Track Shorts 2016: Lap 7

Photo of Rio Opening Ceremonies by Jeremy Taiwo on Twitter, @jeremyataiwo

You might think the weeks between the Olympic Trials and the Olympic Games would be a quiet time but you would be wrong. First, for the athletes going to Rio there are last minute preparations that typically include some competition. Second, there are more athletes not going to Rio than going and they are in good shape and chomping at the bit. So, there was plenty of action in Europe and domestically. And the road and ultra racers never stop anyway.

Eugene in the Rear View Mirror

There are hundreds of stories coming out of the Trials, some happy, some disappointing but all compelling.  We put together a compendium of first-hand accounts from many of the AB athletes. It’s a long but worthwhile read.

Life Goes On

So you’re in the best shape of your life but you’re not going to Rio due to an off-day, bad luck or depth of the field.  What do you do?  You go to Europe and get you some PRs or at least seasonal bests and make some money in the process.  Between the Olympic Trials and August 5, I count at least nine PRs from ABers and another five seasonal bests from meets in places like Monaco, London, Lignano Italy, Heusden Belgium, Dublin, Padova Italy, Budapest and Raleigh NC.  The PR honor roll includes:

  • Molly Ludlow – 1:57.68 at Monaco.  She also got a win in Liege Belgium at 2:00.07 and another sub 2 with her 2nd in Budapest (1:59.99 – said it before, this is why they time in 100ths).
  • Katie Mackey – a multiple achiever with a 8:46.58 for 3k in Monaco and a 4:25.48 in Dublin, which at the time was a US leader
  • Amanda Eccleston – a three time PR setter with a 4:04.88 in Padova, lowering it to 4:03.25 in London and adding a mile PR in Raleigh at 4:25.64
  • Kendra Chambers – 2:00.76 in Lignano to follow up with her multiple PRs at the Olympic Trials
  • Ryan Hill – 3:35.59 at Heusden
  • Lauren Johnson – 4:25.04 win at Raleigh’s Sir Walter Miler, the US season leader

Erik Sowinski lowered his season best twice, first in Budapest then again in winning the Tracktown event in Eugene with a 1:45.38.  Kyle Merber had success in Padova, dropping his season best to 3:37.35 and again in Eugene with a 3:35.83; Kyle also got the win in the Sir Walter Miler in Raleigh, clocking 3:54.57. And hopefully not lost in Mo Farrah’s awesome sub-13 effort at London Diamond League was Ryan Hill’s 13:15.59.

Interactive Track

Here in Philly we have an attraction called the Please Touch Museum.  It’s a close up and highly interactive approach to learning and play.  Track now has two equivalents – the American Track League and the TrackTown Series.

The American Track League delivered track side seats, fans on the infield (ah, that’s why there’s no javelin), immediate access to the athletes, and live music for a much more close up and interactive experience for the fans.  This year the circuit held meets in Atlanta and Houston.  Expectations are that the 2017 schedule will have more venues.

AB has been well-represented at these ATL meets.  In Atlanta, Jeff Porter and Queen Harrison took the hurdle sprints while DeeDee Trotter, Molly Ludlow, Kendra Chambers, Dana Mecke, and Sarah Pease were part of the field.  At the Houston edition, Curtis Beach impressed with a 49.87 400H then paced the 1000m duel between Matt Centrowitz and Clayton Murphy. Sandi Morris celebrated her Olympic berth with an American record vault of 4.93m (16-2)!

The TrackTown Series in Eugene debuted with a NFL-style draft that distributed athletes among New York, Philadelphia, Portland and San Francisco.  The team competition kicked off with a four mile road race and ended with co-ed relay.  Even better, the meet felt like a showcase for AthleteBiz athletes.

In no particular order, Kyle Merber ran 3:35.83 for 4th and points for Portland while Katie Mackey, Lauren Johnson and Amanda Eccleston continued their fine post-Trials racing with 2-3-4 in the 1500.  Donn Cabral ran a beastly 8:20.72 to take the steeple.  Stephanie Garcia and Ashley Higginson (her farewell race?) went 1-2 in the women’s steeple with Bridget Franek a competitive 4th.  I see that Princeton grads Cabral and Higginson competed for NY and not Philly – guess that answers once and for all what market Princeton is in.  There were some solid 800s, with Erik Sowinski running a 1:45.38 for the win and Brenda Martinez going sub 2 for 2nd in the women’s race; Kendra Chambers and Phoebe Wright both ran well for 5th and 6th.

Tara Welling captured 3rd in the women’s road race while Riley Masters and Matt Llano finished 5th and 7th for the men.  Women hurdlers did well as Queen Harrison, Jasmin Stowers and Jade Barber went 2-3-6; Jeff Porter finished 4th in the men’s race.  On the field event side, Brittany Smith won the shot and Mary Saxer contributed a 3rd  in the vault.  Can’t help but mention Curtis Beach running 1:48.17 for 6th in the 800.  A fine middle distance effort from the best set of thunder thighs since, well, me in college.

Like the ATL, fans weren’t confined to the stands and were lined up track side as the meet came down to the co-ed 4×400.  As detailed here, Philadelphia won the race but San Francisco’s third place was enough to clinch the team title.  Hmmm, Philadelphia was 4th (last) overall; does that mean we get first pick in the next draft?

Diamond League Update

Two of the stops in the busy July schedule – Monaco and London – were Diamond League events.  In Monaco, Cassandra Tate got second in the 400H and she now sits second in the standings, just three points (30-27) behind Great Britain’s Eilidh Doyle.  Also in Monaco, Tia Brooks picked up a 4th in the SP and she’s 2nd in the standings as well.  She faces long odds to catch leader Valerie Adams of New Zealand but still has a chance.  For both of those events, there are two races left – Lausanne (8/25) and Brussels (9/9).

Off Road

The circuit is a little less active right now but there were still some big events.  The 47th running of the Peach Tree Road Race, the world’s largest 10k (56,000+ entries this year), went off on its traditional July 4th date.  ABer and Olympic marathoner Jared Ward was 5th in 29:29 while Neely Gracey ran 33:25 to take 4th (1st American).

Ultra racer Camille Herron was undaunted by the 9,200 foot elevation gain of the White River 50 Miler in Crystal Mountain Washington; her 7:36:42 was good for first woman and fourth overall, just four minutes off the course record.

Speaking of ultras, Joe Gray has had a productive summer winning the US Mountain Running Title in July, then the US Trail Running Championship in August.  He’ll be leading the US contingent to the World Mountain Running Championships in Bulgaria.

And in the Beach to Beacon (Cape Elizabeth Maine) 10k, Sara Hall was 6th in the women’s race, 36th overall.  We note that Riley Masters was 17th in that race.  Since the Trials, we have Riley running a 3:38.77 1500 in Padova, a 3:58.39 mile in Dublin, the four mile road race in Eugene and this 10k road race in Maine.  A “renaissance man” or someone who doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up?

Leavin’ On a Jet Plane

To all the ABers competing in Rio, safe travels and good luck.

Jeff Porter Donn Cabral Kibwé Johnson
Meb Keflezighi Jared Ward Jeremy Taiwo
Tori Bowie Brenda Martinez Sandi Morris
Kara Winger Brittany Borman Andrea Geubelle
Amber Campbell Gwen Berry Whitney Ashley
Heather Miller-Koch Maria Michta-Coffey Miranda Melville
Alexi Pappas Jordin Andrade

Related: AB Athletes are Lov’n Rio: Opening Ceremonies

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