While watching a documentary about 1960s Australian distance great Ron Clarke, I was taken by a quote from countryman John Landy — second man ever under 4:00 in the mile — who sent a letter to the young Ron just as Clarke was gaining national recognition.
“Not giving you sessions,” recalled Clarke of the five-page missive, “but describing the way you cope with training. Really, the essence of simplicity, ‘don’t train too hard, don’t make it too easy’. Just in that balance.” Continue reading
Congratulations to Aaron Braun and Molly Huddle for their victories in the inaugural .US National Road Racing Championships in Alexandria, Virginia. Both won $20,000 out of the $100,000 prize purse, one of the largest non-marathon paydays in road racing. At the same time down in Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt was complaining how track’s inability to get beyond its drug scandals is causing him a loss in sponsorship opportunities. With money emerging as the issue of the day I was reminded of a conversation I had Friday night in La Jolla, California with U.S. marathoner Meb Keflezighi’s agent/brother Merhawi and former Mesa Community College coach and frequent Team USA manager Manny Batista.
Hawi Keflezighi, Erin Whiting, Meb K., Patti Whiting, Bryce Whiting, (VP ElliptiGo) at “A Night In La Jolla”
We were attending “A Night In La Jolla”, the first annual charity event of the MEB Foundation, a glitzy affair that attracted many of the area’s beautiful people – and a few runner types, too. Meb had just returned from an eight-day trip to Athens with his wife Yordanos to attend the Athens Marathon. It was his first visit to the Greek capital since his silver medal performance in the 2004 Olympic Marathon.
While perusing the blind raffle items up for bid, and checking out the San Diego glitterati’s definition of “dressy”, the suggested dress code for the evening, Hawi, Manny and I got around to playing the What If game, discussing the huge payday difference between track, road running and the mainstream American sports. Continue reading
I’ve been giving some thought to the whole Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito imbroglio that has lifted a rock off the twisted world of intimidation-as-camaraderie that exists in at least the Miami Dolphin NFL locker room. Taken out of its context such behavior makes shy men shudder and league officials very nervous. But it also reminiscent of Captain Renault’s famous line in the movie Casablanca: “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”
NFL officials have been quick to condemn the hostility that Martin’s accusations uncovered, but let’s take a step back and consider the environment of violence that attends this game and the men who play it.
On Monday I posted a Veteran’s Day story telling of my father’s time in WWII, including how his experiences had coarsened him upon his return home. “The harder you live the more profane you become. ‘Gee whiz’ doesn’t work anymore.”
Author Tim O’Brien made the same observation in his highly regarded book The Things They Carry, about his time as a grunt in Viet Nam. “Send guys to war, they come home talking dirty.” Well, football is nothing more than a metaphorical war, so you get what comes with it. Continue reading
On this Veteran’s Day 2013, with thousands of our fellow citizens in faraway lands fighting in our name, I thought I’d share a memory from a long ago veteran that might remind us again of the costs of war, even for those who come home safely.
It was a lovely late spring day in St. Louis 1945. Lieutenant Isham Reavis had just returned home on a 60-day leave from his time in the European theater where he had been captured, spent four months in German prison camp, escaped, then in a period of ten days met and married my mother, a member of the Polish resistance, as he and wandered eastern Europe in search of an American mission.
It had been a trying time, to say the least, and he still anxiously awaited word on his new bride’s attempts to escape Soviet occupation and join him in the USA.
The day after his return home he grabbed his golf clubs, and headed for the municipal course in Forest Park where he was teamed with a man and two women, each in their 20’s. Golf had long been one of Isham’s escapes, and with a club in his hands and the green grass beckoning, there was nowhere else he’d rather be.
“Couldn’t get farther away from war than playing golf,” he thought, just for a moment without a care in the world.
They had played six holes, and Isham was about as far off his game as possible. Couldn’t hit a thing, couldn’t putt worth a damn. But it didn’t matter in the least. He was home and safe, and secure. Continue reading
Runner’s World Newswire put out a story October 23rd by Peter Gambaccini – Former Elite’s Advice for Ryan Hall – in the wake of Hall’s pull out from the November 3rd ING New York City Marathon, the third straight major marathon Ryan has been signed to run, but been unable to start. The advice ranged from “…go back to Kenya and get into a group that most of the top guys are training in and give it more than a few months,” from fellow 2008 Olympic marathoner Brian Sell, to “…You should focus on breaking the 4:00 mile,” from 1972 Olympic 1500m bronze medalist and 1983 New York City Marathon champion Rod Dixon of New Zealand.
Everyone has advice and an opinion, a testament to the regard the industry has for Ryan, the man, and the hope it carries for his position in the sport. But maybe the best advice would be for Ryan, or any other American, to discover a time machine and dial it back about 30 years when being number one from sea to shining sea could be the same as being number one in the world. Today that connection has long since been broken, in fact, the gap between the two continues to spread with each passing season and each marathon run. Continue reading
Baseball, in some ways, is like the marathon. Both sports require the ability to endure a long, grueling task, be it months of training and 26.2 miles of racing, or months of a 162-game season, and the intensity of multiple championship series. Both sports take from low two-hours to five-hours plus to complete, and taken in small doses or out of context, can seem incomparably boring. Yet when followed closely throughout a season or a race, the drama of each competition builds to Shakespearean levels, until every pitch, every foot strike takes on the weight of the world, and the glory of accomplishment — sometimes even in defeat — can resonate for a lifetime and beyond.
And so as the baseball season begins its annual fall ritual tonight in Boston with the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals taking on host American League king Boston Red Sox, we await the culminating event of the 2012-2013 World Marathon Majors cycle on the first weekend of November at the ING New York City Marathon with equal anticipation.
This year’s Fall Classic promises to be a beauty, as the Cards and the Sox have proven their mettle — both teams completed their seasons with a record of 97 – 65. Both have excellent pitching, powerful offenses, and legendary support from their iconic fan bases. We can only hope to witness a level of drama at the ING New York City Marathon November 3rd that will approximate what is expected in Boston and St. Louis – America’s Best Baseball Town. Continue reading
Pittsburgh Three Rivers Inc. CEO Patrice Matamoros
In the past several years we have seen event organizers in several cities expand their portfolio of races in what can be seen as an ad hoc movement to bolster the sport’s shrinking profile on their city’s sporting landscape. Even running’s national governing body, USATF, entered the arena with the scheduling of their first ever wholly-owned road race property, the .US National Road Racing Championships November 17 in Alexandria, Virginia.
That grassroots movement was offset and temporarily outshone this past Labor Day weekend when San Diego-based Competitor Group, Inc., owners of the mega Rock `n` Roll Series of marathons and half-marathons, quietly — and controversially — shifted much of its near $1 million elite athlete program to further focus on its participation model. Today, catalyzed by the CGI decision, Three Rivers Marathon, Inc. CEO Patrice Matamoros announced an expansion of Pittsburgh’s elite athlete support for 2014 with the launch of The American Development Program. Continue reading
Chicago at 22 miles – Kimetto & Mutai pulling free of Kitwara
Make no mistake, in foot racing like war it is axiomatic that the best laid plans rarely survive the instant of engagement. That is also why in today’s Kenyan dominated world of elite marathon racing the competition isn’t limited to a specific race. Instead, as many of today’s giants train together or in close proximity in the Rift Valley crucibles of Iten and Eldoret, competition stretches between and among races, as well.
And so, as we exit today’s TCS Amsterdam Marathon and head toward November 3rd and the ING New York City Marathon, the field there will not simply be competing against one another for the five-borough title, and/or the World Marathon Major cycle title. No, 2011 New York champion and course record holder Goffrey Mutai and the lads will be competing against what has just transpired in Berlin, Chicago and Amsterdam over the last month and a half. In fact, it was Wilson Kipsang’s world record in Berlin which spurred his sometime training mate, Geoffrey Mutai, into supposing that a sub-2:05 is possible in New York given the conditions. Continue reading
Kimetto captures $75,000 course record bonus in Chicago
Its fun to play with statistics, because like the bible, you can use them to support just about whatever position you’d like. So while Spanish statistician Miguel Calvo sifts through the splits (via an English translation by my Italian colleague Alberto Stretti) comparing Wilson Kipsang‘s 2:03:23 world record in Berlin three weeks ago with countryman Dennis Kimetto’s course record 2:03:45 at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon last Sunday, I’m digging into the money game.
As I wrote last week, there is no contest in how running’s money plays out for a Kenyan versus an American runner in terms of impact and purchasing power. But let’s make it more interesting and compare a top Kenyan runner, say Dennis Kimetto, with top business CEOs in terms of value for service. Continue reading
Perhaps it took Competitor Group’s two-by-four to the frontal lobe to get people’s attention, but now that CGI has eliminated appearance fees and (by running’s standards) appreciable prize purses at its U.S.-based Rock `n` Roll Series, it seems the message, “nobody cares how fast you run if nobody cares who you are”, has gotten through the fastest anonymous runners of the world.
This week International Athletics Consultancy, a European-based sports agency, announced that one of its top clients, two-time TCS Amsterdam Marathon champion Wilson Chebet, is using Facebook to offer advice to average runners prepping for the October 20th race. Continue reading