The Cat Bird Seat

by David Yon


They are at it again. World records seem to fall every other time they run. It sounds strong to say Haile Gebrselassie and Daniel Komen are two of the finest athletes to compete at any sport, but the titanic battles between them are just unbelievable. They push the limits of human achievement farther than any athletes I have ever watched. Gebrselassie, is a diminutive Ethiopian, carries the hopes of his country on his shoulders. Anywhere in the world he runs, compatriots with Ethiopian flags are seen stomping and waving him on to victory. For me, his Olympic 10,000 meter win in Atlanta was the highlight of the Games. The stadium seemed at least half full of Ethiopian supporters dancing, singing and waving flags. He has held the world record at both 5,000 and 10,000 meters. Daniel Komen is from Kenya, where single schools produce more great distance runners in one class than our entire country does in ten years. He was left off the 1996 Olympic team. Since then he has merely rewritten the record book at 3 or 4 distances and changed the way the 5,000 meter race is run. He broke the 4:00 minute mile barrier twice, while running back to back miles, to run the first sub 8:00 minute two mile race. When Gebrselassie won at last year’s world championships by drafting behind him and sprinting ahead in the last lap, Komen was upset because Geb refused to help set the pace. He responded by blasting Geb’s 5,000 meter record.

Thursday, February 19, in Stockholm, Sweden, Daniel Komen won at 5,000 meters by a margin of over a minute, setting a new indoor world record of 12:51.48 to compliment his outdoor record of 12:39.74. As most of you know, indoor tracks are much smaller and usually produce slower times than outdoor tracks. Whose record do you think Komen broke? Gebrselassie’s 12:59.04! Gebrselassie started the record shattering for 1998 with his 7:26.14 in the 3000 meter race in Karlsruhe, Germany, which broke his own world record. It did not last long: On February 7, Komen lowered it to 7:24.90. No doubt Gebrselassie will respond again and we will see another great indoor season. These guys are both young and neither seems to be at his peak. You have to wonder if we will not see them under 12:24 (4:00-minute pace) for a 5K before they are done.

I am surprised at some names I see missing from our membership list. Despite a million reminders, it takes a while for some of us to get around to filling out that form and mailing it. If you haven’t renewed, you probably are not reading your own newsletter. We miss you though, and hope we see that application soon.

We had some good discussion at our last business meeting about what to do with the Chenoweth Fund. Named after Dean and Jenny Chenoweth to recognize the contributions they made to the Club before their deaths, it was intended to assist runners to achieve athletic excellence. To be eligible for support a runner must be a member of GWTC, demonstrate some outstanding achievement in running or be attempting to qualify for some type of state or national competition and agree to use the award to cover expenses of costs of competition. The Fund was to have a significant amount of principal so that awards could be made from the interest. Though founded a number of years ago, the Fund has not been well publicized and the principal has grown very little. As a result, a working group is being assembled to review the matter; it will report its recommendations to the Board ,hopefully at the March metting. If you have any thoughts on this issue, please join us at the meeting or speak to any Board member before then. We also talked about whether the Club should sponsor any teams to represent it at area races. Doug Gorton made a well thought-out presentation of issues on this topic. He is researching what other clubs do and will report to the Board next month. Your thoughts on this subject are important to us also.

Paul Hiers has things rolling for Springtime, our biggest event and a showcase for GWTC. The best thing you can do to help is to enter and run. There will be prize money, team competition, lots of fun and even a downhill finish again this year. Another 10K, the Tate’s Hell Apalachicola River Bridge Run, was a recent favorite of mine, especially for the course and ambience. I hope Hobson Fulmer can keep that one going.

Keep up the miles and stay healthy.