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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In a race against the clock, excitement is often the loser

By the time most of you read this, Shalane Flanagan will have broken Deena Kastor’s eight-year-old marathon American record of 2:19:36.
Or she won’t have.
And that’s the problem with this, or any other, record attempt: It’s a Pass-Fail exam, all black and white, no shades of grey.
finish-lineclockSo while some may set their alarms to 2:30 a.m. on the East Coast to follow Flanagan’s attempt in Berlin online, I won’t be among them. I’ll be up early enough Sunday, on my way to time a local trail race, and I’ll check the Twitter feeds and message boards to see how she did, and if she was successful, file the time away in my memory bank of other semi-useful (or semi-useless, depending on your point of view) athletic facts and figures. Continue reading

Break Up The Americans!

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Annie Bersagel en route to winning the Dusseldorf Marathon. Photo by Victah Sailer, PhotoRun

While it didn’t garner the publicity of Meb Keflezighi’s historic win in Boston on Patriots’ Day, a week later another American was ascending the victory podium in an international marathon.
Annie Bersagel, whose recent athletic career has been almost as peripatetic as Meb’s early life, won the Metro Group Marathon Duesseldorf in 2:28:59, a 1:54 PR and putting her in the select group of American women who have run under 2:30 for the distance. Continue reading