Steve Jones sets World Marathon Record in Chicao 1984

Steve Jones World Marathon Record Chicago 1984

The day after Thanksgiving has traditionally been one of the special football days of the year in America. While high school rivalries and the NFL play on Thanksgiving itself, the day after, Black Friday, has always belonged to the NCAA.

Today, there are two decent games — Washington takes on in-state rival Washington State, while Navy sailed into Houston for a match up of one-loss teams.

But before the rise of cable, there was usually just a single college game featured, usually a marquee match-up on one of the networks for a nation still digesting it’s Thanksgiving dinner.

In 1984 The Game pitted the 8-2, 10th ranked Boston College Eagles versus the defending national champion Miami Hurricane. “The U” was full of NFL draftees, though they weren’t having the same quality season as usual in ’84, coming in ranked 12th in the national polls.

Still, playing at home against the upstart BC Eagles, Miami was still a strong favorite as BC was viewed as the small Catholic school from the northeast where college football wasn’t nearly the religion as it was in the South and Midwest.

But this was the peak of the Doug Flutie era, when the Natick, Mass. native was single-handedly bringing the BC program to new heights under Coach Jack Bicknell. Continue reading


E Pluribus UnumAs 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 (sans Capri pants)

         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 Report 2015WADA’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


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


New York City Marathon Logo TCSThe 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