Tag Archives: USATF

What I Learned This Week

I try to learn something everyday. Sometimes I am learning something entirely new and other times I am merely re-learning something I already knew and had forgotten or I had warped and twisted in my head until I had convinced myself I learned something entirely different. It got me thinking…hmmm….what have I learned this week (May 23-May 29) that had to do with running in one way or another?

I already knew that Relays are awesome. Now I know that many other people feel the same way. The IAAF World Relay Championships were last weekend and they were amazing. Large and wild crowds greeted the teams that would compete over a number of different and sometimes rarely run relay events. That rarely run part is significant because it pretty much guaranteed some World Records were going to be shattered and shattered they were. The meet took place in the Bahamas and they did a great job. The crowds were electric for all the events – not just the shorter ones that the sprint crazed island nation love so much. If you have not already watched the races you should. Check the races out by clicking this link and watching races, highlight and coverage through FloTrack. My personal favorites are the US women and their 4×800 throw down and the Kenyan men ripping apart the hopes and dreams of the rest of the world in the 4×1500.

I already knew that the USATF has absolutely no idea how to manage the elite side of the sport. I also already knew that they fail the PR game on an almost daily basis. What I did not know was that the USATF was capable of making incredibly moronic decisions even though they knew that an ever brighter spotlight had been placed on them since USATF Indoors. I learned they were capable of picking a cheat-a liar-a drug cheating liar as a Coach for the US team and after being called out on it they were unable to formulate an exit strategy from this awful mess they had placed themselves in. Nor did they have the guts to admit they screwed up. It was a terrific insult to the other coaches and the athletes that went on this trip to represent the USA as well as an insult to every coach and athlete that has dedicated their time in this sport to achieve whatever greatness they can without cheating. Lauren Fleshman wrote a verbally eviscerating blog about it here. Fleshman nailed it. I have yet to see what USATF Head Honcho Max Siegel brings to the table. I must be missing something. Maybe I will learn next week why he is in charge. I’m hoping that all of this ends up being lessons learned for the USATF and someday (soon) we can look at them as the excellent organization that it needs to be.

I learned that breaking 5 while drinking is way more viewer friendly to non-runners than breaking 4 without drinking beer. James “the Beast” Nielson continues to get press and from larger and larger media sources for his epic WR Beer Mile. James was a fellow Nike Farm Teamer while I was out in Palo Alto, CA so I am biased when I say he deserves all the attention he gets. The latest article comes from the Wall Street Journal and it is interesting to say the least. I was totally unaware how big a deal the Beer Mile was/is. There is even talk of a Beer Mile World Championship taking place. I bet Canada won’t send a full team to that World Championship either.

I learned that I am in horrendous shape. It’s insane that I can literally be around running as much as I am and not be in better shape. Didn’t they tell us that you gain fitness through osmosis or diffusion or something? I curse biology when it does not operate in a way that benefits me! I should get some fitness brownie points for being such a running geek. So, I’ve realized I need a goal. A concrete goal – a race! I am in the process of investigating some options. I have no idea what distance I want to tackle though. 5k? Might be fun to do some speed work. Half-marathon? Manageable and I’ve never raced the distance. I’m sure it would be a nice feeling to put together 13.1 miles. Marathon? Part of me wants to do a marathon just so I can emotionally collapse on some poor freaked out volunteer who only wanted to put a space blanket on me after I crossed the finish line. I’ll keep you updated. I’m sure you care.

I learned that allergies suck and that Benadryl is really strong. I don’t really have allergies but Tuesday night while we ran our Tuesday Night Track Workouts the wind picked up big time. I saw the tress start waving and shaking. What I thought was an approaching torrential shower – an oddly yellow tinged approaching torrential shower – was in fact just pollen. Just massive disgusting amounts of pollen being blown off the trees. I thought this is not good. I woke up the next morning with eyes that looked like they had left my body while I slept and gone and starred in a Cheech & Chong movie. I was sneezing and blowing my nose all day. I finally took a Benadryl. It helped. It also basically knocked me out. I could hardly stay awake for the next 10 hours. Lesson learned? As a runner, if you have allergies and you have to run later make sure you are taking something that will not wreck you. (Also, if you are any good at running and compete make sure you know what is in EVERYTHING you take. Unless you are an American or Jamaican sprinter the odds are slim that the governing bodies of our sport will believe that you were merely ignorant and not actively trying to cheat.)

I learned that the Prefontaine Classic is Must-See-TV. The fields on Friday AND Saturday are insane. And it seems like Nike has upped the ante by really promoting the hell out of the Pre Classic online and through social media. Is it me or is running getting….edgy and cool? We’re close. Don’t get me wrong – I know that our sport will do almost everything wrong to destroy the momentum but you can’t help but be excited about the next few months of running. Just make sure you watch and Tweet and Email and Like and Share anything and everything you see about the Pre Classic. One of the great parts about our sport is how involved the fans can be so let’s make that great part be about how involved the fans are.

This was a nice exercise. Sadly it does not count as actual exercise. Damn biology. You may want to consider sitting down each week and jotting down what you learned. I learned this week that doing just that is a good idea.

 

 

 

 

Blue is the Trackest Color

A little over a month ago I asked someone that I believe is one of the smartest and funniest people I know to write a guest column for RUNonsense. He agreed. I cheered. Then I waited. A little over a month later I get an article on the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix meet that took place a little over a month ago. It was worth the little over a month wait. Tyler Hopsnatz (not his real name) gives you his critical take on the TV coverage, the meet itself, track & field and a number of totally (un)related subjects. I hope you enjoy and I hope you and I both won’t have to wait, yes, a little over a month longer for another. Cheers, CB

 

Bennett asked me to write something for his netsite. Presumably his servers can’t handle the overwhelming traffic and he needs to offend off some readers.

Not really. Please keep reading. We need the hits.

The one condition was I had to write about running. But running is kinda boring. Someone should really figure out how to make it less boring. Bennett, get on it. In wracking my brain, I couldn’t come up with an interesting running-related topic, much less an interesting angle on that interesting topic. So I took the easy way out and wrote a diary of the Boston indoor meet. I can blatantly steal a Bill Simmons column idea if it’s about a Boston event, right?

Sunday, 9 February 2014

6:00 PM – What, you thought I was going to spend my Saturday afternoon watching track? It’s Sunday night, I’ve got some laundry on and my landlord and the plumber are working on unclogging the pipe that drains my sink (that’s not a metaphor, I swear. My sink really is clogged. Why won’t anyone believe me?). A perfect time to pull up the meet on TiVo. One of the great things about track’s fledgling popularity is it took zero effort to avoid seeing results. ESPN partially ruined the men’s downhill by telling me Bode Miller didn’t medal, but all I had to do was not pull up Letsrun to not find out Rupp ran 3:47.

6:01 PM – Since I’m writing a meet diary, I told myself I wouldn’t fast-forward except commercials. My resolve is immediately tested when they lead with the women’s 60.

6:02 PM – Fast-forward

6:03 PM – I brought it back to real speed for the commercials. Just wanted to note that these appear to be real commercials, not the infomercials they normally show for track meets and World’s Strongest Man re-runs at 3 AM on ESPNU. This means someone is paying to advertise for a track broadcast. The sport is doing fine. Bennett, what the hell are you complaining about?

6:04 PM – Men’s 60. Joe Morris in lane 3. Bennett has his poster so we know he’ll be rooting for him. The Rock in lane 7. Loved him in Pain and Gain, but not sure if the upper body mass he gained for the roll will translate well to the dash.

6:06 PM – Tim Hutchings behind the mic, huge improvement from the guy behind the mic for every other track and field broadcast of my life. Track will never have its own Phil and Paul, but Tim is a step in the right direction.

6:08 PM – Hey Bennett, I just saw a clip of Rupp signing some girl’s shirt after a race. Again, what the hell are you complaining about?

6:10 PM – Here are the Oscar movies I’ve seen so far:

• American Hustle

• Her

• Philomena

• The Wolf of Wall Street

• Blue Jasmine

• Inside Llewyn Davis (Okay, it wasn’t nominated, but it was better than American Hustle)

Here are the Oscar movies I still want to see:

• 12 Years a Slave

• Dallas Buyer’s Club

• Captain Phillips

• Gravity

Here are the movies that make every one of those movies seem like a high school A/V club project:

• Blue is the Warmest Color

Before I saw Blue is the Warmest Color, I thought Cate Blanchett was great in Blue Jasmine. Now she seems like a cartoon character. When she wins Best Actress, I’ll be rooting for Adele Exarchopoulos to Kanye her.

6:15 PM – When is Trautmann running? That article by Bennett has me pumped up to see him run 4:20. Who do you think would win between Trautmann and Cain? I’m glad we can’t bet on Track & Field. Gambling doesn’t make anything more fun.

6:20 PM – Rupp. Talking head with Rupp. Why don’t they do a talking head with Alberto, but after Hutchings takes him out for 6 beers? Bennett wants ratings, I’m just trying to help.

6:21 PM – Hold on, I’m going to go out to my local track and run once around in 60 seconds.

6:22 PM – The sad thing is I’m not sure I could do that anymore.

6:23 PM – <Pause> Is there any doubt Manzano is going to get shellacked here and then do the shellacking when qualifying spots/medals are on the line? <Play>

6:24 PM – Crack!

6:24:45 PM – What’s with the pace? I thought they were going after the world record?!?

6:25:50 PM – Galen, can I call you Galen? Mr. Rupp, with all due respect, what are you doing? You think you can outkick Willis off a slow pace?

6:26:05 PM – Oh. Nevermind.

6:26:50 PM – “Manzano right out the back door”. Well-called, Hopsnatz (and Hutchings)

6:27:30 PM – One of these guys has a silver medal. One of these guys is doing his own thing.

6:28 PM – Nice win by Willis, but let’s be honest. That race was a colossal letdown. Time for a 16 year old to redeem the telecast.

6:30 PM – Cain out in good position. Showing the field of veterans no respect. Love it.

6:33 PM – Cain is gonna rip the last 200

6:34 PM – OK, Bennett. I give. Mary Cain is awesome. I’ll get you a poster.

6:38 PM – Nice awkward step away by O’Brien after the Cain interview.

Greatest O’Briens of All Time (GOOATs….or GOBOATs?)

1. O’Brien from 1984. Don’t talk to him. Don’t even look at him. He will fu€¥ing break you. Then when you pledge allegiance to The Party, he’ll pull a sack of rats over your head.

2. Conan O’Brien. Lost his fastball with the Tonight Show fiasco, but lately seems to be back in good form. He’s pumping low-90s and painting corners. Meanwhile Fallon is dropping conversation turds every night and somehow he gets The Tonight Show. I guess if you’re looking for a Leno replacement it’s a good fit.

3. Pat O’Brien. Member of South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

4. Dan O’Brien. Olympic Gold medalist, Decathlon/Awkward Conversation Ending.

6:40 PM – 4 x 800 World Record Attempt™

6:42 PM – Scherer, you are killing Symmonds. 1:55?!?

6:44 PM – What’s with the different uniforms from guys on the same team? I bet it’s the shoe company’s fault. Bennett, get ‘em.

6:49:15 PM – WOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

6:50 PM – They definitely should not have the 4 x 8 in the Olympics. Nothing exciting about it. The DMR would suck, too. As would betting on it.

6:51 PM – That’s it from The Reggie. Yes, I’m in on The Reggie.

In – The Reggie, Cain, 4 x 800, Hutchings, Willis

Out – Rupp, Brooks Beasts, O’Brien interviews, not showing Trautmann’s race

– Tyler Hopsnatz

Sympathy for the Devil

Shouted out who killed the Kennedys?

When after all

It was You and Me

-Sympathy for the Devil, Rolling Stones

If you count yourself as a fan in any way, shape or form then you probably have heard about the controversy at the USATF Indoor Track Championships surrounding the Women’s 3000m. Gabe Grunewald of Brooks Running won the race after some seemingly innocuous contact with Jordan Hasay with 170m to go. A yellow flag went up meaning the official on the turn saw contact. The head official discussed the call with the turn official and they agreed it was not worthy of a DQ. Anyone who has ever raced, especially indoors, already knew that. Grunewald was clearly the class of the field over the last 200m contact or not. Long story short as many of you I’m sure already know (and those that don’t can do your due diligence here and here and here) Grunewald’s victory was then protested by Alberto Salazar and the protest was denied. Somehow a third protest was made and the DQ was handed down to Grunewald.

I don’t want to write about yesterday. What I really want to do is make the point that yesterday was merely the harvest coming in. We have sown this crop over decades and now we are dealing with it. We, the fans, are to blame. So, I would like to apologize to Gabe. It has been year after year of apathy by all of us that has led to this.

We bitch to each other about TV coverage and never call or email anyone who can do something.

We complain that the Millrose Games left MSG but we did that from our couch instead of from a seat in MSG.

We complained about Americans never being any good on the World stage but we never thought to help fund the few teams that existed in the 90’s to support them.

Now we are good on the World stage and we question every fast time that gets run.

We want more coverage online but we scream in protest when someone lays the money down to do that coverage and has the audacity to charge us to watch.

We scream when we find out someone is guilty of PED use but we stay silent when they coach the next generation.

We wonder why past generations had the Jim Ryuns and Steve Prefontaines on magazine covers but we are too cheap to subscribe to a magazine like Track & Field News that actually covers the sport and too lazy to write to a magazine like Sports Illustrated and tell them to cover the sport.

We sat back and watched the sport die. We watched and we did nothing. We never gave a sponsor a good reason to be involved.

So, Nike stepped up. They became the lifeline because there was no one else who could, because no one else wanted to. Without them we would not even have a sport to bitch about. Then we handed them the keys because we no longer cared to drive the sport ourselves. Soon, we were not even sitting shotgun. We’re hitch hiking now.

All of this is our fault.

But, now, we need to get up off our asses and do something.

The USATF has always been a JV organization tasked with doing a Varsity job. They need to be held accountable. Now is not the time to let that USATF membership lapse. Now is the time to renew or join. Then open your mouth as a member.

Now is not the time to throw away your Nikes. Now is the time to let Nike know that if they want to keep you in the swoosh they need to change the way they wield their power. Let them know they have the power to fix so much of this and if they do, well, they will have your continued loyalty. If not….

Now is also the time to see if Brooks Running or New Balance or upstart Oiselle are willing to take on a larger role. Are they? If the last twelve months indicate anything it is that they are.

Now is not the time to turn off your TV set. Now is the time to watch the coverage and then email, tweet, write, call NBC and truly voice what is wrong with the broadcast.

But before all of that, NOW is the time to apologize, all of us, the fans. We’re sorry. We have let this sport suffer. We fell asleep.

But, now we’re awake.

Eugene is Pass Go

I read a really interesting blog from Dan McQuaid about Eugene being awarded the next EIGHT, yes eight, NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. You can and should read his blog here.
Dan wondered whether the NCAA really achieves the goal of “emphasizing the fan experience” by placing the meet in the same location for eight, yes eight straight years. He admits that the “fan experience” in Eugene is great. But, he writes that the meet location will effectively price him out of attending considering he lives in the Midwest. Dan was able to attend the meet in Des Moines for around $100. Visiting Eugene for the NCAA meet would cost him close to $1000. Can’t argue with those numbers. But I disagree with him when he says the Eugene “monopoly” will not better emphasize the fan experience. I live in the Northeast. I, like Dan, am a teacher and coach. It will be expensive for me to attend the NCAA meet in Oregon. It would be expensive for me to attend the meet in Des Moines, or Baton Rouge, or Knoxville, or Sacramento, or Fayetteville, or Austin. So, I will do what I usually do. I will watch the meet on TV. That means I will join the overwhelming majority of track fans that actually watch the meet by sitting on a couch in front of our TV’s or increasingly on our laptops. And when I do watch the NCAA meet (and the USATF Champs) when it is NOT located in Eugene I will more often than not be welcomed to the broadcast by the site of 1000’s of empty seats. I know that I should only be concentrating on the performances but I don’t. I can’t. I see those empty seats and it depresses me. And I imagine it depresses those athletes competing too. They deserve, the sport deserves, we fans deserve the greatest possible stage to showcase the best Track & Field has to offer. That stage is not available everywhere. Dan mentioned Des Moines in his blog. Des Moines is a great example of a Track & Field friendly city. Yet, Des Moines could not deliver butts in the seats at USATF last June. They wanted to make a strong case for being able to host the Olympic Trials down the road and God bless them for that! We need cities that want the premier track meets. The problem was that Des Moines could not fill or even come close to filling their uncovered seats. It was a USATF Championship meet that served as the Word Championship qualifier and was the year after the London Olympic Games. Short of an Olympic Trials this was as sure a thing as you can get and they still couldn’t come remotely close to filling the place up on any of the days. Maybe the stadium was too big. Maybe. But it was the stadium that hosted the meet and to this formerly anorexic looking distance runner it was depressing to watch those oversized humans toss their metal balls in front of such sparse crowds. The shot putters and high jumpers and sprinters and distance runners should be competing in front of big and if possible knowledgeable crowds. It seems that being so close to Dan’s Chicago was not enough to make Des Moines a success. This sport needs success. It needs sell out crowds. If Track & Field was healthy then maybe it would only need Eugene every couple of years. But, Track & Field is not healthy. There are not nearly enough people like Dan who will drive over an hour and buy tickets to watch a Championship Track & Field meet. I wish there was. You can read this great post by the Track Superfan blog that looks at attendance numbers of some recent Championship track meets in the U.S.
Maybe this Eugene “Monopoly” will awaken fans from the Midwest and Southeast and yes, Northeast. Maybe having the meet in Eugene for 8 years will fire us up enough to put together a movement to host it in our own regions in a way that makes Eugene jealous! Maybe. But, so far, it seems like having it in Track Town, the real Track Town is the safest and healthiest move for the sport. I do know that I will enjoy watching the NCAA meet on TV or on my computer more seeing the big and loud and excited crowds. And I will tell you something else, I may only be a teacher and a coach and I may not have that much money, but I now know I have eight years to save up so I can take my family west, to Eugene, OR, a place known as Track Town USA to see the NCAA Track & Field Championships. And I know that my family will see it done right. That is the experience this fan wants.