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

BATTLE LINES DRAWN IN KENYAN TAX REVOLT

PAAK

PAAK

Taxation can impoverish as well as replenish, overturn empires or elevate kings. It is getting the balance right that counts.   Last Wednesday 400+ members of Kenya’s running nobility gathered in Eldoret, the center of Kenyan running in the North Rift Valley, to unite in opposition to an imposition, an imposition of a direct tax on their athletic earnings.

In one voice the athletes said, nay! we already pay indirect tax via the local levies on holdings, businesses, and the like.  (Athletes are the Republicans in this scenario, the trickle down, job-creators.)  On the other side sits the Kenyan Revenue Authority (KRA) which says the law is simple, all Kenya citizens must pay (30%) tax on all earnings.

But as always in Kenya, there is the law and then there is the policy.  For years Kenyan athletes have been seen as ambassadors for their country, elevating its world standing by their superb racing exploits. What’s more, their income was considered an engine of commerce as they poured their earnings back into their local economies.   And since those businesses and investments were always subjected to taxation, the athletes say the imposition of a direct tax on earnings would not only stifle future economic development, it would double tax them as their earnings are already taxed in the countries in which they race.

But there’s more to it than that.  Just 50 years free from British colonial rule, Kenya remains a young nation, and the ties that bind a nation together are not as developed as one might assume. What further underlies the athletes’ opposition to the new policy is the duplicity they see as coming from the government.

Kenyan Parliamentarians are among the highest paid in the world in a nation whose citizens earn an average $1800 per year.  Last summer the MPs succumbed to public pressure and agreed to drop their salaries by nearly 40%, but from $120,000 a year to $75,000!  Then they voted themselves exempt from paying any tax!  That’s good work if you can get it.

The argument from the KRA vantage point says that the policy of not directly taxing the athletes’ income was initiated decades ago when there was just a trickle of men running overseas. Today, that trickle has become a torrent, and the time for such a lenient tax policy has long since passed, and the athletes must now be treated like any other citizen.  Thus, what we see is one side looking to overturn tradition, while the other wants to maintain its legacy. Continue reading

COMPETITOR GROUP REVERSES COURSE ON ELITE COMPETITION

competitor-group     Admitting error isn’t easy, but it can be cathartic.  In light of the strong, some might even say vehement, reaction to its decision last September to precipitously eliminate elite, competitive racing at its Rock `n` Roll events – the announcement came just two weeks before the Rock `n` Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon after appearance-fee agreements had been made — San Diego-based Competitor Group, Inc. announced yesterday that it is reversing course and resurrecting its competitive, elite athlete program in 2014.

CGI Senior VP, Tracy Sundlun

CGI Senior VP, Tracy Sundlun

“It was obvious it was a bad decision,” said CGI senior vice-president of events Tracy Sundlun.  “It wasn’t working.  The fact of the matter is the leadership, our executive team, heard from the running community and we listened. (Cutting elite competition) wasn’t who we were, or who we wanted to be.  It isn’t what we represented, what the sport should be, and what we should be doing with our partners and friends.  So the decision was changed, and I’m just thrilled.” Continue reading