America’s innocent mid-century mythology, when neighborhoods were neighborhoods and the focus was on family, has long since been reduced to Tea Party yearnings and Toby Keith song lyrics. Today, the distance between threat and target has never been shorter. In fact, we’ve become a nation of fear, and perhaps not without reason. Thus do enterprises like two-time Olympian Todd Williams’ RunSafer program come into being in this early 21st century welcomed rather than lamented.
Todd Williams in Racing Prime
A man for whom the competitive fire burned brightly during his high school, college, and professional career, four-time former U.S. 10,000 meter champion and 15Km road record holder Todd Williams traded in his racing kit for Jiu Jitsu togs following his retirement from competitive running in 2003. In the ensuing eleven years the drive and focus Todd once summoned to earn 21 U.S. championships in running was transferred into the collection of Jiu Jitsu ranking belts. Over the years as Todd worked his way toward black belt status (2011), the idea that would become RunSafer began to take form. Continue reading
Minimal, broad-based funding has long been a useful mechanism to advance the cause of sports in the USA. In the late 1970s and early `80s runners had to join The Athletics Congress (precursor to today’s USA Track & Field) in order to run the Boston, New York City and Columbus Marathons. Today, a similar mechanism is utilized by USA Triathlon where every competitor must purchase at least a one-day license ($10) in order to participate in sanctioned events. Running USA, itself, was stood up in 1999 in part with funds provided by then New York City Marathon director Alan Steinfeld who pledged a $1 per U.S. entry to the fledgling organization. That funding gave rise to Team USA California in Mammoth Lakes which developed Deena Kastor’s bronze and MebKeflezighi’s silver medals at the Athens Olympic Marathons in 2004.
While the mandatory TAC membership model fell away in the 1980s as more and more fitness runners came into running, and the governing body proved unwilling or incapable of providing services for fees, and RUSA withdrew its support for Mammoth Lakes at the end of 2009 as the trade organization turned it focus inward toward servicing industry members rather than outward toward the sport, the minimal $1 per entry practice was resurrected this March by race director Steve Nearman of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon scheduled for October 2nd in Alexandria, Virginia WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE HALF MAKES MAJOR AMERICAN PLEDGE.
Nearman’s funds will be used to support America’s distance running training camps. Several other events have since joined the Dollar For Distance Development pledge, and USA Track & Field Foundation continues with its own program “to attract and guide funds to new and innovative track and field programs, with an emphasis on providing opportunities for youth athletes, emerging elite athletes, distance training centers and anti-doping education.” USATFF generates its funding from donations from its Board of Directors and from generous fans of track and field.
Yesterday, Team USA Arizona coach Greg McMillan revealed that he has received a contribution from Tagg Running of Tucson from its July 4th Freedom Run. Continue reading