There were 350 Kenyan men that broke 2:20 for a marathon in 2007. Those are just Kenyan stats and say nothing about how many raced on American shores. 350 is a startling, heavy number of men from one country to run so fast in one year. You want more American heroes? You want more space in the print media? Run faster America. You want a hero- become one.
not that startling number when you consider 295 americans were sub 2:20 in 1983. Only 2 of them had debut under 2:14. What toni is pointing out is that we need to find a way to keep americans in the sport long enough that they develop to compete with the africans. We aren't doing that, its better then 10 or 15 years ago, but guys like me, middle of the road performances making enough to scrape by, are rare. they were everywhere in the early 80's. Look at meb and todd williams and bob kennedy's college PR's if they graduated this year they wouldn't get a shoe deal. we need more solutions. there are 40 or 50 training camps with 20 to 100 guys each in kenya until we come up with a means of keeping 100 american men training near full time we will get our asses handed to us by the africans end of story.
Toni talks in circles, offering nothing concrete to 'right the ship'.
The answer is American-only prize money.
My friends, the world started coming to our shores to race in the late 80's and they ARE NOT responsible for the relatively low lack of success by their American counterparts since.... You want more American heroes? You want more space in the print media? Run faster America. You want a hero- become one.
As we go, if Amerian races start limiting the # of foreign runners, in effect, watering down the field, fine. If the media starts touting this seeming new-found success by American runners, fine. If races think they'd be serving the sport better by banning participation of charities, fine. I ask you though...what qualifies as improvement in the face of such proposals?
Yes they are (partly?) responsible for the relatively low lack of success. There would be more American post-collegiates and a greater American talent pool IF there was an incentive to keep racing beyond college. With the influx of foreigners in American races, there is no hope or incentive now to pursue the dream of being the next Boston Billy. We need more talent pursuing the sport beyond college, and American-only prize money would be a start.
Sort of a tangent here, but how's this for a "circuit" idea:
The Big 5 of the U.S. summer calendar - Peachtree, Boilermaker, Bix, B2B, Falmouth - cut their prize purses in half. They take the extra $ and put it in a pool, that the winner of the series of those 5 races would win at the end of Falmouth. You could come up w/ a scoring system similar to WMM so that a guy could win 3 or finish 2-4 in all 5 and win the whole pot. This would tend to generate more interest as the summer season continued, and by the end the casual fan would be interested in the finish placings not just in and of themselves for that race, but in how they would affect the final circuit standings. Might even give some U.S. guys a chance as they're in country for all 5 while the foreigners might have to return home before running all of them.
to a point I think you've pointed to the answers, people who run after college see it as a job, if they can't make enough cash they move on, which is fine and probably better for them in the long run..
Nate this sort of goes to you too...a shoe contract is nice..I understand that..but you don't see these kenyan's coming out with them, especially when they have 200+ running under 2:20 in a calendar year, many of them live in poverty and use it as a way to escape it, similar to the riders over in the UK who have pedaled their way out of the projects,
....even now many pro us cyclists live what is called the 12k dream where they cram into a house, barely get by..work odd jobs to make ends meet,etc.one of the US guys on Slipstream this year was working as a garbage man over the winter,
if a kid gets a great education and can make 70k out of college who can fault him for moving on, a big issue when people leave college, myself included, is that they have done nothing but train within a system for 8+ years and all of a sudden when faced to do it on their own, we fail...but that is something internal,
US only prize money isn't the answer, you will just see more kenyan's get their citizenship
a big issue when people leave college, myself included, is that they have done nothing but train within a system for 8+ years and all of a sudden when faced to do it on their own, we fail...but that is something internal,
Structural failure. We need 20+ more GBTCs and Teams Nebraska Brooks in every regional hub across the country that draws post-collegians for work. Give them meaningful club competitions with higher profile to spread awareness and appeal among high school and college kids. If the guy or gal who was a senior stud their frosh year ends up going on to win the club marathon champs or club xc (indiv. or team) then they'll understand that continuation in the sport with a level of success and recognition is very possible after college. We need more 2:20-2:40 men and 2:40-3:00 women to provide a competitive base upon which to build. Qualifying for Boston as an ultimate achievement has become too widespread among the sub-elites, we need something better.
Reliant...now there you go- an excellent place to start. To my mind, however, there is no such thing as any 'structure of the sport'. What is that? Here's your structure: runners graduate and move on in the world. Little to no guidance given over to directing them to 'stay w/the sport'. The hundreds of women & men that graduate w/good to decent running credentials melt into the Great American fabric. How to 'solve' this melting thing?
Toni offers no ways to provide concrete, sustainable results. Should we throw USATF into the fray? After all, they are the post-college governing body. They've done things to aid those already at the top but very, very little to 'grow the sport'. Should it be a collection of bright minds in the running industry who, in a johnny-come-lately fashion, get together to cobble together down-to-earth, real-world, manageable & effective ways to encourage grads to stick with it? Should it be this, that, the other thing? Who, what, when, where...etc? Lots of finger pointing and few bucking up and doing anything of substance.
To my mind, Toni's comments, those he's made for many years in a Cry me a River manner, are simply more finger pointing.
I don't see Toni's comments motivating many/any to make a real difference in improving US distance running. Whining don't make it. Frankly, things are good in road racing in general...but how Amerians fare domestically and internationally fails to match up. Toni is wrong to think those things that are good in road racing are making it bad for the best Americans.
I would be happy to see viable ways to get more Americans running fast. That's plural- ways. Forming circuits, cutting back on the # of foreign runners and blaming charities for the downfall of US running are not strong candidates to make things better.
There is a lot of 'stuff' to digest about Reavis' comments, but one that I think is worth exploring is the symbiotic relationship between events and charities. I don't know how much money was raised for charities this past year, but Im willing to bet it is over $200 Million. A 10% return shared between events and USATF would enhance both mightily. Let's face it; Charities need events, why not help support them with a portion of monies raised? Prize monies could be enhanced and this alone would generate more interest.
structure would be nice but its not going to happen, a lot of those guys from the GBTC ,etc all had jobs,
I know its not only runners, but there are people everywhere who work 70-100 hours/wk to make their dreams come true to die trying. More people need to have Sell's attitude and not act like they can't do both. I don't think Boston Billy, Greg Meyer, Al Sal or some of the others running under 2:09 were doing 3 hours of core and pilates
One of the best stories was Miguel Nuci at the Trials, dude runs nearly 200 mpw @ times and works all day at a sub shop in CA, standing on his feet, running before/after work..I think he's run 2:14....there are others too who are doctors, residents, etc who all found time to meet the standard..
It has been illuminating to follow the debate. Some very interesting points. I am still wondering why TReavis seems to assign the full responsibility to race directors.Are they solely responsible for the un-making of the "hims" and "hers" of the future? In what propotion and how is the responsability for this alleged failure shared?
the point could be wrote:
In relation to this very provocative read, it would be interesting to know from Reavis his views on race sponsors, team managers and agents and shoe companies and their role, if any, to make inspiring races and to create the "hims" and "hers" runners for future generations.
The full text of my keynote address to the 2008 Road Race Management Race Director's Meeting last weekend in Florida is now up on Runnerville.com
My goal wasn't to call for a limit to foreign athletes in U.S. road races, rather to encourage race directors, USATF, and other component elements (including agents and athletes) to join together to bring focus back onto compelling competitions so our sport might return to the mainstream of America's sporting landscape. It's position we once held, and have let slip away. I encourage this as part of a comprehensive plan to address the issue of childhood obesity,and child healthcare, issues which I believe should be the industry's own charitable cause.
aw man, why'd you have to come on here and explain yourself in logical, concise manner tony? dammit, you even clarified things so that we can't throw out speculation and innuendo as to your motives and such.
....so while all you are on here bickering, Mr. Reavis is trying to contribute to the betterment of the sport....thanks tony, keep up the good work.
You owe it to yourself to read the entire Keynote Speech by Toni Reavis. I posted above about race charities donating to events. $714 FREAKIN Million was raised by charities in 2006!!!! Using running events. I'm blown away by that number.
Im not sure what is done first, but many of the suggestions make perfect sense. Regional circuits with clustered (date-wise) events sounds like a great idea. You can tell Reavis has thought about this for a long time.
Well, the structure part has been touched on in another post. It regards the hardly-existent club system. That is not to denigrate clubs like GBTC, Atlanta TC, Asics Aggies, and many others doing great things, we just need more of it. If any city, small or large, where good recently-graduated runners might easily find work had available a club that maintained a real focus on competition for races like club xc nationals and club marathon relay champs and so on that offered 2-3 regular training groups that would be appropriate to a 2:20-2:50 marathoning male or 2:40-3:00 marathoning female then the transition would be much smoother.
If a decent-to-good college distance runner takes a good job offer in, say, San Diego or Albuquerque or Birmingham or Indianapolis what are the real training and racing options from a formally organized standpoint? Does Albuquerque have any training groups that aren't tied to some agent who has no time for you if you aren't making him or her any money? Sure there will always be the Mark Nenow types who neither need nor want a group to train with and plenty can make it to a respectable level on their own, but we've seen concrete evidence (from Hansons, Team Mammoth, Team USA MN) that the group training model by and large is second to none.
Distance running training isn't exactly rocket science, either. It's not as if each of the clubs would need some genius coach to write up and implement the training. Groups can meet to do basic, specific workouts and let each individual (or a consulting local coach) tailor the training to his or her specific situation. The framework for this would not seem to be that difficult for a governing body to establish. USATF either can't or won't do much of anything for the grassroots at this time. (I don't believe distance runners should count on anything from USATF, considering all that went down at the OT in Eugene.) An organization such as RRCA might be lacking the clout to pull it off. What ever happened to the ARRA? What about the AAU? Why do any of these organizations exist?
Nice job Tony. I think you have at the very least made some folks think a little bit about how they have been doing business.
For those of you that are against a "controlled field". I have one question. Do you find the Olympics boring or too controlled? Most of us believe that the Olympics are the crown jewel of our sport from a competition point of view. There is no field that is more "controlled" than the Olympic. There have been Olympics where 6 0f the top 10 steeple chase guys were not allowed to compete because the field already had 3 representatives from their country. This is true in many events. Many years have proven that it is tougher to make Team USA in the 100 meters than it is to medal in the games. That means that the Olympic 100 finals is not even the best 100 meter race that year. Does that matter to the public or the press?
It is boring to watch 15 athletes from any country parade across the finish line year after year. The press,and the public, may be impressed once or twice. After a couple years they turn to another story. Maybe the guy that lost 100 lbs. or the guy that ran in a gorilla suit. The point is that there was nothing compelling about the race up front.
Having said this, I am strongly against American only money races. They are equally as boring for many of the same reasons.
I appreciate Tony pointing this out to the race directors but they are only part of the problem. Athletes, coaches, and agents all play a huge roll in the problem as well. We have all helped in screwing up how our sport is viewed. The only way anything will change is if we are all willing to do some things to change our current way of doing business.
Your post made me think that at least two questions relatd to this issue need to be addressed:1) Track and Field, Road-running: where it should be the Winners and the Best, and the Just, that inspire the young, why has it become an issue of nationality and citizenship? To what degree do foreign athletes contribute to forming/inspiring the youth of any country's population?Note 1: by foreign, i think it would appropriate to think not just non-americans in America, but also non-italians in Italy, non-French in France, ect ect...but also non-kenyan in Kenia...??2) Speaking of circuits: here's a short circuit. The best most performing athletes seem to come, numerously so, from poor countries, to go to rich countries, to win races with charity for their countries, run in great numbers by non-athletes (in strictly competive terms.) But wait, if the poorness, the famine, the hardship, has led them to be winners in the sport, why the charity? As I ask this question, it is hard to figure out what the collective objectives are. And for this reason, I appreciate Reavis clearly stating his Health-oriented, counter-obesity agenda.It is amazing if the short-circuit, is so short that the poorer, famined kids risk having a better chance to become good athletes than their wealthy, unhealthy counterparts.Answers will be much appreciated.
Kevin Hanson wrote:
Nice job Tony. I think you have at the very least made some folks think a little bit about how they have been doing business....
...I appreciate Tony pointing this out to the race directors but they are only part of the problem. Athletes, coaches, and agents all play a huge roll in the problem as well. We have all helped in screwing up how our sport is viewed. The only way anything will change is if we are all willing to do some things to change our current way of doing business.
Having said this, I am strongly against American only money races. They are equally as boring for many of the same reasons.
Hmmm.... so you think it would have been boring to see Meb or Brian come across the finish line first at Boston? Or Desiree in Chicago, instead of the 4 foreigners in front of her? I think the media would be more on top of the sport, and kids would be more inspired, if it was Americans winning.... people like them.
Running, like cycling and some other sports isn't the most watchable sport on TV, waiting 5 hours for an attack in Le Tour or watching a 10,000 on the track can be worse than watching paint dry. It's no going to get the middle americans anymore because they lack a connection to it. They know what its like to try and hit a fastball, get to the green in 2 or hit a 3pt-er, etc..
People watch NASCAR for hours and hours on end. Wherein lies the difference? The difference is, NASCAR has marketable heroes who the everyday public recognizes.
bring focus back onto compelling competitions so our sport might return to the mainstream of America's sporting landscape. It's position we once held, and have let slip away.
If we are going to get our sport back in front of American's, we have to get it on TV. Why do I have to watch the NYC marathon on a computer monitor while ESPN, ABC, NBC, etc are broadcasting poker and infomercials?
I know it costs money, but with the level of participation we have in the sport today (albeit many of them are joggers), the races should be able to 'sell it' to potential sponsors. There is plenty of drama in a road race; especially a marathon.