FORTY YEARS AGO ON NEW YEAR’S DAY

Hodgie (in red) battling Rodgers, Salazar, Roche & Thomas at 1979 Freedom Trail Road Race in Boston

Hodgie (#3 in red) battling #1 Bill Rodgers, #2 Al Salazar, with Mike Roche & #14 Randy Thomas hanging on at 1979 Freedom Trail Road Race in Boston.

As 2015 slides into 2016, we offer a New Year’s story written by guest blogger Bob Hodge, a Lowell, Mass native who was a charter member of the Greater Boston Track Club.

A graduate of the University of Lowell, Hodgie went on to finish third in the 1979 Boston Marathon. He has also won the Beppu-Ōita Marathon in Japan in 1982, while setting his personal best of 2:10:59 finishing second at the 1980 Nike OTC Marathon in Eugene, Oregon.

The following is part of what made Boston a running Mecca in the 1970s.

Continue reading

TRYING ON NEW DISTANCES

With Memorial Day upon us, the shorter road and track & field seasons have begun in earnest.  The Bolder Boulder 10K and the inaugural IAAF World Road Relay kick off the summer action this weekend in Colorado and the Bahamas. But there remain several 26 & 13-milers in California to round out the first half of  the 2014 marathon season, beginning with this weekend’s Cliff Bar MountainS 2 Beach Marathon & Half Marathon from Ojai to Ventura.

Yet with the completion of the spring marathon season we still tend to see many new runners step away to return to their “normal” routines before gearing up for their next long marathon build-up in the fall.

For the last several years my wife Toya has been helping San Diego TC Coach Paul Greer prep hundreds of mostly new local runners for the June 1st Suja Rock `n` Roll Marathon via the club’s Rockin’ & Runnin’ Program. But Toya has several other clients running the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon this Sunday, as well. Since most of her clients are relative newcomers to the game, the following advice she sent out this week was a good reminder of how many of today’s runners remain tethered to either the half or full marathon as the sole expression of their running.  But how, with a little encouragement, they might broaden their horizons and find new challenges to take on. Continue reading

Shetema and Negede win inaugural Haile Marathon

Haile Marathon logoThe following is a news release written by Richard Nurerkar following the inaugural Haile Gebrselassie Marathon.
Hawassa, Ethiopia — Former Berlin Marathon second placer Gudisa Shentema produced a controlled performance to win the 2013 Haile Gebrselassie Marathon in Hawassa, southern Ethiopia earlier today.

Shetema was the star athlete in the field, coming into the race with a PB of 2:07:34 (Paris, 2007), and led the race for the entire second half. In the end he bided his time until the final 200m to kick clear from Tekalegn Kebelo to win in a time of 2 hours and 15 minutes and 23 seconds.

“It wasn’t the prize that brought me here,” said Shentema at the finish, “but Haile’s name. He is our inspiration. I’ve raced him many times [including in Berlin in 2006 and Dubai in 2008] and I came here for the honour of claiming the title of the first Haile Marathon winner.”

In the women’s race, the first three athletes are all members of the Senbeta training group under Negash Dube. Almaz Negede won in a time of 2:39:50, just over a minute outside her previous best of 2:38:09 from the 2012 Bucharest International Marathon.

Both male and female winners collected 100,000 birr ($5,500) for their victories, the biggest ever prize for a road race in Ethiopia. Continue reading

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

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).

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3:52 miler David Torrence

3:52 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 of empty bleachers. I’ve run in Road races with 10,000 participants, and some with 10 total.

Upon reading the recent discussion on Competitor/RnR events, the value of elites, popularity of the sport, etc…something has struck a chord with me. Specifically with what John Bingham said in the comments section of Toni Reavis’ blog “Dumbing Down, Slowing Down”

Bingham wrote, “I invite ANY winner of ANY race to join me (cheering on finishers) instead of rushing back to their hotel after the awards ceremony. I guarantee that the first ‘elite’ to show even a LITTLE interest in the rest of the pack will become a hero overnight.” (bold my emphasis)

Well John, that comment… how can I put this politely… really frustrated me. Continue reading

COMPETITOR CEO SCOTT DICKEY RESPONDS

(Yesterday’s post generated a great deal of interest in the state of the sport given Competitor Group’s decision to end its elite athlete program as currently constituted. One of the responses to my column came from Competitor CEO Scott Dickey. I didn’t want his detailed review of the situation to be lost in the comments section, so I have placed it here as a guest blog.

I want to thank Scott for his respectful and candid remarks, and hope this back-and-forth helps shed light on both CGI’s decision, and brings those concerned about the state of running to a better understanding of what we need to do to improve that state. My response follows.) Continue reading

BEN ROSARIO: WHAT ARE WE AFRAID OF?

Benn Rosario

Ben Rosario

(Today, we feature a column by guest blogger Ben Rosario)

On February 2 I had the extreme pleasure to serve as meet director for the USA Cross Country Championships in Saint Louis, and we were fortunate to have one of the most talented fields for that particular event in a long, long time. The members of our local organizing committee worked their butts off to promote the likes of Chris Derrick, Shalane Flanagan, Deena Kastor, Dathan Ritzenhein, Matt Tegenkamp and more. I’m biased, but I think we did a pretty darn good job, and though it’s difficult to give an exact number, we certainly had at least a couple thousand fans out on the course that day. That said I believe it could have been even better. I think if the thousands upon thousands of casual runners knew more about the professional side of the sport then having those athletes in their own backyard would have been an absolute can’t miss event.

Earlier this week the Bank of America Chicago Marathon announced that Dathan Ritzenhein, who owns the #3 all-time marathon in U.S. history, will be back to run the storied windy city race on October 13. That’s great news and I’m happy for the folks at Chicago and I’m happy for Dathan. They got a valuable commodity that will bring attention to their event and he will be compensated thusly, I’m sure.

My pet peeve is this; why can’t we find out how much he is getting as an appearance fee? I am a sports junkie and I’ve probably read a thousand articles about professional athletes signing their first contract, signing as a free agent or being traded, etc. and  in each and every one I see something to the effect of , “The deal is reportedly worth $x,xxx,xxx.” And you know why we see that? We see it because people want to know. It is just one of the many things that makes these athletes larger than life to the rest of us. It is what puts them on a pedestal where granted, we sometimes try to knock them down, but they are up there nonetheless.

And yet we continue in our sport, even in the year 2013, to try and seem amateur. It’s leftover from the 60s and 70s and the days when runners would have to get paid under the table or risk their Olympic eligibility. News flash; we don’t have to do that anymore! I think we’ve made a huge mistake in this industry, and I was guilty of it during my days as a running store owner, of trying to make guys like Ritz seem like he’s just like “you.”

We tell people that they feel the same things he feels during a marathon and that’s what separates our sport from all those others. Well guess what…that ain’t true. What it feels like to run 2:07 is absolutely nothing like what it feels to run four hours and you know what…that’s okay. We can idolize the 2:07 guy and still admire and respect our friends, our neighbors, or our customers who run four hours. They are not mutually exclusive. The model is out there folks. Walk into any sporting goods store and go to the football section, then the basketball section, th  en the soccer section, etc. All you’ll see is jersey after jersey of famous players. Look at television ratings and see how NFL football completely rules on Sundays, Monday nights and now even Thursday nights. Sure we might talk about how these guys are overpaid prima donnas but we love every minute of it.

So what are we so afraid of in our sport? Continue reading

HAVE RUNNERS CHANGED? PART2

     Yesterday we opened a dialogue with the question, HAVE RUNNERS CHANGED?  Throughout the day we received responses, including the following via e-mail:
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Toni,
     As someone who has beening running/racing since I was 15 years of age(now 45), it amazes me that today’s runner loves the act of running, but has no interest in the sport of running.
     I have been running with a group of competitive age-group runners for the last 14+ years.  On the morning of the US Marathon Olympic Trials just a few weeks back, they did not even know the trials were taking place.  While they may know Deena Kastor from the expo at their last large city marathon, they probably don’t know Desi or Shalane.  They only know Kara only because Adam’s uncle runs with us from time to time.  They haven’t a clue as to Kenenisa Bekele or Mo Farah or Haile Gebrselassie.  I doubt they even know the difference between Ryan, Meb, Abdi or Dathan.  I am not sure why race directors even pay elites appearance fees when the masses don’t really care.  They are more concerned about their T-shirt and how cool their medals look.
     Running has become a sport for an upper class where you pay your exhorbitant entry fee, you run the race and you sip a latte after.  While I have had some financial success in my life, I love the sport and miss the days of helping set up for a race, racing, drinking a post race beer, getting an award, helping clean up and heading home for a nap.
     I believe that the running organizations (USATF, RRCA, Running USA, etc.) can start by doing a pre-Olympic Trials, pre-Olympics or at the very least a post-Olympics tour to every race and running store to engage the average runner.  Just my two cents.  
     All the best,
     Doug Horn
     Boca Raton, Florida
 — “No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.”  Yoda-Empire Strikes Back (1980) Continue reading