Cavs fans sing anthem

Cavs fans sing anthem as one

I have had a long and meaningful relationship with the city of Cleveland via its annual Rite-Aid Cleveland Marathon & 10K, an event I first announced in 1978. During that time I have come to know and commiserate with the city’s championship sporting blight, and was rooting hard for LeBron and the Cavs last night in Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the defending champ Golden State Warriors.

What brought meaning to the “Land’s” first pro sport’s title in 52 years, though, wasn’t just LeBron’s triple/double excellence, or mid-year coach Ty Lue’s mid-game adjustments, like putting center Tristan Thompson on Steph Curry in the 4th quarter – he absolutely denied him the ball, ensuring that the two-time MVP couldn’t rise and rip away the game and title in a blur of late-game three-pointers. No, what I loved most, and what reflected the city best, was how the Cleveland Cavalier fans all sang the national anthem together before their home games rather than have somebody perform it for them.  Continue reading


Efraimson finishing 2:01 in Portland

Efraimson finishing 2:01 in Portland

Cleveland, Oh. — Young Alexa Efraimson put her abundant talent on display last night in Portland, Oregon, clocking 2:01:13 for 800 meters at the Portland Twilight meet, a time which slots her # 3 on the all-time U.S. list for high school aged girls behind Mary Cain and the late Kim Gallagher. It was a fine piece of running by the Camus, Washington native who turned pro last year in lieu of exploring a collegiate running career, a decision that Cain had also made the year before.

But even as Alexa showed her stuff, we are reminded that Mary Cain has come off the boil. After two years of blistering performances, including a spate of records from 800 to 5000 meters, reaching the finals in the 1500 meters 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, and a win at the World Juniors 3000 meter champs in Eugene last summer, the Bronxville, New York native has come into 2015 under performing.  Her indoor season was lackluster, and in her three outdoor 1500s to date she has yet to break 4:15.  Last Thursday she finished 11th in a 12-person 1500 at the Hoka One One Middle Distance Classic at Occidental College in L.A.

Efraimson and Cain are just the latest two high school aged phenoms who matured early and were capable of national and even international caliber performances. But there is nothing automatic about youthful talent, and the road ahead holds no guarantees of future success.

This past weekend I was in Cleveland for the 38th Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon and 10Km, races I have covered since 1978.  Racing in Cleveland this year was another prodigious young talent with high hopes, and another former youth superstar who serves as a cautionary tale for all who follow. Continue reading


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. Continue reading


Cleveland Marathon     Cleveland, Ohio – The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon & 10K has always been a front-runner.  Well before other marathons began staging multiple events on race weekend, Cleveland always staged both a world-class 10K and marathon on the same day.  Now to accommodate the growing number of people looking to get into the sport, organizers have added a 5K and a Kid’s Run on Saturday, while a half-marathon is also included on Sunday’s schedule along with the marathon and 10K.  In all over 22,000 people will wind through the streets of Cleveland in the 36th anniversary of the city’s signature racing weekend. Continue reading


Community of Spirit

The trilling of birds fills the Sunday morning air, a gentle reminder that we once lived in a society scaled more for pause and reflection, rather than one constantly driven by the passing billow and grind of work-a-day commerce.

On any such Sunday morning across the country we seekers and sufferers alike gather by the tens of thousands, congregants all, and embark on a journey of spiritual awakening, discovery and self-fulfillment. We represent every race and religious denomination, every creed and every faith, and by our simple garb make it impossible to distinguish between the wealthy and the poor among us.  We, then, are America’s runners, observers who enter no church as such, rather attend what amount to services at speed at marathons and road races nationwide.

Ours is a movement now firmly within the American mainstream, though we only began in earnest in the 1970s. Then, a combination of age and cynicism began to erode once dewy ideals which were bent toward altering a society of convention waging an immoral war in a foreign land.  Back then, a few iconoclasts sought refuge from the collective entanglement, and began to run on a path of self-discovery and personal well-being.

Today, our discipline transcends all boundaries and conventions, and has swollen into the millions across the globe. But even as our new collective has clogged city streets  – and in doing so filled charity coffers – we have met resistance.  Resistance not for what we believe, i.e. the restorative and redemptive power of a distance run, for that is a universal set tied to men like Thoreau and Emerson.  Instead, the resistance has come due to that which we require to fulfill our quests.  For in our need for open roads on which to celebrate fitness and health, we have called upon the graces of other, more traditional congregants whose path to their own places of worship have been blocked in the process.

The scheduling of marathons on Sunday mornings has thus become a thorny issue throughout the country. It cropped up a few years ago in Los Angeles, California after the city’s 21st annual marathon in 2006.  The old L.A. course, like so many major marathons, wound through the city’s neighborhoods blocking streets, and at times disrupting church services, in L.A.’s case as many as 500 churches.   But in thinking about the churches / marathon dilemma it struck me how narrowly us-versus-them that argument had become.  Continue reading