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Page 2 of the Week That Was May 12- May 18, 2008
May 19, 2008

By LetsRun.com

Page 1 of the Week That Was (College Conference Action) Can be Found Here

We've got all the big professional running news of the week below.

adidas Track Classic
The 2008 adidas Track Classic took place on Saturday  and Sunday and was filled with hot talent once again. It's hard to ask for a better meet on US soil in late May. Fantastic field event action. Fantastic sprint action. Fantastic mid-d action and even fantastic distance action. When's the last time 3 guys ran 13:10 or better on US soil?

So a big time thumbs up to the people at Global Athletics for organizing the meet, to the people at adidas and Nutrlite and Visa for sponsoring it and for the athletes for putting on a great show. (Editor's note: Global advertised the meet on letsrun.com)

From a performance standpoint, the meet was great. If you want a recap of the 2008 adidas Track Classic, please see our recap from Monday here. So what more could you ask for?

How about some fans? We've got to give a major thumbs down to the people in LA only a little more than 3,000 fans in a metropolitan area of 12.9 million bothered to show up. Truly pathetic.

Now there is no reason for us to bemoan the lack of popularity of track and field or wonder what more the meet organizers could do. There is nothing that can be done. They've tried it all from local youth races to bringing in rappers (Little Bow Wow). The only option is move the meet out of LA.

Some people have a hard time understanding this but LA simply is not a good sports town at all. If you don't believe us, believe ESPN's Colin Cowherd. The weather is amazing year round in LA (well maybe not at the meet as it was reportedly 110 degrees on the track), people are outside doing things and they have tons and tons of options as to how to spend their dollars. If the NFL can't succeed in LA, then certainly track and field can't either.

adidas can pay to host the meet wherever they want and maybe they like the media exposure LA gives them, so if they want to keep holding in LA we aren't going to stop them but it would be a lot more exciting if the stands were full (It seems to us the real exposure is from the live ESPN tv audience). In our mind, the meet should go to a small city where it would be a big, big, deal as there aren't very many other options. In an Olympic year in a small town, this meet would be huge. Small town American is very patriotic and understands the Olympics We guarantee more than 3,000 people would show up (pver 6,000 showed up to watch the Big 12 meet in Boulder (more on that beow)).

The other thing about the meet that made us cringe was the television announcing and just the way the meet was presented on tv -a major thumbs down to the tv production yet again. For years, a favorite past-time of us here at LetsRun.com as well the regular visitors to the message board is to critique the tv announcers on every single track and field telecast. It seems like a lot of people have stopped the criticisms this year as over the last year people have realized with rise of atrocious Internet broadcasts (which are much, much worse than what is found on ESPN and honestly some have to be watched with the volume muted) that it's not as easy as it looks to broadcast an event. Regardless, that doesn't mean that we'll let the this meet get a free pass.

What annoyed us about the production?

Shannon Rowbury

Well to start, the announcers seemed to have no clue what was going on in the women's 1,500 where Shannon Rowbury produced one of the greatest performances in American history. The race started with the rabbit, Korene Hinds, running a ridiculously bad and suicidal 29 flat first 200. That's 3:37.5 1,500 piece. At 400, Hinds was still on a ridiculous pace (61.7) which is 3:51 pace. Considering that the American record is 3:57.12, you're talking about a pace that is 6 seconds faster than American record pace. Thus, Hinds first 400 was roughly the equivalent of a male pace maker running the first 400 at 3:22 1,500 pace - or 53.8 - way too fast. Her 2nd lap was a 68.4 - which is too slow. The overall 800 (2:09.5) split wasn't too bad but it was done in terrible fashion and somehow the announcers went out their way in the middle of the race to say that Hinds had done "a great job". False. You really couldn't do a worse job.

Before the terrible, terrible first lap was even over, Larry Rawson even took time to say "the pace (is) very solid. The rabbits (are) doing their jobs out there."

Before the terrible 2nd lap was over, Dwight Stones likewise went out of his way to say the following (the quote is word for word what he said): "Me thinks Korene Hinds is doing a great job off bringing through at the pace they would like to go." False.

And as if it wasn't obvious with 200 to go that Rowbury was doing something very, very special, Stones said as Rowbury approached the finish line that she was going to be "very close to" the A standard of 4:07 before a 4:01 popped up on the clock.

In the men' 1,500, the announcing continued to suffer. As they headed into the final lap, the cameras zoomed in on Nick Symmonds as the announcers talked about him. Within two seconds of the close-up, Symmonds stepped off the track. Did they mention anything? Nope, they totally missed it as in the final 30 meters they seemed to think he was coming up for 3rd. The rest of the race, they spent arguing as to what the names of the rabbits were. Does it really matter?

Tyson Gay in the 200
Tyson Gay in the 200

So the announcing wasn't great.

The production wasn't much better. The shots the camera crew used at times was frustratigly bad. In the men's 1,500, 9 or 10 guys were still in contact with the leaders as they approach 200 to go. What does the producer decide to do? Zoom in on the top 3-4 guys so you have no idea what is going on. It got even worse as the field rounded the final turn and began the sprint for home, they switched to a camera that was located behind the runners. Thus one really had no idea what was going on. In order to tell who is moving in what direction, the camera has to becoming from the side

So here are the official suggestions for anyone announcing a track race in the future.

1) If you are going to speak as an announcer, please add something that is factually correct. Silence is better than saying stuff that is simply wrong.
2) Please don't talk about the time of the race unless it's really relevant. Don't bemoan slow times unless it's truly the story of the race. Track is compelling as it's the simplest of all competitions. FOCUS ON THE COMPETITION - NOT THE TIMES.
3) Please don't dumb down track to the audience and try to compare track to some other sport. Every year during the Super Bowl there are millions of people watching the game who never watch football and know very little about the sport, but the announcers don't dumb down the sport - thank goodness. We're not sure why Larry Rawson does it on every single broadcast.

We'll be watching the Champions League soccer match this Wednesday and while we don't really follow English soccer all that closely, nor do most Americans, we're pretty sure the announcers won't try to explain every little detail. They'll broadcast the event for the true die-hard fans and the casual fans like ourselves will enjoy the broadcast all the more because we'll realize how passionate people are about the sport. The same holds true for track and field

4) A final reminder. Track and field is compelling because it's about competition. Thus if a race is going on, the race should be the primary focus. Trying to give someone's life story in 20 seconds mid-race isn't going to grab people's attention and keep them from changing the channel. Getting excited about the action and putting the phenomenal performances in context might - so focus on that.

So instead of trying to tell us how Lopez Lomong is a lost boy from Sudan but then cutting yourself off by saying you don't have time to explain yourself, talk about what a fantastic race is about to go off - how it features nearly all of the great American based 1,500 runners. Talk about how it features the world champ versus last year's NCAA champ versus the reigning Commonwealth champ.

In terms of emphasizing competition, the whole setup of the sport needs changing. It was discouraging to see both Nick Willis and Kevin Sullivan let up at the line as they "battled for 2nd." Clearly their place in the race meant nothing. We don't really have time to discuss this topic fully right here in this forum but we will give them a thumbs down for letting up at the line.

And while we're talking about the adidas meet we have to give a thumbs down to ourselves.  In our Rojo's pre-race preview of the meet we wrote of Galen Rupp that he "will seemingly bang his head against wall run a short event." Ooops. Rupp won the 3k beating 2004 Olympian Jonathon Riley. We're sorry for making our first mistake of 2008.

More *LetsRun.com Recap of Meet
On the boards: *People bash Rupp so much that I am starting to LIKE him

NYRR Going International With a Slush Fund of Cash?
The New York Road Runners (NYRR) held their Healthy Kidney 10k this weekend. In terms of news on the race, we covered it pretty extensively here, but we'll give a brief recap and there is a NYRR highlight video below on the right. Before the race half marathon star, Patrick Makau said Dathan Ritzenhein's 28:08 Central Park 10k record was "not so hard". Makau then proceeded to start off at near world record pace (27:08 pace for him at the mile, the world best on the roads is 27:02) despite the fact the Central Park course is rolling hills throughout.

Makau's disrespect for the course cost him in the end as he faded over the 2nd half of the race, but he did get the win in 28:19.

But the big news with NY for us this week actually came out of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE sponsors the Healthy Kidney 10k (which is called the Zayed Memorial International Charity 10k in the UAE) as the race raises funds for the National Kidney Foundation. Sheikh Zayed, the late ruler of the UAE (he ruled for over 30 years), had a kidney transplant to prolong his life.

Highlight Video of Healthy Kidney from NYRR

The news out of the UAE came via two articles, which indicated that the NYRR, already arguably the most powerful organization in the United States in terms of distance running, may soon be expanding its presence internationally. The first article said the UAE wants the NYRR to manage the world's richest half-marathon, the Zayed International (Half) Marathon, which was held for the first time this year in the UAE. The race had a ton of cash ($300,000 first place prize), but little publicity, and organizational problems. The NYRR will instantly solve those problems. There also is talk of making the race a full-marathon.

The other article said the Healthy Kidney 10k may be expanded into a series of four international races (Cairo, London, Beiruit, and NY). Seems that if the NYRR is being asked to manage the Zayed Marathon, they'll be in charge of these as well.

This past week the NYRR mentioned nothing of a more extensive relationship with the UAE, and the article on the series of races had a quote from Mohammad Ali Amer, the chairman of the Healthy Kidney's Organizing Committee in the UAE, saying "The plan is in the final stages and we are awaiting a nod from Major General Mohammad Hilal Al Ka'abi, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and chief of the UAE Athletic Federation," so we'll assume nothing is final yet. The NYRR under head Mary Wittenberg has shown itself very committed to promoting professional running in the United States. The NYRR managing basically a slush fund of money from the UAE with not a concern of turning a profit seems like a very exciting thing for the sport.
*Healthy Kidney May Expand into Series of 4 International Races
*NYRR to Manage Zayed Internaitonal Half Marathon
Recap of Healthy Kidney 10,000

More Road Racing News
ING Bay to Breakers: Trotter Twins Keeping Their Clothes On
(Possibly) America' largest road race (33,000 registered runners, but maybe 60,000 total), the ING Bay to Breakers was held this weekend. John Korir got the win on the men's side, Lineth Chepkurui won the women's and Korir won the battle of the sexes. We've got no problem with the battle of the sexes promotion where the men start out after the women, but we do have a problem with races giving such a disproportionate amount of prize money to the winner of the battle of the sexes. Korir got $7,500 for winning the race and $25,000 for winning the battle of the sexes. How about increasing the prize money $20,000 and leaving $5000 for the battle of the sexes? Our sport needs to first and foremost be a sport, not a circus.

Although if any race is a circus it is Bay to Breakers. The race is known for its nude runners. How about this quote from former Stanford star, Amanda Trotter (who was 6th and her twin sister Amanda fifth, "My dad had heard a lot about the race, and he said, 'Just keep your clothes on'". We certainly agree with our fellow twins. People should keep their clothes on at road-races. Period.
*Recap in San Francisco Chronicle

Other Road Races: *BUPA Great Manchester Run Recap GŁnther Weidlinger, the guy who we praised 2 weeks ago (the Austrian record holder at 1500, 5k, 10k, steeple, and the half marathon, and the guy who smashed his face into a steeple barrier at Worlds) got the win as did Jo Pavey. If the NYRR doesn't run the Zayed races, (and we at letsrun are not living large in the UAE), then Nova International, the group that puts on the BUPA Great Run Races should be in charge. They put on great races.

*Sunfeast World 10km Banglore, India Recap A tie(?) on the women's side and $20,000 win for former World XC champ Zersenday Tadesse on the men's. We can't think of the last time we saw a tie in a race. A reader has written us to tell us that this year's Indy Festival Mini-Marathon was declared a tie after 2 hours of deliberation.

Virgin $$$$ London Marathon The Flora London Marathon announced that the Virgin Group will become the title sponsor of the marathon for $33 Million over 5 Years ($6.6 Million a Year) starting in 2010. The amount of money is staggering. While the Boston Marathon clings to its amateur roots, the London Marathon continues to excel. Already the top marathon in the world, London was not content to rest on its laurels. $6.6 million a year goes a long, long way in attracting the stars of the sport. Congrats on the fabulous title sponsor package. We guess we'll be making an annual pilgrimage across the pond to the top marathon in the world for a while.

Must Read: Great Article on Darren Brown and His Later Father Barry We sometimes give you a must read from the week and we've got one for this week for sure. We put it on the homepage over the weekend but it definitely got lost in the shuffle, as we barely featured it. It's an article on University of Texas sub four minute miler Darren Brown. Brown ran 3:59.99 to join his father as a sub 4 minute miler and to become the first father son sub 4 combo in the US. The Austin American-Stateman did a lengthy profile on Brown and they did their research. Barry Brown committed suicide when Darren was very young and the article talks about the suicide, Darren's recollection of things, and how he got involved in running. Plus it takes a look back at Barry's running career and you learn that Barry and Sam Bair (whose son Sam Jr was trying to beat Darren to the first father-son sub 4 combo) lived together at one point. An excellent read. Trust us.

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