HOW IMPORTANT ARE HEROES?

jim-ryunSI   There will be an interesting test this Thursday evening in San Diego as the running community gathers to celebrate and commemorate the 50th anniversary of Jim Ryun’s first high school sub-4:00 mile.  Local leaders Paul Greer, Tracy Sundlun and Josh Cox joined with Jim Ryun to stage the celebration at the former Balboa Stadium – now home to the San Diego High School Cavers – where Jim ran one of his most iconic races as a high school senior.

It was at the 1965 AAU National Track & Field Championships where the lanky senior from Wichita East High School in Kansas lined up against a truly world-class field in front of 20,000 fans (when track could draw that kind of crowd outside the confines of Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.)

On the heels of Dr. Roger Bannister‘s celebrated first sub-4:00 mile in 1954, Ryun became the twelfth member of the exclusive sub-4 club as a high school junior on June 5, 1964.  Running 3:59.0 while finishing eighth at the Compton Invitational just six weeks after his 17th birthday Ryun became a national sensation.  The following year in San Diego Ryun not only notched another sub-4:00 mile, he WON the national championship in an American record 3:55.3!  And he did it by out-gunning the reigning Olympic gold and silver medalists from Tokyo 1964, Peter Snell of New Zealand and Josef Odlozil of Czechoslovakia, and then American record holder Jim Grelle!  It was the performance of a generation, and still resonates a half-century later.

“Imagine an American high school kid doing that today,” marveled Marty Liquori, himself a member of the five-man U.S. high school sub-4:00 club. “An American  record in the national championship against the Olympic champion?  It would be impossible.” Continue reading

STUDENTS RUN LA CELEBRATES 25th IN STYLE

SRLA in Griffith Park training for 2014 Asics LA Marathon

SRLA in Griffith Park training for 2014 Asics LA Marathon

Much of life is self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you don’t think you can do something, you tend to be correct 100% of the time.  But if you do believe, Ah!, then no horizon seems beyond your reach.  In many ways, and in many lives, the marathon has been the perfect metaphor to illustrate this point.

Last night one of the most notable programs in the marathon world celebrated its 25th anniversary with a gala dinner at the posh Intercontinental Hotel in L.A.’s Century City.  Amidst a crowd of several hundred that included city leaders, school officials, program graduates, L.A. Marathon staffers, and long-time supporters, Students Run L.A. (SRLA) recognized the fruits of its first quarter century while seeding the next generation to follow.

The gala could not have been farther from the hard streets of L.A. on which over 54,000 at-risk secondary school students have trained for and completed the Asics L.A. Marathon as part of the SRLA program.   But the distance between the two worlds has now been shown to be illusory, as well, as thousands of SRLA program graduates today move easily between who they once were and what they have now become. Continue reading

NUMBERING UP BEKELE’S MARATHON DEBUT

2014 Paris Marathon champion Keninisa Bekele

2014 Paris Marathon champion Keninisa Bekele

After 31 year-old track and cross country champion Keninisa Bekele’s superb marathon debut in Paris today, 2:05:03 — course record, sixth fastest debut in history, fastest first-time marathon ever by a man over 30 — I thought it would be interesting to look ahead by looking back.  After all, records are the lattice upon which the sport of athletics grow, while giving fans a chance to compare and contrast athletes of different eras in much the same way baseball fans compare stats across time (at least until the steroid era kind of ruined that).

Before we glance back, however, let us look into the very near future as we await another highly anticipated debut, that of England’s own double Olympic track champion Mo Farah.   Also 31,, the 2012 5000 & 10,000m Olympic gold medalist will hope to thrill the home crowd at the Virgin Money London Marathon. And he will know how high the Bekele standard has been set.   But while Paris was a showcase for Bekele with a very good, but not great field, and his manager Jos Hermens riding alongside on a motorbike, Mo will have to negotiate a field of steely-eyed killers, record holders, and Olympic medalists in London.

So while Keninisa was able to pull free of his competition after 25k on his way to victory in Paris, one can expect Mo to be challenged much later into London’s 42 kilometer soiree next Sunday. At the same time, London is historically a faster layout than Paris, so it will be difficult to make a direct apples-to-apples comparison between the two.  But why should that stop us from having some fun with numbers?

***** Continue reading

ATLANTA TRACK CLUB GOES RED, WHITE & BLUE FOR JULY 4TH

Peachtree10K     Last year Portland, Oregon trained Matt Tegenkamp won the U.S. Road 10K Championship in 28:25, but only finished sixth overall in the AJC Peachtree Road Race.  Flagstaff, Arizona’s Janet Bawcom took home the women’s USA title in 32:45, but only placed eighth in the international field. This year the winner of the race will also become the USA champion.

The Atlanta Track Club announced yesterday that they were upping their prize purse some $40,000 to a round $100,000 for the 45th running of the Peachtree Road Race this July 4th. What’s more, the entire amount will be awarded to American athletes vying for the USA 10K Road Championships.  First prize for each gender will be $15,000.

Though this will be the sixth time Peachtree has hosted the men’s USA 10K Championship (2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013), and the second straight year it will serve as the Women’s Championship, 2014 will be the first year the event will showcase USA athletes only.  This is the ATC’s first major announcement since the arrival of Rich Kenah as their new executive director.

I reached out to Rich, and asked when the idea for an American-only showcase took form. Continue reading

29TH CARLSBAD 5000 PROMISES SEASIDE FIREWORKS

CBAD LOGOWith Competitor Group, Inc. back in the elite athlete game, the San Diego-based event and media company has come out swinging in 2014. First they introduced their new CEO, David Abeles. Now, they’ve introduced their pro field for the 29th Carlsbad 5000.

Set to go off March 30th, the 2014 Carlsbad 500 features a showdown between three-time defending Carlsbad champion and 2012 Olympic 5000 meter silver medalist Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia, and first-time CBAD entrant Bernard Lagat of the United States, the recent silver medalist in the IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships in Poland over 3000 meters.

WATCH LIVE WEBCAST HERE!
(pre-race show begins at 10:15 a.m. Sunday Pacific Daylight time)

Continue reading

PEGASUS SPORTS PERFORMANCE SEEKING FINAL BETA TESTERS

pegasus-logo     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

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

BAA ANOUNCES PLANS FOR MARATHON TRIBUTE

BostonStrong     Everyone knows it will be a special year at the 2014 Boston Marathon, as the grand old race and its host city commemorate last year’s tragic bombings.  There is no getting around the centrality of that tragedy, nor will there be for years to come, though I suspect everyone is of two minds about it, as well.  Truly, it is a no-win situation.  Too much emphasis just validates the cruel act in the first place, too little attention and we fail to honor the injured and fallen, or to show proper resolve in the face of the cowardly attack.

Of course the marathon world is a bottomless pit of resolve, and today the BAA announced its plan for an official tribute to mark the one year anniversary.  But due to the constantly moving third Monday of April Patriot’s Day race date, there will be a nearly one week cushion between the actual anniversary of the bombing and the 2014 race.

“I think we’ve caught a huge break with the race being so late this year,” said one media partner.  “There will be an Anniversary observance on the 15th, and then hopefully we can move into race mode leading up to the 21st.   Clearly, the topic can’t be avoided — but the goal is to focus on that race and that day.   Hopefully the events of the prior week will make it easier to do that.”

The event’s official (magazine) program will also reflect the unique nature of this year’s event, and “the BAA is changing its content somewhat for this year’s program,”  said its editor. Below is today’s BAA announcement in full. Continue reading

B.A.A. Increases Prize Money Structure and Institutes Performance-Based Bonus Incentives for B.A.A. Distance Medley Events

BAA Distance Medley LogoBOSTON – The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) announced today (Feb. 6, 2014) a new prize money structure for B.A.A. Distance Medley events, which will award nearly $150,000 in prize money each year, a 55% increase over the guaranteed total prize purse in 2013 for those three events. The purse for each race has been increased. In addition, bonus incentives have been established both for professional runners recording multiple top finishes at B.A.A. events in 2014 and for event record times set at B.A.A. Distance Medley events. Prize money awards and bonus incentives are equal for men and women. Continue reading

USATF MEN’S LDR CHAIR CALLS ON L.A. TO MATCH HOUSTON’S OLYMPIC TRIALS MARATHON PRIZE PACKAGE

On January 29th USA Track & Field, the U.S. Olympic Committee, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and LA MARATHON LLC announced that Los Angeles had been awarded the bid to host the joint 2016 Men’s and Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials.  Today, the blog received the following statement from USATF Men’s Long Distance Running Committee chairman Edwardo Torres.

Ed Torres, chair of USATF Men's LDR Committee

Ed Torres, chair of USATF Men’s LDR Committee

On behalf of the Men’s LDR committee we would like to congratulate Los Angeles on winning the bid for the 2016 Olympic trials. There was a lot of confusion leading up to this decision. The fact that both Houston and Los Angeles made strong bids made it a tough decision.

As a committee, both men’s and women’s LDR based their decision on what was best for the athlete. At the annual meeting in December 2013 both LDR committees came to the conclusion that Houston had the upper hand, and therefore we suggested to the USATF board that Houston should be awarded the trials. We came to our decision based on two advantages we believe that Houston had.

The first was the date of the race. We believed that holding the race in January would allow people who missed the team to train for the track trials. (Both 2012 4th place finishers made the team in the 10k.) The other major factor for us was the $100k extra in athlete prize money offered in the Houston bid.

In the years since 2012 the earning opportunities for athletes have dried up. It is now harder than ever for an athlete to make it at the elite level. We could not with good conscience allow another $100k in prize money to leave the sport.

Since the annual meeting, Los Angeles changed their race date to be held in February. The request for LA to match athlete prize money was initially declined. With the athlete’s best interest at heart, the committee is still hoping for L.A. to match Houston’s offer. At the end of the day the race is about the athletes, and it’s unfair for them to forfeit $100k in prize money without a say in the decision. The athletes need and deserve that money more than the non-profit we serve does.

Edwardo Torres,
USATF Men’s LDR chair

 

In a follow up conversation Torres spoke highly of both bids — “L.A. will do a great job.” — but he maintained that he was speaking out because “my committee speaks for the athletes, and we knew what the difference in prize money was, and that alone was enough for our choice to be Houston”.

“Why not make all parties happy?” he continued.  “For places 4 through 10 it would mean an extra $5000 in their pocket, which would make a big difference to help keep them in the sport to develop for the next Olympic cycle.”

And so it goes.

 

END

LOS ANGELES AWARDED 2016 OLYMPIC MARATHON TRIALS


Olympic RingsIt must have been the toughest of tough calls, but it’s LA over Houston in 2016.  Here some background on the selection from a previous post.

LOS ANGELES

–The City of Los Angeles will host the Women’s and Men’s 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon, USA Track & Field, the U.S. Olympic Committee, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and LA MARATHON LLC announced Wednesday.

The 2016 Olympic Trials will be held Feb. 13, 2016. With separate starts, the men’s and women’s races both will be carried in their entirety on NBC.
“We are thrilled with what Los Angeles will provide to our athletes, the Olympic movement and the sport of long distance running by hosting this event,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said. “With television coverage on NBC and incredible public and private support for the race in one of the world’s biggest media markets, everything is in place to continue to elevate the Olympic Trials and give our athletes a platform on which they can truly shine.”
“I’m happy and honored USA Track & Field and the U.S. Olympic Committee have chosen Los Angeles as host city for the 2016 Olympic marathon trials,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.  “With its iconic landmarks and decades of experience hosting world class sporting events, Los Angeles is the ideal location for America’s elite marathoners to prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.”
“The U.S. Olympic Committee is pleased to be returning to Los Angeles with this amazing event,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said. “As the host of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, Los Angeles has a tremendous Olympic legacy and L.A.’s status as a global center of sport and culture make it an exceptional host for the Olympic Trials.” Continue reading