RELENTLESS SHALANE WINS IN NEW YORK CITY

Like many a Boston Marathon finisher, Shalane Flanagan walked downstairs with a tender tred after the race. The Marblehead, Massachusetts native had attacked the old course with a willful intention on Patriot’s Day 2014, convinced that an unrelenting pace from the start would discourage her opponents and set her up for victory.  But now, after the savage pace she set on the rolling hills from Hopkinton to Heartbreak Hill in Newton had shredded her quads, the walk downstairs from the VIP room of the House of Blues to the main stage for that night’s award ceremony was proving to be yet another painful journey.

Once on stage, the top ten women were presented to the boisterous crowd. Shalane was number seven. Then, as the champion (now confirmed drug cheat) Rita Jeptoo of Kenya basked in the spotlight and applause gowned up like a beauty pageant contestant, Shalane stood behind her still unrelenting, still feisty and unbowed.

“You’re welcome,” Shalane said tartly from behind as I introduced Jeptoo to the crowd. We heard her.  It was an acknowledgment that Flanagan knew exactly what role she had played in the fastest Boston Marathon in history, her own 2:22:02 time in seventh being the fastest ever by an American in Boston.

Shalane Flanagan leading the charge in Boston 2014

The plan for Boston 2014 had been set months in advance by Shalane and her Bowerman Track Club coach Jerry Schumacher. And to a degree, it had worked, delivering the 33-year-old to the Boylston Street finish line in exactly the time she was trying to achieve. Unfortunately, it was nearly four minutes behind the drug queen, and two minutes off that which Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia fashioned in second place – 2:19:59.

“When I first heard of Jeptoo (drug bust),” remembered Shalane, “I was angry. But then I was relieved. I could do that two minutes.”

And she nearly did, six months later in Berlin, again gunning for time rather than place. This time it was Deena Kastor‘s American record 2:19:36 from London 2006. Continue reading

THE HEAT WILL BE ON IN LA

2012 Olympic Trials, Houston, Tx.

2012 Olympic Trials, Houston, Tx.

 

Twice in recent men’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials history the weather has been a significant factor.  This coming Saturday in Los Angeles that number will jump to three as temperatures in LA have been forecast for the low-70sF (21C) at the 10 a.m. start, going up to 80F (27C) at noon.  Not ideal, by any measure, but consider that the average daily range in Rio de Janeiro in August for the Olympic Marathon will be a low of 66F (19C) and a high of 78F (25C), fairly similar to LA this Saturday. Continue reading

CARLSBAD 5000 CHANGES COURSE

Carlsbad Logo 2015Carlsbad, CA. — While it was the inaugural San Diego Rock `n` Roll Marathon that set Elite Racing off onto its national manifest destiny in 1998, a status that today has gone global under the banner of The Competitor Group, it was the 1986 Carlsbad 5000 that made Elite Racing’s bones on the international racing circuit in the first place.

This Sunday morning the Carlsbad 5000 celebrates its 30th anniversary, ironically on the same weekend as the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in China. I say ironically, because the history of the Carlsbad 5000 has always been inextricably linked to World Cross, which has traditionally come one to two weeks before CBAD on the race calendar. Accordingly, one could always find Carlsbad elite athlete coordinators Mike Long and now Matthew Turnbull camped out at World Cross with a bevy of tickets for the World Cross medalist to make the trek to the legendary layout 30 miles north of San Diego for a little R & R, and, yes, a hard race in the middle. No wonder Carlsbad has been site to 16 world, 8 U.S., and innumerable other national 5K and age-group road records. Continue reading

HOW IMPORTANT ARE HEROES?

jim-ryunSI   There will be an interesting test this Thursday evening in San Diego as the running community gathers to celebrate and commemorate the 50th anniversary of Jim Ryun’s first high school sub-4:00 mile.  Local leaders Paul Greer, Tracy Sundlun and Josh Cox joined with Jim Ryun to stage the celebration at the former Balboa Stadium – now home to the San Diego High School Cavers – where Jim ran one of his most iconic races as a high school senior.

It was at the 1965 AAU National Track & Field Championships where the lanky senior from Wichita East High School in Kansas lined up against a truly world-class field in front of 20,000 fans (when track could draw that kind of crowd outside the confines of Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.)

On the heels of Dr. Roger Bannister‘s celebrated first sub-4:00 mile in 1954, Ryun became the twelfth member of the exclusive sub-4 club as a high school junior on June 5, 1964.  Running 3:59.0 while finishing eighth at the Compton Invitational just six weeks after his 17th birthday Ryun became a national sensation.  The following year in San Diego Ryun not only notched another sub-4:00 mile, he WON the national championship in an American record 3:55.3!  And he did it by out-gunning the reigning Olympic gold and silver medalists from Tokyo 1964, Peter Snell of New Zealand and Josef Odlozil of Czechoslovakia, and then American record holder Jim Grelle!  It was the performance of a generation, and still resonates a half-century later.

“Imagine an American high school kid doing that today,” marveled Marty Liquori, himself a member of the five-man U.S. high school sub-4:00 club. “An American  record in the national championship against the Olympic champion?  It would be impossible.” Continue reading

A STAR IS BORN – ASICS L.A. MARATHON 2013

Aleksandra Duliba in LA Marathon spotligh

Aleksandra Duliba Shines in L.A. Marathon spotlight

     Los Angeles, CA. — Aleksandra Duliba isn‘t the first, nor will she be the last blond to seek fame and fortune in Los Angeles.  After all, it is the city of dreams.  But the dream came to life today for the 27 year-old marathon debutant from Minsk, Belarus as she won the 28th Asics Los Angeles Marathon, captured the $50,000 Gender Challenge bonus for crossing the finish line ahead of any man on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, and set a Belarus national marathon record, 2:26:06 in the process. Mexican born Kenyan Erick Mose captured the men’s title in a PR 2:09:44 ahead of fellow Kenyan Julius Keter who also ran to a new PR (2:10:32).

“She made all four of her goals,” said Duliba’s manager, Andrej Baranov.  “So what’s next?” Continue reading

WOMEN CONTROL THEIR FATE AT LA MARATHON GENDER CHALLENGE

Los Angeles, CA. — Last year the men dawdled through the early stages of the Asics Los Angeles Marathon, and it cost them a chance at the $100,000 Gender Challenge bonus that goes to the first runner across the finish line in Santa Monica. This year defending men’s champion Simon Njoroge of Kenya (2:12:11) promises to engage early and bring that bonus back to Nyahururu, his home base in the Rift Valley province.  Continue reading

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. Continue reading