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What is going to happen to road racing as we know it? Bob Anderson thoughts on the situation. Could it be the end of big races?

The COVID-19 virus is deadly.  Already (as of May 17) at least 317,000 people worldwide have died from the virus.  This number is still growing by thousands each day.  By the end of this week most likely over 100,000 people in the US will have died from the Coronvirus (COVID-19).

Some people think this number has been inflated.  Others think it is low.  It is hard to really know the true facts.  In any case thousands of people have died from this new virus.  That's a fact.  

Some still feel this virus is no worse than the common flu.  Many of these ill informed people might be some of the ones who are continuing to spread the Cornavirus.  Many of these people don't wear face masks while in public nor practice social distancing.  These types of people could easily be those that end up infecting others.  And kill racing too.  More on this later.  

Doctors are saying this virus is much more contagious than the common flu and the death rate particularly for people aged 60 plus is high.  Much higher than the common flu.

This information is talked about daily in the news and there is no need to further exam that here.  The focus here is road racing and what impact this crisis is going to have on the sport.  

The My Best Runs (MBR) website only features and follow the best, most interesting and unique races in the world.  The site is currently following 837 races from all over the world.  

One thing the website does is list the leaderboard results from the races featured. The top four men and women and then age-group winners in ten year age-groups starting at age 40 are posted.  Stats are complied and compared among the races.  Nearly 90,000 unique people visited the site in February to look for races, follow races or read Running News Daily.  The traffic had doubled in a year.  That's over one million annually.  The growth of the site illustrates how road racing around the world was growing.  

Everything was set for a banner year.  The Boston Marathon had lined up another amazing field for their annual races that has been held every year since 1896 on Patriots Day.  The London marathon had confirmed that the world's top two marathoners would battle it out on the streets of London.  Maybe the first sub two hour marathon in a real race was going to happen? However both races were postponed and they hope to have races this fall.  Some feel that is not going to happen. 

It was in early February when people began talking about the Cornavirus.  A virus started in China.  But mostly people did not seem overly concerned. 

The month before (January 26) the Ujena Fit Club (UFC) Training Camp in Thika Kenya was opened.  The camp was not totally finished but the core group of runners had been selected, a time trial was staged and a traditional goat feed blessed the opening. A couple hundred people showed up for the affair.

A third floor of the club would be added in the following months to house guests interested in training with elite Kenyan runners.  The official grand opening was set for the end of May with a Double Road Race 15k race planned the same weekend.  Sponsored were being lined up for a world record attempt.    

The top runner in the club and part owner is Joel Maina Mwangi.  For the last couple of years prior he would travel to Italy in the spring and bring back enough prize money to take care of him and his family for the rest of the year.  

2020 was going to be his best year yet.  Joel was in top form being trained at his UFC Training Camp by coach Dennis.  His teammates pushed Joel in three-a-day workouts to higher limits.  

Joel left for Italy in early February right after the UFC Training Camp US partners Bob and Catherine Anderson had left after attending the opening.

Joel's first race was in Verona, Italy Feb 16.  He won that race and clocked 1:00:40 for the half marathon, a personal best.  His plan was to race each weekend after that and then run the Rome Half Marathon set for March 8.  This point to point course is fast.  Galen Rupp had won there a couple of years back breaking an hour in the process.  Joel's plan was to win, break an hour for the first time and bring home the big prize purse.

This didn't happen as Italy started closing down their country to battle COVID-19.  It was going out of control.  Joel luckily left Italy March 7th for his home in Thika, Kenya while he could still travel. But not with the over $20k(US) he was planning on bringing back home with him.

The world was shutting down.  Whole countries were locking down.  The last race featured by MBR to take place was the LA Marathon March 8 along with several others held that same weekend.  There has not been a significant race held any place in the world since March 8.  California ordered everyone to Shelter in Place starting March 17.  Other states and countries followed.  

Every race scheduled for April or May and featured on the MBR website were either canceled or postponed.  Most races also in June and July have been canceled or postponed as well.  The Tokyo Olympics were postponed for a year.  The Berlin marathon in September was canceled (but they are trying to workout a new date), Western States 100, the Camrades Marathon, the Dipsea, and so many other well established races were cancelled.   

Pippa Stevens a CNBC writer posted, "As running has grown in popularity, local clubs have popped up around the country, and there are now roughly 35,000 races each year in the U.S. alone, data from industry trade group Running USA shows.

"More than 44 million people in the U.S. identify as a runner, and 17.6 million people crossed the finish line in U.S. races in 2019.

"With all races cancelled for the time being, billions of dollars are at stake. The biggest marathons – from Boston to Chicago to London to Tokyo – inject hundreds of millions of dollars into local economies. The most recent analysis of the TCS New York City Marathon, for example, found that the race’s economic impact topped $400 million."

A lot is at stake.  But race directors need to know that even if cities allow them to hold their races, not everyone will automatically be there on the starting line.  

Dan Anderson wrote, "I am having a major motivational problem with my running!  For the first time in my running career (almost 55 years) I have no races to train for.  I really miss them.  But I will not run in a race until a vaccine is available.  Being 68 years old with several preexisting risk factors it is too dangerous!  Hopefully within a year a vaccine will be available.  Until then I will push myself to get out and run."

Racing is addictive and so many people around the world love it. Once things are figured out and it is safe again many will be there on the starting line.                                                                                       

Sam Tada who lives in Japan wrote, "Racing helped me so many times in my life and I miss it.  

"Racing gives us opportunity of challenge, growth, and communication.  It makes us happy and healthy mentally and physically.  I love racing and miss it. 

"We are facing difficult time right now but once this health concern is gone I think we will be able to enjoy racing more since we understand how racing is important for us.   

"I am looking forward to racing again and I am trying to do my best effort to stop the spread of this virus."

There are a lot of things that will need to be addressed.  Here are some ideas I have.  Maybe at least for awhile or forever all runners will need to show up wearing a Face Mask.

Then they walk into a screening booth and have their temperature checked.  If they pass, they walk into another booth were they are sprayed with a solution (totally safe) that would kill any viruses they may have on their clothing, shoes or body.  At this point they are still wearing their face mask.  And they continue to wear their face mask until about a quarter mile out or until there is spacing between them and others.  Once they finish they put back on their Face Mask until they are back in their car.

Of course everyone would have to sign a Waiver saying that if they contract COVID-19 at the race and if they die later their family could not sue the race or city.  No idea how porta potties, water stops or handing out medals at the end could work out other than eliminating them. 

I see two problems with these ideas. Remember those people that are already not following the rules?  Do you think they would show up at a race wearing a Face Mask?  And we also know that signing a waiver does not restrict a family from sueing everyone if a member of their family dies from COVID-19 which they determined they got at a race.  Even before this crisis a husband ran a half marathon in San Francisco and died at the finish line.  He had signed a waiver but his wife sued everyone and won lots of money.  The race Director got out of the business (sadly) yet he did nothing wrong from the inside information I know.  

There is not a clear answer about the future of road racing.  No matter how careful race directors, cities and charities (because they are big losers too)  work together it would only take a few jerks to ruin it all.

So what race is going to be the first one back?  Any day now the Old Dominion 100 Miler set for June 8th will be making a decision.  They posted on their website, "The Old Dominion Run is still working all options in an attempt to have the run this year.

"We are working with numerous authorities in our area to assist in providing a good and safe race day experience for everyone involved. The governor of Virginia has gone to phase one in our area and our authorities are reviewing our plan vs the restrictions. 

"Currently, part of our proposal has had to include a limit on our field to 50% for any hopes for us to proceed. We currently have 55 entrants and will not immediately be taking more from the wait list.

"Responses from the authorities will be a major part of our decision on 17 May. If the race proceeds, entries will not be more than 55. The waitlist will remain active," posted by Ray, Wynne and Race Management.

On June 20th the Shelter Island 10k (first photo) is scheduled to take place in Shelter Island New York.  It is a big race and there are always fast winning times.  We have contacted the race director and have not gotten a comment from them.  There is no mention on their website about COVID-19.  We are assuming they are trying to make it happen but what is their plan?  

A couple of other races in late June are also trying to figure something out.  Like the Halifax Marathon (second photo) has not torn in the towel just yet but are closely monitoring the situation as noted on their website.  

Another one of the 837 races being followed by MBR wrote, "Our race was cancelled for this year, fingered crossed we will be back in 2021, april 17th.

"Our race of 2500 might look a bit different in 2021, 10 wave starts of 250 each? Each 10, 15 to 20 minutes apart? Lots of questions like what will aid stations look like and function? Maybe results may go to chip times, or no awards at all? Things will be different.

"The big question now is how we will all deal with the city, county and state mandates and permits. In the past, permits were a pretty easy process, no mass gatherings limitations.

"Locally I believe we will have some small events, mostly if not all on our trail system which limits events to 200 participants. A couple are still moving forward with fall dates, hopefully they will happen. Currently we have a limit for runs set by our city, set at 250 runners with wave starts, with really no other details. In the past road events have had much bigger fields. Going forward if the social distancing stays part of the rules it will be very hard to stage a very large running event.

"Events may look like some ultrarunning events, with very little or no finish line parties, just finish, quick drink and maybe food and head home.

"Runners and organizations will adapt to the rules and events will happen," wrote Brian at Race to Robie Creek.

Hopefully the game changer is going to be that a vaccine is created and COVID-19 is wiped off the face of the earth.  Just as long as everyone gets vaccinated and don't continue to think that COVID-19 is no worse than the common flu. This could solve most everything as long as cities who issue permits think it is enough.  

It sure would be nice to get back to things as they were.  Or at least close to it.  But many of us will continue to wash our hands more often, wear a face masks at times and not go out if they are not feeling well.  Road racing is just too important to so many people. 

(05/17/2020) ⚡AMP
by Bob Anderson
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Old Dominion One Day 100 Mile

Old Dominion One Day 100 Mile

(May 19, 2020) Thank you all so much for your patience as we were waiting to hear back on all of our approvals today. However, we are very sad to say the race is cancelled for 2020 due to COVID-19. We did not receive all of the approvals needed from our area authorities. See you in 2021. The Old Dominion...

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Antonio Arreola and Steve Schmidt became the first runners to break three hours in the marathon over six consecutive decades.

It was unday morning in Houston and Antonio Arreola and Steve Schmidt became the first runners to accumulate six decades of sub-3-hour marathons (6DS3). Both ran a sub-3 in the late 1970s and every decade since, adding the 2020s in Houston. They finished hand-in-hand, with arms raised, after running the last five miles together.

They finished in chip times of 2:58:07 for Schmidt, and 2:58:18 for Arreola, who started ahead of Schmidt in the start-corral throng.

Schmidt caught Arreola from behind at 21.5 miles, and encouraged him the rest of the way. “I had the strong sense that he was holding back to run with me,” said Arreola. “Steve was a godsend. He really pulled me along.”

Arreola and Schmidt proved several things about veteran runners. First, that they have high Marathon IQs: Both ran perfectly paced efforts. Second, that they have high Emotional IQs, able to handle pressure with aplomb.

Schmidt, 59, is a retired helicopter pilot from Orion Township, Michigan. He ran his first sub-3, 2:46:22, in 1979, and set his marathon PR, 2:37:03, in 1984.

Arreola, 60, is a retired project manager from San Jose, California. He ran his first sub-3, 2:58:03, in 1976, and his marathon best, 2:46:17, in 2001.

Conditions for the Aramco Half Marathon and Chevron Houston Marathon were near perfect with temps in the high 40s most of the way. Runners felt a bit buffeted from the wind at times, but all the races produced excellent performances, particularly the half marathon where nine runners broke 60 minutes, and 14 Americans bettered 62 minutes.

Schmidt had been battling a cold 10 days before the marathon, and felt a bit rough the first 10 miles. “I had to tell myself, ‘Believe in the process. Trust your training. I knew I had put in the work.’” After the halfway mark, reached in 1:29:13, he kept feeling better and better. He was also wondering where Arreola was.

The two had met the previous day, and hoped to run together, but didn’t lay down a firm plan. During the first half, Schmidt scanned the field ahead, hoping to spot Arreola, but never could. They came together quite suddenly at 21.5.

“Tony, I’ve been looking all over for you,” Schmidt said to his new friend.

Arreola also said he felt bad in the early going, especially when he passed the first mile in 7:23. “That scared me,” he said. “It didn’t feel good the way it should have. I couldn’t figure it out.”

When the crowded streets thinned a little, he worked his pace down to 6:43, and passed the half marathon in 1:28:34. From 21 to 23, he suffered through several ups-and-downs at highway underpasses, but by then Schmidt had arrived to help. “I started lifting my knees a little more to relieve the quads, and that seemed to help,” Arreola said.

At the 25 mile mark, Schmidt looked over at Arreola, and said, “We got this.” They ran the last mile in 6:36, the fastest mile of the marathon for both. “I’m elated and a little relieved, Schmidt said after the race. “I put a fair amount of pressure on myself this last year. It’s been a focus. I wasn’t sure it would happen, but now it has. I don’t think it has sunk in yet.”

“Today was the highlight of my 48 years in running,” said Arreola. “I feel great. This was hard to plan for. I had some health issues. But it was a great experience to run another sub-3 today, and especially to meet and finish with Steve. He’s an outstanding guy.”

With his performance, Arreola leapt back to the top of the list for “longest span between sub-3s.” He had been supplanted in December by Iain Mickle. The current top three are:

Antonio Arreola, 43 years, 45 days: from Dec.5, 1976 to Jan. 19, 2019

Iain Mickle, 42 years, 151 days: from Jul. 10, 1977 to Dec. 8, 2019.

Blake Wood, 41y, 102 days: from Dec. 7, 1975 to Mar. 19, 2017

Another group of 6DS3 aspirants are planning to chase the goal next month in the Phoenix Marathon: Reno Stirrat, Jim Garcia, and Peter Lagoy. The Phoenix course has a net elevation drop of 900 feet, so it’s open season on razzing these guys about their race selection.

On the other hand, Stirrat is the Methuselah of the group at 65 years old, so maybe we should cut him a little slack.

(01/30/2020) ⚡AMP
by Podium Runner
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Congrats guys. This is an amazing feat. Next up is seven. Now that is really going to be tough as I know at age 72. 1/30 2:00 pm


Chevron Houston Marathon

Chevron Houston 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. Additionally, with more than 200,000 spectators annually, the Chevron Houston Marathon enjoys tremendous crowd support. Established in 1972, the Houston Marathon...

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The B.A.A. has announced that registration for the 124th Boston Marathon will open September 9, 2019

The B.A.A. has announced that registration for the 124th Boston Marathon, to be held on Monday, April 20, 2020, will open September 9, 2019. It will follow the same process as in previous years, except that qualifying standards for 2020 have been tightened up by five minutes across all age categories.

Registration is entirely online, at www.baa.org. The B.A.A. follows a process of allowing the fastest qualifiers to register first, with a rolling admission schedule.

How it works:

On Monday, September 9 at 10:00 a.m. ET, eligible runners who have met the qualifying standard for their age and gender by 20 minutes or more may register.

On Wednesday, September 11 at 10:00 a.m. ET, registration will open for those who have met their qualifying standard by 10 minutes or more.

On Friday, September 13 at 10:00 a.m. ET, registration will open for those who have met their qualifying standard by five minutes or more.

Registration will close for week one on Saturday, September 14 at 5:00 p.m. ET.

If space remains after the first week registration will re-open for all qualifiers from Monday, September 16 at 10:00 a.m. ET through Wednesday, September 18 at 5:00 p.m. ET.

As during the first week of registration, the fastest qualifiers by gender and age group will be granted entry as space allows.

If space remains after the first two weeks of registration:

On Monday, September 23 at 10:00 a.m. ET, registration will re-open to anyone who meets the qualifying standards.

Registration will remain open for valid qualifiers on a first-come, first-served basis until the maximum field size is reached, or until Sunday, October 27 at 5:00 p.m. ET (whichever comes first).

The qualifying window for 2020 began on September 15, 2018, and you may run a qualifying race anytime until the race is full or by Sunday, October 27, 2019, whichever comes first.

Qualifying standards for 2020 (all qualifying times are based on chip time):

Age Group Men & Women, 18-34 (3hrs, 3hrs 30min), 35-39 (3hrs 05min, 3hrs 35min), 40-44 (3hrs 10min, 3hrs 40min), 45-49 (3hrs 20min, 3hrs 50min), 50-54 (3hrs 25min, 3hrs 55min), 55-59 (3hrs 35min, 4hrs 05min), 60-64 (3hrs 50min, 4hrs 20min), 65-69 (4hrs 05min, 4hrs 35min), 70-74 (4hrs 20min, 4hrs 50min), 75-79 (4hrs 35min, 5hrs 05min), 80 and over (4hrs 50min, 5hrs 20min).

(05/16/2019) ⚡AMP
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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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Prize Money in major races like the Boston Marathon should be awarded based on Gun Time

The weather at this year's Boston Marathon was horrible.  Many elite runners and others just could not handle these conditions and did not finish.  For the first time I can remember, several female runners that started in wave one placed. 

With all the pressure of the media, the B.A.A. is going to hand out cash awards based on chip timing.  This year's race should be looked at as unique and I do endorse the B.A.A. decision. 

But to change things in the future would not be a good idea.  Chip timing works for age-group but most major road races use gun time to award prize money. 

In fact, gun time is the only time accepted by both USA Track & Field and the International Association of Athletics Federation. 

David Monti, publisher of Race Results Weekly, wrote Sports Day, "To score an elite race based on chip times is both rare and risky.  It's risky, because it is possible for an athlete to purposely start well behind the elites, say five minutes, then compete for prize money clandestinely and out of view. 

“It's very possible that the first man or woman to break the tape will not actually be the race winner if the race is scored on chip time. How would that look?" 

We also know that there are people who cheat.  It is much easier to keep track of the smaller elite fields than a field of thousands.  I think we do need to stick with gun time in the future for the overall top open places.     

(05/04/2018) ⚡AMP
by Bob Anderson
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Co-Stars of Fixer Upper Chip and Joanna Gaines Silo District Marathon in Waco is set for Sunday

Co-Stars of Fixer Upper, Chip Gaines and his wife, Joanna, met Gabrielle Grunewald last fall in Central Park. Gabe is a professional mid-distance runner who’s been fighting a rare cancer since 2009.

She convinced Gaines that he could train for a marathon in about six months. Grunewald also shared how she's battled adenoid cystic carcinoma since 2009. Gabe’s story left such a mark on Chip that he quickly moved past his goal of running a marathon to actually hosting one in Waco as well. 

He and the Magnolia team created Sunday's event the Silo District Marathon to benefit Grunewald's Brave Like Gabe Foundation, which raises funds for research on rare cancers.

"I didn't want to spend another second standing on the sidelines," Gaines wrote in a Jan. 10 blog post announcing the event. "Given what she's gone through, I didn't have any excuse not to give this a shot."

He invited his social media followers to join him.  100% of the profits from the race will be donated to the Brave Like Gabe Foundation in order to further the much-needed research on rare cancers.

It is our honor to come alongside Gabe and others with similar diagnoses to find answers, solutions and, ultimately, cures. Also thinking of the runners as well, the race will present $88,000 in prize money to the top three overall men and women in the half and the full.

The overall marathon winners will receive $15,000 and the half champions will earn $10,000.  The prize money is going to be given out based on chip time and not gun time.  Hopefully the best time will be the first person to cross the finish line too.  

(05/04/2018) ⚡AMP
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