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Month: November 2017

November 30, 2017

USATF Marathon Championships: The Men’s Preview

Greetings, Scott Olberding here, and the time has come to do the dang thing. Tapers have been deployed and athletes are scrambling to find enough water bottles for each fuel table along the course.

That’s right — it’s marathon time, baby.

Ahead of the USATF Men’s Marathon Championships, here are some names to keep in mind:

Nick Arciniaga (2:11:30): A notorious Star Wars fan, Mr. Arciniaga comes into the race with the fastest personal best, which he ran at Houston in 2011. Later that year, Nick represented the U.S. in the World Championships. A long-time resident of Flagstaff, Ariz. (before it was cool), Mr. Arciniaga now resides in Salt Lake City, Utah. His Wikipedia page lists him at 5 feet, 11 inches tall. Look for Nick to utilize his experience to thwart the hopes and dreams of his fellow competitors.

Fernando Cabada (2:11:36): One specific memory that I have of Fernando is him absolutely decimating the field at the 2014 U.S. Half Marathon Championships. He ran 62:00 that day. Also, a fun fact — Fernando has run six marathons under 2:16 and finished 14 in total. It’s safe to say that he is well-acquainted with the distance.

Danny Tapia (2:12:28): If you are looking to project a winner based on a triangulation of recent races, then Mr. Tapia is your man. With a 2:12:28 from last year’s CIM and a recent win and PR at the Monterey Bay Half Marathon, Danny seems to have a hot hand recently, on top of already qualifying for a World Championships marathon team. He now trains in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., which I’m led to believe by multiple sources is at a high elevation. Certain people think that this may be an advantage.

Craig Leon (2:13:52): Leon brings a resume of strong performances at U.S. major marathons. He finished 13th at the 2013 Chicago Marathon (2:13:52), 12th at the 2014 Boston Marathon (2:14:28) and eighth at the 2015 New York City Marathon (2:15:16). By my count, he has run 17 marathons. Craig now trains in Eugene, Ore. with Team Run Eugene.  

Tim Young (2:14:40): Tim may be considered by some as a fringe contender, but with a personal best south of 2:15, I suspect he can hang with the lead crew for the majority of the race. And with high school PR’s of just 4:25/9:50/16:30, it’s hard not to want the underdog to stick his neck in it.

Tim Ritchie (2:14:50): Ritchie enters CIM with a personal best from the 2013 Twin Cities Marathon, which was won by…Nick Arciniaga. He won the 2015 Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon with a scintillating 1:01:23, which is likely his most recognizable result. Based on what I gather, Ritchie is a New England legend and certified Junkyard Dog after racing and graduating from Boston College and now training for the Saucony Freedom Track Club under the tutelage of Tim Broe.

George-Byron Alex (62:54 half marathon): Kicking off some possible contenders who are making their marathon debut, we start with George-Byron Alex. Aside from having two first names, which is objectively cool, he brings an impressive track pedigree: 13:29 in the 5,000 meters and 28:28 in the 10,000 meters. Mr. Alex also ran well at the Houston Half, breaking 63 minutes. He also won the Rock n Roll San Jose Half Marathon this year, so look for G.B.A. to get out there and assert himself against some of the more experienced dudes.

Parker Stinson (63:17 half marathon): Parker, at 25 years of age, is the youngest athlete featured herein. He comes from the University of Oregon where he had a decorated track and field career. He broke 28 minutes in the 10,000 meters in 2015, a top-10 time in the U.S. that year, and minted his 63:17 half marathon best just this past spring. Stinson has been training in Boulder, Colo. with Hudson Elite, and I suspect that this young fella will be looking to go for the “W” in his debut at the distance.

After all that examination, it’s time to race. It looks like weather conditions on race day will be near-perfect. Marathons are a beautiful thing and these dudes are ready to throw down. We’ll see you at the start line.

November 30, 2017

USATF Marathon Championships: The Women’s Preview

Nearly 70 women will vie for the crown of USATF Marathon Championships winner in Sacramento this Sunday. Among those women are an Olympian, various U.S. road race champions, collegiate All-Americans, and a U.S. cross country champion. All of them aren’t only competing for the crown, but also for their piece of the biggest prize purse the California International Marathon has ever offered.

One of the most interesting runners in the field is Janet Bawcom. Back in 2012, Bawcom, a relative unknown leading into the season, had a breakout year running 2:29 for the marathon and competing for the U.S. at the London Olympics in the 10,000 meters. Bawcom, now 39, has kept a relatively low profile since then, but will still come into CIM with one of the fastest PR’s over 10k and the marathon.

Sara Hall is the other runner in the field with a resume the caliber of Bawcom’s, though she may be coming into CIM with a bit of a handicap. Only last month, Hall ran a personal best in the marathon with a 2:27 fifth place effort in the Frankfurt Marathon.

“It’s probably my best recovery after a marathon yet,” Hall told CITIUS MAG last week, which answers the obvious question, as there’s no doubt about her current fitness. If she’s true to her word, Hall, 34, will be one to beat.

The seasoned vets, though, aren’t the only ones to watch. Katie Matthews, who competes for BAA, will be making her marathon debut. A multiple-time All-American out of Boston University, Matthews has seen some post-collegiate success on the roads. In 2017, she has run 1:12:27 for 20k and clocked 1:30:51 over 25k.

The field isn’t without a few wildcards. Lauren Totten of El Dorado Hill, Calif, debuted in the marathon at Grandma’s in 2014, finishing in 2:35. She’s since lowered her PR to 2:33 in a third place finish at last year’s CIM. Ashley Brasovan is also an interesting player. She had early career success as a Foot Locker champion but struggled with injuries throughout college. The Florida native took some time off but ran 2:41 at CIM last year in her debut marathon. Look for all three of these women to be vying for a top five finish.

And what would a race preview be without a good darkhorse pick?

Kaitlin Goodman will be looking to replicate her 2014 CIM performance where she ran 2:39, good enough for ninth place. Coming into this race, though, she’ll be riding a wave of personal bests that bode well for a good performance in Sacramento. This season, Goodman lowered her track 10,000 meter personal best by six seconds (31:55), her 5,000 meter PR by 10 seconds, her road 5k by 30 seconds, her road 15k by 50 seconds, and her half marathon by 90 seconds. The trend? The farther the distance, the bigger the PR.

All these athletes, though, have their hay in the proverbial barn. The last thing to worry about in the world of things runners can’t control is the weather.  

At race time Sunday morning, the temperature in Sacramento will be hovering in the low 40’s. The humidity will be 68% and there will be a breeze of about 11 miles per hour. Of all things fretted over in the meticulous — and oftentimes tedious — preparation for a marathon, the weather on December 3 will not be one of them.

We’ll see you there.

November 28, 2017

Where Do People Qualify for the Olympic Trials Marathon?

During the 900 days athletes had to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon, American harriers travelled the world in order to seek agreeable conditions and achieve their respective pre-assigned qualifying times: 2:19 for the men and 2:45 for the women.

[Editor’s note: This qualifying window also included half-marathon times (1:05 for men, 1:15 for women), but for the purposes of this analysis, we will only be looking at full marathon times.]

During that period, 86 men and 198 women qualified. Some ran their times as early as October 6th, 2013 and some as late as January 17th, 2016, the last day to qualify. For some, hitting the qualifying mark was a foregone conclusion and for others it was their moonshot.

Without further ado, let us take a deeper look into where, when and how fast people ran to achieve their dreams.

The following chart shows globally where the men ran under 2:19. A few of the results were secured outside of the United States, for instance in Fukuoka, Berlin, London, Brisbane, and even Valencia.

 

Taking a closer look at the United States, here are where the male qualifiers performed.

The Chicago Marathon, Boston Marathon, Houston Marathon, and California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento were all popular qualifier locations. Also, Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota and the Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis, Minnesota qualified 26 of the athletes. Fun fact: these two races in Minnesota qualified more than than any other combined races in a particular state — feel free to “wow” your friends and family with this factoid.

Looking at the women’s map, it becomes more evident that runners are reaching their times at a broader range of races. In fact, 13 women ran their qualifiers at 11 different races outside of the United States — from Dusseldorf to Shanghai.

 

Here is the map showing exactly where in the U.S. our aspiring female Olympians ran their times. No doubt about it here — the California International Marathon is the “queen of qualifiers.”  Forty-nine women hit qualifying marks at CIM, which comes out to 25% of the total number of qualifiers.

Analyzing the timing and frequency of male qualifiers, we can see a good amount got their times right out of the gate in October 2013 at the U.S. Marathon Championships at the Twin Cities Marathon. We also see some healthy bands of qualifiers each fall, with a really tight grouping of athletes between 2:16 and 2:18 at Grandma’s Marathon in June 2015:

Analyzing the women’s chart, things get pretty wild. In the 64 days between October 5 and December 7 of 2014, 59 women ran the standard, including the 2014 CIM. Twenty separate women achieved the standard at CIM in 2015, with one woman running exactly 2:45:00 to punch her ticket.

As USATF adjusted the half marathon qualifying times for the 2020 Trials, we may see more athletes elect to qualify in the marathon, albeit it being a beautifully brutal race.

November 28, 2017

Diamond League Steeplechaser to Marathoner: Sarah Pease Ready for CIM

It doesn’t take too much to put a small town on the map. “Birthplace of Paul Bunyan,” or “home to the world’s biggest corncob festival” or even “where buffalo wings were born.” You know it’s a big deal when these things have been slapped to the front of the welcome signs as you reach the town’s city limits. It lets the passersby know that within the small, drive-by town is something great, something worth remembering.

So when I found out that Sarah Pease was from Elizabeth, Indiana (population: 162), I figured they were in the process of erecting some enormous fiberglass statue in her honor. Within their city limits is a three-time All-American while at Indiana University (probably reason enough to at least put a “home to Sarah Pease” sign up); someone who has run in every track and field U.S. Championships since 2010, four times made the final, and finished 4th in 2010; she’s a two-time Olympic Trials qualifier; she’s run in a Diamond League meet. In terms of running accolades, Pease has a fairly impressive resume.

Pease is enjoying the kind of success and longevity that eludes plenty of runners post-collegiately, and is still working day in and day out. She’s running 100+ mile weeks in preparation for the California International Marathon, and is a volunteer assistant at IU while pursuing a master’s degree in kinesiology.

She’s already got an Olympic Trials marathon qualifier under her belt, a 2:41 which she ran in her one and only marathon. On December 3rd, she is hoping to lower her PR in Sacramento, and rub elbows with some stiffer competition (she won her debut marathon by 16 minutes). 

We sat down with Pease and discussed how her training is going, and what she’s hoping to accomplish in Sacramento this weekend.

***

CITIUS MAG: How has the training been going overall?

SARAH PEASE: I’ve been running 100-120 miles per week for the whole training block. So the mileage is a lot more, but I also do longer repeats and longer thresholds and tempos than I do when I’m training for track.

But I still keep some of the quicker stuff in the training. That’s how my coach likes to do it. It kind of keeps you sharp — it’s fun, you feel like you’re in this huge long distance training block and then it’s nice to do a little bit of turnover and feel like you’re fast again.

CM: What sparked your interest in the marathon?

SP: I always really liked doing longer distances and longer workouts and rhythmic things. So I kind of always thought the marathon had potential to be my best event. I wanted to at least try it and try it a few times because probably the first time you’re not going to get it totally right.

And being a running fan, I watched Boston and New York and the Marathon Trials and I wanted to see how good I could be at the distance.

CM: You ran 2:41 in your first marathon in February. What did you learn from that first marathon that you’re going to take into this one?

SP: I’m excited for CIM because it’ll be good to be in a competitive marathon. There were so many things I didn’t know what to expect during my first one. Definitely being more conservative at the start. Being someone who runs track, you don’t have to be very patient. Even with the 10,000 meters it’s not that much time compared to the marathon. I learned that you have to be patient for a really long time. I felt so good at the beginning of the marathon and kind of didn’t do a good job reeling that in.

The fueling was different. I’ve never fueled before up until I did the marathon, so I’m getting used to that. I didn’t even have water bottles at my first marathon, so I’m excited for that as opposed to trying to drink out of cups.

There are just a lot of elements. But I would say that being a little more patient will help me a lot.

CM: Have you taken any cues from steeplers that have made the transition to the marathon?

SPA lot of times people train very differently, so I don’t want to feel like I should train like this person or that person. But I’ve read a lot about the mentality, about the nutrition, a lot of things outside of the actual training part. I’ve tried to learn as much as I can in as short of a time as I can. I feel the marathon is something that takes a while to really master. And it takes a while because you can only do it a few times a year. In track, I’m used to having a bad race and turn around and do it again and fix those things, but this is a little different.

So I’ve read a lot about the marathon mentality. I just try to listen to my coach and put blinders on to what’s happening on the outside in terms of the training. For me it’s really easy to trust him and get the work done and feel good about it. He knows what will work best.

CM: Do you find the marathon stuff carries over to the faster stuff?

SP: Yeah, I think for me I get really strong. It’s like a really great base phase. I get to have this long build up of consistent training and mileage. It helped me a lot through the spring and summer this year. I did a marathon in February and had to take some time off after that. When I finally did get back to running I was still really fit from all the miles I did.

CM: What’s your goal going into CIM?

SP: As far as a time goal I think running around 2:35 would be a really good step. We thought I was around that fitness last time but for one reason or another it didn’t happen. But I think I’m handling the training a lot better this time.

As far as finishing, my goal is definitely to be top ten. But then ultimately I want to position myself to race late and try to see how many people I can beat.

If I can be top ten and run pretty fast then I would be pretty happy with that.

CM: I know you’ve run one full marathon before. Is this the start of a full transition to the roads? Or to the marathon in general looking toward 2020?

SP: I’m kind of still thinking about it. I think it’ll kind of depend on how the next marathon and probably the one after that goes because I still am going to run track in the spring. I want to run the 5k and the 10k and drop some PR’s on the track.

But I’ve been doing more and more road racing. I don’t know yet if it’ll be a full switch but I like the training for the marathon a lot. So if I see some success in the marathon, and get my time to a place that’s competitive in the U.S. then I might shift my focus more to that. But I also love the 10k, so I may shift my focus there.

November 27, 2017

EPISODE 2: 183.4 (NAZ Elite Documentary)

Watch Aaron Braun’s resurgence as a top-American marathoner at the Chicago Marathon and others in the final weeks of training before the Frankfurt Marathon.

November 27, 2017

Scott Fauble is starting a movement. And yes, it has to do with burritos.

Scott Fauble details his obsession with burritos, Mexican food and how you can join his movement. It all started at Boulevard Tacos.

November 27, 2017

Eric Finan and His Beautiful, Twisting Journey to Sacramento

We had a chance to catch up with Eric Finan ahead of the USATF Marathon Championships to reflect on his journey to this epic race. A self-described “jack of all trades & master of none,” Eric certainly has some serious accomplishments to his name. Now that he picked up a full-time job as an engineer for a biomedical company and no longer “runs professionally,” he’s looking to run faster than ever.

Scott Olberding: You grew up in Ohio and ran for the University of Cincinnati. Toward the end of your college career, you were able to hit another level and pick up two All-America certificates. Was that a big factor in ultimately running professionally and moving to Minneapolis?

Eric Finan: Yes, definitely. After having success toward the end of my time in college, I thought that by the next Olympic cycle I would definitely be able to hit the Olympic Trials 5,000 meter time. I actually graduated a little banged up and took an engineering job in Cincinnati for about a year and then was fortunate enough to move to Minneapolis to join Team USA Minnesota.

SO: Yeah, I knew that you spent some time there — it’s actually my home state. It seemed like you focused your energy on a bunch of different events, from the mile (won Adrian Martinez Classic in 2014) to cross country to the half marathon. How did all of that play out and why did you end up moving to the marathon?

EF: I’ve always loved racing and have been open to most distances. The goal through 2016 was always to focus on the 5,000 meter distance. I had three goals coming out of college: 1) make an Olympic team, 2) make a World team, and 3) make a U.S. relay or XC team. Looking back, considering I never qualified for the track trials, these goals seem a little far-fetched, but I think that is the attitude you need. If you go in just saying I want to make the trials or make the final, why stop there?

(photo courtesy of Scott Olberding)

SO: I get that. Leading up to the 2016 Trails, it seemed like you were in good shape. How many races were you in that went under the standard?

EF: Hmmm, three races, I believe. And that was sort of the frustrating part. I was getting smoked by college kids in some of these races, like one race I ran 14:05 or something like that. Looking at my goal, it just seemed crazy and I was a bit frustrated. I had all day to train and focus on the right stuff and I was getting all of my work in. My coach, Ian Dobson, obviously has a great 5,000 meter background so hearing him say I could hit a way faster time created a bit of a disconnect for me.

SO: After not making the Trials, was there some big philosophical pivot to the longer distance?

EF: Not really. I took a lot of down time after trying to hit the standard and then while applying for jobs, I started running again simply to see some progress in my life. I had always wanted to run a marathon, so one night over a beer with Ian, I casually brought up racing the California International Marathon in 2016. I asked if it would be possible to run a decent time off of limited training. I remember him saying, “I mean, it’s not the worst idea.” He thought I wouldn’t be able to run my best time but that the eight weeks left before CIM was enough to get a give a good shot at it.

SO: You went CIM 2016 and ran 2:17:51. Were you happy with that performance? Where was your headspace going into that and coming out?

EF: Yeah, I was pretty happy with that, all things considered. My goal was to run under 2:18 so I accomplished that. It was also a great race and I enjoyed the experience so much that I knew I wanted to give another crack at it.

SO: It looks like over the summer you were able to get some awesome adventuring in, whether it was ski mountaineering, backpacking, trail running and driving your motorcycle across Oregon. Was that pre-meditated for the summer?

EF: Yeah. For the first time in a while, I didn’t have a full-time job and I wasn’t hyper-focused on track. It was a great experience and the activities I was getting in didn’t take as much away from my fitness as I had imagined a lot away from my training. I realize that I wasn’t training at an optimal level, but I was having a blast and getting in some decent marathon base. When I took my full-time job, I was feeling refreshed and excited to keep training for the marathon.

(photo courtesy of Jason Suarez)

SO: Your training for 2017 CIM has been going off without a hitch and seems like you are much more fit than the last go-round. I’ve personally been impressed and secretly following how early some of your big workouts are. What’s that like trying to get amped for a 20-miler at 5:30 am?

EF: Yeah, some mornings it feels really early but I’m constantly reminded by a lot of amazing people around me who are getting up just as early or earlier to get after what they have going on in their lives. There’s actually this group that meets twice a week in the mornings on the track. It’s a group of attorneys and teachers and other folks and their workout starts at 5:00 am on the dot. So while I’m having coffee and getting a little food in, they are cranking out 400 meter repeats.

SO: Alright, so you’ve been working full-time, cranking out 130 mile weeks, and still finding time for some adventure. You seem pretty psyched about running and training and soaking up life. Do you have a specific time goal going into the U.S. Marathon Championships in Sacramento, or is the plan to get out front and compete? Or perhaps a little of both?

EF: Definitely a little of both. I’m going into this race with a fresh approach. I don’t want to have the mindset of like, “I’ve run a marathon before and I know what to expect.” I think I can definitely run two or three or so minutes faster than I did last year. With that being said, I am hungry to compete with the lead group. If someone decides they want to run a 66 minute first half, I’ll have to pump the brakes a bit, but I want to be able to compete and make moves and see what I can do in a big field.

November 27, 2017

The Blue Collar Runner: An oral history

This is a story of a blue collar runner, 30 beers, a Fourth of July parade, and a neverending march towards glory. It all started…

November 24, 2017

Two Marathons in Five Weeks? Sara Hall is Giving it a Shot

Just weeks after setting her marathon personal best, Sara Hall will be taking on the 26.2 mile distance again at the USATF Marathon Championships on December 3.

“I love championship style racing and feel it really brings out the best in me,” Hall told CITIUS MAG. “The California International Marathon is a race I’ve wanted to run for a while now, and the fact that it’s a national championship essentially in my backyard made it even more meaningful.”

Hall finished fifth at the Frankfurt Marathon on October 29, setting a personal best of 2:27:21. She has recovered exceptionally well since then, providing her the confidence to give the marathon another go just five weeks after Frankfurt.

“It’s probably my best recovery after a marathon yet,” Hall said. “I think recovery is my strength as an athlete. I don’t think I’m the most talented, but since I started in the sport I’ve always been able to train really aggressively and race often with my body absorbing it well.”

This won’t be the first time Hall has attempted a quick turnaround after a marathon. After her debut marathon in 2015, Hall finished 20th at the World Cross Country Championships just 13 days later.

“I listen to my body and trust my instincts,” Hall said. “Having trained a lot in Africa where they don’t overthink things, I’ve adopted a bit of that mentality where I don’t necessarily buy into some of the things we believe in American running culture, like you can only run two marathons a year spaced out by six months.”

Hall confided in her husband and coach, legendary American marathoner Ryan Hall, in her decision-making.

“At first, Ryan wasn’t sold on the idea,” Hall said. “But after Frankfurt when I didn’t execute some things well and had some challenges that weren’t in my control, he was like, ‘You can do better than that. Let’s see how you recover, and if you do as usual, let’s go for it.'”

A longtime contender for U.S. national teams on the track, Hall made her marathon debut in 2015 and has completed the distance six times. She dipped under the 2:30 barrier for the first time earlier this year in Tokyo with a personal best 2:28:26 before improving upon that time in Frankfurt.

“I really want to continue to improve in the marathon, and since I only plan to do two a year, any time I get a chance to race one is another chance to tweak things and fine-tune my approach,” Hall said. “There’s such a learning curve with the event, which is partly why it’s so addicting.”

Hall joins a USATF Marathon Championships field that features 2012 U.S. Olympian Janet Bawcom, 2:27 marathoner Renee Metivier and 2016 CIM third place finisher Lauren Totten.

Against that caliber of a field, Hall knows that her competitive instincts will need to be at tip-top shape.

“In a championship race, you don’t have the help of knowing there are pacemakers running designated paces,” Hall said. “I have to be prepared to run a lot of it alone to run the pace that’s right for me.”

Ultimately, the prospect of walking away with a U.S. title was one that was too good for Hall to pass up, particularly with the marathon championships in Sacramento, just a few hours from her hometown of Santa Rosa and current residence in Redding.

“You have the motivation of thinking, ‘I want to be the one holding the American flag at the finish,'” Hall said. “That feeling never gets old, and to experience it close to home with friends and family would be really special.”

Race footage of the USATF Marathon Championships will be archived by USATF.TV here

November 23, 2017

Edward Cheserek Wins First Pro Race at Silicon Valley Turkey Trot

After completing one of the most storied careers in NCAA history, Edward Cheserek won his first race as a pro on Thanksgiving Day at the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot in San Jose, Calif.

After a tactical early pace, Cheserek pulled away from Awet Habte (13:42) and Emmanuel Bor (13:43) to take the win in 13:38.

“I tried to play my race plan right and hang in there with the big boys,” Cheserek told CITIUS MAG after the race. “I was struggling with a little injury after [the 5th Avenue Mile] but have been back in training and things have gone well the last couple weeks.”

Gotytom Gebreslase of Ethiopia won the women’s race in 15:38 ahead of Monicah Ngige of Kenya (15:44). Emily Lipari outsprinted her BAA teammate Sarah Pagano to finish in third. Both were timed in 16:04.

Men’s results:
1 Edward Cheserek 13:38
2 Awet Habte Ghebrezghiabher 13:42
3 Emmanuel Bor 13:43
4 Haron Lagat 13:49
5 Alex Monroe 13:49
6 Reid Buchanan 13:56
7 Sam Atkin 13:56
8 Lawi Lalang 13:58
9 Pat Casey 13:59
10 Eric Avila 14:00

Women’s results:
1 Gotytom Gebreslase 15:38
2 Monicah Ngige 15:44
3 Emily Lipari 16:04
4 Sarah Pagano 16:04
5 Marisa Howard 16:09
6 Mel Lawrence 16:11
7 Tia Martinez 16:12
8 Stephanie Brown 16:18
9 Teresa McWalters 16:27
10 Megan Rolland 16:29

November 22, 2017

Rob Conner Explains The Strategy That Led to A Second Place Finish for Portland

Rob Conner explains the strategy and why some of Portland’s best runners did not race at the conference championship and how it worked out for them at NCAAs

November 21, 2017

Marathon Mailbag: Questions You’ve Always Had for a Race Director

Here at Citius, we do our best to give the people what they what. So as part of our coverage of the USATF Marathon Championships, we wanted to help answer some of the questions you’ve always had about road races: Why can’t you mail me my bib? Why are there never enough porta-potties? What’s wrong with banditing, anyways?

Helping us with this task is Eli Asch, California International Marathon race director and the director of race operations for the Sacramento Running Association. Eli is a veteran of the race directing scene, always has insightful thoughts about the world of running, and is an overall good dude. If you enjoyed this musings here, give him a follow on Twitter at @Eli_Runs for insights like this:

Why can’t I get my race number in the mail?

At some races you can. But you almost always have to pay for it and usually more than you want to. Races that don’t allow you to get your number in the mail — like the CIM and other Sacramento Running Association races — have done the calculus and decided that, as an organization with finite resources (both in money but more importantly in staff time, especially during race week), they’re going to focus those limited resources on improving the runner experience in other ways.

I will say that there is a business opportunity for someone entrepreneurial here. I know of one company (Events Southwest, another best-in-class race production and operations shop based in Texas) that offers, along with their other suite of services, a large-scale bib mailing solution to the events they work with. If someone were to launch that in the Sacramento area, I think it could do well. Of course, they would have to quickly establish themselves as a competent, reliable organization for RDs to trust them with something as precious as our runners’ bibs. If someone like our timer Capital Road Race Management were to provide this service, we would consider it. But without a reliable outside option providing its own bandwidth, system, and expertise, very few race organizations have enough staff time race week to execute something like this on their own.

As an SRA-specific aside, at our non-CIM events we solve this issue by having race morning packet pick-up. We know some people can’t make two trips, so as long as they make it to the race site race morning (with at least a few extra minutes to spare before the gun) our unparalleled registration and participant services director Kris Benach and her team of volunteers will make sure they get their bib and any other race swag before they toe the line (or after they finish for everything except the bib, if they’re cutting it really close). At the CIM (where due to sheer volume race day packet pick-up isn’t an option), based on a post-race survey of participants the vast majority of our runners view the CIM Expo as a value-add, with its race merchandise, expert speakers, vendors, and general race weekend excitement, so mailing packets has never been a high priority. I imagine this is the case at many other major events that don’t mail packets, although you would have to ask their staffs to confirm this.

Lastly, for those who just aren’t able to make it to the CIM expo, on our expo page there is a Race Packet Pick-up Authorization Form which, when completed, allows someone else to pick up your packet for you. This has been a successful solution for the past several years for those who just can’t make it to the expo.

I’m sure you could go on and on about this, but in your view, why is banditing wrong?

To be entirely honest, under normal, non-litigious circumstances (more on that later) no single bandit is going to ruin a race. However, in order to protect itself and to keep a mass of bandits from descending on an event and turning it into chaos, I support any race in its decision to take a strict “no bandits allowed on the course” policy. Because no good deed goes unpunished, and if a race started saying “sure, hop on our course and get in your run for the day” to anyone who asked it would be creating a “tragedy of the commons” situation just waiting to happen.

But wait, what if I don’t take any race resources, you say? No shirt, no medal, maybe even no support from aid stations, not event a free beer in the beer garden. Well, there are at least three major issues with that.

First, have you considered that parking, medical staff, portalets (which all runners know you can never guarantee you won’t use — unless you use someone’s yard instead, and RDs want that even less!), and in some races maybe even space on the start line or in the finish festival are limited resources? Just by showing up you’re taking some of those limited resources.

Second, great, you say you’re not trying to weasel your way into a shirt or medal, and you won’t be taking any support from aid stations, and I believe you, but do I believe the dozens — or, depending on the size of the race, hundreds or thousands — of unregistered runners I’ve invited onto the course by publicizing that bandits are welcome? And if I don’t believe all of them, how do I assure that I have enough of these limited resources in place to support an unquantified but large number of bandits? And why should I have to have enough of these cumulatively expensive resources in place to support runners who didn’t pay for my race? I shouldn’t!

Third, by not having a “no bandits” policy I would be inviting people onto the course for whom I don’t have any information — a lack of information which, if something goes wrong, makes it difficult if not impossible for the medical team to provide appropriate care. But many lawyers whose pictures you can find prominently displayed on your phone book would say we are obligated to provide appropriate care to anyone we’ve invited out there, and that the lack of a specific policy stating that unpaid runners are not invited is the same as an invitation to those unpaid runners to participate. I don’t like that logic, but I’m an RD and I expect lawyers to defer to me on race directing matters, so I defer to the lawyers who tell me on this lawyering matter that we need to have a “no bandits” policy in place.

And one more reason beyond the three promised ones: On a race day you have infinity-minus-one options of where to run for free — anywhere except the race course. By choosing to run on the race course you’re saying that you value running there above anywhere else you can run, i.e. that the race is providing something of value to you. So you implicitly agree that the race is providing something valuable, and other people are paying for it while you’re taking it for free. We have a word for that: stealing. Bandits are thieves. Don’t be a thief.

If you want to run a race, pay for it. If you want to argue that you’re not getting anything of value by running in a race without paying for it, prove it by running somewhere else on race day.

How do you prioritize getting a quality field together while also making the experience appealing to the masses who pay for the race?

I don’t view these things as in conflict but rather as working in concert. Yes, both require resources, but we’re lucky enough to have a board that supports us expending substantial resources in both places and in having partners that work with us to achieve both goals.

Also — and this is part of why CIM aligns so well with my vision of a major event — because CIM is a performance race (we had the most Boston qualifiers of any non-World Marathon Major American marathon last year), more of our runners are interested in the types of race race day elements that will allow them to perform at their best: things like abundant portalets at the start line (more than three times the industry standard), not just one aid station with CLIF Shots but four spaced appropriately throughout the course, and a pace team consisting of performance-oriented runners themselves that understand how to best support their group.

Beyond that, the support we provide professional field — smooth logistics both in arrival to the city and on race day, elite fluids, pacers tied to the Olympic Trials qualifying standards, bonuses for certain performance standards (kudos to our elite athlete coordinator Danielle Domenichelli for this) — sets the stage for them to perform their best and to run times that enhance our brand as an event where all runners can run their best, whether that’s finishing under five hours, running a PR or Boston qualifier, or qualifying for the Olympic Trials. I encourage any race to think about how they can support performance running in a way that enhances their experience for the non-elite, and then to find the resources to do it.

How does one get to be race director for a major U.S. marathon? What’s the career path?

It used to be — 25-40 years ago, when many of the now-major marathons started — that the race director (RD) was the local runner who started the race. I’m part of a new, younger generation of RD’s who knew from the outset that working in mass-participation endurance sports events was a viable career path, and that’s because we get to stand on the shoulders of these giants (Carey Pinkowski in Chicago, Fred Lebow in New York, John Mansoor here locally in Sacramento, etc.).

As for what my path was, I was a decidedly mediocre D-III cross country runner (Missionaries! Missionaries! We’re on top!) who knew I wanted to work in running, so I enrolled in the San Diego State University Sports MBA program right out of undergrad. While there, I interned at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center and at Competitor Group working on Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego, and as a capstone project for my MBA I interned at Conley Sports, a race operations and production company based in Austin, Texas which at the time owned and operated the Austin Marathon.

That internship turned into a job, and at that job I gained great experience there working with and learning from some people who are the best in the country or world at what they do. Little known fact: RaceWorks, which is a one-man operations shop out of Austin run by David Grice, is the secret weapon behind many major races’ finish lines. Then when the opportunity arose to direct the California International Marathon — a non-profit, community-based event that also does more than any other comparably-sized marathon to support the sport of performance running — I jumped at it.

I think many of my peers in the new generation of RD’s have shared a similar path: a passion (although maybe not a huge talent for) running, experience volunteering or interning in an unpaid capacity with an event or organization they believe in, some time spent in the event operations space professionally (directing smaller events and playing supporting roles in larger ones), and then seeing an opportunity emerge that aligns with your personal vision of what a major event can and should be (like the CIM does for me) and going for it — and then working your ass off to continue to make that event everything you know it can be!

The reason you want to be an RD can’t be because you want to be something, it has to be because you want to do something — for the event, for the sport, for your participants. At the CIM, what we want to do — from our board and executive director, to our operations and marketing staff, through what we call the “big team” of almost 150 part-time staff, contractors, and key volunteers that it takes to put on the CIM — is provide every runner, from the front of the pack to the back, with the forum to run their best marathon and then celebrate that accomplishment. Being able to play a role on a team doing that is what drew me to this race. I bet if you asked any successful RD, they could tell you what it is about their major event that drew them to it, and it won’t just be “being the RD.” The job isn’t glamorous enough to just want to be it. You’ll spend way to much time slinging fence, in the back of box trucks, and jumping into dumpsters for that. You have to want to do something specific through those efforts.

I’ve seen you in the chute of a race berating a race volunteer for doing something stupid. What’s the most furious you’ve gotten on race day, and what did they do?

I think you’re talking about the “little black backpack” incident of 2014? [Editor’s note: Yes, that incident.] This is not one of my proudest moments, and was actually stupider on my part than the volunteer’s. It was my first year directing CIM and we also had a new medical partner that year: the UC Davis Medical Center, who is still our medical partner and who we are very grateful to. About 15-20 minutes before the leaders were going to cross the finish line, some spectators called our attention to a little black backpack sitting on the ground inside the controlled zone fencing about 30 feet past the finish line (by the way, thank you to these spectators: “if you see something, say something” applies to all of us!). The bag was in an area that no one without credentials could reach, so I wasn’t concerned about it from a public safety standpoint, but if there’s one thing you don’t do at the finish line of a major marathon in the post-Boston bombing era it’s put down your backpack! So I went and picked it up, asked the medical volunteers who it belonged to, and then (very ungraciously) lit into the medical volunteer who had put it down (I think there was an F-bomb involved, maybe even two — like I said, very ungracious).

Most of the blame for this mistake, as with any volunteer’s mistake, falls on me, for at least two reasons: First, it’s a part of the job to make sure volunteers know what they’re doing. They’re volunteers, and unlike race staff haven’t spent the last 12-18 months preparing for this race. If in that 12-18 months we haven’t taken the time to explain to people who are volunteering their time what their job entails, including both the “dos” and the “don’ts” — especially major public safety “don’ts” — that’s on us.

The second reason it’s on me is that I made it worse by lighting into that volunteer. Two of the most important jobs of an RD are to keep your cool and to show appreciation for the people who make the race happen — which, in the case of the CIM, includes 3,000 volunteers — and I did neither of those in this case.

So, I guess that’s a long way of saying that volunteers can’t be stupid, only RD’s can be stupid for not doing a good enough job of training or appreciating their volunteers. That being said, when volunteers don’t use basic common sense and the outcome is that it compromises their or runners’ safety (like in this incident, or times I’ve seen volunteers chalking the roads while the roads are still open to traffic, or jumping forward to give a finisher a medal so close after the finish line that either the volunteer, the runner, or both almost trips), maaaaaaaybe then the volunteer shoulders just a little bit of the blame.

In a major city like Sacramento, what are the logistics of getting course certification like?

A quick tutorial for your readers who might not be familiar with how course certification works: A course is measured by riding the shortest possible route (SPR) from start to finish with a device called a Jones Counter attached to the front wheel of a bike. The ride is made multiple times to assure accuracy and the measurement and math is verified by a state-level USATF certifier.

(Also, as an aside, if you’re wondering why your GPS always says the course is longer than the distance it’s certified as, there are at least three reasons: First, you almost definitely didn’t run exactly the SPR. Second, your GPS is accurate in broad strokes but isn’t super-precise, especially in major downtown areas with tall buildings, under bridges, or on courses with a lot of quick turns. And third, there is a .1% margin of error baked into each measurement to assure it’s not short, so 5k’s are actually measured as 5,005 meter, 10k’s as 10,010 meter, etc.)

As far as the logistics of getting a major urban marathon certified, it varies city to city, for sure. In Austin, our course director (Danny Spoonts, also one of the best in the biz and now an independent contractor based out of Denver if anyone needs a course director or consultant for hire) would hire an off-duty Austin Police Department motorcycle cop and have the cop lead- or tail-drive him (as appropriate) as he biked the course, primarily in the wee hours of the morning (2am-5am), frequently into or across traffic as the SPR dictated. This was a multi-day process, as it involved at least two rides of the entire marathon course (as well as the portion of the half marathon course which diverged from the marathon course), with re-rides of some sections necessary.

We do things differently at the CIM. While a series of early morning rides with a cop might work, our course actually closes early enough on race day that we’re able to send out our measurers — IAAF A-level measurer Doug Thurston of the Big Sur International Marathon, who brings along a couple other experienced measurers so he can do three rides all at once — in front of the field on race morning. Re-measurement is required once every ten years, and it’ll actually be taking place this year. So look for Doug and a couple friends thirty or so minutes in front of our lead runners (or less, as the finish line approaches) out there on race morning this year.

Of course, I’ve also seen some photos of people doing neither of the above and doing death-defying (or maybe it’s death-tempting?) feats in traffic in major cities like San Francisco, and even for other events in Sacramento. More interesting than asking me this question might be asking some people like Doug, Danny, and IAAF Technical Council member David Katz how they get the job done, and what the hairiest things they’ve seen out there are.

How have the emergence of color/Spartan/obstacle runs impacted how you organize your “traditional” road races?

I wouldn’t say that they have, directly. Indirectly, though, as experiences have become the new luxury good with generating that memorable, Instagram-able moment for your participants becoming increasingly crucial. I think all running events have had to reinvent themselves to become more than just a race. That doesn’t mean abandoning the race experience, though (especially at a race with the performance history of the CIM), but rather finding ways to enhance it and make it memorable for every runner.

For example, our Boston qualifiers all have the opportunity to get their photo taken at the John Hancock BQ bell in the finish area, to be able to celebrate and share their accomplishment with the world. We know this strikes a cord with our performance-oriented runners, because last year we saw some people wait in line nearly an hour to take that photo. And for first-time marathoners we’ve created a “first-timers” program which includes a private Facebook group with mentors to answer questions, meet-ups and invitations to CIM University info sessions, and a reunion tent in the finish festival area where they receive a special, additional “first-timer” medal to commemorate that they finished their first marathon at the CIM.

None of this can (or does) get in the way of the nuts and bolts of what we do, though — smooth race day logistics including a well-oiled busing and gear check plan; a well-organized start line where it’s easy to find and line up with your pace group; plentiful, well-stocked, and clearly laid out aid stations to keep people fueled and hydrated for success; a safe, clearly-marked course course closed to traffic; and accurate timing and results. Taking care of all of those things, which at our race we take pride in, is necessary but no longer sufficient (if it ever was) to differentiate yourself from ever-more-competitive pack. But that pack isn’t just other running events, or even MOB (Mud, Obstacle, and Beer) events, but rather every experience a potential customer can spend their hard-earned money on. It’s our goal to give every runner — from the pros to that first-timer striving to come in under our time cut-off — the best possible experience, which includes all the basics, but increasingly has to include some “wow” factors.

What’s your biggest fear on event day?

Making sure I don’t sleep through my alarm — seriously, my wife and I set at least six different alarms on three different devices on race morning!

By race day, I wouldn’t say that I’m afraid of anything. We have a professional, dedicated team that assures that we have checked every box that we have control over to assure all of our stakeholders — runners, staff, vendors, volunteers, spectators, etc. — have a smooth, successful, and safe race experience. Even during the weeks leading up to race day, I wouldn’t say that I have major fears, except maybe that my lovely wife and adorable pup will forget what I look like because I’m spending so much time at the office!

Although I’m not afraid of it, per se, bad weather is the most likely thing that can disrupt our plans and impact our runners’ experience. We of course have contingency plans in place and have regular race week check-ins with our operations and emergency management teams (as well as with local runner and meteorologist extraordinaire Tamara Berg of KCRA) to determine which, if any of these contingencies we’ll need to put into place. But still, RD’s want to control everything we can, and although our average weather in early December in Sacramento is pretty near perfect (lows in the 40’s, highs in the 50’s, usually some nice cloud-cover), the weather is one thing that’s out of our control that can affect our stakeholders’ experience.

Beyond that, of course in a post-Boston bombing world we all have to be concerned and vigilant about public safety threats at large public events. We work very closely for 12-18 months with local and nationwide experts from various agencies on each year’s emergency management and public safety plan, and when they tell us we’re a “go,” we trust their judgment. And if, perish the thought, the worst were to happen, we know we have an expert-level joint command team ready to respond. (Little-known fact: This team’s response capability was tested on a small scale last year when a young, healthy, veteran marathoner suffered a cardiac incident just after crossing the finish line. Our emergency response team and UC Davis medical team, supported by our finish line volunteers and public safety officials, sprang into action in a matter of seconds, implemented their plan, and were able to save her life.)

So while their are some elements that are out of our control, we know that we’ve done everything possible to plan contingencies for everything we can, even those things out of our control. So I’m not afraid on race day. Our team is ready, and our team is vigilant. We know that on race day (all throughout race week, really) there’s still the hard work of executing our plan to the best of our ability to be done, but come race day, we’re not afraid.

November 20, 2017

Dillon Maggard Sets Blue Jeans Mile World Record 4:11.80, Two Days After NCAA Nationals

Dillon Maggard just ran 4:11.80 for the mile in a pair of blue jeans – just two days after he was 6th at the NCAA Cross Country National Championship.

November 20, 2017

Ashley Brasovan Trusting the Process in Her Return to Competitive Running

The title of “Foot Locker champion” has served as a blessing and curse now for several generations of prep runners. Ashley Brasovan has certainly had her share of ups and downs since her Foot Locker title nearly 10 years ago. After years of injury plagued her collegiate career at Duke, Brasovan is back at it, now focusing her attention on longer distances both on the roads and trails.

We had a chance to catch up with Brasovan just two weeks before racing the USATF Marathon Championships to reflect on her accomplishments, struggles, and future aspirations in the sport.

Given your work commitments with a full-time job, how are you handling marathon training this time around?

This fall for marathon training, I’ll typically train from 5:30-7:30am, consisting of running, stretching, and strength training, so I can be in the office by 8:00-8:30am. And if I double, I would be back out when I get home around 4:00-5:00pm.

This fall’s been really cold — a lot of 25 to 30 degree mornings [Editor’s note: Brasovan is based in Denver, Colo. area]. I’ve had to realize I’m probably not going to hit the same splits I would when it’s warmer out. The layers you’re wearing are heavier and there were a couple of workouts where I was dealing with snow and wind. It’s hard to compare times, so it’s been more about trusting the training rather than times.

Last time around [for the 2016 California International Marathon], my mileage was pretty low — around 65 miles a week. I felt fresh and undertrained going into the marathon. This fall, I tried to get up to 75-80 miles a week, which is probably still on the lower end of the marathon field that will be at CIM. I got sick a couple times and had some foot issues, so this cycle has been much more of a rocky road. I’ve had to trust in the process more, but the goal is always to make it to the starting line healthy. I feel more fit, but it’s hard to gauge exactly where I’m at because of the weather and other bumps this fall.

After a injury-plagued career at Duke, you took some time away from the sport. How did you find your way back?

Going from high school to college was a very hard transition. I was injured within two weeks of going to Duke. I didn’t run for the first two years there — injured straight through. I ran my last two years and tried to do a redshirt fifth year and got my fifth stress fracture. I came out of college really hating running and not wanting to compete ever again.

From there, I decided I needed to focus on my career and grad school. After grad school, I moved out to Colorado where I was running but wasn’t tracking mileage and learned to love the sport again. I had fun with it, met up with friends, and did some local club runs but no intense workouts.

When I moved out to Colorado, I saw a bunch of people competing and having fun. Matt Hensley, who’s from Florida and works for Roll Recovery now, offered to coach me and from there, he pushed me into some competitive races and to try to qualify for the Olympic Trials. [Editor’s note: Brasovan qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon with a 1:14:30 half marathon run in January 2016.] Qualifying for the Trials was a breakthrough moment for me — it was the realization I could be back to where I was in high school and not be a complete burnout.

Everyone sees Colorado as this idyllic training hub. How did you find your way out there? 

Running is always on the back of your mind, but it was more of a career and lifestyle decision. I interned in D.C. for two summers and realized I didn’t want to do the 80-90 hour work weeks. I started looking at Colorado and really liked that everyone was super active and health conscious. I work in energy and sustainability, and Colorado is one of the leaders in the nation in what I wanted to go into career-wise. I also knew people from Duke and from running circles, so it was cool place to start over.

The college training environment can be awfully pressure packed. How has being outside of that helped you stay healthy and compete well?

I had a unique college experience. When I first got injured, my college coach made me see a nutritionist and endocrinologist who looked at my long-term health. My bone density wasn’t where it needed to be, and that’s something that can resonate with a lot of female distance runners. They told me, “If you want to run for the rest of your life, we need to sit you out the next year or two and focus on getting your weight up, your hormones back into check, and reversing all the damage you did in high school.” That was a reality check for me, and not a lot of colleges would care to do that. I contribute a lot of why I’m healthy now to those first couple years at Duke.

The academic stress, the stress of being on the team, the stress of having a scholarship all compiled on top of each other and put a lot of stress on myself. It’s a lot easier being out of that environment to train, stay healthy, and maintain a love for the sport.

Going into college as a Foot Locker champ has its own pressures. How did that impact your stress?

That definitely puts a bullseye on your back. If you win Foot Locker, you’re “the best” forever — people don’t forget that. My recruiting class was stacked — we had Madeline Morgan who won NTN and Juliet Bottorff who won the NCAA 10k. I was good, but everyone else was great, too. That was high pressure, and we probably pushed each other too much.

Now that you running is heading on the right track, what do you want to accomplish with the remainder of your competitive career?

This year, I won my first national title since high school [at the USATF Half Marathon Trail Championships]. That was rewarding. The goal for 2018 is to make a world team either in the short distance or long distance mountain running events. The goal for CIM is to qualify for the 2020 marathon trials and place higher than I did in 2016. Then after 2020, I’d reevaluate my goals. I still want to be competitive, win U.S. titles, and represent the U.S. on world teams.

Your foray into trail running is interesting. How did that happen, and how is the approach in trail running different from the roads?

It’s definitely a different sport. It’s easy to train for in Colorado  we’re already at 5000 or 6000 feet elevation and you drive an hour to run up mountains at 10,000 feet. My first mountain running race was this summer when we started at 10,000 feet, and the first two miles was a 2000 foot elevation rise to a ski basin. It was definitely a shock to the system.

The training is pretty ideal in Colorado. There’s definitely a culture for it out there with a lot of ultra and trail runners. I honestly didn’t realize it was a whole different sport and something you could do until I moved out there.

The races are much more by feel. You’re never racing the clock because the courses are these winding single-track trails, your GPS doesn’t work, the mile markers are off, so you really have to trust the process and let go of any time and just go on place and feel. It’s a cool concept that can be a hard transition from the roads.

November 20, 2017

Thoughts on the NCAA Cross Country Championships

Jesse Squire breaks down his thoughts and observations from the 2017 NCAA Cross Country National Championships, where he was on-site for the action.

November 20, 2017

PHOTOS: 2017 NCAA Cross Country National Championship

Check out our photo gallery of shots from the 2017 NCAA Cross Country National Championships captured by Brandon Sotelo in Louisville, Kentucky.

November 20, 2017

What we learned from the 2017 NCAA Cross Country National Championships

Processing some of the results from the 2017 NCAA cross country national championships where the New Mexico women and NAU men took home team titles.

November 16, 2017

Wood Report: NCAA Cross Country Championship Women’s Individual Projections & All-Americans

Isaac Wood projects every female runner at the 2017 NCAA cross country national championship from 255th place to No. 1. We also present our All-Americans.

Pages: 1 2 3 4
November 16, 2017

Wood Report: NCAA Cross Country Championship Women’s Team Projections

Isaac Wood crunched the numbers and has crowned a winner for the 2017 NCAA Cross Country National Championship. Who did he pick?

November 16, 2017

Wood Report: NCAA Cross Country Championship Men’s Team Projections

Isaac Wood crunched the numbers and has crowned a winner for the 2017 NCAA Cross Country National Championship. Who did he pick?

November 16, 2017

Wood Report: NCAA Cross Country Championship Men’s Individual Projections & All-Americans

Isaac Wood projects every male runner at the 2017 NCAA cross country national championship from 255th place to No. 1. We also present our All-Americans.

Pages: 1 2 3 4
November 16, 2017

The Case For and Against Syracuse Winning The NCAA Cross Country Title

Syracuse will be looking to win its second NCAA cross country national title in three years and this time it will come down to its younger runners.

November 16, 2017

The Case For and Against Colorado Winning The NCAA Cross Country Title

Breaking down why the Colorado Buffaloes could make up for their loss at last year’s NCAA Championships to capture the title this year why they may not.

November 15, 2017

Throwback Cross Country Races That Every Runner Should Watch, Know

Jesse Squire takes us through 3 cross country races that every runner should watch and know. Races include Steve Prefontaine, Alberto Salazar and more.

November 15, 2017

The Case For And Against New Mexico Winning the NCAA Cross Country Title

Isaac Wood outlines why the new Mexico Lobos and their star women could win their second national championship in three years.

November 14, 2017

The Case For and Against BYU Winning The NCAA Cross Country Title

Isaac Wood tries to be as least bias as he can to outline why BYU will win the 2017 NCAA cross country championship or what question marks they have.

November 14, 2017

Track, Ultra Specialists Converge for 26.2 Mile Showdown in Sacramento

Taking a look at the folks who are racing CIM who’ve succeeded at distances either shorter or longer than the marathon before the USATF Marathon Champs.

November 14, 2017

A Visual History of the NCAA XC Championships and What It Tells Us

Jesse Squire provides a visual display of the past NCAA cross country championships and what it may mean for the 2017 NCAA Championship.

November 13, 2017

Remember when Jorge Torres lost his mind for Dathan Ritzenhein?

The finish of the 2003 NCAA Cross Country National Championships between Dathan Ritzenhein and Ryan Hall is epic and the call is even better.

November 13, 2017

The Case For and Against San Francisco Winning The NCAA Cross Country Title

Isaac Wood lays out some of the reasons why he could see the San Francisco women’s team winning the NCAA cross country championship.

November 13, 2017

The Case For and Against NAU Winning The NCAA Cross Country Title

Isaac Wood breaks down the reasons why Northern Arizona’s men will and won’t defend their 2017 NCAA Cross Country National Championship.

November 13, 2017

What One Marathon is Doing to Stop Race Cheaters

Road race cheating is something that’s probably happened since the dawn of the sport, but the topic appears to be as prevalent an issue as it’s ever been. Perhaps it’s due to the outing of infamous cheats like Kip Litton or Mike Rossi. Or it might be modern technology that allows sleuths like Marathon Investigation’s Derek Murphy to catch cheats.

Most races like the California International Marathon already have extensive results vetting processes, but they’re increasingly finding the need to do more.

“Over each of the last three years our Results Committee has spent over a month scouring our results, removing an average of 40-50 finishers — the majority of whom are not intentional cheaters — from the results before stamping them official in early January,” said Eli Asch, CIM’s race director. “Our intensive review includes looking at pace between split-points, reviewing missed split points, checking race photos and video, and several ‘state secret’ methods.”

Asch and his team determined this extensive process wasn’t enough, especially to uphold the integrity of CIM’s title as the number one Boston Marathon qualifier by percentage of any major American marathon. As a result, CIM is bringing on the aforementioned Marathon Investigator to bolster its results verification process.

And to show how serious CIM is about this stuff, Asch published a letter (you can read it below) sent to an individual caught posting on Craigslist attempting to find a bib mule to run a Boston qualifier at CIM.

“We published the letter for the deterrent factor. We’re intentionally not vocal about the outcome of our annual results scrub and because of that we felt that cheaters might not be aware of our efforts and still target our race,” Asch said. “We viewed this case as an opportunity to highlight our efforts so that cheaters would know that our race isn’t an easy target and instead look somewhere else — or better yet, other races will follow our lead, and soon cheaters won’t have any easy targets left.”

Marathon Investigator Derek Murphy recently joined Chris Chavez for a chat on the CITIUS MAG Podcast:

Hi [Redacted],

My name is Eli Asch, and I’m the Race Director of the California International Marathon. In conjunction with Marathon Investigation, our results integrity partner, we have determined that you sought out a bib mule to run a Boston Qualifier for you at the 2017 California International Marathon. 

Transferring your bib at all is a clear violation of our race rules, as stated on our Event Rules page (“The California International Marathon entry fees may not be transferred under any circumstances. Individuals involved in these illegal transactions will both be disqualified”) and in the waiver you signed with your registration (in which you acknowledged “that the entry fee paid is non-refundable and non-transferable”). Beyond being a clear violation of event rules, paying a bib mule to run a Boston Qualifier for you goes even several steps further — it compromises the integrity of our event and its results, is intentional and premeditated cheating, and goes against the very spirit of the marathon. It is unethical and wrong, and could result in robbing someone of a spot on the Boston Marathon starting line — a spot that they fairly earned.

In light of this, your entry for this year’s California International Marathon has been invalidated and you are banned from future editions of the California International Marathon. Additionally, the Sacramento Running Association will be sharing your information with Marathon Investigation, which maintains a flagged list of runners whose results deserve further scrutiny, as well as other running organizations including many major races in our region as well as the Boston Athletics Association, organizers of the Boston Marathon. Beyond that we will keep your personal information confidential (although we reserve the right to change that stance if your future actions necessitate it).

If you are willing to both fully cooperate with our investigation (which will include sharing with us the information of anyone who responded to your CraigsList post expressing interest in being your bib mule as well as any other information we may request) and not contest our above-stated findings, the Sacramento Running Association will consider reducing the term of your ban to three years, making you eligible to run SRA races again after the 2020 CIM.

[Redacted], as the #1 Boston Qualifier by percentage of any major American marathon, the California International Marathon takes the integrity of its results very seriously. We’re proud of the fact that so many of our runners clock PRs, Olympic Trials Qualifiers, and toe the starting line in Hopkinton every year. But that wouldn’t mean anything if we didn’t know that they earned it fairly. You attempted to subvert that, which is unacceptable — to us, but more importantly to every one of our runners whose results are earned honestly through sweat, sore muscles, and countless early morning miles run when it would just be easier to stay in bed.

It brings me no joy to send this email, because just the fact that I have to do so casts the slightest of shadows on every one of those runners’ hard-earned results — and, in fact, every marathoners’ results. But that is why I have to send it — and why the SRA has to issue this punishment. Because it’s our job to do everything we can within our power to remove that shadow, to assure that every time listed in our official results is honestly earned, to make sure that our marathoners can all hold their heads high knowing that their result is beyond reproach.

We hope that you realize what you did is wrong and won’t try to do it again. Then, next time you run a marathon, you’ll be able to look back at your results — whatever they may be — and, alongside your fellow marathoners, hold your head high, proud of what you’ve honestly accomplished and fairly earned.

Best regards,
Eli Asch
Race Director, California International Marathon

November 10, 2017

Running with Men

Jeanne Mack reflects on her New York City Marathon experience and the one encounter that stood out to her during her race.

November 9, 2017

The $hark’$ Guide to Getting Rich Off of Per Diem

One day you’re going to graduate college and if you don’t know any better, you’re going to misuse that per diem in the future at a real job.

November 8, 2017

Meb Keflezighi: A Look Back At One Of America’s Greatest

Meb Keflezighi has retired from competitive running so we take a look back at some of the greatest moments of his career & research some remarkable stats.

November 8, 2017

Thank you, Mary Keitany

Mary Keitany finished second at Sunday’s New York City Marathon and then it was later learned that she had her period on Saturday. It’s a good thing.

November 8, 2017

Katie Matthews, George Alex and Parker Stinson Among Rookies To Debut At USA Marathon Championships

Former NCAA standouts Katie Matthews, Alex George and Parker Stinson are among the stars making their debuts at the CIM/USA Marathon Championships.

November 7, 2017

Marathon Veterans Ready to Duel at USA Marathon Championships

The 2017 USATF Marathon Championships will feature a field of veterans that includes Fernando Cabada, Craig Leon and Janet Bawcom.

November 6, 2017

2017 NYC Marathon Race Report: Not my best but the best

Chris Chavez reflects on his run at the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon, where he ran with his best friend Pete Cashin for his first marathon.

November 6, 2017

CITIUS MAG to be Official Media Partner of California International Marathon

Exicting news, Citwits. We’re proud to announce that we’re working with the good folks at the California International Marathon to be their official media partner as they host the USATF Marathon Championships on Sunday, December 3.

What exactly does “official media partner” mean?

It means CITIUS MAG will have first access to USA Champs-related content, including the unveiling of elite athlete fields starting tomorrow, November 7, right here on CitiusMag.com.

The race will be live streamed on USATF.TV.

We’re especially excited since this is the first time we’ve worked with a single event to provide exclusive wall-to-wall coverage. That’ll include featuring some of the most compelling athletes in the field, talking with some of the folks behind the race organization, and covering every conceivable angle of race day on December 3.

As always, you’ll be able to find content on our site as well as on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds.

Have thoughts about who or what we should be covering? Shoot me a tweet or DM at @RunLiao.

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