May 2011 Archives

On May 12, Paul Merca, one of our sports most prominent bloggers, and meet announcers took over a daunting task: he had to cover for the late Scott Davis, the dean of American meet announcers.

Paul sent this to me a few weeks ago, and I was clearing off emails last night, after my return from Hengelo and Rome, and thought this would be the way to start the last day of May. Scott Davis was a real friend of the sport, a man with a keen memory, wonderful voice and an sense of humor that, at times, had no socially redeeming value, as the Supreme Court once described pornography. It was at those times, when Scott would begin laughing, his face turning beet red, and his laugh beginning before the punchline, that I found myself closest to him.

We miss you Scott. And hope that, as you watch track this season, with a nice Pinot Noir, sitting next to St. Peter, that you please, please tell him a really dirty joke!

Scott Davis-58026_full-prt.jpgScott Davis, July 2010, photo courtesy of

This is what Paul Merca read before he announced the PAC-10 meet. We are sure Scott Davis was watching from on high. St. Peter, if he was not before, is now a track & field fan (he may even now be a UCLA fan, not sure there, though).  

Jessica Ennis, 2010 AVIVA Gateshead, photo by

Hardee_TreySH_WCh09.jpgTrey Hardee, 2009 World Champs, photo by

Trey Hardee and Jessica Ennis showed that, for 2011, they are the top multi eventers going into Daegu, and also London 2012. Should be interesting to see how both do in Daegu this coming August 2011!

Flag of Hengelo, in Overijssel province, the N...

(Flag of Hengelo, the Netherlands)

It is early on Monday morning, 30 May 2011. I am just about packed up and am finishing some notes on the 2011 FBK Hengelo Games. The meet ended a few hours ago. I spent most of the evening watching a replay on Dutch television of the meet.

The meet, in its 31rst incarnation in Hengelo, was, by all accounts a strong success. World leading marks in the men's shot put, women's 1,500 meters, equal world leader in the men's 110m hurdles.

That is where the statistics stop. For me, a track & field meet is all about the competition. In the sport of track & field, one is only as good as their last performance, and this meet proved that. Maryam Jamal is on a streak in the women's 1,500 meters, and her move from third to take the win on the final stretch was exciting. The men's 1,500 meters was even more agonizing, as the first four runners ran within .4 of a second of each other, fighting to the finishing tape.

The men's shot put had World Champions from 2005, 2007 and 2009 battling with the 2008 Olympic champion, as well as the World Indoor champ from 2008. European medalists and Commonwealth games medalist abound, and, for all of the competitors, it was about the competition, as afterwards, they spent hours challenging each other to games of air hockey, golf and telling bad jokes.

The two 5,000 meter races were fascinating. In the womens' race,  Meseret Defar's leg speed is there and she is rounding into shape very well. But, so are the young runners behind her, and Defar will have to realize that any of those four women could be challenging Defar in Daegu in two months. And many more, but Meseret Defar seems to thrive on the challenge, like many in this sport. 

The men's 5,000 meters had five men together with one lap to go. Yenew Alimarew, the Doha 3,000 meter winner, threw in surges here at 2,600 meters, 3,400 meters and just past 4,000 meters. When it came time to sprint, Alimarew was spent. This was Edwin Soi's race, and his last lap of 59 seconds showed who was king today. Still spent, Alimarew still ran 13:02 and missed the win by less than three seconds! Yenew Alimarew will be dangerous wherever he runs. 

And then, there were the surprises. Danielle Carruthers is one of America's top 100 meter hurdlers. Tonight, she showed it. Hurdling exquisitely, and leaning at the finish, Carruthers needed all of her experience to take this race from Kellie Wells and Dawn Harper, the 2008 Olympic champion, with LoLo Jones, the 2008 and 2010 World Indoor Champion, in fourth.
Besides the men's shotput, the toughtest event to make the World Champs team on will be the 100 meter hurdles.

" I got me a fearless heart..."

Two events, however, made me smile. First, it was the men's pole vault, where some of the best athletes in the sport play chess with their attempts at clearing the bar. Tonight, Tim Lobinger of Germany, and Derek Miles of the US, both, 39 years old, went 1-2 because they a) actually cleared heights, b) assessed the challenges, and picked which heights to gamble on and which heights to hold off.

Lobinger_TimQ-OlyGame08.jpg Tim Lobinger, 2008 Olympic Games, photo by

Then, it was the final race of the meeting, the men's 100 meter finals. Last Thursday night, Kim Collins, the 2003 World Champion, was all but ignored in his 10.12 in taking fourth. The truth was, with the worst start in the race, Collins had moved up to fourth, in a race where Usain Bolt had to put in a real effort to catch Asafa Powell. His performance might have suggested good things to come.

On this cool, sunny Sunday evening, Kim Collins, a sprinter in his early to mid thirties, had a splendid start and capitalized on that early effort, to win the 100 meters from athletes much younger, in a good 10.05.

Collins_Kim14-flag-Worlds03.JPGKim Collins, 2003 World Championships, Paris/St.Denis, France, photo by

After the event, I saw Tim Lobinger, tying his poles on his car, and preparing to drive 600 kilometers to his next competition. He was smiling as I told him that every guy over 30, over 40, hell over 50, was cheering him on, after his victory. Lobinger smiled and laughed.

When I saw Kim Collins later that evening, his smile probably had never left his face since the race ended! Kim Collins recognizes how fortunate he has been as a world class sprinter for over a decade, and now, even in great shape, the wins may not come as often. But tonight, tonight at the 2011 Fannie Blankers-Koen Hengelo Games, Kim Collins, the 2003 World Champion, is on the top of the world. So should Tim Lobinger, and so should Derek Miles. All three have cheated gravity, and defeated athletes a bit younger than them...

Miles_Derek_Pre08.JpgDerek Miles, 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, photo by

Steve Earle, one of the best writers of American country music, once observed, " I got me a fearless heart, strong enough to get you through the scary parts, it's been broken many times before, A fearless heart just comes back for more.."

Track & Field is about highs and lows, times when our words are stuck in our throat, as five runners fight for each inch, trying to get to the finish line first, or, for five straight throws, shot putters just throw the shot out of the ring, farther and farther, until the most emotional thrower of them all, lets go with a scream, begging the sixteen-pound metal ball to defy gravity and go, farther, and farther, until we all become just, well part of the throw, and, as we yell our encouragement when the shot hits with a single Thud, we let out a collective roar, as we have seen an athlete at his or her best, and we have witnessed a hard fought victory.

The pursuit of track & field disciplines makes absolutely no sense in this modern world. And, in that senselessness, comes the importance of running, jumping and throwing. Every time we run, jump, or throw, that little voice of practicality that is everywhere, gets quieter and quieter. The Greek poet Plutarch was right, as he once noted, a few thousand years ago,  " I would rather excel in the knowledge of that is excellent, than in the extent of my power and possessions."

A 10.05 100 meters is excellent, as is a pole vault of 18 plus feet, or a 5,000 meters run under 4 minutes and 20 seconds a mile, or yes, a seventy foot shot put throw.

Most humans will never achieve such performances. However, it is while at a sporting event, that we become something other than ourselves, for those few hours, we find importance in the strangest things-running, jumping and throwing.
Kim Collins, Tim Lobinger ( and yes, Derek Miles) all pursued senseless activites, and all have fearless hearts...and we are all better for those facts....

Fannie Blankers-Koen Stadium, photo by Bob Ramsak/

The 2011 Fannie Blankers-Koen Hengelo Games have been a fixture on the European circuit for the past 31 years. A combination of tremendous global compeitition and supporting Local athletes, the meet management (Meet Director Jan Arie Bijl) even controlled the weather as the sky cleared, and while a bit windy, the conditions are perfect.

RBR will be covering this meet LIVE, as we did the Compeed Rome Golden Gala. Special thanks to adidas for their support. Please check back for updates!

Reese Hoffa, 2009 Nike Pre Classic, photo by

Armstrong_DylanR-Doha11.jpgDylan Armstrong, 2011 Doha DL, photo by

In the shot put competition at the FBK Hengelo Games, held in downtown Hengelo, Reese Hoffa ended the six meet winning streak of Dylan Armstrong, with his world leading 21.87 meter throw! Tomasz Majewski took second with a throw of 21.39m and Christian Cantwell continued to improve, with his seasonal best of 21.15m.

I watched the shot put, as I arrived about six pm on Saturday, on local TV, which showed the best throws of all top six and the awards! Looking forward to the FBK Games to be starting 4 pm, local time on Sunday, 29 May. RBR will be there, looking forward to covering it for you!

Caster Semenya, 2009 WC Berlin, photo by

In the IAAF World Challenge Meeting, Grand Prix IAAF de Dakar, there were some strong performances. Just two days after competing in the Compeed Golden Gala Roma, Shawn Crawford ran 20.58 to win the 200 meters in Dakar.

Caster Semenya, the 2009 World Champion in 800 meters, won the 800 meters in Dakar, Senegal in 2:00.61. Semenya will run next week, June 4, in Eugene, Oregon, at the Prefontaine Classic.
Dayron Robles, 2010 Lausanne, photo by

Jamal_MaryamFV-Rome11.jpgMaryam Jamal, 2011 Compeed Golden Gala, Roma, photo by

Alamirew_YenewFV-Doha11.jpgEliud Kipchoge, Yeneh Alemerew, Edwin Soi, 2011 Doha, photo by

Kellie Wells, Dawn Harper, 2011 Compeed Golden Gala, Roma, photo by

The 2011 FBK Hengelo Games, are, for the 31rst year, in honor of Fannie Blankers-Koen, the most famous Dutch athlete in athletics history. In 1948, Fannie won gold medals at 100 meters, 200 meters, 80 meter hurdles and 4 x 100 meter relay. Over here career, Blankers-Koen won four European Championships, and set her last of 12 world records at the age of 34 (1951), and that was in the pentathlon! Fannie Blankers-Koen died, in 2004, at the age of 85.

The track is also named after Fannie Blankers-Koen and the facility sits 15,000. RBR will cover the meeting live tomorrow and also follow up with my real and perceived appreciations of the various events!

Special thanks to the Meet management in Hengelo for their help in getting me to this event!

There should be some amazing events tomorrow. The women's 1,500 meters and 5,000 meters should be very fast, as should the 100 meter hurdles, which is a replay of the 2011 Rome 100m hurdle race.

On the men's side, the studs from the 2011 Doha DL 5,000 meters should be here and that means fast distance running. The men's discus field is a who's who of the discus: Alekna, Harting lead the list! Robles & Trammell should be waging a war over the 110 meter hurdles.

I spent most of the day traveling from Roma to Hengolo, and have to admit to a certain amount of exhaustion. So, I bid you adieu for this evening, and I will look forward to sharing track geek heaven tomorrow!

Murer_Fabiana-WorldInd10.jpgFabiana Murer, 2010 World Indoor Champs, Doha, photo by

Fabiana Murer cleared 4.65m and made three game tries at 4.72m, giving her the world leader in the women's pole vault for 2011's early outdoor season. Melanie Walker is rounding into shape, running 54.09 for the 400m hurdles in Rio as well. Please enjoy the complete results!

Bolt_UsainPC1a-RomeDL11.jpgBolt Mania, 2011 Compeed Golden Gala, Roma, photo by

My love of track & field began with watching the 1968 Mexico Olympics on TV with my father, in our kitchen, in St. Louis, Missouri. I recall seeing Bob Beamon setting the world record. I remember, on that black and white TV, the emotion revealed by Beamon when he set the WR: I was transfixed.

My running in high school, college and then coaching, just cemented the love of the sport. In my mind, track & field has everything: drama, competition, great stars, great stories. It is through that love of the sport, that fascination with the small details that I try to reveal in my writing, that I try and communicate the uniqueness of athletics to you, our readers. 

For decades, my friends have told me about the Golden Gala, about Hengelo, about Zurich, Lausanne, London, you name it, the key idea was track meets in Europe.

Howe_Andrew-Rome11.jpgItaly's own, Andrew Howe, taking the 200 meters, 2011 Compeed Golden Gala, Roma,
26 May 2011, photo by

My first meets, outside of World Championships, in Europe, were seeing the AVIVA meetings, and asking Ian Stewart lots of questions about his meetings. I was fascinated (still am), how his team draws in such strong crowds of sporting fans, and the precision with which the meetings are run.

This is my first time to the Eternal city. I have one day to tour before I head to Amsterdam and view the FBK Hengelo Meeting, so I am going to try and visit some of the main sites. However, i will be back to Rome, many times, I hope.

The 2011 Compeed Golden Gala, Roma, has lived up to all of my expectations, and then some! A tight scheduled meet, with three hours of real competitive sport, which had something for everyone.

Usain Bolt was a huge draw, but it was the whole competition that was tremendous. From the shot put (best field around), to Blanka Vlasic in the high jump and Renaud Lavillenie in the pole vault, to Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross running a gutty 200m/400m double, to the women's 100m hurdles, to Phillips Idowu's WL triple jump, to the crowd-pleasing victory by Andrew Howe, in the 200 meters, the meet was, well, spectacular.

Vlasic_Blanka-Rome11.jpg Blanka Vlasic, 2011 Compeed Golden Gala, Roma, photo by

I loved the closeness of the 100 meters, the gritty battle between Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell, and the electricity in the crowd when Bolt arrived. I have to admit that Imane Merga and Isaiah Koech battling in the 5,000 meters, and the relentless pace was mesmerizing for me. I also followed the women's long jump and Men's shot, round by round. I was fascinated to see Brittney Reese pull out the 6.94m jump and Funmi Jimoh battle it out.  I love the honesty of the men's shot put: no quarter given, none asked. Armstrong, Majewski, Hoffa, Cantwell, Nelson, all tough competitors, and they, like the women 100m hurdlers, compete against the best nearly event meeting they attend. Bianca Knight showed, once again, that she is quite dangerous over 200 meters, and is becoming a real medal contender.

Nice to see Aretha Thurmond throw well and Kara Patterson throw the javelin as well. Like distance runners, US field eventers, need the competitions to get a feel for their competitors. Thurmond and Patterson, Patterson especially, continue to grow as throwers getting more experience with their toughest competitors. For that, they must throw in Europe.

In closing, I wanted to thank the meet management at the Compeed Golden Gala, Roma: Meet Director Anna Ricardi, Elite Coordinator Bettina
Borner and Media Manager Marco Sicari. A masterful meeting, and superb media conditions, probably my best seating ever (50 meters into 100 meters, with good colleagues nearby. A special thanks to Bettina Borner, who has been gently encouraging me to attend for years-you were right, amazing meet.

Fidal and the Italian Olympic committee should be pleased as well, as they explore an Italian bid for a future Olympics, the sporting world can see first hand, that 47,000 plus fans at the 2011 Compeed Golden Gala Roma only portends what the Eternal City can do to host a future Olympics. 

Special thanks to Franco Favo, one of Italy's great runners and an even greater writer, who graciously helped me figure out how to get to the media area, and who knows everyone. Seeing Franco in his own country makes him even more grand a figure.

And with that, I bid you good day, and thanks once again for sharing my travels and viewings of the world's greatest sport! 

Arrevedirci !
Fabiana Murer, 2011 World Indoor Champs, photo by

Fabiana Murer cleared 4.65m in Brasil yesterday, the new world leader in the women's pole vault. Melanie Walker ran 54.09 for the 400m hurdles, to take the world leader in her event as well!

We were remiss in not congratulation Isaiah Koech on his new World Best for 17 years olds at  5,000 meters, 12:54.59! Remember, Isaiah woke us up this past winter when he ran his 12:53.29 for the World Junior indoor 5,000m as well, in Stuttgart!  
ASICSBlandSlogan_3D-copy.jpgAnnie Adams is the new Athlete Manager at ASICS America. She has been in the Volleyball promotions position at ASICS recently. Annie steps into the position left open when Ben Cesar, the long time Athlete Manager at ASICS America, left ASICS to join the Nike sports marketing team.

Over his tenure at ASICS America, Ben Cesar developed into one of the most visible athletics promotion managers in our sport. Cesar was able to develop, dollar for dollar, one of the best rosters in the sport, focusing on athletes that could be used by the ASICS brand to promote their brand, their involvement in the sport and who resonated with young sports fans. Among the ASICS athletes were Ryan Hall, Sara Hall, LoLo Jones, Kara Patterson, Greg Nixon, and of course, Deena Kastor. Cesar's comment to RBR was that, as a performance brand, with many places to be, ASICS had to get more out of their budgets than most: ASICS needed athletes who could help the brand grow. 

ASICS also developed some unique programs to reach out to cross country and track athletes, from posters of LoLo Jones & Kara Patterson, to one of the largest poster promotions ever, 800,000 posters of Deena Kastor and Ryan Hall, prior to the 2008 Olympic Games. Their ASICS summer cross country training logs, published over the past seven years, are another very popular program, using ASICS athletes and promoting the ASICS brand. 

RBR welcomes Annie Adams to our sport.  Her experiences in media and other sports will give her some new ideas to approach our sport, which is always welcome and needed. Annie Adams is working for one of the truly iconic brands in our sport and with a great team and some tremendous athletes.

We wish Annie Adams the best of luck. 
Richard Thompson, Usain Bolt, Christophe Lemaitre, 2011 Compeed Golden Gala, Roma, photo by

This was my first night in Roma, ever, and it lived up to the billing that I had given it all of these years. Fidal (the Italian Federation) and the Italian Olympic Committee, I have been told, really upped the game this year. They were rewarded with one of the best nights of track & field that I can remember in my 35 years of being a track geek.

The setting, was, well, glorious. The Stadio Olympico is imposing and a huge setting for any sporting event. Right next to the Stadio Olympico is the 1960 Olympic track site, which was being used as the training track for Thursday evening's festivities.

The crowd of 47,000 plus was enthusiastic and knowledgable. They were also remarkably young, which gave me much solace. Lots of young track fans!

Andrew Howe, 2011 Compeed Golden Gala, Roma,
photo by

Who were they here to see? Usain Bolt, Andrew Howe received much of the applause. Their local hero, a World Champs medalist, Andrew Howe is finally on the comeback trail.

Merga_Imane-Rome11.jpgMerga wins 5,000 meters! 2011 Compeed Golden Gala, Roma, photo by

 The only down time for the crowd, the entire night, was the men's 5,000 meters, as no local runners were in the event.  Not that Imane Merga's WL was not fun to watch for track geeks. The 2011 World Cross Champion and 2010 Samsung leader is exciting to watch. However, how to we satisfy the quest for fast times and the interest for local heroes? The local identity brings in new fans. This is one of our sport's true challenges. And this was a perfect night for fast distance races, as seven men under 13:00.6 for 5,000 meters can attest!

Robinson_KhadevisFV-Rome11.jpgKhadevis Robinson, 2011 Compeed Golden Gala, Roma, photo by

 The biggest surprise of the night may have been  Khadevis Robinson, who won the 800 meters, having built a strong lead off the final stretch. Our lesson of the evening-it is all about the competition, and Robinson's stretch run entertained and challenged many middle distance fans.  

The third stop of the 2011 Samsung Diamond League showed our sport at its best: great competition and new stars draw the fans. The 2011 Compeed Golden Gala, Roma, would have made the late IAAF President, Primo Nebiolo quite proud, I believe.

The current IAAF President, Lamine Diack, was in attendance, and seemed quite pleased with this great night of Athletics in the Eternal city.

Lananna_Vin-USOlyT08.JPGVinn Lananna, 2008 US Olympic Trials, photo by

Let's make it very clear. Vinn Lananna and his team gave us the 2008 Olympic Trials, one of the best events most track fans will ever remember in their lives. His resurrection of both the Stanford programs, and now the Oregon program, made Lananna a poster-boy for the possible new CEO position for USA Track & Field, in many observers' minds.

Speaking very honestly, in the heralded site, Lananna admitted being interviewed for the USATF CEO position, but believing that he was serving his sport best, at this time, championing track & field at the country's most visible track program, he decided that it was best to stay on at Oregon.

My belief is that Vinn can do whatever he sets his mind to. We need good, creative people in the key positions in our sport. Lananna is positioned to support our sport at Oregon and also with the support he receives from that little footwear company based in Beaverton with the swoosh.

For Vinn Lananna, and the sport he loves, he made the right decision. And yes, I am looking forward to see how fast Andrew Wheating runs this season! 

Usain Bolt, 2011 Compeed Golden Gala, Roma, photo by

In a setting that may be the most magnificent setting for a track meet in the world, Usain Bolt opened his season for the year 2011. It was not elegant, it was not smooth, but it was a win, as Usain Bolt showed that even track gods have to come back to earth and run with the humans.

Usain Bolt did not have one of his best starts, but, Usain put in the effort, and it showed. Powering away after seventy meters, it took a strong effort for Usain to get past a very fit Asafa Powell, who had a strong start and ran one of his best races in the past four years.
Usain Bolt won in 9.91 and Asafa Powell took second in 9.93. One of the true highlights of the evening! And there were many highlights!

In the end, Usain Bolt enthralled 47, 722 fans, who came to see him and their Italian stars. Andrew Howe served his Italian countryman well by winning the 200 meters, his first healthy race in nearly three years!
Usain Bolt, 24 May 2011, photo by

The 2011 Rome Compeed Golden Gala is six hours from now. As part of your entertainment, I have attached the info on the schedule and starting lists:

We will begin posting info in about one hour. First, with my predictions on the meet, and final notes, and then, event by event.
Allyson Felix, 2010 AVIVA London, photo by

Allyson Felix is one of the biggest stars, and also most talented athletes in our sport. Under the careful eye of Coach Bobby Kersee, Felix has developed into one of the most powerful long sprinters in the world. Over 200 meters, Felix and VCB have dueled to the delight of track fans for the past eight years.

Felix may be even a better runner over the long sprint that is the 400 meters. In her desire to seek new challenges, Felix is running the 200 meters and 400 meters at the Rome Compeed Golden Gala, the third stop on the 2011 Samsung Diamond League tour.

Felix will be running at the Stadio Olympico against Sanya Richards-Ross, the 2009 World Champion at 400 meters, in both the 200 and 400 meters this evening. With a strong crowd promised, glorious weather, the meet should be amazing and RBR will provide you updates, per event, real time, LIVE (2 pm EST, 3 pm CST, and 5 PM PST in the States).

We look forward to covering the 2011 Rome Compeed Golden Gala for our readers!
Stephanie Hightower-possible new USATF CEO?

Updated 26 May, 2011

In a recent column by noted sports columnist Philip Hersh, (, Steve Miller, Head of USATF Search Committee, noted coach, former Nike sports marketing exec and Agassi Foundation director, provides several of the options available to the board of USA Track & Field in finding a new CEO for USA Track & Field.

There are four options as Miller tells Hersh. It is here that Miller floats the worst kept secret in the sport, the possible naming of Stephanie Hightower as acting CEO or new CEO as one of the four options that Steve Miller discussed with Phil Hersh. 
Miller was quite explicit in his discussion with Mr. Hersh, overall, many who read it told RBR that it was obvious that Mr. Miller was, perhaps, testing the waters, to see what the reactions would be to the various scenarios. 

The reason it is worst kept secret, is that our sport, being a terminal rumor mill, has been throwing Ms. HIghtowers' name, among few others, around since last Fall. Kudos to Stephanie Hightower, who has handled the perfect storm with grace, and candor. Part of that gift is to not respond and focus on the job at hand, which is what Stephanie HIghtower has done, over the last seven to eight months.

The big fear? That Ms. Hightower will be compared to a former CEO of the US Olympic committee, with the first name of Stephanie, was noted by Mr. Hersh. Probably so, but after first examination, that comparison should be over. Hightower knows our sport, I am not sure what relevance Ms. Streeter had to the USOC: Ms. Streeter surely had little or no global relevance. That is not the case with Ms. Hightower.

After a good night sleep, it still makes sense to me to give Stephanie Hightower the opportunity to lead this sport. Here is a women who came up through our sport's ranks, has raised money for education in Columbus, Ohio, and has honed her political skills in the mine-laden fields that are USA Track & Field. And, her knowledge and access to sport key players on a global stage, is also important, and quite frankly, needed. Friends and associates will tell you that HIghtower misses nothing, and her keen mind and ability to motivate would be key differences with the past position holder.

We spent the last two plus years with a CEO who promised the world, and delivered very little. In looking at Mr. Logan's tenure forensically, the scary thing, in my mind, is how much pressure there was on the former board and search group from outside USA Track & Field. We need someone who knows our sport, loves our sport, and quite frankly, wants the job. Let's face it, the job can become a quagmire, with competing interests from various constituencies within the sport.

In my mind, USA Track & Field is at a critical juncture. We have an opportunity to make our sport much larger by joining the national need to curb healthcare costs. If USATF can get into supporting PE across the country, anti obesity programs, and making elite athletes spokes persons and role models, our sport can grow to where it should be. We have the sports of track & field which has little or no relationship with road running, a discipline of the sport, while growing, celebrates fund raising as the major raison d'etre, and is thousands of little fiefdoms with few working together.

We have an elite sport that needs some creative approaches to get us on TV, promote our heroes and make the sport relevant to sports fans. Stephanie Hightower, in my mind, gets it.

Craig Masback took us back from the abyss. When Craig Masback left, he was exhausted from the day to day strain of bringing a sport back from financial or near financial ruin. The pressure from the USOC to find someone who "looked the part" and was not from track & field got us Mr. Logan. Logan, while well meaning, showed that having little or no support within the sport would doom any leader or potential leader. The last two years, have been lost, under the past leadership. Let's get a CEO named so that we can get focused on upcoming opportunities.

Yes, there were several candidates that USATF looked at, and for reasons known, at least now, only, to the board, did not make the cut, or take the job. Rumors abound. Vinn Lannana was one, of course, but others, who have current jobs, did not make the cut or did not take the job.

Why would someone not take the job? The job of CEO of USA Track & Field means that, if you are doing your job well, you have antagonized at least half of your constituency on a good day, and more on a bad day.

If the board sees Hightower as the candidate who can answer the sports needs at this time, then, please stop the agony,  and make a decision. While the federation is running relatively well right now, a leader is needed, for many reasons.

RBR humbly
asks the USATF Search committee to get on with the decision, now that Mr. Logan's case is settled, and name a CEO.  This search has taken way too long.

Usain Bolt and Rome DL mascot, photo by

Usain Bolt could be elected President of Italy today. The world record holder at 100 meters and 200 meters is opening his season on 26 May and he is highly quotable. Bolt is a different athlete than the one we saw in 2007, or 2008, or 2009. He has a much more lucrative PUMA contracted (rumored to be $25-$29 million extension over four years), a larger following and a sport that needs great stars and competition. On Thursday, Bolt will compete against Asafa Powell and Christophe Lemaitre. Note the questions, and answers from Mr. Bolt in the following press conference notes. Photos are revealing as well, thanks again to our friends at, who sent these to me about 3 in the morning, New York time.

Bolt_UsainPC-RomeDL11.jpgUsain Bolt and his race poster, 2011 Compeed Rome Golden Gala, photo by

Usain Bolt knows better than anyone, that 2011 is a year when the competition is all here. Powell, Blake, Gay, Lemaitre, and some new surprises. In this sport, one is only as good as their last race. The great leveler is the track. Performances do not lie. The good news, nothing in May matters, but getting one into racing shape. The races get more important as we get going into June, July, and yes, August....

Bolt_UsainPC1a-RomeDL11.jpg             Usain Bolt, 2011 Rome Compeed Golden Gala press conference, May 24, 2011,
photo by

Just look at that photo! This is the real thing! Usain Bolt is opening the 2011 season in Rome and the press is there! Bolt, through his fast running, but almost as important, his youthful style and humor, has reached out to the global sports populace, especially the young sports fans. Put him in a race with Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay, and you have a race of global proportions.

Bolt seems a bit nervous, but that is natural for so early in the season. The Samsung Diamond League will benefit from the World Champs year as will the World Champs. I have to admit, I dream of four races a year where the big sprinters meet up, and the big milers and big throwers, and they are all there....

Yours truly is in Dusseldorf, at 3:20 Central US time, 10:20 in Germany, and I am, well, functioning. Some great races to see in Rome, and I will keep you updated!

Joan Benoit Samuelson & Grete Waitz, 2005 ING NYCM, photo by

Grete Waitz was a quiet women, who lived her life with dignity and gave up her life with dignity. Besides being a trail blazing athlete-Waitz, like Shorter, made the marathon a real pursuit-and Waitz was a total cross country goddess, Grete was very thoughtful about her sport, her life and her husband, Jack.

That the adidas Grand Prix is saluting Grete on June 11 and that the New York Road Runners Club is joining in and also doing a year long remembrance of Grete just begins to show the influence on the modern sport of running that Grete had.

My belief is that, without women like Grete Waitz, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Jacqueline Hansen, Nina Kusick and many others, the sport would note have embraced women as it has.

Dwain Chambers, 2011 Euro Indoor Champs, photo by

The season is starting to heat up, as sprinters are opening their seasons, and getting some smart times in for May 2011. RBR, as you know, is off to Rome to see Usain Bolt open up, among other great early season races.

Christophe Lemaitre ran 10.06 for 100 meters on May 22, and Teddy Tamgho has jumped 17.59m for the triple jump!

Congrats again to the athletes who ran so well at the Oxy High Performance Meet this past Saturday, where 11 men were under 3:39, 12 women under 4:14 and the fastest collegiate 800 meters since 1996!

Usain Bolt, Doing his Pose, 2009 Greece, photo by

One of biggest draws in our sport, Usain Bolt, is opening his season at the 2011 Rome Golden Gala, to be held Thursday, May 26. The Rome Compeed Golden Gala has some tremendous competitions on Thursday and RBR will be there! I am at the airport, as we speak, heading to Dusseldorf tonight and Rome tomorrow! RBR will tweet the meet live and also follow up with several good stories that will come out of the Rome Compeed Golden Gala!

Okay, our friends at PUMA Running are at it again. Combining professional wrestling, the devil takes the hindmost mile and racing over 5,000 meters, PUMA sent us this video on how to spice up a 5,000m race! The key idea is that goofy things like this, will bring the sport of track & field to potential sports fans. The video is loose, and will get young athletes and athlete wanna be's wanting to check out the Battle Royale! A tip of the hat to PUMA.
John Godina, 2008 Reebok  NYC Grand Prix,
photo by

John Godina, one of most experienced throwers in U.S. history, has developed the John Godina Throw Center as well as a series of training clinics. If you are a coach or athlete, we suggest you just hop the Greyhound bus and get down to the nearest one!

Godina know how to throw and has been teaching throwers how to train, how to throw and how be better throwers. This note announces that Don Babbitt, one of our best coaches on throwing in our country, will be working with John on coaching clinics.

If we were suggesting gently before, now, we will tell you. This is
a must go to, so read the info, sign up and tell us all about it!
Occidental College

Image via Wikipedia

The High Performance meeting held at Occidental College on Saturday night, May 21, 2011 has given us some excellent performances to begin drooling about. Katie Follett of Brooks Racing, continues to move up the American middle distance food chain with her second superb performances of the year. After winning the Payton Jordan 1,500 m on May 1, Katie Follett has come back and won her second big 1,500 meters of 2011, with the national leading time and also, her personal best, in 4:07.44. Follett made her big move with 250 meters to go, and took the win over Phoebe Wright. Trenier Moser made a smart move, going by Wright, with Moser in second in 4:08.10 , and Wright in third in 4:08.60. Shannon Rowburt was ninth in 4:11.67!

The men's 800 meters was pretty impressive as well. Cory Primm won a hotly contested 800 meters in 1:44.71, by Cory Primm, who ran the fastest time by a collegian since 1996! Tyler Mulder ran 1:44.83 for second, with David Torrence running 1:45.43 for third and Russell Brown, running a pb of 1:45.83 and Duane Solomon running 1:45.86 for fifth place! 

The final event of the evening was an epic 1,500 meters, where Andrew Wheating ran his personal best in 3:36.46. Kyle Miller ran 3:36.82 for second. Nathan Brannen finished third in 3:36.98, with Lopez Lomong in fourth in 3:37.01 and Will Leer in fifth in 3:37.01 as well! Andrew Bumbalough, who had run a great 5k in March, ran 3:37.15 her, with NIck Symmonds finished in eight in 3:38.10 (personal best). Note Leo Manzano in ninth in 3:38.26. Evan Jager continues to improve, running 3:38.80 and Matt Tegenkamp, fresh off his 27:28 for 10,000m, runs 3:41.72!

Betty Heidler, 2010 SPLIT/World Cup, photo by

The season has it's first outdoor World record of the season! Betty Heidler, Germany's top hammer thrower, had a superb series and has pushed the bar up in the women's hammer in 2011!

Please check the link to see Betty Heidler's WR  jump:

Karnazes_Dean-Hartford06.JPGDean Karnazes, Hartford, CT, photo by

To say Dean Karnazes is unique, well, is an understatement. Karnazes recently ran from California to New York City, in 75 days! Over 3,000 miles, running between 40 and 50 miles a day. Karnazes is remarkably old school, but with a better understanding of branding and marketing than many heads of marketing at major global brands.

Time magazine named Dean Karnazes one of 100 most influential people in the world. This is where some people get a bit queasy. The man does not stop moving or talking about moving! Dean is self-promoting, but, he does it in a charming way, and also he has great causes. He has created a brand around himself that is embraced by runners and want to be runners alike. 

RBR spoke to Dean on Friday, May 21, to get an understanding of his love of movement, his role as ambassador of Dick's National Running Month, and his thought on running for young teenagers and adults.  (Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher are the other ambassadors). We also wanted to try and get some understanding of a man who understands personal branding better than anyone but Donald Trump.

Karnazes had been involved in running when he was pretty young. " I had run home from school, back and forth, since Kindegarten." noted Dean. " I ran as a young high schooler, but then did not run for fifteen years."

And this is where the story gets riveting, so hold on...." I was at my 30th birthday party, at a bar..." noted Dean. " I told my friends how I missed running. They told me that I was drunk." related Dean, as he laughed. " I went out and started running, and did not stop until I had completed thirty miles...I stumbled the first fifteen miles, then, I cursed the next fifteen miles. It took me seven plus hours to finish thirty miles, but I have not stopped since then."

Since then, Karnazes has run 50 marathons in 50 states,  and various fetes of amazing endurance. He has become Mr. Endurance for many, and writes for all of the major running magazines. It is not hard to get caught up in the whirlwind that is Karnazes, a man who is on the mission of making everyone in America get off their butts and move. For example, in his run across America, the event publicity helped him raise $177k for Action for Kids, a non-profit he supports. 

Dean is everywhere. At the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, while most were finishing the race one time, Dean ran the course start to finish and finish back to start, 52.4 miles in one day, as a promotion for VW, a sponsor
for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Dean is a public relations teams' dream. He is good looking, well-spoken, extremely fit and believes in both his running and his goal of making America move. We wish Dean much success: he is on a mission to get us all moving. So, go take a walk or run after your read this!  

We spoke with Dean on Friday, May 21, as Dean was doing interviews for the Dick's Sporting Goods Running Month.

NRM Logo.bmp

USA Track & Field

Image via Wikipedia

In a story, released on by long time sports correspondent Gene Cherry, Doug Logan, former CEO of USA Track & Field and USA Track & Field, have reached a settlement in the wrongful termination filing made by Logan last Fall. The story was posted in past few hours.

The story, which can be read in its entirety on the and websites:  (, quotes a settlement filed in US courts noting that either party had the right to file a response within the next 30 days. The filing is part of the public record and available to anyone researching the category. 

Doug Logan replaced Craig Masback as CEO, after a several month search process that was questioned forensically, in July 2008. Less than two months before his termination, Logan received a substantial raise, which sources within USATF, while defending, noted that the raise was regrettable, considering the circumstances.

In September 2010, Doug Logan was not renewed as CEO of USA Track & Field. This began a series of actions, from the lawsuit by Logan, to a settlement offer of $500,000 to Logan from USA Track & Field (as noted in the story), which was refused.

While the Reuters story does not suggest the amount of the settlement (such is the normal procedures in such legal affairs), educated conjecture would suggest that Mr. Logan will, after paying his legal support, walk away with approximately one million dollars for his time and issues.

The settlement, which happened earlier this week, has been confirmed by several sources and met with complete quiet from USA Track & Field and Mr. Logan, per Reuters.

Hopefully, the issue of USATF leadership will now be able to be addressed and a CEO named in the not so distant future. The settlement obviously was run by the USOC and large sponsors, so that this should be a done deal.

One wonders, however,  if the CEO announcement will follow only after Mr. Logan signs the settlement and collects the settlement check. It is imperative, for the success of the future CEO and the presentation of the brand that is USA Track & Field, that this settlement is final and goes far, far away into the world that is search engines.

Stay tuned for further updates.....

Thorkildsen & Pitkamai, 2010 adidas Grand Prix, photo by

Andreas Thorkildsen, one of the two best throwers in the world, will rest for the next two weeks, due to an injury attained while throwing in Shanghai last Sunday. Thorkildsen is one of the most popular athletes in our sport, and we wish him a speedy recovery!
Reese_Brittany-Paris10.jpgBrittney Reese, 2010 Areva Paris Meeting, photo by

Congrats to Brittney Reese, World Champion, indoor & out, in the long jump, who graduated from college on May 14. Brittany graduated from the University of Mississippi, with a degree in English and a minor in Psychology!

adidas Grand Prix continues to add more prep superstars to the adidas Golden Spikes dream fields, scheduled for June 11, 2011. Note that Blanka Vlasic will be jumping as well!

Blanka Vlasic, 2009 Greece, photo by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ASICSBlandSlogan_3D-copy.jpg
In doing some research on the new CEO at ASICS America, Kevin Wulff, one former colleague noted several times, " Kevin is all about the big picture, he has big ideas and big goals."

Well, Kevin Wulff, who, in a very cordial telephone conversation two weeks ago, agreed to an interview with, has come out swinging.

And well, he should. ASICS America, which has had nearly fifteen years at the top of the performance running food chain, is beset with challenges from old competitors and new! The lightweight shoe category is flying out doors as each brand reacts to minimalism, barefoot running, lightweight or their approximation of it.

The key in this industry is to be nimble, but careful not to react for reaction's sake. The big goals, the big plans are part of the daily battle to be one of the top running footwear brands in the world.

Image representing NBC Universal as depicted i...

Image via CrunchBase

In a confirmed story, first broken in the New York Times, and then confirmed by both NBC Universal and the USOC, Dick Ebersol, the architect of modern Olympic sports coverage, from 1984 until now, has resigned from NBC.

Sources were at pains to note that this has nothing to do with Comcast's rumored need to cut expenditures, and among the major cuts would be the Olympic involvement of the new NBC.

Ebersol's departure is rumored to be over the remuneration of Mr. Ebersol after contract ended in 2012.

This is not an opportune time for NBC Universal to have changes as the auction, held by the IOC, for the next four Olympics is about to begin (one month from now).

Mr. Ebersol was the founding producer of the famed Saturday Night Live comedy show. Dick Ebersol is 63.
Usain Bolt, 2010 Shanghai DL, photo by

Usain Bolt tells the Jamaica Gleaner that he is ready to race in 2011! Do you feel a little chill coming on, as we day dream about the line ups in the 100 meter final and 200 meter final in Daegu?  The only thing better would be several duels between Bolt & Gay during the year....
Bernard Lagat, Chris Solinsky, 2009 World Champs, photo by

Alamirew_YenewFV-Doha11.jpgAlamirew Yenew over Eliud Kipchoge and Edwin Soi, 2011 Doha DL,
photo by

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Galen Rupp, 2010 NYRR Dist., photo by

At the 2011 USA Indoor Champs, Bernard Lagat told the assembled media how much he had enjoyed setting the AR for two miles indoors. Lagat ran 8:10.07 running a 4:08 first mile and a 4:02.07 second one!

"If John Capriotti of Nike and Tom Jordan put on a two mile at the Nike Pre, I will run it!" enthused John Capriotti. " I like the distance and I know I can run much faster!"

Well, after Capriotti & Jordan announced the Friday Distance night, the Nike two mile was the next on the list. The perfect running distance, eight laps on the 400 meter or 440 yard track, and one can see how strong that they really are!

In my mind, with the field assembled, we could see a rewriting of the two mile record to about 7:54!

We shall see how far I am into dreamland I have stretched on June 4, 2011!

Anne Audain is one of the great ones. How great? Audain was queen of the roads in the U.S. for most of the 1980s, and won a remarkable seven times at the Rite Aid 10k distance. Audain was a gutty racer, she took on all comers, and her win-loss record, was well, breath taking! 

In this video, Michigan Runner editor and videographer Jenn McCafferty interviews Anne on her part in making road running a professional sport. A

Few people gambled their careers and financial futures on taking the sport of athletics from the 18th century to the 20th century. The battleground was the 1981 Cascade Run-Off, one of the toughest 15k races in the country, held in Portland, Oregon. Anne Audain was there-she spoke with her footsteps.

Listen to her story.....

Ferguson-Simp-BarFH-Oslo06.jpgDebbie Ferguson-McKenzie vs. Sherone Simpson, 2006 Oslo,
photo by

Bernard Lagat, 2009 Nike Pre Classic,
photo by

Ginny Powell versus LoLo Jones, 2011 Samsung DL: Doha DL,
photo by

Gezahegne_KalkidanFV-Worldi10.jpgKalkidan Gezehenge, 2010 World Indoor Champs, photo by

The Outdoor season is on! First, the 2011 Samsung Diamond League opened at Doha, Qatar (May 6), then Shanghai (May 15) and upcoming, Rome Golden Gala (May 26), Nike Pre (June 4) and adidas Grand Prix (June 11).

The adidas Grand Prix fields are filling up and they should be even better than 2010! The adidas Golden Spikes series, giving the top 100 m and mile prepsters a chance to run against the best of the best, should add some excitement!

RBR will have coverage of all of these meets! You will not miss a minute of the action!

shangahai real 1.png
The Shanghai Stadium, note the apartment buildings peaking over, photo by Jeff Shaver/Shaverphotos.

The photo above, and the story below are the work of Jeff Shaver, ASICS Aggie lifer, who works for Greenvolts, and spends much time in the Far East. RBR needed some coverage of the Shanghai GP and Jeff emailed me to see if he could get tickets for said meet. I offered him a media credential, remembering the cult like status that Mr. Shaver availed himself by visiting several Super Toto Meetings in Japan and providing many of you, dear readers, with a thoughtful study of Toto's super urininals, besides proving some insights into various track athletes motivation for racing late in the season (some were based on economic needs). 

So, Mr. Shaver drove two hours to his nearest airport, then flew two hours to Shanghai, then took a one hour taxi ride (actually, a limo, courtesy of meet management), and then, a very nice hotel room, to prepare for his piece on the second Diamond League Meeting of the year. We hope that you enjoy Jeff's comments as well as his five photos.

(If you decide you need to meet the writer, please note that Mr. Shaver, hopefully, will be at the US champs in Eugene, where you can purchase him an adult beverage at many times during the day!)

Sammy Wanjiru at his home, in 2009, photo by

Alfons Juck has some comments from many of the key players in our sport on the shocking news of the death of Sammy Wanjiru...
Coat of arms of Kenya

Image via Wikipedia

One of my first conversations after hearing of the death of Sammy Wanjiru was with a very well placed, and observant sports marketing honcho. In speaking of the death of Sammy Wanjiru, and our own experiences knowing Henry Rono, we had noted some of the very tough stories about Kenyan athletes, who had reached for the sun, and faltered.

Then, I read this piece by Pat Butcher, off his GlobeRunner blog. Butcher's writing is always top notch, but this column was especially thoughtful. Please pass it around, it say better than I could say, these great young athletes that we idolize pay a price for their greatness.....

Sammy Wanjiru at his home, photo by
Wanjiru_SammyFV-_Chicago10.JpgSammy Wanjiru, 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon,
photo by

While questions abound, the facts, as we can tell them, are these: Sammy Wanjiru, the 2008 Olympic Champion, the 2009 London Champion, the 2008, 2010 Chicago Champion, is dead.
Let's Run first picked up the story on Sunday afternoon, and RRW confirmed the story with Duncan Kibet.

As far as we can put the story together, here is what we have. Frederico Rosa, Wanjiru's agent, had spoken to Sammy twice over the weekend, and Wanjiru was upbeat and spoke of how well his training was going again. Remember, Sammy had pulled out of the 2011 Virgin London marathon due to some injury issues.

Sometime on Sunday, Wanjiru's wife found Sammy Wanjiru and another women in bed at their home. Per police reports, Wanjiru's wife locked the bedroom door, and went to leave the house.
Here is where it gets unconvincing: Wanjiru is to then have jumped the sixteen feet from his first story balcony to the ground, some Police suggested as a way to stop his wife from leaving the compound. One Police spokesperon suggested that Wanjiru was trying to commit suicide.
Another police spokes person said it best, " While we were not there to see why Sammy Wanjiru jumped, we do not suspect foul play." 

Frederico Rosa, Wanjiru's manager, is quoted on CNN as saying " Wanjiru did not commit suicide." There are also questions, per the BBC article of how he died falling only sixteen feet. The hospital spokes person noted that Wanjiru was unconscious, bleeding from the nose and mouth and could not be revived.

Whatever the answers to some questions, the results are the same-the most talented marathoner of this generation, Sammy Wanjiru is dead, at a very young age. We ask that you keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Tyson Gay, 2010 AVIVA London, photo by

Last summer, in cold London, Tyson runs 9.78, this May, 14.51 in cold and rain! What will the guy do next?
Tom Sturak 3.jpeg
Tom Sturak, June 30, 1931-April 29, 2011

It is Sunday, May 15, and I am in the Vegas Airport, catching my flight to Los Angeles. The memorial service for Tom Sturak is today, at the LA Foundation Library. I asked folks to send notes on their fondest stories of Tom.

Nic Bideau, long time coach and advisor, sent this story: " Sonia O'Sullivan was running the Honolulu road mile and could not find her shoes. Tom gave her his pair and she won! Tom noted that those shoes would never run faster."

Pat Devaney noted: " Tom and I had a lot of fun while at Reebok. We traveled alot and I have many fond memories of my friend."

Mark Bossardet, one of Sturak's long time business associate, noted that " We have many fun times with Tom, and many fun stories."

Victah Sailer, noted photographer, said of Tom, " Lots of great meals and lots of fun traveling. Lots of fun, but not printable stories."

Joe Henderson, noted writer and running commentator, noted on the Friends of Tom Sturak site, " I am proud to say I knew you at your best, and you always gave your best."

A Ph.D in English Literature, Navy veteran, father, husband, training partner, agent, coach, adviser, friend, Tom Sturak has a sense of humor that could rival anyones, his knowledge of the sport was tremendous and his ability to read athletes, fight for athletes was unrivaled. Tom Sturak, like all of us, was looking for that perfect race, and perfect run. Perhaps that is why he came back to the sport for all of those years.

Close your eyes and think of him running, laughing, telling a story. He will be with you always....

this image is the logo of shanghai golden gran...

Image via Wikipedia

Some amazing competitions coming up in a few hours in Shanghai, China, the second stop of the 2011 Samsung Diamond League series. Veronica Campbell Brown speaks on her desire to double, Alfons provides an event by event preview of the meet and it was announced that the Millrose Games will move to the

New Balance NYC Armory. We look forward to your comments!

Robbie Andrews, 2009 Millrose Games, photo by

In the novel, The Alienist by Caleb Carr, Mr. Carr writes of competing fire houses all running to the same blaze in 19th century New York City. Competing fire houses would fist fight to get control of the call to put out the fire, often, with the house burning to the ground, as the battle for control of the site became more important than putting out the fire. Thank God that this is no longer the case in fire fighting, however, it does seem that way in our sport.

Take the case of the Millrose Games moving to the NB Armory in 2012. That the Millrose Games is much less than its former self is true. That no one group has had control of the meet for most of the last decade is also true-and this has resulted in smaller crowds, a huge break in the meet for sprints and a sports experience that dulls crowds and kills sponsor possibilities.

Global Athletics & Management, for example, were hired to run the meet for several years. From this writer's view, they were never given the real control needed to a)shake up the meet, b) promote it early enough for sales to increase, and the result was frustration and bad feelings on many sides.

Into this conundrum comes Dr. Norb Sander, NYC marathon winner, and a devoted track geek. Due to Norb's tenacity, eccentricity, drive and love of the sport (and all of the others involved in the Armory), the NB NYC Armory is a reality and not a dream.

That the NB Armory has saved indoor track in the Big Apple is a fact. That 80,000 athletes have benefited from the 100 plus indoor meets at the Armory is also a fact. That New Balance Prez Jim Davis speaks with his money, doing a great thing in New York is also true-I love the facility!  New Balance has, shown that they not only sell shoes in NY, that they help the sport thrive. ( And if you do not think that the footwear companies, all of them support the sport more than anyone else, just look at your local road race or track meet, from adidas NB, from Nike to Zoot, footwear companies are our sports' biggest supporters.)

Here is my issue: The Armory is not MSG! The tradition is at Madison Square Gardens. That the owners of MSG have totally negated any chance of the meet management making money is nearly a fact. They keep all of the revenue from food sales. Tickets sales are not promoted, except by word of mouth. That meet management was paying six figures just to use the Wanamaker name for the mile is also true. Poor ticket sales have made it hard for meet management to make money and, even with the support of agents, managers, athletes and the checkbook of USA Track & Field (they kept this meeting going), the Millrose has been slowly dying.

The compromised nature of the management of the meet also kills it! High school, college and univ athletes, families and alum used to come, but now, many don't even know it continues to go on. Most importantly, the meet is way too long. The break for the sprints is insane, and either they needed to be moved early on or cancelled. In my mind, putting on track meets requires an enlightened dictatorship, democracy be damned here!

The Millrose Games should be the showcase of the sport, but, alas, it has been run into the ground. Frustration abounds, as good people disagree, but with no constructive way to bring warring sides together, the meet and the dreams of another generation of track fans and athletes will be sacrificed.

I like Dr. Norb Sander's tenacity and yes, eccentricity. He is a good egg, as we would call him in St. Louis (my hometown). And, if the NB NYC Armory hosts  the Millrose Games, it will be a fine meet. However, it just will not be the Millrose Games in Madison Square Gardens.

I have two suggestions: The first,  a compromise: Millrose College, HS and Youth at NB Armory.  MSG then hosts a two and one half hours of elite indoor track, plus HS  4 x400m, HS 4 x 800, and that is it. Sell the tickets as fundraisers for NY high school sports and make it the real showcase of the indoor season. Have one management team, get everyone else out who has different agendas, and make this meet work.

The second suggestion: Let Norb have the Millrose and set up a new meet. Get someone who can negotiate a contract and show MSG that making some money is better than making no money and the negatives that they will receive when the word gets out how they contributed to the death of the hallowed Millrose Games.

Start the New York Indoor Games, run it as an elite meet, start with high and college 4 x 400 and end with hs and college 4 x 800.

This is the conundrum with our sport. 50 high school state meets outdoors bring over 500,000 fans, paying to track meets across the nation. Elite track, with few exceptions is done with no business model at all! The few exceptions: Nike Pre, adidas GP, NB Indoor Grand Prix are the major exceptions.

While I find it highly unlikely that there can be either a compromise or a change, I sure hope that the powers that be come to their senses.

A very nice piece on a deserving athlete...proof of the well used adage, if one finds the right coach and training situation, works their butt off, spends years dedicated to the trial of miles (thanks John Parker), then one has a chance to shatter previous thought limitations....

Katie Landry
USA Track & Field
Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Elite Athlete Spotlight - Nick Arciniaga

Most accounting graduates move on from the classroom to the land of cubicles and corporate offices to count the beans, but after Nick Arciniaga graduated from Cal-State Fullerton in 2006, he quickly realized that was not the life he was called to lead. Today, Arciniaga works in a professional field where shorts are part of the uniform, naps are encouraged and running twice a day is the norm.
Nick Arciniaga
© Mike Scott  

Arciniaga is a professional runner for the McMillan Elite team based in Flagstaff, Ariz. However, when Arciniaga first graduated from college, he knew he wanted to continue running, but he did not have the times on his resume to go pro. While he considered himself a miler and middle-distance runner through high school and college, he decided to try his hand at the marathon, and made his debut at the ING Chicago Marathon in 2006. Not only did he surprise everyone else, but also himself with a time of 2:16:58.

"It was a surprise and a shock to have done so well," Arciniaga said. "I was thrilled to find an avenue that allowed me to continue my career."

With his Chicago performance good enough to earn him the Olympic Trials 'A' Standard, Arciniaga trained for the trials for the 2008 Olympics, and entered the race blissfully unaware of the talent he was facing. "I was ignorant to the rest of the field, I thought if I had my best day I could make the team, and I really went in to it over my head." Arciniaga admits. While his 17th place finish didn't qualify him for the Olympics, it whetted his appetite for more.

Since 2007, Arciniaga has lowered his marathon PR by more than five and a half minutes, or 13 seconds a mile over the 26.2 mile distance. His best race came earlier this year at the Chevron Houston Marathon, where he was tasked to run as a pacer for his teammate Brett Gotcher. Arciniaga was tasked with running 4:53 splits through 25 km (approximately 15.5 miles). Coach Greg McMillan had agreed that Arciniaga could continue to run if he felt good at that point, but stipulated that he could only finish if he was going to run a PR.

After completing his 25 km pacing task and with the pressure to hit the exact splits lifted off his shoulders, Arciniaga began to drop back from Gotcher. But after a few miles, he began to pick up the pace, and not only caught Gotcher, but passed him. Running the splits through his head, and calculating the pace, Arciniaga began to realize he was in position to run a PR. As he moved up to a surprising third place, he caught a cheering section off-guard as they began to chant, "Brett! Brett! Brett!" While Arciniaga admits that the cheers caused him to laugh, he reveled in surprising the crowds and continued to pick up the pace. He crossed the line in second place knocking 18 seconds off his previous best setting a new PR (2:11:30).

This time around, Arciniaga is looking forward to the 2012 Olympic Team Trials for the Marathon with a better understanding and appreciation for the event and the athletes he will be competing against.

"This time I know the competition, and I know myself. If things pan out right, I can make the team if I have my day, but I know where I belong, and that is in the top five or six guys. "

Arciniaga knows that he doesn't have the same clout as the Ryan Hall's and Dathan Ritzenhein's of American marathoning, but it is a role that he thrives in. Arciniaga admits, "I prefer to be the underdog. I know that I am not less talented than the top guys, I'm just taking longer to develop."

This weekend, Arciniaga will look to add a USA Championship title to his resume at the USA 25 km Championships hosted by the Fifth Third River Bank Run. At last year's edition of the race, he finished third in 1:15:18, and this year he will battle defending champion Andrew Carlson for the win.

"I want to repeat my performance in the top three, but obviously I want to go for the win," Arciniaga said. "I know it will be a competitive field, but I want to be able to control the entire race."

To watch Arciniaga, and the rest of the USA 25 km Championship field, tune in to the live webcast at at 7:00 a.m. CT.

About USA Track & Field

USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track & field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, the World's #1 Track & Field Team, the most-watched events at the Olympics, the #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport, and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States:

Gay_TysonR-LondonDL10.JPGTyson Gay, 2010 AVIVA London Grand Prix,
photo by

Lots of track & field action this weekend, dear readers! The second meet of the 2011 Samsung DL, to be held in Shanghai, China on Sunday, and around the world, the 2011 Powerade ION4 Great CityGames takes place in Manchester, England. One of our fave athletes, Tyson Gay, will be running a very fast 150 meters!

High school state meets (Texas), and college conferences galore will fill this weekend with some great track & field action.

Also please note that Runblogrun freelancer Jeff Shaver will be covering the Shanghai DL for us. Last time we checked, Jeff was driving two hours to the Shenzhen airport. A two hour plane ride to Shanghai will follow and then a one hour taxi ride. He is hoping against hope that he can get a nice cold Croatian beer in the hotel lobby!

 He did mention that he had to sell two musk oxen to get a tank of gas, but what a small price to pay for watching a Samsung DL meeting...many will remember his fascinating pictures of the TOTO toilet plant as one of the true highlights of our athletic coverage in the 1990s.

03a199e.jpgJeff Shaver, just after he was named
the King of California,
photographer unknown

Powell Plaza at Hayward Field - Eugene, Oregon

Image via Wikipedia

Gentle Readers,

A note from Peanut Dwayne Harms has arrived on my various email addresses. With such an important event, I have dropped all that I was doing. I was, presently, building a graven image to the Nordic God, Thor, and his father, Oden. That, dear and gentle readers, will have to wait.

If you anywhere in the Eugene, Oregon vicinity during the 2011 USA Outdoor Track & Field champs, then pool all of your dollars (you could start by selling your Rush albums or autographed pictures of Bootsy Walker), and visit The Grill. Beside great track & field, there will be adult beverages of many varieties, food of many species and, perhaps, we can see David Frank in his natural habitat. (Rumor is that Jeff Shaver may travel back from the far east to visit the humble track meet held at the end of June 2011).

So, read on, gentle readers, and make sure you find me for some conversation on the only sport that really matters....track & field!

(Continuing the tradition, there is no drug testing for the Hootie 5k).
Carmelita Jeter, 2010 Lausanne, Photo by

Alfons Juck asked us to add this to his Daegu report:

World leader Carmelita Jeter who is a meet record holder here won the 100 m for third time in a row in Daegu in fast 11.09 (0.0). Second Doha 200 winner Lashaunte Moore (11.27) ahead of Gabon´s Ruddy Zang-Milama (11.35). Jeter competed in every edition of the meet since 2007 (wins in 2011, 2010, 2009, second in 2007 and third in 2008).
Thumbnail image for Oliver_DavidFV1_USOut.Jpg

David Oliver, 2010 USA Champs, photo by

The 2011 Colorful Daegu Pre-Championship Meet had four world leaders, and some tremendous racing! In the U.S. major high school state championships will be held this weekend (Texas, for one), while many of the major college conference championships will be held as well. We are getting to a tremendous part of the season.

A memorial was held for the late Grete Waitz today. This weekend, a memorial will be held in LA for the late Tom Sturak. Fascinating players in a sport we love, a sport we love to watch, participate in, read about.

Songs for the weekend: Steve Earle ( Rain Came Down, Love you too much, Fearless Heart, Goodbye).

Flag of Daegu

Image via Wikipedia

The 2011 Colorful Daegu Pre-Championship Meeting gave athletes like Walter Dix, David Oliver,

Allyson Felix have two wins already this year.

A good meet, part of the IAAF Challenge, the next on the tour is
the Shanghai DL, second stop on the
2011 Samsung Diamond League series!

Ashmeade winning, from far outside, photo by Andrew Turner

Nickel Ashmeade, now training with Tyson Gay, under the watchful eye of coach/advisor of  Lance Brauman, surprised many with his fine 19.95 opener over 200 meters at the Jamaica International Invitatinal, held last Saturday, May 7, 2011 in Kingston, Jamaica.

Today, it was announced that Nickel Ashmeade, with his .45 improvement in the 200 meters last Saturday, will be running at the adidas Grand Prix, to be held on June 11, 2011 at Icahn Stadium on Randalls Island, New York.

To read an interview of Nickel and also listen to an audio tape, just check below!
Alamirew_YenewFV-Doha11.jpgYanew Alamirew, all of 21, wins the 3,000 meters in Doha in 7:27.26, photo by

And we are off with the second season of the Samsung Diamond League. The first meeting, held in Doha, Qatar on May 6, 2011, had 11 world leading marks! The second meeting, in Shanghai on May 15, 2011, will have some amazing fields.

This is a review for some who missed the event, with official results plus fantastic pictures from, our global group of photographers, lead by the one, the only, Victah Sailer and Lisa Coniglio.

We hope you enjoy the photos and our pithy comments. Watch for more of the same on the Shanghai DL this coming Sunday!

Christian Cantwell, 2009 Nike Pre Classic, photo by

Better get a ticket to the 2011 Nike Pre Classic, as the throw geekdom that
is being thrown down will make even the saviest throw fan drool! Cantwell, Patterson, Majewski, Hoffa and more!
David Oliver, 2008 Beijing, photo by

The Shanghai DL is the second stop on the Samsung Diamond League circuit, to be held Sunday, May 15, 2011. Some great duels are being announced! Read Alfon's comments on the top duels for this weekend!

I missed this one in my in basket, sorry about that.

Nice to see SPENCO Medical, the company that invented insoles, looking to some key players to get them on track. Truth be told, SPENCO has become the generic brand while SuperFeet and others lead the way in run specialty. What Dr. Scholls is doing right now, per some key viewers of the industry, in the general consumer market and medical footcare business, has been to fill the vacuum that SPENCO has left without any consumer brand messaging for most of the past six years. SPENCO Medical's last consistent consumer marketing was in 2004-2006.

It is not that SPENCO medical has gone away. On the contrary, new packaging, some new products have been developed, but the company has focused most of its promotion at events, with couponing, etc. In some eyes, that has been a partial success, developing new consumers. However, as one pundit put it, "by abandoning SPENCO consumers, SPENCO created the room for a dozen companies to develop."  Run specialty likes to see its channel being promoted: that has not been a strong suit for SPENCO.

Evan Wert is a true believer. He is on parallel with the key shoe geeks we write about most days. We wish him luck (
and Ms. Wilson as well) in helping such a respected brand regain some resonance within the consumer product food chain.

Watch for an interview of Evan in the next couple of weeks....

Gary Morgan, RNR San Antonio, photo by

How to explain Gary Morgan? Gary is a 1988 Olympian over the 20k race walk. He has run a 2:35 Marathon and competed, either over 20k or 50k in six Olympic Trials. He race walked in the Pan Am Games. Gary Morgan is also a member of the New York Athletic Club. 

Retired from GM, Gary lives in Michigan and writes for Michigan Runner. Through the loving support of Art & Jenny McCafferty, Gary has become one of the better known figures or cast of characters in road races across the U.S.

Gary normally volunteers to pace either a half marathon or marathon team at least twice a month. He does video interviews (see and when he and I are at the same event, it is the Gary and Larry show.

My belief is that, to paraphrase a line used to describe Frank Sinatra: It is Gary's World, and we just live in it. Gary's descriptions of his races and exploits give one the chance to live vicariously. In the end, Gary Morgan loves the sport of running and has made thousands of runners and walkers experience in races all that more memorable. We also hear that he is a mean dancer at the post-race parties.

Here is Gary's description of the new Kalamazoo Marathon, that rose out of another long time event:
Michelle Obama, official White House portrait.

Image via Wikipedia

IHRSA, the publisher of Get Active! magazine, sent us this release today. They were one of two groups, IHRSA and Let', to join Michelle Obama in announcing free health club memberships for military families!

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden joined with the IHRSA representatives to make the announcement of free 100,000 family memberships for military families across the country. This program starts June 1.

What a nice program for families who give up their family members to protect our country!

(Get Active! magazine is a member of the 23 publications who make up the RunningNetworkLLC and Running
IAAF World Challenge

Allyson Felix, Carmelita Jeter, David Oliver and Walter Dix are among the elite athletes who will be competing in the Daegu IAAF Challenge event. A real dress rehearsal for the World Champs, this will give the attending athletes a chance to see the facility for the last time before this summers' upcoming World Champs (August 27-Sept 5).

A team from the New York Road Runners Club, including TV commentator and road essayist Toni Reavis will be attending a memorial for the late, great Grete Waitz. Mary Wittenberg & George Hirsch, the CEO and Chairman of the board of the NYRR, will be among those attending the memorial, which will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, May 12, 2011. Please keep Grete, her husband Jack and their families and friends, in your thoughts and prayers tomorrow.

This is the newest video by the Shoe Addicts. This time, they have placed their sights on David Oliver, the number one rated 110m hurdler in the world in 2010, and with his 13.16 debut this season, Oliver already has the world leader in 2011.

Here is the link on the runningnetwork:

If you would like to see the original on YouTube, please use this link:

Duel Under the Stars: 2011 Payton Jordan, Shalane Flanagan vs Sally Kipyego, photo by

Distance Night in Eugene: 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters and a run for the 25k and 30k world records with Asbel Kirui and Moses Mosop? This will be geek heaven, the night before the Pre Classic! Read on and know that, now, we have a night and a day of the Nike Pre Classic!

2011 Aramco/U.S.A. Half Marathon Champs, photo by

Across the country, about 150 men and 150 women marathoners and would be marathoners are focusing on a dream: making the podium for the top three marathons, men & women, in the USA. This event will take place, for the first time, in one city; Houston, Texas, on January 14, 2012.

A dress rehearsal, the Aramco USA Half marathon, held in January 2011, was well received. As one of the few who viewed the course from the race truck, along with Terrance Mahon and Darren de Reuck. The course, with an eight mile loop and a 2.2 mile loop, was developed to mimic the London course.

The course, in my mind, well-intentioned, needed some work, in terms of footing (between miles 8-10) and the concern over the 90 degree turns on the course. In speaking to our LDR contacts, and the team from Houston, the good news was that they were quickly on the same page. 

In a wellwritten release, the Houston Marathon committee & USA Track & Field reviewed the course and did some significant changes on the course, making the run counter-clockwise for the first 2.2 mile loop then three loops on an 8 mile loop. The counterclockwise allows fans and runners to experience a 190 meter final straightaway.

A gentle suggestion might be for the Houston Marathon Committee and USA Track & Field to invite some key runners to run the loops and make some comments about said changes. In our world, that is good public relations.

In my mind, we should have competitions on both sides that will rival any Olympic Trials for the marathons that we have ever had! And in each case, somewhere, for both men & women, just finishing 1,000 meter repeats or a tempo run, is the surprise third placer that I will be writing about in nine months and two weeks...

When the weather is hot, and the winds are blowing, the last thing one might want to do is run a marathon. Not so in Dusseldorf, Germany, where 14,000 marathoners braved the 68 F temps in the shade (20 Celsius) and windy conditions to run 26.2 miles.

Kimaiyo_Nahashon1a-Dusseldorf11.JPGNahashon moves on...2011 METRO Group Dusseldorf Marathon, photo by

A marathon, for the first finisher or the last finisher, is a journey of thousands of steps, from dreams attained to dreams dashed, the pain is real for all. It is what brings many back, year after year. When one crosses the finish line, one has won a hard fought battle against cynicism.....

That Nahashon Kimaiyo won is an amazing story-that he ran his best by two seconds, running 2:10.54, when many elites dropped out before 20 k, is even more fascinating. Likewise, Merima Mohammed, all of 18, won with a strong lead, running 2:28.15, building a five minute lead before Merima hit the finish line of the METRO Group Dusseldorf marathon.

We hope that you enjoy the story on the METRO Group Dusseldorf marathon, provided by the meet management and


Nahashnon Kimaiyo celebrating his 2011 METRO Group Dusseldorf victory,
photo by VictahSailer/

10,423 runners braved the BIG 25k distance through the streets of Berlin, Germany on Sunday. Mathew Kisorio and Filomena Chepchirchir gave us world leaders over the distance for 2011. Just another example of how the sport is growing on a global stage!

Mathew Kisorio wins 2011 BIG 25 Berlin, photo courtesy of

Lydia Cheromei at 2011 VW Prague Marathon,
photo by

Lydia Cheromei, who won the 2011 Hervis Prague Half marathon a month ago, lived up to the hype and won the 2011 Volkswagen Prague Marathon, setting a new course record, running  a PB and also running one of the top times in the world!  (Nice to see US runner, Serena Burla run a pb of 2:35.08 for fifth place in VW Prague).

Lydia Cheromei now has one of the top marathon times of the year, a win at the Volkswagen Prague Marathon and a  new course record! Here is how Andy Edwards & Pat Butcher, our globalrunner, saw the race:
Jones_Lolo-USAout10.JPGLoLo Jones, 2010 USA Champs, June 2010, photo by

One of the crazier jobs is being a track & field athlete. Early in the season, if you play your cards right, you can go from Qatar to Japan to China to Rome, all in four weeks! Take the whimsical twitter commentary provided by one LoLo Jones, (

"I won the race. Today's motiviation was jet lag. I realized the faster I get to the finish line, the faster that I can get back to hotel & go to bed."

Well, Lo Lo Jones won the 100 meter hurdles in 12.93. Sharese Woods won the 400 meter sin 52.68, and Ryan Wilson won the 110m hurdles in 13.73.

On the local side, the Japanese women set a new NR of 43.39 and Koji Murofushi, the rock star of Japanese track & field, took second in the hammer throw!

Murofushi_Koji_OlyGame08.jpgKoji Murofushi, 2008 Beijing, photo by 
What a weekend of track & field! The season has opened with a bang, gently prodding athlete, coach and track fan to note that this is a World Championship year. One is only as good as their last, the road to Daegu is only months away and less than 500 days to 2012 London!

Blake-Gaitlin-Moseley-Rovereto10.jpg Blake,  Gatlin, Moseley, 2010 Rovereto Meeting, photo by

Yohan Blake has come out the door, blasting away, with a wind-aided 9.80 for the 100 meters. Daniel Baily, Mike Rodgers and Michael Frater follow in 9.94, 9.96 and 9.98. Doc Patton takes fifth in 10.10! And WC medalist Richard Thompson is eighth!

15,000 fans were entertained, and surprised by some of the performances in Doha, Qatar this evening! Check your local Universal sports station to see when you can watch the meet this evening!

Kipchoge_EluidFV-Carlsbad10.jpgEliud Kipchoge, 2011 Carlsbad, photo by

Eliud Kipchoge, shown winning 2011 Carlsbad, finished third in Doha over 3,000 meters in 7:27.66!  Read on for details!

Lolo Jones: 2010 AVIVA Gateshead, photo by

How bad is LoLo's sciatica? How did she feel in Drake racing over the 100m hurdles, and taking second? What does she really need to kick start her 2011 outdoor season. These and all other questions an inquiring mind may possess can be answered, gentle readers, if one continues to peruse this page, and reads the thoughtful comments from Ms. Jones from her Deep thoughts in Doha tour (actually the Doha IAAF press conference):
Renaud Lavillienie:he's rested, he's French, will be break Bubka's meet record in Doha?
photo by

Cantwell_ChristianH-OsakaGP10.jpgChristian Cantwell: his non throwing shoulder healed, what will Christian throw?
 photo by

Jones_LoloQ-USAout10.JPGLoLo Jones: How fast will she hurdle at 90 %?
photo by

Thumbnail image for Tamgho_TeddyR-EuroInd11.jpgTeddy Tamgho in Paris: returning to site of his first WR, what will he do?
photo by

The following is a thoughtful preview by Mike Rowbottom, for the IAAF website. We heartily encourage all to visit the website at least three times a day, and five on days when you are really bored!

The boys are back! Thorkildsen, Pitkamäki are chucking their spears in Doha!
photo by

The javelin duo noted above are just one of the many highlights of the first Samsung DL meeting of 2011: Doha! Here is the preview that our roving man of the world, the man who brings you the Ostrava meeting and EME news on a daily basis, Alfons Juck:

Ted Meekma knows alot about sports academies. He managed what became IMG sports academies, and now he and his team will be launching them at the SPIRE Institute. Meeka, in an interview with him and Stephanie Tolleson, to be seen at a later date, struck me as a man at the top of his game. I am fascinated how this could work in track & field.......
5689972563_f540d30c76_z.jpgMichael Johnson, SPIRE Indoor Track Facility, photo courtesy of

In the movie, Field of Dreams, a baseball diamond is built by one who hears a voice, "if you build it, they will come."
That voice in the ear could have been in the ear of Ron Clutter and his wife, Tracy. Wanting to do something to bring their communities together, and wanting to bring a true excitement to the Geneva, Ohio area, the Clutters' started building their dream, the SPIRE Institute.

Ron Clutter: He has that 'vision thing', photo courtesy of

Clutter made his fortune selling air conditioning units to the military, and after selling that business, devoted his time and energy to his dream: the SPIRE Institute. The parents of two, Ron and Tracy wanted to give something back to the community. 

The nobleness of learning something through the activity of sport is not new. Building a 754,000 square foot facility on fifty acres (and there is still another 110 acres to build on), is.

My visit to the SPIRE Institute started last Friday, when, on a walk in San Jose, California, I received a phone call from Lisa Levine, who is managing public relations for the Institute. After sending me a link to the site, and drawings of the facility, I was intrigued. When she told me who was involved with the project and where they wanted to take SPIRE, I changed my plans, flew back to Wisconsin, and drove out to Geneva, Ohio from my offices in Fort Atkinson, WIsconsin.

David Smalley, Director of External Affairs,  gave us the tour of the facilities. From the indoor volleyball courts and basketball courts, to the indoor regular soccer (FIFA rules, high school rules) fields, to the attention to detail, SPIRE has done an amazing job at building a tremendous facility. David has been around sports all of his life-his father coached basketball at the naval academy-and his enthusiasm for this facility knows no bounds. And quite frankly, with as wonderful a facility as they have built, there should be no bounds.

5572678198_63bacf4196_m.jpgHigh end timing cameras for the indoor facility.... 

Opening the facility up to the community, they encourage people to walk inside their facility each day ($15 a month or $1 for a day). A sports medicine doctor has established his practice in the building, working with the athletes from local high schools, youth clubs, and colleges.

5559142489_348ba00960_m.jpgSPIRE indoor track is already popular....

The indoor track, with a 300 meter flat Beynon surface, has two long and triple jump runways, abilty to throw discus, shot, weight throw, inside, and seating for 3-4,000. The facility is so large infact, two 200 meter indoor tracks could be placed, side by side inside the indoor track facility. The indoor track was started in June of 2009 and hosted events in January of 2010.

5565980224_9a173d88db_m.jpgHigh jumper at SPIRE indoor facility..... 

The outdoor track is a Beynon surface, and the field inside the track can host football and soccer games. The day we were there, three double dual meets and a tri-meet were going on. With top of the line timing (FinishLynx, the best in the business), this facility is hosting events. Rick Marinelli, the Director of Track & Field Operations, noted that if they had to build a 400 meter indoor track, they would only have to reline the track surface-the surfacing is there and they already have the room.  Remember, " if you build it, they will come..."

So, with indoor and outdoor facilities, back to back (the outdoor can seat 7-12,000), would one think that a throw stadium was about to be developed, right next door, with a nice track as well? One has to think that SPIRE sure must want to host elite indoor and outdoor meets, and aspirations for US national events? In the indoor facilities, one can have all of the field events in action, without impacting the running events. The attention to detail is amazing. 

" Yes, we would love to host national and elite events at SPIRE" noted Stephanie Tolleson, former IMG Vice President and member of the SPIRE management team. In fact, besides the facilities, the management team is also one of the most impressive parts of this fascinating new project.

5690539774_38e24b9ac1_m.jpgTed Meekma, at SPIRE press conference......

Ted Meekma, who managed IMG sports academies and worked with IMG Tennis academies for nearly two decades, is the man behind the new SPIRE sport academies. Meekma made it clear that he wants to develop the new stars in the sport of track & field, among others. Think about a world class training center in the heart of mid-America, one of track & field's strong holds!

Ron Clutter has that, "vision thing." Clutter is a believer. He and his wife have believed in this project from day1, and will build "until the market stops us." Clutter believes that SPIRE will grow as long as it answers the needs of an ever growing community.

The U.S.O.C. has visited the facility. The U.S.A. Track & Field team will be visiting in the next two weeks.

5559719128_428494dfb1_m.jpgThe indoor facility on a meet day....

In my mind, this is a perfect answer to what some coaches of track athletes are begging for now-access to training facilities for the athletes just on the verge of reaching elite status. Meekma and Tolleson made it clear, that while they want the emerging athletes to come here, and many events (they can do many at once and will have residential units within 18 months), they want to open to war veterans, para Olympians, youth soccer leagues and the couple who want to get their daily walk in a place that is not rainy or cold.

The management team is a virtual IMG College reunion. Understand one thing, most of these folks have no need to gettting involved in something that will take long hours to develop. Meekma, Tolleson and her husband Peter Johnson, among others, have obviously understood or share Ron Clutter's vision: SPIRE is simply, the best sports facilities in the country.

Most of the media were fascinated with nine time Olympic medalist Michael Johnson, who called the indoor facility, " at least the equal of the World Indoor facility in Doha, Qatar", if not, the best in the world. That is a statement that bears some consideration, when one notes that Mr. Johnson is not one prone to exaggeration. Michael Johnson made it clear, " this facility is second to none."

Just like when Michael Johnson was running, he is a man of few words. His actions are what need to be considered. MJ Performance will develop only its second facility and staff at SPIRE. This is not a man looking for a franchise business. Michael Johnson told RBR that he wants to help develop athletes. " This is not a track specific performance business, we are about building athleticisim, preventing injuries and developing overall fitness." Citing the lack of physical education across the country, and the single mindedness of many athletes to one sport (" playing multi-sports develops a wide range of skills"), Michael Johnson is a man on a mission.

The final fascinating part of this puzzle is that the SPIRE academy is non-profit. Working with foundations to find answers to childhood obesity, and developing wellness programs for all ages, SPIRE and its management team wants to impact that way the business of sports is conducted, but also how sports impacts athletes and the community.

For the 300 teen age track athletes who were having a meet at SPIRE, the memory of the day will be having Michael Johnson speak to them. Johnson is one of the most important track & field athletes of his generation. He is also a businessman and a father. His talk to the young athletes was meant to inspire-who knows who will become a coach or a top athlete in the future. His time with them, signing some autographs, signing shoes, is a big deal to these young people.

Congratulations for SPIRE getting the SPIRE academy and the MJ Performance center announcements to the world. This facility, and its staff are winning people over, one track and field meet at a time....

With the facility, and their new partnerships, SPIRE Institute is on its way....

5690548182_9592991232_z.jpgMicheal Johnson & the future of the sport....

All photos courtesy of SPIRE Institute. Special thanks to Lisa Levine & SPIRE team for opening the facility to RBR. 
All photos copyright SPIRE Institute.

For more on SPIRE, please check:

Superb story in Clevenland Plain Dealer:

Emma Coburn had a superb steeplechase race at the 2011 Payton Jordan Invitational. She ran an amazing race!
M4x400-Penn04.JPGPenn Relays handoff, photo by

One of my favorite meetings each year is the American Sports Builders Convention. The ASBA, or are all about building the best track facilities and tennis facilities. They encourage this through education and the certification of track and tennis builders. They are a huge resource for information on building the right facility for you!

2011 Payton Jordan Invitational: Fukishi, Kipyego, Flanagan, photo by

Shalane Flanagan and Kayoko Fukishi are now part of a very exclusive club: they are numbers 15 and 16 on the list of women who have broken 31 minutes for the 10,000 meters three or more times.

The current leader in most times under 31 minutes for 10,000 meters is none other than Paula Radcliffe, who has run under 31:00 eight different times!

Jacqueline Hanson & Tom Sturak, photo courtesy of The Friends of Tom Sturak

Tom Sturak, one of the first running promotions managers in our sport, a man who first worked at Nike and then, Reebok, passed away, peacefully, in his sleep on the evening of Friday, April 29, 2011.

Sturak was one of the true characters of the sport. He knew everyone, and everyone knew him. I finally spent time with him in the mid 1990s, in Goteborg. I found out about his poor health in 2008 at the U.S. Olympic Trials, when I had coffee with his wife, Jacqueline Hanson. Tom had been in declining health for several years.

Tom was part of the SoCal Striders, one of the most influential clubs in our sport in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. His wife, Jacqueline Hanson, was the first women to break six minute pace for the marathon, and is a fine coach in her own right.

Jacqui put a note up on the Friends of Tom Sturak Facebook site on Friday, and noted that she is planning a memorial service on May 15 at the LA Foundation Library. More details on the site. 

Please keep Tom, his wife Jacqueline, his daughter and son in your thoughts and prayers. Tom will be missed.

CloudlessEvening-Payton11.JPGCloudless & cool, 2011 Payton Jordan Invitational, 5,000m, section 2, photo by

Great runs at the Payton Jordon on Sunday night. Some strong runs in college and elite. The 10,000 meter races were superb, from Flanagan and Kipyego to Curtis, Nelson & Teegs, just amazingly well run races! 
The 2011 version of the Payton Jordan Invitational was held under near perfect conditions. The goal was to give as many athletes the chance to hit the qualifying standards, A and B Standards, for the World Champs. The qualifying period started May 1, 2011, so the Stanford management moved the meet to coincide with the official beginning of the qualification time period.

The meets major highlights were some fast 1,500 meters, with Kate Follet surprising some top women milers, running 4:08.92. Bryan Blackenship used a 54.9 last lap to hold off Lopez Lomong in 3:42.9

In a great men's 5,000 meters, Bryan Bethke helf off a brutal charge over the last lap, where Bethke won in 13:25.78 to 13:26.18. Bethke ran a last lap of 56 while Elliot Heath ran a 55 second lap. " I did not feel that great, but the last lap was fun!"  One wonders how fast Mr. Heath will run in six weeks at the NCAA outdoor!

A titanic struggle ensued for between Sally Kipyego and Shalane Flanagan, where Kipyego took the World leader and Shalane took the American leader over 10,000 meters. Molly Huddle, the second American in the 10,000m, finished sixth.

In the men's race over 10,000 meters, 14 made the A standard, including Bobby Curtis, Tim Nelson, Matt Tegenkamp, with 14 under the Olympic A Standard of 27:45-in fact, all 14 were under 27:32!

A great night of track & field, watch for more comments tomorrow! For now, you can enjoy the complete results!

Allyson Felix, 2010 adidas GP, photo by

Some nice relays at the 2011 Penn Relays. I am up in the Stanford press box, waiting for the big races to start!
Historical marker on the University of Pennsyl...

Image via Wikipedia

Elliot Denman, one of our roving writers, gives us his thoughts on the 2011 Penn Relays. A great meet, but how relevant in 2011? Per Elliot Denman, the 2011 Penn Relays are quite relevant....
Andrey Mikhnevich, 2006 Euro Champs, photo by

Mikhnevich woke up a few this early in Europe. Can not wait until the
Payton Jordan Invitational distance events this evening.
Kara Patterson, 2010 AVIVA Gateshead, photo by

Kara Patterson threw the javelin 189-5, the farthest throw in country this season, at the 2011 Drake Relays. Here is James Dunaway's comments on day two of the Drake Relays:

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