Monday, June 30, 2014

Kao Sutton's Year of Magical Thinking and Achieving

Kao Sutton
Photo by Tim Dahlin
It's been a good year for field event athletes with Minnesota connections.  Last weekend Liz Podominick finished runner up in the USATF women's discus competition, before that Mankato State's Chris Reed won the shot put at NCAA DII Nationals, and Carleton's Kaopua Nani O Kae Kai Sutton won the NCAA DIII title in the discus.  Kao actually has two "mainland" names included with all the rest, but they disrupt the musical flow when she pronounces her name, as well as her "Big Island" pronunciation of  Hawaii--(Ha Vy it's said by the residents).

How does someone from the islands out in the Pacific end up in Northfield, Minnesota?  "I was initially contacted by the coach, Donna Rask," said Sutton.  "I visited and fell in love (with the school)."  Carleton's reputation academically as well as their athletic program overcame the fact that Minnesota has a rather different climate than Hawaii and was far from home.

Aside from being very athletic, Sutton has high aspirations in academics.  She started out on a "pre-med track," but got interested in geology.  She intends to go to grad school pursuing a public health curriculum with both geology and medicine still in the picture.  Sutton is used to doing more than one thing.  As an athlete in Hawaii she threw the shot and discus in track, ran cross country in the Fall, played basketball and wrestled.  Those were just her school sports as she also did outrigger canoe racing and rodeo riding.

The affinity for horses came naturally as her family leased a ranch with horses and cattle.  So, she learned to ride, to herd cattle, and live off the land.  As evidenced by the variety of activities she was engaged in, she liked being busy and she was not just a participant, but also a success.  In Hawaii they have island championships, and those who win the island titles compete against the champions from the other islands for the Hawaii State titles.

Kao was discus champion three years in a row on the Big Island, as well as the two time shot put champion.  In her senior year, she won the Hawaii State championship.  That success gave her the confidence to be able to look beyond the islands to the mainland, but not without some trepidation.  "I ended high school on such a high note(in track)," she said.  "But I wasn't sure how I would fare (in college).  Wasn't sure what to expect.  We don't have many people who go to college (on the mainland).  So I was a little bit intimidated."

Sutton was not an instant success, but she performed well enough to build her confidence as the years rolled past by steadily improving.  And, another reason for coming to Carleton, there was a six week break during the winter where she could go back home.  She didn't do that every year, but enough to get back to her roots, yet still pursuing more advancement, more improvement when she got back and indoor track began.  She thought about doing other sports, but only wrestling, and that was a non-starter because the school does not have a wrestling team.

"It was this year that things came together," said Sutton.  She worked with strength and conditioning coach Jim Jarvis to better prepare physically.  "I learned how to better manage my time...was better at taking care of my body...I got over a lot of mental barriers.  My main problem was overthinking, lack of confidence in my abilities."

Sutton and Jarvis met at the beginning of the season and began to map out a plan.  Weightlifting. Speed work.  Conditioning.  "My quickness, my strength, and my speed went up dramatically," said Sutton of the results of the program.  (Coach Jarvis) basically took it upon himself to learn my event."  He adapted the workouts to what he believed she needed to improve.

Jarvis and Sutton worked on her weaknesses, dealt with some back problems, and adjusted the program to meet those needs.  "The season, as a whole, was fantastic,"  said Sutton.  "I was fortunate enough to be team captain.  Everybody kept building off each others' success.  (That helped them to) compete at a new level.  A level I didn't think it could (achieve).  (We had a) positive attitude."

A tragedy involving three Carleton students, who were killed in a car accident in February, also brought the whole school together, said Sutton.  Everyone supported everyone else to get them through the tragedy, she said.  "Just great people," she said of her teammates who were impacted and pulled together and helped each other cope.

Team members dedicated their efforts to the memory of the three men who died.  Out of tragedy came a commitment to leave a legacy of sorts.  For Sutton this was also her last season.  This was going to be my last time," she said.  "I wanted to remember it."  She wanted to finish successfully.  Ranked in the top three going into the NCAA meet, she knew she had a chance at finishing on the podium, but place was not her goal, her focus.

"I'm going to throw as close to perfect technique as I can," Sutton set as her goal, figuring that if she did that nothing else really mattered.  "(I) went into the competition not thinking about placing, not paying attention to what anybody else was doing, just concentrating on having as perfect form as possible.

"I felt good from the beginning, and I came away (from the competition) knowing I did everything I could technique wise."  And well enough to be the national champion.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Becky Miller's Day 5 USATF Championships Photo Album

Dancing During Day 5
Who says discus throwers can't dance? Photo by Becky Miller

Liz Podominick begins the dance. Photo
by Becky Miller

Laura Roesler with her runner-up
medal. Photo by Becky Miller
Finish of the 800. Photo by Becky Miller

Heather Kampf and Gabe Grunewald.
Photo by Becky Miller

Kampf in action. Photo by Becky Miller

Grunewald gliding along.
Photo by Becky Miller
Water is welcome in the heat.  Mason Ferlic going
through the steeple water pit. Photo by Becky Miller

USATF Day 5: Podominick 2nd in discus, Roesler 2nd in 800, Grunewald 5th and Kampf 6th in `1500, Ferlic 12th in Steeple, the Heat

Liz Podominick came through on her second to last throw of 59.96m/196'9" to place second in the discus on Sunday at the USATF Outdoor Championships. Results are HERE.  Post event interviews with Gia Smallwood and Liz Podominick are HERE"It feels really good placing in second  in the National Championships," said Podominick.  "I am really happy. It was nice to throw in the stadium. It was amusing to watch the discus bounce off the turf.  It was a great atmosphere." 

Laura Roesler finished second in the women's 800 in 1:59.04. Results are HERE. Her first time under two minutes, fourth fastest time ever by a collegian. Video of race is HERE.

Team USA Minnesota's Gabe Grunewald(4:09.68)  finished fifth and Heather Kampf(4:10.60) sixth in the 1500. Results are HERE. Video of the race is HERE.  "On a day where my legs just weren't up for an 'A+' performance, I battled to keep a 'B' race from turning into a 'C' race, content with the effort. Hungry for more great opportunities," Kampf wrote on her Facebook page.

Mounds Park Academy grad Mason Ferlic placed twelfth in the men's 3K steeplechase in 8:43.12.  Results are HERE. Ferlic was one of two collegians who mad the steeple final.

Hastings and NDSU grad Shawn Francis summed up his pole vault experience today on Instagram HERE.

"How hot was it?" you may ask.  Try egg frying on the infield hot.
Photo by Becky Miller
More videos:  Universal Sports video of the triple jump is HERE. Men's 5K is HERE.

Jon Peterson's blog on USATF Champs is HERE.

Becky Miller's USATF Photo Album, Day 4

The Men's 1500 Final
The finish of the 1500 with Leo Manzano breaking the tape in first,
Pat Casey(2) second, and Will Leer(the beard) and Lopez Lomong
(red singlet) battling for third. Photo by Becky Miller

Garrett Heath at the front of the pack in the 1500.
Photo by Becky Miller

Heath still leading. Photo by Becky Miller

Leer finishing fourth. Photo by
Becky Miller

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Day 4; USATF Championships: Leer 4th, Heath 9th in 1500; Videos

As Ben Blankenship predicted earlier in the week, the 1500 was ripe for the taking for "the underdogs."  In a tactical race that came down to the all too familiar last lap sprint, Leo Manzano, not exactly an unknown but who started the year without a sponsor, won the race in 3:38.63, Pat Casey was second in 3:38.94 and Lopez Lomong and Will Leer's race to the finish was decided by a photo.  Lomong timed in 3:39.103 and Leer 3:39.109.  Garrett Heath, who led for most of the race was timed in 2:45.77 with a lap to go,  finished ninth in 3:40.20. Results are HERE. Video is HERE.  Post race interview with Will Leer is HERE. Video of last night's men's 5K is HERE, women's two nights ago is HERE. Women's triple jump, final round jumps are HERE.

Becky Miller's Day 3 USATF Photo Album: 5K

The Men's 5K

The trail pack early in the 5K. Eric Finan(5). Jon Peterson's head(over right shoulder)
Photo by Becky Miller

Eric Finan and Jon Peterson Photos by
Becky Miller

Hassan Mead
Photo by Becky Peterson

The lead pack gets rolling starting the last lap.
Photo by Becky Miller

The Finish. Photo by Becky Miller

Becky Miller USATF Day 3: Grunewald, Kampf, Cazzola, Ferlic Prelims

1500, 800, Steeple Prelims
Heather Kampf leads the pack. Photo by Becky Miller

Gabe Grunewald.
Photo by Becky Miller
Scoreboard results from 1500 heat 1. Photo by Becky Miller

Christy Cazzola(by the rail) in her 800 semi heat
Photo by Becky Miller

Mason Ferlic goes over the water jump in the steeple
Photo by Becky Miller

Friday, June 27, 2014

Day 3: Grunewald, Kampf, Ferlic, Roesler Qualify; Mead 3rd, Peterson 8th, Finan 10th in 5K

Heather Kampf in the lead with one
lap to go in the 1500 heats.
Team USA Minnesota's Gabe Grunewald and Heather Kampf both qualified for the finals of the 1500. Both were in the same heat where Grunewald ran 4:100.7 and Kampf 4:10.13 to finish third and fourth.  Top four automatically qualify for the final. Results are HERE.

In the men's 3K steeple Mounds Park Academy grad Mason Ferlic of the University of Michigan qualified by finishing fifth in his heat in 8:38.99. Results are HERE.

Laura Roesler qualified for the 800 finals by winning her semifinal race in 2:02.37.  "I worked hard at 250(to go) and ran hard for 30 more seconds. I wanted to secure my spot, rest up tomorrow, and come back for the final." Christy Cazzola finished sixth in her heat in 2:05.29.  Top four in each heat made it to the finals.  Results are HERE.

In the 5K final, Hassan Mead finished third in 13:32.42, Team USA's Jon Peterson was eighth in 13:39.51, and Eric Finan tenth in 13:41.33.  Peterson and Finan ran PRs.  Results are HERE

Sacramento Bee photos from Thursday are HERE.  Amanda Smock is photo #8 HERE.

Becky Miller's Photo Album Day 2: Prelims

The Prelims
Will Leer(12) in the 1500 prelims. Photo by Becky Miller

Christy Cazzola(6) in the 800 prelims. Photo by Becky Miller

Harun Abda(1) in the 800 prelims.
Photo by Becky Miller

David Torrence(in the lead) and Garrett Heath(6) in the 1500
prelims. Photo by Becky Miller

Laura Roesler(third place here) in the 800 prelims
Photo by Becky Miller

Rob Finnerty(5) in 1500 prelims.
Photo by Becky Miller

John Simons in 1500
prelims. Photo by
Becky Miller

Becky Miller's USATF Day 2 Photo Album

The Finalists

TJ winner Amanda Smock on the awards stand. Photo by Becky Miller

Nicolle Murphy launches the javelin. Photo by Becky Miller

Megan Peyton(11) leads the field in the early stages of the 10K. Photo by
Becky Miller

Devin Monson(2) in the early stages of the 10K. Photo by Becky Miller

Emma Bates in the 10K.
Photo by
Becky Miller

USATF Day 2 Quotes

"I’m really happy," said Shaina Burns of her second place finish in the heptathlon. It was an overall PR for me. I’m not a heptathlete who has one outstanding event. For me it feels like a creep up there. I’ll get second or third in every event, so people don’t see me coming. In the end, it all adds up and it’s such a great feeling.

On the opportunity to represent Team USA at the IAAF World Junior Championships
“I’m so excited. This is one of my ultimate dreams to have a Team USA uniform. Down the home stretch in the 800, I had to keep my eye on Emily because we were so close for second and third and in my head every step I kept going, ‘USA! USA!’”

Laura Roesler, Heat 4 Winner in the 800
“I knew it was feel pretty hard. I probably run more 800s than that whole field combined. So I went in expecting it to feel like a prelim, like a 2-flat race. I just need to secure my spot in the top three. I was in a pretty good heat, so I couldn't mess around.”

Amanda Smock, Triple jump Winner
“The sixth title feels just about as good as the first. I’m thrilled to have the win. Of course, I would have like to jumped a little better. I had a great opener and then struggled with my run a little. Finally, on my last run I just found a little bit more speed and I could work through the jump a little better.”

Thursday, June 26, 2014

USATF Day 2: Smock Wins TJ, Shaina Burns Second, Rose Jackson Fourth in USATF Junior Champs Heptathlon; Bates 6th Peyton 11th Munson 12th in 10K

Amanda Smock saved her best for last as she hop, stepped, and jumped 13.77m/45'2.25" on her final jump to win her third USATF Outdoor triple jump title.  She led the competition from her first jump and sealed the win with her last.  Stormy Nesbitt finished fourteenth at 12.77m/41'10.75".  Full results are HERE.

Lakeville South grad Shaina Burns finished second and NDSU's Rose  Jackson placed fourth at the USATF Junior Championships in Sacramento on Thursday.  Burns scored 5363 points, 55 short of winner Ashlee Moore.  Jackson earned 5025 points.  Full results are HERE.

NCAA champ Emma Bates finished sixth in 31:52.49, and Team USA Minnesota's Megan Peyton eleventh in 10K in 33:11.63.  Results HERE. Devon Monson twelveth in men's 10K in 29:53.46.  Results HERE.

Gopher's Nicolle Murphy finished fourteenth in the javelin with a throw of 47.58m/155'9". Results are HERE.

Two area athletes advanced in the heats of the women's 800:  Laura Roesler and Christy Cazzola. Results are HERE.

In the men's 800 Gopher grad Harun Abda got caught in the slow heat and finished fourth, one place from automatically advancing to the final.  Results are HERE.

Will Leer and Garrett Heath qualified for the final of the men's 1500.  Rob Finnerty and John Simons did not.  Leer was third in his heat in 3:42.37.  Heath was also third in 3:44.98.  Finnerty finished tenth in his heat in 3:46.76, and Simons ran 3:51.33 for thirteenth in his heat.  Results are HERE.
Hamline story on Devin Monson who is running the 10K tonight is HERE. Augsburg story on Meghan Peyton who also does the 10K is HERE.

The triple jump final is tonight: from NDSU press release:
Amanda Smock
Event: Women's triple jump
Date: Thursday, June 26
Time: 7:35 p.m. (CT) / 5:35 p.m. (PT)
Smock, formerly Amanda Thieschafer, has won three straight American indoor triple jump titles, as well as claiming outdoor national championships in 2011 and 2012. She was the only woman to represent the United States in the triple jump at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Smock was a 13-time All-American from 2001-04 at NDSU. She won NCAA Division II indoor titles in the triple jump in 2002 and 2004 and won the outdoor title in 2003.
Reigning USA javelin champion Riley Dolezal and pole vaulter Shawn Francis – both former Bison athletes – are scheduled to compete on the men's side on Sunday, June 29, in Sacramento.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chris Reed 16th in USATF Shot Put; Shaina Burns Second, Rose Jackson Eighth After Day 1 of USATF Junior Heptathlon

Lakeville South grad Shaina Burns is second, and NDSU's Rose Jackson is eighth after the first day of the USATF Junior Heptathlon in Sacramento.  Full results of Day 1 are HERE.
Shot put competition at the California Capitol.
Mankato State's Chris Reed finished 16th in the shot put at the opening day of the USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Sacramento on Wednesday.  Held on the grounds of the State Capitol, the top 12 in the event after three throws advanced to the finals.  Reed threw 18.67m/61'3" on his final throw. Darrell Hill of Penn State took the final qualifying spot for the finals with a toss of 19.24m/63'1.5". Wednesday results are available HERE.  Elliott Denman on the competition at the Capitol HERE.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

News: USATF Champs, USA Juniors, Letterkenny Sub4, Pro Track/CRA, Under 8 for 2 Miiles

Amanda Smock and Rose Jackson set to compete at USATF Champs HERE.

Five Team USA Minnesota athletes to compete at USATF Champs HERE.

T&F News form charts for men HERE, women HERE. Smock ranked #1 in women's triple jump.

US Junior lists for boy's HERE, girl's HERE

Team USA Minnesota's Eric Finan and Jon Peterson to run in Letterkenny Sub4 Mile race in Ireland in July HERE.

Gopher grad Beth Alford Sullivan named director of track and field and cross country for the University of Tennessee.  One recuit who will be going there in the Fall is Cretin-Derham Hall graduate  Megan Linder. Announcement is HERE

The  finances of "pro track" is HERE. The efforts of CRA to allow collegiate athletes to earn prize money on the roads is HERE.

FloTrack preview of the men's 5K with Hassan Mead is HERE.
The 1500 preview with Will Leer, Garrett Heath, Rob Finnerty, John Simons is HERE.

Let's preview of women's 1500 is HERE.

A recycled 2011 article on the achievements of Kenyan Daniel Komen, still the only man to break 8 minutes in the two mile is HERE.

Homage to the "nightowls" is HERE. In Finland they have a relay run where teams of runners complete the distance from the North of Finland, Lapland--home of Santa Claus and all his reindeer--, to the finish at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium.  It's run in summer when the sun never really sets, it just sits above the horizon, then comes back up again to announce the next day.  We didn't encounter any all-night diners, however...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Liz Podominick Gets Ready for USATF Championships

Liz Podominick.
Photo by Becky
The USATF National Outdoor Championship meet is this week in Sacramento.  Since it's not a qualifier for any international or Olympic team it provides more of an opportunity for the athletes to experiment and/or use the event as a test of their ability to get ready for a major competition.  Peaking at the right time is a needed ability if you're going to be successful at making the Olympic or World Championship teams in the future.  This year discus thrower Liz Podominick is going through several changes that she talks about below.  By the end of the week she'll have a better idea of what it may take next year to further her goals of continuing to develop as one of the US and the World's top throwers.  He best throw this season was 61.38m/201'4" on May 5 at Chula Vista.

Down the Backstretch:  You’re in Chula Vista at the US training center, how is that working out for you?

Liz Podominick: The weather here has been absolutely amazing, which has helped the consistency of my training. It's such a gift to not have to throw into a net during the winter. There have certainly been adjustments to living in a new place and staying in the dorms is not glamorous. It's just like freshmen year of college again sharing a room, so hopefully I can afford to live off site next year. I need my own space lol :-)

DtB:  What are the advantages/disadvantages of being at the center?  A lot of the top talent comes to the center periodically, so you get to see them.  You don’t have to travel to get decent competition.  Have you seen improvements because of the environment?

LP: Well, I mentioned one of each(advantages/disadvantages) above. While there are a lot of advantages to training here, it is not for everyone. I certainly did not expect it to be such a hard transition. Certainly the financial stress has greatly been alleviated, but it is very hard to find separation from training and personal life. It's essentially living where you work and it can be isolating here. However, it is certainly the most ideal facility I have ever trained at, so that is certainly an advantage.  

DtB:  What has your season been like thus far?  You’re throwing over 200 feet.  Gia Lewis-Smallwood is sort of setting the standard for US throwers this year having thrown 213’2”(She’s throwing at Bislett today, so that may change)This is a non championship year, so what are you trying to achieve this year?

LP: This season has had a lot of ups and downs. I have been trying to make A LOT of technical changes that will help me in the long run, but my consistency is not there yet. It is certainly humbling and I had hoped to br further along than I am. I'd love to set a new PR at USA's, and I never doubt my ability to compete when something is on the line. 

DtB:  Gia has been going to the bit meets and it seems to be working for her.  What does it take to get invites to these competitions and get on the circuit?  Is that something you’d like to do or do you think you can achieve the same improvement by training and competing in the US?

LP: Gia had an amazing year last season and that opens doors to the big events. I am not at that level yet in terms of consistency (and distance to be honest). There is also a bit of luck sometimes on who you know... I will be traveling to Europe this summer to gain some more international experience. My agent is still working on finalizing those events, but there is still a lot of experience to be gained from smaller meets because they get out of your comfort zone. I certainly train to make it to the next level and will continue to everything in my control to get there. 

DtB:  Funds have always been an issue as sponsorship dollars do not flow to many track events these days, with the situation being even more lean for the field event athletes.  How are things going on the funding front?

LP: I have received a grant from the USATF Foundation that has greatly helped me this year to cover costs (e.g. being able to pay for health insurance!) and take some financial stress away. I have won some prize money at some meets and hope to make more this summer. I have also joined a non-profit called National Athletic Institute (NAI) that will hopefully help bridge that gap once they are on their feet. It's a new way of looking at bridging the funding gap and recommend that any athlete check it out, or if anyone is interested in donating to go to

DtB:  Where have you thrown this year, and where are you hoping to compete for the rest of this season?

LP: I have been to a lot of meets here in SoCal (which is very convenient) and as well as Arizona couple of times. I did get to go to Jamaica early this spring to compete at a World Challenge (great experience) and like I said earlier, I will be competing overseas this summer. That schedule is still not set in stone, but I am really looking forward to it!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Grandma's Helps Fund Another Career

It's been a tough week for three decade old records.  Last weekend a trio of high school kids from Long Island's Northport HS  tied the 39 year old feat of three Hammond High School distance runners by running sub-nine minute two miles at the New Balance HS Nationals in North Carolina.  Yesterday, Dick Beardsley's 33 year-old course record for Grandma's Marathon was beaten by Kenyan Dominic Ondoro, who finished the race in 2:09:06, 31 seconds better than Beardsley's 1981 mark.

Ondoro at the finish
Also yesterday at the Brooks PR Invitational in Seattle, the Northport trio that tied the Hammond High record almost set a new one in the 4 by 1 mile relay.  The record was set in 1976 by a team from South Eugene, Oregon who ran 17:06.6.  The Northport trio, plus one, ran 17:06.92.  Since the 4 by 1-mile is seldom run, that record might survive into a fourth decade.

The theme for the other two record performances was that the holders of the old marks all wondered why their records lasted so long.  Beardsley, who was doing his usual radio reporting at Grandma's again this year, was surprised at the longevity of his record.  At the time he had his breakthrough run along the shores of Lake Superior the World Record for the marathon was in the low 2:08s(Rob De Castella's 2:08:18 was the official record at the time.  Alberto Salazar had run 2:08:13 in the New York City Marathon, but his mark had been disallowed because of course measurement issues. The course had been measured along the blue line painted on the streets, not the shortest possible route the runners could take thus creating the possibility that the runners had not run the full 26.2 miles.)

While Kenyans had become the dominant nation in Olympic distance running by 1981, the marathon was the one event where they still lagged behind the Ethiopians.  As more Kenyans began to move up to or begin their careers as marathoners, the odds increased that Beardsley's record would fall.  With the current World Record for the distance being in the 2:03s and the number of marathons run between 2:03 and 2:09 increased exponentially it was only a matter of time before one of the second or third tier Africans came to Duluth and made a run for the record.

Ondoro, who has a PR for the distance of 2:08:00, which was set in Israel last year, does not get the invitations to major events, such as the World Marathon Major events in Chicago, New York, London, Boston, or Tokyo.  This year, for example, Ondoro ran 2:11:43 in Houston to begin his 2014 campaign, and followed that up with a seventh at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-mile in Washington, DC, and a tenth place finish at the Bloomsday 12K, before coming to Grandma's.

The weather, if not the erratic early pace, provided the field with conditions very similar to 1981 and Ondoro, along with other Africans in the field ran fast enough early enough to set up Ondoro's run for the record late in the race. Ondoro came through the half in 1:04:46, a pace that would have put him just under Beardsley's mark if he duplicated it in the second half, but near where the race really starts in a marathon, mile 20, Ondoro put it in another gear and ran the 21st mile in 4:39, about the average pace per mile of the current marathon World Record, and Beardsley, riding in the press truck in front of the race, knew his record was history.

Start of the 1975 Boston Marathon.  Steve Hoag is number 6
third from the right near race winner Ron Hill(1)
The memories of that day in 1981 flashed back.  It was an era in which US male marathoners were still prominent in the top ten lists of marathon performers.  Frank Shorter had dominated Olympic marathon racing in the 1970s and Salazar looked to be the heir to his throne.  Just as Gopher grad Leonard "Buddy" Edelen had led the development of US talent in the event back in the '60s by setting a then World Record of 2:14:28 in 1963, another Gopher, Steve Hoag,  finished runner up in Boston in 1975 in 2:11:54.  Ron Daws made the 1968 Olympic team and served as a mentor to Hoag and other Minnesota distance runners who wanted to move up in distance.

In 1980, still another U of M grad, Garry Bjorklund, who was an Olympian at 10K in 1976, had planned to transition to the marathon for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.  The US boycott scuttled those plans, but Bjorklund, furious at the US government for mandating the boycott, took out his anger at that year's Grandma's race, setting the then course record of 2:10:05, accompanied during the full distance by Bill Kennedy, who was the elite escort for the men riding a ten speed in front of the race.

Kennedy, then a Dayton's employee, contributed to the running boom in other ways.  He was the founding race director of the Get in Gear 10K that now hosts runners going a variety of distances in the annual rite of Spring running in Minnesota.  While Bjorklund was experimenting with the marathon as a possible way to be an Olympic medal contender, Beardsley, the Wayzata High School grad,  continued his running career in junior college by running multiple distances in meets until he discovered where his running talent blossomed, the marathon. (Junior college was the only national collegiate meet to include a marathon among its championship events).

Beardsley(arm raised) and Norway's Inge Simonsen at the finish of the London Marathon
Beardsley steadily bettered his times in the event.  He qualified and placed 16th at the US Olympic Marathon Trials in 1980, beginning  a string of 13 marathons where he bettered his personal best in each.  New Balance sponsored his fledgling running career at a time when Beardsley's first wife, Mary's, parents often asked her when her husband was going to get a "real job."  In 1981 Beardsley got an invite to run the first London Marathon.  He tied for first in 2:11:38.  Two months later he came to Duluth aiming for another breakthrough.
1981. The dual in the mist.  Dick Beardsley and Garry Bjorklund(1)

Bjorklund, also sponsored by New Balance, wasn't racing fit.  He had put on a few pounds, but volunteered to help Beardsley run fast.  He wasn't really a pacer, but rather a mentor, a sensei for this young marathoning prodigy.  The pair ran side by side until they turned off of old Hwy 61 and headed into Duluth.  There the "student" was transformed into the master as he ran on to break 2:10 and set the course record that stood for the last three decades.  To this day, Beardsley maintains that his accomplishment on June 20, 1981 was inferior to Bjorklund's, who ran 2:11:31 without adequate preparation.(A typewritten copy of the 1981 Grandma's results that include both men's and women's course records is HERE.)

The London win and the Grandma's time launched Beardsley's career.  New Balance offered him more money, a $50,000 a year contract, and Mary's parents no longer asked about the "real job."  For Ondoro, the record setting win will offer a similar financial boost.  He won $10,000 for finishing first along with $5,000 for breaking the course record and a car donated by race sponsor Toyota worth $16,000.

The $31,000 payday will get funneled into the Kenyan economy. Ondoro told reporters after the race that the money will allow him to buy more cattle,  maybe help fund a school.  While the money Ondoro won is not much by professional US sports standards, it will go a long way in Kenya.  This opportunity to fund  a better life is the reason the US road running circuit is filled with young African runners seeking financial security.  Just as 33 years ago when road racing  helped launch the career of a US junior college Agriculture major named Beardsley.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

History Made at Grandma's

Thirty three years ago two Minnesota marathoning legends Garry Bjorklund and Dick Beardsley, ran stride for stride for most of Grandma's Marathon on an overcast, misty day nearly perfect for performing.  The race that day was a changing of the guard in US marathoning and confirmation of  Beardsley's talent, who was then an emerging marathoner on the national and international scene.  This year a marathoner from a nation full of distance running talent, Dominic Ondoro, ripped a 4:39 21st mile on his way to breaking Beardsley's course record and nearly breaking 2:09 to win the men's race in 2:09:06.

The now past and present men's recordholders at Grandma's
celebrate and pose for the cameras.
Clad in a long sleeved shirt and wearing race number one, Ondoro accomplished what many had tried and failed to do over the past three decades in the first race of a new era for the event.  In 2013 the race's co-founder and stewart, Scott Keenan, passed on the administration of the event.  So, it seems only fitting that the event's most durable record would also fall.  The men's pace was erratic, but Ondoro kept the record within reach, going through the half in 1:04:46, then breaking away from the lead pack with a 4:50 20th mile before putting the hammer down in mile 21 to seal the record chase.

Pasca Myers, a native of Kenya who is based in Iowa, won the women's race in 2:33:45. Myers had been fifth in last year's Grandma's, her marathon debut.

Another Kenyan, 32-year-old Julius Kosgei, won the Garry Bjorklund Half marathon in 1:03:36. Andrew Carlson ran 1:04:52 in eighth. Team USA Minnesota's Ben Sathre 13th in 1:06:16. Dan Greeno 15th in 1:06:20.  Kevin Castille won the Masters in 1:05:36. Cynthia Limo of Kenya won the women's Half crown in 1:09:50 to finish a Kenyan sweep of the top places in the marathon and the Half.  Six Minnesotans were in the top 25.  Elizabeth Herndon was 15th in 1:16:17, Laura Paulsen 16th in 1:17:15, Elizabeth Turner 20th in 1:19:04, Heidi Peterson in 22nd in 1:19:08, Katie McGregor 23rd in 1:19:11, and UMD's Sam Rivard in 24th in 1:19:23.

Bjorklund Half Marathon results are HERE.

More updates and stories on Grandma's weekend from the Duluth News Tribune are HERE. More on Ondoro and the new record HERE. Strib Grandma's coverage is HERE and HERE.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Grandma's William Irvin 5K Results; More Grandma's Pre-Race Info; Live Radio Broadcast of Race

Results from William Irvin 5K in Duluth are HERE.

Scott Behling wins William Irvin 5K in 15:19

Women's winners Carrie Tollefson(left) and Angie Voight(right) approach
the finish hand in hand.
Strib feature on Alana Hadley, summary of elite athlete press conference at Grandma's is HERE.

Forum News Service Grandma's pre race stories on Sarah Kiptoo HERE and Nick Arciniaga HERE.

Live radio broadcast of Grandma's Marathon begins at 6 a.m. HERE.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Grandma's, Gophers, Goucher, USATF Champs form Charts, What's in a Name, Junk Food

LA Times Grandma's info story is HERE.

Hibbing Daily Tribune story on sisters running Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon is HERE.

Duluth News Tribune story on race co-founder and former race director now tends his garden HERE. Article on women's race defending champ Sarah Kiptoo is HERE, men's contender and 2013 Medtronic TC Marathon's Nick Arciniaga is HERE. Travel woes for Duluth's Cheryl and Hugh Reitan a blessing for elite runner Gisela OlaldeHERE.

Strib story on Richard Schletty and his quest to finish the goal his brother Joe set of running 200 marathons.   Grandma's this weekend will be #189.  The story is HERE.

Minnesota Daily story on the Gopher men's best finish at the NCAAs since 2004 is HERE.

Kara Goucher to run a Fall marathon HERE.

Form charts for USATF Championships starting June 26 are HERE(men) and HERE(women).
Entry status listed by event are HERE.

In Europe and elsewhere track & field is called Athletics, much the same as in Europe what we call soccer is called football.  Interesting piece in the NYT on the name issue in football is HERE.  A question for the historians out there, does track & field/Athletics have a similar story?

Are "junk food" ads associated with sports events, such as the Olympic and world Cup Football "a direct attack" on eforts to address the obesity issue in society?  HERE

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Grandma's Week; USATF All Comers Meet Results

Duluth News Tribune on  Grandma's security HERE. Truckers on the run HERE. Wheelchair champ for 2013 Krige Shabort  HERE. Boston "survivor Danny Szama HERE. Alyessa Meller running with MS HERE.

St Cloud Times article on Jan Ettle 1989 Grandma's winner is HERE.

Tallahassee Democrat story on Floridians heading North to Duluth for Grandma's HERE.

Article on Venezuelan wheelchair marathoner Juan Valladares is HERE.(in Spanish)

Grandma's Marathon speakers' lineup HERE.

Grandma's Marathon  Rudy Perpich Public Service Award winners are HERE.

USATF All Comers meet results are HERE.

Monday, June 16, 2014


USATF Minnesota JO results are HERE. Photos are HERE.

Brooks PR Meet this weekend, info is HERE.

Jim Jarvis Helps Two Carleton Athletes Win NCAA Titles

Jim Jarvis and Kao Sutton during indoor season.
Jim Jarvis is on the leading edge of a trend to integrate Strength and Conditioning programs into sports. Jarvis' bio is HERE.  Below he talks about working with NCAA champs Amelia Campbell and Tao Sutton at Carleton.

Down the Backstretch:  I don’t know if it’s a trend or just something athletes haven’t talked about or had available to them in the past, but this year at least four Minnesota athletes have worked with strength and conditioning coaches and gave them at least partial credit for their success.  

I gather from talking with Amelia Campbell that you work primarily with the football team, but also help out athletes in other sports.  How did you end up at Carleton and, what do you do to help the athletes be more successful?

Jim Jarvis: I actually came to Carleton because of the amount of teams and variety that I would get to work with. I currently work with every Varsity sport at Carleton.  It may seem that I work with football the most, but that is because they are the largest team on campus and also work with me the most. 

I ended up Carleton after spending two years at the University of Minnesota, Morris as their Head Strength and conditioning Coach and developing their first strength and conditioning program.  After those two years I went to Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD.  I spent two years out there as a graduate assistant coach in order to obtain my master's degree to further my career.  

I then found out about the opening at Carleton College and started my position in the middle of the summer.  One of the most important aspects of having a head strength and conditioning coach is that even though all of the workouts are voluntary having someone in the weight room gives a certain amount of accountability.  
Giving that accountability gives them a reason to make sure to get into the weight room, which will create consistency, which is the most important aspect within strength and conditioning.  Within my position I develop year-round lifting programs as well as year conditioning, speed, and agility programs depending on the time of year.

DtB:  When most people see “strength and conditioning” they think of the weight room, lifting equipment, and barbells.  But the field is a bit broader than that I suspect.  When a track athlete comes to you for help, do you do tests, evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses?  How do you go about developing a program for them?

JJ: The first thing is to determine their experience level with lifting and then developing an initial program with them from there.  After the initial period of getting them into the lifting program, the program starts to get more specific for that athlete and their events.  When I do test the athletes I test them in performance tests to make sure their speed, lower body power, and upper body power.  These tests will transfer to their events more than any other.

DtB:  One of the abilities of great athletes is that they are able to absorb information on what they need to do to improve and apply them to their training.  Has this been true for Amelia and Kao?  Any specific examples of things that was beneficial to them?

JJ:  Yes and no, one of the main things was that they each needed to build a base of lower body power.  The analogy that I always make is that they had the Ferrari frame, I just helped them get the engine in.  Meaning that they had the basic strength levels and they just needed some more power.

DtB:  Amelia said that she “gave back” a bit by helping teach the football players how to run better, be more efficient.  Do you find this sort of situation often, where somebody comes to the program for things that can benefit them, but also gives back by teaching others about things they do very well?

JJ:  Not really, Amelia has a very special gift in that she understands speed development,  and I asked her if she would want to help me out and do some speed development with the football team, she was extremely excited to help out with that.  There have been other times where some other athletes have stuck around to help out here and there, but none as much as Amelia.  My intern/student assistant is a football player who is thinking about going into the strength and conditioning field.  He has helped out a lot with that.

DtB:  The common perception of strength and conditioning is that it primarily involves weight lifting or increasing one’s strength, but in reality it is broader than that, I would guess.  That you teach efficiency of movement as well as ways to get stronger, as the primary goal is to make what the top athletes do easier.  Is that an accurate assessment?

JJ:  The most important part of strength and conditioning is injury prevention.  After that then we start to worry about performance and increasing strength.  More importantly than strength is power.  Strength is more about how much weight or force a person can produce.  Power is more about how fast a person can produce force, this is much more important in athletics as there are not many times an athlete can move slow and produce maximal force over a long period of time (think Squat, Deadlift, Bench).  However, an athlete that can produce maximal force over a short period of time would be able to produce maximal power (clean, jerk, snatch, plyometrics) (long jump, high jump, shot, discus).

DtB:  Often athletes who are injury prone or who have lost training time to injuries try out strength and conditioning programs to help them build up a “buffer” that hopefully will help them avoid major injuries.  Do you encounter a lot of that—athletes coming to you primarily for injury prevention, and how do you deal with it?

JJ:  For every athlete the most important thing is injury prevention, there are multiple ways to deal with it depending on the injury, the severity of injury, and the length of time since the injury.

DtB:  The “gym culture” used to primarily male and usually bodybuilders or athletes who were in sports or events that placed a premium on size and strength.  Now many of the fitness gyms or workout emporiums are sought out by women who aren’t looking for performance boost as much as weight control and/or general overall fitness.  That’s a different clientele that you have so you may not want to dive into this area, but any thoughts on what “recreational athletes” or non-athletes should look for in a fitness program?

JJ: One of the most important aspects to look into is to make sure that it isn't a "fad".  There are a lot of "fitness fads" right now and a lot of them promise that they will help lose extreme amounts of weight, produce massive amounts of muscle growth, or get a very defined body.  Most of the time it is an extreme workout regiment that is either very short in time or very long.  The most important thing is to talk to a legitimate trainer and make sure you have a good plan and that you know what you are doing. 

DtB: Are there any differences, things you have to approach differently for female athletes as opposed to males?  Or do all athletes share a common approach to their training? 

There are really only two  differences.  The first is you can't really scream and yell at females (I rarely yell at male athletes) because they don't respond to that type of training.  The 2nd is that I don't design much hypertrophy blocks in a females year round program.  As females do not produce much testosterone they are not able to build as much muscle as a male, so there is not as much of a reason to try to get them to build muscle.  The other thing about the hypertrophy blocks is there aren't as many high contact sports in women's athletics so there is not as much of a reason to try to build the female athletes any bigger.

DtB:  Are there any memories from the past year that will stick out for Amelia and Kao and their development during the past year?  Things they can work on that will help them continue to improve?

Kao Sutton celebrates with Jeff Jarvis
JJ: The most memorable moments was when Kao hex bar deadlifted 385 and split jerked 175, and when Amelia snatched 115 and when she box jumped 42".  Kao will now start into what should be a very successful competitive power lifting career. She needs to improve her back squat as well as her bench press, but right now she would rank fairly high in the US with her power lifting numbers (deadlift, bench, squat).  

The most important aspect for Amelia will be injury prevention and keep developing lower body power.  I expect at least a 45" box jump from her next year, and I would expect to see her hit a 50" box jump her senior year as well as snatching her body weight.