Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rosen Wins 800 at USATF JO Meet

Chris Dallager reports that Bloomington's Matthew Rosen won the Youth Boys 800 meter run in 2:00.68 at the USATF Junior Olympics in Sacramento on Saturday. Rosen has been busy at the meet having competed in the 400 and will be racing in the 1,500 finals on Sunday.

Lauren Smith of Team Woodbury finished sixth in the Midget Girls 3,000 in 10:59.29, while Shaina Burns of Prior Lake tied for third in heat three of the Midget Grils 100-meter hurdles in 16.389.

Friday's JO Results

Correspondent Chris Dallager reports from the JO meet that Matthew Rosen(Bloomington) qualified for the finals of the Youth Boys 1,500 meters with the third fastest qualifying time of 4:19.99. The finals are scheduled for Sunday, August 1 at 10:15 AM Pacific time.

Rosen also finished the 400 meters in 55.48, sixth of eight in heat three and twenty-fourth of thirty overall.

Dakota Darkstar(Minneapolis) finished the Young Men's 1500 meter run with a time of 4:13.40 placing eleventh of seventeen in heat two. He was nineteenth of thirty four overall.

Boys HS XC Pre-season Poll

It may be hot and steamy right now, but here's something to cool you off, the boys' AA XC team and individual pre-season rankings.

1 Eden Prairie
2 Wayzata
3 Burnsville
4 Edina
5 Moorhead
6 White Bear Lake
7 Totino Grace
8 Stillwater
9 Owatonna
10 Lakeville North
11 Alexandria
12 St. Thomas Academy

Received votes:
Rosemount, Hopkins, Bloomington Jefferson, Forest Lake, Andover, Cambridge Isanti, Roseville, Redwing, Willmar

1 Aaron Bartnik 12 Eden Prairie
2 Cole O'Brien 11 Burnsville
3 Josh Thorson 11 Wayzata
4 Adam Zutz 12 St. Francis
5 Mohamed Mohamed 12 Eden Prairie
6 Aldis Inde 12 Edina
7 Christian Skaret 12 Minnetonka
8 Bryant Blahnik 12 Redwing
9 Trent Lusignan 12 Shakopee
10 Steven Dado 12 Totino Grace
11 Ben Saxton 11 Lakeville North
12 Lukas Gemar 12 Moorhead

Received votes:
Elliot Fenske 12 Farmington; Adam Braun 12 Totino Grace; Tyler Olson 12 Maple Grove; Adam Moline 12 Wayzata; Kyle Bratrud 12 Eden Prairie; Wayde Hall 10 Stillwater; Shane McCallum 12 Rosemount; Glen Ellingson 11 Moorhead; Tom Linner 11 Stillwater

Friday, July 30, 2010

North Star Staters Shining at Junior Olympics

Since the USA Track & Field National Junior Olympics got underway Tuesday in Sacramento, Minnesota athletes have been making their way to the awards stand.

So far, four Minnesotans have earned medals awarded to the top-eight finishers in five separate age-divisions.

USATF Minnesota Youth Athletics Chairman Chris Dallager (who is graciously helping DtB keep track of Minnesotans at JOs) is expecting an even bigger Minnesota turn-out at the AAU Junior Olympics to be held in Norfolk, Virginia starting on Saturday.

Here are the Minnesota place-winners, so far, from USATF Junior Olympics:

Shaina Burns of Prior Lake finished 4th in the Youth Girls' Pentathlon with 3024 points and 8th in the Youth Girls high ump at 5-1. In the high jump, Burns cleared that same height that tied her for 4th place in 2009, Dallager tells us.

Tom Anderson
of Andover finished 5th in the Young Men shot put with a throw of 58-1. Dallager notes that Anderson saved his best throwing for the big stage, marking a throw at JOs that was five feet farther than at either the Minnesota or Region meets.

Tom is the son of former Olympians Lynne and Colin Anderson.

Charlie Lawrence of Foley placed 7th in the Intermediate Boys 3000 meter run in 9:12.89. Charlie ran more than 7 seconds faster than he did at the Region meet and set a personal best, Dallager noted.

USATF Junior Olympic action continues through Sunday. Find complete results HERE.

The web-site for the AAU Junior Olympics is HERE.

Team USA Minnesota's Heather Dorniden talks to the Strib HERE.

Yes/No: Jurek in Top 5 at the USA 50 Mile?

This will be a big weekend for the trail running and ultra-marathoning community. There are three national championships on tap; the USA 15k Trail Championship in Spokane, the USA 50 Mile Trail Championship at the White River 50 Mile Endurance Run in Enumclaw, Washington, and the 2010 USA 100 Mile Trail Championship at the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run in Ohio. That's more than 150 miles of championship racing in one weekend!

DtB's weekly prediction contest will look to ultrarunning legend Scott Jurek for this week's question. The northern Minnesota native will compete at the USA 50 Mile Trail run near his current home of Seattle, Washington.

Y/N: Will Scott Jurek finish in the top five at the White River 50 Mile Endurance Run on Saturday?

Scott Jurek is probably best known for his amazing run of seven consecutive victories at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. Jurek has also won the Hardrock Hundred, Badwater (twice) and Spartathlon (three times). His results at the White River 50 Mile/USA Championships include a fourth place in 2009 (7:13), fifth place in 2003 (7:13), and fifth place in 2002 (7:16).

To play our game, simply type "yes" or "no" into the subject line of an e-mail and send it to us at DtBFantasy [AT] gmail [DOT] com before 8:30 A.M. CST, Saturday, July 31th. Please put your answer in the subject line of the e-mail and make sure your full name appears somewhere in the e-mail. We will continue to offer a bonus for participants making their debut in Yes/No - a correct answer will be worth two points for any first-time players.

My answer: No

The fantasy contest question from last week was: Will three or more women break 17:00 minutes at the Lumberjack Days 5K on Saturday? The answer was no. Laura Edlund finished first in 17:43. Seventeen contestants answered correctly and Lori Anne Peterson is now in second place by herself, one point behind leaders Toby Hatlevig and Jesse Schoen

For all the results, please visit DtB Fantasy Corner.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Photo Gallery: Grandma's Youth Races

The Wednesday Night Youth Races, sponsored by Grandma's Marathon, have long been a late-summer tradition around Duluth. Last year, more than 500 kids on average ran in each event of the series.

The Youth Races are a part of Grandma's Marathon's charity arm -- The Young Athletes Foundation -- which aims to "assist in the promotion, development and growth of youth athletics."

Last night at Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth, Grandma's hosted the second night of racing in the 2010 Youth Races series. Below is a collection of photos taken by Grandma'a Marathon's Zach Hitchcock from this year's first night of racing at Duluth Central High School.

Find complete information on Grandma's Youth Races HERE.

Photos by Zach Hitchcock/Grandma's Marathon.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Laura Januszewski Chasing a Sub Two

North Dakota's Laura Januszewski talks about her first "post collegiate" season and chasing the two-minute barrier in the 800 HERE.

Andrew Rock Closes Summer League in Style

Andrew Rock, the Prior Lake resident who back in 2005 won a silver medal at 400-meters at the IAAF World Championships in Helsinki, has made the USATF-Minnesota Summer Track League is own personal playground this year.

The Wisconsin native who also earned an Olympic gold medal in 2004 as a member of the 4 x 400m relay squad, won three times at the 2010 Summer League, including last night's 21.19 200m victory in St. Louis Park.

Earlier in the season, the UW-La Crosse graduate clocked a 21.67 200m to win his first Summer League title of 2010. At the penultimate Summer League meet of the season on July 13, Rock circled the track in 47.10 to win over his signature 400m distance.

Complete results of the 2010 Summer League can be found HERE.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Minnesota Masters Grab a Dozen USA Titles

USATF-Minnesota Masters Track and Field Chairman Tom Langenfeld filed the following report on the exploits of the Minnesota contingent at last weekend's USA Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, California:

Minnesotans masters returned from the USATF national masters championships in Sacramento (July 22-25) with 12 individual championships, two world age-group records, three American records and at least 14 new Minnesota state records.

In addition to his pentathlon world record [reported earlier HERE], Ralph Maxwell [M90, Richville] set a new M90 world record for the 80m hurdles of 21.74, breaking the listed record of 22.76 set nine years ago by a Japanese hurdler. (As far as could be determined, Maxwell is the first American 90-year-old to attempt this event.)

Maxwell also had unopposed wins in the high jump (1.06m/3-3.75), long jump (3.01m/9-10.5) and triple jump (5.91m/19-9.75). He was forced to scratch from 100m because it came during his attempts to break the world M90 high jump record. (He came close.) His 200m time of 42.69 in the pentathlon broke the late James Hammond’s state M90 record of 43.57.

Sherwood Sagedahl [M71, Fairmont] finished among the leaders in all five of the running events he entered, winning the M70 400m (65.37) and finishing second in 800m (2:41.47), third (second American) in the 1500m (5:38.42), fifth in the 200m (30.04) and sixth in the 100m (14.32). He took time away from the track to take third in the M70 javelin (38.42m/126-0). His 100m and 400m times and javelin throw broke Minnesota age group records.

Thom Weddle [M71, Burnsville] took gold medals as the first American finisher behind a Canadian in both the M70 5000m (20:46.75) on Thursday and 10000m (43:36.29) on Saturday. He came back on Sunday to take the bronze in the 1500m as the third American finisher (fourth overall) in another race taken by the same Canadian.

Rick Kleyman
[M70, Plymouth], running with an injury, finished fifth overall in the M70 1500m (5:45.17), giving Minnesota three of the top five places and three of the top four American finishers. Kleyman earlier took sixth in the 800m.

One of the more unusual doubles at Sacramento was the race walk-high jump combination attempted by Phil Rogosheske [M65, St. Cloud]. A race-walk specialist in recent years, Rogosheske was a record-setting high jumper at Gustavus Adolphus College more than 40 years ago. He entered both race walks and the high jump at Sacramento, winning the M65 5000m race walk on Friday (31:08.98). He then captured the 10000m road race walk on Sunday in 1:03:02.51 immediately BEFORE making his high jump comeback. He finished seventh in the jump at 1.35m/4-5 – equal to the fifth and sixth place finishers, who had fewer misses.

Michael Burns [M67, Milan] won the M65 300m hurdles in 57.79, improving on his second-place finish at Oshkosh in 2009. He took third in the 100 highs in 30.53.

Tom Langenfeld won the M75 high jump at 1.41m/4-7.5, a new American age group record.

Among the busiest Minnesotans were Tweety Wolf [W54, Watertown] and Kathy Haubrich [W50, Shakopee], both of whom competed for California’s So Cal Track Club. Wolf was second in the W50 400m (67.43), and fourth in both the 200m (30.59) and 1500m (5:33.54). All three performances bettered listed state age-group records.

Haubrich took bronze in the W50 800m in 2:42.77, also a state record, fourth in the 400 m (70.55), fifth in the 200m (32.24) and sixth in the 1500 (5:37.83). Both ran on So Cal’s winning M50-59 4X400 relay team, and on the third-place 4X100 team. Haubrich also ran on So Cal’s gold-medal 4X800 team.

Shawn Regan [M60, Minneapolis] took fifth place in the M60 400m in 62.21, a new Minnesota age-group record. He also finished tenth in both the 800m and 1500m.

Sprinter Paul Montgomery [M64, Woodbury] took eighth in the M60 200m in 29.16 after turning in a 28.41 in the preliminaries. He finished eleventh in the M60 100 at 13.68.

Editor's Note: Langenfeld, in his characteristically modest, 16-word description of his own exploits, didn't mention that his record-setting high jump victory was his 31st career masters high jump title.

Langenfeld tied the M75 American Record with a clearance at 4-7, broke the record with his winning mark of 4-7 1/2, but couldn't better the World M75 record in three attempts at 4-8 3/4.

Monday, July 26, 2010

4th at USA 7 Mile, Vega Tops USA Circuit Again

With a 4th-place finish at Saturday's USA 7 Mile Championship, Team USA Minnesota's Antonio Vega regained the top spot in the year-long USA Road Racing Circuit Grand Prix standings.

The University of Minnesota alum ran 33:08 on the hilly Bix 7 Road Race course, finishing behind USA Champion Ryan Hall (32:55), runner-up Ed Moran (33:00), and 3rd-placer Sean Quigley who clocked 33:05.

Vega, according to a Team USA Minnesota media release, led the race by as much as 100-meters in the middle miles.

"You need to run gutsy every now and then," Vega explained. "It was such a good field at this race with some strong 10K runners. All I know is every mile over 10K benefits me so I just need to go out for the win and hold on."

Video of the finish of the USA 7 Mile men's race is HERE.

Complete results can be found HERE.

Recent Iowa State University graduate Lisa Koll won the USA 7 Mile women's title in 37:52,

Vega, who won the USA Half Marathon title earlier this year, has 32 points in the USARC Grand Prix. Mo Trafah, the USA 15K champ, and Ed Moran, the USA 10K champ, are tied for 2nd in the standings with 27 points. Former Golden Gopher Andrew Carlson, who finished 9th in the race, is 4th in the standings with 22 points.

Vega's Team USA Minnesota teammate Katie McGregor currently leads the women's USARC standings.

The men's and women's winners of the 2010 Grand Prix will earn $6000 each from a prize purse of $12,500, per gender.

Find complete USARC standings HERE.

The complete schedule of USARC events is HERE.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Maxwell Breaks M90 World Record in Pentathlon

90-year-old Ralph Maxwell, a Richville, Minnesota and Alamo, Texas resident, established a new world record in the outdoor pentathlon for masters aged 90 to 94 at the 2010 USA Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, California yesterday.

Maxwell scored 2629 points by virtue of his performances in the long jump, javelin, 200 meters, and discus. He set the new world record despite not competing in the final event of the competition, the 1500-meter run.

Maxwell was uncontested in the M90 division of the pentathlon. Earlier this year, Maxwell set the M90 world record in the indoor pentathlon.

Maxwell's results can be found HERE.

Complete results of the meet, which opened yesterday and runs through Sunday, can be found HERE.

In other opening day action ... 71-year-old Thom Weddle of Burnsville finished runner-up in the M70 5000m, running 20:46.75. Weddle was the first U.S. citizen to finish in the M70 competition, as the the event was won by Canadian Herb Phillips.

Yes/No: Three women sub-17:00 at Lumberjack?

Riding the bus to the start of the Lumberjack Days race in Stillwater shows you everything you need to know about the end of the race, although in backwards fashion. The bus works hard to chug up the big hill that the runners will be subsequently be flying down for most of this downhill race. This year the 5K at Lumberjack Days is the USATF Minnesota Championship as well as a USATF Team Circuit race.

Many of the top local runners are likely to show up to test their summer fitness at Lumberjack Days. Let us know how they will fare by answering this question:

Y/N: Will three or more women break 17:00 minutes at the Lumberjack Days 5K on Saturday?

Lumberjack Days 5K results from 2006 to 2009 have produced only one woman breaking 17:00. Amy Lyons ran sub-16:40 in both 2006 and 2007.

To play our game, simply type "yes" or "no" into the subject line of an e-mail and send it to us at DtBFantasy [AT] gmail [DOT] com before 8:00 A.M. CST, Saturday, July 24th. Please put your answer in the subject line of the e-mail and make sure your full name appears somewhere in the e-mail. We will continue to offer a bonus for participants making their debut in Yes/No - a correct answer will be worth two points for any first-time players.

My answer: Yes

The fantasy contest question from last week was: Will Jen Houck break her own Park Point 5-miler course record of 28:30 Friday evening? The answer was a decisive yes. Houck broke her own record by 41 seconds on a day that was described as hot and breezy. Twenty one contestants answered correctly this week.

The 2010 Yes/No top four remained the same: Toby Hatlevig and Jesse Schoen in first place with eighteen points and Gregg Robertson and Lori Anne Peterson in second with seventeen. Robertson pulled double duty this weekend as he won Masters division of the Park Point 5 miler in addition to answering the question correctly.

For all the results, please visit DtB Fantasy Corner.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Top Minnesotans to Compete at USA 7 Mile

A trio of Minnesota runners will compete for the USA 7 Mile Championship at the Bix 7 road race in Davenport, Iowa this Saturday.

Former University of Minnesota stars Antonio Vega of Team USA Minnesota and Andrew Carlson, who represents the McMillan Elite training group from Flagstaff, Arizona, will challenge a strong men's field that includes 2008 Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi and USA half marathon record-holder Ryan Hall.

In women's competition, Jen Houck, Minnesota's Runner of the Year in 2009, will test her mettle on the hilly Bix 7 course against a field that includes defending champion Molly Huddle, former Twin Cities Marathon champion Blake Russell, and emerging star and Iowa native Lisa Koll, this year's NCAA 5000 and 10,000-meter champion.

The complete startlists for the championships are HERE.

You can read USA Track & Field's preview of the championships HERE.

A live web-cast of the race will be shown HERE starting at 8:00 a.m. Saturday.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

January, Sandle Gain USATF-Minn. Honors

The Minnesota Association of USA Track & Field recently honored Jessica January and Michael Sandle as its Athletes of the Month for July 2010.

January, a ninth-grader at Richfield High School, was recognized for winning the Class AA girls’ 100m and 300m hurdle events at the Minnesota State High School League State Meet in June. January set a new All-Time State Meet record with her 14.33 clocking in the 100m hurdles. She ran the 300m hurdles in 44.05.

Sandle, a junior at Eden Prairie High School, was honored for his record-setting victory in the Class AA boys’ triple jump at the MSHSL State Meet. Sandle leaped 49 feet, 5 ½ inches to set a new All-Time State Meet record in the event, helping Eden Prairie to the Class AA boys' team title.

USA Track & Field Minnesota selects Athletes of the Month to honor excellence in track and field and its related sports in Minnesota. USA Track & Field is the governing body of the sport in the United States and the Minnesota Association of USATF sanctions and sponsors track and field, cross country, road racing, and racewalking events for athletes of all ages in the state.

A complete listing of 2010 USATF Minnesota Athletes of the Month can be found HERE.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Photo Gallery: USATF-Minn. Summer Track

The elite European meets aren't the only place where track and field is taking place this summer. Becky Miller (of the web-site Gopher Track Shots) shares these photos from USATF Minnesota's Summer Track Series.

The final USATF Minnesota Summer Meet is next Tuesday, July 27, at St. Louis Park High School.

Results from previous 2010 Summer Meets are HERE.

Photos by Becky Miller.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dorniden Second, Heath Sixth in Italy

Team USA Minnesota's Heather Dorniden finished second to the US's Erin Donohue in the first section of the 800 meters at the International Athletics Meeting for Sports Solidarity in Lignano Italy. Donohue finished in 2:01.26 with Dorniden clocking 2:01.78. The women's 800 was loaded at Lignano and the second heat was won in 1:57.85 by American Alysia Johnson, the fourth fastest time in the world this year. The top five finishers in that heat ran faster than Donohue, all were from the US.

Stanford grad Garrett Heath from Winona took sixth in the men's 800 meters with a time of 1:47.26. Senegal's Mor Seck won in 1:45.81.

You can watch Dorniden's 800m race above, thanks to Flotrack.

There's also a video interview with Dorniden HERE.

Footage of Heath's race can be found HERE.

Team USA MN Challenge Grant Will Be Used to Educate

On July 7 USATF announced that three groups would be receiving the first Challenge Grants awarded by the federation. See the DtB story on the announcement HERE. The Challenge Grant program provides up to $50,000 to help advance the USATF Strategic Plan by enhancing excellence within the sport.

Team USA MN's Pat Goodwin said that when the program was announced in April of last year, the group had already been thinking of ideas that might fit such a grant program. About the time of the call for proposals for the grants, the group's board was having a regular meeting and part of that meeting became a brainstorming session on what Team USA MN could do that would fit into the Challenge Grant program.

The idea the group came up with--a dual track education program consisting of a web site and a "camp" that would focus on communicating information about how to transition from school sports teams to professional running--was born out of the experiences of Team USA MN personnel. "They have camps for basketball and football players," said Goodwin. "Why don't they have them for runners?"

College athletes, their parents, even their coaches often don't have the information on how to make that jump from high school and college athletics to being a professional runner. The web site will be designed to be an online resource for these athletes, and the camp will be a way to gather experts to impart their knowledge to some of the athletes trying to make the transition.

A lot of athletes who have talent often aren't thinking beyond college athletics, says Goodwin. Their thoughts are more directed toward seeking a career in the field in which they got their degrees or were the focus of their education. "If they aren't at the top of the heap," Goodwin Says. "Many athletes aren't aware of the opportunities that are out there. That it is possible to make a living in the sport."

An athlete, such as Team USA MN's Antonio Vega, for example, had to be convinced to give life as a pro runner a try after graduating from the University of Minnesota. Vega was all set to get an advanced degree and pursue a "real world" career before the Team USA MN people met with him and presented the options. Parents and coaches are similarly unaware of the opportunities with the most common question being: "How can my child/athlete make a living doing this?"

One way, notes Goodwin, is by taking part in programs, such as the one that will be created using this grant. Team USA MN team members with the web skills, experience as professional athletes, and knowledge to convey will be the paid staff who form the backbone of these educational efforts. "It's a win, win situation for us," Goodwin says. It's a way for team members to impart their knowledge and use their skills and make some money doing it, she says.

Putting together the program is not as simple as it may sound. There are NCAA regulations that have to be followed regarding student athletes. The program had to fit in with the strategic goals of USATF, and for it to be successful, it has to be more than a recruiting tool or feel good session on the sport.

What Goodwin and the heads of other US training groups have experienced is that there are a few groups that generally pursue a small group of athletes coming out of college who want to try a running career. The challenge for this program is to increase the number of athletes in that pool. By doing that it will increase the number of US athletes given a chance to develop their talents, and, in so doing, hopefully increase the depth in US distance running.

The concept of the developmental teams, such as Team USA MN, was to do this, and now, ten years into the program the results have been noticeable. Olympic and World Championship medals, wins at major road races, and increased depth in the ranks of US distance runners at or near the top of their events. With the new programs supported by this grant, the hope is that the momentum created with the teams will continue as new talent is infused into a system that is already working to revitalize the sport in the US.

Heather Dorniden Provides Insights into the European Experience

Heather Dorniden finishes her first European excursion with a race in Lignano, Italy today. Prior to the race she shared her thoughts on the trip, her first year as a pro, and her plans for the rest of the year.

Down the Backstretch: This is your first year as a “pro.” What has been your impression of the life of a professional athlete? Surprises. Highlights.

Heather Dorniden: It's funny, because anytime I meet someone new outside of the running world, and I say what I do, I get the same response: "Wait, what?? You're a professional runner? I didn't even know that existed! How does that work?!”

Well, I tell ya, it’s pretty sweet. Bottom line, I get paid to do something I love. It is so humbling to me to have people willing to invest in me and my sport, and provide the support I need to follow my dreams.

Between the lines though, I’ve learned that the life of a professional runner is not as glamorous as people make it out to be. It is a lot of hard work, a lot of traveling (oftentimes alone), plenty of pressure and sacrifice- for not all that much money unless you’re REALLY good. So, I would say to anyone interesting in following this path, make sure this is something that you’re passionate about, something you’d do for free if you could- before you take that first step. I feel so lucky to have a great family, friends, and a future husband who are behind me 100 percent in this journey- it makes all the difference in the world.

Highlights thus far, would probably be placing third at the USA Indoor Championships, less than a second off from making my first World team. Having that success from the start made me feel legitimized, and hungry to work harder so that I make it next time!! The European trip I am taking now has also been amazing, and something I will never forget.

DtB: What has been the biggest adjustments you’ve had to make?

HD: The biggest adjustment I’ve probably had to make is getting used to working out on my own. I don’t really have a training group, or even a consistent training partner right now, and that is a lot different than what I was used to with the Gophers. After doing it for awhile though, I’ve learned that it can be pretty beneficial to be able to run exactly how I feel, and my coach has done a great job of catering my workouts for me. It’s great to get that individual attention and I really appreciate all the work he is putting into my training group, party of one.

I also have made mental adjustments as I moved up to a higher level of running. I have always believed that having good competition brings out the best in my own performances- so long as I make the mental transition that I belong here, and deserve these opportunities to race against professional athletes. I needed to digest the idea that I AM a professional athlete too, and I can rise to new challenges with the best of them!

DtB: What have you learned from the experience thus far?

HD: Oh man, every year at our post-season meetings, this was the million dollar question coach Gary Wilson would ask us. Usually I started off with a blank stare and a big “Ummm…” to buy time, but it was also the question that brought the most information to the surface for me.

It’s amazing to think back to December of last year as I was just graduating and compare “what I knew then” to “what I know now.” The most obvious thing that comes to mind is all the things I’ve learned about the "business" side of professional running. Starting off, I knew nothing about agents, contracts, or professional running groups. Though I’m still emailing my agent like, every other day asking more questions, I feel I have a better understanding of how that whole support system works. I’m so grateful to have that support, but have also learned that I need to be fairly independent, and work as my own advocate to make sure I don’t get lost in the shuffle.

By following a different training program and racing schedule this year, I’m constantly learning more about my body, what I can handle, and what I need to do to prepare myself to perform at my best. Beyond the physical, all sports have such a big psychological component as well. I’m learning that no matter how many times I’ve raced in my life, every meet will bring with it different emotions, and there is not one foolproof way for me to mentally prepare for competition.

DtB: Are there things you would do differently, if you had them to do over?

HD: Quite honestly, there is very little I would change about this first year of post-collegiate running. I am very happy that I chose to stay home and train with Team USA Minnesota, I trust and respect my coach, I like my agent, I love my contract with Asics, and I’m improving. There is no way to say that if I had made decisions differently, where I would be right now or how I would be performing. I wanted to go into this new phase of my career with 100% faith in what I was doing, trust the process and appreciate the outcome. 2010 was a good year to get started because if things weren’t working out for some reason, I would have time enough before 2012 to make proper adjustments.

Of course, there are always little things that any athlete could say they would like to change. I am always working on improving my lifestyle doing the “little things” that matter so much like managing my sleep, diet, strength work, etc.

My only big regret this year is getting tripped up at the USA Outdoor Championships 800 meters prelim. Obviously, this was outside of my control, but I had big dreams of making the final, and placing well there to really establish myself as a factor in the US women’s 800 meter pool. It was a big disappointment, but I try to stay positive and have faith that God has something else planned for me. I had placed a lot of emphasis on that meet in my head, so it seemed like a really crappy outcome, but I’m beginning to realize that life still goes on, and that experience is part of the process towards something greater (hopefully) that I am not privileged to experience just yet.

DtB: How is the European experience, compared to the US collegiate and post-collegiate circuit?

HD: This first European experience for me has been an eye-opener and a great learning experience for me- not only for my running career, but also for life in general. Since I have arrived, I can’t even count how many “not funny at the time, but funny now that it’s over” moments I have encountered, but I’ve gotten through them all! I think I am going to come back to the United States more patient, a better problem solver, and more appreciative of some of the luxuries of home that we don’t even realize are luxuries (such as air conditioning, drinking fountains, free public restrooms, a common language, and the use of our cars and cell phones!).

As far as the running and racing situation goes in Europe, I’ve learned that you have to be flexible and roll with whatever comes your way. I feel like a lot of collegiate runners have very specific schedules, meals, etc. that they like to stick with when competing. Here, the meet hotel might be the only place to get food for miles, and they are serving something you would usually never eat before a race- but you need to eat, so you eat it. And then, to your great surprise, things still go well!! Or, I’ve talked to several people who have traveled for over 12 hours in a day to get from one meet to the next, their bags still haven’t arrived, but they are racing tomorrow, and that’s just the way things are going to be! I guess what I’m trying to say is sometimes these things will be outside of your control, and the best thing you can do is stay calm, and trust in your ability to perform well despite all the outside factors.

The meets themselves in Europe have been awesome. The races have been stacked with talented athletes, the atmosphere is great, and the stands are full of people enjoying their fries topped with gobs of mayonnaise (seriously). And, they usually play music while you race- I love that, I think we should be doing that everywhere. The meet officials have been relatively low-key, and a lot of the meets allow you to warm up on your own and just show up to the line when the race is about to be run. This was a nice change from the long check-in procedures I am used to at home.

Another thing I love is the way athletes kind of let their guard down, and befriend each other here. I’m finding myself spending a lot of time in meet hotels with athletes from my event group that I never got to know before, and meeting new friends from different events and different places of the world! Everyone keeps saying me, “Welcome to The Circuit,” like this is a way of life, and after years of competing, people have gotten to know each other quite well over here. Long story short, it’s quite different, but it’s pretty great, and I’m so happy I’ve been given this opportunity!

DtB: Did you set some goals that you set out at the beginning of the season? Things you wanted to achieve? Or was it just a take it as it goes thing?

HD: Definitely. I don’t think you can be a serious runner without goals. Goals are what get you through the hard workouts and long runs; they get you through the injuries, and the bad races. I’ve always felt like racing is so addicting, because no matter how well I perform- even if I reach my original goal, that’s just an opportunity for me to strive for more, to set higher goals for myself. This season I set my sights on running a personal best in both the 800 meters and 1500meters. Mission accomplished in the 1500 (but like I said, now I’m hoping to get even faster!) Beyond a personal best, a big goal of mine has always been to break two minutes in the 800 as well (my previous best is 2:01.05).

DtB: Will the Europe trip be the end of the season for you, or do you have more races planned for the outdoor season?

HD: No, the Europe trip will not be the end to my season just yet. The end of July is European national championships time, but then a second series of races start up in early August that I may go back for? I'm uncertain at this point if I will be mentally ready to make another trip over here, especially because I'll be making final preparations for my wedding in September! But at this point, I feel like I'm still physically capable of running a few more good track races, and of course, Europe is the best place to do it at that time of year! Regardless, I know I'm confirmed to run a mile race in Falmouth, Massachusetts on August 14th, and then I'll do the 5th Ave. Mile in New York September 25th to cap off the season.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Gabriele Anderson On Europe and Her PR 1,500

New pro Gabriele Anderson, now racing for Team USA MN, didn't wait too long to show her stuff, getting a PR at 1,500 meters in a meet in Belgium. She talks to DtB about her PR and her experiences on her first trip to Europe.

Down the Backstretch: You just set a big PR in the 1,500. Could you tell us a bit about the race. How it developed and your take on the result.

Gabriele Anderson: The race in which I set my personal best was on Sunday, July 11, in Brasschaat, Belgium. It was a pretty warm day, as we had fairly hot weather for the whole trip. I was just hoping to go out and have a good effort again, and hopefully put myself in a good position to follow the pace setter and hang on for a fast time! The pace was honest through 800-meters, and I just tried to finish strongly and hang on to the front pack. I couldn't quite move with the leaders in the last 400, but I held on as best as I could and was happy to come home with a new PR!

DtB: You've had a long season, now you're racing well in Europe. How are you able to remain sharp for this long? Did it just take this long to hit your peak or was it more a matter of getting the right
conditions to run a fast time?

GA: I think that, for me, it was easier to extend my season because I didn't race the typical collegiate year consisting of three seasons: cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track. I had only outdoor eligibility, and my training all year was focused on performing well in outdoor track.

Racing less in the fall and in the winter allowed me to train a little bit more than usual and thus race a bit more here in the summer.

DtB: You've talked about finishing your masters in public policy at the U. Are you picking up any public policy experience from your trip abroad? Getting views of how things are done over there? What can be learned from that?

GA: You know, it was a really eye-opening experience in general! I can't say that I picked up too many details about politics and policy from just being there, but it was my first time in Europe, so I definitely enjoyed learning about that part of world's unique history. The trip was a balance of focusing on running and racing well while also enjoying the opportunity to be immersed in a new country with a distinct culture. We had a great time exploring -- and running!

DtB: Any memorable experiences during this trip to Europe? Have you been able to get out into the area and get to know the people?

GA: We managed to take the train to Brussels from our base in Sittard to see the Tour de France. That was definitely a highlight for me! We traveled several hours just to get there and then waited another couple of hours just to have the peloton breeze past our faces for about 25 seconds. It was worth it!

We didn't necessarily get to know too many of the locals (due to the language barrier to some extent), but it was actually really great to get to know some of the other runners on the trip from different training groups across the country. Since I'm new to the professional running scene it was interesting to hear about the experiences that other young athletes have had post-collegiately in different training groups like McMillan Elite, ZAP Fitness, and Team Indiana Elite. We're all in different places, but we're all pursuing the same type of goals. We definitely made a lot of new friends!

DtB: Are you coming right back after the running is done in Europe or will you be able to take some time to travel and see some of Europe?

GA: I arrived back in Minneapolis on Monday, July 12. However, I do hope to get back to Europe and see more someday! It was a great first experience and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to race abroad.

The Story Isn't Always Who Wins

While the majority of sports coverage details that tales of those who win races, it is more often true that the best story in the event in not about the person who finishes first. In last weekend's Life Time Fitness Triathlon, the woman's second place finisher has such a story. The NY Times wrote about it HERE.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hartmark, Houck Win Park Point Five Mile

Call it home course advantage as Duluth's Eric Hartmark and Jen Houck won men's and women's divisions, respectively, at the 39th annual Park Point 5-Mile. Houck shattered her own course record by 40 seconds, winning with a time of 27:50. Houck, 26, also broke the course record in last year, running 28:30. The victory was her third consecutive at Park Point.

Hartmark's winning time was 25:16. It was the second victory for Hartmark, 32, who also won in 2007 in a time of 25:17.
Duluth’s Jeremy Polson, a five-time winner and defending champion, finished second in 26:09,. Kelly Mortenson, 39, of St. Paul, finished third in 26:19.

Duluth’s Kathleen Monaghan, 42, placed second in the women's race in 30:24 followed by Duluth’s Marlo McGaver in 32:09.

Net proceeds from the event benefit the Young Athletes Foundation (YAF), a Grandma’s Marathon program focused on the promotion and development of youth athletics.

Ben Blankenship Talks About His Experiences at the NACAC Meet

The University of Minnesota's Ben Blankenship won a silver medal in the 1,500 Meters at the NACAC Meet last Saturday. Upon his return, he answered a few questions from DtB.

Down the Backstretch: How did you get picked for the team? Is there some sort of qualifying process based on performance in a certain meet.

Ben Blankenship: I believe they picked athletes based on a disending order list of times run by athletes under the age of 23 in the past year.

DtB: The collegiate season is pretty intense with a lot of competition throughout the year in XC, indoor track, outdoor track, and now this. How do you stay motivated and sharp after a long season to be able to perform well at the NACAC meet?

BB: The year is really long because distance runners have to peak three times, and during outdoor, I had to have my peak last for a month and a half. With the new organization of the regional meet, it was even more difficult to stay sharp in June and July.

I stayed motivated by being able to represent the Unversity of Minnesota at Nationals and the USA's and the United States at the NACAC meet. I worked with Coach Plaz to alter my training and try and keep things fresh.

DtB: Can you give us a recap of how the race unfolded? One suspects that since the weather was hot and humid, nobody tried to run from the front, so it would end up being a tactical battle. In the end it appeared to come down to the two guys with the best times coming in, you and the Canadian.
Did the two Canadians try any team tactics or was it every man for himself?

BB: The first 200 meters went out slow because no one wanted to take the lead in the heat and wind. Somehow in the start my left spike got ripped open leaving my toes exposed. I decided to take the lead after the 200, and everyone else followed. I got the pace back on track by running 60 second laps for next two laps. The race turned into a kick with 300 meters to go between myself and the Canadian. He edged me out in the last 100 meters, but we ran a 54 second last lap. I was proud of the effort at the end of such a long season.

DtB: Is there much socializing with the athletes from the other countries? Have you developed any friendships with any of the foreign athletes? Any memories you will take home with you of experiences you've had off the track?

BB: There was some socialing with athletes from other counties, but it was hard to communicate with the language barrier. Many of the other athletes spoke Spanish, and unfortunetly my Spanish is few and far between. We did have fun trading clothes. I got an awesome Dominican Republic shirt and a Mexico jacket.

DtB: Aside from your teammate, Aaron Studt, did you know anybody else on the team? Did you hang out with the US athletes or spend more time trying to get to know some of the athletes from the other countries?

BB: I did not no anyone besides Aaron going into the meet. I had fun meeting and hanging out with other American athletes. I met Kurt(Roberts, winner of the Shot Put), Aaron's counterpart and a hipster (Tschida) who threw javelin. Also, many other tracksters on the American team. My roomamte (Mohamud) Ige(University of Arizona) is one of Hassy's(U of M teammate, Hassan Mead) good friends, and he was a bunch of fun to room with.

DtB: Aside from getting together young athletes from countries in this hemisphere, what is the purpose of this competition? Sort of a mini version of a youth Pan American Games?

BB: Getting together with young athletes from other countries was one aspect of the meet. Another goal of the meet was to prepare runners for future international meets. They made us follow the rules and procedures of Olympic style track events.

DtB: What are the memories you will take away from the experience?
BB: The memories I have of this meet will have to be kept between the people that were there and shared them.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kara Goucher Designed T and Card, a Fundraiser for MADD

Get a Kara-Tee or greeting card for charity HERE. A T-shirt with a design by Kara Goucher to raise funds for MADD in memory of her father, who was killed when a drunk driver collided with his car when Kara was a child.

Beardsley Inducted into Distance Running Hall of Fame

Last weekend in Utica, NY Dick Beardsley was inducted into the Distance Running Hall of Fame. He and fellow marathoner Miki Gorman were this year's inductees. Upon returning from the event, he answered a few questions from DtB.

Down the Backstretch: You are the first and only Minnesotan in the Hall of Fame. What was your reaction when you were informed of your selection?

Dick Beardsley: I was very honored, humbled, and a little surprised. A couple of years ago they told me to be at a get together at the Boston Marathon. Rumor had it that I was going to be inducted that year. People from New Balance were there. People were even congratulating me! Then they made the announcement. Needless to say, I was not selected. When I heard the same thing this year I was a little more cautious, but when they made the anouncement and said my name, it was quite emotional!

DtB: What was the induction ceremony like?

DB: It was in a nice quaint little theater at the Masonic Lodge in Utica. They had it decorated really nice and had pictures of Miki Gorman and I. Larry Rawson was the MC and he always does such a great job! They brought past inductees onto the stage and introduced them. Bill Rodgers, Nina Kuscsik, and Kathrine Switzer. They brought Miki up first and then it was my turn to give my thanks. I got all weepy a few times, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Afterwards Miki and I signed copies of the painting they unveiled the day before. It was a great weekend!

DtB: How does this honor rank with the others you’ve won?

DB: As far as Hall of Fame awards, this is the Grandaddy of them all when it comes to distance running. Running wise I would say its right at the top!

DtB: How is life in Austin(though you’re not there a lot. You seem to be on the road more than at home)?

DB: I've really taken to Austin! The people here remind me a lot of folks from the Midwest, down to earth and very friendly. It is really a active outdoor community--running, cycling, hiking, kayaking, fishing. I love it, and the winters are a sure lot nicer!

DtB: How are all the body parts holding up? Your knees seem to be the joints that have taken the most damage. How is everything functioning these days?

DB: Considering everything, pretty darn good! A year and a half ago I did have to have a total knee replacement on my right knee, and then back surgery last August. The knee feels great and I was back running 60 miles/week until my back started acting up again. That's when they had to go back in and secure it even more. I had my left knee scoped last week and back surgery the week before! The knee feels great, but the back is still quite sore. They did a lot more work on that--rods, screws, and plates. It's only been a couple of weeks, so it will get better soon! Once I'm healed, I should be back running again!

DtB: What’s it like being on the road so much? How do you fit in running, sleep, and all the other things that keep the body healthy?

DB: I am on the road a lot speaking at schools, races, and corporate events, and I so love what I do! My wife Jill handles all my speaking arrangements and trys to travel with me as much as she can, so that really helps! As far as running, I just make it happen! I don't miss very many days, and many of them I am up running at 3 AM to get my run in because I know I will be traveling that day. Thankfully I've never needed a lot of sleep, but when I get the chance--not to often--I really enjoy a good nap!

DtB: Was Miki Gorman, your fellow inductee, in Utica for the induction? You are kind of polar opposites in personality. Miki being very reserved, and you the bubbly outgoing type. Did you get a chance to talk to her, compare notes, etc.?

DB: Yes, Miki was the other inductee. Of course I had read about her and knew about the incredible running career she had. This was the first time I'd ever met her. She is one of the nicest, sweetest persons I have ever met! You're right she is very quiet and reserved. They almost had to force her to get up and say a few words. She looks amazing, and will be 75 years old next month!

DtB: What are your plans for the future? Any particular goals—times to run, milestones to celebrate, thoughts on settling down or keeping on doing what you’re doing for as long as you can?

DB: Running wise, I'm hoping to run Grandma's Marathon next year. It will be the 30th anniversary of when I ran 2:09 there. Before I had my new knee put in, I was still running marathons in the 2:40's, but it has been over two years now since I have run one. My goal at Grandma's would be to break three hours. That would give me five decades of running a sub three hour marathon. I hadn't even thought about that until Amby Burfoot from RW mentioned it to me. That really fires me up to go after it!

I so enjoy my running, and I still enjoy competing! Career wise, I so love speaking that I can't imagine not doing it! Saying that, down the road a few years from now I would like to cut back the number of engagements and have more time to spend with Jill and our boys. As you know, I was a fishing guide in Minnesota for years and would love to get back into that here in Texas.

Jill and I started the Dick Beardsley Foundation almost three years ago now. I really want to see that continue to grow. I have a great passion for the DBF and to help others struggling with chemical dependency!

Pictured are: (L to R)Dick Beardsley, Nina Kuscsik, Miki Gorman, Kathrine Switzer, Bill Rodgers, Larry Rawson

Photo by Wayne Baker

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Yes/No: Will Houck break course record at Park Point?

Before there was Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, there was a race called Park Point 5-Miler. Running it's 39th edition, Northern Minnesota's oldest road race will be held Friday evening in Duluth. As usual, the Park Point 5-Miler boasts some of the top racers from Duluth and all of Minnesota. Jen Houck and Jeremy Polson will return to defend their titles.

We will focus on Duluth resident Jen Houck with this question...

Y/N: Will Jen Houck break her own Park Point 5-miler course record of 28:30 Friday evening?

Jen Houck is the 2009 Runner of the Year for Minnesota. In 2010, Houck has transitioned from being a top Minnesota runner into a national-class athlete by virtue of her 2:39:02 Boston Marathon in April. She was 17th overall, third American and qualified for the Olympic Trials in this race. Houck also ran 1:15:48 at the 2010 Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon finishing fourth.

To play our game, simply type "yes" or "no" into the subject line of an e-mail and send it to us at DtBFantasy [AT] gmail [DOT] com before 6:15 P.M. CST, Friday, July 16th. Please put your answer in the subject line of the e-mail and make sure your full name appears somewhere in the e-mail. We will continue to offer a bonus for participants making their debut in Yes/No - a correct answer will be worth two points for any first-time players.

My answer: Yes

The fantasy contest question from last week was: Will Ben Blankenship and/or Aaron Studt finish in the top three in their respective events at the NACAC U-23 meet? The answer was yes. Both Blankenship and Studt came through with a runner-up finishes in their events. Fourteen contestants answered correctly this week.

Toby Hatlevig moved up one spot and is now tied with Jesse Schoen for first place with 17 points. Gregg Robertson and Lori Anne Peterson are in second place with 16 points.

For all the results, please visit DtB Fantasy Corner.

Aaron Studt Talks about NACAC's, Red Shirting, and His Future

The University of Minnesota's Aaron Studt won a silver medal in the shot put at the NACAC meet on Sunday. In an e-mail interview, he answers some questions about the meet, the decision to red shirt this year, and his hopes for the future.

Down the Backstretch: You red shirted the outdoor season this year. Can you talk about that decision.

Aaron Studt: The main reason is to have a fifth year and to make a run at a National title in the Shot Put. If I would not have red shirted I would have had to dual against Ryan Whiting (72' shot putter from ASU). I was never red shirted as a freshman, so I thought it only fair to be able to stretch out my career for one more year. It all came down to number crunching to still win a Big Ten Title. Luckily we still had enough firepower in the outdoor season to win a Big Ten Championship without myself and Hassan Mead.

DtB: You were still training and competing during the season, just not in
the regular schedule. What was that like? Was it a good break from the
grind of meets or did you miss being out there working to get points for the

AS: It was a great opportunity to rest up my hand, which had bothered me during the indoor season. I threw once or twice a week, but my main focus from this past outdoor season to the end of next year's indoor season is to build strength. I am slightly undersized, and I lack the strength right now to make it to the next level. Hopefully, if I can stay healthy this year, the red shirted outdoor season can prove beneficial to me and to the Gophers.

DtB: Give us a summary of how the competition went at the NACACs. Kurt won on his second to last throw. You had been leading up until then. Was he throwing before or after you in the rotation?

AS: NACACs was a very neat experience, although not everything was clicking like I had hoped. Up until the fifth round I had thrown after Kurt, but they reordered the competition after the third and fifth rounds. After Kurt passed me I did my best to relax and try to hit good positions, but for every throw something was misaligned. Couldn't get things going like I had hoped.

DtB: Is this the last competition for you this year or are there any other meets you have on the schedule?

AS: NACACs was my last competition of the year. I plan on taking a few days off and then getting back in the weight room. I won't be competing again till the middle of March, so I have a lengthy period of time to make strength gains.

DtB: What have you learned from this season apart from the team? Did it allow you to work on some things that will help you next year? If so, what?

AS: Having the outdoor season off allowed me to pay close attention to my body while still maintaining a good training regimen. I don't have to worry about a double peak next year(indoor and outdoor seasons), so I get to train hard up until March, which I am really looking forward to. My red shirt season was not only a benefit to me, allowing my body to rest up and get a jump start on next year's training, but I think it also benefited the rest of the team. My absence allowed people like Trey Davis and Micah Hegerle to step up and fill my shoes and do extremely well at the Big Ten Meet!

DtB: Do you have plans to continue to compete after college or will that depend on how you do next year?

AS: It all depends on next year. Shot Put is one of the most competitive events in the US. If I lived in any other country the door would be wide open to make a national team, and my hopes would be high. The biggest two components I am missing are size and strength. If I am able to put on about 15 to 20 pounds of muscle and increase my strength dramatically then the doors might open, but there are too many variables to decide at this point. Ultimately continuing to compete after college is a big goal of mine, but I just have to take it one day at a time.

DtB: Did you have any memorable experiences at the NACAC meet? Either on or off the track.

AS: I witnessed a 2:58 4x400 meter relay. That was incredible!! Other than that, I loved the atmosphere and all the people I got a chance to meet. I consider myself very fortunate to have gotten to compete for the best track and field team in the world. USA!!

Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dorniden runs 2:01.75 in Belgian Meet

Team USA Minnesota's Heather Dorniden ran 2:01.75 at the international d'athlétisme de la Province de Liège meet today in Liege, Belgium. Dorniden finished sixth in the race won by Erin Donohue of the US in 1:59.99. Full results are HERE. Flotrack video of the race HERE.

Liege Meet Streaming Live

If you want to watch some of the Euro Circuit with Minnesota athletes, the Liege International Athletics meet features Heather Dorniden in the 800, plus other US stars. Live streaming video is available for the meet, but there is a subscription fee. For more info go to: The coverage begins at 5:45 GMT and runs through 8 PM GMT(six hours ahead of CST, so 11:45 AM to 2 PM this afternoon). Meet results available HERE.

Medtronic Twin Cities Ten-Mile Lottery Registration Now Open

Twin Cities In Motion will begin tracking lottery registration and awarding guaranteed entry to registrants if not chosen after two consecutive years! This year the field limit has increased to 8,000 runners. All lottery entrants will be charged a non-refundable $5 administrative fee upon receipt of the lottery application in order to track non-selected lottery registrants. No goods or services will be exchanged for this fee. This new system, is designed to give everyone the opportunity to participate in this event, said TCIM marketing and media director, Marlene Wright.

The race is Sunday, October 3, and begins at 7:05 AM, prior to the marathon. More information and registration is available at

Park Point Five-Mile on Friday in Duluth

Northern Minnesota’s oldest road race – the 39th annual Park Point 5-Miler and 2-Mile Walk – will be run Friday, July 16.

Online pre-registration is available through 3 PM Thursday at or To sign up on race day, visit the pavilion at the end of Park Point between 3 PM and 5 PM. The entry fee for the five-mile run and two-mile walk is $25, while the youth races are free.

The event begins at 5:30 PM with youth races for children 14 and under, followed by the two-mile walk at 6:15 PM, and then the five-mile feature race at 6:30 PM.

Defending five-mile run champions Jeremy Polson and Jen Houck are registered, as is 2010 William A. Irvin 5K champion Scott Behling. Polson and Houck, the 2009 Minnesota Runners of the Year, won the race in both 2008 and 2009. Last year, Houck’s time of 28 minutes and 30 minutes established a new course record for the women’s division.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Area Runners Do Well at Flanders Cup Meet in Belgium

North Dakota's Laura Januszewski won the 800 meters at the Flanders Cup meet in Brasschaat, Belgium on Sunday in a personal best of 2:01:19. Laura was .31 ahead of runner-up Linda Marguet of France with the US's Shannon Rowbury third in 2:03.02.

Team USA's Minnesota's Gabriele Anderson shattered her personal best in the 1,500, running 4:12.06 to place fifth. Americans took the top two spots in that race with Molly Huddle first in 4:09.22, just edging Liz Maloy, who ran 4:09.24. Team USA MN's Meghan Armstrong was eighth in the 5,000 with a time of 16:13.52. Japan's Mika Yoshikawa won the event in 15:28.44.

Anderson's time betters the U of M women's record for 1,500 meters set by Jody Eder in 1984 of 4:15.59, which Anderson broke at this year's Big Ten meet where she ran 2:15.43. Full meet results are available HERE.

Team USA MN coach Dennis Barker Talks About Trip to Europe

Several Team USA Minnesota members and coach Dennis Barker are in Europe as part of a USATF funded program to give US athletes the opportunity to compete on the European summer circuit. DtB asked Barker to provide some insight into what the experience has been thus far.

Down the Backstretch: What are you hoping to achieve, get out of this trip?

Dennis Barker: The main idea is to provide an opportunity for some young, up-and-coming US runners to gain international racing experience. One of the goals of our training group since we began ten years ago has been to help improve US distance running performance internationally. So we proposed a partnership with USATF to take runners, not only from our group but from several of the US training groups, to Europe to race. This is the second trip we have taken. The first was in 2006.

DtB: What is your “base camp” like? How much time is spent there? How much traveling to and from the various meets?

DB: Our base camp is not really a "camp." We're staying in a small hotel in Sittard in the Netherlands that has partnered with a local sports association, which has very good track and field and soccer facilities. They are marketing themselves as a place for teams to come for their final preparations before the London Olympics in 2012. The hotel provides breakfast, then we go to the track late in the morning to work out and have lunch. They have a nice building at the track that includes a kitchen and dining area. All of the meets are in Belgium within two hours of Sittard, so are fairly easy to get to and from on the same day.

DtB: Do you get a chance to meet with other coaches, meet directors, etc.? Establish contacts, knowledge that might help in future trips?

DB: I have contact with the local coaches. Other than that the contact is mainly with race directors. Having been here before has helped quite a lot. In 2006 there were not many US runners coming to Europe - only the very top runners who were already established - so it was more difficult getting our runners into races. But in the last few years more US runners have come over to race, so the race directors are more familiar with us.

DtB: What has been the highlight of the trip thus far? What have been the challenges?

DB: We have only had one meet so far but that went well. Heather(Dorniden) placed second (to a woman from France) in the 800 in a season best, Gabriele (Anderson)was second in the 1500 (to a woman from Finland), and Meghan (Armstrong) was sixth in the 1500. Many of the runners they are going against are also young up-and-coming runners in whatever country they are from. There are a lot of future Olympians in these meets.

A non-running highlight has been that The Netherlands has made it to the World Cup soccer final and the whole country has gone nuts over it. For the semi-final match they put two big screen TVs in the Sittard town square and the place was packed. Everything else in town was closed. The whole square erupted when they scored a goal and when they won. Then they all stayed up a long time honking air horns, yelling and generally carrying on. It will be crazy here if they win this weekend.(Note: this was written before the final, won 1-0 by Spain in overtime.)

DtB: What have you learned thus far on this trip?

DB: US distance running performance internationally is improving due to more promising collegians staying with it and fully developing their talent, and gaining confidence to race against the top runners in the world. It doesn't happen quickly and there is still a ways to go. But beginning with the Hanson's group, then the California group and our group, more and more training groups have popped up in the US, which means that more promising collegians are staying in the sport. Racing against other top runners from other countries helps them see what they need to do to get to that level. Gradually, the US runners are producing better results internationally.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Aaron Studt Completes One, Two US Sweep in Shot Put at NACAC

The University of Minnesota's Aaron Studt completed a one, two sweep for the US in the Shot Put at the NACAC Under 23 Meet in Miramar, Florida on Sunday. Ashland University's Kurt Roberts won the event with a toss of 61 feet, 1/4 inch. Studt won the silver medal with a 59 foot, 9 inch throw. It was the second silver medal won by a Gopher athlete at the meet, as Ben Blankenship took second in the 1,500 meters on Saturday.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Blankenship Wins Silver at NACAC U23 Meet

The University of Minnesota's Ben Blankenship won a silver medal at the NACAC Under 23 Meet Saturday in Miramar, Florida. Blankenship ran 3:45.43 in the 1,500 meters. Canada's Olivier Collin won the race in 3:44.45. Blankenship is a graduate of Stillwater HS and a two time Minnesota state track champion in the 1,600 meters.

The NACAC U23 Championships are held every two years in one of the 32 member nations of the North America, Central America, and the Caribbean Athletic Association, one of six regional athletics associations affiliated with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Friday, July 09, 2010

Yes/No: Studt or Blankenship in Top-3 at NACAC?

University of Minnesota track stars Aaron Studt and Ben Blankenship were chosen to represent the United States at the 2010 NACAC Under-23 Track and Field Championships this weekend. The NACAC U-23 meet is held every two years among the 32 member nations of the North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association. This year, the event is being held July 9-11 in Miramar, Florida.

Let us know how the two Gophers will fare this weekend with this question…

Y/N: Will Ben Blankenship and/or Aaron Studt finish in the top three in their respective events at the NACAC U-23 meet?

Aaron Studt is a two-time All-American with the Gophers and has a shot put best of 63-6 1/4. He was a redshirt outdoors in 2010 and will return to the Gophers for his senior year in 2011.

Ben Blankenship broke school records in the mile and 1500 running 3:57 and 3:39. He was an All-American and Big Ten Conference Champion.

Results from the 2008 NACAC U-23 meet -- including Team USA MN athlete Meghan Armstrong winning the 10000 meters -- can be found HERE.

More information from USATF is HERE.

To play our game, simply type "yes" or "no" into the subject line of an e-mail and send it to us at DtBFantasy [AT] gmail [DOT] com before 5:15 P.M. CST, Saturday, July 10th. Please put your answer in the subject line of the e-mail and make sure your full name appears somewhere in the e-mail. We will continue to offer a bonus for participants making their debut in Yes/No - a correct answer will be worth two points for any first-time players.

My answer: No

The fantasy contest question from last week was: Will Patrick Smyth or Josh Moen finish in the top four at the USA Men's 10k Championship at Peachtree? The answer was no. Josh Moen finished in tenth place and Patrick Smyth finished fifteenth. Only eight contestants were able to predict the result and answer correctly this week.

Jesse Schoen remains in first place with seventeen points. Toby Hatlevig is one back with sixteen points.

For all the results, please visit DtB Fantasy Corner.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Team USA, USATF-Minn. Earn $50,000 Grant

Team USA Minnesota, the elite distance running training group based in the Twin Cities, and USA Track & Field - Minnesota, the governing body of the sport in the state, have earned a $50,000 Excellence Challenge Grant from USA Track & Field.

According to the USATF media release, HERE, the funds will be used to develop a web-site and establish a professional distance running camp in Minneapolis.

Grant winners were chosen based on a demonstration of their ongoing support of USATF's strategic plan. Other organizations earning grants were the Randall's Island Sports Foundation in New York and the USATF Masters Track & Field Committee.

"These investments will support the forward movement of track & field," USATF President and Chairman of the Board Stephanie Hightower said. "As a board, we are excited about being able to award the folks on the front line who are improving and advancing excellence in our sport."

Excellence Challenge Grants were established at the 2009 USATF Annual Meeting to support the advancement of performance excellence in five specific areas: Race Walking, Youth, Masters, Long Distance Running and Disabled Athlete Programs.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Hopkins Girls 5th at Nike Track Nationals

The Hopkins girls' track team that ran away with the MSHSL Class AA team title last month, placed 5th last weekend in the inaugural Nike Track Nationals, a meet that matched the nation's top twelve girls and boys high school teams against one-another.

The Royals - competing as the Hopkins Track Club -- scored 7246.10 points in the ten event contest held at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. The Chandler Track Club of Arizona won the girls' competition with 7721.65 points.

The meet was scored with a decathlon-style points system based on each team's individual performers in the best nine events of the ten event meet. Events contested were the 100-meter, 400m, 800m, 1600m, 100m-hurdles, shot put, discus throw, pole vault, high jump, and long jump.

Hopkins was represented by Taylor Anderson in the 100 and the high jump, Bridgett Sweeney in the 400, Kayla Goeman in the 800, Grace Gerring in the 100m-hurdles and the long jump, Terese Bredemus in the pole vault, and Lindsey Kaufmann in the shot and discus.

To qualify for the meet, Hopkins won the Heartland Regional of Nike Track Nationals. The Eden Prairie boys' team finished runners-up at the same meet, but did not advance to Eugene.

The top teams from each of eight regions, plus four at-large teams, qualified for Nike Track Nationals.

Find complete NTN results HERE.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Strib Interview with Kara Goucher

Strib story on Kara Goucher HERE.

Minnesota Stars in Action Over Weekend

It may have been a quiet holiday weekend for you -- it was for DtB -- but for a handful of Minnesota's top middle and long distance runners, it was a busy Independence Day Holiday. Whether competing in Europe or at far-flung domestic locales, Minnesota's best were tangling with some of the best in the world.

Here's a round-up ...

Dorniden Runs Season Best ... Team USA Minnesota's Heather Dorniden, who fell and was not advanced in the prelims of the 800-meters at the USA Outdoor Championship in June, got a measure of redemption with a second-place, 2:02.43 clocking at her signature distance in the Leon Buyle Memorial Meet in Oordegem-Lede, Belgium on July 3.

Also finishing second at the meet was Team USA Teammate Gabriele Anderson. The recent Gopher alum ran 4:15.71 for 1500m there. Fellow teammate Meghan Armstrong was 6th in the event in 4:18.20.

Results from the meet are HERE.

Garrett Heath Runs 3:40.3 ... Winona native Garrett Heath clocked an eighth-place, 3:40.3 1500m at the IAAF Atletismo Meet in Madrid on July 2. Kenya's Remmy Limo Ndiwa won the race in 3;36.2

Results of the meet are HERE.

Leer 11th at Prefontaine ... Minnetonka High School alum Will Leer had a tough outing at the Prefontaine Classic over the weekend. He finished in last place in Race 2 of the mile at the IAAF Diamond League meet in Eugene, Oregon. Leer clocked 4:08.45.

Results of the meet are HERE. Watch video of Leer's race HERE.

Moen 10th, Smyth 15th at USA 10K ... Team USA Minnesota's Josh Moen finished 10th at the USA 10K Championships held in conjunction with the Fourth of July Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta. Moen clocked 29:10 on the storied course.

Teammate Patrick Smyth, the third place finisher at the USA Outdoor Championships 10,000m, finished 15th in 29:27.

Find complete Peachtree results HERE.