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Good Reads You May Have Missed

From Fam: Patient Endurance. Thanks to letsrun for pointing that one out. Interesting read on thyroid medication and whether or not there’s a problem with abuse. Is it worth it to rely on medication now for the sake of performance when you might not really need to? What are the long term consequences? Food for thought.

Shalane Flanagan was in Boston Magazine. Q&A: Olympic Marathon Runner Shalane Flanagan. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid interview. But Boston Magazine? Come on Shalane! You need to bring some of that stuff here! She has local roots but hasn’t been On The Level yet. We need to fix that. Shalane, it’s much cooler in the underground. Maybe we’ll be able to get her to sum up her Boston Marathon race in one word or less.

Thor Kirleis crosses the line with race organizer Jack Schultz. (Photo by Brian Goff).

Thor Kirleis crosses the line with race organizer Jack Schultz. (Photo by Brian Goff).

Heartwarming story from Thor Kirleis: Inaugural Cupcake 5K is a tasty success

“How can you not like cupcakes,” asked Kirleis. “Besides I have to come back next year to defend my title.”

Really impressive that a 5th grader organized a race. He’s well on his way to becoming the next big time race promoter.

Where Are You Most Likely to Get a Stress Fracture?

Research to Help You Catch Potential Stress Fractures Early

Guest blog by John Davis (RunnersConnect)

stress-fracture-1-1stress fracture is one of the most feared running injuries. With a virtually guaranteed six or eight-week layoff from running, the prospect of sustaining one is unsettling even to veteran runners who have dealt with other injuries. Additionally, the fact that it’s a boneinjury—something we usually associate with hard falls or other traumatic incidents—gives a stress fracture an additional tone of seriousness.

Intuitively, the bone doesn’t seem like it should be injured from something as basic and “normal” as running. But, as many runners discover every year, stress fractures are a reality. Progressive stress on the bones, either from impact with the ground or the “active force” that occurs when you push off the ground, can surpass your bones’ structural integrity, leading to a stress fracture.

As such, being aware of where stress fractures occur and how common the various locations are can help you catch one early, potentially sparing yourself weeks of time off from running, or even prevent one entirely.

The science behind where runners get stress fractures

While, in theory, any bone in the lower body can get a stress fracture, in practice they are much more common in some locations than in others. This likely has to do with some universal biomechanical principles that apply to running, though these are poorly understood as of right now. One simple example might be the tibia and fibula. These two bones make up your lower leg, but while the tibia is much thicker than the fibula, it is much more likely to sustain a stress fracture. This is probably because it bears most of the weight while running, the fibula being relegated to a “support” role. To get a better picture of where stress fractures occur, we’ll turn to the scientific literature.

A cursory review of the literature reveals that stress fractures account for around 20% of all injuries in runners.

While this is substantial, it’s nevertheless difficult to conduct large studies on the location of stress fractures among all types of runners. For this reason, studies tend to focus on groups of athletes that are at a higher risk for stress fractures. This is the case with both studies we’ll look at today.

Fractures In Focus

The first is a 2003 paper by Elizabeth Arendt and colleagues at the University of Minnesota. In this study, ten years’ worth of college athletes were tracked and the patterns of stress fractures were analyzed, both by sport and by gender.

  • Like many sports injuries, stress fractures were more common in women, with about three female athletes getting a stress fracture for every two male athletes.
  • Distance runners, who accounted for the largest proportion of the athletes with a stress fracture, tended to suffer from stress fractures to the tibia, femur, fibula, metatarsals, and navicular, with the tibia being about twice as common as the others. No stress fractures to the pelvis or spine were reported.

Unfortunately (for our purposes at least), Arendt et al.’s study only counted 23 stress fractures in runners. While this is fantastic for the athletes in those ten years, our ability to predict where stress fractures occur is somewhat limited by this relatively small number.

An earlier study by Gray Barrow and Subrata Saha at Louisiana State University addresses this issue.

Using surveys mailed to female varsity distance runners at colleges and universities across the United States, Barrow and Saha collected information on the incidence and location of stress fractures in the sampled athletes. Since the population studied (female distance runners) were at a significantly higher risk for stress fractures, and given that women whohad suffered a stress fracture were probably more inclined to respond to the survey, it is no surprise that 89 of the 241 women who responded had suffered at least one stress fracture from running.

In total, 140 stress fractures had occurred in the 89 subjects.

The tibia accounted for 64% of these, followed by the metatarsals at 21%, the fibula at 9%, and the pelvis, calcaneous (heel bone), & tarsal (midfoot, including navicular) bones at 3%, 1%, and 1%, respectively.

Additionally, the number of respondents allowed Barrow and Saha to break down the specific locations of stress fractures on the tibia, fibula, and metatarsal bones.

  • On the tibia, half of the stress fractures occurred in the distal third of the tibia, meaning somewhere along the first third of the bone’s length, starting from the ankle. The other half were divided about evenly between the middle third and top third of the tibia.
  • Among the metatarsals, the long bones that make up the midsection of your foot, the second metatarsal (the one corresponding to your “index toe,” or the one next to your big toe) accounted for fully half of all metatarsal stress fractures. Another quarter occurred in the third metatarsal, with the fourth and first metatarsals accounting for 14 and 10%. No runners in this study suffered a fifth metatarsal stress fracture.

What you can take from this research

Any persistent running injury deserves to be seen by a doctor. However, if runners were to run (no pun intended) to the doctor every time they felt a little niggle, we’d be broke and doctors and health insurance companies would be lining their pockets. As such, we can use this research to better identify what pain might be a serious stress fracture and avoid costly breaks in training and trips to the doctor.

  • As we’ve learned from the research, runners—especially female runners—should be particularly attuned to their tibia and metatarsal bones, as these are the most common bones to suffer a stress fracture.
  • In the tibia, stress fractures can occur anywhere, but are most common in the lowest third of the bone. In the metatarsals, the second and third metatarsals account for three-quarters of stress fractures.
  • While stress fractures to the femur, pelvis, and navicular are particularly worrisome due to their reputation for poor healing, they are fortunately exceedingly rare.

When it comes to preventing stress fractures, there’s no perfect recipe, but as we’ve seen in other articles, strategies like increasing your stride frequency, being smart about your training, and paying attention to your diet and overall health are evidence-based methods to reduce your risk.

Get more great injury prevention advice from John Davis (plus other great training & maintenance tips from Jeff Gaudette & Co) on the RunnersConnect blog.

True Leads US Men to Silver Medal

Ben True continues to rack up the accolades and pad his résumé in 2013. The newly crowned US 15k champion led the US men’s team to a stunning silver medal at the world cross country championships in Poland on Sunday. In what has been dubbed the ‘Miracle on Dirt’, Ben finished in sixth place and (along with Chris Derrick) earned the automatic ‘A’ standard for the 10,000m at the world championships. The USATF thought so highly of his race that Ben was named their Athlete of the Week.

Pics used for this action sequence are courtesy of Michael Scott. Looks ridiculously fun, doesn't it?

Pics used for this action sequence are courtesy of Michael Scott. Looks ridiculously fun, doesn’t it?

Once Ben got back to the states we were able to conduct a quick interview with him:

Was their a team wide strategy for Team USA? I saw a lap by lap listing of positions, and it looked like you guys methodically worked your way up the field as the race progressed.

After previewing the course, we all knew that it was a difficult course where going out conservatively would be beneficial in the end. We all thought that the tough conditions would favor us, so we were calm and confident. Chris Derrick and I were able to work together for most of the race, as we held onto the back of the lead group as it slowly whittled down to ten.

Was this the most challenging course you’ve ever run? What made it so? Was it the course itself, the conditions, or the combination of the two?

The course was definitely extremely difficult. Lack of straightaways, an interesting combination of thick mud, snow and ice, as well as running up and down a steep alpine skiing slope, made it a challenging course. Staying upright and on your feet was almost as important as running fast.

Having to deal with Lyme disease leading up to the Trials last year not only deprived you of a shot at Olympic spot, but also to show everyone your ‘A’ game and possibly becoming more of a household name. Even with the success you’ve experienced on the roads since then, do you think that you might’ve been flying under the radar still leading up to this race?

Yes, I definitely believe that. Most people view running success with results on the track (making teams, etc.) or winning marathons. Everything else sort of slips under the radar.

What did you guys do to celebrate?

The entire team and staff toasted champagne afterwards to celebrate the great racing by everyone.

What do you plan on doing with the silver medal? Are you the type to put it on display, tuck it away out of view, or make an insanely awesome belt buckle out of it?

Never heard of the belt buckle idea- I like it! Although, most likely it will be tucked away in a drawer somewhere. I’m not the type who displays them.

Will you be returning to Boston to defend your crown at the BAA 5k again?

Unfortunately I am not racing the BAA 5k this year. I’ll be heading out to California for a few track races instead.

Thanks to Michael Scott for the amazing pictures. Find more of his great work here on his Shutterfly page.

Negative Splits: The Sandu Rebenciuc Session

Sandu Rebenciuc competes for the Greater Springfield Harriers these days. Back in the fall he was one of the key cogs in the GSH masters cross country machine that conquered New England and came in second at nationals. Sandu was 6th (and incredibly was only the 4th fastest on his team that day) at the New England XC championships, running 27:09 for 8k. A couple of weeks later in Kentucky he ran 34:45 for 10k (16th place), helping his team to a second place finish.

Courtesy of New York Road Runners

Courtesy of New York Road Runners

The workout Sandu chose for this segment comes from his time out in Colorado training under a former world record holder. It’s a nasty workout, done at altitude, and with a lot of firepower out there on the track with him.

The workout was 400m-2000m-1600m-1200m-800m-400m and it was given to me by my coach, and former 10,000m world record holder, Arturo Barrios. I did this workout in the spring of 2001, several weeks after moving to Boulder, CO. I also remember doing it on several other occasions, as well.

The reason I remember this particular workout, however, is because it was the first time that I was able to keep up with front pack, and feel like I was finally fully acclimatized to the altitude. Some of my teammates from the Army WCAP team and a few other runners in our training group had been living there for some time, so I had pretty much played catch up until that day.

The group that one day consisted of Shawn Found (28:30 10k), Clint Wells (27:56 10k / 8:23St), Silvio Guerra (27:43 10k and 2:09 Marathon), Teddy Mitchell (28:47 10k), Chris England (13:42 5k), Phil Castillo (2:19 Marathon), Tom Reese (8:40sh Steepler), myself and a couple of other guys who jumped in for a couple of laps at a time.

Although we were training for different events, everyone could benefit from this workout, especially since it was early in the spring. The workout was at Potts Field, the Colorado University track , and it started sometime around 8am.

400m – We started many of our workouts with a 64-65 sec. quarter just to get our legs going. At altitude you often need a “prep lap” to sort of ease your body into a workout that contains longer intervals. (2 min rest)
2000m – I remember running 69 and 70sec laps for the 2k with a couple of the stronger runners (Clint and Silvio) doing most of the work up front. I don’t know the exact time, but I think it was in the range of 5:48 -5:50, which is pretty decent at 5300 ft of altitude. (4 min rest)
1600m – I remember my exact time for this interval. It was 4:36 as we hit 68 and 69 seconds for each lap. The rest was three minutes and legs and lungs were burning right about then.
1200m – Our goal was to run about a little faster per lap than in the previous interval. So we ran in the range of 3:25 for what might have possibly been the most difficult interval of the workout. ( 2 min rest)
800m – We hit 2.14 for the half and I remember feeling quite comfortable running 67 seconds for the two laps. (2 min rest)
400m –At least a couple of the guys could run under 60 if they wanted, but we settled for a 62-63 seconds effort for the last interval.

For several weeks prior to that workout I had felt poorly, mostly because of the altitude, of course. I was very happy that I could finally do a workout in the thin air of the Rockies without hyperventilating and being lightheaded like a novice. I continued to “keep up” from that day on and ran a personal best of 8:32 later in the summer, at USATF nationals.

Courtesy of New York Road Runners

Courtesy of New York Road Runners

We normally like to get input from the coach, but it didn’t happen this time. Sandu explains:

I intentionally picked this workout to write about because I thought Arturo might comment on it; he pointed out a typo and said “it looks great” – that’s all I could get out of him:)

Oh well, maybe next time.

Let the LetsRun Conversation Begin

An Exclusive Interview with Co-Founder Weldon Johnson

Weldon and Robert Johnson (twin brothers) are the founders of LetsRun.com, the internet’s most comprehensive site for all things running. Established in 2000 while Weldon was living in Arizona and training for the Olympic Trials, the site was formed to promote the coverage of running as an elite level sport and to create a place where renners could share and spread training philosophies. What you will read below is an exclusive interview between Level Renner columnist Kevin Gray and Weldon Johnson.

KG: Can you give us a bit of background on yourselves (where you grew up and where you guys went to college)?

WJ: Robert and I grew up in Dallas. I ran at Yale and Robert attended Princeton but did not run there, though he lived with Chris Lear (author of Running with the Buffaloes and Sub 4:00).

KG: I can remember the influx of the internet and how it transformed the sport of running. I think TNFmedia.com was one of the only sites around prior to the birth of LetsRun, but it wasn’t nearly as thorough in its coverage as you guys now are. Personally, I love that you can go right to LetsRun for links to watch live NCAA Cross Country or coverage, say, of the New York City Marathon. One of the greatest aspects of the site is that results are available almost instantly either through links on the site or on the message boards.

WJ: I met a fan of the site in South Korea, and I think he summed it up nicely when he called us the drudge report of running. It is a collection of all articles running related, and we don’t try and keep the reader on LetsRun like other running sites but want to direct them to the best coverage of the events. For example, with the Boston Marathon, Boston newspapers are going to have the best coverage, so we will post links to their articles and the same with London Marathon a week prior. Our goal is to find the best coverage of the elite side of running and aggregate it each day on the front page of LetsRun.com. We also decided to supplement things with our own coverage of select events, offering our own opinion (sometimes critical) with the hope of opening dialogue with regards to running as a legitimate sport (something that we felt was severely lacking in the coverage prior to LetsRun). We like to express our opinion and let people express theirs. Just because we may have criticized something or someone does not mean we do not like them. People will also often times make the mistake that something they read on the message boards represents what Robert and I believe. They have a hard time differentiating between LetsRun and something a poster said.

KG: I know that Robert is the cross country coach at Cornell but was wondering if this is your full time job? You guys do a very timely job in keeping the site current (it is always updated when I check the site early each morning). Can you explain who does the “grunt work,” scouring the web for all articles running related? I believe that you have one employee (aptly named LetsRun employee #1) besides the two of you? I’m assuming that because you guys live in different parts of the country, in different time zones, it must be a challenge to communicate with one another regarding how the site will look the following day?

WJ: I live in Texas and Robert is in Ithaca. I’m doing the site full time and Robert is coaching in addition to working on the site. We are currently onto LetsRun employee 1.1 (Steve Soprano) and in the past Emory Mort (LetsRun employee 1.0) has helped us out, and then there is the guy who made the whole site possible, coaching guru, John Kellogg. I owe my success in running to him.

The site is updated throughout the day, with one big update at night. Robert and Steve focus on The Week in Review, some of the content with the site (although I will help out as well), and we all will search around some of the better newspaper sites that write about running. After doing this for a while, we know which sites have the best running articles and we try to focus on those. And then there is the business side of things, which I handle and we all interact with our visitors, as we get thousands of emails per month, and we all play a part in responding.

KG: The site seems to have started as a hobby between you and Robert, an outlet for your passion for running. I noticed, a few years back, the site had a major overhaul and now looks much more professional. Can you bring us through the progression of the site?

WJ: The site had the overhaul that you mentioned in 2008. We are currently averaging around 600,000 unique visitors per month and are over 4 million message board posts, so it has really grown since its launch in 2000. Although we are happy with the new layout, we think it can still be improved aesthetically as there is a lot of information on the page. We aim to keep the trust of the visitor first and the rest will take care of itself. The knowledge of the visitors really makes the site and helps to harness the wealth of information.

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 12.22.11 PMKG: I’m sure that LetsRun has taken you on many journeys (both emotionally and physically). Can you share some of the highs you have experienced running the site?

WJ: In terms of events I’ve attended, the highlight was the 2007 World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, Kenya. It was close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and tens of thousands of fans were packed along the course like sardines. I’ll never see something like it again, and in terms of the running experience in Kenya, until you’ve been there and seen the training camps, you don’t really understand it. It is just an amazing experience. The biggest compliment we get is when I go to events and meet journalists from around the world, and they say they appreciate what we do at LetsRun. That’s when I know we’re doing our job. We’re definitely not traditional journalists but when we get the seal of approval from traditional journalists, it means a lot.

KG: I guess any interview with you guys would be incomplete without mentioning the “World Famous Message Boards.”  The message boards do have a reputation for being negative and somewhat nasty. What are your thoughts personally regarding this negativity, and the fact that the boards do not require registration, allowing people to post anonymously? Some people are critical of your hands off approach to the message boards. Can you speak to your critics?

WJ: I think the vast majority of visitors enjoy the message boards. In terms of negativity, I think it’s a lot less negative than what you’ll read on the comment section of a newspaper article on a prominent person or prominent sports team. Having said that, any community, online or real, is going to have its problems and troublemakers. We have that in ours.

Sure we have discussed the idea of registration but have decided that ultimately that limits the free flow of information. Moderating is more art than science, but we have the “Report a Post” feature and anyone can report a post they want reviewed. We’ve removed hundreds of thousands of posts.

Sure there is stuff on there that I am embarrassed by, but we remove it and get on with things. The biggest troublemakers cause trouble, no matter what we do, banning IP addresses, etc.

I think some people’s response to the “negativity” on our message boards shows how small our sport is. Do you think Derek Jeter  cares what someone is saying about him on a New York Yankees message board? Hard core fans of sports have knee-jerk reactions to the their sports and share their opinions. So Galen Rupp or Chris Solinsky has a bad race, well some hard core fans are going to act like it’s the end of the world. I live in Fort Worth, and the reaction after the Cowboys lose is ridiculous on sports radio here. LetsRun is the place where fans of the sport of running gather to overreact as well. It’s far from a perfect community but I think the vast majority of people contribute positively and understand it is an anonymous message board and what that means.

Thank you very much to Weldon Johnson for taking the time to sit down for an interview. We look forward to seeing what LetsRun has to offer in the future. Haven’t been to LetsRun.com yet? Shame on you. Check it out and see what you’re missing.

Kevin Gray can be found running on trails with Isabella and Daisy, his two dogs.

This was originally printed in the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of Level Renner magazine.

Spence Gracey Earns an ‘A’ at World XC

It was a very exciting day for the USA in Poland on Sunday. Neely Spence Gracey led the US women to a fourth place finish at the World XC championships. Neely ran masterfully over the technical and challenging course and finished thirteenth place, and in the process earned herself an automatic ‘A’ standard for the 10k world championships.

Neely graciously answered a couple of questions that I sent her way after the race:

Was this the most challenging course you’ve ever run? What made it so? Was it the course itself, the conditions, or the combination of the two?

It was true cross country. Europe loves their challenging courses, and this one met every expectation a true XC fan or athlete could imagine. I think they combined a tough mudder, cyclocross, horse jumping, and skiing all in one big test of athleticism (Not to mention the best athletes in the world…).

Courtesy of Michael Scott, Team USA photographer.

Courtesy of Michael Scott, Team USA photographer.

What was your strategy?

My goal going in was to maximize myself. Use my strengths and rely on my intuition to get me through every step. I had a goal for each lap: 1-Get out, 2-Establish, 3-Battle, 4-Finish.

Do you view this as a break-through race?

My coaches had higher expectations for me going into the race than I had for myself. Very few races do we finish knowing that everything was executed perfectly and the results surpass the initial goal. So I am enjoying this rare sense of satisfaction… for a few days, then it is back to the grind to make more dreams reality!

This race certainly gave me greater recognition on the world scene, but that wasn’t the goal. The goal was and is to continue the journey of exploring my capabilities as an athlete and person. This was a good-sized step in the right direction :)

It was an incredible day for Team USA. First the women get fourth, then the men come through with the silver medal. What was the mood like, when the dust (er, mud) settled after the all the races?

It was really special to be a part of the success Team USA had, but even more special to share it with a great group of people. Cross country is unique in that the teams are much more cohesive, and on the pro scene there are few opportunities to experience this. I am very grateful that I could be a part of this group and learn and grow from the knowledge of others.

Congrats on getting the automatic A standard, too. Does attaining that now change your race plans at all? Would you race less now, and sort of save your ammo for the big meets? Or will it allow you to cherry pick your schedule a bit?

Actually, it fuels my fire to WANT to run the 10k. I see my goal of a mid 31 10k as reality for this season, but definitely plan on running and getting the mark… I want to actually earn it through a time that shows. The plan is to race 5k at MT SAC and 10k at Peyton Jordan! It is a nice thing to have earned that elite status though, but the time standard is just as much a goal as ever!

Good luck to Neely as she shifts her focus over to the track. It’s going to be exciting to watch. For more on this race, you can find a recap of it by her teammate Danielle Brenon here. You might also want to consider following Neely on Facebook and Twitter as she’s very good at engaging her audience. She just recently gave away her bib from this race to the follower who correctly guessed how long it took her to get from the hotel back to her home. The correct answer: 22 hrs, 24 mins. I did not win.

Thanks to Michael Scott for the amazing pictures. Find more of his great work here on his Shutterfly page.

Gilmanton 5k

gilmanton5k 430x300 3.25.13Saturday, March 30, 2013
10:00 AM

Race-Day Registration and Bib # Pick-Up
Gilmanton Academy
(Rte 140 and Rte 107. Gilmanton, NH)

For more information, e-mail
[email protected]
or call 603-267-7083

Proceeds help support area youth running

“In memory of Warren Nighswander,
a runner and friend,” Scott Clark, Race Director

If you would like to promote your race or product on our website, please contact us.

hot damn…

Here is another guest blog, this one by Ben Kimball. Ben is new to our blog list and we wanted to welcome him to the fold by featuring his entry today. Plus, we liked his title.

I set my half-marathon PR by over 2 minutes today at the 2013 Oleksak Half-Marathon in Westfield, MA. Very happy to toot my own horn a bit. My previous best had been at the same race a year ago when I ran 1:36:25 (a 7:21 pace). Today it was 1:34:22 (a 7:13 pace). And I felt good the entire run.

The winds were biting during the warm-up run, but I remembered how much I usually heat up regardless so I stripped down to just shorts and a t-shirt. This ended up being a good move as the sun came out and it warmed right up to the low 40′s by mile 2. I did wear gloves most of the way, though.

The first mile is flat and I hit it right on my goal pace of 7:21. Mile two was a little slower, but that was OK since it had some uphill. 7:27. Mile three is almost all ascent and has the steepest hill of the race. That one was a 7:53. Fine. Mile four levels out but still climbs. 7:32. Again, fine. Mile 4-5 is mostly flat, and I began to make up the time. 7:05. Mile 5-6 has the biggest downhill. 7:00. From there it’s a very gradual downhill/flat trend (with a couple of short hills) all the way to mile ten. 7:12. 7:09. 7:22. 7:08. Somewhere around mile 8 the effort began to catch up with me and I started to flag a little, but another Gu and some extra water at the next station perked me right back up. Then you get to the flat final three, through neighborhoods. Here I methodically picked off a couple of the guys I’d been behind for a bunch of miles, and I have to admit I felt pretty good doing that. It just all felt right. Nothing hurt, nothing felt tight, and I had the energy to just stride away. Love it when that happens. It’s not all that often, but I love it when it does. The final three mile splits were 7:02, 6:52, and 6:30. Hot damn.

Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 6.35.57 PM

Ben is also a talented photographer and he has samples of his work up on his blog. The pic included here is from his entry on the Holyoke St. Patrick’s 10k, which we also covered. Follow Ben’s blog Northeast Adventures to keep up to date on his running, photography, and the rest of his adventures.

Click here to add your blog to our blog network!

World XC

World XC Championships were held this morning in Poland. For those up early enough (and remembered) to catch it, it was a heck of a day for the USA. It also was on ridiculous course, according to Letsrun:

“The course consists of repeated 1,950-meter loops, but think of the overall shape as more of a narrow rectangle that the runners constantly snake through with very few straight portions or wide rounded turns. As the runners come back to the start there is a huge very steep hill off the rectangle, that the runners go up and down each time (there was a rope lift towing skiers to the top of an adjacent hill of the same height). From the bottom of the steep hill, it’s less than a quarter to the finish.”

Exciting, right? That does sound so much better than a road or track race.

The women ran first, and Neely Spence Gracey finished 13th overall and as the top American. As a unit, the American ladies placed an impressive fourth.

Neely at the 2012 CVS Downtown 5k (courtesy of Scott Mason)

Neely at the 2012 CVS Downtown 5k (courtesy of Scott Mason)

They set the bar high, but the men accepted that challenge and came through with a huge performance of their own. The US narrowly edged Kenya by two points to come in second overall. Ben True led the way with an incredible sixth place finish in the sloppy conditions.

Did you watch the race? What did you think?

Side note: the top finishers for the US have both been featured prominently on Level Renner. Coincidence? Not likely. The Level is the media equivalent of high altitude training…we’ll take you to the next level.

Johnson Out-Duels Pelletier

The New Bedford Half Marathon was a few days ago, so you probably are already well aware of the outcome by now (if not, it’s probably a good idea to read this earlier entry by Jim Dandeneau). Kevin Johnson of the Western Mass Distance Project (WMDP) outlasted Matt Pelletier on his way to a win and a new PR of 1:06:04.

After the race, the cool down and taking a moment with the fans (the phrase “a brush with greatness” was thrown out there, which would make for a good title of the video), Jim interviewed Kevin:

Although Matty P wasn’t on camera for an official interview, we did catch up with him later to get his take on the race:

426507_552719524748477_1738086516_nIt was disappointing not getting the win. I felt like I was in similar shape to last year, but I’ve been sick a lot this winter (something kind of serious) and missed more days of running than I’ve missed in a long time. That said, I bounced back pretty quickly I thought that maybe being sick hadn’t been as bad as I thought. I feel like the difference was in the wind. Our first mile was 10+ seconds slower than last year, and our 2nd mile was 14 seconds slower. I feel like the wind aided miles were about the same as last year. Aside from not getting the win, I’m disappointed I couldn’t match Kevin’s move when he passed me. I feel like I should have been able to go with him, but he was really strong and it just wasn’t my day. Kevin’s time was faster than my PR, so it would have taken a great day from me to beat him, and it wasn’t that kind of day. He looked really smooth. I think had I been able to push him for another 2-3 miles, he would have gone under 1:06.

Like I said, I think I was in similar shape compared to last year so I was hoping to go under 1:06:30 and just be a few sec. faster than last year. I don’t like to race in the cold, so when I got to the race and warmed up I knew it would be tougher than last year. I wasn’t really sure how the race would play out. With the WMDP kicking ass lately, and Brian Harvey moving up in distance, I wasn’t positive I would win. This was a stepping stone on the way to VCM, so a fast time, a win, or both were all goals. Obviously I walked away with neither, but it is what it is. I still have 10 weeks to prepare for 2:17 guy Chris Zablocki and some other fast guys. Hopefully this will serve as motivation for Memorial Day weekend.

To complete our coverage of the open men’s division, here’s an interview with Rob Gomez (Dirigo RC). Rob played a key role in the race by helping to break it open earlier on. He then slowly worked his way up the ranks and finished an impressive third.

In the men’s masters race, Chris Magill enjoyed his first road race as a master by cleaning up. Although he was the second master in the race, he was the first from the USATF-NE association so he still ended up being a masters champion for the day:

See the rest of our New Bedford coverage here. Want to see more race pictures like the ones included here? Be sure to visit Scott Mason Photography’s great website. Also, special thanks to our sponsors for providing prizes for some of the top runners: Skechers provided pairs of shoes, along with a couple hundred goodie bags for finishers, and Sigvaris provided custom fit compression socks. They support us, so please consider supporting them.

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