Month: March 2014

COMPETITOR GROUP NAMES GOLF EXEC AS NEW CEO

David Abeles, new CGI CEO
David Abeles, new CGI CEO

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Competitor Group, Inc. (CGI), the San Diego based company that owns and operates 53 events around the world, including its flagship Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, today announced that its board of directors has named David Abeles as Chief Executive Officer.

For the past several months CGI chairman Paul Walsh has been serving as interim CEO after Scott Dickey and Steve Gintowt left the company as CEO and CFO in December 2013. The change in leadership followed a strong industry reaction against CGI’s precipitous reduction in its elite athlete program just two weeks prior to the Rock `n` Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon last September after appearance agreements had been made by CGI’s elite athlete coordinator Matt Turnbull.  Later, following Dickey and Gintowt’s departure,CGI reversed course, and in January reconstituted its commitment to elite competition.

Now, 42 year-old David Abeles joins the firm, bringing 20 years of executive experience in the sports industry to CGI. He was most recently the Executive Vice President and General Manager at TaylorMade-Adidas Golf Company, where over the past six years he led the commercial operations of a $1.8 billion global equipment and apparel division. Prior to TaylorMade, Abeles served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Cobra Golf.  I spoke with Abeles by telephone today from his office at CGI headquarters in San Diego.

So why CGI? Why you?  Why now? (more…)

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AARON BRAUN READY FOR HIS CLOSEUP IN L.A.

Aaron Braun
Aaron Braun

Los Angeles, Ca. — Three American men have taken home the Asics Los Angeles Marathon title in its 28 years, Rick Sayre in the inaugural 1986, Mark Plaatjes in 1991, and rabbit-going-the-distance Paul Pilkington in 1994.  And while we already know that an American man will win in L.A. in 2016, that title will go to the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials champion, an event recently awarded to the City of Angels.  No, like every other race in the world, it seems, the Asics Los Angeles Marathon has starred a primarily Kenyan cast, as their men have taken home 14 of the last 15 L.A. stagings. But this year, though there is another well-matched gathering of East Africans on hand, Kenyan and Ethiopian, an American man is actually among the nominees for the L.A. Marathon podium.  Which step on that podium? That, my friends, is why they actually run the race, to answer just that sort of question. 

“Oh, yeah, I feel ready,” said Alamosa, Colorado’s Aaron Braun as he sat in the Presidential Suite of the glamorous Biltmore Hotel in downtown L.A., which doubles this week as the marathon’s invited athlete suite.  “You never know what can happen, but I definitely feel super fit and really ready.”

Hearing such talk from a runner of any nationality is disorienting.  We generally don’t hear such potent positivity from anyone in this sport of rampant over-achievers, but timid under-staters, much less from an American making his marathon debut.  But 26 year-old Aaron Braun has thought through this effort, and when you are ready, you are ready, even though L.A. wasn’t his first choice for a maiden voyage over the long distance. (more…)

RUN SAFER, A MESSAGE FOR A MODERN WORLD

RunSafer LogoAmerica’s innocent mid-century mythology, when neighborhoods were neighborhoods and the focus was on family, has long since been reduced to Tea Party yearnings and Toby Keith song lyrics.  Today, the distance between threat and target has never been shorter.  In fact, we’ve become a nation of fear, and perhaps not without reason.  Thus do enterprises like two-time Olympian Todd Williams’ RunSafer program come into being in this early 21st century welcomed rather than lamented.

Todd Williams in Racing Prime
Todd Williams in Racing Prime

A man for whom the competitive fire burned brightly during his high school, college, and professional career, four-time former U.S. 10,000 meter champion and 15Km road record holder Todd Williams traded in his racing kit for Jiu Jitsu togs following his retirement from competitive running in 2003. In the ensuing eleven years the drive and focus Todd once summoned to earn 21 U.S. championships in running was transferred into the collection of Jiu Jitsu ranking belts. Over the years as Todd worked his way toward black belt status (2011), the idea that would become RunSafer began to take form. (more…)