Sunday, March 24, 2013

Team USA Senior Men upset Kenya for World Cross Country Silver

Ben True (photo:Mike Scott/Milesplit)
The snow covered course had been trampled all day by the Juniors and Senior Womens races, but the Senior Men's event would be the last chance for an American medal on the uneven grounds of Bydgoszcz, Poland, where the 40th IAAF World Cross Country Championships would take place.

The US Men would field a strong team, but one that would see Dathan Ritzenhein opt out due to his running of the NYC Half and both Matt Tegenkamp and Luke Puskedra having to bow out to injury. What could also be considered is Galen Rupp not participating due to his barnstorming indoor season.

The goal at this point had to be to get on the medal stand, but some breakout performances by multiple team members led to even more.

Ben True, hot off his USATF 15k Championship, would run the race of his life, and would finish a very strong sixth overall. He would also be the first non-African to cross the line. Chris Derrick would back up his strong win at the USA Cross Country Championships with a tenth place finish; one that would certainly fulfill his pre-race goal.

Beyond these two, things got interesting. Elliott Heath would finish 30th overall and hung there most of the race, but somehow, Team USA kept moving up the rungs each lap. They were fifth with three laps to go, then fourth with two laps to go, then third with one lap to go.

How did this happen?

Derrick, Mack, Vail, Strang, True, Heath
(photo:IAAF)
"Steady Eddies" Ryan Vail and Bobby Mack were slowing working their way through the pack and would finish 17th and 19th, respectively, to push Team USA past Kenya to second on the medal stand. A Silver medal; over Kenya!

Even James Strang, who was called in very recently, to replace the injured Tegenkamp, would run a very strong 37th, and finish ahead of Canada's Cam Levins, to complete an all-around American fireworks show.

Ethiopia would take the win with 38 points, to USA's 52 and Kenya's 54.

Full results are here

Follow writing about running on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest

Support the site and start here when you shop on Amazon.com

Sunday, March 10, 2013

American Distance Running future stars emerge during 2013 Indoor Season

Mary Cain
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
Future stars emerge every winter during the indoor season. Some continue to blossom during outdoors and some run out of steam. What will this year's class do? We'll likely find out at some early season meets like Raleigh Relays, Stanford Invitational and Mt. Sac Relays.

The ultimate goal for these athletes will be a strong performance at USATF Outdoors June 20-23 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, IA, with hopes of qualifying for the IAAF World Championships August 10-18 in Moscow.

Who attain the World Championship A-Standards and who will emerge and don the Team USA kit come August?

Female
1. Mary Cain
High School Junior
Previous achievements: 6th at 2013 World Junior Champs 1500 in American High School Oudoor Record of 4:11.01
Notable 2013 achievements: USATF Indoor Mile Champ (5:05.68 - 58.61 final 400). American High School Indoor Two Mile Record at Boston Grand Prix (9:38.68). American High School Indoor Mile Record at Millrose Games (4:28.25).
Thoughts: What more needs to be said? Best season ever for a female high school runner. We'll see if she can keep progressing outdoors, get the A-Standard of 4:05.50, and compete with the likes of Morgan Uceny, Jenny Simpson and Shannon Rowbury.

2. Ajee Wilson @AjeeW
Sponsor: Adidas
Previous achievements: 2012 World Junior 800 Champ (2:00.91)
Notable 2013 achievements: USATF Indoor 800 Champ (2:02.64). World Junior 600 Record (1:26.45).
Thoughts: Wilson passed on Florida State after setting the 600 World Junior Record (for the first time. She should compete for a spot on the Moscow World Championship team this summer, but will need to run the A-Standard of 2:00.00 to be considered.

Abbey D (photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
3. Abbey D'Agostino
School: Dartmouth
Previous achievements: 2012 NCAA Outdoor 5000 Champ. 5th at 2012 Olympic Trials 5000 (15:19.98).
Notable 2013 achievements: NCAA Indoor Champ at 3000 (9.01.08) and 5000 (15:28.11).
Thoughts: D'Agostino is the most accomplished of the bunch here, with a National Championship already under her wing. But the way she dominated indoors shows her development. She'll look to defend her outdoor 5000 title and compete for a spot on the World team this summer, as the 15:18.00 A-Standard is just off her outdoor personal best.

4. Chelsea Reilly @CheReillyRuns
Agent: Flynn Sports Management
Previous achievements: 2012 USATF 10k Road Champ (32:41)
Notable 2013 achievements: USATF Indoor 3000 Champ (9:23.12) over Lisa Uhl and Emily Infeld. 8:53.89 for 3000 at British Athletics Grand Prix
Thoughts: Reilly ran a few excellent races this winter and capped it off with her first national championship on the track. She should compete for a spot on the 10,000 team for Moscow, but will need to run 31:45.00 likely at Stanford to be in contention.

5. Kate Grace @fastk8
Sponsor: Oiselle
Previous achievements: 2:01.63 Personal Best in 800. 4:10.57 Personal Best in 1500.
Notable 2013 achievements: 3rd at Millrose Games (4:28.79). 8:55.06 for 3000 at UW Invitational
Thoughts: Grace is quickly progressing. I'm not sure what her best distance will be, but she should have a breakout outdoor season, even if qualifying for Worlds may be a more distant goal.

Erik Sowinski (photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
Male
1. Erik Sowinski @eSowinski
Sponsor: Running Wild
Previous achievements: 2nd at 2012 NCAA Outdoor in PR of 1:45.60 (to Charles Jock). 3rd at 2013 NCAA Indoor 800. Semi-finalist at 2012 Olympic Trials.
Notable 2013 achievements: USATF Indoor 800 Champ (1:47.09) over Robby Andrews, Tyler Mulder and Matt Centrowitz. 600 American Record (1:15.61) at Millrose Games over Duane Solomon and Nick Symmonds.
Thoughts: 2013 has been a true breakout year for Sowinski and he'll hope to carry that momentum outdoors. The A-Standard for the 800 is 1:45.30, just off his personal best. He'll likely need a second faster than that to make Team USA.

2. Will Leer @william_leer
Sponsor: Nike
Previous achievements: 4th at 2008 Olympic Trials 1500. 3:36.33 Personal Best in 1500.
Notable 2013 achievements: USATF Indoor Champ at Mile (3:58.79) and 3000 (8:07.84).
Thoughts: Leer has always been a racer, yet he has never hit a World A-Standard. He'll need to run 3:35.00 early to be ready to fight for a spot on the always tough 1500 team. If he can get that out of the way, I like his chances at the USATF Outdoor Final.

Will Leer
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
3. Ryan Hill @ryanhillncstate
School: NC State
Previous achievements: 5th at 2012 Olympic Trials 5000 (13:27.49)
Notable 2013 achievements: NCAA Indoor Runner-up at Mile (3:55.25). 6th at Millrose Games (3:54.89).
Thoughts: Hill has shown some serious speed this winter. He'll need to run the A-Standard of 13:15.00 to be in contention for a spot on the Worlds team, but has improved steadily every year and has phenomenal closing speed. He'll look to battle Kennedy Kithuka and Lawi Lalang over 5000 for an NCAA Championship this outdoor season as well.

4. Eli Greer
School: Oregon
Previous achievements: 1:45.06 Personal Best in 800. 2012 Olympic Trials 800 Finalist.
Notable 2013 achievements: NCAA Indoor Champ at 800 (1:47.13).
Thoughts: Greer continues to get better and will compete for a spot on Team USA. He'd love to win an NCAA Outdoor title in the proceess.

5. Cas Loxsom @cassylox
School: Penn State
Previous achievements: 1:45.28 Personal Best in 800
Notable 2013 achievements: Fastest American time ever at 600 (1:15.42 - Oversized Track). NCAA Indoor Runner-up at 800.
Thoughts: The knock on Loxsom has always been his inability to make and run well in championship finals. He looks to have overcome that dig this winter with his runner-up finish at NCAA's. He'll look to build on that this spring as he has the best "true speed" out of any of the top American 800 guys right now (save maybe Solomon and Jock).

Follow writing about running on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest

Support the site and start here when you shop on Amazon.com

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

5 (more) Questions with the Gate River Run Elite Athlete Coordinator, Richard Fannin

Richard Fannin will be everywhere this weekend
Today we have five more with more questions with the man behind the elite fields at this weekend's Gate River Run 15k National Championship. Here's the first set of 5 Questions with Mr. Fannin (from 2012) and the 2013 edition is below! Follow the race this Saturday on Runnerspace.

5 (more) Questions with Richard Fannin

1. Writing About Running: The Gate River Run 15k kicks off the road racing season each year. Everyone is excited for a new beginning. How does that energy translate to your event?

Richard Fannin: Yes, it seems that after a long track season, and the big fall marathons, everyone is ready to rest and re-group over the holidays. Many of these runners train in cold winter locations and are excited about an early season fitness test in balmy Florida. There is usually a little element of mystery, as many runners haven't raced in a few months and this is often their first race of the year. The slate is clean on the USA Running Circuit - and it is open season !

2. Writing About Running: American distance running icon, Todd Williams, set the American Record here in 1995 with a scintillating 42:22. How has that record stood for 18 years?

Todd Williams in Adidas' "Runners, Yeah we're different" ad
Richard Fannin: Todd Williams' American (and course) record was the result of a great runner having one of those perfect days where it all clicked. The course was a little different that year, with a long downhill ramp coming off the Hart Bridge. But that was such a great performance, I think it would still be the American Record on the current course, just maybe 15-20 seconds slower.

3. Writing About Running: You fly a great deal of athletes in, put them up in a nice hotel, feed them and host a post-race party. What else is it that makes this weekend such a "can't miss" on the USA Running Circuit?

Richard Fannin: We really do try to pay attention to every last little detail for the runners, and we have assembled a great group of volunteers here from JTC Running that get it done! My belief is that the less they have to worry about logistics, and the more relaxed they are, the better they can perform on race day. And as mentioned earlier, Jacksonville in early March typically has lows in the fifties and highs in the seventies - and tons of sunshine - that makes this race an easy sell after often long cruel winters in Minneapolis, Mammoth, Flagstaff, Boulder, etc.

4. Writing About Running: You are very plugged in to the sport. What changes could be made, in your opinion, to move the sport forward?

Richard Fannin: I think the advent of the big teams and training groups is the best thing that has happened to US distance running in 20 years. It has allowed many more elites to forego the professional world for a few years and focus solely on their sport. The team competition we created five years ago was designed to really reward and encourage those teams that are making it happen. A lot of runners come here and - although they might not finish in Top 10, end up going home with some nice prize money. The team competition is something we hope will catch on around the USATF circuit. I know the 8k championships is having a team competition this year.

5. Writing About Running: What's new for the 2013 edition of the Gate River Run?

Richard Fannin: We have several new things we are excited about this year. The first is that The Equalizer bonus is going to be 6 minutes 35 seconds .. based on our new formula of using the exact split the prior 3 years, averaged to the second, which we think will make for a very close race.

Craig Virgin on multiple Track & Field News covers
As referenced earlier, the team race is not new, but this year is the largest and most robust it has ever been; with teams from Hansons Brooks, Asics Aggies, Adidas Boulder Running Company (ADP), Boulder Track Club, ASTF, New Balance Silicon Valley, Nike Team Run LA, Sacramento Elite, Team USA Minnesota, Team USA Arizona, and Zap Fitness.

We are excited about our guest speaker for Friday night, Craig Virgin. Between breaking Steve Prefontaine's high school record, winning an NCAA title, winning two World Cross Country Championships, and appearing in three Olympic Games, he has quite a resume and quite an inspirational story to tell.

And as always, we are excited about the parties we throw for the runners on Saturday night. After a couple of nervous days and a big race, it is fun to blow off steam and celebrate with the runners. The elite distance running crowd in the US is really a pretty small fraternity, and most of the runners know each other well and are good friends. We try to position our race as a fun, spring break "family" reunion weekend; where hey, there also happens to be an awesome 15k race!

Have a request or recommendation for who next 5 Questions with should be with? Email writingaboutrunning@gmail.com

Follow writing about running on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest

Support the site and start here when you shop on Amazon.com

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Hobby Jogging: That time I got farted on during a Colon Cancer race

I've been injured for a long time and the spring of 2013 has long been earmarked as my return to "racing." I know it's going to take a while to get my bearings back, but that's ok. Time I have.

Before today, I recently competed decently at the Run at the Rock 7 Mile trail race, not so well at a "5k" in Brier Creek (that clocked 3.35 miles on my Garmin), and just last Saturday, had a blast running the Black Mountain Marathon with my dad; his first marathon since Boston '88. Today would be a true gauge of fitness on the hilly "Get Your Rear in Gear" course that I have run well on before (17:29 in 2010). Bring it on.

So I was a little more nervous than I should have been. Training has been a steady 25-35 miles a week since December and I can start to feel the consistency paying off. While I have only done a few little workouts, at 6:00 pace, I was hoping to run that speed today. I got up, had some coffee, a small breakfast, and watched Lopez Lomong's 5k American Record from last night on Flotrack. I was ready, I thought.

Warmed up and hit the start. Some poor girl muffed the national anthem, then we were off. A guy from Bull City Running took off from the gun and I was behind him and one other guy for the first half mile. As we turned onto Peace, I passed the second guy, but was a ways back from the leader. The first part of the hill by Cameron Village hurt, but I carried on. Hit the mile in 6:04 or so and was a little bummed, but was happy with my position in a sea of 720 or so competitors. Cruised down Clark and began to lose a little steam at the turnaround. I was right on around 19:00 pace. I wanted under.

This is an out and back race and part of the fun of the second half is hearing the cheers from the other runners as you press back towards the Fletcher Park finish. I heard the footsteps behind me as I approached the downhill, but I knew how to run this section. I thought so at least. My legs did not agree. I passed the 2 mile in 12:32 and was pissed. How did I slow so much? Oh well. Back to the race. At 2.25 miles, my legs weren't responding, but I pressed on, wanting to hold my ground.

This is where it got weird.

Finishing the death march
As I began to approach Broughton High School, one of the race volunteers approached me, turned around, and ripped a fart right on my leg; damn near tripping me, to the enjoyment of his cohorts. "You asshole," I called out. What a dick. I was feeling like $hit and I get farted on by some idiot, who was a volunteering at a race that raises awareness for colon cancer. How ironic.

So I soldier through the last bit of the race, hold my silver podium spot and finish in 19:05. I was bummed to not break 19, but I'll get there again. I ran 19:29 there in 2009 and then dropped 2 minutes the following year.

After finishing, I walked back to my car, called my girlfriend to tell her how I did, then did what any other mid-thirties sane person would do and put on my pullover, hat, and compression pants and jogged back onto the course, looking for the perp.

I'm generally pretty laid back, but this is the kind of thing that pisses me off, and although my 6 foot, 180 pound build isn't great for racing, it's ideal for post-race confrontation. I'm not a meathead. Promise.

Not a satisfied look
So I jog back up Clark as people continue to trickle in and I spot him. He and his cronies are now the race sweepers, sitting in the back of a pick up truck, driving towards the finish. They catch a red light. I approach. The girls start laughing and pointing. I say "I know you're the guy that farted on me." He says he's not. The girls are in hysterics. I hold my gaze. "I just want you to know that I know. Have a great day buddy." His face is frozen. That was it. I jogged back. While the guy was equally my size, it was obvious that he would not be testing the guy in the tight, black pants. For the better, of course.

But that was that. I got back to the finish area, collected my award (a gift certificate to my team's store,  Capital RunWalk, which my girlfriend will enjoy), headed to Breugger's and got a bacon, egg and cheese on everything, and a french toast coffee. All is well. Onward and upward. Probably even treat myself to a beer at Trophy Brewing later today.

Looking forward to the next one!

Follow writing about running on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest

Support the site and start here when you shop on Amazon.com