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Only one of the many reasons why professional track and field is so utterly irrelevant in a non-Olympic year is the lack of world-record attempts. World-record attempts are fine, but these days they are just about as futile as Rick Perry’s Presidential campaign (s).
Track—at least European track meets—used to be big stuff. Believe it or not, it was even on American television nearly every week. These days, such “sports” as demolition derby, curling and equestrian get way more TV exposure than track. I mean, the dead big mouth bass waved about in fishing tournaments are on ESPN more often than Leo Manzano.
Interest in track might be stirred a little if there were any meaningful world records left to chase, but there aren’t many. Nearly every world record is so far out of reach that no no drug-free mortal can even approach them. The last men’s track world records were both set two years ago (the 800 and 110 hurdles), but most of the rest of them were set 15-20 years ago, smack in the middle of the PED epidemic. (The skepticism about Usain Bolt remains.)
Women’s track is even more of a joke. There have been exactly three women’s world track record (5000, 3000 steeple and 400 hurdles) set in recent memory. All the others were set decades ago, including all the sprint and middle-distance records that go clear back to the ’80s. Some of these world records are so unattainable—think FloJuice’s 10.49 for the 100, set in the ’88 Olympic Trials—that a good guy collegiate runner would be hard pressed to beat that.
These women’s world records aren’t just tainted; they’re all filthy. Every record from FloJuice’s 100 and 200 to Marita Koch’s 400 (set in ’83) to Junxia Wang’s 10,000 (set in ’93) are dripping with drugs. The records are so meaningless that they have no worth. As great a runner as Sanya Richards-Ross is, her American record in the 400 (48.70) is more than a second slower than Koch’s 47.60. Richards-Ross couldn’t break that on a moped.
My solution is simple: Hit the delete key and erase all the world records. Start all over from scratch.
Make track records meaningful again. Create rivalries on the track with head-to-head duels (see Coe vs. Ovett vs. Scott), rather than artificially paced races in front of empty stadiums. Have actual world-record races again. Give the next generation of track runners—assuming there is a next generation—something tangible to shoot for.
If international track doesn’t do something soon about its artificial world records, the sport will shrivel up and die.
O Leonel (The Lion) Manzano had his absolute worst race of the year last Friday night at the Diamond League Meet in Brussels where he jogged home DFL in 15th place in a non-competitive 3:42.62. But he rebounded two nights later with a season best time of 1:46.12 in a second-place finish in a meet in Rieti, Italy. He’ll run a 1500 on Saturday night in Morocco in the Continental Cup. His coach – John Hayes – was with Leo for most of the second half of his European tour, but Hayes returned home this week after looking at European training facilities for Manzano next year.
O The Saucony Run for Good Foundation announced that Rogue’s Marathon High and the Marathon Kids program (which Rogue is also involved with) have been chosen to receive Run for Good Foundation grants. Over the next six months, both programs will be featured on the SauconyRun4Good app and if a certain community mileage goal is reached, Saucony will double its contribution.
O Flocasts, the Austin-based company which webcasts track, gymnastics, cross-country, swimming and wrestling meets, is going big time. The company, started in 2006 by Martin (a wrestler) and Mark Floreani (a former UT runner), completed an $8 million round of financing last week from two investors, according to a filing with Securities and Exchange Commission. The financing will allow Flocasts to expand its coverage to other niche sports.
O In this week’s baby announcement, my friends Jill Thomson and Tommer Arbuckle, part of the triumvirate at Austin Sports Therapy, are expecting their first child in early October.
O Brandon Marsh had his best race of the year last weekend at the Wisconsin IM in Madison where the Austin pro finished second (by 63 seconds) in 8:32:23 which would have broken the course record if it hadn’t been set by winner Daniel Bretscher. Marsh had the fastest swim of the day (47:52), a solid bike (4:46) and the second fastest marathon (2:51:06) to hold onto the runner up slot. Mike Minardi, who is coached by Marsh, finished fourth in his age group in 10:24:58 to snag a Kona spot. Mike Doherty of Austin also finished in 15:32.
O Chris Rains won his 35-39 age division in the regional Xterra Texas Trail Run Series last weekend which gets him into the Xterra Trail National Championships in Ogden, Utah on September 21.
O Several Rogue runners—mainly Amy Anderson’s training group–journeyed last weekend to Sioux Falls, South Dakota in search of fast times in cooler weather. Amanda Deen was the fastest Central Texan in 3:46:28. Alicia Isaac-Cure finished in 4:03, followed by Anna McGarity (4:05) and 79-year-old Dan Shuff of San Antonio (5:15).
O Mac Allen and Meg Hare went to the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania for a mostly trail marathon in sultry conditions. Meg, on her birthday run, finished in 3:42:37, while Mac ran 3:49:44. Mac is also running the St. George (Utah) Marathon next month.
O Another race which is abandoning Austin is the CASA Superhero 5-K. The fifth-year race is moving its September 21st race north to Cedar Park at the Cedar Park Center. For more info, go to casasuperherorun.com.
O Lest anyone forget, the first race in the 2014-15 Austin Fit Magazine Distance Challenge is just three days away. That’s right, the Run Free Texas 8-K in Cedar Park kicks off the Challenge on Sunday, September 14th, followed by the Run for the Water 10-Miler on October 26th.
O What I’m listening to this morning: “Pet Sounds” by the Beach Boys.
Have any news for me? If you have something, send it along to email@example.com.
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