October 2008 Archives

One of the many roles that James Dunaway plays in our sport, besides editor for American Track & Field and Athletes Only, is the writer of many memorable piece son our sport. This weekend, he is covering the ING New York City marathon for the IAAF.org website. I found several columns, as always, excellent. I have linked to them here with my comments....

One more note on James Dunaway. James has just begun his eighth decade, and is as colorful, acerbic and charming (when he wants to be) as one could wish for in a closed setting like a meda room. Beijing was his fourteenth Summer Olympic Games as a credentialed member of the media. I consider myself
very lucky to have worked with him for the past three years and feel lucky to have him as my mentor, editor of two publications and a good friend...

Abdi Abdirhaman, the Black Cactus

The men's field at the 39th ING New York City marathon is stacked-Paul Tergat, Henrik Ramaala of South Africa, to name a few. The Black Cactus, Abdi Abdirhaman, the US 10,000 meter champion , told James Dunaway, that he is in the best shape of his life in an article linked to this article. Abdi is one of the more colorful characters on the US running scene, a man of true talent, and a guy who likes a good time, Abdi has matured in both his approach to the sport and to his training. His 2:08:56 personal best is,

Paula Radcliffe is the world record holder in the women's marathon. She is also one of the toughest athletes I have ever had the pleasure to watch. Running at her level, from world cross country, to 10,000 meters on the track, to the marathon has taken its toll. Her run in Beijing, in my mind, was as important as her world record runs. In that twenty-third place in Beijing, she gave honor to the Olympic oath, and while she competed in much discomfort, she remembered that the most important part of the Olympic experience is to compete as well as one can on that day. Radcliffe did not win an Olympic medal, but she lived the Olympic oath, and that is what truly counts.

Can Paula Radcliffe break 2:20 in New York? Well, of course, but not with this crowd on her back. This race is going to be tactical. Paula knows the course is tough and she has several athletes aiming for her-Catherine Nderiba, Rita Jiptoo, Gete Wami,
Kara Goucher, Katie Macgregor and Kim Smith.

If anyone is a scene stealer, that is Kim Smith. Watch my next blog and I will tell you why....

Here are just the facts; The greatest athlete of her generation, Marion Jones, for a number of reasons, made the decision to take performance enhancing drugs. It is my belief that she would have won the same medals without those drugs. She lied about taking drugs, to the media, to her fans, to the world for seven years. When caught, she spent six months in jail, a light sentence.

Now that she is out, we get the strange pleasure of seeing her on TV, on Oprah, saying she did not know what she was taking. That is the equivalent of someone saying " I was just following my orders." If you put it down your gullet, or inject same product, most humans know what they are putting in themselves.

If she would have been honest, saying " I did it to make sure I won, I was insecure, I was afraid", she would have been believed. Now, she is trying to fix her reputation-that is long, long gone.

Telling personal and intimate details on a TV talk show is the new memoir. It is also like watching a train wreck--people are drawn to it. But, Ms. Jones, do us a favor and please, please do not write a book about your experiences in jail.

Pat O'Malley has been promoted, and that is great! It is great to see that Saucony has seen the quality, talent and focus he brings to his product portfolio. And it is nice to see a good guy do well.

There is one bone of contention I have with Mr. O'Malley. He and I kid each other each and every shoe review, as he wants to know when he will win the top shoe in two categories, he has won the top shoe while he was at two different companies, but the top shoe, two categories, same company, I believe, should be called, unofficially, of course, the O'Malley.

In the past three weeks, we have seen three guys, Tom Carleo, Fritz Taylor and Pat O'Malley, all at different companies, all doing great things in the industry. That is our lesson for today folks, the companies kicking butt right now are focused, driven, emotional running brands. All three of these guys started out at the swoosh, but they have found homes for themselves in disparate corners of the footwear world, where they can use their talents in concerns much different than what they found in Beaverton. Focus, focus, focus.

Great job, Pat!

In my mind, Oprah Winfrey is the most influential women in the country. Her television show, her magazine, her Book club and her fascinating digital and TV based after show leads the way in terms of bringing women especially to using multi media platforms.

That Marion Jones is on the show is no accident. If Marion wants redemption on this side of the grave, Oprah is the place to start. Do not get me wrong, I think that, in the end, Oprah is entertainment, but she is very careful, much of the time, to use her bully pulpit to promote good causes. Her self control over Barak Obama should be lauded-as the daily TV show lauding her candidate would have, I believe, made the presidential contest a wipe out.

But, Oprah, Marion Jones? Isn't it best that some people a) take their just desserts and b) sit in their cold corner of hell in order that they do not do it again. We shall see how many shows she hits after this....

There is a very small group of capable people in the running footwear business. Many have come through some of the big companies, and have gone on to bigger and better things.

Fritz Taylor is a creative, thoughtful footwear deity. He wears his emotions closely, but his work, his oevre, speaks of his passion for running footwear, and how a company should be managed.

Fritz Taylor's tenures at Nike and Brooks were good for both companies. We wish Fritz the very best at Mizuno USA.

Last night's blog on Kara Goucher did not remind our readers that the ING New York women's field is fairly intimidating--Catherine Nederiba and Gete Wami among them. And do not forget Kim Smith, the other major debut marathoner in the race on the women's side ( watch for upcoming blog on Kim).

Gete Wami is making it very clear-she wants a win at ING New York City this year...

It is not a coincidence that US distance running fortunes, during the era of Bill Rodgers, Alberto Salazar and Greg Meyer were pretty good. Lots of US marathoners, formerly track athletes, were running long distances fast during the seventies and eighties. Hard work paid off. And no one in that generation was afraid of hard work.

The drought at the ING New York City Marathon for American women has been since 1977 when Miki Gorman won the race (she had also won in 1976). Gorman was no one hit wonder. Miki also won Boston twice. It has been thirty-one years since we had an American women win in New York. Many have tried. Deena Kastor has come close, winning in London and Chicago, but no New York or Boston.

Now, we have another attempt, by an American athlete who has run the 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters and will debut over the marathon at New York, racing Paula Radcliffe. Her name is Kara Goucher and she could reinvent the marathon in the U.S., if she wins the ING New York City Marathon. I sure hope that does not put pressure on Kara.....

Lots of news this weekend. Tirunesh Dibaba and Sileshi Sihane were married in Adis Abadda on Sunday. Paula Radcliffe, a half a world away, ran 51:11 at the BUPA Great North Run for ten miles. In Frankfurt, Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot ran 2:07.21 in his first marathon. What does this mean?

For Paula Radcliffe, her agony is being rewarded, by her training focus, with a British record for ten miles. Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot was quite lucky, but his training went well and he is now one of the best marathoners in the world, and Frankfurt has a new course record.

For Tirunesh Dibaba and Sileshi Sihane, although they shared their wonderful, and personal moment with many others, my hope is that, for one moment in their ceremony, they found a moment of clarity, a moment of remembrance, a look that they shared. Those are the moments of life, whether they are on a challenging ten mile course, or in an ancient church, that should be treasured... best wishes for Tirunesh Dibaba and Sileshi Sihane..

This is the first interview of the three candidates for USATF President, Dee Jensen, Bob Bowman and Stephanie Hightower. Ms. Hightower has sent me a note that she is working on the questions. I have heard nothing from Ms. Jensen. I will continue to follow up for her.

This is a very, very important job. Bill Roe will be a tough person to replace. The President of USATF will need to be able to work with the new CEO, the IAAF, the IOC, and the USOC, as well as 90,000 plus USATF members.

The art of politics is an art. The new president of USATF must, in my mind, be able to work well with others, and that includes knowing when to comment and when not to comment.

Jacques Rogge is the President of the IOC. His tenure, since 2001, has been noted for the man's sincere concern about performance enhancing drugs and their effects on the Olympic movement, increasing the standards of ethics in the IOC, and his belief in the importance of the Olympic movement. My biggest issue with M. Rogge is his underestimation of the Beijing LOC, the involvement of the Chinese government in the 2008 Games and the unexpected (for him) media response from the catering to the Beijing LOC.

My hope is that M. Rogge and the IOC has learnt from their experience in China. We shall see how much they learnt from future decisions, n'est-ce pas?

At this time, no candidate to compete with M. Rogge, so it could be a done deal...

A hearty congratulations to Horste Milde, who has given so much to the sport in Germany and has had the visionary power to see what running could be. In his new role, Horste will be able to encourage marathons, big and small, to evolve and see what the future holds for our sport!

The Nike women's marathon and half marathon in San Francisco is in its fifth year. It is a moving street party, a celebration of women in sport, women running and 20,000 plus women in fact. I went out last year and was amazed. The feeling, the excitement, the women, all make the event unique.

The event was and is the antithesis of a big city competitive marathon like the Bank of America Chicago marathon, held on October 12 in the Windy City, also sponsored by Nike in the footwear and apparel categories, or the upcoming ING New York City Marathon, held November 2 in the Big Apple, which is sponsored by ASICS, also in footwear and apparel categories.

Arien O'Connell, a fifth grade school teacher from New York City has run a 3:07 marathon, pretty good in any time and age, but downright fast in this generation of marathoners. The average time across the U.S. is a nudge over five hours in most marathons.

Arien ran with the large group of marathoners, not the so called elite start that Nike had provided for serious racers. The elite start was Nike trying to please everyone, and quite frankly, in this race, they have come pretty darn close to doing that. Ms. O'Connell got into a groove just after the 7 AM start. She started running sub seven minute miles and it felt good!

I remember it well. In February 1974, my three sisters, my brother, our dog, Cromwell and my parents, moved from the relative serenity of Bridgeton, Missouri to San Jose, California. We took the train from St. Louis to Kansas City, then from Kansas City to Los Angeles, where we saw the ocean for the first time. Our final train excursion was from LA to San Jose, California.

We had moved because the US was in a recession, and the Lincoln Mercury plant in Hazlewood, Missouri had sent 72 foreman and their families to Milpitas, California to retool a plant for smaller cars. The culture shock was dramatic. After a year, less than 12 of the families of the foreman remained in California.

Our family thrived. Much had to do with Mom insisting on good schools, a home for us and great friends.

Much of my survival was on my newfound passion-running. The first summer in California, I spent twelve weeks running over 120 miles a week. I ran to Lake Vasona each and every day...or, on days when I was sore, I would run twelve miles on the dirt track at Willow Glen in the morning and an easy six in the evenings.

Running kept me alive..

Dear rbr readers,
I have sent a series of questions out to Dee Jensen, Bob Bowman and Stephanie Hightower, the three candidates for President of USA Track & Field. Bob Bowman was the first to send his questions in, plus his statement of why he wants to run. We will run Dee and Stephanie's responses as they arrive. Please also note, that we interviewed Stephanie this past summer, where she announced that she was running for President of USA Track & Field.

RBR encourages all voting members of USATF to cast their votes in 2008 at the Reno convention. Much is riding on this election. With Doug Logan as CEO, the position of President becomes that much more important. Mr. Logan and the new Prez will have to work together. Checks and balances are fine, but, we cannot afford for the sport to loose years again as other sports evolve. Strong leadership is key for USATF's future, so please read what the candidates have to say and if you have questions, send them to us and we will do our best to get your questions answered...

The roads are very crowded this weekend, as runners of all shapes and sizes, from Columbus, Ohio to Beijing, China lined up and ran or walked 26.2.....

The Morgenpost Dresden marathon is one of the many scenic marathons across Germany. Victah Sailer, the major photographer for the Running Network LLC, asked the marathon communications department to update us on this race.......

Just a quick update on the Beijing and Amsterdam marathons.

The EAA has come up with their plan for changing the face of Athletics in Europe. Included will be more transparent approach to eliminating the scourge of performance-enhancing drugs...

The time for change in our sport is now. In Europe, Sir Sebastian Coe and Jonathan Edwards, world record holder at the triple jump, BBC reporter, are among the key players invited to the European Athletics Convention.

In the U.S. we have Doug Logan traveling around the country, meeting with some of our sports' leaders, meeting with various associations to discuss his plans for USATF. The most recent comments from him, on his blog was about the panel to consider the High Performance programs at USATF.

I am holding my comments on the the new ad hoc committee. Lots of stars there, but without, quite frankly, people who can think past their own self interests, USATF will never grow and prosper.

It is sad, with 1.4 million high school athletes, 3 million plus in track and xc programs in junior highs, and 200,000 in colleges, track & field has the best farm programs in the world. It has been the work of individual coaches, concerned athletes and sponsors ( companies such as Brooks, Reebok, adidas, New Balance, Nike all support training groups around the country ), Running USA, future thinking members of USATF that U.S. distance fortunes are changing.

The world is getting better. We have to stop blaming the U.S. getting beat because the blame is not always because of some suggested pharmaceutical use. Many times, we are out-coached, out-thought tactically and just plain out performed.

We must consider the whole picture, from training camps that truly make sense for the U.S. team-places that allow the athletes to unwind, and have something to do besides overtrain- to the timing of the Olympic Trials. Our Trials are like giving the U.S. athletes two Olympic events in one year!

All of these things, plus putting the US track & field team on consistent TV in non Olympic years mean that the real players have to be brought together-agents, meet directors, athletes, media, sponsors.

Over the past two decades so called Sport meetings have been held, and major players have been excluded, sometimes because they had the wrong logo on their clothes or worked for the wrong sponsor. If this sport is to prosper, then tough questions have to be asked, a true assessment of our assets and a list of the self defeating actions that our sport does each and every day need to be considered.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with the one step (stealing a cuplet from Lao Tse)..our sport needs to begin the process of re inventing itself..

Now is the time for planning for 2009. USATF, European Athletics are all asking the hard questions now, how do we redefine our sport? What are we not communicating about the greatness, the beauty, the simplicity of our sport that the world's sports fans are not seeing? Much is at stake...

We caught up with Josh Rohatinsky at the San Jose airport after his run with Adam Goucher in the San Jose Rock n Roll Half Marathon. Josh and Adam are part of the training group coached by Alberto Salazar for Nike.

Josh is putting in the final preparations for the ING New York City Marathon, where he will run his second marathon. HIs first was at the U.S. Olympic Trials, where he ran so well...

I am still thinking about the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. So, I asked my brother, Brian to post three of my fave Victah photos for some comments.

(Interview with Josh Rohatinsky will be coming up later this week, as he prepares for ING New York!)

Many changes in the thirty first edition of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. With two new sponsors, Bank of America and Nike, Carey Pinkowski would be allowed some leeway for nerves, etc. However, the Executive Director handled the entire weekend with aplomb, and gave the media and assembled masses an example of an man who has survived adversity.....with class and dignity...

On a very warm day, nearly 31,500 of the 35,000 starters made it to the finish of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Evans Cheruiyot and Lidiya Grigoryeva lead the way, running races surprisingly different. Evans went out with two countrymen though a half in 1:02:27, and then broke his final competitor between 30 and 35 kilometers to run a fine 2:06:25 for the win.

Lidiya Grigoreva was in the group of thirteen elite women who hit the halfway in 1:16:02, and she ran five minutes faster for her second half, taking the lead just past
30 kilometers, and busted the fourth ten kilometers, putting nearly two minutes on her competition!

The race team must be applauded for handling the increasing heat, and the volunteers help with the 31,500 finishers. The temperatures went from 65 degrees and 70 percent humidity to 84 degrees and 39 percent humidity by the three hour point! Carey Pinkowski and his team should be appreciated for the magnitude of changes made in one year, and the increased level of support for the citizen runner.

The weather was again part of the story at the 2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, version 31, with a spectacular win by Evans Cheruiyot, in his only second marathon, running a 2:06:25, the thirtieth fastest time on the all time list, after a near suicidal early pace. Lidiya Grigoyeva of Russia, who benefited from the conservative running of the women's elite race, ran her second half five minutes faster than the first, taking the lead at 30 kilometers and winning by two minutes!

But the other part of the race, where nearly 35,000 still have to finish-the citizen runners, even with the heat, has been much better for both runners and the race. The water is cold, there is enough precautions that the criticisms of last year will not be heard in 2008..

The temperature continues to go up, at 78 degrees by ten am, Emmauel Mutai has dropped back five minutes, fifty six seconds in the past ten kilomters-Mutai is in fourth! Timothy Cherigat is in third! And Lidya Grigoryeva is running alone and strong!

The weather at 9:20 AM is 75 degrees on the course, and 48.6 percent humidity..and the men's race is down to Emmanuel Mutai and David Mandago in the lead, with Evans Cheriuyot in some distress...the womens' race is about to change....

The men's race pace is still under 2:05 pace and the field has gone from fifteen to nine to three. The women's pack is down to nine and the weather is getting warmer....

While the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, version 31 was going wit 34,500 starters, the world was running..

Here is our update for Miles 1-6 for both elite fields....

Here is our update for Miles 1-6 for both elite fields....

Good morning from the Bank of America Chicago Marathon coverage! We will be posting the Running Network LLC's coverage of the marathon, something we have done since 1995! If you have comments, thoughts, send me an email at [email protected]

While runblogrun.com is my labor of love to the sport I love, my job is being President of The Running Network LLC. In that role, I am posting this letter on positioning The Running Network LLC for the future.

The Chicago Distance Classic was one of the first races of the running boom. It is appropriate now, that it has become part of the Elite Racing series, who now have eight musical marathons and half marathons.

Elite Racing has also morphed, in that it is now part of the Competitor Group, a media company owned by Falconhead Capital. Elite has lead the way in developing destination events.

While many in the industry are concerned about how travel will be affected for races in the future, I look at it from a different place--I believe that running will continue to grow, with races, running stores and others benefitting. Running is one of the few things we can control in our lives.

Cases in point are the RnR San Antonio, in its first year in November 2008, will have 30,000 runners! I just spoke to the race directors for Tokyo Marathon, who have 260,000 applicants and will take 35,000 runners!

Best wishes to the RockNRoll Chicago half marathon team, and mark your calendars for Sunday, August 9, 2009.

Here is the women's side of the geek stat wars. I will post my predictions for the 2008 B of A race on Friday evening...

True Geek heaven below, sports fans. All of the stats that one would need to figure out who has the best chances in Sunday's Bank of America Chicago Marathon, on the men's side.

As an aside, I had a few minutes with Khalid Khannouchi last weekend at the Elite RnR San Jose Half Marathon. He told me that he was training well, all was feeling good and that he was looking at a few races. Khalid was in San Jose to watch a few young athletes that he was helping with training suggestions...

Short note today, off to Chicago for the B of A Chicago Marathon! Watch for some good info this weekend!

Please enjoy a few photos from the San Jose Rock n Roll half marathon, which was held last weekend, October 5, 2008, for 12,000 runners in the Silicon Valley. The race is festive, with twelve bands and the concert band being Creedence Clearwater Revisted, one of the seminal bands from the Bay Area in the early seventies. The crowd enjoyed the race, the post race festivities and the sssssssss

Paula Radcliffe ran a brave race in Beijing. Just how fit is she, and how fit will she need to be to run with the emerging field at ING New York? Right now, my belief is that the race could come down to Radcliffe, Kara Goucher and Kim Smith, who all possess solid 10,000 meter times, and who are strength runners. That does not count the rest of the field!

But, this weekend is Bank of America Chicago Marathon weekend, so watch for good stuff on that race tomorrow!

Tom Carleo, one of the more colorful and creative members of the running footwear business has just been named General Manager for Running and Outdoor Business at New Balance Athletic Shoes, Inc. Carleo was most recently at Saucony and before that he spent many years at Nike, where he was very involved in the Bowerman line of running shoes, as well as the track and field line. Tom was one of the guys you would see at all of the major events, and his love of the sport, and sense of humor added color to an event.

Carleo is one of the people who loves the business and also the sport. A former BC athlete, Tom qualified for the 1988 Olympic Trials in the 1,500 meters. A quick wit and one that could liven any discussion on the sport and the business of running, Tom Carleo will be a strong addition to the New Balance team.

The new position was announced in a press release, which follows. What should be noted is that Joe Preston is back in the Footwear and Marketing world at NB, and his comments on "Product is the true hero at New Balance" is a good indication that the management at New Balance has noticed that they, like their competition, are battling for every pair of running footwear sold around the globe.

As running seems to be the only part of the footwear business doing well in this global economic nightmere, the competition is bolder than it has ever been. Making a good shoe does not cut it, being nice to the retailer is not enough. An integrated program where great product is enhanced by great marketing, grass roots advertising and strong relationships with the retailer is what is needed for 2009.
New Balance is putting together a strong team. We wish Tom Carleo well with this new endeavor.

Fernando Cabada won the US title held on the Mediatronic Twin Cities Marathon course, in rainy and wind swept conditions, in 2:16.32. In the accompanying Womens 10 Mile Championship, Kara Goucher ran an uncontested 53:16, as she prepares for her marathon debut on the ING New York City course on November 2, 2008...

The marathon season has started! Berlin's world record last weekend was the beginning of the fall racing season. I had just left San Jose's RnR half marathon when I got a minute with Josh Rohatinsky, training well for ING New York and Adam Goucher, who also ran RnR half marathon. Adam gave us an update on Kara Goucher, saying her training is going well and speaking highly of Josh's training as well. Adam is not racing a fall marathon: he will stay running hard this fall until New York and then a break. Kara won the Mediatronic Ten Miler, the US champs today, in a weather challenged 53:16-Kara ran seven miles of the race by herself! Other notable finishers in the Mediatronic Ten Miler was one Alberto Salazar who ran under 68 minutes for ten miles.

Bank of America's Chicago Marathon is coming up this coming weekend, October 12 with a very strong field, as usual! If you are a race director, running store owner or running industry insider, do not forget to rsvp at the B of A/RN Chicago Race Industry Reception!

My brother Brian and I did something we had not done in nearly twenty-five years together. We got up for a road race in my family's hometown, San Jose, California. The half marathon was part of the Elite Racing Rock N Roll series of marathons and half marathons, and in its third year, the race would have over ten thousand runners, as the old San Jose band, Doobie Brothers, used to sing, "taking it to the streets."

Larry Probst, former head of Electronic Arts, a company that revolutionized computer based sports games, has been elected head of the USOC, replacing the enigmatic Peter Ueberoth. What does this mean for the USOC? Well, the business model is changing, and they must get youth of the country to buy into the Olympics. For the Olympics to succeed, they need the 20 to 25 year olds.

He will also be heading the USOC as USATF begins to re invent itself under the ever watchful eye of Doug Logan and whoever the new USATF president will be. Take your pick there, Dee Dee Jensen, Stephanie Hghtower or Bob Bowman...more on that to come....

Two of the finest world records in recent memory, the women's pole vault and the women's steeplechase...

Haile G. just ran 2:03:59. He has the three fastest times ever in marathon history. On January 16, 2009, he will run the Dubai Marathon, trying to break his own world record and pick up an amazing $1 million purse!

If one makes the assumption that Yelena Isinbayeva has dominated her event, the pole vault, like few others, then one can imagine the superlatives that could be used to describe Paula Radcliffe and her relationship with the marathon.

There is a difference. Paula Radcliffe has paid a huge price in her relationship with her event. The training, the racing and the price her body has paid over the years in order for her to run 2:15.25 in 2003.

And then, there is the New York City Marathon. In 2004, Paula Radcliffe collapsed in the women's Olympic marathon, and ten weeks later, came back to win the ING New York City marathon by a step, the closest women's finish in the race's history. Last year, ten months after the birth of her daughter, Paula won ING New York once again!

Radcliffe is an unique athlete. She has been willing to pay the price to reach her athletic heights, and because of that, injuries have plagued her career. Her performance in Beijing, where she ran a 2:32 off less than four weeks of decent training is a lesson in focus. Radcliffe wanted to finish an Olympic marathon, whether she would medal or not. She gave it her all, and she finished. And that was good.

Below is the complete transcript of the Interview that Paula did on behalf of the ING New York City Marathon, to be held November 2:

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