Thursday, May 31, 2012

5 Questions with Augustine Choge

Augustine Choge on his way to World Indoor
Silver earlier this year in Istanbul
(photo: Zimbio)
Today we have 5 Questions with a mainstay in the international track circuit, whose career has spanned from being a World Junior Cross Country Champion in 2005 to a Silver Medalist at the World Indoor Championships at 3000 meters earlier this year in Istanbul, Turkey.

Augustine Choge will be competing in America for the first time ever this weekend in the stacked 5000 at the Prefontaine Classic. He's been in Tucson, Arizona, training with his friend, Bernard Lagat, for the past few weeks to prepare. His long spanning career and range is incredible, with PR's of 1:44.86 (800), 3:29.47 (1500), 3:50.14 (Mile), 7:28.00 (300) and 12:53.66 (5000). After Pre, he'll run the Adidas Grand Prix next weekend before preparing for the Kenyan Trials in three weeks. Follow him on Twitter @AugustineChoge

5 Questions with Augustine Choge

1. Writing About Running: First off, welcome to the United States. How far back does your relationship with Bernard Lagat go and how is Tucson so far?

Augustine Choge: Thanks for everything. My relationship with (Bernard) Lagat goes back to the year 2004, when I first met him when I joined the management of James Templeton and am humbled to say that he has been more than a friend. He is like my parent, brother, teacher and moreover, a mentor. He and his family have been supportive, both in track and outside the track, and I am very happy to have met them.

Tucson is great so far. Kip has introduced me to some of his friends and I am pleased to tell you that everyone here has a good heart. They are very supportive and welcoming and I am very happy with the hospitality here. The city is a wonderful place. People everywhere are friendly and the service you get is the top of the standard.

2. Writing About Running: You had a strong start to the Diamond League season with a 7:30.42 win in the 3000. Have you changed your training much for the Olympic year?

Augustine Choge: Well, in training here, there is not much that we will change and (actually) won't change anything. The main goal now is to make the national team for Kenya, then from there we plan (with my coach Brother Colm) on the next step. I believe so far everything is on the right track.

3. Writing About Running: With the Kenyan Olympic Trials a month away (June 21-23), what do you have planned after Prefontaine this weekend?

Augustine Choge: After Pre, the main goal is to set up the mind and focus all the energy for the Kenyan Trials, though I will run the Adidas Grand Prix in New York City.

Lagat and Choge. Friends off the track
 and competitiors on
(photo: Getty Images)
4. Writing About Running: You have competed at the World Class level for the past 10 years. What has allowed you to maintain your fitness and be competitive for so long?

Augustine Choge: Well, maintaining the world class level is all about the mental attitude and discipline and moreover, being with the right people with positive mind. Bernard, for example, has been our mentor in our group and through him, we learn a lot. That is why I have always tried to be as close to him as possible. My coach is one of the best coaches in the world and he has contributed a lot for my success. Much credit goes to him. He always teaches on the mental attitude, apart from the physical training and I think this has positively contributed more in my success.

5. Writing About Running: The Prefontaine Classic is the biggest and best meet in America. Are you excited to be racing at Hayward Field in Track Town USA?

Augustine Choge: Running in the Pre Classic is one of the dreams most high class athletes dream of, because of its history and America is one of the nations which almost everyone in other parts of the world dreams of visiting, because of its reputation and history. It is my dream to do well and hope to visit here as much as possible, even to come here to (just) train for couples of months.

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook (and now Pinterest)

Thanks to our sponsor, Adharanand Finn's new book "Running with the Kenyans" for sponsoring the blog this week. Read my review of it here. If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocus, Track Superfan, Paul Merca, RunNova and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network. You can also support the site by buying something on through this link

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

37 years after the death of Steve Prefontaine, the Pre Classic lives on

What was originally staged as the "Hayward Field Restoration Race" in 1975, the Prefontaine Classic, now in it's 38th year, continues to live on as the premier track and field event in America.

I was lucky enough to attend last year (and kept a journal my time in Eugene) and couldn't pass up the return trip to Eugene (via Portland) for the 2012 edition. If you're a track fan, this is something you need to see in person.

The distance action heats up Friday night with "Hollister Night at Hayward." The event is free to attend and will be webcast starting at 7:25pm Pacific (10:25pm Eastern) at

The Women's 800 kicks things off at 7:30pm with Molly Beckwith, Heather Kampf, Gena Gall, LaTavia Thomas, Alysia Montano and Maggie Vessey leading the way. This is the race that put Vessey on the map. Her win in 2009 out of nowhere paved the way to where she is now. Expect her to challenge for the win. This will also be an excellent chance to see where Montano's fitness is, as we haven't seen much out of her this year (yet).

The Men's International Mile is up next, at 7:37pm, with a stellar field of Americans, including Russell Brown, Matt Centrowitz, Will Leer, Jeff See, Dorian Ulrey and American Record Holder, Alan Webb (who set the American High School Record in 2001 here). Alfred Kirwa Yego, Nicholas Kemboi and Mohammed Shaween lead the foreign contingent. This event has become a new standard at Pre and expect the winner to be close to 3:50.

Vessey, Schmidt and Montano will
take on the world's best
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
The Women's 1500 goes off at 7:46 with another excellent American field of Gabrielle Anderson, Katie Mackey, Lauren Johnson, Brenda Martinez, Treniere Moser, Anna Pierce, Shannon Rowbury, Jenny Simpson and Phoebe Wright. Sheila Reid, Jemma Simpson and Tizita Bogale will lead the foreign contingent. Simpson will try to regain the form that found her running 3:59.90 here in 2010, as much of the rest of the field will take aim at the Olympic A Standard of 4:06.00.

The Women's 10,000 is up next at 7:56pm. Expect Tirunesh Dibaba to go away with this one, but pay attention to Lauren Fleshman. She's been injured and is rabbiting. It will be a good chance to see what kind of form she's in before the trials. Alisha Williams will take aim at the Olympic A Standard of 31:45. She has the B right now and will want to get this out of the way before the Olympic Trials in 3 weeks. (Nevermind, she was just rabbiting through 3000)

Closing out the night is the ballyhooed Kenyan Olympic Trials in the 10,000. Athletics Kenya decided to stage it here due to the similarity in elevation to London and it should be quite a run. The top two will qualify, with the last choice going to the committee. 10 of the Men entered have run under 27 minutes and I would expect this race to be won in the 26:45 range. Micah Kogo and Eliud Kipchoge seem to be the favorites, but it's Kenya. There are new stars emerging yearly. Expect the unexpected. I'll be pulling for "36 year old" Mark Kiptoo.

The 38th Annual Prefontaine Classic goes off Saturday, as usual, with excellent sprints, distance and field events. It will be broadcast at noon Pacific (3pm Eastern) on NBC. The Women's Steeplechase kicks off the distance events at 11:46am with Emma Coburn, Bridget Franek and Sara Hall lining up against the best in the world. Milcah Chemos looks to be the ace of the field. Coburn and Franek went 1-2 last year at USA Outdoors and look to be the favorites to make the team once again. Hall has yet to show the form that she showed towards the end of the 2011 season. This will be her chance to show whether or not she's a threat to make the team.

The Women's 3000 goes off at 12:11pm with Jackie Areson, Angela Bizzarri, Brie Felnagle, Sally Kipyego, Molly Huddle, Lisa Uhl and Amy Hastings duking it out. Talk about an American distance fans dream race. This one should be a lot of fun.

Symmonds won in 2007 and would love
 to win Pre again
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
The Men's 800 is next at 12:24pm with Nick Symmonds taking on the world's best (sans David Rudisha). Yuriy Borzakovskiy, Abubaker Kaki, Adam Kszczot, Mohammed Aman and Boaz Lalang will make it a tough one. Add Americans Khadevis Robinson and Tyler Mulder to the mix and you've got a very strong 800. Matt Scherer will lead them around.

The Men's 5000 is at 12:50pm with Matt Tegenkamp and Galen Rupp taking on an incredible field of Mo Farah, Kenenisa Bekele, Craig Mottram, Collis Birmingham, Isiah Koech, Sam Chelanga, Yenew Alamirew and Augustine Choge. Will Rupp go under 13:00 finally? and on American soil? He's gonna have to if he wants to compete in this field!

Closing out the classic will be the Bowerman Mile at 1:19pm. The American contingent will be comprised of Andrew Wheating, Leo Manzano, Lopez Lomong, David Torrence and Bernard Lagat. Silas Kiplagat, Asbel Kiprop Amine Laalou and Nick Willis will lead the world challengers. Kiprop's been tough here, but Kiplagat recently got the better of him in Doha. Expect a scorcher!

All in all, an event that Pre would be proud of!

I'll be tweeting and running around all over Eugene from Thursday night on... with stops at Track Town Pizza, Ninkasi Brewing, Pre's Trail, Rogue Public House, Morning Glory and of course, Hayward Field!

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Thanks to our sponsor, Adharanand Finn's new book "Running with the Kenyans" for sponsoring the blog this week. Read my review of it here. If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocus, Track Superfan, Paul MercaRunNova and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network. You can also support the site by buying something on through this link

Saturday, May 26, 2012

New Column: Single-Tracks and Hop Backs (with a Rock 2 Rock Race Report)

We're lucky to have a new columnist at writing about running. Win Bassett serves as Executive Director of the North Carolina Brewers Guild and leads Social Media & Beer Education for All About Beer Magazine, in addition to writing for the magazine online and in print. He is also co-founder of He's also a heck of a runner.

Win is a regular contributor to Serious Eats, Southern Brew News, SavorNC Magazine, and WRAL and has been published by the Brewers Association, Mountain Xpress, and the News & Observer. When he's not advocating for and writing about beer, find him running in the woods. Check out his website and follow him on Twitter @winbassett

He'll be leading the "Single-Tracks and Hop Backs" column here at writing about running, where he'll focus on trail running, beer, the vegan lifestyle and whatever else fits. Welcome to the party Win!

Without further adieu, here's Win's Rock2Rock race report (next up will be his review of Scott Jurek's new book):

Rock 2 Rock…Rocks

Win and third place finisher Duncan Hoge
with their awarded pint glasses
Named one of Blue Ridge Outdoors' top trail races in the South and quickly gaining the cult status of its bigger brother, the Shut-In Ridge Run, the Rock 2 Rock Trail Run outside Asheville, NC, in Swannanoa is not just any off-road 10k. "You will not be able to run the entire course," writes organizers, and "[a] good estimate is to add about 60% on to your usual 10k time." This sounded accurate for the 2000 feet of ascent in the first 3 miles and 2000 feet of descent in the next 3 miles.

I decided to throw my hat in the ring after running some single-track in the area with Brian Simpson of Riverbend Malt House in Asheville. Brian has finished multiple Rock 2 Rocks and Shut-Ins, and he took me for an eye-, heart-, and mind-opening run from Bent Creek River Park just past the Arboretum in mid-April. No pavement, no car exhaust, no traffic lights. It was the closest that I've felt to the ground that I was covering.

Since then, I've been working out almost exclusively on single-track in Umstead State Park, with a few runs on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail from Falls Lake Dam in Raleigh, Little River Regional Park in Orange County, and Carolina North Forest in Chapel Hill. I've never felt stronger, and I've never been more happy running, despite the humbling splits I was putting down compared to my road times. That's why I couldn't wait for Rock 2 Rock to gauge my progress and potential as one of those guys that runs around mountains.

The race started at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 25, 2012, which throws another kink in the chain in my type-A personality world regarding the timing of my last pre-race workout and what I would eat. I did 7 miles on Company Mill Thursday morning and ate normally throughout the day. After checking in to pick up my bib and visor, which is a welcome change because everyone has more than enough race shirts, I warmed up for about a mile with Brian and Duncan Hoge from Bull City Track Club in Durham, who placed second in the race last year. I took a Raspberry Hammer Gel 15 minutes before the race and lined up about two rows back.

The race started on a grass field adjacent to a lake at the gorgeous Camp Rockmont. I was careful not to go out too fast, and it helped that my legs were still asleep. After a few hundred yards, the course took a turn onto a crushed-gravel fire road with some elevation, but the real uphill battle started about a quarter of a mile farther after a hairpin left onto some dirt double-track.

Fortunately, as soon as I hit the double-track, my legs came to life, and I passed about 8 people on the way to the rocky single-track portion of the race. This section was also the walking section of the race. Despite putting down a respectable time running up Grandfather Mountain in The Bear last year, I never walked it, but I later learned I could have saved some running economy. I didn't make that mistake in Rock 2 Rock. I put my hands on my knees (and even the ground at some points due to the steepness) to get up that mountain and passed another 4 to 6 runners. My mile-3 split was 21:37, and I was not ashamed.

I thought I was at the top after climbing the face of a rather large rock with a photographer on it due to pictures I had seen on the Rock 2 Rock website, but I was wrong. The trail went downhill for about a hundred yards and then started to climb again at a steepness just as before. After passing one more person, I finally reached Eden Rock, the high point, at roughly 3.5 miles into the race. This was the single water station, but I passed without pausing. The volunteers noted, however, that they had left the cups out the night before, and a few bears seemed to have appreciated the gesture.

No sooner than tackling the face of the rock did the course immediately take a turn downhill into some extremely tight, technical single-track. And when I say downhill, I mean downhill. Perhaps the most damage to my body during the course of the race was to my hands from hanging and swinging on trees on my way down in an effort from rolling down the side of a mountain. The second half of the race was a lovely break for my lungs, but now was the time for my legs to hold up and really come through. Gravity almost works against my light frame. I can float uphills but often lose time on the downhills.

I let go with all abandon, however, and did everything I could to stay upright. After Eden Rock, I never saw or heard another soul, so I didn't have a rabbit to chase down or to push me. After the steep, downhill single-track under the canopy let up, a cobblestone and mountain bike jump-ridden double-track took over, which presented another set of challenges. Don't roll my ankle on the big rocks and don't buckle my legs after jumping off the ramps that were just large enough not hit in stride. Eventually, the double-track opened back into the crushed-gravel fire road on the other side of the camp, and the race finished about half of a mile later after a hairpin turn at the starting lake. I crossed the line at 51:49, and I knew a few folks had crossed the line before me, but I wasn't sure how many. Scott Williams, a local runner and fellow beer lover known to tear up the trails and roads around western North Carolina, mentioned that he thought I was fifth as he cheered others on at the finish.

After scarfing down a banana and rehydrating, I stuck around for the awards with Duncan and received a sweet Rock 2 Rock pint glass for taking 3rd in the 20-29 age group. I ended up 5th overall. Tough age group, huh? Duncan ended up 2nd in 20-29 and 3rd overall, and Brian finished at a solid 22nd overall. Roger Price, the father of Writing About Running's founder, finished in 1:19 for 62nd. It was a pleasure to meet him, and I hope I'm still running that strong at 59!

Local mountain running star Shiloh Mielke (has run for Inov-8, Vasque, US Mountain Running Team, etc.) took the overall win despite not being the first to the top. That honor went to other local speedster Matt Morse. See the Rock2Rock website for full results.

The western North Carolina race experience would not be complete, however, without a post-race visit to a local brewery. This is in the area of BeerCity, USA, after all, so Brian and I drove the two miles from the race finish to Pisgah Brewing Company in Black Mountain. Known for its line of all-organic brews, Pisgah has been fueling trail runners in the area with its flagship Pisgah Pale Ale since 2005. Brian and I grabbed pints of Pisgah's newest brew, Steep Canyon Ale, an extra pale ale brewed exclusively to celebrate the Steep Canyon Rangers

It was wonderful to see that some of the top Rock 2 Rock finishers had the same idea. Some stayed for pints, and some, like 6th place finisher Paul Scouten, simply stopped by to pick up a growler of local beer for the Memorial Day weekend. 

Local running, local beer, and local community. It doesn't get much better than that. 

*Special thanks for Rock 2 Rock sponsors Black Dome Mountain Sports, Jus’ Running, Ultimate Direction and Camp Rockmont.

**Finally, looking for a place to stay while running in Black Mountain, NC and enjoying Pisgah Brewing Company? Check out the runner-friendly Stone Circle Cottage.

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook (and now Pinterest)

Thanks to our sponsor, Adharanand Finn's new book "Running with the Kenyans" for sponsoring the blog this week. Read my review of it here. If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocus, Track Superfan, Paul Merca, (new member) RunNova and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network. You can also support the site by buying something on through this link

Friday, May 25, 2012

5 Questions with Gabriele Anderson

Gabriele Anderson kicks for the win at Oxy
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
Today we have 5 Questions with a former Minnesota Golden Gopher and now a member of Coach Dennis Barker's Team USA Minnesota. Most recently, the "Brooks Beast" was awarded Flotrack's "Kick of the Week."

Gabriele Anderson is off to a hot start in 2012. Her 4:06.46 PR (and heat win) at Oxy was just off the Olympic A Standard (of 4:06.00). She'll be targeting the A and racing the world's best next weekend at the Prefontaine Classic. Oh yeah, she's 25 and has beaten cancer twice. Follow her on Twitter @GabrieleAnde

5 Questions with Gabriele Anderson

1. Writing About Running: First off, congrats on your recent win at the Oxy 1500. You have to be happy to compete like that in a field that strong. Have you been working hard on your kick?

Gabriele Anderson: Thank you! It was a good way to start the season! Going into Oxy, I knew my training was going well, but it was my first 1500m this season, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I just wanted to be competitive and take a shot at the Olympic "A" standard, if the race went that fast. After our 800 meter split, I figured the "A" standard was probably a long shot, so from there it was just about racing and finishing strong!

2. Writing About Running: Next up, you'll face another excellent field at the Pre Classic 1500. How exciting is it to compete in a meet of this stature, against the world's best?

Gabriele Anderson: I'm so excited to race at Pre! It will be my first time competing at this meet, and I always enjoy the atmosphere of running at Hayward Field. It's special, I think. The 1500 will feature many of the top American women and I'm looking forward to testing myself again against a strong field. I think it will be a fast race and we'll probably see few more American women achieve the Olympic "A" standard there -- I'm hoping to be one of them!

3. Writing About Running: You mentioned in your post-race interview with Flotrack that the Adidas Grand Prix is a possibility. Do you and your coach have any other plans before the trials?

Gabriele Anderson: I'm still not sure if I will race in New York. Right now my coach and I are taking things one race at a time and still focusing on getting in good training, so I'm not sure how many more times I will race before the trials. If the right opportunity comes up, I'd like to race an 800m before the trials to keep working on my speed!

Anderson at USA's last year
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
4. Writing About Running: You seem to have a great relationship with your fellow Brooks team members. How important is it to have a good support system in this sport?

Gabriele Anderson: It's very important! And you are right, there is a special bond between us "Brooks Beasts"! We were fortunate to be able to get to know one another off the track right after we all finished our NCAA careers as we embarked on new journeys as professionals. Since we were all experiencing similar transitions, including both the excitement and anxiety that comes with it, we immediately hit it off as friends! We have enjoyed representing Brooks together and reuniting on the track circuit whenever we can. It's been great to watch each other progress and support each other along the way.

5. Writing About Running: You have become a poster child of sorts for many young athletes battling cancer. How much has your continued positive attitude that has carried you through two bouts affected the way you look at your running career?

Gabriele Anderson: Honestly, I've just been doing my best over these last few years to keep my head up and to not give up on my dreams. I'm not sure that I'm a poster child, but I do believe that young people facing similar situations can find some hope in my story. I hope that they don't give up on their dreams; I hope they keep smiling and loving life!

I think that running and racing as a cancer survivor has helped me to put the sport in perspective, which is really important, especially at this level. Life is all about doing your best and really appreciating the little things, and I think I'm able to do that much more now in my running career. Instead of putting pressure on myself, I try to look at the journey as a great gift -- and the outcomes are much less important to me than the journey itself.

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook (and now Pinterest)

Thanks to our sponsor, Adharanand Finn's new book "Running with the Kenyans" for sponsoring the blog this week. Read my review of it here. If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocus, Track Superfan, Paul Merca, (new member) RunNova and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network. You can also support the site by buying something on through this link

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

5 Questions with Russell Brown

Russell Brown representing
the Oregon Track Club
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
Today we have 5 Questions with a former Stanford Cardinal who now competes for the Oregon Track Club and makes fun short films in his spare time with his teammates. He's also a big Red Sox fan!

Russell Brown is in the prime of his career and is taking aim at a spot on the Olympic team this summer. From bursting onto the scene in 2011 with a win in the Mile at the New Balance Grand Prix to his 3:51.45 mile last year at Pre, Brown recently made his biggest leap as a professional runner by hitting the Olympic A Standard in the 1500 meters in Doha. He'll race the mile again at Pre next weekend before gearing up for the 2012 Olympic Trials in his homebase of Eugene, OR. Follow him on Twitter @RussellWBrown

5 Questions with Russell Brown

1. Writing About Running: First off, congrats on the PR at Doha (an Olympic A Standard of 3:34.11). How'd the race go in your opinion and how happy were you go get the "A" out of the way?

Russell Brown: This is my first A standard. As in, this is the first time I have hit an A standard of any kind in my long career. I am ecstatic that I am now a big step closer to going to the Games, absolutely. But it also is a badge of honor for me that runs a little deeper than the procedural benefits it gives. It is a threshold that in some ways declares you a world class athlete. That feels better than anything. I feel like I put myself into a new category, and it's not a category I knew I would be in for sure, ever.

If I was from Lichtenstein, I would be going to the Olympics. That is pretty cool.

2. Writing About Running: You'll be part of a stacked mile at Prefontaine. You ran a PR of 3:51.45 last year. What's it like to be a part of the Bowerman Mile at the most exciting meet in America?

Russell Brown: This might just be the most exciting meet in the world. Tom Jordan didn't even have to pay me to write that either. I was in Doha, which ended up being the fastest race in several years, and I look at the start lists for Pre and can't help but think it's better.

Honestly, it feels like a dream come true. I have been a track fan for a long time, and I have been still been a spectator at more big-time meets than I have run at. Watching those meets, you never quite believe you'll be out there one day. It's like growing up going to Red Sox games every year, and then suddenly becoming a player on the team (that actually is me also, but I'll save that dream for after running).

3. Writing About Running: What else (if anything) do you have in store before the trials?

Russell Brown: I don't have any other races lined up. Getting to Doha was enough travel for a lifetime.

I'm going to run at Hayward field every day like I have been doing for four years and continue to imagine running down the homestretch in 1st, 2nd or 3rd place. I will just train with Andy (Wheating) and AJ (Acosta), and continue to do the things we have been doing. It's pretty amazing that the biggest meet of my life will be on my home track. Why would I want to go anywhere else for the next few weeks?

4. Writing About Running: You've created a new video series/blog with teammate Andrew Wheating entitled "Behind the Stands." How'd all the come about and what can we expect in the future?

Russell Brown: Where do I start? Andy and I really just thought it would be fun to make some videos. I have heard him say he wanted to create some buzz and excitement, but the first time he brought a camera to practice, it was, "I'm recording, do something funny". It has turned into something slightly better than that I suppose, depending upon who you ask.

I think our videos are just an expression of how much fun our sport is. We wanted to show all of the people that do this everyday because it makes them feel good, that that is why we do it too. Money hasn't corrupted track for me, it has just given me the opportunity to do it more. I want to show anyone who cares to see it, that every day I am a runner is great, and I hope it is for them too.

Once again, Brown will line up with the World's
best at the Bowerman Mile at this year's Pre Classic
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
5. Writing About Running: The OTC has had a nice group of mid distance guys for you to train with over the past few years. How have you enjoyed being part of the program and are you ready for the Eugene faithful to have your back at the trials?

Russell Brown: I can't say enough about what it has meant to be a part of my team. The resources and the track knowledge available to me in Eugene are fantastic. There is no way I would be nearly as successful without everybody here. I also just really like everyone affiliated with OTC. Everyday training with these people is fun and exciting. I want to include the broader group of OTC in this too. OTC Elite is a small part of a big organization. I'm connected to hundreds of runners and running enthusiasts that I see and interact with all of the time. It really feels like what we are all doing up here together is important and meaningful, and I need that.

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook (and now Pinterest)

Thanks to our sponsor, Adharanand Finn's new book "Running with the Kenyans" for sponsoring the blog this week. Read my review of it here. If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocus, Track Superfan, Paul Merca and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network. You can also support the site by buying something on through this link

Monday, May 21, 2012

Film Major: "The Real Maine" debuts tonight for free online

Erik van Ingen's new film, "The Real Maine" debuts tonight (Monday, May 21, 2012) at 6pm Eastern at I was lucky enough to see the film in advance and I can guarantee that if you're a fan of distance running, you'll love the concept, the personalities and the delivery. You'll walk away from your computer wanting more. Hopefully van Ingen will release some more outtakes, as it's fun getting to know the guys.

It's been an exciting year for the cast of characters. Chris Derrick hit the Olympic A Standard in the 5000 and 10,000. Erik van Ingen, Kyle Merber and Riley Masters hit the Olympic Trials A Standard in the 1500. Mark Feigen also PR'd in the 1500 this week, and will be running in the NCAA East Regional this weekend (with Merber and van Ingen. Derrick and Masters will be running in the NCAA West Regional).

Get to know them better tonight and check the links below for a little more background on the film.

Check out 5 Questions with Erik van Ingen (from last week) here

Check out the excellent 10 Questions with that Flotrack did to give you an overview of the characters.

"The Real Maine" is on Twitter @RealMaineMovie

"The Real Maine" on Facebook as well

Finally, "The Real Maine" is on Vimeo with some extra footage

Follow writing about running on Twitter and Facebook (and now Pinterest)

Thanks to our sponsor, Adharanand Finn's new book "Running with the Kenyans" for sponsoring the blog this week. Read my review of it here. If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocusTrack SuperfanPaul Merca and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network. You can also support the site by buying something on through this link

Thursday, May 17, 2012

5 Questions with Erik van Ingen

Erik van Ingen en route to an All
American finish at NCAA Indoors
Today we have 5 Questions with an All American miler and filmmaker. Last summer, he shot a film that included some of the biggest names in the NCAA running scene and will soon release it to the public (look below for how to see "The Real Maine").

Erik van Ingen has had an excellent collegiate career as a Binghamton Bearcat and he'll be continuing that this spring with NCAA's coming up and then on this summer at the Olympic Trials. He most recently won the UVA Challenge 1500 in a PR (and Olympic Trials A Standard time) of 3:38.06. He also is the filmmaker for "The Real Maine." Follow him on Twitter @vanIngenErik and check out his Vimeo page, which is full of clips from "The Real Maine"

1. Writing About Running: Where did the idea for the film come about and what's your relationship with the group of guys that is involved (Kyle Merber, Mark Feigen, Chris Derrick and Riley Masters)?

Erik van Ingen: The idea for the film started during the summer of 2010. I read John L. Parker's "Once a Runner". In the novel the protagonist, Quentin Cassidy, retreats to a cabin in the country in the pursuit of excellence. I thought that would be a cool idea to create a variation of. Just being out in the middle of nowhere with some good friends where the only thing that matters is getting faster. Something real simple, back to the basics. Late that summer I talked to Kyle (Merber) about it. Kyle, Chris (Derrick), and I are counselors at 5 Star Running Camp and have been for a few years. Kyle was instantly on board. From there school started, homework piled up, and we became consumed by our lives back at school. Late the following spring Kyle approached me about the trip (which I had nearly forgotten about) and we began planning. We talked of places to go, Kyle and I had both spent time in Maine and figured it would be a good place to train. I had met Riley through a teammate of mine at Binghamton who went to high school with Riley. so we had a bit of an America East connection going on there. Feigen was brought along by Kyle. The two of them are very close friends at Columbia and after Mark (Feigen) ran a breakthrough outdoor season the decision to bring him along was easy. As for Chris, he couldn't make it for the longest time. After awhile he finally caved and was able to come up for a week and get in some runs and laughs with the crew.

Check out The Real Maine website
2. Writing About Running: You mention that the film is inspired by the classic novel, "Once a Runner." How did that book affect you and do you think "The Real Maine" captures that idea of "moving out into a cabin the woods" to train intensely?

Erik van Ingen: The novel deals with a college athlete on the verge of making it big. The struggle and exploration of self throughout the narrative is something that I can closely relate with.

3. Writing About Running: You've had an excellent career at Binghamton, that most recently included a diving win at the America East 800 conference championships. What are some of your most proud moments as a collegian?

Erik van Ingen: Proud moments as a collegian. One would have to be our team taking third in the DMR at Penn this year. We finally put together a team that we had dreamed of for five years. Maybe not with the guys that started the vision back in 2008, but as a program we thought this was something that could happen. Running at a school like Binghamton gives you a bit of an edge in races like these. It's easy to get fired up when you have a chip on your shoulder. It's just amazing to stick it to teams that are statistically better than us and to share that with three other guys with the same vision is unreal.

4. Writing About Running: Putting together a film like this takes a lot of time and a lot of help. Can you speak to the man hours and what kind of work it took to get the film completed?

Erik van Ingen: The film was difficult for me. I'm still a student, so my level of experience going into this was not adequate. I wish I knew the things about narrative arc or the punctuation of visuals that I do now, back when I started. I feel like I'm a different filmmaker than I was at the start of this project. The biggest issue was sitting down at the computer after the summer and figuring out what to make of all this? what direction to go in? I had a little over 100 hours of footage to work with. It was great having so many options, but at the same time it's very time consuming and overwhelming. I had been putting in about 25-30 hours a week from September until the end of April. Between that, my training, and the rest of my curriculum (this project only counted for 4 credits) I was pretty busy. My social life consisted of messing around with the guys at practice and talking to my girlfriend on the phone at night. I'm fortunate enough to love what I study, so even though the project was very stressful and demanding, I wouldn't have changed a thing.

5. Writing About Running: The film's release date is May 21, 2012. How will track fans be able to see it/purchase it?

Erik van Ingen: Fans will be able to see it for free on starting on May 21, 6pm, tune in and enjoy.

Check out the trailer for "The Real Maine" below:

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Thanks to our sponsor, Adharanand Finn's new book "Running with the Kenyans" for sponsoring the blog this week. Read my review of it here. If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocus, Track Superfan, Paul Merca and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network. You can also support the site by buying something on through this link

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Film Major: Jenny Simpson "More Than Gold"

Check out the 15 minute mini-documentary below that New Balance Running has put together on their star, Jenny Simpson, and her rise from small town girl to World Champion. Follow her on Twitter while you're at it @trackjenny

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Thanks to our sponsor, Adharanand Finn's new book "Running with the Kenyans" for sponsoring the blog this week. Read my review of it here. If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocus, Track Superfan, Paul Merca and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network. You can also support the site by buying something on through this link

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bookworm: "Running with the Kenyans" by Adharanand Finn

If you had the opportunity to take 6 months off of work to be able to head to Iten, Kenya to train and learn about the workings of the Kenyan runners, would you? Most of us would jump at it, and this is precisely what author Adharanand Finn did. Luckily, he documented this travels and learnings in his new book, "Running with the Kenyans." Finn is an assistant production editor for the British national daily newspaper, The Guardian and was given this special opportunity; one he took full advantage of and delivered an excellent read for fans of distance running worldwide.

Finn's book is filled in fact that while very fascinating, is also is filled with unearthed and often times, sad truths that tell of the not so wonderful tale of the magical Kenyans. Finn finds a friend in Toby Tanser (of the excellent book, "More Fire: How to Run the Kenyan Way") who quickly answers the question of why do Kenyan children run to school. "Are they hoping to become athletes?" asks Finn. "No, they're running because if they're late, they get caned." He also digs into the "age old" question of why many Kenyans official ages are less than their real age. "Each person has a different story, although it usually involves someone else, such as a manager, getting the date wrong at some point." That's one thing that is very evident. The managers are the ones in control of the Kenyan runners, as they operate the running camps, that are essentially tryouts to earn chances to compete internationally. Some run in the camps for years and never make more than a few hundred dollars, relying on the kindness and hospitality of family to help them along.

Finn runs through the Kenyan landscape
Photograph: Marietta d'Erlanger
The most rewarding thing about Finn's 6 month journey to Kenya is his personal journey from 38 minute 10k runner to a very competent "mzungu (foreigner)," who is given incredible access to the who's who of the then and now of the storied Kenyan running scene. The people he met and ran with will any distance running fan's mind.

Read the blog that Finn kept while writing the book here (and then here) and be sure to follow him on Twitter @adharanand Finally, be sure to listen to his interview on the House of Run podcast.

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Thanks to our sponsor (the above book), Adharanand Finn's new book "Running with the Kenyans" for sponsoring the blog this week. If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocus, Track Superfan, Paul Merca and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network. You can also support the site by buying something on through this link

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

5 Questions with Austin Mudd

Austin Mudd at Payton Jordan
 (Photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
Today we have 5 Questions with the fastest freshman in the 1500 meters so far this year. He'll be ramping up for the Big Ten Outdoor Championships next weekend, before preparing for the NCAA Regionals (and Nationals) with the Wisconsin Badgers.

Austin Mudd has one of those kicks that you know is coming, but there's not much you can do to take the sting out of it. He burst onto the scene last year, running 4:01.83 at the Adidas Dream Mile. Most recently, he ran the 8th best 800 in Wisconsin school history with a 1:47.68 at the Mt. Sac Relays. His 3:40.87 in the 1500 at the Payton Jordan Invitational was the 10th best in school history and showed major promise for what's to come. Follow him on Twitter here.

5 Questions with Austin Mudd

1. Writing About Running: Congrats on the big PR and win in your heat at Payton Jordan. Did the race work out to your plan and did the time surprise you?

Austin Mudd: Thanks! I actually talked a little strategy with a teammate before the race and everything went as planned. I wanted to stay towards the front of the pack and then swing outside with 400 to go. I was staring at the clock coming down the last 100 and I was actually pretty surprised when I saw the time, I'll take a 5 second PR any day!

2. Writing About Running: You had an excellent prep career in Indiana running 4:01.83 for the mile and 1:49.25 for the 800. What high school accomplishment were you most proud of and why?

Austin Mudd: I was most proud of my state meet senior year. I couldn't have asked for a better day. I was happy enough to break one record, so the second was icing on the cake. We also won the 4x400 relay and it was a really cool experience to share with my teammates; it's definitley something I will never forget!

3. Writing About Running: You joined a historic program for college in Madison. What made you choose to become a Wisconsin Badger?

Austin Mudd: I was drawn to UW Madison because the campus is absolutley beautiful! I also think Mick is a great coach and the team dynamic is very comforting.

Mudd was a high school phenom
 in Indiana at Center Grove
4. Writing About Running: With Big 10's coming up in less than 2 weeks. Have you and Coach Byrne decided on which event(s) you'll be focusing on there and for the rest of your freshman season?

Austin Mudd: I believe I am running the 800 at Big Ten's, but we haven't really discussed plans for the rest of the year.

5. Writing About Running: With all the incredible performances at Payton Jordan Sunday? Aside from your own, what were some of your favorites and how'd it feel to be around so many accomplished runners?

Austin Mudd: The atmosphere was awesome and it was great to see so many world class performances! (Lopez) Lomong's 5k was pretty exciting but I have to say that watching team mate Mohamed Ahmed run a 27:34 10,000 to qualify for the Canadian olympic team was pretty sweet. Congrats Mo!

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Thanks to our sponsor, Adharanand Finn's new book "Running with the Kenyans" for sponsoring the blog this week. My review is coming soon! If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocus, Track Superfan, Paul Merca and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network. You can also support the site by buying something on through this link

Monday, May 7, 2012

5 Questions with Bridget Franek

Bridget Franek at World Outdoor in Daegu
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
Today we have 5 Questions with the 2010 NCAA Steeplechase Champion and 2012 Team USA Member. She recently ran her first steeple of the year and was under the Olympic A Standard (and is the current World Leader).

Bridget Franek moved from the east coast to the west in 2010 after her All American career at Penn State. Since her NCAA Championship, she's finished second at the 2011 USA Championship and competed at the World Outdoor Championship in Daegu. She'll take aim at an Olympic berth this summer in her current home, Eugene, OR. Follow Bridget on Twitter, check out her blog "Steepling Barriers, Chasing Dreams" and her club profile (where results and race videos are posted).

5 Questions with Bridget Franek

1. Writing About Running: You had an excellent debut at the Oregon Twilight this weekend, running under the Olympic A-Standard in 9:39.77. How’d the race go in your opinion and were you able to execute the way you wanted?

Bridget Franek: I was really happy with my race this weekend. I definitely feel like I have a much faster time in me, but it was a good start. It felt so easy, I had no idea I was cruising so fast until I heard the announcer say the projected time! This part of the season is fun- where we are all getting to see hard work paying off!

2. Writing About Running: You’ve got a history in softball, basketball, volleyball and soccer. Do you think the athleticism that those sports require has helped you excel in the steeple?

Bridget Franek: Yes, because I did those sports through high school, I am young in terms of running years, but I definitely believe that I gained strength and body awareness from them.

3. Writing About Running: You’re now a few years into training out in Eugene. How have you enjoyed your time training with the Oregon Track Club Elite so far?

Franek ran the 5000 at Payton Jordan
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
Bridget Franek: The Oregon Track Club is something really special. I now see that it would be very difficult to find the amount of support and commitment we receive from the community and our coaching staff anywhere else in the country. Coach Rowland is unlike any Coach I have ever had and operates on a very professional level, pushing us athletes harder than I have ever been asked to go. It has all taken me time to adjust, but I am very confident that once I do, I will be at a very high level and have the best shot of finding my true potential in the sport. My transition has been made easier with all my help from my sponsors- Nike, PowerBar, and SkinCareForAthletes- all of which make training less painful and much more fun! It has also been an incredibly inspirational and beneficial experience to be able to train with some of the best athletes from all over the world.

4. Writing About Running: With many track fans coming out west this summer for Prefontaine and the Olympic Trials. Do you have any “must” recommendations in Eugene for food, coffee, etc?

Bridget Franek: I love Eugene for all the great places to get good breakfasts- Glenwood, Studio One, Morning Glory, Keystone, and Original House of Pancakes to name a few! There are some really 'healthy' and creative spots for lunch and dinner as well- Laughing Planet, Holy Cow, and PRI are great if you are willing to try something different!

5. Writing About Running: The trials coming up in about 6 weeks, what else do you have planned between now and then?

Bridget Franek: I am hoping to run two more steeplechases- one in Oxidental, CA and then Prefontaine. Coach is happy there are still 6 weeks so that we can get in some more work between now and then too! Yikes!

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If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocus, Track Superfan, Paul Merca and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network. You can also support the site by buying something on through this link

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bookworm: "14 Minutes" by Alberto Salazar and John Brant

While much of the press on Alberto Salazar's incredible new autobiography, "14 Minutes," has been focused on Salazar's much known faith and his brush with death, that spawned the title of the book (spoiler: he was pronounced dead for 14 minutes), I took away a different set of realizations. Those nuggets of information from the man himself were the confirmations of many rumors that had been floated in circles and message boards for years, but were never really confirmed to the public.

Here are a few of those:

1. Salazar had a hand in the hiring of Vin Lananna
While there's no real confirmation that he was against Martin Smith, he did present to the athletic director that Rupp would attend the University of Portland, unless certain things changed. Most importantly, he had Phil Knight's blessing, to the tune of "I guess you'll just have to fix it." He then goes on to state that after this was remedied, that "Galen joined the Ducks fold, and soon Oregon's distance-running tradition was restored." That certainly can not be argued with, as since Rupp came aboard, Oregon won the NCAA Cross Country title twice and has produced stars like Rupp, Andrew Wheating and Matt Centrowitz.

2. Salazar was not happy with Alan Webb's insubordination
As many distance fans recall, Salazar's goal with Webb was to rebuild him from the ground up; a goal that in his mind, would require Webb to "spend an entire year away from world-class competition." As Salazar puts it "Alan grew impatient and wanted to run some major meets. I told him let's hit some singles and doubles before we swing for a home run, but Alan resisted." Salazar's attention to detail is notorious and while it may not work for all, it certainly has produced World class results.

3. Salazar faced much ridicule for his stance on Prozac
In the mid 90's, many recall that Salazar said that Prozac helped him run faster and break through a plateau. People took issue with this, including a competing Adidas Elite team at the 1994 Hood to Coast Relay, who had a sign on one of their vehicles reading "We Don't Run on Prozac." Salazar was happy to help his Nike team to victory and has always stood by his taking of Prozac ("only for a few months") to help battle depression, which ultimately helped him run better, due to his elevated mood.

4. Salazar was the liaison for Michael Johnson and the Dream Team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics
Being "Charles Barkley's bodyguard" is one of Salazar's favorite jobs, as one of his first duties with Nike after his professional career was tending to Michael Johnson and the Dream Team in Barcelona, the Olympiad in which Johnson faltered (only to return in 1996 to dominate) and Barkley and the boys ripped through the international competition, in the first year where pros would compete for the US team.

Salazar graced the cover of Sports
Illustrated during his 3-peat of NYC
5. Salazar won his first of three New York City Marathon titles while still attending the University of Oregon
While many people likely knew this already, this was news to me. It was exciting when Luke Puskedra ran an excellent half at Houston this year, but the idea of an American collegian running a competitive World Class Marathon now seems almost unimaginable.

Much of the information that is discussed in this excellent book is confirmation of Salazar's incredible drive and work ethic, and no question is left unanswered. He discusses his upbringing from elementary school on and talks of the Nike Altitude house, his missteps with Dathan Ritzenhein's form, his coaching of Rupp and the Gouchers and his relationship with Coach Bill Squires and Bill Rodgers. "14 Minutes" is a must for any distance fan. A very quick and informative read form one of the best coaches (and runners) of our time.

Learn more about the book at http: and pick up a copy of the book at

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

5 Questions with Diego Estrada

Diego Estrada celebrates the
A Standard at Payton Jordan
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
Today we have 5 Questions with a newly minted Olympian. After running under the Olympic A Standard in the 10,000 meters at the Payton Jordan Invitational this Sunday at Stanford, he announced his decision to run the London Olympiad for his native Mexico.

Diego Estrada has been on of the most consistent runners in the NCAA over the past few years. His 27:32.90 in the 10,000 meters is just the latest of his many accomplishments on the track and trails. His decision to run for Mexico in the 2012 has sparked much debate of late, but his range of 1:52.16, 3:55.46 (Mile), 7:44.29 and 13:26.94 has always been rock solid. Follow Diego on Twitter here.

5 Questions with Diego Estrada

1. Writing About Running: Hitting that Olympic A Standard is huge, especially in this point in the season. Did you execute the way you wanted at Payton Jordan?

Diego Estrada: It was a perfect night, I followed Coach Heins instructions, making sure I kept myself under control as much as possible and take over when I felt it was needed.

2. Writing About Running: Everyone is abuzz about you're running for Mexico in the Olympics. How hard was it to make that decision?

Diego Estrada: You know I am very prideful about my roots and have always wanted to become an Olympian some day to show my parent that their sacrifices for me had paid off. I have two countries and love both of them. I come from community of dreamers in Salinas, California, people who work in the fields to better their children’s lives. I simply wanted to represent my community as best as possible. It wasn’t hard, but it did take a lot of thinking to make that decision. I am dealing with countries, not colleges, so the decision was permanent. I am proud to be a Mexican-American!

3. Writing About Running: You're passion for the sport is electric. What drives you?

Estrada at NCAA Indoors
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
Diego Estrada: My parents, their perseverance to give their children a better life, even if it meant saying goodbye to their family and friends. I try to do thing to the best of my ability and not waste the opportunity, because every opportunity is a blessing.

4. Writing About Running: You're in one of the most famed running capitals, Flagstaff. What makes that place special?

Diego Estrada: The support, the people in Flagstaff are so friendly and helpful. Every runner here is out to better themselves yet they are here to help each other too.

5. Writing About Running: With you redshirting this year, what's on the schedule for the foreseeable future?

Diego Estrada: The work is done, know I am going back to training for the next 2 months and racing a 1500 and a 5k in Europe in July. Focusing on august 4th from now on.

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If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocus, Track Superfan, Paul Merca and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network. You can also support the site by buying something on through this link