Month: July 2011

DIAMOND LEAGUE, BIRMINGHAM

It’s an interesting time on the Samsung Diamond League track & field circuit these days as the ninth in the fourteen-meet tour was staged in rainy Birmingham, England today before a sell-out crowd of 12,700 in refurbished Alexander Stadium.  With Brits taking four wins – Dai Green in men’s 400m hurdles (48.20), Jenny Meadows in women’s 800 meters (2:02.06), Philip Idowu in the men’s triple jump (17.54 meters), and Mo Farah in the men’s 5000 meters (13:06.15) – the crowd certainly went home with a sunny disposition. But with the World Championships looming in South Korea at the end of August, everything must be judged through a Daegu filter.  So what to take from today’s results? (more…)

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“SUMMER NIGHTS” SERIES OFFERS RACERS OPPORTUNITY

     There was a south wind blowing up the homestretch of the Cuyamaca College track last night as three runners settled into their blocks for a special 200-meter dash.  The 200 wasn’t originally on the schedule for this, the third of four all-comers meets in the popular Summer Nights T & F Series put on by the San Diego-Imperial Association of USATF.  But U.S. Paralympic coach Joaquim Cruz asked officials if they would squeeze three of his runners into the program, as one athlete in particular had a goal he needed to achieve under calendar constraints.

The Summer Nights Series was begun last year by former local stars Paul Greer and Thom Hunt, who also staged the 2008 and 2010 USATF National Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay Park. Their love for the sport and dedication to the Summer Nights Series mirrors many such local track series around the country.   Not the kind of meets which garner much media attention, they instead represent the kind of all-comers competitions which both introduce and sustain the sport at all levels, offering opportunities to any who seek to explore the excellence that lies within.  This special 200-meters was right up their alley. (more…)

MISSING THE SONG OF THE CITY

    Another small chorus in the song of the city has begun to go silent in the nation’s neighborhoods, as the U.S. Postal Service continues its removal of their iconic blue collection boxes from street corners throughout the country.  It’s been going on for six to eight years, now, as the decline in first-class mail usage, the ubiquity of email, increasing competition from Fedex and others, internet bill-paying, and the cost of collecting a dwindling number of hand-mailed items has made the post office collection box increasingly obsolete.  First installed in the 1850s alongside post offices and on street corners in large cities, their final delivery will certainly be to the Smithsonian Institution, the reliquary of America’s memory in Washington D.C.

Like the neighborhood service stations of old which ballyhooed the cleanliness of their award-winning bathrooms, rang out with the industry of double service bays, and produced both a uniform-clad window washer and pump jockey as cars drove in over the black rubber hoses announcing each arrival with a distinctive “Ding-Ding” bell, the corner mail box was a part of the strains of neighborhood life. (more…)

“PEACHTREE’S CHARM”

     Why is it that everyone but the people in charge understands the problem?

“It’s part of the Peachtree’s charm. People won’t know the people who win or their name, but they’ll know that it (Peachtree) attracts some of the best talent in the world.”

That’s John Curtin of the Atlanta Track Club quoted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about tomorrow’s 42nd Peachtree Road Race, which doubles as the USA Road 10K Championship and PRRO Race of Champions.

If it weren’t so stunning an admission, it might actually be horrifying.  Maybe I misread.  No, that’s correct, having people not know who your anonymous, interchangeable champions are is now considered “charming”. Not a blight on the sport, not an indictment on the last generation of leaders who allowed a totally unregulated marketplace and stagnant prize purses to create the image that road racing is boring, even as race coffers continued to swell with participant entry fees, it’s charming.  Kind of like how Antebellum life in and around Atlanta was charming, I guess. (more…)