MONEY NOT THE ISSUE AT NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

Nick Arciniaga Wins National Championship Marathon

Nick Arciniaga Wins National Championship Marathon

Money is the issue today.  But first, congratulations go out to Flagstaff-based Nick Arciniaga for his first national championship, an exciting 2:13:12 win over Mammoth Track Club’s Josphat Boit at the USA Marathon Championships in Minnesota today.  Nick’s narrow two-second victory over Kenyan-born Boit was worth $25,000.  Boit took home $15,000 for second, Shadrack Biwott came in third at 2:13:25 ($10,000) and Sergio Reyes was fourth in 2:13:34 ($7000).

I lead with this in part because of Ryan Hall’s final blog from his month-long training session in Iten, Kenya where he went to prepare for the November 3rd ING New York City Marathon. In his NYRR post Ryan Hall wrote:

“My last thought about Kenya and what makes the runners here so special is their incredible self-belief. I have never met a group of runners so confident in their abilities, even if they are unproven. For example, you cannot tell the difference between a 2:04 marathon runner and a 2:20 marathon runner in Kenya; they exude the same confidence and self-belief. It seems that everyone here believes they are just one day, or one race, away from hitting it big, and with confidence like that, perhaps they are. They certainly aren’t afraid to take a risk and put it all out on the line, whether in a race or in training. Nothing great ever happens without taking a risk.” (Bold and underline added)

Ryan Hall has it exactly right. But what goes unspoken is how the imbalance in the financial rewards of running allow every Kenyan kid to take any and all risks to achieve his or her dreams, while those same rewards in the U.S. economy hampers every American without a major shoe company contract from doing the same.  Continue reading

USATF TAKES OWNERSHIP OF ROAD RACING

.US National Road Racing Championships    In what must be seen as a harbinger of hope, USA Track & Field announced yesterday that it has signed a new sponsor for a new event to bolster what has previously been little more than a nominal national road race series.  Called the .US National Road Racing Championships, the new 12-kilometer event will feature a $100,000 purse — $20,000 to each gender champion — while putting a jaunty cap atop a currently quite bland USA Running Circuit —  nine locally controlled unaffiliated events which run from February through October over distances from one-mile  to the marathon.

The new event and sponsorship was announced yesterday as part of a three-year deal with Neustar, a Virginia-based domain-name registration company.  No specific date or location for the new race was disclosed as details are still being worked out.  However, the time and place announcement is said to be coming in March.

The signing of Neustar was ushered through by the still-dewy USATF CEO Max Siegel who took office last May.  The deal represents the single largest event sponsorship signed by USATF in a decade (which is telling in itself).  What’s more, the event will be the first road race wholly owned and operated by USATF.

With hundreds of road races and millions of road racers nationwide, and only several thousand adult track and field athletes, the imbalance in USATF membership and focus has been a festering challenge since road racing was first lumped in with track and race walking when Congress broke up the old AAU with the enactment of the Amateur Sports Act of 1978.

Max Siegel, USATF CEO

Max Siegel, USATF CEO

“…the vast majority (of runners) are running for something other than prize money or Olympic medals,” Siegel said in the announcement. “This race is their race, and USATF is their organization. With the support of Neustar, we will be able to reach out to a full cross-section of runners like never before.”  Continue reading