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Saturday, 16 April 2016 17:09

Boris Berian: How Did Nobody Catch Me?

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Last month Boris Berian struck world indoor 800m gold with a classic front-running display. The American tells us how he went from flipping burgers to the top of the world.

Sister act

Born and raised in Colorado Springs to an Afro-American dad and German mother, Boris Berian was inspired to run by his older sister, Leslie. A nine-time state champion, his 400m sprinting sibling left a lasting impression on kid brother.

“It was my sister that made me decide I wanted to run,” admits Berian, who began his own athletics journey aged 12. “I went to lots of her meets and I loved watching her run.”

4 X freak out

He started out as a 100m and 200m sprinter, but in high school he stepped up to the 400m. It proved an inspired decision as he secured state titles, topping out with a blistering 46.9 in his senior year. Yet, his head had already been turned by this thing, this thing called the 800m.

“My coach randomly threw me in a 4x800m relay race in my junior years,” explains Berian. “I definitely ran a slow time, but I actually enjoyed it. People think I’m crazy to like the 800m more than the 400m, but I feel like it is easier than the 400m.

“I got way more nervous [running the 400m]. Mentally, the 400m freaks me out. It was a painful race for me.”

School’s out

Berian’s star potential became immediately apparent when still a freshman (first year) student at Adams State University, where he won both the indoor and outdoor 800m NCAA Division II titles in 2012.

Yet, a glittering college career did not materialise. After struggling to adapt to the academic rigors of his college he opted to quit school in the spring of 2014.

“I never really liked school,” he says. “It wasn’t for me. I never took it seriously.”

But Berian’s track ambitions never wavered. He took a job at McDonalds and began training alone on a track made of dirt. He barely competed the whole year.

To read the rest, jump on over to SPIKES Powered by IAAF Magazine.

Monday, 11 April 2016 18:52

How Fast Will Kendra Harrison Go?

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How Fast Will Kendra Harrison Go?

 

Kendra Harrison had a rough race in the 60m hurdle final in Portland at the World Champs.

 

What a difference 40 meters and a month make.

 

Running at the Spec Townes Invitational, Kendra Harrison ran 12.36, not only a world leader, but the fastest time ever for a hurdler in her yearly debut!

 

I tweeted Kendra and congratulated her on the race. I asked her one question, how did she feel? did she know she was running fast?

 

Kendra told me that she hit two hurdles and still ran that fast! Think about that! In the one of the most competitive events in track & field, Kendra Harrison has started off her 2016 season in a screamingly fast fashion.

 

Successful hurdle racing requires two different skills, sprinting and hurdling. Mastering them takes years for some. The U.S. has, for 2016, six of the top ten in the world. Who will make it through Eugene? That waits to be seen, but know this, Kendra Harrison is on her way to some very fast times for 2016.

 

Some have suggested that the WR of 12.21 could be in danger. One thing is clear to me, if Kendra Harrison can get those last two hurdles in control, she should go very, very fast.

 

Stay tuned.

 

—Larry Eder

 

Will Claye is one of our most versatile athletes. His medals in the LJ and TJ in 2012 was the first time since 1932 that an American had done such a feat. Claye is a thoughtful, spiritual man who speaks with his athleticism and his positive attitude.

 

Hy-Vee is doing a great thing by their support of the Drake Relays. We salute them for supporting one of the most important meets in the country. Their Rio Previews are brilliant, and the support that they are putting into Drake is one of the largest investments in our sport in North America. If you are a track fan, make it a point of purchasing products at Hy-Vee: they are doing good things for our community. —Larry Eder

 

Drake Relays Presented By Hy-Vee Announces Men's Triple Jump Field

DES MOINES, Iowa - Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee director Brian Brown has unveiled the field for the Rio Olympic Game Preview men's triple jump for the 107th Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee.

 

The event will feature nine jumpers taking off along the homestretch of the Blue Oval including two Olympic medalists and the Bahamian national record holder.

 

Headlining the field is American Will Claye, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist in the triple jump and bronze medalist in the long jump. Claye is also a two-time World Championships bronze medalist and finished the 2015 season ranked No. 7 in the world. He has been ranked as one of the top seven jumpers in the world for five-straight seasons.

 

A fellow 2012 Olympian and the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, Leevan Sands, will challenge Claye in the event. Sands, a native of the Bahamas, holds the country's record in the event at 57-8.5 and has consistently been one of the top jumpers in the world.

 

American Marquis Dendy finished the 2015 season ranked No. 8 in the world will also travel to Des Moines as the reigning U.S. Indoor and outdoor champion in the long jump.

 

The two-time U.S. Indoor triple jump champion Chris Carter is also in the field as one of five competitors that have jumped past 17 meters in the event.

 

Completing the field of talented jumpers are Alphonso Jordan, Josh Honeycutt, Iowa product Troy Doris, Chris Benard and Donald Scott.

 

All nine jumpers will also take part in the 'Leap For The Loot' as part of the triple jump with an additional $1,500 being awarded to the top jumper in each of the event's six rounds. 

 

Combined with the existing purse money, $15,000 in total money is now up for grabs in the men's triple jump.

 

The event and 'Leap For The Loot' are scheduled for the final day of the Relays on April 30 at 2:45 p.m. inside Drake Stadium.

-DRAKE-

The 42nd Prefontaine Classic, a member of the IAAF Diamond League of elite international track & field meets, will be held May 27-28 at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

 

American record holder Christian Taylor's road to a second Olympic gold medal in the triple jump faces a major test at the Prefontaine Classic, which features a unique clash of five gold medalists and a reunion with three college alumni.

 

The Pre Classic's triple jump runway will see four former University of Florida jumpers fuel an intense rivalryall have been world ranked No. 3 or better by Track & Field News in the last two years. It will also be the first meeting on U.S. soil of the four triple jumpers who own the nine longest efforts at Hayward Field, home of the upcoming U.S. Olympic Trials.

 

Christian Taylor, 25, is at the top of all but one major triple jump list. His best of 59-9 (18.21) earned a second World Championships gold medal in Beijing last summer and was just 3¼ inches from Jonathan Edwards' 20-year-old world record of 60-¼ (18.29). Taylor finished the season with his fourth T&FN No. 1 world ranking and fourth IAAF Diamond League trophy - all in the last five years.

 

Omar Craddock, 24, led a 1-2-3 finish of Florida triple jumpers in last year's U.S. championships at Hayward Field with a lifetime best of 57-6¼ (17.53). It was his third U.S. triple jump title, the most by a Florida jumper. He was in line for a bronze medal at last year's World Championships until the final round, settling for 4th. Craddock finished the season ranked No. 3 in the world by T&FN.

 

Will Claye, 24, owns the Hayward Field record with his 57-11¼ (17.66) victory at the 2014 Pre Classic. He already can claim the most Olympic medals of anyone in the field with his triple jump silver and long jump bronze from London in 2012. Claye has the most wind-legal 57-foot jumps at Hayward Field (6) and has not finished lower than second (long jump or triple jump) on this runway since 2013.

 

Marquis Dendy, 23, is set for his Pre Classic debut, but he already has had incredible success on this runway - winning all of his five outdoor NCAA or U.S. titles at Hayward Field, including his wind-legal best of 57-5 (17.50). He was ranked No. 2 in the world in the long jump by T&FN last year and won The Bowerman Award as the nation's top collegiate male athlete. His 2016 campaign already includes a long jump gold medal at the World Indoor Championships with the year's longest jump.

 

France's Teddy Tamgho, 26, is the indoor World Record holder and won the 2013 World Championships gold medal at 59-2¼ (18.04), making him one of history's five members of the 59-foot club. Twice ranked No. 1 in the world by T&FN (2010 & '13), he also won gold at the 2010 World Indoor Championships.

 

Benjamin Compaore, 28, is also from France and preceded Tamgho as World Junior gold medalist in 2006 (Tamgho won in 2008). Compaore is the reigning European champion and his best of 57-4¼ (17.48) to win the 2014 IAAF Continental Cup is his country's best since Tamgho's 2013 effort.

 

China's Bin Dong, 27, is the newly-crowned World Indoor champion and has a best of 57-1½ (17.41). His gold-medal jump of 56-10¼ (17.33) at Portland is the best by a Chinese jumper outside of his homeland.

 

Alexis Copello, 30, of Cuba is set to make his U.S. debut. He earned bronze at the 2009 World Championships and has ranked as high as No. 2 in the world by T&FN (2010).

 

Men's Triple Jump

Personal Best

Christian Taylor (USA)

59-9

(18.21)

Teddy Tamgho (France)

59-2¼

(18.04)

Will Claye (USA)

58-3

(17.75)

Alexis Copello (Cuba)

58-¼

(17.68)

Omar Craddock (USA)

57-6¼

(17.53)

Marquis Dendy (USA)

57-5

(17.50)

Benjamin Compaore (France)

57-4¼

(17.48)

Bin Dong (China)

57-1½

(17.41)

 

Fans can follow the event lineups on eugene.diamondleague.com. The direct link to current start/entry lists is posted HERE and will include updates to all announced fields. Additional news, photos, and videos may be found on PreClassic.com, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.  

 

Tickets for the 42nd annual edition of the Prefontaine Classic, to be held May 27–28 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., are available now at www.GoDucks.com as well as from 1-800-WEBFOOT.

 

The Prefontaine Classic is the longest-running outdoor invitational track & field meet in America and is part of the elite IAAF Diamond League of meets held worldwide annually. The Pre Classic's results score has rated No. 1 or No. 2 in the world in each of the last five years by All-Athletics.com, the official data partner of the Diamond League. Sponsored by NIKE continuously since 1984, the Prefontaine Classic will be shown live to an international audience and by NBC and NBC Sports Network.

 

Steve Prefontaine is a legend in the sport of track & field and is the most inspirational distance runner in American history. He set a national high school 2-mile record (8:41.5) while at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay, Oregon, that is the fastest ever in a National Federation-sanctioned race. While competing for the University of Oregon, he won national cross country championships (3) and outdoor track 3-Mile/5000-meter championships (4), and never lost a collegiate track race at any distance. As a collegiate junior, he made the 1972 U.S. Olympic Team and nearly won an Olympic medal, finishing 4th in the 5K at the 1972 Munich Olympics, at age 21. After finishing college in 1973 and preparing for a return to the Olympics in 1976, he continued to improve, setting many American records. His life ended tragically on May 30, 1975, the result of an auto accident, at age 24. The Pre Classic began that year and has been held every year since.

Thursday, 31 March 2016 18:21

Matt Centrowitz - IAAF WIC Portland 2016 - Day 4

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Matthew Centrowitz won an exciting race on Sunday, March 20 at the 2016 World Indoors. Nick Willis made an amazing move with 500 meters to go and held the lead until the last thirty meters! Matt Centrowtiz went by Willis just as European Indoor Champ Jakub Halousa grabbed the silver and Robbie Andrews finished fourth! Here is an interview, filmed by Tim Jeffries for the Shoe Addicts, of Matthew Centrowitz after his fine race! SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO.

Thursday, 31 March 2016 18:14

Shannon Rowbury - IAAF WIC Portland 2016 - Day 4

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Shannon Rowbury ran an interesting race in the 3000 meters. With Genzebe Dibaba going out hard after 1k, and Meseret Defar guarding her silver medal, Shannon Rowbury ran a smart, tactical race, running for a medal and keeping the bronze medal in the 2016 World Indoor Championships. Here is her post-event interview, filmed by Tim Jeffries, after the 3000 meters on Sunday, March 20.  (Scroll down)

Thursday, 31 March 2016 18:07

Vashti Cunningham at IAAF World Indoor Champs

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Vashti Cunningham enchanted many with her win and WJR at the US Indoor Champs on March 12-13. Then, on March 20, Vashti Cunningham came back and won the World Indoor title. On March 21, several media sources were noting that Vashti Cunningham was going pro, and signing a contract with Nike. A busy week! Here is the Shoe Addicts interview from the post high jump!  SCROLL DOWN FOR THE INTERVIEW.

It was something this crowd had never seen before. On a day of finals that resulted in first-time medal winners, some coming in events the U.S. had never won in before, and the rise of new stars going into an Olympic year, the U.S. put together two relays that matched the level of competition and took their 22 and 23 medals to break the record for most medals of any country at a single World Indoors.

 

Natasha Hastings burst out of the blocks for U.S.A. to take the lead and never looked back. As they raced around the corner with the crowd cheering, Jamaica's first leg fell, unable to get up. The crowd hushed while the rest of the teams raced on. Medical attention was called over and eventually used a wheelchair to get the injured runner.

 

From there, the U.S. steadily built on their lead. Natasha Hayes and Courtney Okolo both split 51 seconds for the second and third laps while Ashley Spencer capped off the finish almost five seconds ahead of the field. Their final time of 3 minutes, 26.38 seconds is the world leading time this year and the fastest time run by any team indoors on U.S. soil.

 

Poland, Romania, and Nigeria battled for the other podium spots switching leads throughout the race. Poland finished second in 3:31.15 and Romania took third in 3:31.51.

 

To finish the day and the championships, the U.S. men's victory was almost as definitive. Kyle Clemons matched the Bahamas stride for stride on the first leg, but an excellent handoff to Calvin Smith allowed the U.S. to start to separate. Smith handed off to Chris Giesting who was able to gain a few steps ahead of the field. On the final leg, Vernon Norwood took the baton and immediately created a visible gap as the crowd gasped. The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica were left to sort out the rest of the places.

 

Team U.S.A.'s 3:02.45 leads the world this year and is the third fastest ever run indoors. Bahamas' second place 3:04.75 and Trinidad and Tobago's third place 3:05.51 both set new national indoor records.

 

As the crowds dispersed, they discussed what they had seen. Tomas Rees' favorite event was the relay and long jump. He came with his dad David. And while he is more of a soccer fan, he said he was impressed. He was even able to take a photo with Mo Farah (did not compete) who also happened to be in the crowd.

 

They reside in Portland and since David was a runner in high school and college, he is a longtime fan. They planned to attend shortly after tickets went on sale. Others came from Bend, OR, San Francisco, CA, the East Coast, and all over as fans mingled with longtime followers of the sport, Masters athletes, former Olympians, current professionals (particularly those in the Portland training groups like Mo Farah, Shalane Flanagan, Amy Hastings Cragg, and others), and people who had never seen anything like this before.

 

The organizing committee gave high school relays time during the meet which brought in their coaches and families who had never been to a meet of this scope while there were still people who had attended multiple Olympic Trials and other events throughout the years.

 

Medal ceremonies were held in Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland and people wandered in and out to see what was going on on one of the first nice weekends Portland experienced all winter. On Saturday afternoon, kids ran up and down on the green turf while their parents enjoyed the sun. And that evening during the medals ceremony, the square was full of track fans who got to high-five athletes on their way up to the medals podium and then hang out with them after as some chose to wander through the crowd while the live band played. As the Portland Timbers game finished, some of those attendees trickled in to see what was going on.

 

Rees enjoyed the format of the meet. "I thought they staged it particularly well. The meet moved really quickly. The way they engaged the crowd was great," he said. "I really, really liked the way they did the pole vault on Thursday night. I've gone to a lot of track meets and I've watched the pole vault in passing, but to actually have a focus on it made it much more interesting and kind of got to know the jumpers more because you're watching them in sequence and paying more attention to it. I thought that was a stroke of brilliance."

 

And for him and his son, having been so close to the action will make this summer's Rio Olympics much more relatable. Rees said, "I'll probably root for some of the people I watched here."

 

By Lindsay Rossmiller

 
Thursday, 31 March 2016 02:37

USATF Diaries: Why I Enjoyed the USA Indoors

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The USA Indoor Champs has a tradition that is over one hundred years, closer to 130 years now. Indoor track has a tradition that dates back in many large cities to the late 19th century, starting in New York at the old Madision Square Gardens and in Boston, of course.

 

In the late 19th century, there were match races, where runners such as Lon Myers took on various competitors, with Myers running from scratch (the actual start) and various competitors given certian breaks, such as Myers running 300 yards and various competitors given 10 yards, fifteen yards, perhaps more. These races proved to be quite exciting to the viewers, however, indoor track became much more pasteurized over the past decades, which, along with costs, and the malaise of sponsors over the sport, lead, in many cities, to the demise of the sport.

 

One of my most prized possessions is a post card from my maternal grandfather, Earl Robertson. He wrote a note about Paavo Nurmi, who he had read about running US indoor races in the late 1920s and early 1930s in the US. Nurmi barnstormed around the country, setting records over arcane distances like the 1 and 1/4 miles, 1 and 1/2 miles and going under 9 minutes for two miles. Those meet directors in the 1920s and 1930s knew that they were in the entertainment business. Somehow, we forgot that.

 

The Millrose Games in the MSG was killed due to lack of respect for the event and the venue. Changing the night of the meet, after 80 years, destroyed generations of business guys, who had run as high schoolers, from hitting the bar for an adult beverage, watching the meet, and getting out in time to take the train home. The MSG folks did not help by sucking up any profit from the meet. Fortunately, the meet has a new home and sponsor at the Armory.

 

Thank God for the NB Armory in NY and the Reggie Lewis in Boston. Both sanctuaries of indoor track provide opportunities for over 100,000 athletes a year to compete in track. I recall going to the 2011 NB Indoor and speaking to several young athletes who told me that their schools did not have outdoor track, and indoor track was their sport.

 

We tend to shoot ourselves in the foot in this sport.

 

In Boston, when the USA Indoors was there, a fine meet, the NB Indoor, a sell out for over fifteen years would be one month before the US Indoors. However, with no promotions, the USA Indoors would fill less than half of the Reggie Lewis. When the USA Indoors moved to Albuquerque, the smaller facility was getting to where the event should be held, but again, the crowd (only sat three thousand) was seldom full. It was kind of like, well, we have to do this damn thing, but put as little into it as possible.

I have to say that I loved the 2015 USA Indoors with the mile, 2 mile and 1000 meters. Finally, trying to do something a little different. I still think we should have a guy like Vernon Norwood take on all comers, from high school kid to masters, giving them a bit of a break and seeing who finishes first. That would truly shake things up. You could do same in shot put, have Reese Hoffa or Kurt Roberts throw against two high school kids and see who throws farther!

 

While I still hold the belief that the powers that be feel fans will just show up, the USA Indoors in Portland actually showed some amazing advancements.

 

First, the facility was first class. I have visited at least three dozen different indoor facilities around the world. I would have to say that Portland was in the top two, top three.

 

There was not a bad seat in the house. Do not get me started on the seating in Albuquerque.

Even with many top talents resting for the long road to Rio, the combination of young and veteran athletes added excitement to the event.

The USA Indoor had some great rivalries. Jenn Suhr, Demi Payne and Sandi Morris-Wow! The women's pole vault was fantastic. Both 1,500 meters and 800 meters-tremendous. And the women's 60 meter hurdles-dear god, that might be the best race of the meet!

 

On day two, the crowd was electric. Race after race after race was all about competition. Rivalries are key!

 

There is still time to be cut out of the schedule, but I would give the USA Indoor a strong B, which is two grades better than any other USA Indoor in the past decade.

 

My belief is that either we committ to doing a US Indoor Champs or take it to every other year. We can not afford to do meets that are done half assed.

 

I recall a talk by Steve Miller, when he was a Nike, nearly twenty years ago. Steve told the assembled masses that our sport felt put upon. He commented on the long track meets, always behind schedule. And Steve was right.

 

The 2016 USA Indoor Champs was a step in the right direction. Let's try and learn from the meet and plan on using those improvements to build upon in 2017.

Track & field is essentially an individual sport where finely-tuned, driven athletes pursue individual records and honors. True enough, global championships such as these of course have a team component where countries strive to accumulate an overall medal count of which they will be proud. But, in reality, national medal counts are an aggregation of the medal-worthy performances of their individual countrymen and countrywomen.

 

But there is an exception to the usually-solitary pursuit of track and field greatness. The relays. Especially the granddaddy show-closer: the 4 x 400m. When 4 individual athletes combine to create a racing quartet for their country, the relay mates - who normally warily view each other as their rivals in the individual competitions - are suddenly galvanized by a common purpose: win that medal, preferably a golden one!

 

And when the foursome is comprised of American men racing the 4x4, there is an additional element of bonding. Just ask any quarter miler who's ever had a global 400 meter carry for the Red, White, and Blue, and he'll tell you: "The only medal is the gold medal. Lose this event? The United States doesn't lose the men's 4x4. We own this event!"

 

This morning session's concluding event was the first round of the men's 4 x 400 meter relay with the 6 fastest teams advancing to Sunday's final. In these global competitions, top contenders try to find the right balance: send a little message to the other nations while not showing too much of the hand they'll play in the final. In heat one, the Belgium quartet - with 3 Borlee brothers in the lineup - cruised to an easy 3:07.39 win when brother Kevin held off the Bahamas [3:07.55] and anchor Chris Brown on the final leg. In the second and final heat, Team USA took on Nigeria and Jamaica. Young Alvion Bailey led off for the Red, White, and Blue with a 46.7 to give the US a slight lead as he handed off to Calvin Smith who pushed out the US advantage with a 46.1 leg. Running third, Chris Giesting turned in the best American split of the morning - 45.7 - to give his teammate Patrick Feeney a comfortable lead for his anchor duty. Unchallenged, Feeney - who will long be remembered for his memorable 2015 Penn Relays "USA v. America" anchor leg which turned back a powerful Jamaican quartet for the win the very first time Feeney donned a USA singlet - ran an effective, albeit conservative, 46.9 for a stress-free win for Team USA [3:05.41].

 

The animated foursome spoke freely in the mixed zone. Inspired, not pressured, is how Bailey sees the current 400 meter athletes who face the challenge and the responsibility of carrying on America's dominating heritage in this event. "There is not necessarily any pressure. We just want to be great," declared today's lead-off runner. "The history of the 4x4 of the U.S. is so big and goes so deep. And we have respect for it. I'm just trying to find my place and state my name. That is really just what I'm trying to do. There's really no pressure especially when we've got people like Calvin, Chris, and Feeney. It makes it a lot easier when you know they've got your back."

 

Smith, the 28-year-old veteran on this morning's U.S. 4x4 squad, shared his views on the role of this opening round and what Team USA hoped to accomplish. "We just wanted to go out there and win and [like a killer stage performer] just kind of drop the baton. That makes everybody else say, 'Them boys really hit and run.' I think we accomplished that today and we've got more to come in the finals."

 

One of the larger challenges facing all 4x4 finalists is determining whether or not any last minute tinkering should be implemented before Sunday's final. Should a personnel change be considered? Should a fresh athlete from the relay pool be substituted? Should the lineup order be reshuffled? Former Notre Dame star Giesting offered his views. "We don't know yet. We're going to talk about it tonight after this race and see who's healthy, who's ready to go. And whatever four it is, I know they're going to give it their all and bring home the gold for the USA."

 

Feeney, Giesting's former teammate at South Bend, cites his USATF debut last spring at Franklin Field as solidifying his confidence for similar challenging assignments. "I know it was great that USATF had the confidence in me to anchor at Penn Relays last year. I was real nervous going into it, but I knew this was my first opportunity and I didn't want to let them down. That helped carry me through. And then I found out I was anchor today, and I was pumped again. So I knew these three guys were going to give me a lead and sort of bring it home and get us to that final tomorrow. The main thing is just getting to that final with the top time." Mission accomplished.

 

Before the U.S. quartet left to rest up for Sunday's final, the group fielded one last inquiry. Which finals team is their biggest concern? Tentative teammates hesitated, until the seasoned Smith - perhaps hinting that self-inflicted wounds must be avoided - blurted, "The USA!" 

 

Added Feeney, "If we go out and do what we need to do, I think it's going to be a good race for sure. But we're going to do whatever it takes to bring home the gold."

 

Can this new generation of American long sprinters add luster to the U.S. legacy in the event that American track and field considers as its very own?

 

This evening, we find out.

 

Dave Hunter, who ran his marathon P.R. of 2:31:40 on the highly revered Boston Marathon course back in the Paleozoic era, is a track and field announcer, broadcaster, and journalist.

Website: http://www.trackandfieldhunter.com