David Rudisha celebrates his second WR in one week, Rieti, September 2010, photo by PhotoRun.net.
Blanka Vlasic, Aviva London, August 2010, photo by PhotoRun.net
The bible of the sport, Track & Field News proclaims David Rudisha and Blanka Vlasic to be the 2010 Athletes of the Year. The IAAF chose them as well. Well, you can not do much better than that! Congratulations to both Mr. Rudisha and Ms. Vlasic for standing out in 2010, in our global sport!
An era is has ended. The man who should be credited with popularizing the Olympics to the masses, Bud Greenspan, has died. Mr. Greenspan died on Christmas day, December 25, 2010, at the age of 84 of complications from Parkinsons' disease.
Bud Greenspan celebrated the Olympic ideal, but most importantly, the Olympic athlete, both known, and unknown. From Jesse Owens revisiting his 1936 Olympic victories to John Stephen Akwahri's last place Olympic marathoner finisher in the 1968 Mexico Olympics, Greenspan understood the power of the Olympic Games. He also comprehended better than most, the power of chronicling the Olympic Games in film.
Greenspan's love and understanding of the power of the Olympic ideal, has given rise to generations of new sports fans, who also celebrate the Olympic ideal.
Ariane Friederich, Berlin 2009, high jump, photo by PhotoRun.net
Scratch Ariane Friederich out from Paris 2010 European Indoors! An achilles injury, which happened on December 22, and required surgery to her jump take off leg, was announced December 27. She will be out six months!
Bud Greenspan died on December 25, 2010, at the age of 84. From his first film on Olympic weightlifter John Davis, produced in 1952, Greenspan understood the power and beauty of the Olympic ideal. It was that ideal that he choose to focus the next fifty-six years of his life. Here is a short anecdote by Walt Murphy on the iconic status Greenspan held in the modern Olympic world...(picture is of 1896 Olympics in Athens, Greece, the first of the modern era).
Pole Vault Queen, Yelena Isinbayeva, photo by PhotoRun.net. Vitaly Petrov, is, if not the best, one of the best coaches of the pole vault on our small planet. Besides Sergei Bubka, who was one of his students during his formative years, Petrov has coached many other great vaulters, including Yelena Isinbayeva.
Petrov, in recent statements on the Russian Federation website, cast some questions on the fitness level of Yelena Isinbayeva, the current world record holder in the women's pole vault. Petrov pulls no punches. It seems that Yelena has not had enough indoor training sessions to give Petrov confidence in her fitness.
Yelena Isinbayeva is one of the most popular athletes in our sport, and her twenty-four world records in the pole vault, and Olympic and World Championship medals attest to her position at the top of the women's pole vault. The last two years, have been, however, difficult.
The pole vault is one of our most challenging events. It is also one of the most technical. Petrov's program combines gymnastics, core training and strong technical work. In past, successful buildups, Isinbayeva has not jumped until early Spring training.
Our sport is quite competitive and it is a testament to the evolution in the women's pole vault that vaulters from Brazil, Germany, the US, and Russia, are challenging Isinbayeva. Only time will tell if Yelena can remain the top vaulter in the world.
On Wednesday night, as I walked home from the office, about 11 p.m. I took this photo on the bridge, about a half mile from my house in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, The snow was battered down by footprints, the temperature was modest (about freezing), and the quiet was overwhelming.
It is in those moments that I find my spirit. The shooting star is a sign in all of the world's major faiths. My first company was Shooting Star Graphics, my card company as a teenager. Later, it was the name we used for our publishing company Shooting Star Media, Inc.
Enjoy the thoughtful comments of Michael Johnson, former WR for 200 meters and current WR holder for 400 meters! MJ shows in this video, quite frankly, what makes him a WR holder- he wanted it more than others and he delivered it when the pressure was on him!
1968 Olympic gold medalist Bill Toomey said it best: You have to covet the gold medal, and you have to want it more than anyone else. And, you better have a lot of luck!
LoLo Jones, AVIVA Gateshead 2010, photo by PhotoRun.net.
Jessica Ennis, AVIVA Gateshead 2010, photo by PhotoRun.net
If the Fates allow, Daegu 2011 and London 2012 could be tremendous opportunities for many of our top athletes. Two of the most promising are Jessica Ennis, the global queen of the heptathlon, who battles Hyleas Fountain in the U.S. Jessica won the World Champs in 2009, and the European Champs in 2010.
LoLo Jones is also one of those promising athletes. Two time winner of the World Indoors, Jones has yet to prove herself at the World or Olympic championships. But Jones seems to be making the changes, and her opportunities seem to improve.
Ennis and Jones are quite popular in Great Britain. Hence, our sports' friend, Ian Stewart, UK Endurance mentor and the man behind the AVIVA elite athlete fields, has already announced Ennis & Jones hurdling twice indoors in 2011. First, in January in Glasgow, and second on February 19 in Birmingham. This should be quite fun!
For some reason, people try to complicate our sport and business. In truth, the brands which are successful, the brands which are soaring, the brands who resonate with both the young performance athlete (14-22), core fitness runners (19-49), new runners (25-59) and life runners (18-99), do many of the same things, but with their own unique footprint. Stay focused on the prize, and your brand grows. Cutting back on supporting the high school, core, new and life runners, not understanding that the diversity of the running community is its core strength, will see your brand wither and die.
Larry Young is the confluence of creative energy and athletic discipline. The only U.S. athlete to medal in the Olympic race walk, Young did it twice, in 1968 and 1972, over 50,000 meters, or 50k. The 50k race walk, which is 31.6 miles for those who still do not understand metric distances, is the longest and most arduous event on the Olympic schedule. Like cross country skiers, race walkers push themselves to exhaustion, over 3 1/2-4 hours, while having to follow the arcane technique of their event. Someone once equated race walking to the act of whispering while running for several hours.
Young was great at the distance, in in 1972, added the 20k to his Olympic racing regimen. The man now makes his living as a well respected sculpture, (see Larry Young Sculpture). I remember Kenny Moore noting that he could write papers on his 30 mile runs. For myself, I worked on my paintings on weekly 20 milers, and would then go into the studio and paint all day. I was always curious if Mr. Young had that creative experience?
In researching Mr. Young, I also found out that the guy race walked 100 miles in 18:07:12. Now that is amazing! Larry Young is in the USATF Hall of Fame.
Haile Gebrselassie has become the first African to sign with the world's most distributed scotch, Johnnie Walker. Mr. G, the world record holder in the marathon, can now place a small glass (we have not heard if he prefers it on the rocks, or with water) of his favorite scotch on the press table at upcoming events. Is running becoming like golf?
Haile Gebrselassie at real, Berlin, 2009, photo by PhotoRun.net.
Philips Idowu, AVIVA Gateshead 2010, photo by PhotoRun.net
Lord Sebastian Coe is always quotable. Some time ago, in a piece for Sports Illustrated written by Kenny Moore, I believe, Lord Coe spoke about the terrible price that triple jumpers pay for their craft. " The triple jump is the most debilitating of events, " noted Lord Coe. How right he was...and is...
Philips Idowu, one of Great Britain's most prominent WC medalists and more importantly, London 2012, is skipping the European Indoors in Paris, coming this March 2011. While some may castigate Idowu, RBR understands and congratulates Mr. Idowu with his forethought.
Competing in championships since 2007 without a break, Idowu has 2011, 2012 and 2013, if he choose to go that far. Championships make athletes call on both physical and mental strength that needs to be replenished. One can not do that year after year, without a break....stay tuned.....
Dayron Robles, Lausanne, 2010, photo by PhotoRun.net.
David Oliver, 2010 USA Outdoor, Des Moines, photo by PhotoRun.net.
Our sport is about competition. Robles and Oliver are very different hurdlers, however, they are similar in one area: they love to compete. 2010 has been David Oliver's year. He has come to an understanding with his size. One of the most powerful men in our sport, David possesses amazing power and tremendous agility. His hurdling this year was mind boggling, and there is more to come! Dayron Robles has fought back from injuries and should, along with China's Liu Xiang, make David Oliver fight for each hurdle race. RBR looks forward to 2011!
Queen Harrison, AVIVA London 2010, photo by PhotoRun.net.
In a very short time, due to the vision of USTFCCCA's Sam Seames and the support of Nike, the Bowerman award has become the Heisman of collegiate track & field! Note the release from Saucony recognizing their athlete, Queen Harrison, who won the award from her amazing collegiate performances.
Queen Harrison spoke at the recent USATF Hall of Fame dinner, welcoming 1,100 delegates to her home state. We congratulate Queen and the USTFCCCA for developing this much needed award!
Naming the award after Bill Bowerman, the co-founder of Nike, but perhaps more importantly, as a college coach who not only fought for college coach recognition, but also co founded the predecessor of the USTFCCCA. While most recognize Bowerman's success with middle distance runners, Bowerman had superb sprinters, 400 meter runners, long jumpers, throwers and high jumpers. Like Sam Bell and Bob Geigengack, Bowerman and coaches of his generation, could coach all events.
Congrats to both athletes, Ashton Eaton and Queen Harrison, and a tip of the hat to the USTFCCCA for their important award!
The women's race was really a showcase for Aisling Cuffe and her determined run to victory. Cuffe had over 30 seconds at the finish and dominated the field with her tough running and determined approach to the 2010 FootLocker Girl's championship race.
Second place was Rachel Johnson, who had, the weekend before, won the NXN Nike Cross Nationals race the weekend before Special thanks, as usual, to PhotoRun's team, who have covered the FL series for three decades!
I am not sure what it is about this group, except that Florence Welch, aka Florence + the Machine, is one very talented, soulful women. Combining a range that suggests Laura Nyro, Julia Fordam, Grace Slick and Janis Joplin with a little Big Momma Thorton (listen to Hound Dog by Big Mamma Thorton and you will not listen to Elvis for awhile), Florence combines soul, rba and cosmic country rock.
This video is as if Lewis Carroll was brought back from the dead, and was asked to do a video. I especially am fond of the two back up singers with the B-52 hairdos, and their dancing, is well, 60s Motown. (Remember Peter Gabriel in Genesis, about Lamb Lies Down on Broadway era-well Florence has got that ouvre going...)
Florence + the Machine did SNL three weeks ago and were, stunning. The band is tremendous, and musicianship is impressive. Problem is, the chuckleheads at NBC decided to not include the two songs they did in the SNL rerun. Find them, worship them. And get a copy of Cosmic Love!
I have joined the fan club and will soon ask Florence if I can have her children.
That's not too stalker is it, in this day and age?
The 2010 Boy's FootLocker race showed who the king of prep cross country is, and Lukas Verzbicas, after defending his 2009 FootLocker and last weekend, Verzbicas took the 2010 NXN individual race.
Enjoy the gallery and congrats to all the FootLocker participants!
Your hero, in colder environs, photo courtesy of Patti Hurgen/WD Hoards
Like one of the vampires in an Anne Rice novel, I am a creature of the night. After working late into the evening, I head home for a walk, then make a bit of dinner. After a movie (this week, it will be a Spanish theme, so Volver, All about my Mother, the Devils Backbone), I fall asleep on the sofa, only to wake myself up and head up stairs to my bedroom. I live in a farmhouse originally built in 1905, and moved to its current location about 1948.
It is early winter in southern Wisconsin. Wind chill was -15 today and regular temperature was cold enough-nine degrees. I bundle up, as I walk the near mile in from my home to office about four times each day. Patti Hurtgen, the web master at the WD Hoards site took a picture of me to encourage folks to dress warm.
I have a Russian Winter long coat that I wear, with my black scarf, gloves and oversized hat. The cold just gets into you and without head cover, one just gets miserable.
W.D. Hoard was the governor of Wisconsin about 1885, and he is also considered the father of the modern dairy industry. In 1887, or there about, he founded the Hoards Dairyman, the publication of record for the dairy industry.
My favorite event of the year is what I call the Cow Love contest. In March, about 80,000 of our closest friends vote for the best looking cows in five categories. Two years ago, after two glasses of Merlot (not very expensive either), I scored the fifth highest score in nearly a century. My modus operandi-pick the pretty cows! My only criteria was how real their colors looked, and I scored, with a handicap of 100 plus points, nearly 500 points! My colleagues were aghast! How could the track dude score in a cow beauty pageant?
I hope you enjoy the picture, just remember I have a mile to walk home about 9 pm and it is cold as heck! So remember, to dress warmly, please!
To learn more about the Dairy business, or to look at really neat cow pictures, please check out www.hoards.com.
The USATF's Jill Geer sent out the attached job description for the current search for the USATF CEO. It is a well-honed job description, and should hopefully give us a group of strong candidates.
The search firm, Bialla & Company, (www.bialla.com) is one of the heaviest hitters in the world of sports, technology and softwear search firms. They have recently done searches as diverse as Electronic Arts, True North (ad agency), Zoot.com (footwear company) and Avenue A Razorfish, one of Nike'sad agencies (digital). That USATF has hired a firm with such stature should also give you, kind reader, an understanding of the increased level of scrutiny that the search for the USATF CEO position has been under.
It is obvious that the current USATF board has increased their level of focus in this current search. That is to applauded. The current head hunter firm has already spoken to many in the industry, first to get an appreciation for the nature of the business, and secondly to get an appreciation for the concern that many in the industry have on who will lead USA Track & Field. They have heard several earfuls, I suspect. (Bialla & Company, as is their practice, would not comment on current searches or their culture.) Those are all good things, and give comfort to those who are concerned about who will lead our sport's federation.
However well meaning, in my humble opinion, the most recent search for the recently deposed CEO had undercurrents of pressure. It has to be said that the USOC had considerable interest in the most recent CEO of USATF. That does not mean that the USOC has explicit influence on the most recent candidate, but the USOC needs were known and considered in the process. General requirements were; someone entrepreneurial, but someone who was not of the track & field ilk, and someone who looked the part seem have been part of the zeitgeist.
Looking for someone who spoke his mind should not be translated as someone who is incapable of taking advice or estranging every group within the sport. Those are not qualities of a CEO who will last in this sport.
Please find the CEO Job description released today by Jill Geer of USA Track & Field as part of the transparency mantra taken by USATF over the past four months. I see this as another positive litmus test in the ongoing process. Under no circumstances am I asking for a track Wiki leaks site: to find a strong CEO, a real level of confidentiality is needed in order to protect candidates with current positions, and also CEO candidates who are not chosen. That is part of the currency that a heavy hitting head hunter company like Bialla possesses. That currency does not come cheaply (normally 1/3 of prospective salary), and it takes time (30-90 days in most cases). With a firm such as the one just mentioned, resumes are actually vetted. The conundrum of resume enlargement is understood and is part of the culture.
USA Track & Field is doing it right this time. RBR looks with anticipation at who will be the next leader of our sport. And, the job description makes fascinating reading!
FYI, Lebed, at the ripe old age of 35, won the SPAR European Cross Country Champs yesterday, using a strong finish over the last 400 meters. Portugal won both the men and womens titles yesterday in senior division. Jessica Augusto won the women's title, bookcasing her junior title from 2000!
Marion Jones, Olympic Trials 2004, photo by PhotoRun.net. I have to admit, Pat Butcher is one of my favorite journalists. And his most recent column, on Marion Jones, published on www.globerunner.org, he is right on. Over the past few months, Marion Jones has begun trying to clean up her reputation. I am sorry, when Marion Jones is mentioned, I feel a little sick to my stomach. USADA and WADA never got her on drug use, they got her on perjury.
What is personally painful is that I have written about Marion since she was a sophomore in high school. Jones was, and is, one of the most talented athletes ever in sports. I still believe that Marion Jones could have won the same number of medals without the support of banned substances. She just continues to show kids that drugs work, and that it is the only way to do it.
Banned drugs allow one to recover from workouts faster. In a given year, they give an athlete an extra hard day a week, which could be huge. Marion Jones had the supreme talent to beat her competition. That is the big lie about banned drugs. Some athletes believe that they can not compete without them, or that, everyone is using them.
Drug testing is catching many drug cheats, but not enough. USADA and WADA need to have more money to develop testing that can survive legal inquiries. People do cheat, and some cheaters are supported by larger groups. Cheaters need money to avoid positive tests (to pay for pharmaceutical help). The insidiousness of drug use is that any great performance is suspect in our sport. It is sad.
It still comes down to ethics. Sports is supposed to be about chasing our personal limits, not what EPO, HGH and soon, gene therapy will be able to do to enhance performances. Cheating is cheating, no matter what name is put on it. The money in sports, and the media worship of athletes is also part of the problem. Young athletes see older athletes doing all types of behavior and see that, all that seems to matter is their sports performance. Since money rules the world, then any way of attaining that success, is, in some minds, okay.
Not true. A jerk is a jerk whether they have run 45 seconds for the quarter, thrown a javelin 300 feet or run the 100 meters in ten seconds or less. In fact, many athletes believe that they have to live at a higher standard, due to the young athletes and fans. Many of our top athletes believe that, yes, they (sorry I am stealing this) have to answer to a higher authority.
Marion Jones hurt our sport. Especially high school kids, who worshiped her, were hurt over her revelations. But they were half truths. Marion Jones never admitted her use, and she, on the recent TV talk shows, still has not been, in my humble opinion, honest. That is, however, up to her, and only Marion Jones can look herself in the mirror.
So, read Pat Butcher's commentary and let us know what you think! To read more of Pat Butcher's columns, please go to www.globerunner.org!
Sergiy Lebed is the European King of Cross Country. This year, it was a bit more difficult as it came to a huge kick with 300 meters to go, but Lebed is now Cross Country Rex Europa, to debase the Latin language for the purpose of this short commentary. Lebed has won all of the European XC Champs, winning his ninth metal here in 29:15. Portugal's men beat the Spanish men here, for the first time in four years! Lebed is 35 years old, but his last 300 meters showed that Sergiy does his speed work!
Jessica Augusto, the bronze medalist from the European Championships at 10,000 meters this past year, lead the Portugese women to the champions circle with her superb win here! This gold medal will go well with Augusto's junior championship ten years ago! Augusto won 8.2 kilometers in 26:52. Portugal's women beat France and Great Britain for the team championship!
Ammar Moussa, 2010 XC Champs, photo by PhotoRun.net.
Ammar Moussa has had a very busy year! Winning the CIF championships just two weeks ago, Moussa defended his USATF Junior Olympic crown. Christine Bayless continues to show that she is becoming quite the junior distance runner, with her defense of the Junior Olympic title this year!
Ammar Moussa and Christine Bayless are at different ends of the race career spectrum, as Ammar is finishing his senior year in high school and Christine is just entering the high school firmament. We wish them well, and look forward to seeing how their journey in this sport goes! (Christine Bayless from Jan 2010 issue of Cal Track).
The Club Championships gives post collegiate athletes a chance to compete on a national level. The USATF Club Cross Championships was one of three major cross country championships on Saturday, December 11, 2010. Please watch for pieces on all three on RBR today!
McMillan Elite defended its men's national club title at Charlotte, North Carolina on Saturday, December 11, 2010. But, it did not stop there! McMillan Elite also won the women's national club title at the same event!
McMillan Elite is coached by a team overseen by Greg McMillan, who coaches a group of elite athletes and has a strong online coaching business.
Among his athletes are Brett Gotcher, and Nick Arciniaga, two athletes who have made strong improvements over the past year!
Congrats to all 1,100 runners who competed in the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships, including all of my friends in the ASICS Aggies! If anyone has pictures from this event, please send us a note at email@example.com!
Lukas Verzbicas showed that he is the best prep cross country runner in the land on Saturday, as he defended his title at the 2010 FootLocker Cross Country Championships. Held in the venerable Balboa Park in San Diego, the race, for over thirty years now, continues to have impressive fields.
Verzbicas hit the half mile in 2:17, the mile in 4;45 and the two mile in 9:32, as he and Futsum Zeinasellassie broke up the field. However, Lukas Verzbicas made his move on the second hill loop, putting 11 seconds on the field, as he won in 14;59, with Zeinasellassie finished in second in 15:10. Halfway had been hit in 7:10, but Verzbicas showed that, when he is fit, he in unstoppable. This is one week after Verzbicas also won the Nike Cross Nationals (December 4). Verzbicas is only the third boy to ever defend his title. Oh, and Midwest team beat the South for the title, with 22 points. The Midwest team went 1-3.
On the women's side, Aisling Cuffe did the favorite role well, winning over Rachel Johnson, last weekend's Nike Cross Nationals winner. Aisling won the race in 16:53, Rachel Johnson was second in 17:27. Cuffe who had been 11th and 4th in previous FootLocker races, took an early lead and built a commanding lead by the finish of 34 seconds. The Midwest team also won the girls' race, this time over the Northeast.
Alfons Juck updates us on the seriousness of the recent car accident of Paul Tergat. Paul Tergat, the former world record holder at the marathon, the man who chased Haile Gebrselassie to epic races, and a magazine publisher of note, survived a serious accident. It took a road crew 30 minutes to extricate him from his auto. RBR wishes Paul Tergat a quick recovery and will keep him and his family in our thoughts and prayers.
Paul Tergat, 2009 Berlin Marathon, by PhotoRun.net.
The Zatopek Memorial is, for me, the official start of the 2011 global track & field season. Long a tradition in Aussie T&F, the 10,000 meters is really a great competition. This year, Josephat Menjo ran the fastest 10,000m at the Zatopek in twelve years with his 27:29.80. Ben Lawrence was first Aussie in 28:05, and in 28:08 was Bobbie Curtis, one of our promising young U.S. distance runners. Eloise Wellings won the women's race in style, running a PB of 32:08.31.
If you are stuck in the snowy Midwest, or on the East coast, you will be able to see most of the events on your laptop, iphone or i pad. Walt Murphy provides the information below for your viewing pleasure.
If you are in Metro NY, you can always put on the racing shoes and run the Peter McArdle Memorial.
Christmas Ornament photo courtesy of PhotoRun.net.
Guy Morse will become the Senior Director of External Affairs of the B.A.A. Boston Marathon, and Tom Grilk will move from B.A.A. President to Executive Director of the B.A.A. Bostonmarathon. "This is not so much about Grilk becoming Executive Director, but more about keeping Guy Morse involved and using his skills to focus on the tasks that he enjoys and keeping some continuity within the organization." noted Tom Grilk. Morse and Grilk will assume their positions on January 1, 2011.
The Boston Marathon has been under the thoughtful eyes of Guy Morse, as Executive Director of the B.A.A. Boston Marathon since 1985. The race was in a woeful place at that time, with a debt of $300,000, the venerable marathon was teetering on the precipice. The race was trying to move from the 19th century and an amateur bastion into the wild world of professional sports. Guy Morse's job, and an exhausting one at that, was to champion those moves into modernity while protecting the traditions of the B.A.A. Morse has done that with a skill that has won him the respect of the running community.
The steeplechase is one of our primitive events. It simulates a cross country race and requires the speed of a middle distance runner, the agility of an hurdler and the stamina of a long distance runner.
In the U.S. the steeple has been the bastard child of distance running. Coaches have put their kids who not so fast at 5,000 meters there, or perhaps too slow for the mile. John Chaplin, the coach of former WR holder Henry Rono, and USATF Chair of Men's Track & Field, insists that 800 meter runners who an run about 1:48 should be groomed to the steeple.
The U.S. has had an Olympic champion at the steeple-Horace Ashenfelter, way back in 1952. Ashenfelter broke the WR in the final, beating the prohibitive favorite in an epic struggle. In 1968, George Young took the bronze medal in Mexico City, in an tough race made brutal by the altitude.
Since then, we have had Henry Marsh, Brian Deimer and Mark Croghan. Marsh had run 8:09:17, and Daniel Lincoln finally broke Marsh's record for the steeplechase, with his 8:08.82 in 2006, at the Rome Golden Gala.
Dan Huling is a runner on the verge. An American runner who is running well in a discipline dominated by Kenyans and French runners. Dan has learnt quickly that in order to improve, in order to develop his racing skills and callous himself, he needs to race. That means sticking with the best in the world for as long as he can, and do that a bit more each race. This past summer, Dan won the US championships in the brutal humidity and heat that was Des Moines, Iowa.
Right after that, Huling headed to Europe, where he ran a fine 8:13.29 personal best in Laussane, Switzerland. Huling is now the fastest active American steepler. From the interview, one will see that Dan is pretty darn focused, and should continue to improve this coming year. Huling knows that, in order to battle the world's best, he needs to continue to improve, and get that 8:05 race. Dan Huling has the drive and tools. We wish him the best!
The sweetness of victory...Dan Huling, 2010 USATF Steeple champ, photo by PhotoRun.net.
New Balance announced today that they will be sponsoring the New Balance Indoor Championships for March 11-13, 2011. This will combine both the former Nike Indoor Champs at Reggie Lewis and the MAC, held at the New Balance Armory, focusing two good invitationals now into one exceptional National Championships. This gives NB both an NB Indoor Champs and an NB Outdoor Champs.
Under the watchful eye of Josh Rowe, the New Balance running marketing manager, New Balance has, in the past 18 months, moved into the high school sport of athletics, sponsoring two of the three championships that the National Scholastic Sports Foundation has championed for nearly two decades.
Nike has focused on team championships, in the Nike Cross Nationals and the Nike Track Nationals. NB is focusing on individual participation at the NB Indoor and NB Outdoor championships, but has now added a team championship in both events, recognizing the top three teams in both events. The only other brand to be involved in a national high school championship is Saucony, who sponsors the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships and is in their third year of that relationship.
Kudos to New Balance for supporting two high school championships and giving young athletes two strong events at which the young athlete can get a shot at national competitions with their peers.
Recently, on a visit to my alma mater, Santa Clara University, the Dean of Athletics, Dan Coonan (Notre Dame grad) asked me why cross country runners tend to do so well in school. My comments were that cross country runners are essentially middle distance and distance runners for the most part, and they juggle workouts, classes, homework, and social lives pretty well. As a former coach, while I do remember checking on some athletes about studies, for the most part, the cross country athletes, whether they are physics, philosophy, engineers or history majors, they are pretty focused.
My personal experience bears that out. I believe I had the lowest GPA, a 3.2, , in my cross country team, with engineers, physics majors and double science majors. Pat McVeigh, a senior when I was a freshman, was our scholar/athlete of the year. We juggled our workouts around classes and studies and, of course, fun. I do remember writing many a history paper (in my head) during Sunday long runs. Easy days were conducive to mapping out papers. Hard days would take your mind off the unfinished paper on Bernard Lonergan, or the beginnings of Chinese Marxism.
Sheila Reid is a prime example of a focused student/athlete. The Villanova University senior ran a brilliant race at the NCAA Division 1 Cross Country Championships on November 22, making her move a decisive one, as she took the lead from Oregon's Jordan Hasay, holding off Georgetown's Emily Infield, and also leading the Villanova team to the team title as well. Races like that are obviously won on the windy course that was Terra Haute, Indiana that day, but races are truly won on the morning and evening sessions, day in, day out, juggling studies, workouts and life. That is why university sports, in general, and athletics (cross country, track & field, road racing and race walking) in particular, in my humble opinion, are such life lessons.
Sheila will also now be a candidate for the Honda Broderick Trophy ! (Hats off once again to Villanova's women's coach Gina Procaccio, who leads by example.)
AmericanTrack & Field has worked with the American Sports Builders Association since 1992. We do that to encourage our high school and college coaches and their ADs and Facility managers to educate themselves on the options for track & field facilities, both indoor and out. I was lucky enough to give out the Track Facility of the Year awards this past evening at the Sawgrass Country Club.
We encourage all coaches and ADs to check with the ASBA (website listed below) and to read the series of articles in AT&F on track construction supplied by ASBA each and every issue. Special thanks to Mary Helen Sprecher, who writes the articles for AT&F.
Lukas Verzbicas showed who the top male cross country runner, at the prep level is in 2010. His win, following up his 2009 FootLocker victory, shows the absolute talent that is Lukas Verzbicas. RBR interviewed him before the Jim Ryun mile at the adidas Grand Prix last June and we were quite impressed with his level of knowledge of the sport and his level of confidence in his father's training.
Arcadia XC was the team winner, and their team did the job. In cross country, which is a team sport, it is all about the lack of distance and time between the runners who are one through seven. For Arcadia, it was truly a team effort. Congratulations to the Arcadia XC team!
The winners of the 2010 Nike Cross Nationals boy's team title, Arcadia XC, courtesy of Nike
Rachel Johnson took this race in 18:17, by five seconds over, Christie Rutledge, (18:22), with Amy Eloise-Neale. The Manlius XC team, was, well dominating, to say the least! NXN has continued to improve in both quality and importance. The individual races were tremendous. Kudos to the teams, athletes and coaches, and Nike, for investing in this important event.
Cross country is a rarefied sport. It gives us running at its most primal, and at its most essential. To be successful at cross country, as US great and World Champion Lynn Jennings once noted, one "must become one with the mud."
Start of 2010 Nike Cross Nationals, courtesy of Nike
The NXN, or Nike Cross Nationals, now in its seventh year, anointed the top teams in the land, as well some of the top athletes. On the team side, Arcadia XC, who were from Arcadia High School, Arcadia, CA, won the men's team battle. On the women's side, Manlius, from Fayetteville-Manlius HS, Manlius, NY, just dominated the women's team battle. Epic battles in the individual wars, as Ed Chesereck, a Kenyan living in New Jersey, won the title in 16:01, with defending champion Craig Lutz in second (16:05). On the women's side, Rachael Johnson won the individual race in 18:17, five seconds over Christie Rutledge (18:22) and Amy Eloise-Nelea (18:49) in third. Significant to note is that Lukas Verzbicas, winner of 2009 FootLocker Nationals, won the 2010 NXN. The quality of the teams is of the highest standard and the individual races continues to grow as well....
The NXN brings the top prep cross country teams from around the US! Here is the photo gallery celebrating the 2010 version of the titanic battles over the Portland Meadows on Saturday, December 4, 2010! Note that our feature on Nike NXN will come later this week, bear with me.
Okay, so this video kind of focuses on Craig Lutz, the 2009 NXN stud, but, think about it, Craig Lutz and Lukas Verzbicas? Man, that will be a titanic battle, perhaps even iconic,ohh, so I have had two double espressos this morning, how about EPIC? We will know in a couple of hours in NXN land!
The FootLocker Regional Northeast region is one of the toughest regions in the country, with the great young runners from across the region. Thanks again to PhotoRun.net and Chuck Bartlett for putting the galleries together. We hope that you enjoy!
FootLocker was the first. The regional events give the little guys and girls a chance to dream, run, dream, race and make the oldest national cross country event. In the following photo galleries and video, RN celebrates the MidwestFoot Locker Regional here! We hope that you enjoy!
2009 Nike NXN, photo by Kirby Lee (courtesy of Nike)
The NXN has become an actual national championship celebrating high school cross country and the importance of all members of the top seven. The birthplace of the NXN was the Nike Border Clash, now in its 11th year.
This year's NXN pits the top teams from across the country on a tremendously watchable and fun cross country course. The meet also tests the limits of technology at the meet, with live updates each 1,000 meters.
Kudos to Nike for putting this event on, and giving the young athletes on these teams the trip of their young lives! It is one of the reasons I enjoy cross country so much.
It is Friday early afternoon. I am in Virginia Beach, Virginia, sitting in the convention bar (where else), checking on the daily crisis that is publishing and selling ads for group of magazines and websites (23 and 28, in that order). Thank God our team is very good. From webmaster Chuck Bartlett to production manager Alex Larsen to ad traffic manager Mike Lukich to accounting goddess Sydney Wesemann, the Running Network works like a well-oiled machine.
Last night, observing the USATF Opening session, I was very pleased to see the USATF on message and promoting a transparency in the way business is done in our sport. The post Doug Logan show has been very good. The board seems to have risen to the occasion, hired a well respected head hunter and possible candidates seem to be strong.
Stephanie HIghtower ran the meeting like the president of the organization that she is-good info, on point and with a well delivered sense of humor. Mike McNees used a self depricating style and story, as the acting CEO of the Organization, to involve the delegates in his theme, and Ivan Cropper is working on, and making real progress at something sorely needed-branding the sport.
Stephanie Hightower, MIke McNees and Ivan Cropper did a good job in keeping a mundane event as lively as possible. Hightower spoke about the need for change and inspiration. McNees told a great story about loosing a cheese omelet after a hurdle race at UW Madison, and Cropper provided the delegates with a CD which was both a celebration of the past, but a look into how future technology will affect our sport.
This morning, after speaking with a few folks, I have added a few things to what a new CEO has to do:
1. Foster relationships with athletes, coaches, agents and sponsors. 2. Give Nike, and the major sponsors, something to write home about, or, in plain English, over deliver. 3. Find a way to foster relationships with all the other footwear companies in areas where Nike is not involved, and at the very least, acknowledge their support of the sport. 4. Find a non-footwear based sponsor, and show that sponsor how to activate their brand with runners. 5. Make sure we have 3-4 outdoor and 3-4 indoor meets in US, and a strong TV package, using global meets on ESPN, ESPN 2 and terrestrial networks (CBS, NBC, ABC) for a consistent track and xc presence. 6. Make entreaty to road running and see how they can work together. 7. Foster stronger relationship between high school and college programs. 8. Do a real tour, where he or she just listens to the various sports groups.
Liu Xiang running 13.09 at the Asian Games, photo by PhotoRun.net.
Well, he is back! Liu Xiang ran 13.09 at the recent Asian Games. The tickets for his days of hurdling were the fastest to sell out and highest priced on the after market per our contacts at the Asian Games.
If you think Tyson Gay versus Asafa Powell and Usain Bolt will be nuts in Daegu, do not underestimate this line up: Dayron Robles, David Oliver and Liu Xiang. RBR loves the 110m hurdles, and feels that the high hurdles are one of the most under appreciated events in our sport. Like the shot guys, the 110m hurdles guys duke it out, event after event. I for one, can not wait. But, until then, enjoy the photo essay we have done here, courtesy of PhotoRun.net, all on Liu Xiang!
This is the newest video from theshoeaddicts. The team that gave you Sauc Up, the Forestical Course, and What is Freedom?, and Free! are at it again. This time, they interpret Run Unleashed. Tell them what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will send them your thoughts.
Delloreen Ennis, center of race, 2008 Beijing, photo by PhotoRun.net.
Brooks Johnson was just named the 2010 Nike USATF Coach of the Year. Johnson is at the top of his game. Last summer, at the AVIVA London meeting, I was lucky enough to witness Brooks interacting with David Oliver, his prized hurdler.
Well, Coach Johnson is adding to his small training group in Florida with the addition of Delloreen Ennis, Jamaica's 100 meter hurdler, and three time World Championship medalist.