Drake, Penn, London all this weekend! by Alfons Juck, Note by Larry Eder


This weekend will be another amazing weekend for our sport! We have the 100th anniversary of Drake Relays this weekend (actually started yesterday), the 115th Penn Relays, the FLORA London Marathon and the Big Sur Marathon, among others.

The first three are celebrations of our sport and its attraction to the sports fan-competition and great athletic stories. FLORA London has become an elite race and a 40,000 stories for various charities, much like many of the major marathons in the US. Big Sur is all about the coastline-some folks have run fast there-but for the walkers and runners, it is the organization of the race (kudos to Wally Kastner and his team) and the scenic beauty of the Big Sur coast!

EME NEWS (APR 22-23, 2009)


LONDON (GBR): Steeple world record holder Saif Saeed Shaheen of Qatar plans after two cross country competitions in spring with a full track season with World Championships in Berlin at the end. For Qatar Super Grand Prix in Doha on May 8 he sees the 3000 m flat as his distance. End of June or early July first steeple race is planned. His agent Ricky Simms informs that he is healthy and in full training. After February win in San Vitore race in Italy he was 13th at World CC Championships in Amman. His last finished steeple race was the 8:19.09 win at World Cup in Athens in September 2006.


LONDON (GBR): Martin Lel‘s ambitions of becoming the first man ever to win four Flora London Marathon titles could rest upon a MRI scan for a hip problem tonight. Writes David Martin. Lel after this year having enjoyed a trouble free build up in his quest to better the three victories achieved by Mexico‘s Dionicio Ceron, felt a pain in his back last week but insists he will be ready for Sunday‘s race.“For now I‘m still confident of running, in my mind I‘m still preparing to run on Sunday,“ said Lel. Gabriele Rosa his coach, added: :“If necessary we will wait until just before the race starts before making the decision. It will not take place until then.“ David Bedford the race director has again recruited the world‘s greatest ever marathon field, one which is acknowledged than slightly better than that which appeared in 2008. Sammy Wanjiru, Jaoaud Gharib and Tsegaye Kebede, the first three finishers in last August‘s Olympic marathon and reigning world champion Luke Kibet, are included in the 20 plus elite star studded line up. „Here on Sunday if the pace is very good, I will try to break the world record,“ said Wanjiru, last year‘s runner up who finished nine seconds behind his fellow countryman in a sprint finish. Wanjiru also has the chance to become the best marathon runner concerning the career average. Currently Haile Gebrselasssie leads with 2:05:57 average, Wanjiru has 2:06:12, he would need to run 2:05:11 to be the number one. Amongst the other entrants, Eritrea‘s Zersenay Tadese a former world cross country title holder and reigning world half marathon champion could cause a surprise on his debut at the distance.


BOSTON (USA): US female third placer from Boston Marathon Kara Goucher admitted: „I learned so much. I learned that tactics are just as important as they are on the track. I had an amazing time.“ Just 24 hours after finishing Boston, Goucher jogged in place in the lobby of the Copley Plaza Hotel to convince her coach Alberto Salazar of her recuperative powers. She conceded her London plea was perhaps falling on deaf ears, and displayed a fortune cookie message she received Monday night - Do not let great ambitions overshadow small success. Salazar did not want to specify next marathon for Goucher. Instead of that he said: „Goucher and husband Adam, a former NCAA champion from the University of Colorado, have publicly announced an intention to start a family. She‘s got to take a break,“ Salazar said. That means her next marathon could be in the fall 2010.


PHILADELPHIA (USA). Penn Relays blog informs about more athletes competing in Saturday‘s USA vs The World races. Olympic 100-meter bronze medalist Walter Dix jumps into the U.S.‘s 4×100-meter relay pool. He‘ll be joined by Darvis Patton and 2004 Olympic 200 champ Shawn Crawford. As previously announced , hurdler Terrence Trammell will be part of that pool, too. Also in the field are Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, with three-fourths of their teams that won gold and silver at the Beijing Olympics. For the Jamaicans Nesta Carter, Michael Frater and Asafa Powell will be on the Franklin Field oval. Trinidad & Tobago brings Richard Thompson (silver medalist in the Beijing 100), Marc Burns and Emmanuel Callender. For the women‘s 4x100 m, Torri Edwards and Muna Lee join U.S. pool. In the men‘s 4×400, Olympic 400 champ LaShawn Merritt will be joined by Olympic 400 hurdles champ Angelo Taylor David Neville (bronze medal in the flat 400). Those three won gold (with Jeremy Wariner, he competes at Drake Relays) in the Olympics last summer. Kerron Clement (silver in the 400H) and Darold Williamson are also going to be there Saturday. Their top competition should come from Bahamas, which will have the same line-up that won 4×4 silver at the Bird‘s Nest: Andretti Bain, Michael Mathieu, Andrae Williams and Chris Brown. The women‘s 4x400 m includes Sanya Richards (her season opener), Allyson Felix and Natasha Hastings for the U.S. (Richards and Felix won gold in the event last summer;Hastings contributed a leg in the prelims.) Team Jamaica brings Shericka Williams, Rosemarie Whyte, Novlene Williams-Mills, and Olympic 400 hurdles gold medalist Melaine Walker.


PODEBRADY (CZE): The traditional walking place, the Spa of Podebrady will witness on Saturday (Apr 25) a afternoon full of competition activity. The 20 km men and women races (European Athletics Walking Permit) will be not only national championships but also a match between 9 male teams and 6 female squads. Home Czech men will go against Belarus, France, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Switzerland, Slovakia and Sweden and women will fight with France, Italy, Lithuania, Switzerland and Slovakia. In the junior category 7 boys and 6 girls national teams are entered. In the 77th edition of the event (the place hosted for example in 1997 the IAAF Race Walking World Cup) is going to have also some strong individuals. In men´s 20 km race the Slovak Goteborg 2006 sixth placer Matej Toth who recently improved at 50 km to 3:41:32 and wants to attack his PB 1:21:24 returns as last year title defender. Strong names from Italy headed by Beijing Olympian Jean-Jacques Nkouloukidi and another 50 km specialist Marco de Luca. Poland is sending as individual Grzegorz Sudol who was at last two Olympics in the top ten at 50 km. In the women race top Czechs Zuzana Schindlerova and Barbora Pitakova (formerly Dibelkova) are competing along with best Slovak´s Zuzana Malikova and Maria Galikova. Italy sends for example World Cup and World Championships participant Gisella Orsini (1:31:57). National record holders of Sweden (Monica Svensson, 1:31:20) and Switzerland (Marie Polli, 1:32:36 this year) will be there too.


MAINZ (GER): The tenth edition of the Novo Nordisk Gutenberg Marathon Mainz will take place on May 10th and will also host for the third time in a row the National marathon championships. Headliners will be Ivan Babaryka and Sergiy Zachepa from Ukraine, together with Kenyans Kipkoech Tum and Christopher Rono. In the women‘s event, Anna Kowalenko from Ukraine and Fabiola John from Tansania will fight for the vicotory. German top runners are Stefan Koch (PB 2:15:38h) and Bernadette Pichlmaier.

PHILADELPHIA (USA): German relays on their way to Penn Relays. German will send a male (Sebastian Ernst, Alexander Kowenkow, Till Helmke, Stefan Schwab, Tobias Unger) and female (Maike Dix, Marion Wagner, Anja Wackershauser, Johanna Kedzierski, Verena Sailer) relay team to the prestigious event.

RECHBERGHAUSEN (GER): Pole vaulters Tim Lobinger, Richard Spiegelburg and Malte Mohr will open their season at the meeting on May 1st. Local hero Peter Esenwein will compete in the javelin event. Top runners from Kenya are supposed to run a fast 1500 m race early in the season.

MADRID (ESP): Seven representatives of athletics will be awarded today the ‚Royal ?edal of merit in sports‘: Carlota Castrejana (silver), Juan Manuel Alonso (bronze), Tomas Barris, Terese Rione, Asuncion Sinobas and coaches Jose Manuel Ballesteros and Guillermo Ferrero.

MALAGA (ESP): Spanish pole vaulter Dana Cervantes retired at the age of 31 saying she was tired to live in the rhythm of competition, tired of timetables, routine, calendars and travelling.

MADRID (ESP): The 27th edition of best spanish one day meeting, the IAAF Grand Prix in Madrid will be staged on 4th July in Moratalaz Municipal Sports Centre with the participation of some of the best athletes in the World. Organization of this competition is responsibility of the Royal Spanish Athletics Federation (RFEA) with the support of Madrid City Council and it will be one of the latest international sports events which will be celebrated in the city before the election of the 2016 Olympic Games venue. Madrid is candidate to host the major sports competition in the World along with Chicago, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.

PERTH (AUS): Olympic pole vault champion Steven Hooker said for IAAF about his plans for summer: „So far I haven‘t got any confirmed outdoor competitions as yet. I‘m looking to have my first competition at the start of July and doing four to five competitions leading into The World Championships. I want to compete generally with about 10 days between competitions and really treat every competition as being very important and try to get big heights in all of them.“

BOSTON (USA): Boston media are reporting that Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray announced that the 113th race attracted 23,162 official starters with 22,849 finishers (98 percent). A total of 1183 runners received medical treatment, compared to 1,181 last year, and none were serious.

LONDON (GBR): The Olympic and world champion at 400 m Christine Ohuruogu has quit Linford Christie‘s management company to work with Vero Communications, the firm founded by Mike Lee, who worked on London 2012. The 25-year-old Londoner had been with Christie‘s Nuff Respect company since making her breakthrough five years ago when she qualified unexpectedly for the 2004 Olympics in Athens having previously been an international netball player. Ohuruogu said: „With the upcoming IAAF World Championships in Berlin this is a very important year for me and I am looking forward to defending my title. Vero Communications have an excellent reputation in the industry and a great track record of helping clients achieve their goals. I am delighted to be working with them and look forward to our partnership because communications will play an important role for me this year and in the lead up to London 2012.“ Vero will work on a communications strategy, media relations and profiling Ohuruogu nationally and internationally while Ricky Simms, of Pace Sports Management, will continue to arrange her race schedule. Informs insidethegames.com.

KINGSTON (JAM): Puma expects triple Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt to continue making ‚history‘ for the brand in 2009 by boosting its visibility and sales at the World Championship later this year. Informs Jamaica Observer. The annual sales of the company are up 6.4 per cent to 2.5 billion even though the company posted 13 per cent less profit at euro232.8 million, signifying the company‘s brand strength within a global downturn. The footwear segment posted an increase in currency-adjusted sales by 6.3 per cent to euro1.4 billion; the apparel segment improved by 9.6 per cent to euro899.3 million; and the accessories segment, which is comprised mainly of bags, balls and sporting goods, posted currency-adjusted growth of 21.7 per cent to 190.6 million. In the mean-time in Britain the preparations for his 150 m race are rolling. He will use UK-based Event Floor to help break the 150 m world record in May. Usian Bolt‘s run in the streets of Manchester requires a level ground to qualify for an official record attempt. Race organiser Nova International has brought in Event Floor to install its ‚event deck and level leg systems‘ to transform a city road into a running track for a day. The track has to be laid in just 24 hours - and de-rigged within 12 - in time to get the Monday morning rush hour traffic moving once more. The track base will be elevated from ground level to 1100 mm to allow a perfectly flat running surface - and eliminate the road camber.

KINGSTON (JAM): Jamaican media were asking why Asafa Powell was not running at Saturday´s UTech Classic. He was scheduled to run the 200 metres and 4x100m relay for local club MVP at the annual meet - failed to show, which triggered speculations as there was no immediate explanation. Stephen Francis, who did not attend a special press briefing about the case, sent a one-page letter which was read openly by his brother, assistant coach Paul Francis.“Because of other developments since that time, which shall remain private, I have contacted Mr Francis (Paul) on Saturday, April 18, 2009 to inform him that I was withdrawing Mr Powell from the meet... the decision for Mr Powell not to run was made by me, in my capacity as his coach. The basis of the decision has not been revealed to Paul Francis or any other member of the UTech Classic Committee, including Mr Bruce James, the MVP president,“ Francis stated in the letter. „The basis of this decision is a personal one between Asafa and myself as his coach and will remain so. Speculations in the media is useless, as the real reason will never be revealed by either Asafa Powell or myself. I hope that this statement further clarifies what happened on the weekend,“ the statement added. It is expected that Asafa Powell will run at Penn Relays this weekend.

MONTE CARLO (MON): The IAAF‘s annual worldwide festival of youth, the IAAF World Athletics Day, one of the busiest programmes of competitions in the annual global Athletics calendar, remains as popular as ever, with 160 of the 213 IAAF Member Federations requesting to participate in 2009. An invitation to attend part of the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Berlin, Germany is the motivational reward which is on offer to those individual children lucky enough to be picked from a draw of winning national youth athletes submitted by IAAF Member Federations that will be participating in the 2009 IAAF World Athletics Day. This year‘s project involves Youth Age Group children from Clubs who were born in 1992-1993 (16-17 years old). The result of this initiative is that 143 of the Member Federations have signed-up for the School element of the project in 2009 which involves the ‚Minimes‘ age group: Boys and Girls born in 1994-1995-1996 (13-15 years old).

WIEN (AUT): Best Austrian distance runner Gunther Weidlinger leaves the door open for his next plans after 9th place in marathon debut last Sunday in Vienna. He has two options, to compete at 10 000 m at World Championships in Berlin or to try for fast marathon in September in Berlin. But also Frankfurt and Amsterdam are other options for a fall marathon.

HALLE (GER): The German throwing meeting in Halle on May 23 will see in hammer throw the Olympic silver winner Hungarian Krisztián Pars competing along with Slovak Osaka bronze winner Libor Charfreitag. Pars already won the European Cup Winter Throwing in March and leads the lists 2009 with 80.38. Charfreitag won last weekend the MtSAC Relays in Walnut.


DES MOINES (USA, Apr 22): Mark Hollis cleared 560 cm to win the second annual Drake Relays Pole Vault in the Mall competition Wednesday night at the Jordan Creek Town Center. He then tried at 573 cm. Informs meet website. Second Jeremy Scott achieved 550 and fourth from Beijing Derek Miles with Darren Niedermeyer tied with 540 for third. Jacob Pauli no heighted at 540. More than 2,000 fans were on hand to watch five of the top pole vaulters in the United States compete including Derek Miles, who finished fourth in the 2008 Olympics. A special VIP section included six former Drake Relays athletes who were selected as Athletes of the Century in conjunction with the 100th running of the Drake Relays. Two-time Olympian Steve Scott, the former American record holder in the mile; 1984 Olympic gold medal sprinter Calvin Smith; 1984 Olympic gold medal sprinter Lillie Leatherwood; Mike Boit from Kenya who earned a bronze medal in the 800 at the 1976 Olympics; four-time Olympic high jumper Amy Acuff; two-time Olympic pole vaulter and American indoor record holder Jeff Hartwig. After first day of heptathlon on the track Jackie Johnson has a solid 3605 score and Jamaican Peaches Roach also good 3556 (for example 181 in High Jump and 23.52 at 200 m, but only 9.46 in Shot Put).

KANSAS CITY (USA, Apr 21): James White (17), a junior at Grandview, made history at the Winnetonka Invitational. He cleared new US High School record in high jump 228 cm. The former mark was 25 years old, 227 by Dothel Edwards according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Track and Field News has as High School record the 231 of Andra Manson from World Juniors 2002 in Kingston. During the weekend he achieved new Kansas Relays record in his category with 222 cm. „I think if he works on a few things, he could be an 8-foot high jumper,“ Grandview jumping coach Reggie Morris said. „He‘s only 17 years old. He hasn‘t even really grown into his body.“ Kansad media are informing. With this mark he could be a medal contender at summer World Youth Championships in Italy.

HILVERSUM (NED, Apr 19): Kenyan wins at 6th Nike City Run at 10 km. Julius Chepkwony clocked 28:52 and Caroline Cheptonoi 31:57.

STELLENBOSCH (RSA): The group of German pole vaulters was simply enthusiastic about their three weeks training camp in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Coach Leszek Klima said that the time there was terrific and the daily training sessions with the group were really great and effective: „We were able to train every day with the sun shining and with tailwind which was great for the technical training. Never before have we been training so well and so much.“ Malte Mohr won the closing competition (Apr 14) with 562, in front of Hendrik Gruber (562), Tobias Schwerbarth (552) and Tim Lobinger (542) who had joined the camp of his former coach Klima. Klima said about Malte Mohr: ‚At the moment Malte is absolutely the best. Very early this year he can clear 590.‘ Federal coach Joern Elberding flew to San Diego on Tuesday, also for a three week training camp, with another group of vaulters (Lars Borgeling, Bjorn Otto, Alexander Straub and military world champion Florian Suerth).

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