Monday, April 16, 2012

It's a Runner's World: Marathons, Olympic Trials and Track & Field

What better way to kick this off than a little Chariots of Fire!  This will start my coverage of the Athletics (Track & Field) portion on Rock Bottom.  With it being an Olympic year, it will be a great way to see a great sport that unfortunately gets its main recognition due to steroid scandals.  I've linked all the websites so you can read further into each event!

First up we'll have the World Marathon Majors, then I'll dive into the US Olympic Trials just a little bit, then I'll finish with the Visa Championship Series.  Enjoy!

Happy Patriot's Day!  Yes this morning kicks off the 2nd year of what we call the World Marathon Majors.  We start (again) with the 116th Boston Marathon.

The World Marathon Majors is a series consisting of five of the largest and most renowned marathons in the world: Boston Marathon, Virgin London Marathon, BMW Berlin Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon and ING New York City Marathon. In creating the World Marathon Majors, the organizers of these five races recognized an opportunity to advance the sport, raise awareness of its athletes and increase the level of interest in elite racing among running enthusiasts.

The five annual road races in Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York, along with the Olympic Marathon (every 4th year) and IAAF World Championships Marathon (in odd numbered years), serve as the Qualifying Races in the series. At the conclusion of each Qualifying Race, the top five male and female finishers are awarded points based on their finish place.

At the conclusion of each two-year series (this year being the end of 2011-2012), a $1 million prize purse will be split equally between the top male and female point earners. The $1 million prize will be awarded annually meaning that each two-year series will overlap. The inaugural series will be 2006-2007 followed by 2007-2008, 2008-2009 and so on.

The total score for each athlete in a series will consist of points earned from a maximum of four Qualifying Races during that two-year cycle. To be eligible for the jackpot, an athlete must compete in a minimum of one Qualifying Race during each year of the series.

Supposed to be in the 80s today during the race so be careful out there! Race organizers even are allowing this year's participants to defer to next year because of the heat.
Athletes who compete in the marathons receive points for finishing in any of the top five places (1st 25; 2nd 15; 3rd 10; 4th 5 and 5th 1). Their four highest ranks over the two-year period will be counted; if an athlete scores points in more than this number, the athlete's four best races will be scored. To be eligible for the jackpot, an athlete must compete in at least one qualifying race in each calendar year of the series.

That's because of the nature of marathons, you obviously do not compete in every one as even the elite only do a couple each year if that.  Here is this year's schedule:

  • April 16           B.A.A. Boston Marathon
  • April 22           Virgin London Marathon
  • August 5,12   Olympic Games Marathon, London
  • September 30   BMW BERLIN-MARATHON
  • October 8    Bank of America Chicago Marathon
  • November 4   ING New York City Marathon
Here are the standings currently for men and women (I've included first and Americans!)
1. Geoffrey Mutai (KEN) 50 pts.
  •     1st   Boston 2011   2:03:02 25 pts.
  •     1st   New York 2011   2:05:06 25 pts.
15. Ryan Hall (USA) 6 pts.
16. Bekana Daba (USA) 5 pts.

1. Liliya Shobukova (RUS) 40 pts.
  •     2nd   London 2011    2:20:15 15 pts.
  •     1st   Chicago 2011    2:18:20 25 pts
8. Desiree Davila (USA) 15 pts.
20. Kara Goucher (USA) 1 pt.

As a distance runner myself, I've never done one but I know several people who have including my boss, uncles, former coach, and my main man Joobs.  It's a unique event that naturally is not healthy for the human body.  However it is a test of human endurance and more of an experience than anything.  26.2 miles is a long way to go!  

Our 6 Americans competing in London this summer
Back on January 14th, the US Olympic Marathon Trials were held (because the runners need WAY more rest in between races than the other events) and our group of 6 are the following:

3 Men: 
 1 Meb Keflezighi         36 Mammoth Lakes, CA 2:09:08 +0:00 
 2 Ryan Hall                 29 Mammoth Lakes, CA 2:09:30 +0:22 
 3 Abdi Abdirahman 33 Tucson, AZ         2:09:47 +0:39 
 *4 Dathan Ritzenhein 29 Beaverton, OR         2:09:55 +0:47* 

I included Ritz because it was first time we had 4 under 2:10 at the Trials but he doesn't make it, crazy!

3 Women:
1 Shalane Flanagan 30 Portland, OR         2:25:38 +0:00 
2 Desiree Davila         28 Rochester Hills, MI         2:25:55 +0:17 
3 Kara Goucher         33 Portland, OR         2:26:06 +0:28 

Flanagan bested the Trials record by nearly 3 minutes in her debut and only 2nd marathon EVER


The rest of the US Olympic Trials will start June 21 and run (literally waka waka) through July 1 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.  This is the home of the Oregon Ducks and more importantly the legends Steve Prefontaine and coach Bill Bowerman.  I'll get you more pumped up as we get closer, in the meantime...

The Visa Championship Series is a series of track meets from January 28th through June 9, both indoor and outdoor that crowns a male and female champion.

The top American male finisher and top American female finisher in each event of the Visa Championship Series will have their performances assigned a point total based on the IAAF Scoring Tables of Athletics. The athlete whose performance has the highest point total at the end of the Visa Championship Series will be named the Visa Champion.

Although the top performance can come at any of the Visa Championship Series meets, an athlete must compete at the USA Indoor T&F Championships to be named Visa Champion.

This will lead up into the Olympic Trials so it should be very fun to follow how the athletes are peaking/training leading up into this summer.

Visa Championship Series Schedule:

  • U.S. Open at Madison Square Garden: January 28- New York City, New York        
  • New Balance Indoor Grand Prix: February 4- Boston, Massachusetts
  • USA Track & Field Classic: February 11- Fayetteville, Arkansas
  • USA Indoor Championships: February 25 - 26  Albuquerque, New Mexico

USA vs. The World at the Penn Relays (First Outdoor Event)
April 28- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
watch NBC LIVE, April 28, 1:00 - 3:00 PM

Nike Prefontaine Classic
June 2 - Eugene, Oregon
watch NBC LIVE, June 2, 3:00 - 4:30 PM

adidas Grand Prix
June 9 - New York City, New York
watch NBC LIVE, June 9, 3:30 - 5:00 PM

Current Standings
As of 2/26/2012
  1. Galen Rupp      1,255 points
  2. Trell Kimmons  1,237 points
  3. Aries Merritt     1,232 points
  1. Chaunte Lowe         1,221 points
  2. Amber Campbell     1,218 points
  3. Jenn Suhr                1,217 points
If you don't understand Oregon, TrackTown, Prefontaine, or Bowerman, make sure to Netflix this movie, Without Limits from 1998 starring Billy Crudup and Donald Sutherland.