Friday, August 31, 2007

Irish Invite: Rosemount and Prior Lake Win; Carlson, Moraczewski Top Strong Fields

The highly-touted Rosemount boys cross country team -- ranked #1 in Class AA and NTN's Heartland Region -- lived up to their early billing with comprehensive victory at their home invitational today.

The Irish scored 38 points to outdistance #6 Armstrong, second with 85. #7 Lakeville North was third with 117, edging Mounds View with 118. Minnetonka finished 5th with 131.

Prior Lake won the tight battle between the state's top-ranked Class AA girls teams. The #2 Lakers edged #1 Lakeville North 60-63. White Bear Lake was third with 87, followed by Wayzata with 95 and Minnetonka with 112.

#5 Chaska managed only 7th place with 238 points.

Rosemount's Jordan Carlson was the boys medalist, running the two mile course in 9:42. Carlson was followed by teammate Obai Hussein in 9:48 and Lakeville North's Tyler King in 9:50.

White Bear Lake's Katie Moraczewski won the girls varsity race, also two miles, in 11:45. Lakeville North Michelle Volz was second in 12:01; Minnetonka's Emily Meese was third in 12:11.

Full results can be found HERE.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Top-Ranked Boys and Girls High School Teams Open Friday in Rosemount

The Minnesota High School cross country season gets underway in earnest Friday at Rosemount's Irish Invite.

There, the Rosemount boys -- ranked #1 in Class AA, #1 in the Heartland Region of Nike Team Nationals, and #16 in Harrier Magazine's nation-wide poll will host #6 Armstrong and #7 Lakeville North. Chaska, Mounds View, and Minnetonka, which all received votes in the coaches balloting also compete.

In girls' competition, pre-season Class AA #1 Lakeville North will clash with #2 Prior Lake and #5 Chaska. White Bear Lake, Armstrong, and Mounds View are also notable contenders.

The indivudual match-up should be exciting as well. #2 ranked Tyler King of Lakeville North and #3 ranked Jordan Carlson of Rosemount are favorites in the boys race. For the girls, #4 ranked Michelle Volz of Lakeville North -- the defending Class AA 1600m champ -- looks to get strong competition from #5 ranked Meghan Heuer of Prior Lake and #7 ranked Katie Moraczewski of White Bear Lake.

Racing gets underway on the Rosemount campus at 9:00 a.m. Varsity girls run at 10:40; varisty boys run at 11:05. All races are two miles.

Harder's Thoughts ...

To get into the spirit of the cross country season, DtB talked to Rosemount coach Chris Harder about his highly-touted boys' team and the season ahead ...

Your team is ranked #1 in Class AA, #1 in the Heartland Region, and #16 in the nation. Is that a blessing or a curse? What do you do to manage the excitement and expectations of all that?

"We prefer to be ranked first. The guys had high expectations the last few seasons and prepared this summer regardless of our pre-season ranking. No amount of outside pressure is more than what they already put on themselves. This group loves to compete, but also had the willingness to prepare to compete."

"There is certainly a buzz in the community and that can only be a good thing for our sport."

What are you looking for from your team in the meet this week and in early season competitions in general?

"We are looking from a solid effort across the board (all levels) to consolidate our last three week cycle of training. Since it is a two mile on our home course, we want the guys to get out and attack. We don't worry about running any type of pace race, just get out and compete. A two mile time on our course will give a good indication where our guys are at for their quality sessions the next few weeks."

"The competition at the meet is good, although not nearly as strong as the girls field. There are two other ranked teams in Armstrong and Lakeville North. Armstrong has steadily improved the last few years and have a good nucleus returning. LN has a low card in Tyler King and an arsenal of young talent. Plus, Mounds View is always strong despite not being ranked. They weren't ranked last year in the pre-season and nearly beat us at this meet. They should be a senior-laden team, with possibly their top seven all seniors. Minnetonka added Nick Emmans to go with Ryan Bailey. The Skippers have the numbers in the program to put something together. Chaska and Rochester Century could be dangerous as well. Chaska has a meet under their belt already and have some depth. Century has a solid 1-2 punch in Shane Steele and Brian Willie.

Tell us a little bit about the guys on your team -- their strengths, their personalities, etc. And, tell us what makes them, collectively, such a strong group?

"Our guys have multi-sports backgrounds which I feel is a strength on a number of fronts. Jordan Carlson is the hockey co-captain. They should contend for the Lake title this winter. Obai Hussein is a contender to start at point guard for basketball. Chris Massey wrestled last year. Tim Kojetin played basketball many years. Many of our top JV guys are all winter sports guys. They have been in many competitive situations. Their training for those sports provide balance physically and mentally. The traditional third sport for endurance athletes, nordic skiing, is offered at the district level for our school and we have minimal participation for Rosemount kids. One of our top runners last year, Mike Bumgarner, is the only Rosemount athlete ever to qualify for state nordic skiing."

"They also have a lot of fun together off the course. The guys have a strong bond. Cross country is an individual sport with a team concept. I don't think any of our guys would be at their current level without the team. They push each other, have fun together, and don't want to let each other down. That is why what the outside world ranks them has no bearing because they put more pressure on themselves to perform."

Photo of Rosemount boys team members by Brian Fendrich.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bounced: 45-7 1/4 Lands Marks 18th in Prelims

Four-time USA triple jump champion Shani Marks finished tied for 18th with a leap of 45-7 1/4 in triple jump qualifying at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships.

The mark did not qualify the former Apple Valley and U of M star for the finals of the event.

Marks needed to better 46-7 1/4 -- the 12th and final qualifying mark -- to gain access to finals in the event on Friday.

"It was a fun one," Marks told USATF media staff. "I didn't jump as well as I wanted to. I learned I have to be ready to jump in the first three rounds. I'm used to getting six. This was good preparation for next year."

In her GopherSports blog, Marks went a little further.

"I actually felt great while I was jumping, but am so used to getting six jumps that I just couldn’t put one out there in the first three in order to make the final. I competed against the very best and the competition was tough. Very tough. But the fact is that I had a very successful year and I learned a lot so I am ready to rest and then get ready to work hard for next year when it all really counts."

Marks opened prelims with a 45-4 1/2 leap; she jumped 44-3 1/2 on her second attempt before landing her best mark on her final attempt.

With the result, participation by Minnesota athletes in Osaka ends. Duluth native Kara Goucher headlined the meet for the state with her surprise bronze medal finish in the women's 10,000 meters. Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor finished 13th in the event as well. Minnesota State Mankato alum Jim Dilling finished 32nd overall in high jump qualifying.

Former Team USA Minnesota athlete Dana Coons, now based in Vienna, Virginia, competes in the marathon on September 2.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Shani's Got Next: 47-3 or Top-12 or Bust!

Shani Marks, the final Minnesota athlete to compete at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Osaka, Japan faces a basic but challenging task in triple jump qualifying tomorrow:

Jump 47-3 -- a foot-plus PR for the former Gopher -- or finish in the top-12 of the 31 athlete field in the event. Those are the two paths to the triple jump final on August 31.

The top-12 route might be a little less daunting -- 46-3 1/2 made finals at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki. Then again, it took 47-7 3/4 -- better than the American Record! -- to make the finals grade at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004.

Judging by Marks' blog, she doesn't seem to be dwelling on those numbers. She seems to be lapping up Japan instead, as she awaits her event. The four-time USA Champion, whose 46-2 1/2 PR ranks her as the #6 triple jumper all-time for in the USA, does have a way of coming through in the clutch.

If you're an early riser, you can follow Marks' progress live, HERE, beginning at 5:30 a.m. CDT.

If you wake a bit later, say 7:00 a.m., you should be just in time to see results HERE.

If you're not logging on until 8:30 a.m. or so, expect a DtB story on the event posted above this one!

A Kara Goucher Bronze Medal Scrapbook

Since it ain't every day that a Minnesotan wins a medal at a World Championships -- heck, Kara Goucher's bronze was the first-ever for an American at 10,000 meters -- we thought it was worth the effort and the band-width to gather as many mementos of the accomplishment as we could as an keepsake.

Call it scrap-blogging!

Let's start with a photo from the race itself, by DtB contributor Sean Hartnett ...

It's the late-going and eventual winner Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia (412) and eventual silver medalist Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey (904) lead Goucher and former Providence star Kim Smith of New Zealand.

Here's another Hartnett shot -- Sean did awesome photo/video work at my wedding too! -- of Goucher fighting it out for the bronze with Smith (left) and Great Britian's Joanne Pavey (behind.)

Pavey would finish 4th, Smith 5th.

Goucher, according to my very accurate sometime-colleagues at Track & Field News, closed the race with a 16.0 last 100m and a 32.0 last 200.

Her final 400m was 65.2 and the final 800m was 2:15.6.

She clocked 5Ks of 16:30.6 and 15:31.4; her final 1600m was 4:42.6.

That kind of finishing can tire a gal (or fella!) out ...

But, oh, the satisfaction that must come from succeeding on such a grand scale.

There's been a wealth of good print coverage of Goucher's historic feat. Here's a sampling ...

From her old hometown paper, the Duluth News-Tribune

From her college-town paper, the Boulder Daily Camera (with a sweet photo with her USA teammate/husband Adam.)

From her current hometown paper, the Portland Oregonian.

From USA Today.

From Sports Illustrated Online (with a great photo!)

From Parker Morse for the IAAF (with a nice photo.)

There's also video of Goucher's post-race media conference, HERE, thanks to Flocast. (That's our shooter Sean, getting in that one last question!)

I'm told an extended video interview is with Goucher is coming soon. Keep checking DtB for details.

Photos by Sean Hartnett.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Dilling's 7-2 1/4 Doesn't Advance to Finals

Former Minnesota State Mankato high jumper Jim Dilling cleared 7-2 1/4 in the qualifying round of the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Osaka, Japan, which failed to advance him to Wednesday's final round.

Jumpers needed to clear 7-6 to advance; fifteen athletes made that height.

The competition was eye-opening for Dilling.

"It's a different level over here," he told USATF media staffers after the competition, "so I'm going to shut it down for the year and get ready to come back for the Trials."

Dilling cleared 7-0 1/4 on his first attempt but needed three tries at 7-2 1/4 before clearing the bar.

The four-time NCAA Division II champion for the Mavericks missed three times at 7-3 3/4.

The full results sheet from the event is HERE.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Bronze Medal for Goucher!

Duluth native Kara Goucher earned a bronze medal in the 10,000 meters at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships today. She clocked a season-best 32:02.05 for the 3rd place finish behind Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba's winning 31:55.41 and runner-up Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey's 31:59.40.

"I've never been in a race so rough," Goucher told USATF media staffers. "I was running in lane 2, but I said that I don't want to fall, so I hung out there."

"We've been training so hard in the heat," the University of Colorado graduate said. "With the pace so slow, I was thinking to myself that this is good for me.With two laps to go, I was thinking that fifth or sixth would be good, but then I thought about running in the sauna suit, and the 90-mile weeks, and the aqua jogging, and I said to myself, 'sprint.'"

Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor was 13th in 32:44.76.

"It was really hard t get comfortable," she admitted, "and I probably should have been more aggressive. I just think I didn't put myself in a position to compete. I got spiked, and I think I started thinking about other things besides racing. I was in the back in the beginning, but when it was time to move up, I just didn't play it right."

Full results are HERE.

There's a fantastic photo of an elated Goucher in the IAAF photo gallery HERE.

Photo by Sean Hartnett.

Friday, August 24, 2007

California Style: End of the Week Loose Items

What's that joke about California? They tipped the United States and all the loose screws rolled there. Well, a lot of loose items in the DtB in-box have rolled to Friday afternoon. To make sure they're not completely lost in the shuffle, here's a miscellanea of news and information -- California-style.

-- Officials at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon announced yesterday that they will add to the number of elite athletes tested for performance enhancing drugs at this year's Sunday events -- the Twin Cities Marathon and TC-10 Mile. TCM will use its own funds to cover the the costs of additional testing. TCM officials tell DtB that an additional 3-5 athletes will be tested beyond those screened by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency because of TCM's efforts. TCM's media release on the matter is HERE.

-- St. Paul Pioneer Press running columnist Bruce Brothers offered his nominations for this year's class of the Minnesota Track and Field Hall of Fame. (We did the same thing a while back, HERE.) On Brothers' list: Team USA Minnesota coach Dennis Barker, Team USA Minnesota President Pat Goodwin, marathoner and ultra-marathoner Barney Klecker, finisher of every Grandma's Marathon and TCM John Naslund, and long-time MDRA and USATF - Minnesota officer Rick Recker.

-- Jenny Crain, a Wisconsin-based elite marathoner and road racer who competed in Minneapolis last weekend at the Heart of Summer 10K, was struck by a car and seriously injured while training in Milwaukee earlier this week.

A Milwaukee Journal story filed shortly after the accident is HERE. A more recent update is HERE.

-- The Interstate 35W bridge collapse has moved the September 23 Women Run the Cities road races off of West River Road to Minnehaha Park. Twin Cities Marathon officials are still working on the re-designed TC-10 Mile course, also affected by the bridge collapse.

-- The always-interesting Andrew Carlson -- have you heard his play-by-play work? -- just posted a new entry to his journal on Men's Racing. You can read it HERE. He's looking forward to the New Haven 20K and the TC-10 Mile, both USA Championship events.

-- We also recommend Shani Marks' Osaka blog that the GopherSports web-site is hosting for the U of M alum. Marks is enjoying Japan as she awaits triple jump qualifying on August 29 at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships.

-- The start of action is Osaka is less than three hours away as this post goes to press. In the opening event, the men's marathon, last year's Twin Cities Marathon 1-2 finishers Mbarak Hussein and Simeon Sawe are among those representing the USA.

The startlist for the event is HERE.

-- The startlist for the women's 10,000 meters, featuring Minnesotans Kara Goucher and Katie McGergor is HERE.

Look for results of that event early on Saturday morning, CDT.

Lilienthal: " ... because everyone is committed, fun, and balanced."

It's Friday, so in keeping with a little pattern we've established, we'll introduce another new member of Team USA Minnesota to the DtB-reading public. We've already introduced Emily Brown and Antonio Vega, today we meet the third-and-final newbie Michelle Lilienthal.

Lilienthal (pictured) clocked a PR 2:35:51 in finishing 4th at last year's Twin Cities Marathon/USA Marathon Championship. Since then she's placed third in both the USA 25K and half marathon championships.

We asked Lilienthal, an Iowa native and University of Wisconsin grad, the following ...

What drew you to Minnesota and Team USA Minnesota?

Katie [McGregor] was my room mate at the 25K Championships in May and she only had great things to say about the team and running in Minneapolis. Her enthusiasm for the team sparked my interest and when I came to visit in June I saw first hand how conducive the area is for running. Dennis was on the same page as my previous coaches as far as workouts and mileage for marathon training, and the team also drew me in because everyone is committed, fun, and balanced.

What are you hoping you'll find here that will help you to take the next step in the sport?

Being surrounded by runners who are committed to training and working hard. Working with a coach like Dennis and having his guidance during workouts will be a big change for me and a huge advantage. I have already learned about how much support the team receives and I think having access to the best facilities and medical support staff will help me achieve my goals.

Is the Olympic Trials Marathon in Boston next spring the next marathon on the horizon for you, or are you planning one in the fall?

Olympic Trials in Boston will be my next marathon and this fall I will focus on training and racing some shorter distances. I am hoping to race a 20K later this fall in addition to some races between 8k and a half marathon, we'll see how training goes over the next month before making any definite racing decisions.

Photo courtesy of Team USA Minnesota.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Goucher in Osaka: Seafood Hamburgers with a Side of Donuts

If Tuesday was Shani Marks' "media day" -- we noted her feature on Rosen's Sports Sunday on the same day the Rachel Blount of the Star-Tribune wrote a column about her -- then today is, apparently, Kara Goucher day.

The Duluth native -- one of four Minnesotans competing in the IAAF World Track and Field Championships which open Saturday in Osaka, Japan -- is featured is THIS story by Duluth News-Tribune runner-and-writer Kevin Pates.

The Alberto Salazar-coached Goucher tells Pates and her hometown fans that she is looking to: “ ... race the most aggressive 10K that I have run yet, and I would love to finish in the top 10."

Additionally, there's a new post on Nike's "Goucher Blog." In it, Kara Goucher and her husband Adam talk about their arrival and first days in Japan for the championships. As the headline of this post suggests, Japanese interpretations of American cuisine often suffer in translation.

Kara Goucher and Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor compete in the 10,000 meter final on Satuday night in Japan ... or early Saturday morning U.S. Central time.

Minnesota State -Mankato graduate Jim Dilling competes in high jump qualifying on August 27.

Shani Marks competes in triple jump qualifying on August 29.

Doug Bell: "I do massage my feet daily .... And I pray a lot."

Chad Austin, the author of the fine Running Minnesota interview weblog and a good friend of Down the Backstretch, offers this interesting look at a masters runner who has made a special impact on Minnesota's record books ...

Doug Bell currently resides in Greeley, Colorado, but he’s no stranger to the Minnesota record books when it comes to road racing. He currently holds nearly a dozen state age records for races ranging from 5K through 25K – some dating back 20 years.

He currently holds two state age records for the 8K, 23:41 and 24:04 at ages 36 and 37, respectively. At the 1992 City of Lakes 25K, he set the half marathon and 25K record for 41-year-olds, 1:08:43 and 1:21:24. Plus, he holds the 10-mile record for 48-year-olds at 54:50.

However, what really sets Bell (pictured) apart are his 5K times. For the ages between 39 and 51, Bell holds five of the state records. At the Hennepin Lakes Classic 5K on August 5th, the 56-year-old set his latest state record by running 16:18. That time bettered Bill Fraser’s mark of 17:12 for 56-year-olds, which stood for over 20 years. It also topped Thom Weddle’s 55-59 age-group mark of 17:08.

Since Bell was born in Minnesota I decided to track him down and ask him a few questions.

What's your connection to Minnesota and how long have to you been away?

I was born in Mankato, Minnesota in 1950. I went to Mankato High School and then Mankato State College. After college, I left the cold and snow and moved to Southern California. That was in 1974 when a left the mosquitoes for good.

What races do you come back for?

I come back to Minnesota for family. If we have a family get together near the time of the Hennepin Lake Classic, I'm a happy camper, because it's an excellent race and a very fast course.

You ran 16:18 at Hennepin Lakes Classic and a month earlier you ran 15:53 in Colorado. How do those times rank nationally for your age?

The national record for my age group (55-59) is 16:05, so the 16:18 time is probably one of the fastest ever and maybe the fastest run this year? The 15:53 I ran in Colorado was on a short course.

What are your PRs?

I once ran a 13:56 5K and a 1:05:44 Half Marathon. At age 41, I once held the Master's records for the 5K 14:36 and the 25K 1:21:44. I set both of those records in Minnesota in 1992.

Are you happy with your current racing? What else do you have planned for 2007?

I'm very happy with my health at age 56. God gave me a gift to run and I feel very blessed to be able to continue with my love for the sport since I started in 1972. My plans for the rest of 2007 are to coach at the University of Northern Colorado. If I can break away from my distance runners for a weekend, I might come back to Minnesota for a race.

Locally, Alex Ratelle dominated the 55-59, 60-64 and 65-69 year age groups. Do you find yourself setting your sites on his times?

I know of Alex Ratelle, but I don't know his times. I hope to continue to run for years and I enjoy coming to Minnesota, so maybe I can set my sites on some of his times. I'm mostly a 5K runner though and I know Alex ran all the distances from 5K to 50K.

I find fast times for you all the way back to when you were 36. Based on other people running similar times, you've seemed to slow down the least over the last 20 years. What do you attribute that to?

The fact that I haven't slowed down as much as other runners is a gift from God. I do massage my feet daily. I get full massages twice a month. I don't run very many miles (about 30 per week), but do speed work about 10 times a month. I stretch daily for about a half hour. I lift weights with my legs. I listen to my body. I try to eat like Lance Armstrong. And I pray a lot.

Did you run in college?

I went to college to play basketball. I got cut right away, so started running just to stay in shape. My junior year at Mankato State, I went out for cross-country and fell in love with the sport. I wasn't any good while at Mankato, but about 3 years after college the talent God gave me started to show up and it's been a wonderful journey ever since.

Photo by Alison Wade.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Gacek, Russell Lead Updated Runner of the Year Standings

Grandma's Marathon 8th place finisher Melissa Gacek of Run N Fun and Human Race champ Pat Russell of GEAR currently lead the Minnesota Running Data Center's Runner of the Year standings after new tabulations were posted on August 18.

Gacek, who has accumulated 62 points based on the rank of her top times in her five best events, leads the Open Women's standings over GEAR's Nicole Cueno who scored 61 points. RNF's Angie Voight has 50 points for third.

In Open Men's standings, Russell leads 81-75 over RNF's Jeremy Polson. GEAR's Josh Metcalf is third with 62 points.

Full Runner of the Year standings can be found HERE, thanks to the diligent work of Mike Setter.

Photo: Russell edges past Polson at the Human Race 8K.

Osaka-Bound Marks Featured on WCCO

USA triple jump champion Shani Marks, who is counting down the days until she competes at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Osaka on August 29, was featured on Rosen's Sports Sunday this week.

You can watch the video HERE.

Marks, who won the last two USA Outdoor triple jump titles as well as this year's USA Indoor crown, is currently ranked #44 on the 2007 world outdoor list in the event with her PR jump of 46-2 1/2 from the USA Outdoor Championship in Indianapolis this June.

Marks competes in triple jump qualifying on August 29. If the former Apple Valley and Golden Gopher star advances to finals, she'll compete again on August 31.

Marks is the lone American women's triple jumper at Worlds.

Also competing in Osaka are Minnesotans Jim Dilling (high jump), Kara Goucher (10,000), and Katie McGregor (10,000).

Also ... The Star-Tribune has a feature story on Marks today HERE.

Photo by Victor Sailer

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Kenyans Sweep Heart of Summer 10Ks

Kenyan runners dominated the Boston Scientific Heart of Summer 10Ks in Minneapolis on Saturday.

Angela Mutuku out-kicked Rose Kosgei for the win and the $5000 winner's check in the featured women's competition. Both were timed at 32:46 around the Lake Nokomis course.

Haron Lagat out-dueled compatriot George Misoi in the men's race. They, too, both clocked identical times -- 29:03 -- but Lagat took home the men's winner's check of $1000.

Full women's results can be found HERE.

Full men's results are HERE.

In the elite women's race, which started five minutes ahead of the elite men and citizen runners, many of the pre-race favorites showed signs of strain before the first lap of the two-lap course was complete. Two-time U.S. Olympian Elva Dryer was unable to keep contact with the four-runner lead pack of Mutuku, Kosgei, fellow Kenyan Caroline Cheptanui, and Britain's Kathy Butler.

DtB readers' poll favorite Tatiana Aryasova of Russia was even further back after the first lap; Jenny Crain of the U.S. dropped out after a lap.

The lead pack, though, held together until late in the race -- and Dryer hung tough just behind it in fifth -- until the drive to the finish. Cheptanui finished strongly for 3rd in 32:57; Butler was close behind for 4th in 33:01.

Dryer ran 33:18.

The top Minnesota finisher was Run N Fun's Amy Lyons, 7th in 33:50.

In men's competition, the lead pack of Lagat, Misoi, compatriot Mathew Chesang, Team USA Minnesota's Andrew Carlson, and former Wartburg College star Josh Moen cruised past the starting line after the first lap in tight formation.

As with the women, a late charge to the finish separated the pack. Behind Lagat and Misoi's duel for the win, Chesang ran to 3rd in 29:07, Carlson came 4th in 29:11, and Moen was 5th with 29:33.

St. John's University senior Kelly Fermoyle was 6th in 31:11.

Update & Correction: Heart of the Summer race director Kris Wirth informs DtB that the names of the top two finishers in the event's women's competition were "inadvertently switched in the results posted by ChampionChip." Rose Kosgei was the actual winner; Angela Mutuku was the runner-up.

Correct results are now listed at the links noted above.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Vega: "... I started to realize how much I was going to miss running and competing."

In the second in our series of short interviews with the newest members of Team USA Minnesota, we chatted briefly with former Gopher cross country all-American Antonio Vega.

After finishing up at the U, was Team USA Minnesota the obvious place for you to begin your professional career or did you look into a lot of other training centers and post-collegiate clubs?

After I was done Running at the U, I was actually planning on attending grad school. I was planning on taking a break from running for a while. About a week after the NCAA meet I started to realize how much I was going to miss running and competing. That’s when I started looking into some running clubs around the area. Team USA Minnesota was definitely on the top of my list of teams that I wanted to join.

I know injuries have been a part of your history. Are they largely things of the past or are you regularly taking precautions about them?

I don’t think injuries will ever be a thing of the past for me or any other runner. I have finally come to a point in my running career, where I can tell how my body is feeling and I just kind of know when I need to back off my training a little in order to stay healthy.

When I talked to Steve Plasencia about you prior to the NCAA 10,000, he suggested you had real marathon potential. Is that the event you ultimately see yourself pointing toward?

I think sometime down the road I will start to focus on the marathon, right now I figure I’m only 23 years old and the marathon will always be there. I would like to give myself at least two more years of focusing on the track to see how fast I can get in the 5 and 10k.

Photo courtesy of Team USA Minnesota.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Rue, Lundstrom Named USATF-Minnesota Athletes of the Month

Gopher pole vaulter Alicia Rue and Team USA Minnesota marathoner Chris Lundstrom were named USATF Minnesota Athletes of the Month for August.

Rue earned the award for winning the Pan American Junior Games pole vault last month as a member of the USA team. The University of Minnesota sophomore-to-be cleared a PR 13-9 1/4 for the victory. Rue finished second in the USA Junior meet in Indianapolis in June to earn the trip to São Paulo, Brazil for Pan Am Juniors.

Men’s honoree Chris Lundstrom was recognized for his 6th place finish in the Pan Am Games marathon. The Northfield High School grad clocked 2:18:05 over the Rio de Janeiro, Brazil course. Lundstrom, who is a member of Team USA Minnesota, is now pointing for the Olympic Marathon Trials to be held November 3 in New York City.

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

USATF - Minnesota Athletes of the Month for July, which I just now see we forgot to note on DtB at the time, were USA Outdoor Champions Jim Dilling of Minnesota State Mankato and Shani Marks, the former Apple Valley and U of M star. Dilling was a surprise winner in the high jump; Marks defended her triple jump title.

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

Mmmm ... Delicious Cross Country Mind-Candy

When I put together DtB's recent poll about who deserved the #1 ranking in Boys Class AA cross country, I did the usual things one does to identify the best teams in the state at the start of a season. I checked State Meet and Section results from 2006 for top teams with lots of returning scorers. Simple enough, if you just want eight squads worthy of consideration for #1.

The coaches who voted on the pre-season Class AA poll -- which you can find HERE -- probably did much the same thing. They needed to put a finer point on things, of course, sorting teams from #1 to #12. Perhaps a little math was actually enlisted into the cause.

And then there's "KenA55."

Ken is a frequent, knowledgeable poster on Dyestat's Minnesota Track Talk Forum. This week, he posted mocked-up Section Meet results for each and every Class AA and Class A boys section in Minnesota, plus offered state-wide and State Meet projections for the 2007 season. Ken based his work on normalized Section and State results from 2006.

That's a lot of work; that's a lot of tasty mind candy for the cross country fan!

You can find Ken's Class AA product in THIS thread on Dyestat.

You can find his Class A stuff HERE.

The bottom line -- if that's a fitting term to use with polls and projections done in August for a season that climaxes in November -- is that pretty much everyone thinks Rosemount is the best boys team in Class AA.

DtB readers thought so, Coaches' Association voters thought so, and KenA55 thinks so.

Ken has Rosemount edging Wayzata 85-108 at State, in fact.

I can't wait to see what the bottom bottom line proves to be on the hills of St. Olaf - which I can see from my window as I type these words -- in November when the order of finish is final.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Want to Buy Marcelo Cruz a New Racing Chair?

Two groups are offering ways for interested parties to donate money for a new racing wheelchair for Interstate 35W bridge collapse victim Marcelo Ordaz-Cruz.

Cruz, the 6th place finisher in wheelchair competition at the 2005 Twin Cities Marathon, survived the bridge collapse two weeks ago by swerving his blue van into a concrete guardrail on a steeply tipped portion of the structure.

Charities Challenge, a health and exercise focused non-profit founded by Gary Westlund, has begun a drive to raise funds for a new racing chair for Cruz. Those interested in donating can click HERE for more information.

"My hope is that if we can hit this campaign really well that we may even be able to announce on September 1 that we've raised the necessary $5-6,000 to purchase his new racing chair and arrange to send him for a chair fitting to Atlanta where they're manufactured," Westlund said.

Cruz (pictured racing at TCM last year) apparently softened hearts of the folks at the KQRS Morning Show as well. KQ has also started a fund to raise money for a chair and van for Cruz.

Details of their drive are HERE.

Photo courtesy of Gary Westlund.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wednesday's Como Relays Are ... On!

MDRA's Heidi Keller-Miler just informed us that tomorrow's Como Relays will take place, despite the windstorm damage to Como Park over the weekend.

Keller-Miler said the exact break-down of the relay is still to be determined.

"It will be a bit different configuration but it will total 6 miles," she said. "[I'm] not sure yet if it will be 3 x 1 miles or 6 x 1/2 for each person in the relay. Each person will run a total of 3 miles. It may end up on the side of the road by the pool, you can't miss it from the normal starting point."

Activity gets underway Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. with kids' race, 6:45 p.m. for adults.

General information about the event can be found HERE.

Anyone Feeling Sore Today?

I bet there are some readers out there feelings a little sore today.

I figure so, as it's the first day after the first day of high school cross country practice. Something reminded me of my first cross country practice as an eighth-grader 31 years ago. I got thrown into the varsity's hill repeat workout and could barely lift my legs by the afternoon. I was pretty sore the day after, too ... but showed up again for practice all the same.

I continue to do so, you could say.

Anyway ... The point is that things are getting underway again for a lot of runners. People are knocking the rust off. For the high schoolers it's cross country and for top American male marathoners it's the Olympic Marathon Trials scheduled for November 3 in New York City's Central Park.

Marty Rosendahl actually got me thinking about this whole topic.

I traded some e-mail with Minnesota State - Mankato alum about his first workout in preparation for the Trials. The distance, the speed, the level of ability may be higher for him than the young harriers getting underway -- or the once-young one 31 years ago -- but those first steps to something big in the future seems very much the same.

Here's Rosendahl's first workout story ...

"The workout was a 10 mile cut-down tempo," he told me. "Typically we do this one with the first 2 miles at 6 min/mile, then 5:50 for the next 2, then a mile in 5:40, one in 5:30, one in 5:20, one in 5:10, one at 5:00, and one at 4:50. When we're fit, this is a fun workout because it's not nearly as tough as a lot of the workouts we do."

"But a couple of us hadn't done anything hard since running Peachtree 10k on July 4, and the others since the Boilermaker 15k on July 8," the Michigan-based Hansons-Brooks runner explained. "Our coaches realized this and modified the workout so that we did 2 miles at the 5:40 pace, and then cutting 10 seconds every mile after that, so our fastest mile only got down to 5:00 pace. On paper, it didn't seem like it should have been really difficult, but it turned out to be pretty tough for a couple reasons."

"First, I wasn't used to running that pace," he admitted. "I hadn't done it for a month. Second, it was pretty muggy out there. When we started the workout at 8 am it was 77 degrees with 81% humidity. The third thing that made the workout tough was that we don't actually run the assigned paces like we're supposed to. The splits I had on my watch at the end of the workout read: 5:50, 6:00, 5:54, 5:44, 5:31, 5:35, 5:27, 5:17, 5:10, 4:59. So the third mile was the only mile we were slow at all by my watch."

"Afterwards the things that hurt the worst was first and foremost the dehydration," Rosendahl continued. "The whole body gets sore and sluggish after a workout like that when you're dehydrated. I thought I had brought enough fluids along for the workout. I drank a quart of water before the workout, I drank a quart of sports drink (no sponsorship so no name mentioned there!) And I drank another quart of water on my way home from the workout afterwards. I ran out of water halfway home and was still thirsty. I drank another 3 quarts of water throughout the day, so that's a gallon and a half of fluids that I drank that day, and that's not counting a cup of coffee, any milk, lemonade, juice, or whatever else I drank throughout the day. I should have brought at least another 16 ounces or more of sports drink to take down after the workout."

"So I wound up with a pretty general soreness through the rest of the morning," he said, "but when I got home I had a cup of coffee and before I left for work I took an anti-inflammatory. So that helped a bit with the general soreness the rest of the day."

And if that's not enough ...

"My toes were a little sore too," Rosendahl noted. "I had three toenails pulled on July 11, and they're still kind of healing. As long as I'm wearing something with a little bit of a wider toebox like my Brooks Radius I don't notice anything, but for this workout I wore the Brooks Burn which is about the best lightweight trainer that I've ever worn. But it does run a little more narrow in the toebox and the pinky toes on each foot were ones that got pulled and those toes got rubbed a little bit during the workout and were a bit swollen the rest of the day."

"I'm about 100 miles per week right now, and we're scheduled to go up to 120 a week in two weeks," Rosendahl said. "Midway through the buildup for the Trials I'll hopefully be hitting over 140, maybe even over 150."

"The next few workouts are pretty standard for one of our marathon buildups. We've got an 8 mile tempo run coming up that we usually do at 5 min/mile pace, there's a 3 x 3 mile, long runs that are 18 and 20 miles, and we'll probably do a few 22 milers during the course of the next 12 weeks."

"One of the changes (and one of the challenges) we get to face for this training segment is that we're trying to run more hills," Rosendahl allowed. "Our coaches set up a 3 mile loop that is pretty hilly and should make hitting pace pretty tough. But we're working on the hills so we can be better prepared for the hills of Central Park when we get there on November 3."

Rosendahl notes that marathon fans can earn a trip to NYC through some of his Hansons-Brooks sponsors.

"They can go to every day and click on the link to enter the contest to win a trip to NYC," he explained. "This is an all expense paid trip to NYC for 2 and includes round trip airfare within the continental U.S., three nights hotel, and VIP passes for our exclusive post-race party. Three trips will be given away, and at the post race party, one of the three winners will win the all new Saturn VUE XR Compact Sport Utility."

You can also keep up with Rosendahl's training HERE on this on-line training log.

"In the upcoming week we've got that 8 mile tempo and the 3 x 3 mile," he notes. "I'm hoping that the cut-down tempo was enough to kind of shock my body into remembering how to run those paces and that if the assigned pace winds up being 5:00/mile my body will be able to handle it. Sometimes that happens if I've had a bit of time away from faster pace work - that first workout is rough, but the body gets the idea about what's going on and makes the necessary adaptations."

"That adaptation curve in the early going is pretty steep, and I'm counting on that for these upcoming workouts, otherwise it's going to be a rough couple weeks."

For you and for a lot of people these days.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Monday Morning Catch-All

It seems like a lot happened since we last posted on Friday. To get everybody back up to speed for the start of the week, how about one post with a lot of subjects? Like ...

-- Preliminary results from the Team Circuit competition at the MDRA 15K saw Run N Fun's open men's team beat GEAR to add to their lead in the season-long standings. If the results are confirmed, RNF may have sealed the title for 2007 -- owning a five point margin over their rivals with only the City of Lakes 25K left to run.

-- In open women's competition, GEAR beat Run N Fun at MDRA to keep things interesting on that side of the ledger. RNF still leads GEAR by 3 points going into City of Lakes.

Results from the MDRA 15K -- both individual and team - can be found HERE.

-- MDRA's Heidi Keller-Miler wrote us yesterday to get the word out that this Wednesday's Como Relays may not run as scheduled. Saturday's storm turned the park into a "war zone" of fallen trees, she said. MDRA organizers plan to decide by Tuesday whether this week's edition of the late-summer relay classic will run as planned.

Check back at DtB or the MDRA web-site for the final word.

-- Team USA Minnesota's Brad Lowery finished third at the Falmouth Mile on Saturday. Lowery clocked 4:02.54 -- less than a second off his PR of 4:01.67. Jonathon Riley won the race in 3:57.07.

-- Duluth native Kara Goucher hasn't made an appearance in a big European race yet this summer. You can find out why and read about the preparations she and her husband Adam are making for the IAAF World Championships in Osaka, Japan on the Goucher Blog HERE.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Tahdooahnippah to Run for Gophers this Year

An intriguing cross country season for the Gopher men just got even more interesting.

Forrest Tahdooahnippah, a graduate of Minneapolis Southwest High School, will compete for the University of Minnesota's men’s cross country and track teams this season after being accepted to the Minnesota School of Law.

Tahdooahnippah graduated with honors from Stanford in June but has one season of both cross country and track eligibility remaining.

“We are excited to have Forrest join our team,” Gopher cross country coach Steve Plasencia said in a media release. “He’s a talented runner who will add a great deal of experience to our squad. We recruited him out of high school but lost him to Stanford. It will be nice to see him suit up in Maroon and Gold."

"The challenge to combine law school with competitive runner will be a tough one, but I believe Forrest is up for the task," he added.

Tahdooahnippah was a member of Stanford’s team that placed fourth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships last fall. He was the Cardinal’s number-three finisher, placing 68th overall in a time of 32 minutes, 12.6 seconds. Tahdooahnippah also earned All-West Region honors in 2006.

During his high school career, Tahdooahnippah won the Minnesota Class AA title in the 3,200 meters in 2002. In cross country, he was the state runner-up as a junior in 2002 and placed third as a senior in 2003.

Tahdooahnippah joins all-American Chris Rombough, veterans Ben Puhl and Rick Furseth, and promising young stars Mike Torchia and Hassan Mead on the Gopher team.

The Gophers finished 3rd in the Big Ten last year, 6th in the Midwest Region

The Golden Gophers report to preseason training camp on August 23.

Run N Fun Teams Look to Widen Circuit Leads

The open Women's and Men's squads from Run N Fun could gain a nearly unbreakable grip on the 2007 USATF - Minnesota Team Circuit crowns with victories in Sunday's MDRA Minnesota 15K, the Minnesota State Championship at the distance.

The RNF women currently lead GEAR by five points -- 50-45; the RNF men lead GEAR by three points -- 95-92 -- with two events remaining.

The year-long circuit ends with the City of Lakes 25K on September 9.

Points in the remaining events are awarded "by twos," with the top team earning two points more than the second-place team and the second-place team scoring two more than the third-place team and so on.

The defending champion RNF women are already safe from seasonal defeat by GEAR even if GEAR wins the next two events -- as long as no other team slides in-between them in the results in either event.

A win at the MDRA 15K would all-but seal the season-long title for RNF.

The RNF men could find themselves in a comfortable position with a win on Sunday -- they'd then lead by five points with a race to run -- or face a do or die finale with GEAR at the City of Lakes 25K with a defeat this weekend.

Final circuit results from the Rice Street Mile -- where, in keeping with the neck-and-neck battle they've waged all season, the RNF and GEAR men ran to a tie broken in RNF's favor by their 6th runner -- can be found HERE.

Current standings for the circuit are HERE.

Brown: "To be honest, I didn't think I was good enough to train with Team USA Minnesota ..."

In the first of a series of interviews with the newest additions to Team USA Minnesota, DtB talked with former Golden Gopher star Emily Brown (pictured) about the next chapter in her stellar running career.

DtB: After finishing up at the U, was Team USA Minnesota the obvious place for you to begin your professional career or did you look into a lot of other training centers and post-collegiate clubs?

Brown: To be honest, I didn't think I was good enough to train with Team USA Minnesota because I knew the quality athletes they had on the team and I always watched them in amazement when they would train at our track!

Earlier this spring one of my old friends and Team USA MN runner put me in touch with Dennis and I began to see that it was a possibility. I wasn't even aware that other training centers existed and I feel very lucky to kind of be in the right place for such a great opportunity.

Coming to Minnesota is the best decision I've made thus far in my life and I am very happy to be able to stay here and train. I will still get to see all of my old teammates and follow their success while still beginning my own professional career. I can't imagine a better scenario.

DtB: What do you think Team USA Minnesota will offer that will help you take the next step as a runner?

Brown: It is always tough as an athlete to leave a coach you have been training with for 5 years and all of the sudden start with a new one. I have a lot of faith in Dennis and his training philosophy and I can already see it paying off down the road.

I think the best thing the team has to offer is the training partners. The team is what I love most about the sport and I was sad to leave my old team behind. However, from the day it was announced that I was going to be training with Team USA MN all of the other athletes have been very supportive and encouraging and I can tell that they are going to be great friends and training partners.

To me it seems logical that if you want to be among the best in the nation, you should train with some of the best in the nation and that is what we have here.

DtB: Are you targeting the steeplechase as your primary event?

Brown: I was lucky to find early success with the steeplechase and my success in that event is probably the only reason I even considered post-collegiate running. It is exciting and encouraging to see how far women have come in the event in the past 5 years and I think that if I am able to focus on it 100% I can be right there with them.

The first big goal is to qualify for the trials. Since I had kind of a bad year in the steeple this past spring I wasn't able to quite get the time. Hopefully with some hurdling work and a little less racing than I have done in the past I will be able to drop a lot of time and really begin to excel in it.

Photo by Gene Niemi -- Brown running the Run for Oromia 5K.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Langenfeld Wins 16th Masters High Jump Title

Jim Dilling isn't the only person in this state who can high jump.

Tom Langenfeld of Minneapolis returned from last week's USA Masters Outdoor Championship in Orono, Maine with yet another high jump title. The 72-year-old Langenfeld cleared 4-8 1/4 to win the M70 division of the event.

"At this point it's something of an exaggeration to say I won the high jump. Medium jump would be more accurate," the modest Langenfeld said.

The victory was, mind-bogglingly, Langenfeld's 16th USA Master title in the event.

"This was my seventh consecutive national outdoor high jump championship (2001-2007) - so I feel pretty good about that," he said. "I also won the first five I entered after turning 40 way back in the previous century (1975-79)."

"[I] didn't do as well in the in-between years, winning just four high jump championships from 1980 to 2000 ('86, '91, '98 and '99). I blame injuries some and tougher competition a lot. But I did manage a couple of triple jump championships during that period."

Langenfeld was quick to note that 87-year-old part-time Minnesota resident Ralph Maxwell also stood atop the podium for a high jump victory. Maxwell won uncontested victories in the high jump (3-7 1/4) and short hurdles (20.00), setting records in both events.

Here's the list of Minnesota participants and results at the championships, generously supplied by Langenfeld:

Ralph Maxwell, 87, of Alamo, Texas, but who spends the warmer months in Richville, Minnesota
1st M85 high jump (1.10m) (uncontested but broke the meet record)
1st M85 short hurdles (80m) (20.00) (uncontested but better than listed American record)
2nd M65 long jump (3.41m)
2nd M85 triple jump (6.32m)
3rd M85 100m (18.34)

Thom Weddle, 68, Minneapolis
2nd M65 5000m (20:08.30)
2nd M65 10000m (42:41.50)

Jim Schoffman, 54, Fridley
4th M50 200m (25.99)
6th M50 100m (12.95)
Jim narrowly missed qualifying for the finals in the 400m; ranked 10th

Shawn Regan, 57, Minneapolis
5th M55 800m (2:22.28)
11th M55 1500m (5:07.72)

John Patterson, 40, Cottage Grove
5th M40 200m (24.32)
6th M40 100m (12.03) (11.88 in 1st round)

Patrick O’Regan, 60, Inver Grover Heights
Competed in the heats in the M60 200m (14th) and 400m (10th)

Tom Langenfeld, 72, Edina
1st M70 high jump (1.43m)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

It's Official: Emily Brown, Michelle Lilienthal, and Antonio Vega Join Team USA Minnesota

Former University of Minnesota stars Emily Brown and Antonio Vega and former Iowa high school phenom and University of Wisconsin grad Michelle Lilienthal are joining Team USA Minnesota, the Twin Cities-based training group has officially announced.

News of Brown and Lilienthal's joining the team had sneaked out via a recent Star-Tribune story -- and DtB's attention to detail!

"It's great to be able to provide post-collegiate support for three runners who went to high school and college in this area," Team USA Minnesota Coach Dennis Barker said in the media release announcing the additions.

"Emily and Antonio developed into very good runners at the University of Minnesota and we look forward to helping them take the next steps in their running careers. In addition, many of us have been aware of Michelle from the time she was setting records in Iowa while she was still in high school, to what she accomplished last fall at the Twin Cities Marathon in obtaining her "A" qualifier for the Olympic Trials," he continued.

"We are excited to be bringing these three runners onto the team going into an Olympic year. They are a nice fit with the athletes currently on the team and will be good training partners at a variety of distances."

Brown, 23, went to Nathan Hale High School in West Allis, Wisconsin, where she finished second in the 2001 State Cross Country Championship. At the University of Minnesota, she was a four-time All-American, and was the first Gopher in 20 years to earn All-America status in both cross country and track in a single academic year. She is the school record holder in the 3000 meters indoor (9:27.33) and 3000m steeplechase (9:56.62).

Brown was a Big Ten Champion in the steeplechase and was fourth in the event at the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. In cross country, she helped the U of M team to its two best finishes (ninth and 11th) at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.

Lilienthal, 25, who was a seven time state champion in track and cross country for Iowa City High School and a sixth place finisher at the Foot Locker Cross Country championships in 1999, set state prep records in cross country, the 1500 meters, and 3000 meters. She ran at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she competed at the NCAA Cross Country Championships and ran the 3000, 5000 and 10,000. She was a two-time All-Big Ten honoree in cross country and track.

Since 2005, while studying for her master's degree at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Lilienthal has focused on the marathon. She obtained her Olympic Trials "A" standard mark of 2:35:51 at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in 2006, where she finished fourth in the USA Women's Marathon Championships. So far this year she has placed third at the USA Women's Half Marathon Championships in a time of 1:12:42, and was third at the USA 25k Championships in a time of 1:29:53.

Vega, 23, is a graduate of Tartan High School in Oakdale, where he competed in the 1600 and 3200 meters in track and earned letters in soccer and in football as the place kicker. At the University of Minnesota he was an All-American in cross country and competed in three NCAA Cross Country Championships. He was the Midwest Regional cross country champion in 2005 and was named the 2006 Midwest Runner of the Year.

On the track, he made his mark in the 10,000 meters in his senior year to run 29:04.13, a time that ranks eighth on the Minnesota top-10 list in the 10,000. He competed in the 10,000 at the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Meet the Athletes ... Stay tuned to DtB for brief interviews the the new Team USA Minnesota folks in the coming days.

Wells returns to Kansas ... 2003 USA Marathon champ Sara Wells has left Team USA Minnesota to take a physical therapy position in her home state of Kansas. Wells and her husband both found jobs in the state after earning their doctorates in May.

Kleimenhagen returns to Wisconsin ... Former UW - Platteville star Ryan Kleimenhagen is leaving Team USA Minnesota to return to his home state of Wisconsin. The sub-4:00 miler is getting married next weekend and will join his wife, who has a teaching job in the state.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

DN Galen: Dilling 7th in High Jump at 7-2 1/2; McGregor 8th in 5000 with 15:38.64

USA high jump champion Jim Dilling of Mankato finished 7th in the high jump competition at Stockholm's DN Galen meet today.

The MSU-Mankato alum cleared 7-2 1/2 (2.20 meters). Stefan Holm of Sweden won the competition with 7-8 1/2 (2.35).

High jump results are HERE.

Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor finished 8th in the 5000 meter run in 15:38.64. Deena Kastor won the event in 14:52.21.

Results from the 5000m are HERE.

Live results from the entire meet are HERE.

Monday, August 06, 2007

McGregor to Compete in DN Galen 5000; Dilling 7th in London with 7-3 1/4

Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor will compete at 5000 meters in Stockholm's DN Galen meet tomorrow. The former U.S. champion at 10,000m will use the race at the Swedish IAAF Super Grand Prix meeting to help put the final polish on her preparations for IAAF World Championships in Osaka, Japan where she will run 10,000m.

Startlists -- and then results -- for the DN Galen meet should go live shortly. You can find a link to the startlist/results page HERE.

Also ... Reigning USA high jump champion Jim Dilling of Mankato has begun his European tune-up for Osaka as well. Dilling finished 7th in the Norwich Union Super Grand Prix in London on Friday. The Minnesota State - Mankato grad cleared 7-3 1/4.

Sweden's Stefan Holm won the event at 7-7 1/4.

Update ... The startlists are up for DN Galen HERE. Dilling is competing in the high jump there where he will face Holm again. McGregor will see a lot of familiar faces in her 5000 -- five other Americans are running the race, including USA 10,000m champ Deena Kastor and Norwich Union 3000m winner Lauren Fleshman.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Twin Cities/USA 10 Mile to be Rerouted

The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon TC 10 Mile and the USA Men's 10 Mile Championship to be held in conjunction with it will be rerouted due to the Interstate 35W bridge collapse, according to a statement released by Twin Cities Marathon officials yesterday.

"Our thoughts are with the families and all who have been affected by the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis," TCM executive director Virginia Brophy Achman said on the event's web-site.

"In the days ahead, Twin Cities Marathon, Inc. will be working with city, state, and USA Track and Field officials to re-route the Medtronic TC 10 Mile course to ensure the safety of our runners. The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon course is not affected at this time."

Twin Cities Marathon officials hope to begin finalizing plans for the revised route next week.

Close Calls, Well Wishes, and People Accounted for in Running Community After Collapse

It felt like an odd thing to do at the time -- evidence perhaps that this "reporter thing" I do still isn't first nature -- but yesterday afternoon I sent an e-mail off to a few dozen running and track community contacts to find out if everyone they knew was all right after the Interstate 35W bridge collapse.

At the time, with numbers of missing estimated between 20 and 70 people, I thought it wasn't unlikely that someone from the broad community of running and track and field in the state might have either been on the bridge, known someone on the bridge, or witnessed the tragic event.

I was especially worried for the folks at the University of Minnesota, close-by the scene of the wreckage, or runners driving to that evening's Como Relays.

Thankfully, from what I've been told so far, except for Marcelo Ordaz-Cruz's frightening ordeal, the disaster did not exact a toll from our little sub-culture. Matt Bingle, Steve Plasencia, and Gary Wilson all report that everyone of their charges are accounted for at the U.

My e-mail query did return a few stories of close-calls and what-might-have-beens, however.

USATF Minnesota president Rick Recker drove under the bridge on the way to Como Park only ten minutes before the collapse.

"I was thinking of leaving a little later, having just realized that the race started at 6:45, not the 6:30 start that I had planned on," he told me. "What would have happened then?"

Recker faces regular reminders of that question: he can see the bridge wreckage from his home.

MDRA's Heidi Keller-Miler had planned to run the Como Relays too -- and projects that she would have been on the bridge right around 6:00 p.m. -- but decided at the last minute not to go.

News of the bridge collapse did prompt running community folks from across the nation to reach out to friends and colleagues in Minnesota.

When Runner's World reporter Jim Ferstle of St. Paul came inside his house on Wednesday evening after watering the garden he saw on caller ID that colleague Peter Gamabaccini had called.

"I called back and he asked how I was doing," Ferstle recounted. "I said fine. He then asked how Dennis [Barker] was or if I'd heard anything about the other Team USA Minnesota folks. I said they were all fine as far as I knew."

"He then realized," Ferstle continued, "that I didn't know what had happened. He said: 'You don't know do you?'"

We all probably have a story or two like that, I bet.

The folks at Twin Cities Marathon told me that 1984 Olympic marathon gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson sent them a note expressing her thoughts for everyone in the Twin Cities running community.

It's a good thing to know we're not alone.

Here's hoping the forthcoming news is the best possible for everyone involved in the tragic event.

Here's hoping, too, that every running breath we take is more valuable to us in light what others less fortunate have experienced.

Wheelchair Marathoner Marcelo Ordaz-Cruz Survives I-35W Bridge Collapse

Marcelo Ordaz-Cruz of Crystal, who placed 6th in the wheelchair division of the 2005 Twin Cities Marathon, was among the survivors of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse on Wednesday.

Cruz's story is reported in a CNN story, HERE.

The video piece the news network ran is HERE.

Cruz was also quoted in the second half of THIS Star-Tribune story.

Cruz was driving a blue van that is recognizable in many of the photos of the bridge collapse. He witnessed the bridge shaking and then collapsing. He told CNN he saw 10 or 20 cars in front of him plunge into the water.

"I thought I was going to die," he told CNN.

The 26-year-old was unable to brake his van to a stop on the steep incline, so he swerved it into the concrete guard rail.

You can see a striking photo of his van HERE.

You can see a photo of his rescue HERE.

The bridge ordeal was Cruz's second close call with death. The Mexican native lost the use of his legs in a shooting several years ago.

Cruz finished 9th in the wheelchair division of this year's Grandma's Marathon, clocking 2:09:25.

(Thanks to Team USA Minnesota's Pat Goodwin for the tip on this story.)

Race Report: Run for Oromia

The inaugural Run for Oromia 5K and 10K were held at Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis on Sunday, July 29. We apologize for the delay in posting, but accurate results were not available until days after the event.

Jason Lehmkuhle had a strong showing in the 10K, running 29:17 for third place. Mathew Chesang of Olathe, Kansas led the field in 29:07 while Wegayehu Tefera of Bronx, New York was second in 29:09. The event featured a large, 5-deep prize purse with Chesang picking up $5,000, Tefera collecting $2,500 and Lehmkuhle taking home $1,500.

An equal amount of prize money was available on the women's side, which saw Yimenashu Taye run 33:07 to beat fellow Bronx resident Aziza Aliyu by 12 seconds.

Lehmkuhle came back on 30 minutes of rest to challenge fellow Team USA Minnesota athlete Brad Lowery in the 5K. Lowery took the win and a $2,500 paycheck with his 14:31. Lehmkuhle was four seconds back and took home an additional $1,500.

The women's 5K also saw two local athletes in the money as Amy Lyons finished second in 16:36 and Emily Brown was third in 16:57. Yet another Bronx runner, Atalelech Ketema, won in 16:27.

Age group results have been posted on the event web site, but full results are still not available.

Update: Full results are now available for the 5K and the 10K. Thanks to Kirk for the tip.

Top: Jason Lehmkuhle goes with the leaders in the 10K. Bottom: Brad Lowery cruises to a four second victory in the 5K. Photos by Gene Niemi.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Let's Not Talk About Running & Track Today

In light of yesterday evening's bridge collapse tragedy here in Minnesota, it seems fitting to take a day off from talking about something as inconsequential as running and track and field.

Our thoughts today are with the victims of the disaster and their family and friends.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Grandma's Makes a Minnesota Mile Offer That's Hard to Refuse

Grandma's Marathon organizers are making a tempting offer:

Be one of the first 250 runners to enter the Duluth edition of the Minnesota Mile, scheduled for September 9, and thereby bypass the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon lottery with a guaranteed entry into the 2008 edition of that race.

Entry into the second race of Grandma's newly revived Minnesota Mile series opened today.

"This is a unique opportunity for runners hoping to participate in the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon without needing to enter the lottery system,” Scott Keenan, executive director of Grandma’s Marathon, said in a media release.

Registrants will be notified by mail if their entry was one of the first 250 received.

The Grandma’s Minnesota Mile Duluth is the second race in the new Minnesota Mile Series. The first event in the series, Grandma’s Minnesota Mile St. Paul, was held July 11 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Team USA Minnesota's Brad Lowery and Jenelle Deatherage won the men's and women's divisions of that race.

The Duluth racecourse runs down Superior Street, starting near Fitger’s and finishing in front of the Holiday Center.

MSU-Mankato to Host 2008 NCAA Division II Indoor Championships

If everything works out as planned, Minnesota State - Mankato pole vaulter Katelin Rains will successfully defend her NCAA Division II pole vault title before a field house full of hometown fans this coming March.

MSU - Mankato officials announced yesterday that the school will host the next NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships. The event is scheduled for March 14-15, 2008 in Myers Field House.

“We are very excited to host the 2008 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships at Minnesota State University, Mankato," Mankato women's track and field coach Jen Blue said in a media release. "Myers Field House is a fantastic indoor track and field facility and we’re looking forward to welcoming student-athletes and coaches from all over the country to our campus and our community."

The event will be the first NCAA track championship organized by MSU - Mankato. Since 2000, the meet has been hosted by Stonehill College and held at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston.

“I’m looking forward to hosting on our campus some of the greatest track and field athletes in the country,” Mankato men’s coach Mark Schuck added. “This is a great opportunity to showcase our track and field program and facilities, the University and the greater Mankato, North Mankato area."

Lots of Nearby National Action in 2007-2008 ... The announcement adds another important meet to the area for the coming season. St. Olaf College hosts the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships this fall and Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa hosts the NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships in June of 2008.

Note: A special news tip shout-out goes to my wife Carrie for this story. She caught the news on the radio while doing geological field work in the Mankato area.