April 2008 Archives

Alfons Juck did an fascinating survey: See who the defending medalists are from 2004 and see where they are in their careers. Will they defend, will they find the fitness to reach the level again?

1972 Olympic gold medalist Frank Shorter (76 silver medalist) once said, that after one reaches the pinnacle, it is very hard to muster the focus to come back. It makes alot of sense. How often can one go to the well?

The level of performance in our sport continues to improve. With teams from 204 countries, there is always going to be that unknown quantity who will surprise and rise to the occasion.

With one hundred days to go before Beijing, here is how the defending champions' chances look!

The Penn Relays broadcast last weekend on ESPN 2 is the unofficial start of the elite season in the US. The relays are fun to watch and the teams are competitive. Even the distance medley was exciting this year!

Roman Sebrle is injured again. The multi event Leviathan has a shoulder problem while training in Sout Africa. Sebrle has paid a huge price in injuries over his long and illustrious career at the decathlon. We wish him a speedy recovery.

This coming weekends' Stanford Invitaitonal, the Payton Jordan Distance Classic should prove to be one hot night of racing. Watch for Lagat in the 5,000 meters and two very stacked men and women's 10,000 meter races.

The legendary Michael Johnson thinks his athlete, Jeremy Wariner can break his world record at 400 meters! Wariner sure looks the part, and his early season running is progressing well.

The season is long, and elite athletes have to be very careful this year. Beijing is just 100 days away!

Hersam to Leave Rodale Press


Andy Hersam, VP and managing director of the Runners World Group at Rodale Press, is leaving the position he has held for five years on May 9. Andy was given great credit over the last five years for building the Runners World brand and for, in 2007, championing the acquisition of Running Times, the last independent national road running title in the genre.....

Alfons Juck updates us on the world of road racing and race walking from this past weekend. Note the Falk Cierpinski, 22 years of age, and son of two time Olympic gold medalist Waldemar Cierpinski, ran a personal best of 2:15.48 in 22nd at the Hamburg, where David Kipkorir ran a new course record and personal best of 2:07:23.

Note that Bernard Barmesai and Wilson Boit Kipketer, former Olympic steeplechasers, ran in Hamburg. In Vienna, former bronze medalist at the 50k race walk, Aigars Fedejevs, who ran 2:18:19.

Dear readers, As you know, my weekend is not complete without the Financial Times Weekend edition. Normally, I get the paper, retire to my nearest biker bar, Fat Boyz, sit down in the back booth and have a) excellent mugs of black coffee, b) breakfast, and c) no phone calls for two hours.

This weekends, April 27, 2008, is a a must read! Jacques Rogge, the president of the IOC gave the Financial Times an interview, and the articles, which are on page 1 and page 3, plus on the website (www.ft.com/olympics2008).

Rogge's comments are a warning to the West to lay off the Chinese, plus some astute historical observations on Western hypocrisy and Chinese evolution-several good points. Read one dear readers, and send me your thoughts. After my long walk on Sunday, I will respond on this very important topic, a topic that will never, ever go away: politics and the Olympics.

The 2008 Olympic Trials for both men and women were tremendous races, and kudos should go to both New York Road Runners (men) and Boston Athletic Association (women) for putting on the Trials. Just dealing with the USOC's byzantine rules and regulations would put the most patient human into the Betty Ford Clinic. However, both groups performed their tasks with gusto.

I must admit that the women's race was high drama. Could Lewy Boulet do it? Was Deena Kastor insane for waiting? Then, Kastor took off and the race, with high drama, ended for all three team members. You will be able to see the drama unfold once again on MSNBC on Sunday.

The BAA invested serious denaros on the television expansion of both the Trials and Boston this year, so show your support and watch the show!

A final set of kudos to Dave McGillavray and his team, Jack Fleming, Marc Chalfour and their band of merry media folks and Guy Morse, who showed the great sense to put together such a team in Boston!

Alan Webb has pulled out of the Drake Relays this weekend. Alan has had a rough time, first with cramps at the US 8k in Central Park and then a dnf with a half mile to go in Carlsbad. He said, at the time of Carsbad that he was doing all he could to stay up with the crowd.

More Global news from EME News and watch for my commentary this afternoon!

Bob Ramsak provides us an overview of the best global performances in our sport from the past week...

Three weeks of global marathons, and now the relay season is in full with Drake and Penn this coming weekend. The world class stars are just beginning their seasons as the road to Beijing is long and arduous.

B of A Chicago Marathon has sold out for its 2008 version on Oct. 12. With Nike and Bank of America on board, Cary Pinkowski and Mike Nishi have two major sponsor changes, and they have been all smiles at the spring events. We look forward to seeing the 2008 version of this race.

A marathon of a different color, the Nike Women's marathon will be held October 19 in San Francisco and it is an event to witness. I went last year and was impressed by the variety of women runners, from serious to non-serious, from veterans to rubes, it was all there and the event was a celebration of women's running.

Watching Alyson Felix run the 4 x 100 meters and the 4 x 400 meters is a singular treat. This women is the best at her game in the world, and when she decides to focus at 400 meters, I want to have a front seat. Sanya Richards and Felix, I hope are on the same 4 x 400 meter relay team!

Kudos to Ana Guevara who has retired and is taking a job in Mexico City to help develop opportunities for Mexican athletes to be coached and to have training facilities! We will try and interview her for Latinos Corriendo, our spanish language title.

The announcement of the Kenyan team for Beijing in the Olympic marathon was made in Nairobi earlier this morning. Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot was rewarded for his commanding Boston win, and London stars, Martin Lel and Samuel Wanjiru with World Champ Luke Kibet and William Kipsang, the Rotterdam winner as reserves.

A great team for Kenya! However, the marathon in the Olympics is a strange bird, and it requires a certain amount of luck as well as different skills than winning a big city race. We shall see how this team fares in Beijing!

In any testing involving humans, there is human error. In the absolute need to stem the use of drugs in sports, WADA and USADA, have, in my opinion, focused to grabbing the bad guys before their research was complete. Perhaps the Jenkins situation was one of those. We do applaud USADA and WADA for dropping the case with CAS.

However, here is our stance: To beat the system, an athlete or a group supporting an athlete must spend, according to our research, north of $60k a year to find something that is going to give them the chance of not getting caught. In order to catch these cheaters, I suggest testing, ten to twenty times a year of the top 20 in the world, and random, out of competition testing of top 50. Out of competition testing is the ONLY thing that makes sense, as it keeps the cheater on their toes. Draconian retribution for the athletes and coaches caught cheating will also slow down the cheaters.

Anyone who gets caught at a competition, in this day and age is a complete bonehead. Most of the cheaters have stopped for weeks in order to clear whatever they are taking out of their system.

However, cheating is insidious. While I believe that current practices catch about 90 percent of the cheaters, anyone who runs fast, jumps far, runs long is considered a cheat. Everyone is accused at one time or another.

Coaches who have alot of athletes getting busted should be banned, that simple. Agents need to watch this as well as the athletes as it is damning their profession. The IAAF should follow the example of the USATF and get the heck out of drug testing, as just the look of impropriety ( no accusations) color the way our sport is viewed.

My comments here are part of a long and laborious process that I believe we must take to reinvent the sport of athletes, and that includes Track & Field and Road Racing. I just spent two glorious days in Boston, actually five, and the Olympic Trials were excellent because they were competition. However, the USOC would not know how to celebrate such an event if they were paid-oops they are!

It is time for USATF to move the Olympic Trials out of USOC hands and call them whatever they want. Find sponsors and make these events huge celebrations of the sport!

It is time for American marathons, like Boston and New York, to build their fields around national heroes, like Ryan Hall and Deena Kastor and Brian Sell, and give them a showcase. For the past two years, Ryan has built his reputation in London, with the exception, the wonderful exception of the US Olympic Trials.

The money for sports is in the United States. The IAAF seems incapable of understanding that, or perhaps they do not care. USATF has just scratched the surface and needs a new CEO who knows the sport, and knows how to think out of the box and open the sports marketing coffers of global brands and help them discover the sport of running.

That will only be done when our sport has the flavor of a sport that polices itself and asks for outside help to police the cheats and runs events like professional sports entertainment. Points to consider after two great weeks of marathoning!

Please look at this picture. No, Joan Samuelson has not become an advocate for the NRA. At the start on Monday, Joan was trying to start the race and gun did not go off. So, two guns being better than one, and Victor Sailer, our intrepid photographer caught this and I could not resist!

So, for the geeks, here is how the race developed. I hope you enjoy. I am going to take a break now, grab some coffee and a walk, and then write a bit tonight. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at [email protected].

The double marathon weekend continues, and 25,000 marathoners are out on the course between Hopkinton and Boston. Robert K. Cheruiyot continues to dominate and two women, Dire Tune and Alevtina Biktimorova will make their mark today..and tonight, after the rest are done, and two days of marathons have been managed, Dave McGillavray will run his lone marathon, continuing his dream, like all of the other dreams that were fulfilled this weekend in Boston....

Cool conditions, about fifty-three degrees, greeted the 25,000 plus runners as they left Hopkinton on their historic run into the city of Boston. Our coverage of the elite races is broken up into three reports, Miles 1-half, an Miles half to finish and final thoughts. We hope that you like our coverage.

The win by Deena Kastor was anything but usual, but it did show her mastery of the event. Magdelena Lewy Boulet, a fine runner in her own right, leading through 24 miles running as she ran her own race. Blake Russell showed her stength of character and her desire to make the team with her third.

Speaking of strength of character, Stacy Dragila just cleared 4 meters, after numerous surgeries. The Joan Samuelson of the pole vault, Stacy Dragila has championed this event and it would be wonderful to see her over 4.50 meters this year!

It is just before midnight on Sunday evening, April 20, 2008. The day was full of excitement, with 124 finishers out of 153 starters in the U.S. Olympic Trials for the marathon. Kudos to the BAA for investing in our sport. Putting on an Olympic Trials and the people behind the scenes, from manning the barriers, to the support staff for the timing company, to the well run media center, all deserve our thanks.

Special thanks to Jack Fleming and his team for their hard work and Dave McGillavray and his team for their attention to detail on the course. We think that Guy Morse should be congratulated for his focus in the face of his health issues over the past year--and it was great seeing him maneuver the course and the various events over the weekend.

We also wanted to make you, our readers aware of a few other things about the race, that quite frankly, may get lost in the piles of papers and files discarded in the coverage of this most amazing weekend......

A race with 153 starters, huge crowds the entire way, and beautiful weather, surpassed the lack of hype for this race ( that will be another column). I will leave this column to a description of the three women who are making the team.....

Lots can happen in a marathon race, dear friends. Magdelena Lewy Boulet ran her race, from the start, she just did not have any takers. Deena Kastor ran her race from the start, she just had twenty close friends with her, and Blake Russell learnt from 2004, and has six runners on her back, wanting third place almost as much as her...

I am reminded of a comment that 1968 Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon, Bill Toomey once said to me, " To win the medal, to win your event, you have to want more than anyone else in the field. You have to covet that medal...." Well, there was lots of coveting here---who would persevere?

Magdelena Lewy-Boulet has built her lead between miles six and nineteen, running the race of her life. She is running personal best pace, a 2:29 pace, and Deena Kastor has pushed her way into second place, negative splitting, and cutting the lead to 77 seconds. Six runners fighting for third, with Blake Russell having a seven second lead over fourth place.

The beautiful day in Boston, 20,000 plus running fans, and one hundred plus marathoners are all there for the 2008 Olympic Trials for women. Magdelena Lewy-Boulet greeted the fans with taking an early lead and she is just building and building her lead.....

Yes, dear and gentle readers, it is that time every quadrennial since 1996 that makes you absolutely cringe-it is the Official Larry Eder Oly Trials Predictions. These predictions are well received because of the following crucial methodology: a) first, sacrificing of a medium size barnyard creature, preferably a goat, or lamb, b) baste said barnyard creature in full bodied but modest French red table wine, c) wear sack cloth, cover self with ashes, d) watch an episode of Dexter.

In truth the thoughtful process has been developed over years and years of earnest work on treating the whole prediction process with respect. So, without further adieu, my predictions for 2008 Women's Olympic Trials ( first five):

Think about that, El Guerrouj winning the 5,000 meters and the 1,500 meters in Athens, after coming oh so close in Paris in 2003.
Well, Bernard Lagat did it in 2007 in Osaka and none other than the El G himself think Lagat is a great bet to double in Beijing! Read on, dear readers...

Kudos to our friends at USATF Board of Directors, who just hired the Griffin Network, a highly respected executive search firm. The board has realized that they need the new CEO and a very good one, hopefully by the Olympic Trials.

This blogger applauds the actions of USATF and for more fodder, you can reread the various blogs I have posted, with earlier pieces on the CEO Search.

As most of our readers remember, Ryan Shay was running the Olympic Trials marathon in Central Park when he collapsed and subsequently died at the age of 28. A former US marathon champion, and an NCAA champion, Ryan was one of the most popular members of the moving road show called the elite running community. He was also sponsored by Saucony.

Ryan was involved with the Saucony brand. He had spent time with the design team, cajoling them and encouraging them to develop a new cross country shoe. Upon his untimely death, the management at Saucony, from Richie Woodworth, President to Tom Carleo, Senior VP of Product, to Sharon Barbano, VP, Public Relations, considered the following question: how to memorialize an young athlete who had made such a footprint at Saucony?

The Bird's Nest is open for pre Olympic events, and an Australian won!

So, I am sitting in an airport. On my way to Boston to see the Olympic Trials marathon and also the BAA Boston marathon. For fans, the Trials on Sunday and the Marathon on Monday is like running geek karma.
But, think about this for a moment, why would anyone in their right mind host an Olympic Trials? Read on...brave readers.....

The spring marathon season has gone Paris, London, Rotterdam, and now, BAA Boston plus the US Olympic Trials. The Trials for women are on Sunday and the Boston Marathon is on Monday. A busy weekend for the sport.

Deena Kastor is the odds on favorite,and your blogger humbly picks Blake Russell, Kate O'Neil and Magdelena Lewy Boulet to spoil. Our emotional pick is Elva Dryer and as always, if Joan Benoit Samuelson runs in top 20, that will make the world right.

I am on my way to Boston, and will see some of your at our party on Saturday, from 4 to 6pm at the Jurys Hotel (RSVPS closed today). A media conference with Ryan Hall precedes this, hosted by the Running Network and the announcement for the class
of 2008 for the Distance Running Hall of Fame, also hosted by the Running Network, will happen at 4 pm at the Beckett's room at Jurys. For info, send me an email at [email protected]

Week in Review, by Bob Ramsak


Bob Ramsak provides us with an update on all significant changes in track & field from this past week....

Some final observations on the sport, and the marathon weekend in London. I will see you all in Boston this coming weekend!

Ryan Hall is now in a different class. His fifth place in 2:06:17 on Sunday, April 13, 2008 has made him a global star in a global sport. Hall is now the second fastest American EVER with the third best performance. Not bad for a kid out of college for four years. A journey is never as easy as it looks, but the challenges give one more to savor. Let's consider a day that changed Ryan Hall's life....

The men's and women's elite marathons in London this year were two totally different races! Consistency was the word on women's side and in the men's it was a great kick and very fast early pace. Ryan Hall continues to improve-read on!

The 2008 FLORA London marathon is shaping up, in its second hour, as two very different races. The women's race was a very consistent, 2;25 pace, and it looked to be lining up for the kickers. The men's race, after having been sub world record, lined up as a good shot at the course record and as the athletes tired, they knew that they were still running fast...Ryan Hall had some problems, but came back...could the leaders hang on?

The 35,000 plus runners who were at the start line of FLORA London Marathon got across the line without incident. The elite races were off and now the questions would be answered--World record, course record? We would see in two plus hours....

How things have changed. It was not that long ago that Nike folks would comment how Nike would NEVER sponsor the Olympics. But, times do change. Nike could not achieve what they wanted after 1996, without considering Olympic sponsorship. In 2005, Nike made a deal with the USOC to become a footwear and apparel sponsor. Now, they have renewed for 2012, and there is an addition to their program..

Well, in my travels, I missed two bits of news. NIke has signed up with the USOC to sponsor the apparel and footwear through 2012, including the medal award product. This allows Nike to protect itself from guerilla marketing. Watch for Nike and adidas to go head to head globally over this. adidas has been involved since the 1956 Olympics, but with apparel since 1972. Nike's new Beijing Innovation Summit was showcased product for the various sports and federations earlier in the week for over 300 media.

It was also announced that the IOC has demanded that the medals for Marion Jones be returned and also taking away the relay teams that she had participated in. This is part of the denoument of the saga of one of the world's greatest athletes, who now is spending time in a US jail for perjury. Not much more can be said.

Creative comments about my predicitions on Ryan Hall. A suggestion on a pharmaceutical that I might have smoked prior to the column was welcome, appreciated and warmly received, but wrong. I think Mr. Hall is for real and quite capable of a faster performance, so we shall see!

Last year, the bets were on. Ryan would totally blow up. Ryan would kick butt. Ryan would run a decent marathon. He was running a marathon too early! What about his 5k and 10k speed? What about his 59:43 for the half marathon?

Well, his race in FLORA London last year started to get people excited. And then, his domination of the US Olympic Marathon Trials had geeks drooling. So, just how well will Ryan Hall do in London this year? This blogger has some ideas....

For a kid whose first run was a fifteen mile run around his hometown of Big Bear, the marathon seemed a natural.

This blogger arrived from Chicago on Thursday afternoon, April 10 in London. After a long trip on a bus to the Tower Hotel, I headed to the Media Centre.

The media centre in FLORA London is the place to be for marathon geeks and media. At about a dozen work stations and the same number of tables are the cream of the British Sports media, as well as many of the top international sports writers. Sean Hartnett, geographer extraordinaire, Victah Sailer, PhotoRun impressario, were also there with Cary Pinkowski and Mike Nishi, from Bank of America Chicago, Richard Finn, ING New York and Mary Wittenberg, ING New York filling out the crowd.

In the early evening, David Bedford and Richard Finn conducted a very good interview with Ryan Hall, who is looking at his third marathon.

Here is the transcript, we hope that you enjoy it:

The press release below, announces the worst kept secret in our sport-Nike and Bank of America are the new sponsors of the Chicago Marathon, now known as the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Face it, when the folks at Nike want something, they do have a fairly large check book. The sponsorship of New Balance of Chicago ran out, and Nike made the move and very bold one at that, educated word on the street suggesting that Nike's sponsorship of Bank of America Chicago is the most expensive sponsorship of footwear and apparel in North America, reportedly more than doubling the amount any other marathon has received for such a deal.

Nike's sponsorship of this event, rumored for months, is the first entree for the Swoosh back into a major marathon in the U.S. that they did not develop. As of today, adidas has a long time deal with the BAA Boston (as well as Flora London, and -real, Berlin), ASICS has ING New York, Flying Pig and Big Sur, Saucony has Honda's City of LA Marathon, New Balance has the Elite Racing Marathon series.(I also believe that Spira has worked out a deal for the WDW Marathon and Half Marathon).

It is one thing to sponsor a race. It is another to do it effectively. Sponsoring footwear and apparel in a major race is a mulit million dollar endeavor. From marketing, to sales promotion, to product, to marketing materials, major races see their footwear and apparel sponsors looking at several million dollars plus to get getter value

However, in the food chain of marathon sponsorships, the cappo du tutti frutti are BAA Boston, ING New York, B of A Chicago in terms of North American
numbers, and sponsorships paid.

The B of A Chicago's exhibit space is the best exhibit in North America, in this bloggers' estimation, in terms of service to consumer, room to walk around and care taken to give the marathoners a relaxed walking flow (except the last day, like all marathons), and a flooring that does not beat the heck out of their quads and hams two days before a major marathon. Carey Pinkowski, Mike Nishi and the team have taken a race, over the past fifteen years, and made it a race by which other marathons are judged. The attention to detail like, checking the blue line at two in the morning on race day, insuring that nothing has been changed in the set up. It is this attention to details, that goes unheralded. Think about this: The field at a Major Marathon is about the size of a small city--the management at any of these meets is moving nearly three times the size of my town! Moving a group of 30,000 plus challenges the resources!

Each major marathon has its special treats, for B of A Chicago, the special focus of Nike and their Nike plus coaching program will be a first. The majority of runners here are citizen runners and they know that they will be treated well on the course. Smarter training leading up to the race cuts up on injuries and makes the experience of the marathon that much more exhilarating.

Just why is Chicago so special? First, 40,000 plus runners, with perhaps same number turned away each year. The Bank of American is the key to running in Mid America, in that the race has citizen runners who come back, year after year, and run in weather that is cold, hot, really cold and grossly humid and hot. They must have the desire to train to do it in the Midwest.

Secondly, the potential to learn about a group this size would make marketers at any company drool. A crowd with good pocketbooks, with a high percentage of women, who are focused on training and their lives look good to companies like B of A and Nike. Yes, dear friends, they might like running, but running is a huge business builder and a huge business in North America.

I will be fascinated to see how the training tools that Nike is releasing will be used by this crew of marathoners.

It is early on Saturday morning and I am finishing up the blog from last night. Bob Ramsak, a long time global journalist for the IAAF and Shooting Star Media, Inc. has given us a great weekly review and preview. Ramsak's keen eye for details and his obvious love of the sport is what our readers have come to expect from this Clevelander who lives in Slovenia! Thanks, Bob!

Dear readers,

I am traveling this week. My journeys started in San Jose last weekend, then Portland for two days, then a red eye back to Chicago and Madison, five hours in office and then, off to London. I slept most of seven hours to London and now, ensconced in my room, I am about to channel Robert Mitchum ( Old Heavy Lids, allusion to fatigue, stay with me folks- I am the one traveling).

Before I collapse, two things-one, I wrote two columns on Nike Innovation Summit this week, which was quite cool. Apparently, spell check was not working or my brain was on hold, but I used the term hosed, instead of hosted. It has been corrected and my apologies. I have not used the term, "hosed" since I went to a Doobie Brothers show in 1977 in Chateau Liberte up in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Look, I was wearing Birkenstocks, after a long run in LD 1000s, and my VW bus ran out of gas. I had twelve bucks, and the show was the Doobies, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks and perhaps Maria Muldar. Show cost ten bucks, bought two bucks of gas, drove in neutral down from the Santa Cruz Mountains to San Jose (kids, don't try this at home, first the gas cost $4 a gallon and any good concert is $200 a ticket now). Sorry for the miscues.

Second, in less than 48 hours, I have tried the Nike sportsband in Portland, in Chicago Airport and in London, and very much like it. Here is are my notes:

The lone stop for the Olympic Torch Relay is in San Francisco, California today, April 9, 2008. And with the number of protests planned, the USOC and IOC are announcing the highest level of security for this event ever. Why is this such a surprise?

Nike previewed their product for the 32 Olympic federations and some amazingly innovative products at their Beijing 2008 Global Summit. Over 300 media and 60 plus public relations staffers met on the Beaverton campus to drool over one amazing innovation after another. From weightlifting and taekwondo, to track & field and running, plus basketball and swimming, we in the media were treated to a sensory overload of products and innovation.

The Nike Innovation Summit brought together 300 plus media to the Nike campus in Beaverton, Oregon. Cregg Weinmann and I represented the Running Network at an event that celebrates the athlete and a culture that focuses on the minutae of sport.

A suicide bomber, dressed as a marathoner, killed 12 people, including a Sri Lankan Minister and a 1992 Olympic marathoner this morning.

Politics and sports has been part of global sports for some time. The 1972 killing of Isreali athletes in Munich took politics to a gruesome conclusion. This is thought to be the first time such a horrific thing has happened in a marathon.

Runblogrun.com still believes that sports is supposed to be an activity that brings us together, and does not condone the blatant politicization of sports. This type of message does do honor to any cause. The dead and their families are in our thoughts and prayers.

A special treat for track and field geeks are athlete posters. TFN News does them every issue, and I published a series in American Athletics and American Track & Field over the past sixteen years. American Track & Field did a nice one with Brian Sell, courtesy of Brooks this past Winter, and now, ASICS has joined Shooting Star Media, Inc. to put out a great poster, with Deena Kastor on one side and Ryan Hall on the other!

Some great racing around the world this weekend. I spent a few nice hours at the Stanford Cardinal Invitational, watching to see which athletes would start coming out of the woodwork. A superb American collegiate record at 10,000 meters for women-more on that tomorrow highlighted the distance carnival along some great battles in the men's 10,000 meters.

Note that the next Stanford meeting, the Payton Jordan, will feature Bernard Lagat at 5,000 meters, and some very fast, 10,000 meter races! Come on, May!

Notable competing this weekend was Mike Stember, training in Southern California, who ran a 1:50.34 for sixth place in the 800 meters. Stember, former Stanford stud and school record holder at 800 and 1,500 meters, is making a gallant run for Beijing....

Over my career in the sport of running, which spans, twenty seven years, there are about a dozen people that I would put on my all star team. Keith Peters would be one of them. I first met Keith in 1986, I believe, as I began traipsing around road races at the behest of the publisher of Runner's World at the time, Mike Perlis.

I met Keith, I believe at the Boulder Bolder race in 1986, and Keith was the man behind the scenes at Nike-as the Nike sports marketing manager, Keith helped support some of the most important events and significant athletes of a golden generation. Keith moved into PR in the nineties at Nike, but perhaps his most significant influence was on Nike.com and the way Nike would interact with the media for the coming electronic age. His Nike.com site, in 1995 and 1996, was some of the best content ever produced by a corporation, and also his gentle approach to spin allowed us to truly make our own decisions but also have access to athletes and news. Keith might disagree with me on various matters, but his honesty was refreshing. I can remember the smile on his face, appearing from ear to ear, under a beard which reminded me of one of my favorite professors in seminary.

I had not spoken to my friend in perhaps a half dozen years, when his name came up in reference to green marketing. A perfect place for a man who places honesty before all else.

Here is an interview with Keith Peters, which Keith completed a week or so ago. Read his comments, check out his website. As you will see, there is alot we can do to improve how our sport reacts to the world around us.

Craig Masback is now ensconced in the Nike Campus in Beaverton, Oregon in his new position at Nike. The former CEO of USA Track & Field spent a decade at USA Track & Field and under anyone's microscope, changed the way business was being done in Indy.
Now, the upcoming weekend for USA Track & Field is a bit traumatic, as the move into the new offices and leave their home for the past 28 years. One would understand that this time, with the recent World Cross Country and World Indoor Champs, that beginning a search for the new CEO would not be on the top of the list of things to do, at this time.

However, word on the street is that several highly placed tracksters are noting that the CEO search can go on for quite a long time. Some have even tested the waters about putting off the new CEO until AFTER the Olympics!

This gentle blogger wants to know, what product are these people inhaling?

Bob Ramsak is reporting on the IAAF Council Meeting this week and their decisions on the 2009 championships....

How is that for confidence? The Ethiopian coach, Woldemeskei Kostre wonders outloud if Haile Gebrselassie can make the Ethiopian team at 10,000 meters. Kostre is correct that the team will be difficult to make: Kenenisa Bekele is already selected, so Sileshi Sihine and Abebe Dinkessa and Haile will be on the line in Hengelo, May 24 to provide the selectors with the information that they need to make their decisions.

This brouhaha is all about Haile's concern about the conditions in Beijing in the marathon, making it near impossible for him, with his allergies to run competitively over the 26.2 miles of the Olympic marathon.

Last year, besides a world record and a near world record at the marathon, Haile ran a superb 26:52.1 and was sixth in Hengelo. He is focused on the 10,000 m now, and his
training has shown a strong distance fitness level ( recent half marathon in 59:15), so we shall have to wait the 8 weeks to see how his resolve and his legs do over 10,000 meters. Hengelo should be quite a series of races!

Interesting news in the drug wars...a recent report on the Inside2012 site noted that a new test for HGH will be available in Beijing at the end of the summer. Justin Gatlin will have his day in arbitration with the IAAF at the end of May, but his chances must be considered as slim to compete in the next two years.

My concerns over drug testing are as serious as my concerns over drug use in sports. I am concerned that WADA and USADA use methods that can be replicated and that can hold up in a court of law. Some common sense does have to play in testing, so that, once a test is in place, and the athlete does test positive, that their sanctions can be held up to help younger athletes consider the effects of cheating in sports.

As much as the bars around major track meets abound with which athlete or coach is considered a cheat, the truth is, we just do not know. It is my considered opinion, that drug testing is missing about two to three percent of the cheaters, those who spend the most money and stay one step, or two ahead of the folks at USADA and WADA.

There will always be someone who considers themselves above the law. That is the lesson we have learnt over the past few weeks with not just one, but two governors in one large state on the Eastern seaboard, I believe. And, I am not going to be Diognenes, searching around the streets of Eugene, with a lamp, for clean athletes.

Athletes know who is cheating and who is not. Coaches know, and so do, for the most part, the agents. Or, we have suspicions....

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