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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

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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