Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Thanks for Reading Harlem 26.2 - Goodbye :(

I am a runner. All runners are people of devotion, commitment, and perseverance - and it is that ethic in me - that motivated me to blog on my reflections and thoughts, through the lens of running, for a full year. Today closes the loop on a full year and nearly 400 blog entries. I never wanted to "play it safe", never cared about being politically correct, did not mind offending anyone, did not spell and grammar check, I just wanted to publish streams of thought - consistently and supported with a myriad of reference sources and documentation, and be authentic to who I am. If I never annoyed or provoked you to think I'm an idiot, I failed. Likewise if I never was able to get you to consider despite all my rough edges and flaws, I'm a decent person at the end of the day - I failed once more. Visceral responses either way are all good with me - I never wanted to be boring - I hoped to be a momentary diversion in the course of your day - a voice saying something you're not likely to hear elsewhere. I wanted this blog to be of interest and accessible to the non-runner. This blog was about entries like this, Eve Pell and Susan Graham-Gray. If you did not catch this blog, click those links - and experience Eve Pell's words & Susan Graham-Gray's spirit. Despite how you see me rip on the Black Marathoners, Eve Pell & Susan Graham-Gray is what this blog was really all about. Eve Pell actually contacted me and thanked me, as did many of the hundreds of people I spoke of (to my surprise). On a ridiculous note the Katie Holmes NYC Marathon Conspiracy entry got picked up by some of the biggest celebrity blog sites in the U.S., went world-wide, and I had people in Russia for example asking me for interviews on it - that one entry has gotten over half a million hits to date. I actually had established sports writers contact me on my blog about Lance Armstrong and told me I was spot on accurate in my comments (I said what they could not). I thought I would be able to but I could not talk about my business matters. Though the country's economic outlook is bleak - I'm going to be okay - things are relatively on a decent track. The sub 3 @ NYC '07 did not happen (3:05). I was sick as a dog that day too, damn. Oh well, I've chosen to bypass cherry picking and finding a flat & fast marathon course somewhere - and fully intend to go sub 3 in '08 @ NYC. Yes the sub 3 would be sweet - but you know what would be sweeter? Just being a regular 'ol father, running around Central Park pushing a baby jogger. That's what I really want - and hopefully that's what I'll be doing in about a year. I mentioned her once or twice - but over this past year I met and got involved with an amazing woman who I shall call "K". If you read this blog closely, at this entry in October I went to Tiffany's here in NYC a week before the NYC marathon and bought the classic 6 prong platinum diamond ring. I will be getting married this Summer, working on getting the "bun in the oven" right now. No sub 3 but a far better happy ending! (which is really the beginning).

I wanted to be a voice out of Harlem that you did not necessarily expect...from Harlem or from a Black man - a voice on distance running. Harlem is a very different place than you might think if you're not current on things.... 2 bedroom condos going for $1 Million+ is standard to see. A poi
nt of curiosity - would you believe more White people can be found running through Harlem than Black people? It's true. Anyway and to the point, I wanted to bring to the blogosphere something different on many levels. At least that was the intent.

I can't do this anymore. My business matters are about to be very demanding - I'm planning on getting married, starting a family, buying a second home outside NYC (but I will always live in Harlem), the whole sha-bang. It's going to be hard to even find time to just run - but I will run, I have to run - it's how I keep my head together. This site and all its content will remain here and on-line. Search it, take content from it, share it, there is a wealth of content herein. Anyone can email me by clicking the "View My Complete Profile" button on the side...and I can always be found running....in NYC's Central Park - the greatest place to run in the world, that green rectangle area you see above in the greatest city in the world, New York. It's always neat when other runners, strangers to me, in Central Park give me a "Harlem 26.2" shout out when when passing. Every one of you can do what I did, blog on running, I say go for it!

A couple of weeks ago
I introduced you to a Black scholar, Dr. John Oliver Killens - novelist, social critic, screenwriter, playwright and essayist and founding chairperson of the legendary Harlem Writers Guild, I can think of no better words in which to say thanks for reading Harlem 26.2 and Goodbye than by expressing the words once again of Dr. Killens' writing "Long Distance Runner"

"It is an interesting phenomenon that we black folks, as a people, have produced some of the most magnificent athletes the world has ever known, but have produced very few long distance runners. We've raised a whole lot of hell in the hundred yard dashes. You watch the Olympics and you see nothing but black brothers up there at the finish tape in the sprints. We have the fastest get-away known to man or womankind. At the same time, we have produced very few long distance runners. Long distance running requires planning, pacing, discipline, stamina, and a belief in the ability to win everything over the long haul. Lasting power is the name of the game... We must evolve a generation of long distance runners - men and women - prepared to pay some dues for their children's children. Our people have paid some terrible dues for us to have come to this place and this moment in time and space."

Nothing but the best to all & always aim high!

Lancelot A. Smith

"Blacks Are Lazy" - Tony Reed & The National Black Marathoners' Association - Can These Negroes Be Saved? A 5 Point Rescue Plan & Path To Legitimacy

"So lets keep up the boycott on responding to Lance regarding anything about NBMA & Tony Reed". - Anonymous Comment on Harlem 26.2. Q. Who's going to be the happiest people on earth that Harlem 26.2 ending? My friends the Black Marathoners. I only wish they were as passionate as the ultra runners. You see the Ultra runners are serious right? Good for them, I respect that - isn't it too bad Black people were not the same way? Originally on this blog I hyped the Black Marathoners & it's founder Tony Reed. In the spirit of Black solidarity I said , "Tony is doing the damn thing.... I am no where near Tony" . The truth is The National Black Marathoners is nothing more than a vehicle for Tony Reed (the founder) to promote himself - it's like an "Al Sharpton strategy", building a cottage industry around himself. Al Sharpton's a good guy but had no business being on that stage on the left in that Presidential debate. Al simply created noise, exploited "White guilt" , and was deferred a voice of credence by White people - when really he was just the Black guy shouting the loudest and playing the race card. That's Tony Reed's strategy and Tony Reed is no more qualified to speak on matters "Black" and or "marathon" than Al Sharpton is on negotiating NAFTA. Last month at the Cowtown Marathon 53 year old Tony Reed was beaten by 15 Minutes by an 80 year old man. It's true, 80 year old Gene Brock ran a 5:36 Cowtown Marathon besting Tony Reed's 5:51 by 15 minutes. Tony Reed is 1 hour and 20+ minutes slower than Oprah Winfrey. Tony Reed does not even try, is not fit, does not train, and does not run - the man has no running ethic or regime at all - he literally walks these marathons. Why does it matter? Because through a PR Agency - Malloy Marketing Group and to the media & public Tony Reed markets a narrative of himself as a "marathon runner", leaning heavy on the "race card", and leveraging the assumed & implied credence that is deferred to the words that speak to a heritage & legacy "National Black Marathoners' Association". I care about the real heritage and legacy that as a matter of practice Tony Reed refuses to recognize on the Black Marathoners' webstie - or ever in an interview. Tony Reed markets himself as someone qualified to talk about health, the running ethic, marathon running, etc. it's all a fraud. "The National Black Marathoners' Association", those words are his currency to gain access, attention, & open doors...and he uses them exclusively to promote and hype himself. To this day you cannot find the name Ted Corbitt on the National Black Marathoners' Website. Is that not hilarious? Tony Reed preserves a collective ignorance within the organization by not recognizing the history inherent in the words and name he's co-opted to use as his personal currency. Now get this, when asked to speak to the lack of Black Americans in distance running?...Tony Reed said Black Americans are "lazy". His exact words? (In speaking in the context of Black Americans and The Marathon, Tony Reed said, "With a lot of Americans, it's easier to take a pill or a shot than to get up off the couch and become active," Reed said of what he calls the diseases of inactivity". Does this not equate to "Lazy"? Tony Reed, a guy with no running ethic who walks 6 hour marathons said Blacks are lazy. Keep in mind the legendary running visionary (and racist - there on the left) Arthur Newton , once said "Blacks would never run distance. They just don't have what it takes to do the distance". How much difference is there really in Arthur Newton's words about Blacks and running and Tony Reed's? Meanwhile Tony Reed's age-graded scores in his last 2 marathons were 39% and 40%, the very bottom of the barrel and he risk being disqualified in events that have a 6 hour cut off. Tony Reed's marathon walks of 6 hours matter as it's a contradiction of what he markets (in building a cottage industry around himself). Does anyone expect the National Association of Black Journalist to be headed by someone who can read and write? How about the National Association of Black Accountants? They're headed by a woman from my hometown, Oakland, CA, she's Gwendolyn Skillern, I am sure Tony Reed, a CPA, knows her. Does anyone including Tony Reed expect the National Association of Black Accountants to be headed by someone who can count? Tony Reed himself expects the National Association of Black Accountants to be headed by someone who rates above the very bottom of the barrel.....or in other words, exactly where he does (6 hour walking marathons) as the head of the National Black Marathoners' Association. I only say this because the guy does not even try - he does not care. He will market this false narrative and hope the media extends him an "affirmative action" allowance / consideration and give him a stage - if he were White, no one would care. An example? This weekend Tony Reed is walking the ING Georgia marathon, followed up by walking the St. Louis Marathon on the next weekend. What sense does it make for a 6 hour marathoner to be entered into marathons spaced by 5 or 6 days? None, but it does not matter for Tony Reed, it's all about fulfilling the narrative as America's Black Marathon runner who has ran 100 marathons (all about quantity, to hell with quality - no one ever asks...). I could care less about this - if he did it in his own name and not that of a heritage & legacy that I covet. If you're new to this blog - this is a continuation of a protest of mine against Tony Reed & The National Black Marathoners, there are 4 main parts: PART 1, PART 2, PART 3 & PART 4. Everyone knows I am demanding the changing of their shameful logo of ignorance, that's it on the left, this 1865:FREE TO RUN. The Black Marathoners are out of Texas, a State that made it illegal for Tony Reed and the Black Marathoners to run in hundreds of City and State Parks in 1950, these laws were dubbed "Jim Crow Laws". People who violated these laws were arrested at best, lynched at worse, both happened. Declaring 1865:FREE TO RUN is denying the history of America and reality that Black people were denied, arrested, lynched, had dogs sicked on them, water hoses sprayed at them, it's a denial of segregation and the entire civil rights movement. Today I went to the National Black Marathon Association website and wow, look here, Tony Reed showcasing the medals he's collected walking in Marathons. That's the actual photo above on the right that Tony Reed found fitting to place on the National Black Marathoners' Association website. A photo of his medals. He justified placing that photo by addressing the pressing need of informing members of how to best store their medals. Keep in mind Tony Reed will not make space on the Black Marathoners' website for Ted Corbitt or anything whatsoever on the history of American Blacks and Distance Running. Tony Reed & The Black Marathoners' website offers no information or resources on training, nutrition, courses, race calendar(s), etc. absolutely nothing, not a scintilla of content that running clubs commonly have (makes sense as it's a fraudulent organization). However what does Tony Reed find fitting and appropriate to place on their website?... a photo of his medals! His Marathon "bling" Tony Reed's basically like that guy on the left above, "Don the Magic Juan" - a real negro proudly flashing his bling, "look at me and all my finery". Ridiculous. I've never seen the head of a running club or organization of any kind - place a photo of all their medals on their website for any reason, have you? They're the "The Church of Tony Reed" - this photo their alter. All while offering nothing of value, or benefit, or meaningful to the running endeavor. The organization is Tony Reed's personal platform to promote Tony Reed and their members? Bamboozled in whole. He even has a close inner circle that have come on this blog - they're actually more like Scientology than a running club - very cult like and I feel for the Black people who are turning to them, assuming due to their name they're legitimate - when they are not. Well there are people who are saved from Scientology but can these Black people be saved? I've outlined a 5 point plan to bring some legitimacy and semblance of an actual running organization to the National Black Marathoners.

(1) Heritage & Legacy
: Recognize the heritage and legacy inherent in the name and words you've chosen to brand yourselves with. Harlem 26.2 has all sorts of content on the History of Black Americans and distance running including literature and video. Take it - all, please, claim it for your own, re-brand it, I don't care. What's important is that this information is shared with your members. Very few Black runners have ever heard of Ted Corbitt, Delores Cross, or the literature of Dr. John Oliver Killens. I've never met a Black person that ever heard of Arthur Newton or Frank Hart. You assume the name of a legacy and heritage and have a duty to bring recognition and dignity to it.

(2)
The "FREE TO RUN" Logo Must Go! As "iconography" Tony Reed is branding himself & his organization on par with a "Happy Black Sambo" stereotype with that logo above. Let's explore this through the lens of academic authority, "The Coon caricature, for example, portrays black men as lazy, ignorant, and obsessively self-indulgent; these are also traits historically represented by the word Nigger".
- Ferris State University Museum of Racism Memorabilia. Tony Reed has no running ethic & walks marathons, his logo a declaration ignorance, and with his self-promoting press releases, photos of his medals, self-published book? Can anyone here connect dots? Does the shoe not fit? ...if it walks like a duck? Do I need to say any more? Okay, Tony Reed is not a Nigger, no one is, he's a Black man, I only wish he was an educated Black man. There is a point where there are no more excuses and that point is now. That logo is modern day "Coon & Nigger" iconography worthy of placement in the Ferris State Univers
ity Museum of Racism Memorabilia. If you doubt that, click the link and you'll see Tony Reed's logo passes the "Happy Black Sambo Nigger test" in flying colors - nothing to be proud of.

(3) S
ocial Network Strategy: Dump the lame Yahoo Group! Set up a forum within Athlinks.com and or Coolrunning.com You're further "ghetto-izing" yourselves in the isolation of Yahoo & minimal functionality of Yahoo. There are dynamic social network forums with rich infrastructure, tools, & resources for runners (logs, calendars, calculators, tips). A minimal effort to place links on your own site to RunningInTheUSA and MarathonGuide.com. This is a simple and easy means to provide people everywhere access to a race calendar, they can find local 5Ks or Ultras, if they're traveling they can find races and events. This is pretty simple stuff you all, even a place like Sweat365.com which I have blogged about, Sweat365 (A social network serving the running community) has a complete library section addressing training, nutrition, etc. All of this is easily manageable. Tony Reed & The Black Marathoners do not have to re-invent the wheel for crissakes! It's invented, done - all they have to do is set up shop (so to speak), extension shop if you will - at places like the social network forums I have listed, linked, and blogged about. These forums cover the "heavy lifting" (the training logs & tools, race calendars, nutrition, injury recovery).

(4) S
trategically Placed Annual Summit: Tony Reed is having the annual '09 meeting gathering at the Cowtown Marathon, right where he lives - convenient for himself and he's walked the race 18 times before. He made this decision to bring full circle to the personal narrative he will market to the public and media through an PR agency, it will be his 100th marathon & the place where he had his first. This self-serving self-coronation decision making must end. If the organization wants legitimacy - it's gotta be about something bigger than Tony Reed. The annual meetings should have proximity to regions with high Black populations (not that Apache Junction Lost Dutchman crap they just did). It's about tapping into the Black professional societies in cities, conjuring promotion and support through organizations & media: I offered 4 or 5 examples before, one was the Philadelphia Marathon which has a 26.2, Half, 8K & Kids races - variety for all - the city of Philadelphia to tap into - and Verizon is a key sponsor - Verizon has in place health and education foundations and programs servicing the Black community - align in markets and with sponsors wherein you can conjure synergy - leverage your mission ten-fold....employ strategic thought and vision to where and why you meet at a specific annual event, not this self-promotion crap of Tony Reed.

(5) S
trategic Networking: RRCA (Road Runners Club of America), Co-Founded by a Black man, Ted Corbitt). Why isn't The National Black Marathoners' Association a member of the Road Runners Club of America? Over 700 Running clubs are, what's their excuse? I blogged about the 2008 National Running Conference held in San Diego with over 350 entities focused on the business of running (every shoe & apparel maker, lots of Marathon RDs, nutrition/food makers, running oriented dot.com companies, retailers, you name it...if it involved running & business - they were there). For some reason the Black Marathoners take pride in being insular and staying "ghetto'ized" in their functioning. They wear this like a badge of honor - when it's really a statement of stupidity. I know lots of running clubs and organizations that have sponsors of all types (shoes, apparel, nationwide discounts on all sorts of stuff from restaurants to hotels). It's Tony Reed's job to attend the 2008 National Running Conference and network - sponsorship starts over lunch, a drink, a face to face conversation and handshake. The National Black marathoners can easily secure sponsors - they just lack leadership with planning and vision. Again, it's a Tony Reed self promotion vehicle, not a real organization per the name and branding they co-opted. Everyone in NYC knows local superstar Westchester Track Club runner John Samsel - probably the most distinguished member of the 30,000+ strong New York Road Runners and impeccable integrity. For reasons having to do with some of my professional matters - from time to time I speak to executives within the running industry - Samsel will co-sign on that - I've brought Samsel to meetings, some with famous national running figures like Craig Virgin for example (a very cool guy). The point? If the Black Marathoners' got rid of that logo and recognized the heritage and legacy inherent in the name they co-opted, I will personally get them real major sponsorship, shoes & apparel. I can do that. But they've got to get past taking pride in being "ghetto'ized", insular, and separate from the whole. They must welcome being woven into the fabric of running in America on a business level and be members and network within the RRCA for example. Howevever right now with his modern day "Coon Nigger" iconography logo Tony Reed & The Black Marathoners are "untouchable" for any significant sponsorship - (and they don't even know it, never viewed it through that lens).

If the Black Marathoners is indeed a real organization - they will have members who have the courage to say, "Tony, it's not about that asshole Lance in New York - it's about our own dignity & esteem" and the logo will go and their site will offer enrichment in the context of running. Black people in that organization have to decide if they deserve better - because they have nothing right now - they're nothing but pons in Tony Reed's world and agenda (for himself). In closing, this is not about me. This is about what I know. What I know the Black Marathoners are missing out on, what I know is possible. What I feel their members warrant and deserve. Today Tony Reed and that organization is a fraud and disgrace to the heritage & legacy of the name Tony Reed has co-opted. Tony Reed wants the privileges the name and branding deliver an
d none of the responsibilities. I covet the Black American Marathoning legacy and take an enormous amount of pride in being Black. I don't have art on my walls in my home. About 8 years ago I got an account at Sotheby's Auction House here in NYC and started collecting slave documents, buying the documents that controlled the lives of Black people. The sales receipts, contracts, auctioneers papers, medical check ups required before being sold, the insurance claims when a slave lost an arm or a leg in a farming accident, I have it all. I take a lot of pride in owning the documents that controlled the lives of Black people and place these documents in frames and on my walls. I like to believe the souls of these people live through the documents that controlled them, their whole lives - and it's rewarding these documents are now in Black hands - and souls heralded and admired by me. These documents (and imagining the lives behind them) inspire me to give total effort - in everything. Do you think there's a chance in hell I am going to let a fraud, Tony Reed use the name and branding of a heritage and legacy as his personal currency to hype and promote himself (while excluding that legacy of recognition & dignity?). I committed to being a countering voice to Tony Reed to anyone who gives him any legitimacy of any kind until he changes the logo & exposes that organization to the heritage and legacy inherent in its name. I will be ending this blog - but not that concern, I have it managed going forward. Have a great day!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Running To Create a Spark & Build The Brain

Over the year of this blog I've suggested a lot of different books on different aspects of the running. Before I say goodbye I offer a final book suggestion - one that kind of sums it all up for runners of all levels & ages - I am reading it now. A growing body of evidence suggests that running can build the brain. I share with you a forthcoming book, that's it on the left below, "Spark": The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain- which shows how running can boost memory, alleviate stress, enhance intelligence and allay aggression. John Ratey, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston and the book's author, says that exercise stimulates our grey matter to produce what he calls "Miracle-Gro" for the brain. "I can't understate how important regular exercise is in improving the function and performance of the brain," he says. "It's such a wonderful medicine." Happiness: Beyond the (potential) mood-lifting effects of fresh air and scenery, evidence suggests that pounding the pavement can also change the way our brains work to make us happier, or even stave off depression. "Exercise is as good as any anti-depressant I know," Ratey claims. Last December, scientists from Yale University wrote in the journal Nature Medicine that regular exertion affects the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for mood. Tests on mice showed that exercise activated a gene there called VGF, which is linked to a "growth factor" chemical involved in the development of new nerve cells. Tests show that this brain activation lifts a person's mood. Participants in one recent German survey were asked to walk quickly on a treadmill for 30 minutes a day over a 10-day period. At the end of the experiment, researchers recorded a significant drop in depression scores. Scientists are now working on a drug that mimics the effects of the VGF gene to market it as an alternative to conventional antidepressants. Stress: stress slows down the gastrointestinal system and reduces appetite, and can overexcite the brain, fuzzing our thought. By responding to or anticipating stress with 30 minutes of running, blood flow to the brain is increased, allowing the body to purge the potentially toxic by-products of stress. According to Ratey, exercise also helps in the long term. "It builds up armies of antioxidants such as Vitamins E and C," he says. "These help brain cells protect us from future stress." Intelligence: Research suggests that exercise boosts intelligence in the very, very young. Experiments on rats at the Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine in Berlin showed that baby rats born to mothers who were more active during pregnancy had 40 per cent more cells in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for intelligence. If the same is true in humans, we can expect Paula Radcliffe's baby, Isla, to be a genius; Radcliffe was training for the New York marathon until the day before she went in to hospital to be induced – and won the race just nine months after giving birth. Aggression: The frontal cortex is the part of the brain that decides whether you throw a punch or take something on the chin. Reduced activity in the region, a trauma or abnormal development can result in an inability to control violent urges. "This area makes us evaluate the consequences of our actions," Ratey says. "It's the part of the brain that puts the brakes on when the ref makes a terrible decision and you want to beat him up." Exercise increases activity in that area, boosting rational thought, which makesus less likely to lash out. Memory: Most of the competitors at the annual World Memory Championships could hardly be described as the epitome of physical fitness but, according to Ratey and other scientists in the field, a good workout does much to boost recall, especially as we clock up the years. "When we're exercising, we're using nerve cells in the brain which help build up what I call brain fertiliser," he says. Ratey is talking about new research that suggests exercise increases blood flow to the part of the brain responsible for memory, and improves its function. In MRI scans on mice, conducted last year by neurologists at Columbia University Medical Centre in New York, the animals were shown to grow new brain cells in the dentate gyrus, which is affected in age-related memory decline. Research on humans is ongoing but Ratey is convinced that physical activity has a similar effect. He says: "Exercise does more than anything we know of to boost memory." Addiction: The principle is that exercise can stimulate production of the mood-enhancing hormone dopamine, which can, in turn, reduce smokers' dependence on nicotine. "Dopamine works by replacing or satisfying the need for nicotine," Ratey explains. Check out his site & info - read the reviews over at Amazon - this is a great read! Have a terrific day!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Why I Run & Those Pesky Ultra Runners....

videoI am a runner, I do not walk or jog, I run. Alrightey - this thing is nearing an end - 1 full year of blogging on running - and how well do I know running? For a full year I never mentioned ultrarunning on this blog - why? I know how passionate they are - along with a few wingnuts (David Horton types). I knew the minute I said some sh*t - they would come out the woodwork in mass - and I see they have....as I said (& illustrated) things no one dare say in their world - sacred topics no one is supposed to dare question, lol. I love ultrarunners! ....and these guys emailing me...please...stop it. Most of you have been running what? 5, 10, 15, 20 years or so? Read the blog - I've been doing this thing for 32 years - got into it chasing Regina Jacobs as a teen in Oakland, CA, The NYRR & Athlinks won't show my best performances - they were done in Kenya, England, & China (the mainland) in the 80's. There's photos of me in the 80's on this blog for example in the SF Bay To Breakers, etc and yes, one day I will run the Rodeo Beach 50K or possibly the Mt. Diablo 50K for one reason - to win the race. I think Rodeo is the cherry pick, I have no shame and I will only put 1 toe in the Ultraworld (50K). Look at me, I'm a sprinter for crissakes - a local superstar runner just got me into racing with the NYRR - and that's John Samsel - there on the right, a 64 year old White guy - my best running buddy - everyone on the NYC running scene knows John - I started this blog a year ago paying tribute to John - check it - and no this is not the last entry - but it's close.....and I just run middle distance & distance for the heck of it - because I can - and for reasons very much in line with this collegiate kid above - check the video - need inspiration to go put in those training miles - it's funny how sometimes these kids in the running game can inspire us old Masters..... it's a great 5 minute investment! Have a great day.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Ultra Running Scene & Scott Jurek: Over-Rated?

Everybody who reads this blog knows my personal hero is Ted Corbitt, who also happens to be the father of ultrarunning - and yes I've seen the video clip of Ted introducing Scott Jurek. I've never met Yiannis Kouros (historic Ultrarunning superstar) or Scott Jurek (modern day superstar), but I have spoken with Pam Reed and Dean Karnazes several times, as well as many others not so well known. I've never ran an Ultra however everyone who has tells me they're easier than racing marathons. Why? You run easy - and just endure, so they tell me. I know few ultrarunners that train more than 40 - 60 miles a week in fact. (countered to marathoners that as a matter of practice clock 120 - 140 miles / week). It strikes with me that ultra events comprise distortion & outright nonsense - and is this probably the reason the IOC (International Olympic Committee) refuses to consider ultrarunning as a credible sport worthy of inclusion in the Olympics (Yiannis Kouros & others have tried to get it ultrarunning in the olympics for years to no avail). Running easy for 50 miles or 100 miles is clearly a lot easier on the body than actually racing for 26.2 with total effort as many run 5 or 6 of their events per year (at a competitive level). Most informed people know competitive marathoners can only run 2 or at the very most 3 marathons a year for reasons directly related to the rigors of the endeavor. It's a function of physiology - the human body & time. It takes several months to prepare to race a marathon, 2 or 3 weeks to taper, 5 - 7 days to nutritionally prepare.....all to have a peak performance on race day. That challenge necessitates a regime and time that does not exist in ultramarathoning. Competitive ultramathoners run these events as the come, with no particular regime prerequisite, even the best of the sport. After racing a marathon it takes numerous weeks for the body to recover from a myriad of damage & stress (microtears, biochemical alterations, etc - all well documented science.) A similar physical penalty to the body does not exist in ultrarunning. If you trot 100 miles one weekend, all you need is a couple of weeks downtime and you can trot another 100 miles - at a competitive level. Ultrarunning attracts an "older class" of runner - like those Ultrarunners above on the right, or those on the right running through the night - or that happy fellow below on the left. It does not strike as a competitive arena drawing talented runners (basically there's no money in it, and it consumes a lot of time). These fact have proven to be an effective barriers of entry in drawing the interest of talented runners (they're busy racing marathons and their professional lives). The Superstar of the sport is Scott Jurek but he racked up most of his wins as a 20-something (and 30, 31) racing against mostly guys old enough to be his father. That's a basic fact of the events and who enters them in general. Jurek's known for winning the premier event in ultrarunning, "BadWater" (a 135 mile race) - however what's not widely known is for example there were 67 finishers that completed this race in '05, 17 were under age 40, a whopping 50 were over age 40 - it strikes with me that Jurek's enjoyed a leveraged advantaged playing field being one of the few youthful runners - and this has been the case for the bulk of his wins. Furthermore the men's fields in these events commonly leave much to be desired in the way of running talent (it's taboo for me to say this - but it illustrates as true) - take a look at that very same crowning event "Badwater" '05. The fact are in 2005 the women were actually faster than the men. It's true looking at both the mean and the median, the women were faster. There were a total of 67 finishers (54 men and 13 women) the 54 men had a mean finish time of 44:43:45 and a median of 44:24:33. The 13 women had a mean finish time of 43:19:46 and a median of 41:31:15. Kudos to the women! (draw your own conclusions on what this speaks to of the caliber of the male runners in that race). Now Scott Jurek has been able to dominate ultrarunning to the extent where it's silly and makes no sense, actually hurts the sport in my opinion. Note Jurek was a very good Marathon runner and I don't believe many ultramarathoners were very good marathoners - they don't come from the running base he came from. Hence Scott Jurek enters the sport from an advantaged base (being a very good marathoner) couple this fact with the fact that he's competing largely guys who were not very good marathoners and mostly guys old enough to be his father and that all equates to a win, after win, after win. I believe Jurek's marathon PR is a 2:29. I've examined his WAVA age gradiing and Jurek's 100km and marathon time line up exactly on the WAVA charts. I suspect this too would play out for other marathoners who (if they chose to) run an ultra - and that strongly suggest a high level of mediocrity defines the very top of Ultrarunning in the context of competitive running . Why do I say this? Perspective: note the biggest star in Ultrarunning, Scott Jurek, was never talented enough to qualify to run in the Olympic Trials for example - by serious margin. I was at the '08 US Olympic team trials in '07 and the "A" qualifying standard is 2:20:00 for men (but a 2:22 will get you in). That day I saw 85 runners clock a faster marathon time than Jurek's ever clocked and there are several hundred runners in the U.S. that can go sub 2:29:00 - Jurek's best mark. Like Jurek - these runners could very likely extend their marathon talent to the ultra scene and I would suspect their WAVA tables would line up rather closely to their marathon times - just as Jurek's has. But these guys don't have interest in racing ultras (no money in the sport, and few people have time) and if Kenyans & Ethiopians entered these events? Game over for the current crop of runners on day one. To his credit Jurek was clever - able to scope an area of running wherein he could leverage his youth, talent, and exploit the nature of the sport drawing older runners - and become the King - and he did it, I applaud that. But it must be said, Jurek's enjoyed an advantaged playing field being one of the younger guys and as legit and solid marathoner before Ultra-running - he can clean up in a field of "weekend warrior" caliber runners. Jurek has not had to compete against guys like him, guys who can go 2:29:00 at the Marathon. When guys his own age have showed up, even ultra neophytes like Akos Konya has a shot of knocking off Scott Jurek - as he nearly did in '06. Some backgroud, this is a guy, Akos Konya, who working 60 hours / week as a restaurant manager, little time to run or train, he entered this big race, Badwater, with only 1 ultra under his belt and almost beat the Superstar of the sport Scott Jurek. Per the reports "Had Konya not pulled over at 1 a.m. (a 135 mile race) Tuesday and napped for 30 minutes in a sleeping bag, he might have won. Scott Jurek of Seattle, the seven-time Western States winner, won the race in 25 hours, 41 minutes". Konya, this neophyte took a nap for a half hour during race, lost winning by 17 minutes. Speaking of Badwater & Jurek - that guy on the right laying in that cooler with ice covering him (during the Badwater race - this is a technique he uses to cool off during this 135 mile Badwater race in the heat of the desert. Anyone can go to the Badwater website and see the rules state and I quote " So-called "cooling vests" or other types of artificial / technological cooling systems may not be worn or utilized by race entrants. Here's a comment from Jay Birmingham, Badwater Hall of Fame member:"If it uses technology that negates the envioronment, e.g., acts as a refrigerator, uses chemical reactions from manmade materials, and the like--it should be prohibited. A cooler is technology designed to refrigerate & retain cooling - Jurek typically as a matter of practice as you see in the photo lays bags of ice in the cooler, then lays in it with his support crew laying bags of ice on top of him - utilizing this technology - a cooler's thermodynamics to create a cooling chamber. Is it not clear how Jurek violates the rules of Badwater to the letter? I wonder why they never disqualify him? I've always wonder if he was simply viewed as as above the rules of the race. However the single most glaring fact about Ultrarunning that in my opinion gives the sport a "black eye" and illustrates beyond any doubt how overhyped these events are and loaded with "marginal" running talent? Well this was when Scott Jurek won The Western States 100, and then 2 weeks later won the Badwater 135 miler in 2005. This is ridiculous and a poor statement for ultra running courses & the quality of the running talent. 1). I just posted a blog entry publishing an article by Donald Buraglio where he described the Western States 100 Ultra as "the Toughest, Grueling, Unforgiving, Ferocious, "Hardest day of running they will ever encounter". I saw this as a very typical "ultra self-aggrandizing" about their Herculean task and what mighty men they are. 2). Badwater 135 Mile is truly supposed to be the very most grueling - physically and mentally demanding - race in the U.S. - I agree with this. Well then how is it that a man can run the Western States 100 at a level that's required to win the event - indeed win it - and then be physically capable and ready to race another ultra - truly the most grueling 135 ultra mile race, Badwater, - 13 or 14 days later? 1) Where was Jurek's fatigue from the Western States 100? 2) Ultra racing does not require any recovery period - no regime whatsoever - and it's clearly not possible to be physically marginalized by racing the Western States 100 - you can come out of the Western States Ultra 100 with no recuperation and recover price to pay - fit and able to race 2 weeks later in fact, like Scott Jurek and 3) It seems to me if the Western States was demanding, and you ran hard, Jurek should have entered Badwater seriously physically marginalized and other runners should have whippped up on him. That did not happen - most of those other runners were old enough to be his father, the Western States 100 is clearly not so difficult that it renders you fatigued and unable to competitively race an ultra just days later - there was no competition in either event - the very integrity of ultrarunning as an event suffers (event difficulty, talent of the field, etc.) when a single guy can not only enter but win the 2 so-called most grueling events, within a span of 2 weeks - it's a farce on that fact alone, I don't even need to talk about the - the Sri Chimnoy runners - do I? I've learned the ultra crowd does not like it when their events are examined under the lens of scrutiny - for their athleticism - field of talent. There's a huge "camradery" factor in these events, - an esprit de core - a pride in shared pain, sacrifice, etc. they frown upon anyone who stands out from the whole - Dean Karnazes is not the superstar within the sport - but by far the best known - yet he is despised in general by most of the Ultra running community for this very reason - standing out - and people in the community know there is a serious and extreme dislike of Dean Karnazes for what they characterize as "Grand Standing". I've spoken with Dean about this - I say it's because he's smart, a Yale man, handsome, a master promoter, does stunts and has been very successful at promoting himself in the context of ultrarunning. I like Dean Karnazes a lot in fact for these reasons. Now you see the blog I posted about David Horton (above on the right)? That's your typical Ultrarunner that I see - an old guy - who gets off on the shared misery and pain of it all. Why is it a lot of ultrarunners don't even look athletic? have you seen them? Just go over to Youtube and search "Ultra Race" or the like and take a look yourself. It's not just the men - I've met and spoken with one of the women's Superstars, Pam Reed - the lady does not even look healthy in person - does she? Can easily pass for 10 - 15 years older than she is - even on the women's side of these events - there is just little actual running talent in the fields - and that's seen when in '05 Pam Reed who at age 42 not only wins the Master's Women's field (Women 40+ in age) at the crown jewel event - The Badwater 135 mile race - she also wins the overall field of all women of any age, WTF? This speaks to the poor fields of women in their 20's and 30's in these events - sorry, Pam Reed wining the overall does not reflect well on the caliber of talent of women runners at Ultra races. So I'm not sure what to make of these events - and I'd really like to one day read why the International Olympic Committee dismisses them as worthy of inclusion in the Olympics. I'm the same age & w/the same body as Dean Karnazes - have spoken w/him about entering these - he tells me it all breaks down to being blessed with certain ideal mechanics to run - of which I am - and I thank I can do these events well - and be far more distinguished than I am in marathon running (which is just another face in the crowd). However these events hold no appeal for me. From all I gather form those who engage in them - they boil down to and are motivated by a "Self against the Environment" type of personal challenge, quest and feat. However Jurek is very competitive and keeps keen awareness of his standing with his support team relative to the competition during these Ultra races. Ultrarunners though are big into characterizing the terrain, elevation grades, blah blah blah, I hold not desire to challenge terrain and land - I'm still driven and interested in competing against other runners at standards. I can cherry pick marathons and win the Masters class if I wanted to - but that would mean nothing to me. Whenever I speak to ultra runners - I learn they lost interest and appeal in the Marathon. I always want to ask them, "Have you ever ran one (marathon) well"? I find ultrarunners commonly got into the sport by saying they lost interest in the marathon - without disclosing if they ever ran marathons well. It strikes with me that they've chosen to give up on realizing marathon goals - in favor of what are more so characterized as "feats". For example, the stuff that David Horton does? Entirely feat achievement by people with time. Take 1 look at David Horton - he cannot actually race against real runners on any trail, real runners just don't have the time or interest - David Horton does - hence when he asserts he set the "speed record" - it's very laughable in many senses as who in the hell is trying to do it? Who has the time? I see far more fulfillment in goals to be reached in the Olympic standard - the marathon - and running against the best runners - than I do in running 50 or 100 miles against a seriously weak field of runners. I will say this - in the last 2 years - ultrarunning events have been able to attract more runners of real talent - as opposed to the "weekend warrior runner". As they do - you're seeing Scott Jurek's records fall - as again - people coming from his background enter these events - and they are not only breaking Jurek's records - they are shattering them and in the process illustrating Jurek was mediorce talent - per his WAVA grading - relative to others with competitive marathoning backgrounds - Jurek enjoyed the spoils of a shallow pool - it has to be said - not even racing international competition - and what did we see when a legit international runner showed up at Badwater? Well Jurek's talents might be framed in a more accurate perspective then......- as they were when a Brazilian by the name of Valmir (above on the left crossing the finish line) bothered to show up at Badwater. Valmir summarily SHATTERED Jurek's record by 1 hour and 45 minutes. How do you characterize Jurek's performances after a guy from Brazil blows him away by nearly 2 hours? What you thought was great (Jurek) - was all the time good, but clearly not great - you just had marginalized small fields of weekend warrior runners - and Jurek looked great in that backdrop and context - and you would have known ahead of time when you saw Jurek - you say good but not great - if you examined Jurek's performance in the context of WAVA tables and knowing what's out there in the world of running - runners with the talent - just not interested in running Ultras (no money in the events). Again - I am not trying to slam Scott Jurek - I just am taking time to look at ultrarunning and explore what's really going on....when I do - I see all I've spoken to - and the proof is in the points of fact that kind of say it all, no? So when I say Jurek might be overrated, it's all in the context of who he's been racing against and more importantly, NOT racing against - his peers.