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Thursday, April 30, 2009

What's On The Weekend


The Jamaica International, an IAAF Permit Meet, will be held in Kingston on Saturday. Usain Bolt was going to run, but has pulled out after his minor auto accident.
Jamaica Observer / IAAF preview

The Lilac Bloomsday Run 12k will take place on Sunday morning in Spokane, WA.
Race website

Spokesman Review / Whitworthian

A special memorial hammer throw competition will take place in Warsaw on Sunday in memory of Kamila Skolimowska, who died at a training camp earlier this year.
IAAF preview


Conference Championship meets:
Big East (Friday thru Sunday) live webcast link
America East (Saturday thru Sunday)
Atlantic Ten (Saturday thru Sunday) live webcast link
Metro Atlantic (Saturday thru Sunday)
MEAC (Thursday thru Sunday)
Northeast (Saturday thru Sunday)
Ohio Valley (Friday thru Saturday)
Patriot League (Friday thru Saturday)
SWAC (Friday thru Sunday)

Dual meets:
UCLA at USC (Friday and Saturday)
Washington State at Washington (Saturday)
Arizona and Northern Arizona at Arizona State (Saturday)
Kansas State, Wichita State and Northern Iowa at Nebraska (Saturday)
Montana State at Montana (Saturday)

Cardinal Invitational
Jesse Owens Classic
Houston Invitational

all the rest


Showtime Family Zone will air "Sydney 2000 Olympics: Bud Greenspan's Gold From Down Under " from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday.

Universal Sports will rerun the Boston Marathon from 10 p.m. to midnight on Friday.

Universal Sports will rerun the Millrose Games from 5 to 6 a.m. Saturday.

Universal Sports will rerun the Rotterdam Marathon from 10 p.m. to midnight Saturday.

Universal Sports will rerun the London Marathon from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What's On Tomorrow

Sanford and Son, episode 98, "The Olympics", will be on TV One from 2:30 to 3 a.m. Romantic interests spur Fred into competing in the Senior Olympics decathlon. Some great physical humor from Redd Foxx in this one, plus my favorite bit character Grady (Whitman Mayo) is hilarious as Fred's coach.

The Penn Relays will be rerun on ESPNU from 3 to 5 a.m. and 8:30 to 10:30 p.m.

The Drake Relays will be rerun on ESPNU from 1:30 to 3 a.m. and 10 to 11:30 p.m.

The NCAA Indoor Championships will be rerun on ESPN from midnight to 1:30 a.m.

Anti-Doping News update

In case you didn't already hear, it's been confirm by Bahrain's NOC that the gold medalist who tested positive for CERA was Rashid Ramzi. The other two positives came from '04 walking gold medalist Athanasia Tsoumeleka (already admitted) and Croatian 800-meter runner Vanja Perisic (who?).

So they managed to get the guy who was the most likely doper of the entire 2008 Olympic track & field competition and also the most likely of 2004, albeit too late to take back her gold medal.

World Rankings Update - Marathon

Now that the spring majors are done, let's see how the top marathoners stack up.
1. Tsegay Kebede, ETH, 214
2. Deriba Merga, ETH, 212
3. Samuel Wanjiru, KEN, 184
4. Duncan Kibet, KEN, 180
5. Jaouad Gharib, MAR, 172
6. James Kwambai, KEN, 168
7. Patrick Makau, KEN, 151
8. Abel Kirui, KEN, 148
9. Daniel Rono, KEN, 116
9. Vincent Kipruto, KEN, 116
11. Haile Gebrselassie, ETH, 108
12. Emmanuel Mutai, KEN, 106
13. Ryan Hall, USA, 100
14. Bazu Worka, ETH, 92
15. Tekeste Kebede, ETH, 88
16. David Kiyeng, KEN, 80
17. Yemane Adhane, ETH, 76
18. Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, KEN, 72
19. Rachid Kisri, MAR, 66
20. David Mandago, KEN, 56
20. Hendrick Ramaala, RSA, 56
22. Gashaw Asfaw, ETH, 46
23. Moses Kimeli Arusei, KEN, 44
24. Deressa Edae, ETH, 42
25. Samuel Muturi Mugo, KEN, 34

Why is Kebede ranked two spots ahead of Wanjiru despite the results of Sunday's London Marathon, where Wanjiru beat Kebede? Because these rankings reflect points earned rather than merit.

If neither athlete ran again this year, T&FN's year-end World Rankings would definitely put Wanjiru ahead of Kebede. And by October, that's likely what will happen here. Kebede has run two marathons plus a good half-marathon since my "season" began in early November, whereas Wanjiru has only London (plus a lackluster half that earned him nothing). For Kebede to gain any more points, he must do better than his Fukuoka win. Wanjiru, on the other hand, doesn't have to do much this fall to overtake the top spot…besides keeping #4 Duncan Kibet, the winner of the blazing Rotterdam race, form overtaking him.

1. Irina Mikitenko, GER, 160
2. Mara Yamauchi, GBR, 152
3. Salina Kosgei, KEN, 137
4. Dire Tune, ETH, 133
5. Kara Goucher, USA, 120
6. Yoko Shibui, JPN, 114
7. Yoshimi Ozaki, JPN, 104
8. Mizuho Nasukawa, JPN, 100
8. Liliya Shobukova, RUS, 100
10. Bezunesh Bekele, ETH, 92
11. Yuri Kano, JPN, 90
12. Aselefech Mergia, ETH, 88
13. Svetlana Zakharova, RUS, 84
14. Berhane Adere, ETH, 79
15. Atsede Baysa, ETH, 74
16. Helena Loshanyang Kirop, KEN, 73
17. Nailya Yulmanova, RUS, 72
18. Atsede Habtamu, ETH, 60
18. Yukiko Akaba, JPN, 60
18. Inga Abitova, RUS, 60
21. Ashu Kasim, ETH, 59
22. Yoshiko Fujinaga, JPN, 52
23. Christelle Daunay, FRA, 50
24. Yukari Sahaku, JPN, 48
24. Marisa Barros, POR, 48
24. Irina Timofeyeva, RUS, 48

Mikitenko's dominant London win has her rightly at the top of the rankings, followed by London runner-up Yamauchi and the Boston podium finishers of Kosgei, Tune and Goucher.

If there's a "sleeper" to watch, it's Japan's #7 Yoshimi Ozaki, winner of the Tokyo Marathon. She will be running the World Championships in Berlin, along with #6 Yoko Shibui, who she soundly defeated in that race. Like Wanjiru, Ozaki has only that one race to her credit which leaves her ranked a bit below what she deserves. So far this season, only Mikitenko's London win was a better race than Ozaki's Tokyo win.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Anti-Doping News

The IOC went back and retested samples from Beijing for CERA last year after a test became available. The results are finally in.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have confirmed on their offical Web site that further analysis of samples taken from the Beijing Games have revealed that six athletes tested positive for blood-boosting hormone CERA.
And not too long after this was revealed, a leak came out.
A person familiar with a new round of drug tests from the Beijing Olympics says two medalists were among six athletes who turned up positive when their blood samples were rechecked.

The person tells The Associated Press the tests nabbed three track and field athletes, two cyclists and one weightlifter.

The person also says one of the track and field athletes is a male gold medalist.
(emphasis added)
You never know how long you'll have to wait before it becomes public. The most likely? Valery Borchin, Russian racewalker. The most talked-about? Rashid Ramzi, secretive Qatari middle-distance runner.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Penn & Drake

My reactions to the Penn & Drake Relays and their ESPN2 broadcasts...

Why do announcers get saddled with inferior monitors? For example, in the Penn men's university 4x100, Ato Boldon mistook winner Texas A&M for another team. But on my screen at home, it was plain as day. There were other mixups as well, and I don't think you can pin them all on the announcers.

Why aren't the announcers told who's on what leg? On many relays they were, but not in the USA versus the World distance medley. We knew who the USA's anchor leg was (Lopez Lomong) but not Kenya's or Canada's. And even without any help, with a good monitor (see above) Lewis Johnson would have been able to identify Nate Brannen.

The Pick N' Win setup is a mess. How in the hell are you supposed to pick relay teams when you don't know who's on them? I might have taken a flyer on Canada in the DMR if I'd known they were going to load it up with Tyler Christopher, Gary Reed and Brannen (hats off to AthCan for getting them all together). But picking USA Red or USA Blue in the sprints? It's a coin toss. And why in the hell was Sara Bei still on the start list for the Drake women's 1500 meters when she ran the 5k in Berkeley the night before? Arrgh!

If I were the title sponsor of a field event, I'd be royally pissed that my money barely got me 15 seconds on screen. USATF's broadcast team can and should do a better job for their paying customers. Field events are half the sport, for cryin' out loud.

Dan Taylor is moving up in the shot world and fast. Looks like his decision to start working with John Godina was a smart one.

Does it strike you as a bit stereotypical that all the black announcers were sent to Philadelphia and all the white ones to Des Moines?

Alan Webb did nothing to quell any doubts. This was supposed to be our great hope of a few years ago?

Some way, some how, some day, I'm going to run at the Penn Relays. If I have to wait 50 years to make it into a high-age-group sprint, I'll do it. Penn is the coolest thing I have ever seen.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

It Ain't Just Us

Over the last few years--decades, maybe--track fans have become almost cynical about amazing performances due to the one-after-another-after-another nature of doping revelations. For example, the supposition that drugs played a part Jamaica's dominant performance last season got serious coverage in major media.

If you're like that, and it bothers you, take heart in the fact that we're not alone. A recent New York Post article asks "Why is no one suspicious of Susan Boyle?", the newly-famous diamond in the rough first discovered on Britain's Got Talent. Or was she?

Friday, April 24, 2009

What's On The Weekend


London Marathon will have a live webcast of the world's best marathon beginning at 3:50 AM Sunday.

Race Website / Webcast link

Reuters / AP / USA Today / Telegraph / BBC / Guardian / IAAF

Let's Run previews: men / women


Brutus Hamilton Invitational

The New York Road Runners Club will be providing pros with pacers and logistics.  Sixteen Olympians, including Shannon Rowbury, will run tonight at Cal's Edwards Stadium.

Meet website / Flotrack coverage

US Distance Runner / Cal Bears / San Fran Chronicle / Inside Bay Area


Pro / College / High School

100th Drake Relays

ESPN2 will have a tape-delay show from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Meet website

USA Today / Associated Press / New York Times


115th Penn Relays

ESPN2 will have live coverage from Franklin Field on Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m.

Meet website / Webcast link / Flotrack coverage

Philly Daily News


Oregon Relays

Nike has its own relays, but money can't buy tradition!

Meet website

Register-Guard / Daily Emerald / Oregonian


PUMA Street Meet

This Boston event is a participatory contest as part of a street fair.

Event website



The Penn Relays will be live on ESPN2 from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday.  ESPNU will rerun it from 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday.


The highlights of the Drake Relays will be on ESPN2 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.


A tape-delay broadcast of the London Marathon will be on Universal Sports from 9 to 11 a.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday.


Hallmark TV will debut Chasing A Dream on Saturday.  The film's plot: high school football star rebels against his father-coach, quits the team, and dedicates himself to running a sub-4:00 mile. Oh, sure! Happens every day.


The Boston Marathon will be rerun on Universal Sports from 9 to 11 a.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday.


The World Cross Country Championships will be on CBC from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday.


The NCAA Indoor Championships will be rerun on ESPNU from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Sunday.


The Millrose Games will be rerun on Universal Sports from 7 to 8 a.m. on Saturday and 5 to 6 a.m. on Sunday.


ESPN Classic will rerun an episode of E:60 at 11 p.m. Sunday.  It includes a segment on the death of Ryan Shay.


Run Fatboy Run, a film culminating in a fictitious London marathon, will be on Cinemax at 8:30 a.m. and 11:15 p.m. Sunday.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Talking a Better Track Meet

There's a lot of discussion about this recently in the remarkably small track & field blogosphere. Scott Bush, Victor Gras, and SPIKES mag have all written on the subject in the last week or so.

There are a lot of ideas about how to appeal to the yung 'uns, as meet directors of some big European affairs are talking lights and music. But that strikes me as little more than smoke & mirrors. College and pro football use remarkably little of this and are quite popular in spite of it.

Bush talks about how to market a meet to get butts in the seats. But as Gras points out, if you do nothing to make people want to come back no amount of marketing will help.

My thoughts are as they have always been: track & field is an inherently interesting sport, and if you show it to people they will like it. But you must show it to them. Quite often we manage to pack 15 minutes of action into four hours.

Here's the thing. There is, and always will be, down time on the track between events. While it's always advisable to keep it to a minimum, you can't eliminate it. It's just the nature of the beast. That doesn't mean there's nothing going on at those times. In fact, there's often so much going on that it's hard to keep track of it all. Field events make the sport a three (or four or five) ring circus.

A good announcer is the key to making event a low-budget meet into something the fans like. I'm not saying this just because I'm an announcer myself...although I will work any meet for little more than a free lunch. A good announcer keeps people up to date with what's happening, lets them know a bit about each competitor, and lets people know how each result fits into a larger picture.

I do my homework for our City Championship. I get a wireless microphone so I can travel around to field events when time allows me. As I introduce each athlete, I mention any invitationals they have won and if they're a returning champion or state meet qualifier. Last year, when Erik Kynard was attempting seven feet, I directed the stadium's attention to him and you could have heard a pin drop--until he made it, when the place exploded. This year I hope to station a kid with a cell phone at each field event and have them post updates via Twitter so I can put that over the PA in between running events. Those can really make a big difference in team scores, which is what the crowd cares about more than anything else.

Information is the currency of sports fans. Without it, what they're watching is just a bunch of stuff that happens. Whether it is an announcer or a scoreboard or a program, they need to know things and how it all fits together into a narrative.

World Rankings Update - Long Distance

No update necessary; there is no change from last week.

What's On Tomorrow

The 100th Drake Relays continue.
Meet Website

The 115th Penn Relays also continue.
Meet website / webcast link

The Oregon Relays get underway. Comcast Sportsnet Northwest will go live with meet coverage from 4 to 6 p.m.
Meet website

The Big Ten Network will rerun the Big Ten Indoor championships, with the men from noon to 2 p.m. and the women from 2 to 4 p.m.

Bud Greenspan's Favorite Stories of Olympic Glory, which includes a segment on Dan O'Brien, will be on Showtime Family Zone from noon to 1:35 p.m. and 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Higher Learning will be on TV One from 1 to 3:30 a.m. This John Singleton film looks at racial tension on a fictional college campus, and stars Omar Epps and Tyra Banks as sprinters on the university's track team.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What's On Tomorrow

The 100th Drake Relays continue.
Meet website
Des Moines Register / USA Track & Field

The 115th Penn Relays get started. A live webcast will begin at 5:15 p.m. tomorrow.
Meet website / Webcast link
Phillyist / NBC Philadelphia / WaPo / Universal Sports

The Big Ten Indoor Championships will be rerun on the Big Ten Network, with the women going from 6 to 8 p.m. and the men going from 8 to 10 p.m.

The classically awful Bruce Jenner film Can't Stop The Music will be on FLix from 9:45 to 11:50 a.m.

World Rankings Update - Middle Distance

No changes since last week.

800 meters
1. Ismail Ahmed Ismail, SUD, 80
2. Yuriy Borzakovskiy, RUS, 61
3. Wilfred Bungei, KEN, 56
4. Abubaker Kaki, SUD, 55
5. Haron Keitany, KEN, 54
6. Mehdi Baala, FRA, 47
7. Boaz Kiplagat Lalang, KEN, 40
8. Belal Mansoor Ali, BRN, 34
9. Abraham Chepkirwok, UGA, 27
10. Richard Kiplagat, KEN, 26

1500 meters / Mile
1. Haron Keitany, KEN, 107
2. Bernard Lagat, USA, 96
3. Mehdi Baala, FRA, 83
4. Augustine Choge, KEN, 76
5. Belal Mansoor Ali, BRN, 63
6. Daniel Kipchirchir Komen, KEN, 61
7. Bouabdellah Tahri, FRA, 55
7. Mo Farah, GBR, 55
9. Mekonnen Gebremedhin, ETH, 54
10. Deresse Mekonnen, ETH, 49

800 meters
1. Mariya Savinova, RUS, 98
2. Oksana Zbrozhek, RUS, 90
3. Elisa Cusma Piccione, ITA, 56
4. Anna Alminova, RUS, 54
5. Tetiana Petlyuk, UKR, 42
6. Jennifer Meadows, GBR, 37
7. Marilyn Okoro, GBR, 32
8. Irina Maracheva, RUS, 30
9. Sylwia Ejdys, POL, 17
10. Madeleine Pape, AUS, 11

1500 meters / Mile
1. Anna Alminova, RUS, 139
2. Oksana Zbrozhek, RUS, 57
3. Jenny Barringer, USA, 42
4. Nuria Fernández, ESP, 39
5. Kara Goucher, USA, 38
6. Maryam Yusuf Jamal, BRN, 29
7. Sylwia Ejdys, POL, 24
8. Sally Kipyego, KEN, 21
9. Yevgeniya Zolotova, RUS, 19
10. Sarah Jamieson, AUS, 17

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

World Rankings Update - Sprints

A few things have changed since last week, but not much.

100 meters
1. Dwain Chambers, GBR, 41
2. Daniel Bailey, ANT, 28
3. Mark Jelks, USA, 28
4. Jacoby Ford, USA/Clemson, 23
5. Ivory Williams, USA, 21
5. Walter Dix, USA, 21
7. Simeon Williamson, GBR, 16
7. D'Angelo Cherry, USA, 16
9. Michael Rodgers, USA, 15
Jelks won at the IAAF Grand Prix meet in Dakar on Saturday.

200 meters
1. Ivory Williams, USA, 16
2. Mike Rodgers, USA, 15
3. Aaron Rouge-Serret, AUS, 13
4. Trey Harts, USA/Baylor, 13
5. Xavier Carter, USA, 10
5. Mark Jelks, USA, 10
Harts broke Michael Johnson's long-standing meet record at the Dr. Pepper Invitational in Waco on Saturday.

400 meters
1. Sean Wroe, AUS, 27
2. Gil Roberts, USA/Texas Tech, 13
3. Greg Nixon, USA, 12
4. Michael Bingham, USA, 11
5. Isaac Makwala, BOT, 10
Makwala won the GP race in Dakar.

100 meters
1. Carmelita Jeter, USA, 28
2. Sally McLellan, AUS, 21
3. Porscha Lucas, USA/Texas A&M, 20
4. Murielle Ahoure, USA/Miami (FL), 17
5. Brianna Glenn, USA, 14
6. Bianca Knight, USA, 10
6. Stephanie Durst, USA, 10
8. Melissa Breen, AUS, 9
9. Angela Williams, USA, 8
10. Vida Anim, GHA, 6
Jeter's fast times each of the last two weekends rocket her to the top of the rankings. Durst won the GP race in Dakar, a surprisingly deep affair.

200 meters
1. Carmelita Jeter, USA, 28
2. Porscha Lucas, USA/Texas A&M, 20
3. Murielle Ahoure, USA/Miami (FL), 17
4. Shericka Williams, JAM, 16
5. Brianna Glenn, USA, 16
6. Melissa Breen, AUS, 10
7. Bianca Knight, USA, 10
8. ChaRonda Williams, USA, 9
9. Joice Maduaka, GBR, 7
Glenn won the Dakar GP race.

400 meters
1. Antonina Krivoshapka, RUS, 34
2. Tamsyn Lewis, AUS, 15
3. Amantle Montsho, BOT, 10
4. Monique Williams, NZL, 7
5. Monica Hargrove, USA, 7
Montsho and hargrove took the top two spots in Dakar.

What's On Tomorrow

The 100th Drake Relays get started.
Meet Website

Associated Press / Des Moines Register

"1984 L.A. Games: Bud Greenspan Remembers" will be on Showtime Extreme from 8:45 o 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Gem From Sports Illustrated

I'm fairly disappointed at the lack of any coverage of Boston at While looking through the front page I found a link to the SI Vault about Patriot's Day sports, and came across a 1963 article by Hal Higdon titled "On The Run From Dogs And People".

I believe this article must have morphed into Higdon's classic 1971 book of the same title, which contains one of my favorite lines about people who just don't get running:
Occasionally you do run into a comment that is actually funny. Ted Corbitt, a distance man from The Bronx, runs to the subway on his way to work as part of his training program. One day a guy said to his friend as Corbitt jogged by, "Man, that cat's late every morning."

What's On Tomorrow

Universal Sports will replay the Millrose Games from 11 a.m. to noon and the Rotterdam Marathon from noon to 2 p.m.

Versus will replay the World's Best 10k from 4:30 to 5 p.m.

World Rankings Update - Walks

Marathons will come in a week or two. The walks come today.

1. Valeriy Borchin, RUS, 214
2. Hao Wang, CHN, 154
3. Eder Sánchez, MEX, 153
4. Jared Talent, AUS, 119
5. Jianbo Li, CHN, 112
6. Erik Tysse, NOR, 108
7. Giorgio Rubino, ITA, 90
8. Aleksandr Yargunkin, RUS, 84
9. Pyotr Trofimov, RUS, 81
10. Andrey Krivov, RUS, 57
Defending Olympic champ Borchin has two wins this year, at the Russian Winter Championships and at the IAAF Race Walking Challenge event in Wuxi, China, on Saturday.

1. Zhao Chengliang CHN 144
2. Yohan Diniz FRA 124
3. Francisco Javier Fernández ESP 112
4. Trond Nymark NOR 108
5. Matej Toth SVK 100
6. Lei Li CHN 74
7. Jesús Sánchez MEX 72
8. Xu Faguang CHN 60
9. Omar Zepeda MEX 52
10. Sergey Bakulin RUS 46
Zhao won yesterday's IAAF Challenge event in China.

1. Olga Kaniskina, RUS 223
2. Kjersti Plätzer, NOR 126
3. Vera Sokolova, RUS 114
4. Anisya Kirdyapkina, RUS 111
5. Yelena Shumkina, RUS 108
6. Inês Henriques, POR 98
7. Larisa Emelyanova, RUS 81
8. Jiang Jing, CHN 78
9. Lyudmila Arkhipova, RUS 72
10. Masumi Fuchise, JPN 66
Like her male counterpart, Kanaskina is also the defending Olympic champ and also won at the Russian Winter Championships and in Wuxi. Unlike Borchin, she came close to the World Record. She is currently the overall points leader, by just one over Meseret Defar.

More on Cincinnati Defunding

I can't claim any insider info, but my brother does work with a parent of a scholarship athlete at Cincy.

He described the opposition to the defunding move as "vociferous". The AD was recently on local sports talk radio and apparently savaged for the full hour (men's swimming and wrestling are to get the same treatment). I've seen the same situation up close; the only way a decision like this can be reversed is if the AD believes his career is at stake.

At about the same time that the scholarship eliminations were announced, plans to upgrade Cincy's football stadium came out. My bro said he thought the Cincy AD didn't want to be known as the guy who didn't do everything he could to keep head football coach Brian Kelly on campus. He won't stay, of course, when some other college outbids UC, but image is what the AD is looking for.

The situation is much like CEOs at major financial institutions that put their own compensation ahead of their feduciary responsibilities to shareholders. One destroyed college sports, the other destroyed the world financial system. In this day and age, I can understand if we save our torches and pitchforks for the guys on Wall Street. In both cases, however, the stakeholders could have and should have reined in their foolih behavior--but everyone had dollar signs in their eyes that blinded them to reality.

Boston Marathon reactions

AP article / IAAF recap

My thoughts on this morning's Boston Marathon…

Why was it not on TV? It was on Universal Sports, but almost no one gets that. It was carried on ESPN's foreign affiliates, such as Canada's TSN.

I'm not sure either Ryan Hall or Kara Goucher could have won, but I think both followed strategies that made it more difficult.

Goucher's strategy was jog 20 miles and race 10k, which allowed far too many athletes to hand around. The longer I saw Dire Tune in the picture, the more I thought about a) her close win a year ago and b) her track world record. Based on Tune's post-race stretcher cart-off, if the pace had been pressed earlier I doubt she would have beaten Goucher.

Hall's press from the gun / wait and see strategy didn't get rid of anybody except runners that weren't going to make a difference anyway, and it may have used up just enough energy that he couldn't respond when Merga made the real break. Had he been able to keep it close, he might have been able to reel in Merga near the end.

I think both of these strategies can be considered playing from a position of weakness; Hall's in fear of a too-slow race and Goucher's in fear of a too-fast one. Like poker, you'll only win in marathoning from a position of weakness if the cards break just right.

Did you see who was #1 in my men's road race rankings last week? Deriba Merga.

Did you see who was #3 in my women's road race rankings? Dire Tune. First (Aselefech Mergia) wasn't in the race and second (Vivian Cheruyiot) isn't a marathoner. Goucher was fourth and Kosgei way back in 37th.

I watched it online (I taught during the early miles and kept my students busy during the real nitty-gritty). I'm so glad I didn't get to hear Larry Rawson's awful announcing. From the Let's Run thread: "The holy grail: Larry Rawson has managed to combine 'the shoes weigh the same as two slices of bread' AND 'leg turnover' in one sentence."

Are either Hall or Goucher interested in winning Boston specifically or just a major marathon in general? Because everyone says Boston has a learning curve. It's no surprise that the same Kenyans keep coming back to there every year. London, Berlin and Chicago don't have a learning curve: pacemakers + flat course = brainless running 'til you're the last one standing.

If Boston and New York get far and away the lion's share of domestic marathon media attention, and shoe companies invest in American marathoners in order to sell sporting goods in the USA, why don't their contracts provide strong incentives for Americans to run New York and/or Boston?

Late Edits: I don't want it to sound like I think Hall and Goucher threw away wins; most likely, Merga and Kosgei would have won in any case. But I don't think they gave themselves the best chance to win.

The race got decent coverage on ESPN. It was in the "Mailbag" segment on PTI (Tony Kornheiser joked that Tune should have dove at Kosgei's feet) and prominent on SportsCenter (that fat tub of goo John Kruk said he was late to the studio because he ran the race).

Sunday, April 19, 2009

More on Flanagan & Cook

Earlier this year Shalane Flanagan had a public and nasty breakup with her coach, John Cook. There was much speculation as to the reasons. Cook accused Flanagan's husband of secretly monitoring workouts and taking notes so that he could coach her and not have to pay out.

Turns out this had to be flat wrong. At the B.A.A. Invitational Mile held this morning (where Anna Willard outkicked Flanagan), the Olympic bronze medalist told about her new coach.
Flanagan also announced a new arrangement with Jerry Schumacher, the former Wisconsin coach who now guides a group of professional athletes in Portland, Ore., that includes Olympian Matt Tegenkamp, American steeplechase record holder Dan Lincoln and 13:12 5K man Chris Solinsky. She will divide time between her home in North Carolina and the training camp in Portland until January, when she will move west permanently.
"A group of professional athletes"? It's more than that. It's the Oregon Project, funded by Nike and, until recently, coached by Alberto Salazar. A recent interview with Schumaker in The Oregonian reveals that Nike's money isn't quite as useful as old-fashioned hard work.

The general opinion at Let's Run was that Flanagan wanted to transition into marathoning and decided Cook wasn't the person to help her do it. AlSal and Schumacher look like they are more than able.

World Rankings Update - Throws

The rankings in the long throws are a bit sketchy due to the season having just started, and are listed only five deep. The shot has been going strong since January, though.

Shot Put
1. Christian Cantwell, USA, 72
2. Tomas Majewski, POL, 31
3. Reese Hoffa, USA, 23
4. Adam Nelson, USA, 21
5. Pavel Sofyin, RUS, 16
6. Russ Winger, USA, 15
7. Dan Taylor, USA, 13
8. Anton Liuboslavski, RUS, 12
9. Garrett Johnson, USA, 10
10. Yves Niare, FRA, 7
Cantwell continued his domination of this event on Friday in Dakar, leaving Hoffa and Winger well behind.

Discus Throw
1. Gerd Kanter, EST, 47
2. Yennifer Frank Casañas, ESP, 15
3. Markus Münch, GER, 4
4. Erik Cadée, NED, 2
5. Märt Israel, EST, 1
Kanter won the European Winter Throwing Cup and a week later broke the world record in the rarely-contested indoor discus.

Hammer Throw
1. Krisztián Pars, HUN, 17
2. Aleksey Zagornyi, RUS, 9
2. Marco Lingua, ITA, 9
4. Nicola Vizzoni, ITA, 3
5. Pavel Kryvitski, BLR, 2

Javelin Throw
1. Stuart Farquhar, NZL, 25
2. Joshua Robinson, AUS, 13
3. Kärlis Alainis, LAT, 10
4. Jarkko Koski-Vähälä, FIN, 7
4. Peter Esenwein, GER, 7
Alainis and Esenwein were first and second at Saturday's Grand Prix meet in Dakar.

Shot Put
1. Valerie Vili, NZL, 135
2. Denise Hinrichs, GER, 83
3. Anca Heltne, ROU, 76
4. Petra Lammert, GER, 50
5. Nadzeya Ostapchuk, BLR, 42
6. Lijiao Gong, CHN, 39
7. Kristin Heaston, USA, 22
8. Anna Avdeyeva, RUS, 17
8. Nadine Kleinert, GER, 17
10. Anna Omarova, RUS, 15
Vili hasn't been even remotely pushed all year. German indoor champ Hinrichs won in Dakar on Friday.

Discus Throw
1. Dani Samuels, AUS, 22
2. Beatrice Faumina, NZL, 21
3. Aimin Song, CHN, 20
4. Aretha Thurmond, USA, 16
4. Becky Breisch, USA, 16
Samuels won both Australian stops on the World Athletics Tour.

Hammer Throw
1. Betty Heidler, GER, 40
2. Anita Wlodarczyk, POL, 30
3. Jennifer Dahlgren, ARG, 24
4. Kathrin Klaas, GER, 20
5. Manuela Montebrun, FRA, 12

Javelin Throw
1. Mariya Abakumova, RUS, 43
2. Kimberley Mickle, AUS, 24
3. Yanet Cruz, CUB, 8
4. Sunette Viljoen, RSA, 8
5. Laura Cornford, AUS, 7

Saturday, April 18, 2009

World Rankings Update - Jumps

Since all the jumps are competed fairly regularly through the indoor season, these are pretty meaningful.

I don't have it together on the women's triple jump yet.

High Jump
1. Ivan Ukhov, RUS, 172
2. Jesse Williams, USA, 86
3. Andra Manson, USA, 69
4. Aleksandr Shustov, RUS, 46.5
5. Linus Thörnblad, SWE, 40.5
6. Yaroslav Rybakov, RUS, 33
7. Aleksey Dmitrik, RUS, 31
8. Andrey Tereshin, RUS, 27.5
9. Tora Harris, USA, 23
10. Kyriakos Ioannou, CYP, 20.5
Ukhov dominated the indoor season. Manson recently set a PR at the Texas Relays.

Pole Vault
1. Steve Hooker, AUS, 184
2. Pavel Gerasimov, RUS, 52
3. Renaud Lavillenie, FRA, 43
4. Alexander Straub, GER, 36
5. Evgeniy Lukyanenko, RUS, 32
6. Derek Miles, USA, 22
6. Alhaji Jeng, SWE, 22
8. Tobias Scherbarth, GER, 17
9. Danny Ecker, GER, 16
9. Romain Mesnil, FRA, 16
Hooker was the star of the indoor season.

Long Jump
1. Sebastian Bayer, GER, 64
2. Fabrice Lapierre, AUS, 24
3. Mitchell Watt, AUS, 22
4. Marcin Starzak, POL, 22
5. Nils Winter, GER, 21
6. Salim Sdiri, FRA, 14
6. Loúis Tsátoumas, GRE, 14
8. Kafétien Gomis, FRA, 13
9. Ndiss Kaba Badji, SEN, 11
Bayer is tops based on his unexpectedly big European Championships win. Badji, down at #9, won today's Dakar Grand Prix meet with an excellent jump.

Triple Jump
1. Teddy Tamgho, FRA, 66
2. Fabrizio Donato, ITA, 51
3. Arnie David Girat, CUB, 38
4. Alexis Copello, CUB, 30
5. Yoandris Betanzos, CUB, 23
5. Jadel Gregorio, BRA, 23
7. Igor Spasovkhodski, RUS, 22
8. Viktor Yastrebov, UKR, 17
9. Karl Taillepierre, FRA, 15
10. Brandon Roulhac, USA, 14
Tamgho bombed at the European Championships but was untouchable besides that.

High Jump
1. Blanka Vlašic, CRO, 143
2. Ariane Friedrich, GER, 137
3. Irina Gordeeva, RUS, 48.5
4. Ruth Beitia, ESP, 47
5. Viktoriya Klyugina, RUS, 42.5
6. Svetlana Shkolina, RUS, 23
7. Amy Acuff, USA, 16
8. Iva Strakova, CZR, 13
8. Destinee Hooker, USA, 13
10. Melanie Skotnik, FRA, 11
Expect a back-and-forth battle all summer between Vlašic and Friedrich. Hooker won the Texas Relays two weeks ago and her boyfriend proposed to her as she walked off the medal stand (she said yes).

Pole Vault
1. Elena Isinbaeva, RUS, 106
2. Jennifer Stuczynski, USA, 74
3. Yuliya Golubchikova, RUS, 48.5
4. Fabiana Murer, BRA, 41
5. Silke Spiegelburg, GER, 33
6. Monika Pyrek, POL, 23.5
7. Stacy Dragila, USA, 20
8. Battke, GER, 18.5
9. Kiryashova, RUS, 18
10. Anna Rogowska, POL, 10
Isi and Jen are again head and shoulders above the rest.

Long Jump
1. Olga Kucherenko, RUS, 81
2. Elena Sokolova, RUS, 49
3. Ksenija Balta, EST, 34
4. Yarianny Argüelles, CUB, 28
5. Brittney Reese, USA, 18
6. Tatyana Voykina, RUS, 15
7. Anastasiya Taranova-Potapova, RUS, 11
8. Tiana Madison, USA, 10
9. Hyleas Fountain, USA, 9
9. Jeomi Maduka, USA, 9
Balta was a surprise winner at the European Championships; Kucherenko was unbeated in all her other meets.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Boston predictions

The Science of Sport blog has made some rather detailed predictions about how the Boston Marathon will progress and eventually play out. How does this impartial South African see the Americans doing? Tucker picks Ryan Hall to break the course record but finish third, while he sees Kara Goucher pulling away at the very end to break the 24-year drought.

Tucker's predictions were a bit tongue-in-cheek, but if I had to guess which of the two is more likely to win I'd also go with Goucher. Legendary Greater Boston Track Club coach Bill Squires believes the course is tricky enough that it's hard to win on the first try, which both are attempting. Goucher has the benefit of training under Alberto Salazar, who did manage to win Boston in his first try (and had the benefit of growing up in The Hub).

Bill Simmons on Boston

ESPN's Sports Guy wrote an "Idiot's Guide to the Boston Marathon" a few years ago. Check it out.

As usual for him, it's hilarious and spot-on. My favorite portion of the column is about his "tiers" of runners -- first is the foreign pros, second is the American pros (Here come the white guys!), third is the elite amateur men and pro women, fourth is average guys in superb shape (the guys in college that A) hit on your girlfriend when you were away for the weekend, B) rowed crew, and C) drove Miatas), fifth is the break-3:30 group (Really, really hot, scantily-clad chicks in superb shape. God bless the invention of the jogging's probably the only time you can openly goggle women without their "Somebody's checking me out" radar kicking in.).

But the last is his favorite group to watch.
Now we've entered the "freak" portion of the race: People trying to finish in four hours or less, running alongside college kids carrying fraternity flags, transvestites, people dressed in Viking garb and wackos wearing Larry Bird jerseys or multi-colored afros. There are some strange people out there.
There's more, it's great.

New Blog

The Ultimate Track & Field Blog just started up about two weeks ago.

HIs most interesting post so far is about gambling at a track meet, which he found surprising. Back in the 80s when I first started going to the Ohio state championships, money changed hands before every race. The real action was centered around a fat man from Dayton known only as "Scoreboard".

World Rankings Update - Hurdles

Both of the hurdle races are outdoor-specific events. While the high hurdles do have some carryover from the indoor season, the women's side of the event doesn't have much.

110m Hurdles
1. David Oliver, USA, 48
2. Terrence Trammell, USA, 40
3. Joel Brown, USA, 23
4. Shamar Sands, BAH, 18
4. Evgeniy Borisov, RUS, 18
Oliver already has two quick outdoor races under his belt. The rest are ranked on carryover marks from the indoor season.

400m Hurdles
1. Tristan Thomas, AUS, 17
There has been so little high-level competition in this event that it's pointless to list anyone besides the leader.

100m Hurdles
1. LoLo Jones, USA, 28
2. Sally McLellan, AUS, 24
3. Jenny Adams, USA, 10
4. Brigitte Foster-Hylton, JAM, 7
4. Veronica Torr, NZL, 7
Jones is ranked on her two best indoor times, while the rest earned their spots from two Australian meets on the World Athletics Tour.

400m Hurdles
Literally nothing of any importance has happened yet.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What's On The Weekend

The Boston Marathon kicks off the World Marathon Majors series on Monday. Unfortunately, it will not be widely available on TV -- only Universal Sports is showing it. This could be the year for an American (or two) to win, but they'll have to earn it as the fields are stacked. There will also be a 5k and pro road mile on Sunday.
Race website / Live video link / Runner's World coverage / Flotrack coverage / IAAF preview
Women's previews: Let's Run / Running Times / Universal Sports
Men's previews: Science of Sport / Race Results Weekly / Running Times

The IAAF's World Athletics Tour will make its first stop in the northern hemisphere this year with a Grand Prix meet in Dakar, Senegal, on Saturday.
IAAF preview

Three different IAAF Silver Label marathons will be run on Monday in Nagano, Turin, and Vienna.

The IAAF's Race Walking Challenge series comes to Wuxi, China, this weekend and both defending Olympic 20k champions will be competing.
IAAF preview

The Atlantic Coast Conference Championships run through Saturday at the University of Miami. Live webcasts will be available on Friday (3:30-7:30 p.m.) and Saturday (4-8 p.m.).
Meet website / Webcast

The Mt. SAC Relays are off and running in Walnut, CA. There will be a special open men's mile race, the winner of which will be granted a 1-year PUMA sponsorship.
Meet website / IAAF preview / Flotrack coverage

The Kansas Relays go through Saturday in Lawrence. Alan Webb, aka "Mr. Predictable", will make his season debut in the mile.
Meet website
KC Star / Daily Kansan

UCLA's men travel to Hayward Field to take on Oregon in a dual meet. The meet will be carried live on Comcast Sportsnet Northwest, from 1-3 p.m. local time.
Meet schedule / Live video link
Statesman-Journal / Oregonian / Register-Guard /

Cal goes to Stanford for the 115th edition of The Big Meet on Friday and Saturday.
Results / Live video
Daily Californian

All the rest

The Boston Marathon will be live on Universal Sports and at beginning at 9:30 A.M. on Monday.

The World's Best 10k in San Juan, Puerto Rico, will be on Versus on Saturday from 3 to 3:30 p.m. It took place six weeks ago, so maybe you'll have forgotten who won by now. If not, watch it at a sports bar, make bets, and burn rubber as soon as you've collected.

The World Cross Country Championships will be rerun on Universal Sports on Sunday from 9 to 10 a.m. and from noon to 1 p.m.

The Millrose Games will be rerun on Universal Sports on Saturday from 10 to 11 a.m.

The Rotterdam Marathon will be rerun on Universal Sports on Sunday from 10 p.m. to midnight.

Bud Greenspan's Favorite Stories of Olympic Glory includes a segment on Dan O'Brien. It will be carried on Showtime Family Zone on Sunday from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 to 7:05 p.m., and on Monday from 2:45 to 4:30 a.m.

Meatballs will be on Comedy Central on Friday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30-10:30 a.m. It's a 1980s Bill Murray vehicle in which he plays a goofy camp counselor who inspires a social-outcast camper to train for and win a cross-country race.

World Rankings Update - Long Distance

3000-5000 meters
1. Abreham Cherkos, ETH, 154
2. Paul Kipsiele Koech, KEN, 148
3. Mo Farah, GBR, 132
4. Shedrack Kibet Korir, KEN, 126
5. Bouabdellah Tahri, FRA, 94
6. Bernard Lagat, USA, 89
7. Augustine Kiprono Choge, KEN, 74
8.Sergio Sánchez, ESP, 68
8. Bekana Daba, ETH, 68
10. Daniel Kipchirchir Komen, KEN, 61
Cherkos actually lost two of his three races this year while Koech won both of his. But they never met head-to-head and Cherkos' times are significantly better.

5000-10,000 meters
1. Sammy Kitawara KEN 120
2. Abreham Cherkos KEN 110
3. Moses Kipsoro KEN 107
4. Wilson Kipsang KEN 102
5. Paul Kipsiele Koech KEN 100
6. Gebre Gebremariam ETH 96
7. Bekana Daba ETH 82
8. Mo Farah GBR 70
9. Galen Rupp USA 66
10. Moses Mosop KEN 64
The one drawback to my system is that you can't get time bonuses for cross country, leaving World XC champ Gebremariam ranked a bit lower than he deserves. He'll move up to the top once he hits the track. Kitawara had mixed XC results but won the big World's Best 10k race.

3000-5000 meters
1. Meseret Defar, ETH, 222
2. Vivian Cheruiyot, KEN, 146
3. Anna Alminova, RUS, 132
4. Jennifer Barringer, USA, 66
5. Kara Goucher, USA, 64
6. Mary Teresa Cullen, IRL, 60
7. Jessica Augusto, POR, 55
8. Nuria Fernández, ESP, 50
9. Sara Moreira, POR, 46
10. Alemitu Bekele, TUR, 42
Defar set two world indoor records this year, albeit at rarely-run distances.

5000-10,000 meters
1. Vivian Cheruiyot, KEN, 152
2. Meseret Defar, ETH, 134
3. Florence Kiplagat, KEN, 126
4. Linet Masai, KEN, 99
5. Mestawet Tufa, ETH, 75
6. Shalane Flanagan, USA, 71
7. Hilda Kibet, NED, 66
8. Jessica Augusto, POR, 65
9. Linet Chepkurui, KEN, 63
10. Sentayehu Ejigu, ETH, 57
Cheruiyot won the World's Best 10k and ran some fast indoor races as well. Kiplagat won all three of her cross country races, including the World Championships.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What's On Tomorrow

The Atlantic Coast Conference Championships begin in Coral Gables, FL.

The Kansas Relays get underway in Lawrence.

The Mount San Antonio College Relays start up in Walnut, CA, with the steeplechase and 10ks. Flotrack will be covering the meet.

Showtime Family Zone will air "Bud Greenspan's Favorite Stories of Olympic Glory" from 8 to 9:35 AM and from 3:30-5 PM.

World Rankings Update - Middle Distance

800 meters
1. Ismail Ahmed Ismail, SUD, 80
2. Yuriy Borzakovskiy, RUS, 61
3. Wilfred Bungei, KEN, 56
4. Abubaker Kaki, SUD, 55
5. Haron Keitany, KEN, 54
6. Mehdi Baala, FRA, 47
7. Boaz Kiplagat Lalang, KEN, 40
8. Belal Mansoor Ali, BRN, 34
9. Abraham Chepkirwok, UGA, 27
10. Richard Kiplagat, KEN, 19
Leader Ismail won three out of his four indoor races, beating European champ Borzakovskiy twice.

1500 meters / Mile
1. Haron Keitany, KEN, 107
2. Bernard Lagat, USA, 96
3. Mehdi Baala, FRA, 83
4. Augustine Choge, KEN, 76
5. Belal Mansoor Ali, BRN, 63
6. Daniel Kipchirchir Komen, KEN, 61
7. Bouabdellah Tahri, FRA, 55
7. Mo Farah, GBR, 55
9. Mekonnen Gebremedhin, ETH, 54
10. Deresse Mekonnen, ETH, 49
Keitany won all three of his indoor 1500 races.

800 meters
1. Mariya Savinova, RUS, 98
2. Oksana Zbrozhek, RUS, 90
3. Elisa Cusma Piccione, ITA, 56
4. Anna Alminova, RUS, 54
5. Tetiana Petlyuk, UKR, 42
6. Jennifer Meadows, GBR, 37
7. Marilyn Okoro, GBR, 32
8. Irina Maracheva, RUS, 30
9. Sylwia Ejdys, POL, 17
10. Madeleine Pape, AUS, 11
Savinova lost an early 1000m race in Moscow to 1500 leader Alminova, but won both the Russian and European indoor titles. This may be the USA's worst event on the women's side of things.

1500 meters / Mile
1. Anna Alminova, RUS, 139
2. Oksana Zbrozhek, RUS, 57
3. Jenny Barringer, USA, 42
4. Nuria Fernández, ESP, 39
5. Kara Goucher, USA, 38
6. Maryam Yusuf Jamal, BRN, 29
7. Sylwia Ejdys, POL, 24
8. Sally Kipyego, KEN, 21
9. Yevgeniya Zolotova, RUS, 19
10. Sarah Jamieson, AUS, 17
Alminova not only won all three of her indoor 1500 races, but ran well at 1000 and 3000 meters as well. Barringer and Goucher might be done running this distance for the rest of the year.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What's On Tomorrow

Can't Stop the Music
FLIX, 6:35-8:40 AM and 5:55-8:00 PM
There were many important events that helped push track from (nominally) amateur to openly professional. The International Track Association and the Cascade Run-Off are the two most well known. But I wonder if Bruce Jenner's various embarrassing attempts to make a living from his fame also had an effect. His work in this film was nominated for, but did not "win", the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor. You could imagine IAAF and IOC bigwigs agreeing to pay athletes in order to assure they'd never make films like this again.

It is, as Leonard Pinth-Garnell used to say, "truly bad, almost unbearably putrid". Like he, I exult in its awfulness.

How the Rankings Work

In response to a comment earlier today, I need to explain a bit about how my World Rankings work.

An athlete's rankings points reflects the sum of his ten best results of the year. (At this early season time, nobody has ten results yet.) Those points are earned from placing well (with an emphasis on actually winning) at major meets, or running fast times, or any combination thereof. Two different "best results" could come from one race; one for place, and one for time.

Points-for-place: Golden League and Super GP meets score 20-15-12-10-8-6-4-2. Points available are doubled at the World Final and tripled at the World Championships. Grand Prix meets score 10-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 and IAAF Permit meets (be they outdoor, indoor or cross country) score 6-4-3-2-1, and smaller meets score 5-3-2-1. Other meets, such as national or NCAA championships, score on whatever of these levels is most appropriate.

Points for fast times: In the sprints, all times are corrected for wind and altitude using Jonas Mureika's online widget. Points available range from 1 to 50. In the men's 100, 9.58 is a 50-point effort and 10.17 is a 1-point effort (Bolt's world record is worth 41 points).

Up to two of those ten best results can be times from different events. The reason I allow this is that good times at similar but different events do have meaning.

So my current top five in the men's 100 meters, and where their points come from:

1. Dwain Chambers (41 points)
6.42 (60m), 23 pts
6.46 (60m), 18 pts

2. Daniel Bailey (28 points)
10.04 (adjusted from 9.93, wind 2.3), 12 pts
6.54 (60m) twice, each 8 pts

3. Jacoby Ford (23 points)
6.51 (60m), 12 pts
6.52 (60m), 11 pts

4. Walter Dix (21 pts)
9.93 (adjusted from 10.00, wind -1.1), 21 pts

4. Ivory Williams (21 pts)
6.52 (60m), 11 pts
6.53 (60m), 10 pts

None of these top runners have competed in the World Athletics Tour yet and so none have any points-for-place.

Chambers ranks #1 because his indoor campaign was so impressive--but without some outdoor running to back it up it won't last very long. For example, if Jacoby Ford runs 9.96 he'll overtake the top ranking.

Like I said at the outset, these are early and are less than fully meaningful. If I were doing this for any official agency, I wouldn't release rankings for outdoor-specific events until May.

World Rankings Update - Sprints

A recent post at US Distance Runner laments, among other things, the lack of a meaningful world rankings system. Hey folks, I'm right here!

These are very early, which makes them a bit less than fully meaningful. Also, outdoor sprinting is quite different from its indoor cousin, so there's little carryover from the undercover campaign here. So I'm only listing the top five in each event.

100 meters
1. Dwain Chambers, GBR, 41
2. Daniel Bailey, ANT, 28
3. Jacoby Ford, USA/Clemson, 23
4. Walter Dix, USA, 21
4. Ivory Williams, USA, 21
On Saturday Dix posted the best mark of the season, a 10.00 into a headwind (worth 9.93 in still air). That might be the last we see of him for a while because he's got contract problems.

200 meters
1. Ivory Williams, USA, 16
2. Mike Rodgers, USA, 15
3. Aaron Rouge-Serret, AUS, 13
4. Trey Harts, USA/Baylor, 11
5. Xavier Carter, USA, 10
No one has done squat outdoors yet.

400 meters
1. Sean Wroe, AUS, 27
2. Gil Roberts USA/Texas Tech, 13
3. Greg Nixon, USA, 12
4. Michael Bingham, USA, 11
5. Kurt Mulcahy, AUS, 8
5. John Steffensen, AUS, 8
Sean Wroe has posted the only outdoor times of note, during the down-under portion of the IAAF World Tour.

100 meters
1. Sally McLellan, AUS, 21
2. Porscha Lucas, USA/Texas A&M, 20
3. Murielle Ahoure, USA/Miami (FL), 17
4. Carmelita Jeter, USA, 14
5. Bianca Knight, USA, 10
Hurdler McLellan has concentrated on the 100 meters in the early season.

200 meters
1. Porscha Lucas, USA/Texas A&M, 20
2. Murielle Ahoure, USA/Miami (FL), 17
3. Shericka Williams, JAM, 16
4. Carmelita Jeter, USA, 14
5. Bianca Knight, USA, 10
Jeter ran a world-leading 22.59 over the weekend, which is worth 22.60 with wind & altitude adjustments.

400 meters
1. Antonina Krivoshapka, RUS 34
2. Tamsyn Lewis, AUS, 15
3. Monique Williams, NZL, 7
4. Melaine Walker, JAM, 6
5. Shalonda Solomon, USA, 5
5. Madelein Pape, AUS, 5

New Track Biography

Abel Kiviat, National Champion: Twentieth-Century Track & Field and the Melting Pot
Alan S. Katchen
$34.95, available through Syracuse University Press

I haven't read it yet, but it purports to not only tell Kiviat's life story but the history of the Irish-American Athletic Club (for which Kiviat, a Polish-American Jew, ran) and its ties to the Tammany Hall political machine. Inter-library loan, here I come!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Battling Wikis

I only recently became aware of a website called WikiRun. It looks like it's been around for a while as there's quite a bit of info on it. What's there is decently useful in terms of overall info about elite-level track and field. It looks like the online community has worked hard at this not-for-profit resource.

Runner's World recently started its own RunPedia, and there's almost nothing on it. For example, they've put together a "running trails" section, and not a single trail has yet been uploaded by a user. What's there is geared towards the basic runner -- currently, the most recent article is "Dean Karnazes, Elite Athlete" (is there an emoticon for "vomiting in disgust"?)

The masses have voted, and they are wise. Big business should be afraid of net neutrality, because there are a lot of them who deserve to fail but are profitable only due to a huge market share. Their wealth has no power over wikis, blogs and similar community-based tools.

What's On Tomorrow

Bud Greenspan Remembers: The 1984 L.A. Olympics
Showtime Family Zone, 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Olympic documentarian Bud Greenspan takes a look back at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, where athletes such as Carl Lewis and Mary Lou Retton became household names.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Jamaica's "Champs"

The Jamaica Observer has an article about a foreign article about their National Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships (aka the "Champs"). If you're not aware of the atmosphere surrounding Jamaica's high school championships, read the article(s). It's been called the best track & field meet in the world.

It strikes me as similar in many ways to the greatest basketball tournament in the world, the NCAA's March Madness. An undue amount of national attention is showered on athletes who are recruited from around the country for their prowess in the country's best sport. I'd even guess the social advancement available from a high school diploma in Jamaica is on a level similar to that of a college degree in the USA.

Best Undefeated Seasons?

ESPN's Page 2 has ranked its 40 best undefeated seasons in sports history, putting the Pele-led 1970 Brazilian World Cup champs at #1. These were teams only, no individuals.

I'm thinking about the greatest undefeated seasons in track history and seeing what I can put together. Off the top of my head, Carl Lewis in 1984 and Paavo Nurmi in 1923-24 belong near the top of the heap.

I can tell you who doesn't make the cut: Jesse Owens in 1936 (a post-Olympic loss to Ralph Metcalfe in the 100 nixes that), Emil Zatopek in 1952 (a pair of early-season thirds in 5k races takes him out), Michael Johnson in 1996 (lost his last pre-Olympic 200 to Frankie Fredericks), and Usain Bolt in 2008 (a 100m loss in Stockholm to Asafa Powell). For athletes who compete often and in multiple events, it's not easy.

Press: The Smart and the Stupid

Yesterday the New York Times ran a great in-depth article about Usain Bolt and his desire to help track move up to its rightful place near the top of the sports world. It's really worth a read.

One small aspect of the article was a reaction to Michael Phelps and the whole bong thing:
“That was stupid,” Bolt said of Phelps’s behavior. He acknowledged that he had also tried marijuana when he was younger and that Phelps might have felt peer pressure, but, Bolt added, “You’ve got to know who you are and how famous and what you mean in the country.”
So what does the AP run with today? Headline: Bolt tried weed as a kid. Of all the stupid mother*$#@ing pointless things to take away from that article.

A sidebar summary includes the "news" that "marijuana use [is] common place in his home of Jamaica". Next thing they'll tell us is that people drink Guinness in Ireland. It just goes to show that for every in-depth intelligent news story there are two or three short and dumb ones.

Amazon Backhands Track Book has quietly made a significant change in how it lists books.
One of these books has been removed from Amazon's sales rankings because of "adult" content; the other has not.

"American Psycho" is Bret Easton Ellis' story of a sadistic murderer. "Unfriendly Fire" is a well-reviewed empirical analysis of military policy. But it's "Unfriendly Fire" that does not have a sales rank -- which means it would not show up in Amazon's bestseller lists, even if it sold more copies than the Twilight series. In some cases, being de-ranked also means being removed from Amazon's search results.

Amazon's policy of removing "adult" content from its rankings seems to be both new and unevenly implemented. On Saturday, self-published author Mark R. Probst noticed that his book had lost its ranking, and made inquiries. The response he got from Amazon's customer service explained:

"In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude “adult” material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature."
Books deemed "adult" include Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs (recently made into an R-rated film) and Maurice by E.M. Forster, but do not include Playboy: Six Decades of Centerfolds and titles written by such porn stars as Ron Jeremy and Jenna Jameson. Books even remotely connected to the LBGT community appear to be, from Amazon's perspective, more appealing to the prurient interest than self-admitted pornography. The exceptions? The Amazon-only Kindle format, of course.

This may be appalling, but why does it belong on a track blog? Because of the possible effect on one of the most important track books of all time, Patricia Nell Warren's The Front Runner.

Released in 1974, it was the first widely available sports novel about homosexuals, and it was the first running novel ever to hit the New York Times best-seller list. The basic plot summary is a young superstar runner who is outed on his way to the Olympics and the resulting public hatred he receives. The novel's importance is so great among the LBGT community that "Front Runners" is a near-universally used name for LGBT endurance-sports clubs.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Where Track is King

Oregon's men won the NCAA indoor, but were only fourth at their indoor conference championships (behind UCLA, Cal and Washington State). So they need all they can get for the Pac-10 championships.

Footballers to the rescue. The Eugene Register-Guard reports that three gridiron stars came to Hayward Field to pass the baton this week, and are scheduled to go again today.

One of those footballers is Walter Thurmond, who has run the high hurdles for the Ducks in '06 and '07. The other two haven't run track since high school but appear to be pretty good: LaMichael James was a Texas state 100m champ, and Jamere Holland was a California state 100m and 200m champ.

Nice to be someplace where the head football coach is expected to return the assistant track coach's calls, no?

Separated at Birth

Ohio Northern middle-distance star Jimmy O'Brien:

Best. Mugshot. Ever.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Ascending Shoe Company

Nike is the athletic gear giant. Surprisingly, it is not the world's #1 shoe company; that title goes to Asics. adidas rules the Old World, as the (real) football company and the official sponsor of the IAAF.

But if you were to pick the ascendant company, the one who was moving up and fast, who would you pick?

Obviously, it's PUMA. Whether it was brilliant strategy or blind stupid luck that tied them to outfitting the Jamaican Olympic team in general and Usain Bolt in particular is hard to say. But there's more to it, which Scott Bush explains.

The brother-in-law of a good friend is very high up at PUMA. A few years ago they started going for the youth market. My buddy's sixty-something dad asked for some PUMA swag, and the reply from his son-in-law was "we don't want people your age wearing our stuff" or words to that effect.

A few days ago I was in Lady Foot Locker on a shopping trip with my better half, and I noticed the prominently-displayed PUMA casual shoes. They were white with bright green detailing, obviously meant as a Jamaican style, and structured to look exactly like track spikes. In other words, the marketing department is expecting people to want to be like Usain (and marketers, like Homer Simpson, believe "women will like what I tell them to like").

In the midst of so much bad news, this is quite uplifting. A company tieing its fortunes to real live track stars and making hay from it.

Boston Pro Mile Fields Announced

The BAA has announced the fields for its pre-Marathon pro mile race.

My friend Rob Myers is probably going to win the men's race. No pressure, Rob.

Shot Putters on Gorée Island

File under "I did not know this":
One of the most unique and historical venues in all of sport will once again figure prominently when the IAAF World Athletics Tour resumes with the Meeting International d'Athletisme de la Ville de Dakar on 17 and 18 April.

Since 2006, the island of Gorée, a few miles off the coast of Dakar, has hosted the meeting's Shot Put competition one day prior to the main meeting in the Senegalese capital. Gorée, now a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, was for three centuries the largest dispatching point for the African slave trade, with millions of men and women being loaded onto vessels that would carry them to a lifetime of enforced labour in the Americas and around the world.

In the last three editions of the meeting, competitors have praised the competition's intimate setting as one of the finest and most memorable experiences of their careers.

Reading List

Once a month or so I'll post some books you may find interesting. This month has a theme.
Boston Marathon: The First Century of the World's Premier Running Event
Tom Derderian, 1998
Derderian, a 14-time Boston runner and a coach with the Greater Boston Track Club, gives a year-by-year summary of each race. Well, more than a summary--he actually tells the story of each year's race, which is a lot more than simply what happened. This is probably one of the dozen best track books in the English language.

Just Call Me Jock: The story of Jock Semple, Boston's Mr. Marathon
Jock Semple (with John J. Kelley and Tom Murphy), 1982

Semple was the trainer for the Boston Bruins and Celtics for over 40 years, but he was also basically the lone organizer of the Boston Marathon for decades. He's best known for his famous 1967 run-in with Katherine Switzer, but was also a pretty darned good runner in his day. This book gives us a rare first-hand account of the era when road racing was a sport reserved for the blue-collar working man.

I found a copy of this book for $3 at a local used bookstore. It was signed by Semple, who passed away in 1988.

The Long Run of Myles Mayberry
Alfred Alcorn, 1999
Where is the dividing line between obsession and insanity? Mild-mannered loser Miles Mayberry's life is falling apart around him, and to keep himself focused he decides he's going to run the Boston Marathon--and win it. A spot-on portrait of single-mindedness as well as the tired bullshit of the late 70s.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Olympic Trials Marathons

Apparently it's not too soon to begin thinkings about the 2012 Olympic Trials marathons.  Boston and New York are interested but want the terms to be more economically favorable, reports Dave Ungrady at Universal Sports.  For an insider's view of the USOC's requirements, Dave Monti fills us in.

What's On The Weekend

Nothin'. Apparently they schedule around Easter.

The Dogwood Relays take place at Tom Black Track on the campus of the University of Tennessee. I know they call it the Sea Ray Relays these days, but they shouldn't.
Meet Website / Daily Beacon

The Sun Angel Classic will take place in Tempe, AZ.
Meet info / Flotrack coverage

Michigan travels to Ohio State for a dual meet. The Buckeyes won the indoor edition in january; the rivals split their two meetings last year.
Meet preview / Meet promotions

All the rest

High School
The Arcadia Invitational will take place in Southern California this weekend. It's possibly the best high school invitational during the regular season, and certainly the best that is not part of a larger meet.
Meet website / Flotrack coverage
LA Times / Dyestat

A 1-hour recap of last week's Paris Marathon will be on Versus at 4 PM Sunday.

Universal Sports will rerun the Fortis City-Pier-City Half Marathon at 8 AM on Saturday, the Millrose Games at 8 AM on Sunday, and the Rotterdam Marathon at 5 PM on Saturday and 6 AM on Sunday.

Fox College Sports will rerun the SEC Indoor Championships at 6 AM Friday on their FCS Atlantic channel.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

World Rankings Update - Marathon

The other event area where my World Rankings are worth posting right now is the marathon. My season begins immediately after the New York City marathon (as it closes out the year for the World Marathon Majors series).

Note that some big races have taken place, but the true Majors have not.

1. Duncan Kibet, KEN, 180
2. James Kwambai, KEN, 168
3. Patrick Makau, KEN, 151
4. Abel Kirui, KEN, 148
5. Tsegay Kebede, ETH, 128
6. Vincent Kipruto, KEN, 116
7. Haile Gebrselassie, ETH, 108
8. Deriba Merga, ETH, 96
9. Bazu Worka, ETH, 92
10. David Kiyeng, KEN, 80
The first four all ran in last weekend's blazing Rotterdam race; fifth and sixth won in Fukuoka and Paris, respectively.

1. Yoko Shibui, JPN, 114
2. Yoshimi Ozaki, JPN, 104
3. Mizuho Nasukawa, JPN, 100
4. Mara Yamauchi, GBR, 92
5. Yuri Kano, JPN, 90
6. Aselefech Mergia, ETH, 88
7. Atsede Baysa, ETH, 74
8. Nailya Yulmanova, RUS, 72
9. Yukiko Akaba, JPN, 60
10. Ashu Kasim, ETH, 59
The heavy Japanese representation reflects the fact that the biggest women's races so far have all taken place in Japan.

Chicago's Olympic History

Inside The has an interesting story on the history of Chicago and the Olympics. I knew that the Windy City was originally awarded the 1904 games and gave them up to St. Louis because of a world's fair, but that's about all I knew. The deeper story is pretty interesting.

What's On Tomorrow

Bud Greenspan's Favorite Stories of Olympic Glory
Includes a segment on Dan O'Brien.
9:35-11 AM, Showtime Family Zone

1984 L.A. Games
An updated version of Bud Greenspan's documentary about the '84 Olympics.
12:30-2:15 PM, Showtime Extreme

Obama and Title IX

The Birmingham News has an article titled "Country waits to see how Obama enforces Title IX".  It reveals little about what could be expected; it mostly reports that we just don't know anything yet, nor can we get a read on it.  We in track & field are concerned in terms of whether any new policies will slow or accelerate the rate of track programs being dropped.


Obama hardly comes into the situation blind.  His brother-in-law is the head basketball coach at Oregon State University.  He also has a well-deserved reputation as a consensus-builder.


But another thing Obama is noted for is seeing how many different issues tie together.  An example would be how our food industry affects not only health care costs but global warming and land management.  So I'd expect little different here.


The article does note the following:

"It's not women's fault that schools value their 120th-worst football player more than their top wrestler," she said. "Title IX did not create these priorities. It just says if you have lopsided offerings, you can't cut from (women's athletics)."


This is a roundabout way of saying the fault of imploding athletic departments lies not with the federal government or those darned women's libber's but the NCAA itself.  It could have adjusted policy towards Division 1-A football in order to strengthen all sports in general.  But as Glenn Frey sang, "it's the lure of easy money and it has a very strong appeal".  My hope is that Obama will take this issue right to them.

World Rankings Update

I've been delinquent in posting my World Rankings for two reasons.  Most events haven't had enough competition for them to be terribly meaningful.  But also I've been rejiggering the system to make it better.
One event area where the rankings are very meaningful right now is road racing, which I define as road races of 10 to 30 kilometers plus any track events of more than 10k (such as the one-hour run).  The first day of the season in my system is the day after the World Raod Running Championships in October, so these guys have a good six months of results to work with.
1. Deriba Merga, ETH, 201
2. Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich, KEN, 194
3. Patrick Makau, KEN, 175
4. Wilson Chebet, KEN, 163
5. Sammy Kitwara, KEN, 128
6. Martin Lel, KEN, 111
7. Samuel Kosgei, KEN, 102
8. Jaouad Gharib, MAR, 96
9. Robert K Cheruyiot, KEN, 81
10. Gideon Ngatunyi, KEN, 75
10. Silas Kipruto, KEN, 75
27. Anthony Famiglietti, USA, 30
Merga won the Delhi half marathon and was third at the Ras Al Kaimah half, and in between he earned some bonus points for a fast time at the Fukuoka Marathon.  Kiprotich has no wins but a pile of seconds and thirds with fast times.  Makau has only one race, a win at Ras Al Kaimah.
1. Aselefech Mergia, ETH, 163
2. Vivian Cheruiyot, KEN, 140
3. Dire Tune, ETH, 140
4. Kara Goucher, USA, 130
5. Peninah Arusei, KEN, 117
6. Mestawat Tufa, ETH, 111
7. Philes Ongori, KEN, 104
8. Jane Kiptoo, KEN, 102
9. Abebu Gelan, ETH, 88.5
10. Alice Timilili, KEN, 84
10. Julia Mumbi Muraga, KEN, 84
Mergia has a win in Delhi and a runner-up at Ras Al Kaimah.  Cheruiyot won the Worlds' Best 10k in San Juan and some bonus points for a pretty good indoor 3k time.  Tune won the Ras Al Kaimah race and was third in San Juan, while Goucher won the Lisbon half marathon and earned some bonus points from her great 3k race at the Boston Indoor Games.