The Heat Is On In, and For, L.A.

If you’re a baseball fan, Spring Training is merely a platter of crudités to hold you until the real feast of the regular season begins next month.

If college hoops is your preference, you’re still a week away from your TV watching smorgasbord of the opening rounds of March Madness, which will culminate in the Final Four crescendo just about the time of baseball’s first pitch.

But if you’re a fan of running, it might be hard to find a weekend that rivals this one, whatever aspect of the sport you favor.

Like track and field? There are indoor championships galore, from the New Balance High School Nationals at New York’s 168th Street Armory, to the NCAA Division I championships at the University of Arkansas’ Tyson Center, perhaps the best venue in the country to stage and watch a track meet.

If your taste tends more toward competition on asphalt, there’s no shortage of high-level races this weekend either.

It began this morning in Jacksonville, FL, where the Gate River Run crowned the USA 15km champions, with Ben True making it three in a row and Amy Hastings taking the women’s crown to prove her preparations for next month’s Boston Marathon are right on schedule.

LAMarathon

Tomorrow, the action is centered on the two biggest cities on either coast. Shortly after 7, the United Airlines New York City Half gets underway, sending more than 20,000 runners, including some of the world’s best, through the streets of Manhattan on a route that runs from Central Park in Midtown, down the West Side, beneath the Battery at the lower tip of the island and finishing at South Street Seaport on the Lower East Side.

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Play Ball!

As the seemingly interminable winter finally begins to loosen its grip, albeit grudgingly, on most of the country, baseball fans everywhere, who see the prospect of green grass and warm weather as little more than a cruel promise right now, have been sustained, as they have for decades, by one thing: spring training, and the promise of the first real games in less than a month.

200px-GateRiverRunLogoRunners have similarly adapted a light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel attitude, knowing that slogging through a slushy 10-miler or speedwork in arctic conditions will be eventually rewarded by balmy races in shorts and singlets.

But while baseball’s first pitch won’t be thrown out for several weeks, for the road racing world, Opening Day is Saturday, and stretches across the weekend with a doubleheader that is sure to satisfy both participants and spectators alike. Continue reading