Wednesday, December 17, 2014

News: 10 Best Mile Moments in 2014; Davina Carr; USATF Club Champs Men's Race Short? Bowerman Awards

Bring Back the Mile lists the 10 best mile moments in 2014 HERE. Plenty of Minnesotans on the list.

Outside magazine article on Sally Bergesen and her crusade to change the running industry HERE.

Bismark Tribune story on U-Mary pole vaulter Davina Carr is HERE.

Let's Run questioning the length of the 10K(?) men's USATF Club Championships HERE.

The MDRA's Best of 2014 Contest

It's that time of year when people look back over the past 365 days.  This year the MDRA is reliving the best performancess of 2014 by Minnesota runners.  Why?  The simplest reason is that there is a lot of running talent in the State.  So, there's a lot to celebrate.  From now until the end of the month the MDRA will post a question on their Facebook page each day.  They will select two performances during the year and ask people to vote on which one is the best.  Today's events involve an ultra runner and a track runner. .  To participate go to the MDRA Facebook page HERE and add your vote.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Commentary on Bill Miles: How He Taught the Game

Bill Miles and friends watching the NXN Nationals.  Bill's the one with the
beard. Will Leer isn't the only Minnesota guy with facial hair.
Photo supplied by Lance Elliott(last guy on the right)
In 1972 when I moved to Minnesota I was immediately impressed by the running scene.  The comprehensiveness of the community from High School to Masters.  On the High School scene I noted twins from Cretin High School, sort of that time's Hasz twins, but these were guys.  The Roth twins were as successful as Megan and Bethany.  Their coach was a young guy named Bill Miles.

Today Bill Miles retired from coaching at Wayzata High School.  He gathered his team together and told them of his decision.  One of the coaches who was at the NXN Nationals said that Bill was "emotional" about the success of the team, their runner-up finish.  The thought crept into my head: "Is this it?"  Was the 2014 season Miles' swan song? Was he merely waiting until after NXN to tell them the news?

This week I saw the tweet from Wayzata telling the team to come to a meeting today.  I had called Gopher coach Steve Plasencia earlier in the day and when he returned my call he said: "Is it about Bill Miles?"  It wasn't, but my intuition was right for once.  The news had seeped out after Bill told the team.  News travels fast in the social media age. I started to think: What a legacy.  What a commitment to the kids.  To the sport.

The things that came to mind weren't how many championships won or successes, but rather how many lives he has touched.  How many kids who he's helped discover themselves, their talents, their dreams, their path in life.  Coincidentally I happened to be talking with Stillwater's Scott Christensen at this year's MSHSL XC Championships at St. Olaf.  He was talking to Connor Olson's father.  The pair were talking "shop."  Scott said that he hoped that nobody thought that the rivalry between Wayzata and Stillwater was something personal or heated. He relished having the challenge of competing against strong opposition.  It wasn't so much about who won, he said, but rather that they made each other better.

Christensen said he was glad the teams in Minnesota had each other to measure themselves against.  To push each other to new heights.  Wayzata, Stillwater, Edina, Hopkins.  They all wanted to win, but, more importantly, they all helped get the best out of each other.  In today's celebrity culture, it's easy to forget the lessons one learns from sports. As Cannon Falls', now the University of Minnesota Duluth's, Emi Trost had said after winning the MSHSL Class A girls' title last year: "Ten years from now nobody is going to remember who won.  What's important are the relationships, the friendships we've made."

Miles said the same thing in another way at the 2014 MSHSL track championships.  He'd overheard Hopkins' Joe Klecker talking to Chaska's Joey Duerr after the 3200.  Joe was telling Joey, who had been fighting to stay upright down the final straightaway:  "I didn't want to pass you because you looked so bad,"  Miles said Klecker told Duerr.  Not that Joe was worried Joey would run into him, but rather he was concerned with his rival and friend's physical condition.

The next day Klecker would end up splayed out on the track, giving every last ounce of what he had trying to get to the finish first in a battle with Stillwater's Eli Krahn and Richfield's Obsa Ali in the 1600.  These were guys who pushed themselves to the limits, but also had an unspoken bond that went beyond the playing field.  Miles was proud of that character in the athletes he coached and coached against.

Sportswriter Grantland Rice said it best years ago:  “For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name.  He writes - not that you won or lost -But HOW you played the Game."  Bill Miles has played it well.
By Jim Ferstle

Monday, December 15, 2014

News: Chris Daymont; Fayetteville-Manlius' Coach, Bill Aris; Self Propelled Commuting; Cheryl Treworgy; LeMond

Chris Daymont(third from the right) accepting her USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of
Fame Induction trophy

Wall Street Journal article on Fayetteville-Manlius High School's Bill Aris is HERE
Ultra runner Ellie Greenwood writes about car-less, "self propelled" commuting HERE.

Long interview with one of the pioneers in women's running, Cheryl Treworgy.  Cheryl spent some time at Hamline in the mid 1970s and is Shalane Flanagan's mom HERE.

Greg LeMond has new book out exploring the science of fitness HERE.
Nick Willis(orange cone pointing at him), Will Leer(bearded again in yellow),
and Kevin Sullivan(#72) on the starting line at the Honolulu Marathon on Sunday.
Willis and Leer had just rescued an injured runner on their way to pace
Sully in the marathon.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

News: HS Rankings; Fatigue; Emily Gordon; Sub 2 Hour Marathon; Willis & Leer to the Rescue; Leer Beard of the Year

MileSplit HS rankings HERE.Click on the boxes at the top for individual and team rankings

Sports scientists attempt to define what causes fatigue HERE.

Sports scientists wagering on whether or not a sub 2 hour marathon will be run by 2019 HERE.

John Cotton Burton, 1923-2014. A Life Well Lived

John Burton's obit takes up nearly an entire column in the Star Tribune this morning.  If one were defined by one's accomplishments then John Burton's legacy is worthy of the man.  Obit is HERE. Separate story is HERE.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

USATF Junior Olympic XC Champs and Footlocker Results; Emma Benner Won JO 17-18, Grace Ping 6th in 11-12 Girls

Facebook photo gallery is HERE. Full results for all the races are HERE.USATF summary of USATF Junior Olympic XC Champs is HERE. Emma Benner won the 17-18 race and Grace Ping was sixth in girls' 11-12 race.

YouTube video of Footlocker races  HERE. Running Times summary of Footlocker Championships with links to full results are HERE. Photo album is HERE.

Grey 7th at USATF Club Nationals XC Championships

A week long bout with the flu didn't stop Team USA Minnesota's Jon Grey. He finished seventh at the USATF Club Nationals XC Meet Saturday in Bethlehem, PA to qualify for the US team that will run in the Bupa Great Edinburgh XC Meet on January 10, 2015.  Grey was only 11 seconds out of first in 29:18 for 10K.  Ryan Hill won the race in 29:07.  Medtronic Twin Cities 2014 men's champ Tyler Pennel was 8th in 29:20.69. Former TCTC runner Joe Moore finished 11th in 29:39.83. Gopher grad John Simons finished 65th in 30:43.76 and was a non scoring member of the team champion Zap Fitness Reebok.  Full men's and women's results are HERE.

Twin Cities Track Club's Kylie Blakeslee was 103rd in 21:56.96 for 6K.  Her teammate Melissa Agnew was 110th in 22:02.99.  Medtronic Twin Cities 2014 champ Esther Erb finished 40th in 20:51.10.  Full men's & women's results are HERE.

Run 'N Fun's Ben Sathre was 52nd in 30:33.30.  Teammate Dan Greeno was 53rd in 30:33.94.  Hamline grad Devin Monson was 80th in 30:57.52, and Run 'N Fun's Mason Frank was 152nd in 31:49.27.


Run 'N Fun finishers in the Masters 10K men's race : Jon Keillor 22nd in 33:36.69, Kelly Mortenson 40th in 34:18.75,Gregory Hexum 63rd in 34:52.02, Brent Roeger 77th in 35:14.05, Pat Billig 87th in 35:33.41, Eric Johnson 97th in 35:44.17.  Masters Men results are HERE. Women HERE.

Race highlight videos for Men are HERE Women HERE.

Friday, December 12, 2014

News: Aaron Bartnek; USATF Club & Junior Olympic Nationals Previews, Carrie Tollefson Inducted into Footlocker HOF

Gophers Aaron Bartnek chosen as the 2014 recipient of the Fred O.Watson Award HERE.

USATF Club Nationals preview is HERE. USATF Junior Olympic XC Championship preview is HERE.

Will Leer on the USATF Convention Experience

To those of us out there who give a damn,

Last week (yes, the entire week) was my fourth time attending the USATF Annual Meeting. This year’s edition convened in Anaheim, California, a stones throw from Disneyland. It was five days of endless meetings, post-meeting socials and cocktail hours. Breakfast meetings started at 8:30 am and late-night negotiations would routinely last until bar closing (between 1 and 2 am). If you don’t geek out on track, you were certainly in the minority. Or, rather, you simply were not there. This is our sports yearly Comic-Con where all of the die-hards come out to play.

Now, before delving too deeply into what I am sure lots of you would like to hear, namely the juicy gossip from a bearded attendee, let me share with you the overarching feeling with which I left this years Annual Meeting: Hope. As I traversed the two main conference floors of the Hilton Anaheim, at times literally running between meetings like a crazed Pheidippides, all the while passing likeminded tracksters in the hallways, exchanging frantic text messages, phone calls and high fives, it hit me: our sport is good people. My father, always one to take the opportunity to correct my grammar as a child, will likely cringe as he reads the previous sentence, but I stand by it. 

Those who were not so fortunate as to have their travel, accommodation and/or registration paid for, came to Anaheim on their own dollar, just as they had for meetings in St. Louis, Daytona Beach, and Indianapolis, etc. By a very conservative estimate, attending the Annual Meeting costs $900 per person. And the USATF faithful gladly shell this out year after year. Why? Because they care. Because at the Annual Meeting they have a voice. Or at least they thought they did. And this is why some people are so upset right now. But I will touch on this later. As I said before, I left with the feeling of hope. 

My primary role at the previous two Annual Meetings has been as the Athlete Advisory Committee event leader for the middle distances (800m – 1,500m). This position requires the wearing of many different hats. In any one meeting event leaders fight for athlete’s rights, advocate, negotiate, and vote on rule changes, and lend insight into how funding can be most effectively allocated. We are also there simply to be present and visible. Attendees of the Annual Meeting love to see and hear from athletes. “What matters most to you, the athlete? And how can we help?” a Committee Chairperson might ask. Suddenly all eyes and ears are directed to your response, which promptly becomes item number one on the agenda. In spite of this, every one of our requests/complaints/suggestions isn’t immediately and magically resolved. But it is clear that people care and are there to help, to the best of their abilities. 

For example, here are a few of the positive changes I personally witnessed:
·      As the old adage goes, “better late than never”, Andrew Bumbalough’s disqualification from the 2014 Indoor National Championships was reversed and his 8th place finish was reinstated.
·      The American Record for the 25km distance, previously held by convicted drug cheat, Mohammed Trafeh, was returned to its rightful owner.
·      Sanya Richards-Ross successfully lobbied for the removal of an unnecessary preliminary round in the sprint races should a sufficient number of athletes “scratch” out of competition.
·      The chairs of both the Men’s and Women’s Track and Field agreed to fill the fields of distance races to the best of their abilities. Namely, 24 hours prior to the race start, fields will be filled according to the descending order list.
·      With regards to the overfilled fields at last year’s Indoor Track and Field Championships, it was agreed that a maximum field size would be set for the 1,500m/1-mile and 3,000m finals. In the event more athletes than the selected maximum run the qualifying standard, a “B” final will be run outside the window of time reserved for the television broadcast, wherein the “A” final will be contested.

These may not seem like enormous changes, but to me they illustrate that we still have an organization willing to hear the wishes of its athletes and do its best to help. Keep in mind the above listed items were merely the victories and positive changes I witnessed. I assure you there were many, many more. If there were never any changes, the 500+ people who attend the Annual Meeting each year would not continue to show up.

So now to address what everyone is upset about, namely the board of directors decision to overturn the vote of the constituency to nominate Bob Hersh for the IAAF Council and instead choose current USATF President Stephanie Hightower. If you would like more information as to the specifics of the role of IAAF Council, please read David Greifinger’s opinion piece on

From the outset of the Annual Meeting, the USATF National Office took the strategy of pushing the numbers. From the purely financial side of things, USATF is doing better than we have in decades. Net assets, sponsorship revenue, budgetary expenses, and athlete funding have all increased. Our federation is sitting in the best position it has since I began my career as a post-collegiate athlete seven years ago. This is great news. Ideally, a financially healthy federation means more support to athletes and better results in the major championships. We are, and intend to continue to be, the world’s number one track and field team!

But money doesn’t change everything. In fact, for many (people and corporations alike) having more resources should allow the freedom to focus your attention on becoming better. What better means in this instance, I don’t know. But it certainly is not the back room type dealings we witnessed in Anaheim.

Will Leer wins the Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games
In the aftermath of the board’s decision to overturn the nomination of Bob Hersh, USATF’s director of communications, Jill Geer, issued a press release in which she made the bold claim that “very few organizations in our everyday lives are ‘pure democracies.’ ”  While that may very well be true, in our instance democracy counts. Nearly all of the elected positions within USATF are accountable to the membership. And a vote this lopsided (392-70 in favor of Hersh) speaks loudly for the constituency and their collective desire. While the 85% majority vote was indeed in favor of Mr. Hersh, it was equally against current USATF President Stephanie Hightower. I will grant the board that this is an important year at the IAAF with the election of a new President (current President Lamine Diack has held the position since 1999). This should usher in a new era for the IAAF with new leadership and new direction. We need to be prepared for that change, as hard as it may be, and clearly the board decided, by its 11-1 vote, that Mr. Hersh was not amenable to the newly defined role of IAAF council.

This still doesn’t answer the important question “Why?” In her remarks to the floor at the Opening Session, Mrs. Hightower spoke of the need to eliminate the rifts between “us” and move forward together. This decision, without a clear explanation of it’s intent (Hell, just tell me that you think Bob Hersh was doing a crappy job!) does not lead the membership to trust the board. By not explaining their motivations it leads people to believe their actions are more dubious than they truly may be and appear as an effort for the board to procure more power. Like her or not, on her blog, Lauren put it quite well:

"I don’t know enough about Stephanie Hightower to know if she would be good at the job or not, or better than Bob, etc. But I do know that at this meeting… she completely disregarded the wishes of the people she is meant to represent… She claims she wants to end divisiveness among us and then leads a huge political power move to get what she wants. How can we expect a person like that to represent us well at the IAAF? How can we trust the board? … I mean, what is really at stake here that’s worth tearing us apart?"

Then again it could be as simple as “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” As members of the board themselves, Mr. Hirsh and Mrs. Hightower both had the ability to lobby for votes. Clearly Mrs. Hightower did a better job at convincing them she was the better person for the job. If we want to change things of this nature from happening in the future, it is up to us to change the game. 

All of this being said, we may be okay. This whole conversation could end up being for naught. That would be ideal. It remains to be seen whether or not Mrs. Hightower will be accepted in to the IAAF community. After all, politics on their highest level are ridiculous. If that is also the case with the IAAF, then who better to represent us than Mrs. Hightower. At least we know her voice will be heard.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

News: HS Rankings, IOC Plan to Cut Track Events

DyeStat final HS XC team rankings for girls' is HERE, boys' HERE

Mpls Park Board Fees

Interesting City Pages story on Park fees.  Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon pays the most.  Road running events comprise 14 of the 25 on the list. Two triathlons and one walk event.  HERE.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

News: USATF Club Championships Entry List; Lanin Award to Carrie Tollefson; Academic All Big Ten Awards; Runner Shot; Leer/BOTY

Entry list for USATF Club Championships is HERE.

Carrie Tollefson selected as 2014 recipient of the MDRA's Lanin Distinguished Service Award HERE.

74 Gophers selected  Fall Academic All Big Ten honors HERE  Michigan's Mason Ferlic and Wisconsin's Michael Van Voorhis also selected.

Cautionary tale.  Runner shot by deer hunter HERE.

Will Leer is one of the Sports BOTY (Beard of the Year) nominees for 2014.  Vote HERE.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

News: Stress Fractures; NSIC AOW; NCAA

Epidemiological study of sports injuries in high school athletes shows that stress fractures are most common among gymnasts and cross country runners.  Further study needed to be able to discover why and what can be done to help prevent stress fractures in these athletes HERE.

MSU Mankato's Myles Hunter and Michael Sandle named NSIC men's indoor track AOW HERE. Women's AOW  HERE

Interesting reaction from NCAA President Mark Emmert to a school dropping their football program.  HERE

Monday, December 08, 2014

News: NCAA AOW; NCAA DII All Americans: NCAA DII Video Recap; RT NXN Photo Album

First indoor season Athletes of the Week(AOW) are HERE.

NCAA DII All Americans list is HERE.

Video recap of DII NCAA Championships HERE.

Running Times NXN Photo Album is HERE.

Interview with the 2014 NIRCA XC Women's Champion Cara Donohoe

Cara Donohoe finishing first at the NIRCA XC Championships
The Minnesota grad student led from start to finish on the mostly flat 6K course building a seemingly safe gap on a  pack of  eight runners. It wasn't until the final stretch that  Illinois’ Emma Grimes broke from the chase group and made the finish unexpectedly close. 

Donohue, the 2013 runner-up and overwhelming pre-race favorite, won with a time of  22:24. Grimes finished in 22:29. Below Donohoe talks about the race, her approach to competitive running, and her plans for the future.

Down the Backstretch:  How did you approach this year’s NIRCA XC Championships?  It was your last collegiate XC race.  Since you were second last year did you think about winning or just developing a race plan and hope for the best?

Cara Donohoe: My strategy for most races is to think about another person or a cause that I want to run my race for.  While it’s exciting to race well and to win or PR, there is always at least one point during races that I want to give up.  I find that I am much more motivated to press on during the race for someone or something outside of myself.  

For instance, one race this season, I decided to run for one of the patients I have been working with at the VA Medical Center that has been inspirational to me.  Having said that, winning NIRCA Nationals has been in the back of my mind since last year when I came in second place.  Over the years, I have gradually increased my confidence in my ability to run my race and my intent was on winning this year.

DtB:  You said it felt good to end your collegiate career “on a high note.”  When did you realize you were going to win it?  What were the feelings afterward?  Big celebration or just another race?

CD: While I haven’t had an especially long racing career, I have had some disappointing seasons due to injury and anemia, which greatly effected my racing capabilities.  Being able to run healthy and calm is one of the best feelings.  

For both regions and nationals this year, I raced alone for the majority of the race, which presents its own challenges.  While I knew I had a significant lead, I wasn’t sure if I had won until I hit the final straightaway of the race toward the finish line.  As soon as I hit that point, I couldn’t help but smile.  Seeing my teammates and strangers lining the course and cheering for me was like nothing I have ever experienced.  It was one of those moments I wish I could capture in time, because it was an extraordinary feeling.  

After the race, I felt a mix of emotions- relief, joy, excitement, shock.  The best part was seeing my teammates’ and coach’s reactions afterward.  I was happy to have made them so proud, and I couldn’t wait to call my parents and family to let them know how I did.  They are my biggest fans and support, and I knew they were anxiously waiting to hear how the race went.

DtB:  What are your plans for track season? 

CD: I plan to continue to race with The Minnesota Running Club for indoor and outdoor track season this year.  I’m a little less experienced with track, as last year was my first year running track races.  We tend to stay in the Midwest for traveling during track season.

DtB:  What are your plans after you graduate?  Any job prospects yet? 

CD: I’ll be finishing up my Master’s for Speech Language Pathology this coming May.  I am currently doing a traineeship at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center where I have the privilege of working with the unique population of veterans while providing assessment and treatment for various communication disorders including TBI, dysphagia, voice disorders, cognitive impairment, aphasia, spinal cord injury, head and neck cancer, and those using AAC.  

I truly enjoy being in this setting, and hope to work in a hospital or VA Medical Center somewhere following graduation.  I am just starting to apply for jobs now.  While I would like to stay in Minneapolis following graduation, I am open to moving to another state if it’s necessary for the job I want. 

DtB: You said last year that you’d like to continue your competitive running wherever you end up?  Is that still the plan?  If so, how do you see that fitting into life in the “real world?”

CD: I do plan to continue running competitively in the future.  This year was the first year that I felt comfortable, confident, and calmer racing, which made it a much more enjoyable experience.  I have always been a competitive person, I love the comradery of racing with a team, and being a part of the running community in general.  

Many of my life plans are up in the air right now, but wherever I end up, I plan to join a running club.  Throughout my undergraduate and graduate school education, I have been extremely busy and involved in a variety of things.  I have always still been able to find time for running.  It’s about prioritizing things and working to find balance in life.  While I know I will still be busy following graduation once I enter the “real world”, I know I can still find time for running with some planning and prioritizing. 

DtB: You noted that you were still a “relatively inexperienced runner.”  What have you learned about yourself, about running now that you have another year of experience?

CD: One of the things I have realized about myself is that I’m a little non-traditional as far as training goes for runners.  The majority of my workouts this season, I did based on time and how I felt (tempo runs and hills versus mile repeats, etc.).  

I found that I was faster and more rested physically and mentally this season rather than burned out as a result.  In addition to this, I backed off on my weekly running mileage and increased my cross training this year, which seemed to help my performance and reduce my injuries.  I have also learned the importance of mental preparation for racing.  

Like I mentioned previously, I always choose a person or a cause to race for, which greatly inspires me and motivates me during races.  I also tend to briefly visualize how the race will go in my head while I’m warming up.  Lastly, I often choose a Bible verse to think about during the race and always say a short prayer before I’m at the start line.   

DtB:  Are there any experiences involving running that stick out, that are more memorable than others?

One of the experiences that sticks out most to me from running was during my last year of undergrad at the U of MN.  I was racing the NIRCA Regional Meet in Ames, IA and my entire immediate family, and many members of my extended family were there.  My racing season had been disappointing for me that year, and this race was similar.  

I had extreme anemia that season, but I was unaware of it at the time.  I eventually ended up having to get an iron infusion to restore my physical health. I remember my family members cheering for me all over the course during this race, and that my breathing became so labored I wasn’t sure I would be able to finish. 

 It was a humbling experience for me that year, as I raced minutes slower than usual and struggled to just finish races.  While this was a low point in my racing career, I vividly remember my teammates and family being supportive of me during this race and after.  It was a moment where I realized that my performance racing didn’t ultimately matter to them.  While they hope that I do well since it’s important to me, they love me completely just the way I am- whether I race fast or slow. 

DtB:  You also said that you enjoy working with kids.  Are there potential opportunities there?

CD: I do greatly enjoy working with kids.  I have working with kids both clinically as a Speech Language Pathology Graduate student clinician, and in the Fluency Lab and Learning to Talk Lab at the University of Minnesota.  I’m uncertain if I will work with kids as a Speech Language Pathologist initially, since I have appreciated working with adults at the VA Medical Center this year and hope to pursue a similar career next year.  However, I have an interest in coaching middle or high school kids for track and cross-country in the future.  I am also interested in volunteering with the organization Girls on the Run. 

DtB:  Any more trips, like the one to South Africa?  Any planned for the future?

CD: While there are no current trips planned to South Africa or elsewhere, I do plan to go on more trips like this in the future.  My heart’s desire is to return to South Africa and to travel to other countries as well.  Traveling to South Africa a few years ago greatly impacted my life and shaped how I view things today.  Following graduation, I hope to investigate and plan another trip soon.  

DtB:  Don’t know if you’ve been following the career of Annie Bersagel, who won the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in 2013 and also works full time in Norway while she’s training to compete in the Olympic trials.  Any aspirations for a busy life like that?

CD: It’s so inspiring to hear stories of other successful runners who lead busy lives! I plan to have a busy life now and in the future.  I have always had a variety of passions and interests, and I plan to continue to pursue them following graduation.  

Currently, I am taking classes and studying for our graduate school comprehensive exam, working at the VA Medical Center part time as a clinician, working in two research labs at the U of MN, teaching yoga sculpt and cycling classes at CorePower Yoga, running with the U of MN running club, and staying involved at my church, Hope Community Church.  

I plan to stay involved with many of these activities following graduation and to start volunteering more in the community again with organizations such as Girls on the Run and Breaking Free.  At some point, I also hope to find balance with my busy life and a family of my own.  In the meantime, I look forward to the challenge of finding new balance and rhythm with my life next year with all of the changes I will undergo in the next few months.