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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Another Sub-13

Tegenkamp runs 12:58 in Brussels. Two weeks, two new contenders in international distance running.

There are other issues to talk about, but I have limited time to write right now, so I'll only get one of them down today. The Let's Run headline reads "7 days ago, Bob Kennedy was the only American to ever crack 13:00." A message board thread asks WTF?, because Bernard Lagat ran 12:59.22 in 2006 while a US citizen.

Over at the T&FN boards, the following exchange took place:

EZSum wrote:
doug091463 wrote:
bruce3404 wrote:
Terrific run by Tegenkamp, 12:58.56. Two great times in a week, but does anyone believe our guys can ever beat the Africans in a big meet? Don't mean to be negative, as these were some very special times and it's been a long time since Bob Kennedy (which the Italian announcers referred to as Robert Kennedy!); still, it seems that about all we can hope for is to put a couple of guys into a World's or Olympic final which they have virtually no chance of winning. I guess that's better than nothing.

if i recall correctly we hadone of our guys leading the world champs 5k with less than 100 meters to go 2 weeks ago in the 2009 berlin world championships.

true we have not had a world or olympic 5k champion since let me think, way back 2 years ago in 2007.

Possibly he's excluding imported Kenyans from his assessment.

In a sense, all American athletes are imported unless he/she is a Native American.

I actually don't think it's racism going on here specifically. If anything, maybe xenophobia. Whether Lagat was actually born in America is not the real issue. It's that he was not raised in the American culture. And American culture has been antithetical to serious distance running with two exceptions: the baby boom, and the current generation.

The first was a group of kids raised by the toughest generation in US history, the ones who lived through the Depression and WWII. They passed toughness on to their kids, but the kids had nothing to be tough about. The baby boomers did a lot of different things with the unusual amount of freedom they had (in terms of time, ease of making a decent living, and relaxing of social norms), and some of them took up running.

This generation is a bit different, but many want a real challenge in their lives. Some worked their butts off to get a (nominally, at least) progressive black man elected president. Some are pounding the miles like no Americans have in 30 years. Whatever gives your life meaning.

I work out on the track at school on my planning period with some degree of regularity. Most of the kids out there for gym class look at me like I'm completely nuts. However, it seems to have changed a bit over the last few years. I have more and more of them decide to keep up with me for a few laps because it seems like fun to them.

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