Int’l Marathons Come to Aid of Japanese

     The after shocks of last week’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in Japan have left a trail of devastation that is hard to comprehend, and not just in the direct path of the physical destruction.  While none of the professional corporate running teams or their athletes was injured, the Nagoya International Women’s Marathon scheduled for last Sunday was cancelled.  Nagoya was to have been the third of three qualifying marathons selecting the Japanese World Championships team for Daegu, Korea this summer.  And with Japan a traditional powerhouse in Women’s World Championships Marathons, federation officials are now searching for alternatives.

“There was no physical damage done in Nagoya,” explained Brendan Reilly, head of Boulder Wave, which represents many Japanese runners internationally.  “But with so much public attention focused on helping those affected, officials in Nagoya decided it was better to lessen the burden on public resources.” (more…)

Advertisements

WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE HALF MAKES MAJOR AMERICAN PLEDGE

     NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (March 14, 2011) – Officials of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon have announced a major incentive for emerging American elite distance runners and a challenge to event directors of major U.S. distance races to help support the development of U.S. distance runners and to build upon the decade-plus resurgence.

“We want as many American men and women to participate in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston this January 14 and to that end, we will bonus any American $1000 cash for qualifying for the Trials at our race,” said Steve Nearman, event director of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon, scheduled for Oct. 2. “This means sub-1:05:00 for men and sub-1:15:00 for women.”

 Nearman also announced another initiative, based on an inspiring story brought back from the recent Running USA 2011 conference by American Running Association CEO Dave Watt. (more…)

America’s Best Baseball Town

> www.cardinals.com/tvads<

     One of my boyhood friends from our old South St. Louis neighborhood sent this link, bringing back many fond memories of baseball’s impending return.

St. Louis has long been recognized as one of, if not the best baseball city in America.  Not because the Redbirds have won 10 World Series titles, second only to the 27 won by the mighty N.Y. Yankees.  Nor because the Redbird fans are knowledgeable, and root, root, root for the home team in good times as well as bad.  No, St. Louis gained its reputation over many decades as the quintessential baseball town because its fans appreciated the game at a level that allowed them to cheer even for the good plays by the opposing teams, or former Cardinals now returned in a visiting team’s uniform.

As a result, we St. Louis kids grew up playing many variations on the ball-and-bat theme from early spring to late in October.  While I’m sure other cities had their distinctive baseball-influenced games, too, we seemed to have a game for any field of play and for every number of players available.  Games with such evocative names as stepball, stickball, fuzzbull, wall-ball, wiffle ball, Indian Ball, cork ball, run ups, rounders; the list seemed to go on forever.

If you were on your own, you’d play step ball or wall-ball.  Two kids would, of course, play catch.  With three you could play run-ups, simulating getting picked off first and trying to not get tagged out.

Once you rounded up three or four friends you could start batting games like wiffle ball, cork ball, fuzz ball (played with a de-frocked tennis ball), as well as a fielding game that originated in St. Louis called Indian Ball. (more…)

NASCAR VS. RUNNING

NASCAR exploded in popularity over the last decade.  Even in the Yankee north, large oval tracks draw six-figure-sized crowds to watch logo-splashed cars thunder around the track at speeds approaching 200 mph. In his book Sunday Money Jeff MacGregor followed the 2001 NASCAR circuit in an RV for an entire year, joining the Grateful Dead-like fans who tour the country in pilgrimage to their racing heroes.

MacGregor theorizes that Americans love NASCAR because, A) they love fast cars and, B) they love to drive.  He also believes that stock car racing offers an intensified version of people’s own highway experiences, and perhaps just as importantly, when watching the races fans join a large, stable and astoundingly homogenous community (NASCAR fans are overwhelmingly white.)

So, let’s recap: NASCAR is popular in the U.S. because it allows monochromatic people to sit and watch men sit and drive ultra souped up cars in circles with the possibility that said cars may go careening into one another at any second. (Already seems like sitting and crashing are important here).  What’s more, NASCAR reflects people’s own daily experience of driving (while seated, it goes without saying), though at slower speeds and with significantly more right hand turns than their NASCAR heroes make.

Then there is running.  Okay, runners are multi-hued people who – what, like to go under their own power while maintaining a fully upright posture?  And this reflects…uhhh…help me here…this reflects…no, not a clue.  Far as I can tell, it reflects nothing in the popular American culture other than itself.  Which might, in fact, be the problem.  Not to mention the utter lack of bone-crunching crashes or floozies with cigarettes and beer cans following our stars’ exploits in RVs.  (more…)

CELEBRATING DMSE’S 30TH

  450 friends, family members, and co-workers gathered last night at the Quincy Marriott to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Dave McGillivray Sports Enterprises (DMSE).  Dave is the race director of the Boston Marathon, Joan Samuelson’s TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K, and much else.  Joining in the celebration were Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, an avid triathlete, marathon legend Bill Rodgers, and former Ironman World Champion Karen Smyers.  Each had been touched by the work of DMSE over the years.  I had the pleasure of co-emceeing the evening’s gala.  

But let’s go back 30 years to 1981

  It was “Morning in America”, or so Ronald Reagan had us believe.

The national savings rate hovered around 10%…and those who did run, ran fast…boy have times changed.

The Boston Celtics won their 14th NBA title, their first with Larry Bird,

Time magazine named Poland’s Solidarity leader Lech Walesa its “Man of the Year”,

and MTV went on the air for the first time that August showing The Buggles, “Video Killed the Radio Star” as their first video.

On the big screen, “Chariots of Fire” won best picture at Oscars,

And the year ended with Olivia Newton John’s “Lets Get Physical” holding down the top spot on the charts…a perfect piece of pop confection. (more…)

Runnerspace USA 15k Championships Coverage

I love the Runnerspace guys, and appreciate the live web coverage of the USATF Running Circuit, but it’s all but impossible to watch the USA 15km Championships in Jacksonville.  I need a dramamine pill.  It’s like watching a road race during an earthquake.

After three decades as an open, professional sport, we still can’t get even our national championships covered properly?  I don’t blame Runnerspace.  Once USATF attaches its imprimatur it’s their responsibility to invest in the proper motorcycles, drivers, and steadi-cam operators to showcase the sport of running at the championship level. 

You cannot put a hand-held camera in the back of a press truck 50 yards up the road, and say, come watch.  The men’s pack is a big, black ball, the camera is so far away.

No wonder our sport isn’t taken seriously from the outside.  We don’t take it seriously ourselves.  

END

Long-Time Falmouth Road Race Directors Out

     In what could be the end of an era, reports have leaked out that the Falmouth Road Race Board of Directors have accepted the resignations of long time race directors Rich Sherman and John Carroll along with their wives, Kathy and Lucia. The two couples led the small Cape Cod seven-mile race for the entirety of its 38 years, and built it into one of the most revered road races in the nation.
 
     Popular local bartender Tommy Leonard founded the race in 1973 after being inspired by Frank Shorter’s gold medal win at the Munich Olympic Marathon. Hoping to raise money for the local high school girls track team, Tommy decided to stage a race from The Cap’n Kidd bar/restaurant in Woods Hole ending seven miles later at the Brothers Four, the bar he tended in Falmouth Heights.
    
     Tommy enlisted the help of the high school track coach John Carroll, and the towns recreation director Rich Sherman to help stage the first Falmouth Road Race. Fewer than 100 people ran in a driving rainstorm, but the post-race gathering at the Brothers Four was such a hit that the following year nearly 500 ran.  The 1974 race made a big splash athletically when a then unknown Greater Boston Track Club runner, Bill Rodgers, beat America’s premier miler Marty Liquori.
     In year three Tommy invited Frank Shorter himself to the Cape to race against Rodgers.  Their duels – Frank won two, Bill won three – helped roll the running boom nationwide. (more…)