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October 2, 2020

2020 LONDON MARATHON FULL PREVIEW: Everything You Need To Know

Eliud Kipchoge owns Kenenisa Bekele in the marathon so will this long-awaited clash even be close? Can anyone stop Brigid Kosgei?

March 17, 2020

College Cross Country’s Irish Brigade

Back row, left to right: P.J. Leddy, Neil Cusack, Eddie Leddy, Kevin Breen. Front row: Frank Grealy, Ray McBride.

“I wanted to run it with the shamrocks across my chest.”

That’s what the only Irish winner of the Boston Marathon said.

That runner was Neil Cusack and the year was 1974, and he had a dilemma. He was a senior for the East Tennessee State University Buccaneers, the team that paid his way to the race and gave him training and racing opportunities that he might not have had back in Limerick. Ultimately he decided to pay homage to his homeland by sewing a shamrock emblem to his string vest and in Boston that made him a de facto Bostonian. As a bonus, his time of 2:13:39 was an Irish national record and earned him a place on the European Championships team.

Taking 7th, 1st, and 3rd at the NCAA cross country championships from 1971 to ’73, Cusack was the best long-distance Irishman at ETSU but hardly the only one. The ’72 team finished as runners-up, just nine points away from winning it all, and all six men on the starting line hailed from the Emerald Isle. The team was dubbed the “Irish Brigade” (a nod to the Civil War’s 10th Regiment Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, which fought for the Union under the same moniker).

Behind Cusack’s first place in 1972 there was Eddie Leddy in third and his brother P.J. in 15th, both from County Leitrim. Kevin Breen (Birr, County Offaly) was 95th, Frank Grealy (Ballyhaunis, County Mayo) was 104th, and Ray McBride (Galway) was 173rd, all also fellow Irishmen. More came both before and after ’72, more than 40 in all, such as former Irish marathon record holder Louis Kenny and nine-time Irish cross country champion Seamus Power. The greatest of them all was two-time Olympian Ray Flynn, whose 3:49.77 from 1982 still stands as the Irish record.

So how did they get to such an out-of-the-way place as Johnson City? And why? It was all because of Dave Walker.

Walker coached ETSU for 50 years. Originally from Massena, New York, on the US-Canada border, he came to ETSU as a football lineman and a thrower. After a brief gig at an Atlanta high school he returned to ETSU for a masters degree, took the head track coaching job, and never left. Like coaching legends Bill Bowerman and Joe Vigil, he became a top distance running coach despite lacking the personal experience of running himself.

In the late 60s Walker had a chance encounter with Brendan O’Reilly, a top Irish high jumper, singer, and TV personality who had competed for Michigan in the early 50s. O’Reilly helped him recruit Dublin jumper Michael Heery, and the connections began. His ability to keep bringing Irish recruits across the pond for decades depended on his reputation, and Walker was known as a man who cared deeply about his athletes and got the best out of them.

Walker’s teams made 14 straight appearances at the NCAA cross country championships from 1970 to 1983, a record for a single coach at the time. Possibly even more important was his role in constructing ETSU’s “mini-dome”, which opened in 1977 and hosted major indoor meets such as the USAir Invitational, a pro-oriented stop on the IAAF’s indoor Grand Prix circuit in the 80s.

Southern Appalachia seems an odd place for a bunch of Irish runners until you realize it’s almost just like home: hilly, green, damp, and rural. Virtually all of the Irish Brigade hailed from the countryside and they found Johnson City familiar. The area is also heavily of Scotch-Irish descent, and Flynn noted “we shared a heritage and were welcomed here with open arms”. Cusack might argue about that a bit—he once crossed paths on a run with a shotgun-wielding hillbilly—but then again, runners of all stripes were considered weird in 1971 no matter where you were, but had become part of the east Tennessee landscape by the end of the decade.

St. Patrick’s Day is a much bigger deal in the USA than in Ireland because it was historically a way for the Irish diaspora to come together in a new land. For much of the last two centuries it was a poor country that many left whenever an opportunity came, such as running for ETSU. “In 1970 I went to church in a horse and buggy, ” said one member of the Irish Brigade. “That’s how far behind the times it was.” One prime example was Tommy McCormack of Robinstown, County Mullingar.

In 1973 McCormack finished 20th in the World Cross Country Championships junior race, and that attracted scholarship offers from ETSU, Washington State, and Arkansas. He knew nothing of any of these universities but knew Kevin Breen, then the #3 man for Walker’s Buccaneers, and decided he’d join the Irish Brigade at ETSU. After signing his letter of intent the local newspaper carried the triumphant story of a local boy seeking success in the States. But he was poor, like almost everyone else. He and his family didn’t have the money for daily living expenses left uncovered by the scholarship, and certainly not for traveling all the way to Tennessee, so he decided he couldn’t go. A second newspaper article followed with the sad news.

A few days later on a Saturday morning two men appeared at his door and asked if they could come in. They introduced themselves as town commissioners and they’d heard about his trouble. They’d made the rounds the night before at all of Robinstown’s pubs and bars, passing the hat for young Tommy McCormack. They emptied a sack of money on the kitchen table, and off to Johnson City McCormack went.

Some of the Irish Brigade returned to Ireland; Power took over his father’s dairy farm, Neil Cusack lives in Clare, Ray McBride returned to Galway to become an award-winning actor, and Frank Grealy published Irish Runner magazine out of Dublin for over 35 years. Several became Irish-Americans and remained in their new country. Flynn never left Johnson City (Walker coached him through his two Olympic appearances) and now is one of track’s top agents as well as the director of the Millrose Games.

These days Ireland isn’t the running powerhouse it was in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, though some still make an impact on the NCAA. Nor are they concentrated in a few programs like Villanova and ETSU (although Providence still gets more than its share given that coach Ray Treacy hails from County Waterford). ETSU’s last Irish runner was Peter Dalton in 2005, an Irish fell running champion who now coaches at Tennessee Tech.

Walker retired seven years later and passed away just two years after that. Cusack and Grealy had been planning a surprise visit to their old coach and instead came for his funeral, as did many other members of the Irish Brigade. Grealy summed up their experiences coming to America with the words of southern Appalachian author Thomas Wolfe:

to lose the earth you know, for greater knowing;
to lose the life you have, for greater life;
to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving;
to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth.

February 12, 2020

CITIUS MAG – 2020 MARATHON TRIALS ATLANTA PLANS

Join us for a live recording of the CITIUS MAG Podcast with Keith and Kevin Hanson + more events with Brooks.

June 26, 2019

Half-Tights vs. Short-Shorts: A Definitive Guide

It’s a debate as old as the sport itself: What to wear, and when. In particular, [male] [distance] runners have, since the dawn of time, spent long runs and locker room time debating the relative merits of short-shorts and half-tights. Do you want to show off your newly-inked team hip tattoo as your gangly, pale legs fly through intervals? Or do you want to showcase your best assets with form-fitting spandex that sends Bible-belt parents complaining to their athletic directors? The choice is yours.

You could argue that what you wear doesn’t matter nearly as much as the effort you put in, but that’s not nearly as fun as digging your heels unnecessarily deeply into an extreme position and arguing passionately against anyone who might disagree with you. The more arbitrary and inflexible the rule, the better.

As host of the Run Your Mouth podcast, I occasionally ask our guests what their half-tights versus short-shorts (or bun huggers, or short tights for our female guests) preferences and policies are, which has helped inform the guidelines below. As a disclaimer, this particular piece is largely focused on the apparel sported by male runners – for many reasons, I would not presume to tell women what to wear and when but I’d eagerly anticipate a follow-up post if anyone would like to make one

At the end of the day, rules were meant to be broken. If you’re good enough, you can pretty much get away with wearing whatever you want, which has resulted in a resurgence of sprinters in short-shorts and the rise of the distance-runner speed suit.

Races: The general rule when it comes to racing on a track is as follows: if you’re trying to feel speedy, wear half-tights. If you’re trying to feel smooth, wear short-shorts. The roads are more complicated and weather dependent, and despite the historical popularity of shorts, the trend in the marathon lately has moved toward half-tights over 26.2. If it’s good enough for the GOAT, it’s good enough for you.

  • By distance: 
    • >3000m: short-shorts.
    • <3000m: half-tights.
    • 3000m: half-tights if steepling.
    • >10 miles: half-tights if chafe-prone.
  • By temperature:
    • >50 degrees: short-shorts
    • <50 degrees: half-tights

Workouts: If you care about your hamstring health, always err on the side of extra warmth. Take notes from the sprinters, distance crew: Long tights for warmups in almost any conditions. If it’s warm enough to take your shirt off, shorts are allowable, but if it’s a “speed day” I still recommend half-tights for the confidence booster.

  • By temperature:
    • >60 degrees: short-shorts
    • <60 degrees: half-tights
  • By color: 
    • You can wear either a racing singlet or racing bottoms in a workout, but never wear a full matched uniform in a workout. You’ll look like a nerd.

Easy runs:

This one is simple. There is one rule for easy run apparel (assuming it’s warm enough that long tights aren’t necessary):

  • Wear whatever is clean and available.

Additional words of wisdom:

    • When to tuck your shirt: In shorts? Dealer’s choice. In half-tights? Only if you’re Sam Parsons.
    • Short-shorts over half-tights: Never. Leave that particular fashion choice in middle school where it belongs.
    • Shorts length: I disagree with my colleagues on this one. Running shorts should be split and max out at 2-inch seams. Anything longer belongs on the basketball court.
    • Runderwear: You may have noticed that people run with sports underwear under their shorts, even if said shorts have a built-in liner that serves the same purpose. This may seem foreign to you, but that’s because it is: For reasons passing understanding, runderwear is almost entirely an international phenomenon, one Americans rarely employ. I don’t know why this is a universal rule, but it is.

These rules are ultimately subjective, but please don’t let that stop you from angrily disagreeing with me on Twitter. And feel free to send along your own set of sartorial guidelines – the more silly and irrational, the better. Happy summer!

March 16, 2019

On This Date in College Track & Field History: March 16

The track and running world has come to a screeching halt in an effort to battle the spread of COVID-19. In an effort to fill the void I’m taking a deep dive into my various archives and pulling up what I find in the history of college track and field.

1991, Westwood, CA: Texas defeated UCLA and Fresno State in a triangular, which ended a six year dual/tri/quad winning streak for the Bruins.

1991, Eugene, OR: Oregon senior javelin thrower Paula Berry opened the Oregon Preview by surpassing the NCAA championships qualifying mark on her very first throw.
Eugene Register-Guard article

1990, Tucson, AZ: BYU’s Frank Fredericks swept the 100 and 200 at Arizona’s Willie Williams Classic with times of 10.20 and 20.36. Only one month earlier he became eligible for international competition when his nation of Namibia earned its independence from South Africa, which was still banned from international athletics due to apartheid. Fredericks was followed by Wildcat football player Michael Bates, who two years later took Olympic 200 meter bronze right behind Fredericks’ silver.

1985, Berkeley, CA: Cal’s men ran their outdoor dual meet record to 5-0 on the strength of a 97-66 victory over Arizona.
AP wire story

1985, Eugene, OR: Kathy Hayes overcame a nasty cold to win the 3000 meters in 9:12.22 at the all-women’s Oregon Open.
Eugene Register-Guard article

1974, Tempe, AZ: BYU’s Paul Cummings ran a stadium record 3:56.4 mile. Final scores were USC 89½, BYU 45½, Arizona State 50.
AP wire story

1968, Detroit, MI: A sellout crowd of 9,556 at Cobo Arena saw Villanova dethrone USC as NCAA indoor champions. The Wildcats’ Larry James was the star of the meet and anchored the mile relay to a near-world record time. Oregon State junior Dick Fosbury won the high jump with his revolutionary style, the first time it really drew national attention.
SI Vault article

1968, San Jose, CA: San Jose State rested sprint star Tommie Smith but still handily defeated BYU, 89-56.
AP wire story

1963, Eugene, OR: Reigning NCAA champions Oregon opened their season with a 79-66 win over Cal, highlighted by Dave Steen’s school records in both the shot and discus. 2,200 fans braved cold, windy conditions to see the Ducks win their 37th straight dual meet at Hayward Field.
Eugene Register-Guard article

1957, Chicago, IL: Villanova’s Ron Delany, the reigning Olympic 1500 champion for Ireland, won the mile at the Chicago Daily News Relays with a time of 4:03.8. 16,000 fans turned out for the meet, doubtlessly including many Irish-Americans getting a head start on St. Patrick’s Day. Delaney’s time was just 0.2 seconds off the US indoor all-comers record and was his 17th straight win.
AP wire story

1935, New York, NY: Temple’s Eulace Peacock defeated Ohio State sophomore Jesse Owens in the long jump at the Knights of Columbus indoor meet. Owens had set the world indoor record earlier in the season.
AP wire story

February 24, 2019

Four quick things: volume II

Alrighty, I’ll jump right in here with my four quick things from today’s final competition at the 2019 USATF Indoor National Championships.

  • Donavan Brazier threw down
    • The Nike Oregon Project athlete absolutely crushed in the men’s 600 meters competition, running an all-time world’s best time of 1:13.77. There were six men in this final heat and five get paid, which is good work if you can get it.
  • Athing Mu is a world-beater
    • The 16 years-old athlete not only set a 2nd best ever world indoor time in the women’s 600m, she also crushed the existing indoor American record and walked down Raevyn Rogers, who has a 1:58 PB and has finished 2nd twice at US Championships.
  • Shelby Houlihan got her revenge race in
    • After finishing second in the previous night’s mile race, Shelby barnstormed the last mile of this evening’s two mile, slowly dropping the field. She appeared to be on a mission, and given that the slow heat was won in ~9:50, she was not going to leave much up to chance when it came down to getting the W.
  • Craig Engels does Craig-Engels-Things
    • After looking incredibly calm at the start line, Craig did the thing that he always seems to do, which is find himself in excellent position with 600 meters to go and slowly dismantle the rest of the field. His last 400m were run in ~54.X, his last 800m in ~1:52.X and finished in 3:59.69. The man fought off Henry Wynne and Johnny Gregorek for this title.
November 21, 2018

Meet Micah Adams

Many people don’t know that Micah Adams helps train one of America’s best marathoners but has some talent of his own. We’ll see at CIM.

October 15, 2018

Wood Report: What We Learned From Pre-Nats In Wisconsin

Some thoughts coming off the 2018 NCAA PreNats Meet in Madison, Wisconsin. Who is really good and who wasn’t?

September 15, 2018

JBAC in Berlin

Travel, etc.:

Nick, Eleanor and I arrived in Berlin mid-day on Wednesday the 12th, 4-ish days before the Berlin Marathon. Despite drinking water at seemingly every opportunity on the flights from Portland to Amsterdam to Berlin, we felt dehydrated and road-weary upon our arrival. We waited for our baggage to arrive and from across luggage carousel Nick and I recognized Valentijn Trouw, Eliud Kipchoge’s manager. As an avid Kipchoge fan, it took a lot of energy to not walk up to him and say “You’re Valentijn Trouw, Eliud Kipchoge’s manager” and stare blankly at him until he slowly walks away. We arrive in Berlin city center at two in the afternoon and wait in a cafe below the apartment we rented until the “landlord’s friend” finishes cleaning the unit. We check in, pretend to stretch some, and hit the streets for a 30 minute shakeout. We jokingly hedge that we can run at 9 minute mile pace based on how loopy we are and surprisingly slip into 7:30 pace around Berlin’s historic Tiergarten.

We wander around for dinner after and find some very tasty Indonesian food; Berlin surprises in its diversity and consequently its delicious foodstuffs.

 

Race ready:

The following day, I wander to the Olympic stadium west of the city, as I am to meet a physical therapist there to take a look at my Achilles. This PT is a friend of a friend of a colleague and I’m hoping they can straighten out my body after the flight. I’ve been dealing with some Tenosynovitis on the left side for the past few weeks and despite the effort of everyone in my support system to tell me  I haven’t lost much fitness, I am a little bummed that I am coming into the race without crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s. There is a bit of comfort for me in knowing that I am in my best shape before racing and this time I don’t have that luxury. I am just going to have to deal with it. Also, I wouldn’t be able to even think about starting the race without the help from Karl at Rose City Physical Therapy, who saw me every-other-day for two weeks leading up to the travel.

The rest of the pre-race includes walking around the city while trying to keep my feet up a respectable amount, making coffee, and jogging in the park. In a certain way, the international trip forces us to relax more than say traveling down from Portland to Sacramento, where you can work on a Friday and race on Sunday. We’re on vacation and despite my best efforts to add stress to the equation, we are going to have some fun, damn it.

Humans and other oddities:

We visit the expo wade through the sea of humanity, some of which are there exclusively to pick up their bibs, while others are buying jogging hats, trying all assortment of gels and ointments, and even indulging in a mid-day beer. I tend to identify with the prior group. We take the U-bahn back to our rental and start planning our  Maurten bottle strategy, gel situation, and ensure that we didn’t leave any race gear in Portland. Nick has sights on the Olympic Trials Qualifier time of 2:19, but mostly to see where his fitness will lead him. I’m in a similar boat, using mantras of “let the pace find you” and “measure your energy in the second half,” which is very fine advice, although I prefer the more concrete directives of “run 5:35s, you’re fit enough.

In a strange way, maybe this experience will be good for me. At CIM in 2016, I checked all the boxes before the race and knew I was ready for a big PB. I ran a time of 2:26:47 but came off the race knowing I had more in the tank for the next one. Berlin 2018 will be my fourth marathon and I’m learning to deal with the cards I have in my hand and being grateful for the opportunity to work hard. I’ve jokingly told inquirers of my time goal, “I’m just here for the transcendence.” But with any self-defeating joke-deflection, there’s usually a bit of truth involved. I love to turn myself inside-out on asphalt and if that means running 2:25 or 2:35 or 2:45, yeah, I’m just here for the transcendence.

June 22, 2018

My First Day at Western States: I’m a huge failure

Today has been full of mistakes. My first day on a press trip, and I’ve completely, totally, utterly dropped the ball.

I’m currently on-assignment covering the Western States Endurance Run. I cannot emphasize enough the poor job I’ve done.

Today was a day where the elite athletes were all meandering around the Village at Squaw Valley – totally accessible to media, and I failed to gather one goddamn interview. It would have been great to have sat down for a few minutes with Courtney Dauwalter (complete badass, overall winner of the 2017 Moab 240-MILER-WTF[!]), or Jim Walmsley (0-2 at Western States, but we all want him to finish this year). But I didn’t. I failed to gather one soundbite, one photo.

Instead, I went for a run along the Truckee River. It was beautiful, but I should have been contacting athletes for interviews.

Then, I ate a robust bowl of oatmeal on the back porch of the cabin I was staying at. The cabin is about a mile from the Village at Squaw Valley. I should have been heading over to the Village to find the athletes I had contacted a few hours earlier.

After my oatmeal, I sat around the cabin. Did some small talk. Nothing productive. It was during this time of nothingness where my appetite began to build. I should have sucked it up and gone to the Village to find some athletes, but, as I’m sure you can now tell, I didn’t. I drove 15 miles to Tahoe City (past Squaw Valley) to find a salad and an iced coffee. Cognitive dissonance. It’s beautiful.

Once 2:00 PM rolled around, I now thought it was the right time to go find some athletes. The sun was in full force, and obviously these athletes would be walking around the ski area, soaking up the sun the day before they race 100 miles through the California mountains and canyons.

I didn’t find a single athlete. I did find a delicious chocolate chip cookie, though.

Truth be told, my day wasn’t a total failure. I tagged along with my girlfriend to the Salomon crew house so she could see Lucy Bartholomew before she raced. While they went over her race plan, I waited in the den and watched as a French man and a Swedish man worked in tandem to prepare for tomorrow’s race.

The Swede, Johan Steene, will be lining up at 5:00 AM tomorrow morning to take on the burden of Western States. Hearing him talk about eating baby food at mile 65 was the closest thing I came to any sort of professional journalism today. As it turns out, nutrition – second only to having legs – is the most important part of completing Western States.

“I bought these today,” Johan said about the baby food. “It seems like it will be good.”

Apparently Johan hadn’t ever experimented with the baby food before planning to use it during one of the premier ultramarathons in the world. Seems fairly non-traditional for a Swede to do something without proper calculations, but Johan, my new favorite runner, seemed sure of himself.

And so, that’s all I have to report from the day before Western States: as long as you’re confident, you should be fine.

June 21, 2018

Molly Huddle and Lopez Lomong Win Big On Day 1 In Des Moines

Chris Chavez and Kevin Liao get together in the stands during the men’s 20K race walk to recap all the day’s action from Day 1 of the USATF Championships.

May 26, 2018

Prefontaine’s short-form Friday program excites

As many have noted, this will be the final Prefontaine Classic at the current Hayward Field facility, before renovations begin for the 2021 World Championships. Announced ahead of the meet at the press conference, meet director Tom Jordan noted that the 2019 meeting will be held June 28-29 and that meet management hopes to keep it “in the region.” They will announce the location when the contract is finalized with the venue. Does “region” imply pacific northwest? Or perhaps just the west coast? There aren’t a ton of facilities in the immediate area that can host ~15,000+ fans, so it is possible that they will get creative with an existing large facility (e.g. Seattle’s Safeco Field or Portland’s Providence Park). Who knows. I’m wildly speculating here.

The men’s javelin was poppin’. The German trio of Thomas Rohler, Johannes Vetter, and Andres Hoffman really got the crowd going with some big throws as they went 1-2-3. Rohler and Vetter traded off the facility record and that was pretty cool. They both also made World top-10 throws. Big bucks. This picture was also taken, which was a real treat. Absolute units:

In the men’s pole vault, we had some very nice athletes in American Sam Perkins, Swedish young buck Armond Duplantis, Olympic Champion Thiago Braz (Brazil) and current world record holder Renaud Lavillenie. Guess what?! Braz no-heighted, Lavillenie had an off-day at 5.56m for 5th place and Perkins/Duplantis came in 1-2.

Women’s 800! This was the national field – the Diamond League field tomorrow (Saturday) is absolutely outrageous. Regardless, we got some exciting action. Natoya Goule of Jamaica got the W in 2:00.84. Stephanie Brown was right behind in 2:01.84.

The women’s 1,500 was flush with American women. They went through 800m in around 2:12.xx and bunched up a bit after the pacer dropped off. There was a bit of a tussle with 400m to go and Emily Lipari hit the mondo. Dani Jones sailed to victory in a new PB of 4:07.74. Here is a photo that Ryan Sterner took:

On to the men’s 800m. We had one American in the field with Erik Sowinski, with fellow American Harun Abda on pacing duty. Abda came through in 49.8 and the next fastest through 400m was Emmanual Korir in 51.9. Korir would go on to win, with Nigel Amos in 2nd (1:45.51). He trains in Eugene. Hometown boy. Nice.

Lastly, we’ve got the men’s 2-mile. Also, lots of great Americans in this field. Chelimo, Jenkins, Hill, True, Bor, Mead, Kipchirchir. You get the picture. Again, we had a bit of a disconnect with the pacing as Lopez Lomong was through one mile in around 4:11, with the pack 4 seconds back. The crew was bunched up with 800m to go and we had ourselves a dang foot race:

 Selemon Barega goes on to close over the last 400m in 54.x, with Paul Chelimo in 2nd.

We look forward to seeing you all online tomorrow.

May 11, 2018

A Little NBA Talk With A Track Analogy

Chris and Ryan react to the Toronto Raptors firing Dwane Casey and compare it to firing your coach after making the Olympics a lot.

May 7, 2018

Track on the Road: The Final Stretch

Andrew Wise wraps up his post-collegiate trip with a recap of how his two races played out after spending several weeks living out of a van.

April 5, 2018

Prominent White Nationalist Dipshit Ran Track in College

The Huffington Post story on Douglass Mackey should serve as a timely reminder that just because somebody runs, they aren’t necessarily good.

March 15, 2018

Five Ways Track Fans Can Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, plus The Weekend’s Best Matchups

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up on Saturday. How can you as a track fan and/or runner, more sedately celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

March 5, 2018

Why is a tiny island better at marathons than our entire continent?

At the 2018 Tokyo Marathon, 9 Japanese runners ran sub-2:10 with 6 of them placing top 10. How is the country beating USA at developing top marathoners?

February 18, 2018

Death, taxes and Ajee Wilson winning an 800-meter race

Ajee Wilson must have a very big closet at home because she is just racking up these US national titles and added another one in Albuquerque.

January 31, 2018

What your favorite professional runner says about you

So you have a favorite professional runner, huh? Well that says something about you. What exactly? Find out from Stephen with gifs.

December 31, 2017

2017 Comeback Season Awards

In our current epoch of rap music, it can feel as if every single day is “Comeback Season” (or COMEBACK SZN, or CMBK SZN, or some other variation of dropping vowels, consonants, etc). This is silly to me for a few reasons. The most clear being the thought that a single day can constitute a season. A season is god damn season. We have four of them. I’m using “We” in the universal way because we are all bound by seasons because we exist on the same time-space continuum. So when I’m scrolling through Instagram and see my peers shouting CMBK SZN day after day, I want to slap them with a calendar and shout back “JULIUS CAESAR DIDN’T DIE SO YOU COULD DISRESPECT HIS SEASONS”.

The other reason, and perhaps the more fascinating, CMBK SZN is dumb as hell is the majority people claiming it’s their comeback never had a chance of failing. It’s mainly used by people who have experienced incredible success while entertaining a zero-chance possibility of ever returning to a place where a comeback is necessary.

Also, Can we agree it was Aubrey “Drake” Graham who started this phenomena? It seems like it was Drake. It had to have been Drake. 100% Aubrey Graham. 

Drake saying he is having a comeback season is like Matt Centrowitz claiming it’s his comeback season after winning an Olympic Gold. Something I have no proof of, but something I’ve never been so sure of in my life.

Ok, so the gist is no one can see who really enjoys a comeback season because of all the noise from people who hold a false narrative of oppression and failure. I believe two people in the world of running enjoyed a true “Comeback Season”.

Sara Hall

In 2016, Sara Hall dropped out of the Olympic Marathon Trials. Her chance at making her first Olympic team vanished. I also dropped out of the Olympic Marathon Trials, but I wasn’t that devastated because I had a bunch of friends there and my focus immediately shifted to tacos and Coronas. I’m sure she was devastated because she had an honest shot at making the team. We were at different places in our life, and that was fine.

Sara Hall needed a comeback season in 2017. She delivered one with a personal bests in the half marathon, marathon, and a national championship in the marathon.

Her 69:37 performance at the Copenhagen Half Marathon set her up nicely for a 2:27:21 marathon personal best at the Frankfurt Marathon. To cap off her legitimate CMBK SZN, she dominated the U.S Marathon Championships while taking the victory earlier this month.

THIS *CLAP EMOJI* WAS  *CLAP EMOJI* A *CLAP EMOJI* COMEBACK

Chris Derrick

This may seem like a stretch, and it probably is, but I think CD had a 2017 Comeback Season. After a year where he missed the start of the Olympic Marathon Trials due to injury and then couldn’t get into the shape he needed to be in to truly compete at the 10,000-meter Trials, one of our brightest talents was facing some hardships. This is the part of the story where he holes himself up in a room, literally takes out his degree from Stanford, hangs in on the wall, and creates an algorithm for success in 2017.

His formula worked – delivering personal bests at the New York City Half Marathon (61:12) and then guiding him to a 2:12:50 marathon debut (2nd American) at the Chicago Marathon. Chris showed he has a future in the marathon and formulas. Hell yeah, Chris.

I hope I showed not everyone can equally experience a Comeback Season. You cannot have a Comeback Season after one or two bad races. No – you have to suffer through a year of shit to deserve a Citius Comeback Season Award Tour Award. I apologize to Sara and Chris if I made their 2016 year out to be worse than it was. Because, in reality, it was probably a great year filled with family, friends, and all that nice stuff. We probably attribute too much “success” to running, but whatever. We can tackle that in 2018.

December 2, 2017

Something In The Water: Episode 1 – Speed River According to Dave Scott-Thomas

Dave Scott-Thomas takes us through the evolution of the Speed River Track Club over the years and how it became a powerhouse.

November 4, 2017

2017 New York City Marathon watch online: Live stream, TV, runner tracking, results

How to catch the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon live on Sunday, November 4, 2017. Info includes streaming, TV, results and runner tracking info.

October 9, 2017

Yep, Stephen Miller Is A Trash Human

The White House confirmed that Stephen Miller once jumped into a girl’s track meet to prove men are stronger than women. We confirm he’s a trash human.

October 1, 2017

Documentary on NYC’s running culture unveils new trailer

The first installments of We Run New York, a documentary series by filmmaker–and 1:47 800-meter runner–Harry McFann, are slated to be released this fall, so naturally, there’s a new trailer to drum up some hype. The project aims to tell the stories of a wide variety of athletes who go to great lengths to pursue a passion while living in a place that can be downright inhospitable to it.

Each of the five episodes will center around a specific subset of the city’s running scene, ranging from a club comprised largely of Central American immigrants whose running challenges span from the physical to the political, all the way to famed coach and Bronx-native Frank Gagliano of the NJ-NY Track Club.

In-person premiers for the episodes will take place all round NYC, so if you’re a Tri-Stater, stay tuned for details. If you’re not, don’t worry–we’ll be sharing links when each episode drops, as well.

You can follow the film-series’s progress on its Facebook or Twitter page.

August 21, 2017

Your First Day of Cross Country

A look at how your first day of cross country practice will go. Beware this will be your life for the next four to five years as well.

August 10, 2017

We Have a World Championship Conspiracy Theory

Normally, the British seem to have their shit together. They strike me as a well-organized brood with a sharp sense of humor that can sometime not be understood but is nonetheless appreciated because of their silly, fun accents. However, like any warm-blooded, honest American knows, “the times they are a changin’” and the British have now become inept in their organization of championship events. Because of said ineptness we are left with conspiracy theories.

I love conspiracy theories. A friend of mine does this thing where he sends me an email with a subject of, for example, “Wilson Kipsang does 10 x 5K @ 8,000ft” and then the email body is a hyperlink and I click it and I get taken to some conspiracy theory about Phantom Time. I actually hate when he does this. I hate conspiracy theories.

This year’s World Championships is bloody full of ‘em, though. Between a pesky norovirus that ensured the world’s best stayed atop the podium and a poorly-placed cone, these British blokes sure know how to stir the pot. But there’s one theory that has yet to get the warranted media attention and it’s also not a theory; it’s a fact. Susan Krumins is Lynsey Sharp and Lynsey Sharp is Susan Kremins.

EXHIBIT A
Photo evidence

These are two photos of the same person. Let’s move on.

EXHIBIT B

Strangely similar birthdates according to Wikipedia

 

 

 

While normally an incredibly reliable source for correct information, I don’t “always” trust Wikipedia. This is a case where I respectfully refuse to accept the purported information on Wikipedia and rely on my own intuition to conclude Lynsey and Susan were both born on July 8th, 1986 because they are the same person.

EXHIBIT C

They have never raced one another

This could not be true. I do not have the appropriate manpower to figure out. It’s a safe assumption though. (Because they are the same person).

EXHIBIT D

Are you kidding me?

You equals me.

BUT, WHY?

This is the real meat and potatoes of this theory/reality. Why would Susan want to pose as a British 800-meter star? This is a very good question and I’m so glad I asked it. The answer is: I have no idea. Running is painful and having to do it for two people terrifies me greatly. Running for yourself is already mostly a terrible pastime, so having to do that for another is really just a bad idea. No human would want to do this. Which leads me to a new theory: Susan/Lynsey is a cyborg created by an inter-governmental agency with a serious desire for world track and field dominance.

Also Laura Muir looks like Arya Stark.

July 27, 2017

Watch: Sean Keveren runs 4:19* Blue Jeans Mile

Sean Keveren runs a 4:19 Blue Jeans Mile but we’re putting an asterisk next to it due to a controversial cotton percentage.

July 27, 2017

My 2017 World Championships Wish List

Here’s to hoping that Usain Bolt runs in the 10-seconds and still wins at the world championships, Evan Jager breaks 8-min and more.

July 12, 2017

Runner survives bear sighting, nature still trying to kill you

Every once in awhile, a story breaks that reminds us no matter how cute animals seem, they will kill humans with little or no remorse.

July 5, 2017

Confessions of a Track and Field Vlogger

A bad decision to take a lot of caffeine on a drive from Flagstaff to Bend, Oregon led young Stephen Kersh down a crazy path. He started to vlog.

June 7, 2017

Dear Coach Gary: Self-Help for the Helpless

Runners are a special brand of neurotic and, because of this, Citius Mag is proud to introduce our latest column: Self-Help for the Helpless. This weekly column will field questions from readers, and our resident guru, Washington State District 2A Cross Country Coach-of-the-Year Gary Sinise (no relation to THE Gary Sinise), will provide guidance and insight into the plethora of both legitimate and non-legitimate issues plaguing runners from coast to coast.

Coach Gary, take it from here!

Alright now first thing first: my name is Coach Gary Sinise, but I ain’t got any datgum stars on any datgum sidewalk you understand? Any man worth his weight in salt knows he shouldn’t be putting his name on some fancypants sidewalk with gold drippings every which way. And I’ll tell you something, the only place my name should be is out of your datgum mouth, and on the nametag I get when I visit mother during bingo nights. Hell! I’m pretty sure I threw away my plaque from 2003 when I was the Washington State District 2A Cross Country Coach-of-the-Year. Awards don’t mean nothing to a guy like me. What gets my bones shaking is competin’! Hell! If it wasn’t for my old football injury, I’d bet I could run one of those 5Ks faster than you’d believe. Anyways, ‘nuff ‘bout me. Let’s check out what ailing today’s youth THIS week.

“Dear Coach Gary. My name is Adam and I’m a sophomore at Willow Lake. I have run cross country and track since I was six years old. I think I hate it. I didn’t always hate it. I don’t think, at least. But I’m not sure. Anyways, can I quit?”

  • Awkward in Anacortes

 

Well, well, well. Look what we’ve got ourselves here now will ya? Another MILLENNIAL whining about having to sweat a little bit. Adam, when you look yourself in the mirror what do you see? I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts it’s a skinny little punk trying to twitter a meme. What else is hard in your life? Did daddy not buy you a new car for breaking 5:30 in the mile last spring? Is mommy not washing your filthy jockstraps anymore? Come on now, son. Rub some dirt on it and embrace the tough stuff. I hereby do NOT give you permission to quit this sport.

“I really like Susie but I do not think she knows my name.”

  • Scared in Sammamish

Why the hell should she know your name? Look here, in my day, everyone knew my name. My brother, my sister, my grandparents. Everyone knew Gary Z. Sinise. Want to know why? Because I was ASSERTIVE. I put myself out there. I shook hands firmly and made eye contact directly. Ain’t no other way to be. Heck! Ain’t no other way I could have been! Back then, a man’s WORD was all he HAD. You pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down? Anyhow, what was your question?

“You were great in The Green Mile.”

  • Ebert in Edison

 

[Editor’s Note: Coach Gary penned some sort of violent manifesto about Gary Sinise (the actor) and it is not appropriate for this website. Or any website, for that matter. We have destroyed any and all evidence of its existence.]

“Dear Coach Gary. The big race is only a week away and I’ve come down with a serious case of plantar fasciitis. Because you’ve been around the sport SO long and were the 2003 Washington State District 2A Cross Country Coach-of-the-Year, I was hoping you could give me some helpful advice.”

  • Vanessa from Vancouver

 

Which injury is plantar fasciitis? Is it the one where you just aren’t TOUGH enough? Oh wait – that’s a stress reaction, right? Or no, is that what they call a hip flexor? I can’t keep up with all of these injuries anymore. Wanna know why? Of course you do. Because they are not REAL, Vanessa. Can I call you that? Of course I can. It’s your name, for Pete’s sake! My athletes are always slinkin’ up to me and sayin’ “Coach Gary. My thingamabob feels like a tendinitis.” I tell them all what I’m about to tell you: chew several large cloves of garlic, wash it down with colloidal silver, and I’ll see you on the starting line, bub.

June 2, 2017

Citius Mag presents the Raleigh Denim Mile at the Sir Walter Miler

We are very happy to announce that we will be hosting our biggest Blue Jeans Mile at August’s Sir Walter Miler in Raleigh, North Carolina.

June 1, 2017

Pro-Model Shoes: Running Needs ‘Em!

A pre-pubescent boy walks into his middle-school gymnasium during his lunch period. Usually, he plays four square with the other nerds and avoids his puberty-having counterparts playing a game of half-court basketball. He avoids them because he lacks the dexterity needed to participate in the game and not become a complete and utter liability within the zone defensive scheme that has gained popularity amongst these particular middle-school athletes. The larger, more handsome boys yell objectively mean words at our small, less handsome boy as he sulks to the deepest crevasse of the gym reserved for sad and unathletic games of four square. This is his daily routine; repeating and returning like his night terrors.

One day, our boy’s step dad shows up to the house with a box. The box is a gift. The gift is a pair of brand-new LeBron BNLMZVVVV1 21’s – the latest and most acronymed pro model basketball shoe to date. The boy laces up the shoes. The boy sprouts a pubic hair.

With a storebought sense of confidence, the boy returns to his school and approaches the ball-playing gaggle of pre-teens with a certain Akron, Ohio swagger. The other boys, sensing a day of reckoning is on the horizon, pause their game of theatrical three-pointers and questionable charges to take note of the boy. Their stares could burn a hole in his LeBron BNLMZVVVV1 21’s. Someone gives the boy a bunch of crushed up chalk from Mrs. Olsen’s science lab. He liberally applies the chalk to his hands and tosses the excess into the ether.

“Game time, [EXPLETIVE]”

What was once a 4’11”, 76-pound punching bag has morphed into a 5’4”, 123-pound man-child. Our boy now overpowers 5’7” Kyle in the low post; our boy actively seeks opportunities to set bone-crushing screens; our boy is a menace out there.

The boy will now pursue basketball until he is cut from JV before his senior year of high school because “well son, we think you’re too old for this team” but, dammit, he learned some valuable lessons on the court. And it is all because of the shoes.

Phew. Enough italics! It’s like reading sideways. As if reading isn’t hard enough, I tell ya! Anyways, what if running could introduce a more steady flow of pro-model shoes onto the feet of burgeoning track stars? Growing up, I would have loved the opportunity to let me parents spend outrageous amounts of money on the latest Air Flanagan. Being able to wear the same gear as your sports heroes is hugely appealing to all children and a select group of grown men desperately living vicariously through Tom Brady. An Air Flanagan would breathe confidence into the heart of any young runner as they maneuver on and off the cross country course.

Let’s take a look at some of the current options for runner-centric pro-model shoes. (Artist renderings done by Paul Snyder)

The Go-Go Gold Air Zoom Centro MaxFly Extendz

An ode to the 1,500-meter gold medalist from the Rio Olympics, Matt Centrowitz Jr., this latest Nike offering is pure gold. Literally. This racing flat is fire gilded with an amalgam of gold and mercury. It is incredibly dangerous both on and off the track due to the aforementioned high percentage of mercury.

The CoburnUp WaterWave 3K

New Balance crafted this shoe specifically for 3,000-meter steeplechase star Emma Coburn. Instead of laces, this shoe has velcro. And instead of spikes, this shoe is a water shoe. Like the type your mom would make you wear to the public pool so the hypodermic needles didn’t puncture your foot entirely. This is most certainly a regression in terms of technology.

The FORD ONE ONE

HOKA ONE ONE is bullish on using a single name for their shoes, and they didn’t change up the recipe when it came to their latest racing flat: the FORD ONE ONE. This ill-conceived racing flat is a military-grade combat boot. It is incredibly difficult to run in. Ford Palmer, a HOKE ONE ONE athlete, is a football player moonlighting as a very fast miler. He does not make running look relatively easy, though. We believe HOKA ONE ONE created this racing flat with Ford Palmer in mind.

The NeelyWheely ULTRALIGHTBEAMBoost

Leaving no stone unturned, adidas crafts the Neely Spence Gracey pro-model marathon racing flat to be rollerblades. The designer of this concept shoe was quoted as saying, “I’m not sure this is legal, but her named rhymed with Wheely – so we went for it.” They didn’t even attempt to reinvent the wheel with this shoe, and that’s fine.

May 31, 2017

Running Documentaries and Videos You Should Watch #6: When Running Was For Weirdos

Vox’s Phil Edwards produced a quirky historical documentary digging deep on how did running or “jogging” get discovered. Watch it today!

May 26, 2017

Pumped Up Picks: Justyn Knight

Syracuse distance runner Justyn Knight shares his playlist that gets him going before any major competition. Of course Drake is on the playlist.

May 17, 2017

Running Documentaries and Videos You Should Watch #5: The Runners

“The Runners” by Matan Rochlitz & Ivo Gormley captures heartfelt, funny and blunt confessions with everyday runners jogging through a park

May 9, 2017

The IC4A/ECAC meet: what the heck is it?

Folks, this one goes out to the kids from the Not East Coast who maybe have wound up on the East Coast for their continued education, and who are also pursuing collegiate distance running while there.

There will come a time–more than likely–where you’ll peep at your team’s tentative racing schedule and see the usual suspects: meets held in towns with strange names like Binghampton; duels against old-timey rivals that are no longer that fierce of rivals; and unusual and mysterious acronyms. These acronyms probably are scheduled for the weekend before, or of, your conference meet.

“What gives?” you probably are asking yourself. “I’m supposed to be winning conference or gearing up for Nationals!”

I’m here to tell you that there’s a good chance you’ll do neither of those things, and that it’s okay.


Every May for the past several years at Princeton University’s Weaver Stadium, just-shy-of-national-caliber track athletes from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic congregate to close out their seasons, or take one last stab at securing a regional-qualifying mark.

This meet is called either the IC4A or ECAC Championships, depending on your gender. For the men, it’s called IC4A (Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America), and for the women, ECAC (Eastern College Athletic Conference).

And at this point, it has a conciliatory air about it. If you run fast enough, jump high or far enough, or heave your implement with enough force to qualify for IC4As/ECACs, chances are you started the season with ambitions of qualifying for the regionals, or perhaps even nationals.

That’s not to say impressive marks aren’t posted annually at this Princeton, New Jersey, mainstay of a track meet. It’s just that for the bulk of its competitors, there’s some place they’d rather be, a meet of greater consequence they’d rather be training for.

But it hasn’t always been like this. The IC4A outdoor championship has been continually held since 1876, and at various points throughout its existence, was the preeminent collegiate championship meet in the United States.

The NCAA first held an outdoor track championship of its own in 1921, and the writing was slowly scribbled onto the wall for the IC4A. The two meets coexisted nicely for a bit, with many non-east coast schools opting for the IC4A meet over NCAAs until the Great Depression. (The 1932 IC4A outdoor meet was held in Berkeley, California!)

That said, as late as the 1970s, the IC4A meet still possessed the clout necessary to draw top-level athletes from the eastern U.S., often as a tune-up meet before NCAAs, but in some instances, in lieu of it.

Several IC4A meet records of note were set in the 1970s, most notably Sidney Maree of Villanova’s 3:37.41 and 13:27.07, and the 1:45.34 run by Tom McLean of Bucknell. But by the late 1970s and early 1980s, the cost of traveling to the NCAA championship–not guaranteed to be on the east coast–had no longer so prohibitive as to dissuade east coast schools from sending their qualifying athletes.

Unfortunately for east coast track women of the era, the first concurrent running of the ECAC championship was in 1984–well past the heyday of the once proud eastern seaboard championship meet.

So just because you’re not at the meet of your dreams this weekend, it doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of it. Princeton is a great place to run fast, and enjoy a decadent sandwich after made up of breakfast delectables, cured meats, and special sauces. Plus, if you score or win an event at IC4As you cement your place in a history that goes back to our nation’s Centennial, which is really cool.

Everything matters so long as you put personal weight and significance into it. So have some fun in the best state in the union–New Jersey–and create some fond memories while there.

May 2, 2017

We now have a newsletter. You’re welcome

Get the best of Citius Mag directly into your inbox every week and some exclusive subscriber content by subscribing to our new weekly newsletter.

April 27, 2017

Running Documentaries and Videos You Should Watch No. 3 : Run Mama Run

Daniele Anastasion follows Sarah Brown’s buildup to the 2016 Olympic Trials while Sarah was pregnant with her first child.

April 19, 2017

A Q&A With Harry McFann, director of We Run New York

Over the weekend I had a chance to chat with filmmaker Harry McFann. Originally from Ohio, he was an All-American at Columbia University with a lifetime best in the 800-meter of 1:47.91, and continues to live and work in the Big City.

His latest project is called We Run New York. It’s a film series focused on the different groups and individuals that comprise the robust New York running scene. Below is a Q&A where Harry and I discuss his passion for filmmaking, running, and of course, New York.

The IndieGoGo for We Run New York is still accepting donations, so if you’re interested in what he’s working on, please consider opening up your pocket books and helping out one of our own.

You can learn more about the project and donate here. 

Ryan Sterner: You’re originally from Ohio. How did you end up in New York?

Harry McFann: I grew up in the suburbs of Columbus and always loved the idea of the Big City.  When I was little, downtown Columbus seemed huge to me. But even still, ever since I was a kid I wanted to visit New York. Mostly because of my obsession with the original King Kong. I had a colorized version of the movie on VHS that I would watch on repeat growing up. So much was my obsession with King Kong and New York, that I even referred to one building in Columbus (the LeVeque Tower) as the Empire State Building when I was a kid.

But I never had a chance to visit New York in my childhood. I went to Chicago once, and it was cool, but not as awesome as the New York I imagined from the movies.

Then one day during the summer leading into my senior year of high school I got a letter of interest from the Columbia track team. I was in a bit of shock (was this the real Columbia, or some off-brand school?), but when I gathered my senses I immediately went to my computer and researched all the details that mattered to me about Columbia: In New York, has a great track team, and I can study film. It was basically the perfect option for me.

RS: A lot of people talk about their “welcome to New York” moment. Profound or otherwise, did you have a welcome to New York moment?

HM: I remember when I came to New York on my visit. I flew into Newark and was picked up by Will Boylan-Pett. He was giving me the general rundown of the city as we were crossing the GW, and at one point I pointed out the window and said something like, “Yeah, that skyline is just so crazy.” He responded with a light laugh and said, “uh, yeah that’s still New Jersey, though.” He then pointed to Manhattan, “That’s the New York skyline.” Not really sure how I could have missed that, but it was a great way to remind him that I was from Ohio.

But then as we drove through the city to get to campus I was immediately in love. I’m a bit of a drama queen, and I think New York is an inherently dramatic city. It was love at first sight, really.   

RS: After you graduated it would have been pretty easy to go back to Ohio. What about the city drew you in?

HM: I basically refused to go back to Ohio after graduating.

My plan was to run semi-pro after college, but unfortunately that didn’t pan out for me because 1. I refused to live outside of the city and 2. New York is expensive and you don’t make a lot as a runner. On top of that my collegiate career ended on a pretty terrible note, which was extremely disheartening for me. Life after graduating is hard for a lot of people, and lots of challenges are thrown your way right out of the gate. For me these added obstacles to running (being able to afford food and housing, etc) were more than I could take, so I decided to give up on the dream of running competitively after college.  

But I was still stubborn and refused to go home and regroup. I basically decided within 24 hours that I wasn’t going to be a competitive runner and that I was now going to focus my energy into filmmaking.  Which as everyone knows is so much easier to succeed in and sustain yourself than being a professional runner.  I started running when I was 13, so I’ve been a masochist for a while now.  

But to more directly answer your question: New York obviously had that draw for me, it’s my favorite place in the world.  And since I was a kid I knew I wanted to make movies.  So that basically only gives me two real options as far as where I can live in the U.S. – LA or New York.  

LA didn’t seem right to me. Plus I didn’t know anyone there, and I definitely didn’t have enough money to make the move. So in a way I was “stuck” in New York. I also assumed that I would hate LA, but after visiting there last September, I must say that I actually really like the city.  It’s like walking around a David Lynch movie.  

RS: You told me that your career really took off while training in the city. In a place as dense as New York I’m sure that surprises a lot of people. Do you want to clear up any misconceptions about city running?

HM: It’s kind of weird because that wasn’t actually a huge concern of mine when I was looking at Columbia.  Mostly because my home town isn’t too great for running.  I did most of my runs in high school on sidewalks. My coach even joked once that a park to my home town was an open plot of grass with a bench somewhere. So the idea of running on concrete wasn’t much of a detracting factor.  

Then, on that van ride from Newark, Will is explaining to me where the team runs and all the soft surfaces they actually have. The running in New York is better than my home town!  You have Central Park, Van Cortland Park, and Prospect Park – all large parks with plenty of soft surfaces to run on. Then you can take a short trip up to Rockefeller State Park for tons of amazing trails.  It’s almost something I take for granted now. Traveling to other cities in the country, you don’t really get something like this. I mean, Central Park literally being in the center of Manhattan is a godsend. Anyone in the borough can easily get to it for his/her run.

In someplace like San Francisco you have Golden Gate Park, but getting there really is a destination because it’s more on the border of the city. You can’t just decide last minute you’re going to go on a run. It has to be more planned and less spontaneous.  

RS: Let’s talk a little about the film series: how did this project start?

HM:This year I had a few different projects lined up, but many of them ended up falling through. So then I found myself with a lot of free time and needing a project to work on. I contacted Paul [Snyder] and asked him more about the different groups in the city and I told him that I wanted to make the series.

For me there were a lot of draws to the project. Obviously you’re combining running and filmmaking, my two defining obsessions, but on top of that you have this massive sub-culture that so many people don’t know about.  And I’m not just talking about people across the country, I mean New Yorkers don’t know the depth of this community.  Sure, you see runners in the parks, but if you don’t stop to really take notice, you can go your whole time without ever noticing all the diverse collections of people who organize runs with each other. Sure, you know the Marathon, and people who know running will know about The Armory, but when someone thinks of a place with a strong running community, he/she will probably think of Colorado or somewhere in the Northwest, like Oregon. Never New York.  And yet, here we are.

It may not be quite as ideal as some beautiful mountain vista out west, but New Yorkers have taken what resources they have and have really done something special. Just take a look at the New York Road Runners website and you’ll be surprised at all they races that are always going on in the city.

RS: What about your personal relationship with the sport made you want to pursue this project in particular?

HM: Like I mentioned earlier, my running career ended earlier than I had hoped. My plan was to run through the age of 28 so that I could hopefully get two Olympic trials under my belt then move on to the filmmaking thing. It obviously didn’t work out like that, and when things went poorly for me after graduating I sort of had a “crisis of faith” with running. That’s the expression I’ve been telling everyone, because running was something I had dedicated 10 years of my life to. Running always came first, and I had made so many compromises and sacrifices through those years.

Would I have wanted to be more involved in film extracurriculars in college? Hell yeah, but I didn’t have the time. Film courses were 4 hours long and practice some days was 5 hours.  That’s 9 hours right there!  Plus I had homework and needed to get my 8-9 hours of sleep every night. Then to have my last race be a complete disaster was a bit more than I could take at the time.  Everything in my life was building to that one moment, you know?  

I didn’t have much to fall back on afterwards. I think that was a huge part of the problem, and mostly my own fault. I put so much of my own self-worth in running that after that last race I just hated the sport.  Even now I have trouble following results because it makes me uncomfortable that I’m not out there racing against those guys. And yet, I still continued to run. Just not competitively.

At first it was actually a way to help feed myself, where I would help pace people for extra money.  And then when I got stabilized with my videography work I stopped pacing, and then took time off running entirely.

I would go a few months without running and be glad that I didn’t have the stress of needing to get my run in, but at the same time, I still felt off. So since graduating I’ve thought a whole lot about running and why I did it. In college when asked why I ran I would usually just say, “because I’m good at it.” Which is pretty much true. It was something I was objectively good at and was sort of my self-esteem safety net.

But since high school I would see people who ran who weren’t the best on the team, or very fast, but they still showed up to practice every day and did the work. I remember thinking to myself, “would I still run if that was me?” I often questioned if those folks actually liked running more than me, since they seem to have more sincere motivations for doing it.

Fast forward to post-college and I am now in that position where I am no longer running to beat people in races. I just run… to run.

That is something that I really want to explore in this series – the different reasons people have for running. Because every different reason is equally awesome, since there are about two hundred billion reasons to not run. It’s hard, time consuming, you’ll almost certainly be hit with some sort of hardship, be it a bad race, an injury, etc., and you end up building your whole life around it. For whatever reason, people still do it.  

RS: Who is this documentary for?

HM: For this series, my “true” audience is the person who is having a rough time with running.  Apparently nobody used the sports psychologist at Columbia more than the runners. Maybe that’s because running attracts crazy people, or maybe because it’s such an emotionally and psychologically draining sport. After all, you’re competing against yourself more than the person next to you, so when you have a bad race, I think it takes a bigger blow to your psyche than other sports do.

It’s also a lonely sport in a lot of ways. There’s a book and movie titled, “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner,” which is basically the best title there could ever be for something about running. Training alone can be lonely, but when you’re hurt, or just burnt out, this loneliness is magnified times a thousand.  

That’s where art comes in. Because art can be a sort of cure for loneliness. Great art can give you that feeling of, “oh, wow, I thought I was the only person who felt that way!”  And then you don’t feel quite as bad anymore.

We Run New York isn’t just for New Yorkers, or running junkies, it’s for that random kid who is having a hard time, who may even be thinking of quitting the sport. He or she may be questioning why they even run in the first place, and I want this series to sort of be a pat on the back for them. Some kind words of encouragement to help them get through whatever it may be that is affecting them. A voice saying that it will be okay. If making the series can do that for me, then hopefully watching it can do it for someone else.  

RS:For better or worse, has the documentary making process changed your relationship with running at all?

HM: It has, and for the better, I think. It has sort of brought me back to the days of running in high school, because back then the team had a wider range of talent, whereas in college you’re just around psychopaths that live for the sport. Now I’m around the whole spectrum again, and I really enjoy that.

I don’t want this to come off as condescending, but I admire the “fun-runner” in a lot of ways, because he/she seems to have found something with the sport that I am still searching for.  So meeting all of these different people has really allowed me to continue my own sort of self-reflection.

I’ve had to get back in shape so I could go on runs with these different groups. I wanted to get to know as many members as possible before I just showed up one day with a camera. I found running with these different folks has really motivated me to get runs in every day. Not just so I’m fit enough to do a long run with someone else, but because it makes me feel good. I’m running 7 days a week for the first time since college, and it’s sort of weird because I’m actually pretty overwhelmed and stressed out of my mind because of this documentary. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day, but I will always make time for my run.

It’s become the thing I look forward to the most each day. I’m racing a 5k at the end of the month, which should be interesting, and I’m looking forward to seeing all the people I’ve met through the project there at the race.  

RS: Finally, give us the elevator pitch, what can people look forward to seeing when this project is complete and what are you hoping people will take away from it?

HM: You want a pitch?  How’s this?  Running sucks. Everyone who runs can tell you that. Ever run during a snowstorm? Every get a stress fracture? How about just feeling heavy during race?  You get up early to go out on a run, or you tell your friends you can’t go out to the bar with them because you have a workout. You put in all this work for something that may end up just punching you in the face. It’s sort of like unrequited love.

But we keep going, right? We don’t give up. We do our run the next day. Even when you think you’ve reached your limit, you find yourself back at it again. That’s what unites us. That’s what makes this not just an activity, but a community.

If running is a lifestyle, then that is what I want to show, the lifestyle. Not just the runs people go on, but how they balance their “civilian life” with their running. The little things people do to improve their fitness. The absurdities of it all. So many documentaries focus on moments that are “loud” and sensational, I want to focus on the quiet and intimate moments that linger with long you after you finish running.

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