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Track & Field (189)

Mark Cullen wrote for us in Beijing in 2015. Here is his first piece of the Olympic Trials for RunBlogRun, on the men's and women's 20k race walks. Mark has a superb blog at www.trackerati.com.

The 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field will be broadcast live from Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon Friday, July 1 through Sunday, July 10 via NBC and it’s family of networks. Check local listings for TV channel assignment.

By Cait Chock
Tara Welling is right back chasing her Olympic Dream. Distance runners are often accustomed to forcing their mind to supersede what the body is saying, but last spring Welling could no longer ignore the physical. After a torn hamstring, Welling was at peace with veering from one dream and set out on a search for another.
 
Until, the itch came back. Living in Portland, Oregon and married to a competitive runner, many of Welling's friends were runners and after a three month layoff, her hamstring fully healed, she partook in what had been her passion for so many years. She went for a run.
 
Tentatively at first, she went in with no expectations, no definitive plan, nothing more than being out doing something she loved with people she loved being around. Keeping up with fast friends and with an inborn goal-oriented drive, Welling found herself curious. Could she get back in racing shape? How fast could she be? Had she really, truly, given up her dream or had she just needed a reminder that injuries don't last forever? Yes, very, and a reminder is all it takes.
 
Welling started hitting the workouts from Scott Guerro, her Loyola Marymount College coach, and in time caught the eye of Jonathon Marcus. Marcus was now living his dream, spearheading a highly competitive racing team unlike any other. The concept for which was something he had been working towards for years: a means to unite the incredible amount of unsponsored talent across the greater Portland area. Talent that came from individuals balancing training between school, work, and family. He dreamt of a set-up that saw their 'outside life' parameters not as obstacles, but rather, as assets. Marcus's highly individualized training plans work around each of his athletes' other commitments and spins the traditional training-focused grind to this: creating a life outside of the track makes you better on the track. From balance comes better performance. A 'simple theory' often preached but effectively pulling it off is a far cry from easy.
 
Marcus had, High Performance West, and Welling's renewed drive to race couldn't have come at a more perfect time. Even still in its infancy stages, HPW had already raised eyebrows and anyone in the 'know' knew it would be something big. Welling joined instantly recognizable names like Nicole Blood, Julia Webb, McKayla Fricker, and Jen Bergman among others.
 
"HPW and Marcus have helped me come back to the sport because it is a low stress environment and there isn't much emphasis on every single workout," shares Welling. "We always keep the big picture in mind and don't let one workout define the shape we are in." In addition to running, Welling works part time as a real estate broker's assistant and is currently working on her real estate license.
 
Thanks to the perspective brought from injuries, Welling also has learned there are times when you need to quiet the mind's urge to grind and tune into the body. "Since coming back, Marcus has been great in letting me have a voice in my training and listening to the feedback I give him on a daily basis. When writing a workout it is sometimes a back-and-forth process between him and I." In the end, Marcus has the final ruling, but both coach and athlete take each workout with a high degree of flexibility, which could mean breaking up the intervals or using progressive runs.
 
Stepping to that first starting line came with some nerves and a necessary degree of rust-busting. "The first few races after coming back to the sport were pretty hard for me, but it was also a time when I was truly enjoying what I was doing, so it was bittersweet." Competitive by nature, and knowing she wasn't at the fitness level she had been accustomed to racing at, it took both courage and the support of her team to put herself out there. "I remember a few times after races calling Marcus and saying I was never going to be able to run fast again or set PR's, but he has unending faith that he is able to instill in athletes. I don't know how he does it, but it works and I think my teammates would agree."
 
As races and times progressed, rightfully so did her confidence, PR's have a way of doing that. Welling was back chasing that Olympic Dream at full force, "My only goal for the Trials is to make the team." A goal that she, Coach Marcus, and all her teammates firmly stand behind.
 
As we approach the Trials, Welling has dropped her mileage down to 85 from the usual 100 miles per week, "I have backed off the miles a bit now because we are more focused on running fast." Placing 10th at the Bolder Boulder this past Memorial Day, Welling had come directly from a month of altitude training camp in Flagstaff. "I love putting in the high mileage and feeling exhausted from training everyday, but I always have sub-par workouts at altitude and find myself eager to race."
 
Welling admits she craves the anticipation and excitement of a race atmosphere between large blocks of training. "I know that a race will give me a better workout then doing what is assigned on paper because I will have the extra endorphins from a race atmosphere. I had higher expectations at Bolder, but overall I wasn't too displeased." The race was made even more special having grown up an 'Air Force Kid'; Welling's father, grandfather, uncles, and aunts all serve. "To run into the stadium with everyone chanting USA just gives you chills. I loved the camaraderie amongst the girls and being able to race for something greater than yourself."
 
With those Marcus prescribed Wednesday and Saturday workouts, Welling does her long run on Sunday (15-18 miles) and a mid-week medium long run of 14 miles. She doesn't have a staple workout for the simple reason that Marcus doesn't want his athletes to get overly focused on looking back and comparing their times. Instead, Marcus is a master of ingenuity and some of Welling's favorite workouts are mile repeats and long runs with the last 7-10 miles progressively faster.
 
With all eyes on the Trials, "I will have done all the preparation needed, so I am not worried about what the finishing time is. After the Trials, and hopefully Olympics, I will turn my focus back to the roads and hopefully run another half marathon with the goal of getting under 1:10:25."
 
Back chasing her dream, she's enjoying every step.
 
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Caitlin Chock (caitchock.com) set the then National High School 5k Record (15:52.88) in 2004 and previously ran for Nike. A freelance writer and artist, you can see more of her work on her website and Instagram @caitchock.
Mark Winitz starts off his coverage for the US Olympic Trials for RunBlogRun and Caltrack.com with his feature interview on Barbara Nwaba.
 
By Mark Winitz
If her past three track and field seasons are any indication, U.S. multi-event athlete Barbara Nwaba is poised to turn heads in an important Olympic year. The 2012 graduate of University of California, Santa Barbara, who competes for the heptathlon and decathlon focused Santa Barbara Track Club, won the heptathlon at the 2015 U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships while scoring a personal record 6,500 points. That score ranked her #6 in the world last year, and #1 in the U.S. Only five U.S. athletes in history have turned in higher scores for the seven-event heptathlon competition composed of the 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m, long jump, javelin, and 800m. Of course, the U.S. and world all-time list is headed by legendary Jackie Joyner-Kersee who scored the current world record of 7,291 in 1988 at the Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea.
 
Last March, at the 2016 U.S. Indoor Combined Events Championships in Portland, Nwaba, age 27, captured the win in the indoor pentathlon (composed of five events) with 4,415 points, a personal best. That was followed by a fourth place overall and top American performance at the IAAF World Indoor Championships with 4,661 points, another personal best. Then, switching to outdoors, on May 29 she placed fifth and top American with a 6,360-point heptathlon at the prestigious international Hypo Meeting in Götzis, Austria which is billed as the most prestigious meet for multi-event athletes outside of the Olympic Games. Canada's Brianne Theisen Eaton--a favored contender for a medal in Rio--won the event with 6,765 points.
 
How has Nwaba acquired the multiple, refined skills to sit near the top of the world in multi events? Where did she come from and where is she headed at the relatively young athletic age of 27? Let's find out.
 
Nwaba was born and raised in Los Angeles by parents who moved to the U.S. from Nigeria. She is the oldest in a family of six brothers and sisters. In elementary school, she was heavily active in an after school sports program organized by LA's Best which involves children in a different sports activity every month. She graduated from LA's University High School in 2007 where she competed in the California State Track and Field Championships as both a Junior and Senior, in the 300m hurdles and high jump. Nwaba was recruited by the University of California, Santa Barbara where she graduated in 2012 with a Sociology degree.
 
It was at UC Santa Barbara where Nwaba first met Josh Priester, the coach that guides her today. Following a successful multi-event athletic career at George Fox University, Priester was hired by UC Santa Barbara in 2008 to coach the sprints, hurdles, and combined events. Nwaba was in her sophomore year at UCSB after competing in the hurdles and high jump as a freshman.
 
"I distinctly remembered our first coach-athlete meeting," Priester recalled. "I found that Barbara had done some high jumping in high school. I took one look at her and thought she was probably going to be able to take up the throws because she is a big, strong girl. I asked her 'what do you think about training for the heptathlon?' Her first question was 'what's the heptathlon?' So, I explained all the events and told her that there was an 800 at the end of it. She wasn't too excited about that. Ironically, Nwaba had the fastest 800m time (2:07.13) in the world last year for the heptathlon."
 
Priester served as the Associate Director of Track & Field at UCSB until the summer of 2012 when he left the college. That Fall, Priester and Nwaba formed the Women's Athletic Performance Foundation, a non-profit organization specifically to support U.S. female elite multi-event athletes. In 2013, the organization evolved into Women's Athletic Performance Foundation "doing business as" Santa Barbara Track Club, to include male multi-eventers.
 
"The driving force behind the whole thing is to improve the heptathlon and pentathlon in the U.S.," Priester said.
 
And, what is Priester's general coaching philosophy that he employs to successfully develop Nwaba and some of the other finest combined event athletes in the nation?
 
"There's no cookie cutter approach to training for the decathlon or heptathlon," Priester believes. "Some athletes can handle a lot more volume than others. So, the most important thing is getting to know the person and not just the athlete. In my opinion, the athletics take care of themselves when you truly have the best interests of the person in mind. The nature of the decathlon is eliminating weaknesses over time. If you can eliminate weaknesses and have an even keel you can do really well in the multis."
 
Priester's club now includes 12 open division athletes. Watch for at least four of them at the upcoming U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials: heptathletes Nwaba (who is the top women's automatic qualifier) plus Lindsay Lettow and Lindsay Schwartz, and decathlete Tom FitzSimons (who will likely compete based on minimum field sizes).
 
Under Priester's direction, the organization also organizes a youth section of the club that currently has over 125 youth athletes who are guided and mentored by the club's elite/open athletes, plus track and field and cross country camps and clinics for youth and high school athletes, and private and group training programs. Santa Barbara Track Club also organizes the Sam Adams Combined Events Invitational--all at Westmont College in Santa Barbara where SBTC trains. Priester currently works as an Assistant Track and Field Coach at Westmont, an NAIA member school.
 
Both Ashton Eaton (the reigning world record holder in the decathlon and indoor heptathlon) and his wife, Brianne Theisen-Eaton (the Canadian heptathlon record holder) spend much of each winter and spring training in Santa Barbara, hosted by Westmont College and the Santa Barbara Track Club.
 
The SBTC and its athletes, including Barbara Nwaba, are sponsored by ABEO biomechanical footwear.
 
Nwaba_Barbara800m-USAout15.jpgBarbara Nwaba, photo by PhotoRun.net
 
We caught up with Nwaba two weeks before the start of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials and asked her some questions about her training, progress to date, and her outlook for the Trials and beyond. The interview is below.
 
Q: Barbara, how did the Santa Barbara Track Club come about with you and Josh?
 
During the last few months of my Senior year (at UCSB) Josh told me that he was thinking about starting his own non-profit and giving me and other athletes a situation where I could train and live without struggling too much. Luckily, my athletics at UCSB went well. Otherwise, I didn't know where I was going to go. Because, with the multi events, it's really hard to find a post-collegiate training situation.
 
Q: Yes, you're certainly blessed in that respect--having other multi-eventers to train with. On any particular day, do you focus your training on one specific event as a group? Or, are you spread over the track in groups, working on different events?
 
In the Fall, we're pretty much all together. That's when we do a lot of our general conditioning work. We're not doing a lot of technical work yet. The wintertime is when we start doing a little more technical work and we usually do it all together at that point. In the spring, it gets a little harder because everyone is on different pages depending on their competition schedule.
 
It's great having a group that's pretty much all on the national stage. When we first started the club it was only me and it was really hard. I was asking 'Is this what professional track life is like? I want someone else out here with me.'
 
Q: Can you describe what a typical in-season training week looks like for you?
 
Yes, we have Sundays off. We come back on Monday where we have shot put. We start with a little longer warmup, going through a netball series of drills. After that we do some grass running to shake off the rust from the weekend--maybe some 200s combined with a couple of 100-meter striders. Tuesdays and Thursdays are a little harder where we do two technical events and work out up to four hours. Tuesday is long jump and sprints. Wednesday is our active recovery day so everything is non-impact. We can go on the bike, stationary bike, or ElliptiGO® (outdoor elliptical bicycle). Thursdays is hurdles, high jump, and a little bit of grass running. And, on Tuesdays and Thursdays we always go to the weight room and lift: A lot of Olympic lifting and cleans, bench press, inclines, netball, plus a lot of plyometrics. Fridays are javelin and our 800 or 1, 500 meter workouts. We also might lift on Fridays or have active recovery again.
 
Q: How important is it for you to work with other athletes during your workouts? How do the other athletes in SBTC support you during workouts?
 
It's definitely a huge benefit having other athletes with you. All of us have different talents and specialties. Like, my best event is high jump. The long jump is usually one of my tougher events. But Lindsay Lettow is an awesome long jumper. So, every now and then, when something my coach is telling me isn't really clicking, maybe she sees something and she might say 'Hey, Barb, maybe if you try this...' So, if you're willing to accept it, everyone can give you cues to help you get better. That's, definitely a huge benefit.
 
Even just watching other athletes, seeing how they go through the process--say, like wow, the way she turns her foot is something that I never do, That's definitely been a big help because I'm very much a visual learner.
 
Q: Coach Priester has guided you since your collegiate days. What are the key aspects of his guidance that have contributed the most to your development?
 
I think, a lot of it is his positive outlook. He was a multi-eventer himself, so he is very aware of the mentality that must have when you compete. Especially, if things go bad, he's, like, Hey, you're fine. Look at the bigger picture. He's the person that always believes more than I thought I was capable of. If sometimes I feel like this is it for me he'll come in and be, like: This is where I see you in the future. This is where you'll be if you just keep on the path you're going. I see you at this level. He's always upbeat. That energy, you just feed off it.
 
Q: You've experienced steady improvements over the past several years, to the point where you were ranked sixth in the world last year in the hep and first in the U.S. with a 6,500-point outing at the 2015 U.S. Outdoor Champs. Can you tell me what's contributed the most to these improvements?
 
It's definitely the time I've spent in the sport. Just learning the events is the biggest part for any multi-event athlete. For example, a single-event athlete, such as a long jumper, might hit the runway three or four times a week. Well, multi-eventers can only hit the runway once because we have other events to work on, The more time we spend at any particular event, the better we get at it. Most of my success to date is just patience and time and knowing that if you just keep at it things will get better.
 
Also, having the experience at big meets. I've been competing at the U.S. Championships since my junior year in college when I redshirted. Also, learning how to just step back, be yourself, relax, and do your own thing...and the points will just happen.
 
Q: In a seven-event competition such as the heptathlon how do you keep your focus on the event that you're competing in, without thinking about what happened in the previous event or what's coming up next?
 
No matter what the outcome in a specific event, I have to process what happened and park it. You need to reflect on what happened in any particular event when the meet is over. You can't waste energy on events that are already finished. Plus, in practice, we go through a progression for each event. For example, I know the specific warm-ups I need to do for every specific event. If I just go through those steps, I know I'll be fine. I'll know my mindset has changed to 'OK, now I'm specifically a 200-meter runner,' or 'now, I'm just a long jumper and nothing else matters.' If I constantly practice this in training I know I'll be OK.
 
Q: Do you want to talk about your experience at the outdoor World Championships in Bejiing last year? You recorded new PRs in the javelin and shot put, but the hurdles posed a bit of a challenge. What did you learn from your experience?
 
Editor's Note: Nwaba had a heartbreaking hurdles race--the hep's first event of the day. She mis-stepped hurdle one, then hit hurdles two and five going down both times. She did not finish the race, lost valuable points, and ultimately finished 27th in the hep competition.
 
It you're talking about experience, that was pretty much the biggest stage I've ever been on. I was seeing all these amazing athletes all around me. So, I almost felt that I was out of my element when I went into the hurdles. I was nervous. I think I just pressed too much in that race. I'd never taken an eighth step into the first hurdle. It just came out of nowhere. But continuing on to complete the competition was essential. I knew that it was the best practice that I could get going into an Olympic year. I was very proud of myself about everything else I was able to do at Outdoor Worlds.
 
Q: Moving ahead a little, to this year's big outdoor season, you had an excellent opener outdoors at the Hypo meet in Austria among a number of the best heptathletes in the world. That fifth place performance must now give you a lot of confidence going into the U.S. Olympic Trials and, hopefully, beyond to Rio.
 
Definitely if I repeat that kind of performance in Eugene I should be fine. Last year, winning USA's and then competing in the World Championships, I was in awe. Now, I feel like, yes, I belong. There's no need to be in awe, or be afraid. I just need to trust in my abilities. Now, I'm ready to go and just do my own thing.
 
Q: At this point, are you looking a little bit past the Trials? Do I dare ask, if you are competing in Rio, who your biggest competition might be? Brianne Theisen-Eaton?
 
Definitely. She's just a monster. As far as I can see among the top spots--who really wants it and has been working hard--it's Brianne for sure. She's been at the top for so many years now. It's always been a blast competing against her. Then there's Laura Ikauniece-Admidiņa from Latvia. She placed third at Worlds last year and had a huge PR (6,622 points) in the hep this year (at the Hypo Meeting in Austria). Also, Carolin Schäfer from Germany. So, if I want to get up there on the podium in Rio those are the girls I'll need to contend with.
 
But right now I'm not focused so much on that moment. Right now, it's just getting through the U.S. Trials and just making sure that I execute there.
 
Q: Barbara, what are your other goals this year besides that big, ultimate goal of representing the U.S. at the Olympic Games?
 
Yes, the ultimate goal is to make my first Olympic team. I'd also love to go out there, pull it all together, and PR. It would be great to keep climbing up there on the U.S. (all-time) list.
 
Q: And, what are your long-term goals in the sport?
 
Hopefully, to go another four years and, hopefully, to make two Olympic teams. And, hopefully, to reach the podium at the Olympic Games. Also, to make a lasting impact on the sport. If I can inspire anyone to even try the multi events once, it's an accomplishment because I feel like there is just so much talent in the U.S. and it's definitely growing. You can see that compared to the qualifying standards for the 2012 Trials, and what it takes now to qualify. The women's multis have absolutely exploded, which is awesome for our sport.
 
Mark Winitz has written about running and track and field, organized programs for runners, and served as a consultant and publicist for road races for almost 40 years. He is a longtime activist within USA Track & Field and is a certified USATF Master Level Official/Referee. He also assists road racing events through his company, Win It!z Sports Public Relations and Promotions in Los Altos, Calif.
Friday, 01 July 2016 16:05

All Eyes on Molly Huddle

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Molly Huddle is a doe-eyed beastmaster. Ever observant, ever focused, Molly had dedicated much of the last decade into seeing just how fast and long she can run. Her form may be the cleanest of any active American woman, Molly Huddle is built to run fast over 5000 meters and 10,000 meters. And her finish is unrelenting.
But this, dear readers, is the eve of the Olympic Trials, and some believe, that, for Molly Huddle, this may be a spectacular Trials. Can she win the 10,000 meters? Can she win the 5,000 meters? Heck, will Molly Huddle win both the 5000 meters and 10,000 meters. In this thoughtful piece by Cait Chock, Molly Huddle is building towards a fall marathon, in the Big Apple. That she has taken her time to build to the 26.2 mile distance is most important. But for a track fan like myself, I continue to want to see her run 25 laps, as I believe, she has another American record for which to reach out.
 
By Cait Chock
When Molly Huddle steps to the line of the NYC Marathon in November she will finally be silencing all those pestering her about WHEN she will run a marathon. She will have in all likelihood come straight off of an Olympic showing and into marathon grind mode. She will in all likelihood stun us all with a ridiculously incredible debut. When Molly Huddle races she doesn't do so unless she is ready to race for a win.
 
It's been two years since Huddle first got serious about wanting to race a marathon, but her coach, Ray Treacy, logically suggested she start with the half, finish some business on the track, and go from there. "Ray had suggested I wait until 2016 a while ago in order to focus on finishing well in Championships on the track and getting some of those PRs down," explains Huddle.
 
Training with Treacy's elite group in Providence, Huddle's teammates have often been amidst marathon training and in, "the fall of 2013 I tagged along on parts of tempos, workouts, and long runs with the marathon crew and raced well in the following road races, so that's when I realized there was room for improvement in that area going forward." Three years of gradually building her strength and endurance, Huddle can see the rewards in her workouts and how she feels. Most notably her two mile repeats, once considered her weakness, Huddle is excited to say she's a lot more confident going into them, "a lot more consistent with them and [I] don't bomb as often." To her credit though, a Huddle 'bomb' of a workout could still blow away most mortals on their best day.
 
True to her humble nature Huddle is erring on the side of caution and conservative when it comes to expectations for her first marathon race. Both she and Ray agree it's better to go in healthy and fresh versus over-trained. And, this being only her first there are plenty of years to grow into the event and learn how much they can push her limits in regards to the volume and intensity of marathon training. "I'd love to run under 2:30 and compete well in the top 5-10, but it depends on who is racing."
 
The announcement of Huddle's first marathon, one of the most highly anticipated debuts, making us reminiscent of when Shalane Flanagan announced she would be moving up to the 26.2 mile distance, was so big in fact it made many of us gloss over what would typically be the biggest headline for the year. Namely, the Olympics.
 
Molly Huddle certainly hasn't forgotten about them though, and her post-Olympic marathon debut isn't detracting her focus from the more immediate goals at hand. Huddle will be competing in both the 10k and 5k at the Trials. If all goes to plan she will earn her trip to Rio in the 10k but, "will race the 5000 prelims and finals to get another good hard race in and evaluate from there."
 
Four years since her first Olympic berth, Huddle is in a much different position than she was in 2012. More specifically, this time she is the one to beat, as the reigning National Champion for the 10,000 meter event and current American Record holder for the 5,000 meter event (14:42.64). She feels more prepared and much more confident, and should she make the Olympics, this time around she will be able to relax a bit. "Having been to the Olympics before is an advantage because it's hard to wrap your head around the size and magnitude of the event and focus on the race," admits Huddle. "I remember not being able to even look up at the crowd on the start line because I was trying to pretend I was just at a regular meet in order to not freak out! I think should I be there again in Rio it will be easier to tune all that out." Tune out the crowd and tune in to the hunt for a medal.
 
Four years later and Huddle is wiser in other ways, her training now includes more 'little things' like weight lifting, mobility work, and injury preventative exercises. She recognizes all of these keep her healthy enough to tackle "guru" Ray's running workouts and allow her to get faster. This means even forcing down some yoga, "I don't love the yoga but as I run more mileage and get a bit older I need to stretch and that helps - I keep priority on running and workouts but a little has gone a long way with the ancillary exercises."
 
It's a packed year for Huddle, and the short timespan between Rio and the NYC Marathon in November means as soon as she gets back to the States she'll be going straight into building up her long run distance. She'll have 10 weeks to concentrate on longer tempo runs and a consistently high weekly mileage.
 
With the extra mileage Huddle happily welcomes the increased carbohydrate requirements, "I am looking forward to eating extra carbs! It's funny because Kim [Smith] and Amy [Cragg] would complain about it because they would prefer to eat a rack of ribs but I am pumped for bagels, assuming donuts are not optimal." Sadly, I think we all wish donuts were optimal.
 
The fueling and nutritional aspect of marathon racing and training is also a new element for Huddle and a new challenge she is looking forward to figuring out and finding which drinks and combinations work the best for her. "Also, I'm looking forward to the newness of the event; it will be interesting to focus on strength and patience over speed and urgency and see how that goes. It will probably be gratifying to do some longest-ever long runs."
 
Proving she is human after all, and feels the pain that is hard training like everyone else, "I'm probably least looking forward to the fatigue that I hear you have to practice dealing with. Getting used to running hard on tired legs seems to be a grueling part of the preparation for that last 10k of the race."
 
Though, while she may feel the pain, you wouldn't know it watching her charge down any finishing stretch.
 
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Caitlin Chock (caitchock.com) set the then National High School 5k Record (15:52.88) in 2004 and previously ran for Nike. A freelance writer and artist, you can see more of her work on her website and Instagram @caitchock.
(6/30/16; Salem, OR) --- By Mark Cullen
 
"This is my ticket to Rio!" exclaimed Maria Michta-Coffey while holding her Olympic Trials 20k race walk gold medal. Michta-Coffey won Thursday's Olympic Trials race in Salem, OR, in 1:33:40.8, under the Olympic qualifying standard of 1:36:00. She is joined on the US team by Miranda Melville who was 2nd in 1:34:11.1. Bronze medal winner Katie Burnett finished in a non-qualifying 1:41:12.2.
 
While winner John Nunn (1:25:36.1) finished outside the 1:24:00 standard, he earlier had qualified in the men's 50k walk, so his ticket to Rio is already stamped. He was followed by the resurgent Trevor Barron (1:27:27.1) and Nick Christie (1:27:43.3). Nunn noted that today's time qualifies him for next year's London World Championships, "... so there's that silver lining."
 
In an Olympic year, the Trials race counts as the US national championship, and so Michta-Coffey and Nunn are US champions as well. They were greeted by enthusiastic crowds along the one kilometer race route in the shadow of Oregon's state capitol building.
 
Four years ago, Melville lost out on an Olympic team berth by a heartbreaking three seconds. Those three seconds both haunted and motivated her. After a strenuous race on a hot day, Melville leaped into the air as she crossed the finish line.
 
"I (am) ecstatic," she said. "Right now, it's floating on cloud 9 and then we get back to business. Maria and I have seven weeks until we race in Rio. We're ready to show that the US is moving up in the ranks of race walking."
 
"In the past four years we told ourselves we're going to do this together," said Michta-Coffey of her training partner's Olympic quest. "In the past two months of training we've been visualizing hugging each other at the finish line and saying 'We made it to Rio!' That happened today... this is redemption for her."
 
The two training partners are #1 and #2 all-time in the United States in this event. "Miranda and I have gone back and forth for years now and it's only made us stronger," said Michta-Coffey. "We both continually keep raising the bar."
 
Michta-Coffey credited the New York state public high school system with today's two-Olympian performance, as race walking is part of New York's high school track and field lineup.
 
"That's how we started," she said. "When you do have race walking in your high school program, Olympians are possible."
Michta-Coffey became the first Olympian for Oiselle, the Seattle-based women's running and athletic apparel company. "It's so awesome!" said Michta-Coffey. "It's a way of life and the people that I represent are amazing. I always tell everyone back home that I'm racing for them and I feel even more connected now, because the people now aren't just back home in New York, they're all over the US - the whole flock!"
 
John Nunn noted today's festive celebration of race walking when he addressed the crowd. "I want to thank the city of Salem. This was phenomenal. The crowd lined the course the whole way and I can't thank you enough. This is the best crowd we have ever had. Thank you city of Salem."
 
 
Mark Cullen wrote for us in Beijing in 2015. Thiis his first piece of the Olympic Trials for RunBlogRun, on the men's and women's 20K race walks. Mark has a superb blog at www.trackerati.com.
By Justin Lagat
 
It is now less than ten days to Kenya's Olympic trials that will happen at the Kipchoge Stadium in Eldoret. For anyone contemplating on attending the event, here are some of the reasons why they should.
 
1.  You never know when, or if, it is going to happen again in Eldoret.
One thing is for sure. It is going to be one big exciting event given the nature of the athletic events that have happened in and around Eldoret. Not only are the locals here comprised of talented runners, but they are also great fans of athletics.
 
It will be the first ever national trials to be done outside Nairobi. So, it will be historic and being there will be a rare chance to become part of an historical event. You miss it and you will forever regret, especially when people will be talking about it in the future and you have nothing to say yet you had the chance to be there!
 
2.  Watch firsthand the athletes making it to the Kenyan Olympic team
What better way to know the athletes who will represent Kenya at the Rio Olympics that to sit down on the terraces, buy a packet of ground nuts and watch, lap by lap, as athletes duel to make the team.
 
The Kenyan trials are always very competitive and it will not be an easy task for all the favorite athletes to finish in the top three positions.
 
Will Geoffrey Kamworor and Vivian Cheruiyot double in the men and women 5000m and 10,000m events? Will Asbel Kiprop double in 800m and 1500m? Some of the names on the list include athletes invited for two events.
 
3.  Huge crowds will certainly turn up
 
During the annual Kass international marathon that takes place in November, I witnessed fans that walked for over 37km just to watch the finish of the marathon. Now that they will have the opportunity to watch the start and finish of many track and field events in a single day, I doubt if they will miss. I cannot figure out how the Kipchoge stadium will be packed with the local fans.
Be prepared for some wild cheering squads.
 
4.  The program will go fast and smoothly, being an invitational event.
 
I can imagine Asbel Kiprop will be cooling down after the men's 1500m while Vivian Cheruiyot is running the women 5000m on the track and Ezekiel Kemboi is already warming up for the men's 3000m steeplechase!
 
Exciting events will happen one after the other. Unlike the other track meetings around Eldoret where we would have up to ten or more heats in the 800m events and more than five in the 5000m events.
 
5.  Upcoming athletes from around Eldoret will witness firsthand what is possible for them.
 
Athletes can learn how to win a race through the experience of running in many races. They can also learn by watching others run and watching how the champions do it. The young athletes who are being sponsored in camps around Eldoret will watch their mentors and sponsors live in one of the most competitive races across the world.
 
6.  Expect the guest of honor handing the Kenyan flag to the selected team to announce some good projects to support talents in the country and in the region.
No one has announced it yet, but it has often been the president himself attending the climax of Kenya's trials for the world championships. Having attended last year's world championship trials in Kasarani, there is a high probability of him gracing the event in Eldoret. 
 
Talents have created a lot of impact and transformed lives in communities and it will be expected that the president himself will have something to offer the athletes in the area to enable them pursue their talents.
By Alfonz Juck
 
CHEBOKSARY (RUS, Jun 21): Two-time Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva, in her return into the competition after maternity leave, won during second day of Russian national championships her event with 490 (better than official World lead) in third attempt. 
 
Isinbayeva started from 460, then 470, which she went over in first attempts, used two jumps to cover 480. Finally, Yelena tried at World record height 507 but refused to continue after first unsuccessful effort. European champion Anzhelika Sidorova second with 485 PB and Olga Mullina 460 PB are also with Olympics standards. 
 
World champion Sergey Shubenkov clocked 13.20 in the 110 m hurdles. Yekaterina Galitskaya won women hurdles with 13.18. Antonina Krivoshapka was fast over 400m 50.70 ahead of Alyona Mamina 51.52 and Kseniya Aksyonova 51.74. Pavel Ivashko topped men final with 45.71. Artem Denmukhametov (45.95) and Vladimir Krasnov (45.96) were second and third respectively. 
 
Dariya Klishina leaped to 684 in women long jump over Anna Misochenko 6.69 and Yuliya Pidluzhnaya 663. Yekaterina Ivonina finished first in women steeplechase with 9:24.66 ahead of Yekaterina Sokolenko 9:28.02 and Nataliya Vlasova 9:31.95. Favourite in men steeplechase Ilgizar Safiullin was beaten by Viktor Bakharev 8:25.81 to 8:25.34. Yekaterina Strokova ruled in women discus with 61.83m over Yelena Panova 60.01. 
 
Unexpected winner in men’s shot put, Maksim Afonin, achieved 20.96m. Aleksandr Lesnoy took second position with 20.70m and Konstantin Lyadusov was third 20.62m. Aleksandra Gulyaeva covered 800m by 2:01.22 ahead of Svetlana Uloga 2:01.72 and Yelena Arzhakova 2:01.79. European indoor champion Ilya Shkurenyov scored 8292 points in men’s decathlon. Artem Lukyanenko finished second 8055 and Yevgeniy Sarantsev was third with 8017 points.
Wednesday, 22 June 2016 04:55

Top Teenagers Take Center Stage at USATF Juniors

Written by
CLOVIS, Calif. – Veterans Memorial Stadium is set to host yet another stellar championship meet as the 2016 USATF Junior Outdoor Championships head to Central California, June 24-26. Boasting the nation’s premier junior athletes competing for a spot on Team USA, the championship serves as the selection meet for the IAAF World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, July 19-24.
 
Athletes ranging from ages 14-19 from around the United States are registered to compete in the USATF Junior Outdoor Championships, including hundreds of collegiate and high school superstars. Fans can watch the action live daily on USATF.TV +PLUS. The broadcast will begin each day with the first scheduled running event. Live webcast and on-demand videos for all three days will only be available with a USATF.TV +PLUS subscription (sign up here). 
 
Friday, June 24 will mark the opening day of USATF Juniors, beginning with the men’s decathlon 100 meters and long jump events, soon to be followed by a competitive first round of the men’s 110-meter hurdles. 
 
Eight of the men’s hurdlers are entered with a mark under 14 seconds, led by Olan Cunningham III, with a time of 13.42. The first round of the 110m hurdles is slated for Friday afternoon, as finals will follow later that evening at 6:50 p.m.
 
Among the notable day one competitors, brothers Noah and Josephus Lyles of Alexandria, Virginia will compete in the the men’s 100m. The brothers, with Noah being the elder, are among the best high school track and field athletes in the country, collecting state and national championships in their respective events. Noah is entered as the top mark heading into the Junior Championships with a 100m time of 10.17, while Josephus closely follows with a mark of 10.51. The University of Florida commits are entered in multiple events, as Noah will also compete in the men’s 200m, while Josephus will compete in the men’s 400m on Saturday.
 
Also competing Friday is newly-minted USATF Athlete of the Week Sydney McLaughlin (Dunellen, New Jersey), who will take to the track in the first round of the women’s 400m hurdles at 5:45 p.m.
 
Lining up for the women’s 100m and 200m, high school phenom Candace Hill (Conyers, Georgia) will attempt to repeat her success at the 2015 Junior Championships, after claiming first place in both the women’s 100m and 200m finals. Hill gained honor as the youngest track and field athlete to turn profession at just age 16, due to her sustained success in her events. Hill is entered as fastest time in both the women’s 100m and 200m. 
 
On the second day of competition, the finals for women’s long jump and men’s transpire, as Samiyah Samuels of Houston Youth Track Club and Bria Matthews compete in the long jump. Meanwhile, Jordan Geist of Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, will compete in the men’s shot put. Geist is the men’s high school shot put record holder for the state of Pennsylvania, and is entered in the meet with a top mark of 74 feet 3.5 inches, the top high school mark in the U.S. this year by over three feet.
 
Following the finals of the women’s long jump and men’s shot put, the top junior 800m runners for the women and men will compete in succeeding events. Leading the way in the 800m are Samantha Watson and newly-minted NCAA Champion Donavan Brazier. Watson is the top women’s high schooler in the country in the 800m, while Brazier leads the men’s field after setting the NCAA and American junior records (1:43.55) at the NCAA Division I Championships on June 10.
 
On the third and final day of meet, the women’s pole vault features the top three women’s high school pole vaulters. Rachel Baxter of Canyon High School in Anaheim, California set the standard after clearing 14 feet, 3 inches at the OC Championships on April 23. Baxter went on to win the California State Championships with a vault of 14 feet, 2 inches just a month later. Erika Malaspina (Santa Cruz, California) and Andrea Willis (Colorado Springs, Colorado) closely follow with vaults of 13 feet, 9 inches.
 
The meet concludes following the men’s and women’s 200m and the men’s and women’s 1500m on Sunday. The men’s 200m features the competitive clash between Michael Norman Jr. of Vista Murrieta High School (Vista Murrieta, California) and Noah Lyles. Norman and Lyles share the ninth fastest 200m time in the U.S. this year, coming in at 20.23 earlier this year.
 
Veterans Memorial Stadium plays host to the 2016 USATF Junior Championships, featuring a Super X Mondo track surface along with the recently upgraded the field event and warm-up areas. Veterans Memorial Stadium boasts a stellar record for hosting spectacular events, as the USATF Junior Outdoor Championships will culminate four outstanding championship track and field competitions held at Veterans Memorial Stadium, beginning with the Mountain West Conference Championships hosted by California State University, Fresno on May 11-14, 2016; the CIF Central Section Track and Field Championship on May 21, 2016; and the CIF State High School Track and Field Championships on June 3-4, 2016.
 
For a full schedule of events and entries, please visit usatf.org. Fans can follow along on social media by using #USATFjrs on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
 
By Andrew Eisch, USATF Communications Intern

The Wild Duck Cafe, located at 1419 Villard St., 453 m from Hayward Field, is the largest, most modern, friendliest, most comfortable, best value bar in Eugene. It is the Social Hub for All Things TRACK & FIELD during the 2016 Trials! Just ask anyone who was there in 2008 or 2012!

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