s own Jon Mott and Sara Petrick took home the $2000 first prize purses for their respective wins. Both had finished second in 2013. This year Mott’s unofficial time was 48:43, some 53-seconds slower than in 2013, while Petrick posted a 34-second improvement over last year with her unofficial time of 55:47. Mott was challenged early by 19 year-old Polish native Rafal Matuszcak, but pulled away just after the six mile mark, and could cruise home unchallenged, saving himself for a go at the half-marathon tomorrow where he is the defending champ. Continue reading
Tampa, FL. — Certainly, I’ve been a critic over the years of the sport’s de-emphasis on competition in favor of fun-running and charity fund-raising, likening that trend to America’s de-emphasis on education in favor of grade-inflation and child buttering. Jerry Seinfeld did a great bit Tuesday night on Jimmy Fallon’s second night as Tonight Show host on this topic, saying, “when we were young our parents didn’t give a damn about us. They didn’t even know our names!”
But history isn’t linear, and pendulums have a habit of sweeping back in the other direction. Thus, a quick survey of recent moves in the sport lead to a conclusion that competition is once again being noticed, even appreciated, and highlighted.
This weekend I am here in Tampa for the return of the Gasparilla Distance Classic to the ranks of pro racing. It’s the first time Gasparilla has invited a pro field to the streets of Tampa since 1997. And its a welcome return to what traditionally had been the best field of the year during the 1980s and `90s when Gasparilla was the first race of the year and everyone was anxious to get out of the cold and into Florida for a blistering 15K burnout. This year it will be a pro half-marathon with an American based field, which I will break down after talking with the athletes as they assemble. Continue reading
Over the last several years I’ve been following the development of a sensor-based technology that I thought held great promise for running, but that has had its share of missteps on the long road to market. Pegasus Sports Performance licensed a technology first developed by engineers at the UCLA Wireless Health Institute to analyze the abnormal gait of Parkinson’s and stroke victims, then adapted that technology for performance athletics.
Over the last two years Pegasus has worked with former Mammoth Track Club and now Boston Athletic Association coach Terrence Mahon as well as athletes ranging from the everyday to world class to hone its software and sensor design. Now, in a final beta test before market launch, Pegasus is looking for a group of runners to try out the new design and give their feedback.
Pegasus sensor, charger, Iphone and smart watch
If you are interested in being part of this beta test, go to the Pegasus website, www.pegasussp.com where you can take a survey and join up! Continue reading