Another One Bites the Dust

It wasn’t the type of news any track fan, especially those in the Tri-State area, wanted to hear the first week of March of an Olympic year. But there it was, in a brief press release from Global Athletics & Marketing: After more than a decade showcasing world class track and field in the Big Apple, the adidas Grand Prix would not be coming back to Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island this summer.

Over the past 11 years, the meet, one of two IAAF Diamond League events in the U.S. along the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, had produced 20 national records, two world marks, and nine of the fastest performances ever recorded on American soil. Perhaps the most memorable of these was Usain Bolt’s 9.72 in 2008, when the meet was delayed almost two hours by a summer thunderstorm that sent fans scurrying beneath the stands and lit up the New York skyline with a thunderous electrical storm. When the lightning finally passed, it was the Bolt on the track who shocked those present, including a large contingent of expats from his native Jamaica, with a scintillating WR.

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Olympic Trials Marathon: Tune In, Turn Up (the heat)


Hot weather at the 2000 Olympic Trials marathon in Pittsburgh resulted in slow times and only one athlete making the Olympic squad.

With the 2016 Olympic Team Trials marathon just hours away, there are as many story lines and topics of discussion as there are entrants in the races, which begin at 10 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.

That time has become an issue in the past 10 days or so as it’s become apparent that L.A. is going to be blanketed by unseasonably warm weather (can everyone say el Niño?) that could see the temperatures rise from the lower 70s at the start to above 80 by the finish. Organizers even thought of moving the start earlier, as they did for the open L.A. Marathon last year in similar conditions, but then decided it was unnecessary.

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Ryan, Peyton, and Papi: Farewell to all that

Among the many story lines leading up to tomorrow’s Super Bowl, one that gained early traction was the “will he or won’t he” speculation about Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning’s possible retirement following the game, which was fueled by his “this could be my last rodeo” comment to Patriots coach Bill Belichick during the post-game handshake following the AFC championship.


Whenever a legendary professional athlete like Manning calls it quits on a stellar career, it’s big news, and not just on ESPN and the sports talk radio shows. There’s the obligatory press conference, complete with thanks to everyone in the athlete’s career and often more than a few emotional moments of voice cracks and choking back of tears.

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Getting Back in the Race

Whether it’s running or writing, the key to even the most moderate success is regularity. That’s because no matter how challenging a workout or an article might seem, it’s a lot harder to attack either when you’re starting from square one, rather than continuing the process from a groove, no matter how jagged or uneven.

Writing might be even closer to racing, since we’re measured or judged in both endeavors. And that fear of coming up short of expectations, of our own or of others, can prove paralytic in sitting down at a


Hanging out post-race on a warm December morning with Gary Corbitt.

keyboard or pinning on a bib number. Another couple workouts, or a few more polished thoughts, then we’ll be ready to race, or write – but not just now. And that delay can stretch from days, into months, to years. How many marathons or books are stillborn from the fear of not being works of athletic or literary art?

And so, as the year draws to a close, I have made the decision to get off the dime and revive this blog on a more-or-less (hopefully more) weekly basis. For the past half year, I’ve found myself stymied, frequently by lack of time (due for the most part to poor scheduling), at times by a seeming dearth of topics worth commenting on, at others by such a plethora it feels impossible to choose just one or two, like a kid at Baskin Robbins.

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Easter Races Play Holiday Catch-up

When it comes to running holidays, it seems like Easter is the poor cousin, the one who always has to sit at the kids table in the kitchen while everybody else is in the dining room at family gatherings.


Easter races give everyone a chance to be a rabbit – and come home with some sweet chocolate prizes.

There’s no question that Thanksgiving is the Number One holiday in this country for running; in fact, it may be the biggest DAY for running, period. Seems like every other town in America has a Turkey Trot, with more springing up each year with no sign of the satiation point having been reached.

July Fourth is probably second, with the three Days – Memorial, Labor, and New Year’s – not far behind, in number of events and total competitors.

But somehow Easter seems to have mostly missed out on any big tie-ins with running and racing, possibly even being eclipsed by the holiday that precedes it on the calendar, St. Patrick’s Day.

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The Heat Is On In, and For, L.A.

If you’re a baseball fan, Spring Training is merely a platter of crudités to hold you until the real feast of the regular season begins next month.

If college hoops is your preference, you’re still a week away from your TV watching smorgasbord of the opening rounds of March Madness, which will culminate in the Final Four crescendo just about the time of baseball’s first pitch.

But if you’re a fan of running, it might be hard to find a weekend that rivals this one, whatever aspect of the sport you favor.

Like track and field? There are indoor championships galore, from the New Balance High School Nationals at New York’s 168th Street Armory, to the NCAA Division I championships at the University of Arkansas’ Tyson Center, perhaps the best venue in the country to stage and watch a track meet.

If your taste tends more toward competition on asphalt, there’s no shortage of high-level races this weekend either.

It began this morning in Jacksonville, FL, where the Gate River Run crowned the USA 15km champions, with Ben True making it three in a row and Amy Hastings taking the women’s crown to prove her preparations for next month’s Boston Marathon are right on schedule.


Tomorrow, the action is centered on the two biggest cities on either coast. Shortly after 7, the United Airlines New York City Half gets underway, sending more than 20,000 runners, including some of the world’s best, through the streets of Manhattan on a route that runs from Central Park in Midtown, down the West Side, beneath the Battery at the lower tip of the island and finishing at South Street Seaport on the Lower East Side.

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Hitting the Lotto, New York Style

Today is the day thousands of runners — 80,080, to be exact — have been awaiting on tenterhooks for several months. Beginning this morning, a lucky 14,326 of them will be selected in the lottery for acceptance into the 45th running of the TCS New York City Marathon, which will be run November 1.
NYRR-logoThat number is up by 56 percent from last year’s lottery acceptances, which numbered 9,170. Last year’s figure was somewhat lower than usual due to the higher-than-normal number of entrants who were guaranteed spots after the 2012 race was cancelled in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
The lottery used to be the primary way of gaining entry to the marathon, and in the pre-Internet days it was actually something of a rite of spring for runners to queue up to mail their entry forms on the first allowable date. In the intervening time, however, the number of lottery runners in the field, which is once again expected to total close to 50,000, has shrunk to less than a third, as other avenues of acceptance have gained popularity.
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In a race against the clock, excitement is often the loser

By the time most of you read this, Shalane Flanagan will have broken Deena Kastor’s eight-year-old marathon American record of 2:19:36.
Or she won’t have.
And that’s the problem with this, or any other, record attempt: It’s a Pass-Fail exam, all black and white, no shades of grey.
finish-lineclockSo while some may set their alarms to 2:30 a.m. on the East Coast to follow Flanagan’s attempt in Berlin online, I won’t be among them. I’ll be up early enough Sunday, on my way to time a local trail race, and I’ll check the Twitter feeds and message boards to see how she did, and if she was successful, file the time away in my memory bank of other semi-useful (or semi-useless, depending on your point of view) athletic facts and figures. Continue reading

Beyond Words


Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Then, there are those times when no words will do, when our language, no matter how richly textured, is inadequate to convey the image observed.
Yesterday, just before the halfway point of the USA 20 km championships in New Haven, was one that fell squarely in the latter category.
As the men’s lead pack approached the city Green, a rather large woman, clad in flip flops and burgundy velour pants, began to cross the street in their path.
Thinking she was simply oblivious to the oncoming racers, warnings to get out of the way were yelled from the pace vehicle.
But instead of stopping and letting the men pass, the woman hopped right in with them, running along for several meters, an impressive feat given her footwear, clothing, and girth.
It provided a brief moment of levity for the leaders, and perhaps enabled them to momentarily forget the miserable conditions they were racing in, with temperatures and humidity both in the mid-80s.
Before the day was out, photos of this incongruous runner had gone viral on social media sites, and the following morning was the lead photo in the New Haven Register’s race story.
While the photo’s (and the woman’s) five minutes of fame has doubtless just about expired, for Labor Day 2014, it was the athletic image of the moment, right up there with streakers at the Super Bowl or animals on the field at a baseball game.

Long May He Run

People celebrate birthdays in a thousand different ways, but once you reach prime AARP membership age, the festivities for most people, unless you’re George H. W. Bush and favor sky diving, tend to be sedate, perhaps dinner and a movie and an early bedtime.

Dave McGillivray finishes his 60 mile birthday run.

Dave McGillivray finishes his 60 mile birthday run.


Of course Dave McGillivray, race director of the Boston Marathon and dozens of other big events like Beach to Beacon and this weekend’s Falmouth Road Race, isn’t most people. Since he was 12 years old, McGillivray has been running a mile for every year he’s spent on earth. Usually, he does this on a 3.5 mile loop around his hometown of North Andover, MA, although some past celebrations have occurred as part of transcontinental runs he’s done, once ending with a lap of Fenway Park before a Red Sox game.

This year McGillivray turns 60 (August 22 is the actual date if you want to send a card of electronic best wishes), so he decided to up the ante a notch or two by culminating the run with a celebration at his house for 170 friends and family. Throughout the history of these birthday runs McGillivray’s motto has been, “My Game, My Rules,” so this year he’d jump the gun by two weeks, scheduling the affair for the “off” week between B2B and Falmouth. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so must Dave hate to see an unfilled date on his calendar. Continue reading