Month: June 2013

2nd RECESS – PUTTING KIDS IN MOTION

2nd Recess Logo     By 6 p.m. the casual pace of early evening dog walks had been replaced by the high spirited strides of the San Diego Track Club on the shadow-lanced lawns of Balboa Park.  But even as the runners began their pre-workout drills,  100 meters away a gaggle of children were engaged in their own exercises as part of 2nd Recess,  the club’s youth program initiated and conducted by top local runners Marco Anzures and his fiancee Natasha LaBeaud.

“Today we’re doing gut busters,” said Marco, a former collegiate runner at UCLA (Class of 2010), as he spoke to a group of children seated on the grass.  “Does anyone know what your core is?” (more…)

Advertisements

SLAYING THE DRAGON – COACH CRUZ ON LUKAS VERZBICAS

SummerNightsLogo2013     San Diego, Ca. — By the time the “Meb Keflezighi 10,000 meters” was called to the Mesa College track around 8:30 p.m. last night, most of the 250-300 competitors and spectators who had come out for the second of four Summer Nights T&F Meets had already headed for home.

Monique Henderson, her dad Adam & Thom Hunt direct the action
Monique Henderson, her dad Adam & Thom Hunt direct the action

But don’t blame meet organizers Thom Hunt and Monique Henderson, both of whom coach at Mesa. They, along with Monique’s dad, Adam, worked tirelessly handing out hip numbers, lining up fields, and wiping noses.  With so many kids, teens, and adults on hand looking to compete — heck, the 100 meters heats alone took nearly 30 minutes to complete — you knew it was going to be a late night.  All of which was a good thing as the popular Summer Nights series continues to build track and field in America’s Finest City. (more…)

USATF.TV TO DEBUT AT NATIONALS IN DES MOINES

USATFNationals2013     If we can bitch and moan when things aren’t being done well — and God knows I have — then we must salute when something is.  So while track & field (“athletics” to the rest of the world) may still be well behind the curve of other individual sports like golf and tennis in terms of having its own broadcast channel, under new CEO Max Siegel USATF is launching an array of media coverage for its upcoming National Championships in Des Moines, Iowa that should make even die-hard critics doff their caps in recognition of progress.  The following presser was released today on the eve of the USATF Championships. (more…)

“HAPPY WEDNESDAY” AT DUFF’S

Duff's Restaurant, St. Louis
Duff’s Restaurant, St. Louis

This isn’t a running story other than I ran that day.  In fact, I did a rare double.  But running isn’t central to the memory, though perhaps a catalyst.

In August 1973 I moved from my hometown of St. Louis to begin a new life in Boston.  It was there that I took up running before combining it with broadcasting to mount what has become a career.

But during my final full year in St. Louis I found myself hanging out at a new restaurant/pub in the Central West End called Duff’s, eponymously named by its original proprietors Karen and Dan Duffy.  In the ensuing years, though I only visited home once, sometimes twice a year, every trip would include a visit to Duff’s.   Not just because old friend, and one-time fellow Bostonian Charlie Moseley bartended there for 25 years or so, or that his partner Nancy Kirby was the hostess, or that Nancy’s brother Tim had joined Karen Duffy as co-owner, or even that Tim, Charlie and I had attended St. Louis U. High together in the mid-1960s.

Barside at Duff's
Barside at Duff’s

No, it was more than that.  Perhaps something generational, as Duff’s came along as we Baby Boomers were reaching early adulthood, and like every generation was beginning to scout out its own territory.  Just as Boston’s Eliot Lounge would become synonymous with the running era, so was Duff’s a new kind of establishment for a new kind of crowd.

Though it  offered an inventive, seasonally changing menu, a splendidly stocked bar, family-like staff, and such a warm bohemian atmosphere — including its famous Monday night poetry readings — those high pressed-tin ceilings, wide wooden floors and exposed brick walls felt more like an extension of people’s homes than a place of business. Over the years our family (I’m sure like many others) celebrated births, graduations, anniversaries, and even wakes there, and never felt anything other than perfectly at home.

A few days ago another old St. Louis friend emailed saying Duff’s would be closing at the end of the month after a run of 41 years.  While it is the nature of restaurants to open and close, for tastes to change, and neighborhoods to transform, as I read the email I was flooded with memories while being reminded of what a single establishment could mean to a city and it s people.

(more…)

PROTEST, POLITY & THE SURVEILLANCE STATE

French Open Protest
French Open Protest

It was eerie to watch in light of this new world we find ourselves living in. Several protesters disrupted the French Open tennis final today between eventual champion Rafael Nadal and fellow Spaniard David Ferrer as Nadal led 5-1 in the second set already up one set to love.

Though seemingly of European ancestry, the mask-wearing protester and a compatriot were unknown quantities when the one jumped onto the court with flare in hand.  Though later it was learned they were upset by recent legislation in France allowing for same-sex marriages, it was difficult not to think about the Boston Marathon bombings as anything seems possible in this troubled world.

Rafa Nadal scampered away as security wrestled the man to the ground, and extinguished his flare.  The other protester was ushered from the stands in a headlock.  And so here was another world-focused sporting event being compromised by political stagecraft.  Where once aggrieved men would raise black-gloved fists in protests, today protests have turned to attacks as grievances have accelerated and means to redress them proliferated. (more…)

HERE’S TO THE YOUNG DREAMERS

McKenna Brown taking instruction from Dad, Chris
McKenna Brown taking instruction from Dad, Chris

12 year-old McKenna Brown grasped the pole tentatively as her father, Chris, showed her how to stand at the top of the approach.  With that final advice the seventh grader from Oak Crest Middle School in Carlsbad, California moved to the runway where she stared at the pit and standards standing some eight steps away, about to make her first ever attempt in a pole vault competition.

McKenna, along with her dad Chris, mom Angela, and 14 year-old brother Kyle were part of a larger than expected crowd of competitors and supporters who showed up at last Wednesday’s Summer Night’s Track & Field Meet at San Diego’s University City High School, the first of a four meet series put on by Paul Greer and the San Diego Track Club.  As cities across the world vie for selection as host site for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games — including a joint bid being explored by San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico — it is at small all-comers meets like the Summer Nights series where youngsters like McKenna Brown begin to dream of perhaps making that team. (more…)

LUKAS VERZBICAS BACK ON TRACK

Lukas Verzbicas (L) with Jim Ryun, two sub-four high school milers
Lukas Verzbicas (L) with Jim Ryun, two sub-four high school milers

How quickly the big wheel turns and with it the bright glare of celebrity and fame.  Just this week Bronxville, New York teen sensation Mary Cain won her third USATF Athlete of the Week award of 2013 for her junior and high school 800 meter record at the Nike Pre Classic in Eugene, Oregon.  But recall that in 2011 the teen everyone was talking about was Lukas Verbicas of Orland Park, Illinois, who won two USATF AOW awards in a period of six months, the last for his 3:59.71 victory at the adidas Grand Prix Dream Mile, when he became only the fifth high school runner in U.S. history to go sub-4:00 – and only the second in an all-high school event.

Two very consequential years later we found Lukas back on the track at University City High School in San Diego competing in the mile and 5000 meters at the Summer’s Night Track & Field Meet still on the road to recovery from a horrific cycling crash last summer that nearly killed the triathlete/runner, then left him partially paralyzed and learning how to walk again.

The big wheel may have turned, but slivers of light still seek him out. (more…)