Friday, July 25, 2008

Fearless Predictions: NYC Half Edition

Less Than Our Best is concerned with very little. One of those few interests is pretending to give a shit about the election. The other is acting like I have some expertise in predicting things. Here's a few things that will LITERALLY happen this weekend:

Aviva London Grand Prix

Men's 1 Mile
Alan Webb is on the starting list, just like last week in France. Fool me once, Alan, shame on you. Fool me twice and I will send someone to your house to beat you with the rusty bottom of my Zoom Milers (j/k?).

With or without Webb, the London Mile is chock full of milers NOT from Africa. Baddeley, East, Sullivan, Mottram, Lukezic, and Webb. That's one pale, poor dancing group of guys headed to the start line.

Lagat will win followed by Mottram, Korir, then Webb (I still believe), Sullivan, and Baddeley. Those six will all run between 3:49 and 3:51.

Men's 3000 meters
A random smattering of runners make up this field. As always, Alistair Cragg will start out bravely with the leaders and slowly fade over the last 600 meters. One of these days the guy is going to hold on, today is not that day. Ed Moran, fresh off his front row seat to watch Jorge Torres make the Olympic team, can stake his claim at US distance running A-list status if he can hang with the pack in this race. 7:42 will do well to get Moran mentioned closer to your Rupps and your Torreses and farther from your Carneys and your Rohatinsky's. Sean Quigley and Tim Nelson, solid c-listers, get some valuable "European experience" (read: prostitutes picked up in Piccadilly circus after the race).

New York City Half Marathon

Three Truths: Dathan Ritzenhein is still supposed to start. Patrick Makau is going to win. Adam Goucher will be there, which means so will Kara Goucher (hopefully) which means More "The Gouchers" news for LTOB!

Makau will take it out super fast, like he did at the Healthy Kidney, and it will quickly turn into a race for second. Ritzenhein has run two of his three best American soil races in NYC, becoming the Healthy Kidney 10k record holder and getting 2nd at the Marathon Trials (the third was his domination at US Cross this past winter). He will be second in 1:01:20. An amazing feat over guys like Limo, Kipsang, and Ramaala. It will be one of the finest US distance performances of the year, way to go Ritz!

Second best American honors will go to Fernando Cabada followed by Fasil Bizuneh. Adam Goucher will come home in 30th place in 1:06 with a huge smile after hearing one of the spectators yell "you're ALL winners" at mile 10 and getting confused.

Somewhere a bit later in the pack, your humble narrator will flail his way to the finish in what Mary Wittenberg will call the "fuckin' ballsiest race ever run on the streets of this city." Thanks Mary, but I don't do it for the accolades.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Douche for the Decades: John Chaplin

The man to your right is John Chaplin. He's a douche. In this crazy mixed up world where people are willing to throw around the "d" word all too often, this Mr. Chaplin guy has earned it. He has practically defined it. He has made us all think twice the next time we want to call our friend a "douche" for renting "Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants" and watching it with his girlfriend on Saturday night instead of drinking and lighting fireworks with his "bros". And that is just not right, Mr. Chaplin. Not at all.

As you may have noticed recently in Scott Douglas' Running Times piece , John Chaplin came across as a bit of a...a...a douche (I simply can not find a better word).

Mr. Chaplin, tell us how you really feel:

“The Olympic trials are not a goddamn all-comers’ meet.”

“Those clowns in the bottom half of the 10,000 have no chance on God’s green earth of making the Olympic team.”

“I have no patience with distance runners any more.”

Me neither, Johnny. I think you successfully used your clearly endearing personality and vocabulary to change my mind. I'm with you, you're not a douche. Distance runners are too squirrely and generally bad smelling for me, anyway.

If only these goddamn people would shut up and stop goddamn bothering you, right? Hell, you had your goddamn buddies "Slim" and "Buckface" from your goddamn coaching days at Washington goddamn State with you in Eugene and that goddamn trip to the goddamn coast afterward didn't just plan itsgodamnself now did it?!

Why would anyone bother you about appealing to get into a heat? It's ludicrosity stacked on top of dumbassery.

To all of you constantly complaining distance runners: please stop your fighting. There is no reason and no chance we are going to expand the field just to suit you. Mr. Chaplin has made this fact crystal clear: Appeals will not be heard, event fields will not expand. So. Shut. Up.

Hehe, see how I told them Mr. Chaplin? Those guys never learn. Why would they possibly think that an appeal might help their case? Why would they try? Stupid goddamn distance runners. Now, excuse me while I read on in the article.

“Appeals are decided on an individual basis,” (Chaplin) says.

Mr. Chaplin?! Johnny? Chap-man! Sup with the whack contradictions, sup?! You really had me flipped for a second there, you old coot. As it turns out, you ARE a douche.

So, you're saying that appeals ARE part of the process of getting into the field, but you don't want to hear them, but they ARE considered on an individual basis. And, as it is revealed in the article, you are not even going to read a perfectly legitimate appeal from a runner (Blake Bolden) who went through all of the proper channels and steps to take a shot at being admitted into the field? It's not like you are the chair of the committee that is supposedly in charge of sticking to these rules.

The laziness, arrogance, and profane amount of old-man-bullshit that that jumps out of this article is a slap in the face to every USA track fan and athlete. John Chaplin feels like he is invincible. Otherwise, he would never say the things he said to a reporter.

Chaplin needs to be removed from his post at USATF. Doug Logan needs to make a statement and hold Chaplin accountable for his comments. A high ranking official in any organization should not get away with calling people in that organization "clowns", or speaking so condescendingly about runners who are following the appeals process that the USATF has explicitly spelled out and then not even reading the appeal that was submitted. Logan would make a lot of people happy if Chaplin was raking long jump pits at the Springfield come-and-run at this time next year instead of back slapping in the lobby of the Eugene Hilton.

I truly hate to be negative and I hate even more that I am about to use a phrase that is obscenely overused in track and field media. I hate hate hate it. But, John Chaplin, from his statements and his history, is the most perfect, most douchetastic, and most cronyistic (Not a word? Should be.) example of...

oh no, here it comes...

I'm gonna do it so get ready...

wait for it...


That is why Mr. John Chaplin has been chosen as the inaugural selection for the Less Than Our Best "A Douche for the Decades" series. So celebrate with us, come on!

Let us know if you have suggestions for future "ADFTD" pieces.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday New and Notes

Weekly look at the best of the internet running minutia...with links!

DN Galan meet is this afternoon. Results are going to be here.

Of Interest is Matthew Tegenkamp and Edward Moran in the 3000. Even more interesting, perhaps, is Tony Famiglietti in the steeplechase. Is the guy better than ever or just not been challenged yet? Is he getting enough pub as a medal contender? IS he a medal contender? Will his "modern hippy" chic style go over well with the fun-loving yet usually clean shaven Swedes? So many questions will be answered by this one race.

Slattery, Rudolph, and Huddle in the women's 5000. The 'B' tier of the US women's 5k pool, if you will. If Women's US distance running was the movie "Mean Girls," this group would probably be the uncool group trying to get back at the Plastics for always being so popular. Which, I suppose, would make Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher the plastics. Which doesn't necessarily seem right. Then Jen Rhines would be Lindsey Lohan I guess. Wait, who is Tina Fey in all this? Deena? That works, right? This metaphor has spun wildly out of control.

Also, LTOB favorite, Usain Bolt, is on the line against his countryman and former scaredy-cat Asafa Powell. I think we all know how this one's gonna end up.

Scott Douglas breaks down the whole trials qualifying/Gouchergate melee quite effectively in his Running Times piece.

Article finally explains exactly how a few athletes approached the "process" of getting into the meet and how (not why), specifically, they were rebuffed.

If nothing else, you get an intimate snapshot of John Chaplin, the head honcho of the men's track and field executive committee. Among many other gems, states Chaplin: "Those clowns in the bottom half of the 10,000 have no chance on God’s green earth of making the Olympic team." Guy's a peach, huh?! More on him later today.
A very good read on Jim Dunaway, hardcore track and field journalist who has been to every Olympics since 1956.

The best thing about Dunaway is that he used to hitchhike everywhere (He claims to have covered 500,000 miles in that most creepy way of transportation). Times have changed, huh, Jim? Oh, how I yearn for the days when a nice, nonhomicidal driver would see someone (like me) on the side of the road and want to give them (me) a ride somewhere, maybe even a snack or a cold cut sandwich, instead of honking and pointing. And covering their children's eyes. Oh, whimsy.
Our new USATF CEO has skipped the middle man and gone straight to the top on his first day! Dear Mr. President...



Monday, July 21, 2008

What They Didn't Tell You: We'll Always Have Paris...

What They Didn't Tell You - Paris... and more!

At the Gaz de France in Gay Perry (name that movie, win some props), Alan Webb did not make his scheduled appearance to defend the mile crown from the 2007 edition of this meet. Why, you ask? Well, some people would have you believe he was too busy eating Egg McMuffins and lost track of the time. But actually, they're called Oeuf McCrepes over there.

Also in Paris, Shannon Rowbury barely missed breaking 4:00 in the 1500, and was just tenths away from taking a sizeable scalp in Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain. While the dual near-misses had to have stung, the PB and strong placing in one of Europe's biggest meets are worth savoring, and later that evening, Rowbury was seen out on the town celebrating.

Jeremy Wariner finally took the measure of Lahawn Merritt in a significant manner, hanging half a second on his rival. But, unfortunately, Wariner's adidas uniform? Still hideous.

It may have been a smaller meet than Gaz de France, but the weekend's other big meet wasn't lacking for excitement with an 8:00 flat steeple, a hot 5k and Webb finally making his appearance, to clock 3:35. What they didn't tell you, though, was that Houston hosts a big-time track meet. Crazy, right?

At that same meet, Jenny Barringer ran a furious final 50 meters to run down Anna Willard for the win, and the right to put her name beside the new American Record of 9:22. Sadly, what they didn't tell you was that the Flotrack cameras packed it in too early -- and this will dismay fans of steepling, message board rivalry-dissection, and women -- and thus, did not capture the exchange that followed, as the bad blood between "Jenny B" and "'Fred' Willard" spilled out and over into the steeple pit, where both wrestled around in sopping wet kits. Humminahumminahummina....


Friday, July 18, 2008

Fearless Predictions: Why So Serious?! Edition

Less Than Our Best is concerned with very little. One of those few interests is rewatching over and over, and over again. The other is acting like we have some expertise in predicting things. Here's a few things that will LITERALLY happen this weekend:

Ladies and gents, I know your fearless predictor has not been around the past few weeks. You've probably been confused and upset. You have been going into the past few weekends feeling a little clouded, sad, and less itchy than you did before you met me. I understand and I am sorry. But, to your infinite delight, I am back on the predicting scene and, despite the popcorn farts I have from last night's nerdfest midnight showing of Dark Knight, I'm willing to drop some (future) truth bombs on all y'all.

Gaz de France

1. M1500 -- Let's face it, all American eyes will be on that enigmatic wookie, Alan Webb. It's a solid field.. A quick glance at the start list, though, shows that Webb is the only runner who has ever been under 3:31. In fact, he has an entire half second on the second best PR in the field, Shadrack Korir. You don't have to be a fearless predictor to know who's gonna win this one, eh? Right? Huh? What? When? Screw it. WEBB WINS in 3:32.5!!! They don't call me fearless for nothing. That, and stupid.

2. M400 -- Has there been a more satisfying track rivalry than Merritt and Wariner in recent hisotry? No. The Gay Bolt rivalry (don't laugh at that, child) has the potential, but Wariner and Merritt seem hell bent on on actually growing a pair and racing each other like real men and unlike non-real men. In this meet, the winner is not the largest issue (the only race that matters is the Olympic final, all other races are forgotten after that), the largest issue here is the time. Wariner wants the WR, he needs to go faster than his 43.98 Season best. They both will. Wariner wins in 43.75. Merrit second in 43.85.

3. W1500 -- People don't seem to grasp how out-of-nowhere Shannon Rowbury has come to totally dominate the USA women's 1500 scene. Can you grasp it? It isn't slippery, just try. There, you got it. A year ago, she was a longshot at best to make the Olympic team, now she's a legit contender in a Golden League 1500. Some people think she can break 4:00! Hotchy Motchy! You go girl, and all that. Some might say she hasn't been in enough of these international affairs to know how to race well against such seasoned (and fast) competition. however, those people are probably old curmudgeons, so ther opinion counts only 3/4 of my opinion. She'll break the top 3 and 4 minutes and the hearts of so many guys who have 1500 PRs of 4:00 and slower. Tough luck, slowpokes.

New USATF Regime

1. Doug "Silver Fox" Logan (pictured above) was named the new CEO of USATF. What does this mean for you and me, fans of this oh-so-hateable-but-we-still-love-it sport? Well, he was the leader of the MLS when it started up. This means we can look forward to becoming not only a niche sprt, but a niche sport that all those preppies-who-want-to-seem-European will love. Am I right? I predict USATF will continue to putter along at the status quo until we hire the real man for the job, Toni Reavis.


I Can't Believe They Killed Off Alfred!

I kid, I kid. I would never give away a secret plot point of a movie that most of you have probably not seen yet. ...or WOULD I?

Anyway, in case you hadn't heard yet, the USATF finally named a new CEO -- former head of the MLS, Doug Logan. I framed this with a Dark Knight reference because of the obvious questions at hand:

Can Doug Logan be our sport's Batman?

I'm sorry, that was just plain silly. Obviously, the REAL reason for that framing was to lord it over you that LTOB has already seen the hottest movie of the summer, and you haven't.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Photo of the Weekend: Rome Golden Gala

Last year at the Golden Gala we had a guy racing without legs. AND -- in what smacked of a publicity stunt meant to invoke the memories of Rome's gladiatorial past -- a guy getting speared in the side.

This year? Zilch. Zip. Wait, no, more like No zip. Zipless.

This little guy came to the meet expecting something GRAPHIC to happen. Now, he has lost interest and this photo says it all, as you can practically read his sleep-thoughts: Bo-ring.


Tuesday News and Notes

Our weekly look at internet running minutia...with links!

The funloving folks of the Kimbia Madison Olympic Development Track Project Club (I assume that's their offical name) have decided to put on their own little 1500m race in their own little town on their own little track tonight (7/15) at 9pm. Just a few small town boys (including Matt Tegenkamp, Chris Solinsky, John Riley, and Sean Quigley) trying to put on a show for the beer swilling, cheddar sweating, fireworks lighting locals. I like this a lot. A send off, of sorts, to Europe. Plus, the Madisonites will love it. There's nothing midwesterners love more than standing outside together and looking at something on a muggy summer night.

My money is on Solinsky. But, don't worry about his psyche if he loses, he has already seen bitter dissappointment and shame rear its ugly, helmeted head.

The Olympic Track team was named! Not exactly Selection Sunday excitement over here, eh? Kind of anticlimactic, huh? Already watched a litttle thing called the trials, right? Wrong. It's time to get pumped. 8/8/08. Here we come China, and all that.

Of note on the list:
+The always-willing-to-say-the-'f'-word-on-camera-so-that-little-boys-and-girls-can-giggle-themselves-to-death-javelin-thrower Breaux Greer made the team despite an injury riddled end to his Trials experience.
+Only event that could not fill the three slots due to lack of three 'A' standards? Hammer Throw. It's a sad day for our nation's proud Blacksmithing tradition.
You will be interested in this if you are either a 15 year old trying to make the top 7 or your looking forward to the point where the ghost of Steve Prefontaine BECOMES competitive distance running in America. Kind of like how "Coke" stands for all soda-pop and "Kleenex" stands for all tissues.

Sample sentence: "I was thinking about going out for a 30 minute Prefontaine, but then realized my ovaries hurt" or "Hey Grandma, can I borrow your Springsteen 'Born to Steve' album? I'm doing a class project."
******* over and done with? Nah. I've seen this before.
--The Summer Olympics are great because, if for no other reason, they inspire stuff like this.
--Charles Barkley's golf game is like Other things Chuck thinks are like blogs: Alan Webb's race schedule. Galen Rupp's nose strip. Larry Rawson.


Monday, July 14, 2008

What They Didn't Tell You: European Vacation

You could feel the postpartum depression settling in throughout the American track-web-media-scene this past week. And why not? Look at the etymology: post, Latin, for "after." partum, Greek, for "party." "After-party depression."

So why
shouldn't our venerable domestic websites be a little slow to recover from Eugene and a week of hard-living, hard-partying, and hard-ons? (I'm assuming.) Thus, we shift our gaze to Europe, where the action was... not quite so tepid. And the coverage... adequate. What They Didn't Tell You about this past weekend, after the jump...

That guy Bolt was at it again, clocking a 19.67 in Athens to re-write his own Jamaican National Record. What they didn't tell you though is that apparently Bolt likes a little junk in the trunk, when it comes to women. That's apropos of nothing. Just a fun little fact.

In other European action Wariner finally got back on top of Merritt, which doesn't sound right at all. I'm just going to stop that there, mmk?

Some good performances by Americans at the World Junior Championships: a kid named Walter Henning from some nameless Long Island high school won the hammer, little Centrowitz clocked a 13:58 and Jordan Hasay took 4th in the 1500m (which, incidentally, was won in a time slower than her recent AR). But the best part of the whole meet is imagining how everything at Junior Worlds is miniature. Mini competitors, mini implements, mini hot dogs from the concessions...

Dispatching Hasay was a British lass named Stephanie Twell, who probably would have enjoyed her win more had someone not stepped on her foot, really, really hard.

And finally, Junior Worlds were held in a place called -- and I'm not making this up -- Bydgoszcz. I promise you, that's not a typo. So clearly, they didn't tell anyone how to pronounce that. I say, just go ahead and make up your own pronunciation. I'm going with Bitty-Baby-Sizzle-Syrup. Sounds yummy, yes?


Friday, July 11, 2008

Olympics: Only Slightly More Complicated Than Planning a Family Reunion Potluck

Talk about a logistical nightmare. Today's New York Times features an article about the issues raised with rival companies vying for publicity at the Olympics -- some legitimate Olympic sponsors, some not.

Fast fact: the local organizing committee basically needs to snap up ALL the billboards in town to ensure only official sponsors end up using them. Crazy, right? (Note to self: buy properties in Chicago, investigate local zoning laws pertaining to billboards.) Also, as the article points out, if you're an official sponsor like Visa (and I'm assuming you are) you'll want to get some value out of your licensing investment and, thus, you'll need to make sure vendors EVERYWHERE are equipped to handle Visa cards. Afterall, your motto is "Everywhere you want to be" and Beijing, China...? Pretty far down the list, checking in just ahead of Poop Factory, and just behind Moist Hippo Sphincter.

The Olympics, however, IS where everyone wants to be -- even if they were held in said Sphincter -- and so companies are elbowing each other aside like fat people at a Golden Corral. For those of you at the Trials, you saw firsthand how adidas pulled a mini-coup by creating the post-race Place-to-Be at Villard Street Pub (more on that later today), just a short walk from Swoosh-festooned Hayward Field.

Inexplicably, Nike was unable to purchase the Olympics Movement as a whole -- you should have seen their proposed logo of five interlocking swooshes -- and, while Old Lady Victory was busy reaching past its grasp, adidas apparently slipped in to nab apparel-sponsor rights for Beijing 2008. (Nevermind the fact that the USOC is sponsored by Nike and that the US Track team will be competing in ugly Nike uniforms... whole other can of worms...)

So you can bet Nike will be looking for alternative methods for cashing in on the Olympic cow. My suggestion?


[Ed. Note: Now including link it should have included from the get-go.]


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Letsrun Posters Geek as Facebook Photos Leak

Earlier today a message board poster going by the gracious alias "at least they can party!" posted links to several facebook pictures that included a number of Olympic Trials participants "beering it up," as I like to say. How dare they!?!?!

It seems that the heavy flow of hot and most definitely sweaty traffic has overloaded the message board, which is a blank screen right now.

Situations such as these create a very interesting conundrum for the media and for fans of the sport. Should these photos be news? Other sports seem to think they are. Is running different? Is there some sort of unique kinship that we share with all other runners, no matter their ability level, that puts us in a different category than football or baseball fans and forces us to think twice about embarassing one of our own by defaming them as they do something we have all done before and will continue to do every time we're at a party where there's beers, buds, and broads (sorry, that's the only word for woman I can think of that starts with 'b'....seriously.)?

I don't want to get into this now. Basically, I just wanted to use that headline. And, hey, three posts're welcome very much.


Ritz, Others Racing in NYC Half

Once again, Dathan Ritzenhein has made a bold promise to compete in a road race. This one: NYC Half on July 27.

All signs point to Ritz at least starting this time as he did start and finish the Olympic Trials 10k less than a week ago. Plus, according to the NYRR release, the race is going to be his "final tune-up" before Beijing. So, the whole "precautionary measure because I felt a twinge in my left/right ______ last week" thing is less likely to hold him back when faced with the alternative of going into China rusty. Although, he went into the marathon trials rusty, so...

Also in the men's race will be US half marathon champ James Carney, perpetual close-to-the-fronter Fasil Bizuneh, and youtube G Fernando Cabada (1,800+ views of him just driving his car? Am I missing something?)

Not only that, but yours truly will be on the line ready to pant and complain over 13.1 miles of regret in the debut of the LTOB "Racing" Club. Get your tickets early folks.


The Year of the Trials

There is a lot of talk these days about the upturn in American distance running. To most fans, the best way to measure whether the talk is valid is to see how the athletes do at the Olympics in August. The results will come in, we'll compare the Beijing results to the Athens, Sydney, Atlanta, and Barcelona results. Hell, we'll even throw in Seoul and L.A. for good measure, but you can forget about Montreal. Irrelevant. Only old people were alive in 1976.

When those inevitable comparisons come to pass, I think we can all agree that this year's distance squad will probably finish higher on average than any since, um, let's say '76, but '68 isn't out of reach either (we do have Lagat now, after all).

Results are results and, sure, it's great when the good old USA does well but, the big step forward this year is not in the runners' performances., it's in the success of the three Olympic Trials. These were events, man. Talk about a turnaround. Each of the three trials, 2 marathons and a track meet, were HUGE events where a LARGE group of people had fun, got enthusiastic, and cared about foot races.

New York City, Boston, and Eugene brought their A game and it showed. those cities have quite an A game too. They wanted their event to be the best ever and, in each case, it might be argued that they succeeded. Birmingham, Sacramento, and St. Louis, though? Are you kidding me? Not the best ever. Not close. Those cities could throw everything they had at the next 10 trials and still not be able to match what was done this year. They don't have the resources, the fan base, or the practice with big events. Which is something important to keep in mind for future national championships.

That is the exciting turnaround of this season. The big performances on the track will come, have already started to come. The right people have identified problems with preparation and the right people are working hard to fix those problems, and it is coming around. Watching it come around over a long period of time is the most fun thing about being a track fan. But, the events and the media coverage, along the excitement that both of those entities can create when done well, is the most exciting turnaround that has been most promising about '07-'08.

The domestic track season is over which means we all have a lot of computer screen watching to look forward to. It also means the big times and races are about to drop, which is fun, even if you are watching the action spread over a dozen or so pixels. The benchmark for track events in America, though, has already dropped in NYC, Boston, and Eugene, and it's a mark that should make us all pretty happy with where American distance running has turned.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What The Didn't Tell You: Olympic Trials 1

I'll admit: 3000 Miles to the Trials evolved into something rather different than originally imagined. Initially we thought it would be a great way to be the eyes and ears of all you folks stuck back at home who wondered how "crazy" it would be... how "drunk" Ben would get... how "broke" you would end up from buying people rounds of drinks... how many "female professional runners" one could take home from a Eugene bar during those two weeks... how many of those would be "willing" conquests...

The answer to each of those questions, in order: three and a half. But, sadly, you couldn't tell that from the videos, which devolved more or less into Ben prancing and preening in front of the cameras, and yelling at me for "not making him look good enough," once we stopped rolling. So, for the next few days I'm going to try to paint an accurate portrait of what Trials life was really like in and around Eugene. It's What They Didn't Tell You, only it's things I couldn't make up if I tried.


In case you didn't know, Animal House was filmed in Eugene, and coming to the Trials meant a little taste of that lifestyle: what they didn't tell you is that just about anyone and everyone -- athletes excluded -- seemed to be staying on campus, in dorms called the "Living Learning Center." It meant a return to the joy of college life: the excitement of meeting new people, calling home to tell your mom about the girl from the fourth floor that you got ice cream with, getting some sort of mold on your junk from accidentally brushing against the shower curtain in the communal bathroom.

We, however, missed out on all that fun, by staying in the now-famous hotel room featured in the "Having a Beer with Ross Krempley" video. Despite being ~25 minutes south of Eugene in Cottage Grove, every place of business I walked into around there was also being patronized by visiting track fans -- their fandom made evident by no shortage of USATF gear, usually worn by the entire family. Now I'm OK with some patriotic gear here and there, but your entire family? For track fans, that's basically the equivalent of outfitting you, your spouse, your kids and your pets, in matching t-shirts featuring a bald eagle flanked by a billowing American flag. Maybe one which proclaims "THESE COLORS DON'T BLEED: LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT -- GOD BLESS AMERICA."

But I digress. Bottom line: during the Trials track fans were ANYWHERE you went within a 30 mile radius. Maybe more.

As for those who DID dorm on campus, despite staying in Cottage Grove, we spent some time in and around the Living/Learning Centers, and got a pretty good picture of what it was like. For instance, there was convenience to be had in staying LITERALLY steps from Hayward Field. You could hear the crowd in the stadium even with the window closed. In fact, the crowd usually served as my alarm clock, telling me to give up on whatever piece of crap video I was working on and head over to the Festival to watch a particular event on the big screen -- the rooms came unfurnished after all, so no TVs (I'm told West Coasters couldn't get live coverage, anyway). I'd hear a burst of noise, recognize that the 400H must have just concluded, and close the old laptop, knowing that somethings are beyond saving and that the Men's 800 was about the begin.

(The convenience was tempered, by all accounts, by the RA's, who were complete dicks. Shocker It's like they get off on you having a little fun. Throwing a little kegger. Damaging a little university property. On more than one occasion, you'd leave a room, only to see the RA hurriedly walking down the hall, trying to disguise the fact that he had been listening at your door. I swear! We really were playing actual ping-pong in there!)

More to the point, because so many family members, fans, and journalists were staying there (hence, I assume, why we were not allowed to stay there) you never knew who you might bump into.

In other words, what they didn't tell you is that you never know when you may have an impromptu business meeting with marathon Trials-qualifier and Bachelorette-star Josh Cox... in a dorm bathroom.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Win Prizes at the 3000 Miles Live Blog

Yes, Folks, we're Live Blogging again, only this time we'll be giving away prizes for Best Comment of the session. So head over to with your "A" game in hand.