MASTER’S CHALLENGE – ASICS LOS ANGELES MARATHON 2013

Deena Prepping in Pasadena
Deena Prepping in Pasadena

Blink and you’d swear the clock rolled back a decade as the top two female bib numbers at this Sunday’s Asics Los Angeles Marathon will be worn by Americans Deena Kastor (F1) and Colleen De Reuck (F3).  Both women have resumes filled with national records and championships, not to mention Deena’s Olympic Marathon medal from 2004, and Colleen’s win over Deena in the same year’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in St. Louis.  But both are master’s runners now, Deena having joined the ranks a month ago, Colleen sneaking up on the senior division (50+). In one sense having Deena and Colleen as head liners is a testament to their lasting value, but in another it’s an indication of how competitive the spring racing season is for available talent. (more…)

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HAWAII’S HAPALUA – RAIN DROPS KEEP FALLIN’ ON MY HEAD

Hapalua "Chase" champion Steve Marthy with Makau, Muindi & Manza
Hapalua “Chase” champion Steve Marthy with Makau, Muindi & Manza

Honolulu, Hawaii — 25 year-old Army 1st Lieutenant Stephen Marthy of Fort Shafter can forever say that he beat marathon world record holder Patrick Makau in a half-marathon — never mind that he had a 11-minute head start.  The Albany, New York native sprinted past his final two competitors in the final quarter-mile to win The Chase competition at the second annual Hapalua, Hawaii’s Half Marathon today in Kapiolani Park.

Lt. Marthy’s gun time of 1:12:46 minus the 11:00 head start he was awarded gave him a net time of 1:01:46, good enough for a four-second win over Christina Wong, and 13 seconds over Kim Kuehnert in the handicap format. His time also brought Marthy home ahead of world-class Kenyan runners Patrick Makau, Nicholas Manza and Jimmy Muindi and earned him a cool $5000 first place prize. (more…)

MEET AT THE CORNER SHOP

The Corner Shop in Ngong

Ngong, Kenya – The town of Ngong awakens early, well before the sun, as many of its 57,000 residents must commute into Nairobi for work. And with major road construction along the Langata Road into the capital advancing at a snail’s pace this summer – workers are replacing the porous roadbed of black cotton soil with the more compact sub-structure of red clay – the morning commute is and will be even more congested through the next several months.

Pauline Kariuki, Corner Shop owner

Ngong is a bustling town near the Ngong Hills, training home to a number of Kenya’s top distance runners, including marathon world record holder Patrick Makau. Today, we have scheduled to meet Makau and his group at 6:10 a.m. at the Corner Shop, a tiny convenience store just a few hundred meters down from Ngong Center. (more…)

THE START OF BRANDING AND PROMOTION

Makau making friends at Damien Memorial High School
Makau making friends at Damien Memorial High School

Honolulu, Hawaii — It’s a push-me, pull-you kind of world. On one hand the demands of elite long distance running remain constant, requiring an all but monastic focus on the rigors of training.  But on the other hand the demands of the marketplace in which running finds itself in a hurly-burly competition against the media-savvy marketers of the PGA, NBA, and numerous other sports, require athletes to step out of their monk-like lairs to promote and market themselves and their sport like true professionals.

This week in Honolulu we are seeing evidence that even one of the most cloistered of athletes by nature, marathon world record holder Patrick Makau of Kenya, is making attempts to reconcile these competing demands of his sport.  So even as he prepares for an important tune up for the April 21st Virgin London Marathon in tomorrow’s second annual Hapalua, Hawaii’s Half-Marathon, he spent yesterday and this morning tending to his branding and promotion efforts by appearing at a local high school, conducting a live Facebook Q & A with fans, and joining local runners in a morning fun run hosted by the Hapalua Half.

TheHapalua     “When you have someone like Patrick Makau at your event,” explained Honolulu Marathon President Jim Barahal, organizer of The Hapalua, “when you invest in an athlete of that caliber, it’s important that he not be seen as separate.  So you have him interact with the everyday runners as much as you can to close the gap between them. Nowadays it’s the opposite of the loneliness of the long distance runner.  Today, running is a highly social sport. So it’s important to bring the pros to everyone else so they become part of the community, which itself is a world-wide, and no longer fragmented into separate local communities.” (more…)

MENTOR HELPS RECORD HOLDER MAKAU TO THE TOP

 

Jimmy Muindi, 7X Honolulu Marathon champion
Jimmy Muindi, 6X Honolulu Marathon champion

     Honolulu, Hawaii — We tend to see the finished product and think it was always this way. But of course, it rarely is.  In 2004 Kenya’s Jimmy Muindi saw a young Patrick Makau run a school race in their home area of Machakos, Kenya, and identified a budding talent in raw form.  Remembering how he was mentored by three-time Boston Marathon champion Cosmas Ndeti early in his own career, Muindi invited Makau to come train with him in Ngong outside Nairobi after Patrick graduated from high school.

For two years Muindi supported his fellow Kamba tribesman before Makau got his first break, a chance to run a half-marathon in Tarsus, Turkey in 2006.  Makau did not waste the opportunity.  He not only won that race (62:42), but met his future wife Cathreen, who finished second in the women’s field. (more…)

WORLD RECORD MARATHONER PATRICK MAKAU IN HONOLULU FOR LONDON TUNER

World Record holder Patrick Makau
Marathon World Record holder Patrick Makau

Honolulu, Hawaii — Marathon world record holder Patrick Makau of Kenya arrived in Honolulu last night in preparation for The Hapalua, Hawaii’s premier Half Marathon.  The second edition of The Hapalua will be run this Sunday morning beginning adjacent to world-famous Waikiki Beach.  The race, and its Chase format, will be Makau’s final tune up for the April 21st Virgin London Marathon where he will test himself against one of the strongest marathon fields ever assembled, including all three medalists from the 2012 London Olympic Marathon.

While there are some who might question why an athlete of Makau’s stature would travel so far for a tune up when his marathon is just six weeks away, and chance a major disruption to his training, Makua has always run to his own rhythms, and with evident success. (more…)

CAIN MAKES NBC HIGHLIGHTS PACKAGE

Mary Cain - Winning Personality(picture courtesy PhotoRun)
Mary Cain – Winning Personality
(courtesy PhotoRun)

While couch-surfing yesterday afternoon I came across the U.S. Bank NBC Sports Report with Liam McHugh.  First up on the highlight reel was the Chicago Blackhawks continuing their record, non-losing streak to begin an NHL season as they bested the Detroit Red Wings in overtime 2-1.  Next up came Lebron James leading the Miami Heat over the New York Knicks, 99-93, in Madison Square Garden. That was followed by Tottenham over Arsenal 2-1 in Premier League play in England.  Finally, McHugh teed up the feel-good story of Mary Cain, the 16 year-old phenom out of Bronxville, New York capturing the mile at the U.S. Indoor Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque in 5:05.68.

“Look for her in three years in Rio,” McHugh said in closing.

Going back to 1967 when Doris Brown won the first of four U.S. indoor mile titles in 4:43.3, there has never been a single U.S. indoor mile/1500m title won in such a pedestrian time.  In fact, the slowest winning time in the previous 46 years was 4:59.3 run by the Toronto Olympic Club’s Abby Hoffman in 1969 when she bested Shalane Flanagan’s mom, Cheryl Bridges (5:07.0).

Yet, it mattered not to NBC Sports that Cain’s time was the slowest in modern U.S. indoor history, or that it was nowhere near here best high school record 4:28.25 that she ran at the Armory in New York at the 106th Millrose Games in February behind Canada’s Sheila Reid.  In this day and age when track and field has been all but dry-docked from the sporting mainstream, the fact that a runner made it to a major network’s highlight package goes to show what a winning personality can generate. (more…)