Atlanta, Ga. – For those too young to remember, the nation was even more divided in 1970 than it is today. 50 years ago an idealistic generation of Baby Boomers were still trying to change the world through sit-ins and political protest, primarily to end the war in Vietnam. That May 4th, the killing of four unarmed students at Kent State University by the Ohio National Guard mobilized student unrest across the country.
Yet just two months later, 110 intrepid pioneers (107 men & 3 women) were on their feet in Atlanta running to change nothing more than their own lives. And in so doing, they helped begin a whole new social movement that one person and one step at a time accomplished what sitting-in as a group never could.
Thus was the first AJC Peachtree Road Race born, inaugurating a tradition and cause that now stretches half a century long and 2 million finishers deep.
With such a legacy to serve, the world’s largest 10K has welcomed back not just many of the Original 110 who ran that first Peachtree 10K, but has assembled perhaps the deepest fields of pro talent ever, with bonuses of $50,000 going to any one of the foot racers or wheelchair athletes who can break the very sturdy event records. Continue reading
ROAD KING JOSEPH KIMANI
Yesterday, November 13, 2012, Kimbia Athletics announced the passing of Joseph Kimani of Kenya, a road racer whose light blazed with unequaled brilliance during his comet-like run atop the American road circuit in the mid-1990s. Kimani, age 40, succumbed to pneumonia November 1st at his home in Eldoret, here he was buried this week.
For racers the road is contested territory upon which the battle of wills is played out against the march of time. In the annals of our sport there have been many whose greatest athletic expression have come on the hard surface of the road rather than across country or atop the laned geometry of the track. None more so than Joseph Kimani.
Where to begin?
Tall, trim and impossibly superior, Kimani notched victories, course and world records like a Top Gun pilot notched enemy aircraft. During the 1996 road season alone Kimani set six course records and two world 10K records. His marks at Atlanta’s Peachtree 10k (27:04), Utica’s Boilermaker 15k (42:40) and Cleveland’s Revco 10k (27:20) still stand as atop a plinth in granite, monuments to excellence. His 33:31 win at the 1997 Evansville, Indiana Arts Fest 12k remains tied as the road world record for the distance.
He won by margins, as if the rest of the field had been lost along the way. At the Bolder Boulder 10k in 2000 he created a gap of 57-seconds to second place. He lanced 52-seconds off the already impressive Peachtree Road Race record in `96. When he made a move it was like a V12 purring amidst of a lineup of growling V8s. Nobody was as dominant as the angular Kenyan.
“He has to be considered one of the best road racers of all time,” his agent, Tom Ratcliffe, said in the news release. Continue reading
Now that Athletics Kenya has made its Sophie’s Choice for their 2012 Olympic Men’s Marathon team, it seems cruelly unfair that both history’s fastest marathoner, Geoffrey Mutai, and the official world record holder, Patrick Makau, will not be Olympians in London 2012. All of which makes one stop to consider how this wholly unsatisfactory outcome might eventually be corrected.
While competitions on the track are restricted by the availability of lanes, thereby making it necessary to limit competitors to a qualified three-per-nation, the marathon is contested over open road, negating the space restriction argument. Therefore, is it time for the IAAF to lobby for an open marathon format where, if not any qualified athlete can enter, then at least five runners per nation would be fielded with an accompanying team medal formulation added like in World Cross Country?
The New York Road Runners recently posted a Head-to-Head debate between ex-USA Today Olympic writer Dick Patrick and former New York Times Sports editor Neil Amdur on the value of staging a separate half-marathon in the Olympic Games. Neil gave the idea a qualified thumbs up, while Dick replied, “Not so fast, my friend.”
While I might suggest an Olympic Ekiden Relay as a better choice which would include more athletes and be purely team-based, nowhere in Dick and Neil’s back-and-forth was the idea of an Olympic Half Marathon or marathon team medals forwarded for the express purpose of elevating the distinct sport of Road Racing into the pantheon alongside Track & Field via the Olympic imprimatur. Yet as more and more hybrid sports continue to sprout up, more and more of them are finding space on the Olympic schedule, while the very historic and distinct sports of cross country and road racing remain locked out without even an advocacy coming from their governing body. Continue reading