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

2017 TD BEACH TO BEACON 10k Preview

Cape Elizabeth, ME – 33 years ago on August 5th a young woman from Cape Elizabeth, Maine wrote her name indelibly into athletics history by winning the inaugural Women’s Olympic Marathon in Los Angeles. She trained for that effort along the streets of her hometown, streets that this August 5th will play host to the 20th running of one of the nation’s premier 10k road races.

The TD Beach to Beacon 10k began as a great notion that over its two decade life has lived up to its founder’s hopes and more.  Joan Benoit Samuelson‘s hometown race has proven to be among the new American road race classics, taking its place alongside such legendary first boom generation runs like the Falmouth Road Race on Cape Cod and the Bix 7 Road Race in Daveport, Iowa, races Joanie helped put on the map with her victories and personality.

For its 20th running, 117 legacy runners and five former champions lead thousands more on the trek from near Crescent Beach to the Portland Head Light in Ft. Williams Park.  Local star Ben True will attempt to defend his title from 2016, when he became the first American to win the prestigious international race. But Ben will have his hands and legs full. Continue reading

2017 TD BEACH TO BEACON SET UP

Cape Elizabeth, ME. – After going through his final checklist, race director Dave McGillivray sprung a question on me at last night’s TD Beach to Beacon 10k organizing committee meeting at the Cape Elizabeth High School.

“Toni, what’s the fastest women’s 10k so far this year?”

The question was more than pertinent given the quality of the elite women’s field at this year’s 20th Beach to Beacon, led by three past champions including defender Mary Keitany of Kenya who set the course record in 2016 at 30:45.

2017 TD B2B 10k Organizing Committee (photo courtesy of Ann Kaplan)

Being out in California most of the year, I am more of titular member of the hard-working organizing committee, but like to join the final gathering on the race week at the high school cafeteria.

“Jeez, Dave,” I said softly – as one does when called out by a teacher after failing to do your homework – “I don’t know off the top of my head.”

My confession brought Dave to the edge of a guffaw and chiding ridicule.

“What! Toni doesn’t know something about running?”

The room joined in the good-natured hectoring (though it was nice to know they were under the impression that I generally knew what I was talking about).

In search of redemption, I quickly opened Safari on my iPhone and dove into the IAAF.org website searching for world leading times for 2017. Continue reading

2017 BIX 7 RUNDOWN

Davenport, IA. – As race director extraordinaire Ed Froelich quipped, “even when it’s an American championship, Kenyans win.”

True enough, the 43rd Quad City Times Bix 7 Road Race hosted the USATF 7 Mile Road Championship yesterday for the fifth time, and two Kenyan-born Americans took home top honors, Sam Chelanga for the men, and Aliphine Tuliamuck for the women.  And none of the competitors  in the two pro fields could have been more thankful or gracious in victory. Continue reading

TEAMING UP

IAAF President Sebastian Coe gave an interview to the British newspaper The Guardian this past Tuesday June 13th to discuss the unsteady state of the sport of athletics. While admitting that the sport has been mired in crisis, racked by both internal institutional corruption and wide-spread drug cheating, Lord Coe’s prescription included the following observation:

“We have to be more innovative, we have to be braver and more creative in formats. The first thing I said when I became president was that we have to think differently.”

My question to President Coe is, did he watch last weekend’s NCAA Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon?  Did he watch the women’s 4X400 meter Relay final when the University of Oregon’s Raevyn Rogers took the baton from Deejah Stevens a half-stride in front of USC’s Kendall Ellis with the entire women’s championship hanging in the balance?  Did he watch knowing that Raevyn had to win in order to overcome Georgia’s 8.2 point lead over her Ducks by scoring the 10 points for the victory? Continue reading

BREAKING 2 STILL ALLURING?

And so the grand experiment has come to a conclusion. And, oh, so close did it come to its vaunted goal, just one second per mile short of history’s first sub-2 hour time for the marathon distance. Not for the marathon, mind you, but for its distance – because a marathon by its historic formulation is a competitive event. What we witnessed yesterday in Monza, Italy was a time trial/lab experiment, not a race. But that is nitpicking, though a significant nit.

Notwithstanding, a huge congratulations go out to Eliud Kipchoge and the entire Nike Breaking2 Project for such a grand experiment in human performance, footwear technology, and scientific experimentation.

But what did we come away with after yesterday’s 2:00:24 performance on the Formula One racetrack in Monza?  Certainly, more questions as well as some answers. First of all, we know that the sub-2 is now possible, more likely probable, because he damn near did it! But since he didn’t quite do it, what else needs to be done that this experiment informed us as still being required? Continue reading

PRE-BOSTON 2017: THIS, THAT, THE OTHER

Boston, Ma. –  Boulder Wave sports agent Brendan Reilly is back on his old home turf. The former Greater Boston Track Clubber from the 1980s and his athlete Edna Kiplagat went out to the 20 mile mark of the Boston Marathon course on Saturday morning to scout-run the last 6 miles.

Edna is the two-time World Marathon Champion (2011 & 2013) and did same scouting run in 2010 before New York City, going  out to Willis Avenue Bridge and running in the final miles. Turns out that’s where she, Shalane Flanagan and another woman got away from the rest of the field. Shalane is doing TV with me today on WBZ locally. She said Edna is a “sneaky” racer, meaning it as a compliment to her racing savvy. “I didn’t even know she was there until she announced herself as she went by me.” Continue reading