Friday, January 31, 2014

In the Circle 2014 Indoor Season Opening Weekends

Senior captain and returning All-American Jon Lehman (Coon Rapids) has been quick to shake off the rust this indoor season.  Lehman broke the school record previously held by Micah Hegerle this evening, winning the Bill Bergen Invitation at Iowa State with a throw of 72-5.  Jon opened the season with a throw of 71-11 to win the Northwest Open at the University of Minnesota on January 18th.  Jon's mark of 72-5 moves him up to 4th in Division 1 as of Friday night.

Lehman is joined in the national ranks by fellow Gophers junior Justin Barber (Mequon, WI) who is 17th in the weight throw and junior Mark Jennings (Marion, IA) who ranks 45th in the shot put.

The Gopher women were in action in the weight throw Friday night as well.  The women placed 4 in the top 12 led by junior Devin Stanford (Milwaukee, WI) fourth (57-7 3/4), sophomore Lyndsey Thorpe (Stanley, WI) in fifth (57-0 1/4), freshmen Kailee Kamps (Beloit, WI) (49-5 1/2) in 10th and freshmen Angie Guenther (White Bear Lake) (49-4 1/2) in 12th.

The Gophers are in action next weekend at the Iowa State Classic.

Chris Reed
Mankato State senior Chris Reed has left little doubt the rest of Division 2 will be chasing in 2014.  Reed has broken his own school record in the shot put three times already this indoor season, most notably at the Jack Johnson invite, setting a new meet record with a a throw of 65-5.  Chris has nearly a three foot lead on the rest of division 2 and his throw would put him 9th in all divisions.  Chris also ranks 4th in the weight throw with a mark of 64-10.  Sophomore Ryan Johnson from St. Cloud state also ranks 12th in the weight throw with a mark of 60-5 1/4

Tom Anderson
Many Minnesotans can now look west to see the state's all time greats competing at Arizona State.  Tom Anderson (Andover) is now competing for ASU after red-shirting his freshmen year.  Tom placed 2nd among collegiate throws (5th overall) in an incredibly deep field at the NAU invite on January 24th.  Tom's mark of 60-4 1/2 currently ranks him 29th overall in NCAA Division 1 and the 2nd freshmen.

Maggie Ewen
Maggie Ewen (St. Francis) is redshirting.  Competing unattached Maggie threw 51-5 at the NAU invite, placing 4th.  If Maggie were competing for ASU her mark would also put her 29th in the NCAA field and she would be the top freshmen in the country.

Best of luck to those representing Minnesota competing near and far this weekend.

Antonio Vega Takes the Next Step

Antonio Vega
It was October of 2012.  Antonio Vega had just run within ten seconds of his personal best for 10-miles at the US Championships/Medtronic Twin Cities 10 mile.  He'd done if off of only 40 to 50 miles a week of training, less than half his usual load.  He'd spent the day before the Twin Cities race coaching the Holy Angels high school team, hardly the perfect pre-race routine.

The Team USA Minnesota runner who in 2010 had won the national championship in the half marathon, was the USA Running Circuit champion, and USATF men's LDR runner of the year appeared to be well on his way back from a series of stress fractures that had put his promising pro running career on hold.  Distance running is a tough way to make a living.  Former world marathon recordholder Steve Jones of Wales summed it up best when the press was fawning over his achievement of setting that world record and appearing to be invincible at a young age.

"Look," Jones said.  "I'm just a hamstring injury away from oblivion."  All runners, whether they are aiming for Olympic medals or merely recreational runners have a breaking point.  Unfortunately for Vega his was his hip, which soon after the Twin Cities race would break yet again, another stress fracture.  Vega's goal had been to run the Olympic Trials in Houston, but the series of stress fractures--three or four, he says, in the end he lost track--delivered the clear message, his professional running career was over.

Fortunately for Vega, he was wise enough not to "put all his eggs in one basket."  Like many of the Team USA Athletes, he'd worked as well as run.  He had the high school coaching job and a potentially more lucrative, but not too dissimilar opportunity. Vega had been doing personal coaching for an Iowa company, Zoom Performance.  The company specialized in providing guidance to triathletes and Vega became their running guy.

A kinesiology major at the University of Minnesota, Vega had planned to go back to school to study physical therapy, but his wife is in the midst of medical school, so Vega had to put that on hold and be the family "breadwinner."  He developed within Zoom what amounts to the running division.  Through "word of mouth" Vega built a client base that has reached 40 runners.  These are not elite level athletes, but rather recreational runners who want some help with training, motivation, and creating their own running programs.

It's for "the average person," says Vega.  It's also his way to "give back to the sport" where "you can make money at the same time."  While most coaching programs can be perceived as "intimidating," Vega's style is more personal and welcoming, getting to know the individual runner and provide them with the tools to achieve their goals.  "A lot of people start to realize that one-on-one(coaching) is priceless," Vega says.

As a coach Vega attempts to transfer what he's learned over the years to his pupils.  To give them the tools they need to succeed.  He's a teacher, a motivator, and enabler.  It's the opportunity to use the knowledge base he's accumulated over the years and  use it to help others achieve, help them get the satisfaction and lifetime benefits he believes the sport provides.

While others might see the demise of his own ambitions as a professional runner as the end, Vega just views it as a fork in the road, an opportunity to do something else.  He's still passionate about running and coaching is just another way of sharing that passion.  Vega has turned what could have been the loss of a running career into an opportunity to do something else he loves.  It's not the end of a major part of his life, just the next step in the journey.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Minnesota vs the World at New Balance Indoor Grand Prix

The men's 3,000 meters at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix on February 8 is shaping up as Minnesota vs the World.  Former Gophers Ben Blankenship and Hassan Mead are in the field along with Winona native, Garrett Heath. They'll face other US standouts, plus top Kenyan and Ethiopian runners, as well as new Canadian 5K indoor recordholder Cam Levins.  Full entry list is HERE.

Team USA Minnesota's Gabe Grunewald is entered in an equally impressive field in the 2-Mile(entry list HERE).

Minnesota Masters runner Lance Elliott is also entered in the Masters Mile(entry list is HERE).  Team USA Minnesota's Heather Kampf is entered in the women's 1000(entry list HERE).

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Medtronic TC Marathon and Marathon Weekend Registration Open Feb. 1

Registration for Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon opens on February 1, along with six other marathon weekend events. Information available HERE.

News Clips

Minnesota Daily on the Jack Johnson Invitational HERE.

Duluth News Tribune on the Arrowhead 135 HERE and HERE

MIAC men's Athletes of the week HERE, women HERE..

MileSplit alumni report of Minnesota collegians for Jan. 19-25  is HERE.

UMAC Athletes of the Week are HERE.

Concordia Moorhead alumni meet results HERE.

USTFCCCA NCAA Indoor Track team rankings for DI HERE, DII HERE, and DIII HERE.

Depth returning to US distance running? HERE

Olympic Marathon Trials to be held in LA in 2016 HERE

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Arrowhead Trail 135 Day 2 Report From the Eyes of the Photographer

More MPR reporting and photos from the Arrowhead 135 are HERE.

Now is the Winter of Our Discontent

By Dennis Barker
We asked Team USA Minnesota coach Dennnis  Barker to share his thoughts on this winter of our discontent, to borrow from a sentence penned by an old English playwright.  To give us his thoughts on training through Minnesota's most well known season.  Insert joke here: Minnesota has two seasons, winter and road construction.

It’s been awhile since we've had this kind of cold in St. Paul.  The first half dozen years of Team USA Minnesota’s existence saw a string of the warmest winters in our recorded history.  There were a few Decembers during that string when we were still doing workouts on grass wearing just one thin layer of clothes.  Zero degrees had become a rarity.  Even the last few winters, though a little more typical, have been warmer than the averages. 

We’re now experiencing a January that may end up in the all-time top ten coldest - kind of a shock since just a few weeks ago, though it seems much longer, we experienced one of our warmest Novembers ever.  This has prompted runners who have never experienced this kind of cold to ask about the safety and sanity of running outside when it’s twenty degrees below zero.  

So, knowing I would receive eye rolls from the young people I coach, I pulled out my training journal from the winter of 1982.  This was before the advent of health clubs as we know them, and the easy access to treadmills and 200 meter indoor tracks that we now have.  It was also before the widespread application of “technical” clothing in sport, when man-made fabrics were mostly confined to polyester leisure suits and shirts with big collars worn over the collar of your sports jacket.  And yes, I had a mustache.  Anywho, in January of 1982, which was similar to this January, I ran 425 miles, mostly outside, kicking off a year in which I set many of my PRs.

But I wasn’t any more “hardcore” than many other Minnesota runners, and I was much less elite than runners like Dick Beardsley, Garry Bjorklund, Janice Klecker, Mike Slack, Jan Ettle and Alex Ratelle, who were doing the same or more than I was.  I remember being at running parties that winter on incredibly cold nights and hearing many discussions of people making plans to do a long run the next day without any thought or talk of what the temperature might be.  It was just an accepted part of being a runner. 

Bjoklund  never wore gloves during winter runs.  "Don't need them," he would say.  His only accommodation to really frigid temps, he would pull his sleeves down to cover his hands.

The quality of running in Minnesota at that time was very good.  Many 10K races were won in under thirty minutes, with some races having three or four men under thirty.  The women were winning 10K races in the thirty-fours, with the occasional sub-34.  There were several sub-2:20 men and sub-2:40 women marathoners.  And people raced a lot, so there were never any easy ones.  

Someone good always showed up.  All of these runners ran a lot of miles outside during that frigid January.  How frigid?  During on stretch of Sundays (the day we all did our long run) the warmest temperature was -6 degrees.  The others were -26, -21, -23, -20 and -11.  Plus, there were a few of those kind of days in-between the weekends.  I don’t remember anyone ever begging off a long run.

"This week in 1982, when the polar vortex was just called a cold day, my long run was 22 miles in 2:19 with -23 temp."--Dennis Barker

This is not to minimize the advances in running gear, equipment and facilities that have definitely enhanced winter training in Minnesota.  It’s just to say that training in very cold temperatures has been, and can be, done safely and effectively.  The most important factor in not only maintaining fitness, but advancing it toward your goals during a brutal cold spell is that, due to the more difficult conditions and having to wear three layers of clothes, your heart rate is higher than it would normally be, even running at a moderate pace.  So you’re getting a higher quality aerobic training effect without as much stress on your legs.  Consequently, your legs can probably handle more mileage, and a larger portion of that mileage is in a higher quality aerobic zone.   

A track meet in "the Barn," the U of MN fieldhouse, in the mid '70s.  Dirt track.
Webbing hanging from the ceiling as the facility was built primarily for indoor
workouts for the baseball team.
Photo by Jim Ferstle
I did five indoor track workouts and two indoor races during that January, which was plenty to stimulate my fast-twitch muscle fibers enough to make the pace of my outdoor runs a little quicker, and have it feel a little easier.  A lot of my buddies did the same.  I ran the Northwest Open three mile on the old indoor dirt track at the University of Minnesota in 14:13 and finished fourth.  The top two guys went under fourteen, and there were a bunch of more guys right behind me.  

"This week a long time ago I ran the NW Open 3 mile on the old indoor dirt track in 14:13. A water truck was brought in to keep down the dust."--Dennis Barker

The most important thing in running in this kind of cold is to keep the wind out and keep your body heat in.  Wear a thin layer of wind break material on the outside over a couple of other layers, not only on your top but also over your legs.  Run into the wind first so the last part of your run is with the wind.  

Start right up at a brisk pace to get your body temperature up.  Once you turn back for home with the wind, any parts of you that had gotten cold, will warm up quickly.  Wear some good mittens.  Gloves won’t cut it, your fingers stay warmer when they’re together.  Wear socks that come up over your ankles or higher, and a gator or something similar to protect your neck and keep body heat from escaping.  If you dress well enough to stay out for awhile, running in very cold weather provides both a physical and mental training effect that will last throughout the year.        



Results from the USATF Minnesota All Comers Meet

Results from the Monday's USATF All Comers Meet are HERE.

Grandma's Marathon Entry Fee Goes Up on Feb. 1, Bjorklund Half Lottery begins on February 10

Grandma's Marathon Entry fee goes up from $90 to $95 on February 1. Entry form is HERE.

Info on Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon lottery entry is HERE.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Mankato's Chris Reed Repeats as USTFCCCA DII Men's Athlete of the Week

MSU Mankato's Chris Reed retained his USTFCCA DII Men's Athlete of the Week designation with a DII record toss of 65'5.5"(19.95m) at the Jack Johnson Invitational last weekend. It was the second week that Reed excelled at the University of Minnesota.  Read about it HERE.

Arrowhead 135 Underway Up North

MPR's report on the Arrowhead 135 is HERE and HERE. Race site is HERE.

Gabe Grunewald Interview

Runnerspace interview with Gabe Grunewald is HERE.

Kara Goucher Interview

Interview with Kara Goucher on TheRunnerDad is HERE.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Weekend Meet Summaries

Highlights for the Gopher women's performances at the Jack Johnson Invitational HERE, men's HERE. Winona State women's highlights HERE.

Highlights for the St. Thomas Invitational:
St. Thomas men HERE. Women HERE.
Augsburg men HERE, Women HERE.
MSU Moorhead highlights HERE.
Winona State women's highlights HERE.
UMD men's highlights HERE, women HERE
Southwest Minnesota State highlights HERE.

Highlights from St. Olaf
St. Olaf photos are HERE(women) and HERE(men)
Carleton women highlights are HERE, men HERE.
Hamline Highlights on Facebook HERE.

Results and highlights for St. Scholastica women at the Blue Devil Invitational are HERE, men HERE.


A Talk With Garrett Heath

"Yeah, it's been a fun but crazy week up in Seattle with Brooks meeting the team, working with marketing, and getting things going there," said Garrett Heath of his impending move to Seattle to become a Brooks Beast.  "The Hanson's group was also in town this week, so it was good chance to meet everyone there as well and catch up with a few of the Stanford boys out there right now (Jake Riley and Brendan Gregg). I'm actually not going to officially make the move to Seattle until early April but will be training with the team before then for a while up at altitude in Albuquerque before and after USAs. 

"Leaving Saucony was a tough decision because they have been so good to me over the last many years, but I'm really excited to be a part of what Brooks is doing now and the running culture that they have built there in Seattle. And, obviously, I'm pumped to have a great group and some consistent training partners up there."

On Saturday Heath finished second in his indoor track debut at the Armory in New York City.   "Running at the armory is always great, and I felt good about yesterday's time for the first indoor race of the season. We had some great rabbiting up front, and I just tried to keep the pace going after they dropped off.  I couldn't quite hold off Lee in the home stretch, but he ran smart and is really strong right now."

Below he talks about his past, present, and future.

Down the Backstretch:  You’re on this incremental improvement rise upwards over the last three years.  In 2012 you were in contention for a spot on the US Olympic team.  In 2013, you set a PRs and won road miles.  You started off this year with a cross country win defeating the reigning Olympic 1500 champ and another Olympic and World champion, Kenenisa Bekele.  If nothing else your confidence must be growing.  Any combination of factors that led to these improvements?

Garrett Heath: I felt like I was on the cusp of breaking through for a long time there after college, so it's really been a fun ride over the last year or so to see that improvement actually happen and to knock off a couple of the most respected guys in the running world along the way.  

I've always been more of a strength based middle distance runner, but I feel like I've really gained a lot over the last year or so through putting an emphasis on speed development.  It's been a gradual process, but I was definitely able to see a large difference in my top end speed between the beginning and end of last season.  I still feel like I have a ways to go with this, but it gave me a lot more confidence in my kick again when I was eventually racing.

I've also been paying more attention to some of the little things like sleeping and eating that I think can make a big difference over the long run if you're doing them right. 

DtB:  Going into the Bupa XC race in Scotland, what were your objectives?  Last year you went to altitude to train longer than you had before and that seemed to help.  Any modifications on your training coming into 2014?

GH: I mainly went to Scotland looking to get in a high quality race to kick off the season and to have a chance to run cross country again for the first time since college.  It's hard to tell exactly where your fitness is at this early in the season, so my objective was to just keep myself with the pack for the first lap and just move from there as much as possible.  Obviously, with both Bekele and Kiprop in the race, you always have your sights set on those guys, so I was really looking to stick with them as long as possible and hopefully be in contention when it came down to the end.

As far as training, my coach, John Skemp, and I were really happy with the way the altitude training went and how training in general progressed last year. Overall, I have to give him, as well as my previous coaches at Stanford, a ton of credit for getting me to where I am now.  I feel like we've worked really well together and that has been a key in seeing having consistency in my training and getting the results that I have over the past few years. With that, most of what I have done so far this year has been a little faster but very similar in the types of workouts that I've been doing. I'm also planning to head to altitude again (this time in Albuquerque) for a long stretch this winter, and maybe again later in the year if it makes sense with racing.  

All that being said, some of my training will likely be modified slightly as I move up to Seattle to train with the Brooks Beasts group and add some new training partners.

DtB:  The 1500 has become something of a signature event of the resurgence of US distance running for both men and women.  There are medals being won, depth in the US fields, and you don’t have to go on the Euro circuit to get in top races.  What have you learned the last few years racing in this sort of environment?

GH: It's an exciting time for American distance and middle distance running.  The biggest change with the success of guys like Galen, Nick, Matthew, Duane, and Leo over the last few years at the Olympics and World Champs is that making the US team is just the first step, as opposed to the end goal.  Obviously, it's still a huge deal to make a team, but I think it's raised the expectations of anyone who does for what they can accomplish on the world level.  That same attitude has also been trickling down into other international races, and it's been great to see the momentum build as it begins to happen more and more.

DtB:  What has the road mile circuit taught you?  It does provide for different tactics than on the track.  Has it helped you be a better racer on the track or does the road format better suit your skill set than the track?  Or, conversely, do you not see much difference?

GH: More than anything, the roads have been a great change of pace for me over the past few years.  They're very different as far as tactics and a completely different mental animal to plan for. I do think that they can help increase your ability to adapt to different conditions and situations that are thrown at you. Overall though, it seems to be a lot easier to get a community or city into a road mile, which makes the atmosphere for racing in them especially great.

DtB:  In 2012 you had the 5K as a “plan B,” i.e. if you didn’t make it in the 1,500, you could still have a shot at 5K.  Is the 5k still a secondary event for you or are you thinking of taking his year to experiment more with the longer distance?

GH: For now, the 5k is still a secondary event, but I'm planning to do at least one again this year.  Eventually I may move that direction, but I feel like there's still a lot that I'd like to accomplish in the 1500 before moving up.

DtB:  What are the goals for 2014?  You going to run more cross country?  Indoor track?  Mix of both?

GH: Unfortunately, no more cross country this year.  It be great if they decided to bring back the 4k though for US and world cross country championships.  It would be an exciting race with all of the high caliber mile and 5K guys in the US right now.

I'm mainly focusing on indoors now and gearing up for USAs.  The big goal is still running fast outdoors, but doing well at USAs and trying to make the team is definitely the short term goal.

DtB:  You raced a lot in Europe last summer.  What did you learn from that?  Did you make contacts that might allow you to get into the big meets in Europe this summer? 

GH: The summer European racing season has been a great opportunity to race some of the best athletes in the world outside the championship meets and build confidence that I can be in any race all the way to the finish.  It's obviously been great to get in some fast races over there as well and hit a few PRs, but I think realizing that you can compete with anyone outside the US as well is the biggest thing that can be gained over there.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Results from the Jack Johnson and St. Thomas Invitationals; Carleton wins Women's, Hamline the Men's Title at the St. Olaf Triangular

The Gopher men's and women's teams won the team titles at the Jack Johnson Invitational .  Full results are HERE.  No team scoring for the St. Thomas Invitational Friday night.  Men's results are HERE.Women's are HERE.  Carleton won the women's and Hamline the men's at the St. Olaf Triangular.  Full results are HERE.

Heath and Kampf Run Well in 2014 Indoor Debuts; Burkstrand Just Misses a Sub Four

New Brooks Beast Garrett Heath finished second in 3:54.59 and Team USA Minnesota's Heather Kampf was fourth in  4:30.14 at the New Balance Games at the Armory in New York City on Saturday.  In Boston at the Terrier Invitational Team USA Minnesota's Travis Burkstrand finished second in the mile in 4:00.15, narrowly missing a sub-four.All three runners ran indoor PRs.  Kampf and Heath got IAAF World Indoor qualifying standards.  Burkstrand got the USATF Championships qualifying standard.

"Running at the armory was a BLAST!" Kampf wrote on Facebook. "Ran a big indoor PR of 4:30.14, placed 4th in a quality field, and know there's more to come."

Results from the New Balance Games are HERE.  Runnerspace video of men's mile race HERE, for the women's mile HERE.  Terrier Invite results are HERE.

Gabe Grunewald Second in 1500 in Glasgow

Team USA Minnesota's Gabe Grunewald finished second in her first race of the 2014 season at the Sainsbury's Glasgow International meet on Saturday.  Grunewald was second in the 1,500 in 4:12.76. Kenya's Hellen Obiri won the race in 4:10.20

"Definitely felt the indoor track rust in Glasgow," she wrote on Twitter. "But excited to get the rest of the season rolling." Her time gives her the qualifying standard for the IAAF World Indoor Championships, the only IAAF track Championship for 2014.

Full results from the meet are HERE.

Friday, January 24, 2014

MIAC Getting Busy; Van Nelson Invite, Other College action

MIAC men's Athletes of the Week are HERE, women's HERE.

Meet info for the St Thomas Invitational on Friday, January 24, starting at 3:30 PM is HERE. Last week's results from The Opener are (women) HERE and (men) HERE

St. Olaf Triangular on Saturday, live results available HERE

Concordia hosts its men's and women's track alumni meet Saturday starting at noon.

In the NSIC, St. Cloud State held the Van Nelson Invitational last weekend.  Summary HERE, meet results HERE.  

Preview of Blue Devil Open, recap of St Scholastica at the Super 8 meet are HERE.

Results from the January 11 Bethel Open are HERE.

MileSplit Minnesota "alumni report" for January 12-18 is HERE.

Heath and Kampf To Run Indoor Miles; Brinkman on Houston Half

Heather Kampf and Garrett Heath will be running the mile at the New Balance Games at the Armory in New York, live coverage of the event on Saturday from noon to three PM HERE. The event is primarily a high school meet, but several invitational men's and women's events are on the program.  Entry list for events is HERE. Men's mile is scheduled for 1:05 PM, women's for 1:35 PM.

Heath talks about his whirlwind start to 2014 and his race on Saturday HERE.

TCTC's Kelly Brinkman blogs on the Houston US Champs Half Marathon HERE.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Jack Johnson Meet Begins on Friday; Alena Brooks Feature

The annual Jack Johnson Classic at the Gopher indoor track begins on Friday.  Full schedule and info are HERE and HERE.  Minnesota Daily feature on Big Ten female athlete of the week Alena Brooks is HERE.  "Live" results are HERE.

Garrett Heath Newest Brooks Beast

Flotrack interview with Garrett Heath the newest Brooks Beast is HERE.

Treadmill Tips and Other Winter Running Advice

Lifetime Fitness asked members of Team USA Minnesota for tips on running on the treadmill, their answers are HERE. OTC team member Hassan Mead has the following advice for doing "strides" when snow is an issue outdoors HERE. Carrie Tollefson's winter running tips are HERE.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

BBTM Grand Prix Tour Includes Two Minnesota Miles: Elite Athlete Appearance Fees Reinstated at Competitor Group Races

The 2014 Bring Back the Mile Grand Prix Tour includes both the Medtronic Twin Cities Mile on May 8 and finishes with the Grandma's Minnesota Mile, the final race in the series, on September 7.  The series also has a pick the winner contest for fans.  Full details of the Tour are HERE.

Competitor Group/Rock 'n Roll series races reinstates appearance fees for elite athletes HERE.

Team USA Minnesota Building up Fequent Flyer Miles

Busy weekend for Team USA Minnesota athletes.  Read about it HERE.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Coed Masters 800 A First For Jack Johnson Meet

At this weekend's Jack Johnson Meet there will be a coed Masters 800 meters.  It's not a first ever happening as at summer Masters and All Comers Meets there are coed events.  The Milrose Games has added a mixed gender four by 400 relay for 40+ year old women and 60+ men, says Masters runner Jim Schoffman. "It's a fan favorite."  The 800 is scheduled for 5:15 on Saturday.

News Bits: Reed, Brooks, NSIC, UMAC, Olympics, Northwest Open, Heather Kampf/Bermuda

MSU Mankato's Chris Reed named USTFCCCA NCAA DII Men's Athlete of the week HERE.

NSIC weekly track review is HERE.

UMAC track athletes of the week HERE.

Gopher's Alena Brooks named Big 10 women's track Athlete of the Week HERE.

Olympic "Brand" under increased scrutiny HERE.

Minnesota Daily article on the Northwest Open is HERE.

Heather Kampf blogs on Bermuda HERE.

Lifetime Fitness Acquires More Events

Minnesota "snowbirds" will find a familiar name in charge of Florida running events as Lifetime Fitness recently purchased the Miami Marathon and other events previously owned by US Road Sports and Entertainment Group.  Read more about Lifetime's recent running acquisitions HERE.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Running Times Marathon Rankings for 2013; St Fennessy 4K

Minnesota marathoners and races were prominent in the US rankings for 2013 by Running Times.  Kara Goucher was second on the women's list of top US female marathoners, and Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon winner Annie Bersagel was ranked fifth.  Among the men TCM men's winner Nick Arciniaga was in the fifth spot.

Among races, TCM was fourth and Grandma's Marathon seventh in the rankings of most competitive US races for women.  Grandma's was also seventh for most competitive US marathons for men.  Full list is HERE.

Grandma's Marathon press release on a new race for 2014 is HERE.

Gene Niemi's Northwest Open Photo Album

The women line up for the start of the 3,000. Katie Moraczewski(3), Molly
Kayfes(2), Laura Docherty(1), Rachel Drake(4)
Photo by Gene Niemi

Eric Colvin(1) leads Nathan Peterson(3) in the men's
Photo by Gene Niemi

Becca Dyson(1) leads Maggie Bollig(3) in the women's
Mile. Photo by Gene Niemi

Alena Brooks in command of the
600. Photo by Gene Niemi

Gopher grad, now Team USA Minnesota runner, Travis
Burkstrand(Buffalo) in the pack in the men's Mile.
Photo by Gene Niemi

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Amanda Smock Opens Season With A Win

Amanda Smock opened her season with a win at her alma mater, North Dakota State University on Saturday, jumping 13.58m/44' 6.75".  Full meet results are HERE.

USA Half Marathon Championship Minnesota Results

Minnesotans and former Minnesotans enjoyed the "warmth" at the USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston Sunday morning.  Team USA's Meghan Peyton finished 12th(1:13:56) in the women's race with teammmate Jon Gray placing 12th(1:02:51) for the men.  Peyton's time was 13 seconds slower than her PR, Gray's time was 26 seconds slower off his best for the distance.

Twin Cities Track Club's Kelly Brinkman  finished 21st(1:15:05).  Leah Thorvilson was 25th(1:15:34).  Dani Stack was 33rd(1:16:07).  Jenna Boren DeNucci finished 34th(1:16:13).  Elizabeth Yetzer placed 37th(1:17:00).  Elizabeth Herndon took 41st(1:17:14, and Katie McGregor was 45th(1:19:13).  For the men, Joe Moore was 19th(1:03:33).  Ben Sathre 31st(1:04:51), Mike Reneau 32nd(1:04:59), Dan Greeno 44th(1:06:26), Jake Morotz 54th(1:07:25), and Matthew Grey 66th(1:09:35).

Full results are HERE.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Brown and Kampf Finish One, Two in 10K

Sarah Brown and Heather Kampf traded places in the woman's 10K the day after also going one, two in the KPMG Bermuda Mile.  In the 10K Brown won the woman's race in 35:24.  Kampf was second in 36:41  Full results from the 10K are HERE.  Story is HERE.  Story on men's race with a video is HERE with Kampf finishing around 3:40 into the film.

News Bits: Northwest Open & Super 8 Results, Zoom Yah Yah, Freeze Your Gizzard Runs, Peyton Pre US Champs Interview, MN ROY for 2013, Mac Tracksters Feed Kids, St Thomas Opener Results

Northwest Open meet results are HERE.  Gopher men's meet recap is HERE. Women's recap is HERE.

Results from Super 8 Meet are HERE.

Photos and results from the Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Runs are HERE. It was a balmy -11F in International Falls for the start of the 5K. Warmed up to -9 for the 10K.

Belated results from Zoom Yah Yah Indoor Marathon are HERE.

Listing of Minnesota Runners of the Year for 2013 are HERE.

Meghan Peyton pre-race Houston USA Half Marathon Championships interview is HERE.

Macalester track athletes help to provide meals through Feed My Starving Children program is HERE.

Results for The Opener indoor track meet at the University of St Thomas are  HERE.

MSU Mankato Alumni Open results are HERE.

MileSplit's Minnesota Alumni Series featuring results from Minnesota High School grads recent college performances is HERE.

Report on the Reno Pole Vault Summit for HS vaulters is HERE.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Heather Kampf Defends Her Bermuda Mile Title

Team USA Minnesota's Heather Kampf won the KPMG Bermuda Mile.  Kampf ran 4:44.89 and 2013 Medtronic TC Mile champ Sarah Brown finished second in 4:46.16.  Picture and story are HERE. Full mile results are supposed to be posted HERE as available..

Northwest Open Begins Indoor Season for Gophers; Amanda Smock Has Jump Day at NDSU

Details on Saturday's Northwest Open Indoor track meet at the Univeristy of Minnesota are HERE and HERE.

Fargo Forum story on triple jumper Amanda Smock and Jump Day at her alma mater NDSU is HERE.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Photo ID: Steve White

Steve White
Photo courtesy of U of M
As University of Minnesota men's pole vault coach Steve White tells the story, his introduction to his life's passion came when he was 12 years old at St. Louis Park Junior High. He was going out for track.  Trying the hurdles when he had what he calls the "arm around the shoulders" moment, when a coach comes up to a young athlete, puts his arm around his shoulders, and gives some advice.

"Son, have you thought about long jumping," his coach told him. As it was field event day, White took the coach's advice and gave it a try.  Another arm around the shoulders moment followed.  "Have you tried the shot put," the coach told the barely 100 pound 12 year old.  Then it was the high jump and finally the pole vault.  Even though he was at the bottom of the heap in terms of individual  performance, White had found his event, his passion.  Even though he wasn't immediately successful, White loved the pole vault.  The planning, the precision, the speed, the gymnastics drew him to vaulting.

Decades later he is taking what he's learned and/or experienced and passing on that love, that passion to vaulters of all shapes, sizes, and ability.  Though he struggled during his early years in high school, he qualified for the MSHSL championships his junior and senior year under coach Kevin Moorhead at St. Louis Park High.  He kept at it at UW LaCrosse as a freshman and the rest of his college career at North Central.  He achieved a height of 17'4" as a personal best, but also absorbed the mantra of his coaches at North Central that all their athletes should do their events "for fun and for personal bests because if you're not having fun you're taking it too seriously, and if you're not improving, you're not serious enough."

That balance of fun and achievement/progression is what he tries to pass on to those he coaches.  If you talk to people within the track and field community from high school pole vault coaches to the Twin Cities Track Club's Mike Reneau, a 2:13 marathoner, White has already reached something of a legendary status.  He's the go to guy for advice, for guidance, and for equipment.  The pole vault is unique among track events in that the  pole is a major factor in how high you can go. Your ability to master the skills of the vault may improve, but if you don't have the proper pole to handle that improvement, you probably won't clear the next height.

If you want to jump high, you have to have the right speed, the planning skills to set up the standards and pole vault bar in the right position, the athletic ability to sprint down the runway full throttle, plant the pole and thrust and twist over the bar without dislodging it from its perch.  And, says White, the ability to handle failure.  You miss a lot in vaulting.  After a miss you have to correct your mistakes.  A bad plant or having the standards set wrong so you may clear the height but knock off the bar on the way up or way down because you didn't calculate the right trajectory of your jump or weren't gripping the pole at the right height, just a few of the many things that can go wrong in a vault.

You can also be using the wrong pole--too short, too stiff, or a combination of either factor.  More often, you won't have access to the variety of poles needed to get you to the height you are otherwise capable of vaulting.  Neither schools nor athletes have the funds to afford to purchase the proper selection of poles for every ability level of a vaulter.  Not one to let such obstacles get in his way, White developed what he called the "Blockbuster(for the now defunct video rental store) model" in an attempt to help rectify this problem.

White bought poles and rented them out to schools.  He reinvested the money from the rentals to buy more poles and/or replace those that simply wore out or broke.  There is now a inventory of over 400 poles available for rental in his "library of poles."  One barrier to higher achievement in the event attenuated.  iPads, video cams, or the Gophers filming of each vault that can be played back, analysed at the same time that the other vaults are being recorded, help the technical side of solving technique issues or things that need correcting in the next jump.

In 1998, while coaching at Armstrong High, White and Phil Johnson, who was the coach at Hopkins successfully petitioned the MSHSL to allow girls pole vaulting, almost overnight doubling the number of vaulters in the state.  Today, White says, more girls than boys are vaulting.  This Spring, working with Reneau and Brit's Pub in downtown Minneapolis, White hopes to bring an elite rooftop vaulting competition to the city to give the sport more visibility and build the fan base.

All this while raising a family, teaching physics, balancing his coaching and that of his wife, who is the Gopher women's vault coach, pursuing advanced degrees, and his own competitive outlet, Masters pole vaulting(a recent best of 15'6").  "It's(vaulting) still very, very fun.  I don't know why I'd ever stop."  The passion for the sport that he developed three decades ago is still there.  White is more than willing to share that passion as this Flotrack video with  HERE illustrates.  It's still fun, and he's still finding ways to improve, and he's passing that message on to all who are willing to listen.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Collector's Items; Tom Schepers, Pro Advice for College Runners

There is a story today on Runners' World's website about a buried shoe on the late Bill Bowerman's property in Oregon.  Bowerman was not only the coach at the University of Oregon but the inventor of Nike's Waffle trainer, among other vintage running shoes.

A 1971 road race with Bruce Mortenson(1), Bob Fitts(56), Ron Daws(32),
Tom Hoffman(black shades and white shoes at the front of the pack), and Bill Andberg
(white hair over Hoffman's left shoulder)
As the RW story details, the shoe is believed to be one of Bowerman's early prototypes for the Waffle Trainer.  This shoe was called the "moon shoe" because of the tread pattern it left looked like that left by the astronauts' footwear when they walked on the moon.  The shoe sold to a collector for $1500.  Not unusual as back several decades ago, those who had saved a variety of Nike shoes discovered that these "vintage' products were in great demand in Japan where a shoe originally bought for $20 or $30 were being sold for hundreds of dollars to Japanese collectors/runners.

Minnesota has a connection to Bowerman's shoes as Bruce Mortenson got a pair of the early waffle racers that were given to Nike affiliated athletes for the 1972 Olympic Trials in Eugene.  That pair of shoes is on display, along with Bruce's Oregon jersey(he won an NCAA steeplechase championship while attending the U of O and writer Kenny Moore was his roommate) at the Eden Prairie TC Running shop.  Bruce's Blue Ribbon Sports Tiger racing flats that he wore running the Boston Marathon are also on display, as well as a University of Kansas warm up suit purported to have been made for team member Wilt Chamberlain.

A tour of the store is a veritable history lesson of some of the moments in the sport's past.

RW also has an obit on Minnesotan Tom Schepers HERE.  Schepers was a Vietnam vet who ran across the country in 2000 to raise money for the National WWII Memorial. St Paul Pioneer Press obit HERE.

Pro advice for college runners--Dani Stack and Hassan Mead among the contributors in Running Times article HERE.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Meet of Miles Results

Meet of Miles results are HERE.

Video from the Meet of Miles is HERE.

Monday, January 13, 2014

News Bits

MIAC indoor track previews are HERE(women) and HERE(men)

NSIC weekly roundup is HERE

Results from past meets and info on this year's Super indoor track meet in Bemidji are HERE.

USTFCCCA preseason NCAA DI indoor track rankings are HERE. DII rankings are HERE. DII rankings are HERE.

Results from beginning of long-term study on ultrarunners is HERE.

Road Race Management article on the selection process for the 2016 US Olympic Marathon Trials is HERE. Toni Reavis writes on the USATF decision making process HERE.

Running Times winter trail shoe guide is HERE.

USATF Track & Field Clinic and Meet info is HERE.

More pictures and quotes from Garrett Heath's win at the Bupa 4K XC race are HERE.

Pioneer Press on vendors bidding to take over city golf courses at Como and Phalen.  If approved would it impact cross country races, such as MIAC XC championships, cross country skiing in the winter? Article is HERE.

Video from the Meet of Miles is HERE.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Garrett Heath Wins BUPA 4K, Beats Kiprop and Bekele

Garrett Heath approaching the finish.
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Garrett Heath got the New Year off to a rousing start by winning the 4K race at the BUPA Edinburgh Cross Country Races today in Scotland. US teammate Chris Derrick made it a US sweep of the Senior men's races by winning the 8K.  Video replay of the 4K is HERE.  Video replays of all the races are HERE. Story photoes, and results of the events are HERE. More from Heath on the race HERE.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Photo ID: Jeff Jirele

Jeff Jirele
Austin native Jeff Jirele says: "I'm real big on finding your heroes and overcoming your fears."  Jirele heroes are people who helped him find his way in life, inspired him, cajoled him into doing what he wasn't so sure he wanted to do.

Larry Gilbertson, Jirele's coach at Austin High, is near the top of that list.  In a testimonial to Gilbertson, who passed away in 1998, the Austin Daily Herald's Laura Helle wrote: "Gilbertson was known for motivating his athletes by believing in their skills before they did."

Jirele ran a "little bit in junior high, but I wasn't very good."  So, his freshman year, instead of going out for cross country, Jirele quit.  He was in the band, the orchestra, and he dabbled at golf, but running didn't attract him.  Gilbertson didn't attempt to give Jirele a big motivational speech, instead "he cornered me" and told Jeff he wasn't going to quit.  

"I told him, OK, I'll run," said Jirele.  "And I'm very grateful that I did." It wasn't until his junior year when he ran 1:57 for the half "out of nowhere," said Jirele, that his talent began to show.  In 1973 Jirele finished second in the MSHSL 880 yard run behind "my great nemesis in high school," Mike Newman of Rochester John Marshall, who won in 1:58.7 to Jirele's 1:59.0.  While his times were not blazing fast, Golden Valley Lutheran junior College coach Sev Legred liked what he saw in Jirele and recruited him.  

"I owe so much to coach Legred(who, along with  Jirele are members of the Minnesota  Track & Field Hall of Fame) "He brought me to another level."  Jirele won the National Junior College Cross Country Championship in 1974, and the NJCC mile championships in 1974 and 1975. 

That caught the attention of  the University of Illinois' coach Gary Wieneke, who Jirele said: "was almost a father figure. You always strived to please him, always wanted to do well for him. I think most of us did."  Jirele finished second in the Big 10 1500 meters in 1976 and third in 1977. He was a three-time All-American and won a National Indoor Championship as a member of the Illinois 2-Mile relay team. 

After graduating from Illinois, Jirele returned to work at Golden Valley Lutheran for several months until he saw an ad in Track & Field News from the Santa Monica Track Club(SMTC).  Their coach, Joe Douglas, who would later gain notoriety for developing the SMTC into a sprint power with a stable of Olympic medalists and world recordholders, such as Carl Lewis, Leroy Burrell, Joe DeLoach, Kevin Young, Steve Lewis, Mike Marsh, Danny Everett, Kirk Baptiste, Johnny Gray, and Earl Jones saw Jirele's resume and told him to come out to California.

"Joe Douglas was so good to me," said Jirele."Although I didn't realize it at the time, those years(running for SMTC) were some of the best years of my life."  Douglas got Jirele places in races on the European circuit, where in in 1978 in Stockholm, Sweden, Jirele ran 3:58.3, breaking four minutes for the mile. While that was a signature accomplishment for a middle distance runner, Jirele knew he was not destined to be the next Steve Scott.

Instead he headed back to Minnesota and enrolled in the seminary at Luther College.  Being a clergy member was not in his future either, Jirele discovered.  In his search for what was next he was directed by a friend of his in California, Dennis Watson, who was a State Farm Insurance agent on the West Coast.  Watson is another of Jirele's heroes because Watson helped him get his start in the business he's continued to be involved with for over three decades.  You can see Jeff in action, through the wonders of modern technology, by clicking on his web site HERE.

As our conversation wound down, the topic naturally landed on the weather.  Told of the recent cold front, Jirele noted that the winter weather was not something he missed about Minnesota.  "It's 60 and sunny here," Jirele said, and you could "hear" the smile on his face in his voice.  

NOTE: We didn't forget the others featured in the Photo ID quiz in 2103 that have stories coming. Put this one up early for meteorological reasons.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

News Clips-Noreen, Goucher, USATF Web Initiative

Memorial service for Paul Noreen is Saturday, January 11 at Plymouth Congregational Church. Church details and calendar are HERE.

Gopher women's preview: distance runners is HERE.

Stillwater XC team honors for 2013 season are HERE.

Freeze Your Face 5K on February 8 part of the Perham race series, details HERE.

Amby Burfoot on running in a blizzard, heart disease, and Boston HERE.

Wall Street Journal reports that Kara Goucher is the process of negotiating a new sponsorship deal is HERE.

USATF athlete initiative to help promising US athletes "tell their stories"--athletesbiz website, training in branding, funding, etc is HERE. Preview of the athletebiz website is HERE.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Cold Weather Running

US Olympian Benji Durden
demonstrating the
benefits of facial hair
As the weather is on the extreme edge this winter, thought I'd try a bit of participatory journalism.  There are different approaches to dealing with extreme temperatures, snow accumulation, ice patches on the roads or sidewalks.  What solutions do Minnesota runners use to protect exposed skin?  Or do you merely choose to run indoors on a treadmill?

Give us your feedback.  Stories from the frozen tundra.  If we get enough of the collective wisdom of our audience, we'll put together a summary of experiences, adaptive strategies, etc.  Send your stories, tips, photos like the one of Benji Durden(left), etc. to  If you want to talk about it, instead of write it, send me a phone number with the best time to reach you.

Friday, January 03, 2014

News Bits

Gopher women indoor track previews: sprints and jumps are HERE, throws are HERE.

Perham Focus article on "virtual racing" is HERE.

NSIC focus on UMD's  Jacob Heifort is HERE.

Strib story on Rick Recker and the history of Metrodome running is HERE.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

TCIM Scholarship Program Applications Open

Applications are now being accepted for the annual Twin Cities in Motion College Scholarship Program.  Information on the program and how to apply is HERE.

In Pursuit of Scientific Knowledge

Want to learn something about running physiology?  U of Minnesota scientists are looking for subjects in a study on carbohydrate beverages in marathoners.  Details below:

Patrick Wilson, a graduate student at School of Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota, is looking for participants for a research study. This study will compare the effects of two carbohydrate beverages on metabolism and performance during long-distance running. 

If you take part in this study, you would complete two, 2.5-hour running tests on a treadmill while consuming one of the beverages each time. Respiratory gases, perceived exertion, blood lactate, heart rate, gastrointestinal distress, and biomechanical data will be measured during the tests. Each testing session will involve approximately 3 hours of lab time, for which you would be compensated $100 upon the completion of the study. You will also receive free VO2max and body composition testing.

To take part in this study, you must be aged 18-50, have completed at least one marathon in the past year with a time of 3:30 or better for men and 3:45 or better for women, have run 30 or more miles per week over the past three months, and have done one or more 20-mile run per month over the last two months. If you are interested in participating or have any questions about the study, please email Patrick Wilson at