If we can bitch and moan when things aren’t being done well — and God knows I have — then we must salute when something is. So while track & field (“athletics” to the rest of the world) may still be well behind the curve of other individual sports like golf and tennis in terms of having its own broadcast channel, under new CEO Max Siegel USATF is launching an array of media coverage for its upcoming National Championships in Des Moines, Iowa that should make even die-hard critics doff their caps in recognition of progress. The following presser was released today on the eve of the USATF Championships. Continue reading
Below is a copy of a press release issued today by the Boston Athletic Association regarding the status of the 5000 runners who were unable to finish this year’s Boston Marathon after two bombs were set off near the Boylston Street finish line at 4:49:44 and 4:49:54 on the first-wave race clock.
It will be a difficult year ahead for the B.A.A. and the city of Boston as they walk the fine line between security, safety, and the open road of welcome that has always been the hallmark of the world’s oldest marathon. This decision is an excellent first step. Continue reading
It has been a long road out of the moral wasteland of amateurism for running, and the sport still hasn’t made it all the way home. In those critical years when the fight to open the sport was more of a pitched battle, a 38th-parallel type solution (see Korean Conflict) gave both sides breathing room, but left the sport a hybrid in the general public’s eye, neither amateur nor professional.
That truce remains largely in place today as the sport has formed up around independent contractor and event models that have rebuffed top-down cohesion while maintaining a vestige of its the amateur past by hiding what stakes it does offer in shoe contracts, appearance fees and time bonuses. Add the revolving door of anonymous champions who come and go with increasing regularity up front as we tout fast times rather than fast individuals, and the lack of stars and rivalries breaking out of running’s insular bubble further erodes public consumption beyond the quadrennial binging at the Olympic Games.
And so here we are with a sport mired in irrelevancy in the overall sporting landscape with only drug use and Jamaica’s Usain Bolt holding Q Scores of public recognition. But now, in the wake of a successful London Olympics, and on the verge of a World Championships in Moscow, the IAAF has embarked on a social media program to assist in raising athlete profiles via what they call the IAAF Athletes’ Hub. Continue reading
Boston, MA. — The late blooming warmth of a New England spring morning in Kenmore Square is mocked by the desolate pall that hangs over Boylston Street just one mile east on this second day after the marathon bombings in Boston. With police and FBI officials still pouring over the thousands of photographs and hours of video that were shot along the finish line stretch on Monday, the who, the why and the wherefore of the cruelty remain painfully elusive even as the agonizing consequences continue to radiate to all corners of the city and the nation.
(LATE BREAKING NEWS AT 1:40 p.m. EASTERN TIME: ACCORDING TO WBZ-TV VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS, AN ARREST IN THE BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING IS IMMINENT!)
Last evening in the close-knit Boston community of Dorchester hundreds of neighbors gathered on a grassy ball field to hold a candle-light vigil for eight year-old Richard Martin, youngest victim in Monday’s tragedy, even as Richard’s mom and sister remain hospitalized with severe injuries. And though it remained blocked as an ongoing crime scene, Boylston Street itself has been turned into a makeshift shrine as these locations of loss so often are.
Boston Marathon principal sponsor John Hancock Financial this morning unveiled a sculpture of Rick and Dick Hoyt in front of Center School in Hopkinton, Massachusetts near the start line of the world famous marathon. The life-sized statue was commissioned by John Hancock and sculpted by Texas artist Mike Tabor.
The piece is titled, “YES YOU CAN!” and represents Team Hoyt’s goal of helping those who are physically disabled become active members of the community. Next Monday April 15th the Hoyts will compete in their 31st Boston Marathon.
These days the Hoyts have a world-wide following, and are an inspiration to countless thousands. But I can remember when the Hoyts got started racing. Back then it was a personal matter, two people with shared DNA and a common love for a sport. They weren’t thinking of what their passion for running might exemplify or represent beyond themselves. That’s the best kind of inspiration, the unintended kind.
In the late 1970s the WACKY 102 Five-Mile Road Race in Springfield, Massachusetts offered a television set as its first-place prize. That TV and the promise of a good time — in the race and after — was enough to draw athletes like Greg Meyer, Randy Thomas, and Bobby Hodge. Even 1976 10,000 meter Olympian Garry Bjorklund was on hand from Minnesota.
The first mile was a gentle downhill, as I recall, and as I hit the split in just under 5:00 I remember coming up on a man pushing a younger man in a wheelchair. My first thought was, “damn, that guy is fast”, rather than “isn’t that an inspiration.” Needless to say, it was Dick and Rick Hoyt just being part of the New England road racing scene, before fame came calling.
But we have to also remember that not very long before that race and those good times the idea of a boy with cerebral palsy joining in a mainstream anything was unheard of, and certainly unseen. Believe me, I know. Continue reading
With the powerhouse fields lined up for the swift Rotterdam and London Marathons this spring, there is no guarantee that current marathon world record holder Patrick Makau (2:03:38, Berlin 2011) will still hold that designation after April 21st. Yet, amidst the scramble to the top of the marathon food chain, Makau has slowly been coming round to the need to step out of his more reserved natural shell and branch out as a spokesman for his sport. We saw evidence of this recently at The Hapalua, Hawaii’s Half Marathon where Makau visited a local school to address the eager young track team. Now, Makau is being featured in a short anti-malaria public service video, encouraging his fellow Kenyans to use netting to combat the mosquitoes which carry the disease.
Though spokesman may not be his default setting, one can see the growth of Makau as more than just a runner and record holder. In this he is following in the footsteps of such brethren as Paul Tergat and Haile Gebrselassie, the two men who held the marathon world record before Makau.
Like many of his fellow top Kenyan racers, Makau supports an every expanding array of personal and tribe-based requests. Now, he is using his well-earned fame to take on issues of greater and more expansive social import. For this he is to be applauded.
Though the New York Times article, A.D.H.D. Seen in 11% of U.S. Children as Diagnoses Rise, was dated March 31, 2013, after reading it one would have hoped the story would have been published on April 1st instead. That way we could have supposed the information was part of an elaborate April Fools prank. Unfortunately, not the case.
As the Times reported, new data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) show a staggering 20% of high school age boys and 11% of all school-age children in the U.S. have received a medical diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Historically, only 3% to 7% of children were thought to be affected. Those data alone are disquieting enough, but the realization that the diagnoses have been attended by a corresponding spike in prescription drug use to combat the ADHD problem makes the news even more worrisome. Continue reading
I’m a racing purist, clinging to sport as the road to salvation. Yet even I am susceptible to a good story from the back of the pack. Last weekend at the Asics L.A. Marathon an old friend from the shoe wars days of the 1970s and `80s ran the L.A. Marathon as the first leg of a four marathons in nine weeks effort to raise funds and awareness for a family back east who lost both its parents during the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Continue reading
Though the indoor winter track season is in full swing on both sides of the pond, the spring marathon majors in Boston and London have already begun to loom on the horizon. Even with the monster storm tracking toward New England and scheduled to dump as much as two feet of snow on the area tomorrow through Saturday, the mud and scuttling clouds of April – conditions well recognized in both Boston and London - still beckon off in the soon-to-be whited out distance.
While training for the marathons continues in deep sequestration at camps across the American west and along East Africa’s Great Rift Valley, we can begin to see the training sweats being stripped off as schedules get set for the tune up races heralding marathon season. Yesterday, the RAK Half-Marathon field was released. Headed by 2010 champion Geoffrey Mutai, the marathon list leader in both 2011 & 2012, the RAK Half has swiftly become the world’s deepest and fastest half marathon. Its list of champions is a true who’s who of this running generation, and features several Virgin London Marathon contenders going head up on February 15th.
Yet one man who will not be in the UAE next weekend is the 2008-2009 RAK Half champion and course record holder Patrick Makau of Kenya (58:52), who is also the marathon world record holder. Makau will instead tune up for the London Marathon one month from now thousands of miles away on the island of Oahu at the Hapalua Half Marathon, the second-year sister event of the Honolulu Marathon.
With men like 2011 Boston & New York, and 2012 Berlin champ Geoffrey Mutai, 2011 London winner Emmanuel (not related) Mutai, and 2012 Chicago runner-up Feyisa Lelisa of Ethiopia matching up in the UAE before going double the distance in London April 21st, it may seem an odd selection for Makau to go solo at a low-key race in Hawaii. But according to Makau’s manager Zane Branson, Makau is more than comfortable with his choice. Continue reading
Merritt, 2012 Olympic hurdles champion and world record holder, has withdrawn from this Saturday’s New Balance Indoor Grand Prix at Boston’s Reggie Lewis Center. The news was released by meet organizers late this afternoon.
“At the beginning of yesterday’s workout, I experienced a cramp as I went over a hurdle during one of my drills,” said Merritt in a prepared statement. ”I hate to disappoint Boston area track and field fans, but my physio think it is best if I withdraw to ensure I stay healthy for the rest of this World Championship year. I hope everyone understands.”
Merritt was one of the first athletes to commit to the 18th NBIGP, and is a big loss. He’d run the meet twice before, taking seventh in the 60m hurdles in 2010, then second last year. That still leaves Olympic champions Tirunesh Dibaba (10,000m) and Jenn Suhr (pole vault) as meet headliners, along with Olympic silver medalists Galen Rupp (10,000m) and Dejen Gebremeskel (5000m) who will meet in the 3000m on Saturday. Dibaba opens her season on the way to a highly anticipated debut marathon in London in April. She’s broken the 5000m indoor record twice in Boston (2005 & 2007).