BLOWING IN THE WIND

Visual Aid
Visual Aids

Watching last night’s Distance Night at the Pre Classic on RunnerSpace we, like everyone else, including commentators Tim Hutchings and Paul Swangard, were a little baffled by how far off the pacers were from their pre-race projections – other than in the women’s 800m, which hit the split, but was way too fast for the quality of the field.  Now this morning reading LetsRun we see that a headwind on the backstretch of Hayward Field was at least partially responsible for the slowish times.  So my question is, and this applies to both track and road races, why, in the name of God don’t event organizers place small flags at different intervals to let the crowd and TV audience see for themselves what the conditions are?

If Tim and Paul never mentioned the wind, and instead began supposing why the half-way split in the 10,000 meters was 13:33 instead of the requested 13:18, something as simple as a series of small flags lining the inside of the track would give everyone the instant information needed. Same should apply at road races.

How many times have I sat aboard a lead camera motorcycle and been asked, ‘How are the conditions out there?’, and not been able to tell which way the wind was blowing because I, too, was moving, thereby creating our own breeze.  So unless there was a flagpole atop a nearby building, I wouldn’t be able to tell shit from Shinola – not that I generally can anyway.

Haile in Phoenix 2006
Haile in Phoenix 2006

Yet in 2006 when Haile Gebrselassie came to Phoenix trying to break the half-marathon world record – he did, 58:55 – our TV producer Rich Jayne had erected  six-foot high sticks beside each kilometer clock with crepe paper in Ethiopian colors streaming in whichever direction the wind was blowing. So not only could Haile tell whether the wind was helping or hurting, but Ed Eyestone and I in the lead vehicle calling the race live could tell our viewers who could also see for themselves.

Come on, organizers, try helping fans (and commentators). This wouldn’t cost anything in the larger scheme of things, and yet would instantly elevate the experience. How many tracks must a man run around…

Rant over.

END

Advertisements

BOSTON EFFECT ON RACE PARTICIPATION

Bolder Boulder 10K
Bolder Boulder 10K
   

It’s been six weeks since the bombings at the Boston Marathon, time enough for the first rush of emotions to have run their course, and for cooler more reasoned calculations to resume.  Just yesterday, Marc Fucarile, 34, a roofer from Stoneham, Massachusetts, was released from Mass General, the last victim to be released from hospital into whatever semblance of normal now awaits him after the loss of his right leg.

And so as we settle into this brave new post-Boston 2013 world, the question arises like the morning sun, what is the new normal?  In that light I was intrigued to read the Boulder Daily Camera article following Memorial Day’s Bolder Boulder 10K.  In its story the Daily Camera quoted race director Cliff Bosley saying he thought the tragedy at Boston contributed to fewer people participating in Boulder this year, as entrants were down 5.7% from 51,681 in 2012 to 48,741 on Monday.

“I think some people made the decision not to come,” Bosley told the Daily Camera. “Just, ‘Let’s take a year off and see how it plays out’.”

Immediately, I wondered A) was it true that Boston was the cause for the drop off?  B) if so, is Boulder an anomaly?  C) Did Bosley overlook other potential factors?  Or, D) is there evidence of similar declines in race registration or finishers which might be attributed to The Boston Effect?  I made some calls to the other major races that followed Boston on the calendar.   Here is some of what I learned. (more…)

MARATHON GEM ALONG THE CALIFORNIA COAST

VenturaM2Blogo    Ventura, Ca. — The growth and popularity of big city marathons has led to record sell-outs around the world, opening the calendar to charming boutique events not looking to cram every last runner onto their narrow over-taxed roads – not that there is anything wrong with that.  We found just such a gem this weekend glistening in the coastal California sun out the Ventura Highway north of Los Angeles, south of Santa Barbara.

The 3rd Clif Bar Mountains 2 Beach Marathon & Half-Marathon gave its 3000 entrants — 1500 in each distance – a lovely journey from rural Ojai to seaside Ventura that had everyone raving about the course, the organization and thrilled with their new PRs. (more…)

THE LINE

11TrackThe lines in racing are evident and precise. At tomorrow’s Diamond League Adidas Grand Prix in New York City lines will define the arc of competition while designating starts and finishes.  If only life could be so simply striped.

Events around the globe have been effected by the bombings at the Boston Marathon this past April 15th.  And there is little doubt that these next ten months will be daunting for the Boston Athletic Association as they determine where to draw their own lines for Patriot’s Day 2014.

Yesterday, May 23rd, in his War on Terror policy re-set speech at the National Defense University in Virginia, President Obama brought up Boston as he enunciated the qualities which define America and which require, in his words, “efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate.” (Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists) (more…)

36th RITE AID CLEVELAND RACE REPORT

Cleveland Champs  Philemon Terer, Sarah Kiptoo
Cleveland Champs
Philemon Terer, Sarah Kiptoo

Cleveland, Ohio — Kenyans Philemon Terer and Sarah Kiptoo of the AmeriKenya Running Club in Santa Fe, New Mexico battled the fields and then the heat at today’s 36th Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon to notch the biggest wins of their respective careers.  Terer broke free from Ethiopia’s Tesfaye Dube at 40K on the way to a 2:17:37 win. By dipping under 2:20 Terer added a $3000 bonus to his first place prize. Dube arrived at the Browns Stadium finish 33-seconds later to claim runner up honors.

Under conditions which changed from overcast and 64 degrees Farenheit to sunny and 79, Sarah Kiptoo still managed to chop a remarkable eleven minutes off her marathon PR with her 2:33:41 win.  Two-time defending champion Mary Akor finished second in 2:36:03 while Charlotte, North Carolina teen Alana Hadley completed her much anticipated debut in sixth place with a 2:58:22 clocking. (more…)

RITE AID CLEVELAND MARATHON WEEKEND

Cleveland Marathon     Cleveland, Ohio – The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon & 10K has always been a front-runner.  Well before other marathons began staging multiple events on race weekend, Cleveland always staged both a world-class 10K and marathon on the same day.  Now to accommodate the growing number of people looking to get into the sport, organizers have added a 5K and a Kid’s Run on Saturday, while a half-marathon is also included on Sunday’s schedule along with the marathon and 10K.  In all over 22,000 people will wind through the streets of Cleveland in the 36th anniversary of the city’s signature racing weekend. (more…)

BAA OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT TOWARD 2014

BostonStrong     Below is a copy of a press release issued today by the Boston Athletic Association regarding the status of the 5000 runners who were unable to finish this year’s Boston Marathon after two bombs were set off near the Boylston Street finish line at 4:49:44 and 4:49:54 on the first-wave race clock. 

     It will be a difficult year ahead for the B.A.A. and the city of Boston as they walk the fine line between security, safety, and the open road of welcome that has always been the hallmark of the world’s oldest marathon.  This decision is an excellent first step. (more…)