The news hardly gets bigger: Russia suspended from world track and field events. On November 13, Friday the thirteenth for Russia, the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF), led by former gold medal Olympic runner Sebastian Coe voted 22 to 1 to suspend Russia from world competition. The March 17-20 championships in Portland, Oregon, are the first major competition that Russia would miss under its provisional suspension from the IAAF. It resulted from a 343-page document published by The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that revealed pervasive drug use and bribery by officials in Russia to keep the practices secret. Lamine Diack of Senegal who was president until recently is accused of extorting millions of dollars from the Russians to hide the drug cheating evidence. The worldwide ban on Russia participating in track and field events is big news but it is not as far reaching as it could be. If Russian officials can offer evidence in the coming year that they are sincere in following the rules re: doping, they will be allowed to play in the 2016 Olympics. Sebastian Coe has said that the IAAF verification team will be tough, but that remains to be seen.
The suspension has Kenyan officials worried. Recently 33 Kenyans have failed WADA doping tests including Rita Jeptoo and the British newspaper, Sunday Times, reported that 1/5th of Kenya’s gold medal winners from 2001 to 2012 had suspicious blood results. But many fear Kenya's efforts could still prove too little, too late. Three-time world steeplechase champion Moses Kiptanui, and many others, questioned why Kenya's anti-doping agency was left unfunded by Athletic Kenya, the ruling body of racing in Kenya for two full years. In addition, top officials of Athletic Kenya have been accused of making substantial withdrawals of money from an account Nike had deposited as sponsorship funds. If the murky racing situation is not resolved, WADA officials have indicated that Kenya may be banned from track and field events for four years.
More Bang For the Baht
Runners got more than they expected at the Bangkok Half Marathon on November 15: precisely 4 miles more making it the world’s longest half-marathon! After passing through the historic section of Bangkok and past the royal palace, a race official made a mistake and had the 6,000 runners do a u-turn that added over 4 miles making it 17.2 instead of 13.1 miles. Runners wearing GPS watches knew that something was horribly amiss but kept running anyway. To make up for the mistake, the organizers of the half-marathon are sending all participants a t-shirt with the Bangkok’s half-marathon’s logo “'Finisher of 27.6 km” emblazoned on the front. The apologies of the race officials to let this never happen again were met with jokes and derision. Some runners dubbed it the Super Half Marathon and others joked that since the officials raised the price, they raised the mileage too.
Half Plus Marathon!
A high school track member in Pennsylvania was running the Philadelphia Half Marathon for the first time this year. When he didn’t finish the race in a timely manner, his parents contacted the police and asked for help. After an extensive search, the police found that he had inadvertently taken the wrong turn and was running the marathon instead. When he finished the marathon in a little over 5 hours, the police who searched for him asked if they could have their picture taken with him.
A 22-year old Amish man ran the Harrisburg Marathon in 3:05 just missing by 1 minute a Boston qualifying time. What makes this outstanding is that he was wearing traditional Amish garb of a button down shirt, pants with suspenders and black shoes. No matter what the temperature, he runs in this outfit. He started running on the advice of his brother as a way to avoid the temptation of sinning. His goals are to qualify for Boston and someday run an ultra marathon, God willing!
Breaking the Ice
Do you know the definition of a Canadian? The answer is a North American who isn’t armed, has free health care and loves ice hockey. Canadians are also people who know how to run in frigid weather. The magazine, Canadian Runner, ran a feature in November recommending the best running shoes for winter, and they should know! They mentioned three qualities you should look for: extra grip, with a toothy sole; water-proof Gortex lining to keep slush out; and a wide toe box for multiple layers. The Editor’s Pick top shoes were Asics GEL-Fujisetsu 2 G-TX (translation: snow on Mt. Fuji) commenting on their sharp spikes that are good on snow and ice but do not chew up asphalt; Brooks Adrenaline ASR 12 GTX with its monster outsole tread; Merrell All Out Terra Ice with its Vibram outsole; Saucony Xodus 6.0 GTX called the ATV of running shoes.
Once Over the Hill, You Pick up Speed
Nothing could be truer for Hidekichi Miyazaki who has three times set the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest competitive sprinter. He was born 105 years ago on September 22, 1910 and didn’t take up running until he was 90,when his Go partner died and he had nothing to do. At a track meet on his birthday this year, he ran 100 meters in 42:22 setting his third record, but was not pleased. During his practice run he did it in 36 seconds. "Today my target was 35 seconds ... I shed tears of disappointment because I was not in good condition. I am not satisfied with today's time. But I am satisfied that I could cross finish line." However, he should be happy because his centenarian record of 29.83 for 100m still stands. He is called the Golden Bolt because he celebrates each victory with Usain Bolt’s famous stance. He credits his longevity and abilities with daily exercise throughout his life and a moderate diet.
Man Cave Transformed
Runner Mike Padilla had a calf injury and could not train so he decided to tackle his basement instead. His DIY project came in near $8,000 and he and his family who all run, thought it worth every penny. Gone are the barren walls and bare floors replaced with décor that rivals the Adidas office in Portland, Oregon that he visited with his brother who works for Adidas.
To make running on a treadmill more fun, he covered the nearby wall with a dramatic, life size picture of Mo Farah and others sprinting at a race. The athletes inspire him as he pounds on the treadmill. Another wall has a floor-to-ceiling quote from the opening of Chariots of Fire, which reads, “With hope in our hearts and wings on our heels.” A wall near the treadmill has a flat-screen TV and in another section of the basement, he installed a projector with a 92 inch screen to host parties for the upcoming Olympic Trials and other sporting events. The basement floor has a simulated track running through bordered by grass sections made of AstroTurf. In fact, his “man cave” was so successful that everyone in the family loves to use it.