SCRUBBING THE SPORT CLEAN

Nations have been turning citizens into soldiers for as long as anyone can remember.  And over time, no matter the nation, the process hasn’t changed a great deal, as it has proven tried and true.

First, the military breaks down the individual recruits – cutting off their hair, dressing them alike, housing them together in close quarters – in order to build a cohesive unit.  Then they teach precision through constant drilling until a finely tuned military force has been forged.

One of the first lessons in unit cohesion is everyone is responsible for everyone else. And if one makes a mistake, all pay the price. For instance, if one recruit decides he doesn’t want to take a shower every day in boot camp, it eventually falls to the other recruits to drag him to the showers for a late night cold water scrubbing with a hard bristled brush. It is not the drill sergeant who does this, it is the rank recruit’s own fellow privates.  That cold-water scrubbing tends to get the message across. If one recruit screws up in training, the entire platoon does extra pushups or low crawl. Eventually, life for the screw-up is made intolerable by his fellow recruits until he gets his act in order.

Bringing this analogy into the world of athletics, until the athletes themselves take some responsibility to deal with their own in this matter of doping,  the situation will never be resolved.  Every athlete only wants to train and race, total focus.  And that is fully understandable.  But that only works if the sport is in good health, and this one is not. Continue reading

HEALING BEGINS

World Indoor Champs logo 2016Last week’s IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon has been praised for its innovations in track & field presentation, things like NBA-style player introductions, music during competitions, and medal ceremonies in Portland’s Courthouse Square.  And while there were many performances to laud and races that stretched emotions taut, it must also be noted that there was an uneven quality to a meet billed as a “World Championships”.

Though 148 nations sent at least one representative to Portland — up from the 135 in Sopot, Poland in 2014, but down from the 168 in Istanbul, Turkey in 2012 — there was a shortage of top-flight fields in many events. One reason may well be the specter of the Rio Games this summer. Continue reading

2015 CARLSBAD 5000 RUNDOWN

IMG_4570Carlsbad, CA. — Warm and windy, not the alliterative conditions they were hoping for at the 30th Carlsbad 5000.  Perhaps serene and swift would have been more like it. And yet, despite the less than ideal racing conditions, they darn near got world record number 17 at the event dubbed “The World’s Fastest 5K”, a moniker CBAD has more than earned over its first 29 years, as it has hosted 16 world and eight U.S. road records over that span.

But it didn’t quite happen in 2015, as Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba could only scare the 2006 mark of 14:46 set by countrywoman Meseret Defar here in the seaside town 30 miles north of San Diego.

The younger sister of two-time Carlsbad champ Tirunesh Dibaba finished in 14:48, third-best road 5K in history, but a full 25-seconds in front of runner up Geleta Burka, also of Ethiopia, the 2013 Carlsbad women’s champion.

With off-shore breezes starching the seaside flags today when the pros got around to racing, the faster overall times organizers expected on the newly designed (for elites only) two-loop course along Carlsbad Boulevard never came to pass. It didn’t help that four-time defending invitational men’s champion Dejen Gebrmeskel of Ethiopia withdrew with an illness just hours before the race. 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