During the last decade of the 20th century “What’s Up With American Distance Running?” became a latter day Trivial Pursuit, a truly fun-filled parlor game for the entire family. Notwithstanding the hours of mirth, America’s slide into second-class running status dealt a stinging blow to all America First patriots who expected U.S. preeminence in everything from NASCAR to football to distance running — perhaps forgetting that the first two are played by American sportsmen only.
Fortunately, the question begat some answers, and with the advent of the Team USA in Mammoth Lakes, California in 2000 Deena Kastor and Meb Keflezighi delivered Olympic Marathon medals in Athens 2004. Since then the USA has continued to develop elite training camps, righted its ship and sailed back to the front ranks of world racing — even in the face of the fully developed flotillas coming out of Kenya and Ethiopia.
Today, however, the question that embroiled American running in the 1990s has shifted south to a neighbor that once proudly held down a top rank in world athletics, but that today is but a shadow of its former self. I speak, of course, of Mexico. Continue reading