I was in Tampa last weekend to help announce the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic as the old-line road race was reintroducing prize money after an absence of 17-years. After the race I drove north to visit old friends in Gainesville where I’d spent 10 winters in the 1990s. And what happened while I was away? The track world falls apart in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the U.S. Indoor Nationals.
I tell you, I’ve been trying my best to embrace USATF as a changing, responsive national governing body, what with Max Siegel taking over in an appreciably quiet, yet focused way as CEO. And though there were momentary echoes of some benighted AAU or TAC ghost hovering near the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials selection process that chose L.A. over Houston, a closer inspection revealed both sides on firm ground with no hidden agendas, and a fair argument to bolster its case. Just sad one of the cities had to lose. And with combined trials, the sport loses inventory, too, as there is one less national exposure available.
But now again at the indoor nationals in Albuquerque we see yet another shit storm erupt in the controversy surrounding the no, no,yes, no again disqualification of Gabby Grunewald in the women’s 3000 meters. Certainly, given the evidence available to anyone who watched that race, or has ever spent any time racing or watching indoor meets over the years, while there was minor contact, (in my opinion) there was nothing suggesting disqualification. Indoor track has long been a contact sport as bodies fatigue, wits wither, and space narrows. Yet due to the current organizational structure and sponsorship arrangements of USATF, once again we saw the fuse of unrest only needing a minor spark to ignite a major controversy. (more…)