The Best Indoor Meet in America-Reebok Boston Indoor Games, by Larry Eder

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I have not missed the Reebok Boston Indoor Games, if my memory serves me, since 1997. Each year, the team at Global Athletics & Marketing puts together almost three hours of the finest, most exciting and most competitive performances in our sport! 2009 will not be an exception! A few words on my predictions and also, a few honest words about a major footwear company and sponsoring major events...

The meet management has offered $25k prize for breaking the world mens's indoor record at the pole vault, the American or Wolrd Indoor women's record at the pole vault and the Women's American record at 5,000 meters! Jenn Stuczynski, shown above, is my pick to break the American indoor pole vault, and possibly the world indoor tonight!

( It is three pm on Saturday, February 7, 2009. I am sitting in a small bar in a hotel in Boston where some of the meet's top athletes are doing their final preparations for the meet. Jenn Stuczysnki, Stacey Dragila, Chris Lukesic are all focusing on the meet, and preparing themselves for their four minutes to several hours of competitions...)

Reebok has sponsored the Reebok Boston Indoor Games for nearly a decade. In that time, the brand has put together a celebration of track & field in their home town. Like adidas with their two elite majors, and Nike, with the Prefontaine and US Olympic Trials last year, Reebok is an example of a brand that has put much back into our sport.

Besides the Boston Indoor and the NY Grand Prix, Reebok sponsors the Manhattan Invite and Mt. SAC XC Invite, two of the major prep cross country extravaganzas. Their support of emerging athletes has brought us Chris Lukesic, Lindsay Gallo, Nick Willis, and Steve Hooker, among others.

What fascinated me was when, like every major footwear company but Saucony, Reebok, let some staff go, the word of their demise was all across the web! While I will go on the record that I believe Reebok has missed some key business opportunities, I do not see Reebok getting out of the sport of running or the business of running. A brand that has been around since the turn of the century goes through the same cycles as any other business: good times and bad times.

What is fascinating this weekend, staying in the hotel with the athletes and coaches, is that the meet is at an even higher standard than in past years. The change in a week
is a big difference and athletes are just getting into shape.

Some may be confused about Millrose moving a week up, Reebok a week later and the XC champs on the same day as Reebok Boston. Well, do not blame the track meets, as the schedule for the XC was moved up a week, and it hurts the sport to have the XC champs and Boston Indoor on the same weekend! Hopefully, our friends in championship planning can fix that in 2010 and in the future.

So, what will be hot this evening?

Well, first, the women's 5,000 meters. Watch for a 14:50 pace race, which would put Shalane Flanagan in contention to crack the 15:07 American indoor record and winning $25k! If Flanagan wins the 5,000 meters, watch the crowd go crazy for their local girl from Marblehead!

They always love the local girl, Shalane Flanagan!

Steve Hooker, in the men's pole vault. Steve is relaxed, fit and ready to fly. I am predicting a new world indoor record in the men's pole vault. If Mr. Hooker gets that record, I think he should a) take the accolades, b) cash the check and c) fly home and get some rest. Mr. Bubka's record is in jeapordy.

Steve Hooker is ready to roll. The meet management is so focused on his achieving a great clearance that they have moved the entire Millrose runway to Boston for the meet!


Then, there is Jenn Stuczynski, who is capable of world record heights herself. And there is added irony in Jenn Stuczynski, adidas sponsored, and the silver medalist in Beijing. Recently, Yelena Isinbayeva, the world record holder, gave up her long time adidas deal to sign with a Chinese footwear company, Li Ning, I believe. The deal was done jus after adidas had signed on a long term deal with the Russian Federation, and as Isinbayeva was one of the real reasons for signing the deal, Mr. Bubka might have known something of the impending deal between Isinbayeva and the Chinese shoe company.

So, in translation, if Jenn can set a new world indoor record, adidas would be extra happy. My pick-Jenn will get the American indoor record at 15-10 1/2, not sure about the world indoor, but it could happen. She has the tools!

And finally, one of my favorite athletes, Beijing 1,500 meter bronze medalist Nick Willis
and Alan Webb in the mile with Chris Lukesic and Rob Meyers. Fast, small field and did I say fast? Nick Willis mentioned that he would like to get under the meet record of 3:53 here! That would be blazing!

Watch for my meet updates on twitter.com, sign up to follow runblogrun.com!

So, if you can get to the Reggie Lewis Center, do it. If not, watch the meet from 4-6 pm on ESPN on Sunday night, February 8, 2009.

For more on the Reebok Boston Indoor, please check www.BostonIndoorGames.com

For more on our sport, please check www.american-trackandfield.com

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