And down the stretch they come!

And down the stretch they come! ( photo)

Results from yesterday’s Zurich Diamond League meet showed the poles pulling apart as some rode the high of the 2013 Moscow World Championships, while others looked like the long season had caught up with them.

Eunice Sum, Nick Symmonds, Bohdan Bondarenko and Meseret Defar fell into the first category.  Asbel Kiprop, Ezekiel Kemboi, Mathew Centrowitz, Ivan Ukhov and even Usain Bolt found themselves joined in the second.

The most anticipated race of the evening was the 5000 meter showdown between former Ethiopian teen queens turned Olympic icons, Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar, the two most decorated women distance runners of their generation. Both arrived in Zurich as World Champions, Tiru at 10,000 meters, Mezzy in the 5000.

Since they first squared off at the 2002 Carlsbad 5000 as precocious teens (Tiru took 2nd in 15:19 to Mezzy’s 11th in 15:58) theirs has been the match up that has most intrigued yet frustrated running fans.  Though they have competed more than 20 times over the years, Zurich was only their third head-to-head clash since 2009.

In this first duel of the year Defar proved to be two-seconds sharper, 14:32.84 to 14:34.82.  Her 58-second last lap – that held more in reserve as I saw it — forced Tirunesh to lead out from 600 meters hoping to use her 10,000 meter strength to grind down Meseret’s 5000 meter closing speed.  Tiru’s sister Genzebe even aided the  family cause by pushing the pace past 4K in an attempt to set up her older sis. Continue reading


Dave McGillivray Run Across America 1978

It was 35 years ago today that Medford, Mass. native Dave McGillivray completed his 80-day Run Across America from Medford, Oregon to Fenway Park to raise money for Boston’s Jimmy Fund.  It wasn’t the first nor the last ultra-distance trek by the man who today directs the Boston Marathon, Beach to Beacon 10K, Falmouth Road Race, and many more events nationwide, but it remains his most famous.

In an excerpt from the archives of Runner’s Digest Radio, here’s our day nine report on Dave’s 3,452 miles through 11 states that finished with two laps around Fenway Park before the start of a Red Sox — Seattle Mariners game on August 29, 1978.

In a testament to his organizational skills and future profession, Dave wrote to city officials in every jurisdiction through which he planned to run to alert them to his timetable, a herculean task in itself.  Dave’s run raised $150,000 for the Jimmy Fund, but more than that helped raise its profile beyond New England.

And just to show the run wasn’t simply the lunatic act of a youthful over-achiever, Dave continued to keep his hand in the over-do-it business via his annual birthday run.  Earlier this month he extended his ritual of running one mile for every candle on his birthday cake for the 47th straight year (he began at age 12).

Congrats, Dave, on this historic moment in the growth of advocacy running.  Now please sit down and show us you can relax, as well.  You (and we) have earned it.



Defending champ Nick Rose (r) battles Craig Virgin at 1975 NCAA XC at Penn State (Virgin wins, Rose 2nd)

Defending champ Nick Rose of Western Kentucky battles Illinois’ Craig Virgin at 1975 NCAA XC at Penn State (Virgin won, Rose 2nd, Wash. State’s John Ngeno takes 3rd)

Trying out a new sound feature here on the blog.  From my old Runner’s Digest radio show days in Boston I have untold hours of interviews and race calls from the first Running Boom era.  The show ran weekly from 1977 to 1988.

In this selection 1974 NCAA Cross Country champion Nick Rose of England discusses the use of fartlek training in a 1981 interview with me and Runner’s World editor Amby Burfoot.

Let me hear if you’d like more “Blasts from the Past”.



 family meals    It is a long-lost tradition in these frenetic, more individualized times, but in days of yore families came together to eat dinner as a unit.  In our house it was a time to discuss the issues of the day, learn the manners of the table, and generally upset Mom and Pop for the remainder of the evening — although that was more a by-product of the first two than a specific goal in itself.

By family I mean in the extended sense, our dogs were also at hand (and underfoot).  And as anyone who grew up with dogs in the house can testify, in general parents treated pets better than they did the children, although more times than not they would leave the estate to the bipeds.

In our household dogs could do anything, while we, the children, could do very little.  And please don’t think this is some rose-colored remembrance.  We were an eclectic family when it came to pets: birds, squirrels, turtles, fish, we co-habitated with each at one time or another.  No cats, though.  But always and primarily dogs,  plural.  One great dane and two dachshunds, that was the standard issue.  Do not ask why; these things evolve.  While the other pets were always treated well, in no way were they in the same class as the dogs, which assumed a status similar to that accorded cats in ancient Egypt.

Dinner was a time when this distinction in treatment was particularly acute.  The dachsies, like many canines, had a difficult time regulating food intake.  Put food in front of them in any quantity, and they would scarf it up no matter if it outweighed them by a factor of three.  In that sense I always thought of cats as a faith-based species, perfectly able to leave their food unattended, with faith enough that it would still be around when next they sought it.  Dogs, on the other paw, seemed to be natural atheists, as they took no heed of, nor faith in the future whatsoever.  One of our dachshunds, Priscilla, required special attention. Continue reading

RUNNING’S NEW INFRASTRUCTURE – Building the bridge to fitness

Team Toya at Wild Duck 5K XC

Team Toya at Wild Duck 5K XC

San Diego, Ca.  — Driving home from yesterday’s Wild Duck 5K in Vista, the opening race of the 2013 Dirt Dog Cross Country Series, we came upon a group of folks walking out of Qualcomm Stadium after completing the Color in Motion 5K, one of the 18 such fun runs staged around the country.

And so here was the sport of running in its full, current arc.  Beside me was a salt-crusted racer, fully given to the task of training to run full speed ahead from point A to point B, now hungry for a hearty breakfast and a following nap.  Out on the crosswalk was a young family still drenched in the colors of fun and frolic, as if modern-day members of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters – minus the hallucinogens.  Continue reading


JoggerKilled    The story of three “bored” teens gunning down 22 year-old Australian baseball player Chris Lane as he jogged in Duncan, Oklahoma this week has once again sparked debate along the well-rutted roads of gun control and race relations, even though only two of the three teens involved were black.

While guns and race remain thorny issues worthy of debate, this particular story draws light on another issue that should trouble any who hope to see America’s future shine as brightly as her past.

In America’s creation myth as Ronald Reagan’s proud “City on the Hill”, never once did we doubt which side we were on in the binary world of “Good guy versus Bad guy”.  Well, ask yourself, how does the nullity of Chris Lane’s killing fit with that myth and its future application? Continue reading


Down Goes Alysia

Down Goes Alysia

How many times have each of us come together in a working group to brainstorm an idea or try to come up with an idea to more fully develop?  It is a standard practice in most businesses.  Yet studies have shown that the creative process is best assisted not by some peristaltic group session, but rather in the idles between any such serious attempts.  And since much of running is managed by our reptilian lower brain — we don’t have to think, “right foot, left foot, breathe in, breathe out” — through the act itself our higher intellect is offered unfettered freedom to roam the labyrinth of undifferentiated thoughts and feelings marking the territory of our conscious and unconscious selves.

This understanding is well-travelled ground for any avid runner.  The very act itself is like a meditation, an auto-pilot physicality that releases the right-side brain to wander and jog at its whim through the millions of latent potentialities that exist among the billions of neurons firing in the furnace of the brain.  As such, fitness can become our emancipator, often reordering heretofore unconnected patterns and henids into crystalline ideas or decisions. So, too, does this exist in the realm of racing. Continue reading