The Best and the Worst of Our Sport

Another week down and I’m 7 days closer to a shot at Boston redemption.  Nothing much significant happened to me directly this week, but several incidents of note took place in the greater running world – some highlighting the best, some the worst, of our sport.  Let’s discuss.

The Best – The Olympics

So far, I have watched the women’s 10,000 meters, the men’s 10,000 meters, and the women’s marathon.  All 3 were compelling and motivational, but the men’s 10K provided the best story, by far.  Mo Farah sprinted the last quarter mile to win, with Galen Rupp right on his heels, while some 80,000 fans, most of them British, roared.  Mo got bumped and kicked and pushed and never seemed to stride comfortably, until the last quarter.  It was high drama.

But while Mo won, I found Rupp’s performance equally, if not more, impressive.  Everybody knows Farah can kick,  but I’ve seen Rupp get dropped by international competition for years now.  He’s competed well in major meets, hanging with the world’s best for the vast majority of the race,  only to get beaten, badly, in the last quarter.  Time and time again, he’d be in the top 3 only to get passed by about 10 guys in the final sprint.  Not this time.  Rupp out kicked everybody (except Farah of course, his training partner) including Kenenisa Bekele, the reigning champ from 2004 and 2008 (interesting side note: Kenenisa’s brother, Tariku Bekele, won the bronze.  I didn’t even know he had a brother, much less one that could out sprint him!)  I always believed a kick was something you had or you didn’t.  Sure, a lot of work could help your kick a little, but not significantly.  Alberto Salazar, legendary marathoner and the coach of both Rupp and Farah, proved me wrong.  Very impressive stuff.

I think Rupp was as happy about the silver as Farah was with the gold. Check out the blood on Galen’s knee from getting spiked. Battle scars, love it! (photo courtesy of BleacherReport.com)

The Worst – A Big Fat Cheater

Yep, you guessed it, our buddy Kip Litton is back in the news.  I’ve been waiting for this, a detailed exposé on the big fat cheater, but I expected it to come from Runner’s World or Running Times.  Instead, The New Yorker was the first serious major media publication to shine the light on this cockroach.  And no, I don’t consider Let’s Run a major media publication.

I’d like to personally thank Mark Singer for finally outing Litton, the big phony, in the mainstream media.  Here are some of the smoking guns from the article – in one race, Litton mistimed his cheating so badly that he re-entered the race course ahead of the pace car.  He completely fabricated another race, going so far as to add most of the fictitious participants to Athlinks and entering a fake race director and fake comments to marathonguide.com.  (If you go to the link here, the oldest comment, at the bottom, was traced back by Singer to the same web host that housed Litton’s fund-raising web site and his dentistry practice.  The rest of the comments are a bunch of jokers that found the race after the Litton controversy arose).

I enjoyed this bit – the article mentions Thunder Road, quotes Tim Rhodes, and references this blog.  The quotes in that post are from an email I sent to the writer of that blog.  That practically makes me a contributor to the New Yorker – I think I’ll put that on my resume.  I think saying, “I wrote for the New Yorker” is much closer to the truth than Litton saying “I won a marathon.”

Bob took this picture at Thunder Road. That practically makes him a New Yorker photographer.

Back to the Self Absorption

Now back to your regularly scheduled self-absorption – the usual kind of stuff from my so-called running life.

  • Friday, I headed over to McAlpine to do a cut-down workout.  I ran into Emily B., Karin H., and Chris L. in the parking lot.  They had just finished a run, in near-80 degree temps, and Chris had not a drop of perspiration anywhere (found out later he’d been done for 20 minutes or so).  Emily accompanied me on the warm-up, then I was on my own.  After a few misfires with the watch (I hit the wrong button more than once), I finally gained control of the workout.  While I didn’t set any records, I did run each split significantly faster than I had while doing the same workout a couple of weeks ago.
  • The other day, I turned on the TV in hopes of watching some Olympic track and field coverage, only to find Equestrian dressage coverage.  Being the facetious little twit that I am, I went to a well-known social media site and posted, “Equestrian dressage? I challenge you to find an Olympic sport I care less about.”  To which Nathan responded, “I laughed until I took two semesters of this as an elective in college. Much tougher than it looks… I’m just saying.”  I found out later he was serious.  He is the real life Dos Equis man.  Did you know he also ran with the bulls?  I have it from a reliable source in Pamplona that several bulls dropped dead after chasing him for some 19 miles at which point he turned around and yelled, “You bovines better recognize!”  He was later overheard asking someone, “Do you know where I can pick up my age group award?”
  • Long run with Coach (Spano) and Kathy (Rink) this morning.  I made it through 10 miles without any problem, but Coach and Kathy left at that point and I tried to soldier on alone.  Then, as usual, I fell apart in the last 2 miles.  Not sure how I’m ever going to run 26.2 miles again, much less at a pace that will get me back to Boston.

And that’s it for this week.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch NBC show ‘sporting’ events like Equestrian dressage (aside – if the athlete is not moving on his own feet or hands, I’m sorry, I don’t think it should be called a sport.  No blades, no trampolines, and certainly no horses.  What’s next – NASCAR?)  instead of the 100M final where the fastest man that ever lived just ran and we didn’t get to see it live on television.  Really NBC?  9.63 seconds too much to spare?

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