RYAN VAIL & LINDSEY SCHERF WIN GASPARILLA HALF-MARATHON

Ryan Vail takes lead in Tampa at mile 12.

Ryan Vail takes lead in Tampa at mile 12.

Tampa, FL. — The excitement of pro racing returned to the streets of Tampa today, as the once legendary Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic saw spirited competitions mark both the pro men’s and women’s races at the 37th running of Tampa’s premier distance events.  It was the first time since 1997 that pro prize money was on offer, and Portland, Oregon’s Ryan Vail and Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s Lindsey Scherf came out on top to claim the $80000 first place checks out of a total purse of $40,000. In the 68 degree, 97% humidity conditions Vail’s winning time was 64:06, while Scherf proved her fitness for the March 9th Los Angeles Marathon with a controlled 1:13:07 win. Continue reading

SILENCE OF THE LAMBS

Wanjiru v. Kebede, Chicago 2010

Wanjiru v. Kebede, Chicago 2010

People watch foot races for the same reasons they watch other sports: to root for the home team, see how the drama plays out (especially if the stakes are high), and to be inspired by those who do it exceedingly well.  At times, like at the 2010 Chicago Marathon, it is especially riveting when both hearts and minds become entwined in the outcome.  Caring who wins matters.

But over the last generation we have witnessed what was once a robust gathering of eagles from all parts of the globe be winnowed to a very small aerie in East Africa.  In that sense, we don’t have to wait and see who is going to win a major marathon or road race anymore, or how; we know before the starter’s horn ever sounds what will happen.  And when all (or vast majority) of the winners from the same region express the same reluctance to fill the spotlight from a marketing or media standpoint — in order to overcome the public’s inability to differentiate one from the other while helping generate sponsor interest — we see the potential end-game, as with CGI’s elimination of their entire North American elite athlete budget, reportedly $1 million U.S.

Yet in the wake of that announcement, even as the chat rooms and social media have lit up with either support for or condemnation of CGI, the only two athletes who have spoken out on the issue publicly that I’ve seen have been Josh Cox and today Ryan Vail of the U.S.  Perhaps I have missed others, but not one word has emerged from any of the world’s greatest runners, or their representatives.  Nothing.  And yet the CGI decision affects them more than anyone.  Perhaps there is a fear of speaking out, but even in that light do we wonder why CGI makes this kind of call?! Continue reading