The oldest track & field blog on the internet

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Berlin Marathon

Story here. In short, the race was won by two Ethiopian track stars in the twilights of their careers, Haile G. and Gete Wami. 2:05:56 and 2:21:34, both national records, hardly seem like "twilight" performances! Glenn Latimer has Geb's official splits.

In a story that I missed earlier in the week, IAAF head Lamine Diack got some heat.
A key organizer of the Turin Olympics urged IAAF president Lamine Diack to resign, saying track and field is "gravely ill, maybe dying'' and in need of new leadership.

Luciano Barra, who served as late IAAF president Primo Nebiolo's chief of staff, sent a seven-page letter to Diack. Diack, of Senegal, has been president of the International Association of Athletics Federations since 1999 and is up for re-election next year.
The Track & Field News discussion board has a thread on this, and it is quite revealing. Managing Editor (e.g., head honcho) Garry Hill expressed an unwillingness to delve into the affair with any depth in the print mag, which initially met with an accusation that Hill is wary of upsetting important people. Member "AS" takes it further:
gh, can you explain to me/us, the 'charter' of TFN?

Is it simply to report on athletic endeavours, compile results, provide some assessment of said results, notify us of any injuries, and occasionally profile athletes?

Or does the magazine see itself as having some role as an investigator of the 'state of play' in the adminstration and culture of the sport?

It appears to me that TFN has repeatedly chosen to keep its nose out of the murkier side of things, such as the PED issues and the machinations of the IAAF/IOC etc. Sure we see scrutiny of USATF/NCAA, and editorials about the scheduling/timetabling of events/meets, but it does appear that this no desire to engage in serious exploration of the "bigger picture" issues.

Am I reading the situation accurately? Is this a deliberate state of affairs? Is it a reflection of any specific preferences? Or of a lack of the requisite skills and/or resource to undertake such work?
I'm waiting for (but not expecting) a response. As are many US-based fans.

Friday, September 22, 2006

End of One Season, Beginning of Another

With the World Cup and Talence multis last weekend, the elite international track & field season is over. The year's top athletes?

On the men's side, those who went undefeated on the World Athletics Tour were Asafa Powell, Jeremy Wariner, Saif Saaeed Shaheen and Virgilius Alekna (with Irving Saladino coming close at 12 out of 13). Women who turned the trick were Sanya Richards and Tatyana Lebedeva (while Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar lost to no one but each other). Winners of the Race Walking Challenge were Francisco Javier Fernandez and Claudia Stef; winners of the Combined Events Challenge were Dmitri Karpov and Carolina Kluft.

Now the collegiate cross-country circuit is beginning (but nothing will really matter for nearly a month) and the major marathons are coming up soon. Cool Running has a nice rundown on who's where; this Sunday is the Berlin Marathon, with "only" Haile G. and Sammy Korir on tap.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Fantasy League, final

To whatever faithful readers may be left, I apologize for my inconsistency in posting. Coaching and teaching now take up most of my time.

The World Cup as a final big meet in the Fantasy League didn't turn out to be a great idea. Less than half of the top athletes competed. Here are the final standings:

Kenenisa BEKELE ETH 5k, 10k 310.2
Asafa POWELL JAM 100m 306.2
Jeremy WARINER USA 200m, 400m 297.3
Virgilijus ALEKNA LTU DT 289.2
Bershawn JACKSON USA 400mH 253.2
Daniel Kipchirchir KOMEN KEN 1500m 244.8
Brad WALKER USA PV 237.7
Saif Saaeed SHAHEEN QAT 3000mSC 230.1
Dwight PHILLIPS USA LJ 213.9
Dominique ARNOLD USA 110mH 201.3
Justin GATLIN USA 100m,200m 185.4
Ladji DOUCOURÉ FRA 110mH 143.8

Team Total 2168.7

Sanya RICHARDS USA 400m 324.4
Tirunesh DIBABA ETH 5k, 10k 307.7
Meseret DEFAR ETH 5000m 283.7
Lashinda DEMUS USA 400mH 276.0
Michelle PERRY USA 100mH 268.5
Blanka VLASIC CRO HJ 253.5
Susanna KALLUR SWE 100mH 251.8
Ejegayehu DIBABA ETH 5k, 10k 176.9
Berhane ADERE ETH 5k, 10k 169.4
Veronica CAMPBELL JAM 100m,200m 138.4
Christine ARRON FRA 100m,200m 119.0

Team Total 2259.5

My wife's team wins by 90 points.

We'll get this started in May or thereabouts next year, with a few twists added to make it more entertaining. Anyone can participate!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

World Athletics Final, Fantasy League

Just finished watching the on-demand video.

The best competition of the weekend was the men's discus, where Virgilius Alekna set a new championship record, which was promptly broken by Gerd Kanter, which was promptly broken again by Alekna. Watching track is fun, but a fantasy league takes it to another level. Did I mention Alekna is on my fantasy team?

And did I mention Daniel Kipchirchir Komen is on my team? And did I mention he took the pace out hard in the 1500, only to completely fold up down the straight and cost me points big time? For the first time all season, my wife's team has a lead on me. And with only the World Cup left...argh!

Standings. Yuck.


Asafa POWELL JAM 100m 305.7
Jeremy WARINER USA 200m, 400m 296.5
Kenenisa BEKELE ETH 5k, 10k 280.2
Virgilijus ALEKNA LTU DT 258.8
Bershawn JACKSON USA 400mH 254.2
Daniel Kipchirchir KOMEN KEN 1500m 222.5
Dwight PHILLIPS USA LJ 216.3
Brad WALKER USA PV 209.8
Saif Saaeed SHAHEEN QAT 3000mSC 200.1
Justin GATLIN USA 100m,200m 186.7
Dominique ARNOLD USA 110mH 183.8
Ladji DOUCOURÉ FRA 110mH 146.1

Team Total 2044.0

Sanya RICHARDS USA 400m 294.1
Tirunesh DIBABA ETH 5k, 10k 277.9
Michelle PERRY USA 100mH 268.6
Meseret DEFAR ETH 5000m 254.0
Lashinda DEMUS USA 400mH 252.0
Blanka VLASIC CRO HJ 229.0
Susanna KALLUR SWE 100mH 227.5
Ejegayehu DIBABA ETH 5k, 10k 176.9
Berhane ADERE ETH 5k, 10k 172.2
Veronica CAMPBELL JAM 100m,200m 142.8
Christine ARRON FRA 100m,200m 132.4

Team Total 2067.0

Women with a 23 point lead. (In a Homer Simpson voice:) Stupid Komen.


Canadian runner Emilie Mondor died yesterday in an auto accident.

This is so sad, even Let's Run has had only sympathetic and positive remarks. She was to make her marathon debut in New York just two months from now.

If any news on where to make donations is made public, I will post it here.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Breakfast Run

I should be blogging about the first day of the World Athletics Final. It was on WCSN at 7:30 this morning, but I was otherwise occupied at the time and the on-demand video hasn't been posted yet.

I took over coaching the boys' cross country team at my school. This weekend has traditionally been an off-week from racing, and I wanted to keep it that way (partially so I wouldn't miss out on the Black Swamp Arts Festival). The previous coach had done a "breakfast run" at his house on this weekend, offering the kids a 7-mile or 10-mile run. We kept that, but I put a twist on it.

We drove 10 miles from my house, parked at a rail-trail, and I told them "My house is that way. See ya!"
A bad achilles has kept me from running for the last two weeks, otherwise I would have run with them. I met them a number of times along the way.
While I live in a college town surrounded by farmland, the school where I teach is situated some 25 miles to the north, in a mixed middle-class/working-class area of Toledo. Few of these kids have ever seen this much corn.
This year, there was no 7-mile option. There was a 14-mile option, which no one took (one was ready but hurt a calf earlier this week). All went 10 miles, and I think 5 out of the 9 boys had never run that far in their lives (although 8 miles is a weekly occurrence). For a developing program, 10 miles is decent. I'd like more, but you've got to start somewhere.

The big thing I'm trying to teach these kids is one of Arthur Lydiard's mantras: You can run too fast to develop aerobic efficiency, but you can never run too slow. This is the opposite of what we Americans have been led to think, which is "long, slow running leads to long, slow runners". In fact, I have a hard time believing the old Kiwi myself sometimes, but so far their times are generally a whole minute faster than last year at the same meets.

Not that it's all just jogging around. We do plenty of that, but they also do plyometrics, strides, repeats and races. Everything has its place and time. Tinman is of the opinion that aerobic training is the cement that holds everything else together, and one major mistake runners make is dropping their milage too early in the season. It's as if we're afraid of aerobic running, like we don't trust it. Well, I'm going to put my trust in it, and we'll see how it goes for the rest of the season.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Will wonders never cease

If you've read any sports news lately, you've seen that Marion Jones' B-sample came back negative. Heck, it even made NPR.

I'm not going to be able to add much to the discussion. I will say she got hit by a test with a history of B-negatives. The EPO test has been called "notoriously unreliable", and anti-doping guru Dr. Don Catlin has reported estimated 10 false negatives for every true positive with this test.

Jones will not, and should not, be banned for using EPO. However, I don't think anyone reasonably believes a blood booster is the reason she won a sprint-record twelve world-#1 rankings.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Fantasy League update

Here are the current standings:


Asafa POWELL JAM 100m 275.7
Jeremy WARINER USA 200m, 400m 266.5
Kenenisa BEKELE ETH 5k, 10k 250.2
Bershawn JACKSON USA 400mH 233.2
Virgilijus ALEKNA LTU DT 228.8
Daniel Kipchirchir KOMEN KEN 1500m 222.5
Dwight PHILLIPS USA LJ 204.3
Brad WALKER USA PV 200.8
Saif Saaeed SHAHEEN QAT 3000mSC 200.1
Justin GATLIN USA 100m,200m 186.7
Dominique ARNOLD USA 110mH 183.8
Ladji DOUCOURÉ FRA 110mH 146.1

Team Total 1882.0

Sanya RICHARDS USA 400m 264.1
Tirunesh DIBABA ETH 5k, 10k 247.9
Michelle PERRY USA 100mH 238.6
Meseret DEFAR ETH 5000m 224.0
Lashinda DEMUS USA 400mH 222.0
Blanka VLASIC CRO HJ 220.0
Susanna KALLUR SWE 100mH 209.5
Berhane ADERE ETH 5k, 10k 172.2
Ejegayehu DIBABA ETH 5k, 10k 158.9
Veronica CAMPBELL JAM 100m,200m 142.8
Christine ARRON FRA 100m,200m 132.4

Team Total 1860.0

So I've got a 22-point lead on my wife's team.

A quick recap on where the points come from...
Team totals are the sum of the eight best athletes on each team
Athlete totals are from the following:
1) IAAF World Rankings points divided by ten
2) Best point total from any single event in the World Athletics Tour
3) Bonus for any Golden League jackpot winnings (1 point per $10,000)
4) Best single result from the World Athletics Final
5) Best single result from the World Indoor Championships, World Cross Country Championships, and World Cup
(#4 and #5 score on a 30-24-21-18-15-12-9-6 basis)

So the most important competitions are yet to come. First up is the World Athletics Final next weekend. All of the top eight athletes on both teams will be competing.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Back on track

I haven't posted for quite a while. School just started this week, and a family wedding I was in took place yesterday. Those two events plus coaching eliminated basically all of my free time; I did find a few minutes to see a college dual meet on Friday afternoon, but that's been basically it.

I had no interest in coaching again when the boys' coach at our school came to me last June and told me he was retiring. He just wouldn't leave me alone until I said I'd think about it, and the more I thought about it the more I thought I'd enjoy it. So I took it. I have a wonderful group of boys, and while they're not going to be a dominant team this year they are all making big improvements.

I'm a big proponent of the Arthur Lydiard system of training (and its stepchild, the Tom Osler system). The whole idea is long-term development...and I didn't have a lot of time, so rather than following a traditional system I had to improvise and do what I could. Our training has stressed aerobic development first and foremost, with leg strength/power/speed next most important. Lydiard rightly saw anaerobic endurance as a capstone, not a building block, so we only started doing repeats this week (six weeks away from our first important meet).

One reason I took the job was that I'd had a number of ideas floating around in my head and I wanted to try them out. One is for races. I haven't taken a single mile split in either of our first two races. (I figure mile splits in XC are essentially meaningless, considering variation in terrain and/or footing along with the uncertainty that markers are placed correctly.) Instead, I've kept track of what place each athlete was in at the mile and 2-mile marks as well as the finish, with the idea that good pacing leads to an overall upward movement throughout the race. Moreover, this approach means the athletes have to pay attention to internal cues in order to find that correct pacing, rather than listening for a time. I takes longer to learn, but in the long run I think the athletes will do better.

Another experiment came last week in our first interval session. I laid out a sort of a figure-eight course in a local park, with one loop for repeats and the other for a jogging recovery in between. The kids asked me "How far is it?" and I said I didn't know. They asked me "How many are we going to run?" and I said I didn't know. They asked me "How fast are we supposed to run?" and I said I didn't know. I told them the point of the workout was to run fast until they got tired enough, and nothing else mattered. With their input, I'd decide when each kid had become sufficiently tired and cut them off at that point. The result? I'm pretty sure they got considerably more out of themselves than if I'd done the typical thing of telling them how far, how many and how fast.

By the way, yesterday all athletes (save one) improved by over a minute as compared to the same meet last year. We'll see if that continues...