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Prefontaine Memorial Run canceled

COOS BAY — The annual Prefontaine Memorial Run became the latest victim of the COVID-19 pandemic this week, when the long-running tribute to Marshfield great Steve Prefontaine was canceled for this year.

The Prefontaine Memorial Foundation committee agreed unanimously to cancel the event, which had been scheduled for Sept. 19, due to COVID-19 guidelines and concerns.

“This would have been the 41st year for our event, and though we regret the necessity of the cancellation, our foremost concern is to safeguard the wellbeing of our participants, volunteers and those who gather to watch and cheer on the walkers and runners,” said Bob Huggins, the executive director for the Foundation.

Huggins noted that refunds would be sent to people who already have signed up for the race.

The committee had hoped to be able to hold the race, which is the largest annual sports event on the South Coast, typically drawing more than 1,000 runners and walkers for its 10-kilomter race and 2-mile run walk and an associated high school cross country race.

“There are just too many situations we can’t control,” Huggins said. “The outdoor running portion of it is OK. The likeliness of getting COVID if you’re outdoor running is remote.

“But when we start dealing with indoor registration, start-line gathering with people around, handing out awards — there’s just too many things we can’t control.”

Plus, Huggins pointed out, “The governor’s proclamation that sporting events and large gatherings are prohibited through September pretty much made our decision for us.”

Locally and statewide, other big events also have been canceled, including the Hood to Coast Relay, the Butte to Butte run in Eugene, Cycle Oregon and county fairs.

The South Coast Running Club also this week canceled all its summer events, including the Jennifer’s Cathing Slough Classic in June, the rescheduled Roseburg to Coos Bay Relay in June, the Mayor’s Firecracker Run on July 4 in Mingus Park, the Circle the Bay in August and the Sunset Bay Trail Run on Labor Day Weekend.

“Given the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, we have made the difficult decision to cancel running events through September,” club officials said in a message sent out to members. “We believe this is the most responsible course of action.

“We are saddened by the circumstances that are causing us not to be hosting these events. We believe it is our role to keep our runners and their families healthy by decreasing exposure risk.”

This was going to be a particularly big year for the Prefontaine Memorial Run because the Road Runners Club of America had declared the run this year’s National Championship 10K race. But Huggins said RRCA officials already have told him they will award that distinction to next year’s run.

“We look forward to Sept. 18, 2021, when we plan to once again invite runners to take part in our premier event to honor our hometown hero, Steve Prefontaine, his celebrated running career and his memory,” Huggins said.

The annual run helps the Prefontaine Foundation fund a number of projects each year.

Huggins said projects made possible by the generous support of sponsors and the proceeds from the run include grants to support track and cross country programs in Coos County high schools, annual scholarships to high school seniors who participate in track or cross country, and helping fund the Pre Track Club, a summer training program at Marshfield High School.

This year’s sponsors include Nike, Pacific Properties, Tower Motor Company, Banner Bank, Vend West Services, Farr’s Hardware and North Bend Medical Center.

More information about the run and the Prefontaine Foundation is available at www.prefontainerun.com or by calling Huggins at 541-297-0230.

(05/23/2020) ⚡AMP
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Two elite athletes Mary Cain and Nick Willis sign with Tracksmith as full-time employees

Tracksmith, the independent running apparel brand out of Boston, announced its newest pair of partner athletes: Mary Cain and Nick Willis. This is not a traditional partnership, though, as Cain and Willis will both be working as full-time employees for the company in addition to running for the brand.

The duo will represent Tracksmith as they both work toward the Tokyo Olympic Games, which are set for July 2021, and they will do it as amateurs, a term that Tracksmith is looking to reclaim for everyone who loves to run.

In a post entitled “For the love” on the Tracksmith website announcing the brand’s newest partnership, founder and CEO Matt Taylor talks about the word “amateur,” which comes from Latin roots meaning “to love” and “I love.”

Taylor says “amateur” only recently became a term for non-professionals (around the 19th century or so), and now the team at Tracksmith wants to take the term back to its roots and refer to anyone who loves to run as “amateurs.”

In sports, athlete sponsorships are always dictated by results, and the better an athlete performs, the stronger their brand partnerships become. On the other hand, if their results start to decline, it’s not uncommon to see these relationships deteriorate and disappear.

This won’t be the case for Cain and Willis, because, working as Tracksmith employees and representing the brand as amateurs, they will have “the freedom to participate in the sport with no expectations or pressures outside of the ones they place on themselves.”

Cain made international headlines in November when she told the New York Times about the abuse she sustained while running with the Nike Oregon Project (NOP) under now-banned coach Alberto Salazar. Cain won gold in the 3,000m at the the world junior championships in 2014 before leaving the NOP a year later. In 2020, she returned to racing for the first time since 2016, and she is now working toward making her first U.S. Olympic team.

Cain’s official role at Tracksmith is New York community manager, and she will help grow the company’s “on-the-ground and virtual efforts in one of the most vibrant running scenes in the world.”

Willis, who’s 37 years old, tweeted he was leaving Adidas on Sunday, and there was some speculation that he might be retiring. Today, he tweeted again, saying, “I’m not retiring; I’m turning amateur.” Willis is a two-time Olympic medallist for New Zealand, having won silver in the 1,500m in Beijing in 2008 and bronze in the same event eight years later in Rio.

Willis is quoted on the Tracksmith site, saying, “It may sound counterintuitive, but I always discovered that my running career thrived the most when I embraced more. My best years, my fastest times, all emerged from times in my life when my running came, well, second.”

He’ll be looking to qualify for his fourth Olympics in 2021 while working as the athlete experience manager at Tracksmith, building programs to “inspire, motivate and deepen our community’s connection to the sport.”

(05/13/2020) ⚡AMP
by Ben Snider-McGrath
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Nike will be donating 30,000 pairs of shoes to frontline workers fighting Covid-19

Nike is donating 30,000 pairs of shoes — specifically designed for healthcare workers — to health systems and hospitals in cities across the United States.

The Air Zoom Pulse, which was released in November 2019, is the company's "first shoe designed for the healthcare athlete, an everyday hero," Nike said in its announcement on Monday.

The company went to OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland, Oregon, to study those in the profession. They took into account the challenges of those on the job — including long hours on their feet and liquid spills — and the comfort needed for long shifts.

Nike (NKE) partnered with Good360, a non-profit specializing in efficient distribution of product donations, to help deliver the shoes to workers in Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, and New York City, and within the Veterans Health Administration, according to Nike.

The company said health care workers in New York City and Los Angeles will also receive about 95,000 pairs of soccer socks offering mild compression.

"The effort is led by messages of gratitude to healthcare professionals," Nike said in its release. "From one athlete to another, Nike athletes recognize the physical and mental resilience of healthcare athletes."

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted his appreciation for the sportswear company.

"Thank you so much for supporting our front line health care heroes," he wrote on Monday.

Hospitals across Europe — including Barcelona, Berlin, London, Milan, Paris and Belgium — will receive an additional 2,500 pairs, Nike said.

More than 3.5 million cases of the novel coronavirus, including at least 251,000 deaths, have been recorded worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Nike's donation comes as healthcare workers continue to help battle the coronavirus pandemic, often putting themselves at risk. Many are helping patients without adequate supplies and equipment.

Nike said some of its teams came together to help create and donate full-face shields and powered, air-purifying respirator (PAPR) lenses to help protect healthcare workers.

To date, Nike and the Nike Foundation have committed more than $25 million to Covid-19 relief efforts, according to the company.

(05/12/2020) ⚡AMP
by Lauren M. Johnson
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To Run or Walk the Hills, That Is The Question

Those old enough to have learned to drive with a manual transmission were probably told they had to shift gears when the tachometer reached a certain RPM. Once you became proficient at it, you simply knew when to shift, by feel or sound, and didn’t need to look at the gauge much less think about it. The same is true of changing between running and walking uphill, but, surprisingly, it isn’t as simple, involving many variables. In fact, it is so complex that the choice of when to run or walk up a hill was the focus of a mountain runner student’s recent honors thesis.

Jackson Brill, a Salomon-sponsored runner and soon-to-be-graduate of the University of Colorado-Boulder, wrote his thesis on “To Run or Walk Uphill: A Matter of Inclination” toward earning his degree in Integrative Physiology. In researching it, he worked with his advisor, prominent CU faculty member, Dr. Roger Kram, Ph.D., Integrative Physiology, who runs the locomotion lab that did the original Nike 4% testing.

The Study

Brill’s thesis centers on the point at which uphill trail and mountain runners transition to walkers. He measured three different speeds at which this can occur. First is the “Preferred Transition Speed” (PTS), where people prefer to switch—any slower, humans prefer to walk, any faster, they prefer to run. The second is the “Energy Optimal Transition Speed,” (EOTS), where exercise economy — the cost required to maintain a certain speed — indicates transitioning to walking is mechanically better. (Note: Brill shies away from saying “more efficient” as there is no way to truly measure mechanical power in runners.) Finally, there is the heart rate optimal transition speed (HROTS); a third measure that is basically the same idea as EOTS but using heart rate as the efficiency indicator. At HROTS, heart rate is the same between walking and running. Slower than this speed, walking heart rate is lower than running heart rate. Faster than HROTS, vice versa.

Brill’s study set out to examine the effect that incline had on PTS and EOTS, and to determine “how heart rate is influenced by gait selection.” Brill’s hypothesis was that at certain speeds it would be more efficient to walk on steeper inclines and that both speed and incline play into PTS and EOTS. In other words, that both measures would get slower at steeper inclines.

“I thought this would occur because both walking and running are more metabolically demanding at steeper inclines and, thus, there would be greater drive to minimize energetic cost,” he says. “Finally, I hypothesized that HROTS and EOTS would be equal at each incline. I thought this would occur because heart rate generally correlates with energetic cost during steady state endurance exercise.”

Brill based his study on testing ten “healthy, high-caliber, male trail and mountain runners.” He tested the runners in two sessions, one where the treadmill was set at 0 degrees and 15 degrees and a second at 5 degrees and 10 degrees. PTS and EOTS were determined from metabolic cost data for walking and running at three or four speeds per incline near the expected EOTS.

Expected and Unexpected Research Findings

Image Courtesy Jackson Brill

Brill’s study and analysis produced expected and unexpected results. Consistent with prior research, the study showed that at all inclines walking generally required less metabolic power at slow speeds and running required less at faster speeds, and that the transition would arrive at a slower speed on steeper inclines. Also consistent with prior research was that PTS would be less than EOTS at shallow inclines. The reasons we transition sooner than what would be most metabolically efficient is unclear, but theories point to biomechanical factors, such as sparing fatigue on specific muscles.

This changed at a higher incline, however. At 15 degrees, PTS and EOTS were the same. Since this was only on average (not all of the subjects showed this change), Brill is cautious with drawing conclusions “especially because no prior research looked at PTS and EOTS on these steep inclines and, thus, nobody else has validated such a finding,” he says. However, he observes: “There’s physiological plausibility for PTS and EOTS to converge at steeper inclines since the greater intensity of the steeper inclines means that subjects are closer to their VO2 max and energetic cost or oxygen consumption begins to become a limiting factor at higher intensities, unlike lower intensities on the more gradual inclines.”

Unexpectedly, the study determined that HROT did not equal EOTS at all inclines and, accordingly, that heart rate is not a reliable predictor of when a runner will shift to walking. Therefore, athletes and coaches shouldn’t rely on heart rate monitors to govern gait.

Further Questions

As part of Brill’s written conclusion, he states: “Energetic, biomechanical, and neuromuscular factors may influence gait transition, and these should be studied in further detail, especially on inclines commonly experienced by trail and mountain runners, where the question of gait transition has large performance implications.” He says he’d love to delve into the effects of fuel utilization and carb sparing, local fatigue and the relative strength and weakness of specific lower leg muscles.

Image courtesy: Jackson Brill

Brill points out that the study was limited by the fact that the subjects weren’t able to place their hands on their quadriceps or knees to facilitate knee extension during late stance due to the constraints of the mouthpiece and breathing tube that collected expired air. This may have influenced metabolic cost and discomfort, especially at 10 and 15 degrees, and thus artificially distorted the results. Brill’s thesis also recognizes that the limitations of lab-based research eliminated a variety of relevant factors such as the steepness of the incline, length of the climb, ground surface, and the overall duration of the effort, which all weigh on an individual’s gait selection. Those factors are crucial, along with fueling choices, a runner’s unique leg strengths and weaknesses, use of poles or no poles, at what point in the run the incline comes, and, perhaps most importantly, whether there are other runners to pass or be passed by, or observers to cheer or jeer.

Impact of the Study

Brill says he thought this study was “important because many trail and mountain running coaches and athletes believe that deciding whether to walk or run uphill is solely determined by speed or solely determined by incline.” He wants runners and coaches to understand the “nuance and complexity of gait selection.” Additionally, many trail and mountain running coaches and athletes rely on cardiovascular or energetic models in their training—in the sense of VO2 max and anaerobic threshold workouts—and he wanted to determine whether that reliance was well founded. “Furthermore,” he says, “since coaches and athletes often utilize heart rate monitors to approximate cardiovascular stress or energetic cost, I also wanted to learn if this was a useful tool for approximating EOTS.”

Beyond heart rate, Brill says, “The practical importance of this finding is that if someone says ‘I always switch to walking if I’m going slower than 12 minutes per mile’ or, alternatively, ‘I always switch to walking if I’m going steeper than 10 degrees,’ they’re dumb, because ultimately the speed of transition—whether we’re talking PTS, EOTS, or the unknown transition speed that optimizes performance—is a function of both incline and speed, not just one or the other.”

Expected and Unexpected Research Findings

Brill’s study and analysis produced expected and unexpected results. Consistent with prior research, the study showed that at all inclines walking generally required less metabolic power at slow speeds and running required less at faster speeds, and that the transition would arrive at a slower speed on steeper inclines. Also consistent with prior research was that PTS would be less than EOTS at shallow inclines. The reasons we transition sooner than what would be most metabolically efficient is unclear, but theories point to biomechanical factors, such as sparing fatigue on specific muscles.

This changed at a higher incline, however. At 15 degrees, PTS and EOTS were the same. Since this was only on average (not all of the subjects showed this change), Brill is cautious with drawing conclusions “especially because no prior research looked at PTS and EOTS on these steep inclines and, thus, nobody else has validated such a finding,” he says. However, he observes: “There’s physiological plausibility for PTS and EOTS to converge at steeper inclines since the greater intensity of the steeper inclines means that subjects are closer to their VO2 max and energetic cost or oxygen consumption begins to become a limiting factor at higher intensities, unlike lower intensities on the more gradual inclines.”

Unexpectedly, the study determined that HROT did not equal EOTS at all inclines and, accordingly, that heart rate is not a reliable predictor of when a runner will shift to walking. Therefore, athletes and coaches shouldn’t rely on heart rate monitors to govern gait.

Further Questions

As part of Brill’s written conclusion, he states: “Energetic, biomechanical, and neuromuscular factors may influence gait transition, and these should be studied in further detail, especially on inclines commonly experienced by trail and mountain runners, where the question of gait transition has large performance implications.” He says he’d love to delve into the effects of fuel utilization and carb sparing, local fatigue and the relative strength and weakness of specific lower leg muscles.

Brill points out that the study was limited by the fact that the subjects weren’t able to place their hands on their quadriceps or knees to facilitate knee extension during late stance due to the constraints of the mouthpiece and breathing tube that collected expired air. This may have influenced metabolic cost and discomfort, especially at 10 and 15 degrees, and thus artificially distorted the results. Brill’s thesis also recognizes that the limitations of lab-based research eliminated a variety of relevant factors such as the steepness of the incline, length of the climb, ground surface, and the overall duration of the effort, which all weigh on an individual’s gait selection. Those factors are crucial, along with fueling choices, a runner’s unique leg strengths and weaknesses, use of poles or no poles, at what point in the run the incline comes, and, perhaps most importantly, whether there are other runners to pass or be passed by, or observers to cheer or jeer.

Impact of the Study

Brill says he thought this study was “important because many trail and mountain running coaches and athletes believe that deciding whether to walk or run uphill is solely determined by speed or solely determined by incline.” He wants runners and coaches to understand the “nuance and complexity of gait selection.” Additionally, many trail and mountain running coaches and athletes rely on cardiovascular or energetic models in their training—in the sense of VO2 max and anaerobic threshold workouts—and he wanted to determine whether that reliance was well founded. “Furthermore,” he says, “since coaches and athletes often utilize heart rate monitors to approximate cardiovascular stress or energetic cost, I also wanted to learn if this was a useful tool for approximating EOTS.”

Beyond heart rate, Brill says, “The practical importance of this finding is that if someone says ‘I always switch to walking if I’m going slower than 12 minutes per mile’ or, alternatively, ‘I always switch to walking if I’m going steeper than 10 degrees,’ they’re dumb, because ultimately the speed of transition—whether we’re talking PTS, EOTS, or the unknown transition speed that optimizes performance—is a function of both incline and speed, not just one or the other.”

(05/09/2020) ⚡AMP
by Podium Runner
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Eliud Kipchoge, the legend, is leading from the front in distributing relief food to vulnerable athletes in the Rift Valley

On Friday, the Olympic champion and world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge spent his day in Kericho County distributing the food which was flagged off by Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed on Thursday.

Kipchoge, along with his Eliud Kipchoge Foundation, was picked as the ambassador of the relief project by the Ministry of Sport to motivate and come to the aid of athletes who have lost huge potential income owing to cancellation of races as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to bite.

The food was donated by the ministry and well wishers, including the Hindu Council of Kenya, with Sports Principal Secretary Joe Okudo joining Amina in flagging off the consignments on Thursday.

The packages being given to each athlete, have, inter alia, maize and wheat flour, rice, cooking oil and pasta.

Athletes in Kericho were excited to not only receive the portions, but also have a close encounter with their legend Kipchoge who became the first man to run the marathon in under two hours in Vienna last October.

Kipchoge was, perhaps, difficult to identify, given that he wore a face mask in tandem with public health directives, but his Nike jumper and unique, grey Nike Zoom shoes along with the spring the famous spring in his step as he moved up and down, unloading the consignments from trucks, gave him in.

Seeing the legend “live” was huge consolation for the disruption in the Kericho athletes’ training programmes by Covid-19 precautions that outlaw group training sessions and races from being held.

Kipchoge’s programme too has been seriously disrupted by the pandemic.

Last month, he had been lined up with his Ethiopian Global Sports Communication stable mate but rival, Kenenisa Bekele, at the London Marathon.

Then in July, he was primed to defend his Olympic marathon title in Sapporo.

But while the April 26 London Marathon was postponed to October 4, the Olympic Games have been pushed to July and August next year, holding all factors constant.

Kipchoge has now to juggle between staying in shape and helping out the disadvantaged athletes, indeed the hallmark of a selfless legend.

n Friday, Kipchoge will be on the food relief mission in Kapsabet, Eldoret, Iten and Kaptagat.

"Through Eliud Kipchoge, we have identified 58 athletes who are very needy and deserve to get these food packages,” CS Amina said on Thursday while flagging off the food convoy at Nyayo National Stadium.

“The effects of the pandemic mean they cannot compete and they do not have any source of income.”

The CS, who announced earlier in the week that cover 1,000 sportsmen and women will benefit from the relief food, also appealed to the private sector and individuals to supplement the government's efforts in helping the vulnerable sportsmen and women.

(05/08/2020) ⚡AMP
by Bernard Rotich
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Dathan Ritzenhein Retires at Age 37

Dathan Ritzenhein, a high school prodigy who went on to become a two-time global medalist, three-time Olympian, five-time national champion and a 2:07 marathoner, has decided to retire after 16 years of professional running. 

The 37 year-old, who grew up in Rockford, Mich., and competed for the University of Colorado during his collegiate career, decided that he had accomplished all of his main goals and the time was right to shift his focus away from competitive running.

“I guess I’m not necessarily 25 and retiring in my prime,” Ritzenhein told Race Results Weekly by telephone from his Michigan home yesterday just after finishing a hard 10-mile run.  He continued: “I have things that I wish that I have done in my career, but I’m also very satisfied, too.  I think right now it’s something that I thought a lot about the last year. 

I’ve had a lot of nostalgic moments, looking back a lot more than looking forward.  So, I don’t know that I had a lot more goals that I was looking to accomplish.”

While still competing for Colorado, Ritzenhein made his first of three Olympic teams in 2004, despite finishing only 22nd at the USA Olympic Trials in the 10,000m.  Ritzenhein made the team because he was one of only five athletes entered who had the Olympic “A” standard of 27:49.00 (he had run 27:38.50 in his debut at the distance in April, then a U.S. collegiate record).  Trials winner Meb Keflezighi opted for the marathon (where he would win the silver medal) and Bob Kennedy dropped out.  That left Abdi Abdirahman, Dan Browne (who would also compete in the Marathon) and Ritzenhein to run the 10,000m in Athens, the three remaining finishers who had the standard.  Running on a badly injured foot in Athens, Ritzenhein failed to finish.

“My first one was a miserable experience where I hobbled my way on,” Ritzenhein said of making his first Olympic team.  He continued: “I made the standard, and just not many people had it.  Bob Kennedy had it and Meb, and Dan Browne and Abdi.  Meb ended up running the marathon and Bob Kennedy dropped out of the 10-K, and I knew I just had to finish the race.”

Ritzenhein made his professional racing debut at the Boclassic 10-K in Bolzano, Italy, on December 31, 2004, the day after his 22nd birthday.  He pushed the pace with two laps to go in the 8-lap race and finished third behind Sergey Lebed of Ukraine and Stefano Baldini of Italy (Baldini was the reigning Olympic Marathon champion).  Ritzenhein had signed with Nike just prior to the Athens Olympics, and Brad Hudson became his coach.  He won both the USATF cross country and 10-K road running titles in 2005, and under Hudson’s coaching jumped right to the marathon in 2006, making his debut at the New York City Marathon.  It was a controversial decision, and after a 1:05:35 first half he finished 11th in 2:14:01, calling the discomfort he endured in the last four miles “undescribable.”

Almost exactly a year later, Ritzenhein returned to New York for the 2008 USA Olympic Trials Marathon (which were held in November, 2007), and he finished second to Ryan Hall in 2:11:07, a personal best.  He would go on to finish ninth in the Olympic Marathon the following year in Beijing, and it looked like Ritzenhein was going to focus mainly on the marathon.

But unlike other track runners who moved up, Ritzenhein wasn’t so quick to abandon the track, cross country or road races below the marathon distance.  He used his marathon strength to great effect in training, and his track running was never better.  In one of his best years, 2009, he set the American record for 5000m of 12:56.27 (since broken), ran a 10,000m personal best of 27:22.28 when he finished sixth at the IAAF World Championships 10,000m, and won a bronze medal at the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships, running 1:00:00.  He was also the runner-up at the USATF championships for both the 10,000m and half-marathon, and finished 10th at the London Marathon.

“That’s what always drove me,” said Ritzenhein.  “I would always have these goals and you’d have these valleys between them.  Really high moments, like the American record, bronze medal at the world junior championships (in cross country), or the world half-marathon championships.  Those are the races where you just feel invincible.”

But he was not invincible.  Ritzenhein suffered numerous injuries throughout his career (he recalled having over 40 MRI’s), and had to have surgeries three times.  He missed most of 2011 due to a surgery to his right Achilles tendon, but his long recovery (made even longer by a lingering infection) set him up for his most dramatic year, 2012.

“After three years away from the track I had doubts,” Ritzenhein said.  “I poured it all out there.  At the Olympic Trials it was an epic day.  I didn’t have the standard and quite a few people in the race did.”  He added: “It seemed like an impossible task.”

Ritzenhein said that he will always be a runner, and that he’ll still run hard sometimes (he averaged a six-minute pace on yesterday’s 10-miler, he said).  He already coaches a few athletes, including marathoner Parker Stinson.

“This isn’t the end for sure,” he said.  “This is all I know.  The sport of running is my passion and my love.”  He added: “I’m looking forward to continuing to give back to the sport; coaching is a passion of mine.  I love writing, to talk to people, and give people advice.  It’s in my DNA.  I’ll always run.  It’s just something I can’t go without.”

(05/07/2020) ⚡AMP
by David Monti
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Former UK Athletics performance director Neil Black, dies at age 60

Neil Black, the former performance director of UK Athletics, has died aged 60, the organization has confirmed.

Black, who worked closely with Mo Farah throughout his career, became performance director in September 2012.

He left his position in 2019 after coach Alberto Salazar was banned for four years for doping violations.

British four-time Olympic champion Farah paid tribute on Twitter, saying: "I have lost a good friend. Known him since I was 14 years old."

Farah added: "Neil supported me all the way in my career since I was kid. My heart is broken. I wouldn't be where I am today without Neil Black. No-one knew me like he did. We lost a great man."

A UK Athletics statement released on Tuesday said Black died at the weekend; the organisation said it was "shocked and saddened" at the news.

"Neil loved the sport of athletics and dedicated his life to supporting athletes - as a world-class physiotherapist, as head of sport science, and then in recent years as performance director for British Athletics," the statement continued.

Ed Warner, former UK Athletics chairman, described Black's death as "an immense loss to British high performance sport and to athletics in particular".

Warner added: "It was a great privilege to work with him, and to share the highs and lows of British teams through the cycles of major competitions. I'll particularly treasure our celebratory clinch in the mixed zone at the Olympic Stadium after the last session of the London 2017 World Championships.

"Neil bore the barbs of the critics that are an inevitable part of the job of any leader in elite performance sport with a grace and sense of humour that were truly a mark of the man.

"He wanted to lead the British teams into Tokyo. He won't now be able to cheer their successes there.

"But I am certain there are British athletes who will win medals in Olympics and championships to come who will look back with enormous gratitude at the role Neil played in preparing them for their success. He will be greatly missed."

Black was a physiotherapist with UK Athletics before moving up through the organisation's ranks.

He worked with Farah as the athlete won 5,000m and 10,000m gold at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics.

Black made the decision to step down as performance director in October 2019 after the banning of Salazar, who coached Farah from 2011 to 2017, and who was appointed as a consultant by UK Athletics in 2013.

UK Athletics had conducted a review in 2015 and said there was "no concern" about Salazar's link with Farah.

In 2015, following a BBC Panorama programme, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) began an investigation into how Salazar ran the Nike Oregon Project.

Salazar has always denied that the Nike Oregon Project permitted doping, saying he was "shocked" by Usada's findings, and he is appealing against the ban.

UK Athletics said that Black continued to work as an adviser to several athletes following his resignation.

(04/22/2020) ⚡AMP
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Remembering Boston 2014, when Meb Keflezighi ran all the way to one of the defining victories in the race’s 123-year history, becoming the first U.S. male runner to win in 31 years

Before starting the 2014 Boston Marathon, Meb Keflezighi had four names scribbled in marker on his race bib corners: Martin, Krystle, Lingzi and Sean.

Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and Lingzi Lu died as a result of the twin bombings near the Boylston Street finish line during the 2013 Boston Marathon. Three days later, Sean Collier, a policeman, was shot and killed in a confrontation with the attackers.

Keflezighi ran in 2014 in their memory and with his own remembrance. All the way to one of the defining victories in the race’s 123-year history, becoming the first U.S. male runner to win in 31 years.

A year earlier, Keflezighi left an observer grandstand near the finish line of the Boston Marathon about five minutes before the bombs went off.

“The four victims that died in the explosion were spectators just like me,” he said.

It marked a career turnaround at age 38 for Keflezighi, who had been dropped by Nike three years earlier. He considered retirement. The 2004 Olympic silver medalist and 2009 New York City Marathon champion had placed 23rd at his previous marathon and withdrew before the 2013 Boston race with a calf injury.

Keflezighi went out hard from the start, keen on meeting his minimum pre-race goal: to set a personal best. At the halfway point, he and little-known American Josphat Boit led the field by 30 seconds.

In the chase pack, other Americans conversed and strategized not to push the pace in pursuit.

“We needed to give Meb as much space as possible,” Ryan Hall, the fastest American marathoner in history, texted Tim Layden, then of Sports Illustrated and now of NBC Sports. “If the African guys were going to try to catch him, we weren’t going to do the work to help them. It wasn’t my day to win, as much as I wanted to. Meb winning was the next best thing and what the US needed.”

Keflezighi pulled away from Boit between the 15th and 19th miles, opening a one-minute lead. The margin dropped to about eight seconds at the 25-mile mark, but Keflezighi held off Kenyan Wilson Chebet by 11 seconds on Boylston.

“This is beyond running,” Keflezighi, whose full first name, Mebrahtom, means “let there be light” in the Eritrean language, said in a finish-area TV interview. “This is for the people, for the Boston Strong. We’re resilient as runners.”

Keflezighi, born in Eritrea, moved to the U.S. at age 12. His first time running seriously was in San Diego in junior high school, when PE students were given a grade for how much effort they put into a mile. He eventually earned a scholarship to UCLA and made his first Olympic team at age 25 in 2000.

Keflezighi retired from elite running in 2017 after 26 marathons, but he felt complete after Boston in 2014.

“99.9 of my career was fulfilled,” Keflezighi said after winning Boston. “Today, 110 percent.”

(04/20/2020) ⚡AMP
by Meb Keflezighi
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Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon

The 124th Boston Marathon originally scheduled for April 20 was postponed to September 14 and then May 28 it was cancelled for 2020. The next Boston Marathon is scheduled for April 19, 2021. Among the nation’s oldest athletic clubs, the B.A.A. was established in 1887, and, in 1896, more than half of the U.S. Olympic Team at the first modern...

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Nike Develops Face Shield for Health-Care Workers on the front lines of the coronavirus fight

With personal protective equipment in short supply for medical workers on the front lines of the coronavirus fight, Nike is offering up its services.

The Beaverton, Ore.-based athletic company announced today that its innovation, manufacturing and product teams have developed face shields and powered, air-purifying respirator (PAPR) lenses in partnership with health professionals from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).

Nike delivered its first shipment of face shields and PAPR lenses to OHSU on Friday. The sportswear giant’s PPE is being provided to medical systems located in the vicinity of its Oregon world headquarters, including Providence, Legacy Health Systems and Kaiser Permanente.

“Nike’s generous response to the COVID-19 crisis helps to instill an added layer of confidence and support for health-care workers that we can safely carry out the jobs we were born to do,” said Dr. Miko Enomoto, associate professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine at the OHSU School of Medicine.

The Swoosh’s version of a face shield features elements of its footwear and apparel that have been repurposed, including TPU from its Air soles, collar padding meant for shoes and cords originally destined to become apparel. The full-face shield includes three parts which come together through a nine-step process, a collaborative effort of a few Nike teams at its Air Manufacturing Innovation facilities in Oregon and Missouri. Similarly, Nike is making PAPR helmets using the same TPU that is being utilized for the face shields.

n March, OHSU announced a $7 million donation from Nike’s current and former top brass — CEO John Donahoe and wife Eileen, Chairman Mark Parker and wife Kathy, and founder Phil Knight and wife Penny — to coordinate care and provide equipment as it combats COVID-19 in Oregon.

Other athletic companies based in the United States are also offering their manufacturing capabilities to help solve the PPE shortage. Last week, Under Armour said it has delivered 1,300 face shields to the University of Maryland Medical System and expects to make more than 500,000 fabric face masks and 50,000 fanny packs.

And New Balance said on March 27 that it is creating masks in its Lawrence, Mass., manufacturing facility to be used by health-care professionals.

(04/14/2020) ⚡AMP
by Ella Chochrek
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Dr. Michael Joyner, the Guy Who Predicted the Sub-2:00 Marathon, Now Helping Lead the COVID-19 Fight

Dr. Michael Joyner of the Mayo Clinic is best known in running circles as being the guy who in 1991 published a paper saying a human being could run a marathon in 1:57:58. Joyner, an anesthesiologist and physiologist by trade, now is using his skills on a much more serious matter by helping lead the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project (CCPP19). The CCPP19 is a nationwide effort of researchers, institutions, and blood blanks to try to use plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to better treat patients suffering from COVID-19.

“What we’re trying to do is leverage the antibodies produced by people who have recovered from COVID-19. Harvest those antibodies from recovered patients and then give these antibodies in the form of plasma to people to either prevent disease in people that have been exposed but aren’t yet sick, to treat people who are in the hospital and try to keep them from going to the intensive care unit, or to try to shorten the stay in the intensive care unit. This is called convalescent plasma therapy. It’s been around since the late 1800s. It’s worked numerous times before,” said Joyner on this week’s LetsRun.com Track Talk Podcast.

Joyner said the goal is for people to continue to practice social distancing and proper pandemic control while groups like his develop better short-term treatments for COVID-19 before a vaccine can be made to really stop the virus.

“We believe it’s our best shot on kind of [a] biological goal in the short run, and then after that, we anticipate concentrated gamma globulin, like antibodies, [being] available toward the end of the summer. And then we are waiting for the vaccine and biotech cavalry to come to the rescue,” Joyner said.

Running did play a tangential role in getting Joyner involved with CCPP19. Joyner has always been interested in oxygen transport and physiology because of his days as a competitive runner at the University of Arizona. Recently, Joyner was on Twitter and he saw a retweet by David Epstein, the former Columbia 800m runner and former ProPublica journalist who, along with the BBC, broke the allegations that Alberto Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project were breaking anti-doping rules.

The retweet was a link to a Wall Street Journal article by Dr. Arturo Casadevall on using antibodies to try to treat the coronavirus:

(04/12/2020) ⚡AMP
by Letsrun
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Under Armour brand is manufacturing face masks for hospital workers amid Coronavirus

Under Armour is the latest brand to pivot production to assist in the fight against novel coronavirus.

The Baltimore-based footwear and apparel brand announced on March 31 it plans to manufacture and distribute more than 500,000 fabric face masks while assembling and distributing 50,000 specially equipped fanny packs to support the 28,000 healthcare providers and staff that comprise the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS).

“This is an unprecedented time. Companies with the ability to innovate and provide resources to make a difference are needed now more than ever,” Under Armour CEO Patrik Frisk said in an e-mail. “Our partners at the University of Maryland Medical System and other medical organizations on the frontlines of this pandemic are facing a new kind of challenge. We hope to deploy our heritage in helping make athletes better—as well as our legacy of local community support—in this new way to help the heroic healthcare workers as they make the lives of all better every day.”

The United States is currently facing a face mask shortage as novel coronavirus continues to sweep through the nation; as of 9:20 a.m. March 31 there are more than 161,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 3,000 deaths.

With numbers rising and the demand for medical equipment also increasing, various sports companies have stepped up to contribute during these unprecedented times.

Fanatics announced on March 26 it is partnering with Major League Baseball to support emergency personnel in the fight against novel coronavirus by making hospital face masks and gowns out of the same material used to make baseball jerseys. Nike announced on March 25 it is prototyping personal protective equipment including face shields with guidance from healthcare workers at Oregon Health & Science University. New Balance is producing prototypes for face masks out of its manufacturing facility in Lawrence, Massachusetts, with the hopes to scale production throughout its other New England factories soon.

Under Armour designed a one-piece face mask that doesn’t require sewing. The mask’s origami-style folds mold the fabric into the desired mask shape. Under Amour senior vice-president of advanced material and manufacturing innovation Randy Harward estimates the company can generate as many as 100,000 masks per week moving forward utilizing its knife cutter which can carve nearly 100 pieces of fabric at once.

The brand is not only helping supply healthcare providers and staff at UMMS, it has begun providing face masks to LifeBridge, a regional health care organization based in Baltimore, and is in discussion with Johns Hopkins Medicine, MedStar and other local medical institutions regarding supplies.

Under Armour, which is exploring 3-D printing N95 and N80 masks for medical professionals, has already delivered 1,300 face shields to UMMS.

“Ensuring the health and safety of our medical staff and patients is our first priority,” said Dr. Mohan Suntha, president and CEO of University of Maryland Medical System. “The national shortage of personal protective equipment has put our hospitals—and every other hospital in the country—under intense pressure to manage supplies while delivering care in a setting that is safe for our patients and employees.

(04/04/2020) ⚡AMP
by Michael LoRé
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After coronavirus forces postponement of 2020 Tokyo Olympics, elite athletes share their sorrow

Former University of Oregon sprinter English Gardner was looking at the big picture when the news broke Tuesday that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were being postponed for a year because of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

Gardner has a 2016 Olympic gold medal from the Team USA women’s 4x100 relay and big hopes for Tokyo.

But she fully supports the decision by the International Olympic Committee and Japanese organizers to postpone.

“I’m bigger than track and field,” Gardner said. “I’m part of the community. I’m a human being. I’m a sister. I’m a mother. I’m a girlfriend. I’m a godmother. As a whole world, we’re kind of going through it right now. It’s OK that the Games got postponed because this problem, this illness, this sickness is way bigger than Tokyo.”

Gardner is among the Olympic-level athletes and coaches who spoke to The Oregonian/OregonLive on Tuesday about the postponement. They shared varying mixtures of relief, resignation, disappointment and hope for the future.

Shortly after the decision about the Olympics became public, the TrackTown USA local organizing committee announced the U.S. Olympic trials for track and field scheduled for June at Hayward Field in Eugene also had been postponed.

In most of the country, athletes are living in various degrees of social isolation as state, regional and municipal governments try to slow the spread of the virus. In many cases it has affected their ability to train.

Maybe worse has been the uncertainty of not knowing what the future holds and watching major sporting events be canceled or postponed, one after another. It seemed only a matter of time before the Olympics became the next domino to fall.

“I wasn’t super surprised,” said Shelby Houlihan of the Portland-based Bowerman Track Club and reigning USA Track & Field outdoor women’s champion in the 1,500 and 5,000 meters. “I figured it was probably going to happen. But it still kind of sucks.

“Obviously, it was probably for the best because of the situation we’re in. Safety should definitely be the No. 1 priority. But it does suck because I was ready for this year.”

Pete Julian coaches a Nike-sponsored, Portland-based team of elite distance runners who have been gearing up for the Olympics.

Julian’s group includes, among others, U.S. mid-distance stars Donavan Brazier, the 2019 world outdoor champion in the 800 meters, and Craig Engels, German star Konstanze Klosterhalfen and former University of Oregon runner Jessica Hull of Australia.

“I don’t think any of them are happy about the Olympics getting moved,” Julian said. “I think a lot of them feel they’re ready to go and believe they can win medals. They’re sort of kicking the post. They want to race.”

But Julian agrees with the decision to postpone. His message to his runners is they can be better in 2021 than they are now. He believes the Olympics can be too.

“I think Tokyo is one of the few cities in the world that could pull this off without a hitch,” he said. “I don’t think most of us can even imagine the logistical nightmare that this is going to create, and what the IOC and Tokyo will have to work through. But they will be able to do it, and it will be amazing.”

Evan Jager of the Bowerman Track Club is the 2016 Olympic silver medalist in the men’s steeplechase. He said he had a strong winter of training and liked his positioning heading into the outdoor season. But he believes this step back can turn to be a bigger step forward.

“Postponing it a year and having the Olympics as that light at the end of the tunnel is going to be a very positive thing to look forward to,” Jager said. “We can come out of this crisis a year from now, and hopefully be healthy. The Olympics can be a celebration of getting out of these dark times.”

Marathoner Galen Rupp said he planned to keep training and keep perspective.

The former University of Oregon star won an Olympic silver medal in the men’s 10,000 meters in 2012 and a bronze in the marathon in 2016. He already had made the 2020 U.S. Olympic team by winning the marathon trials on Feb. 29 in Atlanta.

“The health, safety and well-being of the global population are of the utmost importance and beyond any sporting event,” Rupp said. “Already so many people have gotten sick or died and so many more have been greatly impacted by the coronavirus. We need to listen to the advice of health experts.”

Even if that means going dark in 2020 and waiting a year so the coronavirus can be contained.

Gardner, the former UO sprinter who lives in New Jersey, said training has become difficult because of quarantine containment regulations. She joked she has to get creative to do track workouts because of padlocked facilities.

“I’ve been hopping a lot of fences,” she said. “I’ve been working on my long jump and high jump approaches.”

But turning serious, she said she endorsed the quarantines and social-distancing rules as a way to keep vulnerable family members safe. She said the Olympic postponement would protect athletes and fans.

“I was mostly concerned that we would calm the virus down, we all would go to Tokyo and spur it back up again,” Gardner said.

She said it could hit athlete housing in Tokyo the way an outbreak of the norovirus struck at the 2017 World Outdoor Championships in London.

“We share common eating rooms,” she said. “We all share the same tracks, the same weight rooms, the same hotels. It would just be a matter of time before it spurred back up again.“

(03/29/2020) ⚡AMP
by Oregon Live
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Looking for Some Running Content to Watch? On Running’s Chasing Tokyo Series May be Just For You

On Running’s Chasing Tokyo series may be just for you. The video series chronicled the nine athletes of the On ZAP Endurance professional running team (Tyler Pennel, Joe Stilin, Andrew Colley, Johnny Crain, Tristin Van Ord, Matt McClintock, Joanna Thompson, Josh Izewski, and Nicole DiMercurio) and their attempts to qualify for the 2020 US Olympic marathon team. The five-part series became a hit on social media, with 1.35 million views on YouTube, and more than 7.2 million views across all platforms according to On.

The On ZAP runners came up short of the Olympic goal.

If you want to watch the series without knowing how the On runners did, scroll to the videos embedded below. Otherwise keep reading.

However, they had two strong performances in the men’s race at the US Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta. with Tyler Pennel (11th in 2:12:34) and Josh Izewski (17th in 2:14:15) both posting top-20 finishes. Pennel’s run showed just how strong the men’s race was; despite a PR on the tough Atlanta course, Pennel could not match his 5th-place finish from the 2016 Trials.

While the top 3 finishers in Atlanta got the most attention, the series captures why so many runners dedicate a significant portion of their lives training for and dreaming of the Olympics. Joe Stilin, who had an off day at the Trials and finished 107th, is in tears in the final episode talking about how much it meant to him to have his high school coach, his dad, his brother, and even fellow teammates encouraging him at the Trials.

“It’s what the sport’s about…Sometimes, it’s not about just crushing and being top 3 and all that. It’s why we run,” Stilin said (that clip is here).

The series is directed by Emmy-winning director, Andrew Hinton (“Man with the Halo”) and starts following the team in 2019 in episode 1, “Dudes in the Woods,” which explains what the On ZAP team — located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Boone, N.C., — is all about. Episode 5 concludes with the Olympic Trials. There isn’t much footage from the Trials — only four minutes of the one-hour series comes from once they’re on the starting line in Atlanta — but the point isn’t to capture the race itself, but to show the buildup and struggles all Olympic dreamers go through.

Episode 1 is only five minutes, so give it a shot and see if you get hooked.

And don’t feel too bad that the ZAP runners didn’t make it to Tokyo. They’re already dreaming of Paris 2024. “Of the nine athletes on the team, I think probably half of them are thinking about this race four years from now. Sometimes it’s the people who are just too stupid to quit who get things done and we’re probably in that category,” said On ZAP head coach Pete Rea in the final episode.

One final thing: is the On ZAP runners were allowed to wear the new Nike super shoes during the race. We are full of praise for On for allowing this: it shows they put their athletes first. On was founded by former world duathlon champion Olivier Bernhard, who knows a thing or two about performance (LRC’s Wejo went to Olivier’s house in Switzerland in 2012 or 2013). Olivier was a Nike-sponsored athlete back in the day, and when he got injured he tinkered with his shoes, and that led him to starting a shoe company once he stopped competing. Roger Federer is now working with On and an investor in the company. Athletes of that caliber know is it not right to force athletes to compete at a disadvantage, so they let the On ZAP runners wear the Nike shoes. We applaud them. None of the ZAP runners are forced to wonder “What if…

(03/22/2020) ⚡AMP
by Let’s Run
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Mo Farah explains over taking supplement

Mo Farah has explained how he came to change his account when questioned in 2015 about taking the supplement L-carnitine before the 2014 London Marathon.

A BBC Panorama documentary aired last Monday revealed that Farah was interviewed by investigators from the US Anti-Doping Agency in 2015 as part of its investigation into his former coach Alberto Salazar and asked whether he had been given L-carnitine before the previous year’s London Marathon.

Farah was tested six days after that race and the BBC reported that, despite listing a number of other products and medicines, he failed to record L-carnitine on his doping control form. In transcripts obtained by the BBC, Farah denies having been given the injection in the initial 2015 interview with Usada.

Panorama reported he then met the UK Athletics head of distance running, Barry Fudge, immediately after the interview and returned to the room as the investigators were preparing to leave. At this point, Farah, who won 5,000 metres and 10,000m gold at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, told them he had been given the injection.

In an interview with the Sunday Mirror, Farah explains: “I was questioned for five hours. I said one thing and then other things got said and now it’s made out like I’ve done wrong, but if you know how it happened then it’s easier to understand. When I came out I said to Barry, ‘Hey mate, they kept asking me about this supplement. What’s that?’

“He said, ‘Yeah, it’s this, you did take it’, so I went straight back in and told them. I forgot, but as soon as I was told I ran back in. If I was a liar, why would I go straight back in? I said, ‘Look, I genuinely forgot, I didn’t know that. Now I do.’”

Farah said when he was questioned by investigators he thought he had only been given magnesium injections. “I was 100% convinced I hadn’t taken it [L-carnitine],” Farah said. “In my mind I hadn’t taken anything else apart from magnesium. I put magnesium on the doping control form.

“I can sleep at night knowing I’ve done nothing wrong. I love representing my country, making my country proud and doing what I do best because it is a gift and that’s why I do it with a smile. But it’s not fair what comes with it. It’s not fair on my kids and my family. It’s just not right. It’s depressing. Mentally and physically it’s had an effect on me.”

L-carnitine is not a prohibited substance under Wada rules. Injections and infusions of it were permitted within Wada rules in 2014 provided the volume was below 50 millilitres every six hours. The permitted volume is now 100ml every 12 hours.

Salazar, Farah’s former coach at the Nike Oregon Project, was handed a four-year ban by Usada in October last year for doping violations, though he has appealed to the court of arbitration for sport.

Farah, who ended his relationship with the American in 2017, has never failed a drugs test and is not accused of any wrongdoing.

(03/19/2020) ⚡AMP
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Virgin London Marathon

Virgin London Marathon

The London Marathon was first run on March 29, 1981 and has been held in the spring of every year since 2010. It is sponsored by Virgin Money and was founded by the former Olympic champion and journalist Chris Brasher and Welsh athlete John Disley. It is organized by Hugh Brasher (son of Chris) as Race Director and Nick Bitel...

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How European indoor 5000m record-holder Marc Scott is coping amid the Coronavirus outbreak. Some good advice

The European indoor 5000m record-holder on life in Oregon amid the Covid-19 outbreak and how running at times like these has many benefits.

Some of Britain’s top athletes are sharing insight into how they are coping during the coronavirus outbreak, which continues to cause great uncertainty and disruption to training and competition. Here European indoor 5000m record-holder Marc Scott talks about his own situation and shares some advice for other athletes in a similar position.

“Competitions will be resumed, there is always something to train for!” “So far, here in Portland in the United States, things seem to be going ahead as normal despite all the cancellations everywhere else,” says Scott, who is now back in training after a strong winter season which saw him break Mo Farah’s European indoor 5000m record with 13:08.87 in Boston.

“Nike HQ where we are based has limited the gyms and facilities to current employees and athletes only so that helps. We can still use the track and surrounding trails.”

Training as normal.- “Our coach has told us that we are continuing training as normal, sessions will go ahead unless informed otherwise,” adds the Bowerman Track Club runner.

“We still plan on heading to altitude camp in a few weeks also, because as of now the Olympic Games and other championships are still on! We typically don’t meet in large groups anymore but that’s not restricted training.

“I usually find out my competition schedule after a block of training, based on how that has gone. No cancelled races just yet, fingers crossed.”

Running has many great benefits.- “My top tip would be to ensure you are self isolating whenever necessary,” Scott says. “Maybe the group runs and social events will stop, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go outside for a run on your own!

“Competitions will be resumed, there is always something to train for! So, keep training. Running doesn’t just have a fitness aspect to it, it has many great benefits. It will break up the constant media surrounding us and enable us to get out there and enjoy ourselves.”

(03/17/2020) ⚡AMP
by Jessica Whittington
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28 of Top 30 Men at Tokyo Marathon Used Nike's Latest and Previous Platform Shoe Models

Nike's recent generations of thick-soled platform racing shoes swept the 2020 Tokyo Marathon, with 28 out of the top 30 placing men wearing them, including international entrants. Of these, 9 including new Japanese national record holder Suguru Osako (Nike) wear wearing the new Air Zoom Alphafly Next% model with a 3.95 cm thick sole complying with new regulations from World Athletics. With 10 Japanese men running under 2:08 in a single race for the first time in history, all 10 were wearing models of the platform shoes.

Despite a mix in choice of models, the shoes dominated the market in the race. One after another, thick green, black, pink, and green and orange shoes crossed the finish line in Marunouchi, Tokyo. From winner Birhanu Legese to 30th-place Shuho Dairokuno, 28 men had the Nike shoes on their feet. The other 2 were wearing Adidas and Asics. Wearing the latest model of the Nike shoes for his latest national record, Osako said, "Every race feels different afterwards. It's hard to say how much of a role the shoes played, but being able to take advantage of Nike's latest technology is a strength for us."

On Jan. 31 World Athletics established a new rule setting the maximum shoe sole thickness at 4 cm. On Feb. 5 Nike unveiled its new model with a thickness of 3.95 cm. With the shoes going on sale in Japan, the Tokyo marathon represented their Japanese debut.

Switching from the previous model to the new one for this race and finishing 27th in 2:09:41, Kenji Yamamoto (Mazda) commented, "My left foot starting hurting at 10 km, and something felt wrong. In the second half my legs felt like sticks, but I still felt like I was getting a lot of assistance. Somehow I still managed to squeeze out a sub-2:10. The rebound in these is amazing." Comparing them to the previous model he wore at last fall's MGC Olympic trials race he said, "The softness is completely different. When you step in them it feels like you're on top of a balance ball, and you get a real feeling of rebound."

There's no denying that the hard work and dedication that athletes put in on a day-to-day basis plays the biggest role in their success, but it's equally true that the last few generations of these platform shoes were in the director's seat of a race that saw an unprecedented 10 Japanese men run under 2:08.

(03/14/2020) ⚡AMP
by Japan Running News
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Birhanu Legese win the Tokyo Marathon clocking 2:04:15 while Suguru Osako sets a new Japanese record with 2:05:29

The Tokyo marathon mass race was cancelled  because of the worldwide panic concerning the Coronavirus.  However, the elite race took place as scheduled.  What a race it was.  Perfect running weather.  Birhanu Legese from Ethiopia was the overall winner clocking 2:04:15.  He also won last year. 

Suguru Osako was the first Japanese across the line  setting a new national record with 2:05:29. This giving him a big pay day.  Lonah Cemtai Salpeter set a new course record in winning the women's race clocking 2:17:45.  Legese, wearing Nike's much-discussed carbon-plated shoes, hit the front before the 40 kilometre mark, winning by more than half a minute but missing out on Wilson Kipsang's 2017 record of 2:03.58.

Somali-born Belgian Bashir Abdi (2:04.49) pipped Ethiopian Sisay Lemma (2:04.51) to second place in a race for the line.

Japan's Suguru Osako finished fourth in 2:05.29, improving his own national record by 21 seconds and locking up Japan's third and final spot in the men's field for the Tokyo Olympics later this year.

Lonah Korlima Chemtai Salpeter, who runs for Israel, won the women's race in a record time of 2:17.45, 50 seconds ahead of Birhane Dibaba with her fellow Ethiopian Sutume Asefa Kebede a distant third two minutes back.

Sarah Chepchirchir owned the previous women's record of 2:19:47 from the 2017 race.

Suguru Osako's national record brought him a 100 million yen bonus (US$950,000) from the Japan Corporate Track and Field Federation as part of their "Project Exceed" initiative to improve performances in the build-up to the Olympics Games.  "It is not clear if the same person can be paid the bonus twice," says Bob Anderson, MBR editor.  "This is still being confirmed."

Suguru Osako (Ōsako Suguru, born 23 May 1991) is a Japanese long-distance runner. He won the 10,000 metres gold medal at the 2011 Summer Universiade in Shenzhen and holds the Asian junior record for the half marathon. He held the Japanese National Record for the marathon of 2:05.50 set at the 2018 Chicago Marathon, where he finished third.

 

(02/29/2020) ⚡AMP
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Tokyo Marathon

Tokyo Marathon

The Tokyo Marathon is an annual marathon sporting event in Tokyo, the capital of Japan. It is an IAAF Gold Label marathon and one of the six World Marathon Majors. (2020) The Tokyo Marathon Foundation said it will cancel the running event for non-professional runners as the coronavirus outbreak pressures cities and institutions to scrap large events. Sponsored by Tokyo...

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Galen Rupp says he is ready for the US Olympic Marathon Trials

Portland's Galen Rupp will attempt to make his fourth U.S. Olympic team in next weekend's marathon trials in Atlanta. 

After a turbulent 16 months Galen Rupp is in a better place now physically and emotionally, and just in time.

The former University of Oregon star and Portland resident will attempt to make his fourth U.S. Olympic team in next Saturday’s marathon trials in Atlanta.

“I’ve had a great last week and a half of training,” Rupp says. “I got some good speed work in. I did a really long run that went longer than marathon distance. I’m feeling really good about where I’m at.”

Rupp, 33, is the reigning men’s trials champion and the 2016 Olympic marathon bronze medalist. But in some ways that was in another lifetime.

He last completed a marathon in October of 2018, when he came across fifth in Chicago. The next day his left foot was so swollen he barely could walk.

Doctors determined the problem was a bony protrusion on his heel that was causing the Achilles tendon to fray. It required surgerythat kept him out of action for months.

Rupp’s left leg still wasn’t right when he returned to competition a year later for last fall’s Chicago Marathon. He was forced off the course late in the race with a calf strain.

“I told myself, ‘This is going to hurt like crazy. You’re just going to have to suck it up and get through it,’” Rupp says of his pre-race mindset. “Unfortunately, my body didn’t allow me to do that.”

By then, Rupp was without his coach, Alberto Salazar. Salazar had been given a four-year ban two weeks earlier for violating doping rules. Nike disbanded the Oregon Project, the distance team which Salazar coached and of which Rupp was a member.

None of the violations for which Salazar was banned were for intentionally doping athletes. None of Salazar’s athletes were implicated in violations that led to the ban, nor have any failed drug tests. Salazar is appealing the ban.

But the upshot was, Rupp was without the man who had been his primary coach since high school. It was a tough time.

“I’m pretty religious, a strong Catholic,” Rupp says. “I truly believe God has this big plan for each and every one of us. Even if it doesn’t make sense at the time, or you’re struggling to see some good in it, you have to just keep pushing through it. It’s about having faith that it’s going to be all right.”

The philosophy has allowed him to put the pain, the injury setbacks, the coaching upheaval aside and turn his attention inward.

“All I can do is try to be the best athlete, the best person, the best husband, the best father I can be.” Rupp says. “Obviously, none of us is perfect. I would rather focus on what I can do to keep making myself better than worry about things I can’t control.”

He studied Tai Chi, which has helped him zero in on what matters most to him, being fully present for his wife, Keara, and their four children and getting race-ready for Atlanta.

At long last, Galen Rupp is within reach of the mountain top

He hired Northern Arizona coach Mike Smith to oversee his training. Smith has flown up from Flagstaff a few times to supervise workouts. But for the most part, former Oregon Project assistant Tim Rowberry has served as Smith’s eyes in Portland.

Rupp says the new coaching arrangement has worked well. Smith kept much of the training Rupp had been doing with Salazar, but not all.

“I wasn’t looking for someone who just wanted to replicate things and be a yes man,” Rupp says. “I think that would have been almost the worst thing. I wanted someone who was going to continue to challenge me.”

Rupp tested himself three weeks ago while winning the Sprouts Mesa Half Marathon in Mesa, Arizona in 1 hour, 1 minute, 19 seconds.

He looked good, felt good and came back from Arizona with renewed confidence. His left leg held up.

“There were a few little thoughts, like, ‘What if it does start to hurt again?’” Rupp says. “Obviously, the last year hasn’t gone all that great.

“That stuff certainly was running through my head. But running the race and feeling as good as I did and as strong as I did on that leg — I wouldn’t say it’s completely back to where it was before the surgery, but it’s pretty darn close.”

Rupp says he has driven himself hard to be prepared for anything he might see in Atlanta — the weather, the hills, the competition and the physical discomfort.

“It’s how I’ve always looked at training,” he says. “You put yourself in extremely uncomfortable situations. You make yourself hurt. You make yourself suffer. That’s how you get better.”

(02/23/2020) ⚡AMP
by Ken Goe (Oregon Live)
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2020 US Olympic Trials Marathon

2020 US Olympic Trials Marathon

The 2020 US Olympic Trials for both men and women took place in Atlanta, Ga on Sunday Feb 29. Runners had to qualify by running certain standards beforehand. The trials are hosted by the Atlanta Track club. The course runs through the heart of Atlanta and past monuments from the 1996 Olympic Games Most countries around the world use a...

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2020 Nike Vapormax is set To Debut At Tokyo Olympics

February 2017 marks a pivotal notch in Nike’s innovation timeline as this was the very instance that Vapormax technology made its retail introduction to the globe.

Since this moment, the segmented Air unit is still considered to be one of the Swoosh’s significant creations of last decade and has spawned an entire generation of new Sportswear models designed equally for performance and lifestyle purposes.

And while many of its releases in the past year have delivered compelling colorways and hybrid silhouettes such as the recent Vapormax 360, it’s ready to turn the page to its new chapter, and what better event to do so than at the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Vapormax 2020, a brand new silhouette that keeps most of its traditional DNA, but modifies its constructions with elements more aligned with futuristic proportions.

Engineered with a more sustainable approach, this new model’s Flyknit upper is comprised of 75% recycled manufacturing waste, and features multi-colored threading inspired by a bird’s eye view of piles of waste (We didn’t know trash could ever look this good either). In addition, the heels have been upgraded with a much sleeker shape with curvy molds plastered to the rear which, for these initial launch colorways, arrive in an icy blue hue set with scrap speckles on the USA edition, and an oceanic marble for its GR colorway. 

However, perhaps the component that reflects its evolution the most, is the addition of Flyease – Nike’s laceless technology system that allows users to slide in and out of the shoe while still providing a flexible and secured fit.

The translucent outsole is also altered slightly with the arrival of an “S” shaped mold that separates the forefoot and heel, as well as more chippy recycled accents pasted onto its borders. You can expect to these to make their debut on the Olympic podiums via this Summer’s medalists, as well as see a public release sometime during Summer/Fall 2020.

 

(02/19/2020) ⚡AMP
by Elliot Santiago
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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Fifty-six years after having organized the Olympic Games, the Japanese capital will be hosting a Summer edition for the second time, originally scheduled from July 24 to August 9, 2020, the games were postponed due to coronavirus outbreak, the postponed Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 23 to August 8 in 2021, according to the International Olympic Committee decision....

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A look at the latest from Adidas, Adizero Pro carbon-plated shoe

Adidas has announced the release date of its commercially available carbon-plated shoe. The Adizero Pro is made of a Carbitex carbon-plate, a Lightstrike midsole (padded by a bit of Boost at the heel) and a Continental rubber outsole.

The shoe will be available to select markets on April 1, 2020 and worldwide on May 15, 2020.

Prototype versions of this shoe have been seen on the feet of four-time New York Marathon Champion Mary Keitany, 10K world record-holder Rhonex Kipruto, and even in 2008, on the feet of the former marathon world record-holder Haile Gebrselassie.

This is the first time the company is using Lightstrike in a running shoes (a TPU foam that made its debut in basketball). Adidas believes Lightstrike’s combination of stability and energy return will be appreciated by runners, especially over the full marathon distance.

The Adidas prototype that debuted at the 2020 Houston Marathon isn’t the shoe that was announced today. The all-white shoe had very subtle markings, with huge stack height and a line through the midsole, that presumably sandwiches a carbon plate.

While this isn’t the prototype that is hitting the market this spring, it could be a version of the carbon-plated shoe that we’ll see in available commercially in the fall.

Adidas joins Saucony, New Balance, Hoka, Under Armour, Brooks and Nike, which all have announced the release of their latest carbon-plated shoes this spring.

(02/13/2020) ⚡AMP
by Madeleine Kelly
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The true test of the newest Nike shoe will be in under three weeks' time at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials

Last week Nike released their newest line of shoes which includes the Air Zoom Alphafly Next%, complete with a 39.5 mm stack height, falling just under World Athletics’ new ruling of a maximum of 40 mm. Since the release of the so-called super shoe shoe (that conveniently follows all of World Athletics’ new rules) there has been heavy speculation that Nike was tipped off, but WA claims that’s not the case.

World Athletics told The Guardian last week, “We spoke to several shoe companies, including Nike, a few days before we released our new shoe regulations to let them know what we were planning. But that was the extent of it.”

Alex Hutchinson has written extensively on this topic (including in the current issue of Canadian Running Magazine). He spoke to Nike and claimed on Twitter that according to the company, the commercial version of the Air Zoom Alphafly Next% isn’t all that different from the shoe Eliud Kipchoge wore to break the two hour barrier in October.

Here are the major takeaways from the thread: 1.- Kipchoge’s Alphafly prototype was legal, and basically identical to the upcoming consumer version. 2.- World Athletics measured a size eight as 39.5 mm [stack height], which is their reference size (WA rules actually say size 42). 3.- Heel-toe offset will be 8 mm in commercial shoe.

If the Kipchoge shoe was, in fact, nearly identical to the consumer version (available February 29 in limited release), then perhaps World Athletics’ assertion that no shoe company had advance notice is credible.

When asked last week about what the future holds for running shoe technology, Hutchinson points out that we don’t actually know how good the Alphafly is yet. He wrote in an email, “Seeing Kipchoge run sub-two in the earlier prototype was obviously impressive, but there was a lot going on in that race. With the original Vaporfly, we had actual external lab data telling us how good it was. But for subsequent models, we’re just guessing. Just because it looks crazy doesn’t mean it’s substantially better than previous models. I guess we’ll find out—but for now, that knowledge gap makes predictions about the Alphafly’s impact difficult.”

The true test will come at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials when the shoe will go head-to-head against other companies’ carbon-plated creations for the first time. That event will have spectators watching shoes just as closely as the runners.

(02/11/2020) ⚡AMP
by Madeleine Kelly
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2020 US Olympic Trials Marathon

2020 US Olympic Trials Marathon

The 2020 US Olympic Trials for both men and women took place in Atlanta, Ga on Sunday Feb 29. Runners had to qualify by running certain standards beforehand. The trials are hosted by the Atlanta Track club. The course runs through the heart of Atlanta and past monuments from the 1996 Olympic Games Most countries around the world use a...

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A look at who's got a shot at making the American Olympic marathon squad

The U.S. Olympic Trials are less than three weeks away. The fields are finalized, the tapers are starting soon and runners and fans are anticipating one of the most exciting trials yet.

Here’s a look at which runners we think are most likely to place in the top three and be named to the U.S. Olympic squad after the February 29 race in Atlanta.

Women’s field.- The favorites to make this Olympic team are Sara Hall (Asics), Des Linden (Brooks), Molly Huddle (Saucony) and Emily Sisson (New Balance). Hall has been extremely consistent over the past year, running personal bests in both the marathon and the half (a 2:22:16 in Berlin and a 1:08 in Houston just a few weeks ago). Linden is a gamer and someone who shows up no matter the conditions. She’s also an Olympic marathon veteran.

Huddle and Sisson are training partners who have helped each other improve over the marathon distance. Huddle has been a staple on the American distance scene for years (she’s a multi-time American record holder) and Sisson is the rising star who has flourished alongside Huddle. The pair own 2:23:08 (Sisson) and 2:26:33 (Huddle) marathon personal bests and know how to show up on race day. But the knock on Sisson is that she’s only run one (albeit, fantastic) marathon, and inexperience could be her downfall.

Our best bet for the top three, in order, is: Hall, Huddle, Linden.

The dark horses.-  Jordan Hasay (Nike) and Amy Cragg (Nike) are the dark horses. We just haven’t seen enough to know where these two runners are at. Hasay’s most recent result is a DNF from the Chicago Marathon. Admittedly, her training group had just folded and her former coach was charged with doping infractions, so her racing conditions weren’t ideal. But Hasay hasn’t even gotten on a start line since then.

As for Cragg, she’s the 2017 World Championship medallist and 2016 Olympian over the distance. Cragg’s results are few and far between over the past two years, but she put it all together at the Tokyo Marathon in 2018 to run a 2:21:42–one of the fastest American times in history. Both Hasay and Cragg boast the best personal bests of the bunch, but with no indication of fitness, it’s impossible to predict where they’ll end up in 20 days’ time.

Men’s field.- The favorites in the men’s race are Galen Rupp (Nike), Leonard Korir (Nike), Scott Fauble (Hoka) and Jared Ward (Saucony). Rupp was almost a dark horse, due to his poor resume from the past year, but on Saturday he clocked a 1:01:19 in a tune up half-marathon in Arizona. So he’s in good shape.

As for the other three, all hold personal bests from 2019 around the same time. Korir’s is 2:07:56 from Amsterdam and Fauble and Ward’s are both from Boston 2019 at 2:09:09 and 2:09:25. Among these three it’s really a toss-up, based on past performances, as to who makes the team.

Our best bet for the top three, in order, is: Rupp, Ward, Korir.

The dark horses.- The dark horses in this event are the masters men: Bernard Lagat (Nike) (45) and Abdi Abdirahman (Nike) (42).  Like in women’s marathoning, the men are also proving that age is just a number on the race course. Lagat and Abdirahman have both recently clocked 2:11 and 2:12 marathons and are in the conversation for the team if they have a good day in Atlanta.

(02/11/2020) ⚡AMP
by Madeleine Kelly
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2020 US Olympic Trials Marathon

2020 US Olympic Trials Marathon

The 2020 US Olympic Trials for both men and women took place in Atlanta, Ga on Sunday Feb 29. Runners had to qualify by running certain standards beforehand. The trials are hosted by the Atlanta Track club. The course runs through the heart of Atlanta and past monuments from the 1996 Olympic Games Most countries around the world use a...

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By Defying Expectations, Nike NEXT% Moves Athletes Forward

Call it the ultimate test run: When Eliud Kipchoge broke the two-hour marathon barrier in Vienna this past October, he was wearing a prototype of the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%.

"For runners, records like the four-minute mile and two-hour marathon are barometers of progress. These are barriers that have tested human potential. When someone like Eliud breaks them, our collective belief about what's possible changes," says Tony Bignell, VP, Footwear Innovation. "Barriers are inspiring to innovators. Like athletes, when a barrier is in front of us, we are challenged to think differently and push game-changing progress in footwear design.”

The NEXT% platform is the ultimate expression of Nike's ambition to engineer footwear with measurable performance benefit. NEXT% is all about creating more efficient intersections between the body and technology to enable athletes to shatter personal boundaries — and sometimes, as our athletes have shown, break records. It is the ultimate meeting of sports science and purposeful design.

“The groundbreaking research that led to the original Vaporfly unlocked an entirely new way of thinking about marathon shoes,” says Carrie Dimoff, an elite marathoner and member of Nike’s Advanced Innovation Team. "Once we understood the plate and foam as a system, we started thinking about ways to make the system even more effective. That’s when we struck upon the idea of adding Nike Air to store and return even more of a runner’s energy and provide even more cushioning.”

Nike NEXT% is a footwear innovation system engineered to give athletes a measurable benefit. Informed by sport science and verified by the Nike Sport Research Lab, the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% features three critical components, working together to help runners on race day:

Nike’s newest race-day shoe, the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% features two new Nike Zoom Air pods, more ZoomX foam and a single carbon fiber plate (all updates from its predecessor, the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%), and an ultra-breathable, lightweight Flyknit upper – all adding up to improved cushioning and running economy.

The shoe is part of a suite of products releasing in summer 2020, including the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% and Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% FlyEase, complementary training shoes that translate the principles of the Alphafly to rigorous daily use, and track spikes (the Nike Air Zoom Victory) that extend the NEXT% design ethos to new disciplines.

For the Tempo NEXT%, the NEXT% system is specifically tuned to training. The plate shifts from carbon to a composite — softer for added comfort over higher mileage — but still serves to provide stability and transition throughout a runner's full stride. ZoomX, prized for its energy return and responsiveness, sits above the plate at mid and forefoot. For maximum impact protection and durability, Nike React Foam is used at the heel. The same Nike Zoom Air pods featured in the new Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% are also placed in the Tempo’s forefoot to offer responsive cushioning and a sensation of propulsion.

The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%, Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% and Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% FlyEase give athletes of today an opportunity to stamp their mark and motivate athletes (and designers) of tomorrow to set even greater goals.

(02/09/2020) ⚡AMP
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Eliud Kipchoge has called Kenya's team kit for Tokyo 2020 unique and awesome, despite mixed opinion

Eliud Kipchoge, who became the first runner to complete a marathon under two hours in the Ineos 1:59 Challenge in October, said that it bears the colors of the national flag and resonates well with the new generation, according to Kenyan news service, Daily Nation.

“I think it will turn tables as far as sport is concerned. 

"I trust I will see Kenyans draped in the Kenyan colors in all streets of our towns,” said Kipchoge. 

“It is a good thing that Nike has promised to make these awesome clothes available on retail.”

Kipchoge also added that it absorbs and drains moisture fast, tailoring it to the conditions set for Tokyo.

The launch took place on Tuesday in New York, including 1500 meters champion Timothy Cheruiyot alongside athletes from other nations such as United States and Brazil. 

However, the reception was not loved by all, with athletics fan Jack Waiyaki calling it a "Tasteless, poor design."

"The name 'KENYA' should be clearly seen and dominant," said Waiyaki. 

"The other kit does not need to be changed- it is a well known global trademark and brand that sends fear to rivals."

The honeycomb kit sparked controversy on Twitter after the announcement with one user joking, "I'm no longer Kenyan."

Another Facebook user, Mosdef Apollo said, "Did someone get paid for that? 

"The laziest designer, there is no iota of creativity - return that thing, it doesn't befit Kenya."

One other commenter asked if the vest was "inspired by bees."

One supporter, Kamal Kaur said, "Modern, vibrant and it stands out."

Kenya won all 13 of their Olympic medals from Rio 2016 in athletics with their last non-athletics medal coming at Seoul 1988. 

(02/08/2020) ⚡AMP
by Michael Houston
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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Fifty-six years after having organized the Olympic Games, the Japanese capital will be hosting a Summer edition for the second time, originally scheduled from July 24 to August 9, 2020, the games were postponed due to coronavirus outbreak, the postponed Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 23 to August 8 in 2021, according to the International Olympic Committee decision....

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Nike's controversial Vaporfly shoe has been permitted for use in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

World Athletics has temporarily updated its guidelines for sports shoes worn in competitive events ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in July.

The new guidelines from the international governing body for athletics bans the trainer Eliud Kipchoge wore to break the two-hour marathon record.

Vaporfly meets new stipulations, However, Nike's Vaporfly range – including the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% and the Zoom Vaporfly 4% – meets the stipulations of World Athletics' amended Technical Rules.

These prohibit shoes with soles that are thicker than 40 millimetres and the inclusion of more than one carbon-fibre plate, or similar item, in the sole.

The news comes amid criticism of the fairness of allowing athletes to compete while wearing the Vaporfly range, which have thick, foam soles and carbon-fibre plates to improve speed.

In 2019, 31 of the 36 podium positions in the six world marathon majors were won by elite athletes wearing Vaporfly, as reported by the Guardian.

World Athletics' Moratorium, which forms part of the Clothing section of the guidelines, also states that, from 30 April, shoes have to be on the open market for at least four months before an elite athlete can wear them for a contest.

While Vaporfly remains within the amends, the prototype Air Fly trainer that Nike-sponsored Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge wore to run a sub-two-hour marathon in October 2019 will be banned under the regulations.

The sneaker has a much chunkier sole than the Vaporfly and reportedly includes three carbon-fibre plates.

It has been reported, however, that Nike still has time to make amends to the Alpha Fly ahead of a release in March – over four months before the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on 24 July.

This could make it possible for athletes to wear the shoe during the major competition.

(02/04/2020) ⚡AMP
by Eleanor Gibson
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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Fifty-six years after having organized the Olympic Games, the Japanese capital will be hosting a Summer edition for the second time, originally scheduled from July 24 to August 9, 2020, the games were postponed due to coronavirus outbreak, the postponed Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 23 to August 8 in 2021, according to the International Olympic Committee decision....

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Nike’s Investigation of the Oregon Project is Complete

After Mary Cain alleged emotional abuse as an athlete under Alberto Salazar’s coaching, Nike conducted an internal probe of the professional running group.

Nike said on Monday that it is planning to take multiple actions to better support its female professional athletes, following an internal investigation into the now-defunct professional running group, the Oregon Project.

The company started the probe in November after former Oregon Project athlete Mary Cain went public with a New York Times op-ed piece about her experiences as a young track star under coach Alberto Salazar, who is currently serving a four-year ban from the sport for doping violations. (Salazar denies the charges and is appealing them—Nike said in an email to Women’s Running on Monday that “we support Alberto in his decision to appeal and wish him the full measure of due process that the rules require.”)

Cain joined the Oregon Project as a teen phenom, foregoing NCAA eligibility in 2013 to sign a pro contract with Nike. She moved from Bronxville, New York, to Portland, Oregon, at age 17, as a national high school record holder—the youngest athlete to ever represent the U.S. in a world-championships competition, where she raced the 1500 meters.

In the documentary, titled “I Was the Fastest Girl in America, Until I Joined Nike,” she described the pressure that Salazar and the all-male Oregon Project staff put on her to become thinner in order to perform better. Cain said she was weighed in front of her teammates and publicly shamed by Salazar for not hitting the goals he demanded—allegations that were later corroborated by former members of the group.

Now 23 years old, Cain said while training with the Oregon Project and during a period afterward, she suffered five stress fractures and didn’t menstruate for three years, which are symptoms of RED-S (relative energy deficiency in sport), a syndrome of insufficient caloric intake, with symptoms that can include excessive fatigue, amenorrhea, and decreased bone density. It can have serious long-term health effects like cardiovascular disease, infertility, and osteoporosis. Before she left Oregon to return home in 2015, she said she felt so isolated and trapped that she had suicidal thoughts and cut herself.

After the New York Times piece was published, Salazar denied any abuse or gender discrimination at the Oregon Project and added, “I may have made comments that were callous or insensitive over the course of years of helping my athletes through hard training.”

In the email to Women’s Running on Monday, Nike said the results of the internal investigation will not be made public, but “we are using the findings to identify areas where we can do better in supporting female athletes.” It was not confirmed who was involved in leading the investigation or who participated in it.

The initiatives that Nike identified include:

• Investing in scientific research into the impact of elite athlete training of girls and women

• Increasing the number of women coaches in sports

• Hiring a vice president of global women’s sports marketing in the coming weeks to have “strategic oversight” of Nike’s female athletes

• Creating an athlete think tank to help the company understand the opportunities and challenges faced by female athletes

• Partnering with Crisis Text Line, a free, confidential text messaging service for people to ask for help when in crisis

During a phone interview with Women’s Running on Monday, Cain said she was contacted in the fall by phone and email by a Nike lawyer, but opted not to participate in the probe because some of the people involved were Nike employees whose participation in it made her feel uncomfortable.

“There was no real transparency in the process, so I became very frustrated with the fact that there was no clear-cut person in charge, it was Nike investigating Nike, and seemingly some of the people involved in the process were investigating themselves,” she said.

Upon hearing the actions that Nike—the biggest sponsor of the sport’s governing body, U.S.A. Track & Field (a deal that goes through 2040 with an estimated value of $500 million)—wants to take as a result of the findings, Cain said she supports anything that promotes women’s health and opportunities in sports.

“It’s great to push money and push opportunity into the future—I whole-heartedly support that,” she said. “But the vagueness and no ability to see the report makes me worried that they’re hiding behind gestures that will almost make people forget the issues.”

Runners and other athletes have identified with Cain’s experiences since she shared them, creating a public conversation about the destructive culture underlying sports, where antiquated training philosophies perpetuated by a male-dominated coaching profession often result in eating disorders and worse for athletes.

“I have this renewed love of the sport that I only really found in the last few months because I do have so much hope in what women’s sports can and will become—so anything that’s generating interest and investment and research, I’m all for,” Cain said. “What I hope can happen through some of this work is that Nike can start hearing more voices.”

Still, Cain is hesitant to put too much stock in the proposed initiatives.

“It looks both weak and cowardly that as a corporation they won’t release what they found,” she said. “There’s a certain point where people would have a lot more respect for them as a broader institution and respect what they’re now trying to do if they also admitted what they did wrong. I can’t look at a future brightly if I can’t see them reflecting on their past.”

Since November, Cain has returned to training after about three years away, with the goal of making the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials in June. She most recently raced the 3,000 meters on Saturday at the Armory in New York, finishing in 9:24.38.

In December, she told Women’s Running that advocating for women’s sports and healthy coaching practices is her new dream.

“Due to lack of education and inappropriate societal norms, many people have a poor understanding of how to address topics such as women’s cycles, weight, and training appropriately,” Cain said. “My goal is now to create educational programs that coaches and athletes must take on these subjects.”

(02/02/2020) ⚡AMP
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NCAA steeplechase champ, US Olympian and Vaporfly Researcher Shalaya Kipp Talks about the New Shoe Regulations

After World Athletics released its new shoe rules today, we recorded a special bonus podcast about the ruling. We invited 2012 NCAA steeplechase champ and US Olympian Shalaya Kipp, who is now a PhD candidate in Exercise Physiology at the University of British Columbia, to be our expert guest. Kipp, along with others, including Wouter Hoogkamer and Rodger Kram, has published three different scientific papers dealing with the technology behind the Nike Vaporfly shoes.

We could think of no better guest to feature than Kipp; she was part of the study published in November 2017 that actually gave the Vaporflys their 4% name as the scientists behind that study found that they boosted running economy by 2-6%.

You will eventually be able to listen to the whole podcast here, and we encourage you to do so as it was fascinating to hear from Kipp. But if you don’t have 23 minutes to listen to Kipp, then we’ve got virtually all of her best comments transcribed for you below. She reacts to the ruling, talks about what it was like to watch the marathon in 2016 knowing the Nike athletes had a huge advantage, and how she believes the new shoes kept her training partner Kara Goucher off the 2016 Olympic team.

Shalaya Kipp overall is very pleased with World Athletics’ new shoe regulations

I guess the thing I was most excited to see was that no prototypes can be used in subsequent competitions [after April 30, 2020,] and that the product needs to be on the market for at least four months. That really made me happy… Putting that four months in there, I liked that a lot…

We point the finger at Nike but really everyone is running in prototypes – we’ve got to remember that…

The fun scientist in me doesn’t want to limit innovation too much. I think it’s great that someone wanted to go out with a waffle iron and start creating their own shoes. I don’t want to put too many limits [on innovation]. What I do want to see is that the athletes aren’t getting the butt end of that. [I want it to be fair] for all of them. I’m happy with the limitations that came out. I wouldn’t have added anything.

Shalaya Kipp thinks other shoe companies will catch up with Nike and that the playing field will be level “within a year or two.” In the interim, she urges the non-Nike companies to let their athletes race in Nikes. “They need to let their athletes run in the Nike Vaporfly right now if they want their athletes to be performing well or they are going to be at a disadvantage.”

You know I think it’s definitely feasible [for the other companies to catch up]. I don’t think it’s that hard for them… As long as they start developing their own foams, getting a carbon-fiber plate in there. We’re going to see it happen. It’s going to take a little catchup but within a year or two, I think it’s going to all become a wash again and the playing field is gonna become level… Maybe I’m an optimist. I want that for the sport.

I really hope that those shoe companies are doing their own internal tests and they know how well their shoe is performing. And if their shoe is not up to standards, they need to let their athletes run in the Nike Vaporfly right now if they want their athletes to be performing well or they are going to be at a disadvantage. We know that that shoe is working well and that it’s creating all the results.

[In our study, we tested] the shoes that they used in Rio and it was the same shoe they used for the Olympic Trials…It wasn’t [called] the Nike 4% at the time as that comes from our findings. All [Nike] said was “this shoe is special.” And actually the whole time we were calling it “The Magic” because we didn’t have a name for it and really whenever we put someone in the shoe in the lab, it seemed like a magical result that was coming out. 

(02/01/2020) ⚡AMP
by Robert Johnson
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Nico Young will begin his final high school track and field season and will be going after the 3000m indoor record

The Newbury Park (CA) High School senior and Northern Arizona University signee will go after the American U20 indoor 3,000 meter record of 7:56.31, which was last set by Chris Derrick -- while he was with Stanford in 2009 -- at the Millrose Games on February 8 in New York City. 

If accomplished, Young, 17, would also surpass Drew Hunter's national high school 3K record of 7:59.33 for the distance. Hunter accomplished that feat in 2016, becoming the only high school athlete to ever go under 8 minutes indoors -- only two athletes have done it across both seasons; German Fernandez owns the outdoor 3K record in 7:59.83. 

But here's the twist. 

Young, running unattached, will be entered in the professional field. As per National Federation of High School State Associations (NFHS) rules, Young will be able to race against pros and collegians -- and not lose his remaining CIF eligibility -- based upon the fact that Millrose does not offer a high school race at the distance. 

A year ago, all but one runner in the 12-person field broke 8-minutes, with Stanford's Grant Fisher leaning past Wisconsin's Morgan McDonald at the line to win in 7:42.62. 

Young has raced once since cross country, putting down a 1,500m performance (outdoors) of 3:52.39 at the Arcadia Winter Championships qualifier on Jan. 25. 

And he's still relatively fresh since coming off a record performance at Nike Cross Nationals, where he broke the 5K meet record at Glendoveer and ran a winning time of 14:52.30. 

While Young has just one indoor performances overall -- he was eighth in the boys mile at the New Balance Grand Prix in 2019 -- those around him remain confident he will excel in the field. Young's head coach, Sean Brosnan, said Young will not seek out a fast mile in 2020, with focus instead placed on 3,000 and 5,000 meter races. 

Meaning: While Young could run fast 1,600 meter and mile races in 2020, his objective will not be on going under 4 minutes for the distance as a high school senior. 

In recent years, there have been five sub-8:10 efforts since 2010, including performances from Hunter, Edward Cheserek (2x) and Lukas Verzbicas (2x) -- national cross country champions in high school.

Young ran 8:13.31 for 3K in February of last year at the Rossi Relays. He remains in fitness and has been eyeing several records attempts to begin 2020. 

(01/29/2020) ⚡AMP
by Cory Mull
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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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Controversial Nike Vaporflys will be allowed by World Athletics but running shoe rules will tighten

World Athletics will not be imposing a blanket ban on the controversial hi-tech Nike Vaporflys that have transformed athletics when it announces its long-awaited decision on shoe technology on Friday, the Guardian understands.

Instead the sport’s governing body is expected to announce a temporary suspension of any new shoe technology until after the Tokyo Olympics this summer, alongside the launch of a comprehensive research project to examine just how advantageous the shoes, and others like it from rival brands, are at elite level.

World Athletics is also likely to introduce a tighter set of regulations for new shoes in the future, including the need for companies to present any prototypes to it for approval before they can be used in competition.

Such has been the Vaporflys’ dominance in recent years that athletes wearing them claimed 31 of the 36 podium positions in the six world marathon majors in 2019.

The Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge also wore a pair when he set an official men’s world record in Berlin in 2018 with a time of 2hr 01min 39sec – while his compatriot Brigid Kosgei smashed Paula Radcliffe’s women’s record in the Next% version of the shoe last October in 2:14:04.

However the shoes, which were introduced in 2016, have deeply divided the athletics community, with some supporting the technological arms race as part of an inevitable evolution of the sport – and others warning that it is deeply unfair to athletes who are not sponsored by Nike.

Kipchoge has denied that, saying: “They are fair. I trained hard. Technology is growing and we can’t deny it – we must go with technology.” But the small number of studies conducted on the Vaporflys suggest that, depending on the model and athlete, they can typically improve a person’s running economy by 4-5% – which translates to at least a minute- to 90-second advantage for an elite male runner over 26.2 miles and even more in an average club athlete.

Vaporfly shoes will help me reach my marathon dream. Should I use them?

Where that leaves the Nike AlphaFly, the next generation prototype shoes worn by Eliud Kipchoge when he ran the first sub-two hour marathon in October in an unofficial event is unclear. It is understood that these shoes – which are said to contain three carbon plates and improve running economy by 8% – have not yet been submitted to World Athletics experts for inspection.

Even if the AlphaFlys are banned at elite level there will be no restrictions on ordinary athletes buying and wearing them in races when they are released in the shops by Nike.

(01/29/2020) ⚡AMP
by Sean Ingle
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Nike has completed the internal investigation into the shuttered NOP

In a Women’s Running story, journalist Erin Strout says Nike has completed the internal investigation it committed to in the wake of Mary Cain’s explosive New York Times video. 

And while it won’t be making its findings public, it did identify and share some specific initiatives relating to its professional female athletes.

Cain’s video exposed unethical coaching practices at the Nike Oregon Project, which was shut down 10 days after USADA served head coach Alberto Salazar with a four-year ban for doping violations on September 30, 2019–practices that included body- and weight-shaming, public weigh-ins and criticism that severely damaged Cain’s physical and mental health and led to her quietly leaving the NOP in 2015. Cain disappeared from the competition circuit, but is now working her way back into the scene under a new coach, while advocating publicly for women athletes.

The iniatives Strout listed include: 1.- Studying how elite training affects female athletes, 2.- Hiring more female coaches, 3.- Creating a new senior-level position to oversee international women’s sports marketing, 4.- Creating a group of pro female athletes to inform and advise the company on concerns specific to its female athletes, 5.- A new partnership with CrisisTextLine, a confidential, free text message service for people in crisis (in Canada, the service is run by Kids Help Phone).

Strout reports that Cain was invited to participate in the investigation but declined, telling her she perceived a lack of transparency. Regarding the initiatives announced, Cain said she “supports anything that promotes women’s health and opportunities in sports,” but was critical of the decision not to share the results of the investigation publicly, calling it “weak and cowardly.”

After an absence of more than three years, Cain recently started racing again. She had a disappointing 3,000m race at the Dr. Sander Invitational in New York on the weekend, but acknowledged in a post-race interview that regaining competitiveness will take time and incremental improvement.

(01/28/2020) ⚡AMP
by Anne Francis
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Defending champ Ruti Aga and last year's winner Birhanu Legese will be back for 2020 Tokyo Marathon

Ethiopia is pretty far down the road to overtaking Kenya as the world's leading marathon nation, and its presence is heavy in both the women's and men's fields for the Olympic year 2020 Tokyo Marathon. Lacking London's star power the Tokyo fields won't win many nominations for best of 2020, but with loads of World Marathon Majors top three finishers and winners of next-tier gold label marathons they're still fields at a level most other races would love to be able to pull off.

On the women's side, with PBs of 2:18:34 and 2:18:46 defending champ Ruti Aga and past winner Birhane Dibaba lead a main of twelve top-tier invited elites, of which nine were born in Ethiopia. The other three, Valary Jemeli Aiyabei, nationality transfer Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, and Selly Chepyego Kaptich, were all born in Kenya.

With Tokyo not counting in last-chance Olympic qualification for Japanese women the top entrant from outside those two countries is Japan's Haruka Yamaguchi, an amateur who took 7th in this past weekend's Osaka International Women's Marathon in 2:26:35. Former Canadian national record holder Rachel Cliff and locals Kaori Yoshida, Risa Noguchi, Shiho Kaneshige and Yurie Doi fill out the rest of the sub-2:30 set.

On the men's side Ethiopians make up five of the eleven invited internationals including the top four, with last year's winner Birhanu Legese leading the way in 2:02:48. Things are heavily stacked in the 2:04 to low-2:05 range, perfectly designed to set it up for the Japanese men. Their task and its payoff are simple: be the top Japanese guy in 2:05:49 or better and replace national record holder Suguru Osako (Nike) on the Sapporo 2020 Olympic marathon team.

Osako's there to stop them, fresh off a 25 km tempo in Dubai. His main competition is previous national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda), who said last week that 2:05 isn't good enough and that if he doesn't run 2:04 in what he's calling his final marathon in Japan then he'll turn down the Olympic team spot.

Shitara's got that crazy edge working, which can count for a lot, but the biggest danger to Osako is probably going to be the ultra-disciplined Hiroto Inoue (MHPS), who ran 2:06:54 in Asics behind Shitara's NR two years ago, then made the switch to the Next% this season and promptly crushed the course record on the New Year Ekiden's longest stage. Put him in the same shoes as Osako and Shitara and they'd better watch out.

Kenta Murayama has the goods to be the other three's equal, but with his sponsor team Asahi Kasei having lost the plot when it comes to marathoning it would be a surprise to see him go much below 2:08. With twelve current sub-2:10 Japanese men in the field it's one of the best domestic races ever assembled, but apart from Murayama and possibly his talented teammate Shuho Dairokuno it's hard to see any darkhorses breaking through to the level of Osako, Shitara and Inoue. 

Mizuki Matsuda's 2:21:47 win in Osaka last weekend bumped her up into the 3rd Olympic women's spot but left her vulnerable to others in Nagoya, but with all the main men in Tokyo it's even harder to see anyone in Lake Biwa a week later going better than what they might do here.

(01/28/2020) ⚡AMP
by Brett Larner
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Tokyo Marathon

Tokyo Marathon

The Tokyo Marathon is an annual marathon sporting event in Tokyo, the capital of Japan. It is an IAAF Gold Label marathon and one of the six World Marathon Majors. (2020) The Tokyo Marathon Foundation said it will cancel the running event for non-professional runners as the coronavirus outbreak pressures cities and institutions to scrap large events. Sponsored by Tokyo...

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Track and field stars, led by the legendary Usain Bolt, praised tribute to basketball hero Kobe Bryant

Bryant, a legendary player for the Los Angeles Lakers, is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, 26 January. He was 41-years-old.

Usain Bolt, who shared a photo of him and Kobe, wrote: “Still can’t believe @kobebryant 🙏🏿🙏🏿#RIP.”

Jamaica’s 2011 World 100m champion, Yohan Blake, also expressed shock at the news. 

“Still can’t believe this news,” said Yohan Blake.

Former American athlete Sanya Richards-Ross also commented on Kobe’s death. “I’ve taken an intentional break from social media, but this warrants all our love and prayers…The world has lost a legend, an icon, but Bryant’s loss is unimaginable. Praying for his family and the families of the other lives that were lost in this terrifying accident. #RIPKobe”

American triple jumper, Will Claye, said: “I’m broken.”

“You are a superhero to me. It’s not fair, and I don’t want to believe it. My heart goes out to Vanessa, your girls and your parents. You’ve been getting me through a lot of days lately, and I thank you because only you could really understand the battle I’m in right now. I appreciate you Bean 🙏🏾 Rest easy,” said Claye.

Former American 100m hurdles champion Lolo Jones was at a loss for words.

“I don’t even know what to say, man,” she started out saying.

“The words won’t do justice. I can only pray for the comfort of your friends and loved ones. A lot of people looked up to you for your accomplishments as an athlete, but I was inspired by what you were doing after your career… writing books, directing movies, businesses. You showed that athletes can continue to do great things after retirement. I was honored to have you as a teammate,” said Jones, who shared a photo of herself and Kobe at the Olympic Games.

Wallace Spearmon wrote “#RIP to a legend @kobebryant . Life is short, live it… True Love is eternal; embrace it… Tomorrow isn’t promised, don’t wait… RIP mamba.”

Nike Running posted “Mamba forever."

Our condolences to Kobe and Gianna’s family and everyone involved in today’s tragedy.

(01/27/2020) ⚡AMP
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Tyler Day broke Galen Rupp’s American collegiate 5,000m record indoor record on Saturday at Boston University

Tyler Day of NAU (Northern Arizona University) broke Galen Rupp’s American collegiate 5,000m indoor record on Saturday at Boston University. Day finished second at the Boston Terrier Invitational in 13:16.95 to Nike’s Paul Tanui who won in 13:15.72.

Rupp announced only two weeks ago that he’s now coach by Mike Smith, head coach at NAU, who also coaches Day. Rupp made the move after his former training group, the Nike Oregon Project, was shut down in October.

Smith is one of the most successful men’s distance running coaches currently working in the NCAA. He helped the NAU men to back-to-back cross-country championships in 2017 and 2018. Rupp has reportedly been working with the coach for several months. The runner told The Oregonian that he plans to remain in Oregon but will have his training overseen by Smith. Rupp is currently training for the upcoming US Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta.

As for Day, Saturday was a breakout performance. Day’s previously held 5,000m indoor personal best was from 2019, where he ran 13:55.40 in Birmingham, Alabama at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Day’s a senior majoring in journalism who has been a big part of NAU’s cross-country dynasty.

(01/27/2020) ⚡AMP
by Madeleine Kelly
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Many are expressing skepticism over the reasons UKAthletics gives for refusing to hand over samples

Before retiring as head of WADA, Sir Craig Reedie announced that WADA would investigate athletes who trained with disgraced former Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar, a list that includes 2:05 marathoner Sir Mo Farah. However, UKAthletics has refused to hand over Farah’s samples for re-testing, and as a result has been criticized by Russia for creating a “wall of mistrust.”

Salazar, along with NOP doctor Jeffrey Brown, was issued a four-year ban for doping violations in September, 2019, and the NOP itself was shut down by Nike in the ensuing weeks. Salazar is appealing the ban.

A report in the Telegraph says samples are habitually stored for up to 10 years so that as technology advances they can be re-tested using more accurate methods. UKAthletics CEO Nicole Sapstead claims samples are the property of UKAthletics, and that further testing, without compelling new evidence that they contain prohibited substances, degrades the samples.

According to WADA’s Blood Sample Collection Guidelines, “Samples collected from an Athlete are owned by the Testing Authority for the Sample Collection Session in question. The Testing Authority may transfer ownership of the Samples to the Results Management Authority (RMA) or to another ADO upon request.”

RUSADA deputy general director Margarita Pakhnotskaya referred to the World Anti-Doping Code, whose Article 6.5 states that “Samples may be stored and subjected to further analyses for the purpose of Article 6.2 at any time exclusively at the direction of the Anti-Doping Organization that initiated and directed Sample collection or WADA.”  (Article 6.2 describes the purpose of analysis of samples.)

Farah, who left the NOP in 2017 to return to the U.K., has never failed a drug test. He was recently quoted as saying that if he had been aware of the activities that got Salazar banned, he would have left sooner.

The 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medallist in both the 5,000m and the 10,000m is planning a return to the track for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

UKAthletics has been the focus of negative publicity since the Salazar ban, which came down in the midst of the World Championships in Doha.

(01/20/2020) ⚡AMP
by Anne Francis
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17-year-old Jamaican Briana Williams, who had an outstanding year in 2019, has signed a multi-year contract with Nike

Briana Williams has gone pro!

The 17-year-old Jamaican, who had an outstanding year in 2019, has signed a multi-year contract with Nike. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Recognized as one of the rising stars in track and field having won the sprint double at the World U20 Championships in Tampere in 2018, Williams was courted by a number of shoe companies with PUMA and Nike being the frontrunners.

Nike eventually won the right to the signature of the talented teen, whose coach Ato Boldon confirmed the signing to Sportsmax.TV.

“Briana has had people dedicated to her abilities for many years. Even before me, Coach Tennessee and Coach Damion Thomas, have done right by her,” Boldon said.

“I was just handed the baton for this leg of the race, but I’ve been around this industry a long time and for a company like Nike, who can back anyone, to put this level of support behind Briana, makes all of the work over the last five years, worth it. She is extremely blessed and fortunate to be where she is at just 17.”

Williams, who turns 18 in March, said the Nike deal has provided a platform for her to chase her dreams.

“I’m extremely proud. I have come a long way. This is a big deal for me because I’m young but I’m ready to show the world what I am capable of,” said Williams who now belongs to the group (HSI) that includes indoor 400m WR holder Mike Norman and world champions Christian Coleman and Dalilah Muhammad.

“I’m glad that Nike gave me this opportunity. It means the world to me as a girl with big dreams.”

The year 2019 was a big year for Williams. She won the 100m at the NACAC U18 Championships in Mexico and the Pan Am U20 Championships in Costa Rica during the year in which she ran unbeaten at the junior level.

She also won the Austin Sealy Award at the CARIFTA Games for the second year running after winning three gold medals, duplicating her achievements in 2018. In June, she set a Jamaican junior record of 11.02s in New Mexico.

Track & Field News, considered the bible of the sport, recognized her stellar year by naming her their High School Athlete of the Year for 2019.

The prodigious teen suffered a setback during the year when she returned an adverse finding for a banned diuretic found in her urine sample at the Jamaican National Championships in June where she finished third in the 100m behind two-time Olympic champions Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

As such, her time of 10.94s, which would have been a U18 world record and a national junior record for Jamaica, was subsequently struck from the record books.

Following a hearing before an Independent Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel in September, Williams was reprimanded but was free to compete. However, due to how late the verdict came, her chances of competing at the 2019 World Championships in Doha were effectively dashed.

 

 

(01/20/2020) ⚡AMP
by Leighton Levy
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A year ago, Reed Fischer paid his own way to the Aramco Houston Half-Marathon this year he is excited for his return

Without a sponsor, the former Drake Bulldog didn’t have a racing uniform to wear.  So, he stopped by the race expo at the cavernous George R. Brown Convention Center to do some shopping.

“I bought just a plain, black Nike singlet,” Fischer told Race Results Weekly in an interview here today.  “I was, and still am, unsponsored.  So for me, I just wanted to have a very understated, mixed-brand look.”  He continued: “I just wanted people to know where I stood from a sponsorship standpoint.”

Holding the pace that his coach Tom Schwartz said he was capable of, Fischer ran the four 5-kilometer segments within the race in 14:51, 14:38, 14:41 and 14:49, respectively.  He pushed through the final 1097 meters in a brisk 3:07, and crossed the finish line in 1:02:06, s 51-second personal best.  Along the way, he set road PB’s for 10-K (29:29), 15-K (44:10) and 20-K (58:59).  He was also the first American, beating better-known athletes like Parker Stinson and Noah Droddy, and his time made him the sixth-fastest American at the half-marathon distance for 2019.

Was he surprised at his performance?

“Yes,” Fischer admitted.  “Maybe a bit more than I expected, to be completely honest.  Coach Schwartz and I knew I was in around 62-minute shape, so from a time standpoint I ran 62:06, basically right where we hoped that I could run.  But, I did not expect to crack the top-10 or be the top American.”

Fischer, who trains with the Tinman Elite group in Boulder, Colo., comes to this year’s race with a different mindset.  He was supposed to make his marathon debut in Chicago last October, but had to withdraw when he suffered a “mild stress reaction” in his left foot, according to his Instagram page.  It was a devastating setback for the young runner who had put together a very solid block of training.

“Working through my first injury as an athlete has been undoubtedly difficult, but I’ve found a new appreciation for running as a result,” Fischer posted on Instagram at the time.  “I’m incredibly grateful for my support team, they’ve helped keep me optimistic and get me back to running as quickly as possible.”

Revising his plans, Fischer will now make his marathon debut at the USA Olympic Trials Marathon on Saturday, February 29.  His race here on Sunday comes off of heavy marathon training and will provide a valuable test for his fitness.  He is trying for a nuanced approach.

“There two ways you can approach it,” Fischer explained.  “One, is you go and have a nice conservative day and feel good about where things are at, and maybe don’t run 100% of what you could.  Or, the other one’s, maybe, you say I’m just going to try and see if I can make something happen on some tired legs, go 100% effort and see if it pans out, or if you crash and burn.  I’m trying to toe the line between the two.  I’m trying to run really aggressively and rip the band-aid off.”  He continued: “I’m definitely fitter than last year.”

Fischer has been in Boulder two and a half years training with Tinman Elite, and he loves the camaraderie of the group.  The other athletes –Drew Hunter, Jeff Thies, Aaron Templeton, Joseph Berriatua, Connor Winter, Kyle Medina, Jordan Gusman, Sam Parsons, and Patrick Joseph– are middle-distance/5000m athletes, so Fischer is their long distance man (marathoner Brogan Austin is also part of Tinman, but he trains in Iowa). 

(01/18/2020) ⚡AMP
by David Monti
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Aramco Houston Half Marathon

Aramco Houston Half Marathon

The Chevron Houston Marathon offers participants a unique running experience in America's fourth largest city. The fast, flat, scenic single-loop course has been ranked as the "fastest winter marathon" and "second fastest marathon overall" by Ultimate Guide To Marathons. After 30 years of marathon-only competition, Houston added the half-marathon in 2002, with El Paso Energy as the sponsor. Today the...

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Eliud Kipchoge says that Nike shoes do not give runners an unfair advantage

World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge has laughed off claims that Nike's talk-of-town racing shoe gives distance runners an added advantage.

Media reports on Wednesday speculated that the now famous Nike Zoom Vaporfly racing shoe could be banned for giving runners "undue advantage."

Kipchoge wore the shoe in Vienna last October when he became the first man to run the marathon in under two hours.

The Olympic champion clocked one hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds to beat the iconic two-hour barrier at a race against the clock organised by British petrochemicals firm Ineos.

A day later, his compatriot Brigid Kosgei shattered Briton Paula Radcliffe's 16-year-old women's world record, running 2:14:04 at the Chicago Marathon.

"The contentious issue is the foam and carbon-fibre composition of the sole, which acts like a spring to help runners get the most forward push from each stride," British newspaper, 'The Daily Mail', reported on Wednesday.

"A technical body looking into the Nike shoes are set to deliver their findings at the end of this month," the newspaper added.

But speaking at his Global Sports Communication/NN Running team training camp in Kaptagat, Kipchoge said records are broken by individuals, not footwear.

"It's the person who is running, and not the shoes," said Kipchoge, who also holds the world marathon record at 2:01:39.

"It is (Lewis) Hamilton who does the driving and not Pirelli tyres," he added, drawing parallels with Formula One racing.

But the distance running legend said it was important to have checks and balances even as running technology evolves.

"Controls have to be there because fairness is good," Kipchoge said.

"But technology is growing and you can't deny that!"

(01/15/2020) ⚡AMP
by Elias Makori
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INEOS 1:59 Challenge

INEOS 1:59 Challenge

Mankind have constantly sought to reach new frontiers and to achieve the impossible. From Edmund Hillary reaching the summit of Mount Everest to Roger Bannister’s four-minute mile to Felix Baumgartner jumping from space we have frequently redefined the limits of human achievement and broken new barriers previously seen as simply impossible. After the four-minute mile and the ten second 100m...

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Nike Vaporfly running shoes will most likely be banned

The running shoe used by Kenya's Brigid Kosgei to smash Paula Radcliffe's marathon record is set to be banned.

There is no decision yet on whether the new women's marathon mark — which Kosgei set wearing the Nike Vaporfly — will be allowed to stand.

The 25-year-old recorded a time of 2hr 14min 4sec in Chicago, well inside Radcliffe's mark of 2:15:25 set at the London Marathon in 2003.

It is also understood shoes which sources at World Athletics believe to be a hybrid of the Vaporfly — and in which Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge ran an unofficial sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna last year — will also be outlawed.

The contentious issue is the foam and carbon-fibre composition of the sole, which acts like a spring to help runners get the most forward push from each stride. A technical body looking into the Nike shoes are set to deliver their findings at the end of this month.

A moratorium is being considered by World Athletics, which may see records stand despite likely bans for the shoes.

Also set to be outlawed are the revolutionary running spikes developed for sprinters. These have sparked fears that inferior athletes at this year's Tokyo Olympics will break Usain Bolt's 100metres best of 9.58sec.

The shoes worn by Laura Muir to set a British record for the women's indoor mile (4min 18.75sec) in Glasgow last year are also likely to be axed.

 

(01/15/2020) ⚡AMP
by Mike Keegan
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INEOS 1:59 Challenge

INEOS 1:59 Challenge

Mankind have constantly sought to reach new frontiers and to achieve the impossible. From Edmund Hillary reaching the summit of Mount Everest to Roger Bannister’s four-minute mile to Felix Baumgartner jumping from space we have frequently redefined the limits of human achievement and broken new barriers previously seen as simply impossible. After the four-minute mile and the ten second 100m...

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Mo Farah says he would have been the first one out of the Nike Oregon Project if he had known about Alberto Salazar’s dubious practices

Mo Farah had previously refused to be overly critical of Salazar after he was banned by the US Anti-Doping Agency for four years last October, instead turning his crosshairs on reporters when they asked him whether he felt let down by his former mentor.

But in an interview with the BBC on Thursday the 36-year-old, who worked under Alberto Salazar between 2011 and 2017, said he would have acted differently if he knew what was really going on.

“I believe in clean sports,” said Farah, who was asked whether his legacy was tainted by his association with a coach who had violated anti-doping rules. “I continue to enjoy my sports and do what I do. At the same time had I had known the news, what Salazar did, it’s taken four years, had I known that sooner I would have been the first one out,” Farah, 36, said.

“That’s the bit that’s kind of annoying, I wish I’d known quicker. But at the same time I will continue to make my country proud and make the kids proud.”

However Farah, who recently announced he would return to the track to run the 10,000m in Tokyo, is still likely to continue to face questions about why he stuck with Salazar after 2015 when the BBC and ProPublica raised serious questions about some of his methods, including the use of the banned drug testosterone on his sons in a bizarre experiment.

That sparked a formal investigation by Usada (the US anti-doping agency), who in October announced that Salazar had been banned for “orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping conduct”.

In Farah’s defence, a UK Athletics inquiry in 2015 found “no reason to be concerned” about his working with Salazar in the autumn. However that is now the subject of a fresh and forensic independent review to see what mistakes were made and the lessons that can be learned.

(01/13/2020) ⚡AMP
by Athletics News
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Mike Smith is the new coach for Galen Rupp

Two-time Olympic medalist Galen Rupp has a new coach.

Rupp, whose previous coach, Alberto Salazar, is serving a four-year ban from track due to anti-doping violations, is now entrusting his training to Mike Smith, the head coach of the Northern Arizona University cross-country and track teams.

Smith confirmed the coaching relationship in an email to Runner’s World, writing that he was surprised to get a phone call from Rupp last fall and took a long time to consider whether to coach him.

The move marks a major change for Rupp, 33, who had been under Salazar’s guidance since Salazar spotted him playing soccer when he was a 14-year-old high school student in Portland, Oregon. Rupp went to college nearby at the University of Oregon and after graduating in 2009, he joined the Salazar-led Nike Oregon Project (NOP).

While still in college, Rupp made the 2008 U.S. Olympic team in the 10,000 meters, finishing 13th. At the 2012 Games in London, he won silver in the 10,000 meters behind his then-NOP teammate Mo Farah of Great Britain. In 2016, Rupp was the Olympic bronze medalist in the marathon. He also won the 2017 Chicago Marathon and the 2018 Prague Marathon, where he set his personal best of 2:06:07, second on the U.S. all-time list.

But Rupp was plagued by Achilles problems and Haglund’s deformity in his left foot, and he underwent major surgery in October 2018.

Last October, as Rupp was preparing to race Chicago again, his first race since the surgery, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced news of Salazar’s ban. Salazar is appealing the decision, but in the meantime, he is not allowed to coach, and athletes who are in contact with him are subject to sanction. Nike executives shut down the Oregon Project a few days after the ban. Rupp made it to about 23 miles of the Chicago Marathon in 2019, before dropping out with a calf strain.

Rupp has never failed a drug test, and he is one of the most frequently tested American athletes.

He is also very private, staying off of social media and eschewing media interviews except around major marathons. Other athletes who had been training under Salazar had announced moves to new coaches, but Rupp had not, fueling speculation about his training and preparations for the Olympic Marathon Trials next month in Atlanta.

His move to Smith, who is based in Flagstaff, Arizona, is a radical shift away from the insular culture Salazar created at the NOP in Beaverton, Oregon.

Smith, 39, is a well-respected collegiate coach, having led the NAU men’s cross-country team to NCAA team titles in 2017 and 2018, and a runner-up finish in 2019. The women were 14th in 2019. Before NAU, he coached at Georgetown, his alma mater. In college, he earned All-American honors in cross country, and he later qualified for the Olympic marathon trials in 2007 (for the 2008 Games). He got his start in coaching working under legendary distance coach Jack Daniels.

(01/10/2020) ⚡AMP
by Sarah Lorge Butler
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Katelyn Tuohy, one of the fastest high schoolers in North America, has committed to North Carolina State University for the fall of 2020

The American standout has chosen a university for fall 2020.

Tuohy posted on Instagram on Sunday evening, “I am excited to announce that I will be continuing my academic and running career at NC State University. Thank you to my family, friends, coaches, and teammates who have supported me throughout my decision-making process. I am so excited to become a member of the Wolfpack.”

The university, which is located in Raleigh, North Carolina, saw its women’s team finish fifth at the NCAA Division I Championships last month. The women’s cross-country team is also only graduating one runner.

Tuohy is finishing one of the most impressive high school running careers in American history. The New York native became the first woman to win three consecutive Nike Cross Nationals titles (which are the American national high school championships) earlier this month.

Two weeks ago, Tuohy ran the senior race at the U.S. Club Cross-Country Nationals. There, she was second to Aisling Cuffe, a 15:11 5,000m runner for Saucony, who’s also a Stanford alumna and former NCAA standout.

(12/24/2019) ⚡AMP
by Madeleine Kelly
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Nike’s Fastest Shoes May Give Runners an Even Bigger Advantage Than First Thought

Anyone who saw Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya break the two-hour marathon barrier in October very likely saw something else, too: the thick-soled Nike running shoes on his feet, and, in a blaze of pink, on the feet of the pacers surrounding him.

These kinds of shoes from Nike — which feature carbon plates and springy midsole foam — have become an explosive issue among runners, as professional and amateur racers alike debate whether the shoes save so much energy that they amount to an unfair advantage.

A new analysis by The New York Times, an update of the one conducted last summer, suggests that the advantage these shoes bestow is real — and larger than previously estimated.

At the moment, they appear to be among only a handful of popular shoes that matter at all for race performance, and the gap between them and the next-fastest popular shoe has only widened.

We found that a runner wearing the most popular versions of these shoes available to the public — the Zoom Vaporfly 4% or ZoomX Vaporfly Next% — ran 4 to 5 percent faster than a runner wearing an average shoe, and 2 to 3 percent faster than runners in the next-fastest popular shoe. (There was no meaningful difference between the Vaporfly and Next% shoes when we measured their effects separately. We have combined them in our estimates.)

This difference is not explained by faster runners choosing to wear the shoes, by runners choosing to wear them in easier races or by runners switching to the shoes after running more training miles. In a race between two marathoners of the same ability, a runner wearing these shoes would have a significant advantage over a competitor not wearing them.

The shoes, which retail for $250, confer an advantage on all kinds of runners: men and women, fast runners and slower ones, hobbyists and frequent racers.

Many other brands, including Brooks, Saucony, New Balance, Hoka One One and Asics, have introduced similar shoes to the market or plan to. These shoes may provide the same advantage or an even larger one, but most do not yet appear in sufficient numbers in our data to measure their effectiveness.

What makes these shoes different is, among other things, a carbon-fiber plate in the midsole, which stores and releases energy with each stride and is meant to act as a kind of slingshot, or catapult, to propel runners. The shoes also feature midsole foam that researchers say contributes to increased running economy.

Whether the shoes violate rules from track’s governing body, World Athletics, depends on how one interprets this sentence from its rulebook: “Shoes must not be constructed so as to give athletes any unfair assistance or advantage.” It does not specify what such an advantage might be.

“We need evidence to say that something is wrong with a shoe,” a spokesman for the governing body, then called the I.A.A.F., told The Times last year. “We’ve never had anyone bring some evidence to convince us.”

In an announcement earlier this year, the group said, “It is clear that some forms of technology would provide an athlete with assistance that runs contrary to the values of the sport.” It has since appointed a technical committee to study the shoe question, and to make a report with recommendations. (The report was originally intended to be released to the public by the end of the year; it will now reportedly be released in 2020.)

When we asked Nike last year about whether its shoes might violate I.A.A.F. rules, a spokesman said the shoe “meets all I.A.A.F. product requirements and does not require any special inspection or approval.”

Last Thursday, the company said in a statement, “We respect the I.A.A.F. and the spirit of their rules, and we do not create any running shoes that return more energy than the runner expends.”

There is no such thing as a large-scale randomized control trial for marathons and shoes, but there is Strava, a fitness app that calls itself the social network for athletes. Nearly each weekend, thousands of runners compete in races, record their performance data on satellite watches or smartphones, and upload their race data to the app. This data includes things like a race name, finish time, per-mile splits and overall elevation profile. And about one in four races includes self-reported information about a runner’s shoes.

In all, this data includes race results from about 577,000 marathons and 496,000 half marathons in dozens of countries from April 2014 to December 2019.

How we measured the shoes’ effect

[These approaches are essentially identical to the ones The Times used last summer. See that article for more examples and methodological details.]

We measured the shoes’ performance using four different methods — each with its own strengths and flaws:

1. Using statistical models2. Studying groups of runners who ran the same pair of races3. Following runners as they switch shoes4. Measuring the likelihood of a personal record in a pair of shoes

None of these approaches are perfect, but they all point to the same conclusion: Something is happening in races with the Vaporfly and Nike Next% shoes that is not happening with most any other kind of popular shoe.

Besides race times and the names of shoes, we also have data on runners’ gender and approximate age. For some of the more serious runners, we have detailed information about their training volume in the months leading up to a race. We also know about the weather on race day.

When we put this information into a statistical model, times associated with Vaporfly and Next% shoes are a clear outlier — about 2 percent faster than with the next-fastest shoe. The model estimates the effect of wearing these shoes compared with the effect of wearing other shoes.

No statistical model is perfect, and it’s possible that runners who choose to wear Vaporfly or Next% shoes are somehow different from runners who do not. Regardless of the decisions that went into this model — even when trying to control for runners’ propensity to wear the shoes in the first place — the outputs were similar.

Strava is very popular among runners. At last year’s Berlin Marathon, for example, more than 10,000 runners uploaded race information to Strava, and this year, more than 14,000 did. Crucially for our purposes, about a thousand of those runners ran both races, and a subset of them reported racing in different shoes.

We could then examine the change in performance of two similar runners — people with similar race performances and, ideally, training regimens — and compare the improvement of a runner who switched shoes with a runner who did not. In Berlin, runners who switched to Vaporfly or Next% shoes improved their times more than runners who did not, on average.

For two athletes and a single pair of races, this might not tell us much. But in our data, there are thousands of instances when pairs of runners ran in the same two races.

When we perform this calculation for every pair of races in our data and measure the effect of switching to any kind of popular shoe, we see that runners who switch to these Nike shoes improved significantly more than runners who switched to any other kind of shoe. No other shoe comes close to having the same effect.

More than 110,000 athletes uploaded data for more than one marathon, and about 47,000 uploaded data for three or more marathons. The Strava data allows us to follow these repeat racers over time and as they change shoes.

When we aggregate the change in race times for runners the first time they switch to a new pair of shoes, runners who switched to Vaporflys or Next% shoes improved their times more than runners who switched to any other kind of popular shoe.

Race times are, in many ways, a crude way to measure performance. One marathon may be hilly or full of sharp turns; others may be flat and straight. Weather, too, is important, with higher temperatures typically resulting in slower times. And yet race times are how runners qualify for prestigious races, like the Boston Marathon, and most runners know their personal best times by heart, regardless of whether the race they ran was flat or hilly, on a hot day or a cold one.

We can follow the runners in our data with this measure in mind, testing whether a runner’s fastest time is more likely when he or she switches to any kind of shoe.

Someone can run a personal best for all kinds of reasons unrelated to shoes. A runner may train more, execute a better strategy on race day or run an easier course. Regardless, we found that runners who switched to these shoes were more likely to run their fastest race than runners who switched to any other kind of popular shoe.

(12/16/2019) ⚡AMP
by Kevin Qealy and Josh Katz
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A New York Times study finds the Nike Next% and Vaporfly could lead runners to improved odds of a personal best

The New York Times repeated, with a larger sample size, the study of the Nike Vaporfly that they conducted in 2018. Their updated study included the Nike Next% and the findings were surprising. We knew the Vaporfly and Next% were arguably some of the best shoes on the market, but the NYT finds that their current dominance is undeniable.

The New York Times repeated, with a larger sample size, the study of the Nike Vaporfly that they conducted in 2018. Their updated study included the Nike Next% and the findings were surprising. We knew the Vaporfly and Next% were arguably some of the best shoes on the market, but the NYT finds that their current dominance is undeniable.

The study founds that, “The Zoom Vaporfly 4% or ZoomX Vaporfly Next% — ran 4 to 5 percent faster than a runner wearing an average shoe, and 2 to 3 percent faster than runners in the next-fastest popular shoe.” The name four per cent was born out of Nike’s finding that the shoe could make the wearer four per cent more efficient–efficiency translates to less effort at the same pace, which means a runner can go faster. So the claim that the shoe makes a runner faster as opposed to simply more efficient is new.

Another key finding was that men had a 73 per cent chance of running a personal best in the shoes, while women had a 74 per cent chance, “In a race between two marathoners of the same ability, a runner wearing these shoes would have a significant advantage over a competitor not wearing them.” The Times also reports, “In the final months of 2019, about 41 per cent of marathons under three hours were reported to have been run in these shoes (for races in which we have data).”

When someone first comes to running, they find that after the initial agony of getting your legs used to the motion, there’s quick improvement. You’ll run a 5K personal best and then a subsequent PB just weeks (or even days) later. Because you’re new to the sport, the time melts away in the first few races.

But as you progress and become better, it can take months and even years to run a personal best. And for the competitive runner, staying patient is the hardest part. But what if someone told that runner who’d been trying to PB for 14 months, 27 days and 13 hours, that if they spent $330 CAD they had a 73 per cent chance at finally improving? If they have the budget, that’s an appealing statistic.

Two weeks ago Molly Huddle, who has the sixth-fastest marathon time among American women in 2019 (she ran a personal best 2:26:33 at the London Marathon), replied to a tweet by sports journalist Cathal Dennehy about the AlphaFly (Nike’s next step in the carbon-plated game). The shoe was first seen on the feet of marathon world record-holder Eliud Kipchoge, who raced to a 1:59:40 finish in them at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna last month. Huddle’s comment: “Kinda nervous as to how this would affect the Olympic Trials over here @usatf.”

It’s not just Huddle who has noticed the effect the shoe (or prototype versions) could have on the US Olympic Marathon Trials. Runners are qualifying for the event at unprecedented rates. With the qualifying window still open for another five weeks, entries are already nearing the thousands.

It’s important to note that the qualifying standard for the trials did get two minutes easier (2:43 in 2016 to 2:45 in 2020). But does two minutes warrant a potentially doubled field size or are technological advantages, like the Nike shoes, the reason for the jump? The New York Times’ finding would suggest the latter.

(12/13/2019) ⚡AMP
by Madeleine Kelly
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It may come as a surprise, but Nike's popularity is not growing as fast among Strava users as other brands

The running/cycling/social media platform Strava, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, has just published its much-anticipated Year in Sport. One of the most striking pieces of information in it, not surprisingly, concerns shoes. The fastest-growing shoe on Strava is not the Nike Vaporfly or NEXT%, as you might expect. In fact, it’s not even close.

That distinction belongs to the HOKA Carbon X, the brand’s carbon-plated racing shoe introduced last summer and worn by two-time Western States champion Jim Walmsley when he set the 50-mile world record in California in May 2019.

The second-fastest growing model is the Adidas Solar Glide, and the third is the Fresh Foam Beacon by New Balance, one of the shoes favored by American ultrarunner and multiple age-group record-holder Gene Dykes.

What the research did show, however, is that among Strava runners who ran the World Major Marathons and logged what shoe they were wearing, Nike NEXT% wearers posted the fastest times. Three guesses as to which shoe was next fastest: that’s right. The Vaporfly.

Some other interesting facts emerging from Strava’s research over the past year: we knew that running is hugely popular in Japan, but the Japanese are not stopping at the marathon–according to Strava in 2019, the island nation has more ultramarathoners per capita than any other country in the world.

Further, almost 24 per cent of runners in Japan have completed a marathon or ultra. That’s an increase of 23 per cent over last year, and more than double the percentage of marathoners and ultrarunners in the next most marathon-mad country, France (which had 10.4 per cent). The US was third, with 7.6 per cent.

(12/11/2019) ⚡AMP
by Anne Francis
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Nike employees protested at the Beaverton, Ore. headquarters on Monday following the reopening of the building named after Alberto Salazar

On Monday, the day that the sportswear giant Nike reopened the Beaverton, Ore. headquarters building named after disgraced coach Alberto Salazar, Nike employees staged a protest regarding its mistreatment of women, and were threatened with termination if they spoke to the media.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, “A flier circulating among employees read, “Join us for a campus walk to celebrate what women bring to sport and to raise awareness of how Nike can support our female athletes and employees.”

There was another flier circulating ahead of the protest–this one was also distributed by Nike employees but had a different tone. It read, “No employee is permitted to speak to news media on any NIKE-related matter either on- or off-the-record, without prior approval from Nike Global Communications.” The policy continues, “Failure to comply with NIKE’s media policy could result in termination of employment.”

Nike spokesperson Greg Rossiter said to The Willamette Weekly that this cautionary flyer was not officially distributed by the company. “We respect and welcome employees’ feedback on matters that are important to them. The flier prepared by some employees was not officially distributed by Nike.”

The US Anti-Doping Agency banned Salazar in September for four years following a years-long investigation and secret arbitration case. The details appear in a BBC report and a statement by USADA outlining the specific charges, which include trafficking in testosterone (a banned substance), illegal methods and evidence-tampering at the Nike Oregon Project’s Beaverton, Oregon headquarters. Salazar is former coach to Mo Farah and Kara Goucher and current coach of marathoner Galen Rupp and the newly-crowned 10,000m champion Sifan Hassan, among others.

Nike shut down the NOP training group 11 days later. Salazar’s athletes have since found new coaches and training groups.

Following the dissolution of the NOP, American prodigy Mary Cain came forward and told her story about her experience with the group. According to Cain, the NOP’s “win at all costs” mentality involved Salazar and his assistant coaches (who are not named) pushing her to take birth control pills and diuretics to lose weight, weighing her and verbally abusing her in front of her teammates. Cain’s success on the track came at a huge price: she didn’t have her period for three years, which weakened her bone health so much that she endured five stress fractures. Her success dwindled, and when she left the program, nobody really knew why.

On Monday, protesters signs read, “We believe Mary.”

(12/10/2019) ⚡AMP
by Madeleine Kelly
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'I puked, fouled myself and collapsed - it was great': Meet the record-breaking ultra marathon runner fuelled by beer and burritos

At the ultra running World Championship, competitors looped a 1,500 metres circuit continuously for 24 hours and, with time running out, American Camille Herron was suffering.

She had thrown up twice, stopped to lie down twice, and had such serious bowel issues the officials had forced her off the course to shower and change her clothes. By the finish Herron had run 168 miles, the equivalent of running 6½ consecutive marathons, each in an average time of 3 hr 44 min.​

She certainly means it when she says: “I want to change what people think is possible. Especially for women.”​

Herron’s feat was a world record, she finished sixth in the race overall (including the men) and moved to third best on the United States all-time list for both genders. To get there she had to endure multiple setbacks.​

“I was trying this new fuelling plan with this new product and it wasn’t going well,” Herron explains. “The race was in France, so most of the rest rooms were squat toilets. For 350 athletes, they only had three normal toilets.”​

On her third bathroom stop in quick succession, she found a queue of athletes so decided to carry on. “But on that lap my bowels sort of unleashed themselves,” she says, laughing about it now. “But this is ultra running. S--- happens. Literally!”​

She switched her food to cups of mashed potato, makeshift burritos and her secret weapon – beer. Her condition did not improve but then a switch flicked in her mind.​

“After puking the second time, with 2½ hours to go, I just said to myself, ‘Let’s drop the hammer, let’s go beast mode’.”​

Herron started to fly. “I like to think of myself as a boxer, throwing punches,” she says. “Those last few hours were awesome, the most fun I’ve ever had in a race.”​

Surely she doubted, during the low moments, that it would all come together so spectacularly?​

“No,” she says. “I had already accepted before the race that I would be challenged. So at no point did I feel defeated. It was like ultra chess, we had to brainstorm how to deal with the problems. In the night, that’s the hardest part, because the brain is shutting down, so you’re trying to keep the light on.”​

Herron discovered the benefits of beer by accident. “I was in a trail race, really struggling, sitting in a chair. I’d tried everything and it wasn’t working and my husband just said, ‘You want a beer?’ I popped out of my chair after that. It got my blood flowing again.”​

During her latest world record she downed three Belgian beers along the way. “It settles my gut and helps me focus,” she laughs.​

Herron’s achievements are all the more astonishing as she has had to overcome a lopsided body, re-teaching herself how to run after years of injuries. She was born with her right thigh bone twisted inwards and has an extra bone in her right foot. “There’s something developmentally quirky about how I’m built,” she says. To reduce the strain on her body she re-learnt to run lifting her legs from the ground rather than pushing off. It means she looks like she is roller skating rather than running. “It’s like I’m prancing,” she says. “But I’m light on my feet. As a marathon runner, I had a great engine but I wasn’t fast enough because I wasn’t powerful. But as there’s less impact, for ultras it has turned out to be an advantage.”​

Since readapting her style, Herron has had only one injury, following a serious accident in February in which her car flipped upside down.​

Her steel was instilled from an early age. Herron’s grandfather was shot in both legs in the Second World War and awarded two Purple Heart medals, which are given for members of the US military wounded or killed while serving. He and Herron’s father were also basketball players under tough Olympic coach Henry Iba.​

“You had to be hard-nosed to play for him,” she explains. “My dad told stories of playing for six hours straight without water. So at age seven, I used to play in the yard, without water, until I blacked out. Then I’d get a sandwich and play some more. I was thinking, ‘This is what I got to do, push myself to extremes’. I was training for ultras without realising it.”​

Another formative event came when she was 17 and her whole family were made homeless by the strongest tornado ever recorded.​

“We get tornadoes all the time in Oklahoma,” she recalls, “so when we left the house I didn’t take anything. But it was crazy, four people in our area lost their lives, our house was flattened. But though we lost everything, I thought: ‘I’m still alive.’ At 17, that’s a big thing to realise, the value of your life. It changed my perspective.” From then on she started running on Sundays instead of going to church, to celebrate her life.​

Herron now believes that she can eventually chase down the men’s ultra running world records and she is partly driven by the inequality she feels is rampant in the sport. The normally upbeat Herron turns serious as she recounts her struggles for recognition in ultra running.​

“In my breakout year in 2015 I won two world titles and broke a world record and I thought I should get an agent,” she says, “but he couldn’t find me a sponsor. Then Jim Walmsley [a top male US runner] dropped out of Western States [a big US race] and I caught him in the world 100km championships, and he gets sponsored by Hoka. I was p----d.”​

She fired her agent and joined Walmsley’s agent, who eventually got her a sponsorship deal with Nike. Recently she was left fuming after a race in France offered prize money for the top 20 men, but only the top five women. And the women’s race was half the distance.​

“Sometimes it’s like a throwback to the 1970s,” she says. “I can’t believe it’s 2019 and women are still fighting for equal prize money. While everyone looks at the men like they’re superstars, I see people looking at me and tutting. I’m pretty tall, and I run aggressively and people don’t like it. I hear them saying, ‘She’s going out too fast’. So it’s a big motivation for me to run faster. To beat the men.”​

The way she is going, she might end up leaving them all behind. They can collect up her beer bottles when they come by.

(12/07/2019) ⚡AMP
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Gwen Jorgensen announces move to track for 2020

The 2020 US. Olympic Marathon Trials on Feb. 29 were marked on Gwen Jorgensen’s calendar since her Nov. 2017 announcement that she was leaving the triathlon to pursue running full time in hopes of winning the 2020 Olympic gold medal in the marathon.

But now, less than three months out from the event, Jorgensen announced that she will not run the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and instead focus on making the U.S. team for the Summer Games on the track in the 10,000 meters.

“It’s a multitude of emotions,” Jorgensen, 33, says. “I’m disappointed. At the same time, I’m also excited. I’m at a point where I’m running 70 miles per week and training is going well. I just know that if I went to the trials, running 70 miles per week, I’d be hoping that I made a team. That’s not what I want to do at an Olympic Trials.

I want to go in confident and knowing that I have the ability to make a team. My goals in the marathon aren’t changing. My timeline is.”

Heel surgery forced Jorgensen, who converted to distance running after winning the Rio Olympic triathlon, to pass up the Feb. 29 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and focus on the track and field trials in June in the 10,000m and, probably, the 5000m.

She made the decision after recent talks with her coach, Jerry Schumacher, following a difficult recovery from late May surgery to correct Haglund’s deformity.

“I could get bent out of shape and sad about it, but at the end of the day, I’m excited because I know this path that I’m on will not only be a successful route, but I also think it will lead to success long term in the marathon," she says. "I’m confident in my abilities on the track."

Jorgensen’s goal was a lofty one from the onset. No American woman has won gold in the marathon at the Olympics since Joan Benoit Samuelson’s victory in the 1984 inaugural running. The 2020 trials, where the top three finishers qualify for Tokyo, are shaping up to be one of the most competitive races of the year, as American women’s distance running is at its highest level with recent World Marathon Major victories by Shalane Flanagan at the 2017 New York City Marathon and Desiree Linden at the 2018 Boston Marathon.

Even after giving birth to her son Stanley in Aug. 2017, Jorgensen could have returned to the triathlon and arguably been a contender to become the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals. But she and her family decided to move to Portland, Ore., and once settled there, Jorgensen signed a professional running contract with Nike and joined the Bowerman Track Club.

Jorgensen worked her way to the marathon by racing on the track in the spring of 2018 and ran a few U.S.A. Track and Field road race championships. She says her training went well, nailing all but one workout in 12 weeks. But in the three days before she was set to compete in the Chicago Marathon, Jorgesen battled a fever and underestimated the effects of running while sick. She finished in a disappointing 2:36:23 in her professional marathon debut.

Now fully healed, healthy and recovered, Jorgensen is working her way back to train with her Bowerman teammates. Her day sometimes includes a hill sprints, a track workout, pelvic floor therapist treatment, physical therapy exercises for her achilles and then an evening workout before returning to her family.

“I think it’s important not to be afraid when you need to admit that your goal needs to change,” Jorgensen says. “I’m not going to say that I’m failing because I still want to have my marathon goals, but the timeline has changed. It’s still important to have big goals and to share those goals. It holds everyone accountable.”

(12/05/2019) ⚡AMP
by Chris Cahvez
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2020 US Olympic Trials Marathon

2020 US Olympic Trials Marathon

The 2020 US Olympic Trials for both men and women took place in Atlanta, Ga on Sunday Feb 29. Runners had to qualify by running certain standards beforehand. The trials are hosted by the Atlanta Track club. The course runs through the heart of Atlanta and past monuments from the 1996 Olympic Games Most countries around the world use a...

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The most recent allegations echo reports by Kara Goucher about athletes being encouraged to take unnecessary medications to lose weight and improve performance

Britain’s Daily Mail reports that top UK athletes allege they were repeatedly encouraged by team doctors to have their thyroids checked, even when they exhibited no symptoms, leading to speculation about the use of thyroid medications to boost their performance.

The report echoes the report by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that former Nike Oregon Project Alberto Salazar inappropriately used thyroid medication with athletes.

This is only the latest in a series of issues plaguing British athletics. Head coach Neil Black, known to be a strong supporter of Salazar’s, resigned shortly after the ban was announced, in the midst of the World Championships, from which British athletes brought home a disappointing five medals.

UK Athletics also announced it would mount an investigation into why one of its top athletes, Sir Mo Farah, was encouraged to continue training with Salazar at the NOP in 2015 after Salazar came under investigation by USADA. And last week the newly appointed UKA chair, Zara Hyde Peters, was forced to step down before taking up her duties when it was discovered that her husband, who had been banned from teaching after an “inappropriate relationship” with a 15-year-old girl, had been allowed to coach at the club where Hyde Peters was vice chair.

Medications to improve thyroid function, including L-thyroxine and Cynomel, are not on WADA’s list of prohibited substances (and do not even require a Therapeutic Use Exemption, or TUE), though both USADA and UK Anti-Doping have called for them to be banned except in cases where a need is clearly demonstrated. Such medications, which can lead to serious heart issues when taken inappropriately, are known to aid weight loss, which is perceived to lead to faster times on the track. In the wake of being banned from athletics, Salazar has been the subject of numerous reports that he was obsessive about female athletes’ weight, publicly shaming those he thought were too heavy.

The report quotes athletes Jo Pavey and Matthew Yates, who say thyroid medications should be banned except in cases where they are necessary to maintain adequate thyroid function, and only with a TUE. The rate of hypothyroidism is estimated at one in 20 in females and one in 100 in males, and a physician consulted by the paper claimed that inappropriate use of thyroid medication can lead to serious heart issues. One athlete claims they were tested after a race and encouraged to visit their family doctor to confirm a suspicious result, but that a second test showed a normal result. In another case, an athlete who tested negative was encouraged to take another test after a hard workout, which can influence the result.

The report names Dr. Robert Chakraverty, chief medical officer for UK Athletics from 2013 to 2016 and his successor, Dr Noel Pollock, as having encouraged the tests.

(12/02/2019) ⚡AMP
by Anne Francis
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Irish Marathon runner Paul Pollock run his personal best at the Valencia Marathon, 2:10:25 securing the automatic qualifying time for next year’s Tokyo Olympic marathon

It was an improvement of over five minutes on Pollock’s previous best and also moves the Belfast runner to number two on the Irish all-time list behind John Treacy’s 2:09.15 set 31 years ago in Boston, and moving Mark Carroll into third with his 2:10.52 run in New York in 2002. Pollock finished in 20th position in Valencia.

The 33-year-old also qualified for the Rio Olympic marathon in 2015, and has been one of Ireland’s top performers on the road in recent years, his previous best being 2:15.30. A qualified doctor, he has also endured his share of injuries in recent years and as recently as September was out with a broken metatarsal.

Pollock also becomes the first Irish men’s qualifier in the marathon for Tokyo; Fionnuala McCormack becoming the first Irish woman to qualify in Chicago in October. Fellow Belfast runner Stephen Scullion is also eyeing up the Tokyo standard of 2:11.30, eyeing up the Houston marathon next month.

Interestingly Pollock was also wearing the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Next Percent, the running shoes that have courted some controversy for the series of faster marathon times this year.

Also running in Valencia over the 10km, Joshua Cheptegei smashed the world record in that distance, clocking 26.38. The Ugandan clipped six seconds from the previous record of 26.44 set by Kenya’s Patrick Komon in 2010 to complete a sensational 2019 hat-trick that included world titles in cross-country and 10,000m on the track.

Running on his own over the entire second half, a determined Cheptegei reached 6km in 16.02 and 7km in 18.42. Cheptegei forged on, reaching 8km in 21.37, when it became clear that the world record was within reach.

With 23.59 on the clock at the 9km point, Cheptegei needed to cover the final kilometer in 2.45, a close well within his capabilities.

“World cross champion in Denmark, 10,000m world champion in Doha and now the world record here in Valencia. What a year it has been,” the 23-year-old said. “I can’t believe it. I knew that Valencia was going to be a really fast course, one of the fastest in the world. So to get to achieve what we came here for is something really special.”

(12/02/2019) ⚡AMP
by lan O'Riordan
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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Fifty-six years after having organized the Olympic Games, the Japanese capital will be hosting a Summer edition for the second time, originally scheduled from July 24 to August 9, 2020, the games were postponed due to coronavirus outbreak, the postponed Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 23 to August 8 in 2021, according to the International Olympic Committee decision....

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Jordan Hasay says she is going to be ready for the US Olympic Trials after making some changes

Jordan Hasay went into the Chicago Marathon on October 13 in excellent shape, hoping to make a run at the American record in the distance. But about two miles into the race, she tore her left hamstring. She limped past the 5K mark in 22 minutes before dropping out of the race.It was the bitter end of a tumultuous two weeks.

On September 30, her longtime coach, Alberto Salazar, was hit with a four-year ban from track and field for anti-doping violations. Hasay, 28, said she never witnessed anything improper in her time with Salazar and his team, the Nike Oregon Project. On October 11, Nike shut down the Oregon Project, leaving the athletes who had trained with Salazar to work out new coaching and training situations.

The timing of Hasay’s injury and the coaching upheaval were not ideal: American marathoners are preparing for the Olympic Marathon Trials on February 29, 2020 in Atlanta.

The upheaval has continued this month: On November 7, in an explosive opinion video in The New York Times, Mary Cain, a former teen prodigy who trained with Hasay and others at the Oregon Project, alleged she was “emotionally and physically abused” in her time with Salazar.

On a recent trip to Monaco, she formalized a relationship with Radcliffe to be her “mentor-coach.” Radcliffe held the world record in the women’s marathon, 2:15:25, for 16 years. The record fell last month to Brigid Kosgei, who ran 2:14:04, at the Chicago Marathon, where Hasay dropped out.

Hasay has long admired Radcliffe. As Hasay was training for her first marathon, Boston in 2017, her late mother used to call Hasay by the pet name “Paula.” Radcliffe and Hasay first met at the 2017 Chicago Marathon, where Hasay ran 2:20:57 and became the second-fastest American marathoner behind Deena Kastor. Hasay and Radcliffe have kept in touch since then.

Last week, together in Monaco, they sat down and mapped out Hasay’s training for the next 15 weeks until the Trials. Hasay said she believes she’s the first athlete to be coached by Radcliffe and specified that Radcliffe, and not her husband, Gary Lough, who oversees the training of Mo Farah, will be in charge.

Hasay will stay in California and communicate remotely with Radcliffe. “I’ve always really looked up to her as a role model,” Hasay said. “Since we first met two years ago in Chicago, we’ve kept in touch and she’s given me a lot of advice. She knows that I have had some very good coaches in the past. We’re not going to go in and change a bunch of things. At this point, I mainly need someone to hold me back and make sure I stay injury free. She’s such a kind person.”

After two weeks off from running after the Chicago Marathon, Hasay has returned to running almost pain free, she said, although the hamstring feels tight at faster speeds. On November 19, she did a hill workout.

Hasay said Nike staff were “incredibly supportive” of her as she considered new coaches, and they were open to her having a coach who didn’t have a relationship with the company if that is what she wanted. Radcliffe, though, was a Nike-sponsored athlete throughout her career and maintains a relationship with the company.

She is in the process of selling her home in Beaverton, Oregon, near Nike headquarters, and she will live with her father in Arroyo Grande, California, until she eventually buys a home in that area. She is more suited to the climate there, she said, where it is sunny and warm year-round, than the rainy winters of the Pacific Northwest. She also said the community has supported her since she began running at age 12. Being home “will add a lot of happiness,” she said.

When asked about Cain, Hasay said she knew her teammate was struggling during her 10 months training in Portland with the Oregon Project, but she didn’t know the extent of the problems.

“I was pretty shocked with the video,” Hasay said. “Obviously I feel really sad and I texted her and said I’m really sorry. That if I knew that it was that bad, if there was anything I could have done, I just apologize.”

Hasay said she and Cain were fairly close but she had “no idea” that Cain was cutting herself, as she said in the Times video. Cain also said Salazar was constantly trying to get her to lose weight to hit an arbitrary number, 114 pounds.

Hasay said she thought Cain’s youth and the intensity of the training and the program were a poor combination, but she expressed sympathy for both Cain and Salazar.

“It’s so sad, everyone was trying their best, though,” she said. “I really think you can’t point fingers and it’s really easy from the outside to kick Alberto under the bus. People make mistakes. He could have handled it at times differently. He really was doing his best. He wasn’t trying to cause any of the problems that she described. I sympathize with both sides.

“That’s why it’s hard—I haven’t commented on it—I don’t really have a side. I didn’t experience what she experienced, but I can see how it was so difficult. I think that her message is a good one, addressing these issues, they are important, I think it’s good overall that we’re looking at some of things.”

Hasay continued that when an athlete is still growing and going through puberty, getting to a certain weight is “difficult.” Older athletes on the team, she said, were able to push back in discussions with Salazar on weight.

“Alberto, if you ask me is he obsessed about weight? Yes, but he’s obsessed about everything,” she said. “He wanted to cut my hair [to reduce drag], he wanted me to wear a wetsuit in the Boston Marathon. It’s just every little detail is covered and weight happens to be one of those things.”

Salazar told Hasay she needed to gain weight at times. “He’s told me, ‘You don’t need to be this lean all year. I’d like you to go back up.’ We’ve had discussions. I think when you’re older and more experienced, you can speak up. It’s hard when she’s so young and still growing. It was just the whole situation wasn’t the right fit, unfortunately.”

(11/29/2019) ⚡AMP
by Runner’s World
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2020 US Olympic Trials Marathon

2020 US Olympic Trials Marathon

The 2020 US Olympic Trials for both men and women took place in Atlanta, Ga on Sunday Feb 29. Runners had to qualify by running certain standards beforehand. The trials are hosted by the Atlanta Track club. The course runs through the heart of Atlanta and past monuments from the 1996 Olympic Games Most countries around the world use a...

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