November 2008 Archives

The story of the 400 meters in 2008 was La Shawn Merrit versus Jeremy Wariner. The battle supremes between the two superstars gave the event some real excitement. Well, know that both will be back in 2009. But in 2010, according to a quote from Bolt's coach, Glenn Mills, Usain should be able to make attempts on the 400 meter world record!

The 400 meters is one of the toughest races on the track. In the past, great 200 meter runners, such as Michael Johnson, dominated. Jeremy Wariner, trained until last year by MJ's coach, benefitted from that historical approach as well.

Now, with Usain Bolt, we have the anomaly. Not since Lon Myers in the nineteenth century, do we have someone so dominant over the 100 meters, 200 meters, and if, the big IF here, he trains over 400 meters, the 400 meters.

Bolt is a young, healthy man of immense talent and drive. He trained well, for a full year, under Coach Mills in 2009 and dominated his events. Coach Mills is taking his time and being cautious with Bolt moving to the 400 meters. Bolt's speed will help, but the training has to be there and the drive has to be there. Put those together, and the right race, and we will see some scintillating 400 meter races in 2010!

This weekend, there were several Nike NXN regional meets, plus Foot Locker Regional meets across the US. There were also nearly one thousand road races, big and small, across the U.S.

I want you to consider for a moment, who pays for all of these? While in large part, there are local sponsors who help defray costs, and professional organizations from timing to site management, the majority of events, big and small rely somehow on the relationship between specialty retail and the various running footwear companies.
I have provided, for your consideration, a good start at recognizing the support given by the local running shoe rep, and their companies....

This goes from the Fall 5k in your town to the recent Beijing Olympics.

Consider for a moment, the little robot car shown below. It is this remote control car that is moved around to carry the hammer implement back to the participants. I love it, it is technology that is a bit herky jerky, and in some ways it requires skill, training and luck. It is also an allusion for sports marketing our sport,
so be patient, get a sack lunch and hear me out....

Brooks Johnson has been, and is a contrarian. While I have disagreed with Brooks on many occasions, he has always responded with candor. This dates back to
our first meeting over thirty years ago.

Runblogrun.com supports robust drug testing. Let's make that plain and simple. The IAAF Drug bust of seven Russian athletes last summer was right out of the Bourne Supremacy. DNA tests, replacing dirty urine with clean urine, all kinds of subtrefuge. In the end, the IAAF did catch them. Bravo to the IAAF for seeking longer drug bans for such cheaters.

I wanted to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all who get runblogrun.com, and thank you for reading my deep thoughts for nearly two years going now..

Exit for Winter 2008-9

This first appeared in American Track & Field Winter 2008, volume 15, number 8:

Passing Strange

When, in the space of half an hour on August 21, the United States’ men’s and women’s 4x100 relay teams both bungled their first-round baton exchanges in Beijing, it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise.

After all, the very first time the 4x100 was run in a major international competition – the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm – the United States team won its first-round heat in the world record time of 42.2 seconds, but was disqualified for passing out of the zone.

That was only the beginning. Since 1960, American 4x100 teams competing in the Olympic Games and World Championships have been disqualified ten times for dropping the stick or passing out of the zone – and in another eight instances have lost likely medals because of inferior baton exchanges.

[NOTE: For a brief history of the U.S. Olympic and World Championships efforts in the 4x100, scroll back to Part, 1, Part 2 on http://www.runblogrun.com or, our website, http://www.american-trackandfield.com ]

The double 4x100 foul-up in Beijing, which cost the U.S. an almost certain two podium appearances, was seen as an embarrassment by the USOC, which bases much of its sales pitch to sponsors on American athletes’ ability to win Olympic medals.

Perhaps as a consequence, CEO Doug Logan of USATF has appointed a seven-person panel charged with a sweeping review of the selection and preparation of the U.S. national track and field teams.

The panel includes Carl Lewis, winner of nine Olympic gold medals; retired Auburn coach Mel Rosen; Ralph Mann, 1972 Olympic silver medallist in the 400-meter hurdles, and currently one of the world’s leading sports scientists;
Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, 1984 Olympic gold medalist in the women’s 100-meter hurdles and a successful businesswoman who was Director of Olympic Training Centers from 1997 to 2000; and three employees of the U.S. Olympic Committee: Doug Ingram, a former swimming coach who is USOC’s Managing Director of Performance Services (Sports Medicine, Sports Science and Coaching); Steve Roush, another ex-coach with a swimming background who is USOC’s Director of Sport Performance; and Jay Warwick, USOC’s Director of Sports Partnerships, whose entire career before joining USOC was in taekwondo – as an athlete (eight national championships and an Olympic bronze medal), top-level coach, and Executive Director of USA Taekwondo.

Asked why three of the seven panelists he appointed were USOC employees, Mr. Logan replied that USOC supplies most of the money for USATF’s High Performance effort.

Here are a couple of thoughts for the panel. One problem inherent in our all-star 4x100 relay teams is that there is no Standard American Best Practice for exchanging the baton. Why not, then, develop a standardized baton-passing system that would be taught from grade school right through high school, college and beyond -- so that every sprinter on our Olympic teams would always know exactly what was expected of him or her?

A second thought concerns Olympic team camps. As mentioned in Dick Patrick’s column on the disastrous U.S. camp at Dalian, many of the athletes there would have done better if they’d stayed at home and arrived just before the Games began.

One of the U.S. best performances in Beijing was by an athlete who did just that. Stephanie Brown Trafton continued to train in familiar surroundings, competed in a couple of minor meets in California to hone her competitive edge, and brought home an unexpected gold medal in the women’s discus.

Talk to her, panel.
---James Dunaway

Compiled by James Dunaway, with help from Track&Field News; David Wallechinsky's COMPLETE BOOK OF THE OLYMPICS (various editions);and IAAF publications, and thanks to Hal Bateman,Tom Casacky, Scott Davis, Bob Hersh, E.Garry Hill, Dave Johnson, Walter Murphy and Mike Takaha.
Again, this is part two of three in our analysis of the relay situation in the United states, part three will be a commentary by James Dunaway, editor of American Track & Field, and some comments by Larry Eder, publisher of American Track & Field.

Compiled by James Dunaway, with help from Track&Field News; David Wallechinsky's COMPLETE BOOK OF THE OLYMPICS (various editions);and IAAF publications, and thanks to Hal Bateman,Tom Casacky, Scott Davis, Bob Hersh, E.Garry Hill, Dave Johnson, Walter Murphy and Mike Takaha.

This is the first of three parts, the first two giving a fact based synopsis of the U.S. men and the 4 x 100, the second the US women and the 4 x 100 and the third, a commentary by James Dunaway, followed by my comments. Credits and thanks will be applied at end of each piece.

Congratulations to Coach Greg Metcalf and his women's team at Washington. Greg is in his twelfth year of coaching Washington, and his team victory was hard fought! Congratulations to Vinn Lananna and his men's team at Oregon, who not only won the individual title, with Galen Rupp's last 400 meter charge, but the second team victory in a row. Rupp's room mate, Andrew Wheating, was a scorer for the Ducks, in 75th. (Think he is moving up to the 1,500 meters? )

In the end, the final Monday before Thanksgiving has given us an end to the US college season for cross country, with some great battles over the past weekend. I have attached Walt Murphy's commentary on the race and his favorite links, please enjoy!

adidas takes a very long term approach to sponsorship. Their sponsorship of the BAA Boston marathon goes until 2016, I believe. adidas has now taken over as the offficial footwear and apparel sponsor of the IAAF, giving the tremendous exposure at IAAF events such as the World Champs in Berlin next summer.


(In a picture rich with symbolism, Herbert Hainer, CEO, adidas AG, Yelena Isinbayeva, IAAF Female Athlete of the Year, and Lamine Diack, IAAF president, photo courtesy of adidas AG.)

Remember my comment about dominating her event? Revelation of the year Pamela Jelimo is going for the 1,000 meter world record on February 26! Watching her run at Berlin this past summer was mind blowing!

At the World Athletics extravagana in Monte Carlo, the IAAF gave its two most prestigious awrds, the Male and Female Athlete on the Year trophies, to Usain Bolt and Yelena Isinbayeva.

Usain Bolt and his three world records in Beijing mesmerized the sporting world this past summer in Beijing, with his records over 100 meters, 200 meters and his part in the 4 x 100 meter relay.

Usain Bolt is not planning to run indoors. He is just too darn tall for indoors. I remember Edwin Moses trying to run on the SF Indoor track about 1977, and he just had a miserable time! What would be great for the sport is if Usain showed up at a few meets and talked to kids. He is a huge global star and such a presence could do a lot for the sport.

It is one of the reasons why I admire some of the footwear companies and sponsors for bringing their athletes to various events. Dathan Ritzenhein was at B of A Chicago, and was kind enough to give us an interview at our RN Race Director Party. The race directors had a nice time and it just added to the event!

The NAIA is part history, part tradition. The NCAA has done as much as it can to make the NAIA an anachronism, however, the program works for many small, independent colleges. Thanks again to Walt Murphy for providing us the results and story on a meet that was held on the historic cross country course at UW Parkside, home of US national and regional Foot Locker events each year.

On such a early winter weekend, cross country championships are being run across the US. Special thanks to Walt Murphy for his amazing work on keeping track of prep and College cross country....

Walt Murphy loves cross country and there is no better service to follow the sport than his to follow this hot weekend of college and high school cross !

In a copyrighted story on the blog, inside the games (http://www.insidethegames.com/show-news.php?id=4225, Lamine
Diack told the assembled media that he had, in fact, written a note to Jaques Rogge.
..

As the year winds down, the IAAF Council is meeting in Monte Carlo. In one of the worst economic climates in recent memory, the world has gone from the excitement of Beijing to the daily concerns over the ever increasing economic woes that are clouding our globe.

There is a positive in all of this. Running and Athletics are two of the most inexpensive sports in the world. Running footwear sales continues to grow, the average price of performance running shoes is now $110, and after the Running Event, (Dallas, Nov. 10-13), the pre eminent running trade event in our sport, it
was clear to the 250 running stores in attendance and 140 plus exhibitors, that
running should do well in 2009. More on that this weekend....

Cross country is upon us, and the Oregon Ducks team did a little video, linked below, to encourage classmates to watch the Terre Haute race from Hayward Field, and also help with a local food drive. The second link is a fun series of short programs on the NXN regionals which come to a climax over the next two weekends!

Thanks again to Ross Krempley from Runnerspace for the nice note on the videos.

Bryan Clay won the Olympic gold medal in the decathlon in Beijng, over two hot and humid days and a very tough field. He competed against the 2004 Olympic champions, and current world record holder, Roman Sebrle.



Clay called it one of the most challenging competitions of his career. Clay's gold was the first gold medal since 1996 for an American decathlete, and improved on U.S. bronze medal performances in 2000
and 2004. For Bryan's Beijing decathlon, he will be the Jesse Owens Athlete of the year for 2008 for Men.

Stephanie Brown-Trafton took the lead in the discus on her first throw, and waited out a field of big throwers, who just could not come within three feet of her first throw. Brown-Traftons' gold medal was the first U.S. gold medal in the track and field portion of the Olympics. It was also the first women's gold in the discus for an U.S. athlete since 1932! For her stunning performance, Stephanie will be the Jesse Owens Award winner for women in 2008.

Two great athletes, two fantastic stories of challenges overcome, and pressures ignored. Congratulations to both Bryan Clay and Stephanie Brown-Trafton for winning the 2008 Jesse Owens Award, the highest award recognizing sports performance by USA Track & Field.

Carolina Kluft is visiting in Ethiopia, promoting the Great Ethiopian Run, as the stars of athletics arrive in Monaco for the IAAF Golden Gala......

On the Sunday night, after the ING New York City Marathon, agent Ray Flynn and I were having an adult beverage in Rosie O'Grady's. Ray has Deena Kastor and Ryan Hall, among his strong group of athletes. Also in attendance was Peter Stubbs, agent of Kara Goucher, who had just finished third that day in her debut at the ING New York City Marathon.

I was mentioning to Ray how great it would be to see Ryan Hall, Brian Sell, Dathan and Kara, among others, running and winning major US marathons. Ray gave one of those looks like, hmmm, good idea. ( My guess is, the deal was done by then, but I do not know.) My reasoning?

Our sport needs a shot in the arm that only an American winner can give. If Ryan can be the first American male to win Boston since 1983 and Greg Meyer's victory, sports writers who need a thesaurus to spell the word, aerobics, will be writing semi intelligently about our sport.

I congratulate BAA Boston and John Hancock on seeing that Boston needs an American champion. Ryan Hall, Deena Kastor, Kara Goucher winning Boston would be a huge deal, as it would at Chicago and New York as well.

We need American champions to take the sport to the next level in the U.S.

30,000 runners, including, Texas Governor Rick Perry, shown here, (who finished the San Antonio half marathon in 1:47:46), braved the cold weather to run the San Antonio marathon and half marathons on November 16, 2008.

Anyone who thinks running is slowing down has another thought coming. B of A Chicago had a good weekend, ING New York had a good weekend and RNR San Antonio had a great inaugural weekend!

The key element, however, is Elite Racing. Elite Racing now has eight active events, and continues to show how to manage events and draw runners to events across the country! Congratulations to a team that proves itself over and over again.

Some strong changes as New Balance gets more aggressive in the running footwear market. Recently Tom Carleo was brought on board and now Chris Passarell, former VP of Marketing for Russell Athletic has joined the NB team.

The career that I have been lucky enough to have over the past nearly three decades has been influenced by many people. Key were Bob Anderson, who founded Runners' World, Stan Singer, the RW New York Sales manager, who taught me how to sell, George Hirsch, who founded the Runner and combined RW and The Runner magazine, and Fred Lebow, who challenged me to focus on my job at Runner's World.

It was December 1985, and I was at a reception at the USATF Convention. Fred and I were chatting about what I wanted to do with my life. I had told him that I was considering finishing my master's/Phd studies in Holocaust studies. I had told him that I was not sure that the running business was for me. Fred listened intently...

Kenenisa Bekele, Olympic champion at 5k and 10k, is human. With a sore knee, Bekele takes third in the Seven Hills 15k in Niminjgen, and promptly heads to the doctor...

Cross Country championships abound, as high school state meets are ending, Nike NXN meets are starting, and NCAA regionals have just happened. Walt Murphy is the publisher of XC XPress and Eastern Track. Walt is a keen observer of the sport, and publishes both publications for the good of the sport. I encourage you to subscribe (WMurphy25@aol.com). Here is his update on the NCAA Div 1 Regionals...

This is the thirtieth version of the Tokyo Women's Marathon. Next year, it becomes the Tokyo Marathon, with a limit of 40,000 marathoners-260,000 applications have come into race management....

The following story is by K. Ken Nakamura, one of the most prolific writers in our sport. His attention to detail is impressive, and his ability to get behind the scenes and put you, the reader in the race, is a real gift. We hope you enjoy and thank Ken for his coverage of the marathon....

The bidders for 2016 are Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Chicago. Chicago did get a boost with the new U.S. President elect. Tokyo's response is quite thoughtful-make the Games more appealing by making the Games smaller...that idea may make it for a few minutes-the HUGENESS of the event is one of the things that gives the Olympics life beyond its 18 days....

Dathan Ritzenhein is coming into his own. A very capable 10,000 meter runner in college, a fine cross country runner as well in college and high school, Dathan has gotten better as the distance has gotten longer. His ninth place Olympic showing in the marathon showed some guts, and gave him a certain level of confidence, running very close to his best in less than ideal conditions.

My first recollection of Dathan was when Jason Hartmann and Dathan went one, two in the Foot Locker Regional during Jason's senior year and Dathan's sophomore year of high school. The UW Parkside course was tough, and Jason and Dathan ran just over 15 minutes for the tough course.

Dathan is one of the elite Nike athletes helping to promote the Nike NXN 2008, where the regional determine both the top regional teams, but also, for the first time, top individuals who will compete December 6, 2008 for bragging rights as the best prep cross country runners and cross country teams in the US.

Here is Dathan's interview:

How times have changed. For most of the 1980s and 1990s, I spent a week in Atlanta, Georgia at the Super Show. It was the show to be at. At that show, as I developed magazine projects, I would write most of my ad sales for the year. The show was much more than that though..it was the meeting place of manufacterers, buyers, store owners, and sports media.

The was where I met the late Horst Dassler, the very gallante and driven leader of adidas. It was where the great shoe battles were seen, Nike versus Reebok, and brands such as New Balance rose to prominence.

The show died for many reasons, but once Nike pulled out, then so did Reebok, then so did others until the show was just a shell of its old self. The WSA became my haunt, and it does provide access to some footwear brands twice a year, it was just not enough.

The Running Event started four years ago, and for the past three years, it has continued to get better and better. This year in Dallas, Texas, the conferences, the expo and the events celebrated the present and the future of our business, and in this media observer's eyes, much is right with our business. There are also the cautionary tales...

(Please note, next year's TRE is November 9-12, 2009 in Austin, Texas).

Toni Reavis, one of the most thoughtful and humorous commentators on our sport gave a keynote talk at the 2008 Road Race Management Convention last weekend in Florida. I asked Toni to send his notes and please read and re read.

I see Toni Reavis as the Demosthenes of road running. He writes too infrequently, and his opinions are so honest one sometimes needs to take a deep breath to soak it all in. His humor, his observations create an under painting of someone who truly loves the sport and is walking the finish lines across the globe, looking for honest men and women to share his passion and help change the sport he loves....

It is Wednesday, November 12, 2009, and I am at the Running Event-blogs on this superb event to come, but now, my cranium is full of deep thoughts on the road racing lovefest call Road Race Management Expo and Clinic, which was held last weekend in Florida!

I ran the first two years of the City of LA Marathon. I found Bill Burke and Marie Patrick fascinating, but limited in their ability to see what the LA Marathon could be. When the new crew came in for LA, I was excited.

But excuse me, what is the City of LA thinking? Have the city fathers become so blind to the economic opportunities with a big city marathon that they do not care? It seems that way, as the new owners have been forced to move the date to May 25, 2009?

How can we have global marathons in New York, Chicago, and on the West Coast, in LA, they do not get that eight planes full of Japanese tourists would spell lots of money for the city of LA to play with?

Shalane Flanagan Q & A, by Larry Eder

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Shalane Flanagan is the American record holder at 5,000 meters, and 10,000 meters. Indoors, she has the 3,000 meter record, which she set in a brilliant race against Meseret Defar in 2007. Her last two years, relatively injury-free, have been amazing, capped with her exciting bronze medal performance for the Olympic 10,000 meters, also setting the American record in the final as well! This was her second American record at 10,000 meters, the first set in a tremendous duel with New Zealand's Kim Smith, at the Payton Jordan Invite the first weekend of May 2008. Shalane is coached by John Cook, who also coaches Shannon Rowbury, the American leader at 1,500 meters and arguably, the number three women at 1,500 meters in the world. We hope to get Coach Cook to chat about some of his beliefs in directing and advising elite women distance runners.

A special thanks to Josh Rowe of Nike for approaching the athletes with my queries....

Our sport is a global sport. Today, in Florida and in Greece, race directors were together working for a common goal-making their events better and branding our sport. In Florida today, Toni Reavis, a well respected global commentator on our sport, challenged race directors and sport leaders to champion childhood obesity, and to work together to give the sport a higher level of interest across the globe.

My review of Road Race Management coming on Sunday.

While I am at the Road Race Management Conference in Florida ( a wonderful event, I recommend for all race directors, next year, Nov 5-7), Pat Butcher was at the AIMS conference and the Athens marathon...here is one of his reports....

Phil Lockwood is pretty mellow, for a race director. Running the Steamboat Classic, as Phil has, for nearly fifteen years, and the Komen Race for the Cure, some fascinating experiences in the road racing business.

The Steamboat Classic is a road race with traditional elite fields plus the traditional support from citizen runners. It's pedigree goes back over two decades and Phil is only its second race director ever. The Komen Race, actually the second Race for the Cure ever, is a large celebration of the sport and show of support for those with cancer as well as very effective fund raiser for the Komen Foundation. Through both events, disparate as they seem at first, Phil's skill set makes them better races.

The race director is the proverbial "the buck stops here" type of person. If anything goes wrong with a race, it is the race director's fault. From not enough master's age group medals, to a complaint about a course that is too tough, the race director will receive the negatives.

The beauty of the MarathonFoto/RRM Race Director of the Year, Presented by the Running Network LLC, for a sponsor is that you get to be recognized with the prestigious race director. For the race director, it is a time where the labor of love one has done is recognized.

Phil Lockwood, in his acceptance speech, thanked his club and noted that there were two generations of his team, veteran and more recent in Glen Latimer and Tom Bedford. He also noted that after twenty years, and he has about five more to go, a new race director should be named, which is part of Lockwood's job to find.

Congratulations to Phil for setting the standard so high and giving our sport two very fine and distinct events!

Liu Xiang is trying to avoid surgery for his injuries, incurred during last year's buildup to Beijing. He is seeking assistance in the US at this time to determine if he needs surgery.....

The ad noted above was sent out just after Radcliffe's win in the Big Apple by Nike.

Last night, one hundred and thirty plus million Americans voted for John McCain or Barack Obama for President of the United States. Both candidates had their plans for changing the current state of American culture, both candidates wanted a chance to lead this country, and both candidates fought long and hard to get their plans in front of the American people. In the end, as they do every four years, the American people decided.

The New York Times noted this morning that Barack Obama, who will become the first African-American president of the United States in seventy-six days, started his first day after winning the U.S. election with a good workout. He then spent five hours meeting with his transition team and taking phone calls from well wishers as he plans to lead our country.

One word blog today: Vote, by Larry Eder

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Seriously, one hundred and twenty three million Americans went to their polling places in 2004 and exercised their right to vote. If you are an American, my bog is for you, and if you are old enough to vote and have registered, then: VOTE.

In 1983, Rod Dixon's pursuit of Goeff Smith on the ING NYCM course made for riveting television. This year, 25 years later, Rod ran the race with his 29 year old daughter, Emma, who ran 3:34. Rod ran 3:38....38, 377 runners started the ING New York City Marathon on a near perfect day.

Irina Mikitenko of Germany was made the champion of the World Marathon Majors, and this vote was unanimous. The vote by the five race directors was called for due to the tie mentioned below. The race directors cited that she ran a smaller number of races to achieve her points. More on this tomorrow!

The men's field hit the half way in 1:06:06, and the pack was huge for men. Who will win? How fast will the men have to run to medal? Obviously, there will either be a very close finish or a very long run for home.....

Paula Radcliffe has hammered the crowd. Paula has never looked back from the time she took the lead just after the race started. Remember, the ING NYCM course is like a cross country course, and Radcliffe knows how to excel at broken field running.......

So, the race is on for both. The women's race, it is Paula Radcliffe, the record holder, working on the field, with Kara Goucher right on her shoulder, how long will that go?
On the men's side, Abderrahmime Bouramdane and Abdi Abdirhaman seem to be the two men to watch in the 2008 ING New York City marathon ......

The weather is 41 degrees, and the wind is out of the north. Paula Radcliffe si going for her third win here, and Rita Jeptoo, Geta Wami, Kara Goucher and Kim Smith are looking for great races too....should be a great day for racing...can someone go under 2:20?

The elite women's race start is twenty minutes away, and the media room is full. I arrived in the Tavern on the Green about eight in the morning, with a beautiful day dawning, cool weather and some great race stories among the thousands of competitors.

Bryshon Nellum, the 2007 Gatorade athlete of the year, redshirted this year at USC, was shot three times at a Halloween party in Los Angeles on Friday evening. Surgeons believe that Mr. Nellum will have a full recovery and be able to compete at his earlier levels.

Said Aouita, the new Moroccan technical director, is having challenges as he tries to put the entire team on a program that emphasizes periodization and core training. Mr. Aouita will have to convince the recalcitrant athletes that his system is best. We wish him luck.

Ryan Shay, One year later, by Larry Eder

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Photo:
AP, Jeff Holmes

I remember the Men's Olympic Trials marathon in New York last year with

Paula Radcliffe has run 2:15:25 for the women's marathon. She is a formidable athlete, and a women who juggles the needs of an elite athlete with that of being a devoted mother. Here is a short video from Nike running, in Paula's own words:

Kara Goucher, in her own words (video)

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We thought you might find a video, in Kara Goucher's own words, interesting. This was supplied to us by Nike running:

Kim Smith is the sensational New Zealand runner who is debuting at this year's ING New York City marathon. She has been in the background, but that is just fine, as Ms. Smith lets her feet do most of the talking for her, and her distance crazy country of New Zealand.....

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