Bekel impresses...kind of

In the Prefontaine meet last year, the winning time for the 10k was near the 26:40 clip. The race came down to a brawl between Mo Farah of the UK, and some of the best runners out of Ethiopia, Kenya, and the United States. While this year’s installment did take a hit when Olympic Champ Farah decided to drop out, but speak of Bekele wanting to hit the first 5k in 13:18 gave distance fans a lot to look forward to. Though the race was good, with all the hype, and the ridiculous times from last year, the meet was set up to disappoint.

 

While some of the blame needs to be placed on the rabbits faltering from the initial decided pace, the fact remains that Bekele did not run 13:18 5k pace for his 10k. He did, however, put on an impressive show to outkick young gun Imane Merga of Ethiopia to win the 2013 Pre Classic in a time of 27:12:08.

 

Pacers Degefa Deriba, Kidane Tadasse, and Leonard Korir were supposed to take the pace out at 13:18, in hopes of securing a winning time around 26:50. This was to appease distance fans, as well as give Bekele a shot at making the Ethiopian world championship team. At 3k, the pace was slow around 8:05:71, and the 5k was reached in 13:33:51. 12 competitors were still in contention at this point.

 

The race became interesting on the final lap. At the bell Bekele took over the leading duties and was quickly followed by Imane Merga. Merga is known for his closing speed, and has youth on his side. With 200m left to go the race was up to just two men. Bekele’s final 100m was enough to give him a small gap over his countryman, closing his final 400m in around 55 seconds.

 

Ethiopians went 1-2-3, with Abera Kuma coming in 3rd in 27:13:10. The first non-African finisher was Mohammed Ahmed of Canada. Ahmed placed 13th in a time of 27:50. He is known for being a standout at Wisconsin, and a top-5 NCAA Cross Country finisher. No Americans ran in this race.

 

While the pace was disappointing, and the pacers failed at their jobs, seeing Bekele finish ahead of the pack is always a treat. Will his training and pedigree allow him to be on the World’s team this summer in Moscow? If so, does he have what it takes to battle it out with Mo Farah for the gold?

A whole lotta distance action in Track Town USA

The 2013 installment of the Diamond League race in Eugene, Oregon is set to be a huge treat for distance fans. Much like last year’s installment (which saw more than a handful of men break 27 minutes for the 10k) the 10k, 5k, international and Bowerman mile races are all stacked. With the 10k being held on Friday night, and also being free for anyone to come, Track Town USA is making this meet a must see for any distant running fans.

 

The Diamond League meet will start out hot with a 1 k this Friday headlined by World Record Holder Kenenisa Bekele. Though the Ethiopian is still on the comeback from injury, his 26:17:53 WR has never been matched. He will be joined in the field by younger brother, and reigning Olympic Bronze Medalist, Tariku Bekele, along with 5 other sub-27 minute runners. The pace is supposed to go out at around 13:20 for 5k.

 

One of the biggest disappoints of the meet was hearing Olympic Gold Medalist Mo Farah was dropping out of the 10k. Though this was a hit, Farah will re-enter in the 5k to battle it out with Galen Rupp and Bernard Lagat. The raced will also feature Americans Chris Derrick and, Garrett Heath, and Dathan Ritzenhein. Ibrahim Jeilan (World Championship silver medalist) of Ethiopia and Isiah Koech of Kenya (12:48 5k runner) will also be in the field.

 

The final event of the meet will be, as always, the Bowerman Mile. Honoring the man who made Oregon known as Track Town USA, the Bowerman Mile is always  stacked. In previous years it has housed World Leading times, as well as the still standing American Record, and this year it seems to be poised to do the same. The field is headlined by Asbel Kiprop of Kenyan, who has been unstoppable in 2013. He will be facing off against countrymen Nixon Chepseba and Silas Kplagat, as well as Americans Leo Manzano and Matthew Centrowitz. This race should not disappoint. Though both have been struggling this year, Centrowitz placed 3rd in the 2011 World Championships, while Manzano won the Silver medal last summer at the Olympics. Will anyone in the field be able to compete with the red hot Kiprop?

 

Tune into the race live, this Friday on NBC sports, or through Letsrun for a live internet stream. For more information on heats, start times, and entries, visit the Diamond League website.

A glimmer of hope admist a tragedy

Runners finish final mile of Boston Marathon

When the bomb blasts went off around the 4-hour mark of the Boston Marathon, it seemed as if the world went silent. I know for myself, half a world away, hearing the news about Boston was devastating. International sporting events such as this are created to unite people of all cultures and look past our physical boundaries. People are united through hard work, strength, and competition, and regardless of where they come from, they have the same chance to compete as every other competitor toeing the line with them. The bomb blasts that hit the Boston finish were heard around the world, and while the mourning still hasn’t ceased for the victims, the strength showed by Boston and the world hasn’t ceased either.

                                           

This week, under the moniker of OneRun, thousands of Boston runners who didn’t finish the marathon, due to the blasts, took to the streets. Armed with 3 American flags and 1 Chinese flag to honor the victims, the masses finished the final mile of the marathon in an attempt to reclaim the event, and honor those who were affected.  The group ran together, hoisting the slogan “We’ll get our finish.” Along with the group in Boston, 35 other runners of the Boston Marathon will be given the opportunity to have a ceremonial finish in Indiana at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.

 

According to Alain Ferry, the event organizer of the run, “It was very emotional to run down this street and see all the people cheering.” OneRun spokeswoman and founder told the media that this event was held to honor “...the victims and emergency service personnel who helped in the aftermath of April 15.” She also stated that, “For runners who didn’t get the chance to finish the marathon, this is the chance for them to experience the final mile that was taken away from them.” 

 

The tragedy that occurred at the Boston Marathon was the act of the Tsarnaev brothers, who are Chechnya nationals. While one brother was killed in a shootout with police, the other brother, Dzhokhar, was captured and remains in custody. According to Dzhokar, his senseless act of violence was “retribution for the US-led wars in Iraq and Afgahistan, and the victims were collateral damage.”

 

While the scene in the aftermath of the April 15th bombing in Boston was horrific, the OneRun event brought closure for many close to the event. According to Ferry, “There were a lot of tears, and I can feel in my throat that there are going to be more. This was a scab for everyone that was not healing.”

Learning from the best runner with a drinking habit

As we mark the approaching end of the NCAA season, it comes a time of year that we move on to new competitions. While most runners will end their season and take a break after championships, some runners will take on just one more feat of strength. Though it isn’t a sanctioned race, it is a race that is a thing of legend. For those crazy enough (and of age), the end of the competitive running season means one thing; it is time for the Beer Mile.

We all know the Beer Mile is a race not for the faint of heart. As a refesher, what the Beer Mile consists of is 4 beers and 4 laps. Runners must chug one beer before beginning to run each lap. A runner can’t start running until their beer is finished, and to make an official time, said beer must be at least 12 ounces and 5% ABV. There are no rules about getting sick while running, and though there isn’t an official Beer Mile anywhere in the world, there is an official website.

For those gearing up to run the Beer Mile in the coming weeks, there are a few things one can do to increase their chance of hitting a new PR. While your best drinking buddy may not be a good runner, World Record holder in the Beer Mile, Josh Harris, is. According to a recent interview with the hard drinking and heavy training Tasmania, there are some keys to running a great Beer Mile. While his list of ten is quite precise, some of his best tips are, “Choose a good beer, keep a little bit in reserve over the first 3 laps, make sure your beer is optimum temperature,” and of course, the fan favorite, “ Open a warm down beer as you cross the line.”

 

Though his true talent may lie with the Beer Mile, Josh Harris is no running slouch. Harris runs around 160 km a week, and has PRs of 1:54:8 for the 800m, 3:51:2 for the 1500m, and 14:28:2 for the 5000m. He is the 5-time 5000 m champion of Tasmania, and is currently training for his first full marathon.

 

If you are going to indulge in the Beer Mile, make sure you are up for the challenge. Though the Beer Mile is a great way to indulge in celebrations after a long, hard season, drinking and running can be dangerous. Make sure you have a DD, be prepared to throw up, and make sure you and your teammates are looking out for one another!

Interesting runs keep your body and mind engaged

The toughest bodies are the ones who get curveballs thrown at them

As someone who has run pretty consistently for over a decade now, I’ve learned a thing or two about running. While I know now that running is quite the addiction, there are days, in fact, that I don’t want to run. When I’m in certain places that don’t seem aesthetically pleasing, when it’s too cold, when it’s too hot, when I’ve maybe had too much fun; these are occasions when my need to run can be over sought by my need to be lazy and make excuses. While I was having one of these days after recovering from a long mountain trek, I realized that there is more to running the drudging through a simple, mindless jog.

Having not been training for a while, running has become that of a hobby. While some days it is easy to get up and go running, other days it seems like a burden. Though my legs still burned from hiking a few days prior, while “relaxing,” in Senggigi on the island of Lombok in Indonesia, I decided it was time to go on a run.

I had partaken in some beautiful runs in the less dense southern area of the island, but although Senggigi may be small, it is crowded and hot. On top of that, the roads seemed to all be paved, not linking with smaller side roads made of dirt. These elements, on top of the fatigue, made this run a struggle.

While most of us can pull off forcing ourselves through a monotonous run a few times a week if necessary, what this surprisingly beautiful run in Lombok reminded of is that changing scenery, and giving yourself something to look forward to, helps training. What started out as a hopeful five miles turned quickly into eight as I found a hidden trail that led to a little know trail to a cave waterfall. The path turned form pavement to dirt, and the rolling hills and converge from the sun were an unexpected push to help me run longer and harder.

While I’m not saying every day has to be done on a beautiful trail, giving yourself something to look forward to while running helps you train harder. Those who run the same trail over and over can easily become stagnant, and get stuck in a routine. The toughest bodies are the ones who get curveballs thrown at them. Adding some spice to your run not only fosters enthusiasm to train, it also gives you the push you need to extend the training even further.  

Can Chris Solinksy be a world-class runner again?

Those in the distance world better watch out

At one point, Chris Solinsky was poised as one of the toughest athletes not only in the United States, but also in the world. Being engaged in a sport that normally sees winners of east African decent, Solinsky never backed down from a race, and put America back on the map for distance running.

In races that typically saw Ethiopians and Kenyans battling it out, Solinsky broke up the monotony, and made other American runners believe they could mix it up with the Africans. Solinsky was a force to be reckoned with, that is, until he tore his hamstring in 2011.

After having a string of phenomenal seasons, Chris Solinsky came face to face with one of the largest setbacks of his career. In the middle of an Olympic year, Chris Solinsky’s heavy mileage and hectic workouts ended up being too much for his body to handle. His season ended abruptly, and for the last few years, Sol has been trying to work his way back to the fitness that earned him sub-13 5K and sub-27 10K PRs.

While it may have taken time, it looks as though Sol is well on the way to recovery, and beginning to get in shape for a run at a World Championship team spot this summer. While this may be a stretch, this is one of the toughest men in distance running we are talking about. While Sol’s first race back to competition wasn’t incredibly telling of fitness (an 8:05 3K indoors) his next crack at racing was a huge leap in the right direction.

In a stacked field at the Stanford Invitational Meet, Solinsky ran a 13:23 5K. While this is nearly 30 seconds off of his PR, 13:23 is a massive improvement on an 8:05 3k. Now, with a solid race under his belt, and a renewed sense of confidence, Solinksy will try and hit the “A” standard of 13:15 at a meet in Occidental, California in the end of May.

While winning races isn’t new for Solinksy, getting injured is. Sol’s hamstring tear is one of the only major injuries the 28-year-old has experienced in his career. The injury was a result of an increase in mileage, nearing the 150 miles per week mark. While his return to racing form is evident, the question remains whether or not Chris Solinsky will be able to return to world-class form? If his progression this season so far is any indicator, those in the distance world better watch out.   

Surprisingly good runs from Kuta in Lombok, Indonesia

Where water buffalo are the designated crossing guards

I didn’t expect my morning jog in Kuta, on the island of Lombok in Indonesia, to be all that amazing. In fact, with the heavy scooter traffic, crazy fumes, and people trying to sell you things on the street, I was ready to just tough one out for the sake of getting in a run. While my run was definitely a tough one, the paths in and out of Kuta are great for any body looking to get in a few miles.

I started my run at the curve where the main road intersects with the beach. Most tourists end up spending their time in this area, with many of the restaurants, hotels, and bars are found here. With this normally being a place that sees a lot of traffic, leaving my guesthouse at 7:30 a.m. actually saw me running on the road by myself.

What was interesting about this was trying to navigate the dirt path next to the road. The path was really bumpy, and with the government just putting in the paved road in the last two years, it gave a good look into how Kuta looked before tourism.

After making may way out of Kuta proper, I found myself edging on the beach side of the road on a small path covered by overgrowth. While the path started out following the road, it quickly turned away from the street, making its way around a lagoon near the ocean.

The path was originally paved, but turned to light brown dust and sand, and I shared it with wildlife heading to water for a morning drink. Water buffalo were the designated crossing guards, and while I tried to edge past them, I ended up running in the thorny bushes for a few meters to avoid their sharp horns.

As the path returned to hugging the street, it passed by the Royal Resort, then lead to the most rickety bridge I’d ever run over in my life. The bridge was made out of wood, boasting gaps larger than my size 11 trainers.

The gaps were one thing, but the incomplete cross bars left parts of the bridge lifting up like a teeter-totter, forcing me to oscillate between speeds to not fall off the structure. The reward, though, was a small hill incline to a seaside cliff overlooking all of Kuta and the surrounding area, which also worked as a natural turning point.

While the runs in Kuta are phenomenal, the heat is not. Make sure if you are running in Kuta area, or Indonesia for that matter, to dress appropriately, drink lots of water and lather on the sunscreen. Burns and dehydration are never very fun. 

Running in paradise on Gili Trawagan

Where motorized vehicles, police and responsibility don’t exist

Running in a beach destination isn’t always the easiest thing to do. In fact, running while on vacation or traveling isn’t the easiest thing to do. While being near the ocean, there are a myriad of things that can keep you from running. Be it the hot weather, crazy humidity, fruity drinks or overall lack of desire to do anything but bask in the sun. A good run is always necessary, though. This was exactly what I remembered when running around Gili Trawagan in Indonesia.

Located off of the big island of Lombok, the Gili Islands are known as a hedonistic paradise where motorized vehicles, police and responsibility don’t exist. With plenty of sand and sun to go around, travelers from around the world have begun to discover how great a trip to one of the three islands can be. For me, my time spent on Gili Trawangan reminded me how great a run in a beach paradise can be.

While the humidity in Southeast Asia can be oppressive, running in Gili Trawangan is phenomenal. For my run, I started out in the midst of the main harbor, right outside of my guesthouse. The main harbor area, and the next 1000m to either the east or west, are hectic. Shops, travelers, horse drawn carriages and bikes run the streets, so keeping up a good clip is rough. I found myself weaving in and out just trying to stay on the path. After the shops stop though, is where the fun begins.

Heading east, the path that started out as a mix of dirt and concrete turned into packed sand. The hustle and bustle of the harbor transforms into sporadic resorts and bars. The view of the ocean is only impeded by small patches of overgrowth, following you with each step.

With the sun setting, I had a magnificent glimpse of what Gili has to offer during the dusk. Though this was fantastic, before I knew it (after about two miles), I was once again back to the craziness of the harbor. The western end, though, was less packed, but right as I hit the night market area, the roads were crowded again.

Though for about a quarter of the run I was busy dodging onlookers, running on Gili Trawagan was a dream. The sunset is immaculate (as well as the sunrise for early morning runners), and the scenery is fantastic. Along with this, the entirety of the outside of the island is one soft path, and much of it is covered from the sun. Gili Trawagan is a great place to vacation, but even more so for runners.

The London Marathon 2013

Results from one of the world's largest marathons

After the devastation that was the Boston Marathon, runners and fans alike needed a win in the competitive distance running world. Known as the biggest stage in the realm of marathoning, London had the capacity to fill that void. Fill that void, in fact, is exactly what the 2013 installment of the race did.

Men’s Race

With some of the biggest names in the sport toeing the line, fans and athletes alike were expecting some fast times. There had been pre-race talk of a course record, and even a world record attempt, so fans were keeping a close eye on the mile pace through the entire race.

Much to the fans' excitement, the men’s race went out in blistering fashion. With the lead pack hitting their 3rd mile in 4:28, the initial 5K mark was reached in 14:26. After this, the leaders continued cruising at an insanely fast clip, hitting 10 miles in 46:56 and the halfway point in 61:34. This brought the lead back through in world record pace, equating to under 2:03:30 finishing time.

Though world record pace continued until the 30K mark, fatigue crept in shortly after. Nearing the 35K mark, Stanley Biwott looked as if the race was in the bag, until he hit the wall hard, fading to 8th, and relinquishing the lead to course record holder and Kenyan, Emmanuel Mutai. This lead, though more convincing, came to a close when fatigue led Mutai to run his final three miles in over five-minute pace. Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia profited on this fatigue (and at one point being nearly a minute behind the lead pack), winning in a time of 2:06:04. He was followed by Mutai in 2:06:34 and Ayele Abshero of Ethipoia in 2:06:57. Patrick Rizzo was the first American in 2:16:05 and 12th place.

Women’s Race

While the men’s race will be known for fast times leading to big fades, the women’s race will be remembered by Olympic Champion Tiki Galana of Ethiopia being crashed into by wheel chair racer Josh Cassidy around the 15K mark. Though neither were injured, both went down hard and were affected for the rest of the race.  

From the 20 to 25K mark, the pace dropped to a 16:02 5K. This is smoking fast for the women’s race, and dropped the lead pack to four people. After a huge surge around mile 21, Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya took a commanding lead and never lost it. After finishing second in the London Olympics, she went on to win the 2013 marathon in a time of 2:20:15. She was followed by countrywoman Edna Kiplagat in 2:21:32 and Yukiko Akaba of Japan in 2:24:32.

The show still went on

Boston Marathon recap and results

It is hard to write an analysis of a race that was marred by tragedy, but the fact is, the race was run. In my belief, the last thing that anyone would want is to let the culprits of senseless violence actually achieve their goal. In that notion, I think acknowledging those who worked hard to run this race, and will continue to run, is necessary. Below you will find a quick recap of the Boston Marathon Men’s and Women’s professional races.

Men’s Race

While there was a lot of pre-race talk about Americans putting in a tough effort this year, most experts knew the race was going to be won by one of the sub 2:05 east African runners. This, of course, is how the race went down.

When push came to shove, the men’s race came down to a three-way sprint between Ethiopians Lelisa Desisa and Gebregziabher Gebremariam, and Kenyan Micah Kogo. Though it was a tough battle up front, Desisa of Ethiopia ended up stealing the win in a time of 2:10:22, just five seconds in front of Kogo. Gebremariam ended up 3rd, only one second back from Kogo.

American Jason Hartmann continued to have strong showings at Boston coming in fourth with a time of 2:12:12, edging out Wesley Korir of Kenya. Though he wasn’t a factor for the win, Hartmann is quickly becoming one of the best marathoners in the U.S.  Fernando Cabada, who made a lot of noise before the race, ended up in 15th in a time of 2:18:23, behind Boulder Track Club coach (and seemingly ageless veteran) Lee Troop of Australia.

Women’s Race

What started out as a possible upset, turned into a tactful race that saw the chase pack reel in the leader. Ana Dulce Felix of Portugal took out the race strong, having a lead of over a minute deep into the race. This was the case at 35 km. Though it looked as if she would hold her ground, as the race began to conclude, Felix hit the wall and was caught by the pack. She ended up in 9th in a 2:30:05 showing. Rita Jeptoo of Kenya came out victorious with a time of 2:26:25, followed closely by Meseret Hailu of Ethiopia and Sharon Cherop of Kenya.

Shalane Flanagan was the first American, coming in 4th in 2:27:08. She was a contender throughout, but didn’t have the kick necessary to stay with the leaders in the sprint. Teammate Kara Goucher came in 6th in 2:28:09

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the senseless bombings in Boston. I hope for quick and painless recovery for all those involved. 

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