BELICHICK, BASKETBALL, AND RITZ

ESPN Pardon the Interruption’s Mike Wilbon thinks that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is “ruthless” and “will crush you”, as if it were a personal thing. His remarks came in the wake of the Patriots’ 43-0 drubbing of the Miami Dolphins last Sunday in week two of the NFL season. 

But the Patriot Way of “playing 60 minutes” and “doing your job”  have been the hallmarks of Belichick coached teams for nearly two decades now. And it is those mantras that explain why when his teams get to the Super Bowl – as they have nine times with six wins –  they’re already so steeped in the culture of playing 60 minutes and doing their job irrespective of the situation, that the Super Bowl becomes just another situation in which the Patriot players say, “I’ve been here all year. I’m  more prepared.”

This is the backdrop for last Sunday’s shutout of the Miami Dolphins in which the Patriots blitzed on the final play of the game to preserve the 43-0 snooker.  Pundits like Michael Wilbon were convinced it was further evidence of Belichick’s cold-cold heart – to borrow from Ken Burns’ excellent series Country Music currently airing on PBS – while I would see it more as Belichick’s relentless preparation and mindset.

This has always been the backbone of distance running training, the daily attention to detail. ‘What I do today has no value outside the context of what I did yesterday and what I must do again tomorrow’. It’s that continuum that breeds success, not the single killer workout or waiting for the Big Game to knuckle down. (more…)

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PINKOWSKI ON KIPCHOGE & 1:59

Not too snappy a game in Chicago last night as the NFL’s “nobody-plays-preseason-games-anymore-and-it-shows” 100th season kicked off with a 10-3 snoozer between the league’s oldest rivals, Da Bears (3) and the Green Bay Packers (10). Hopefully, there will be more action in six weeks when the Bank of America Chicago Marathon starts its 43rd running.

When it was first announced that Kenya’s remarkable Eliud Kipchoge would forego another Abbott World Marathon Majors season to make a second attempt at a solo sub-2 hour run over 42.2 kilometers – staged as an exhibition under non-record eligible conditions – I expected that the AWMM men might be less than thrilled. After all, Kipchoge already tried this gimmick two years ago in Monza, Italy rather than defending his London Marathon title from the year before. And of course he got close at 2:00:25.

At the same time, the six Abbott events are trying to build a brand. And so far they have done a pretty good job of it. But when the unquestioned top athlete in their field decides to take his talents off their grid and perform in a pure exhibition instead — Like if Serena Williams decided not to play the U.S. Open in order to stage a Billy Jean King-Bobby Riggs type exhibition, how would the WTA feel about it?

Chicago Marathon Ex. Director Carey Pinkowski

So when I called and asked Chicago Marathon executive director Carey Pinkowski what he thought about the possibility of having Eliud Kipchoge make his 1:59 attempt near the same date as his Marathon, I expected some pushback. Instead, the kid that still exists deep in the DNA of the onetime sub-9:00 high school two miler out of Hammond, Indiana and Villanova All-American came through. (more…)

FALMOUTH FOTOS 2019

Falmouth, MA. – Pictures from the lead man’s vehicle at the 47th New Balance Falmouth Road Race on old Cape Cod. U.S. Army’s Leonard Korir (32:11) wins his first Falmouth after finishing second twice and third two other times. Four time champion Stephen Sambu of Kenya takes 2nd (32:29) with fellow Kenyan Edward Cheserek in his his first Falmouth taking third (32:30) and former NCAA steeplechase champ Mason Ferlic out of Michigan in 4th (32:54) on a warm, muggy morning.

Leonard Korir opens his lead in the final mile over Sambu.
Korir turns Falmouth Harbor heading toward mile six.
1983 Boston Marathon champ Greg Meyer watches the action near six miles with 1978 Falmouth runner up Mike Roche.
Passing six miles in 27:30 off a 4:40 split.
The final stretch with 1K to go at the turn.
Korir salutes the crowd.
Victory awaits!
How the followers saw Leonard at the line.
4X champ Sambu holds off Cheserek for second 32:29 to 32:30.
Former Michigan Wolverine Mason Ferlic In fourth in a breakthrough performance.
Sailing home!
Falmouth board member Scott Ghelfi interviews the champion.
To the victor go the spoils.
Everyone’s destination.
The ball field was jammed!
Former Philadelphia Half Marathon race director Tony DeSabato with 1980 Falmouth Road Race champion Rod Dixon in the Crow’s Nest.
The calm before The storm in Woods Hole.
Lined up and ready to go.
Nerves apparent before the start.
And they are off.
2014-2017 champ Stephen Sambu attack’s early out of Woods Hole.
Sambu in close concentration with Silas Kipruto already chalkenged.
Mike 1 in 4:27, 7 seconds faster than last year.
No prisoners today.
In mile 2, Cooper River Bridge 10K champ Silas Kipruto made his bid.
Kipruto put some distance on the pack in the second mile.
The gap widens.
Three-time Bix 7 champion Kipruto finished fifth at the Wharf to Wharf six miler in Capitola, California two weeks ago.
Famous Nobska Light
Rolling hills and tree cover define the first 3 miles of the Falmouth course.
2 miles in 9:03, a 4:36 second mile. Silas still leads but the pack is closing.
Together again. Kipruto, Korir, Sambu, David Bett and King Chez.
No messing around. Sambu again goes to the front and puts in the boot.
Serious business.
Edward Cheserek In his first Falmouth race came in with a slight hamstring pull from 10 days ago after running a 13:04 personal best over 5000 m in Belgium. But in mile three he fades from the front as the pack strings out under the pressure applied by four-time champion Sambu.
Sensing the moment at hand, Sambu continues to drive with only Leonard Korir and Silas Kipruto able to maintain contact.
Mike 3 in 13:39, a 4:36 split and it’s Just the two Falmouth veterans still in the hunt.
Gaps have formed.
Sambu finished fourth and Korir third last year as they let University of Michigan 10,000 m NCAA champion Ben Flanagan from Canada hang around until his speed took the victory. This year it was a drive from the start.
Big boisterous crowds lined the route along the beach
Sambu never came off the gas. But he couldn’t break free. He’s training for the New York City Marathon in November and coming off fourth place finishes at the Utica Boilermaker 15K and the Bix 7, and a seventh place at the Peachtree Road race July 4th in Atlanta.
Beginning to show signs of wear.
Four miles passed in 18:12 off a 4:32 split. Sambu wonders where Cheserek is.
King Chez we gathered him is only 14 seconds behind at 4 1/2 miles.
Finally, Leonard Korir takes control.
Korir check his watch and sees that he passed 5 miles in 22:50 off a 4:37 split. In 1978 Bill Rodgers, Mike Roche, Craig Virgin, and Alberto Salazar passed 5 miles at 22:40 as Rogers headed toward his third Falmouth win with Roche in second, Virgin in third and Alberto fading back to tenth heading toward an ice bath to reduce his spiking body temperature. This year, Korir cruised to his first Falmouth victory in the final two miles. Thanks for taking the ride with me on the men’s lead vehicle along with 2018 champion Ben Flanagan provided color commentary like a real natural. See you down the roads.

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47th NB Falmouth Road Race Men’s Preview

Falmouth, MA. – Tomorrow’s 47th New Balance Falmouth Road Race men’s competition will have a throwback look to it as the top three seeds are all Kenyan-born, but American schooled athletes. Since Joe Nzau of the University of Wyoming became the first Kenyan champion at Falmouth in 1983, that’s how we became acquainted with the first generation of great Kenyan runners who emerged in the late 1970s and early ‘80s.

4x men’s champion Stephen Sambu & 2012 women’s winner Margaret Wangari

Four-time Falmouth champion Stephen Sambu (2013–2017) was a nine-time All-American at the University of Arizona. Twice runner up to Sambu in Falmouth and also twice third, including last year, Leonard Korir was a two-time NCAA champion at Iona in 2011. And Falmouth debutante Edward Cheserek was a record-breaking 17-time NCAA titleist at the University of Oregon.

Defending champion Ben Flanagan of Canada out of the University of Michigan is back in town this year but injured so we won’t be running just doing personal appearances at the expo.

Just got word that Clayton Young, BYU’s NCAA 10,000 meter champ in Austin this June has been added to the start list. That’s the same position Ben Flanagan held coming into Falmouth 2018 out of Ann Arbor. 

So far in 2019 Sambu has not been the athlete he has been in the past. Rather than winning, he’s been taking thirds (BAA10 K), fourths (Bix 7), and sevenths (Peachtree).  But at age 31, he’s transitioning to the marathon heading toward the New York City Marathon in November. That transition is often attended by a slowing in speed as distance in training piles up. (more…)

KORIO & JEPKOSGEI RUN AWAY WITH B2B WINS

Cape Elizabeth, ME. –

Portland Head Light, the oldest commissioned lighthouse in the USA, overlooking the finish line.

Kenyans Joyciline Jepkosgei  and Alex Korio broke free early and cruised home to easy wins today at the 22nd TD Beach to Beacon 10K. Joyciline finished and 31:05, a fine, but not spectacular time on an ideal day with start temperatures under 70°F no breeze and low humidity. The victory is equal to her win last week at the Quad City Times Bix 7 Road Race in Davenport, Iowa.

In the men’s race, Alex Korio took control of the race from the airhorn start and within the first half–mile the competition had been whittled to four with Korio fronting fellow Kenyan Jarius Birech, Belgian Bashar Abdi, and Australian Brett Robinson.

#19 Robinson, #9 Bashir Abdi, #1 Korio and #4 Birech pulling free early.

They hustled through the opening mile in 4:24. Last year under heavy humidity New Zealand’s Jake Robertson blitzed a 4:15 opener on his way to a runaway 27:37 win, the third fastest time in race history. But the opening mile has fallen as fast as 4:08 in the past when going out very hard with the tactic of the day. It has also gone out as slow as 4:51 when the heat was on.

58:51 Half-Marathon man Korio applying pressure in mile 2. Birech in second, Abdi in third, Robinson fourth.

Today, Korio opened his winning margin as the course turned right off Route 77 onto Old Ocean House Road. Mile 2 tumbled in 4:30 (8:54) with the third mile evaporating in 4:21 (13:15).

Up close and personal

Korio was a late entrant into the race, only arriving last night at 7 PM from Kenya. Several Kenyan athletes who had been okayed for travel visas six weeks ago did not receive them until yesterday, while 2016 third-place finisher William Sitonic was involved in a minor car accident on his way to the Nairobi airport. Though the accident was not serious, it was enough to keep him off the flight and at home.

Korio’s leads swelled to 14 seconds as he passed 5K in 14:43. And now it was a matter of time

Turning onto Shore Road heading to Mile 4.

The 4th mile fell in 4:24 and five in 4:22, and suddenly the course record was at least within sniffing distance. But though he pushed, Alex could only notch the second fastest time in Beach to Beacon history, winning in 27:34, six seconds shy of Gilbert Okari’s 2003 course record.

Final Stride! 27:34 second fastest time ever at B2B
(Photo courtesy of Bill Nickerson)

But his winning margin of 54 seconds over runner up Jairus Birech (27:34 to 28:28) was an event record, beating last year’s 50-second margin by Jake Robertson over Stephen Sambu. Bashir Abdi finished third in 28:35, and Brett Robinson fourth in 28:43, coming home just as they started out in the first mile.

World record holder at 10K Joyciline Jepkosgei (29:43) made quick work of the other women, winning over defending champion Sandrafelis Chebet 31:05 to 31:37. Charlotte “Charley” Purdue of the UK took third and 32:17.

Fauble the top American finishing sixth in 28:58. Bumbalough just behind in 29:00.

In the American male division, a real battle was fought until the final mile when Scott Fauble of Northern Arizona Elite (28:58) of Flagstaff bested Bowerman TC standouts Andrew Bumbalough (29:00)and Chris Derrick (29:02) with Saucony-sponsored Noah Droddy of Boulder, Colorado finishing 4th in the American division. Overall the Americans finished in sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth overall.

In the women’s American division, 2015 bronze medalist in the world championships in 10,000m Emily Infeld took fourth overall and top American.  Second-place went to Becky Wade of Colorado who was seventh overall.  Third-place to Katie Newton of the BAA out of Belmont, Massachusetts in ninth place.

Race founder Joan Benoit Samuelson greets finishers at Ft. Williams Park.

Skies turned gray as the awards were handed out, but the spirit of the day and that of race founder Joan Benoit Samuelson provided plenty of cheer to the 8000 competitors in Maine’s largest road race and one of the world’s most prestigious.

Heading home after the annual Lobster Bake at Ft. Williams Park.

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ABDI ABDIRAHMAN BRINGING RACING BACK HOME TO SOMALIA

Cape Elizabeth, ME. –  Like many a natural born American, I had one parent who was not.

In the waning gray days of World War II, Eastern Europe was a place of devastation and dislocation. In that tumult, my parents – he an American army officer who had escaped from German POW camp, and she a member of the Polish Home Army – met and married in February 1945 after a courtship of only ten days.

“In wartime,“ Pop once told me, “you don’t analyze, you act.“

Ten days later Mom and Pop were forced to split up, he heading east in search of an American mission, she remaining behind with only a handwritten note identifying her as the wife of an American soldier while asking anyone who could to help.

It took the better part of 1945 for Mom to escape Russian occupied Poland and make her way to Nuremberg, Germany where she found refuge with General George Patton’s Third Army.  It was in late 1945, then, that she finally sailed for America hoping she would recognize the man she had married nearly a year before. Such are the rippling effects of war and its many deprivations and dislocations.

Mom finally arrived in St. Louis, Missouri in January 1946 and by June 1951 was a mother of three native-born American kids living in a newly built suburban home. But she did not become an American citizen until 1972 some 26 years later. Though she loved America and all it had given her, she was forever a proud Pole, too.

“How do you renounce who you are?” she once said when I asked why it had taken her so long to apply for citizenship, as renouncing former allegiances was one of the requirements of American citizenship.

This is a long way around to recognizing that America still remains the most unique country in the world, the only nation born of an idea rather than of blood or soil. But it is also an acknowledgment that America is not alone in generating patriotic feelings in the hearts of its people, especially those forced leave because circumstances beyond their control had given them no choice but to go.

So when the American president – whose mother was born in Scotland and grandfather in Bavaria  – fomented a chant of “send her back“ from xenophobic followers against a Somali-born U.S. Congress person, it flew in the face that America has shown the world throughout its history.

Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) came to the United States from Somalia with her family as a ten year-old in 1992. She is the Somali-born U.S. Congress person President Trump’s followers want to “send back” after she made comments they found critical of Israel and America.

Irrepressible Abdi

Four-time U.S. Olympic distance runner Abdi Abdirahman also fled war-torn Somalia with his family when he was only three years old. After existing in a Kenyan refugee camp for five years, the family found asylum in the USA in 1985.

Today, Abdi is working toward bringing the sport that has defined his adult years back to his homeland, because though he is a proud American, and eager capitalist, he remains a loving son of Somalia, too. (more…)

BIX 7 HITS 45 AND SAYS SO LONG TO ED FROELICH

Davenport, IA. – The Quad City Times Bix 7 Road Race is one of the American Road Race classics. Now it is 45th year, the Bix 7 is celebrating the final year under the leadership of Ed Froelich who is in his 40th year at the helm as race director.

In his term, Ed transformed the BIX from a local/regional fun run to a national and internationally celebrated event while helping transform the sport of road racing from its amateur past to its professional present.

Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch announced Ed Froelich Way along Third Street near the Bix finish at today’s pre-race gala.

With the invitation of Marathon superstar Bill Rodgers in 1980 after the USA announced its Olympic boycott, the BIX field doubled in size. Olympic marathon champion Frank Shorter also was an early contestant during the Froelich years, and when women’s marathon world record holder Joan Benoit Samuelson began her annual trek to Iowa in 1983, the legacy of excellence was set. International stars just kept on coming.

With the aid of his long time and beyond-able assistant Ellen Hermiston and a cadre of committee heads that Ed tasks then lets alone to do their jobs, the Bix has become a well-oiled machine and the pride of the Quad Cities.

With retiring T.C. Cornelis broadcasting his 40th straight Bix 7

I have been fortunate to be part of the broadcast team on KWQC-TV6 for 27 years, working alongside local legend Thom “TC” Cornelis who will be hosting his 40th and final Bix tomorrow morning.

Another great lineup of athletes will compete in the 45th Bix and you can watch a live stream on KWQC beginning at 7:30 a.m. central time.

Part of what makes the Bix special is its race course. Here’s a preview.

The Bix 7 miles

Mile one is dominated by the iconic Brady Street hill, a quarter mile beast with a 7% – 9% degree grade, similar to climbs Tour de France riders face in the Pyrenees and the Alps.

Mile two descends along tree-lined Kirkwood Boulevard, a blazing downhill that is a Siren’s call to speed. But beware, because mile three is a roller coaster, the first half after you turn off Kirkwood going uphill – and it’s a pretty severe little uphill at about 2 1/2 miles – before the next half of mile 3 is downhill as you approach the Mississippi River on McClellan Street.

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Statues of Bill Rodgers & Joan Samuelson were installed along the River in Davenport in 1999. Ed Froelich’s statue went up several years later.

Then we turn around just before McClellan intersects at State Street running along the river.  Now we go back uphill heading toward mile 4 passing many beautiful homes perched atop their well-groomed lawns.

But the climbing is far from over. Now there’s another hump requiring serious attention. No time to peruse the blossoming gardens. And I wouldn’t like to have to mow the lawns on these slopes, either.

Yep, the 4th mile is definitely back up again and then just after the fourth mile sign hanging over the road, you take a right hand turn back up onto Kirkwood where that second mile that you blitzed down is now a wall to climb in mile five.

The course finally flattens out as you pass 5 1/2 miles approaching the end of Kirkwood and the left turn back onto Brady Street. But there is no cruising ahead. Instead, it’s a screaming downhill after all the uphill running. And that steep a drop just pounds your quads as the thick crowds urge you on.

The stretch run down Brady Street

You blow by the start line before turning hard left on Third Street for the final half-mile to the finish line. But don’t be deceived by the huge Bix 7 sign hanging off the train trestle. That’s not the finish. You still have several blocks to go.

Yes, sir, the Bix 7 is a real race course, a real challenge, befitting one of the American road race classics. Congratulations, Ed, you’ve done yourself and your community proud.

Fast Eddie Froelich signing an autograph for 23-time Bix runner Dan Kedley of Lowden, Iowa.

END