Sunday, September 25, 2011

Film Major: "Hood to Coast"

The Hood to Coast Relay is something that I had heard about for years in passing, but being from the east coast, the only relay near us worth competing in was the Blue Ridge Relay. The release of the Hood to Coast Movie has changed that and has truly propelled the relay to a worldwide destination event.

If you are unaware of the Hood to Coast Relay, in short, it is a 12-person, 197 mile relay that starts at Mt. Hood in Oregon, and ends in Seaside, OR (not the one where Jersey Shore is filmed). There are 36 legs, so each runner generally will run three legs each, with each leg spanning 3.5 to 7.8 miles. 1250 teams are allowed to compete and are started slowest to fastest (based on self reported 10k times). Each team is allowed two 12-person vans and must support themselves with food, etc.

In the fashion of "Spirit of the Marathon," Hood to Coast's storyline is based on four teams competing. Team Heart N' Sole is based around Kathy Ryan, a competitor who was pronounced dead at the previous year's event and is on a quest to complete a marathon in every state. Dead Jocks in a Box are a group of aging Masters runners who have been doing the event for 25+ years and are still quite competitive. Team R.Bowe is a group of family and friends running in honor of Ryan Bowe, a guy about my age who died far too young of a heart condition. The final team was Thunder and Laikaning, which is a group of artsy beer drinkers, who enjoy life and just wanted to do the event for the challenge. These are probably a pretty good sample of the types of teams you would see competing at Hood to Coast each year.

Runners have the most fun
All in all, it's fun to watch how the different groups navigate through the course and overcome their own personal demons (or lack there of). Personally, I would have liked to see the film focus a little more on the course, the race and it's history and the more competitive groups up front, but I realize that story wouldn't translate to the masses and the "marathon craze" that we've been experiencing over the past few years in America. The film does have some excellent shots of the breathtaking Pacific Northwest that will make any runner consider the event and does take about the wild expansion that started as eight teams who wondered if anyone would want to do it the following year. Runners of all ages and competitive divisions will find something to like about Hood to Coast, and if you're like me, you'll want to compete in the event after seeing the documentary.

For those of you interested in competing, the registration period for the 2012 Hood to Coast Relay opens October 12 (here's the entry form). And if you need another person to complete your team, email me!

Some extras that you will get with the DVD that you wouldn't see in the theatre are tons of deleted scenes, running tips, a "Making of Hood to Coast" piece and my favorite segment of any documentary DVD about groups of people; the "Where are they now?" featurette. Since this was filmed at Hood to Coast 2008, it's fun to see the changes in the lives of some of the members of the four teams that were followed three years ago.

Pick up a copy of the 2-Disc Special Edition DVD (or Blu-Ray) from the Hood to Coast Movie website or from (DVD / Blu-Ray).

Check out the "Hood to Coast" trailer here:

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

The Run Down: Patrick Makau sets new Marathon World Record of 2:03:38 in Berlin

2011 has been the year of the Marathon. First, Geoffrey Mutai lays down an astounding 2:03:02 at ("aided") Boston. Now, Patrick Makau has repeated his 2010 win in Berlin with a new World Record of 2:03:38, breaking Haile Gebrselassie's mark on the same course.

What was exciting about Makau's run is that he ran the last 30 minutes by himself. As the last pacer fell off, Makau didn't have the luxury of having Moses Mosop push him, as Mutai did in Boston. He also nearly missed the finish line, as he had to hop the curb (see above photo) with 20 yards to go to break the tape, nearly avoiding a marathon blunder.

Former World Record holder, Haile Gebrselassie, did not finish. He said post-race that he aims to run a fast time at the Dubai Marathon (January 27, 2012).

On the Women's side, Kenya's Florence Kiplagat broke the gold standard 2:20 barrier with an excellent win in 2:19:44. England's Paula Radcliffe ran her first marathon in nearly two years, finishing third in 2:23:46, an excellent litmus test to see where she is with the 2012 London Olympics looming (in her home country).

The only question to ask now is, who will be the first to 2:02?

The event will be rebroadcast at 8pm eastern tonight (Sunday, Sept 25) on Universal Sports.

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Road Rage: David Torrence takes on the big boys at the 5th Avenue Mile

Road Warrior, David Torrence
David Torrence is as close to the king of the road mile as you're gonna get. The three-time consecutive USATF Road Mile Champ will have his hands full this weekend at the season ending Fifth Avenue Mile in New York, NY. Torrence rose to cult fame with his now famous downhill sub-4 attempt thread on that he took video of (see video below).

Just last weekend, Torrence won the Front Street Mile in Maui, in a course record of 3:57, but didn't have to face Bernard Lagat and the boys. He will Saturday at 1:05pm eastern. Along with Lagat, there's a huge field that will fight for the win down on one of Manhattan's biggest streets. Joining the fun on the American side is new pro, AJ Acosta, Steepler/Jack of All Distances, Ben Bruce, Saucony's Garrett Heath, 32-year old Sub-4 man, Christian Hesch, the sometimes mustachioed Will Leer, New Balance's Craig Miller, Nike's Kyle Miller, former Buckeye Jeff See, US 800 champ Nick Symmonds and the resurging Fam, Anthony Famiglietti. Defending champ, Amine Laalou, leads the international competition, with Australia's Jeff Riseley throwing his hat in the ring.

Let's get physical
Morgan Uceny will be the favorite on the Women's side, as she looks to be the first #1 World ranked American Woman in the 1500 in many, many years. The Women's race will go off at 12:50pm and also includes Brooks' Gabrielle Anderson, Road Mile Champ, Sara Hall, multiple time US 1500 Champ, Shannon Rowbury, 2011 World Champ Jenny Simpson and 800 meter specialists, Alysia Montano and Maggie Vessey. World Championship Silver Medalist, Hannah England, leads the international challengers. Somewhere in the middle is OTC's Sally Kipyego, who took Silver for Kenya at 10,000 in Daegu. She, along with a large field of other international competitors, will make for an exciting race.

New York Road Runners TV will show highlights at 8pm. Full race schedules are available here.

Experience Torrence's 3:46 Downhill Road Mile:

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hobby Jogging: 9/18/11 - Raleigh, NC - The Magnificent Mile

With the last three weeks of my training being 24.5 miles, 17.5 miles and 16.5 miles, I wasn't expecting much today at The Magnificent Mile. The past eight months in general have been a drag due to severe shin splints. When will it end? Hopefully soon. Anyways, enough with the sob stories. The Mag Mile is a great race and as much as I knew today would not be a PR day, or anything close to it for that matter, I still wanted to hop in. How often do you get a chance to run a mile road race?

The Mag Mile also serves as the USATF State Road Mile Championship and is the first race of the Second Empire Grand-Prix Fall series. Maybe my shins will heal miraculously and I'll be ready to run strong the rest of the series. Hey, stranger things have happened!

Warming up the "kick"
Got in a good two mile jog of the course (forwards and in reverse) with John Simons beforehand and did some hard strides. I was as ready as I was gonna be. After announcing what seemed like half the field, we were off. The legs were moving, just not that fast. I got out good, but spent the entire race reeling people in. When I circled the capital and hit the halfway mark in 2:35-6, I thought the A-goal of 5:10 was within reason, but when I hit the 3/4 of the way marker in 3:58, I figured that was likely out of the picture. My legs just weren't ready to run that pace. I kicked home the last 400 as best as I could and saved one more sprint in the last 50 yards, to pass a local high schooler, to finish in 5:16, 4 seconds faster than my B-goal of 5:20.

What can I take from the race? Reassurance that it takes consistent training to perform and a good rust busting performance. Nothing exciting, but a good way to go through the motions of a pre-race warmup and all the things that come with that. Hopefully that'll help in the near future!

Charlie's Angels 2, Full Throttle
My friends and teammates faired great and it was fun to watch. John was a bit up on me in 5:03 (1 second off my 5:02 from 2009), Joe had a big breakthrough in 5:38 (20 seconds faster than he ran in '09) and Erin came in an impressive sixth overall in the Women's race in 5:23. All star blogger, Shelby Van Pelt, ran a strong 6:00 as well (although I know she wanted that 5:59). Performance of the day went to my friend from Winston, Molly Nunn, who ran 5:19 for fourth, one day after winning the Run for Green Half Marathon in Davidson, NC, as she prepares for the Wineglass Marathon (and an attempt at the Olympic Trials Qualifying Standard of 2:46:00).

After the races, we all got together and did a nice three mile cool down through Raleigh. The shins felt better here. Hopefully a sign of what's to come! Until then, it's run when I can, soccer on Tuesday and hopefully get to Winston early enough tomorrow to register for the Boston Marathon!

Also, congrats go out to The Athlete's Foot Racing's Joe Moore, who won in 4:20 and to TAF-ers on the road, Bobby Mack (14:03) and Sandy Roberts (14:13), who finished sixth and eleventh respectively at the USATF Road 5k National Championships in Providence, RI.

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Road Rage: Anthony Famiglietti is back for the USATF Road 5k Champs in Providence

Have you seen this man?
It's been a while since Anthony Famiglietti has competed. What better place to return than one where he has won before? Fam won the 2008 USATF Road 5k Championships and will start his drive towards qualifying for a third consecutive Olympic team with another run through the streets of Providence, RI tomorrow, in search of another National Championship at the CVS Caremark Downtown 5k. He's written a blog post about his return as well.

Fam's recently been training in Davidson, NC (right outside of Charlotte) and recently returned to the roads with a tune-up win at the Sunset 5k in Salisbury. Fam also attended Appalachian State for two years (before transferring to Tennessee) and leads a charge of runners with NC ties at Providence. USATF 8k Champion, Bobby Mack, will be among the favorites as he continues to have a breakout season. My friend, Sandy Roberts, will be making his USA Running Circuit debut. Both Mack and Roberts run for The Athlete's Foot Racing, out of Raleigh, NC (my team). Also out of Raleigh is Duke Law student, Lauren Bonds. Bonds has had a great past few years and will be representing Adidas Raleigh TC. All will be skipping out on the Mag Mile tomorrow (NC USATF Road Mile Championship in which Mack is a multiple time winner). Finaly, Stephanie "Pezz" Pezzullo, trained in Charlotte for a while, before relocating to Flagstaff, AZ.

Robert Cheseret, who is Bernard Lagat's brother, will be defending on the Men's side, as he kicked down Ben Bruce last year in the final steps to take the National Championship. An excellent field will challenge for the win, as many have traveled to Providence for the shot at the $30,000 purse. Aaron Braun and Ben True will be favorites, along with Fam, Mack and Cheseret, as Braun is currently 1st in the overall USA Running Circuit standings with True a close second.

Conquering one barrier at a time
Sara Hall will look to improve on her second place performance from 2010 on the Women's side, and has a Fam connection as well, as she's spent some time with him working on her steeplechase technique. She'll likely choose that event to try to qualify for the 2012 London team. Hall is currently ranked fifth in the USA Running Circuit standings and could make a big jump with a win in Providence. An injured Molly Huddle won't be defending her title, but Hall will get plenty of competition from the likes of Julie Culley, Emily Brown, Pezz, Bonds and a strong field from all over. If the Runnerspace race coverage team team remains the same, Chris Nickinson will have the call on the Women's side.

Runnerspace will be streaming the race live tomorrow at 11:05am eastern and more information and interviews are available at

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Friday, September 16, 2011

Galen Rupp gets American 10,000 Record of 26:48.00 in Brussels!

Rupp follows closely behind Kenenisa Bekele
Galen Rupp came to play today. He looked strong the entire run and held with the rejuvenated master, Kenenisa Bekele, until about 600 meters to go. Luckily, mid race someone posted the stream of the race and I got to see Rupp run the last 7 laps. He surged, ran with poise and hung on strong when Bekele put the hammer down for a strong third place finish behind Bekele and Lucas Rotich. He was rewarded with a new American 10,000 Record of 26:48.00Full results are here.

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Diamond Dash: DL Final in Brussels sees Galen Rupp targeting American 10k Record

No pollen, no problems
At 1:15 pm eastern today, the final Diamond League meet of the season will get started in Brussels, Belgium. At 1:25pm, the Men's 10,000 will go off with Galen Rupp taking on Kenya and Ethiopia's finest (including Kenenisa Bekele). Rupp will have one number on his mind, 26:59. Rupp was planning on going after this record earlier this year at Distance Night in Eugene, but a high pollen count spoiled the attempt. That won't be an issue today, and with highs in the low 60's, the weather should be great for the attempt.

Next up will be the Women's 1500 at 2:21pm. All American eyes will be on Morgan Uceny, as she attempts to take one more victory and clinch the Diamond League 1500 title. Maryam Jamal will be her biggest competition for the $40,000 pay day. Also in the field will be golden child, Jenny Simpson, as she attempts to rebound from a poor showing in Rieti.

The Men's 800 goes off at 2:45pm with another epic showdown between David Rudisha and Abubaker Kaki. A very fit Asbel Kiprop will join the mix to make things interesting as well, but no Americans will be in the field. At 3:13pm, the Women's Steeplechase will finish it's Diamond League season. Milcah Chemo leads this field with no Americans joining the party. Closing out the day will be the Men's 5000 at 3:38pm. Vincent Chepkok and a recently disqualified Imane Merga will lead another American-less field. 

Follow along at Universal Sports and

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Things I Like: Flotrack's new show, Run Junkie

There's a new running show on the block from the excellent team over at Flotrack. My twitter account was greeted to a tweet (from Flotrack) this morning, introducing their new show, Run Junkie. Hosts Ryan Fenton and Alex Lohr do an excellent job of keeping the news brief and exciting and interject some true track dork comedy. While there are other excellent recap shows like Runnerspace Live and the House of Run podcast, in my opinion, there's always room for more. Here's to the newcomer! Check out the first episode below:

Watch more video of Run Junkie on

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Friday, September 9, 2011

David Rudisha returns to the scene of the time in Rieti

King of the Rodeo
Last year in Rieti, Italy, David Rudisha brought the heat; the heat being a 1:41.01 World Record in the 800 meters, his second of the season. Mr. Rudisha returns to Rieti Saturday to take aim once again at his heralded record, with personal pacer Sammy Tangui in tow. The race will go off at 12:05pm eastern, as Rieti is six hours ahead of the east coast.

There are a few other exciting distance races going on in Rieti as well.

On the Men's side, the 1500, which goes off at 11:38am, has World Champion, Asbel Kiprop, leading the way, with Amine Laalou, Nick Willis and Ryan Gregson leading the international field, and Americans David Torrence and Will Leer taking aim at the 2012 Olympic A-Standard.

Bernard Lagat leads the 3000 and has said on Twitter that he is taking aim at his 7:29.00 personal best. If he were to better that, he would set an American Record in the process. Tariku Bekele, Vincent Chepkok and others will stand in his way. The race goes off at 11:48am.

On the Women's side, Gold Medalist, Jenny Simpson returns to the track in the 1500. She'll have Spain's Natalia Rodriguez and Morocco's Btissam Lakhouad trying to take her down at 12:25pm.

Full schedule is available here. Full Men's Startlist is here and full Women's Startlist is here. For more up to the minute information, check out our Italian friend, Alberto Stretti's blog. He's looking for a stream and I'll post it if available!

Relive David Rudisha's 1:41.01 World Record last year:

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Diamond Dash: "Olympics in a Day" in Zurich Thursday

Cheruyiots of Fire
Only a few days after the completion of the 2011 IAAF Track and Field World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, the always exciting Weltklasse Z├╝rich Diamond League meet kicks off at 2pm eastern Thursday (on

The distance action gets started at 2:15pm with the Women's 5000. Vivian Cheruiyot, coming off a very strong 5000/10,000 double at Daegu, leads a very strong field, including Daegu 5000 Silver Medalist, Sylvia Kibet, 10,000 Silver Medalist, Sally Kipyego and American, Shalane Flanagan. Flanagan's coming off an average 10,000 in Daegu and will look to bounce back and once again take aim at Molly Huddle's American 5000 Record; one that she's come within a second or two of breaking multiple times this summer.

The Women's 800 is the next distance event on tap at 2:50pm. This field is stacked with Daegu winner, Mariya Savinova, Silver Medalist, Caster Semenya and Bronze Medalist, Janeth Jepkosgei. It also has a hungy Jenny Meadows, who missed the finals in Daegu in being outkicked by Maggie Vessey in the semis. Alysia Montano will be ready to go as well after narrowly missing the Bronze by .06 seconds. Finally, Morgan Uceny will look to rebound after being tripped with 500 to go in the 1500 finals, only to watch fellow American, Jenny Simpson, take the Gold.

The Men's 1500 is the penultimate distance event in Zurich at 3:10pm, with Olympic and World Championship Gold Medalist, Asbel Kiprop, leading the way. His countryman and Daegu Silver Medalist, Silas Kiplagat, will look for revenge in front of the sold out (in advance) Zurich crowd. Another exciting entry will be 800 meter Silver Medalist, Abubaker Kaki. Kaki ran an excellent 3:31 earlier in the season and has mentioned doubling in the 800 and 1500 in London. This will be a great field to test himself against. Finally, there are two Americans in the field, but both are pacemakers. Old reliable, David Krummenacker, will be there along with 800 meter national champ, Nick Symmonds. It will be interesting to see how Symmonds handles pacing a 3:30-ish race (and how long he goes. My guess 1000 meters max).

The last distance event of the day is the Men's Steeplechase, which goes off at 3:35pm. Will Daegu dancing star (and Gold Medalist), Ezekiel Kemboi, be there? Yes, indeed. Paul Koech, who was left off Kenya's Daegu roster, will be there to challenge. The field is a little down beyond that, as Brimin Kipruto and the two frenchies (Tahri and Mekhissi-Benabbad) won't be there. American Ben Bruce will have his hands full and will look to improve on his breakthrough 8:19.10 personal best (that he set earlier this year).

There will be plenty of excellent sprint and field events going on as well as Zurich always gets the best talent. Watch live on or later on Universal Sports television.

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Monday, September 5, 2011

Daily Daegu Recap

"Worlds" were quite exciting this summer in Daegu, South Korea. This page serves as the index for the "Daily Daegu" series of articles that previewed and recapped the 2011 Track and Field World Championships.

Day 1: Women's Marathon starts the party tonight
Published on August 26, 2011
This post is a preview for the first event of the 2011 Track and Field Championships, the Women's Marathon.

Published on August 27, 2011
This post was a recap of the Kenyan domination in the Women's Marathon and a preview of the Men's 10,000 and the Men's 800 prelims.
Published on August 28, 2011
The highlight of the day was Usain Bolt being disqualified for false-starting in the 100. Also, Ibrahim Jeilan outkicked Mo Farah for the Gold in the 10,000, as Kenenisa Bekele failed to keep pace.
Published on  August 29, 2011
Symmonds goal towards a podium finish was today. Prelmins continued for the Women in the 1500 and the 5000. 

Jenny B does it!
Day 5: Jenny B fights in the 1500, but should she come back to the Steeple?
Published on  August 30, 2011
Highlights were David Rudisha winning Gold and Jenny Simpson fighting hard to make the final in the Women's 1500. The Men's 1500 heats also began.

Day 6: Bernard Lagat's quest for Gold starts today
Published on  August 31, 2011
Highlights were previews for the Men's 5000 prelims, the Women's 800 semis and the Men's 1500 semis.

Day 7: Jenny Simpson digs for Gold!
Published on September 1, 2011
The big news was pre-race favorite, Morgan Uceny, going down in the final of the Women's 1500, but Jenny Simpson surprising with a big kick for the Gold Medal.

Day 8: Maggie Vessey powers into Women's 800 Final
Published on September 2, 2011
Highlights were Maggie Vessey edging out Jenny Meadows for a spot in the 800 final and the Women's 5000 final.

Centro take the podium
Day 9: Matt Centrowitz surprises with Bronze Medal
Published on September 3, 2011
The highlight for Americans was Matt Centrowitz kicking home in 51 seconds over the last 400 to earn a Bronze Medal. Also, Usain Bolt took Gold in the 200.

Day 10: On the last day, Mo Farah gets his Gold
Published on September 1, 2011
The big highlight was Men's 10,000 Silver Medalist, Mo Farah, redeeming himself and winning the Gold in the 5000. Also, Abel Kirui, of Kenya, dominated the Men's Marathon.

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Road Rage: The Black Cactus is back! Abdi Abdirahman wins USATF 20k Championship

Abdi after winning 2008 Olympic Trials 10,000
Abdi Abdirahman aka "The Black Cactus" won his first National Championship in over two years today (last was 2009 10k at Peachtree) in breaking away from a strong field, with a 4:36 fifth mile at the Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race in New Haven, CT. For his USATF 20k National Championship, Abdirahman will take home the $8000 first place prize. His winning time was 1:00:13.

Finishing second, in 1:00:34 was Team USA Minnesota's Jason Lehmkuhle. Finalizing the podium was Boulder, CO's Fernando Cabada in 1:00:58.

On the Women's side, new American citizen (via Kenya), Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, took the title in 1:08:30 over Clara Grandt, who finished in a near personal best of 1:09:06. USA Running Circuit veteran, Katie McGregor, was third in 1:09:56.

Here are the results, courtesy of Runnerspace. Kevin Ullman and Chris Nickinson did an excellent job covering the race this morning with no finish line mishaps!

Next up will be the 5k National Championships in Providence, RI on September 18th.

For more on the USA Running Circuit, check out:

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Daily Daegu: On the last day, Mo Farah gets his Gold

Farah's eyes now turn to London 2012
The Brits will have a lot to be excited about heading into London 2012. After many years of mediocrity in the distance events, they now have the favorite, or at minimum, co-favorite, for both the 5000 and 10,000 in Mo Farah. Farah looked great on Day 9 in Daegu, taking charge when he needed to and powering home for that Gold Medal in the 5000; the one he desperately wanted in the 10,000. His winning time was 13:23.26. Bernard Lagat gave a hard charge down the homestretch to pass the Ethiopians, Imane Merga and Dejen Gebremeskel, for Silver, but ran out of room to catch Farah. Merga held on for third, but was disqualified for stepping inside the rail. Karma for his continued jostling with force? Perhaps. Gebremeskel came in fourth, but will be awarded the Bronze. Farah's training partner, Galen Rupp, looked great until about 450 to go, when he just couldn't kick with the big boys. Rupp's last lap was 58, Farah's was 52. Rupp would finish ninth.

The Women's 800 was a barn burner as well, as it looked to be Gold for Caster Semenya with 200 to go. At that point, Russia's Mariya Savinova had one more push and outlasted Semenya to the line to take the Gold in a blazing 1:55.87. The early leader, Kenya's Janeth Jepkosgei, barely held off a diving Alysia Montano, for the Bronze. Montano's time was 1:57.48. Maggie Vessey finished sixth in a season's best of 1:58.50. A strong showing, but not likely what she wanted.

Kirui didn't stay with the pack long
The night before was the Abel Kirui show in the Men's Marathon. Kirui broke free around 25k and ran a 14:17 5k from 25k to 30k. That was enough to secure his victory and his victory was huge. Kenya's Vincent Kipruto finished second in 2:10:06, which was 2:28 behind Kirui's 2:07:38. Kirui is now a repeat World Champion. Can he bring that kind of intensity to London next year? He'll surely have better competition, but he would have beaten just about anyone today. Ethiopia's Feyisa Lilesa broke up the Kenyan sweep with a Bronze finish in 2:10:32. Mike Morgan, of the Hanson-Brooks Distance Project, was the top American in 31st in 2:18:30. Nick Arciniaga, the most accomplished American on the team, finished a disappointing 41st in 2:24:06. Hard to think he'll truly be a threat to make the London team with a performance like that going into the trials, but maybe he was holding back a little or just having a bad day. The Marathon is a strange beast.

The night finished with the 4x100's. The Women's went off first and the Americans did not disappoint. Bianca Knight got off to a great start, Allyson Felix worked the backstretch, Marshevet Myers ran an unbelievable curve and Carmelita Jeter isn't going to give away a lead in the final stretch. A job well done and a Gold Medal to show. The Men were up next and would be the last event on the track for the 2011 IAAF Track and Field World Championships. The Jamaicans were the heavy favorite and delivered as promised. They went above and beyond with a new World Record in 37.04. All this without Asafa Powell. The Americans failed to finish yet again, although this was just as much the British team's fault as it was Doc Patton's. Coming around the third curve, Patton caught an elbow from Great Britain's Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, sending him to the track and ending the United States' chances at Silver. Could it have been avoided? Probably. Just more disappointment for the 4x100. Not much you can do in that situation, except to be aware it may happen next time.

All in all, the 2011 IAAF Track and Field Championships went off without a hitch. The United States got more medals than expected and had some very nice surprises in the distance events with Jenny Simpson taking the Gold in the 1500 and Matt Centrowitz taking the Bronze in the 1500 as well. All eyes will focus on London 2012 now. Hope you enjoyed the coverage here and on Universal Sports!

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Daily Daegu: Matt Centrowitz surprises with Bronze Medal

Matt Centrowitz did big things in 2011
From NCAA Champion to surprise USA Champion to World Championships 1500 Bronze Medal, it's been quite a season for the University of Oregon's Matt Centrowitz. Once again, Centro executed an excellent race plan in getting to the podium in Daegu. New Zealand's Nick Willis took the early lead at right about 3:45 1500 pace and Centro tucked in right behind, not giving up the rail. The proved to be an excellent tactic in the semis and it proved the same in the final. When the group behind him began to charge, he maintained his composure and began to kick with 250 to go. He closed harder than anyone in the final 100, looking super smooth in his shifting of gears and rolling past everyone but Kenyan favorites, Asbel Kiprop (Gold) and Silas Kiplagat (Silver) to finish a strong third in 3:36.08. What a way to finish an excellent season.

The field saw a lot of Bolt's back tonight
The Women's 4x400 team matched the Men with another Gold, and Danielle Carruthers took the Silver and Dawn Harper the Bronze in the Women's 100 hurdles (aka the Sally Pearson Party). The Usain Bolt show closed the night with an excellent win in 19.40. Walter Dix ran the second fastest time of his life in 19.70 for the Silver, while a hard charging Christophe "White Lightning" Lemaitre broke 20 for the first time, bringing home the Bronze in a French National Record of 19.80.

Day 9 kicks off tonight for us in America (and in the morning in Daegu) with the Men's Marathon at 8pm eastern. Once again, it will likely look like a Kenya vs. Ethiopia dual meet up front, but with a stronger Ethiopian contingent than on the Women's side. Watch out for NYC Marathon winner, Ethiopian Gebre Gebremariam, to sit and try to take it from one of the Kenyans at the end. Vincent Kipruto, Benjamin Kiptoo and Abel Kirui will lead the Kenyan assault against Gebremariam and countryman, Feyisa Lilesa.

The final session on the track kicks off at 6:40am eastern with the Men's 5000. This is an event that many distance fans have been waiting for. Is this Bernard Lagat's chance at Gold? Is this Mo Farah's chance at redemption? Can Galen Rupp run as smart and tactically as Matt Centrowitz, and sneak on the medal stand? Will Imane Merga throw anyone to the track? Lots of questions for the 5k, but it should be a good one. To make the medal stand, you better be ready to run a sub 4:00 final mile and possibly a sub 53 final 400 if it gets real tactical.

Next up is the final distance race of the championships, the Women's 800. This will be another excellent race as no one is quite sure which Caster Semenya will show up. If she runs like she did in the semis, it's over. If she runs like she has the rest of the season, it's anyone game. Jamaica's Kenia Sinclair  has had an excellent season, but barely snuck in. Same with Kenya's Janeth Jepkosgei. Can Maggie Vessey or Alysia Montano make the medal stand? They've surely got a great shot. If Vessey closes like she did in the semis, finishing second to Russia's Yuliya Rusanova, she should be in the cards. We'll know at 7:15am.

Closing it all out will be the Women's 4x100 at 7:35am and the Men's 4x100 at 8:00am. Can the Women and/or Men top Jamaica for Gold? Can both teams finish without dropping the baton? We'll know in less than 24 hours!

Watch the action unfold on Universal Sports.

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hobby Jogging: 8/27/11 - Laurel Springs, NC - Continental Divide Trail Race

This past week marked year number two of my now  annual training trip to Boone, NC. Last year I did most of my runs with my buddy from Charlotte, Scott Williams, who was living in Boone for grad school. This year, my friend from Greenville, Tyler Pake, who just started a blog, came along for the ride. The trip was awesome. After spending the last year battling hamstring issues (and the last 6 months with shin issues), it felt great to get in some real training (after lots of small mileage weeks and biking). We got into town Monday and hit Moses Cone Park for the first run. An easy 6.5 miler and then dinner at Black Cat Burrito got the week off to a good start. The next morning was a nice solo 5 miler at none other than Price Lake. That afternoon, the goal was to tackle Fire Tower.

Good single track at Price Lake
Well, Fire Tower didn't happen, as we missed the turn at the Cone Manor and ended up on the Watkin Road loop. We got down to Bass Lake with 6.25 miles done and decided to regroup and try again in the AM. That night, we hit up Boone Saloon for the famous Taco Tuesday. $1.25 Tacos and $4.50 pitchers had the place packed wall to wall. Had a good, cheap dinner and a pitcher before retreating back to my favorite hotel in Boone, the Super 8 (cheap, clean, indoor pool, fridge, free wifi, nice employees, free breakfast). 

Wednesday morning we tackled the beast; Fire Tower. For those unfamiliar, Fire Tower is a well known run in Blowing Rock that starts at the bottom of Bass Lake and ends at the top of Flat Top Tower, aka Fire Tower. The run climbs 1000 feet in just 5 miles. The first 2 miles were bad up to Cone Manor, but after going under the Blue Ridge Parkway, it gets difficult. I can happily say that I never stopped to walk; something I can't say about my race Saturday. Once we hit the switchbacks after the field, it was tough. But getting to the top and climbing to the top of the tower was pretty cool. You'll see "PWP '11" scratched into the backside of the lowest level of the tower if you ever make the journey!

Trail Race? More like rock climb
That afternoon, our legs were fried, so an easy 30 minutes at State Farm Fields was all we could handle. We got off on the trails and hit one trail that was called something to the effect of "staircase to heaven." We got halfway up and turned around. The legs were done on hills for the day. Luckily, an awesome dinner outside at the Coyote Kitchen helped us recover for an easy track workout in the morning.

Thursday morning was that easy track workout at "The Rock," App's Football Stadium. Just an easy 4x800 with a lap jog at 5:50 pace or so, then a 200 in 33 and a 400 in 73 where I had to stop dead in my tracks for a passing student. The ASU Jogging class watched us and hoped that we weren't the 8am class and that they'd have to match our workout, albeit a short one.

Thursday afternoon was an easy 4 mile cutdown and some strides at Bass Lake to get the workout out of my legs. Tyler made the trek back to up Cone Manor to get some cool photos. We got some barbecue takeout at Bandana's that night to watch the Panther's game. Friday morning would mark checkout and our last run in Boone. We headed down the mountain to hit Mulberry Creek Road. This is where things got a little weird. The run was just an easy 4 miler that felt great, as we dropped about 1000 feet from the 3500 feet altitude we'd been running at all week. The fun started when we got back to the car and had one of the locals decide to tell us we were on his property. We were parked in a church parking lot.

Continental Divide Trail Race Elevation Change
"I've been putting up with you and your dogs for four years. Yall've been scaring my livestock and if the bull I just paid $1000 for trips and breaks his neck, I'm coming up the road to take it outta ya." He assumed we ran for Zap Fitness, which is located right up the road. The funny thing is, we ran the opposite direction of his farm, and although the roads are gravel, they are public roads. Luckily, no shotguns were pulled and we were on our way. Good thing, as there was no cell phone coverage within miles!

Make it stop
So the plan all week was to go run the Continental Divide Trail Race in Laurel Springs if I made it through without breaking anything. The legs were sore, despite my free massage during the earthquake and I was tired, but the body was holding up. So it was on to Jefferson to stay at Scott's house for the night while he competed across the country at Hood to Coast. And this was the USATF National and State 10k Trail Championship. I'd earned "Hobby Jogger All American" once before (name on USATF website), maybe I could do it again.

To say this race was hard does not do it justice. To say it was brutal is being a little nice. My friend Molly Nunn said is was fun. I guess it was in spots, but overall, not fun (or my idea of fun)! We had to hike up a huge hill just to register. From that point, we knew it was going to be rough. The race started at the top of a mountain and the first 3/4 mile was straight downhill. Breakneck downhill. Back side of the hill at McAlpine Park downhill, but for 3/4 of a mile. What comes down must go up and it did. I walked for the first time before the first mile. Should someone who's had recurring shin and hamstring problems attempt this race, probably not, but most runners, like myself, are sick. This pushed my limits. I almost quit here, but soldiered on.

At about 1.5 miles in, I fell flat on my face. Cut my leg pretty good and scraped my knee, but popped back up, didn't get passed and carried on. At 2 miles we started climbing, and climbing and climbing. Lots of walking here. As I got back to the meadow, I saw Molly getting ready for her race and a casually cursed her. Thank god the third leg was coming up. This is where I started feeling good. Not much walking here and I passed three people. Was the nightmare over yet? Not by a long shot. Navigated the switchbacks until 5 miles or so when the straight up "climb" started. This is where I asked myself "what the heck am I doing here?" Except I didn't use heck. This was crawling on your hands and knees and "walking with your quads clutched" territory. Oh yeah, the wind was blowing hard enough to push you down. I truly felt I may fall off the side of the mountain. These were not good times. After a 15 minute final mile, we see a slow grass uphill. Thank you! Now I'm hoping to turn the corner, then get a good kick into the finish. Well I turned the corner and there was the finish. No room to kick. I crossed the line in 44th in 58:24, for a 10k. Ouch.

Happy Times post race
Very thankful it was over at this point. I didn't feel overly tired, as it was hard to get in a rhythm. I felt more defeated and mad. This wasn't trail running. It was more like mountain navigating. Oh well, great week of training and I did break an hour, my initial goal. Luckily, I've had a week of training since that race and what a feeling. Even though Boone is only 3500 feet above sea level, I've been feeling the effects of coming down with great runs all week.

I'll look forward to the trip again next year and will look forward to possibly another week ending race. Maybe the Maggie Valley Moonlight Race. The Continental Divide Trail Race gave me all I could handle! But who am I kidding, I'll probably be back.

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Daily Daegu: Maggie Vessey powers into Women's 800 Final

Vessey drops the hammer in the last 10
Maggie Vessey got things started in the night session of Day 7 at Daegu by running a near perfect race in the semis of the Women's 800. Vessey glided by Great Britain's Jenny Meadows in the final meters to secure a spot in the final and thus eliminating Meadows, a medal favorite in the process. Her time was a quick 1:58.98 and was the slowest of the 8 qualifiers for the final. Alysia Montano sprinted into the final as well with one of the two time qualifiers. The other non-auto qualifier was Jamaica's Kenia Sinclair, another favorite. The final is going to be a good one, but watch out for Caster Semenya. As I mentioned on Twitter this morning, it looks like she's been sandbagging. Her final 200 in the semis was lightning fast. If she unleashes something like that in the finals, it will be a fight for Silver.

The Women's 5000 was a hard fought battle between the Kenyans and Ethiopians, specifically the eventual winner, Vivian Cheruiyot, her teammate, Sylvia Kibet (Silver) and Ethiopia's Meseret Defar (Bronze). The only competitor to break up the Kenya/Ethiopia dual meet was our own Lauren Fleshman, who dug deep and kicked down Ethiopia's Genzebe Dibaba in the final steps, for a very respectable 7th in 15:09.25 (one place better than she finished at USA's). Amy Hastings didn't have it today, but for a marathoner to even make the 5000 Final at Worlds is quite the accomplishment.

In the sprints, Usain Bolt, Walter Dix and Christophe Lemaitre look like the medal favorites in the 200, where Veronica Campbell Brown took Gold in the Women's 200 Final, with Carmelita Jeter taking Silver and Allyson Felix taking Bronze. The Men's 4x400 Relay had to work for it, but in the end, LaShawn Merritt used a miler's sit and kick tactics and powered home on the last straightaway to secure the American Gold.

Day 8 has the Men's 50k Race Walk in the morning and then gets fired up on the Track at night (or the early morning Stateside). The fun starts at 7:15am eastern with the Men's 1500. Matt Centrowitz has surprised with his calm and veteran-like demeanor in qualifying for his first World Final. Should we really be that surprised though? Centro has proved to be an excellent rounds and tactical race runner. The final should see how good he really is. A medal shouldn't be out of the question, and at minimum, he should be there in the mix with 200 to go. He'll have quite the competition, with Kenyan favorites Asbel Kiprop ('08 Olympic Gold Medalist) and Silas Kiplagat ('11 World Leader), as well as Nick Willis ('08 Silver Medalist), Mehdi Baala ('08 Bronze Medalist), plus many others, including the most improved, and most beloved, "Bullet with the Mullet," Ireland's (via Florida State) Ciaran O'Lionaird. Check out Flotrack's prediction contest as well.

Closing out Day 8 will be three sprint races. The first is Women's 4x400 Relay at 7:40am. Can they match the Men's Gold? Next up is the Women's 100 hurdles at 8:00am, where they have to run the semis 1:45 beforehand. Closing out the day at 8:20am will be Mr. Bolt vs. the World in the Men's 200 final. Walter Dix looked great in the semis, but can he stay within a few tenths of the king? We'll see. He may not have to if Bolt "false starts" again.

Follow along at Universal Sports!

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Daily Daegu: Jenny Simpson digs for Gold!

Goldeneye! (TrackAndFieldPhoto)
Who woulda thunk it? Jenny B. Simpson ran a near perfect race to take the Gold Medal in the Women's 1500 at the 2011 IAAF World Track and Field Championships today and has never looked better. Unlike the semi, she bode her time, worked her way through the pack smoothly, and slowly changed gears starting around 250 to go. Only 250 before that, she navigated her way through the massive pileup that claimed Morgan Uceny's chances at the podium. For as much as I have wanted Jenny B to go back to the Steeple, I couldn't be happier. When you have a Gold Medal, you can do what you want!

In the night session, Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp looked great in the 5000 semis. Both should make some noise in the final, with Lagat being one of the favorites, with England's Mo Farah. All three Americans looked great in the Women's 800 prelims and advanced automatically to the semis as well.

In the 1500 semis, Matt Centrowitz ran perfectly to win the first heat, without exerting too much energy. He didn't get off the inside rail for much of the race and stuck when necessary. He has had an incredible year so far, winning NCAA's, USA's and now truly being in contention for a medal in the finals. He'll have his hands full with Asbel Kiprop, Silas Kiplagat, Nick Willis and others, but many strong contenders were bounced, including Leo Manzano, who looked to have pulled something with about 50 to go.

The Men's Steeple went almost to plan with Ezekiel Kimboi winning and dancing it out, leaving teammate Brimin Kipruto the Silver and France's Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad the Bronze (over countryman Bob Tahri). After this, Broughton High alum, Jesse Williams struck Gold in the High Jump and Lashinda Demus got equal Gold in the 400 Hurdles.

Day 7 is a little light on distance events, but does have the Alice Schmidt, Maggie Vessey and Alysia Montano in the Women's 800 semis at 6:25am Eastern Friday morning, as well as the Women's 5000 Final at 7:25am. Amy Hastings and Lauren Fleshman will take aim at a strong field with high hopes!

Check out the action on Universal Sports!

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook