January 2008 Archives

Hartwig Wins at Cottbus!


Jeff Hartwig, American record holder indoors (6.02m) and outdoors, (6.03m), is also now the masters world record holder in the vault at 5.60m. Well, in Cottbus, Germany, on Wednesday night, Jeff upped his world record to 5.65m and also won the elite competition! What does this tell us, dear campers? Well, our friend, Jeff Hartwig, could be in a very interesting position to 1) be in the hunt for the U.S. team in Eugene. A piece by Jorg Wenig, for the iaaf:

Vienna Invitational, by Bob Ramsak


The indoor season is moving into full speed. After last weekends' Reebok Boston Indoor Games, the story moves to the Vienna Invitational and some fast hurdling. This article is courtesy of Bob Ramsak.

Norwich Union is one of the major sponsors of UK Athletics. The Norwich Union Five Nations match pits the best of the team based events with a plethora of track stars as well. The one that we are watching is Bernard Lagat, who is quite popular in the UK.

Lagat is on everyone's list as the double winner in Osaka. Lagat's 1,500 meter win was perfectly timed, well run, and brilliant. With ten of the world's best milers within four seconds, Lagat's just at the tape dash did just what he needed to! In the 5,000 meters, the top middle distance runners in the world all had a bad day at the same time and decided to let a miler wait until 800 meters to go! Lagat took his deep breath and waited until that last 100 meters and guess what? He won!

Lagat showed his stuff with a nice win over 1,500 meters in Glasgow, Scotland for a strong opener on his road to Beijing. We have included the press release from USATF on the Norwich Union Five Nations meet:

The Reebok Boston Indoor Games was a) a sell out, b) produced world bests, and national records galore, c) well produced.

But, to this blogger, it showed some very interesting beginnings to the road to Beijing.

Mara Yamauchi Wins Osaka Marathon!


The competition for selection for the UK womens team just got hotter with Mara Yamauchi's victory at the Osaka Marathon. Below is a fine piece, courtesy of the IAAF website, about the race and how it developed, written by Ken Nakamura.

Mara ran a personal best and also made her first victory at the marathon distance a big one!

Reebok Boston Indoor Games: Update 3

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The race to Beijing..begins in Boston...that is what it said on the posters and that is the way many are racing. The signage on the track promotes the two major sponsors, Reebok and Nutrilite. The facility was set up to show off the brand, but most of all to promote the sport.

The boy's high school mile was a crowd pleaser!

Best point about RBIG: the meet is orchestrated perfectly. Wetmore and Kenah both take their teams and get the job done-the site is dressed up and the event runs like a charm. And the fans, both inside and on TV, or on the web, will be entertained.

The meet truly got going with the Reeebok Girls Mile, and then, huge upset in the Elite Women's Mile. Jenn Stuczynski cleared 14-9 on first attempt, 15-1 took two attempts and 15-9, she did not clear on attempt one. The crowd was all up on its feet with the Youth club relay when this two foot tall kid, running a better leg than some national teams, held off his pursuers, all several feet taller! The wunderkid was seven year old Davonte Burnett! USATF should get that kid a scholarship NOW!

Carolina Kluft of Sweden is warming up for the long jump!

It is all about one thing-the close races!

It is a half hour after the start of the meet, and the crowd is getting revved up. Christian Cantwell opened the men's shot with a nice opener of 68-9 1/2 inches!The master's mile was a runaway for Kent Lemme with a fine 4:25.04, and Andrew Rock showed he is fit early with his five hundred meter win!

The crowd is sold out, standing room only! As I am writing this, the Reebok Invitational Girls High School mile is about to start...

It is Saturday afternoon, and the track is getting the final check over for the Reebok Boston Indoor Games. Jenn Stuczysnki, the American record holder in the pole vault, sat down with your favorite blogger on Friday afternoon to catch up on her summer of experience, from a disc issue, to an achilles issue that kept her from performing at her bst in Osaka. Now, injury-free, Jenn has jumped fifteen feet, fifteen feet three and then 4.71 meters, the highest jump in the world so far this year at fifteen feet, five and one half inches.

Jenn Stuczynski has huge natural talent. She has developed dramatically in the vault-her first season going thirteen feet, seven, coming into the national indoor and continuing her quick rise to the top of American women's pole vault ranks.

Carolina Kluft of Sweden is one of the true superstars of the global sport of track and field. In Sweden, she is a rock star. Her sister, a police officer, can not even use the Kluft name as she would be swamped constantly in a country that appreciates its top athletes. In a press conference on Friday, January 25, 2008, your favorite blogger was able to speak with Carolina on the sport, her feelings about her event and where she will go in the sport:

The Reebok Boston Indoor Games will be held this Saturday, January 26, 2008, starting about 5:30, at the Reggie Lewis Center at Roxbury Community College. Many of the best athletes in the world will begin their long preparations for the Beijing Olympic Games at this meet, in front of a sell out crowd of nearly five thousand!

What makes the meet so successful? Your favorite blogger will opine. Get out your cup of coffee, and perhaps a bagel and sit back and read on, fellow track geeks!

Juashuana Kelly elected not to run at an indoor meet last week. Ms. Kelly, a devout Muslim, did not run because officials had told her that her multi colored undergarment violated rule 4-3-1-d. They suggested that she change the garment to single color, which would have not violated the rule and would have also been an approved alternative living up to her Muslim faith. Ms. Kelly chose not to run. The rumor mill, being what it is, had noted that the young women was being treated differently due to her Muslim faith.

This, thankfully, was not the case. I have given space here for the NFHS to clear up an controversy on the rule and would welcome a comment from Ms. Kelly or her coach as well. In this country, Ms. Kelly has the right to compete or not compete, and we hope that she does take advantage of that right in the future.

Our sports, and our schools are supposed to be places where kids can feel safe and respected. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. It seems, in my mind, that this situation was due to some type of miscommunication. We would welcome any comments.

Maria Mutola, seven time indoor world champion, an Olympic gold medalist, a three time world record holder at 1000 meters, winner of the $1 million IAAF Golden League jackpot in 1993, has decided that 2008 will be her last year of championship competition.

Mutola has changed the women's 800 meters since her arrival on the scene in 1988. Mutola has been a factor in each championship race, indoor or outdoor, that she has taken part in over the past twenty years. She is known for her fast pace, and gruelling kicks over the last 200 meters.

In this excellent article by Chris Turner, the deity of the IAAF Web site, Mutola gives track fans her thoughts on the year of 2008:

My first indoor meet was at an old Armory in St. Louis, Mo in January 1974 with my high school team, DeSmet. The races were run around orange cones and to watch the teams run the 4 x 400 meters sliding in their Converse Chuck's was very cool. One of my teammates, Dan Callahan, I believe, won the mile in 4;24 that night, but I was struck by the excitement and the loudness of the meet!

Well, world class indoor track and field is returning to the West Coast! My first indoor meets as a fan were the San Francisco Examiner Games in 1977. I remember running the 3,000 meters at the Olympic Development part of the Examiner Games in 1980-26 laps on a very small track!

Fresno is the host of the Run for the Dream, USA vs. the World, which can be viewed on sportnet tonight!

In the ancient Games, a talented athlete might go to a temple and offer a gift to the gods in order to make himself more favorable to win the fabled sporting events of Ancient Greece. In my mind, sacrificing a goat has about as much chance of telling us who the winners will be in Beijing as any other modern method.

The following article is on Haile Gebreselassie and how Pat Butcher sees his chances to win in Beijing. The Olympic marathon is the most elusive of medals and the surprises that come in that event give proper closing to a Summer Olympics. The truth is, the marathon is sport, and it should be left to the gods of sport.

Editor's comments: One of the most significant moves of the past decade in our sport was the resurrection of indoor track and field. Dr. Norb Sanders, the 1974 NYC marathon winner, cajoled, charmed and convinced many to contribute to the NY Armory, a fixture in sport in NY for nearly a century. The Armory had fallen on hard times. But Sanders, like anyone with the vision thing, would not give up, and his dreams became a reality: 65 events last year, over 90,000 athletes!

The president of New Balance, Jim Davis, donated the money to make this facility the home of the Track & Field Hall of Fame, plus the heart and sole of indoor track in the New York Metro area.

One of the best meets of the year, the New Balance Games, is the unofficial start of the elite indoor season. Photographer extraordinaire Victah Sailer wrote the following for those of us stuck in other parts of the country while two fine mile races were contested!

Who Can Climb into Masback's shoes?


Craig Masback, the CEO of USATF, is moving on. After a decade of dealing with the good and troubling in the world of global sports, Masback is leaving the job he was made for. Masback was not asking for sainthood, but from where he inherited the sport and the zeitgeist that now permeates the American side of the sport is much different than way back in 1997. The sport today is full of promise. We are not on the mountaintop yet, but we can improve the sport and continue to raise both the identity and financial vitality of our sport with the proper leadership. That will be the challenge for the new leadership.

In my little world, there is just nothing better than going to my local biker bar, Fat Boyz, on a quiet Sunday morning, after a nice two hour walk, grabbing the weekend edition of Financial Times and having a quiet breakfast. Most of my fellow breakfasters are either a) slowly recovering from a night of revelry, or b) preparing for a afternoon football game.

This past week, upon my return from Orlando for the WDW Marathon and RN annual meetings, I was catching up on my missed FT dailies and I came upon the obituary for

The editor of American Track & Field, James Dunaway, was thoughtful enough to send this link to me, a story about Mr. Conte and his goal to save the world of sports! Please read this story, as, I believe, it gives you, dear reader, a pretty balanced view of Victor Conte, his complicated world, and his goal to complicate the world of sport even more!

Pace makes the race or breaks it. In the marathon, it is a lesson that many, fast and slow, seem to forget. The little emperor, Haile Gebreselassie hit the half in 61:27 and could not hold on for his record, running the second fastest in history, with a time of 2:04:53.

Pat Butcher's story tells all:

Track & Field, as a global sport, has been, to steal a lyric from Led Zeppelin, " trampled underfoot" by other professional sports in the search for the almighty sponsorship dollar. Sports Business International noted that $16.78 billion will be spent on sports marketing in 2008--personally, a few hundred million for track and field would work well for all of us.

The sport has begun to professionalize. Look at groups such as Fast Track, Global Athletics & Marketing, Elite Racing, to name a few. The success in the past decade of USATF, from near bankruptcy to a robust positive in their coffers shows where the sport can go, with proper direction.

On the global side, kudos have to go to the IAAF and their web sites, which provide electronic, audio, video and written information on the sport from a to z. The healthy site also is a 24/7 sales tool for the sport---the IAAF portrays a very healthy,growing

The Dubai Marathon is tomorrow and the current world record holder, Haile Gebrselassie has a million reasons why he should try and break his 2:04:26 world record. Our intrepid
global marathon correspondent, Pat Butcher, provided us with this column on how Haile sees his chances two days out!

IAAF Rules Against Oscar Pistorius


The young amputee who ran 46.91 last summer, Oscar Pistorius, created quite a stir with his running last year. A world record holder in Paralympic events at the 100 meters, 200 meters and 400 meters, Pistorius wanted to run in elite track and field events. Unfortunately, as this study below shows, Oscar's prosthetic leg blades, called "Cheetahs", violate IAAF rule 144.2. The blades are considered a training aid that gives the athlete a considerable advantage over able bodied runners.

The WDW marathon is over. It is Monday morning as I take my walk over to Pleasure Island and enjoy the quiet morning. Runners are seen everywhere, wearing their WDW shirts, and their proud limping as the legs begin to recover from the weekend of pounding. The special shirts from team Goofy runners-those who did the half and the full marathons-are seen as well. 3,000 of the team Goofy runners registered!

The fifteenth anniversary of the WDW Marathon and Half Marathon has started off 2008 without a hitch. As always, the WDW is a litmus test of the health of the sport. Consider this for a moment, on the very weekend of the WDW, where 34,000 plus are signed up for the half marathon and marathon, over 35,000 are at the PF Chang's RNR Arizona, and the Chevron Houston Marathon has nearly 20,000! All on the same weekend!

A former Nike Track coach of the year, Bobby Kersee has had a plethora of medal winning athetes, his most recent protege being Alyson Felix, a three time gold medalist in Osaka. Moving to California to work with Coach Kersee is one Kerron Clement. Clement is one of the most physically talented 400 meter runner/400 hurlders that we have ever seen.

How good could Clement be? This blogger feels that, withint two years, Clement, under the watchful eye of Coach Kersee, should be the world record holder at the 400 meter hurdles and should be quite close at the 400 meter flat. Clement is a tireless runner, but his hurdling over the last few barriers has been problematic. His win in Osaka was the smartest race he had run in his life.

The race that this writer wants to see, in 2009, is Kerron Clement versus Jeremy Wariner, but over 800 meters!

Please enjoy the diary entry from Kerron Clement from the iaaf.org website:

The modern day morality play that became the life of Marion Jones continued today with the decision from the U.S. district court in White Plains, NY. Bob Ramsak, our intrepid global track observer, wrote this column today on Track Profile.

Just the facts. Jones greatest value may be, as she has said, that people learn from her mistakes. The noose has tightened and Marion Jones continues to fall. Please note that we expect additional sentencing decisions in a short time. More comments soon!

Here is the release that USATF put out last night. Word is that it was a little earlier than they wanted to announce, but there had been, as there always is in situations like this, a leak. More on Craig's legacy and this story as it develops.

Ten years after taking over a federation that was both morally and financially bankrupt, Craig Masback, quite unexpectedly, announced his resignation to the USATF Board of Directors on Wednesday evening, January 9, 2008.

Masback, a former 3:52 miler, Princeton graduate, and former TV sports announcer, brought all of those talents, and more to a federation that was floundering in 1997.

About a decade ago, a former president of the Unites States spoke of a thousand points of light. If there was anyone this applies to and any group this applies to, it is the NSSF. The NSSF was the brainchild of a few romantics who believed that they could help change the sport of track and field for the better. After fifteen plus years, the NSSF is, arguably, the most significant group, outside of federations and footwear companies, to support events and change in our sport.

Runblogrun spoke with Jim Spier about his origins in the sport, the NSSF, their agenda
and his thoughts on the sport.

Kajsa Bergqvist has retired


Kajsa Bergqvist, one of the most successful women high jumpers on the global stage, has announced her retirement at the age of 31. In the following story, take from the http://www.iaaf.orgsite, Lennart Julin relates Bergqvist's
tough decision.

Bergqvist has been one of the toughest and most stylistic of high jumpers over the last decade. Kajsa won 50 percent of the ten world, continental and Olympic championships she competed in over the past decade! In Sweden, which is just plain track crazy, Bergqvist is a rock star.

We wish Kajsa Bergqvist, one of the most successful, elegant and classy athletes of our sport, great success in retirement!

Hall to run Flora London in 2008


I am presenting for you, in its entirety, the press release from FLORA London noting that Ryan Hall and Sammy Wanjiru are both running London in 2008! Now, from the old school, this just about knocks them out of the Beijing medal hopefuls. The new school suggests that the new breed of marathoner can do two or three elite races a year.

Beijing is the prize. Winning or medaling there will be the gold star on your collar, so to speak. I will keep an open mind while I watch marathoners run next spring for the dollars.

Haile is the king of the marathon, with his 2:04.26 world record. Dubai is his last marathon before the Olympics and it could be close! In this piece by Pat Butcher, our fearless world correspondent, Haile comes across as a man who has used his running talent for good for an entire country! See what you think and email me at [email protected]

Working on the little imperfections..an interview with Asafa Powell, World Record Holder,100 meters, conducted by Larry Eder, January 6, 2008

(This interview was conducted over the telephone with Asafa Powell, the world
record holder at the men's 100 meters, the the current bronze medalist
at 100 meters from the world championships. Asafa was at the Avia OC
Marathon, as the official starter of the marathon and the five kilometer run,
on behalf of his sponsor, Nutrilite. We thank JD Osman from Nutrilite for his
assistance with this interview and support of the sport of athletics.

The following is a strong piece by Kirby Lee on the competition at the Pole Vault Summit. But that is only part of the Summit. American Athletics did its first piece on the Summit way back in 1993, when Sergei Bubka's former coach, Vitaly Petrov, (who is now the coach of Yelena Isinbayeva and the winner of the IAAF Coach of Year award) visited the event.

The Pole Vault Summit is the labor of love of many in the vault world. With over 1,300 vaulters, 72 competitions and numerous seminars, the first weekend of January puts Reno on the map as the Pole Vault Capital of the World, for a weekend.

I encourage all coaches and vaulters to find a way to trek to Reno for this event. It has helped reinvigorate one of our favorite events in track and field!

Please read the fine article by Kirby Lee, done for the IAAF web site:

Gatlin Agonistes


The challenge today, in modern global sports, is how to stand out among all of the opportunities in sports to grab the glboal sports dollar. From NASCAR to Formula One. from bike racing to surfing contests, from European football to rugby, from American football to golf, from walleye fishing to track and field, how does one stand out?

Track & Field is standing out now because of the hard line it is drawing about drug use. That should be both be applauded, but give one some cause for concern....

Lucas Sang, an elite 400 and 800 meter runner who ran with 1988 gold medalist Paul Ereng, on the Kenyan 4 x 400 meters team in Seoul, was killed in his hometown of Eldoret, Kenya while walking home. Sang was one of the victims of serious uprisings in Kenya, questioning the recent national election.

We reprint here a fine piece written by Bob Ramsak of Track Profile.com, and a prolific reporter for the IAAF:

In a press release dated January 2, 2008, the IAAF Noted that USADA has recommended a four year ban for Justin Gatlin, starting May 25, 2006. This would mean that Gatlin, one of the preeminent sprinters of his generation, would miss Beijing 2008, and be unable to defend his Athens championship, plus the Berlin World Championships in 2009. But, to this blogger, there is much more to the releases from the IAAF and USADA than may meet the eye....

The RunBlogRun Awards for 2007


runblogrun.com was started by my brother, Brian Eder. He thought that there should be an avenue for me to write about the sport we love each and every day. He promised to do the technical wizardry, and I promised to write my thoughts on the sport of athletics one hour a day. Most days, I can do it in an hour, and some days it takes longer...but, this is the sport we love.

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