Tag: Nich Haber

Boston Memorial Series Part II: Derderian & Haber

As we prepare for the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon tragedy, Level Renner is re-releasing the memorials and reflections of the running community written one year ago in the wake of the 117th running (these letters from readers were originally published in our May/June 2013 issue). Our intention is to pay proper respect and tribute to the events of last year’s race. We want nothing more than to handle the tragedy with appropriateness and tact. Because we see ourselves as an open platform for runners, this series is an expression of our audience’s thoughts from a year ago.  Thus, in the following pages, you will find an array of responses.  Some are angry, some are numb, most are just plain sad.  But some offer hope. Most show the strength and resolve of our community. The goal of this series is to remember and pay proper respect to the horrific events of April 15, 2013.  We will release one post per day in this series in the days leading up to the marathon.

Below is the second installment of a twelve part series. Two responses are within, one from Tom Derderian, president of USATF-NE and one from Nich Haber, founder and president of the New England Distance Project. 

Like nearly everyone touched by the bombings at the finish of the Boston Marathon we are shocked, angered, and sad. We are shocked because we are the governing body of sport, recreation, and essentially, play. People compete in the marathon and follow the race as something aside from the horrors of the world but are now part of those enormities. We are angry because people have been hurt and murdered for reasons that cannot possibly justify the crimes, and we are sad because of the pain and loss in our community. Most officers and employees of USATF-NE were at the marathon. Some worked as volunteers at the finish line so were quite close to the explosions. Others were racing or watching. We are relieved that none were hurt. At USATF we have held safety in the utmost importance in conducting events when we issue sanctions. As we wish the best recovery to those injured and their families we will spend the coming months thinking hard about how to make our sports the safe and joyous events they are intended to be.

Tom Derderian, President of USATF-NE

boston marathon tribute 2 flags ejn 4.5.14

photo by EJN

My heart goes out to the victims and their families.  The marathon is personal. Everyone who connects with it has a personal experience with the event. It was what rescued New York City back in 2001 and reminded everyone what was important: How we individually strive to be our best. How we can collectively bring out the best in each other. How people from all over the world can come together and celebrate life. How we can get inspired watching others do something simple and beautiful.

Yesterday was an attack, not just on these ideas, but on the actual way we prove these concepts are valuable.  I have no doubts that the person or people who did this will be caught. I hope it is soon.

I am upset that the marathon as I know it will forever be changed and be linked to violent craziness.  Not sure what else to do right now, so I guess I’ll go for a run.

Nich Haber, founder of NE Distance


Mayor’s Cup Wrap Up

After much delay we can finally present the rest of our coverage of the Mayor’s Cup races. First up is the Franklin Park 5k, which was held in addition to the men’s and women’s championship races. It was won by Jake Shoemaker and Cailin Kowalewski in 15:38 and 18:44, respectively.

Next up we have interviews with Brennan Bonner (GBTC), Brian Harvey (BAA) and Nich Haber (NE Distance). The hot topic on the day was the wrong turn taken by the leaders. Brennan went the wrong way, Brian didn’t and Nich was there to see it happen.

Of the incident, Tom Derderian (USATF-NE President) issued the following:

“After the recent Mayor’s Cup cross-country meet, several elected athletes representatives came to the monthly USATF-NE board meeting with observations and suggestions about what happened as the lead pack in the men’s championship race ran loops in a different order. The athletes reps had gathered information from participants about what had happened and their complaints and compliments.  The rule book states that runners can be disqualified if they run short of the official course but nothing about mixing up the order of loops. For the future a decision process will be used that will include some of the provisions in the rule book such as a designated meet director, referee, course marshall, and games committee to adjudicate any unforeseen occurrences.”

Finally, we have something that is going to ultimately fall victim to poor timing. The night before this race was the infamous obstruction call in the World Series. Since we’re in the heart of Red Sox Nation, we know we weren’t the only ones that were left feeling disgusted by it. Ultimately it was the right call, but it was still very disappointing. We wanted to get the reactions of runners to the call. We also wanted to post it that day so it was still relevant, but the onset of pneumonia and crazy software issues prevented that from happening…until now. So here’s the video that should’ve been released back in October.

If you didn’t like it, blame it on the pneumonia. Also, don’t forget about Scott Mason’s photos from the day.

Mayors Cup Mason

Didn’t think this stuff would see the light of day. Gonna play up the pneumonia card as long as possible. So please, forgive the lateness. After all, I had pneumonia.

New Athletes and Some Punk Rock

Lara Crofford and Katie Spratford Joining NE Distance

Guest blog by Nich Haber, NE Distance

Please welcome NE Distance’s two new athlete-in-resident fellows!  Lara Crofford and Katie Spratford will be joining us this month.

Lara graduated from University of Nebraska and competed in the 2008 US Olympic Trials 10,000m as a freshman. She comes to us after spending a year as an assistant coach to Steve Spence at Shippensburg in Pennsylvania. Katie is an 8-time All American and was the Shippensburg Female Athlete of the Year last year. Both athletes are looking forward to joining us in Rhode Island and being role models to youth in the Woonsocket community.

A little more on each…

Katrina Spratford joined NE Distance as an 8-time All-American. In 2012 she was the PSAC Women’s Cross-Country Champion, and a year later she was the 2013 Shippensburg Female Athlete of the Year. She has a PR of 9:40for the 3000m Indoors and 34:42 for 10,000m Outdoors. Katie graduated cum laude from Shippensburg in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science. She is excited to continue with her passion of running post-graduation as part of the NE Distance team. When not training, Katie is eager to be a role model for the children of Woonsocket, and to give back to the community she now calls her home.

Lara Crofford is a fall 2013 NE Distance recruit. Joining us as a 2008 Olympic trials qualifier in the 10K and a 10,000 meter 33:56 personal best. Lara was the top American in the 10,000m at the Penn Relays in 2013. Lara is excited to be part of our team. As part of NE Distance, Lara is looking to up her mileage and move towards running longer road races. She is a 2011 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in Nutrition, Health, and Exercise Science. In Nebraska, Lara had a passion for community service, which she hopes to now be able to continue pursuing in the Woonsocket community when she is not training. Lara joins NE Distance after receiving her Masters in Organizational Development and Leadership from Shippensburg University, where she finished up her NCAA collegiate eligibility in the Spring of 2012 as an All-American in the DMR, while working as an assistant coach to Steve Spence for the past year.

Speaking of Steve Spence, he had this to say about his two former runners:

“I’m very excited to have two of my runners moving on to a post collegiate training group. They have contributed much to our programs here at Shippensburg and helped us win many conference championships. In fact, Katie has led us to 9 conference titles (3 x cross country, indoor, outdoor) in a row since transferring from Richmond. Lara competed for us for one track season while in grad school and then served as a coach the next year while finishing her grad degree. Lara and Katie worked well together as training partners and I’m happy that they can continue to help each other develop. They both possess a passion for the sport and a desire to see how fast they can run.”

Both athletes will be coached by NE Distance’s new assistant coach Kurt Benninger (aka Mr. Molly Huddle).  They will be focusing on indoor and outdoor seasons in 2014 and do not currently have fall race plans, but we will update you if that changes.

They are due to arrive on Sept 15th when the new apartment from NeighborWorks is completed.

Lara & Katrina NE Distance

Now that we’ve announced the new athletes, let’s get to the punk rock…


New York City’s original Punk Rock Heavy Metal Karaoke band is coming to the Boston area to support this non-profit running organization with two events.

The Punk Rock Heavy Metal Karaoke Band was the original live karaoke band that started at Arlene’s Grocery in New York’s Lower East Side in 1999.  The band has a set list of over 300 punk rock, heavy metal, arena rock and new wave songs and members of the audience step up to be their lead singer one song at a time.

Concerts will be:

Saturday, September 21st at 6pm at TT the Bear’s, 10 Brookline Street, Cambridge, MA

Sunday, September 22nd at 2pm at Ri Ra Irish Pub, 50 Exchange Street, Providence, RI (Right after the CVS Downtown 5k)

Audience members will be able to sing on stage with the band.  Tickets are available on the NE Distance web site, www.nedistance.org.

Funding for the NE Distance program has come primarily from individuals in the running community.  When not training, NE Distance athletes work 16-20 hours per week tutoring, coaching and mentoring local youth in the working class city of Woonsocket, Rhode Island. NE Distance’s athletes are currently working with four separate after-school programs. Anyone interested in supporting this program can purchase “shares” in the team from their web site at www.nedistance.org.

FYI David Goodman will be competing at the CVS Downtown 5k on Sept 22nd (right before the PRHMK band concert).

Molly Huddle Joins NE Distance Board of Directors

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 4.30.41 PM2012 Olympian and current American Record holder in the 5000m Molly Huddle has joined the Board of Directors for NE Distance, a New England based non-profit organization with a unique dual mission to promote health and wellbeing among children in while providing support to post-collegiate athletes on a training path to top-level competition.

NE Distance established an athlete-in-residence fellowship program in the city of Woonsocket, Rhode Island in 2012.  The not-for-profit organization recruits top-level post-collegiate track athletes and provides them with housing, travel stipends, gear, physical therapy and places to train.  When they are not training to represent New England at top level meets, each NE Distance athlete fellow works 16-20 hours per week in after-school programs, providing mentorship, coaching, tutoring and living within community to model good habits for health including physical activity and smart eating habits.

Molly Huddle says, “I wanted to get more involved in the community where I have chosen to live.  The NE Distance program has done a great job of integrating running and physical activity into a program that is beneficial to both the community and the athletes in the program”.

Nich Haber, President of NE Distance says, “Northern Rhode Island sent four track & field athletes to the London Olympics with Molly being the most prominent American.  We are extremely honored that she is joining our Board of Directors.  We know she will be extremely inspirational to our athletes and to the youth in the community that our athletes serve”.


About NE Distance:  NE Distance, Inc. (www.nedistance.org) is a community-based distance running program funded by individuals in the running community.  NE Distance provides a supportive environment for post-collegiate runners committed to representing their community and reaching a higher level of competition.

NE Distance Project Viewing Party

Guest blog by Nich Haber (NE Distance Project)

The video lasts less than a minute, but it completely summarizes what we are trying to do with NE Distance.  It’s really a video of a video.  There are a bunch of kids hanging out at the C-3 Community Center in Woonsocket watching a projected live feed of NE Distance athlete David Goodman racing in the Open Mile of the Armory Collegiate Invitational in New York City.

David works with these kids every day as part of an after-school program, tutoring them on their homework, mentoring them or coaching them through a program at the local Y.  Most of these kids rarely leave Woonsocket and probably have never been to a track meet, let alone to New York City.   But man, were they were into it, rooting for David.

The three C’s in the name of the C-3 Center stand for Community, College and Career, three things that NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, our fantastic community-building partner in Woonsocket, works hard to promote.

Track meets can be confusing spectacles. One of my favorite quotes comes from Tom McTaggart, the official starter at the Penn Relays.  He calls it a “well-oiled chainsaw”. Hundreds of races, one after the other on the oval are complemented by several field events going on simultaneously.   It’s like a seven ring circus. Meaghan Hobson, NE Distance’s other athlete-in-residence was there to help the kids navigate the chaos and understand the races. She also shared with them what the meet was all about. The Armory Collegiate Invitational includes over one hundred colleges from all over the country, all of whom came to New York to compete to be the best. David’s Open Mile was entertaining filler.

While he was warming up for his race, Meaghan sent us pictures of the kids at the party. They were getting excited for his race and enjoying the food that was generously donated by our friends at Whole Foods Market in Bellingham, MA. David couldn’t literally hear them during his race, but he said he definitely knew the kids were there.

He put on a great show for them, leading for 6½ laps and then fighting like hell when he got passed. The kids screamed “no” when he got passed and cheered as he fought back to keep his place. “He’s a beast”!

David ran the first half of the mile in 2:09 and the last half in 2:02, finishing third with a 4:11.26. We are very pleased with his progress so far and are looking forward to his next race on Saturday Feb 9th at the BU Valentine meet. He’s looking for a fast time in the 3000 meters, which is closer to his primary event, the Steeplechase. Look for him from the stands at BU, on the Internet at Flotrack.org or come on down to the C-3 Center in Woonsocket. His race is scheduled for 6pm.

Hobson Settles in with NE Distance

Meaghan Hobson (La Salle University) is the new girl in town after she just recently moved into her apartment in Woonsocket, RI. We decided to welcome the latest addition of the NE Distance Project with a quick Q&A session:

So what ultimately made you decide to make the move to Woonsocket, RI?         

The community work and my part time job really sold me. I work for Connecting for Children and Families, Inc in an afterschool program for 3-5th grade students at Citizens Memorial Elementary. It offers homework help and enrichment classes on various topics.  I have the opportunity to use my creativity in the classroom and design my own lessons. It is our goal to expose the students to the world outside of Woonsocket, RI and provide them with the tools to achieve a college degree. It is great to be able to do something fulfilling and meaningful outside of my training and the kids really keep everything in perspective.  It really was a win, win situation for me. I get to do both of my passions.

There is also such a rich running community both present and past in New England. The area is beautiful and not too far from home.

Were there any other programs you were considering and if so, how did they compare?

I looked at a couple different groups but unless you are at the top of your event I would have to work fulltime to support my running. NE Distance is aware of the years needed after college to develop into the professional ranks and has set up the environment needed for it. We have a really nice apartment, weekly appointments with Foundation Performance and access to Brown University’s athletic complex. There is help finding a part time job within the after school programs that fit your interests and there is so much support within the board of directors/share holders for this group to succeed.

Who will be working with you as your primary coach?

It is a collaborative coaching situation between Bob Rothenberg and I.  I was fortunate enough to have worked with one of the best coaches in the country for 6 ½ years and learned a wealth of knowledge from him.  I am pleased to be able to use my experience and knowledge and work together with Bob to devise the best training plan. He himself is a very experienced and honest coach which I value.

You were primarily a middle distance runner on the track (with some sprints mixed in as well), what will be your focus here?

I see myself as an 800/1500 meter runner. I think I will be most competitive in the 1500/mile. I know I have the speed for it. I just need to work on the strength and mentality of the mile.

What are your goals, short and long term?

My short term goals are to get back in shape. I took the last year and a half off of serious training/racing after the passing of my longtime coach, Charles Torpey. I spent that time finishing up my masters and dual certification in elementary/ special education and reflecting on what I truly wanted to do next.

My long term goals are probably similar to everyone else’s in this sport, beat the best then be the best.

Now that NE Distance has reached its initial goal of two runners, we reached out to Nich Haber to get his thoughts on it:

Your initial goal for the program was to have two runners in the fold. Now that you do, what’s next?

David (Goodman) will start competing this indoor season. We’re looking at some meets in Boston and New York and will be making announcements about that soon. We gave David the fall season to get acclimated and work on some strength training. When he came to us he said he had not had the opportunity to run high mileage. He was able to get up to 100 mpw this fall, which is pretty great for a middle distance runner. We’re working in some speed training now to get him ready for indoors and are excited to see what he can do.

Since Meaghan is just joining us now, we will be doing something similar. She’s going to spend the indoor season training and building her fitness level. As far as getting involved in the community, Meaghan just completed her Masters in Education at La Salle, so we were very happy that we were able to get her part time work as a teacher’s aide at Citizen’s Elementary School in Woonsocket. The community service aspect of our program is equally important to us as the running. We were very selective in our process for bringing in athletes, especially as we get established. We feel that David and Meaghan both have the right attitude to be inspirational figures in our community.

Between the 85 or so kids that David interacts with every week and the 300 or so kids at Citizens Elementary, we are looking forward at creating some young NE Distance fans, some new fans of track and field and hopefully sow the seeds to make the track stars of the future. We want to do this by having our athletes excel on the track and in our community.

Do you foresee expanding anytime soon?

The funding we received to be able to bring on David and Meaghan came mostly from 40 individual donors through our shareholder program. We are actively fundraising and our goal in 2013 is to raise enough to be able to bring on two more athletes this summer. We had some good conversations with the members of the Woonsocket After-school coalition and our housing partners at NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley to see how much we could grow in the community. We would like to be able to grow the program to 15 athletes over the next 5 years.

What has been the feedback you’ve received so far from the community about this?

It’s been pretty overwhelmingly positive. From the time we started talking about this idea with folks from NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, they’ve been bending over backwards and pulling out all the stops to make this happen. They really understand the value of community-building and see how athletics can be a bridge between all kinds of people.

The community in Woonsocket has been really excited to have us there. Having an up and coming athlete running the Thunderkids childhood obesity prevention program is pretty inspirational. The program was having some difficulty finding the right person to run that program when we brought David. Connecting Children & Families is the group that is putting Meaghan in at Citizens Elementary. They are doing some incredible work in this hard luck area. They really jumped on the chance to bring in Meaghan.

We’re talking with NeighborWorks about having some race viewing parties at the Community Center for the kids when David and Meaghan are competing. The kids have been watching some of David’s races on Flotrack and are starting to get an idea of what track is all about.

We call ourselves a community-based distance running project and fully embrace the give and take that makes a good community. We put a call out to our boosters for furniture and kitchenware for the NE Distance apartment and we received just about everything we needed. A couch, tables, chairs, lamps and boxes and boxes of dishes, silverware, plates knives & silverware.

It sure has renewed my faith in people.

For more on Meaghan check out this past post we had on her. For more on NE Distance please visit their website.

Contact Form Powered By : XYZScripts.com