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Friday, August 31, 2007

Rome update

Between all the sight seeing and the walking!!!, I have been able to watch most of the Track and Field World Championships. Hard to imagine Cross Country season is just around the corner with Track staging one of it's biggest meets.

On my predictions of the men's 1500m., I had Lagat 1st, Ramzi 2nd and Webb 3rd. Not too bad. I just didn't think Webb could win without anybody rabbitting a fast pace for him. Just as I suspected, he had to do all the work early and on the last lap he was a sitting duck for all the kickers. I know Lagat is not truly an American but he seems like a really good guy. Well deserved victory and now, who knows what he can do in the 5000m. if the pace is to his liking.

The final two days should be great with the remaining distance races as well as all the relays. We'll see how many golds the Americans can win. They are the favorites in all four relays but we know how that has turned out in the past.

What has been the best competition so far in the meet? Any major surprises?

Thank you to all of you who have been checking out this blog. I will get back to a more c0nsistant posting pattern once I return back to the States.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Live from Italy (Rome)

Taking a little break from the sight seeing in Italy. I have been here only a day and Italy has more than surpassed expectations already. On the plane from Malta to Italy my wife and I sat behind, what turned out to be, a famous Italian singer who performed in Malta the day before, Claudio Bagliani. I will have to check out his info later because we had no idea who he was to the dismay of the passengers around us. We found a restaurant with authentic Italian food and finished off our meal at a gelato place. All i can say is I hope we can walk a lot!!!

Just some quick thoughts on the World Championships.

I caught some of the World Track and Field Championships on Euro Sport and the coverage here in Europe is amazing. So far on my IAAF fantasy picks, Powell not so good, Kluft, Dibaba and Vili came through big time. Great final throw by Vili. I figured she would at least finish in the top 2 but the win was great. Caught the Powell Gay match at the airport in Malta as Gay destroyed the world record holder. The problem with any fantasy contests is you end up rooting against your own team, in this case, Gay. He looked great and should be smoking in the 200. We will see how today goes. I was very happy to see Goucher got a bronze in the 10000 meters. I was very pleasantly surprised to see her medal as I did not even list her in my poll. Somebody voted for other so that could have been a pick for her. Great job by the Americans going 3rd and 5th. I am getting a really good feeling about the performance of the American distance runners in the near future including Osaka.

I will see about posting again when I can. Today more sight seeing, including the Pantheon which we saw last night but it was closed. Cannot wait to see it fromt the inside.

Any thoughts on the meet so far?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Cross Country coach with tattoos and rides a harley??

Check out the link below from the Lodi News about the new Tokay Cross Country coach who doesn't quite fit the bill of your typical XC coach.

Running it his way

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Norcal Pre-Season Rankings

Below is the pre-season list of the top 10 Norcal (CCS, NCS, NS, OAK, SF and SJS) teams and individuals for boys and girls. It's based primarily on last season's cross country and track and field results. It will be updated throughout the season leading up to the California state meet.

Boys
.................................................Girls

1) Petaluma NCS.................................1) Carondelet NCS

2) Jesuit SJS......................................2)
Carlmont CCS
3)
Carlmont CCS.................................3) St. Francis, Sacramento SJS
4)
Woodcreek SJS...............................4) Davis Sr. SJS
5)
Davis Sr. SJS...................................5) Del Oro SJS
6)
North Monterey County CCS.............6) Ponderosa SJS
7) Santa Clara CCS
..............................7) Placer SJS
8) Aptos CCS......................................8) Los Gatos CCS
9)
Los Gatos CCS.................................9) Campolindo NCS
10)
Maria Carrillo NCS.......................10) Mt. Shasta NS
Honorable Mention (5 teams added in no particular order)
Del Campo SJS.....................................Maria Carrillo NCS
Oak Ridge SJS......................................Mountain View CCS
De La Salle NCS....................................Aptos CCS
St. Ignatius CCS....................................North Monterey County CCS
Campolindo NCS...................................Gunn CCS


Boys' Individuals
1) German Fernandez (12) Riverbank SJS
2) Mohammed Abdalla (12) Willow Glen CCS
3) Brad Surh (12) Carlmont CCS
4) Phillip MacQuitty (10) Palo Alto CCS
5)
Diego Estrada (12) Alisal CCS
6) Rylan Hunt (11) Aptos CCS
7) James Tracy (12) Del Campo SJS
8)
Chris Romo (12) Woodcreek SJS
9)
Gambileg Bor (12) Jefferson CCS
10) Matt Duffy (12) St. Mary's College NCS

Girls' Individual
1)
Laurynne Chetelet (12) Davis Sr. SJS
2)
Jacque Taylor (10) Casa Grande NCS
3) Justine Fedronic (11) Carlmont CCS
4) Diana George (11) Livermore NCS
5) Rebecca Habtamu (12) Prospect CCS
6) Stephanie Barnett (11) Leland CCS
7) Katy Daly (11) St. Ignatius CCS
8) Nicole Hood (10) Carondelet NCS
9)
Samantha Hamilton (10) Half Moon Bay CCS
10) Sara Howard (10) Colfax SJS


This is by no means set in stone. Rankings are subject to editing as I get more information. Feel free to add your input to these lists.

Check out the poll to the right. Only four days left to vote.

High School Runner Missing in Okla. Lake

Sad story about cross country runner in Oklahoma. We can only pray for a miracle.

High School Runner Missing in Okla. Lake

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cross Country Midnight Madness

Now, here is a fresh idea from a High School Cross Country team in Seattle.

Jackson cross country gets off to a running start

Mead Mania: The Golden Era of Prep Distance Running in Washington

Here is another web find from http://www.edbagleyblog.com

It's a four part series about Mead High School and their legendary coach, Pat Tyson. For those of you that don't know, Mead High School (in the state of Washington) has been ranked nationally in the Harrier many times (14 to be exact including 2 #1 rankings). Their 1993 team rates as one of the best high school teams ever with many listing them as the very best. Tyson has since left the school to coach collegiately in Oregon and Kentucky but Mead still remains one of the best teams nationally ranking in the top 6 in each of the last three seasons.

Mead Mania: The Golden Era of Prep Distance Running in Washington - Part 1
Mead Mania: Pat Tyson's Arrival Starts a Run of 9 Consecutive Titles - Part 2
Mead Mania: How About a State Cross-Country Title Where the First 3 Finishers Are Your Runners - Part 3
Mead Mania: 2 Mead Runners Crack 9 Minutes At the State 3200 Meter Championship - Part 4

Don't forget to vote in the poll to the right. So far Webb is the runaway voter with Lagat in 2nd. Could that be the order of the 1500m. final in Osaka? Can Kastor pull off another medal?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

World Class Runner to Coach Los Gatos Boys' XC team

Former British 10000m. Olympian, Karl Kloska, takes over the helm of the Los Gatos boys' cross country team. Read about it here on the San Jose Mercury News blog:

Olympian Kleska is new Los Gatos XC coach

Can World's Strongest Dad

For those of you that have never seen this youtube video of Dick and Rick Hoyt, here it is.

Next time, you don't quite feel like getting out the door and running...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Once A Runner Movie Trailer

Unfortunately, it's not real. For those of you that have read the book (a must if you are distance runner), rumors spread that a movie of the book was finally coming out this summer. There was even a trailer. It turned out to be a graphic design student project, a very good one at that.

Check it out for yourself.

www.oncearunnermovie.com

1st Annual Main Coach and Athlete Cross Country Clinic

I found these two links from the following blog (http://news.runtowin.com), which might be of interest for coaches and athletes alike. The first part of the article covers the following topics from a cross country clinic in Maine that included progression, stretching and goals. One of the speakers also mentioned the importance of running shoes and how to care for them. The second part of the article covers intervals, recovery, mental preparation and teamwork. The article concludes with a question and answer session with all the coaches. I think it's a good read. Check it out.

Read more about this clinic at the two following links:
1st Annual Maine Coach and Athlete Cross Country Clinic (Part I)
1st Annual Maine Coach and Athlete Cross Country Clinic (Part II)

Don't forget to vote on the poll to the right. Poll closes in two days.

HS California team in the news

Amador cross country notches strong summer runs

Friday, August 17, 2007

Track and Field Stat. Links

With the Track and Field world championships coming up in Osaka, here are a few website links that will give you the tons of statistics with yearly lists, all time bests, world record progressions etc.

Track and Field Statistics
Track & Field all-time performances
Track and Field Statistics
Statistics
World records and finnish national records progression

From Track and Field News
Track & Field News lists
Records

Olympic Games
Everything about the Olympics
List of Olympic medalists in athletics (men)
List of Olympic medalists in athletics (women)

Not Stats. but World Record Videos
World Record Videos

If you know of any similar links, please feel free to add them with a comment.

Don't forget to vote for the greatest distance runner of all time on the poll to the right. Three days left before poll closes. If you voted for OTHER, please post your selection with a comment as well. Unfortunately, the poll does not have a write in category.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Craig Virgin vs. Dave Walters (High School Training Comparison)

I found the link at the end of this article on the Illinois Track and Cross Cross Country Coaches Association website. It's a HS training comparison between Craig Virgin and Dave Walters. While Virgin is a more well known than Walters, both enjoyed immense success during their high school and college years in the state of Illinois.

Profiles of both runners courtesy of the ITCCA
Craig Virgin
•5-time Illinois H.S. State Champion in the 1-mile/2-mile Track events and in the 3-mile Cross Country event.
•Still holds the Illinois State Meet records in both cross country and the 2-mile race.
•9-time Big Ten Champion as well as NCAA Cross Country Champion at the U. of Illinois.
•2-time World Cross Country Champion; only American man ever to win that title.
•3-time Olympian in the 10,000 meter track event.

Dave Walters
•2-time Illinois State Champion in the 2-mile Track and 3-mile Cross Country events.
•All American in Cross Country at the University of Illinois in 1977.
•U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials Participant in 1988.
•2-time World Duathlon Champion in 2000 & 2002.
•Level II USAT Triathlon Coach.

http://www.itccca.org/clinic/2006/clinic%20pdfs/clinic_book_virgin_walters2.pdf

Don't forget to keep voting on the greatest distance runner of all time in the poll to the right. Four days remaining before poll closes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Emil Zatopek, Legendary Runner #1

As you can see by the subject heading, Emil Zatopek is my #1 runner on my list of most influential runners. I will confess that during high school, Zatopek was my favorite runner. I loved reading about him and all his accomplishments. In the midst of races, I would try to duplicate the same toughness he displayed throughout his career. There are numerous pictures, like the one to the left (courtesy of http://www.omundodacorrida.com), displaying his unmistakable form. To the dismay of my coach, I tried to emulate his form.

"The Czech Locomotive", as he was known, competed in three Olympics ('48-'56) garnering 4 gold and 1 silver medals. In his career, Zatopek broke 18 world records in the distances ranging from 5000m. to 30000m. He was the first to break 29 minutes in the 10000m. and to run 20000m. in under an hour. Between 1948 and 1954, Zatopek won 38 straight 10000m. races. In the 1952 Olympics, Zatopek accomplished the feat of being the only runner in history to win the three longest running distances (5K, 10K and the marathon) in the same games.

Zatopek is the answer to another trivia question as he and his wife, Dana Zatopkova, are the only married couple to win gold medals. Dana won her gold medal in the javelin as Emil was finishing up his marathon in '52. She also won a silver in '60 to bring their total family total to 7 Olympic medals.

He was a giant in the sport of Track and Field but will also be remembered for his giant heart, generosity and camaraderie. He spoke seven languages and was friendly with many of his foes, speaking to them in their native language. His most memorable gesture was giving Ron Clarke his very own gold medal that he had won in the 1952 10000m. race. Clarke was a great runner in his own right who was never able to win an Olympic gold medal. I just can't conceive of another person giving up his medal to another athlete in the same manner Zatopek (seen here in the '52, 5000m. final courtesy of http://virtual.finland.fi) did with Clarke.

Frenchman, Alain Mimoun, finished 2nd. to Zatopek in three separate Olympic races. In the 1956 Olympics, Mimoun and Zatopek were competing against each other, this time in the marathon. Not running at his best, Zatopek encouraged Mimoun during the race by telling him "You go, this is your day". Mimoun went on to win but in respect to his great competitor, waited for him at the finish line as Zatopek came in, finishing 6th. Zatopek, showing grace in defeat, took his painter's hat off and saluted the victor.

Zatopek studied the training of Paavo Nurmi and being without a coach, devised many original training ideas. During Zatopek's era, distance runners trained by running long distances each day. Zatopek trained by running intervals such as 20-40 times 400m. repeats several times a week. He ran in snow with heavy boots. When asked about his interval training, Zatopek replied "Why should I practice running slow? I already know how to run slow. I want to learn to run fast. Everyone said, 'Emil, you are a fool!' But when I first won the European Championship, they said: 'Emil, you are a genius!" Many of his training methods are utilized to this day. Picture to the left is of Zatopek and his wife Dana courtesy of http://www.vitejte.cz.

His legend will live on even after his death in 2000 due to a virus. Ron Clarke, perhaps the man most affected by Zatopek, said it best, "His enthusiasm, his friendliness, his love of life, shone through every movement. There is not and never was a greater man than Emil Zatopek."

Don't forget to vote for the greatest distance runner ever in the poll to the right. Five days to go before it closes.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Great Summer Reading for Runners...

If you are looking for some reading material before the end of the summer, check out the following books:

Nike + iTunes =

an interesting concept for a shoe.

Nike runs with iTunes to promote its talking running shoe.

Roger Bannister, Legendary Runner #2


Runner #2 will come as a shock to many but I will hopefully be able to dispatch most of the doubters. Roger Bannister will go down in history as the first man to break the four minute mile on May 6th, 1954 on the Iffley Road Track in Oxford. More than 50 years have past since Bannister's breakthrough, but the four minute mile is still quite an accomplishment for most distance runners.

The race to the first sub four minute mile started with Englishman Walter George. On August 23rd, 1886, in front of 30,000 spectators, George defeated William Cummings in a match race, setting a new world record of 4:12 3/4, which would stand for almost 30 years. Since, at the time, George was considered a professional, his record is not listed in the IAAF's mile world record list.

It wasn't until Paavo Nurmi ran 4:10.4 that George's record was officially surpassed. The record would go through an array of runners which included Jules Ladoumegue (4:09.2), Jack Lovelock (4:07.6), Glenn Cunningham (4:06.7) and Sydney Wooderson (4:06.4). The great Swedish duo of Arne Anndersson and Gundar Haegg lowered the record six more times with Haegg's time of 4:01.3 on July 17, 1945 being the last mark to set the stage for Bannister.

The book, The Perfect Mile (check out link below), depicts three men, Australia's John Landy, American Wes Santee and the young British doctor to be (Bannister) chasing history, to be the first under the magical mark. At the time, it was deemed physiologically damaging to any athlete that attempted to reach the goal. Many men had tried and failed as the goal became not just physiological but psychological as well.

Bannister stumbled along the way as he finished 4th in the 1952 Olympics 1500m. final(pictured to the right, courtesy of http://www.achievement.org). Being a medical student, Bannister had a minimum amount of time to train and to his dismay, they added a semifinal heat. With the added effort of an extra race, Bannister finished lower than predicted by the British press. Bannister's original plan was to win the 1500m. gold medal in 1952 and retire to concentrate on his medical career.

After much thought, Bannister decided to chase a new goal, a sub 4 minute mile. Coached by Franz Stampfl, Bannister picked up his training and set forth with his plan. Bannister has credited Haegg's training ideas as well as a more structured training plan for his improved running. With the news that Landy was on his way to Europe to make a record attempt, Bannister, at the urging of his coach, changed the timetable to break the record. In a meet between British AAA and Oxford University (picture of the start is pictured to the left courtesy of http://faculty.rmwc.edu/tmichalik), Bannister was paced by teammates Chris Chataway and Chris Basher during the first three laps before he took over with 300 yards to go. He strained forward, driving hard the rest of the way, until he collapsed in the arms of fans past the finish line.

With the crowd anxiously awaiting the time, the announcer brilliantly stated the following "Ladies and gentlemen, here is the result of event 9, the one-mile: 1st, No. 41, R.G. Bannister, Amateur Athletic Association and formerly of Exeter and Merton Colleges, Oxford, with a time which is a new meeting and track record, and which - subject to ratification - will be a new English Native, British National, All-Comers, European, British Empire, and World Record. The time was 3..." The crowd cheered, drowning the rest of the announcement.

Bannister's place in history will always be secure. What he should also be remembered for is the scientific way he approached his record attempt. The use of rabbits, to the dismay of many, changed the way our sport is today. No world record attempt in this day is done without the use of rabbits. To his credit, when asked if breaking the 4 minute mile was his biggest achievement, Bannister replied "“No, I rather saw the subsequent forty years of practicing as a neurologist and some of the new procedures I introduced as being more significant.”

Photo courtesy of http://www.theage.com.au


To read more about Sir Roger Bannister (Knighted in 1975), you can check out his autobiography (still in print after 50 years) as well as The Perfect Mile. Both are a fantastic reads.



Please vote in the poll to the right before it closes in six days.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Kip Keino, Legendary Runner #3


Kip Keino's most famous victory took place in the high altitude of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. The image to the left is of Keino approaching the finish line as world record holder Jim Ryan labors in 2nd place, left in the wake of the great Kenyan runner. While that victory may have sealed his place in history, Keino's impact to the running scene is far greater.

Kipchoge ("Kip") Keino was born in Kipsamo, Nandi District, Kenya. At a young age, Keino herded goats and ran on the hills of Kenya, which prepared him well for his future competitions. When he made his international debut in the early 60s in Perth, Australia, Keino was still a policeman in his home country. He would eventually be the first Kenyan to break the four-minute mile.

The 1964 Olympic 5000m. is best remembered for Bob Schul's victory but right in the mix was the young Keino who is shown in the picture to the right (courtesy of www.bobschul.net), finishing 5th. In 1965, Keino broke two world records, running 7:39.6 on August 27th. in the 3000m. and then 13:24.2 in the 5000m. on November 30th. Leading up to the 1968 Olympics, Keino ran impressively at two Commonwealth games claiming two victories in 1966 (1st in the mile and 3 mile races) and a 1st. in the 1500m. and 3rd. in the 5000m., both in 1967.

Keino's 1968 1500m. victory was an impressive piece of racing on it's own. What made it even more remarkable was the events that lead to the race. Keino is not listed in the '68 10000m. results due to the fact that he collapsed to the infield, with two laps to go in the race, in pain from a gall bladder infection. Although, he did finish the race, Keino was disqualified for leaving the track. He also ran two 5000m. races, finishing 2nd. behind Mohammed Gammoudi of Tunisia in the final.

The 1500m. final pitted Keino against America's gold medal hopeful and 1500m./mile world record holder, Jim Ryan, who was famed for a devastating kick. To combat Ryan's last lap surge, the Kenyans utilized a team tactic consisting of Keino's teammate, Ben Jipcho, setting a blistering pace for the first two laps. Keino took over, just before the 800m. mark, leaving Ryan with an insurmountable lead to overcome. His time of 3:34.9 remained the Olympic record until 1984, when Sebastian Coe finally broke it with a 3:32.53.

Keino's last Olympics took place in the '72 games in Munich. To the surprise of many, he qualified at the Kenyan trials in a new event for him, the 3000m. steeplechase. He defeated his '68 1500m. pacesetter, Ben Jipcho, in a new Olympic record of 8:23.6. He narrowly missed repeating as 1500m. champion with his 2nd. place finish to Finland's Pekka Vasala by a .5 margin.

Keino (picture to the left courtesy of http://www.iolani.org) retired in 1975 but his legacy will be felt for many generations to come. In 1996, he was elected into the World Humanitarian Hall of Fame. The following is from www.tolovechildren.org, "Kip Keino Children's Home Organisation that enables about 100 children in Kenya to have a happy childhood and to receive a good education." Keino is also the president of the Kenyan Olympic Committee. Mike Boit said it best when it comes to Keino's impact. "He not only is the father of Kenya distance running, he put this country on the map. He's our national treasure."

To read more about Kip Keino, check out the picture link below.

Runner #2 will be posted tomorrow...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Abebe Bikila, Legendary Runner #4

Running barefoot on the cobblestones of Rome in the 1960 Olympics, Ethiopia's Abebe Bikila became the first black African to win an Olympic medal (Bikila pictured to the left winning, courtesy of http://www.repubblica.it). His winning time of 2hr.15mins 16.2secs. was a new world record as he narrowly defeated Morocco's Rhadi Ben Abdesselem. When asked why he had run the race barefoot, Bikila replied "I wanted the world to know that my country Ethiopia has always won with determination and heroism."

Bikila was born in Jato, Ethiopia in 1932. The son of a shepherd, Bikila would eventually join the Imperial Guards to support his family. He became a private in the army as well as the bodyguard of Haile Selassie, the emperor of Ethiopia. During his training for the army, Bikila's talents were noticed by Swedish coach, Omni Niskanen, who was hired by the Ethiopian government to coach their athletes.

Bikila is reported to have started running at the age of 24 which would make sense considering that he was 28 when he competed in Rome. He was an unknown when he arrived at the '60 games, running both his previous marathons in the high altitude of Ethiopia. Bikila's 1st marathon was timed in 2hr. 21mins. 23secs. No report of his 2nd marathon time could be found but it has been noted to be faster than his first effort.

The plan for Rome, devised by Bikila and his coach, was to run with the leaders and then move with a kilometer to go. The race started in the evening to combat the sweltering heat and to showcase Rome. Bikila and Abdesselem were the last two runners left competing for the victory before Bikila made his planned surge. The picture on the right shows the two men battling in the last few miles as they headed toward the Olympic stadium.

With his victory, Bikila became an instant national hero. His gold medal, along with Abdesselem's silver medal, marked the arrival of the African runners who have come to dominate the world running scene. Bikila ran several marathons in 1961 winning races in Greece, Japan and Czechoslovakia. He didn't race internationally again until he finished 5th in the Boston Marathon in 1963, which was his first defeat. In 1964, Bikila won the Ethiopian Olympic trials marathon and was set to defend his gold medal.

40 days before the '64 games' marathon, Bikila had a major setback with surgery for appendicitis. Miraculously, Bikila toed the line in Tokyo, this time with shoes. He found himself all alone in the lead at the halfway point in the race and went on to set another world record, 2hrs. 12mins. 11.2secs. The crowd of 70,000 fans were treated with Bikila's array of stretching exercises following his victory. The two consecutive marathon titles marked the first time in history that an athlete had accomplished that feat in the Olympics. Waldemar Cierpinski tied Bikila's record of consecutive marathon victories with his wins in '76 and '80.

Bikila continued to compete following the '64 games winning 3 marathons in '65 and '66. Following several injuries, Bikila arrived at the '68 Olympics with the remnants of a stress fracture in his foot. The pain was too much for him as he withdrew from the race at the 17km. mark. Winner and fellow country man, Mamo Wolde, insisted that Bikila would have won yet again had he not been injured.

Bikila's life took a turn for the worse when he was paralyzed in an automobile accident in 1969. He would never walk again. Not ready to give up his competitive days, Bikila took part in paraplegic games, most notably archery. He sadly died in 1973 at the age 41 as a result of a brain hemorrhage. 65,000 people attended his funeral.

Bikila is still the hero of many of the Ethiopian stars of today as well as '96 Olympic Marathon champion, Fatima Roba. The New York Road Runners hand out the Abebe Bikila award annually to "an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to distance running, particularly through a spirit of deep commitment to the sport."


2nd photo courtesy of http://www.contrasto.it
3rd photo courtesy of http://sports.sohu.com

Friday, August 10, 2007

Lasse Viren, Legendary Runner #5

Lasse Viren is best remembered as the runner that won the Steve Prefontaine 5000m. race in the '72 Olympics (pictured to the right courtesy of http://johistoire.ifrance.com). With his 10000m. victory, seven days earlier, Viren joined Hannes Kolehmainen in '12, Emil Zatopek in '52, Vladimir Kuts in '56 in the exclusive club of runners who won the 5000m./10000m. double in the same Olympics. Miruts Yifter became the fifth runner to accomplish that feat by turning the double in the '80 Olympics.

In his '72 10000m. final, Viren got tangled up with Emiel Puttemans, which resulted in Viren and Mohammed Gammoudi falling to the track. While Gammoudi remained motionless at the side of the track, Viren quickly sprang to his feet as the pack gained 30 meters on him. Within 100m., Viren was back in the midst of the lead pack and went on to capture the race in a new world record (WR) time of 27:38.40. He credits the slow early pace for his ability to get back into the race so quickly but the furious finish lead by David Bedford's surges resulted in the new WR.

Viren returned back to Finland to continue his duties as a policeman. He was well renowned for rather ordinary results in non-Olympic years. Perhaps those results can be attributed to the leg problems he dealt with for several years following the '72 Olympics. Viren, along with his coach, Rolf Haikkola, planned his training plan meticulously for a tremendous peak every four years. Linking Viren to past greats, Haikkola was well known for being heavily influenced by Arthur Lydiard. Viren's critics have long claimed that his success in each Olympics was due to blood boosting (practice of freezing one's own blood and returning it back to the body which results in an increase aerobic capacity). He has always denied this claim, giving credit to the value of drinking reindeer milk. Viren's resting heart rate of 28 might have been more of an indication of his talent.

In the '76 Olympics, Viren nearly duplicated Zatopek's incredible distance triple (5000m., 10000m. and marathon) by finishing 5th in the marathon along with his two victories. First, he dispatched, future Olympic marathon champion, Carlos Lopes, in a 10000m. duel that resulted in an easy victory. The 5000m. race was in the opinion of many, one of the greatest races in Olympic history. The photo to the right (courtesy of www.britannica.com) shows the mass finish of runners, including the sprawling Klaus-Peter Hildenbrand edging Rod Dixon for the bronze medal. Viren entered the marathon just 21 hours after his 5000m. final and by his own account, "It was a race too far" and "I had nothing left".

Viren's final tally in three Olympics ('72, '76 and '80) was 4 gold medals and 2 fifth place finishes ('76 marathon and '80 10000m.). He will always be a controversial figure in the sport due to the allegations of the blood boosting but there is no denying his part in the history of distance running. To this day, he is still the only runner to record the distance double (5k./10k.) victory in two consecutive Olympics.

Picture courtesy of www.olympic.org


We get closer to #1 in my next post.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Peter Snell, Legendary Runner #6

Next on my list is the runner that strode in to the running scene with a powerfully built body, decked in the famous black singlet with the silver fern emblazoned on the chest. He was remarkably similar to Herb Elliott in many ways which will be pointed out shortly. His name was Peter Snell and he hailed from New Zealand.

Snell, like Elliott, was a remarkable athlete who participated in many sports including Rugby, Cricket, Tennis, Badminton and Golf. Snell at the age of 19 would meet the man that would coach him throughout his career, Arthur Lydiard. As told by Snell, Lydiard told the young runner, "Peter, with the sort of speed you've got, if you do endurance training, you could be one of our best middle-distance runners." Motivated by the sage coach as Elliott was with Cerutty, Snell (pictured to the left courtesy of www.runningworks.com) turned his complete attention to running.

During the 1960 Olympics, Elliott dominated his race in the 1500 while Snell had to scrape and claw past world record holder, Roger Moens in the 800 to set a new Olympic record. Less than an hour later, Snell's teammate, Murray Halberg, won the 5000m. gold medal to add credence to Lydiard's marathon based training. Although Lydiard was not considered the New Zealand Olympic Track and Field coach for those athletes, there was no question of his impact with the talented distance runners.

In 1962, Snell established new world standards in the 800m. (1:44.3) and the mile (3:54.4). The 800 time is a still standing New Zealand record and the reputed as the fastest recorded 800m. time on grass. Snell became one of the most feared racer in his time with tremendous endurance and a devastating kick. He was also reported to have run a mid 2:20 Marathon in practice.

In the '64 Olympics, Snell repeated as the 800m. Olympic champion becoming the third Olympian to repeat as 800m. champion following Britain's Douglas Love in '24 and '28 and American Mal Whitfield in '48 and '52. He also doubled back to win the 1500m. (pictured to the right), becoming the last Olympian to win the 800m. and 1500m. in the same Olympics. Snell recorded his last two world records following the Olympics breaking the 1000m. record (still standing NZ record) and lowering his own world record in the mile to 3:54.1 five days later.

Just as Elliott had retired in his prime, Snell shockingly retired in 1965. Even with his short yet brilliant career, Snell was voted as "New Zealand's Sports Champion of the (20th) Century". Other New Zealand runners followed the Halberg/Snell duo with Olympic medals including John Davies (3rd. in '64 800m.), Rod Dixon (3rd. in the '72 1500m.) and finally John Walker (1st in the '76 1500m.). Lydiard's training regimen remains just as effective with today's runners. Coaches like Mark Wetmore of Colorado still use Lydiard's principals in their training program with a very high level of success.

Snell is still active in the exercise world as an associate professor in the division of Cardiology at the Southwestern Medical Center. Along with co-author Garth Gilmore, Snell wrote "Use It or Lose It" which according to the book's website is "the outcome of 30 years of study and practice of preventiono of premature degenerative diseases. The book provides the rationale for and strategies to maintain physical and mental independence throughout one's life span. In other words we offer keys to successful ageing for men and women." Both authors wrote were also responsible for Snell's autobiography, No Bugles, No Drums, which was written in 1965. You can find a copy of this classic book at this link.

Next runner will be posted on Friday.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Herb Elliott, Legendary Runner #7

I have to say, it's been very enjoyable researching the accomplishments of these runners. While I do remember reading about them in my younger days, I have found lots of new facts, which only reaffirmed my respect for all the all time greats.

Runner #7 was part of the international scene a very brief time. He finished his career undefeated in over 40 races as a senior runner. He retired at the age of 22 after running one of the most dominating 1500 meter races in Olympic history (pictured to the left courtesy of www.britannica.com). He ran 17 sub 4 minute miles, which at the time (late 50s/early 60s), was quite an accomplishment. His name was Herb Elliott. He will go down in history as one of the greatest milers (middle distance runners) of all time.

In his youth, Elliott participated in Hockey, Australian Rules Football, Rowing, Rifle Shooting, Cross Country and Athletics (Track and Field). He continued to participate in many sports, even during his college years. During that time, he met his soon to be legendary coach, Percy Cerutty, who promised Elliott that "within two years, you will run a mile in four minutes." While supremely talented in running, Elliott didn't turn his total focus to the sport until he watched the 1956 Olympics in his homeland. Elliott claims that watching Vladimir Kuts dominating efforts over Gordon Pirie in the 5000 and 10000 meter races inspired him to become Cerutty's protege.

Cerutty followed a philosophy that he termed "stotanism" which was due to his admiration for the Spartans. Elliott trained with him during the weekends in Portsea were he followed this philosophy. There, Elliott entrenched himself completely with the beautiful natural surroundings by the sea. He ran with Cerutty up and down sand dunes (seen to the right courtesy of www.menziesera) as well as learn about the values of eating healthy and weight lifting.

Elliott lowered Derek Ibbotson's mile record of 3:57.2 to 3:54.5 in 1958. Elliott also set two 1500 records, 3:36.0 in 1958 and 3:35.6 in his 1960 Olympic victory. His margin of victory in the race was 20 meters, which was then, the largest in Olympic history. Elliott's time in the '60 Olympics would have also won the 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympic 1500 meter finals. Considering the surface of the race and his age at the time of the effort only adds to the impressive effort by the great Aussie.

Just as quickly that he emerged as a world-class runner, Elliott retired from Track. It would be unheard of now for a runner of his caliber to call it a career at 22. One has to wonder what he could have accomplished with just a few more years of competition.

To learn more about the great runner and his coach, try one of the following books.



Runner #6 will be posted next..

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Paavo Nurmi, Legendary Runner #8

The #8 runner on my list was the next of the "Flying Finn", Paavo Nurmi. He would go on to surpass Hannes Kolehmainen in terms of stature and accomplishments, earning legendary status. To this day, Nurmi still holds the record for most medals won by a Track and Field athlete as he amassed a total of 12 medals, 9 of them gold. This might be a record that will never be surpassed.

Nurmi (Nurmi, Paavo. [Photograph]. Retrieved August 16, 2007, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/ebc/art-88010) made his debut in the 1920 Olympics, winning the 10000 meters and the cross country individual and team gold medals. He also finished 2nd. in the 5000 meters to Frenchman Joseph Guillemot, which marked his only defeat in the Olympics to a foreign runner. This defeat is reported to have started his routine of carrying a stopwatch in this hand to improve his race pace tactics.

The 1924 Olympics turned out to be his most successful and memorable of his career. He won three gold medals in the cross country events (two team and one individual). This was the last Olympics for the cross country events as only 15 of 38 competitors finished the longer xc event in the brutal Parisian heat. In the same Olympiad, Nurmi also won the 1500m. and 5000m. races with less than an hour break between the two events. In total, Nurmi ran 7 races in 6 days, winning each event. It's conceivable that Nurmi could have run and won the 10000 meters as well but was held out of the race by Finnish team officials. They divided up the races between their two star runners, Nurmi and Ville Ritola.

In 1925, Nurmi toured the United States running a staggering 55 races, winning 53 of them. With most of the races run indoors, Nurmi established many new world records in standard and rare distances. The 29 records that were broken are considered unofficial since the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) did not approve indoor records until 1987. He was also a great ambassador of the sport running in several exhibitions at schools and military barracks. The grueling schedule did take it's toll on Nurmi (picture courtesy of www.davidstuff.com) as he was never quite the same runner after the trip.

Nurmi continued his record haul of medals at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam with his last gold medal in the 10000 meters. He finished 2nd. to his countrymen in the 5000m. and 3000m. steeplechase races. This would sadly turn out to be Nurmi's last Olympics as he was deemed a professional by the IAAF before the 1932 Olympics.

At the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Nurmi was given the honor of running in front of 70,000 adoring fans as he carried the Olympic torch into the stadium.

Runner #7 will be posted tomorrow...

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Gunder Hägg/Arne Andersson, Legendary Runner(s) #9


Before moving forward to my #9 runner, I want to clarify something. Some of you will wonder why some of the following runners are not mentioned. You will not see John Walker (first man to break 3:50 in the mile AND to achieve 100 sub 4 minute miles), Sebastian Coe (2 time Olympic 1500 meter gold medalist as well as longtime 800m. record holder), Said Aouita (first man to break 13 minutes in the 5K, gold medalist in the 1984 Olympic 5K and probably the runner with the greatest range of talent), Hicham El Gharrouj (current mile world record holder, 1500/5000 gold medalist in 2004 Olympics), Haile Gebreselassie (considered by many as the greatest of them all) or any of the current champion runners. While all those runners do hold their own place in history, I want to make sure that runners that laid the groundwork before them will not be forgotten.

The next runner or runners in this case, come in at #9. The reason I have two of them is that it's hard to mention one without the other. Pictured to the left (courtesy of http://www.lotten.se) is Arne Andersson (in 2nd.) and Gunder Hägg (leading) who both hailed from Sweden. They brought out the best in each other and together they were able to lower the mile world record 6 times (3 each). They are forgotten in history because they were never able to make their impact in the Olympics due to World War II.

On August 28th, 1937, Britain's Sydney Wooderson broke the mile world record running 4:06.4. That record stood until the Swedes started their assault in 1942. Hägg was the first to strike as he lowered the world record to 4:06.2 on July 1, 1942 only to have his record tied 9 days later by Andersson. Over the next two years, they each lowered the record twice with Hägg achieving the last mark of 4:01.4 on July 17, 1945. Hägg and his world record stood for 8 years and 293 days which is the record for the longest standing mile record. Hägg was also the mile record holder when Dr. Roger Bannister finally broke the 4 minute barrier on May 6, 1954.

Both Andersson and Hägg each won the Svenska Dagbladet Gold Medal. This award is given annually "for the most significant Swedish sports achievement of the year". Hägg won this award in 1942 with Anderson winning his the following year. In 1946, both runners were branded as professionals which barred them from competition and the chase to break the 4 minute mile. As a final tribute to Hägg, who passed away in 2004, Bannister did credit with using his training methods to help him with his achievement.


#8 will be up next...

Hannes Kolehmainen, Legendary Runner #10

After completing a promising number of laps in the 12-minute test, I was encouraged to join the Track and Field team, during my freshman year in high school. Since I was not fleet of foot (and a mighty 85 lbs. to boot), there was no question as to what would be my events. Being a sports history buff, I quickly started searching about information on past distance runners. I remember finding an Olympic history book at a garage sale that started it all. Since this was the mid 80s, no internet, no google or wikipedia, my search continued at the local library. It was pretty clear after reading many books, several runners stood out from the rest and really had an impact on what the sport is today.

So without further adieu, here are my most influential, legendary runners from the past starting with #10.

In the Olympics between 1912 to 1936, the middle and long distance events where dominated by the "Flying Finns" and Hannes Kolehmainen was the first Finnish runner to make an impact. During the 1912 Olympics, Hannes won gold medals in the 5000, 10000 and the now discontinued cross country event (individual). He also won a silver medal in the cross country team competition which was won by a trio of American runners. Of note is that the Russian flag was raised for each of his victories as Finland was still part of Russia at the time.

His narrow 5000 meter victory, pictured above (courtesy of http://www.as.com), was in world record time of 14:36.6 and the first time a runner had broken the 15 minute barrier. Hannes turned his attention to road racing as he took part in the 1917 Boston Marathon, finishing 4th. With no Olympics in 1916, due to World War I, Hannes had to wait several more years to win his last gold medal in the 1920 Olympic marathon. Hannes went on to also set world records in the 25km. and 30km. races. His success lead to the Finns raking in a tally of 16 gold medals between the '20 to '36 Olympics.

Photo courtesy of www.olympic.org


His last shining moment was in 1952 when he was given the honor of lighting the Olympic flame in his homeland. The runner to hand him the torch? He will be heard from soon.

#9 will be up next...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

To Victory (Amazing Video...MUST SEE)

University of California Berkeley might strike it rich...

when it comes to it's search for a new Cross Country and Track and Field Coach. Read what school Berkeley Athletic Director Sandy Barbour contacted to speak to their coach:

UW sports: Two coaches leaving for California?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Coach's Surveys from '87, '88 and '90 State XC Meets

Here is a trio of coaching surveys that were taken during the state cross country meets in the late 80s and 1990 courtesy of Hank Lawson's Lynbrook HS Website. The surveys include some of the top teams in CA with lots of interesting insights from each respective coach regarding their team's summer and season training.

Enjoy.

1987 Coach's Survey
1988 Coach's Survey
1990 Coach's Survey

More to come when I have a little more time...

1996 vs 2007 CA Cross Country State Meets

Once I was in the midst of the previous post and comparing the 1987 (first) state meet to last year's meet, it was quickly evident that it's not a very good comparison. The divisions did not line up at all. I think a better comparison would be the 1996 meet (first year with five divisions) to last year's meet. I only go down to 6 places but it's very clear that the depth of the current meet is incredible. Times that won plaques in the past now might not place a team in the top 10. What some feared to be the watering down of the meet with the addition of two divisions has not been the case at all. It's a credit to the hard work being put forth by the current runners during the summer and season as well as the constant search of a better season plan by many coaches.

BOYS
Division I (1996)...................Division I (2006)
1) Peninsula............81:44...........1) Trabuco Hills........77:55
2) Poway.................82:26...........2) Royal....................78:12
3) Nevada Union.....82:32...........3) Davis Sr.................79:09
4) Poly-Long Beach.82:34...........4) El Toro..................79:42
5) Mt. Carmel..........82:37...........5) Upland..................79:50
6) Del Campo...........82:39..........6) Madera.................80:10
Division II (1996)..................Division II (2006)
1) De La Salle...........81:03..........1) Jesuit......................79:11
2) Santa Margarita...82:05..........2) Ventura..................80:29
3) Santa Ana.............82:01..........3) St. John Bosco........81:09
4) Jesuit....................82:15..........4) Clovis.....................80:38
5) Hemet...................82:15..........5) Petaluma................82:17
6) Huntington Beach.82:39..........6) Oak Ridge..............82:24
Division III (1996)..................Division III (2006)
1) St. Ignatius..........82:47............1) Barstow.................80:32
2) Tustin..................82:50...........2) Del Campo............82:13
3) Katella.................83:09...........3) Margarita.............82:10
4) St. Francis MV.....84:09...........4) Palos Verdes.........82:12
5) Bosco Tech..........84:32............5) Campolindo..........82:54
6) Barstow...............84:15............6) St. Ignatius...........82:51
Division IV (1996)...................Division IV (2006)
1) Corona del Mar..84:07..............1) Big Bear.................80:40
2) Granada.............84:08.............2) Laguna Beach........83:00
3) Nordhoff............83:39.............3) Avenal....................84:11
4) Half Moon Bay....84:29............4) McFarland..............84:36
5) Costa Mesa.........84:43.............5) St. Mary's Col..........84:30
6) West Valley.........85:03............6) Piedmont.................84:53
Division V(1996)....................Division V (2006)
1) McFarland...........81:46............1) Woodcrest Christian.82:36
2) Holtville...............85:55...........2) College Prep.............84:35
3) St. Bonaventure....86:04..........3) Flintridge Prep..........85:54
4) Oak Park..............86:10..........4) SF University.............85:58
5) Maranatha............86:29..........5) Mt. Shasta................86:48
6) St. Mary's Berk......87:27..........6) Chadwick.................87:07

GIRLS
Division I (1996)...................Division I (2006)
1) Clovis...................95:48.........1) Saugus....................93:06
2) Ayala....................96:10.........2) Torrey Pines............94:42
3) Clovis West...........96:49.........3) Buchanan................94:59
4) Fallbrook..............96:54.........4) Cresenta Valley.......95:14
5) Esperenza.............97:11...........5) Fountain Valley......95:07
6) Irvine....................97:48.........6) Davis Sr..................95:57
Division II (1996)..................Division II (2006)
1) Yucaipa.................94:13.........1) Carondelet...............94:18
2) Clayton Valley.......96:08........2) Newport Harbor.......95:01
3) Dana Hills.............96:46.......3) Ayala........................95:10
4) Ventura................97:29........4) Clovis......................95:44
5) Valhalla................97:44........5) University City.........95:52
6) Amador Valley......98:30........6) Los Gatos................96:26
Division III (1996)................Division III (2006)
1) Carondelet...........95:52..........1) CDM........................93:24
2) El Modena.............98:08.......2) Oak Park.................96:04
3) Placer....................98:27.......3) Maria Carrillo..........97:41
4) Santana................98:33........4) Del Oro...................98:08
5) St. Lucy's..............98:56........5) Placer......................98:46
6) San Gorgonio........99:15........6) Rim of the World.....99:02
Division IV (1996)...............Division IV (2006)
1) Norhoff................95:59.......1) Marlborough............96:53
2) La Canada............96:06......2) Carmel.....................99:32
3) Campolindo.........98:40......3) Bret Harte................100:47
4) Central Valley.....102:29......4) Maranatha...............101:01
5) Cathedral City.....103:16......5) Piedmont.................102:21
6) Corona del Mar....103:52.....6) Colfax......................101:33
Division V (1996)................Division V (2006)
1) SF University.......97:28........1) Mt. Shasta.................97:43
2) Orange Lutheran..102:27......2) Chadwick.................100:01
3) McFarland............102:56.....3) Woodcrest Christian..100:30
4) St. Joseph............104:41......4) CSU..........................100:58
5) La Salle...............106:30.......5) SF University.............102:33
6) Piedmont............106:34.......6) Flintridge Prep..........103:23

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

1987 vs 2007 CA Cross Country State Meets

Below is a comparison of the CA XC state meet in 1987 to last year's meet. I am not trying to prove anything by the numbers below. I just thought it would be interesting to compare the two meets and what changes have taken place in the past 20 years.

There are some differences that need to be pointed before you peek at the data. One is that in 1987 there were only three divisions compared to the current five. Each race had less competitors as well (Comparisons below). The divisions don't truly align so I listed divisions IV and V for last year's meet to get a better perspective.

To give you an idea of the schools that competed in 1987, here are the divisional breakdowns for that year. In parenthesis, I added the approximate divisions that would equate to this year's meet.
Division I-1601 and above (Div I and II combined)
Division II-1600-801 (Division III and partial IV)
Division III-800 and below (Partial IV and V)

Below are the amounts of complete teams at each meet followed by number of individuals in each race.
1987.........................2006
Div I-B(18)-G(18)...........Div I-B(23)-G(23)
Div II-B(17)-G(17)..........Div II-B(22)-G(23)
Div III-B(17)-G(17).........Div III-B(24)-G(23)

1987.........................2006
Div I-B(156)-G(157)........Div I-B(201)-G(201)
Div II-B(149)-G(144)......Div II-B(185)-G(190)
Div III-B(150)-G(140).....Div III-B(200)-G(191)

BOYS
Division I (1987).................Division I (2006)
1) Arroyo (el Monte).78:23........1) Trabuco Hills......77:55
2) Dana Hills.........80:19...........2) Royal..................78:12
3) Bellarmine.........80:35..........3) Davis Sr...............79:09
4) Camarrillo.........80:49..........4) El Toro................79:42
5) Palos Verdes.......80:22..........5) Upland................79:50
6) Upland...............81:03..........6) Madera...............80:10
Division II (1987)................Division II (2006)
1) Walnut...............79:16.........1) Jesuit....................79:11
2) Corona del Mar.....80:26......2) Ventura................80:29
3) Gunn.................83:02..........3) St. John Bosco.....81:09
4) El Camino..........83:41..........4) Clovis...................80:38
5) Woodbridge.......84:06.........5) Petaluma..............82:17
6) Newport............83:04..........6) Oak Ridge............82:24
Division III (1987)................Division III (2006)
1) McFarland........84:31............1) Barstow...............80:32
2) RLS...................86:41...........2) Del Campo..........82:13
3) Yreka...............86:19.............3) Margarita...........82:10
4) Salesian...........86:50.............4) Palos Verdes.......82:12
5) Bear River........86:13..............5) Campolindo........82:54
6) Maranatha........86:39............6) St. Ignatius.........82:51

Division IV (2006)
1) Big Bear......................80:40
2) Laguna Beach.............83:00
3) Avenal........................84:11
4) McFarland..................84:36
5) St. Mary's Col..............84:30
6) Piedmont....................84:53
Division V (2006)
1) Woodcrest Christian.....82:36
2) College Prep................84:35
3) Flintridge Prep.............85:54
4) SF University................85:58
5) Mt. Shasta...................86:48
6) Chadwick....................87:07


GIRLS
Division I (1987).................Division I (2006)
1) Palos Verdes.........94:37.........1) Saugus...............93:06
2) Aguara.................95:23........2) Torrey Pines.......94:42
3) Hesperia..............94:44........3) Buchanan...........94:59
4) Montebello..........96:55........4) Cresenta Valley....95:14
5) Arroyo Grande.....99:48........5) Fountain Valley....95:07
6) Poway..................100:19.......6) Davis Sr...............95:57
Division II (1987)................Division II (2006)
1) Newport Harbor....98:48.......1) Carondelet..........94:18
2) Woodbridge..........99:58.......2) Newport Harbor.95:01
3) Mitty.....................100:45.....3) Ayala..................95:10
4) South Hills............100:50.....4) Clovis..................95:44
5) Nordhoff...............102:15......5) University City.....95:52
6) Miramonte.............103:39.....6) Los Gatos............96:26
Division III (1987)................Division III (2006)
1) Maranatha..............101:13.....1) CDM...................93:24
2) SF University...........101:34...2) Oak Park..............96:04
3) Coronado...............101:54.....3) Maria Carrillo......97:41
4) St. Joseph's.............103:15....4) Del Oro................98:08
5) Bret Harte...............105:29....5) Placer..................98:46
6) Yreka......................105:53....6) Rim of the World.99:02
Division IV (2006)
1) Marlborough............96:53
2) Carmel.....................99:32
3) Bret Harte................100:47
4) Maranatha................101:01
5) Piedmont..................102:21
6) Colfax.......................101:33
Division V (2006)
1) Mt. Shasta..................97:43
2) Chadwick....................100:01
3) Woodcrest Christian....100:30
4) CSU.............................100:58
5) SF University................102:33
6) Flintridge Prep..............103:23


Any thoughts after viewing the preceding statistics?

Other comparisons on the way.