Tag: Carey Pinkowski


Chicago Marathon Ex. Director Carey Pinkowski
Chicago Marathon Exec. Director Carey Pinkowski

The 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon kicked off today with the elite athlete press conference at the Chicago Hilton. Before the official goings on got underway, I sat down for a short chat with Carey Pinkowski, the executive race director for the last 23 years.  I began by asking the one-time sub-9:00 high school two-miler and Villanova grad how he orchestrated his professional fields, not just this year, but in general.

“Is there a formula?  No.  But it’s like casting a play.  What I like (in a field) is chemistry.  So you get some runners with experience (like Emmanuel Mutai), and some guys with inexperience (like Atsedu Tsegay).  I like risk takers. I like athleticism complimenting each other.  You know how I know I have done my job?  It is when I look at the list and see the outcome one way. Then when I look at the list an hour later I come to a completely different conclusion.  It’s when there are five or six scenarios possible that I know I’ve done it right.

But I must admit I do like young fearless racers and first-time guys.  Khalid Khannouchi is one example. Steve Jones is another.  There is something in Chicago’s history that plays to that kind of athlete. When Khalid Khannouchi first came to town I asked if he’d like to see the course.  He said, ‘yeah’.  And I thought, well, this will take three hours out of my day. But then he said he only wanted to see the final five kilometers. When I asked why, he said, ‘because that’s the only distance I’m going to race’.” (more…)



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…)


LondonMarathonLogo    London, England – News here in the U.K. is just as Boston focused as everywhere else in the aftermath of Monday’s marathon bombings and today’s firefight and manhunt in Watertown, Mass., even as the Virgin London Marathon prepares for its own 33rd start this Sunday morning in Blackheath. But having staged an Olympic Games last year, and dealt with the IRA troubles for so many decades before that, London officials feel they have a good handle on security for the marathon. Notwithstanding, the police presence for Sunday’s London Marathon will increase by 40% from 2012, according to Scotland Yard.

“It’s about making sure that the people who come to London on Sunday feel safe when they are in the city,” said Chief Superintendent Julia Pendry who has headed security at the London Marathon for the last five years.

London race officials expect 35,000 runners on Sunday, and said they will donate £2 for every finisher to the One Fund Boston. There will also be 30-seconds of silence before the start on Sunday as a mark of respect for the victims of Monday’s attack in Boston. (more…)


Last year, after the final pacer pulled off course at 30 kilometers, Kenya’s Wesley Korir shattered the integrity of the Chicago Marathon lead pack, ripping a sudden tear in the fabric of the race by accelerating past an aid station as others peeled off for their liquids.  But as he told me yesterday, “Even when I made that move, I was thinking of (Moses) Mosop.  I expected him to go by me, and when he did I gave up, and was happy with second place.”

What Korir just described is the Alpha Effect, the psychological control a single athlete has on his competitors by nothing more than his very presence.  The power an Alpha has over other runners can corrupt even their best moves before they have been played out. Last year in Chicago Kenya’s Moses Mosop, arriving as the 2:03:06 Boston Marathon runner up and world record holder at 30K on the track, was the Alpha male.  We’ve seen them through the years, men like Toshihiko Seko, Rob de Castella, Paul Tergat and Haile Gebrselassie, the athletes who everyone else has their eye on, waiting to see what he does, controlling the race no matter where he may be in the pack.

The professional athletes of the 2012 Bank of America Chicago Marathon met with the press corps yesterday at the host Chicago Hilton Hotel. Outside, the burly American city known for its architecture, music, and neighborhoods lay shrouded beneath low-hanging weather moving restlessly east out along the great lakeside where the bulk of the race will be contested this Sunday.  (more…)


Boston Heat     Race directors are notoriously competitive with one another, yet just as quick to lend a helping hand in times of trouble.  So when the conditions for Monday’s 116th Boston Marathon became fixed at red-flag levels by meteorologists, race directors on hand willingly stepped up to offer assistance in any way they could.  Chicago Marathon director Carey Pinkowski was especially forthcoming, having gone through a similar hot weather nightmare of his own in 2007 when he had to actually close the Chicago course after three hours when temperatures rose to dangerous levels, and medical contingencies, he feared, would be inadequate to handle the surge of potential patients.

In Boston this week, Pinkowski offered to fly in any extra equipment from Chicago that the Boston Athletic Association might need to address the severe weather ahead.

“That is true,” confirmed Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray.  “We didn’t end up needing it, but they were VERY GRACIOUS to offer.  We are all in this thing together.”

With ambient air temperatures actually higher in Boston 2004 than last Monday, there seemed to be something of a disconnect between the faster finishing times in `04, when the race was still staged at noon versus  Monday’s lower temperatures with its 10 a.m. start.

The key difference was clouds versus sun.  In 2004 the 83F starting temp in Hopkinton, Mass. was ameliorated to some degree by a high overcast. Monday’s 70F start temp was exacerbated by a bright yellow sun and open blue skies.  With cloudless conditions, the ground temperatures soared well into the 90s.  In fact, many of the pro runners complained that their special fluids and the regular water stops had warmed up considerably by the time they reached them.

Mutai, Boston 2012

Defending champion Geoffrey Mutai’s demise began when he missed his own fluid bottle at 25K and substituted a warm Gatorade drink in its place.  With the unfamiliar liquid sloshing around in his gut, he experienced stomach problems just as he was answering the surge of Matthew Kisorio and Levy Matebo as they began the push which separated them and Mutai from the pack.

By 30k Geoffrey was on the side of the road throwing up.  2011 had all gone so flawlessly for Mutai – wins and course records in Boston and NYC – perhaps we should have expected the marathon gods to exact a little pay-back in 2012. (more…)


Geoff as we knew him best

The sport of running lost one its true guiding lights today as news of Geoff Hollister’s passing was announced in Portland, Oregon.  Hollister succumbed to cancer just days after his 66th birthday following a several year battle with the disease.  Full story here

Among his many other talents, Geoff was instrumental in bringing Alberto Salazar out to Oregon, and this past weekend at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Al’s home town of Boston, Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project athletes Galen Rupp, Mo Farah, and Ciaran O’Lionard all wore specially designed singlets in honor of Geoff.  Galen, who grew up in Eugene and attended the University of Oregon, like Geoff, was especially touched.

“He was so passionate about the sport,” recalled Galen last Friday, Geoff’s 66th birthday.  “He brought so many new ideas, like Athletics West (the Nike-sponsored track team of the late 1970s).  He really knew how to advance the sport.  I’ve known him since high school, and he was always so good to be around.”

I’d known Geoff for over 30 years, too, and we’d reconnect every August at Joanie Samuelson’s Beach to Beacon 10k in Maine, where his laugh and embrace of life were always in full engagement. Though he’d long retired from Nike, Geoff kept busy in recent years using his arts background to produce documentary films, from the award-winning “Fire on the Track”, the tale of Steve Prefontaine, to last year’s “There is No Finish Line” showcasing the saga of Joanie’s rise to Olympic glory, and her continued influence on runners of all ages, genders, and abilities.

One of the original “Men of Oregon”, as writer and fellow Duck Kenny Moore dubbed the men who ran for legendary Oregon coach Bill Bowerman, Geoff Hollister lived a life that exemplified Joseph Campbell’s dictate to “follow your bliss”.  May we all be so fortunate.  (more…)