David Hunter has embarked on a second series of careers. From Athletics announcer to athletics journalist, David is having the time of his life. He survived sitting next to me at the Beijing World Champs and most indoor weekends, is announcing meets, from the NB Armory to the Aspire Center in Geneva, Ohio.

This wonderful piece on Demi Payne is fascinating to me, as I remember her father, Bill Payne, vaulting into the heavens.

Payne_DemiR1-USAout15.jpgDemi Payne, photo by PhotoRun.net

On February 7, in Albuquerque, Demi Payne, vaulted into the heavens, becoming ONLY the second American, and fourth highest women in history to of the indoor vault.

Demi Payne cleared 4.75 meters, which was a PB. Then, it was 4.76 meters, and 4.82 meters, both on second attempts, Demi Payne cleared 4.88 meters on her first attempt!

In the story, Demi tells David Hunter that she wants to take a shot at 5.03 meters. At 24 years of age, Demi Payne has many years to grow in her professions, as a vaulter and a mother.

SKECHERS LA Marathon Video

The development of a running brand is a fascinating process.

SKECHERS developed into a performance sports brand over the past half decade, as they developed running and walking product. Their introduction to Meb Keflezighi, who joined the brand in 2011, just after he left his former brand, Nike, was watched with keen interest.

The product that came out of that relationship was what surprised. The GoRun product line has some pretty good shoes, shoes that Meb wore to not only his 2012 Olympic Trials win, but his fine 4th place in the London 2012 Olympics, and his fine victory at the 2014 Boston Marathon.

For me, the moment when I knew SKECHERS was serious was in January 2012, after Meb's win at the Olympic Trials, he told me, " I am not wearing orthotics anymore." Knowing Meb's delicate feet, I was flumoxed. I knew that SKECHERS had created something special for Meb, but could they do the same thing for the citizen runner?

They obviously have.

SKECHERS produces several thousand different types of shoes, and considers much of their business around the family shoe model. Their GOWALK product is some of the largest selling and most popular walking and fitness product in the world.

SKECHERS coming into walking had many naysayers, but they have not only persisted, but they have continued to develop and evolve their shoes, making believers out of some of the naysayers.

This weekend, we will see two of their top athletes, Meb Keflezighi and Kara Goucher, both bidding for Olympic teams. And on Sunday, we will see SKECHERS LA Marathon in all of its glory. This is the first major marathon that SKECHERS has sponsored.

The commercial is running geek, featuring Kara Goucher and Meb Keflezighi running past each other, with some of the LA flavor that many come to LA LA land to view. The commercial is about making a statement: SKECHERS has their LA Marathon, and come and enjoy it. There is not speeding rabbit, or horse with SKECHERS blanket, there are two of our most credible runners in American running culture, in SKECHERS, running the roads. Simple, direct, geek.

Just what a brand that wants retailers to see their geekness needed to do.

Major footwear brands sponsor races, and give back to the running community, which supports their brand's relavance. SKECHERS is no different, supporting the brand with race and athlete sponsorships, and now, taking over the LA Marathon, a marathon which should be, with support, one of the major forces in marathoning around the world.

SKECHERS' goals are ambitious, and their approach is unique to their brand. But, as the video shows, do not bet against them. SKECHERS has found a way to add a little of their own secret sauce to the sport of running, and running shoes with a little color and fun are part of their culture.

Watch for our coverage of the SKECHERS LA Marathon all weekend!

When Cait Chock and I corresponded, I asked her to give me a different view than the previews I was recieving. She focused on the Women's side of the race, and rightly so.

LA is for Dreamers, and one or two of those dreamers will make an Olympic team on Saturday, February 13, 2016.

Cragg_AlistirAmy-SanAntonio15.jpgAlistir and Amy Cragg, December 2015, RNR San Antonio, photo by PhotoRun.net

Flanagan-LindenSt1-Boston14.jpgShalane Flanagan vs Desi Linden, photo by PhotoRun.net

Bob Larsen and Meb Keflezighi.jpgCoach Bob Larsen and Meb Keflezighi, photo courtesy of Bob Larsen

Updated February 10, 2016 with title and update

Deena Kastor has withdrawn on February 10, 2016

Nearly four hundred athletes will be running the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials next Saturday, February 13, in Los Angeles. We asked long time journalist and writer for Cal Track, American Track & Field and RunBlogRun Mark Winitz to pen his thoughts on the upcoming trials.

Tell us what you think of Mark's notions on the Trials. But most of all, enjoy them!

Garrett Heath was a fine cross country runner in college. He was also a fine track athlete.

I remember watching him race at the World Indoors in 2012, and noting that he showed some serious guts and racing savvy when he battled against some of the world's best.

Several times a year, I am fortunate enough to catch up with Garrett, and I am always impressed by his sincerity, his love of the sport and his self depricating humor.

That sense of humor was quite apparent after he won the 2015 USATF Club Cross Country senior men's 10k in San Francisco on December 11. Waiting until the last 200 meters, Garrett went by Jonathan Grey and won, 29:06 to 29:10. "I waited and went by with 200 meter to go. With fifty meter to go, there was nothing left."

When I teased Garrett a bit about running the 10,000 meter distance, he made it quite clear he would run 5,000 meters, 3,000 meters and perhaps 1,500 meters, but twenty-five laps on the track-nein.

One month later, in Edinburgh, Garrett ran over 8000 meters of cold, muddy, wonderful cross country pitch. In 2014 and 2015, Garrett won the 4k in Edinburgh against top athletes. He did the same in 2016, this time, holding off Mo Farah, the finest distance racer of his generation, with 200 meters to go.

Bennett Grimes, a fellow Brooks runner, told RunBlogRun that Grimes' father, Danny Grimes a fine coach and athlete in his own right, believes that Garrett could really succeed over 10,000 meters. So does Garrett's coach, Danny Mackey.

For now, Garrett Heath will have to enjoy the RunBlogRun Cross Country Athlete of the Months of December and January from us. This spring, he told us he might race 5000 meters, 3000 meters and perhaps 1,500 meters. We hope that there is a 25 lapper in there, but we will be patient.

Congrats, Garrett!

Okparaebo-Schippers-Asher1-EuroInd15.jpgOkpareabo, Schippers, Asher, Euro Indoor 2015, photo by PhotoRun.net

Schippers 7.07 WL
KARLSRUHE (GER, Feb 6): Dafne Schippers opened her indoor season by setting a world-lead of 7.07 in the 60m heats at the Indoor Meeting Karlsruhe. The world 200m champion won the final but was a fraction slower at 7.08 ahead of Barbara Pierre in 7.09 and Dina Asher-Smith in 7.11. Mike Rodgers also claimed the world-lead over 60m with 6.52 which he matched in the final to beat Kim Collins in 6.54. Kendra Harrison converted her excellent form in the USA to the European indoor circuit as she lowered her world-lead in the 60m hurdles to 7.82 in the heats before winning the final in 7.86 ahead of world indoor champion Nia Ali (7.94) and Tiffany Porter (7.94). Cindy Roleder was fourth on home soil in 7.96. In the 1500m, Ethiopia's Axumawit Embaye claimed the world-lead with 4:08.22 while Konstanze Klosterhaufen improved the European indoor junior record down to 4:08.38 in second. Adam Kszczot just missed the world-lead in the 800m by 0.03 with 1:45.96 ahead of Pierre-Ambroise Bosse in 1:46.25 while Augustine Choge took his second big win on German soil this month by winning the 3000m again in 7:43.22 ahead of Ethiopia's Yomif Kejelcha (7:43.45) with world indoor champion Caleb Ndiku fourth in 7:44.09. In the hotly anticipated pole vault showdown, Renaud Lavillenie sealed the win over Shawn Barber with a third-time clearance at 5.84m before setting a meet record of 5.91m on his third attempt. He had three unsuccessful tries at a world-lead of 6.01m. Raphael Holzdeppe was third with 5.70m. In the triple jump, Alexis Copello won in a world-lead of 16.99m while there were home wins for Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch in the high jump with 1.93m and Julian Howard in the long jump with 8.03m. Canada's Tim Nedow won the shot put with 20.89. In total 4600 spectators followed the first meet of IAAF World Indoor Tour 2016.

Editor's note: Face it, Dafne Schippers is on the global stage. Her strength, grit and focus make her truly dangerous in both sprints. What is fun, at least to me, is that she keeps her composure in face of mounting pressure. Last September, at the Great City Games in Gateshead, UK, Dafne told us that she was just then getting noticed in her own country. Dafne Schippers and Allyson Felix could be one of the finest moments of the 2016 Olympics.


Kiriakopoulou 476 in the pole vault
MONDEVILLE (FRA, Feb 6): French sprinting star Christophe Lemaitre after fast heat 6.59 in the 60 m was disqualified in the final which was won by British Sean Safo-Antwi 6.55 PB ahead of Bahamian Warren Fraser 6.61. In the 60 m hurdles Dimitri Bascou clocked 7.58 to win (also 7.52 in heats) ahead of Cuban Yordan O´Farrill 7.61. Greek World medalist Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou won the pole vault with 476 clearance ahead of German Lisa Ryzih 461. Jamaican Simone Facey topped women 60 m in 7.20 (but 7.18 in heats) over Ukrainian Olesya Povkh 7.26. Regina George of Nigeria got the 400 m in 53.99, British Serita Solomon 8.07 in hurdles and Jazmin Sawyers 662 in the long jump. In the distances African wins. Youssuf Hiss Bachir 3:42.90 of Djibouti in his first indoor 1500 m race, Brahim Kaazouzi of Morocco 7:54.52 in the 3000 m and Tigist Gashaw of Bahrain 8:55.89 in women 3000 m ahead of Feyne Gemeda of Ethiopia 8:56.55.

Editor's note: Nikoleta Kiriakopolou is one of the fine vaulters from Greece. Do not underestimate any of them in the year of the pole vault, so early into the year of 2016. Curious to see how high she goes this indoor season.

The boy's and girl's junior miles at the New Balance Indoor GP have a storied history. Some of the finest milers in the junior athletes pantheon in North America have run there. The fields are well orchestrated, and the athletes are excited.

After a couple of days of meeting with like minded elite juniors, and some fine treatment by New Balance, the best indoor milers in North America are assembed, and the races are both high points of the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix!

Do not miss the 2015 New Balance Indoor GP. This writer is taking the red eye from the US Olympic Trials to make sure our readers have the meet covered!

See you soon. And buy your tickets at nbindoorgrandprix.com!

We asked Lindsay Rossmiller to cover the 2016 USATF Cross Country champs for us, held in Bend, Oregon on February 6, 2016. Some fine racing and some exciting new discoveries for 2016!

One point about this race and champs. For the first time, women and men raced the same distance, 10k. In 2017, at the IAAF World Cross Country, both men and women will race over 10k. As Peter J. Thompson, one of the keenest observsers of our sport, and respected coach, noted: " Once again, the USA does lead and show initiative."

Women's senior race, by Lindsay Rossmiller

Hunter_DrewR-Armory16.JPGDrew Hunter running 3:58.25! photo by PhotoRun.net

On Saturday, February 6, 2016, at the NB Armory Track Center, Drew Hunter made history. A week after his 3000m high school record of 7:59.33, surpassing Galen Rupp and the iconic Gerry Lindgren, Drew Hunter took on another challenge.

Running with a field of fine milers, led by Chris O'Hare, the 2014 bronze medalist in both the indoor and outdoor European 1,500m champs, Drew took 1.6 seconds off the fifteen year old mark by Alan Webb, establishing a new high school indoor mile record and becoming only the second high schooler to break 4 minutes indoors!

Drew will be running at the Armory in the mile, once again, February 20, 2016, and this writer is hoping to be there.

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