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Catching Up With Infobytes and Opinions From The World of Running
What a difference a year makes, at least for Michael Johnson. Considered unbeatable at this time 12 months ago during the 1996 Olympic Games, he has lost a lot of altitude in a short period of time. First was the embarrassing loss to Donovan Bailey in the "World Fastest Human" competition. Now his 57 race 400 meter win streak is gone. The adage that "you are only as good as your last race" is very applicable to Johnson. The 400 meter World Record, which was considered a mere formality last year, all of a sudden looks awfully tough to beat.

  
Catching Up With Infobytes and Opinions From The World of Running

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By Don Allison
Posted Monday, 14 July, 1997

What a difference a year makes, at least for Michael Johnson. Considered unbeatable at this time 12 months ago during the 1996 Olympic Games, he has lost a lot of altitude in a short period of time. First was the embarrassing loss to Donovan Bailey in the "World Fastest Human" competition. Now his 57 race 400 meter win streak is gone. The adage that "you are only as good as your last race" is very applicable to Johnson. The 400 meter World Record, which was considered a mere formality last year, all of a sudden looks awfully tough to beat.

Conversely, Haile Gebrselassie's stock has soared since the Olympic Games of 1996. Although he won the Gold Medal in the 10,000 in Atlanta, Gebrselassie looked bad complaining about the hard track and bailing out of the 5000. Since then however, he has solidified his position as the greatest distance runner in the world. In setting the two mile (8:01) WR in his one on one with Nourredine Morcelli in May, then reclaiming the 10,000 WR last week, he has risen above all others at the mid range distance vents.

And isn't it ironic that with all of the talk about the endless stream of world class Kenyan distance runners, the best in the world is an Ethiopian.

With all of the recent improvements in the 5000 and 10000 meter world record, don't you think it's about time someone set a WR in either the men's or women's marathon? Next April, it will be 10 years since Belayneh Densimo ran 2:06:50 at Rotterdam and 13 years since Ingrid Kristiansen ran 2:21:06 at London.

How many people in the world do you think would be capable of running 56 miles, then coming back 12 days later to run 100 miles? And how many of those do you think could race those two distances so close together? Well, Ann Trason not only raced the 56 mile Comrades and then bounced back 12 days alter to win the brutal Western States 100 mile. She has now managed this feat two years in a row, and this time set a course record in the Comrades, covering the 55 miles at better than 6:30 per mile. Trason is without a doubt the finest female ultrarunner of all time.

What happened to all of the talk about the million dollar bonus for an American running 2:08 in the marathon?

I wonder how the training is going for the Murphys? You remember, the Boston Marathon Murphys.

While we are at it, how is Flo Jo coming along with her marathon training? Maybe the Murphys and Flo Jo are training together.

Far more people will remember the 1997 Boston Marathon for the Murphys than for Lameck Aguta and Fatuma Roba.

The Falmouth Road Race remains as popular as ever, a real New England summer attraction. I would venture to guess that not even one of every 50 entrants could tell you the name of the male and female winners from last year, however. Mid to back of the pack runners really could not care less who wins the race; their own running is all that matters.

Lost in the shuffle of Gebrselassie's 10,000 world record was Hicham El Gerrouj's second fastest ever mile of 3:44:90. He should go under 3:44 this summer.

A large number of athletes are planning to skip the World Track and Field Championships in Athens next month, largely due to the excessive heat and unhealthy air. The marathoners will cover the original marathon route from Marathon to Athens, but it will not be easy.

You have got to hand it to Lynn Jennings. Although she has slipped a bit from her position as one of the best female runners in the world, she seems to relish competition at the national level as much as she does at the world class level. It's a tough transition to make, one very few athletes are able to pull off. Another New Englander who did it well was Bill Rodgers.

More than 200 turned out for a farewell to Ollan Cassell, departing head of USATF, including several political dignitaries. A lot of abuse and blame was heaped upon Cassell's shoulders for the failure of track and field in the USA in recent years. Say this for Casell - he took it like a man. Craig Masback ought to have a long talk with Cassell before he takes over as head of the organization. The problems are far deeper than any one man can solve, not the least of which is the total disarray at IAAF, the world governing body. It is unconscionable how the IAAF ruined Mary Slaney's career and hung her out to dry.

Are you ready for another Prefontaine movie?

The chase of a sub four minute mile by several high school boys this year was good for track and field.

Anyone wondering how tough it is to train at a world class level should check out Joe LeMay's training log on his web site.

But no matter how they justify it, eilte runners who drop out when they are not feeling good are very irritating.

Most of us average runners do not do many things that might make us better runners - stretching, massage, etc - simply because we don't have the time and effort to devote to it, not because we don't think it wouldn't help.

Also, most runners who log their mileage at work on their lunch break take closer to two hours than one when it is all said and done.

If you don't have enough stress in your life, become a race director. That should solve the problem nicely.

More running clubs are needed that cater to very slow beginning runners than very fast runners.

When you see a world class athlete at peak performance level, it is easy to imagine that are physically invincible. The recent plights of Dick Beardsley, Doug Padilla, Kim Gallagher, and Paul McMullen show us how fragile the human body can be, however. Beardsley has suffered many accidents and became addicted to pain killing drugs. Padilla was run over from behind by an automobile and is in danger of losing his leg. Kim Gallagher (1984 Olympic medalist at 1500 meters) is fighting a life threatening battle with colon cancer. And McMullen, the USA best miler in recent years, lost several toes in a lawn mowing accident. We should never take for granted good health and the ability to simply get out and go for a run.


 

 

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