The oldest track & field blog on the internet

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Millrose Games Preview

IAAF Preview
USATF Preview
NBC Preview
Press Conference videos
WCSN article

Meet website
Start lists

TV Coverage:
Friday, 7:00-8:00 p.m., ESPN2 (live)
Expect to see the girls’ HS mile and men’s collegiate 4x800 in their entirety, plus a few other events
Saturday, 3:00-4:00 p.m., NBC (tape)
The marquis events
Note: USATF's website says 2:30 p.m.; Yahoo! TV says 3:00 p.m.
Check local listings!

The “hype of the meet” award is split two ways:
Craig Mottram v. Bernard Lagat, Wanamaker Mile
Jen Stuczynski v. Stacy Dragila, women’s pole vault
The first I expect to be a great race. The second will be a contest only between Stuczynski and Dragila’s American Record—Dragila herself will not be a factor.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hart/Wariner update

If you missed the news, click here.

The Dallas Morning News reports:
Wariner is likely to remain in Waco and train under Michael Ford, a Baylor assistant and Hart protégé, according to a source. Ford, who did not return a call seeking comment, already coaches Darold Williamson, a former Baylor standout who shared gold with Wariner on the 1,600-meter relay team in Athens.
Note Williamson's distinct lack of improvement since leaving Hart.

They also tell us Hart's cut was 10% of Wariner's earnings (upwards of $1 million), and this year's offer was about 5%.

The Waco Tribune quotes Hart: “I don’t have a sign around my neck that says ‘Discount Coach.’"
and says this year's proposal came in a lengthy document from Wariner's lawyer.

Still no comment from Wariner's camp.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Weekend Update

I will not call you ignorant, nor insult you. I'll merely direct your attention to weekly summaries at Let's Run and Athletics Weekly.

Fantasy Leagues Really Hopping

USATF's indoor fantasy league is pretty cool. It's going to get better, though. Buried in a press release almost no one read:
The Forums will be replaced by a new FAN ZONE. This will initially be based on IAAF FANTASY ATHLETICS, which having been successfully tested in Osaka will become a season long game based upon the major outdoor meets of each year.
I attempted to do something along these lines years ago but it didn't work out so well. I'm glad to see that track & field is getting with the program. Now, every race at every big meet will mean something.

Kenya anarchy

Presidential election winner Raila Odinga: "The country is drifting into a state of anarchy".

PRI's "The World" ran an interview with Moses Kiptanui last night.

WCSN summarizes the effect on Kenya's runners.

And students at my alma mater of Bowling Green do what they can.

For a non-US view in a nutshell, check out Gwynne Dyer's column on Kenya.

Hart & Wariner Split

From the AP:
Defending Olympic 400-meter champion Jeremy Wariner and his longtime coach have split over a contract dispute with the Beijing Games just seven months away.

The issue? Money. Wariner offered Clyde Hart a pay cut, and Hart told him to take a walk. No further details are known; news stories only quote Hart with nothing from Wariner, his manager Deon Minor, or agent Michael Johnson.

Discuss: young punks / old farts

Monday, January 28, 2008

Crime and Punishment

The Athletics in the News blog reports on UK Athletics' president Niels de Vos' wish to get British authorities involved in anti-doping efforts. I can see Graham Chapman barging into a track meet and asking "Right, what's all this then?"
All joking aside, the front line of anti-doping efforts these days is law enforcement. It's been very helpful in France, Italy, Spain and Germany. And we'd never have gotten the goods on Marion Jones, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens if not for a couple of Bay-Area FBI agents snooping around.

I'm anxiously awaiting the government's response.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Krispy Kreme Challenge update

The race was yesterday morning; today's News & Observer headlines "Run, gorge, run".
Steve Marks was worried that he wouldn't graduate from N.C. State University this spring.

The civil engineering major had vowed that he wouldn't leave State until he completed the school's newest tradition: running two miles, eating a dozen doughnuts and running two more miles, all in less than an hour.

Without throwing up.
Channel 14 has the video. Results are not yet up.

Boston Indoor Recap

IAAF recap
USATF recap
Let's Run recap
AP wirestory


My thoughts on the Reebok Boston Indoor Games...

Event of the meet: Men's 800 meters. A (friendly) domestic rivalry cannot be a bad thing for the sport in this country, and it appears we may have one building between Khadevis Robinson and Nick Symmonds. The Boston Globe has a nice article on 3rd place Said Ahmed.
Runner-up: men's mile. A close finish, but there were no heavyweights in the race. Rob Myers could make a significant move up the miling ladder if he learned the importance of relaxation.

Performance of the meet: Of course, Meseret Defar's world record in the women's 2-mile. What was surprising was how close Kim Smith was, also ten seconds under the old record.

Surprise of the meet: That Buster Mottram won the men's 3000 meters is not a surprise. That he, or anyone not named Kenenisa Bekele, broke a Haile Gebrselassie meet record is a surprise. What this meets for the outdoor season and most importantly the Olympics is unclear, but he is obviously running extremely well right now.

This week's TV complaints: The world's top three shot-putters are competing, and chances are great that one of them will be the Olympic champion. With a small field, there are only 16 attempts in the entire meet. Why show us only three attempts?

Why is Jen Stuczynski more prominently featured in advertisements than in meet coverage?

On the other hand, USATF put together a commercial plugging its Junior Olympics program. About damn time.

NBC's Joe Battaglia runs down the top ten stories of the meet...

How did I do on my fantasy team? I have no idea. USATF lists the top 20 on its website but didn't tell me how I scored or how I stand. Regardless, I didn't do very well--I suck at these kinds of things.

EDIT: I'm in the top 20%, some 24 points out of first.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Boston Indoor Pregame Show

Yes, a track meet has a pre"game" show. It's up on the meet website.

Hayward Field renovations

The upgrade of the nation's premier track facility is nearly complete, with only the jewel in the crown remaining.
Designed by former UO track star Tinker Hatfield, who graduated from Oregon with a degree in architecture and now works for Nike Inc., the eight individual panels that make up the “videoboard” are scheduled to be installed today.
Once positioned and welded into place, the videoboard will rise five stories into the sky on the south end of the track. It was moved back and angled slightly from where the old scoreboard stood to better face the finish line.

The videoboard — built by Daktronics, a company based in South Dakota — will be supported by two lightning-yellow steel columns, with the screen measuring 30 feet long and 17 feet wide.
Runnerspace has video.

This is no Godzillatron -- it's downright puny compated to some Big 12 football scoreboards -- but if there's one thing a track fan is usually short on at a meet, it's useful information. I'd like to think the people at Oregon will know how to put this equipment to its best use.

TV/Web Listings

Webcasts are included where known.

Got some? Add it in the comments section.

Sunday, January 27

ESPN2, 3:00-5:00 PM
Reebok Boston Indoor Games

ESPN Classic, 8:00-10:00 p.m.

Monday, January 28
Fox Sports Net, 3:00-3:30 p.m.
Grand Mazatlan Marathon

Wednesday, January 30
MOJO HD, 4:00-6:00 a.m.
Without Limits

Friday, February 1
Sports Time Ohio, 3:00-4:00 a.m.
Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin
(repeats Feb 7 at 7 p.m., Feb 8 at 3 a.m.)

ESPN2, 7:00-8:00 PM
Millrose Games
(repeats on ESPNU on Feb 4 at 5 a.m., Feb 7 at 11 p.m., Feb 10 at 6 p.m.)

Saturday, February 2
NBC, 2:30-3:30 PM
Millrose Games

Wednesday, February 13
WCSN, 5 p.m.
Athina 2008

Saturday, February 16
WCSN, noon
Norwich Union Indoor Grand Prix

Sunday, February 17
ESPN, 5:00-7:00 PM
Tyson Invitational

Sunday, February 24
ESPN2, 5:00-7:00 p.m.
USATF Indoor Championships

WCSN, 5:00 p.m.
Paris Indoor Permit

Saturday, April 26
ESPN, 2:00-4:00 PM
Penn Relays

Sunday, May 18
ESPN2, 10:00-midnight
Adidas Track Classic

Saturday, May 31
ESPN2, 8:00-10:00 PM
Reebok Grand Prix

Sunday, June 1
CBS, 1:30-2:30 PM
Reebok Grand Prix

Sunday, June 8
NBC, 4:00-6:00 PM
Prefontaine Classic

Saturday, June 28
USA, 12:00-1:00 a.m.
NBC, 8:00-9:00 p.m.
US Olympic Trials

Sunday, June 29
NBC, 7:00-8:00 p.m.
US Olympic Trials

Monday, June 30
USA, 11:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m.
US Olympic Trials

Thursday, July 3
USA, 11:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m.
US Olympic Trials

Friday, July 4
USA, 11:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m.
US Olympic Trials

Saturday, July 5
NBC, 5:00-6:00 p.m.
US Olympic Trials

Sunday, July 6
NBC, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
US Olympic Trials

Friday, January 25, 2008

Beijing Olympics and Politics

Earlier this week, the Belgian Olympic Committee issued the following edict:
Not a single [Belgian] participant in the games will be allowed to give a political opinion at the Olympic venues (e.g.: competition sites and the Olympic village).
Apparently the Belgians felt games in Beijing deserved special mention in this regard more than, say, Nagano. Today Canada's Olympic Committee announced it will not follow Belgium's lead, but is dismayed that it expects other nations to follow suit.

We all know why this has even come up:
Back in 1968, I find it hard to believe that such an explicit ban on expression would have been allowed--not because it was such a more liberal and open time than now (it wasn't) but because of the prevailing politics of the day.

There was a time when a common response to a question such as "Mind if I sit here?" was "Hey, it's a free country, man". People don't say that anymore. The point of it all back then was that in the western world, the official enemy (the Communists) were totalitarians who squelched freedom of expression, among other things. It's not the actual reason they were the enemy--there were plenty of regimes the USA/NATO were friendly with who were plenty nasty to their own people--but it was a very real and awful thing and deserved to be opposed. These days the official enemies are a bit more nebulous and as such the natural deterrent to a democratic government trying to control its own people is gone like the wind.

5-Nations Preview

IAAF Preview
WCSN Preview
UK Athletics Preview


Webcast: WCSN, Saturday at 9 p.m.

In a bit of "genius" that never ceases to amaze me, USATF will be fielding a national team overseas on the exact same day as the Reebok Boston meet. This is a five-way international match, featuring teams from the USA, UK, Sweden, Germany, and the Commonwealth, with one athlete per team in each event.

USATF Fantasy League

USATF just put up its "Pick-N-Win Fantasy Game". For each stop on the indoor VISA tour, you pick one athlete per event (from an easy drop-down menu). You earn points by place, weekly winners get a prize pack, and the series winner get a trip for two to the Olympic Trials.

Somebody over in Indy put some work into this. Me likey.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bob Ufer, Michigan, and Track

After I went to the UM-OSU dual meet last weekend, I was talking about it with my brother, who asked me if the name Bob Ufer meant anything to me.

I must be the only sports fan in the whole country who would reply, "Sure, he ran track at Michigan. Is there any other reason I should know him?"

Ufer was the radio voice of Michigan football for 37 years, from 1944 (just out of UM) until his death in 1981. He was a character who would be hard to forget; he was as biased towards the Wolverines in his announcing as could be. Michigan's library has some clips, but this YouTube piece is apparently the best out there.

How good was Ufer at track? UM hypes him a bit by noting that he set a world indoor record for 440y in 1942. That was his peak performance; he ranked 21st on the yearly list in 1942 and 30th in 1943.

I can only assume Ufer attended UM-OSU dual meets, and if he ever announced them it must have been an interesting radio show.

Beijing Pollution

I've mostly passed over articles and posts about pollution in Beijing and athletes' concerns about it. I figured they were overreacting; I live in a dirty city and grew up a half a mile away from a dead river.

Now I finally read one, and was in for a shock. From the WaPo:
Situated in a basin where smoke from factories and construction and dust from desert storms gather and shroud the city for days, Beijing has struggled to control air pollution for several years. To prepare for the Olympics, the city has spent $16.4 billion, moving the heaviest polluters outside its borders, planting trees, rerouting traffic and inducing rain.
Damn, that's dirty.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Chinese government went to fairly extreme measures to improve the air quality by 8/8/08. Never underestimate the willingness of a totalitarian government to be ruthless in its pursuit of positive PR.

Athletes have been asking exercise physiologists weird questions.
Should I run behind a bus and breathe in the exhaust? Should I train on the highway during rush hour? Is there any way to acclimate myself to pollution?

Mr. Wilber answers those questions with a steadfast, “No.”

“We have to be extremely careful and steer them in the right direction because the mind-set of the elite athlete is to do anything it takes to get that advantage,” he said. “If they thought locking themselves in the garage with the car running would help them win a gold medal, I’m sure they would do it. Our job, obviously, is to prevent that.”

Chicago's Olympic Chances

Jimmie Markham passes along news from the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago is the leading candidate to win the 2016 Summer Olympics. Cited are “a strong infrastructure of hotels and transportation, a city-centered venue plan and an effective marketing scheme.” Not cited but impossible to ignore: in the time zones for NBC, which poured $3.5 billion into the IOC's coffers.

I'm pulling for Chicago because it's a short train ride from Toledo. I should start saving my money now.

Deeeeep 2007 US Marathon Lists

A few years back I compiled all the sub-2:45 (men) and sub-3:15 (women) marathons run by Americans. I did not do this gargantuan task for 2006 or 2007, but Philip McGoff kindly did the work for us this year.

We're counting on all of you out there to help us edit this, mostly by rejecting athletes without US citizenship. Notify us of additions, corrections or deletions in the comments section.

The men's list

The women's list

Boston Indoor Preview

IAAF Preview
USATF Preview
Let's Run Preview
The Final Sprint Preview

Meet website
Start lists

TV coverage: ESPN2, 3:00-5:00 Sunday (tape delay)
(also on ESPN2HD, but not produced in Hi-Def)

This meet probably deserves IAAF Indoor Permit status.

Big news: The world's two best female distance runners will be competing. One in the 3000 meters, the other in the two-mile. Argh!

My guess on the event of the meet: the men's shot put. Only four competitors are entered, but each of them is capable of winning Olympic gold this year.

Beer at The Bell Lap: Sam Adams Boston Lager, natch.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hazel Clark on Doping

Don't misred that headline. NBC interviewed her and she shared her thoughts about it.

An interesting point Clark makes which I had forgotten:
At (the 2001) National Championships, Regina Jacobs ran by me like I was standing still and she ran two races earlier in the day...I suspected something was not right from her behavior the year before. She bolted from the Olympics in Sydney with a cold when they announced they were testing for drugs through hair. I don't know many people that would miss the Olympics for a cold.
Three years later, of course, Jacobs was exposed as a client of BALCO. The Johnson brothers (of Let's Run fame) were on the trail of Jacobs and doping well before the truth came out.

Where I disagree with Clark is that agressive policing of doping singles out track & field. Cycling is becoming little more than a joke in the USA, baseball is getting its due, and sooner or later the NFL will feel the pain as well.

Weekend Update

Good evening, and what can I tell ya?

Whatever Let's Run is missing, Athletics Weekly picks up.

That's the news, and I am outta here.

Run for the Dream recap

USATF reports "Team USA dominates the World". The final score for the women was 41-40, which I wouldn't call domination (but then I'm not a PR person).

Performance of the meet: Amy Acuff's 6' 4 3/4" US leader (plus three shots at a 6' 7 1/2" American Record).

Event of the day: Women's 55 meters, where two pretty good runners (Carmelita Jeter and Fresno alum Angela Daigle-Bowen) were very tightly matched.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Run for the Dream preview

"US Versus the World", at Fresno State, kicks off the 2008 VISA Championship Series. It is part of a high school and college meet, and is more or less a dual meet (but unscored).

Webcast: at, 10 p.m. to midnight
Meet website
T&FN discussion


55 meters
Dwight Phillips (USA)
Josh Norman (USA)
Lerone Clark (Jamaica)
Adetoyi Duotoye (Nigeria)

600 yards
Bershawn Jackson(USA)
Khadevis Robinson (USA)
Michael Blackwood(Canada)

55m Hurdles
Allen Johnson (USA)
Aubrey Herring (USA)
Charles Allen (Canada)
Decosma Wright (Jamaica)

Pole Vault
Tommy Skipper(USA)
Russ Buller (USA)
Giovanni Lanaro (Mexico)
Taquro Mori (Japan)

Long Jump
Tony Allmond (USA)
John Moffit (USA)
Narc Narcisse (Haiti)
Tyrone Smith (Bermuda)

Shot Put
Reese Hoffa (USA)
Dan Taylor (USA)
Om Prakash (India)
Dorian Scott (Jamaica)

55 meters
Carmelita Jeter (USA)
Angela Daigle (USA)
Shandria Brown (Bahamas)
Natasha Mayers (St. Vincent and the Grenadines).

800 meters
Sherron Rhetta (USA) and
Kim Gildersleeve (USA)
Neisha Bernard-Thomas (Grenada)
Roseline Abroke (UK)

55m Hurdles
Candace Davis (USA)
Damu Cherry (USA)
Vonette Dixon (Jamaca)
Priscilla Lopes (Canada)

High Jump
Sharon Day (USA)
Amy Acuff (USA)
Mireya Beltran (Mexico)
Gaelle Niare (France)

Pole Vault
Jillian Schwartz (USA)
Nikole McEwen (USA)
Ikuko Nishikori (Japan)
Dana Ellis-Buller (Canada)

Long Jump
Jenny Adams (USA)
Tameshia King (USA)
Saeko Okayama (Japan)
Elva Goulbourne (Jamaica)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Ruthless Chinese

Writing for the Summer Olympian, Jimmie Markham notes the ruthlessness of the Chinese government in stifling dissent leading up to the Olympics.

This is not good, but it is far from unusual. In terms of totalitarian governments, they don't measure up to the Soviets (who reportedly offed 62 million of their own citizens, 43 million by Stalin's orders alone), and no one holds a candle to the East Germans as far as domestic mind control goes. In terms of Olympic preparations, China has yet to pull off anything like the Tlatelolco Massacre, where just ten days before the '68 Olympics the Mexican government killed several hundred protesters and arrested many more.

But I doubt NBC News will be critical of the nation its sports division hopes to use to recoup a $3.5 billion investment. You know, "free" market and all that.

Goodbye, Don Wittman

Don Wittman, one of CBC's track voices for as long as I can remember, has died. He had terminal cancer, yet I saw him announcing last year's Canadian nationals at Windsor, so he must have worked as long as he physically was able.

I've never been shy about my opinion of him as a track announcer--I didn't think he was very good. He did come off as an unusually nice man, and it will be very strange to see a CBC track broadcast without him. He will be missed.

Track on VH1

Via the T&FN message board, Walt Murphy reports that
[i]f you want to see what the Armory in NY looks like, and you like music videos, check out VH1's top 20 countdown, which is airing right now in NY. The host is reporting from trackside while a meet is going on (taped).
It was on this morning, and reruns Sunday at 8 a.m. and Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Ohio State - Michigan Dual Meet

Results & recap from Uof M website
Let's Run discussion

Today I drove up to Ann Arbor to see the first meet in the revival of this series. The most striking thing about the University of Michigan campus is the historic feel of the place, athletic facilities included. Be it Yost Ice Arena or Mendelssohn Theater, most buildings on campus either date from the turn of the century or are built to look that way. Even Ferry Field's water barrier for the steeplechase is made of the same brown bricks that everything else is.

Well, maybe not everything. The indoor track building is notably bland and institutional and notable in its lack of bricking. This cinderblock and steel facility is nice on the inside, but its exterior ugliness combined with Ferry Field's ridiculously small seating capacity leaves the spectator with the impression that the athletic department doesn't give a shit about track.

The knock on Michigan athletics is that tradition and history is all they've got; even the football program has only one national championship since the Truman administration. This respect for the past is prominently displayed in a series of trophy cases in the track building.
The hype around this meet was that it would revive a rivalry between two great programs. The truth is that neither of these programs are great anymore, at least not by the standards of Big Ten sports. Michigan was once the dominant program of the midwest if not the entire nation, but it had already peaked by the time the NCAA began holding a championship meet, and won only a single title in 1923. Its last great competitor was shot-putter Charles Fonville in the late 40s. Ohio State's program has produced many great individuals (Jesse Owens, Glenn Davis, Dave Albritton, Butch Reynolds) but the team as a whole was never a power in the conference, let alone the nation.

Anyway, there was big hype for this meet. I've never seen cheerleaders at a track meet:
and the promotional flyers promised free admission, free pizza, and free t-shirts. What I really wanted was free information. The Michigan website said nothing about an event schedule; heat sheets were posted on a bulletin board and not available anywhere else; and event results were momentarily flashed on the scoreboard but not posted. And as is painfully usual, useful information about what's happening in field events was nonexistent.

Still, it's hard to ruin good races. The race of the day was the men's mile
in which OSU's Jeff See outkicked Lex Williams for a close win. This was one of the few bright spots for the Buckeyes, who got spanked by a 90-71 score. It was going to be an uphill battle anyway, but Elon Simms tripping up in the 600m combined with Anthony Cole's slip at the start of the 60m ruined any chance they had.

Was it a good meet? The fans thought so. A standing-room-only crowd got very loud and apparently had a good time. I've said it before and I'll say it again: track & field is an inherently interesting sport, and if you give people a chance to see it they'll like it. The facility is saddled with a bad sound system and scoreboards not meant for dual meets, but the two together kept us fairly well updated on how each individual event fit together as part of a team battle. I'll be back next year, and so will at least a thousand others.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Gay Not Afraid

The Associated Press has a rarity, a feature article on a trackster. Tyson Gay talks about the mantle of the world's fastest man and the doping suspicions that surround it.
"One thing my mother instilled in me is, I'm not afraid of anyone who is on steroids,'' Gay said. "If I go to the line and think, `Uh-oh, this guy is on steroids,' the race is already lost.''

Dubai Marathon update

Geb missed the record. He went out just a little too fast and paid for it at the end. He still ran the second-fastest of all time (2:04:53).
Let's Run live thread -- T&FN discussion

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Smart Alecks

Some humorous posts on track & field from around the internet...

The Onion: Olympic Runners Feeling Stupid For Cutting Off Legs Before Finding Out About Prosthetic Ban

Sports Pickle: Javelin thrower with prosthetic rocket-launcher arm banned from the Olympics

Uncommon Sportsman: Lance Armstrong will run the Boston Marathon, Boston pops a boner

Dubai Marathon preview

Normally only the Marathon Majors deserve a preview post, but this one is different. Haile Gebrselassie is quite publicly targeting his own World Record of 2:04:26 (4:45 per mile). He thinks it's possible if things go just right--weather, pacing, and that certain je nai sais qua. If he pulls it off, he'll only be the third man to break his own marathon WR, along with Jim Peters and Khalid Khannouchi.

Previews: IAAF -- Let's Run -- Al Jazeera
Discussion: Let's Run -- T&FN

It has been reported that the race can be watched online in Arabic (Dubai Sports Channel) for $9.95, although there are reports of blackouts for US IP adresses. The race starts tonight at 10 p.m. EDT, which is 7 a.m. tommorrow in Dubai.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Marion on Oprah

Thankfully, I didn't have to watch that train wreck--Epelle did it for me. If you missed it, check out his post on the matter. Oprah's site has video.

The Krispy Kreme Challenge

The Uncommon Sportsman has dug up the Krispy Kreme Challenge, which will be held a week from Saturday at North Carolina State University. Rules are as follows:
  1. Run 2 miles to the nearby Krispy Kreme
  2. Eat a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts
  3. Run 2 miles to the finish line
This is a variation on the classic racing/puking contest, the Beer Mile. A soldier and a gentleman gave the Uncommon Sportsman his first training post for the KKC; we'll keep you updated as things move along.

Anti-Doping News

Reuters (via WCSN):
Former women's hammer world-record holder Gulfia Khanafeyeva has tested positive for a stimulant, the Russian athletics chief said on Wednesday.
But they never said which one, they're waiting on the B-sample result, and international experts have yet to decide if the stimulant is a banned one. Odd.

Add this to the current soap opera surrounding a couple more Russian women hammer throwers.

Marathon Olympic Trials TV Numbers

Let's Run breaks down the numbers on last fall's men's Olympic Trials marathon TV coverage and compares to other TV races.

I hope we also get access to info on the live internet coverage. Remember how it crashed due to unexpectedly high traffic? That alone should indicate that there's a significantly large group of interested viewers.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Best. Commercial. Ever.

Let's Run Weekly Update

Need an update on the last week in world & US distance running? Don't look to that guy. Every Tuesday, Let's Run has it. This week: XC and road running results, Masback leaves, Jones going to the slammer.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Just Kill Me Now

Marion Jones will be on Oprah on Wednesday.

There will be more tears than honesty, that's all I can say.

We Can Rebuild Him

This morning the IAAF ruled against Oscar Pistorius, the so-called "Blade Runner", because his prosthesis were determined to give an unfair advantage. Also this morning, my father-in-law had his right leg amputated below the knee. This odd coincidence got me to thinking.

I do not feel sorry for Pistorius. His problem is that, like Steve Austin, his is now better than before. My father-in-law is merely wishing to regain not even normalcy but a degree of mobility he's lacked for nearly six months. A cut on a foot combined with diabetes and very poor circulation put him off his feet since August. For a while he was dispairing of ever playing golf or even walking again. So when he met the man who will build his prosthesis (who himself is missing a leg) and learned that they can get people to water-ski again, he thought playing 18 holes was doable.

What Awaits Behind Bars

The Swedish Athletics in the News blog describes the experiences Marion Jones likely will have in the penal system.
The greatest challenge facing Jones will be her attitude - something she will need to have checked at the door. As a (former) celebrity ex-millionaire, Jones will have no superior status in prison; she, the winner of five Olympic medals by method of fraud, will be classified as a white collar thief. She'll have to learn to play by two set of rules: Prison rules and prisoner rules; there won't be an opportunity to lie, cheat and steal her way through the six months governing her next stage in life. Breaking these rules can have consequences leading to banishments of different proportions, including life.
Fascinating stuff about a part of the American experience with which I have absolutely no knowledge.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Final Sprint 2008 Previews

The Final Sprint has posted some previews for 2008, with more to come I'm sure. So far they've got men's sprints and men's middle distances. Unfortunately, it's far too early for any real analysis to be made; Jimmie's predictions are that next year will be a lot like this year. And at this point, what else could he say? Indoor track is pre-season track and that hasn't even started yet.

Track is like tennis and golf that way. While there's a definite peak season, there's no real official beginning to the season. Heck, there's barely an off-season.

Another Blog

Whilst tooling around with a sitemeter I just installed, I stumbled onto another blog--Athletics in Britain (via The name is right on the money--it concentrates on the sport as competed in Britain and by Brits wherever they may be. Well written, constantly updated (180 posts in just four months). Check it out.

Here's What's Wrong With College Track

1) Regular-season meets are even more pointless than regular-season basketball. The all-day affairs rarely have team scoring to tie the races together into a meaningful unit, and those races are more geared towards being time trials than competitions.

2) And when a couple of top-level universities DO dust off the dual-meet format and throw the above out the window, no one lifts a finger to promote it. Ohio State and Michigan will face off in dual meets, both indoors and out, over each of the next three years. The first one will be in Ann Arbor next Saturday. Betcha can't find out when it's supposed to start, though. Between both schools' websites together, that info is available in ONE place.

I plan on being there. I'm sure there will be plenty of parking space and I can get right up by the finish line.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Updates to The Bell Lap

A few bids on Ebay, a trip to the art supply store for frames, and my basement rec room looks a bit more like a sports bar. The items I received were a pair of posters from the 1978 Commonwealth Games, held in Edmonton (a warm and inviting city I visited for the 2001 World Championships).

Sorry about the glare from the camera flash.

I also picked up a sports card display case, which I used for a small sample of my extensive collection of track & field cards.

Tracksters on TV

The new season of Survivor will have an Eastern Michigan University runner (1:52 PR) as one of the "castaways". But for how long?

The DIY Network has been running a small home improvement "short story" during commercial breaks that features the family of 1992 Olympic decathlete Aric Long. His kids are (predictably) involved in innumerable sports and their equipment overwhelmed the family's garage. Note that Long trumpeted his wife's 17 swimming All-American awards but barely mentioned his own accomplishments.

Track on TV -- Listings

Additions? Corrections? Deletions? Post 'em in the comments section.

Webcasts will be added to this section as information becomes available.

Saturday, January 19
MOJO HD, Noon-2:00 p.m.
Without Limits
(repeats Jan 20 at 4 PM, Jan 30 at 4 PM)

Sunday, January 20
ESPN Classic, 8:00-10:00 p.m.
Jim Thorpe, All-American

Sunday, January 27
ESPN2, 3:00-5:00 PM
Reebok Boston Indoor Games

ESPN Classic, 8:00-10:00 p.m.

Friday, February 1
ESPN2, 7:00-8:00 PM
Millrose Games

Saturday, February 2
NBC, 2:30-3:30 PM
Millrose Games

Sunday, February 17
ESPN, 5:00-7:00 PM
Tyson Invitational

Sunday, February 24
ESPN2, 5:00-7:00 p.m.
USATF Indoor Championships

Saturday, April 26
ESPN, 2:00-4:00 PM
Penn Relays

Sunday, May 18
ESPN2, 10:00-midnight
Adidas Track Classic

Saturday, May 31
ESPN2, 8:00-10:00 PM
Reebok Grand Prix

Sunday, June 1
CBS, 1:30-2:30 PM
Reebok Grand Prix

Sunday, June 8
NBC, 4:00-6:00 PM
Prefontaine Classic

Saturday, June 28
USA, 12:00-1:00 a.m.
NBC, 8:00-9:00 p.m.
US Olympic Trials

Sunday, June 29
NBC, 7:00-8:00 p.m.
US Olympic Trials

Monday, June 30
USA, 11:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m.
US Olympic Trials

Thursday, July 3
USA, 11:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m.
US Olympic Trials

Friday, July 4
USA, 11:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m.
US Olympic Trials

Saturday, July 5
NBC, 5:00-6:00 p.m.
US Olympic Trials

Sunday, July 6
NBC, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
US Olympic Trials

New-look Track Newsletter

Track & Field News has changed the format of its digital Track Newsletter. For me, it's a much-welcome change. For comparison:

Old version

New version

Note that it used to be results-only, while the new weekly newsletter now has photos and some articles. The change has been met with both congratulations and consternations amongst the regular online crowd. But those who worry are simultaneously neither living in the modern world nor remembering the past.

This is what T&FN used to look like a long time ago:

It was much like our new Track Newsletter. It was sent out biweekly during the peak season, which made the 1960s version more timely than the current mag--and they didn't have to compete with cable TV or the internet back then.

This is an indication that T&FN management has slowly begun to respond to its single biggest detraction, being slow. No one could possibly be interested in reading about a meet some three to six weeks after the fact unless you had Pulitzer-level writers doing the work (which the Mountain View gang certainly does not). ESPN launched its magazine ten years ago on the plan of no news, all previews, analysis and features. A niche publication such as T&FN can survive and even thrive if it takes that approach for the print mag while using the internet for superior collection and distribution of news and results.

Now, about CD-ROMs of back issues...that would be nice. As of right now, I guess I'll have to scan 'em myself.

Anti-Doping News

Marion Jones sentencing:
Six months in a minimum-security prison (which ESPN's legal analyst said was unlikely to be any less than four months of real time), plus two years probation and 800 hours of community service; must report by March 11. ESPN has the video.

The judge did not go easy on her; he was making noise about consecutive sentences for the two charges, but he went with concurrent instead. Still, she got the top end of the recommended sentence. His statements indicated he thought doping was as egregious a violation as the two counts of lying, even though she was not charged for it.

Error: ESPNews reported that she has been "wiped from track's record books". What records did she have? She never held any World, US or collegiate records. She does have some high school records, but I'm not aware that they have been struck.

There are a lot of people who think this kind of thing is bad press for track. Personally, I find it dismaying that ESPNews reneged on their promise to carry the sentencing live, and that O.J. Simpson's latest troubles quickly knocked her off their "Breaking News" graphic. Our scandals can't even compete! I tell ya, track gets no respect, no respect at all...

That gets the headlines, but it's not really that important. The news that is very important is the new Partnership for Clean Competition, a collaborative anti-doping effort between the USADA, USOC, MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL and PGA. Baseball and football will pump $6 million into research (i.e., new doping tests) over the next four years--chump change to them, but huge in the anti-doping world. By comparison, WADA has spent $31 million on research in its entire seven-year existence.

Whether or not the pro sports organizations actually adhere to the USADA/WADA code is of little importance to me. More important is what they can do for track. This partnership exists only to fund drug-test development; first up is an HGH test. We all know just how badly this test is needed, but even my eyes were recently opened as to its ease of availability. When a local Toledo bar was searched for evidence in a relatively routine DUI/homicide case, police stumbled upon HGH, syringes, clenbuterol (the drug for which Katrin Krabbe was busted), and "an unknown clear liquid".

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Adios, Craig Masback

In a surprise move, Masback has announced his resignation as CEO of USA Track & Field and will take up a position with Nike. Why? And why now?

Masback said it was a good time for a change. Not quite the usual "I want to spend more time with my family" rubbish, but close. USOC head honcho Jim Scherr may have subtly told us the real story when he said "This is not great news for USATF or the U.S. Olympic Committee...But I think it is a good move for Craig personally."

Over at the T&FN message board, the first reaction was "Nike! And Eugene just got three of the next four US championships! The fix is in!" Maybe, maybe not. Hayward Field just spent gobs of money on an upgrade, as did Drake Stadium; the two sites are now the best facilities in the nation with the most dependable crowds. The fact that they host all of the next five national championships is probably a sign that something is right, not wrong.

No, it may be much less sinister than that, but probably far more depressing. The boobs who more or less run the show--Brooks Johnson, Stephanie Hightower and John Chaplin--may have been somewhat restrained by USATF president Bill Roe. But Roe's second term ends this year, and internal power plays virtually guarantee Hightower's ascendance to the presidency. Since Masback was not put into place by these three stooges, he was going to get the boot and he chose to take a golden parachute when the opportunity came.

Note: The general buzz I get from reading the various message boards is that Chaplin is a fool and Johnson has more to do with the complete disappearance of US distance runners than any other single person in the world. But they say Hightower is far, far worse than either one. The vote is not a done deal, but it will take a good bit of organization for her defeat to come about.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Anti-Doping News

On NPR's Morning Edition today, Frank Deford hit the nail on the head when it comes to doping.

It appears an Austrian blood bank has been involved in blood doping. All the need is one athlete to turn state's evidence; as yet, that's a tough nut to crack.

And today both the defense and the prosecution argued that Marion Jones shouldn't spend more than six months in the lockup for perjury, while the judge wants to disregard the plea deal and give her consecutive sentences.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Superfan HOF--Lee Evans

(Note: As much as possible, the images used in the Hall of Fame series of posts will come from my collection of track & field trading cards, memorabilia, personal photos, and other assorted crap.)

Lee Evans is the first inductee into the Superfan Hall of Fame. They say "May you live in interesting times" is a Chinese curse; Evans' peak year was in 1968, the most interesting yet disturbing year of the post-World War II period. His biography, The Last Protest, is without a doubt the most interesting athletic biography I've ever read.

While Tommie Smith and John Carlos get the attention for their protest at the Mexico City Olympics, Evans was every bit as much the "instigator" as the other two. Yet the truth is that they instigated nothing; T&FN recently republished a 1967 interview with Evans and Smith that reveals much. To get more detail, read the book.

Evans is one of the most accomplished quarter-milers of all time, yet he barely qualified under my points system. He won an Olympic gold medal (one point), earned exactly 75 points in the World Rankings (one point), ranked #1 four times (one point), and set one official world record (one point). Had there been biennial World Championships in his day, he doubtlessly would have walked away with multiple golds; he won five AAU championships (his fifth and qualifying point), all over fields of the world's best quartermilers.

The most amazing thing about Evans as a runner was that he never was caught from behind in the 400m/440y.

Evans joined up with the ITA in 1973 and ran with the outfit through the 1975 season. Since then he has spent his time coaching for various universities and national teams; currently he is at the University of South Alabama. He's currently most known for taking a public and controversial position on AIDS tests; based on what I know about him, I'm not going to reject it out-of-hand as ravings from the tinfoil-hat crowd.

Evans, of course, is not afraid to make verbal bombshells. Upon his induction to the US Olympic Hall of Fame, said "he did not want to be joined there by anyone who has used drugs or steroids to enhance athletic performance". This hardly seems controversial, until you realize that steroids were legal in 1968 and one-third of his 1968 Olympic teammates freely admitted using them.

Year Event Rank Mark Meets, etc.
1966 200m -- 20.9*
400m 1 45.2 1)AAU; undefeated (14 meets)
1967 400m 1 44.9 1)AAU, 1) Pan-Am
1968 200m -- 20.8*
400m 1 43.86A / 45.0 1)NCAA, 1)AAU, 1)FOT, 1)Oly Gms
Third in Athlete of the Year voting; set WR that stood for 19 years
1969 200m 7 20.4
400m 2 44.5 2)NCAA, 1)AAU
Seventh in Athlete of the Year voting
1970 200m -- 20.8
400m 1 45.5+ 2)AAU
1971 400m 9 45.6* dnf-inj)AAU
1972 400m 3 44.3* 1)AAU, 4)FOT
1974 400m -- 45.9* competed in ITA
1975 400m -- 45.9* competed in ITA

* = 440y time less 0.3 seconds, + = en route to 440y
Wikipedia -- USATF HOF

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The real crime

Are you like me? Do you find the most disturbing thing about this article is the AP calling the New England Cross Country Championships a track meet?

Note: I am not being callous towards Noor's plight. In fact I find the authorities' response rather strange.

Ato Boldon on the upcoming year

I can't really say Ato Boldon is new on the track scene, but he's relatively new in terms of offering commentary. He makes his picks for the most influential in T&F for the upcoming year. He proves that he thinks far more deeply than the average sports columnist/announcer.

But like most, he's got a blind spot. We find his when he writes "If you take away his World Championships appearance, Alan Webb had arguably the best season of any American middle-distance runner ever." Jim Ryun and Glenn Cunningham beat him hands-down more than once, and there are at least a half a dozen others who almost certainly had better seasons somewhere in their careers.

However, I have no reason to doubt him when he writes:
The U.S. Olympic Trials are always fantastic, but trust me when I say that the 2008 Olympic Trials in Eugene, from June 27 to July 6, will be one of the greatest track meets that has ever taken place, anywhere, ever. If you haven’t been to that part of the country, or have never witnessed the drama of a USA Olympic trials and its “finish-in-the-top-three-or-see-you-in-four-years” reality, 2008 would be a great year to start – if you can still get a ticket.
I'm going with T&FN Tours. I'm excited.

A Hall of Fame

When the Mitchell Report hit the fan a few weeks ago, the various talking heads on ESPN’s Sports Reporters took the position that baseball’s steroid problem was fundamentally different than that of other sports. This is because of the game’s historic nature; there is a reverence for records, and doping had done perhaps irreparable harm to the record book. As track fans, I think we can empathize.

The reporters also said that even though attempts at doping control were delayed and weak, the BBWAA can take its own action: refuse to elect dirty players to the Hall of Fame. In fact, it appears unlikely that Mark McGwire will ever gain entry. While this kind of punishment might seem a slap on the wrist, considering baseball’s hero-worship of the legends it might be the most appropriate punishment possible. It is final, and it is forever.

All of this led me to think about track’s Hall of Fame—or more accurately, lack of one. USA Track & Field has its own hall, but that’s only for Americans. There are international halls of fame for golf, swimming, tennis, boxing, bowling, gymnastics, motor sports, yadda yadda yadda. But track has none, and it might be the most international sport of all, maybe even more than soccer (which, oddly enough, also lacks a worldwide hall of fame).

One knock on USATF’s hall of fame is that politics play too large a role in who gains entry and who does not. I’ve always liked the LPGA’s approach, where accomplishments alone are the requirements and active players can be members. Measuring accomplishments in track & field is a bit more difficult, but of course I’ve come up with a workable system.

Athletes must earn a total of at least five points from a number of categories listed below.

World Rankings. 100 or more rankings points earn an athlete three Hall of Fame points; between 75 and 99 earn one point. Five #1 rankings earn three points, while three or four earn one point. (Events ranked only five-deep are scored 5-4-3-2-1, and the #1 position only counts half.)

Included in these point totals are Athlete of the Year and Performance of the Year rankings (respectively ranked ten-deep and five-deep). After all, someone has to be #1 every year, but some seasons are obviously stronger than others—Bob Beamon in 1968 or Yuriy Syedikh in 1986 come to mind as examples.

Since World Rankings began in 1947 (men), 1955 (women) and 1970 (men’s walks), athletes from the pre-rankings era need only four Hall of Fame points to gain entry.

Olympic Games. Here is where the legends are made, which is why the fight about Jerome Young and Marion Jones have been so bitter. Multiple Olympic gold medals earn three points; one gold earns one point. Three medals of any type earn three points, while multiple medals earn one point. (Yes, I’m aware that two golds actually add up to four points, while three golds make six points—these are the Olympics!)

Relays don’t count, and neither do now-defunct events (except those which have been “replaced”—the men’s 10k walk and several women’s events). Results predating the first truly modern games of 1912 don’t count either.

World Championships. Being held more often and of a somewhat lesser importance, the Worlds require higher numbers. Three points require three or more golds, or four or more medals; one point is earned from two golds or three or more medals. Similarly, relays don’t count.

For athletes predating the Worlds era, other championships count. Points are earned for the same number of medals at pre-1980s European Championships in distance or field events (Commonwealth Games for non-European athletes). In traditionally strong US events—the sprints, hurdles, jumps, throws, and multis—six AAU/TAC championships from 1980 or earlier earns three points, while three championships earns one point. As the Euros began in 1934, points are earned for the same number of AAA championships (’31 and earlier).

World Records. Official IAAF records in Olympic/Worlds events only, no relays, and outdoor only. An athlete who set multiple records gets three points, and those who set just one get one point, but with certain exceptions.

The IAAF kept records for both imperial and metric distances up through 1976, giving running-event athletes many chances for world records. The pole vault has also produced a huge number of records as compared to other events. So to get three points, you need three world records if you’re a pole-vaulter or set them in running events prior to 1977.

Other things. Some athletes got screwed or unfairly helped by Olympic boycotts. Others had their chances nicked by world wars. Athletes from before 1912 mostly get shut out of this system altogether. I’ll deal with them on a case-by-case basis.

And then there’s the doping issue. Up until the implosion of East European totalitarianism in 1992, doping was only nominally against the rules—it was a free-for-all. I’ll just let it be. But any athlete who, after 1992, either served a major doping ban or admitted to use is barred from my Superfan Hall of Fame.

Once or twice a week I’ll post another athlete who has made it in. Who I get to next will be more or less random.