Tag: Michael Scott

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.

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.

Champagne Top American in Jamaica

Mary Kate Champagne made the most of her first time racing for Team USA. The New Balance Boston runner finished 4th and was the top American in the women’s NACAC race. Mary Kate ran 21:48 for 6k, just 41 seconds back of winner Natasha Fraser (Canada). The US women finished second to Canada.

Picture courtesy of Michael Scott.

1.) On the surface this looks like a huge success. What are your thoughts on the race?

I was satisfied with my race. I was not sure what to expect going into it because I hadn’t raced since Club Nationals and had been sick twice with amazing training in between both illnesses. It might be better that I had foggy expectations because I did not over-think anything. I was just ecstatic to have made a US team for the first time.

2.) What were the conditions like? Was it tough to race in the heat coming from a northeast winter?

The NACAC XC Championship just so happened to coincide with the most brutal week of winter so far (and hopefully it’s uncontested as the most brutal week for the rest of winter). We had an 80-90 degree increase in temperature, but had four days to acclimate. It was tough, but I was extremely grateful to escape the Northeast.

The course was very challenging, not so much in terms of hills but in terms of the terrain: I never felt like I could get into a comfortable rhythm. It was very windy, undulating, and uneven. Also, there was reggae music playing the entire time. That was extremely difficult to endure.

3.) Do you think you were better prepared for this race compared to XC Nationals?

I definitely had an off day at XC Nationals. It was the first off day I had had in a long time and it shook me up a little.

4.) Any special challenge to extending your XC season so long?

I haven’t really been training for XC much-there’s not much in terms of soft surfaces in Providence. I didn’t find out I was doing this race until about a week and a half before we left, so I was planning on doing the BU Terrier Invite. I’ve been working out on the indoor track once or twice a week, but I think I’m just naturally better suited for XC; I’m more gritty than I am quick.

5.) Are the XC races in Ireland next or is there something for you in between?

I plan on doing the 3k at the BU Valentine Invitational before I leave for Ireland just to see where I’m at a little more objectively-you can’t really hide anything when it comes to track.

In the men’s race, Team USA followed up their Bupa success with another win. Two of the first four spots went to the Forys family and it was the younger Craig earning the win with Matt close behind in 4th. Full results and a ridiculously tiny write up of four international championship races can be found on the USATF website. Thanks to Michael Scott for the amazing pictures. Find more of his great work here on his Shutterfly page.

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