New Direction Outlined for Boston Athletic Association

    

     With the 115th Boston Marathon just four days away, new marathon executive director Tom Grilk outlined an ambitious new guiding philosophy for the 123 year-old Boston Athletic Association today, an organization he has served as president for the last seven years and race day announcer for the last two and a half decades.

      “Nothing is off the table,” Grilk told me following a press conference at the Copley Plaza Hotel.  “After Monday (marathon day) my job really begins.”

      Grilk, who took the day-to-day reigns of the marathon from long time executive director and now Senior Director for External Affairs Guy Morse on January 1, 2011 met the media along with Morse, race director Dave McGillivray, and new BAA president Joann Flaminio, the first woman to serve as president in the BAA’s 123 year history.

      The four principals shared the dais at a mid-afternoon presser to outline their respective avenues of responsibility, and the changes being instituted for Monday’s race, most notably the three-wave start for the 27,000 starters. What came across most distinctly, however, was the synergy of the four, and their desire for the BAA to take a more forward role in the shaping of running both inMassachusetts, and in the industry at large.  (more…)

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Boston Marathon Week Kicks Off

    

     The skies are leaden, and the rain is pelting down.  It must be Boston Marathon time again.  The 115th marathon week kicks off today at the Reggie Lewis Center where former Boston champions Bill Rodgers, Greg Meyer, Joan Samuelson, and Catherine Ndereba join defending men’s champion Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot in a series of running clinics given to area high school students chosen for their leadership by their track team coaches.  15 Boston high schools will be represented.  (more…)

19th Century Sport in Search of 21st Century Foothold

   

     Running has long found it difficult to secure a solid foothold on the American sporting landscape.  One reason is lack of professionalism when compared to other mainstream sports.  Another is the growth spurt of X Games events and modern day heroes like Shaun White in the popular culture.  But another reason is as simple as formatting. 

The most popular American sports are episodic in nature, featuring a pitch, a play, a shot every 30 seconds. They are also segmented into quarters, periods, or halves, making for easy television coverage.  So even with tens of millions of self-designated runners bounding about the continent for the last thirty years on personal quests, Americans have yet to fully embrace a sport which is linear, doesn’t involve a ball or violence, and only pays off on an investment of interest shown over a long, gradual build up. (more…)

Rotterdam Marathon on Universal Sports

     The 31st Rotterdam Marathon goes off at 5 a.m. eastern, 2 a.m. pacific time.  You can watch the race live on universalsports.com. Or, you can watch two-hour taped coverage on Universal Sports TV at noon eastern with American 50K record holder Josh Cox and me on the race call.

     With six pacers and what’s being called the “Magnificent Seven” contenders in hot pursuit, the stage is set for a full out attempt on Haile Gebrselassie’s marathon world record set in Berlin 2008.  2:03:59 averages out to 4:43.72 per mile, or 2:56.3 per kilometer pace.   Here are the splits to look for on an even-pace schedule:

KILOMETERS                                            MILES                

 5K –  14:41                                             5 miles – 23:38

10K –  29:23                                        10 miles – 47:17

15K –  44:04                                        15 miles – 1:10:58

20K –  58:46                                        20 miles – 1:34:34

1/2   – 1:02:00                                    25 miles – 1:58:13

25K – 1:13:27

30K – 1:28:09

35K – 1:42:50

40K – 1:57:32 

Late word from Rotterdam is that the pacers will now shoot for 62-flat at half-way and 1:28:20 for 30K.  Weather is good, but there is some hand-wringing about the sun in the final half-hour.  Anything less than perfect conditions throughout is enough to disrupt such a challenging task.   However, there are seven very strong contenders ready to win. Tune in to see how it plays out.

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GOING OUT ON THE WIRE FOR THE WORLD RECORD IN ROTTERDAM

 

     When Ethiopia’s Haile Gebreselassie ran the current marathon world record 2:03:59 in Berlin 2008, he was paced through the half-marathon split by 2009 World Marathon champion Abel Kirui of Kenya in 62:03.  Then, pushed by another Kenyan, James Kwambai from 32-35K after Kirui dropped away, Haile completed his record performance with a 61:56 negative split.  That 62:03 from Berlin `08 is the fastest first half ever run on the way to a marathon world record.  Not that people haven’t gone out in sub-62 before. Welshman Steve Jones blistered the first half in Chicago 1985 in 61:42.  At the time it was the eighth fastest half-marathon ever run.  But neither Jonesy, who came home in 65:33, nor anyone else who’s gone out sub-62 has ever closed strong.  That’s why tomorrow’s ABN AMRO Rotterdam Marathon promises to be a real high wire act. 

      “It’s a risk, but a calculated risk,” said elite athlete race director Eric Brommert of his plan to send his six pacesetters out in 61:45 to 61:50 for the 31st running of the world’s second fastest marathon. (more…)

Another Event Joins Pledge Drive to Support U.S. Training Camps

   

          Ben Rosario understands the importance of group efforts.  Before returning to his hometown of St. Louis in 2006 to open the first of three Big River Running Company stores, the former D2 All-American from Truman State College ran professionally for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project in suburban Detroit.  Off his Hanson’s training in Michigan Ben qualfied for the 2004 Olympic Marathon Trials, then finished second at the 2005 U.S. Marathon Championships at the Twin Cities Marathon.  Today, Rosario announced that he and his Big River Running Company partner Matt Helbig are joining the “Dollar for Distance Development” pledge for their June 1st Big River Festival of Miles presented by Under Armour.

      “We believe in the sport,” said Rosario who, it was also announced today, will direct the 2012 & 2013 U.S. National Cross Country Championships in St. Louis’ Forest Park.  “And we believe in the sport’s potential to grow. Our Festival of Miles Foundation gives funds to athletes in need, so we will pledge $500 from our foundation and another $500 from our three stores. This is exactly the kind of program that people can do across the country, and help move the sport forward.” (more…)