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Americans Get Back on Track in Stockholm

August 22nd, 2014

running

Jenny Simpson was one of 6 Americans who topped podiums in Stockholm.

After over a month of hibernation Americans hit the track again at yesterdays Stockholm Diamond League. In virtually every event of the meet we got to see whether our American stars came in rested and ready to go, or possibly stale from the time off and how they faired against the rest of the world, many of whom were coming off of continental championships.

All told, USA won 6 of the 16 marquee events contested in the meet. These wins covered the whole range of track and field with Americans victories in the shot put, long jump, 200m, 100m hurdles, 400m hurdles, and 1500m. American women stole the show with 4 wins while men took the other two.

The shot put victory went to one of the elder statesmen of USA track and field: Reese Hoffa. Reese has been hurling heavy objects around the world for over a decade now and it is wonderful to see the former orphan still winning on some of the worlds biggest stages and continuing to build his legacy.

Tianna Bartoletta proved again that she is an incredible athlete with her win in the long jump. Formerly Tianna Madison, she is a former world indoor and outdoor champion jumper but recently has seen more success in the 100 meters with her fourth place showing at the Olympics and the lead off leg on the world-record setting 4 X 100m in London. Her win in the long jump proves that she can still be a threat at multiple disciplines. Furthering her athletic resume, she also has international success in the bobsled.

Allyson Felix has been setting tracks around the world on fire since she was a high schooler. She got another win in the Stockholm 200m to add to her endless collection and put her in the driver’s seat for the overall diamond league title in that event with on remaining competition.

Queen Harrison led a trio of Americans in the 100m hurdles. The Virginia Tech graduate was the youngest of the American winners in Stockholm and is truly finding her own this year with a big lead in the diamond league chase for the event four years after winning the Bowerman award (Heisman for track) in her senior year of college.

Michael Tinsley has been running on the international circuit for a long time now but the late-bloomer hadn’t made a World Championships team until he was selected to run for USA in Daegu in 2011. He managed to win a silver medal a year later in London and clearly isn’t slowing down two years later with this win in Stockholm.

Rounding out the 6 American victors is Jenny Simpson. Furthering the notion that she may never run over steeple barriers again like she did in college at Colorado, she beat a stout field in the 1500m in Stockholm and is proving that her world championship success from Daegu, a race that seemed to come out of nowhere, was no fluke and she is one of the most talented runners in the world.

With these wins and some other solid performances in other events, Americans proved that for the most part the were more rested than rusty after the break. With three Diamond League events left and then the Continental Cup, that break may pay off for many of our favorites.

Scott Running Sport, Uncategorized , ,

Week in Review: July 27-August 2

August 2nd, 2014

Molly Huddle Running to the win

Molly Huddle Continued Her Winning Ways with the USA 7 Mile Title. (Image: Quad City Times)

USA 7 Mile Championships takes over Davenport, Iowa

The Quad City Times Bix 7 is one of many gems on the USA road-racing calendar each year. The race, named for jazz musician and Davenport, Iowa local, Bix Beiderbecke, is the largest non-marathon race in the Midwest each year. It has a list of past champions that reads like a road running hall of fame, with names like Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit Samulson, and Khalid Khannouchi. The race typically fields a star-studded international cast but in some years it plays host to USA championship races, which have seen winners like Meb Kelfezighi and Ryan Hall. This year was an American only year, as it again hosted the USA 7 mile championships. Each champion brings home a shiny new trumpet as his or her trophy in honor of the race’s namesake.

Coming into the race, the two athletes that dominated the headlines were this year’s Boston winner and former Bix champion Meb, and Molly Huddle. Huddle, another former Bix champion, is fresh off her American record 5000m in Monaco. Molly certainly lived up to the pre-race hype as she took the lead from the gun and never looked back, winning by over a minute. Meb was not quite as triumphant as some hamstring troubles took him out of the race at mile 5 after leading the early miles. Sean Quigley won the race in a kick after numerous runners shared time in the lead.

Commonwealth Games shows off some former NCAA stars

As we mentioned in our Commonwealth games preview blog: Glasgow, Scotland played host to most of the English-speaking world’s best athletes outside of Americans. While Americans don’t participate in the Commonwealth games, there was a good representation of former NCAA athletes that have adopted America as their training home at some point in their lives.

UTEP’s Blessing Okagbare set the Commonwealth Games record in the 100m and won the 200m while representing her home country of Nigeria. University of Oregon alumni Brianne Theison Eaton, wife of decathlon world record holder Ashton Eaton, won a gold medal in the heptathlon for her home country of Canada.  Southern Utah’s Cam Levins got himself a bronze medal in the 10,000m for Canada, While Stephen Chemlany of Iona and Kenya won silver in the Marathon. Shane Brathwaite of Barbados and Texas Tech won bronze in the 110 hurdles, and others surely represented American universities as well as their home country in virtually every event in the competition.

The success of these athletes truly speaks to the NCAA’s ability to develop star track and field athletes. Considering that the vast majority of athletes in the NCAA are American yet the Commonwealth games doesn’t feature them, makes the success of the American system admirable worldwide.

Ethiopian Athletes leave IAAF World Junior Championships Facility, Seeking USA Asylum

Many of the world’s greatest track athletes unfortunately come from some unstable regions in the world. Ethiopia in particular has seen more than its fair share of turmoil in recent memory. With political tensions coming from Egypt over large damming projects on headwaters of the Nile River, the ever-anxious border with Eritrea, formerly part of Ethiopia, as well as porous borders with similarly volatile countries: Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, and Somalia. Ethiopia is right at the cross-roads of many unsavory situations.

With that in mind, one could hardly blame four young Ethiopian athletes from seeking a better life in their escape from the IAAF World Junior Championships that concluded last weekend in Eugene, Oregon. Amanuel Abebe Atibeha, Dureti Edao, Meaza Kebede, and Zeytituna Mohammed left the athletes village on the University of Oregon campus in a sedan headed for Portland last Friday. They have been found by police and are confirmed to be safe and unharmed. Political asylum is a long hard process and these young athletes have a tough road ahead of them whether it is in Oregon or in Ethiopia.

This is not the first time that runners have used their talents to escape their countries’ unrest. Following the 2008 World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh Scotland, a group of Eritrean runners never boarded their flight home and have lived in Scotland ever since. Their escape of landmines and civil war has resulted in minimum wage jobs and a cold apartment in Glasgow. This story particularly hits home here because Tewoldeberhan Mengisteab, the oldest of the athletes finished 52nd in those championships… I finished 51st in the same race and we recorded exactly the same time. We are the same age, have a similar skill set, but hardly share similar paths in life. Stories like this certainly add a bit of perspective to the lives we live.

Scott Running Sport , , , ,

Eugene Hosts World Junior Track and Field Championships

July 30th, 2014
Run, Jump, Throw

Morgan Lake became very familiar with Hayward field as she won the Heptathlon and High Jump. (image: British Athletics)

In most years, the track world would be centrally focused on a world championships or Olympics right now. However, with world championships held on odd years and Olympics in their own quadrennial cycle, there is a gap every four years from these popular events. This allows several smaller championships to shine through during this period and different story lines appear to fill the gap.

The World Junior Track and Field Championships took place this past weekend in Eugene, Oregon and many of the world’s best young track athletes made history. It was the first world championship held in the United States since the World Cross Country Championships occurred in Boston in 1992. With the full spectrum of events held over 6 days of competition, there are far too many stories to cover in just one article. But with many young stars turning out performances that rival their much older peers on the open circuit, the meet certainly deserves mention.

Read more…

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Common Wealth Games take over Glasgow

July 24th, 2014
Commonwealth games now running

The opening ceremony of the Commonwealth games began with a bang yesterday (Image: Getty)

While the sun may have set a while ago on the British Empire, much of the pomp and circumstances of the time endures to date. The Commonwealth Games, especially for sports fans, are the epitome of those traditions. Glasgow, Scotland plays host to this year’s edition of the quadrennial sports festival that mirrors the Olympics, albeit in a smaller scale for most of the English-speaking world outside of the United States.

Many of the world’s greatest track athletes are invited, making the event a significant fixture on the track calendar. With countries like Jamaica, Kenya, Australia, New Zealand, and India being represented, the competition is sure to be intense. Of course, the United Kingdom will also bring their best athletes to Glasgow as well. However, in this competition they represent their home nations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales instead of wearing the Union Jack.

While the withdrawal of Mo Farah is a big blow to the event, there is still enough great talent in the mix to create legacies and introduce new heroes. The most prominent name on the marquee is surely Usain Bolt, but he is only committed to Jamaica’s 4 X 100m relay team. Other prominent stories include Kenyan David Rudisha, world record holder in the 800, continuing his comeback from injury. New Zealand’s Valerie Adams is continuing her unprecedented winning streak in the shot put, and Englishman Greg Rutherford is hoping to add a matching Commonwealth medal to his Olympic gold in the long jump.

Rudisha Running World Record

David Rudisha has high hopes this year after recovering from a knee injury (photo: AP)

The Opening Ceremonies occurred yesterday and featured Rod Stewart belting out his hits and Scottish terriers leading each country in the parade. Also, during the opening ceremonies, £3.1 was raised for the charity Unicef to help children world wide with some of the participating countries being some of the neediest. While athletes don’t take to the track until Sunday, competition has started in earnest today with swimming, track cycling, gymnastics and many other sports already handing out medals. England’s Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonny did do some running today to win gold and silver (respectively) in the triathlon while Jodie Stimpson won for England on the women’s side.

The Commonwealth of Nations is, at best, a rough alliance of countries that share some language, culture, and an increasingly distant history under one monarchy (many times an unsavory history at that). The ability of the countries to come together and celebrate many of their greatest athletes is worthy of notice. Athletes like Bolt and Rudisha, choosing to travel to Glasgow and represent their countries instead of saving their legs for more lucrative meets in the months to come, is a testament to the games and their prestigious history.

Scott Running Sport , , , ,

The Badwater Run carries on without the Badwater

July 23rd, 2014
Badwater Run Champion

Harvey Lewis, victor of the race and the terrain. (Photo: Chris Kostman, Instagram)

The Badwater Ultra Marathon, dubbed “the most difficult run in the world”, was won by Harvey Lewis in a time of 23:52:55. Lewis, a teacher at the Cincinnati School for Creative and Performing Arts, covered the 135 miles of California high desert over 50 minutes quicker than his nearest competitor, Grant Maughan of Australia. Alyson Venti, an Oceanography Ph.D. student from University of Miami won the women’s race in 28:37:28.

The course, famous for traveling from the lowest point in North America, Badwater, to the trailhead of the highest mountain in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney, changed drastically this year due to permitting issues within Death Valley National Park. Over 30 years of safe  and successful events were held in the park by Badwater’s parent company AdventureCORPS. They also host an equally crazy 508 mile bike race from the California coast into Death Valley. The Park suspended all event permits to conduct a safety audit, forcing the Badwater run to start somewhere other than Badwater or be cancelled.

Read more…

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Runner vs. Nature: Skunks Stink

July 10th, 2014

Throughout the United States, skunks are hiding in cat-sized crevasses waiting to roam the night (or if you are reading this at night, they are roaming currently). These opportunistic animals are happy hunting insects and small rodents, foraging for berries, scavenging a convenient carcass, or making a mess of your trashcan. Over time, their versatility has allowed them to thrive in virtually every condition and take on urban sprawl with little impact on their population whereas other animals have been less successful at “fitting into society”.

Skunk

Skunks can't be missed (Image: Britannic)

Where most animals use camouflage to blend in, skunks are outsiders. If squirrels listen to Coldplay, skunks listen to Rancid and dress the part. Like our neighborhood punk rock aficionados, standing out is part of their visage and lets the rest of us know that they play by a different set of rules. Where their furry friends scurry to safety at the first sign of danger, skunks are more apt to mosey on brazenly until predators prove they are serious.

Despite their prolific presence in our environment, runner-skunk encounters are rare. Still, if you run enough miles, particularly at dusk or dawn, it is likely that you will see a skunk in your running career. If you get too close, you, and your social life will be immediately impacted.

While other mammals have the ability to create a musky scent for territory marking or mating purposes only skunks have the ability to spray their musk as a projectile. As anyone with experience can attest, their musk is by far the most potent. From glands in the skunk’s rear, the offensive fluid can be sprayed up to 12 feet with a good amount of accuracy.

Read more…

Scott Running Sport , , ,

Runner vs. Nature: Mosquitoes Suck

June 11th, 2014

Don't Get Bit (image: Total Mosquito Control)

Vampire talk seems to have died down since the last of the Twilight films came out in 2012 but mosquitoes never got the memo that sucking blood isn’t cool anymore. With summer around the corner and pools of standing water growing more numerous and voluminous, the mosquitoes are coming. For those of us that appreciate the outdoors, these unwanted guests are most problematic.

Here’s the bad news: mosquitoes are attracted to movement, body heat, lactic acid and carbon dioxide. So unless you know how to run with out moving, sweating or breathing, mosquitoes will find you. Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, which also happen to be the only bearable times to run between the months of June and September in much of the northern hemisphere. Some mosquitoes may be developing immunity to repellants and mosquitoes are more attracted to beer drinkers.

Worst of all they carry deadly diseases that ruin lives and slow economies around the world. Malaria alone infects north of 200 million people per year and the distance runner meccas Ethiopia and Kenya are some of the worst affected. Read more…

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