By David Yon
Is this macho?
“As I prepare for the London Marathon, there’s nothing I would like more than to clear my mind and concentrate on the race ahead. But while I have given much of my life to running, I am first and foremost a Kenyan, and the situation in my country is now so serious that I neither could, nor would want to forget it even now.”
The author of those words is Paul Tergat the man who has covered the 26.219 mile distance faster than any other human being. Parts of his country now suffer from extreme multi-year draughts that threaten thousands of lives and have already devastated crops and livestock. The 2006 London Marathon, to be run on April 23, 2006, will be one of the most talented marathon fields of all time. I have had the pleasure of watching two Olympic Games in person and Tergat ran extraordinary races in both. In Atlanta in 1996 and in Sydney in 2000, he battled one of the “other” greatest distance runners of all time, Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia, on the track in the 10,000. Tergat collected two silver medals, while Gebrselassie twice had the gold medal draped around his neck. The combined margin of victory for both races was .73 seconds, a fraction of a stride or a lean. Yet, Tergat was at all times the picture of dignity and class, giving it his all and then graciously acknowledging the gold medal winner. It is not that he cannot win, for he is a five time world cross country champion, the world record holder in the marathon (2:04:55), winner of the 2005 New York City Marathon with a sprint to the finish and winner of the Berlin Marathon where he set the world record. For at least a short while he held the 10,000 world record (26:27.85). So given all that you might understand why he would take the usual “jock” approach and portray total focus on the marathon. The world record is in danger and the battle will doubtless be fierce, but above all this giant’s heart rests where it should be. While many Kenyan athletes have become free agents for higher bidding countries, this man can not turn his back on his country and refuses to forget his roots. He serves as an ambassador for the World Food Program and works on countless projects to improve life in his home country. Tergat wrote the following for the Standard On-Line in discussing the many problems, including cultural roadblocks, that Kenya faces:
“That [necessary cultural changes] is not for me to say. But I am sure of one thing: education is the key to the future. Keeping girls and boys in school is the best way to make them better carers and providers in the future. And there is no better way to keep children in school than to provide them with a healthy, nutritious meal while they are there. I should know. When I was a small boy, growing up in Baringo, I was lucky enough to be included in a school-feeding programme. I know the difference it makes to concentration when you have a full stomach. I felt it myself and I saw it among my classmates. And I am pretty sure that without it, I would never have got to where I am today.
“School feeding is just one of a series of schemes to promote development. And development aid is crucial to help Africa extricate itself from so much endemic poverty. But unfortunately, right now, in the Horn of Africa, there are millions of people whose first priority is simply to stay alive. And that means getting the food to them as soon as humanly possible. Then we’ll talk about development. After all, even I had to walk before I could run.”
On the home front
I hope you have noticed – the revival is hot in FSU track and field. Virtually every distance record (and lots of sprint records) has been rewritten since Bob Braman took over the program a few years ago. We have noticed and there is a good interview elsewhere on the web page with the “coach of the year” where Bob Braman talks in detail about the program. On March 31, 2006, Andrew Lemoncello earned the ACC co-performer of the week when he broke the FSU 10,000 meter record (previously held by Joep Tigchelaar), ran the fastest time of the year by an ACC athlete and ran the fourth fastest collegiate 10K in the nation by running 28:32.92 at the Stanford Invitational. And of course it would not be right to mention the FSU distance program without noting the great progress FSU runner and GWTC member Kara Newell has made. She is into the PR setting mode now, running a 36:38 to win the FSU Relays 10K. The men’s team opened the outdoor season ranked number one in the country by Trackwire, while the women started at number 16. The men finished the indoor season with a third place finish at the NCAA Championships and a strong hope to improve on that place at NCAA outdoor championship.
This year’s race saw Joey Zins repeat as winner. Not so far behind was Vicky Gill with one of the highest finishes ever in a Springtime 10K race for a woman. The impressive female performances didn’t stop there though as five of the top fifteen finishers were women. Tom Perkins and Jeanne O’Kon did their usual great job putting on the event in what may finally be their last year directing the race. All GWTC members should say thanks to the city for helping fund the great assistance from the city police. Rumor has it that Tom Perkins and Allan Katz joined forces to make it happen. Tom and Jeanne also contracted, as Turkey Trot did, with Events Results Timing to help get results out quickly. It costs the club some money, but it really helps a race run more smoothly. This might just be the last Springtime for awhile the couple direct as a new director is rumored to be in the wings waiting to take over.
Running Springtime for the first time in the 50+ age group, I wondered how my time might stack up in comparisons to other 50+ year olds. I didn’t have to go back very far to find Paul Hoover’s 2001 time – 35:44 – and realize my time was nothing to grow a big head over. I don’t think I appreciated what a good mark Paul put up at the time. I understand much better now.
If creative marketing helps a race, the Palace should have a great turnout this year. Co-Race Director Herb Wills (Reid Vannoy is his partner in crime) has left his mark everywhere. When I close my eyes at night I see “Palace Saloon 5K” on the back of my eye lids. Every race I have run since the 30K seems to have those words pasted somewhere in sight. Herb and Reid, “I will obey, I will be there.” The Palace is at least one of, if not THE oldest, club race. It certainly has the longest running on the same course of any club race. With over three hundred finishers last year it has grown to one of the biggest club races and just might be its most fun. It is great to see the good work put into this race by Herb, Reid, and Jeff Bryan paying off.
Water Fountains and Showers
Summertime weather is just around the corner. Bonnie Wright has gotten a final sign off from the city to install a showerhead and drinking fountain outside at Forest Meadows, hoping to make recovery on those sweltering summer days go just a bit better. The club will contribute $400 toward the costs.