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!
The Reebok Boston Indoor Games is the best elite indoor track meet in the country, in my mind. I love Millrose, I know Simplot and Nike Indoor have their fans-and they should, but read my sentence again-best elite indoor meet! As the Nike Prefontaine has lead the way outdoors for years, the Reebok Boston Indoor Games is the litmus test for great elite meets in North America.
The meet management, Global Athletics & Marketing, give the fans a meet. From the masters’ mile, to the womens’ pole vault, to the men’s mile to the women’s 3k and 5k, the meet is orchestrated for the best races in the last hour, and the fans to go away with memories of an exceptional competition.
At the prep level, our sport is about competition and racing experience. At the college level, it is about competition. At the elite level, it is about showing our sport at its best, with good old fashion competition-and the Reggie Lewis Center rocks with two plus hours of sports entertainment.
The speedy Mondo two hundred meter track is the perfect place for 200 meters, 400 meters and 600 meter races. The banked track gives the athletes all of the aerodynamics that they could want! The intimacy of the track fans with the track create an atmosphere that keeps building through the night.
From the shot put, which is a crowd pleaser. For the last several years, four of the top five shot putters in the world, on the men’s side, have duked it out at Reggie Lewis. The crowd loves seeing the sixteen pound shot hit the wood barriers about seventy-three or four feet from their circle. The loud thump of the shot wakes anyone up who was napping! The loud groans of the throwers add to the battle of the titans!
In the relays, the crowd loves to see close races and kids battling near the finish for the win! The close relays bring the fans to their feet.
One of the crowd pleasers are the Ethiopian women distance runners, Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar. Those two have rewritten both the 3k and 5k indoor records. Dibaba won the 10k gold in Osaka and Defar won the 5k gold. Both are very tough competitors, with Dibaba being so light and very deceptive, and Defar, while perhaps looking ineligant, Defar is scary as she plows through the final last three hundred meters.
The men’s distance races have become huge attractions, from the indoor mile to the two mile and 3k. Craig Mottram has given the Reebok Boston Indoor crowd many things to cheer about. In 2006, and 2007, Mottram won a cagey 2 mile and then ran an Australian record over three thousand meters. Mottram, a crowd favorite, will be beginning his build up for Beijing and what will be a most amazing series of middle distance races.
The meet’s zenith, each year, is the women’s distance events. Who will break a record this year? Defar? Dibaba? Meseret Defar, the gold medalist at 5,000 meters from Osaka, set jaws dropping with her 14:16 for 5,000 meters in Oslo this past summer. Defar is now faster than the great Paavo Nurmi, the Flying Finn of yesteryear and an athlete, who, incidentally, shook up the sports fans in the twenties in the U.S., racing indoors in New York and Boston, among other places.
A final word about the major sponsors. Reebok, one of the preeminent footwear companies in the world, sponsors the RBIG. Like their competitors, Nike, New Balance, adidas and ASICS, Reebok has seen it makes good business sense to showcase the talent and upcoming stars in their hometown. In a business as competitive as running footwear, where $6.5 billion in running shoes is sold each year, one shoe at a time, it is appropriate that the footwear companies support a sport that exhorts the athlete to run, jump or throw faster or farther than they have ever done before.
On Saturday night, the sight I look for is Mark Wetmore, eminence gris of Global Athletics, in his suit and tie, encouraging Meseret Defar to dig down, and find another gear, as she moves closer and closer, to a new world record. The crowds will be screaming, the flags waving and five thousand fans, standing in unison, hearts pounding as the Reggie Lewis Center rocks to the sound of one set of feet, pounding down the straightaway, looking for the finish line.
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