Ten thousand meters, photo by PhotoRun.net
The 10,000 meters on Night two of the USA Outdoors was my proof that I was finally, after eighteen years in Wisconsin, home in the Golden State.
Kim Conley wins with final sprint, photo by PhotoRun.net
To truly experience the fun that a track meet can be, one must sit, for an entire evening with the ASICS Aggie track club. One of the more colorful and talented, multi generational running clubs in the US, the Aggies were kings of Golden state distance running in the 80’s, 90’s and now, into their second generation. Many of the top athletes from the 80s in this club are coaching high school and college across the state.
But, their true value is showing how much fun nights of distance races can be. Situated always at the 1,500m start on the track, the Aggies, their families, extended families and hangers on (count me there), cheer, ring bells, and make good natured betting($1 a bet, writing time on the dollar bill) on the distance races, giving the winner of the 10,000 m a stuffed animal at some times.
This year, the women’s 10,000 meters, won by Kim Conley in the final stretch from Jordan Hasay, had the Aggies on their feet numerous times, cheering and screaming at what they know is the best part of the track champs: distance races!
Most major nationals, I sit in the media area, but last night, I sat with my friends in the stands: Peanut Harms, Joe Rubio, Ron Richardson, Mike Fanelli, Pat Devany, among others. For the second time in the last six months, sitting with my friends for the past thirty years, people who kept up with me in my travels and travails, it felt like home.
After the meet, we went to Fahrenheit 250, a watering hole taken over as a sovereign country (seriously) for the duration of the Championships.
The race is on, Derrick and Rupp, into the mystic,
photo by PhotoRun.net
What I also love about my hood, is that the Aggies KNOW track, I mean, seriously. They get it when Kim Conley takes a long drive to the finish and appreciate Jordan Hasay (who was previously coached and mentored by an Aggie) holding on and bravely kicking with 200 meters to go. The final sprint by Kim Conley, who is turning into one of America’s most versatile women distance runners, was cheered by the Aggies for her racing guts, and that her coach, Drew Wartenberg, has Aggies connections. Jordan Hasay was cheered as she came by as well, knowing that the most distance savvy crowd in the stadium are from her hood.
The men’s race featured some negative splits, like the womens, but with an outcome much more predictable. Chris Derrick and Galen Rupp took off after 5k, and with two miles in the 4:20 range, about 8 kilometers, when Derrick and Rupp had distanced themselves, it was getting interesting. Derrick pushed and pushed, but he is just out of college, and Galen Rupp, soon to be a father and two time American record holder, ran the last two minutes of the race by himself.
Galen Rupp wins title six! photo by PhotoRun.net
Galen Rupp has learnt that his best skills are his racing coolness and his finish. Alberto Salazar has shown Galen how to race on the international level and his sixth US title, surpassing Frank Shorter’s five US titles, was no different.
The Aggs cheered Galen Rupp as he came by for his victory lap, just as they did Kim Conley. Galen gets RESPECT because the Aggs have watched him mature, good races and bad races and get that Rupp has paid his dues.
Nice shout out to Ryan Vail, who PBed in London in the marathon and came back to the 10,000 meters and took third in the 10,000m on Thursday night.
As I sat just a few seats off from the cheering crowd, I remembered what my spiritual advisor, Dwayne Harms said, as we watched the 1,500 meters heats: “All is good in the hood tonight, brother.”
Nice to be home. And yes, all is good in the Aggie hood.