By Doug Binder
I had an opportunity to sit down with Kara Goucher a few weeks ago at her neighborhood Starbucks for a small newspaper story I was writing related to her participation (as a speaker) in the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon.
So I asked her about wine (pinot noir is her favorite) and what she planned to talk about (she prefers fielding audience questions to writing speeches).
And the interview moved to a variety of other subjects because my curiosity took me there. Kara, I’ve learned over the years, rarely shies away from a question. That’s an important part of her appeal. She is a runner-turned-public-figure, with more than 40,000 Twitter followers, and people gravitate to her because she is authentic and puts her heart into her running and her family.
I asked her about Boston because it had been more than three months since the April 15 bombings at the marathon. The public’s attention, by and large, had moved on to other things. But I wondered what impact the bombings had on her.
Kara was a block and a half away from the finish line, in her hotel room, when the first of the two pressure-cooker bombs exploded. She had finished the race, been through drug testing, spoken to the media, and was waiting on an appointment to have a massage. Her mom, sister and other family were in her room and they were talking about the race. She was specifically talking about her teammate, Shalane Flanagan, and the weight of expectations when you are the most visible American in the race.
And then the explosion happened.
Kara and her visitors not only heard it, they felt it in her their chests. Her son, Colt, was down for a nap. He heard it too. (Adam, if I have the story straight, was out finding food for Kara and her relatives).
“If I could go back in time, I would react to it differently,” Kara said.
But who can ever plan how they will react in a moment of terror?
Kara said she knew in an instant something was horribly wrong and she began to have a panic attack.
Then, a second, more distant explosion.
Her mom and sister went moved to open the hotel room windows to see what was going on. Kara pleaded with them to keep the windows shut in case there was gas.
She was terrified and suddenly overwhelmed with guilt. Her family had gathered around her for this race and now they were all in danger.
“It sounds ridiculous now, but I thought we were going to die,” Kara said. “It was awaful.”
Kara’s younger sister called on the phone to relay that she had heard the news of a bombing at the race. In the hotel room, they switched on the TV news. Outside, they saw vanloads of police officers parked in front of the hotel, passing automatic rifles and bullet-proof vests to one another.
The hotel went into lockdown. Later in the evening, Kara actually went down into the lobby and gave a brief interview to Flotrack.
She kept watching the news. They made their flights out of Boston. She kept watching the news.
“I was actually unhealthily obsessed with it,” she said.
In the days that followed she avoided interview requests. She didn’t want to draw attention to herself and away from the important things going on to save victims and apprehend the suspects.
But she also couldn’t turn away.
“I couldn’t function. It totally consumed my family for a while,” Kara said. Even though she hadn’t been out there, on the street, the sound and the feeling of the blast was imprinted on her – just like it was for everyone else who was there.
The drama that played out on the TV news, as police began to tighten the net on the Tsarnaev brothers, Kara felt a personal stake in the outcome.
Did you celebrate when they finally arrested the suspect?
“Oh yeah,” Kara said. “I was so pumped. I couldn’t let go of it. When they caught (him) I was so exhausted but so happy. It was bizarre. I hate violence. But when they got that guy, I was like ‘Good!’”
Flanagan had a different reaction to the experience.
“We’re just different,” Kara said. “Some people were scared and terrified. Others were pissed. She was never scared. Her thing was anger, like, ‘Watch me, I’m going to go back and win next year.’ For me, it was Oh my God, we’re all so vulnerable.”
In the past nine months, Kara’s two favorite running events – the New York Marathon and the Boston Marathon – have been severely impacted by unforeseen forces. A hurricane shut down the NYC Marathon and caused major political fallout. And a criminal act ruined the day in Boston, with three people dead and hundreds of others wounded.
Kara knows so many others had it much worse. But she and her family weren’t untouched. They carried it with them, back to Duluth, and to Portland. Little Colt spoke of “the boom” and “the bad people” afterward and saw how deeply it frightened his mom. (Colt went to a couple of therapy sessions. “He’s doing great now,” Kara said.)
Kara is adamant that she will run at the next NYC and Boston marathons.
“I just love them both,” she said.
Boston, in particular, will be an event no doubt filled with emotion next spring. Kara intends to do all she can to stand in support of the race and running community that it serves.
“We’re moving forward, but we’ll always think about those people,” she said, referring to the victims.
Kara also told me that she is developing a new web site. She knows that finding ways to interact with the running community is an important thing to do, particularly at this stage of her career.
Adam and his long-time friend Tim Catalano have released a self-published book “Run the Edge,” and have recently released a workouts guide. Those projects have helped Adam ease out of a competitive career and into business pursuits.
Kara is still drafting ideas in her head about what she’d like to do when her elite running days are over.
She’d like to organize retreats for women, built around running. She’d like to continue to offer her army of followers some access into her day-to-day life as a runner, perhaps as a sort of lifestyle expert.
She wants to be more active in her community while she’s still on top of her game.
“I actually do think it’s important to go and do the local things when you can,” she said. “I used to never think that way, but now as I’m getting older and I have a child in the community, I think it is important to do the fun run with the elementary school that’s trying to raise money, do the local 5K, do the Rock and Roll (Half) when it’s in town. You don’t have to rest and taper, but I am more and more believing I should take part in those things more.”
On the subject of turning her running career into a brand, Kara already does it as well as anyone in the country, with the possible exception of Lauren Fleshman.
Fleshman won a Track and Field Writers of America award for her blog, asklaurenfleshman.com, has a line of nutritional bars, and recently got a piece of Oiselle as part of an endorsement deal.
“I do know Lauren. I’ve known her for years,” Kara said. “She’s done a really good job of transitioning into the place where she can stand alone without being an athlete any more. I’m not there yet.
“Lauren’s still obviously hoping to compete. So there’s still Lauren the athlete, and Lauren the business. I’m not ready yet, it’s still in the future.”
I asked Kara whether her marathon training made her feel a closer kinship to ultra runners, mountain trail runners and triathletes.
And her answer surprised me. She said, “Yes.”
Would you ever imagine doing an ultramarathon?
“I would,” Kara said. “I definitely want to do an ultra. I would be willing to go really far (with it). Now, I’m not going to as long as I keep making (U.S.) teams and podiums, but if in the next three marathons I’m 10th in every one … I would consider it.”
How crazy-far would you go?
“A 50-miler, that might be interesting to me. I’ve been reading books about ultras and watching movies about it. Those are awesome amazing athletes. I can’t wait to try one. Eventually, yes, I’d like to try it.”
And what about an Ironman Triathlon (or any triathlon)?
“I can’t swim. I know my limits. But I could see (competing) in a trail championship or something like that.”
Final thing, I have this left over quote from Kara. I probably should use it. I don’t even remember the question.
“I raced on skis when I was younger (biathlon, in Minnesota). I had this fantasy that I would medal in the 2012 Olympics and then I would go all-out training for the 2014 Winter Olympics (for cross-country skiing). I mean, there’s no shot, really, that could ever happen, but it was a little thing in my head that was just, ‘This is the ultimate!”
It seemed like every where you looked there were former University of Oregon athletes, or residents of Eugene, doing big things at the IAAF World Championships.
Here is a rundown of the WC finalists with Eugene ties:
Ashton Eaton — Decathlon GOLD
Brianne Theisen-Eaton — Hepathlon SILVER
Matthew Centrowitz — 1,500 meters SILVER
Nick Symmonds — 800 meters SILVER
English Gardner — 4×100 relay SILVER; 100 meters fourth
Galen Rupp — 10,000 meters fourth; 5,000 meters eighth
Zoe Buckman — 1,500 meters seventh
Photos Courtesy of TracktownPhoto.com
Olympic gold medalist and former world record holder Mac Wilkins built the region’s best throwing complex and made tiny NAIA Concordia one of the nation’s best college throws programs.
But what happens to those things now — the training center commonly known as The Mac Wilkins Throws Center and the college program that gained 24 NAIA titles — is up in the air with the news that Wilkins will become a coach at the USA Track and Field High Performance Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
Wilkins called the new opportunity a better platform for “evangelizing” the throws events to a broader audience as well as getting to work with more elite athletes.
Yet even without the new job opportunity — Wilkins has also been flying to Ohio’s SPIRE Academy to conduct clinics — he was likely to move on.
Concordia’s move to NCAA Division II was going to hinder Wilkins’ ability to work with throwers at all levels and the support structure he sought to sustain elite throwers in Portland proved difficult to piece together.
Wilkins has proven to be an exceptional coach and an inspirational figure to throwers not only locally but nationally and internationally. But more than that, he put Concordia track and field on the map. And the throws center, which Concordia deserves credit for, was his baby. I vividly recall going out there one afternoon to find Wilkins 20 feet up on a ladder cleaning out the gutters to ward off a rain-water leak.
I’m not sure if anyone else can possibly bring that same level of care to the facility, but hope someone does.
The throws center is already home to the U.S. high school records in the boys javelin (Sam Crouser) and discus (Ryan Crouser) and is an important piece of Oregon’s track and field infrastructure.
Nate Turner passed away in a climbing accident 7-24-11. He was a firefighter/paramedic for Albany Fire Dept and later Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue. Albany Fire Dept is hosting the 3rd run in Albany on Sept 21,2013, with all proceeds going to the Nate Turner Memorial Scholarship at Chemeketa Community College. This scholarship is for those in either the fire fighter or paramedic programs. For more information and to register, visit:
The German-born mother of Steve Prefontaine and long-time resident of Coos Bay, Ore., Elfriede Prefontaine, died on Tuesday at 5:55 p.m. in Eugene.
She was 88 and died after complications from a recent fall on July 4 according to a family friend.
Elfriede moved to the United States after World War II and married Ray Prefontaine. Their son, Steve, rose to fame as a distance runner and helped kindle the flame that turned Eugene into TrackTown, U.S.A.
After Steve’s auto accident death in 1975, Elfriede and Ray kept his bedroom virtually untouched in their little house on Coos Bay’s Elrod Street.
A private family ceremony is planned and there is also talk of a public memorial service at a later date.
Elfriede received a moment of recognition each year at the Prefontaine Classic but did not attend this year because of frail health.
Ray Prefontaine died in December of 2004.
There has been all kinds of scrutiny this week over what is going on in Portland with the hastily put-together meet at Roosevelt High and the on-again, off-again participation of Jordan Hasay and Tara Erdmannn.
First, a little background.
As the Portland Track Festival concluded last month, organizer Craig Rice heard a recurring refrain from several coaches: Wouldn’t it be great to have a post-U.S. championship meet somewhere nearby?
And then, post-U.S. championship, when two of Alberto Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project athletes finished in the top three of the women’s 10,000 but still needed the IAAF standard, there was a conversation between Salazar and Michael Bergmann (who by the force of his will and political skills built a very nice track at Roosevelt).
Essentially, Bergmann told Salazar that Roosevelt could be a great venue to host a track event should he need one for Hasay and Erdmann.
Salazar said, basically: Yes, let’s do it. (10K races are not easy to find, particularly ones that spin around the track at sub-32 minute pace).
The Portland Track Festival group, including Rice and Jonathan Marcus, got involved as meet managers. Marcus suggested to Salazar that if the event were expanded to include a variety of other events — be more like an actual meet — it might be good for the Roosevelt neighborhood. It might add some energy.
Salazar said go for it and agreed to pay for the whole thing (timing, etc.).
Then Salazar and Marcus began to delve into the IAAF rulebook. What constitutes a meet? What has to be in place for a race result to count?
So they studied the rulebook and they called Bob Hersh (who lives in New York) and asked him questions. Hersh is the only American who is also a high ranking IAAF official. He knows the rules back and forth and also has the authority to interpret their nuances.
That’s when Salazar found out that mixed gender races could be accepted for IAAF qualifying purposes. He didn’t know that was legal but Hersh explained to him that it was not only legal but that in some places it is standard practice.
The IAAF A standard for the women’s 10K is 31.45. That’s a strict standard. It lends weight to the thought that the IAAF doesn’t particularly want a big field in that event, whether that’s a result of penny-pinching or something else.
In a developing nation, for instance, where there might be only one woman capable of attaining even the B standard (32:05), how difficult would it be for her to find a race with other women that can pace? It’s very difficult, which is why the IAAF added a rule to accept mixed gender race results over 5,000 meters. The 10K is a different animal than, say, the long jump. There are very few opportunities, in part because championship races tend to go slower.
Salazar and Marcus wanted to be sure it was OK for Hasay to run with expert pacers Ahrlin Bauman and his brother Oscar. Were they impinging on any sort of “code of ethics” or “spirit of competition” clauses?
This is the email of Hersh’s reply:
Having a mixed gender 10,000 with male pacers for the women does not violate the IAAF’s Code of Ethics, which does not deal with such matters. I’m not sure what you mean by the “spirit of competition rule as per IAAF international standards.” There is no “spirit of competition” rule. If you are talking about violating the spirit of the competition rule that permits mixed competition in races of 5,000 or longer, and the other rule that permits pacing subject to the limitations set forth in Rule 144.2, I don’t think that having men entered in a mixed raced pacing women should be a concern, again, as long as the rules are complied with.
The next issue involved Roosevelt’s track. Bergmann dug out the blueprints and specifications for inspection. The facility, which has undergone a massive facelift from community eyesore to state-of-the-art gem, was not built with a rail.
That was a problem for the IAAF. So Bergmann quickly went to work finding someone who could get a rail installed at Roosevelt, and he was successful. Within a matter of days, a rail was going in even as Salazar was having concerns about the weather being too hot on the meet date of the 15th.
Ultimately, the IAAF was not satisfied with the rail. I’m not sure I can completely articulate the problem there. Perhaps it doesn’t fit quite right, but the placement of the rail pushes the “hypothetical running path” outward 10 cm (because runners tend to not risk stepping on it) … so that makes Roosevelt an “oversized” track (even when it’s really not).
After Monday the rail will be dismantled and stored at Roosevelt and adjustments will be made so that next time — if there is a next time — the rail will not be out of compliance with the IAAF rulebook.
Salazar wanted Hasay to run at Roosevelt. After all, he was paying for a meet there. But when the IAAF decided Friday morning that it was unsatisfied with Roosevelt’s rail, the race had to be moved. So now it’s at Jesuit. (And Salazar’s only coaching stake on Monday at the Roughrider Twilight meet is Dorian Ulrey, who is coming back from an injury by running in the 3,000).
Salazar’s mission is to get two young U.S. women their first chance to compete at a global championships as pros.
Hasay is ready to go tonight, to prove she can cover the distance in 31:45. Erdmann has been dealing with a slight Achilles strain. Salazar thinks an extra couple of days’ rest might be smart. And after Sunday, she’ll know whether she only needs to run the B standard pace.
I completely understand that the Oregon Project, and Salazar, come under a lot of scrutiny. And from afar, it’s easy to wonder about decisions that seem bizarre and come to the conclusion that somehow he’s trying to game the system. I’ll admit that over 12 years of covering that story there have been times when I didn’t understand it either. But I’ve usually been amazed at how it all comes into focus and makes a lot more sense when you are standing right next to him and asking questions.
UPDATE on ROOSEVELT: Olympian Cyrus Hostetler is apparently now involved in the meet and may be chasing a standard in the javelin. He contacted the PTF crew staging the meet and asked if he could get in a few days ago. He even agreed to round up some extra competitors I’m told. So the start time is now 6:30 for the javelin, 7:30 for the track events.
Jordan Hasay plans to come to Roosevelt on Monday to make an appearance and sign some autographs if she reaches her goal tonight
Bend already is home to the state’s most successful high school track and field program. (Summit)
Already home to tough ultra runners Kami Semick and Max King.
Now it’s got Lauren Fleshman (plus Jesse Thomas and child formerly known as “limabean”).
And now this: Project Little Wing.
On July 21st, downtown Eugene will host an event with the fastest runners and cyclists in Oregon - TrackTown City Center Mile & Rolf Prima Downtown Criterium. To learn more visit: http://dark30sports.com/citycenter/
From University of Oregon Sports Information
The 2013 U.S. Junior champion in the men’s 400 meters is one of six student-athletes who have joined an already impressive recruiting haul for the University of Oregon track and field teams, Head Coach Robert Johnson announcedWednesday.
Marcus Chambers of Tacoma, Wash., won the national 400 meter title two weeks ago at the U.S. Outdoor Junior Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. Chambers ran 46.55 in the final to claim the 2013 crown.
Eariler in 2013, Chambers won his second consecutive Washington state 400 and 200 meter titles for Foss High School. He took the 400 in 46.36, which was the second fastest time nationally among prep runners in 2013. He also won the 200 in 21.30.
Additionally, he won the 400 at the Arcadia Invitational. Read More
Jordan Hasay and Tara Erdmann will be the headliners of the Roughrider Twilight Meet on July 15 in North Portland.
Hasay and Erdmann, who both run for Nike’s Oregon Project and are coached by Alberto Salazar, are chasing the 10,000 meters standard (A is 31:45, B is 32:05) necessary for them to compete at the IAAF World Championships.
That need brought about the necessity for the meet, but it is the staff of the Portland Track Festival who are organizing the event and taking the idea a little further by quickly putting together the most prominent July meet perhaps ever in the city. There is a program developing that will include high school 3,000 meter races, men’s and women’s 800s, a men’s mile, a women’s 3,000 steeplechase, and elite men’s 3,000 and a Fastest Kid in Portland 100 in addition to an elite men’s/women’s 10,000.
A second date, July 19, has also been set aside in case weather conditions are unfavorable to hold the 10K on the 15th. That one event could potentially be moved to the later date.
Roosevelt, located in North Portland, is the high school home of the Roughriders. The school’s upgraded track was finished this spring and is already widely regarded as the best in the city.
More details will come as they are available. Flotrack is on board to webcast it.
For entry information, visit DirectAthletics.com
Open slots are available for the following events (listed here in random order … and there could be adjustments to this list).
– Fastest Kid in Portland 100 meters, boys and girls (FYI… Roosevelt’s 4×100 boys relay team placed eighth in the Class 5A Championships)
– High School 3,000 meters, boys and girls (a mid-summer prep for cross country season)
– Women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase (keeping in mind that three finalists at USAs were from the Bowerman Athletic Club)
– Men’s 3,000 meters (possibility of Luke Puskedra here)
– Men’s 800
– Women’s 800 (A tune-up for Mary Cain perhaps?)
– Men’s Mile (Can Trevor Dunbar become Alaska’s first sub-four miler?)
USATF announced earlier in the week that something called USATF.TV was launching this week in Des Moines, Iowa to produce 50 hours of live streaming video of the national championships.
Well that’s a coup for Eugene-based RunnerSpace, the web company founded by Ross Krempley.
The RunnerSpace gang — Kevin Ullman, Chris Nickinson, Adam Schneider, Matt Scherer, Ian Terpin, Matt Barnhart, Steve Underwood (Dyestat) — have been covering track and running events for years.
But this is as ambitious as it gets and in partnering with USATF they have a big opportunity to generate exposure for a sport that gets limited air time on network television. USATF.TV is going to have full coverage of events like the 10,000 meters, field events, and even racewalk, which often get short shrift.
Here is this week’s webcast/broadcast schedule:
2013 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and Junior Track & Field Championships
All times Eastern
June 20th, 11am to 10:25pm
June 21st, 11am to 10:35pm (Only field events from 8-10pm)
June 22nd, 7:30am to 7pm (Only field events from 4-7pm)
June 23rd, 8am to 6pm (Only field events from 3-6pm)
USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships
All times Eastern. Check Local Listings.
June 22, LIVE 4-5 p.m. on Universal Sports, LIVE 5-7 p.m. on NBC Sports Network
June 23, 2-3 p.m. on Universal Sports, LIVE 3-4 p.m. on NBC Sports Network, LIVE 4-6 p.m. on NBC
BY ROBERT HUSSEMAN
EUGENE, Ore. — Asked about the sports he played in high school, Arkansas redshirt sophomore decathlete Nathanael Franks is momentarily stuck.
He’s named four thus far — football, soccer, cross country and basketball. “I’m missing one,” Franks says. He is not missing handball or tennis, sports he played while participating in a study-abroad program in Germany his sophomore year of high school. (Franks is a dual German-American citizen.)
“And track! There we go,” he says.
Yes, indeed. Track is important. Franks, a native of the Portland area and a graduate of Sam Barlow High School, has shrugged off left knee tendinitis, hamstring issues and personal disappointment to perform at Hayward Field in the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He has given a part of himself to the decathlon; the sport is paying him back. Read More
By Madeleine Cummings
We’re privileged to have Madeleine Cummings covering the 2013 Toronto NTL Meet for TrackFocus this week. Madeleine is a recent graduate of McGill University where she ran both cross country and track. You can follow her on Twitter @madcummings.
Tuesday night was the last chance for many of Canada’s elite track and field athletes to get in a great performance before the Canadian Track and Field Championships in Moncton.
Melissa Bishop won the women’s NTL 800 with a spectacular kick down the homecoming stretch, passing Marilyn Okoro of Great Britain. Fellow 2012 Olympians Jessica Smith and Sheila Reid were 4th and 7th respectively.
Anthony Romaniw won the men’s 800 in 1:47.47, though boasted a faster time at both the Speed River Inferno and Aileen Meagher International Track Classic (NTL Meet #1 in Halifax, this past weekend).
All eyes were on Sarah Wells at the start of the women’s 400 metre hurdles, who was running on her home track with a packed stands at her back. But Wells was beat by rising star Noelle Montcalm, who won the event in 55.96.
Wells says she knew the race got off to a bad start. She took one less step than normal before the first hurdle and paid for her mistake later on.
“I really thought it was going to be alright. I got back in the race and I thought it would be okay, but in the end that wasn’t the case.”
By Madeleine Cummings
We’re privileged to have Madeleine Cummings covering the 2013 Toronto NTL Meet for TrackFocus this week. Madeleine is a recent graduate of McGill University where she ran both cross country and track. You can follow her on Twitter @madcummings.
It seemed a drearier day than normal at Varsity Stadium in Toronto this afternoon. A steady rain fell and little sun could be seen through the thick layer of grey cloud. Small groups of U of T junior track and field athletes pounded out their intervals as coaches huddled together nearby with their golf umbrellas. Track and field is made of days like this. The work gets put in, day in day out, rain or shine. But today there were Olympians in these young runners’ midst.
Tomorrow night, Varsity Stadium will host over 40 Olympic Athletes at the Toronto International Track and Field Games, the second in a series of 5 National Track League meets in Canada this season. Read More
By John Lofranco
We’re privileged to have John Lofranco covering the 2013 Pre Classic for TrackFocus this week. John is a distance coach in Montreal with McGill Olympic and manages the best indoor meets in Canada. You can find more of his writing at Montreal Endurance and follow him on Twitter @jtlinmtl.
In “Best Efforts,” Kenny Moore writes a chapter about “The Golden Mile,” a race set up in Oslo, Norway in the summer of 1979. This was the beginning of the “Golden League” in the sense that it was the first time a large purse had been donated, and the IAAF endeavoured to set up a race featuring some of the fastest runners on the planet. Seb Coe set a world record of 3:48.95 in that race, and beat John Walker, the previous recordman in the process. Steve Scott ran 3:51.11, unfortunately just .01 slower than Jim Ryan’s American Record. Another American, Craig Masback ran his best ever, 3:52.02. Junior Brit John Robson set a new PB as well, 3:52.74, and the previous record holder, truely on the downswing of his career, an inspired 3:52.85.
You can watch the race here:
Fast-forward to 2013, and a similarly stacked race is shaping up. The perennial champ, Absel Kiprop, is looking to redeem himself after a relatively poor showing due to injury in London. He’s been running well this year. Silas Kiplagat was also not at 100% at the Games. This opened up the field for American Leo Manzano to kick through the field and snag a medal. Kiprop mentioned him in a pre-race interview as one to be wary of. Matt Centrowitz was 4th in London, but coming off a 3:37 at Oxy, is he really in the conversation? Flotrack is suggesting Nixon Chepseba might be in the hunt, and they also quote Nick Willis as calling Chemboi for a big one. But I think the story will come from elsewhere. Read More
Pre Classic Photos Courtesy of TracktownPhoto.com