2019 BOSTON PRESS DAY

Boston, MA – Other than too many people and not enough time, it all went perfectly well at the John Hancock elite athlete press conference for the 123rd Boston Marathon this morning at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel.

It was like old home week. There was Rob de Castella the 1986 champion here with his indigenous running team from Australia. There was ‘83 champ Greg Meyer hanging out with fellow Grand Rapids Michigander Dathan Ritzenhein. And three time women’s champion Uta Pippig with a wave and a hug still mourning the passing of her father.  Everywhere you looked was an old friend. 

But this was not a day to simply chat about yesterday. This was a press conference to see who might do what on Monday from Hopkinton to Boston. Continue reading

FIRST BOSTON PREVIEW BEFORE THE DELUGE

In last year’s IAAF Competition Performance Rankings for the marathon,

At number 82 Boston Marathon USA 16 APR 2018 515 3 7967 110 0 8482

Where we are headed

So, we have ourselves the first official Performance Rankings for athletics, road racing, and the marathon by the IAAF, a means, they say, to better follow the sport for we fans.  And according to those rankings, last year’s Boston Marathon ranked No. 82 in the world.  Really?

Anyone else think Boston 2018 wasn’t better than 81 other marathons worldwide?  I guess that’s the difference between a systematic ranking and an emotional expression.  Same date, same time, same competitive point standing, but none of the heart or soul.

People run Boston from the heart to the core of their being.  It’s a love affair.  Something about the place and the people, the history.  Boston isn’t a marathon, it’s The Marathon like Augusta is The Masters.

This will be Des Linden’s seventh time on the old course, first as defending women’s champion.  The two-time Olympian and Southern California native was one of the favorites going into 2018 regardless of the conditions, but her chances improved mightily in the lashing winds and stinging sheets of rain.

Yes, after initially thinking she would drop out, then deciding to help her fellow Americans Shalane Flanagan and Molly Huddle, somehow Des found her own rhythm instead and ran away with the race.

Yuki takes it in stride with Tommy Meagher alongside

Japan’s “Citizen Runner” Yuki Kawauchi was never, ever a favorite, even for a podium position on a normal day.  But in that cold and rain, he became master of his domain.

This year Des and Yuki will be tested the way all great events honor their champions, by facing a field ready to beat their brains out. Continue reading

LEST WE FORGET

Yesterday marked a somber anniversary. 25 years ago on 7 April 1994, the nation of Rwanda exploded in a paroxysm of genocide in which 800,000 Tutsi people were slaughtered by the majority Hutu population in a matter of 100 days.

Today, 25 years later, Rwanda has a new light, says its leader, President Paul Kagame.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, center, gestures as he and first lady Jeannette Kagame, center-left, lead a “Walk to Remember” accompanied by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, far left, Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel, second left, France’s Herve Berville, third left, and Governor General of Canada Julie Payette, fourth left, from the parliament building to Amahoro stadium in downtown Kigali, Rwanda Sunday, April 7, 2019. Rwanda commemorated the 25th anniversary of the worst genocide in recent world history. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

There is a powerful message here that should chasten people in every land, for a hard-line strain of populist nationalism is growing once again in many parts of the globe. It is not an inconsequential trend.

Whether it’s the Brexit battle in Great Britain – in or out of the European Union? – what’s called “authoritarian capitalism” in China, or the expanding populist nationalism of Vladimir Putin in Russia, Jaroslaw Kaczynski in Poland, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, Viktor Orban in Hungary, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, and, yes, Donald Trump in the USA, everywhere we look we see nations pulling back from a democratic globalist agenda as long-held systems come under strain from the twin poles of advancing technology and retreating opportunity.  

Yet there is another trend which plays against that troubling movement, the trend in movement itself.  Continue reading

CARLSBAD 5000 ENTERS NEW ERA

When Competitor Group Inc. was sold to Ironman in June 2017, then exited San Diego to consolidate with Ironman at its headquarters in Tampa, Florida, you knew the Carlsbad 5000 might be in trouble.

Though it was the event that put Elite Racing, Inc. on the international running map in 1986 and led to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series 12 years later, there was no surprise when Carlsbad’s prize purse was slashed in 2018 and only six men ran sub-15:00 on the world’s fastest 5K road course, a layout that has produced 16 world and nine American records.  It had become evident that if no one was there to pick it up, the event would have been abandoned.  And that would have been a tragedy, both for the San Diego area and the sport worldwide.

Instead, the Carlsbad 5000, the iconic Party-by-the-Sea, world record race that gave birth to the modern road 5K, enters its 34th year with a fresh step and new owners, anxious to reclaim its place among the world’s best road races.

The woman who stepped up to save Carlsbad is former CGI digital marketing executive Ashley Gibson. She and husband Travis invited local Olympic legend Meb Keflezighi to join them, and together, have had four months to put the event back on solid footing.

“In 2018, when the pre-sale registration was not happening and there were no plans for 2019, we all felt it was coming,” said Ms. Gibson.  “With the change in ownership, it became clear that Carlsbad didn’t fit the brand and that the passion and appreciation for what running meant wasn’t there.”

Conversations to buy the event kicked off, but ownership wasn’t secured until December. So registration for 2019 wasn’t begun until very late last year.

“There’s a lot of learning to do,” admitted Gibson, “but we feel fortunate we are the ones to keep Carlsbad’s legacy alive and thriving.”

 

New Carlsbad owner Ashley Gibson (center) with (l->r) Shalane Flanagan, Amy Cragg, Kara Goucher & Sash Gollish (CAN.)

Continue reading

SKECHERS PERFORMANCE LA MARATHON PREVIEW

With 2X LA Marathon Champion Weldon Kirui.

Los Angeles, CA -There’s a wonderful marination to the marathon. It gets the juices flowing. And when done in communion with enough people, there’s a special energy that’s created. And occasionally there’s magic. 

The 34th Sketchers Performance Los Angeles Marathon celebrates several hallmarks in 2019. It’s the 10th year for the iconic stadium to sea course, which has proven such a success over its first decade showcasing Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica. Like a running tour through the back lot of Los Angeles. 

It’s also the 30th anniversary of the Students Run LA program. If the Los Angeles Marathon did nothing else but spawn the SRLA program, it would have been a major success. 3500 students from at-risk high schools in the area will run the race again this year. Over 60,000 have participated in the program’s initial three decades.

The ripple effect on those lives and their families have been profound. 95% of the kids who run the marathon through SRLA go on to college. Congratulations to Marsha Charney and her team for first the three decades of what is one of the legacy jewels of this event. 

From a competitive standpoint, this year’s Los Angeles Marathon on paper looks to be very competitive on both the men’s and women’s side. 

Two-time champion Weldon Kirui of Kenya returns looking to become the first man or woman runner to win three LA titles.  To date, there have been four men who have won twice including Weldon, and five women beginning with Nancy Ditz the inaugural first two years champion in 1986 and ‘87. 

But Weldon will have his hands full as he has two other former champions in the field, as well as some other very closely matched contenders thanks to the yeoman work of Elite Athlete coordinator Matt Turnbull.  Continue reading

NORTHERN ARIZONA ELITES TAKE TITLES IN TAMPA

Tampa, FL. – it was a Monty Python-esque (but winning) day for the Northern Arizona Elite team out of Flagstaff, Arizona at today’s Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic – ”now for something completely different”. While a record 36 inches of snow blanketed Flagstaff, warm and humid conditions tested the fields in today’s half-marathon along Tampa Bay.

Notwithstanding, NAE’s Scott Fauble used a final 400-meter sprint to pull away from defending champion Elkanah Kibet of the U.S. Army’s WCAP Program, to take the $8000 first place purse in 1:05:09, four seconds up on Sgt. Kibet.  On the women’s side, fellow NAU runner Aliphine Tuliamuk dominated her competition, taking the win in 1:12:29 nearly 2 minutes ahead of Boulder Colorado’s Becky Wade in second. Both NAE athletes are preparing for a spring marathon, Fauble in Boston on April 15, Aliphine in Rotterdam in six weeks time.

Fauble Finishes First 
Tuliamuk Dominates

Continue reading

NEAR RECORD RUN IN HONOLULU 2018

Honolulu, Hi. – New land is constantly bubbling up along the Hawaiian islands from the deep molten innards of the planet. Perhaps to reflect that eruptive nature of its home, the Honolulu Marathon has long been a birthing ground of new major marathon champions.  Dating back to the mid-1980s names like Ibrahim Hussein, Cosmas Ndeti, Bong-ju Lee, Brigid Kosgei and Lawrence Cherono have all announced themselves on this time-tested course. 

Today, a new name emerged from the caldron of Honolulu with major marathon potential. 

With two-time champions and course record holders Lawrence Cherono and Brigid Kosgei choosing not to defend, and high trade winds expected out along the course, the fast times of 2016 and 2017 were not expected by race organizers for the 46th running of the Honolulu Marathon.  And on the women’s side of the race, they were right.  Vivian Kiplagat took 2:36:22  to tour the 26.2 miles, 14 minutes longer than Brigid Kosgei ‘s course record.

Titus Ekiru announces his arrival

But 26 year-old Titus Ekiru, like so many Kenyan runners before him, was more focused on what he could do rather than what he couldn’t. As such, the tall, angular man from Turkana, Kenya challenged Lawrence Cherono’s 2:08:27 course record deep into 26.2 mile course before posting the second fastest time in race history (2:09:01). And when you consider that Cherono’s 2:08 in Honolulu 2017 turned into a 2:04 in Amsterdam 2018, what can we expect from Ekiru in 2019 and beyond? Continue reading