Friday, October 28, 2011

Film Major: "The Robber"

There's a new "running" film available on DVD/Blu-ray. It's "The Robber" (aka Der Räuber), which is the Benjamin Heisenberg-directed film based on the true story of Austrian bank robber/marathoner, Johann Kastenberger. The screenplay was adapted from Martin Prinz's 2006 book, "On the Run." The film made the film festival rounds in the spring, but the DVD/Blu-ray release will be most's first exposure to the film. It's also available on Netflix Instant. The film is in German, but is sub-titled in English and is very easy to follow, as the dialogue is very deliberate.

German headlines of Kastenberger's demise
So who was Johann Kastenberger? According to the film, and to Wikipedia, Kastenberger was a convicted bank robber, who was first arrested in 1977 for robbing an Austrian bank. He served a 7-year prison term and trained extensively while in person. Upon release, he made an instant splash in the marathon, setting an Austrian national record (the film shows 2:20, but I can't corroborate that anywhere online and haven't read Prinz's book yet). The film does show him winning the ultra difficult Kainach Mountain Marathon in a still standing record of 3:16. Not long after being released from prison the first time around, Kastenberger reverts to his bank-robbing ways and becomes known as "Shotgun Ronnie," due to his penchant for wearing a Ronald Reagan mask during his robberies. This is something that is left out of the film.

Andreas Lust does a very passable job in portraying a competitive runner. He's fit, has good form and most importantly, looks the part. There are some excellent action scenes in "The Robber," particularly one after a robbery nearly goes awry and he runs through multiple buildings being followed by a single camera, and ends up hopping on a trail to evade the police. It's a very entertaining film and is well worth 90 minutes of your time.

Pick up "The Robber" at (on DVD / on Blu-Ray) or watch instantly via Netflix.

Check out the trailer below:

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bookworm: "Running the Edge" by Tim Catalano and Adam Goucher

This book came along at a great time. Coming off injury and anxious to get back to it after a month off, due to two nearly stress fractured shins, "Running the Edge" was exactly what the doctor ordered.

"Being a runner is truly a gift. Runners have access to a world and a set of life lessons that can transform every aspect of their lives."

The above statement couldn't be more true. College teammates at the University of Colorado, Tim Catalano and Adam Goucher recount excellent tales from their past to teach lessons in running and life, with the goal of helping the reader become a true "distance maven;" a term you'll become very familiar with while reading "Running the Edge."

Goucher qualifiers for his 4th
Olympic Trials (and his first
in the Marathon)
Goucher touches on everything from his big wins in high school, to his duels with Bob Kennedy as a young pro, to his early exit in the rounds of the 5000 in the 2004 Olympic Trials. Catalano soars in telling tales about the high school team he's coached that had doughnut eating contests, water chugging exhibitions and a near fatal climb to the top of Bear Peak in Boulder, CO. Both writers complement each other excellently and provide great information on how to become an excellent runner and an even better person.

Both touch on something that's been talked about in other running books, their relationship with ledgendary Colorado coach, Mark Wetmore. Chris Lear's "Running with the Buffaloes" gave us a little insight into Coach Wetmore's wizardry, Matt McCue's "An Honorable Run" gave a little more, and "Running the Edge" digs a little deeper. Catalano discusses his chat with Wetmore in 1996 where he was battered and fighting to make the Olympic A-Standard (in the Steeplechase) and Wetmore told him to "go be great at something else." Sage words from a man that has coached many world class runners. That kind of candor has made Wetmore the renowned coach that he is. Goucher talks about when he and Kara cut ties with Wetmore, after some terse words about his slowing career, only to resurrect it with a trip northwest to Portland, to join Alberto Salazar's Oregon Project (they have recently left).

Distance Mavens: Tim Catalano (left)
and Adam Goucher (right)
The book has plenty of great reference information that goes far beyond the first read. Catalano and Goucher have spent a lot of time here making an outline on how to run well, live well and be accountable for your actions. Both admit to making many mistakes along the way and this book is their way to help others avoid those! Goucher also talks about "an amazing dry-rub seasoning for grilling steaks" that I'd like to have the recipe for!

The book is sprinkled with nice one liners from Chris Solinsky, Kara Goucher, Galen Rupp, Dathan Ritzenhein, Paula Radcliffe, Amy Yoder-Begley and Alan Webb. The book also goes beyond the page with a thorough companion website and oft-updated blog that's worth checking out.

Pick up a copy of "Running the Edge" at or at

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Olympic Trials announcement kicks off an exciting year ahead

Christian Smith tastes Olympic (Trials) glory
With today's release of the 2012 Olympic Trials schedule, the momentum is already starting to build for the Olympic year. Many athletes careers will take off in 2012 and many others will fall short and retire from professional running. It's the four year cycle that Track and Field fans have become accustomed to. New sponsorships will be earned and old sponsorships (that end at the end of 2012) will be lost.

At the Chicago Marathon this past weekend, we were reminded once again about the qualifiers for the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon. The window is closing for the January 14, 2012 race on December 15th (30 days prior), which leaves the prior weekend as the last chance to make Olympic (Trials) dreams a reality. Expect a big group runners to take one last crack at the qualifying standard at the speedy California International Marathon on December 4th. Expect some extreme last chancers at the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville on December 10th, only 100 miles from the 2004 Men's Olympic Trials Marathon.

Many new stars will emerge on the track through the collegiate system, well timed breakthroughs will take place from people like Christian Smith, who was the last seed in the 800 in 2008 (and came in third) and many old stars will surprise as well.

The Olympic Trials standards (for distance events) are as follows (not taking into consideration the Olympic Games standards):

Automatic (“A”)Provisional (“B”)Field Size & RoundsEventAutomatic (“A”)Provisional (“B”)Field Size & Rounds
8:32.008:45.00(24–2)3000m SC9:55.0010:15.00(24-2

US Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field June 22 - July 1, 2012

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Road Rage: There's a new baller in town; Janet Cherobon-Bawcom is her name

Janet Cherobon-Bawcom will eat your bagels
(courtesy Facebook)
It looks like there may be a shake up in the predicted top three finishers at the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon in January. Why is that? There's a newcomer on the US scene that is staking her claim on that podium. Her name is Janet Cherobon-Bawcom. Today, Cherobon-Bawcom annihilated the field at the Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women by almost 30 seconds for the win in 32:47. The race served as the USATF Women's 10k Championship. The win also locked in the overall title for the Women's 2011 USA Running Circuit. Oh yeah, she won the BAA Half Marathon yesterday (by over 2:30 in 1:11:58). This all comes just 8 days after winning the USATF 10 mile Championship as well.

The biggest question on American distance running fans minds right now is "Who is Janet Cherobon-Bawcom?" and "Is she eligible to compete for an Olympic spot?" Well... the answer to the latter question seems to be yes, per the New York Road Runners' David Monti and her sponsor, Per the IAAF, her marathon PR is 2:37:27 from 2008 (in Albany, GA), but judging by her recent success, and her USATF 20k win in September, mid to high 2:20's seems more predictive of her current fitness. As who who is Janet Cherobon-Bawcom? She's from Kenya, has lived in the United States for years and got her citizenship this year. She currently lives and trains in Rome, GA and is finishing up a degree at Jacksonville State in 2012. Here's a link to her post-race interview today with Kevin Ullman from Runnerspace.

What does this mean for the Olympic Marathon Trials in January. If Cherobon-Bawcom can indeed run, it throws another big name in the mix with the three favorites; Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher and Desi Davila, along with Deena Kastor, Stephanie Rothstein and Amy Hastings and Magdalena Lewy-Boulet. Here's the list of all the qualifiers.

Congrats to Janet on her recent success and be on the lookout for her on January 14, 2012 in Houston!

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Road Rage: Ryan Hall is ready to #OwnChicago, but can he Stop Mosop?

Can Ryan Hall stop Moses Mosop?
Ryan Hall will have his hands full this weekend, but he couldn't be happier. The self-imposed pressure that seemed more evident a year ago, seems to be gone. He ran Boston in 2:04:58 and in turn considers himself a 2:04 marathoner. He is. No one seems to question his coaching decision anymore as well. And even though he took some heat when signing on for Chicago, his two biggest competitors at the trials will have tougher hills to climb (pun intended), than he does. The projected runner-up, Dathan Ritzenhein, hasn't raced in year and continues to battle injury, while Meb Keflezighi will be suiting up a month from now in New York. Judging by his interview with Flotrack, Hall is feeling pretty confident about his chances making the team and competing in London. Another thing Hall touched on during the Flotrack interview was Let's Run's offer to donate $5000 to his Steps Foundation if he goes under 2:05. Although he'd love to break that magical 2:05 mark, I am sure he'd be happy enough breaking Khalid Khannouchi's American Record of 2:05:38, a former World Record, that was set April 14, 2002 at the London Marathon.

Ryan Hall, sex symbol?
(copyright ESPN The Magazine)
Hall will have his hands full with one of the men that beat him on his incredible run last year in Boston; the Renato Canova-coached, Moses Mosop. Boston was Mosop's debut (2:03:06) and he looked equally, if not better, during the 30k World Record that he ran on the track in Eugene this Summer. Doug Binder and Jim McDannald (of Track Focus) watched in awe as Mosop got faster and faster the entire race and dropped a 63-second 400 on lap 45 (of 75). If Hall can follow Mosop, and the weather agrees, the American record should be in jeopardy, but beating Mosop will take a career effort (and some luck).

Also of note on the Men's side is a strong contingent of Ethiopians, led by Bazu Worku and Bekana Daba, as well as an equally strong group of Kenyans (Evans Cheruyiot, Wesley Korir, Bernard Kipyego, Joshua Chelanga). Brazil's Marilson Dos Santos and Japan's Atsushi Sato round out the contenders. On the Women's side, the favorite will be Russia's Liliya Shobukhova, with three others coming in with PR's under 2:25.

Full elite startlist is available here.

Of local note, Raleigh and The Athlete Foot Racing's Joe Moore will be taking aim at the 2:19:00 Olympic Trials standard. Good luck Joe!

Watch the Chicago Marathon live Sunday at from you computer or your smartphone (I like this trend).

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Running at Umstead Park - A Primer

If you are from the Raleigh area, you probably already know about Umstead Park. If you're from North Carolina, you've probably heard of it. If you've never heard of Umstead Park, hopefully this piece will make you want to check it out. Based on the continued viewership of my piece on Running in Greenville, NC, and Running in Winston-Salem, NC, I wanted to do something on what I feel is the best place to run in North Carolina. The goal here is to give anyone some basic information about Umstead and what to expect with the trails, where to launch, where to park, etc. It's also a great place to train for the Raleigh Half Marathon.

Why Umstead?
Be prepared to share the trails!
Anyone that has trained at Umstead Park will tell you, it's tough. Training at Umstead makes you a better runner, period. On any given Sunday, you'll see collegiate teams from NC State, North Carolina and Duke floating up and down the hills. You see the state's best high school runners, professionals, Galloway groups and local clubs all churning away the miles up and down the hills. Why? Because Umstead works. It's the health plan that doesn't charge you monthly. It's excellent trails and water fountains every few miles make a great place to get that long run in, a recovery run or just a fun run on the single tracks of Company Mill or Loblolly. Run Umstead once and you may be huffing and puffing, but you'll be a fan for life.

Where to Start?
Parking at Reedy Creek Rd
1. Reedy Creek Road Entrance (You now have to turn left on Manorbrook and park about 100 yards down the road - Also, you can park at Schenck Forest)
Not to be confused with the Reedy Creek (pictured up top) entrance, the Reedy Creek Road entrance is my personal favorite. From Wade Avenue, take the Edwards Mill Road exit, in the opposite direction from the RBC Center, and then take a left on Reedy Creek Road. You'll see the greenway on your right and Schenck Forest on your left. Drive almost until you hit the dogleg left turn and park on the right, just before the "no parking signs." From this gate, you can go straight out the Reedy Creek Trail, or to the right on the more challenging Turkey Creek Trail. You can do the loop of the both for a good 7 miler or cut it shorter with the Cedar Ridge shortcut for 5 miles. More on the routes below.

2. Highway 70 (aka Glenwood Avenue) Entrance
A close drive from the Brier Creek area, but a longer drive from downtown Raleigh. The Highway 70 entrance is close to Carmax out Highway 70. You'll see the sign from the road and it's a lesser traveled entrance to the park for runners, as the main start is the Sal's Branch Trail, and the Sycamore Trail. If you're coming from Durham, this is a good launching point.

Bathrooms at Reedy Creek Entrance
3. The Reedy Creek Entrance (off Hwy 40 exit 287)
The Reedy Creek Entrance is the most traveled entrance, as it has a big parking lot, and bathrooms! Located just off of Highway 40, exit 287, the Reedy Creek Entrance is the only sign of life, opposite SAS and all traffic off Harrison Avenue. From the Reedy Creek entrance, you can start on the Loblolly Trail, Company Mill or Reedy Creek Lake (past Camp Whispering Pines), which takes you back to the Reedy Creek Trail.

Entrance to Lake Crabtree
4. Lake Crabtree
A more tucked away entrance that is popular with mountain bikers, the Lake Crabtree entrance is located off exit 287 as well. You go the opposite direction off the exit onto Harrison Avenue and take a right on Weston Parkway and then another right onto Old Reedy Creek Road. Once you see Lake Crabtree on the left and cars parked just after you cross Highway 40, you'll know where to start. This can launch you to the backend of the Reedy Creek Trail, or towards the Black Creek greenway (around the lake), which is an excellent place to tack on a few miles.

What Trails do I Run?
"Cemetary" Hill
1. Reedy Creek Trail
Reedy Creek is the smoothest of the trails at Umstead. It's a bridle trail that you can run 3-4 abreast, if you wish. If you start at the Reedy Creek Road entrance, you can run just over 5 miles straight out to the Lake Crabtree entrance. There's a water fountain about 5 kilometers in that comes in handy, and plenty of rolling hills to keep your heart moving.

2. Turkey Creek Trail
You can start Turkey Creek by veering to the right at the Reedy Creek Road entrance. There is a water fountain right at the start, which comes in handy when you are doing loops. The first few miles of Turkey Creek are downhill (when you go this way), but around 2 miles, it gets tough. You'll see Ebenezer Church Road on your right and the Cedar Ridge Trail on your left, before heading into the woods for some of the toughest hills in Raleigh. The first one is the hardest at Umstead, but it will prepare you for the rest. The Turkey Creek portion of the trail is about 5 miles before you hit Graylyn Trail, where you can go left up to the Reedy Creek Trail, or right and go onto Ebenezer Church Road and the surrounding neighborhood.

Savor the Single Track
3. Loblolly Trail
The Loblolly Trail is for the trailheads. Lots of great single track that stretches all over the park. You can start on Loblolly at the Reedy Creek entrance or you can hop on it off the Reedy Creek Trail and many other places. It cuts through most every trail and can get a little rooty, but is a lot of fun.

4. Company Mill Trail
Another excellent single track option. You can start on Company Mill at the Reedy Creek entrance as well, or hop on it just after "Cemetary Hill" off the Reedy Creek Trail. This trail is the most like something you would find in the Pacific Northwest, with plenty of pine needle and mulch packed trails that are easy on the legs.

5. Sal's Branch Trail
A great beginner's trail off the Highway 70 entrance, Sal's branch is a nice 2.5 mile loop that can get you started in trail running and can lead you into other area's of the park. This is an especially fun run when it snows.  You'll see many deer on this run, as it's not as frequented as other areas of the park.

6. Sycamore Trail
Also off the Highway 70 entrance, the Sycamore Trail is an excellent lollipop loop that is approximately 7 miles in length and is a mix of rolling pine needle covered trails and more technical root and stream jumps. To get here, just drive straight (all the way to the back) off Highway 70 and you'll dead end into the launch point (not the first, or second parking lot).

Popular Routes at Umstead
The Cedar Ridge shortcut
1. Reedy Creek/Turkey Creek 7 miler (with 5 mile Cedar Ridge option)
This is a popular route that takes you down the Reedy Creek Trail from the Reedy Creek Road Gate until you take a right on Graylyn (about 2 miles up). Once on Graylyn, you'll take another right onto Turkey Creek and hit the hills in reverse. You'll take Turkey Creek all the way back to the Reedy Creek Road gate for a strong 7 mile run. You can do this in reverse as well to hit the harder section on Turkey Creek early. Finally, you can cut this route to 5 miles by taking the right off of Reedy Creek Trail onto Cedar Ridge Trail at about 1.75 miles. Beware though, as right before you get to Ebenezer Church Road and back onto Turkey Creek (where you'll go right), there's a creek to cross that almost always requires getting your feet wet!

Gazebo at Lake Crabtree
2. Gate to Gate (to Gazebo, and beyond)
The gate to gate run keeps you on the Reedy Creek Trail. You'll start at the Reedy Creek Road Gate and run almost to Lake Crabtree (and back). It's about 4.6 miles and can easily be tacked on. If you go into Lake Crabtree and run to the Gazebo, you'll be closer to 12 miles for the full back and forth. And if you want to go even further, you can follow the Black Creek Greenway another 1.9 miles to Harrison Avenue for a run that's almost 16 miles.

Gateway to Reedy Creek Lake
3. Reedy Creek Lake Hills
From the bridge at the bottom of Reedy Creek Lake to the road at the top of Reedy Creek Lake Trail is just over a half a mile. This is an excellent place to do uphill or downhill repeats. Training here will get you ready for the Newton Hills at Boston or any hills for that matter!

Races at Umstead
1. The Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run
The Umstead 100 is something that I've witnessed a few times on training runs. It's usually held in late March and sells out six months in advance every year. It is sold out for 2012 already. They offer a 50 mile option as well.

Lots of water fountains at Umstead
2. The Umstead Marathon
The Umstead Marathon is a more recent event that is also very popular. This event is held in early March and is put on by the Carolina Godiva Track Club out of Durham.

3. Run for Umstead
The Run for Umstead is a four mile event that is put on by the Umstead Coalition, a non-profit organization that helps preserve the park. Join the group here

"Fat Ass" Finish
4. The Umstead Downhill Mile
Ok, so this is a pipe dream "fat ass" (aka unofficial race) that I plan to put together one day. You start at the Reedy Creek Road Gate and run (almost) to the Reedy Creek Lake sign as fast as possible! Want to try it? It's a live Strava segment (with an uphill counterpart).

I hope this has been helpful. Feel free to leave any comments on things that could be useful to the out of towner and email me with any basics I've left off!

Thinking of buying near Umstead? I can help!

Click the map for a full PDF map of Umstead:

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Road Rage: Ben True seals 2011 USA Running Circuit victory in Minneapolis

True wins in Providence
It's been quite a 2011 for Ben True. In 2010, True left Oregon Track Club Elite and headed back east, closer to home, to train with Tim Broe's new group, In The Arena. It has proved to be an excellent move, with True finishing second today at the USATF 10-Mile Championship in Minneapolis, MN, and more importantly, securing the overall 2011 Mens's USA Running Circuit Championship.

In 2011, True qualified for the USA World Cross Country team, was runner-up at the Gate River Run (15k Championship), won the BAA 5k, ran a 10,000 PR of 28:16 on the track (qualifying him for 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials and 2012 Track Trials), ran a 5,000 PR of 13:24, won the USATF 10k Road Championship at Peachtree, won the USATF 5k Road Championship in Providence and capped it off by securing the 2011 USA Running Circuit Championship today with the runner-up finish in the 10-Mile Championship to Mo Trafeh.

True ran a smart race, staying with his main competition, Aaron Braun, and then kicked when he needed to. For his efforts, True will pick up $20,000; $12,500 for the USA Running Circuit Championship and an additional $7,500 for his runner-up finish today. 

True's win also brings more attention to Tim Broe's "In the Arena" team. Broe spoke with Let's Run in June 2010 about the formation of the group (iTunes link here). True's success this year should bring even more talent into an already expanding group of talented male runners. They've got a nice, well-kept blog as well!

On the Women's side, Janet Cherobon-Bawcom ran away from the field early, and didn't see anyone else until about mile nine, when Mo Trafeh passed her to earn the $10,000 equalizer bonus. Cherobon-Bawcom's win makes her the front runner for the 2011 USA Running Circuit Championship, with the Women's finale in 8 days. New York New Jersey Track Club's Julie Culley ran a strong race for second, and former North Carolina Tar Heel, Blake Russell, rounded out the podium with a strong run in 54:44.

The Women's Championship will wrap up next Monday (October 10) in Boston with the 10k Championship, hosted by the Tuft's Health Plan 10k for Women. As usual, Runnerspace will provide live coverage.

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