Sunday, November 18, 2012

Louisville

The NCAA Division 1 Cross-Country Championships were held yesterday in Louisville, Kentucky.  While my own participation in college sports has long since expired, it was fun to fly out with Saucony to watch the races and join Flotrack for race analysis and tailgating.  The races were moved from their long time home of Terre Haute, IN for a new venue spread throughout the Tom Sawyer park in Louisville.  The men’s 10k and women’s 6k courses were flat, firm and promised fast times.  After working with Flotrack  in their pre-race show and race analysis, I hung out with the Saucony crew grilling up burgers and handing out freebies for thousands of spectators.  Once the races began, my attention turned to cheering on the two Dartmouth affiliated athletes who were competing in the women’s race.  Abbey D’Agostino and Lexi Papas (a Dartmouth grad, now running for Oregon) were both highly ranked and promised great results- they did not disappoint.  Abbey finished 2nd, narrowly missing becoming the first Ivy League XC champion in history, and Lexi finished 8th, helping her new team, the University of Oregon, win the overall women’s team championships.  It was a great showing for the Dartmouth girls, although both came with much anxiety.  Abbey’s finish came down to a photo finish with third place, and Lexi’s Oregon Ducks were originally (but incorrectly) announced as finishing second (behind Providence), and only after many protests, review of finish line video and recalculating positions, was the error found and reversed.  The men’s race showed an impressive battle of the Kenyans up front, with multiple undefeated runners meeting for the first time.  Only after they crossed the finish line in a new course record- and fastest championship time in history- did the dust settle with Kennedy Kithuka declared the winner.  Being able to watch and cheer on such a talented group of runners was not only entertaining, but the excitement and camaraderie of the championship atmosphere only boosted my own love of the sport, sparking extra motivation into my own training and reassured time and time again that I have a wonderful job.

Until next time,

Ben

Pre-race filming with Saucony and Flotrack

Grilling for the hungry spectators with fellow Saucony athlete Ashley Higginson 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Last Minute Change


Yesterday I was suppose to toe the line against arguably the strongest 5k field ever assembled on US soil.  The race was the New York Road Runner’s Dash to the Finish, an exhibition race before the New York City Marathon to help showcase the sport and kickstart the running weekend.  After racing in the inaugural race last year, I was excited to make the trek back to the Big Apple and take part in the running festivities.  Unfortunately, the universe had different plans.  In the tragic wake of Hurricane Sandy and the complete destruction of New York, the Dash to the Finish was cancelled.  Luckily, I was notified before I boarded my flight and stayed in New Hampshire to watch as the NYRR frantically attempted to keep the marathon a possibility.  Then came the announcement on Friday afternoon of the marathon’s eventual cancellation.  While I fully understand and support NYRR’s decision not to hold the marathon in such a devastating time for the city, I can’t help but feel bad for those athletes who have worked so hard and have so much at stake in this race.  Personally, while the 5k was going to be a fun race to run, it was going to bring financial gains in forms of appearance fees and contractual bonuses, monies that will now be lost.  For those racing the marathon, these financial incentives were larger, representing half a year’s salary or more- not including the potential for further sponsorship deals and exposure.  Toppled by the months spent training for one race, with all the sacrifices made and missed opportunities, the marathon’s absence made a substantial impact on many.  Don’t get me wrong, the cancellation of the marathon in the wake of Sandy was the correct decision.  New York and the surrounding areas have been hit hard with lives lost and devastation beyond belief.  But the cancellation of the marathon has its own ramifications.  It must have been a difficult decision for all those involved.  I hope those athletes who were preparing to compete in today’s marathon are able to find another race to run so their training is for not, but in the mean time, the images of tens of thousands of would-be marathoners rolling up their selves and aiding those in need are heartwarming and depicts the essence of humanity.  Hopefully through the help of those around, everyone affected by the storm will be able to rise up and repair, stronger than before and greet next year’s race with warmth and excitement.  

Until next time,

Ben