Thursday, July 28, 2011

Road Rage: Ryan Hall channels Meb and will run Chicago this fall

All about the Benjamins?
In surprising news, Ryan Hall announced today that he will run the Chicago Marathon this October, which falls just three months before the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston. Hall has a nice contracts with Asics, Nissan and many other companies, so it's not quite the cash grab that Meb Keflezighi's fall marathon is. Although, you can't blame Meb. Keflezighi lost his Nike sponsorship and didn't get to run an "appearance fee" spring marathon (as he was shunned by the John Hancock staff at Boston during negotiations). As Meb enters the twilight of his career, with a silver medal already in hand (from Athens '04), taking the money at the NYC Marathon will carry him and his family further than a slot on the Olympic team (not that he won't make it). But Hall hasn't reached the same Olympic glory that Meb has, so why would he risk not making the team?

In my opinion, there are two reasons Hall will be doing this: money, as it's always about the money, and lack of competition at the trials. In the back of his mind, it looks as though Hall is confident enough that he can recover quickly to go against the best in the United States three months later. And worst case scenario, he could probably qualify for the 10k in the summer, behind Galen Rupp and Chris Solinsky, if the marathon didn't pan out.

So looking at the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon today (July 28, 2011), here are:

The Favorites:
  1. Ryan Hall - favorite after his 2:04:58 at Boston
  2. Dathan Ritzenhein - top US placer at Beijing, but often hurt and hasn't competed in a long time
  3. Meb Keflezighi - will be coming off the NYC Marathon (November 6), getting older
The Contenders
  1. Brett Gotcher - ran 2:10 in January 2010, which will be 2 years from the date of the trials
  2. Jason Hartmann - ran 2:11 at Chicago 2010
  3. Nick Arciniaga - ran 2:11 on Houston course in 2011
  4. Jason Lehmkuhle - ran 2:12 at Boston in 2010 (8+ minutes slower than Hall in 2011)
The Mystery
  1. Galen Rupp - will he or won't he? If he does, he's a shoe in for top three after his strong showing at the NYC Half 
Here is the list of all the 2012 Olympic Trials Qualifers

Looking at this, you can see why Hall feels pretty comfortable in his decision, considering his chances. Arciniaga looks to be the best possible outsider that could break in, with his strong run at Houston last year. It's a good bet that either Meb or Ritz won't show up healthy. The only other wild card is Galen Rupp. In my opinion, if he runs, he's in. Will he? Who knows. If he qualifies in the marathon, he could still qualify in the 10,000 and forego his marathon spot for 2012. We'll find out Sunday, January 14, 2012.

Also, you can check out my reviews of Meb's book here and Ryan Hall's book here

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Diamond Dash: Third time's a charm for Shalane Flanagan at DN Galan?

Dominating at USA XC Champs (TrackAndFieldPhoto)
Shalane Flanagan has made two great runs at the American 5000m Record this season. The first was at "Distance Night in Eugene," running 14:49.68 and the second was a strong 14:45.20 in Paris. Will the third time be the charm for Flanagan in Stockholm? If she can continue taking 4 seconds off per race, she'll be well under Molly Huddle's record of 14:44.76. Flanagan flew under the radar last week running within 1 second of her PR in the 1500 at Monaco in 4:06.63, insinuating she will be ready to go for something in the 14:41 area come Friday afternoon. She'll have another excellent field to pull her along with one potential American threat (Jenny Simpson), OTC's Sally Kipyego, Vivian Cheruiyot, Mercy Cherono, Violet Kibiwot and many other capable of running in the 14:40's (as well as the recovering Lauren Fleshman). Full startlist is here.

Another exciting race in Stockholm is the Men's 400. While I usually stick to covering the 800 and up, I can't wait to see what LaShawn Merritt has in him in the 400. It's obvious at this point that I'm a Tar Heel homer, but I went to ECU for grad school, which is where Merritt ran for one year, so I've always cheered for him. Now I am no fan of drugs in Track & Field, but Merritt's case is a little odd. I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt. I hope he lives up to it and has been training hard, as he could help the US medal count in Daegu in two places (400 and 4x400). From the looks of the startlist, he could potentially be in a "B" heat. If not, he'll have his hands full with Jeremy Wariner, Chris Brown, Jonathan Borlee, Angelo Taylor, Tabarie Henry and Renny Quow.

Other races to watch are the Women's 800 (Uceny, Schmidt, Beckwith, Montano, Semenya), the Men's 1500 (Brown, Brannen, Leer, Manzano, Wheating, Torrence, Willis, Kiplagat, Kiprop, Riseley, Gregson) and of course the finale, the Men's 200, featuring (a recently slower) Usain Bolt.

Full meet info is located here. The event will be broadcast live on and later on Universal Sports (with the US team).

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Diamond Dash: Can Morgan Uceny stay undefeated in Monaco?

First the US, now the World! (TrackAndFieldPhoto)
Morgan Uceny, so hot right now. As if her undefeated Diamond League Eurotrip couldn't get any better, Uceny goes and drops a 1:58.37 and pulls four other Americans under 2:00 in a fast 800 in Lignano, Italy on Tuesday. She'll have her hands full once again this Friday, as she attempts to clinch the Diamond League 1500 meter title against the world's best, including Jenny Simpson, Gelete Burka, Maryam Jamal and more. If she looks anything like she has lately, she'd be a worth bet over at Paddy Power (Irish betting site that sometimes has Track).

Along with the strong Women's 1500m and the recently previewed Men's 5000, there will be a strong to quite strong Men's 1500 as well. A year ago in Monaco, Andrew Wheating went legend, dropping an outstanding 3:30.90. He'll be back this year with his former college teammate and US Champion, Matt Centrowitz, Olympic Silver Medalist Nick Willis, Olympic Bronze Medalist Mehdi Baala, 800m stud Abubaker Kaki, Ethiopia's Deresse Mekonnen, Aussies Ryan Gregson and Jeff Riseley and Kenyans Augustine Choge and the new sultan of swag, finger wagging Silas Kiplagat. You heard it here, someone's going under 3:29. Full 1500 start list is here.

The event will be broadcast on Universal Sports. Full meet info is here.

Here's the start list for the Women's 1500:

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Monday, July 18, 2011

My 2 Spikes Worth: What does the US Women's Soccer run mean for Track?

Here today, gone tomorrow?
As a former soccer player and a fan of Team USA, I loved the run the women went on that ended a few PK's short of a World Cup title. I equally enjoyed the Men's run in 2010. Most Americans enjoy soccer during the World Cup as well. The question always turns to, what will this mean for soccer in the US beyond the World Cup? The same thing seems to happen with Track and Field around the Olympics. People get excited about certain people and certain stories. In Beijing, it was certainly Usain Bolt, his world records and his lightning bolt pose. In Atlanta, it was Michael Johnson, his unbelievable 200 and of course, his golden shoes. Will there be a moment where Track takes over Twitter like the US Women's Soccer team did yesterday during the 2012 London Olympics? More importantly, will it matter if they do beyond that moment?

There is a lot of chatter about whether or not Track matters anymore to the public and "what can we do to make Track more popular to the average person." I don't particularly think Track will ever catch on in the public spectrum and I'm okay with it.

Do you remember me?
First off, when track was popular, there weren't as many options. ABC's Wide World of Sports showed Track all the time and was almost required viewing. Now we have over 1000 channels. The NHL had to shut down for over a year to fix itself (and it has an entire country behind it). The NBA looks like it's about to take a long vacation as well.

Now while I am okay with track's current status, my only worry is the question of : Is Track sustainable in it's current state? I sure hope so. I was pretty bummed when Dick Patrick was let go from USA Today. But I was pretty happy when NBC won the bid for the Olympics through 2020. Why you ask? Well, that pretty much ensures that Universal Sports (an NBC imprint) will be around until then. Universal Sports shows the Diamond League, which is essentially the Premier League for Track. In some shape or form, NBC also owns Versus, home of the Tour de France, which in my opinion, is the best endurance event on television.

Also, there are people outside of the mainstream that are keeping Track poplular amongst it's current fanbase. One can hardly imagine a world without the "World Famous Message Boards" of I can't say enough about what I think Flotrack and Runnerspace have done for the sport. I can only imagine the hours that people like Ryan Fenton and Ian Terpin have put in to cover high school to professional running. There are a few professional journalists out there, including Ken Goe and Doug Binder, that do an excellent job of covering the sport. Then there are plenty of cottage industry types, like Jesse Squire (the Track & Field Superfan), that have other jobs and cover the sport because they love it. As long as there are people like this, Track will survive.

The Men's Marathon will close the London Olympics
When I was in Eugene covering the Prefontaine Classic this year, I met a bunch of high schoolers on a road trip. They had driven from Minnesota to Coos Bay to Eugene, and were heading to Portland after Pre for a nighttime 5k road race. That reminded me that Cross Country is the one of the most popular high school sports in America. The potential cult fan base will always be there. If you are a coach, show your team the Prefontaine movies, show them Chris Solinsky's 26:59 on Flotrack, have a showing at school for the Boston Marathon and tell them about the Diamond League (the professional track circuit). The USATF may be a mess, but that doesn't mean the rest of us have to sit around and wait for Track to be shown in Prime Time again. Enjoy the sport and spread your passion and Track will be just fine where it is. And the Olympic year bump will be just gravy!

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

...and if you liked the article, please click the ad below it. No purchase necessary and you'll be supporting the site!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Battle Royale: The "real" American 5000m Championship in Monaco

No Moran to pace off in Monaco (TrackAndFieldPhoto)
10 days from today, the real American 5000m championship will take place in Monaco (July 22nd). An absolutely stacked field has been put together that combines the world's best with the best Americans. Who's racing you ask? Well, for starters, we've got all the top Americans coming in fresh. Those representing the USA are Matt Tegenkamp, Chris Solinsky, Galen Rupp and Bernard Lagat. Also in the field is Rupp teammate and Portland-based, Mo Farah.

Internationally, a slew of excellent Kenyans (Chepkok, Kipchoge, Kiptoo, Soi), Ethiopians (Alamirew, T. Bekele, Kuma, Merga) will be pushing hard as usual and Spaniard Sergio Sanchez will be making his 5000m debut (this season). The continued comeback of the Big Mazungo, Craig "Buster" Mottram, will be on display as well.

Full Monaco meet information is available here

Below is the full field and here's the link to the start list:

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hobby Jogging: Second Empire Grand-Prix Awards & Recap

John & I posing on Hillsborough Street
The Second Empire Grand-Prix Series was something that I always thought was a cool idea and something that I had always hoped to place in. I initially thought this after turning in a scintillating 22:22 5k at the Second Empire Classic in 2006. Fortunately, a lot has changed since then! Despite being injury ridden for quite some time, I am pretty pleased that I was able to put together six races that netted me a fourth place overall finish in the series. I was also happy to have my friend and training partner, John Simons, take third!
Mo money, Mo problems
This weekend marked the awards luncheon that Kim and Rod were nice enough to host at their excellent restaurant (and series sponsor), Second Empire. We were treated to an excellent lunch, a nice video recapping the series and the presentation of the awards. I had no idea what to expect, but I didn't realize that 32 1/2 years into my life, I can proudly say that I am giving up my amateur status and am going professional! This is thanks in part to accepting the $100 check I received for finishing fourth overall in the series. All joking aside, it was a very nice gesture and we were also given a nice embroidered Brooks backpack that I'll certainly carry running gear in (John has other uses lined up for it).

Here are my individual recaps for Second Empire Grand-Prix 2011 Spring Series:

No diapers in this one!
Now while I don't know if I'll participate in the entire fall series, the races are posted and I know I am excited to run the Mag Mile again, a race I placed very well in during the 2009 season.

Here's the Fall Grand Prix Schedule:

-The Magnificent Mile – Sun, Sep 18
-Triangle Run/Walk for Autism – Sat, Oct 8
-5k Run for Healthier Babies – Sat, Oct 15
-Monster Dash 5k Run – Sun, Oct 30
-Free to Breathe Lung Cancer 5k – Sat, Nov 5
-Inside-Out Sports Turkey Trot – Thu, Nov 24
-Jingle Bell 5k Run for Arthritis – Sat, Dec 3
-St. Michael Jolly Elf Trail Run – Sat, Dec 10

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Diamond Dash: Can Mo Farah lead Galen Rupp under 13 minutes in Birmingham?

Farah leads at Pre (TrackAndField Photo)
Today will be a homecoming of sorts for England's Mo Farah. Before coming to the United States to train with Alberto Salazar and the Oregon Project, Farah was based out of London, and will certainly have a big cheering section for him as he seeks to possibly lower his British Record of 12:57.94. The Birmingham crowd should have a lot to cheer about as Farah's season has been excellent so far, most recently decimating the European and British 10,000 records with a statement win at the Prefontaine Classic in 26:46.47.

He'll likely be leading his teammate, Galen Rupp, around the track with hopes of getting Rupp under the heralded 13:00 barrier. Rupp's best last season was a 13:07.35. Their coach, Alberto Salazar, says that Rupp is as fit as Farah, so we'll see today how true that statement really is. Here's a link to the full 5000 field.

Also of note, this afternoon will be Christin Wurth-Thomas' return to action after a devastating fourth place finish at USA's. She'll contend in an excellent women's 1500 with new American star Morgan Uceny (fresh off a big win at Paris).

The event will be broadcast online and on television by Universal Sports. Full start lists are available here

Update: Farah wins a tactical race in 13:06.14 with Rupp a close second in a PR of 13:06.86. Rupp kicked down Imane Merga in the homestretch and went 59, 54 on his last 2 laps (and around 4:00 for the last 1600). Also, Morgan Uceny continued her winning streak with a strong kick to win the women's 1500.

Official Men's 5000 Results:

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Run Down: Manzano, Wheating and Centrowitz get A-Standard in Paris 1500

In a field with 19 competitors, there wasn't much room for error today at Areva Paris. Luckily, all three Americans (and Bernard Lagat) achieved the A-Standard for guaranteed entry to the World Championships in Daegu, Korea. Amine Lalou led a strong field in 3:32.15, with Bernard Lagat finishing on the podium (3rd) in a season best time of 3:33.11.

The Americans competing in Daegu finished in 3:33.66 (Leo Manzano, 6th), 3:34.39 (Andrew Wheating, 9th) and 3:34.69 (Matt Centrowitz, 11th). The standard is 3:35.00 and the 3:34.69 is a big PR for Centrowitz. Official results are here

Also of note, Shalane Flanagan narrowly missed the American Record in the 5000, finishing in 4th in 14:45.20 (Molly Huddle's record in 14:44.76).

The event will be broadcast tonight at 8pm (with the American broadcast team) on Universal Sports.

Official Men's 1500 results:

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Diamond Dash: Asbel Kiprop leads an Olympic quality 1500m field in Paris

Kiprop #1 (courtesy TrackAndFieldPhoto)
There's a chance all three medal winners from the Beijing Olympics Men's 1500m final could be competing Friday at Meeting Areva (Diamond League Paris). Gold Medal winner, Asbel Kiprop, leads the field that includes Silver Medalist, Nick Willis, and possibly Bronze Medalist and local Frenchman, Mehdi Baala (as Willis mentioned in an article this week that Baala is "expected to race"), although he doesn't appear on the provisional entry list.

The field is stacked with top Americans as well, as Bernard Lagat, Andrew WheatingLeo Manzano and Matt Centrowitz will be ready to face the star-studded field with podium finishes and World Championships A-standards on the line. Paris was special to America in 2007 as Alan Webb outkicked Baala to hit the tape first in an outstanding 3:30.54.

Also on the bill is Mr. Bolt in the 200m against white lightning, Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre, as well as a showdown in the 110m Hurdles of Cuba's Dayron Robles and David Oliver. It will be great to see those two and Liu Xiang in the same race in Daegu.

Finally, keep an eye on the women's 5000m as Amy Hastings will be going after the A-standard and Shalane Flanagan may be taking a crack at regaining her American Record, coming off a strong 30:59 10,000 at USATF Nationals.

Universal Sports will be broadcasting the event on television and online.

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Diamond Dash: Paris and Birmingham Previews coming soon!

With a short work week and a full workload at my day job, I'm a little slow with previews for the two Diamond League meets this weekend. Expect previews for Paris and Birmingham in the next day or two!

In the meantime, checkout the websites for:

-Meeting Areva (Paris)

-Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Road Rage: Ryan Hall leads strong field at Peachtree

America #1!
This July 4th, Ryan Hall will make his return to the USA Running Circuit at one of the largest races in the United States, the Peachtree Road Race. Peachtree serves as the USATF Men's 10k National Championship and always attracts an excellent field. This year is no different. Lining up with Hall will be defending 10k road champ, Ed Moran, recent USATF 8k Champion Bobby Mack, recent track 10,000 bronze medalist Scotty Bauhs, and the always enigmatic Black Cactus (aka Abdi Abdirahman). Also fighting for the win will be the always strong group of James Carney, Fernando Cabada, Patrick Smyth, Ben True, Aaron Braun, USA Running Circuit vet Josh Moen and many others looking to take aim at the 15-deep prize money.

Peachtree always brings in a strong international field as well. Leading that group will be a trio of Kenyans, including the favorite, Sammy Kitwara, former Galen Rupp pacer, Matthew Kisorio and cross country specialist Joseph Ebuya. Expect them to push the pace and string out the Americans.

Runnerspace will be broadcasting the race live, starting at 7:30am eastern (on July 4). Go here for pre-race interviews and to view the live stream

Update: Sammy Kitwara takes the overall win in 28:05 over Matthew Kisorio. Here's the video replay of the race and below are the top 15 results for the Americans (click their names for their Runnerspace post-race interview):
  1. Ben True 28:28 
  2. Ed Moran 28:29 
  3. Abdi Abdirahman 28:35 
  4. Brian Olinger 28:35 
  5. Christo Landry 28:52 
  6. Patrick Smyth 29:06 
  7. Scotty Bauhs 29:15 
  8. Ian Burrell 29:16 
  9. Ryan Hall 29:16 
  10. Aaron Braun 29:17 
  11. Josh Moen 29:20 
  12. Justin Young 29:26 
  13. James Carney 29:36 
  14. Bobby Mack 29:43 
  15. Lex Williams 29:54
Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

    Saturday, July 2, 2011

    Things I Like: Le Tour De France

    One of my favorite sporting events starts this morning and goes on for the next 22 days; the Tour de France. Although it seems like whoever wins le tour is on drugs, it's a great annual event to watch. I believe much of it's appeal is created by excellent commentators, Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen and Bob Roll. The Liggett/Sherwen combo is cycling's version of Tim Hutchings, while Roll is more like Ato Boldon (in the booth). All are extremely knowledgeable and are the best at what they do.

    Things start with Stage 1 today, which is Passage du Gois La Barre-de Monts to Mont des Alouettes Les Herbiers. The final day is Sunday, July 24 (Stage 21), which is Creteil to Paris Champs-Elysees.

    Le Tour will be broadcast live every morning on Versus and will have an edited for Prime Time showing every night. Here's the official TV schedule. Also, the tour has an official Faceboook page, an official Twitter and finally, an iPhone/iPad app (search your iPhone store).

    Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook