There is a potential problem brewing in the sport, and who can say what the long-term effects could be?  As was reported in the New York Times this February, in an attempt to generate increased revenues to make up for the city’s budget shortfall, the New York Police Department is looking to charge the New York Road Runners the full cost of shutting down hundreds of city streets along the five boroughs during the annual ING New York City Marathon.  

This additional cost would have a significant impact on the overall staging of the event.  In 2010, the NYRR paid more than $850,000 to city agencies, $107,000 of which went to the police department.  According to Mary Wittenberg, the CEO of the Road Runners, the club is willing to reimburse the police for more of its costs, though how much more has yet to be determined.

Notwithstanding the $200 million in economic impact generated by the event, the potential for real harm to the marathon is apparent.  What to do? (more…)


The Value of a Hero


     We were broadcasting the National Scholastic Indoor Track & Field Championships for ESPN from the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.  It was Sunday, March 11, 1990.  Though we had known one another for many years as reporter – athlete, the 1990 National Scholastic meet was the first time I found myself working alongside Olympic Marathon gold medal winner Frank Shorter professionally.  

    During one of the breaks in our coverage we began to discus the news of the day, primarily how the Lithuanian parliament was poised to secede from the Soviet Union, which would mark the first break from Moscow by a Baltic state forcibly annexed in 1940, and be the first independence vote of any kind in the 68 year history of the Soviet state.  The questions we, and many others, had was how far would the 1989 revolution extend, how would America play it, and what shape would the world eventually take?


USA vs. The World – Who Won?


     First of all, it sounds like either Michael Bay’s next disaster starring Shia LaBeouf, or The Donald’s campaign slogan for 2012.  Instead USA vs. The World is the Penn Relays format / marketing campaign  for their century-plus year old track carnival in Philadelphia.  

     I watched yesterday on ESPN, but I never caught the score.  Anyone catch the final?  It probably came down to the last race, and what a match up that would have been.  Everything on the line in that one race, all the pressure, all the prestige, all the money.  I know I saw a lot of national uniforms racing around the track, and waving flags in the packed stands. 

     Excuse me?  Oh, you say they didn’t actually keep score? Really?  But it was supposed to be a competition between the USA and the World, right?  I wanna know who won. 

     It was what?  Just a bunch of individual races?  You mean with nothing on the line like moving on to the next round or money?  So kind of like if the Heat – Celtics game this afternoon in the NBA Eastern Division semifinals just ran up and down the court for 48 minutes with every 24-second possession being an end in itself?  Jeez, you wonder why the NBA doesn’t do that. It’s such an intriguing format. 



     Thus have Prince William & Catherine been joined in Holy Matrimony in London’s Westminster Abbey with the eyes of England and the world upon them.  And as with each of these generational royal weddings – 1947 Elizabeth and Philip, 1981 Charles and Diana – the good and worthy media has informed us that the throngs lining the processional route from the Abbey to Buckingham Palace swelled to, verily, one million strong to witness the drenched opulence of it all.

Indeed, such bold estimates echo those made during our very own major marathons as they stretch and wind through the 26.2 miles of our lordly cities.  But how faithful are such estimates, truly?  Let’s do the math.  (more…)


Offlag 64 -
Oflag 64 – Szubin, Poland

The drab blanket of night had already folded over the bleak Polish countryside when Colonel Paul Goode walked into one of the prison barracks of Oflag 64 in Szubin, Poland at 5 p.m. on the afternoon of January 20, 1945.

“Listen up,” began the camp’s ranking American officer.  “We’re moving out tomorrow.  That’s all I know. So dispose of everything you don’t want to carry. Don’t bother to ask anything, this is all I can tell you.  Moving west.  Good luck to all of you.”

Since his capture in the Po Valley north of Florence, Italy the previous September, U.S. Army Lieutenant Isham Reavis had been moved several times to different POW camps.  Now, as the Soviet Red Army maintained its relentless advance pushing Germany toward ultimate defeat, Reavis and approximately 1300 American POWs held in Oflag 64 were to begin a march meant to take them 400 miles from Szubin to Luckenwalde, Germany south of Berlin. It would prove to be a harrowing 39-day journey that fewer than 500 would complete.

*** (more…)

National Tribute to Grete Waitz Planned

     Now official, a Norwegian national tribute to Grete Waitz will be held at Bislett Stadium in Oslo on Wednesday May 11 at 5PM.  Grete’s husband Jack  has met with, among others, a representative from the Prime Minister’s office. The Tribute, will be open for everybody, and then there will be a reception, also at Bislett, afterwards.

Arguably, the greatest female distance runner in history with five world cross country titles, a World Championships Marathon gold medal (1983) and Olympic silver (1984) to go along with nine New York City, and two London Marathon titles, and four marathon world records, Grete Waitz died last Monday night in her sleep in her hometown of Oslo at age 57 after battling cancer for six years. 

As a girl, Grete Anderson both trained and raced at Bislett Stadium winning numerous national championships as a junior and senior level competitor.  Twice she set world records on the historic oval. First in June 1975 she ran 8:46.6 for 3000 meters.  One year later she lowered the mark to 8:45.4.  Her 1500 (4:00.55) and 3000 meter (8:31.75) times remain Norwegian national records.  A bronze statue of Grete (pictured above) was erected in 1984 to commemorate what was a still-building legacy of greatness.