Go now to your rest, old distance,

Be unafraid, your time is at hand,

Where for years you held full dominion,

Today, we saw your last stand.


It came in the City of Angels,

Home to the silver screen stars,

Where again you served up your measure,

As a challenge from here to afar:


Lace tight and take up this mantel,

Of running’s mythic-born test,

Not knowing that a man named Geneti,

Had yet to showcase his best. (more…)


Second Event Pledges Support for U.S. Distance Runners

     In response to WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE HALF MAKES MAJOR AMERICAN PLEDGE post of March 15th outlining race director Steve Nearman’s decision to donate $1.00 from every entry to help support U.S. distance running training camps, yesterday another D.C. area race took up the challenge.  As Steve wrote in the comments section of the post yesterday: 

     “BIG kudos to American Running Association Executive Director Dave Watt. Dave is also the race director of the Battle of the Potomac Cross Country Meet for high schoolers in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC.

     Said Dave: “We will up our registration fees and tell all the high school athletes that they are supporting America’s distance runners who are seeking to compete with the World’s Best.” Dave estimates $500 from his 500-runner field.

     Who’s next? Is this a no-brainer?”

     This is exactly how political movements take form and gain momentum, from the most modest of beginnings.  Instead of waiting for the Gordian knot of federation constituent entanglements to be undone, or expecting  other trade organizations who are more focused on the health of their business members to re-engage in what was once their raison d’être, it has been left to the grassroots to help restock the American racing stable.

     The sport has been attempting to address this issue for a generation, but has always run into the old NIMBY shiboleth, Not in My Backyard.  Steve Nearman continues:

     “So, which Event Directors out there will join the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon in building the next generation of U.S. World Champions and Olympic medalists? All you small and mid-size races can make a major difference, too, if we all come together. The time is now – our athletes need you. Stop making our aspiring elite runners work on the feet 8-hour days at local running stores selling running shoes to 8-hour marathoners.”



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…)


     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


     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 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…)