Monday, April 30, 2007

Get In Gear Champ Sports Checkered Past

Get in Gear 10K men's winner Alena Reta has a competitive past that includes a drug suspension in 2001 and disqualification from the 2005 Peachtree Road Race for competing under an assumed name.

Reta (pictured) failed a drug test in Japan in 2001. In 2005, at Peachtree, after serving his suspension, he raced under a different name, in order to sidestep the event's refusal to allow him entry into the race.

Reta is not currently barred from competition.

Originally known as Alena Emere, the runner currently known as Alena Reta has also raced under the name Amara Leta. The 25-year-old Ethiopian who resides in New York City has been made unwelcome at a number of premier road races including Peachtree and New York City Marathon, according to media reports.

His manager Jason Jett is quoted in this newspaper story attributing Reta's name changes to the customs of his culture.

Get in Gear Executive Director Paulette Odenthal told Down the Backstretch that she did not know that Reta had served a drug suspension previously. Asked if she was aware Reta had competed under an assumed name, she replied, "Of course not."

Odenthal said the race was currently investigating the issue. Reta earned $1200 for his win on Saturday.

"The matter is being looked into this week," she said. "This matter is serious for us and is being looked into. We have not had this issue ever come up in the Get in Gear's 30 year history. The Get in Gear is a first class, top notch race and we intend to keep this reputation."

Get in Gear is the third Minnesota road race to have an unwelcome brush with drug violators. 2003 Twin Cities Marathon Champ Eddy Hellebuyck, who set an American masters record of 2:12:46 at the race, failed a drug test for EPO the following January. Last year's women's champion at Grandma's Marathon, Halina Karnatsevich, was stripped of her title for failing the event's post-race drug test.

(Full disclosure: I was the Elite Recruiter at TCM from 2002 through 2004.)

Photo by Pete Miller.

Deatherage Wins Drake Relays 1500; Gopher Women Sweep Long Relays

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again ...

That might well have been the mantra for Team USA Minnesota's Jenelle Deatherage, who won the Women's Special 1500 meter event at the 98th Drake Relays over the weekend. Her time of 4:13.97 beat runner-up Alice Schmidt by more than 3.5 seconds.

"This was my sixth time running the 1500 at the Drake Relays and it was my first time winning," Deatherage (pictured), who has a best in the distance of 4:07.87, said in a media release. "I've run Drake almost every year since I graduated from the University of Wisconsin. It was nice to finally win on a day when the crowd was unbelievable and the weather was great. I just really had a wonderful time and I hope to be there next year as well."

Deatherage took charge of the race early.

"In the back of my mind, I had planned to take it out from the gun," she explained, "but another girl took it out pretty fast. After the first lap, I knew I needed to do my share of the work so I went to the front and kept that position for the rest of the race. I was pretty happy with how it went."

Deatherage's teammate Ryan Kliemenhagen finished 5th in the Drake Men's Special Mile in 4:08.13. Alan Webb broke Steve Scott's event record, winning in a massive 3:51.71.

Gophers Sweep!

Deatherage's win was but one jewel in a shimmering day for Minnesotans at the historic event. The Golden Gopher women swept the Distance Medley, 4 x 800m, and 4 x 1600m relays -- only the third time in Relays history for that feat. On Friday, the DMR squad of Elizabeth Yetzer, Heather Dorniden, Ayla Mitchell, and Emily Brown beat Baylor by more than half a second to start the Gophers' winning ways. Then, the 4 x 800 Julie Schwengler, Jamie Cheever, Gabrielle Anderson, and Dorniden shattered Arkansas' 2005 Drake record in the event by winning in 8:27.42. Saturday afternoon, the 4 x 1600 crew of Cheever, Yetzer, Anderson, and Brown broke their own 2006 record in the event, stopping the clock at 19:07.75.

“I will never forget the sight of 18,000 people cheering Brownie (Emily Brown) to the Drake record,” Gopher head coach Matt Bingle said in a media release. “This was such a special weekend. It’s a great time to be a Golden Gopher.”

Only Stanford in 2003 and Michigan in 2004 have scored such a trifecta.

Also ... A pair of Minnesota high jumpers earned victories at Drake. MSU - Mankato's Jim Dilling won the Men's Special High Jump by clearing 7-6 1/2. Osseo High School grad Julian Morris, now a freshman at Iowa State University, won the University/College High Jump with a 6-10 clearance.

Photo by Victor Sailer, courtesy of Team USA Minnesota.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Race Photos: Get In Gear

You can read about the 2007 Get in Gear in the Star Tribune and you can get the full results at the race site. But you can see the pictures right here.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Short-Cut: Weekend Results for April 27-29

There's a ton of running and track going on this weekend; here are our links to the important action:

Drake Relays: Results
Update: Gopher Women Break Drake 4 x 800 Record, win DMR.

Hamline Elite Meet(High School): Results
Update: Finnerty wins loaded 3200m in 9:04.55

Get in Gear 10K: Results
Drake Relays: Results
Update: Dilling wins Drake high jump with 7-6 1/2

St. John's Invitational (Small College Men): Results
Macalester Invitational (Small College Women): Results
Gustavus "Drake Alternative (Small College M/W): Results

Stanford Cardinal Invitational (Team USA Mn): Results

Friday, April 27, 2007

WDTB: Live at the Hamline Elite Meet

That completes the action on the track here at the Hamline Elite-Meet. On behalf of my partner Chris Marshall, I'm Charlie Mahler signing off from Klas Field in St. Paul!

(Sorry, I was just dying to say that!)

Find complete results HERE

Boys High Jump: Clauer (Elk River) wins at 6-7 ... 2nd Murphy (Irondale) 6-5

Girls 4 x400:
1st Leg -- South St. Paul ... 60+
2nd Leg -- Mounds View ... 1:59+
3rd Leg -- Mounds View ... 2:58+
Anchor/Finish -- Mounds View wins in 3:57.52 ... 2nd Hopkins 4:01.21 ... Woodbury 4:04.23

Boys 4 x 400:
1st Leg -- Buffalo leads at 50.5
2nd Leg -- Mounds View ... 1:40
3rd Leg -- Mounds View ... 2:31 .. with Evans to anchor
Anchor/Finish -- Mounds View wins with 3:19.10 ... 2nd Concordia 3:26.22 ... 3rd Willmar 3:27.07

Video of the Boys 3200m is HERE

Girls 3200m:
@400 -- Berndt ... 77
@800 -- Berndt ... 2:42
@1200 -- Berndt, Richardson ... 4:08 ... then Stack, Peterson
@1600 -- Berndt, Richardson ... 5:35 ... then Stack, Peterson ... then pack of five
@2000 -- Berndt, Richardson ... 7:01 ... then Peterson
@2400 -- Berndt, Richardson ... 8:29 ... then Peterson
@2800 -- Berndt, Richardson ... 9:53

Finish -- Richardson (Blake) wins in 11:09.58 ... 2nd Berndt (Kennedy) 11:12.20 ... 3rd Peterson (Sartell) 11:29.31

Boys 3200m:
@400 -- Finnerty followed closely by Heath 64+
@800 -- Finnerty w/ Heath, Lumbar, Mead, Burke ... 2:14
@1200 -- Finnerty, Heath, Lumbar in line at line ... 3:23
@1600 -- Finnerty, Heath, Lumbar, Mead in line ... 4:31
@2000 -- Finnerty, Heath, Lumbar, Mead in line ...
@2400 -- Finnerty, Mead, Heath, Lumbar in line ... 6:51
@2800 -- Mead takes lead w/ 600 to run .... Lumbar right on him ... then Finnerty, then Heath ... 8:00

Finish: Finnerty (Burnsville) wins in 9:04.55 ... Mead 2nd in 9:06.07 ... Lumbar 3rd in 9:06.69

Conditions prior to the 3200m runs ... 73 degrees ... 31% humidity ... winds WNW 14 mph ... atmosphere: electric!

Girls 200m: Buerkle (Forest Lake) wins 24.96 ... 2nd Post (St. Cloud Tech) 25.64 ... 3rd Rozman (Edina) 25.77

Video of Girls 800m is HERE

Video of Boys 800m is HERE

Boys 200m: Hancock (Anoka) beats Otto (Hill-Murray) 21.54 to 21.72 ... 3rd Brunette (Mounds View) 21.95

Girls 800m: @ 400 in 65 ... Gigstead (Perham) wins with 2:15.81 ... Lundgren (Mankato East) 2:17.97 ... 3rd Schellinger (Sartell) 2:18.76

Girls Triple Jump: Post (St. Cloud Tech) wins with 36-7 1/2 ... 2nd Renner (Mounds View) 35-5 3/4 ... 3rd Udeh 35-4

Boys 800m: 56.9 @ 400 ... photo finish! 1:55 ... Mellon (Buffalo) wins in 1:55.26 ... 2nd Shelendich (Mounds View) 1:55.28 ... 3rd Campbell (Blooming Prairie) 1:57.26

Boys Long Jump: Otto (Hill-Murray) wins with 22-8 ... 2nd McNamara (Mounds View) 22-6 1/2 ... 3rd Williams (Lester Prairie) 20-6

Girls 300m Hurdles: Simmons (Kennedy) wins large in record 44.44 ... 2nd Smith (Woodbury) 46.49 ... 3rd Sawtell (Mounds View) 47.33

Since there's a long break in the action now between hurdle races, let me take the opportunity to thank DtB videographer (and loyal side-kick) Chris Marshall for his fine work in the press box tonight. We're counting the blog and video hits, sweating a technological glitch or two ... and having a great time!

Video of Boys & Girls 400m HERE

Boys 300m Hurdles: Duling crashes ... Griswold (Totino Grace) wins in 39.22 ... 2nd Greenprice (Buffalo) 39.63 .. 3rd Reeve 40.22

Girls 400m: Buerkle wins going away ... in 57.37, a meet record ... 2nd Lundgren (Mankato East) 58.91 ... 3rd Brunn (Rogers) 59.50

Boys Pole Vault: Atwood (Mankato East) wins with 14-6 ... 2nd Pllack (Irondale) 14-0 .... 3rd Hymer (Apple Valley) 14-0

Boys 400m: Evans (Mounds View) beats Hancock (Anoka) 48.79 to 49.55 ... 3rd Bradley (Mounds View) 50.42

Girls 4 x 100m Relay: Mounds View wins BIG! 48.72 ... 2nd St. Cloud Tech 49.98 ... 3rd Hopkins 50.17

Video of Boys 1600m is HERE

Girls High Jump: Wilson (Armstrong) wins in jump-off with 5-5 ... 2nd Lambertson (Litchfield) 5-3 ... 3rd Dohrn (Lake City) 5-3

Boys 4 x 100 Relay: Fridley wins in record 43.21 ... 2nd Forest Lake 43.50 ... 3rd Andover ... 43.54

Girls 1600m:
@200 -- Senf leads at :34
@400 -- Senf leads with 71.8
@800 -- Senf still leads in 2:35.7 with Volz right behind
@1200 -- Senf & Volz 3:57.0
Finish -- Volz (Lakeville North) wins with a big move at 200m-to-go, in 5:07.33 ... Senf (Woodbury) 2nd in 5:13.70 ... 3rd Bates (Elk River) 5:14.64

Boys 1600m:
@ 200 -- Richardson :28
@ 400m -- Richardson :57.1
@ 800m -- Richardson 2:05.1 ... Yak .. Stublaski
@1200m -- Richardson 3:15.3
Finish -- Richardson wins in record 4:17.10 .. opening and closing in ~27 seconds! ... 2nd Stublaski 4:20.02 ... 3rd King (Lakeville North) 4:21.50

Girls 4 x 200 Relay: Mounds View wins in record 1:44.67 ... 2nd Hopkins 1:44.97 ... 3rd Forest Lake 1:46.16

Boys Triple Jump: McNamara (Mounds View) wins record with 46-5 ... Johnson (Roseville) 2nd with 44-0 .. Doh (Andover) 3rd at 43-2 3/4

Boys 4 x 200 Relay: Anoka wins in 1:31.06 -- by .oo3! -- over a charging Mounds View also at 1:31.06 ... St. Louis Park 3rd at 1:32.22

Video of Boys & Girls 100m is HERE

Girls Shot Put: Hampton (St. Louis Park) wins with 40-4 ...2nd Rollins (Grand Rapids) 39-10 1/4 ... 3rd Kubat (Owatonna) 39-9

Girls 100m: Johnson (Armstrong) false start DQ ... Rozman (Edina) wins in record 12.38 (her prelim 12.28 is the new record) ... 2nd Tanoe (Hopkins) 12.61 ... 3rd Lauer (Brainerd) 12.63

Boys 100m: Hancock (Anoka) wins in meet record 10.79 ... Cora 2nd in 10.90 ... Brunnette (Mounds View) 11.07

Girls Long Jump: Gauthier-Culnane (St. Louis Park) wins in 16-9 3/4 ... Lundgren (Mankato East) 2nd in 16-6 3/4 ... Johnson (South St. Paul) 3rd in 16-5

Video of Boys 4 x 800 Relay is HERE

Girls 100m Hurdles: Kelly Stalpes (Wayzata) wins in record 14.74 ... Woods (Blaine) 15.06 2nd ... Sawtell (Mounds View) 3rd in 15.22

Boys 110m Hurdles: Duling (Mounds View) wins in record 14.89 ... Reeve (Fairmont) 2nd in 15:08 ... Speath (Montevideo) 3rd in 15.25

Girls 4 x 800 Relay:
Lead-off Leg -- Woodbury leads in 2:23
Leg #2 -- Woodbury leads in 4:59
Leg #3 -- Woodbury leads in 7:16
Anchor/Finish -- Woodbury wins in meet record 9:36.18 ... Brainerd 2nd in 9:43.19 ... Grand Rapids 3rd in 9:44.26

Boys' 4 x 800 Relay:
Lead-off Leg -- Fairmont leads in 1;59.8
Leg #2 -- Willmar leads in 3:59.5 ... Edina ... Brainerd
Leg #3 -- Willmar 40m up
Anchor/Finish -- Willmar wins in meet record 8:00.07 ... Brainerd 2nd in 8:04.61, Buffalo 3rd in 8:08.60.

Girls 100m Prelims: CORRECTION
Heat 1 -- Rozman(Edina) wins in 12.29
Heat 2 -- Johnson (Armstrong) wins in 12.52

Boys' 100m Prelims:
Heat 1 -- Hancock (Anoka) beats Cora in 10.63
Heat 2 -- Schmidt (Andover) wins in 11.09

Handy Meet Links: Order of Events ... Heat Sheets ... Ordered Startlists ..2006 Results ... Meet Records

Conditions: At 5:15, fifteen minutes before the start of the meet, the temperature is 73 degrees, humidity is a pleasant 25%, and winds are from the west at 9 miles per hours.

Welcome to Down the Backstretch's first-ever attempt at live, on-site coverage of track and field. We're reporting live from Klas Field at Hamline University in St. Paul for the Hamline Elite-Meet. If you liked the Goph-O-Meter -- our event-by-event coverage of the Gopher teams at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, you should love this!

Just pull up a supportive chair and a cool drink -- all you need to do is refresh your browser window regularly for event-by-event coverage of the meet. The latest coverage will appear at the top of this page, older news will be collected beneath.

Star-Tribune: How Hamline Elite-Meet Director Lynden Reder Got His Coaching Job

As the WDTB production truck rumbles up I-35 toward the Hamline Elite-Meet ...

We thought you might want to read the Star-Tribune's interview with meet director and Hamline men's coach Lynden Reder. As part of their Business Page series called "How I got my job," Reder tells the story of sending e-mails to every college track and field program in the state and hearing back from only one -- Hamline -- where, only three years later, he's now the Head Men's Track & Field Coach.

The heat sheets are now posted for Reder's Elite-Meet.

Keep your browser tuned to Down the Backstretch tonight for live coverage of the event. If the truck -- a 10-year-old pick-up with a bed full of firewood, we should clarify -- doesn't break down between Northfield and St. Paul, we'll have results, updates, and even video of the meet starting at 5:30 p.m.

Local Stars, International Talent Vie for Cash and Glory at 30th Annual Get in Gear 10K

Local stars Joey Keillor and Amy Lyons will each wear bib #1 tomorrow at the 30th annual Get in Gear 10K. The race will make its traditional loop of the Mississippi River between the Ford and Lake Street Bridges starting at 9:30 a.m.

As is also traditional at Get in Gear, some strong imported talent will vie for the $1000 winners' prize checks, although neither Henry Kipchirchir or Jemima Jelagat, last year's winners, both from Kenya, return in 2007.

"Local runner Joey Keillor placed 4th last year and he is wearing number 1 this year," race director Paulette Odenthal told DtB, "so it is nice to have a local runner wearing number 1. We also have a couple of runners signed up that have very good resume' Daniel Cheruiyot and Richard Kimeli have both run under 30:00."

Cheruiyot and Kimeli both hail from Kenya.

Odenthal hopes for a good local/international battle on the women's side as well.

"Amy Lyons who placed 3rd last year has a good chance of winning but we also have Ketema Atalelech, 2005 female overall winner back this year as well as a few more new to the Get in Gear that have impressive credentials," she said.

Atalelech is from Ethiopia.

Fittingly, Kenyan Jonah Koech has the event's men's record of 28:45 set in 1994; local Olympian Janis Klecker ran 32:52 for the women's best in 1992.

Get in Gear is also the second leg of the USATF-Minnesota Team Circuit and is the USATF-Minnesota 10K State Championship race.

Update: GEAR's Pete Gilman tells DtB that Joey Keillor will not be running Get in Gear after all. Keillor and a number of other GEAR athletes are nursing injuries, according to Gilman. GEAR currently leads the open men's division of the USATF - Minnesota Team Circuit after the first event.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Collegiate Athletes of the Week

The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference named its Athletes of the Week recently.

Gustavus Adolphus College senior Tanner Miest, who won the 110 meter hurdles at the Carleton Relays in an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 14.84 last Saturday, and Bethel University sophomore Lucas Blodgett, who also qualified provisionally for the NCAA Championships in the hammer throw with a toss of 173-11 at Carleton, were then men's honorees.

For women, Concordia College senior Heather Schuster (pictured), who finished second in the University/College 800 meters at the Kansas Relays in an auto-qualifying 2:11.79, and Hamline University senior Dana Luiken, who posted an NCAA provisional qualifying mark in the heptathlon at the Bison Classic with a score of 4346, were honored.

In the North Central Conference, UMD's Matt Kleffman, who placed fifth in the hammer throw at the Carleton Relays with a throw of 163-11, finished sixth in the discus (135-7), and was fourth in the shot put (48-7) was the only Minnesota athlete highlighted by the conference.

All the the Nothern Sun Intercollegiate Conference's Athletes of the Week this week were from out-of-state.

Photo courtesy of Concordia-Moorhead.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Hamline Elite Meet Entrants Announced

The final competitors list for the Hamline Elite Meet (Presented by Nike) has been announced on the event's web-site. All the events look deliciously strong -- it's an elite meet after all! -- but the Boys 3200 meter run is particularly mouth-watering. (I'm an old distance guy, though, it should be noted.)

Toeing the line in the 3200, and perhaps taking aim at Mike Torchia's meet record 8:59.18 from last year, are 2006 MSHSL Class AA 3200m champ Elliott Heath of Winona, 2006 Class AA Cross Country champ Hassan Mead of Minneapolis South, 2005 Class AA 3200m champ Rob Finnerty of Burnsville, and Edina stars Tom Burke and TC Lumbar who have clocked 9:22 and 9:29 already this year. Missing, however, is the young season's fastest two-miler: Ben Blankenship of Stillwater, who ran 9:15 last week.

Other headliners include: Class AA 400m champ Quinn Evans of Mounds View, teammate Sean Duling, the Class AA 110m hurdles champ (who's only seeded #4!), and Class AA Long Jump champ B.J. Otto of Hill-Murray. On the girls side, cross country champs Alex Gits of Edina (Class AA) and Claire Richardson of Blake (Class A) will duel over 3200m.

Don't Touch That Dial -- Down the Backstretch will be reporting live the Elite Meet. We'll post real-time updates, results, and (if everything goes well) video from the meet. If you can't be at the corner of Snelling and Taylor in St. Paul on Friday night, pull up a chair in front of DtB and "watch" the meet with us!

Gopher 4 x 800 Eyes Drake Record

The Star-Tribune's Michael Rand just wrote a nice profile of the Gopher women's 4 x 800 meter squad. The Gopher foursome of Heather Dorniden, Julie Schwengler, Jamie Cheever, and Gabriele Anderson will attempt to break the Drake Relays record in the event this weekend.

Arkansas set the record ot 8:29.13 in 2005. The Gophers would need to average 2:07-lows to eclipse the mark. Breaking the school record of 8:41 would require 2:10s.

Also ... Drake will provide a striking backdrop for a battle between Minnesota's small college steeplechase stars. Chris Erichsen of St. John's and Travis Bristow of Hamline, currently ranked #1 and #2, respectively, on the NCAA Division III performance list, will attempt to make a splash against the big boys at Drake -- including the University of Minnesota's Ben Puhl.

Erichsen has run 9:05.84, Bristow has run 9:06.09, Puhl has clocked 9:06.51

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Dunn 4th at Pan American Cup Walk

Carleton College alum and two-time Olympian Philip Dunn placed 4th in the 50K event at the Pan American Race Walking Cup in Balneario Camboriu, Brazil on Sunday. (Racewalk results come to DtB more slowly because, ah, they can't lift their feet off the ground.)

Dunn (pictured) clocked 4:14:58.

The USA squad won the team 50K title at the event -- they were the only country with enough finishers to record a team score. Columbia won the Men's 20K event; Mexico won the Women's 20K.

Dunn finished 28th in the 2000 Olympic Games and 35th in 2004 in the 50K. He is the 2006 USA Champion in the 50K Walk.

(Full disclosure: I coach at Carleton ... but when Dunn was there running XC and track, I was coaching against him at Gustavus!)

Photo courtesy of USA Track & Field

Monday, April 23, 2007

Star-Tribune Profiles Sade Pollard

A day after we noticed that the Duluth paper had profiled defending MSHSL Class AA 100m champ Garrett Cora of Duluth East, we see that the Star-Tribune's John Millea has written a nice piece on St. Paul Harding super-sprinter Sade Pollard.

Pollard won the Class AA 100, 200, and 400 meters last year as a sophomore. She also won the 200 and 400 in her 9th-grade year.

Pollard, we learn, owes a lot to coach Henry Combs, whom she refers to a "dad." Combs discovered Pollard in 4th-grade.

"I could see the stride, I could see the hunger," he told the Star-Tribune. "She didn't back down."

Also ... Check out KARE 11's coverage of B.J. Otto, one of their Prep Athletes of the Week.

Grandma's Marathon Finally Reaches Capacity

It took longer than usual, but Grandma's Marathon finally reached its 9500 entrant capacity, according to race officials. The marathon joins its sister events (grandchildren?) William Irvin 5K and Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in being closed to registration.

More than 17,000 athletes are expected to compete in the three events held on the weekend of June 15-16 in Duluth.

Patrick Reusse Attends a Track Meet!

Sometimes the news is the news ...

Minneapolis Star-Tribune sports columnist Patrick Reusse -- better known for scrutinizing the activities of professional sports franchises and, of course, his annual Turkey Awards -- was spotted at a local, small-college track meet over the weekend. Reusse confirmed the sighting himself with this story about the Carleton Relays. If story subject Bill Huyck intrigues you, check out the this documentary about him.

In 1990, it should be noted, I saw Sid Hartman at an Olympic Festival track session at the University of Minnesota.

In other weekend news ... Dan Carlson, who we featured ahead of the the Carleton Relays, finished second in his return to the 10,000 meters there. After leading during the middle miles of the event he won in 1984, Carlson was caught and passed by Hamline sophomore Dan Steinbrecher.

Bob Kempainen and Dick Beardsley each dropped a notch on the U.S. all-time list in the marathon over the weekend. Ryan Hall's 2:08:24 in London on Sunday dropped Kempainen to 3rd and Beardsley to 5th on the list.

U.S. Men's All-Time Marathon Top 10 Performers
2:05:38 Khalid Khannouchi
2:08:24 Ryan Hall
2:08:47a Bob Kempainen

2:08:52a Alberto Salazar
2:08:54a Dick Beardsley

2:08:56 Abdi Abdirahman
2:09:00a Greg Meyer
2:09:28a Bill Rodgers
2:09:32 David Morris
2:09:32a Ron Tabb

(a = point-to-point course which could be aided by slope and/or tailwind; not eligible for U.S. record)

At the Oregon Invitational, Minnesota natives Kara Goucher and Cack Ferrell won the 5000m and 10,000m respectively. Goucher clocked 15:16.86; Ferrell ran 33:31.42. Former Stillwater star Sean Graham was 6th in the 5000m in 13:39.97; Team USA Minnesota's Andrew Carlson was 13th in 13:57.60. Adam Steele, who we chatted with last week, finished 13th in the 800 in 1:51.79

MSHSL Class AA 100m champ Garrett Cora was featured recently in this Duluth News-Tribune story.

Statistics courtesy of Running USA.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sunday Mass at the Boston Marathon

Twin Cities Marathon Elite Recruiter Rick Trueman -- a fellow I had the pleasure of coaching at St. John's back in the late-1980s -- describes one of his favorite Boston Marathon rituals.

Over the years, one my personal highlights from the Boston Marathon weekend, is the 11 a.m. Marathon Mass at Our Lady of Victories church in downtown Boston. I love the name, Our Lady of Victories. It sounds like I'm at the right place.

This is one of first churches in Boston founded by the French settlers. I have talked about this tradition with my own circle of running buddies that by the time I arrived, our group had already filled two pews. We even had a couple of Jewish friends who attended simply because of the connection between running, life, and their own spirituality.

I went over to the elite hotel and recruited a couple of athletes to join me for the service. Within my group was Mary Akor, Zoila Gomez, and Jenny Crain, or in the recruiting world, known as #2, #3 and #6 from TCM '06. They immediately knew what to do. They blew by my friends who were seated near the back of the church and went to the front.

Before mass, Mary Akor was off to the side, lighting a prayer candle and spending a few minutes to herself. After mass, Jenny Crain asked me for $2 so she could walk over and do the same thing. (I never did get my $2 back.)

As the mass went on, chills were running up and down our spines and tears were welling up in our eyes. At the beginning of mass, we were reminded that running and celebrating mass are similar in the sense that not every workout can be run at full speed. Every now and then, you need to pause, reflect, and slow it down, simply because its the healthiest thing to do.

The Gospel reading was the story about Doubting Thomas, so the entire homily connected our own doubts about running, (the weather tomorrow), life ever after, and believing in yourself. At the end of mass, they asked all of the runners to come up to the alter for a final blessing. They all assembled as the theme from "Chariots of Fire" played from the organ in the balcony. By the end of the blessing, you are ready to run a marathon right now. It really is a special feeling.

When most of us think of elites, we think they are bullet-proof. What I found were people who trusted me on the service and were genuinely touched by what was going on. There really is a spiritual connection between running, racing and life, and it runs through all of us no matter how fast or slow you are.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Short-Cut: Weekend Results for April 20-22

The outdoor track season is in full swing, and it looks like the weather is going to cooperate. Events on the roads and trails as well. Get results for this weekend's action right here...

Oregon Invitational: Results

Carleton Relays: Results
Manitou Classic - St. Olaf: Results
Iowa Musco Invite: Results
Oregon Invitational: Results
Trail Mix 25K/50K: Results
Fitgers 5K: Results

23 Years Later, Dan Carlson Returns to Carleton Relays 10,000

On a fresh, sunny April Saturday morning in 1984, Dan Carlson, then a South Dakota State Jackrabbit senior wearing a borrowed pair of Nike Zoom Ds, won the Carleton Relays 10,000 meters in 30:10.0.

A week later, Carlson (pictured racing at this year's Human Race)would clock 29:34 for the distance at the Drake Relays and ultimately finish as the runner-up in the 25-lapper at the NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships in Cape Girardeau, Missouri later that season.

Tomorrow, 23 years to-the-day after that 1984 victory, a 45-year-old Carlson will run the Carleton Relays 10,000 again -- and be a favorite -- against guys who weren't born when he won the race. After a long post-collegiate career of success on the roads, Carlson is bringing it all back home.

"Yes, back to the track," Carlson said. "I feel I need to do this now before I become an embarrassment to myself against the collegians...can you picture a 50-year old running against 21-year olds?!"

Carlson, who broke the state single-age record for 45-year-olds for 20K with his 1:07:39 at the Dr. Steven Fetzer Memorial in Rochester last weekend, ran three indoor 5000s this winter in collegiate meets running 15:32 in the fastest one. He's aiming for sub-32:00 at Carleton.

"I appreciate the opportunity that a few college coaches offer 'old dudes' to strap on the slippers again, and I do want to check out what I have left in the tank after all the years away from indoor/outdoor tracks," the three-time all-American said. "I don't want to look back someday and wonder what might have been. I'm finding that although it's not as fast now that it is still indeed cool to run these track meets and re-live some of the same emotions I felt as a competitor half my life ago."

The 1984 Carleton Relays 10,000 propelled Carlson to a shining season -- his performance at Laird Stadium got Carlson into the Drake Relays 10,000, and things went from there.

"I'll always be thankful for that 1984 Carleton Relays race," Carlson said, "because without it I may not have had the chance to stun myself and smash the South Dakota State record the next weekend at Drake. I never before -- and few times ever again -- would I feel so comfortable running so fast in front of the folks at that historic venue in Des Moines."

Carlson's 29:34 time from that race, in fact, "lives on" in his e-mail address -- dignan2934.

"After Drake I only ran one more 10,000m before nationals on a hot windy day in Omaha that yielded a slow time," Carlson remembers. "At nationals, we ran under high 80's temps and humid about one hour before a big thunderstorm rolled in. I'm a horrible heat runner but I sucked it up in my last race as a Jackrabbit and finished 2nd to Brian Ferrari by 6.5 seconds...he would go on to place 8th at the Division I 10,000m with a 29:03."

Although his SDSU career was over after the '84 season, Carlson wasn't done running. Among more than 900 career races, Carlson is especially proud of his 2:21:47 at the 1985 Twin Cities Marathon and a 23:39 at the 1987 St. Patrick's Day 5-Miler. His then-record 1:06:31 Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon victory in 1993 and a 52:51 Ten Miler as a 41-year-old in 2003 from later in his career also stand out for him.

But tomorrow the track calls.

"The track is a pure, exacting, structured competitive environment that was once a central focus of running for me," Carlson said, "so perhaps this is one final nostalgic trip down ''good memories lane.'"

You can read my interview with Carlson in its entirety on Chad Austin's Running Minnesota blog.

(Full disclosure: I'm an assistant coach at Carleton College and I finished second in the 1984 Carleton Relays 10,000.)

Photo by Curt Lyons of Glossy Digital.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Rains, Leer Named USATF Minnesota Athletes of the Month

Katelin Rains and Will Leer have been named USATF Minnesota's Athletes of the Month for April 2007.

Rains, a sophomore at Minnesota State – Mankato, was honored for winning the NCAA Division II indoor pole vault title last month. Rains cleared 14 feet to break the meet record held by Minnesota State’s own Amanda Frame from 2005.

Leer, a Minnetonka High School graduate who is a senior at Pomona-Pitzer Colleges, was recognized for defending his NCAA Division III indoor title in the mile and breaking his own meet record with a 4:08.19 clocking. Leer doubled back to finish third in the 5000 meters at the meet in 14:34.24.

USA Track & Field Minnesota selects Athletes of the Month to honor excellence in track and field and its related sports in Minnesota.

(Disclosure: Pete Miller and I serve, along with Kevin Moorhead, on the USATF-Minnesota Athlete of the Month committee.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Steele Hoping for More at Oregon Invitational

The bad thing, for former Gopher national champion Adam Steele, is that he ran poorly last weekend.

The good thing is that he gets to race again this weekend.

Steele, who trains with the Oregon Track Club in Eugene, ran 1:52.07 for 9th place in his section of the 800 meters at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, California last weekend. But the Eden Prairie High School grad gets to compete in front of his new home crowd at the high-powered Oregon Invitational this Saturday, with a chance for some half-mile redemption.

"Yes, you are correct I was hoping for more ... 3 or 4 seconds more," Steele said of his Mt. SAC race. "I believe the biggest problem with the race was the tactics, I never really put myself into the race. I ended up wasting a lot of energy trying to get out of bad situations. The reality, I should have been patient and the race would have opened up for me."

This weekend, Steele plans to be "a little more competitive at the beginning" in an effort to run closer to his 1:49.22 personal best in the event.

Steele's indoor campaign and winter training were confounded by injuries that lasted until recently.

"The health issue is always a question," he admitted. "I had the calf/Achilles injury the month of February which put me in the pool. Things were good until recently and the same stuff flared up again. I think we found the answer and will make the adjustments needed."

Check out Steele's web-site here.

Also ... Team USA Minnesota's Andrew Carlson, a former Gopher teammate of Steele's, will compete in the 5000 meters at the Oregon Invitational.

Gearman Named Big Ten Athlete of the Week

Minnesota Golden Gopher uber-jumper Derek Gearman was named the Big Ten's Field Event Athlete of the Week after high jumping 7-0 1/2 at the Sun Angel Classic in Tempe, Arizona last weekend. Gearman (pictured) now has NCAA Midwest Regional qualifying marks in the long, triple, and high jumps.

Elsewhere ... The North Central Conference named Minnesotan's Rachel Stangler of Augustana and Kali Erlandson and Jim Dilling of Minnesota State among its Athletes of the Week. Stangler clocked 11:08.99 in the steeplechase, Erlandson high jumped 5-8 3/4, and Dilling cleared 7-4 1/4 in the high jump in meets last weekend.

The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tabbed Minnesotan's Kawaskii Bacon of Concordia-St. Paul and Zac Preble and Sheena Devine of Bemidji State among its Athletes of the Week. Bacon ran a 21.32 200m and was a member of the Golden Bears 41.64 4 x 100 relay, Preble scored 6,487 points in the decathlon, and Devine put the shot 47-1 3/4.

The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference named St. John's Chris Erichsen, Gustavus' Andy Klaers and Lisa Brown, Carleton's Kelsey Barale, and Concordia-Moorhead's Heather Schuster its Athlete of the Week. Erichsen clocked 9:05.84 in the 3000m steeplechase, Klaers threw 160-6 and and 159-6 for the discus and hammer throw, respectively, Barale ran 11:15.34 in the steeplechase, Schuster clocked 4:39.34 in the 1500m, and Brown, the defending NCAA Division III champion in the event, threw 146-1 in the javelin.

Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota.

Watch Blankenship Run 9:15.42 on YouTube

What promises to be an exciting season of high school boys distance running is officially on ...

Stillwater High School senior Ben Blankenship, the defending Class AA champion at 1600m, took advantage of the nice weather and some good competition by running a swift, high school honor roll-leading 9:15.42 3200m at the Lakeville Mega Meet Tuesday night. Blankenship beat the Edina duo of Tom Burke and TC Lumbar who clocked 9:22.52 and 9:29.08, respectively.

The race is viewable on YouTube here.

Blackenship, who will attend Mississippi State next year, got some early redemption for a frustrating end to his senior cross country season. He suffered a stress fracture late in the campaign and was unable to compete for the 9th place Ponies at the State Meet.

Also: The Star-Tribune recently published its high school track previews for boys and girls.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

William Irvin Sails; Grandma's Still in Port

The William Irvin 5K, one of the Grandma's Marathon weekend events, has filled its 1200 runner limit, race officials announced late last week. It joins the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in reaching its entant limit in short order. The Irvin 5K takes place Friday, June 15; the Bjorklund Half runs on Saturday, June 16.

Grandma's marathon, also set for June 16, is still open to entrants -- roughly 100 spots within the start-area fence are still available, race officials say. In March, Grandma's officials attributed the lag in marathon entries to last year's hot and humid conditions prompting marathoners from 2006 to opt for the half marathon in 2007.

The explanation wasn't completely convincing to us. We'd expect marathoners who didn't hit their goal in 2006 to be all the more likely to try again the next year.

We followed up with Ryan Lamppa of Running USA (and, as it happens, a former MSHSL record-holder in the 200 and 400 from his days in the late 1970's as a star at Benson High School.) Lamppa, who follows trends in road racing, noted other factors that may be effecting Grandma's.

"Perhaps marathon 'fatigue' -- i.e, the thrill is gone or isn't as thrilling/novel -- and the growth and appeal of the half-marathon explain the non-sellout slow down," Lamppa speculated in an e-mail. "Another factor also could be the non-online registration for Grandma's - which is more of a hassle, less convenient. On-line registation, as you know, is ubiquitous and people are now 'trained' to expect it."

Grandma's is expected to have on-line registration next year.

"The most impressive growth distance is the half-marathon," Lamppa added, "overall and especially for women. For example, in 2002, 49% of half-marathon fields in the U.S. were female and by 2006, it was 53%!"

Monday, April 16, 2007

Team USA Minnesota's Boston Aftermath

Team USA Minnesota President Pat Goodwin kindly took time to call DtB with an on-the-ground report from Boston. She offered the following comments and insights from a Boston Marathon likely be long-remembered for its difficult conditions.

(Results and details for the top Minnesotans are one post down the page.)

On Chris Lundstrom: "He did what he usually does," Goodwin said of the consistent, even-paced veteran. Lundstrom, at 17th overall, was one place off his Boston best. "He was more concerned about Jason than about himself," Goodwin said.

On Jason Lehmkuhle: "He's so ready to run a great race," Goodwin said despite Lehmkuhle's 2:38:05 finish. Goodwin said she watched from the media center when Lehmkuhle ran through the 20 mile mark with Pete Gilmore (who would be the top U.S. finisher) in great position, but then waited and waited for Lehmkuhle at the finish line.

Leg cramps crippled Lehmkuhle in the final miles. "He had quite a bit of trouble getting down the stairs," Goodwin said.

On Sara Wells: "She's very disappointed," according to Goodwin. "She feels really confident she can get a good race in." Goodwin expects Wells to try again for her Olympic Trails qualifier at marathon this fall.

On the conditions: 'It wasn't as cold as they thought," Goodwin said. "It was 47 degrees at the start in Hopkinton and 50 degrees on the course." Goodwin reported that the wind, however, was stiff. "Walking downtown I was being pushed along the street." At one point, she worried the window of her hotel room would be blown in.

Boston: A Tough Day at the Races for Team USA Minnesota

Sometimes you eat the bear ... and sometimes the bear eats you.

As you might expect on a rain-soaked, 40s degree, winds-gusting-to-50-miles-per-hour day, conditions took their toll on runners at today's Boston's Marathon. The trio of Team USA marathoners who had hopes of top-10 finishes and Olympic Marathon Trails qualifying marks, came up short of its goals in the challenging conditions.

Chris Lundstrom led the Team USA Minnesota contingent with a 17th place finish in 2:21:24. He held up pretty well, all things considered, after coming through the half-way mark in 1:09:12. Lundstrom had hoped to improve on his 16th place finish here a year ago.

Jason Lehmkuhle who clocked 1:08:44 through the half-way mark in a pack of top-10 contenders finished 101st in 2:38:05. The "bear" has gotten Lehmkuhle in the late-going of his last two marathons -- after leading early-on at the 2006 Twin Cities Marathon, he ended up a suffering 9th.

Come-backing Sara Wells, the 2003 USA Marathon Champion, finished 32nd overall and 24th in the USA Women's Championship held in junction with the open race at Boston. Wells clocked 2:54:07 after splitting 1:20:32 at half-way. Improbably, she ran the exact same time at TCM last year for 23rd place in the USA Championship there.

Wells still needs a Trails qualifying mark in order to compete at the 2008 Olympic Trials to be held at Boston in one year. She finished 7th in the 2004 Marathon Trials.

Former Team USA Minnesota and Brainerd High School star Turena Johson Lane had the best performance by a Minnesotan. The Palmetto Bay, Florida resident finished 18th overall and 11th in USA Championship in 2:44:23.

Minnesota's Sharon Stubler was the 8th place masters woman clocking 3:13:35.

Brutal Boston Marathon to Run as Planned; Get Exclusive Post-Race Details Here

The 111th Boston Marathon started as planned today despite raw weather in the northeast. Race officials are warning participants about start-time temperatures in the mid to high 30s, 3-5 inches of rain, and headwinds of 20-25 mile-per-hour -- with gusts to 50 mph!

As of Sunday, all three Team USA Minnesota athletes entered -- Jason Lehmkuhle, Chris Lundstrom, and Sara Wells -- still planned to compete. Team USA Minnesota President Pat Goodwin told DtB her athletes were in good spirits on Sunday.

"They seem relaxed and not worried about the weather and are taking the necessary steps to be prepared for whatever the elements will be tomorrow," she said. "I have the sense that they will do fine unless the wind is at gale force."

Post-Race Information: Goodwin plans to contact Down the Backstretch shortly after the Team USA Minnesota athletes finish to provide details on their races. Look for this information in the early afternoon ... exclusively on DtB!

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Short-Cut: Weekend Results for April 13-16

There's lots of action to follow this weekend:

Katie McGregor racing in the Mt. SAC 5000, Golden Gophers competing in practically every corner of the country -- check out their men's and women's weekend previews for locations near you! -- the local small college scene emerging from beneath the melting snow, local road racing starting to heat up ... and then there's that little foot race out east -- the Boston Marathon.

Find results for all of it right here ...

Mt. SAC Relays (McGregor): Results
Update: McGregor 16th in 15:47.30

Mesa Track Classic (Gopher Men): Results
John Jacobs Invitational (Gopher Men): Results
Georgia Spec Towns Invitational (Gopher Women): Results

John Jacobs Invitational (Gopher Men): Results
ASU Sun Angel Classic (Gopher Men): Results
Update: Gearman wins high jump at 7-0 1/2

Georgia Spec Towns Invitational (Gopher Women): Results
Update: Cheever debuts in 'chase at 10:21.57, Dorniden clocks 2:04.11

Gustavus Lee Krough Invitational: Results
Update: Bristow chases 9:06.09

UW-Eau Claire Blugold Open: Results
Run in the Valley 5K/10K: Results
Dr. Steven Fetzer Memorial 20K: Results
Update: Gilman, Gacek win.

Fred Kurz Memorial 10 Mile: Results

111th Boston Marathon: Results

Lehmkuhle: Trading Mood Instability for Full Glycogen Stores

We asked Team USA Minnesota's Jason Lehmkuhle (pictured) a few questions about his preparations for Monday's Boston Marathon. After a disappointing Twin Cities Marathon last fall, the 9th place finisher at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trails looks for marathon redemption on Boston's famous course.

DtB: How has you training gone for the race?

Lehmkuhle: Overall, it's gone really well. The whole build up hasn't gone exactly like it was drawn up on paper, but I guess it never does. In January I went to Flagstaff in preparation for USATF Cross Country. I haven't done much training at altitude, but I had, what I thought was a really good month out there. After cross country, I lost a whole week with the flu. A little later in March when we got all of that snow, I had to modify a couple of workouts and a long run, moving them indoors or onto a treadmill.

Overall though, as I said, it's been really good. I've had 5 or 6 weeks in the 125 to 150 range, and I can count on one hand the number of workouts I've finished in the last three or so months where I didn't finish feeling pleased.

I know you were confident about your fitness going into Twin Cities last year, have you trained similarly to that this time around?

I think what I took from my training last summer though is that good workouts and good showings at shorter races, 10K to half marathon, don't automatically make for success at the marathon. I wasn't happy with TCM last fall, but I can't say definitively that my performance there was at all function of the training I had done.

There were a number of things that went wrong or I did wrong on race day that can at least partially explain why I blew up. I feel like I mostly covered all of my bases in training. With that said, the training is/has been fairly similar. I am tapering a little more, you could say, assertively. Dennis [Barker, Team USA Minnesota coach] has been stressing that. I've historically had problems embracing the notion that more time on my butt (in the last two weeks) will help me run faster. I go a little stir crazy. So we'll see if trading mild mood instability for full glycogen stores is sound policy this go around.

What do you think the key will be for running a good time on the Boston course?

As it's my first trip to Boston, I really don't have a fix on what "the key" is. I have talked to a lot of people who have run, though. My plan is to run through the first half conservatively, 1:07-ish, with hopes to do minimal damage to the legs during the long downhill sections.

Everyone says you are going to bleed a little time in the Newton hills, but you have to remain relaxed. Once you get over Heartbreak Hill at 21 you can supposedly make up a lot of time and/or at least get back on goal pace, but if you've red-lined it in the hills there's a pretty good chance you'll be in survial shuffle mode by 22 or 23.

So my rough plan is to run even splits... or with a little help from the marathon gods maybe I can get a few seconds back in the second half.

Also: Check out Runner's World's "Brief Chat With" Brainerd High School alum Turena Johnson Lane who is running in Boston's USA Women's Marathon Championship.

Photo by Victor Sailer, courtesy of Team USA Minnesota.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It’s Hard to be a Minimalist in a High-Tech World

Runner/Essayist Jess Koski sent DtB these thoughts about marathons and headphones -- a hot topic since Grandma's Marathon announced it will enforce the USATF rule forbidding headphones in competition ...

“My name is Jess K. (unclear reference lost on younger generation?) and I wore an iPod in the Twin Cities Marathon.”

Sure, I’d love to claim I was “doing research for this article,” but the truth is I’d scored an iPod Nano from another oldster who couldn’t figure the blasted thing out. I thought that maybe some rock and roll might pull me along to an effortless, “in the zone,” experience like the runs I’d recently had on my treadmill (which I now realize must be on a downhill grade.)

Nowadays it seems you can strap anything to your body. So, I set out from the Metrodome looking and feeling like an ultra-runner: belt, gels, music, the pill-cocktail carried in baggies pinned to my shorts.

What was I thinking? What happened to the minimalist marathoner I once was? The guy who used to peel the stripes off of his flats to save weight? Scissor his number to the smallest possible size? Don too-small shorts that rivaled his wife’s bun-huggers (though much less attractive on a man if you know what I mean.)?

Instead of monitoring my pace, cutting tangents, and listening my body, I was searching for buttons on the iPod, tightening my belt against bouncing paraphernalia, feeling conspicuous and a bit stupid.

To make a long, miserable race short, I struggled through the race with all my stuff (except the still-full gel bottle that fell out of my belt at 8 miles.) Some of the songs on my iPod weren’t exactly uplifting (Dylan’s “Idiot Wind”) while others did actually help toward the end. Johnny Winter’s “Still Alive and Well” helped me up the hill at 21 miles and Dylan Thomas’ droning recitation of “Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night.” (“..old age should burn and rave at close of day/ Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”) filled my entire being at 25 miles…just in time to save me from being caught and passed for the last paying spot in the age-group.

This year Grandma’s has announced that there will be no headphones allowed on the course per USATF regulations. I think this is a good thing. There are the obvious safety issues, but there’s another thing that bothers me about these devices. They put up a barrier between the runner and the outside world. I recall with shame how I had to pull off the headphones to ask Dan Morse to repeat himself as he yelled out some encouragement to me near the end of the race.

A runner in headphones is sending a message to people on the course, many who have made the effort to stand outside for hours in less-than ideal weather to encourage strangers to do their best. The message is ‘I don’t care what you’re saying.’ Marathoning ranks low as a spectator sport, but when the competitors are nothing more than unresponsive zombies it’s a wonder anyone turns out to egg us on. Wearing headphones also prevents the kinds of little conversations runners have with one another during the race; the advice, encouragement, the complaining, inevitable excuses, the camaraderie.

I know a woman who has decided not to run the Bjorklund Half-Marathon because she was upset by this prohibition. She says she “can’t run without her headphones.” I want to tell her about running “unencumbered.” I want to tell her about the simple purity of the Navajo kids we knew in Arizona who were sent out of the hogan at dawn to run as hard as they could into the rising sun. Shoes and pants and a roll in the snow at the end of the run. I want to tell her about hearing the first Robin’s song of the Spring, the first “peepers” in that pond at the end of the Laine Road. I want to tell her how damn good it feels to hear your name called out near the finish line of a race in a faraway city.

Of course this is easy for me to say; the smugness of the recovering iPod addict….

Jess Koski writes the "218: Running Along the Northern Border" column for Minnesota Running & Track.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

" ... I'm not as concerned with time as much as with competing well."

We asked Team USA Minnesota's Chris Lundstrom a few questions about his preparations and plans for Monday's Boston Marathon. Lundstrom (pictured) returns to Boston for a third time coming off a redeeming 4th place finish at the Twin Cities Marathon last fall.

DtB: Are there things that you learned from your successful 2006 TCM that you're planning to put to use at Boston?

Lundstrom: I took a few things from Twin Cities and applied them to my training. The most important thing that I tried to do similarly was specific course preparation. In other words, running marathon pace over the type of course that I will be racing over. That was very easy for Twin Cities. We (Jason [Lehmkuhle] and I) did a bunch of runs over various parts of the course, with some of them being marathon simulation workouts.

Training on the course itself was not an option for Boston, so I had to be a little more creative in preparing for the demands of the course, particularly in the dead of winter with ice and snow to deal with. I used Google Maps to look at elevation and try to find some hilly areas and loops that would simulate Boston at least to some degree, and on a few occasions I did workouts on the treadmill, adjusting the elevation throughout the run to mimic the Boston course. The downhills are really a big challenge at Boston, and that's tough to simulate, but I did the best I could.

Also, I've been good about my strength training, and I think that does wonders for keeping your legs strong in the late stages of a marathon, especially a hilly one.

DtB: You raced three straight weekends back in March, was that part of a new strategy for getting ready for Boston?

I ran the Gate River 15k, the USA 8k Championships in New York, and the ING Georgia Half Marathon. I don't typically race that much, but I felt like there were good reasons for going to all three. The 15k was a very competitive race and I really needed a tough race in the 15k to half marathon range to focus my training through February and early March. The winter gets long without something to look forward to and shoot for, and I have been to Gate before and really like that race.

The 8k was really a chance to get out to New York and see the course that will be used for the Olympic Trials Marathon next fall. On top of that, I got a short, high intensity race in, which I like to do at least once in the month or two before the marathon. The ING Georgia Half was really a perfect simulation for Boston -- it's a very hilly course, and it was hot, which can be the case at Boston. So I really felt like it would be a good chance to test my legs and give them one final long, hard effort before beginning the taper.

On the whole, I think the three weeks in a row of racing were beneficial. Back when I was just out of college, I would go through periods where I raced every weekend, and I haven't really found any better way to get sharp and race-ready. There certainly was a risk involved in racing that much, with all the travel and the demanding nature of the races. I could have overdone it, gotten sick, and/or sacrificed training, but I think I came through it in good shape and having managed to train pretty well between the races. I definitely was worn out for a few days after the half, but the timing worked out well with that being the beginning of my taper.

DtB: What can you tell us about your goals and race plans for Boston?

Nothing. It's a secret.

No, seriously, I went out very conservatively at TCM and that paid off. I plan to get out a bit faster at Boston, but hopefully within the same effort range. Boston is a net downhill through 16 miles, so I think it's tough to run a negative split race there. At the same time, you need to save something for the hills from 17-21. So it's sort of walking that fine line, and hopefully I can run the right effort again, and not obsess too much about exact splits in those early miles.

In terms of goals, I was 20th in 2005 and 16th in 2006 at Boston, and I'd like to place higher again this year. That's the main goal. Ultimately, a top ten finish at a Boston or New York would be a great accomplishment for me, so that's definitely on my mind. In terms of time, I've tried to gear my training towards running 2:15. It's such a crapshoot at Boston with the weather. It could get hot, or windy, or it could be a great day, so I'm not as concerned with time as much as with competing well.

Photo courtesy of Team USA Minnesota.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Stelten, McNamara are KARE 11 Prep Athletes of the Week

When I went to bed last night, I figured I had today's DtB post taken care of. Chaska pole vaulter Lauren Stelten and Mounds View jumper Tommy McNamara were featured as the KARE 11 Prep Athletes of the Week last night.

Unfortunately, KARE's Prep Athlete info and clips don't make it to KARE's web-site immediately. No matter how often I refreshed this morning, a hockey player and hoopster still graced the Prep Athlete of the Week page.

I'm sure Stelten and McNamara will decorate the page soon enough. Until then, however, you can hunt through KARE's Prep Athlete of the Week archives to find vintage clips of Jerrell Hancock and Elizabeth Yetzer.

The site purportedly features some other archived clips, including McNamara's own Mounds View teammate Quinn Evans, but I couldn't get them to run on my computer. (An annoying LA Wieght Loss spot works just fine, though!)

Update: Stelten and McNamara's Prep Athlete of the Week clips are now up on the KARE 11 site.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Russell Talks About a Tough USA 100K

Pat Russell, who was unable to finish Saturday's USA 100K Championship in Madison, Wisconsin, tells Chad Austin about his race (and a lot more) in a brand new Running Minnesota post. Minnesota native Scott Jurek finished second in the race; Duluth's Kim Holak was the 8th place woman.

Russell, who admitted he was still "taking stock" of his performance, attributed the cold conditions -- temps in the 20s with windchills near zero at the start -- and some lingering injuries as part of his downfall. Russell added that Minnesota's Sonya Anderson-Decker was rushed to the hospital with hypothermia after running well through 9oK.

Russell had opened the 2007 season road racing season with three victories, including the USATF - Minnesota 8K title at the Human Race 8K.

Also: Chad Austin has a nice interview with Garrett Heath on his site, here.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Short-Cut: Weekend Results for April 6-8

Ultra-runners Scott Jurek and Pat Russell race at the USA 100K in Madison ... Gophers Aaron Buzard and Ibrahim Kabia open their outdoor seasons at Auburn ... Ryan Kleimenhagen shoots for sub-4 at Furman ... but the results are all right here on DtB!

Hamline Invitational: CANCELLED
Auburn Tiger Classic: Men (Gopher Men's Preview)

Auburn Tiger Classic: Men
Update: Buzard wins in 46.57, Gearman 2nd in 24-9,

USA 100K Championships: Men & Women
Update: Jurek 2nd in 7:32:05, Russell DNF; Kim Holak 8th in 9:35:24

Furman Invitational: Men
Update: Kleimenhagen 5th in 4:06.98

Headphones Not Allowed?

Grandma's Marathon recently announced that they will be complying with a new USATF rule banning headphones and "similar devices" in all Grandma's-related events (including the Fitger's 5K and the Park Point 5-Miler). The Star Tribune devoted some space to the issue, and talked to most of the major players (except anyone from USATF). According to the article, Twin Cities Marathon is jumping on the no-headphones bandwagon as well.

If Grandma's and TCM are interpreting the rule correctly, the headphones ban would apply to all events sanctioned by USATF.

The rule in question – #144.3b – falls under the "Assistance to Athletes" heading in the USATF rule book. It seems pretty obvious that it is intended to prevent athletes (most likely field athletes) from using an electronic device to gain an unfair advantage during competition. There is a "Medical and Safety Concerns for Road Events" rule (#241) which makes no mention of music devices or headphones.

So, are Grandma's and Twin Cities are overreacting? Are they applying a rule to an area of the sport that it was never intended to affect? Here's hoping that someone from USATF comes forward and advises their sanctioned events on the proper interpretation of the rule. It would be a shame for these events to lose runners just because someone on the rules committee didn't think of all the possible applications.

Image from

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Little of This, This, and This. Plus, Weather!

Like a runner who has let the lead pack get away from him, we're playing a little catch-up today at DtB -- listing a bunch of links to items we haven't had a chance to get to yet this week.

USA 100K -- According to the Running USA form-chart for the event, the USA 100K Championship held in conjunction with the Mad City 100K this weekend could be a battle of Minnesotans. Duluth native Scott Jurek (who currently resides in Seattle) and Pat Russell (who we featured earlier this week) are listed among the race favorites. Jurek, the seven-time winner of the Western States 100 Mile Race, is coming down in his typical distance for Mad City.

Kleiminhagen to Race Webb -- Team USA Minnesota reports that miler Ryan Kleiminghagen will toe the starting line in the mile at the Furman Invitational on Saturday against Alan Webb. Event officials hope the winner will run the first sub-four-minute mile on South Carolina soil in the event. Kleimenhagen clocked 3:59.00 indoors last year.

Athletes of the Week (This and Last) -- The college conferences are minting athletes of the week again. Jenny Hoese, Katelin Rains, and Jim Dilling, all of Minnesota State - Mankato, earned the distinction last week. This week, Heidi Evans of UND and Lindsey Schultz of Augustana, and James Martinsen of UMD earned the weekly honors. The MIAC just got back into the AOW game this week noting the performances of Travis Bristow of Hamline, Katie Theisen of St. Thomas, and Amanda Weinmann of St. Mary's. In the NSIC, Emily King of Winona State was the only athlete with Minnesota ties to earn that conference's honors.

Roehrig Leads Nation, Big-10 -- Gopher heptathlete Liz Roehrig currently leads the nation in her event after her school-record 5621 point performance at Texas-Arlington last weekend. Roehrig was named a Big-10 Athlete of the Week for the performance. Last year, Roehrig ranked 17th in the nation in the event with a 5498 score.

Mounds View Boys Open Strongly -- Defending boys State True Team and MSHSL Class AA champs Mounds View is off to a strong start in 2007. The Mustangs won the the Minnesota/ROTC meet by a whopping 54.8 to 23 over Minneapolis South last weekend. Defending MSHSL champs Quinn Evans (400) and Sean Duling (hurdles) won events at the meet, as did Tommy McNamara (TJ & LJ), and the 4 x400.

It's Cold Outside (Duh!) -- Hamline University has cancelled the Hamline Invitational originally scheduled for Friday due to the cold weather.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Wells Lines Up for Boston with the End in Sight

You don't expect to find a former USA Marathon champion using a citizen's race like last weekend's MDRA 7 Mile for a final, big race tune-up, but sometimes a small race is just the ticket for a big-time runner.

It was for 2003 USA Marathon champ Sara Wells (pictured). She clocked a second-place-overall 40:29 over the hilly Hopkins course to prep for the 2007 USA Women's Marathon Championship to be held in conjunction with the Boston Marathon a week from Monday.

"I was having trouble getting into other races due to conflicts in schedule and this one finally worked out with my schedule," Wells told DtB. "I guess I was using it for a number of reasons with the primary reason being to get in a good hard race before Boston. The fact that it was a nice hilly course was an added bonus!"

The Boston course, it almost goes without saying, is known for its hills -- the famous, uphill Heartbreak Hill as well as the quad-blasting early- and late-race downhills ones. Wells admits her goal for Boston is fairly modest for a 7th place finisher at the 2004 USA Olympic Marathon Trails who owns a 2:33:15 personal best:

"Get a qualifying time for the trials!"

"Honestly," she explains, "that is the main goal. I was not so smart when I ran Twin Cities last fall so now I need to play it safe and just make sure I can get the time. That way I will have something to train for after graduation!"

At TCM, the 2006 USA Championship, she finished 23rd in 2:54:07 after going through the half-way mark in 1:17:39.

Wells, 28, who will earn her doctorate in physical therapy in May -- and will marry in June -- has had to juggle national-class running with graduate study for the last three years. That, plus a spell of injuries has made the recent past more challenging than her initial post-collegiate success.

"I feel that the demands of school have been the most limiting factor when trying to compete at the level I had been prior to entering the doctoral program in 2004," Wells said. "There were a few injuries thrown in which made it even more difficult to train. I guess the impact the injuries would have was much more significant because finding time to cross train and get the proper treatment was a challenge. It was much easier to focus on school and put running on the back burner during this time."

"However, I have been injury free for a good period of time, knock on wood, but have not been able to return to the same level of training as I had been prior to school. There are just so many things going on in my life right now including planning a wedding, finishing up a final research project for school, completing my final clinical rotation, and studying for the board exam, that I am not able to get in the high mileage that I was before the other marathons. I have been consistently getting around 65-78 miles a week, which includes a long run on the weekends of 18-24 miles."

But Wells has already come back a long way from her low-point.

" ... that had to be during my second year in school when the course load was tough and I was battling plantar fasciitis," she said. "I was ready to throw in the towel with running, then try to pick it up again when I was done with school, if I still had it in my heart. I discussed these feelings with Dennis [Barker, Team USA Minnesota Coach] and he was more than understanding. He said that he still believed in me and he is probably the reason I continued to give it a shot."

"Now the end is in sight and I am so excited!"

Not a bad way of looking at things when you have 26.2 miles to go.

Photo courtesy of Team USA Minnesota.