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Articles tagged #Matthew Centrowitz
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Runners sponsored by smaller companies might be in a better position than those who are signed by major brands

Earlier this week, the Swiss running shoe company On announced that it was starting an elite training group in Boulder, Colorado, called the On Athletics Club. It’s safe to say that this doesn’t seem like the most auspicious time to invest in professional running. Even though the Diamond League—the world’s premier track and field competition circuit—is scheduled to begin an abridged summer season on Friday, this year has seen an unprecedented number of race cancellations and it’s difficult to predict when the bleeding will stop.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has already gone on record saying that the Tokyo Games, which have been postponed to summer 2021, will not be delayed a second time. If they can’t be staged next August, the Olympics will be canceled outright, thus depriving track athletes of their quadrennial moment in the sun.

According to Steve DeKoker, On’s Global Sports Marketing Manager, the company has long been looking to develop an elite running team and the Boulder-based group represents the most significant move in that direction to date. For now, the On Athletics Club consists of eight runners, all of whom are in their 20s and were standout NCAA athletes (the University of Colorado’s Joe Klecker and the University of Wisconsin’s Alicia Monson are the headliners).

Recently retired Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein will act as coach. It has been disclosed that these athletes will be signing multi-year deals with no reduction clauses (i.e. performance quotas)—a risky move, perhaps, but one that On might currently be well-positioned to make thanks to a potential pandemic-inspired uptick in recreational running.

“Running is kind of experiencing this second boom,” DeKoker told Letsrun.com. “We’ve got all these folks at home who are struggling with different issues, but running is a viable activity for them. Whereas if you’re Nike, and you’re in 50 different verticals, running might be a positive one, but you’ve got a bunch of other sports that are hemorrhaging right now.”

There has been some evidence to bear this out. Nike has reported a 38 percent decline in total revenue through May 31. More specifically, last week, the market research company NPD published an article noting that prominent brands (Nike, Adidas, Under Armour) had an overall sales decline in athletic footwear in the first half of 2020, while several running-focused shoe companies had fared conspicuously well.

Hoka One One and On, in particular, saw year-over-year sales increases of 75 and over 50 percent, respectively. (An On representative has confirmed this, and added that the brand had recorded its highest ever sales month in June 2020.) Matt Taylor, the co-founder and CEO of the independent running apparel brand Tracksmith, told me that “there’s been a noticeable uptick in people running over the last few months,” and that Tracksmith was “seeing this trend reflected” in its business.

While the running industry will never be entirely insulated from the state of the overall economy, there is some logic to the notion that the sport is well-suited to weather a financial downturn. To use DeKoker’s term, running is a “viable activity” for many people because it is relatively cheap, accessible, and offers both physical and mental health benefits during times of uncertainty.

The most recent running boom occurred during the years immediately following the Great Recession; starting around 2008, there was a continual increase in running event participation, culminating in 2013, when a record 19 million runners took part in U.S. road races.

Of course, from a running perspective, one of the uniquely cruel aspects of the COVID-19 recession is that the pandemic has precluded the staging of most mass participation events. The New York Road Runners, the largest non-profit running events company in the United States, laid off eleven percent of its employees and furloughed an additional 28 percent in July. Hence, any discussion about how the pandemic might end up “benefiting” the running industry in shoe or apparel sales must be weighed against this freeze of running events.

For professional runners, meanwhile, the cancellation of big-ticket races signifies a loss in prospective appearance fees and prize money. Some athletes might also be contractually obligated to run a pre-set number of races, which, needless to say, has not been so easy in 2020. That’s why this has been the summer of intrasquad competitions, in which training partners take part in de facto time trials that have been spruced up just enough to qualify as official meets. While some of these events have yielded impressive performances—most notably Shelby Houlihan, of the Bowerman Track Club, breaking her own American record in the 5,000-meters—there have also been farcical scenarios where world-class athletes phoned it in, presumably so that they can reach their race quotas. (Last week, reigning Olympic 1,500-meter champion Matthew Centrowitz “raced” an 800... and ran 3:08. His personal best in the event is 1:44.)

It’s not a coincidence that the most prominent examples of these sham races have involved Nike athletes. After all, the Oregon-based company sponsors far more runners than any other brand. They have the funds to do it, but casting a wide net might also make it more difficult for Nike to offer elite runners the contractual perks of smaller, running-focused companies like Oiselle, On, and, recently, Tracksmith. For now, reduction clauses still seem to be the norm for the typical Nike track athlete. (A Nike spokesperson told me that the company does not comment on athlete contracts.)

Hawi Keflezighi, an agent whose clients include his brother Meb Keflezighi and recent U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon champion Aliphine Tuliamuk, agreed that this was likely to be the case. “I think Nike deserves credit for all the athletes and events that they sponsor, but at the same time, within that business model, if you have a lot of athletes, you can’t be as flexible as when you only have five or ten athletes on your roster,” Keflezighi, whose brother was a Nike athlete for years before signing with Skechers in 2011, told me. He added that, while it’s typical for companies to reassess which athletes they want to sponsor at the end of an Olympic cycle, the current uncertainty surrounding the fate of the Games, and looming recession, mean that conditions for athletes are even more cutthroat than usual.

“I think the bigger brands definitely have tougher decisions to make, just because they have a bigger investment overall,” Keflezighi says. “The athletes with those brands, especially if they are not medal contenders or in a great position to make the US Olympic team—under this environment, those athletes’ contracts are a little bit more vulnerable. If you have a smaller roster of athletes, you might be able to say, ‘Hey, you know what? Let me give that athlete an extra year or two.”

DeKoker echoed this sentiment. “Obviously, performance is going to be a key element, but it’s not the only element with On,” he says. “I do think that, at some of these other companies, it’s much more of a numbers game and unfortunately some athletes are going to be on the losing end of that.”

What will the “numbers game” look like in a worst case scenario where next year’s Olympics ultimately do get canceled? With any luck, we won’t get to find out.

(09/19/2020) Views: 110 ⚡AMP
by Outside Online
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Past Champions and Olympians will Headline NYRR Wanamaker Mile Men’s Field at 113th NYRR Millrose Games

Olympian and 2018 champion Chris O’Hare of Great Britain, 2017 champion Eric Jenkins of the United States, four-time Olympian Nick Willis of New Zealand, and world championship medalist Filip Ingebrigtsen of Norway will headline a talented NYRR Wanamaker Mile men’s field at the 113th NYRR Millrose Games on Saturday, February 8 at The Armory’s New Balance Track and Field Center.

The signature event at the NYRR Millrose Games has taken place every year on the men’s side since 1926 and will be broadcast live nationally on NBC for the fourth consecutive year from 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. ET, in addition to streamed live online on NBC Sports Gold.

“Already one of the greatest mile races in the world, the men’s 2020 NYRR Wanamaker Mile is expected to be one of the best with past champions, Olympians, and rising stars all lining up in front of a national audience,” said NYRR Millrose Games Meet Director Ray Flynn.

O’Hare won the 2018 NYRR Wanamaker Mile after building an insurmountable lead on the last lap and crossing the line in 3:54.14. In New York, he has also finished as runner-up at the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile three times, most recently in 2018. The Scotland native represents Great Britain on the world stage, having won a bronze medal in the 1500 meters at the European championships and competing in the event at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

“I have always loved having the NYRR Millrose Games and the NYRR Wanamaker Mile in my racing schedule,” O’Hare said. “When you look back at the athletes who have competed in the NYRR Wanamaker Mile, it goes to show the nature of the event. It is without a doubt, the most prestigious indoor mile race in the world and I can’t wait to step on the start line and go to battle with my fellow competitors.”

Jenkins won the 2017 NYRR Wanamaker Mile in a last-lap sprint against Olympic 800-meter bronze medalist Clayton Murphy. The year prior in New York, he narrowly defeated Olympic 1500-meter champion Matthew Centrowitz to win the New Balance 5th Avenue mile by one-tenth of a second. Last year, Jenkins finished third in New York at the USATF 5 km Championships in Central Park.

Willis has finished as runner-up at the NYRR Wanamaker Mile three times (2009, 2015, 2016), was third twice (2008, 2014) and took sixth last year. As a four-time Olympian, the University of Michigan graduate and Ann Arbor, MI resident won the silver medal in the 1500 meters at the Beijing 2008 Games, carried New Zealand’s flag at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, and returned to the podium with a bronze medal in the 1500 meters at the Rio 2016 Games. In 2019, he won a record-breaking fifth men’s title at the 5th Avenue Mile, adding to his previous victories on Manhattan’s most famous thoroughfare from 2008, 2013, 2015, and 2018.

Ingebrigtsen coached by his father, Gjert, won the 1500-meter European title in 2016 and a world championship bronze medal in the distance in 2017.

(01/07/2020) Views: 510 ⚡AMP
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NYRR Millrose Games

NYRR Millrose Games

The NYRR Millrose Games,which began in 1908 as a small event sponsored by a local track club, has grown to become the most prestigious indoor track and field event in the United States. The NYRR Millrose Games meet is held in Manhattan’s Washington Heights at the New Balance Track & Field Center at the Armony, which boasts a state-of-the-art six-lane,...

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Defending champion Emily Sisson and Shannon Rowbury to highlight women’s field at USATF 5 km Championships

The 2019 Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K and USA Track & Field (USATF) 5 km Championships on Saturday, November 2, will feature seven Olympians and two past champions the day prior to the TCS New York City Marathon and will be broadcast live on USATF.TV as part of the 2019 USATF Running Circuit. Abbott will return as the title partner of the event which features a $60,000 prize purse – the largest of any 5K race in the world.

Emily Sisson is looking to defend her USATF 5 km title after storming to victory last year in a solo run to the finish in 15:38. The two-time United Airlines NYC Half runner-up clocked the fastest-ever debut by an American on a record-eligible course at this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon, finishing sixth place in 2:23:08.

She will line up in Central Park against three-time Olympian and World Championship medalist Shannon Rowbury and Olympian and World Championship medalist Emily Infeld.

“I loved my experience at the Abbott Dash and USATF 5 km Championships last year,” Sisson said. “There’s no place like New York City on marathon weekend, and I’m excited to help kick everything off by defending my 5K title on the streets of New York.”

In the men’s field, Olympian Shadrack Kipchirchir will attempt to reclaim his title after taking second in a photo-finish last year. At the 2017 edition of the event, he won his third national title in 13:57.

He will be challenged by Rio 2016 Olympic gold medalist and seven-time national champion Matthew Centrowitz, who has had previous success in New York, winning the NYRR Millrose Games Wanamaker mile three times and the 5th Avenue Mile once. Reid Buchanan, a 2019 Pan American Games silver medalist, and Eric Jenkins, the 2017 NYRR Wanamaker Mile and 5th Avenue Mile champion, will also line up.

Following in the footsteps of the professional athletes will be more than 10,000 runners participating in the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K, including top local athletes and runners visiting from around the world. The mass race will offer a $13,000 NYRR member prize purse. John Raneri of New Fairfield, CT and Grace Kahura of High Falls, NY won last year’s Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K.

Abbott, the title sponsor of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, will be the sponsor of the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K for the fourth consecutive year. Abbott, a global healthcare company, helps people live fully with life-changing technology and celebrates what’s possible with good health.

The Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K annually provides TCS New York City Marathon supporters, friends and families the opportunity to join in on the thrill of marathon race week. The course begins on Manhattan’s east side by the United Nations, then takes runners along 42nd Street past historic Grand Central Terminal and up the world-famous Avenue of the Americas past Radio City Music Hall. It then passes through the rolling hills of Central Park before finishing at the iconic TCS New York City Marathon finish line.

(10/23/2019) Views: 750 ⚡AMP
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Dash to the Finish Line

Dash to the Finish Line

Be a part of the world-famous TCS New York City Marathon excitement, run through the streets of Manhattan, and finish at the famed Marathon finish line in Central Park—without running 26.2 miles! On TCS New York City Marathon Saturday, our NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5K (3.1 miles) will take place for all runners who want to join in...

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Alberto Salazar has been banned from coaching for four years beginning immediately for doping violations

Alberto Salazar, Nike Oregon Project coach and a Houston endocrinologist who had treated athletes belonging to the Portland-based training group, have been banned for four years for doping violations.

The decision was announced Monday by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and begins immediately. It is the result of a four-year investigation.

In a prepared statement, the USADA wrote that two, three-member arbitration panels had determined Salazar and Dr Jeffrey Brown should be banned for “orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping conduct.”

The penalty stemmed from violations that included trafficking in testosterone, tampering with the doping control process and administering improper infusions of L-carnitine, a naturally occurring substance that converts fat into energy, the anti-doping agency said in a statement.

Salazar was notified in 2017 that he had violated doping rules, and he contested the findings by USADA, according to an anti-doping official familiar with the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The case was heard in arbitration last year, and the ban was imposed by an independent arbitration panel.

The British Broadcasting Corporation first reported the story.

Salazar is believed to be in Doha, Qatar, where a number of Oregon Project athletes are competing in the World Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Dutch distance runner Sifan Hassan of the Oregon Project won the world outdoor title in the women’s 5,000 meters and won the women’s 10,000 title on Saturday.

A former University of Oregon track star, Salazar has had a storied coaching career, guiding Olympic gold medalists Mo Farah and Matthew Centrowitz, as well as two-time Olympic medalist Galen Rupp.

Centrowitz and Farah left the Oregon Project before the ban was announced, Farah in 2017 and Centrowitz last year.

Salazar repeatedly has denied the charges.

(09/30/2019) Views: 973 ⚡AMP
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Bowerman Track Club runner Woody Kincaid Burns Up Nike’s Famed Wooded Track with 12:58 PB for 5000 on Tuesday

Woody Kincaid called the atmosphere Tuesday at Nike’s Michael Johnson Track “surreal,” and it was that.

With an estimated 2,500 spectators ringing the track on a cool, damp evening, the track partly in shadow, giant trees in the infield preventing an unobstructed view of the action, Kincaid, Lopez Lomong and Matthew Centrowitz got what they came for.

The three Bowerman Track Club runners crushed the 2020 Olympic standard in the 5,000 meters of 13 minutes, 13.50 seconds in what was billed as the “Portland 5,000.”

Canadian Olympian Mohammed Ahmed kept the pace well under the standard. Kincaid, Lomong and Centrowitz stayed with him.

Kincaid bolted past Lomong in the final 120 to finish first in 12:58.10, obliterating his personal record of 13:12.22. He was followed to the finish line by Lomong in 13:00.13 and Centrowitz in 13:00.39.

Kincaid, who starred collegiately at the University of Portland, was having trouble processing it afterward.

Asked if he felt in 12:58 shape when he arrived at the track. Kincaid looked incredulous and said: “I don’t know if I feel that I’m in 12:58 shape now.”

Of the three, Kincaid’s performance most stood out. Lomong is a two-time Olympian who swept the 5,000 and 10,000 at this summer’s USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships. Centrowitz is the reigning Olympic champ in the 1,500.

Both Centrowitz and Lomong will be part of the U.S. Team for the World Outdoor Championships in Doha, Qatar, which begin Sept. 27. Kincaid finished third in 5,000 at the USATF Outdoor Championships, which would have qualified him for the U.S. team had he met this year’s world championships qualifying standard in the qualifying period. He had not.

It won’t be a problem next year, now that Kincaid has taken care of his Olympic qualifier.

“If you watched the last mile of that race, I lost all form,” Kincaid said. “I lost everything. It was just one step after another. There was nothing left in the tank after that.”

He said the spectators, standing around the track in lane five, in some places three and four deep, pushed him.

“Honestly, if that crowd wasn’t here, I run 13:20,” Kincaid said.

(09/11/2019) Views: 815 ⚡AMP
by Ken Goe
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Your guide to this year's Prefontaine Classic

The Prefontaine Classic relocated, temporarily, and it brought the best fields of the Diamond League season with it to Stanford, California on Sunday June 30.

That includes the world’s fastest man and woman this year (Christian Coleman and Elaine Thompson), the athlete who has made the most worldwide headlines this season (Caster Semenya) and a bevy of other reigning Olympic and world champions.

Notably, Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia and Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon will compete for the first time since 2017. World 100m champions Justin Gatlin and Tori Bowie are in their first Diamond League meets in more than one year. It’s the first Diamond League in two years for 2008 Olympic 400m champ LaShawn Merritt. It’s also the first race of 2019 for Olympic 1500m champion Matthew Centrowitz.

NBC and NBC Sports Gold air live coverage Sunday from 1-3 p.m. Pacific.

The Pre Classic has been held annually since 1975 in Eugene, Ore. But Hayward Field’s reconstruction ahead of the 2020 Olympic Trials forced a move to Cobb Track and Angell Field at Stanford.

Here are the Pre Classic entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Pacific):

Here are 10 events to watch:

Men’s Pole Vault — 12:43 p.m.The Big Three of the event meet for the first time this season: 2012 Olympic champion and world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France, 2017 World champion Sam Kendricksand 2018 and 2019 world leader Mondo Duplantis of Sweden, who just turned pro after his freshman year at LSU. Lavillenie has competed just once this season due to injury. Duplantis was beaten at NCAAs by Chris Nilsen (also in the Pre field). But Kendricks has been hot, winning the first three Diamond League pole vaults this season (though Lavillenie and Nilsen weren’t in any of those fields and Duplantis just one).

Women’s High Jump — 1:08 p.m.U.S. champion Vashti Cunningham takes another crack at Russian Mariya Lasitskene, who has just two losses in the last three years. Cunningham is 0-7 versus Lasitskene but has this spring already bettered her top clearance of 2018. Lasitskene, though, appears in top form after taking three attempts at a world record 2.10 meters in Ostrava last week.

Women’s 3000m Steeplechase — 1:11 p.m.Six of the eight fastest in history, headlined by world gold and silver medalists Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs. The only time either Coburn or Frerichs won a steeple that included any of the four fastest Kenyans in history was at those 2017 Worlds. Another chance Sunday.

Women’s 100m — 1:27 p.m.NCAA champion Sha’Carri Richardson would have been the favorite here in her pro debut if not for what happened Friday. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, a two-time Olympic 100m champion, clocked her fastest time in six years (10.73 seconds) to become the fastest mom in history and No. 2 in the world this year behind Rio gold medalist Elaine Thompson. Also watch reigning world champ Tori Bowie, who is coming back from a quad tear and coaching change.

Women’s 800m — 1:47 p.m.Caster Semenya races her trademark event for the first time since a Swiss Supreme Court ruled her eligible while it deliberates on her appeal against a Court of Arbitration for Sport decision to uphold an IAAF rule capping testosterone in women’s events from the 400m through the mile. The Swiss court ruling applies only to Semenya and not the other Rio Olympic medalists, Francine Niyonsaba and Margaret Wambui, who are also affected by the new rule. So Semenya’s closest threat at Pre is American record holder Ajeé Wilson, but Semenya has won 30 straight 800m races dating to 2015.

Men’s Shot Put — 2:01 p.m.Olympic champion Ryan Crouser had a sterling record at Hayward Field, taking NCAA, Pre Classic and Olympic Trials titles. He’s pretty strong in California, too, recording his personal best (22.74 meters) in Long Beach in April. Nobody has been within a foot and a half of that this season, but the last two world champions (New Zealand’s Tom Walsh and American Joe Kovacs) will try to snap his undefeated 2019 on Sunday.

Men’s 400m — 2:19 p.m.Lost some sizzle with the withdrawal of 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James, who has missed time with Graves’ disease and, more recently, his mother’s death. Instead, the three fastest Americans of the last decade line up — 2018 and 2019 world leader Michael Norman (43.45 from April 20), 2017 world No. 2 Fred Kerley and 2008 Olympic championLaShawn Merritt.

Women’s 200m — 2:25 p.m.Strongest sprint field of the meet: 2016 Olympic champion Elaine Thompson, 2015 and 2017 World champion Dafne Schippers and 2018 world leader Dina Asher-Smith. Should produce the fastest time in the world this year, which is currently 22.16, and the favorite for world champs.

Men’s 100m — 2:39 p.m.Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman go head-to-head for the first time since the 2017 Worlds, where Gatlin took gold, Usain Bolt silver and Coleman bronze. Coleman is the world’s fastest man this Olympic cycle (9.79) and this year (9.85). Gatlin, 37, hasn’t broken 10 seconds since beating Bolt but has a bye to defend his title in Doha in September.

Men’s Mile — 2:51 p.m.Olympic 1500m champ Matthew Centrowitz races on the track for the first time since July 22, eyeing his first win in the Pre mile in his sixth try. The foes are formidable, including the top two milers since Rio — Kenyans Timothy Cheruiyot and Elijah Manangoi — Norwegian brothers Filip and Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha, who on March 3 broke the 22-year-old indoor mile world record. Nobody has been within four seconds of the outdoor mile word record (Hicham El Guerrouj‘s 3:43.13 in 1999) since 2007.

(06/29/2019) Views: 876 ⚡AMP
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Prefontaine Classic

Prefontaine Classic

World Athletics made official Thursday what long has been suspected, with international track & field’s governing body announcing the Prefontaine Classic has been postponed. No new date has been set. The Pre Classic, part of the Diamond League series of international meets featuring Olympic-level athletes, had been scheduled for June 6-7 at the new Hayward Field in Eugene. All Diamond...

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Three-time World Championships medalist Jenny Simpson and Nick Willis to Race the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile

18 Olympians will toe the line in the world’s most iconic road mile race, including Olympians Matthew Centrowitz, Emma Coburn, Lopez Lomong, and Boris Berian; Event to be aired live on NBC and feature 22 heats throughout the day, including Rising New York Road Runners heats for youth and the George Sheehan Memorial Mile for seniors.  Olympic bronze medalist and three-time World Championships medalist Jenny Simpson and two-time Olympic medalist Nick Willis will go for their record-setting seventh and fifth event titles at the 2018 New Balance 5th Avenue Mile on Sunday, September 9. Stretching 20 blocks down Manhattan’s most famous thoroughfare, the race will draw a professional athlete field from 11 countries. (08/28/2018) Views: 1,325 ⚡AMP
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