February 2008 Archives

If you spend any time looking at the covers of the Running Network publications, or the Shooting Star Media, Inc. publications, you have noted the excellent pictures of Victor Sailer and his team at PhotoRun.NET.
Victah and his wife, Lisa Coniglio, travel the world, covering many of the top events on the world circuilt. Victah supplied us with this preview of the oldest marathon in Japan, the sixty third annual Lake Biwa Marathon, to be held on March 2, 2008:

The World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain will be the largest ever, with 159 countries sending teams. The Olympic year obviously brings athletes out to compete, and that means new starts and new rivalries!

Watch for our coverage of the World Indoor Championships from Valencia, Spain this next week.

In a copyrighted story in USA Today, dated February 26, Peter Ueberroth, the chairman of the U.S. Olympic committee considers US athletes representing their country in the Beijing Olympics as "invited guests and not China's would be reformers." according to the story.

A direct quote from Ueberroth, " We expect and are sure that the athletes are going to respect their own country, respect their flag, respect the flag of every other countrya and operate as we all will, under the IOC rules of the Olympic Games..."

More Teams Preparing for Valencia!


EME news provides us with updates on the teams preparing for the world championships in ten days in Valencia, Spain. There is also some news on the events on the roads that could be cause for concern with some of the political unrest going on in the Middle East.

Liu Xiang will be in Valencia and this should provide for some hurdle fireworks!

The World Indoor Champs in Valencia, Spain happen March 7 to 9 and we will be there! I have attached some info on the teams coming from EME news. More updates tomorrow. I am finally on the way to Boston after no equipment Saturday night from Vegas!

More tomorrow!

ATT USATF Day 2-Nelson, Jones win Visa


Weather was part of the story this weekend, hampering many from getting to Boston in a swift manner. I was stuck in Las Vegas, due to equipment and overselling of aircraft. I ended up watching the meet Sunday on TV, which was pretty strong coverage. I was most impressed by the men's 800 meters and the women and men's 1,500 meters. Rob Myers and Christian Wurth Thomas competed great.

The award for the most ecstatic win was LoLo Jones and her hurdle/VISA win double. Jones has come a long way and is now the second best indoor hurdler in history. Her trip to Valencia will be a good test against world class competition for her. I will have some updates from other national champs this weekend plus a special feature on what I saw at the Norwich Union GP in Birmingham last weeekend!

Rob Myers ran a smart race and won the only way he could, by controlling the event. Myers had told the media at Reebok that he was working on his finish this year. Smart statement and his move at Boston, over the last two laps, showed that he is learning his lesson. He will have a strong experience in Valencia, where the name of the game will be kicking the last 200 as wildly and fast as possible.

My observation from watching the meet? Low turnout of fans, great interviews with Symmonds and Robinson. The best facility in Boston should be full for a national champs!

The road to Beijing.....Christin Wurth Thomas used her strength and won the 1,500, with Jennelle Deatherage in second. In the Men's 3k, Tegankamp and Solinsky give a hint of how hard it will be to make the 5,000 meter team in Eugne, Oregon if one is not a former Badger.

Your favorite blogger is in Vegas for the WSA show, checking out footwear. I will be in Boston Sunday for the final session!

The WSA Show is one of the most important trade shows in the footwear business. I come to this show each year, in Feb and August, with my footwear editor, Cregg Weinmann to look at new product, catch up on news in the industry and put a face with my new clients.

The WSA show is in transition. While I am always impressed with it's effort to bring in the media, it is not keeping the athletic footwear business, which has always been a small part of the business. But the show is important, and there are always some...surprises..

Just a little meeting in Australia, but some huge results! Asafa Powell, who had been having some injury issues, ran a nice clean 10.04 to open the season. Jeremy Wariner ran 44.82 for one of the fastest opening 400 meters even, and in February!

The UK's Andrew Baddedly rna a fine 3:38.24 to take Bernard Kiptanui Kiptum of Kenya, who ran 3:39.41!

And if there was any question if Craig Mottram of Australia was back, his 13:11.99 complemented his recent 7:34 in Boston last month! Shadrack Kosgei of Kenya was second in 13:13.51.

On the women's side, Donna McFarlaine of Australia ran 9:29.93 for the steeplechase!

Last year, at the World Champs in Osaka, Carolina Kluft told the assembled media that no one was unbeatable. We tend to forget that in this sport. In doing that, we not only lessen the achievements of our sports heroes, but also the beauty of our sport.

A week after setting a world record of 16 feet, 2 3/4 inches in Donetsk, or 4.95 meters, Yelena Isinbayeva, the Sergei Bubka of the women's pole vault, lost to compartriot, Svetlana Feofanova of Russia. Isinbeyeva could manage 4.61m and tied for second with Monika Pyrek of Poland, with Feofanova winning at 4.81m.

I have attached the story from fearless correspondent, Bob Ramsak. Remember, streaks ending mean new streaks. The road to Beijing gets even more exciting!

EME News correspondent Alphonz Juck has sent us some fascinating stories from behind the scenes in the world of global athletics. I met him last week at the Norwich Union Birmingham GP. We thought you might enjoy some of them:

I have known Alberto Salazar for nearly twenty years. Even before that, in college, I had the distinction of running in some top cross country invites and seeing Alberto Salazar, Rudy Chapa, Steve McChesney, and company romp to victory. I would be about 3/4 of a mile back and while I was holding on for dear life, the pace and fury of Salazar duking it out with Rono, Adrian Royle, Herb Lindsay et al have never left my memories.

Alberto has been always gracious and considerate. He answers emails and I have enjoyed watching him go from elite athlete to an elite coach, learning as he goes, instilling confidence and strength in his athletes. It has been fascinating to observe.

The late Emil Zatopek told me that he was not happy when he coached. He said it was hard for an elite athlete to not just get out there and run, but to analyze and observe the young athlete was quite difficult.

Alberto Salazar and his group of athletes are an example of why distance running in the US is on the rebound. I have been lucky to observe Galen this season at several events and speak to Alberto for a few minutes on his activities. Here are some of my thoughts:

The worst kept secret in footwear business is that consolidation is de rigeur for the marketplace. Last year, it was Saucony, the year before Reebok and Etonic, and now, Pearl Izumi.

Pearl Izumi has been picked up by Shimano, which should be a superb combination. Pearl's apparel is highly regarded in the bicycling community and Shimano is saying that Pearl Izumi running will have the support and home it needs.

Pearl's running product has come along way and last year, their ad campaign, branding Pearl as a real running product, and branding the Run Like an Animal caught on with opinion leaders in the sport. We have attached the entire press release:

Some thoughts on Dwayne Chambers


It is Monday, February 18th, and my brain has finally landed in Fort Atkinson, WI after my whirlwind tour of Birmingham for the Norwich Union Grand Prix Birmingham. You will see my review of the meet on Wednesday, February 20th, as I am approving a few magazines on my three days in the office. I finished this at 30,000 feet above the Atlantic on my way home from Birmingham.

For more on Dwayne Chambers, please find the weekend column in FT.com by Pat Butcher, it was very well done. The following is my interpretation of the whole situation:

Dear Readers, It is 2.45 am in Birmingham and I am just coming down from one of the best meets I have ever seen. The two mile best by Kenenisa Bekele was sixteen laps of hard running, with the record having to be hard fought over the last 200 meters! In speaking to Kenenisa and his adivsor Jos Hermans, afterwards, it was obvious that this was a superb effort.

Susanna Kallur is in her own world. By the third hurdle, Kallur is so far ahead, so technically superior that the race was over!

Yelena Isinbaeyva set a new world record today in Donetsk, Ukraine as well, to cap off a wonderful day of athletics.

I will provide an event by event story on Birmingham on Sunday, right now, I am trying to find out if I will be going home to Chicago on Sunday, as snow and ice are on the way. A hard winter, and a great season of indoor track and field!

Adam Nelson is a renaissance man. Nelson is what Socrates spoke of when he suggested that man, to be truly man, must respect the intellect and the physical. Have a few minutes of conversation with Nelson, Hoffa, Cantwell and one sees thoughtful men who are called to throw a sixteen pound steel ball as far as they can.

Adam Nelson is also an man of immense complication. He turned down sponsorship for many years because it was not, on his terms.

Adam Nelson is at a place where he is now, at one with the athletic universe. His 22.40 meter throw in Fayetteville, has put the sixteen pound steel ball he calls a shot put farther than anyone has thrown in many years.

Nelson is not a big guy. But, dear readers, take a minute and watch Nelson's feet in the ring. He is the fastest man inthe shot ring, and WHEN he is on, when the stars align, Nelson is healthy and believes in himself, the results, as Bob Ramsak reported, are, like an album of John Coltrane, sublime.

Shalane Flanagan and Colleen De Reuck will also be in the fray at the Winter XC champs in San Diego tomorrow. Yours truly will be in Birmingham, UK, where it is 1.23 am in the morning on Saturday.

Shalane Flanagan is one of the most talented runner of her generation. Her 2007 year, from the Reebok BIG 3k indoor, to her AR at 5k to her World Champ 5k finish showed her strength and talent. She should make the 5k team for Beijing.

My pick for making the Women's Marathon team got easier with a healthy Colleen de Reuck. Colleen is a brilliant athlete and she knows how to discount the pressure around the homestead. ( I am also picking Deena Kastor).

At the time I am writing this, the Tyson Invitational is going on. On Saturday, we will provide you with Tyson highlights, World XC Winter Trials and the Norwich Union Birmingham International.

It is 5.34 am Central Standard time on Friday, February 15, 2008. Since 4 pm yesterday, I have flown from Chicago to Dusseldorf, and Dusseldorf to Birmingham, England. It is 12.30 pm local time in Manchester.

As the group publisher of seven magazines and the president of a firm that reps thirty four total titles, I could be traveling every day. I do not. However, most events that I attend have dual roles-I am able to write about the events, represent our magazines and also meet with our advertisers. On top of that, I work in a sport that i love and I spend much time trying to help make the sport better.

One of the busiest months of the year, and even more so, in an Olympic year, is February. It is the height of the indoor season in the US and Europe, and there are three major trade shows for the sport and for the business of footwear during this time.

Ritz and Ryan Speak


Dathan Ritzenhein and Ryan Hall should be two of the highlights of this weekend's XC extravaganza. Your favorite blogger is writing this in the Lufthansa lounge in Dusseldorf, Germany, on way to Birmingham, England, to see the Norwich International.

Record Fields for USA Winter XC!


Last night, at dinner with Glenn Latimer and friends, we were speaking of the cross country championships this coming weekend. The numbers are over 715 as we speak and should hit 800!
Congrats to organizers, sponsor ASICS and USATF for putting on such a super event. My only wish was to stay, but I had prior commitment to Norwich United meet in Birmingham, England on Saturday. We will have coverage of both events for you on runblogrun.com and runningnetwork.com.

My pick for the race of races will be Ryan Hall and Dathan Ritzenhein. World on the street is that both are quite fit and also word on street is for London, think in that two oh five range for our friend, Mr. Hall!

The Running USA meeting was a meeting place for major race directors, new race directors, sponsors from both traditional and non-traditional sponsors. The highlight of the day was the Monday night Dinner and Auction.....On Tuesday, the highlight was a panel with Tom Raynor of Fleet Feet, Richie Woodworth of Saucony, Andy Hersham of the Runners' World Media Group and a talk by Peter Engelheart of Falconhead Capital, recent purchaser of Elite Racing, Competitor Group, and Velo News

Guy Morse, Injured in Fall


Guy Morse, the Executive Director of the BAA Boston Marathon, was injured in a fall last week. We received this press release this morning and felt that the many admirers of Guy would like to know about his condition.

Guy has been the steward of the modern Boston Marathon for two decades. A man of character and immense endurance, he has weathered the early steps of the Boston Marathon into the professional marathon arena, to championing the World Major Marathons developments.

We wish Guy a speedy recovery and our thoughts and prayers continue to go to him as he maintains his treatment for prostate cancer.

The San Diego XC Trials will be a huge success this coming weekend! Ryan Hall and Dan Browne will be part of the fields this coming weekend. Sign ups are over 600 runners for the weekend! The release that came in this morning shows the details that Hunt and Geer are going to make this event a success!

The Running USA Meeting started on Sunday, February 10, 2008. The opening reception, sponsored by realbuzz.com, Gen A Media and Active Network was telling. Over 350 people were in attendance. Most of the attendees were race directors, companies marketing to race directors and potential sponsors of the sport.

By any standards, this was a successful opening. However, the future of the organization does hang in the balance. Is Running USA a trade organization? Does it stay patient and continue to grow at 20-25 percent a year, offering a series of meetings that are attractive to running sponsors and race directors, or does it try to be everything to everybody and dilute the attraction it is building to a certian segment of the sport?

Susanna Kallur has done it! She has broken the 18 year old world record of Lyudmilla Enqquist, hurdling a fine 6.68! Also of note is American LoLo Jones, who is now only behind Gail Devers on the All Time American lists! Bob Ramsak and Ed Gordon
provided the info on the world record.

Yelena Soboleva set a new world record for the 1,500 meters indoor at the Russian Indoor Championships! She had set the 800 meter Russian record the night before! We have a short update from Bob Ramsak on the world records!

I have never, ever recovered from my meeting with the late Emil Zatopek. I consider him and his wife, Daniela, to be the epitome of sportsmanship and Olympic conduct. I met Emil in 1991, and his wife, Daniela, after Emil's death, in 2001. Today, while reading about Philip Dunn's 50 kilometer race walk victory, I considered the Olympic ideal. I am curious to see what you think about my musings....

Running USA Starts on Sunday


The Running USA meeting, held in the San Diego area each February, is one of the most important meeting places of the sport's movers and shakers. This year, the warm weather, and the plethora of topics covered, from youth running, to the state of the sport, are drawing many top footwear, running business, road racing and federation players to the Hilton La Jolla. The recent departure of Craig Masback from USATF should also provide some interesting points of discussion.

The goals of Running USA are quite ambitious and the key is, can a sport that is so disparate, with so many moving parts, find a way to play well together for the common good?

The 50 kilometer race walk is the longest test of endurance in international championships, such as the World Champs and Olympics. Racewalking is a combination of endurance sports and technique. Think of walking seven minute miles for four plus hours and having to walk a straight line at the end. Technique when one is trying to survive adds to the problematic challenges of world class race walking.

Philip Dunn, a two time Olympian, and Pan Am medalist had company most of the way during the 50k trials and made it a race. In checking the results one will note that race walkers never seem to retire. Notice Marco Evoniuk, the 1980 Olympic Race walker and former member of the Frank Shorter Racing Team. Curt Clausen was also a finisher. For more on the race, please read the following release from USATF:

Our fearless, ever traveling marathon junkie, Pat Butcher, once again graces us with his take on the RAS half marathon. Two close finishes, some surprises and among them, a sad result for Million Wolde...

Million Wolde, the 2000 Olympic champion at 5,000 meters and the 2001 World Champion silver medalist at 5,000 meters, slipped out into athletics minutaue, from which he had emerged ever so quickly in 2000.

Now, in a come back, the junior standout, at the ripe old age of 28, will be running the RAK half marathon on Friday, February 8. Pat Butcher, our man about the world of athletics, has sent this correspondence on the night before the RAK half marathon:

Mission Bay is a historic place in running history. In the old days, RW used to publish a photo annual and there were several pages devoted to the 1971 AAU race, where Frank Shorter won his third consecutive title at cross country that year, on his way to Fukuoka, to win his first title of four at Fukuoka.

Thom Hunt and Paul Greer are co directing this event. It is the qualifier for the World Cross Country Championships team and should bring some real players out of the woodwork. You know, someone shows up in an Olympic year. Athletes who are at the end of their careers and also some big surprises.

Having it in a warm place when the rest of the continent is under an Ice Age threat is pretty smart. Best wishes to Thom and Paul on their event. Watch for coverage from American Track & Field magazine!

Susanna Kallur, Sweden's hurdling dynamo, ran 7.72 in Stuttgart last Saturday and the buzz got going! At twenty six, Susanna was eight years old when the present World record for 60m hurdles was set!

Kallur is the real thing! She has been focusing on her technique and not in full training, so the racing is coming along quite well. Will she be ready for Valencia in about a month? I think so, Kallur does not falter in the big meets. Kallur, remember, dear readers, is the two time Euro indoor champ and present Euro outdoor champ.

She seems to compete well with a full race schedule and her schedule between now and Valencia is..full!

Finding sponsors in this day and age is a difficult task. Congrats are in order for the IAAF for finding a new Golden League sponsor. AF is one of the premier global players in IT testing, headquartered in Stockholm.

What is great about this sponsorship agreement is that it is a two year deal, the sponsor is not the typical global footwear company and the addition of non Japanese sponsors shows the global opportunities in the sport.

USATF Begins its CEO Search


The news hit the sport like a ton of bricks: On January 9, Craig Masback, CEO of USATF announced his resignation to the board of directors. Masback, after a decade of stewarding the federation and sport into the modern era, had accepted a position at Nike, the number one sponsor of the federation.

The job of CEO of a large, and constantly moving volunteer organization such as USA Track & Field has to be both exhilerating and exhausting. Masback's tenure has put USATF into its most vibrant status in decades: the coffers are healthy, the US team is quite strong and track and field is on the rebound.

But all of this makes the search for the replacement of Mr. Masback of even greater importance: Has there been any progress?

The hurdles are becoming a huge story for 2008. Dayron Robles of Cuba ran a superb 7.36 for the mens 60 m indoor hurdles and showed that, at 21, he should be considered a serious threat to take Colin Jackson's fourteen year old 7.30 record.

Susan Kallur of Sweden was even closer to the women's record, 7.72, only .03 off the 18 year old record of her countrywomen, Ludmila Enquist.

It has been good to know that Wilfred Bungei has been able to race and also keep his family out of harms way! Enjoy the piece by Bob Ramsak!

Millrose at 101


My first Millrose Games were in 1986, after our move to the East Coast for my job at Runners' World. I was able to see Sergei Bubka vault, Eamonn Coglan run the Wanamaker Mile, and inhale in all of the excitement and as much of the history that one could see in one night. The next day, it was a ten mile race in Central Park!

My next MIllrose Games was the ninety-ninth, when people were still a bit worried about

Indoor track is up and running all over Europe and tonight, the Millrose Games in New York. I was supposed to be at Millrose, but I am sitting at home in Fort with bronchitis. I will have a column on MIllrose Games on Saturday!

Enjoy this column from Bob Ramsak, as he travels the European circuit to give our readers an insider's view of sport:

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