USATF Indoor, Day 1-Middle Distance Karma

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The first day of the USA Indoor had one of the best crowds at a US Indoor in many years, but it still was not the crowd of the recent professional meeting, Reebok Boston Indoor Games, held the in early February.

However, there was enough star fire power, and some exciting young athletes to beg the question-why don't we put this meet into two three hour sessions, promote it right and remember that track & field is the ultimate sports entertainment!

The picture above is of Rob Myers winning his third indoor title at 1,500 meters, ( 2004, 2008, and now, 2009), by nine hundredths of a second over Alan Webb! Rob, an Ohio State grad, is training with Ron Warhurst and his group of middle distance studs ( Nick Willis, Nate Brannen, Kevin Sullivan). Myers told the media, " Once I get up for speed, I am hard to get around."

The entire race, with Alan Webb up front, Rob Myers stayed close, with Chris Lukesic way off the back. The pace was pretty pedestrian, which, quite frankly, was due to the absence of Bernard Lagat ( injured).

But, a championship is a championship. John Walker the 1976 Olympic gold medalist at 1,500 meters, told a reporter that he was hoping for a final with several senior citizens-he did not relish a race with kicking, battling, seasoned middle distance runners. The problem is running efficiently. In an indoor race, sitting off the back means that you may have given your competitor twenty to thirty meters, so that when they attack, you are already down. Myers uses that Warhurst Mile 101 tactic--stay in the game, near the front, so you can challenge.

Myers made his move with one lap to go and just did not stop. Alan Webb looked very well positioned, but, as Alan is focusing on the 800 and 1,500 meters this year, he just did not have his top gear. Webb did give it his all, but Rob Myers had his day, and his third 1,500 meter title indoors! Rob Myers noted to the press: " I try to use that to my advantage ( his high end speed), Alan was coming hard at the end and I knew it, so I was just hanging on!"

Rob Myers won his third title by the smallest of margins over Alan Webb- a scant nine hundreths of a second!

The women's 3,000 meters was a fast race from the start. Jenn Rhines took the pace out hard, followed by Lindsay Gallo, Julie Culley, Sara Hall, and Amy Yoder Begley. Jenn Rhines is the little engine that could and should--this women gets more out of her short, but wonderfully efficient stride and she races all out. Lindsay Gallo, who won the Reebok BIG mile here last month, ran relaxed in second and third, looking like the women to beat. Also in that pack was Julie Culley of the NYAC, and Amy Yoder Begley.

Amy Yoder Begley was the third member of our US Olympic team at 10,000 meters. This women, while not an elegant runner, brings the fan in, because she runs big! Amy has a long stride, and her arms reach across her torso, as she seemingly grabs at the air and the next step. She is Emil Zatopek, but much more fascinating to observe.

Yoder Begley took over the pace just after 1,600 meters, and Lindsay Gallo, Julie Culley, Rebecca Donahue stayed close, as Jenn Rhines began to drop back into the pack.

Amy Yoder Begley lead through 2400 meters, and it still looked like Gallo would just stomp on the field with 200 to go, but Amy had other thoughts. Increasing the pace, Yoder Begley took Gallo out of the game with six hundred meters to go. Julie Culley, Sara Hall charged on by Lindsay Gallo with a lap to go, but, but then, it was Amy Yoder Begley's race to win or loose.

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Then Sara Hall just sprinted up along side Amy Yoder Begley with a turn and straightaway to go, would she prevail?

Somehow, Amy Yoder Begley held on, running 8:53.27 for first. In second, Sara Hall ran 8:52.72 for second and Julie Culley held on for third in 8:55.62. Lindsay Gallo ran a fine 8:56.92 for fourth. Afterwards, Amy revealed her race plan ( her coach is Alberto Salazar), : " We were planning on a 1,500 meter easy run. With seven laps to go, I wanted to start to grind them, taking a second each lap and run faster and faster. " And that is what she did. Amy Yoder Begley took the women's 3,000 meter from a very determined field.

In the men's 3,000 meters, it came down to the last lap. Brandon Bethke took the lead with a lap to go, with Jonathan Riley menacing, and David Torrance watching his first shot at a US title dimming.

Bethke and Torrance were neck and neck as they came off the turn. Torrance was trying to gather one last charge, in his head, he told media later, was the words a friend had shouted just before the start of the last lap, : " It is do or die time. Get it. It is yours."

And that is just what the young David Torrance did. In his first shot at a national title, David Torrance delivered, running 7:53.67, to best Brandon Bethke, in second, in 7:54.20 and Jonathan Riley, a hometown boy, who finished third!

Saturday, again, was a strong crowd, with some good early races and a strong and appreciative crowd. Sunday, will bring the USA Indoor and professional season in North America to a close. My contention is that the competition today, with three all out races, is what the sport is all about.

I suggest a shorter time frame, perhaps one good solid, five hour day! Congrats to Rob Myers, Amy Yoder Begley and David Torrance in the middle distances!

All photos by PhotoRun.net. Special thanks to Lisa Coniglio.

For complete results, please check www.usatf.org.

For more on the sport, try www.american-trackandfield.com

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