Tag: Tracy Sundlun

COMPETITOR GROUP REVERSES COURSE ON ELITE COMPETITION

competitor-group     Admitting error isn’t easy, but it can be cathartic.  In light of the strong, some might even say vehement, reaction to its decision last September to precipitously eliminate elite, competitive racing at its Rock `n` Roll events – the announcement came just two weeks before the Rock `n` Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon after appearance-fee agreements had been made — San Diego-based Competitor Group, Inc. announced yesterday that it is reversing course and resurrecting its competitive, elite athlete program in 2014.

CGI Senior VP, Tracy Sundlun
CGI Senior VP, Tracy Sundlun

“It was obvious it was a bad decision,” said CGI senior vice-president of events Tracy Sundlun.  “It wasn’t working.  The fact of the matter is the leadership, our executive team, heard from the running community and we listened. (Cutting elite competition) wasn’t who we were, or who we wanted to be.  It isn’t what we represented, what the sport should be, and what we should be doing with our partners and friends.  So the decision was changed, and I’m just thrilled.” (more…)

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FORMER WORLD RECORD HOLDER KHANNOUCHI TESTING IN SAN DIEGO

Former marathon world record holder Khalid Khannouchi with fan
Former marathon world record holder Khalid Khannouchi with fan

“You never know who will show up here.”

The San Diego Track Club was just finishing its final workout of the year under Coach Paul Greer — 15 X 300 meters — when former marathon world record holder Khalid Khannouchi arrived at the San Diego High School track just after 7p.m. his left hand swaddled in bandages.

”I cut my hand this afternoon,” he explained, “and had to go have five stitches put in.”

Khalid was in town visiting his old friend and mentor Tracy Sundlun,vice president of Competitor Group, purveyors of the Rock `n` Roll series of races.  Tracy had helped establish Khalid  after the Moroccan-born runner emigrated to the USA following his win in the 5000 meters at the 1993 World University Games in Buffalo.  At the time Sundlun served as head of the MAC, the Metropolitan Athletics Congress, regional running federation for the New York City metro area.

But this trip west from his home in Ossining, New York wasn’t simply a friendly visit or a break from the cold and ice back east for the U.S. record holder and four-time Chicago Marathon champion. (more…)

BOSTON EFFECT ON RACE PARTICIPATION

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. (more…)

NEW GRAND PRIX ANNOUNCED BY COMPETITOR GROUP – A CONVERSATION

HalfMarathon Grand Prix     San Diego-based Competitor Group, Inc. (CGI) announced a new half marathon grand prix yesterday the scope of which would traverse their entire 30 Rock `n` Roll Half Marathon event landscape and also include the EDP Lisbon Half Marathon March 24th.  The GP will include both professional and age-group divisions which will award prizes in excess of $250,000.

The professionals will compete over a two-year calendar for a minimum championship prize purse of $240,000, while 13 men’s and women’s age groups (spanning ages 18 to 80+) will compete over a year-long Grand Prix with each of the 26 Grand Prix Champions winning merchandise prizes valued at a minimum of $1,000.

I spoke with CGI Senior Vice President of Events Tracy Sundlun about the new series late yesterday. (more…)

USATF CEO: BIG IDEAS AND WIDE HORIZONS

Tracy 1970s

     Tracy Sundlun and I go way back, to the days of big hair, big ideas, and wide horizons ahead that many envisioned for the sport of running in the 1970s.  Those were hard racing, hard partying times when, as one friend put it, ‘we knew the first 100 finishers of the Boston and New York City Marathons by their first names.’  I think Tracy still does.

When we first met, Tracy had already been a coach at his alma mater, USC, and at the University of Colorado.  But at the time he was back on the east coast working with the Warren Street A.C. in New York, and about to take the reins of the MAC, the Metropolitan Athletics Congress, largest of 56 regional associations in The Athletics Congress (now USATF) web.  There, among other things, he created the New York vs. Boston Indoor Meet.  I was on the Boston end of that binary system, host of the Runner’s Digest radio show and running columnist for the Boston Herald.

The years have gone by, and Tracy and I both moved independently west where we remain closely tied to the sport, me as reporter/broadcaster at-large, him as Senior Vice President of Competitor Group, Inc.(nee Elite Racing) which stages the Rock `n` Roll series of marathons and half-marathons.  But now that USATF has announced that it is once again searching in earnest for a new CEO, Tracy has decided to throw his hat into that ring, hoping to land the job, he says, “I have been training for all my life.“ (more…)

DISTANCE RACING HAS HIT THE WALL

Lawi Lalang wins 2011 NCAA Cross Country title
Lawi Lalang wins 2011 NCAA Cross Country title

Politically incorrect or not, the truth is both indisputable and self-evident:  The utter domination of distance running by athletes from East Africa, a continuing trend which has seemed to peak in 2011,  has now begun to shrink the sport itself.  The atrophy is as evident as the hollows beneath Demi Moore’s cheekbones.

More evidence was on display again today at the NCAA D1 Men’s Cross Country Championship in Terre Haute, Indiana in the person of Arizona freshman Lawi Lalang of Kenya.  A wholly inexperienced distance runner who showed up on the Arizona campus last fall “with no competitive running experience whatsoever” according to his Wildcat bio sheet, Lalang was, nevertheless, an easy runaway winner in today’s national championship over his more seasoned competitors.

This stark difference in talent was a contributing factor which led to the recent departure of sub-4:00 high school mile star Lukas Verzbicas from the track program at the University of Oregon to train full-time for triathlon at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs – VERZBICAS CHOOSES TRIATHLON OVER RUNNING.  That was a particularly troubling loss, since it represented another strand of running’s DNA being torn away.  But young Lukas was quite straight forward about his decision.  After winning the ITU World Junior Triathlon Championship this year, he looked at what lie ahead, and didn’t see himself being able to run what he considered world-level times against the Kenyan and Ethiopian runners.  So off he swam /biked to triathlon where no such (dominant) competition awaited.  But the Lukas loss is just another example in an increasing trend that has diminished a once robust sport. (more…)