TWO MARATHONS PER YEAR?

Japan’s “Citizen Runner” Yuki Kawauchi is notably famous for his relentless marathon schedule. Since his humble start in February 2009 when he finished 20th at the Beppu-Oita Manichi Marathon in 2:19:26, the now 30 year-old school custodian has run 67 marathons, 22 of which have ended in victory. Twice, 2014 and 2015, he has started 12, and generally his time range has been from 2:09 to 2:18.

Kawauchi, however, is the outlier. The conventional wisdom has long held that at the very highest level professional marathoners optimized at two per year, one in the spring, one in the fall. The original cast of five Abbott World Marathon Majors was built on that assumption.

With a marathon training cycle of roughly 12 weeks, and a proper recovery requiring one month, it was felt that two per year was the way to best schedule a marathon career, with exceptions made for an Olympic or (possibly) a World Championships year, where athletes were willing to compromise their fall effort for a shot at Olympic or WC glory.

Wilson Kipsang breaks from Eliud Kipchoge in 2013 Berlin, the only loss in Kipchoge’s marathon career

The perfect illustration of this is the current world number one marathoner Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya. Since the ’03 5000m world champion began with a win in Hamburg in April of 2013 (2:05:30), he has run two per year like clockwork, one in the spring, one in the fall, winning each and every race except his second career start in Berlin in September 2013 where he took second place (2:04:05) to Wilson Kipsang‘s then world record 2:03:23.

Even last year when Eliud won in London in April in a near-world record 2:03:05, then came back in Rio in August to claim Olympic gold, he didn’t force a fall start, saving himself instead for the mighty effort in Monza, Italy this past May in the Nike Breaking2 Project.

So, too, with rival Wilson Kipsang. His marathon career has stretched from Paris 2010 (3rd, 2:07:13) to Tokyo in late February 2017 (1st, 2:03:58). Only twice in that span has he added a third marathon, 2012 when he took bronze at the London Games, and 2015 when he DNF’d at the Beijing World Championships.

Ethiopia’s Keninisa  Bekele, too, has generally stuck to the two-per-year model since he began in Paris 2014 (1st, 2:05:04). However in 2015 he only made one start, DNF’g in Dubai in January as he worked through an injury.

But as the paydays continued to spread around the world and opportunities began to crop up where the weather was conducive to marathon running in what previously might have been off season, we have begun to see more and more athletes stretch their wings and challenge old assumptions. Continue reading

Advertisements

PRO RUNNER DAVID TORRENCE – “Don’t Blame Elite Athletes for State of the Sport”

With the very sad news that professional runner David Torrence was found dead in a swimming pool yesterday (8/28/17)) in Scottsdale, Arizona, there has been an outpouring of remembrances of a man who did much more than run fast. As the news continues to settle in, I found the following guest-post from David from four years ago. It reflects his passion for the sport, hope for its future, and illustrates why the running community has expressed such heartache at his early passing. R.I.P. David. Your spirit and smile will be long remembered.

Toni Reavis

Reaction to the Competitor Group’s decision to discontinue much of their elite athlete program at their Rock `n` Roll Series events in the United States continues to come in. Even now, nearly four weeks after the decision became public, pro athlete David Torrence has reacted to a quote in the comments’ section of my post “Dumbing Down, Slowing Down” by Competitor Group maven, John “The Penquin” Bingham.  In the following column posted on LetsRun.com today, Torrence fires back at Bingham’s assertion that pro runners don’t show sufficient interest in the back-of-the-pack masses, thereby maintaining the distance between them.  A 1998 grad of U.C. Berkeley, David has won four National Championships, one indoors at 3000 meters, and three straight Road Mile Championships (2009-2011).

*****

3:52 miler David Torrence3:52 miler David Torrence

My name is David Torrence. I am a Professional Track Athlete and Road Racer.  I’ve run in front of packed sold-out stadiums, and in front…

View original post 1,198 more words

ASSESSING WOMEN’S MILESTONES

There is an interesting article in Outside Magazine online penned by Sally Bergesen, founder of Oiselle, the Seattle-based women’s athletic apparel company, asking where are the female equivalents of the sub-four minute mile or the sub-two hour marathon? (Article)

“How are our own benchmarks so unfamiliar?” she asks rhetorically.

Her conclusion, in part, is that “the dearth of women’s milestones and tradition is a result of our relatively recent entry into competitive sports.”

I wouldn’t disagree with that assessment, but perhaps in that understanding there is another way to look at the underlying question.

What if there have already been such women barrier breakers, but since women’s athletics have only in recent times come into the spotlight, we missed them in their own day? Continue reading

History of Cross Country Brought to Life

At colleges and universities across the nation students are settling into dorms, meeting new teammates, and learning routines for the soon to arrive cross country season. It’s an exciting time, and the promise is strong.

“Unlike track and field and road running, which had easy-to-manage lists of top athletes and times (along with historical venues with great traditions); similar attention had not been paid to cross-country,” writes Andrew Hutchinson in his voluminous new work The Complete History of Cross Country Running, From the Nineteenth Century to the Present Day.  Untamed running was a wonderful opportunity for athletes looking to escape the track, but…there was nowhere an athlete could go to learn about the stories, legacies and processes in developing the sport. That had to change.”

Mr. Hutchinson’s book is that attempt. Like Tom Derderian’s magnus opus Boston Marathon, History of the World’s Premier Running Event,  which saw its second edition come out last year along with a corresponding documentary movie, Hutchinson goes for an epic scale that matches his subject. Continue reading

NB FALMOUTH ROAD RACE WEEKEND 2017 GEARS UP

Falmouth, MA. – Timing and Tommy, what a combination. The end of the summah (sic) on old Cape Cod and the hospitality of race founder Tommy Leonard, put them together and what you get is what has come to be known as The Great American Road Race. This Sunday the New Balance Falmouth Road Race celebrates its 45th running.

2017 NB Falmouth Elites: (back row l-r: Craig Engels (mile), Abdi Abdirahman, Katie Mackey (mile), Diane Nukuri (’15 champion), Stephen Sambu (3X men’s champion), Jess Tonn.  (Front row: Danny Romanchuk, Krige Schabort (5x chair champ), Tatyana McFadden (2x chair champ)

Today, race weekend kicked off with a press conference at the Casino Wharf overlooking a gray Vineyard Sound and the finish line of the 7-mile summer classic. Defending champions Stephen Sambu (3x open men’s division), Katie Mackey (3x women’s Aetna Mile) and Tatyana McFadden (2x female wheelchair division) headlined the proceedings. But Falmouth weekend is very much a family reunion, too.

Inaugural year champions Jenny Tuthill and Dave Duba

Inaugural year winners Dave Duba and Jenny Tuthill were back to remember 1973, even as they wondered where the ensuing years had gone. 1975 and ’76 men’s champion and race inspiration Frank Shorter never fails to return to the Cape to join Tommy Leonard for a stroll along memory lane. And six-time women’s champ Joan Benoit Samuelson will factor once again into the master’s competition, even at age 60. Continue reading

FALMOUTH ROAD RACE FOUNDER TOMMY LEONARD TURNS 84

This Sunday the New Balance Falmouth Road Race turns 45.  But today race founder and guiding spirit Tommy Leonard celebrates his 84th birthday.

Back in the Summer of `72 Tommy was tending bar at the Brothers 4 on Falmouth Heights when Frank Shorter ran to the gold medal at the Munich Olympic Marathon.  Inspired by Frank’s win, Tommy dreamed up a local road race to help raise funds for the Falmouth Girl’s Track Club.  45 years later, both the founder and his founding spirit live on.

Tommy Leonard

Though he summered on Cape Cod, T.L. called Boston’s Eliot Lounge home for nearly a quarter century, and it was there that his legend took root.  In honor of his birthday, here is a little verse that recalls the days when a visit to Tommy was on every runner’s wish list. Continue reading

THE MEASURE OF MEN

Even as we revel in the life affirming glory of last night’s women’s 1500 meter final at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in London, we are constantly reminded of the brief stay that is ours upon this blue, spinning orb.  The Boston Globe put out a very nice obituary today on an old friend, and wheelchair racing pioneer Jack Coakley.

Jack was a 30-year stalwart at the Bill Rodgers Running Center in Boston’s Faneuil Hall.  He died last Friday while working out at Rowe’s Wharf gym at age 67.  He was a man who asked no quarter, nor gave any in return.  RIP wheel man.

We live as we do,

In the time we are given,

Trying as we might,

To accomplish what we can,

   In the fields that we till,

Through the habits we develop,

By the grace that is God’s,

To bestow as He sees,

Upon those of His choosing.


And through those days,

and by our ways,

We come to discover,

The true purpose of our existence,

In this realm of blood and breath and bone,

From the bright wail of our birth,

 ‘Til the silent dying of our light,

Arranging through trial and error,

Accommodation and accord,

And even at times whimsy,

The measure that is ultimately me.

END