A major backlash arose in the wake of that decision, and by year’s end Mr. Dickey had left Competitor Group while former golf executive David Abales quietly took the reins in early 2014. Now, in the fall of 2014 CGI has not only reversed its direction of a year ago, it has ramped up its overall support for the professional end of the game significantly, returning it to the ranks of major players in the game. (more…)
Even as California Chrome‘s bid for horse racing’s first Triple Crown in 36 years came to a thudding halt in yesterday’s 146th Belmont Stakes, the outdoor track season swept into full summer swing last Thursday from sea to shining sea with plenty of action on the enameled plain in between.
In San Diego, Eric Avila and A.J. Acosta, two former area high school stars who have been beset by bad fortune in recent years, returned to top form to cap off the Jim Ryun Festival of Miles at the San Diego High School track. Avila blasted a near 10-second PR 3:56.89 to edge out Acosta’s 3:57.07 in front of a small but enthusiastic gathering that came to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jim Ryun’s first high school sub-4 minute mile, a crowd that included many of track’s former stars from SoCal.
Back east In Concord, Massachusetts Eric Finan of Team USA Minnesota joined Avila in the sub-4 club, his 3:58.73 leading three other men sub-4 at the 6thAdrian Martinez Classic. New sponsor Hoka One One brought in Olympic 1500m silver medalist Leo Manzano as the star attraction, but Leo could only manage fourth place (3:59.31) in the tightly contested race.
J Mac captures his second FOM title in St. Louis in record time
And in St. Louis, Missouri Jordan McNamara of Nike OTC Elite posted a 3:54.27 clocking to take down Leo Manzano’s 2009 event record (3:55.29) in the seventh edition of the Nike Festival of Miles. It was JMac’s second win on the St. Louis University High School track. He captured his first FOM title in 2011.
In all there were 10 men under 4:00 on the same night, two in San Diego, four each in Concord and St. Louis. And while all three events showcased excellent competition, giving fans much to appreciate and applaud, what also stands out is the parochial nature of it all. Even the name Festival of Miles shows how blinkered and uncoordinated the sport continues to be.
“The Jim Ryun event looks fun, though I was a little disappointed in the name choice,” wrote Ben Rosario, impresario behind the seven-year old Nike Festival of Miles in St. Louis. “But it is what it is.”
Though it’s an arbitrary beginning, the calendar turn does give structure to what’s ahead. As 2013 morphed to 2014 a number of significant moves have been witnessed throughout the sport of running and track.
With the success of the Nike Oregon Project and OTC Elite out west, the recent move toward elite team building continues at pace. It was announced today that 1996 Olympian and Dartmouth women’s cross country coach Mark Coogan has taken a position with New Balance in Boston — joining coach Terrence Mahon in Beantown, who signed on with the Boston Athletic Association late last year to develop an elite group for the venerable purveyors of the Boston Marathon.
Simultaneously, another elite team has been started in Flagstaff, Arizona by Ben Rosario, the young running entrepreneur from St. Louis for whom, it seems, no challenge should go unmet. The one-time specialty running store owner, Olympic Trials qualifier, track meet founder, cross country championships meet director, and running fan shop developer has, along with wife Jen, gone all-in to create Northern Arizona Elite. (more…)
After Meb Keflezighi won the 2009 New York City Marathon – the first American win in 27 years – it was frustrating to many of Meb’s fans that they couldn’t buy a replica of the USA singlet Meb pointed to so proudly in the final strides of his historic win.
In fact, the shoe companies that sponsor professional runners have never made their elite athlete kits available to running fans, only to the athletes themselves. It is but one of many anomalies running has carried forward from its amateur past. It’s the same philosophy which sees track meets being organized specifically for the participants and decidedly not for the paying fans, which is why you might confusingly see six out of nine 100 meter sprinters wearing the exact same outfit in the starting blocks at Diamond League meets.
Imagine if every horse in the Kentucky Derby wore the same colors because each of the horses was under contract to the same horseshoe company. Consider if NBA and NFL fans weren’t allowed to buy replica jerseys of their favorite athletes. Not only would it lessen fan involvement and league promotion, but it would significantly lessen revenues for both the athletes and the rights holders.
Exactly because of this commercial malady, today former specialty running store owner, event director and Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier Ben Rosario and his wife Jen announced the launch of RunFanShop.com, a site geared toward the running fan. (more…)
(Today, we feature a column by guest blogger Ben Rosario)
On February 2 I had the extreme pleasure to serve as meet director for the USA Cross Country Championships in Saint Louis, and we were fortunate to have one of the most talented fields for that particular event in a long, long time. The members of our local organizing committee worked their butts off to promote the likes of Chris Derrick, Shalane Flanagan, Deena Kastor, Dathan Ritzenhein, Matt Tegenkamp and more. I’m biased, but I think we did a pretty darn good job, and though it’s difficult to give an exact number, we certainly had at least a couple thousand fans out on the course that day. That said I believe it could have been even better. I think if the thousands upon thousands of casual runners knew more about the professional side of the sport then having those athletes in their own backyard would have been an absolute can’t miss event.
Earlier this week the Bank of America Chicago Marathon announced that Dathan Ritzenhein, who owns the #3 all-time marathon in U.S. history, will be back to run the storied windy city race on October 13. That’s great news and I’m happy for the folks at Chicago and I’m happy for Dathan. They got a valuable commodity that will bring attention to their event and he will be compensated thusly, I’m sure.
My pet peeve is this; why can’t we find out how much he is getting as an appearance fee? I am a sports junkie and I’ve probably read a thousand articles about professional athletes signing their first contract, signing as a free agent or being traded, etc. and in each and every one I see something to the effect of , “The deal is reportedly worth $x,xxx,xxx.” And you know why we see that? We see it because people want to know. It is just one of the many things that makes these athletes larger than life to the rest of us. It is what puts them on a pedestal where granted, we sometimes try to knock them down, but they are up there nonetheless.
And yet we continue in our sport, even in the year 2013, to try and seem amateur. It’s leftover from the 60s and 70s and the days when runners would have to get paid under the table or risk their Olympic eligibility. News flash; we don’t have to do that anymore! I think we’ve made a huge mistake in this industry, and I was guilty of it during my days as a running store owner, of trying to make guys like Ritz seem like he’s just like “you.”
We tell people that they feel the same things he feels during a marathon and that’s what separates our sport from all those others. Well guess what…that ain’t true. What it feels like to run 2:07 is absolutely nothing like what it feels to run four hours and you know what…that’s okay. We can idolize the 2:07 guy and still admire and respect our friends, our neighbors, or our customers who run four hours. They are not mutually exclusive. The model is out there folks. Walk into any sporting goods store and go to the football section, then the basketball section, th en the soccer section, etc. All you’ll see is jersey after jersey of famous players. Look at television ratings and see how NFL football completely rules on Sundays, Monday nights and now even Thursday nights. Sure we might talk about how these guys are overpaid prima donnas but we love every minute of it.
The 1300-person crowd rose along the front stretch as hip 5, Jordan McNamara of the Oregon Track Club, made his move. The St.Louis Track Club Men’s Mile was the final race of last night’s Big River Festival of Miles, and in the final 100 meters it had boiled down to a three man fight. On the inside ran John Jefferson from Team Indiana Elite, a 3:57 man who had charged to the lead at the bell with 400 to go. In his slipstream the hometown favorite, Stephen Pifer of the Oregon TC, a native of Edwardsville, Illinois from just across the Big Muddy from St. Louis, a 3:56 man with scores of fans urging him on. And waiting, waiting, waiting was McNamara, who had a PR coming in of 3:59, but had won the “B” heat of the Oxy High Performance Meet in L.A.on May 21st in 3:42. So he was in form, and rarin’ to go.
I was on the P.A. It had been a great night of racing, beginning with the Go St. Louis! Healthy Kids mile won by Nick Thatcher in 5:29. The fourth annual series of races served as a fund-raiser to benefit 2008 St. Louis U. High All-State high jumper Mike Rathmann, who was paralyzed just a few weeks after graduation in a vacation accident. His mom, Toots, was on hand, as well, celebrating her birthday. Good night all around for the Rathmann bunch. (more…)
St. Louis, Mo.- I’m back in my old hometown to serve as guest announcer for tonight’s fourth annual Big River Festival of Miles presented by Under Armour. Taking place at my high school alma mater, St. Louis University High School, the FOM is a series of races from an open mile for boys and girls from first to eighth grade, to invitational boys and girls high school miles, to an elite/pro women’s 800 and men’s mile to close the program.
The Big River Festival of Miles was conceived in 2008 by fellow SLUH alum Ben Rosario, co-owner of the Big River Running Company, and a former Hanson’s Distance Project runner. The first FOM was staged to benefit the family of Brigette Schutzman, a standout cross country and track runner for Saint Louis University who had been badly injured in a car accident on New Year’s Eve 2007. The meet raised $8,000 for the Schutzman family. (more…)