Rio 2016: American Distance Revival

Rio Olympics Athletics

United States’ Matthew Centrowitz celebrates as he crosses the finish line ahead of Algeria’s Taoufik Makhloufi, left, and New Zealand’s Nicholas Willis, right, to win the men’s 1500-meter final during the athletics event during the Summer Olympics at Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

 

“Are you f***ing kidding me?!!”
                                          – Matt Centrowitz Sr. Continue reading

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Rio 2016: Do-Over

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Image credit: Runners World

“That’s strange,” I thought to myself while browsing the IAAF web site late Thursday morning to catch up on the most recent Olympic Track and Field results, “where is the United States?” I checked to make sure that I had clicked the correct link, and was indeed looking at the results from the heats of the women’s 4 x 100 relay. I looked more carefully, to make sure I hadn’t missed some mention of the U.S. — a DNS or DNF or DQ or something — but the more I looked, the more they weren’t there. Had the U.S., which had been greedily gobbling up medals all week, chosen not to compete in one of its signature events? Continue reading

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Rio 2016: Olympians, Like Us

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“I think everyone here knows what you have to do to get here. And so for her to come here, not only trip but seems like actually quite seriously hurt herself… that sucks. It sucks so bad. “ – Nikki Hamblin, talking about Abbey D’Agostino

“Olympian” is a word that still reverberates with ancient echoes of Greek mythology. Said with the proper sense of awe, it still holds the suggestion that today’s Olympic athletes, especially those competing in the more traditional disciplines, might really be the gods and heroes of our time. To be an Olympian is to be, always and forever, a member of an elite class that dwells among the clouds, while the rest of us admire from the plains.

Or so it seems when we behold the titanic races of repeat champions Usain Bolt or David Rudisha, or take in the astonishing records of Almaz Ayana and Wayde van Niekerk, or appreciate the greatness on final display from legends like Allyson Felix and Tirunesh Dibaba. The point is that unless you have completely given up on the sport, there is an awe and wonder at watching these immortals compete.

And yet, the Olympics also creates moments in which the word “Olympian” dissolves into something entirely different. In those moments, it is only the stage that is immense; at least some of the athletes, it turns out, are human like us. Continue reading

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Rio 2016: Where Were You for Ayana’s 10K WR?

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On Friday, the last full day of running camp, bleary-eyed campers and staff gathered in the auditorium for morning announcements. After nearly a week in which the kids ran twice a day, sat in break-out sessions, played spike ball/dodgeball/volleyball, went on scavenger hunts, and spent every evening being entertained by the tireless recreation staff, you might have expected their energy to be low, fatigued bodies slumped in their seats, half asleep. Continue reading

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Blog On Vacation

Blog posts will be infrequent for the next couple of weeks (OK, they were infrequent last week, too) because I’m spending this time at the Northeast Kingdom Running Camp (NKRC) as a staff coach.  Arguably, I ought to have MORE time to write while I’m here, but no promises. Thank you for your patience, and for checking in.

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Book Review: Today We Die a Little

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He was, for two decades in the mid-twentieth century, the most celebrated sportsman on earth. Even now, he remains exceptionally honoured, with his own statue (one of only four) outside the official Olympic museum in Lausanne. Runner’s World named him the greatest runner of all time — over any distance — as recently as 2013. Yet the facts of his life as a human being are obscured, not just by barriers of time, language, and ideology but, above all, by myth.

 – Richard Askwith, Today We Die a Little!

There is not, and never was, a greater man than Emil Zátopek.

– Ron Clarke Continue reading

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Confidence Game

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It has been a fairly quiet few days up here at the family cottage, overlooking Sawyer’s Cove, halfway up the Maine Coast. I had intended to share this time with Joni, but in the end she couldn’t make the trip, so I’m here alone. And even after accounting for running, making and eating meals, reading the news, starting an odd project here and there, and plenty of sleeping, I still have plenty of time on my hands. Continue reading

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