ROASTING ALONG THE RIVER

     Davenport, Iowa – It may not have been the record heat of a week ago when Midwest thermometers were topping out in the triple digits, but with the temperature rising fast from its 77 degrees start at the 8 a.m. and blanketed by 85% humidity the 37thQuad City Times Bix 7 Road Race proved to be a radical weight loss seminar for the 15,000+ runners and walkers testing the full seven-mile distance over the rolling out-and-back course.

Thousands thunder up Brady Street in Mile 1  

 Kenyans Silas Kipruto (32:36) and Caroline Rotich (36:42) took home top honors and $12,500 as champions , as the race returned to an international field format after two years as the U.S. 7-Mile Road Championship.  Arizona’s Abdi Abdirahman was the first U.S. male finisher in sixth place.  Neither 2009 champion Meb Keflezighi (out with a heeling Achilles tendon), nor 2010 winner Ryan Hall (announcing his running of the BofA Chicago Marathon) returned to Davenport this year.

Instead, both Kipruto and Rotich led predominantly Kenyan and American fields through the sweltering conditions to impressive wins.  Both champions established an early presence at the point of attack up the steep Brady Street hill as the race got underway. Then, as if on the same strategic wavelength, they stretched their respective fields to the breaking point down miles two and three as the course turned right onto rolling, crowd-lined Kirkwood Boulevard heading to the turnaround at 3 1/2 miles. Continue reading

Advertisements

37th BIX 7 WEEKEND UNDERWAY UP BRADY STREET

Bix legend Joan Samuelson welcomes women's masters to finish line at Brady Street Challenge. Davenport duo Kathy Evanchyk (gold) and Mary Toohill lean for the win.

The 11th Brady Street Challenge kicked off the 37th Quad City Times Bix 7 weekend here in Davenport, Iowa last night.  Seven races in all made their way up the 7% – 9% grade which constitutes the opening segment of the Bix 7 Road Race tomorrow morning. It’s a quarter-mile grind with champions earning $500 for the torture.  Makes you appreciate the 10%+ grades the cyclists of the Tour de France must climb.  But those guys use expensive geared machines. These folks have only their legs and the drive of their arms to propel them.

The Davenport air was all but liquid last evening, not in the sense of rain, but in terms of humidity.  As if the brutality of the hill wasn’t enough, the weight of the heated air itself added an even greater challenge.

Best race of the night was the first one, as three-time former women’s master’s
champion Kathy Evanchyk of Davenport inched past 2008 champ Mary Toohill by just .47 seconds in 1:29.69. Continue reading

GROWING APART

     Like the gap between the fastest racers and the average runners, the gap between rich and poor in America continues to expand, risking a fundamental change to the nature of the American experiment in self-rule.  Figures just released reveal the widest margin yet between wealthy and poor in the 25 years since such statistics were first compiled.

For society at large it is a disquieting trend, as is the entrenched posturing of the two major political parties caught up in the on-going debt-ceiling debate.  Being a government of, by and for the People, we are fated to how well we prepare ourselves to be stewards of our mutual destinies.  Today, with constituencies so markedly separate and unequal, without a moderating middle-class to bridge the divide, neither side seems capable of providing the leadership required by enlightened democratic rule. After 235 years, we may well have found the limits of the Founding Father’s grand design.

Continue reading

GRASSROOTS FUNDING CONTINUES ON TRACK

     Minimal, broad-based funding has long been a useful mechanism to advance the cause of sports in the USA. In the late 1970s and early `80s runners had to join The Athletics Congress (precursor to today’s USA Track & Field) in order to run the Boston, New York City and Columbus Marathons.  Today, a similar mechanism is utilized by USA Triathlon where every competitor must purchase at least a one-day license ($10) in order to participate in sanctioned events.  Running USA, itself, was stood up in 1999 in part with funds provided by then New York City Marathon director Alan Steinfeld who pledged a $1 per U.S. entry to the fledgling organization.  That funding gave rise to Team USA California in Mammoth Lakes which developed Deena Kastor’s bronze and  MebKeflezighi’s silver medals at the Athens Olympic Marathons in 2004.

While the mandatory TAC membership model fell away in the 1980s as more and more fitness runners came into running, and the governing body proved unwilling or incapable of providing services for fees, and RUSA withdrew its support for Mammoth Lakes at the end of 2009 as the trade organization turned it focus inward toward servicing industry members rather than outward toward the sport, the minimal $1 per entry practice was resurrected this March by race director Steve Nearman of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon scheduled for October 2nd in Alexandria, Virginia WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE HALF MAKES MAJOR AMERICAN PLEDGE.

Nearman’s funds will be used to support America’s distance running training camps. Several other events have since joined the Dollar For Distance Development pledge, and USA Track & Field Foundation continues with its own program “to attract and guide funds to new and innovative track and field programs, with an emphasis on providing opportunities for youth athletes, emerging elite athletes, distance training centers and anti-doping education.” USATFF generates its funding from donations from its Board of Directors and from generous fans of track and field.

Yesterday, Team USA Arizona coach Greg McMillan revealed that he has received a contribution from Tagg Running of Tucson from its July 4th Freedom Run. Continue reading

HOW RUNNING IS LIKE GOLF

    Golf is one of the few sports that a top caliber runner can play while maintaining a rigorous two-a-day workout schedule.  I discovered that years ago in Boston when each Monday Bruce Bickford, the last American ranked #1 in the world in the 10,000 meters, and two-time Olympian John Gregorek would join Pat Lynch, the Boston Marathon elite athlete recruiter, and me for a weekly golf outing down along the Massachusetts-Rhode Island border where John and his wife Chris lived.

Both Bick and John would have finished their morning workouts, and meet Lynch and I at the course around 10:30 a.m.  Gregorek was a long, spray ball hitter who actually notched a hole-in-one on a par 4 one time. Bick, on the other hand, was a frustrated short-ball hitter.  Point is, as long as they rode in carts, Bick and John could play 18 holes and still be back home in time and with the energy for their afternoon workouts.

As I watched the final round of the 140th British Open today from Sandwich, England, I wondered if there were any parallels to running and golf?  On ESPN the American commentators all seemed surprised when Phil Michelson came apart in the back nine after charging out to a five under par 30 on the front side at Royal St. George’s Golf Club.  But as the four-time majors champion was ripping through a six-under par run over the first ten holes to tie for the lead with Northern Ireland’s third-round leader Darren Clarke playing threee groups behind, I kept telling myself, ‘no way Phil holds this pace’.  It’s like bolting out to a 1:01 and change first half in the marathon.  You simply cannot hold onto that form over the distance, the peak is too precarious. Continue reading

WHEN IS TOO MUCH ENOUGH?

     If the academic well-being of our children is worth engendering and accrediting by a way of curricula and diploma, all in the name of a meaningful, productive life, then why is the same no longer true for their physical well-being?  After all, it is the flesh and blood foundation for their academic exercise, and further, for their and the nation’s competitiveness in the family of nations.  How have we allowed these two supporting pillars of education to be separated in drawing up the blueprints for our national child-rearing? Have we become so shorted-sighted, personally indulgent, and fiscally irresponsible that somehow we now see the physical well-being of our children as having entered the realm of a luxury?

In matters of career opportunity, access to health care, and now nutritional foods, we continue to see a widening in the gap between the haves and have nots in the USA, even as that gap continues to close in nations like Brazil which was once the poster-child for such disparity.

Yesterday, in an opinion piece that ran in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. David Ludwig, a child obesity expert at Children’s Hospital in Boston, suggested that some parents should lose custody of their children if those children are severely obese (two million children fall into that category nationwide).  Ludwig’s contention, that state intervention would be a preferable solution for such severely obese children, stirred up a hornet’s nest of criticism from both within the professional fraternity and outside it, as well. Continue reading