NCAA XC – TORTURE IN THE WAITING

Yesterday’s NCAA D1 Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana again produced compelling competitions and high drama. But that drama was immeasurably stretched out by the interminable wait for team results, especially in the women’s race. So long was the hold up that it nearly bled over into the men’s competition.

Oh, it was pure torture, like waiting for voting results on election night. But in the end the Oregon Duck women were that much more thrilled, and Coach Mike McGuire’s Michigan Wolverines were all that much more disappointed when the whisper-thin 125 to 126 scores were finally posted.

This is not a new problem for NCAA cross. Most recently in 2012 there were all kinds of technical difficulties that had officials declaring Oregon as the women’s national champs, then Providence, and finally the Ducks one more time after the technology failed to account for several finishers.

But what is it with technology that can be so impressive in almost every regard – automation is replacing every worker in the nation, including brain surgeons  – but it can’t keep track of several hundred runners going 10 mph over an open grass field? Continue reading

THE ROADS AS RECONCILIATION

The divisions in this country remain profound as we exit this most contentious election season with a new president-elect. Yet despite those divisions America remains what it has always been, a unique patchwork society quilted of many colors sewn together with a common thread – the rule of law and an originating declaration espousing the equality of all.

Though it is a patchwork that is in constant need of mending, and it’s originating declaration in need of expanding, it has survived for 240 years along an arc of inclusion, which is no mean feat. We can see how difficult this quilting truly is when we look to the European Union’s current attempt.

There, a thousand years of national divisions defined by blood, religion, and wars have hardened hearts and released spasms of revanchist pride (see the Brexit vote in U.K.) It is a difficult history to surmount, much less in a single generation during which tumult and dislocation loosed by ongoing wars in the Middle East is a primary feature.

There is much in the world that is conspiring to separate us, while very few things find universal appeal. Even a mother’s hope for her child is defined differently in different places. And the Olympic Games, an institution born to unite, has been shadowed by corruption, cynicism, and a growing allegiance to fortune rather than fair play.

In any open society elections expose fault lines and divisions as new ideas are offered and debated while old ways are challenged. In that contested environment camps pitch and feelings get hurt.  Yet notwithstanding those divisions, there still exists in most people a desire for empathy and understanding.

One place these universal feelings are being expressed most profoundly are at road races, both in the U. S. and abroad. Continue reading

NOVEMBER SURPRISE

They call it an October surprise, and we had a few of those in the run-up to this historic 2016 election. Maybe not one as stunning as the November surprise that put Donald Trump in the White House, but now comes the question, how about the surprises that may come in February, March, April and beyond?

Because here’s the thing about Donald J. So without context is he upon entering the Oval Office, and so opaque to the public are his business dealings – no tax returns released after all – what happens when it turns out he just said all those things on the campaign trail to get into office, and didn’t really believe wholeheartedly in very much of that agenda?

It may be a cynic’s view, but what if he turns out to be the left-leaning New York Dem he once admitted being?  OMG, what if in one of the great ironies in U.S. political history President-elect Trump ends up as a hybrid version of a third Obama term? Yikes! Continue reading

IN TRUMP WE TRUST

And we thought the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series was historic.

trump-coinIn a massive FU to the ruling class that bailed out Wall Street then sold out Main Street, the American people elected boorish billionaire and reality TV star Donald J. Trump as its 45th president yesterday.  It was a stunning rebuke not only to his Democratic challenger and status quo candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, but to the current President Barack Obama, and the Republican Party hierarchy as well.

Not since Old Hickory, Andy Jackson, rode into Washington from Nashville in 1829 has such a pure populist insurgent been handed the reins of power by the American electorate. But even Jackson had a record of military and political service. Trump is the first man elected to the nation’s highest office as a complete novice, with no military or political experience of any kind in his CV.

Never once ahead in the polls in the election run up, Trump’s shocking victory and Clinton’s perilous fall announced to the world that a powerful anti-establishment, anti-elite, anti-immigrant movement had arrayed itself behind the Trump banner.  And while this movement is coming FROM the people, it is also true that it is not really OF the people, as Trump is no more one of the people than Mitt Romney was. Never has been, never will be.

But in the absence of an acceptable choice from the Dems, Trump wielded his “Make America Great Again” slogan like a conjurer’s stone until even true blue states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin succumbed to the fever dream offered by the New York real estate tycoon.

And it didn’t matter that Trump has never once experienced the kind of difficulties that led millions of people to throw in with him. He was no American Lech Walesa, the Polish electrician who co-founded Poland’s Solidarity Movement and led a workers’ strike in the shipyards of Gdansk in 1981 that began the dismantling of Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.

But in the absence of a person who comes directly from the ranks of the disenfranchised, Donald Trump’s populist message and bombastic braggadocio was seized upon as the imperfect vessel to hold the frustrations and hopes of this country’s under-served, and non-represented.

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2016 TCS NEW YORK CITY MARATHON- PHOTO ESSAY

New York, N.Y. – He may or may not actually be the 20 years of age that his passport declares (birth dates are often less precise in some parts of the world). But that didn’t stop Eritrea’s Ghirmay Ghebreslassie from frolicking like a young colt through the five concrete boroughs in the 46th running of the TCS New York City Marathon.

Ghebrslassie entering Central Park on his way to victory

Ghebreslassie galloping in Central Park on his way to  a 2:07:51 victory.

Showing no signs that he was competing in his third big time marathon in seven months time, the long-named strider put an exclamation point on his 2016 campaign, adding the New York City title to fourth place finishes in the London and Rio Olympic Marathons.

Under azure blue skies and clement mid-50s Fahrenheit temps, Ghebreslassie took charge as the lead pack climbed the Pulaski Bridge at halfway in Queens  (1:04:25). His decisive move splintered the 12-man pack and led eventual runner up Lucas Rotich of Kenya and eventual DNF Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia on a clean breakaway. From that point forward the man from Asmara, Eritrea just kept turning the screw tighter and tighter until Desisa then Rotich gave way up the Willis Avenue Bridge at 20 miles.

Thin as a miser’s smile, the 2015 World Marathon champion in Beijing was only 34-seconds off the course record pace at 20 miles. But once free from Rotich, the recently married Gheb cantered home in 31:01 over the final 10K while Mutai had pressed his margin with a 28:36 in 2011 to set the record at 2:05:06.

In the end Ghirmay G. added a shiny Big Apple to his growing display case with a convincing 2:07:51 win, third  fastest winning time in New York history and just five seconds off his PR run this spring finishing fourth in London. Continue reading

2016 TCS NEW YORK CITY MARATHON – MEN’S PREVIEW

New York, N. Y. – The Marathon is a what – have – you – done – for – me – lately kind of sport. And in that sense tomorrow’s men’s competition in the 46th TCS New York City Marathon reminds me of the classic Game 7 of the Chicago Cubs – Cleveland Indians World Series. Continue reading

2016 NEW YORK CITY MARATHON – THE LOOK

New York, N. Y.  —  When you are riding a full load, when training has gone right and you carry a certain tonnage, baby, “let the games begin!”

At those rare times the race comes to you any way they want it, from the front, the middle, or sit and kick. What’s more, the uber well-prepared are usually anxious for engagement. Bring it on!

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