NEGATIVE SPACE, POSITIVE RESULT

Weltklasse logoThere was an embarrassment of athletic riches on display at today’s Weltklasse meet in Zürich’s Letzigrund Stadium, the first of two IAAF Diamond League finals for the 2014 season. Yet, was there too much of a good thing?

Today’s meet showcased 182 athletes in 14 events in the two-hour television window. Now for the rabid athletics fans this is a bountiful meal, indeed. But for a casual spectator the numbers quickly become so great as to create a glut .  At the beginning of the men’s 5000 meters broadcaster Tim Hutchings said of the 20-man field, ‘it’s too many probably’, before underscoring the class of the field as containing 10 sub-13 minute men, including the top 10 of 2014.

In the world of art negative space is the space around and between the subject(s) of an image.  It is an often unnoticed element in creating a pleasing design or presentation as it allows the positive space of the composition the room it needs to breathe in order to be properly absorbed by the viewer.  Negative space in music is the silence within a piece that showcases that which is heard, while in comedy, negative space is the well-timed pause that either is the joke, or tees up the punch-line.

If someone as track-savvy as Tim Hutchings can wonder about the need for a 20-man field in a season-long final in the 5000m, and a 10-man traffic jam in the 800, why can’t the Diamond League organizers?  In business they say to mass your assets, then focus people’s attention. Why is it that there is no stepping stone to the finals whereby only the top eight competitors in the laned events, or top 10 in the distance events, qualify for the Diamond League final? Continue reading

2014 WILD DUCK 5K

Opening race in the 2014 Dirt Dog Cross Country Series from Vista, California.

 

Team Toya

Team Toya – Smiles and Shadows

 

Last Deep breath

                                                               ANTICIPATION

 

Begin

                                                                         BEGIN!

 

Toya off and Running

                                                     Toya off and Running master’s race

SDTC Age-Group Champs (l-r) Virginia Lopez, Chula Vista, Ca. 1st, 70+; Martha Walker, San Diego, 1st, 75+; Mary Ryzner, Escondido, 1st, 60-64; Manya Hullt, Carlsbad, 1st, 60-69

SDTC Age-Group Champs (l-r) Virginia Lopez, Chula Vista, Ca. 1st, 70+; Martha Walker, San Diego, 1st, 75+; Mary Ryzner, Escondido, 1st, 60-64; Manya Hullt, Carlsbad, 1st, 60-69

 

All-Duck Trophies

All-Duck Trophies

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TOMMY LEONARD CELEBRATES 81ST BIRTHDAY

Tommy Leonard with Pittsfield, Ma. Hi School girls cross country team

Tommy Leonard with Pittsfield, Ma. Hi School girls cross country team

 

Falmouth, Ma. — Last year a multitude of fans and friends celebrated Falmouth Road Race founder Tommy Leonard‘s 80th birthday with a big surprise party at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel.  This year it was back to business as usual.  Last night Tommy was in his element hard along the bar at the Quarterdeck Restaurant on Main Street as old friends and new acolytes alike helped him toast his 81st birthday. As people wandered in to sign up for his 24th annual Falmouth Walk Saturday morning, like the pope of Falmouth Tommy sat atop his bar stool greeting visitors from far and wide.

“I cant’ hear anymore, and I can’t see,” said Tommy amidst sips from a savory brew. “But I can still laugh.”

Among those on hand were the girls of the Pittsfield, Mass. High School cross country team, led by their coach Theresa Apple. As the bar clogged and laughter rose, you could hear many a tall tale being told about the lovable guru of the Falmouth Road Race, and ex-barman of the legendary Eliot Lounge in Boston. But through it all Coach Apple’s story came as close to explaining the quality that has made T.L. such a rare paragon of the sport. Continue reading

FERGUSON, MO. – THE GAP BETWEEN LIVING AND STAYING

Unrest in Ferguson, Mo.

Unrest in Ferguson, Mo.

As civil unrest continues to tear apart my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri in the aftermath of last Saturday’s shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer, I ran across a story I wrote, but never published, in 1996 back before personal blogs were around for just these kind of closely-held thoughts.

(Note:  this is not a running related post, so you may bail out here with that information in hand)

Back in the mid-1990s the country was in the opposing throes of the Rodney King and O.J. Simpson verdicts while trying to digest the meaning and value of the Million Man March.  In the ensuing years many other challenges and difficulties, both domestic and international, have arisen on the track of public consciousness.  But through it all, and here again with the suddenness of a piercing bullet, the issue of race has erupted to remind us how it  remains the central hurdle in America’s path toward the fulfillment of her founding charter.

Continue reading

IN THE BEGINNING

Arriving in Boston August 10, 1974

Arriving in Boston August 10, 1974

40 years ago today I arrived in Boston in a white, right-hand drive post office van as Richard Nixon was departing Washington in a green Chinook Marine helicopter. At age 26 I was escaping a failed marriage while at age 61 Nixon was fleeing a disgraced presidency.

Like Nixon I hadn’t a plan or a job to speak of, and held no prospects.  Unlike the dishonored ex-president I had nothing beyond the unalloyed confidence of youth and the unbounded belief of my generation that ours was a crossroads cohort, fated to a new set of values fostering brotherhood, unity and integrity.

It had taken me two days to drive the 1178 miles from my hometown of St. Louis, and as I pulled up in front of 61 Empire Street in the Allston section of Boston, the Allman Brothers hit Ramblin’ Man poured from my stereo like an ally of the warm summer sun.

My new home lay about a mile north of Harvard Square just a block off the Mass Turnpike.  Up on the corner at North Harvard Street sat the Merit Gas station where I had worked part-time the previous fall to make ends meet while on a five-month visit.  But this time I was here to stay, so no gas station work for me.  Besides, the Arab oil embargo was in full swing, and the lines out the station sometimes stretched for block after block.

Now, as I turned off the sturdy slant-six motor of my reconverted van, my new roommate, Patrick, bounded down the stoop with a joint fired up.

“Hey, Reavis!” he said, extending the sweet-scented memory cleanser to me from behind a wide grin. “Welcome to Boston.” Continue reading

2014 MAINE TRAVELS

It is back to Southern California today after our annual week in Maine for the TD Beach to Beacon 10K.  On our final day in the Pinetree state Toya and I joined our hosts Bill & Linda Nickerson on a day trip to New Harbor, Bristol, Brunswick and Christmas Cove in South Bristol.  Here are some of the sights.

 

Pemaquid Lighthouse

Pemaquid Lighthouse

Pemaquid Lighthouse

Pemaquid Lighthouse

Entrance to Pemaquid Lighthouse

Entrance

Spiraling up Pemaquid Lighthouse

Spiraling up

1000-watt lamp in Pemaquid Lighthouse

1000-watt lamp in Pemaquid Lighthouse

View from Pemaquid Light

View out to Pemaquid Point

Old life preserver

Old life preserver

New Harbor dock

New Harbor dock

Lobster boat

Lobster boat

Maine coast cottage

Maine coast cottage

Phonetics

Phonetics

Clams, anyone?

Clams, anyone?

Lobster Roll?

Lobster Roll and Chowdah?

Christmas Cove, South Bristol

Christmas Cove, South Bristol

Toya, Bill & Linda

Toya, Bill & Linda… See you next year.