SOUTH AFRICA TO STAGE FIRST EVER GLOBAL ATHLETICS CONFERENCE

 SouthAfrica Conference logo
Yesterday (3 Sept. 2014) KwaZulu-Natal Athletics announced that it will stage a world first annual international athletics conference in Durban, RSA to up-skill and equip athletics stakeholders as South Africa contemplates bidding for mega global events such as the Commonwealth and Olympic Games.

The Global Athletics Conference (@GAC_2014), which will be an annual event, and will take place on 14 and 15 November 2014, bringing some of the foremost athletics and sports business professionals to Durban to engage with delegates from across Africa.

Among the key note speakers secured are four-time Olympic medallist Mr Ato Boldon; double Olympic Gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes; award-winning American running commentator Mr Toni Reavis; Marketing Director of Adidas International Mr Spencer Nel, Chairman of Repucom Mr Kelvin Watt and Head of Sponsorship at SABMiller, Mr Errol Madlala.   Additional speakers and panelists will be announced in the run-up to the event, which will be held at the Sibaya Conference Centre outside Umhlanga, Durban. Continue reading

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