After his impressive win at Saturday’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials Marathon in Los Angeles (in his debut at the distance) who knows how far Oregon’s Galen Rupp can take his career in the years to come — or if he will even have a sport left to build a career upon, given all the rot coming out of the IAAF Eyes Wide Shut hall of mirrors in Monaco these days. But let’s say the sport survives its current suicide attempt, just for argument’s sake.
Though the Oregon-based 2012 Olympic 10,000m silver medalist and American record holder is well on his way to a historic CV, and is now talking a probable 10K-marathon double in the Rio Games this August, Galen still has a way to go to match the career resume of his Trial’s runner up Meb Keflezighi. With Meb’s second-place finish behind Galen at the Trials last Saturday, earning his fourth Olympic berth, you have to say once and for all — though it’s a close call — that Meb has finally climbed to the very top of the U.S. distance running mountain as the best we have ever seen. (more…)
Los Angeles, CA. – How important is live television to a sporting event? Some would argue it’s an absolute, and for the first time the U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials have been accorded that distinction by NBC. But with TV comes compromise. And in this case it may turn out to be an important one, though purely by chance and fortune.
As the Midwest and North East bundle up for this weekend’s big freeze, out here on the sunny west coast its just the opposite. Here temperatures are expected to ramp up toward 80°F (27c). And with the men’s Trials kicking off at 10:06 a.m. Pacific time, followed by the women at 10:22, temperatures two hours later at noon will be 79°F, very hot by marathon standards.
However, if the races started at 7 a.m. like tomorrow’s Skechers Performance LA Marathon will, the temperature would read a still tender 52° (11c) and will only be 64°F (18c) two hours later. If not perfect, that spread would be pretty, pretty, pretty good (Larry David reference).
But for live television you can’t start a sporting event on the network before noon on the East Coast. So the give-and-take of live television means that we may well see the make-up of the Rio Olympic team be different just because of that three hour difference in start time. Of course, the weather in Rio in August will be warm and humid, so maybe this is a good break after all.
And that, my friends, is how life in the big commercial pool of professional sports works. Maybe one day we’ll be able to dome the stadium and pump in the weather we like. Till then, don’t forget your sun block, and enjoy the show.
(Posted with apologies to our Midwest and Northeast friends for gloating).
Los Angeles, CA. — There’s a whole different vibe to an Olympic Trials race, because by its very nature it is not a final, but a prelim. Top three is a win no matter how you slice it because that’s the goal, to determine the team going to the Olympic Games. And yet for some the win is very important. This year in Los Angeles in the women’s Olympic Marathon Team Trials race 2012 Trials runner-up Desi Linden has made no secret that her goal is to break the tape first.
“Thanks for mentioning all my second-place finishes,” Desi quipped after USATF’s Jill Geer introduced Desi at the press conference yesterday at the J.W. Marriott Hotel at LA Live with a list of her accomplishments, including second place in Boston 2011, runner-up at the Trials 2012 in Houston.
“Hopefully this will be the breakthrough race where I can break the tape and get a win.”
Both Desi and Luke Puskedra, the other featured athlete at the kick-off presser that included Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, USATF CEO Max Siegel, and Conqur Endurance Group CEO Tracy Russell, agreed with Desi that what it would take the ability to close well, handling that last 10k to win the race and make the team. Not hanging on, but closing well.
“You need to be ready for everything,” said the 6’4” Luke, whose 2:10:24 in Chicago last fall made him the fastest American of 2015 in the marathon. “Even if someone goes early, it will take a 2:08 effort even if not a 2:08 time in the heat.”
Trials’ racing is different. I remember the 1984 Olympic track & field trials where Craig Virgin came into the meet with a bit of a knee injury. Yet he pressed the pace in the 10,000m final, before coming in second to the late Paul Cummings of Utah 28:02 to 27:59. Afterwards I asked Craig why he pushed the pace when he was less than 100%. And he said, “because I only wanted someone who was a peer to beat me. I didn’t want the pace to be slow, like 29 minutes where a bunch of people who normally couldn’t beat me might be in the position to do so.”
At the 1984 Marathon Trials in Buffalo, New York Pete Pfitzinger opened a good lead in the second half. Then Alberto Salazar came and caught him. I was in the lead moto calling that final sprint. “They’re saving nothing for Los Angeles, they’re going for the win! They’re going for the win.”
Things get heated. Athletes are competitors.
And in Houston 2012 Ryan Hall dropped it into high gear right from the start on a chilly ideal racing day. Boom! 4:50 out the door! How do you do! 1:03:25 halfway. I talked to Josh Cox yesterday who is agenting these days, and he recalled, ‘they took off at 2:06 pace. We were in the second pack around 2:08:30 pace. But we had no choice. You had to be in the in the second pack, cause we realized only two of those guys up front were gonna make it all the way through. So you had to win that second pack race if we wanted to make the team.”
Now, it didn’t turn out that way as Meb Keflezighi went by Ryan at 25 miles, and Abdi Abdirahman held off Dathan Ritzenhein for third. But that’s the kind of mentality you have to have in a Trials race.
There’s a race for victory, and then there’s a race for third. But Desi has put it out there, after the disappointment of having to step off the Olympic Marathon course in London 2012 after two miles because of an injury, she’s here in Los Angeles going for her second team, but also the National title that will attend it.
“She’s saving nothing for Rio! She’s going for the win! She’s going for the win!”
Twice in recent men’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials history the weather has been a significant factor. This coming Saturday in Los Angeles that number will jump to three as temperatures in LA have been forecast for the low-70sF (21C) at the 10 a.m. start, going up to 80F (27C) at noon. Not ideal, by any measure, but consider that the average daily range in Rio de Janeiro in August for the Olympic Marathon will be a low of 66F (19C) and a high of 78F (25C), fairly similar to LA this Saturday. (more…)
There is an interesting parallel between the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and the ongoing drug and corruption scandal darkening the halls of the IAAF.
Though Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders stand on opposite sides of the political spectrum, both represent strong outsider positions suggesting the political system has been rigged by too close an association between politicians and business interests whose greenback contributions subvert the pol’s allegiance to the constituents they were elected to represent.
Last night at the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the thrust of the Vermont senator’s critique centered on Secretary Clinton’s financial ties to Wall Street and Big Pharma. Without disavowing the $675,000 she received for three speeches to Goldman Sachs, Clinton dismissed what she called Sander’s “artful smear”, declaring there was never a quid pro quo, nor had she ever changed a vote based on such financial considerations.
On the Republican side, Donald Trump has gained much of his political traction by harping, “I am self-funding my campaign,” inferring he wouldn’t be beholden to any of the special interest groups that largely fund his opponents (though his sizable wealth makes him something of a one-man special interest).
Within the ranks of the IAAF, new president Sebastian Coe has been roundly criticized for, among other things, not giving up a lucrative contract with Nike (for being one of its brand ambassadors) until pressured to do so in the wake of the scandal that has his predecessor Lamine Diack awaiting further visits from the French gendarmes on corruption and extortion charges.
In the WADA-funded Independent Commission report that followed Diack’s retirement, I.C. chair Dick Pound implicated not only Diack for his alleged crimes, but also called out the entire IAAF Council, including Coe, for its willful disregard in allowing corruption to become so embedded in the organization. But then, in a head-snapping move, Pound endorsed the two-time Olympic champion as the ideal man to oversee the necessary reforms. Blind man as watchdog, interesting concept. (more…)
When we speak of the equality of man where does it reside? In our native dignity? In our compassion, or maybe our intellectual curiosity? How about in our universal stupidity and attitudes toward our fellow man?
The latter is everywhere you look. And the more you travel, the more you see it. At least in America there is an obvious difference, black and white, Snoop Dog or Duck Dynasty?
But whether Jew versus Arab in the Middle East, Pole versus Russian in Europe (just to name one), Hutu versus Tutsi in Rwanda, Japan versus Korea (or anybody else) in Asia, you name it, the racial and ethnic discrimination of the world are truly the mark of man’s equal nature.
Fearful, ignorant, unimpeachable, rollicking: To expect different is to run into the headwinds of our own making.
All men are created equal, alright, just not like we thought. It’s not up there, it’s down here.