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TAFWA Award

Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

2020 Mid-American Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships

Dave HunterOn February 28-29, Dave served as the Color Analyst on the live ESPN3 broadcast of this championship gathering. Coverage of this 2-day conference championship can be viewed on the ESPN app.

Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.

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The dawning of a new year is a hopeful time.  The old year has passed and a clean slate is before us.  As we take a step back and look ahead to 2014, here are a few wishes – in ascending order of importance – for U.S. Track & field in the coming year.

Those who love track & field of course appreciate the purity of the sport itself: the raw, unbridled competition revealing who can run the fastest, jump the highest, and throw the farthest. But there is also an important social component that can add to this experience. After a cleansing long run, an uplifting workout, or an exciting track meet, there is nothing that quite compares to retiring with friends to an inviting meeting place for a bite to eat, a tankard of ale, and some spirited conversation.

Runners of all types can cite many such celebratory venues in all corners of the globe. But perhaps the most recognized, the most revered such gathering spot is Washington Heights' Coogan's Irish Pub & Restaurant - a quaint and cozy watering hole located in Manhattan's upper west side at West 169th Street and Broadway. "We built Coogan's here just about 30 years ago," explains co-owner Peter Walsh. "It was four individual stores previously - a Chinese restaurant, a luncheonette, a dry goods store, a card shop. The building started in 1983 and was completed in 1985."

 

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Photo by Larry Eder, Millrose, year 105
 

Walsh - a larger-than-life personality with an infectious zest - is a curious blend of successful business man, outside-the-box free thinker, and mischievous rogue elephant who does it his way. Walsh grew up in New York's east side Yorkville area - "I remember speaking German in the streets." - and launched off as a young business man operating - and soon owning - a small, but popular restaurant/bar on the upper East Side. When he sold the building and the business around 1980, Walsh made a Solomonesque decision about how to utilize the sale proceeds. "I decided that I was going to have my retirement when I was young," Walsh offers with a wide grin. "I used half the money to go to Europe and live in Paris. And I invested the other half," he explains. "It was a ball. I lived in Paris playing the Blues."

When his youthful "retirement fling" concluded in 1983, Peter Walsh returned to New York and immediately focused on the Washington Heights area and his plan to develop - along with his two partners Dave Hunt and Tess McDade - a premiere neighborhood restaurant and pub. He faced a daunting task. In the early '80's, the Washington Heights community - nestled close to the George Washington Bridge - was a virtual gateway for New York drug trafficking and an epicenter for drug-related crimes. "When we began Coogan's, the entire neighborhood was just going downhill, downhill, and downhill," laments Walsh. "The Armory - with decades of track & field history - had become a homeless shelter. It had gotten to the point that kids would be running track in the Armory and there would be homeless people sleeping in the infield. It was crazy, it was insane. At one time there were over 2000 homeless people living in the Armory."

Walsh - along with Armory savior Norb Sander and other Washington Heights community leaders - fought back. Walsh's plans for Coogan's went forward. Less than a decade later, the rejuvenated Armory - like a phoenix rising from the ashes - reclaimed its former position as the most visible symbol of a proud neighborhood. The collaborative investment of time, energy, and capital paid off as - block by block - the greater community transformed the mean streets of Washington Heights into what is now a revitalized upper west side neighborhood.

Today, Coogan's is both an establishment with a national reputation and a neighborhood haunt. Coogan's track & field theme gives the restaurant a relaxed, comfortable, old-school feel. Memorabilia - a respectful nod to the wonderful heritage of our sport - is everywhere. Several hundred racing singlets - from every college and track club imaginable - hang from the elevated ceiling. Lovingly tucked into a prominent corner is the Al Oerter table - complete with a framed and autographed discus and black and white action photo of the 4-time Olympic gold medalist who often frequented Coogan's. Signed photos of track & field royalty - past and present - line the walls. And the private dining room provides a rare treat: framed covers of every Sports Illustrated that has ever featured a track & field athlete. But there is a local neighborhood ambiance to Coogan's as well. Homage is paid to Washington Heights as framed photos of local politicians, police, and firefighters are interspersed with accomplished Irish milers and notable New York long jumpers. There is even a wonderful old poster heralding an upcoming concert of Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers in reverence to Washington Heights' claim as the birthplace of spontaneous lamppost doo-wop.

Looking back, Peter Walsh unhesitatingly acknowledges that transforming disparate real estate parcels into a now-famous destination eatery and bar was a labor-intensive feat. But the determined and resourceful businessman always knew he could get it done. What the entrepreneur didn't know was that - along the way - he would fall in love with track & field.

With his business located in same block as the Armory, Walsh and Coogan's couldn't help but cross paths with all aspects of track & field: the current athletes, the former athletes, the officials, the fans, etc. But what drew Walsh close to the sport? "It's the personalities," Walsh confides. "The people who are involved, to me, are some of the most wonderful people in the world. Other sports should have the attitude of track. We're more cerebral. Track gives you more time to think."

Peter Walsh also has definite - and somewhat novel - ideas about how track & field might best reclaim its former prominence in the crowded world of sports.

On America's inherent competitive advantage: "We have all the ingredients that the rest of the world doesn't have. We have high school and collegiate programs here like no other place in the world. We can make track & field economically solvent by making the sport interesting to companies that are not necessarily track-involved companies. We basically have to sell the sport to the people with the money."

On inspiring the next generation of athletes: "If you are going to be a good runner here, literature is where the inspiration will come from. If you read about what has gone before, there is no greater inspiration. To know the history of this sport gives you the drive to be successful tomorrow. There is no story about track & field that I have ever read that could not be a movie. The stories are invariably about an athlete's body, their desire, and sacrificing everything in their life to be great."

On rekindling the sport's connection with the American public: "We should think about taking the 'usual' of track & field and showcasing it in 'unusual' places. Why not have a sprint at halftime of a football game - goal post to post? Why not have a high jump on top of the Empire State Building? Why not have a pole vault competition in the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center? To bring the sport to the unusual is bringing the sport to the people. I think it has to be done that way to show the explosion, the strength of the sport to many who don't appreciate what track & field is."

Walsh is animated as he explains why track & field and its successful athletes are a breed apart. "There are few sports like track & field where the athlete has to take himself or herself to the point where if they go the next step they are broken. It is a type of peaking. And if they don't go to that threshold, they lose," offers Walsh as he cites the brinksmanship required not only by track & field athletes who excel but also by those who coach them. "To me, that is the essence of what great coaching is: the ability to recognize the difference between cultivating an athlete's pinnacle performance and breaking a runner," explains Walsh intently. "You don't have that in basketball or football or baseball - those are rhythm sports." A round of Coogan's Ale arrives at the table as Walsh continues to decipher the dedication, the willingness to take risks, and the complex personalities so evident in the sport's marquee performers. Suddenly his countenance lightens, a smile emerges, and the Toastmaster of Track & Field sums it up this way: "You show me a free spirit and I'll show you a runner."

Dr. Norbert Sander is the very type of gracefully-aging athlete that every older runner wants to be: bursting with energy, fully animated, articulate, and armed with an engaging personality. But there is more to Dr. Sander than just a great first impression - much more. Sander - an accomplished physician in his own right - has blossomed forth in the later stages of his professional life as a primary architect of the rebirth of track & field - particularly the indoor variety - in the greater New York area.

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Dr. Norb Sander, courtesy of armorytrack.com

Sander - who grew up in Yonkers - has lived his entire life in the NYC metropolitan area. While at Fordham Prep and Fordham University, Sander fell in love with running while competing in track & field. After medical school, the good doctor went into private practice as a pediatric physician - eventually running two successful New York medical offices. But Sander still made time for his running - even winning the 1974 New York City Marathon in 2:26:30 - an impressive time over the hilly multi-lap course in Central Park.

 

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Dr. Norb Sander racing New York City Marathon in 1974, from the armorytrack.com


But the late 80's brought an experience that would forever change the direction of Sander's life - and would ultimately help a New York neighborhood avert what appeared to be inevitable further decay. "Twenty years ago, I was in my office and a patient came in and asked, 'Do you know anybody who could help us get back into the Armory,'" the doctor reflects. Sander knew the fabled Armory well. Built in 1909, the Armory had been the site of performances by virtually all of the great track & field performers - from Paavo Nurmi forward. The Armory's record-conducive facility also had produced an abundance of pinnacle performances - ranging from high school bests to world records. But Sander also knew that the grand facility had succumbed to an absence of focused leadership, a lack of funds, and flat-out neglect. "At the time, the Armory served as a shelter for 2000 homeless people. It got so chaotic and out of control track & field had to leave. We had no track. And the sport was completely in decline because of this."

Sander - never one to back away from a challenge - started to think about his patient's inquiry - writing letters, meeting with city leaders. "You couldn't get into the Armory - even just to look at it. It was dangerous," notes Sander alluding to the then-present drug trafficking and related crimes that were rampant in Washington Heights. "Those affiliated with the Armory were afraid that someone in the press would write an expose about the place. When we finally got into the Armory, every window was broken, the ceiling was black, and there were no lights. Most of the seats were missing," explains Sander. "The state once owned the Armory. But it was in such bad shape that the state handed it to the City for a dollar. Really, the building was a wreck."

Sander immediately saw the need and knew what had to be done. But could he realistically lead the massive rehabilitative effort that would be necessary to rejuvenate the dilapidated facility at Broadway and West 168th Street? "At the time I was maintaining two pediatric offices. I was under a tremendous amount of stress. I ended up running the newly-created Armory Foundation out of my office," explains Sander of the early days of emerging community effort to save the tarnished jewel of Washington Heights. "Ultimately, we needed an Executive Director, a CEO. And I thought, 'Geez, I got this far - ten years into this thing. I kinda know it better than anybody.' Plus, we weren't there yet - we had a lot to do. So I put my name forward and I became the CEO." Just like that, Norbert Sander was all in: he was heading up a growing, neighborhood effort calculated to rescue the Armory - and the community of Washington Heights as well. "I closed my Manhattan office," offers Sander on the career changes his new direction required. "But I kept my office on City Island. Now I go there twice a week. But I also have a younger guy who is running the office." And with a smile, he adds, "No worries."

"When I first came here in 1990, this neighborhood was a very dangerous place. We had a lot of crime up here," Sander reveals in explaining magnitude of the challenge he then faced. "It took 3 years of lobbying. But we dedicated the new track in October in 1993. The City handed me the key and said, 'Go to it.'" And with zest, Sander adds, "This is our 20th season."

To view the gleaming facility that is the Armory today, it is hard to believe that 30 years ago the oversized building was a decaying eyesore that served as a homeless shelter - a place where ragtag track meets were held in a neglected and ravaged structure and where impoverished individuals sought refuge from the mean streets of Washington Heights. The track facility is stunning - featuring a brand new 200 meter banked Mondo track surrounded by intimate, elevated seating for 3500. "We seat 5000 for the Millrose Games because we bring in temporary seating on the turns," notes the Executive Director. "For the New Balance Games for high school, we get 5000 kids participating in the event. Sometimes there is no room for the parents." Sander takes obvious pride in pointing out a sparkling new trackside café, an adjacent glass-enclosed communication center for the media, even a retail store selling Armory-labeled track & field merchandise. "It's a nifty place," he adds with a smile.

Every little detail counts for Sander - even the 4-story stairwell replete with plaques displaying the names, dates, events, times, heights and distances of every record-setting Armory performance. "These are all records - every one of these is a record that was set in this building - high school, American, and World records," he notes gesturing toward these little visual kernels of track & field lore and inspiration for those who come here to compete and to spectate.

20 years after its rebirth, the Armory is still evolving as ongoing renovation continues to transform the massive old military facility. "We've got a ways to go here, but we're getting there," says Sander as enters a museum-like display room. "These are going to be display cases - each with a different theme. One will be dedicated to the Penn Relays, another will be for the Pioneer Club, New York Road Runners, et cetera," he explains. "We have all kinds of memorabilia, videos, and other items we have collected. So this will be an archive for this museum."

Even beyond its function as a premiere track & field facility, the Armory also is the home of the National Track and Field Hall of Fame. The names of all of the inductees into Hall are prominently displayed - and categorized by events.

The Armory also serves as a museum - a veritable archival repository for track & field memorabilia: Steve Prefontaine's track shoes and Oregon singlet; a Tigerbelle's warm-up top; video clips of Dave Wottle's stirring stretch drive for Olympic gold in the 1972 800 final; black and white photos of a youthful Wilma Rudolph at the Millrose Games - it's all there. Hockey great Mark Messier - intent on transforming the Bronx's Kingbridge Armory into a national ice center - recently visited the rejuvenated Armory seeking ideas and inspiration. "You know what is great about this?," Messier marveled. "Every time you turn around, you see a little piece of history. We've got to do this for hockey."

The type of breath-taking transformation that has occurred at the Armory requires capital - and plenty of it. Over the years, Sander has been quite successful in marshaling the economic support to fuel the still-ongoing renovation of the Armory - raising more than $25 million from public and private sources since 1993. "We get money from wherever we can find it. I get it from the City. New Balance helps us a lot. The New York Road Runners provides assistance. We also have a good financial planner," notes Sander.

The primary focus of the Armory's renaissance is track & field. But Sander - a realist - knew that a successful, fiscally-sound Armory would require a multi-use vision. "In order to support track, I have to do other things. I don't want to leave a void here. I want to have something going on all the time here," explains Sander in outlining how the facility is also used for other events such as Columbia University commencement exercises, trade expos, corporate conferences, even movie shoots. "The City gave us this building for track. But we have to keep the entire community happy," he notes.

"It is hard to get money for track. If you tell people the funds will go just for track & field, you can't get the money," confides Sander. But over time, the Executive Director of The Armory Foundation has discovered a much more effective approach to fundraising. "If you merge the request around track and education, that's a different story. If you show that this sport takes you somewhere - that you're not just running in circles - and that you can take the discipline, the mentoring from your coach, and you can put that together with an education, that's what people want to see." One such funded initiative - Classroom 2 Everywhere - is a marquee Armory-based program assisting over 300 New York high school students. "To get in this program, you have to be on the track team. You can come from any place in the city - Brooklyn, Staten Island. They come here to the Armory on Tuesday and Thursdays, they take their workout, and then they do SAT prep or financial planning. We go over their college applications. Sometimes we take them on bus trips of colleges. And we get nearly 100 percent into some college," beams Sander.

23 years after Norbert Sander's initial visit to the 168th Street Armory - and after years of unrelenting focus and loving restoration - the Armory now stands as the rejuvenated hub of Washington Heights. Promoting excellence, fitness and community, the Armory hosts more than 100 track events each year, maintains the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, operates the largest after-school activity center in New York, and offers a variety of community support program in what is now recognized as a world class facility. The Armory is so much more than simply a state-of-the-art-facility for indoor track & field, a shrine to the sport. It is mute testimony of what even just a single visionary can accomplish when supported by an inspired neighborhood and indeed the entire metropolitan area. The Armory is now an active, bustling community center which pays reverence to yesteryear - and also fosters hope for tomorrow. "As we stand here behind this wall, we are viewing the past," explains Sander looking at the clear, translucent Plexiglas wall displaying the names of all of the inductees into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame. "But we can also look through that wall out onto the track to see the youth, the kids running. That's our future."

 


 

Running’s Messy Journey From Amateurism, To “Shamateurism”, To Open Racing
 

By many measures, virtually all forms of running – road racing, track & field, cross country, ultra running, etc. – are experiencing a sort of encore renaissance. Last year, the USA Olympic Team captured 29 track & field medals at the London Olympics. American men and women – recent statistics show – are increasingly turning to running – and often to racing – in a renewed effort to elevate fitness and life quality. And the running sports of cross country and track & field – to the surprise of many – boast the most U.S. high school participants of any sport. Not since the heady boom days of the 70’s has the sport of running witnessed such elite success while – at the same time – evidenced such broad-based participation.

But for distance running in America, a thorny challenge remains: the further enhancement of the country’s framework for elite athlete development. Few would dispute the notion that the proper development of long-distance runners requires – among other things – a process of maturation that recognizes that most elite athletes reach their performance peak in their later 20’s or even early- to mid-30’s. Remember: Carlos Lopes won the 1984 Olympic marathon at age 37, only to establish a new marathon world record the following year – at age 38. In our country, we have a solid – albeit not spectacular – framework for broad-based participation offered primarily by structured high school and college athletic programs. But once a budding distance runner’s interest is piqued, talent is revealed, and potential is cultivated in our scholastically-based sports system, the athlete graduates and the American “framework” for development comes to an abrupt end. Departure from college often leaves the promising distance runner, perhaps at age 22 and short of reaching full athletic potential, to soldier on alone – unaided by the type of cultural support available to similar foreign-born distance-running hopefuls.

How then does the United States promote the emergence of an expanded environment of assistance which will help strengthen, increase, and basically improve the opportunities for the full development of its elite distance running athletes?

To be able to effectively address that challenge, it is important to understand how the participation in and governance of running has evolved during the recent decades.

Sixty years ago, the world was a different place and the development of domestic distance talent was hardly an issue. European “athletics” was still in a post-war malaise and African nations had not yet become a pivotal sports participant on the world stage. The romantic and Athenian notion of amateurism prevailed. For the most part, international amateur athletes competed on a level playing field – with no global sector noticeably advantaged by a superior method of elite athlete development.

But then things changed. Communist bloc nations quietly assembled internal programs of state support for their athletes. Awakening African nations began to discover that legions of their countrymen possessed vast distance running potential. They saw the sport as a pathway to lift families and villages to a better quality of life.

By the early 1970’s, American distance runners, not unfamiliar with making sacrifices, were finding it increasingly difficult to pursue a focused elite training regimen and – at the same time – maintain even a minimalist lifestyle. Don Kardong, 1976 American Olympian and 4th place finisher in the Montreal Olympic marathon, remembers the sacrifices that he and others were compelled to make as they pursued their dreams of competing in the 1976 Games. “I received no third party assistance,” notes Kardong. “I lived very cheaply, renting a place with 4 other guys. I had a little bit of savings and I did a few odd jobs. But basically I was living incredibly cheaply and focusing everything on my running.”

But during that time, emerging cracks began to threaten the Olympic veneer of amateurism, as American athletes discovered a covert method of sustaining their pursuit. “There was modest appearance money which was discretely distributed to the better athletes. That was technically illegal, but was pretty widespread,” explains Kardong. “But I can’t say that I knew anybody who would have said in those days, ‘I am able to support myself through my running.’”

As the 70’s progressed, the first 5-borrough running of the New York City Marathon in 1976 heralded the emergence of mass urban marathon racing. And – just like that – the spark to distance running that was earlier provided by Frank Shorter’s televised 1972 Olympic marathon victory would soon become a booming bonfire. Before long, money began to flow into the sport. And the pervasive practice of under-the-table appearance fees to elite runners – or “shamateurism” – was proving unwieldy and outdated. It was time to bring running – both road racing and track & field – out of the shadows and into the sunlight.

American distance running began to change more quickly – often in halting and clumsy lurches. The Association of Road Racing Athletes – founded in 1979 – was a progressive and effective voice for America’s elite athletes who wanted the shamateurism charade replaced with an above-board, transparent system of open racing and prize money. “We believed that the money should be based upon how you ran and not who you were,” explains Jon Sinclair, current coach and now-retired elite 1980’s distance runner often recognized as the most decorated road racer of his era.

The early 80’s represented a time of historic change in American distance running. Corporate players – observing a new and emerging market opportunity – continued to sift money into the sport. Sensing the emerging economic reality, elite athletes sought valiantly to establish and preserve their rights to compensation. Governing bodies – fearing the loss of influence – often responded impulsively, threatening loss of eligibility not only to runners taking money, but also to innocent event participants who were “contaminated” by participating in the same event with such elite “violators.” It was a messy time as both athletes and oversight organizations struggled to find new guidelines for a sport that was redefining itself.

While the athletes and selected governing bodies of the sport engaged in exchanges that were often bumpy and downright contentious, the Road Runners Club of America was clarifying its own position in support of the athletes. At its 1980 annual meeting, the RRCA adopted a resolution that announced it “supports the right of road runners to earn a living capitalizing on their fame and recognizes the reality of open running, professional versus amateur.”

Solidarity among the elite runners ultimately proved to be the key to effecting change. The historic showdown race at the 1981 Cascade Run-Off was the turning point as the unified athletes and The Athletic Congress and the International Amateur Athletic Federation found common ground that saved face for the governing bodies yet assured the athletes’ right to compensation. The 11th-hour resolution adopted a trust fund concept that allowed runners to receive and control funds earned in conjunction with road racing and track & field appearances and performances. Now since abandoned, the trust fund concept proved to be a pivotal first step toward full economic independence for running and track & field athletes. “Don Kardong, Creigh Kelley, Greg Meyer, Bill Rodgers, Herb Lindsay, Anne Audain and I – and others like us – we created the professional sport,” Sinclair reflects. “When we started competing in the late 70’s on the roads, there was no prize money. It was all under the table – “shamateurism.” We helped to create that professional sport by taking that money over the table, by putting prize money on the table. It eventually led to the IAAF ultimately to authorize TAC accounts and to allow professionals in all sports to compete in the Olympics.”

And it also proved to be a liberating step that resonated beyond running to unshackle other sports as well – even opening the door for professional athletes to compete in the Olympic Games. Alluding the 1992 Olympic “Dream Team” – a squad composed primarily of professional basketball players – Sinclair notes, “Those guys never would have played in the Olympics had it not been for road racing and the 1981 Cascade Run-Off showdown.”

If there is a difficult approach that can be chosen to accomplish a worthy objective, it seems as if road racing and track & field will invariably – and perhaps inevitably – find and select the hard way to get it done. This somewhat cynical and slightly bemused condemnation might be leveled at the choppy and unruddered manner by which the sport has navigated from the antiquated notion of amateurism to the more realistic and egalitarian approach of open, free-market racing of today. But hindsight is 20/20. Perhaps a fairer assessment of the sport’s much-needed transformation would recognize that all of the twists and turns that accompanied the birthing of an updated and more relevant concept of “athletics” were necessary – albeit sometimes uncomfortable – facets of the this important process of change.
 

The Princeton men’s and women’s cross country teams took on the nation’s top collegiate squads in the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championship Races Saturday in Terre Haute, Indiana. Several days of steady rain, a hard freeze on race day eve, and an ever-present bitter northern wind transformed the Lavern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course into a shoe-sucking sea of pudding-like mud – the kind of tough conditions that make old school cross country purists smile.

The Princeton men – runners-up in last week’s NCAA Mid–Atlantic Regional meet – rang up 469 points on the 10,000 meter course to finish 22nd in the 31 team field. Seniors Tyler Udland [47th in 30:53.55] and Alejandro Arroyo Yamin [73rd in 31:03.5] were the top Tiger performers. Juniors Sam Pons [113th in 31:24.6], Matt McDonald [135th in 31:37.5] and Connor Martin [208th in 32:26.1] rounded out the scoring for Princeton.

In the women’s race, freshman Megan Curham concluded a sparkling fall season, covering the 6000 meter course in 20:42.3. Curham’s 34th place finish earned her All-American recognition – one of only three freshmen nationwide to capture that honor. The women’s team – which gained a coveted at-large invitation to Terre Haute at last week’s regional meet – had a tough afternoon scoring 703 points to finish 30th in the 31 team field. Scoring behind Curham were sophomore Kathryn Fluehr [186th in 21.56.0], junior Emily De La Bruyere [209th in 22:09.8], freshman Elizabeth Bird [214th in 22:13.6] and sophomore Kathryn Little [222nd in 22:18.3]. The Lady Tigers – with 6 of the top 7 returning next year – should benefit greatly from Saturday’s national championship experience.

Princeton joined Dartmouth as the only Ivy League schools to qualify full men’s and women’s teams for Saturday’s NCAA national championship races.
 

On the weekend before Thanksgiving, over 250 of the nation's most accomplished Division I women cross country runners – including 31 of the top collegiate teams – journeyed to Terre Haute for the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championship Race. And when the pre-race days brought unrelenting rain followed by a hard freeze on race day eve, the Lavern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course dished up a heaping helping of good old fashioned cross country – temperatures in the low 20’s, a bitter northern wind, extended patches of shoe-sucking pudding-like mud, and a side dish of standing water. In other words, it was just the type of nasty weather smorgasbord that makes old school cross country purists smile.

Undaunted by the weather, Iona’s Kate Avery got right after it, jumping out to a quick lead at the mile mark as a bunched chase pack – fronted by Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino and Boise State’s Emma Bates – stalked from 30 meters off the pace. Avery’s pace-setting went unchallenged over the next 2K as the chase pack – now joined by Villanova’s Emily Lipari and Stanford’s Aisling Cuffe – seemed content to bide its time. Around the 3K mark, D’Agostino and Bates set sail in tandem in a quest to reel in the Iona sophomore. Patiently closing the gap, the duo caught Avery at the 4K mark. Working the uphill and aided by a now-favorable tailwind, the Dartmouth senior steadily pulled away from Bates – now second – and Avery – hanging on in third. As the trio, rounded onto the final 400 meter straightaway, D’Agostino – now in full flight with a 30 meter lead – savored her coronation march to the finish line, her first national collegiate cross country victory [20:00.3], and her 5th overall NCAA individual title. Bates – the West Regional champion – finished powerfully to capture the runner-up position [20:03.9] while Avery hung on gamely for 3rd [20:05.4]. Cuffe emerged strongly from the chase pack to get up for 4th [20:09.3]. And Emily Lipari – the Mid-Atlantic Regional champion – finished in 20:10.8 to round out the top 5.
After the race, mud-splattered front-runners offered insight on the championship race. Avery – the early protagonist – disavowed any calculated plan to steal the early lead. "What I did was not the strategy. I just ended up at the front. I had no intention of going for it. The start at the front end of the girls' race is just unbelievable,” the Iona sophomore explained. “In the back of my mind, I always want to win. But I knew Abbey was coming for me."

Bates was elated with her second place finish. "I just wanted to stick with Abbey as long as I could. I tried to run with a short stride and just keep pumping away,” offered the Boise State junior. “I wanted to stick with her just a little bit longer. But when she [D’Agostino] pulls away, she really pulls away. She wasn't messing around."

"The race plan going in was just to stay with the pack and then evaluate at 4K,” D’Agostino explained. The new champion wasn’t worried about Avery’s early lead. "We had talked about that and we knew that had happened before when I was a sophomore here. We just kinda eased our way up and the gap was closing. The pace didn't feel out of control to me. And I knew there was 2K to do it. So it just had to be gradual." Asked how it feels to have captured her 5th individual NCAA title, the beaming victor didn’t hesitate. “It feels great.”

The team race produced no real surprises. Providence’s point total of 141 comfortably earned the Lady Friars their first team title since 1995. Emily Sisson’s overall 7th place performance [20:17.5] led the winners to a 5-16-24-42-54 team finish. Arizona – turning in a rare pinnacle performance by a warm weather school under icy conditions – finished second. Hoosier favorite Butler, Michigan, and Georgetown rounded out the top 5 teams.
 

Who knew? Olive oil – unquestionably not a banned substance – apparently is performance-enhancing. It worked like a charm for Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino – individual titlist at the NCAA DI XC Championship race. Before stepping out onto Terre Haute’s frozen tundra, the pre-race favorite smeared on a little olive oil to take the sting out of the biting northern wind. “I put olive oil on my face. It's just awesome." What? “It was Mark Coogan's idea. He has the plan experience with crazy conditions." Why olive oil? “It's Italian. Olive oil is our thing."

The eclectic topical dressing was not the only thing D’Agostino had going for her. The Dartmouth senior also had fitness, experience, patience, confidence – and family. “I know I couldn't have done it without my team here,” explained the new champion as she reflected upon the presence of her Dartmouth teammates competing alongside her. “That was the one missing piece over the past couple of years: to have those girls right there on the line. There's nothing to worry about. You know your family is here.” It was the final piece for her mosaic of cross country success. “This was my last cross country race running for Dartmouth, so I had to give it all I had."

The remainder of her senior year will provide more clarity for her post-collegiate future. “I'm definitely going to run in some capacity. I'm not going to settle for anything less than what I know I want: to be a part of a team. I'm going to find that in the professional world."

Dartmouth coach Mark Coogan – quietly enjoying the afterglow of D’Agostino’s victory – provided insight on his athlete’s 5th individual NCAA championship title. "Abbey ran great. She stuck to the game plan,” said the former Olympian. “It has been an unbelievable four years to be able work with such a great kid and now a buddy of mine." Oh, and coach, what about the 11th hour addition of the protective olive oil? “That,” confided Coogan with a smile, “is an old trick I learned from Ed Eyestone back in 1989.”
    

A significant number of American runners know Creigh Kelley - even if they aren't really aware they do. When you are getting in your final stride-outs prior to the start of the Peachtree 10K Road Race or digging down deep for that final sprint to the finish of the Walt Disney World Marathon - or at any number of road races or marathons across the country - that upbeat voice exhorting you onward belongs to the man Runner's World Magazine recently honored as one of our sport's top three national announcers.

Creigh Kelley has played a major role in the evolution of American running and road racing for 40+ years. As an athlete, an entrepreneur, an agent, a race organizer, an announcer, an emcee, Kelley has not only seen it all, he has also made pivotal contributions along the way which have helped to make the sport what it is today.

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During his journey, the man Amby Burfoot cites as "one of the sport's best ambassadors" has gained untold knowledge about road racing and marathoning, its evolution, and those who are drawn to dance with the cruel mistress that is the irresistible 26 mile 385 yard race. And that knowledge has cultivated within Kelley very definite opinions about every facet of our sport. "Communication was very different in the late 70's and '80's from what it is today. The amount of information that was available about the sport was very limited back then. And because of that, many people misunderstood what was trying to be accomplished," reflects Kelley as he looks back on the era when naivety pervaded running and other amateur sports. "The public was really sold on the idea that being an amateur was the highest calling. I can remember feeling that - feeling that the notion was quite legitimate - because we were so unaware of how the sport really worked," Kelley notes as he recalls the noble - yet outdated and impractical - Olympic ideal which ultimately ceded to today's open racing environment. "It was, in essence, the way we felt things should be," Kelley muses.

After tasting success as an accomplished schoolboy and collegiate middle distance runner and serving his country in Vietnam, the decorated Army Captain soon found himself in Colorado looking to lay down roots. Quite unplanned, the young veteran struck up friendships and relationships with Jeff Galloway, Benji Durden, Jon Sinclair, and others who would ultimately spearhead the not-so-quiet revolt that led to open racing. Along the way, the young businessman was operating a running store and representing athletes. It was a clumsy and awkward process as the sport lurched along to find ways to allow dedicated athletes to be compensated for their performances. Recalling the ingenuity employed, Kelley reminds of the ultimate objective, "We were finding ways to package money so that athletes would not be harmed." Singled out by Hal Higdon as "one of the unsung heroes of the running revolution," Kelley soon thereafter witnessed the Cascade Run Off breakthrough that signaled the dawning of the age of open racing. Bill Rodgers - another pioneer and one who benefitted greatly by this transition - succinctly captures Kelley's contribution: "Creigh is one of the individuals who helped professionalize the sport of running and allowed it to become better understood in the United States and around the world."

But the young leader knew more change was on the way. "It was a guy's world," notes Kelley in describing road racing and marathoning in the late 70's and early 80's. "But many of us saw that women would be entering into the sport in a big way. Kathrine Switzer and Elizabeth Phillips figured out how to assemble the Avon Running Series. These pioneer women were amazing. I saw that and thought about the business side of the sport. And I decided I was going to get into the game. I decided I was going to represent some great women. Before long, I added Anne Audain to my earlier representation of Jon Sinclair. And suddenly I was representing two of the best road racers in the country. I had this tremendous, ill-gotten reputation because I just happened to get the right people."

The Ringmaster beams as he reflects on what then emerged as a Golden Age of American running and racing. "We figured out how to put together contracts with race organizers and we figured out other aspects of the sport. And then it was exciting," an animated Kelley explains. "And even though I was not a great athlete, I was then in that rarified air because of announcing, and representing these athletes." Smiles Kelley, "Suddenly I was in the 'in' crowd. Through that whole process, I had to find my way. But it was a great time to be there."

While Kelley of course appreciates the pathway running has followed into the 21st century, he also has carefully-assembled opinions on the current state of the sport. "It is the hottest topic on the planet," exclaims Kelley in referencing the participant explosion in the mega urban marathons. "We have gone through several iterations of the running boom. And we have created our own little nightmare - or we have created our own wonderful success. It depends upon which prism you wish to look through." As a national announcer, Kelley has not only witnessed the nationwide entrant boom, he has also observed the demographic change of those who make up these ever-growing fields. "Because I put on events, I am thrilled that we have all these people entering into this activity because that means in theory our population is getting more fit," he explains. "The truth is that if you look at a fitness profile of America, we are less fit today than we were 20 years ago. Yet we have more people participating in what should be a lifestyle that improves one's life and one's health," Kelley observes paradoxically. And in a joyless pronouncement, Kelley states, "I would say - conservatively - it is apparent that as many as 30 percent of today's entrants are not living healthy lifestyles." It is an unwanted development for which the time-tested pioneer has an offered solution. "My feeling is that we need to reconstruct our message. We should reinvent how we run these events to inspire participants to strive for higher performance levels. We have become a nation that is suffering under a troubling malaise. The American way - the way we produced The Greatest Generation - didn't believe that mere finishing was winning," offers Kelley with sincere concern. "We believed we had to work hard, stick to a plan, and get to some level of success. It was OK to fail if you tried the best you could, if that was as good as it got. But then you buckled in and tried again."

The Ringmaster sees the drift to specialized obstacle or frolic events as not so much a threat to the sport as a fad, a passing fancy. Kelley sees the bubble runs, the color runs, the zombie runs as lighthearted "excuses to be social. There are only so many times that you want to be covered in color or soaked from bubbles. I see them as a passing trend," laughs Kelley. With recognition that the future of running events will require both a competitive facet and an entertainment element, Kelley adds, "Our aim - as a generation of people with our hands still on the reins - probably should be trying to make our running events as entertaining as possible, without sacrificing the interest in competition."

As he looks ahead, Kelley sees further change on the way. "Running will experience a leveling of the sheer number of events. Cities are being stretched by the growing number of sporting events. They lack the appetite for more events and are rapidly reaching a saturation point. Events are starting to be recognized as more worthy than others if they provide real charitable dollars back into that community and support local businesses. Events structured that way will ultimately have greater sustainability."

Kelley hopes that running events will find novel and effective ways to recapture a meaningful competitive element that actually inspires individual achievement - on a granular runner-by-runner basis. "I hope race organizers will rethink how they can reward people for enhanced performance," Kelley frankly states. "Social media can be a great vehicle for this - to measure improvement, to enhance fitness. Event structure could be constructed to promote this." Kelley envisions a runner's improved performance resulting in some form of recognition or even an entry fee discount for the following year's event - all tracked and measured via social media. "I would like to see more runners inspired not to just get a finishers medallion, but to be inspired to be more competitive and to feel better about oneself," Kelley explains. "I would like to see 'quality of performance' increasingly be a factor that encourages each entrant to train - not to just show up."

Approaching 70 but far from done, Creigh Kelley has already assembled an enviable legacy. "The running movement has been fueled by the vision and generous spirit of a handful of people. Creigh Kelley is one of them," observes Craig Masback, former American middle distance record holder and prior CEO of USATF. With characteristic humility, Kelley is quick to temper the exuberant accolades others have for him. Undeniably armed with much knowledge gained from his years of experience in the sport, Creigh Kelley - a self-styled philosopher - is careful to note that wisdom is distinctly different than knowledge. "Wisdom is knowledge forged in the furnace of time," he instructs. It should be remembered that Kelley's own observations have emerged from his cerebral blast furnaces after more than four decades of his immersion into the world of road racing and marathoning. It is this recognition that allows one to appreciate that the kiln-fired pronouncements of Creigh Kelley are far more than mere knowledge.

If you hang around running for any length of time, you soon observe that the sport has a certain addictive quality. It starts out innocently enough. A young athlete begins with a curious interest about the sport, perhaps a desire to learn more, to see what he or she can do. But then it begins. It may be a revealed natural talent for the sport. Or it may be a taste of some success as the result of some focused effort. But often - before long - a dabbling novice can quickly become a committed competitor, eager to see what can be achieved.

The life of Elmore Banton is a wonderful illustration of this. "Mo" Banton grew up during the '50's and '60's in Akron, Ohio's inner city. As a young high school athlete, he fancied himself as a basketball and baseball player. But as often happens in life, fate intervened to influence Banton's direction. "I really got into running by accident. I thought I was a baseball and basketball player," he explains. "At Akron Central High School at that time, you had to play football or do some other sport to get into shape for basketball. I started running cross country at the beginning of my junior year, but I didn't take it very seriously to be honest with you."

But that small taste was all young Mo needed. "I actually ran pretty well without much practice," Banton confides. A solid - but not spectacular - junior year of cross country performances was just enough to prompt Banton - and others - to wonder about his untapped potential. "Between my junior and senior year a friend of mine took me aside and told me I could be pretty good. So the summer before my senior year, I really trained seriously." His curiosity piqued, Banton was inspired to look at running differently - not as a lark, but as a sport where he might excel. When the young runner's summer dedication led to top shelf cross country performances in the fall, mail delivery at the Banton household picked up. "I started to get all of these letters from college coaches," explains Banton. "Most of them were from track and cross country coaches - and only a few of them were from baseball or basketball coaches," adds Banton with a laugh. Looking back, Elmore Banton recognizes that moment for what it was - a turning point. "I thought to myself, 'Maybe I can do something with this running stuff.'" In less than a year after Mo took up the sport, running was beginning to present opportunities the young athlete never thought possible. "Before my senior year in high school, I wasn't even thinking about college. I was thinking about going into the army or something like that. I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do" admits Blanton. "But with these coaches calling me, I thought maybe I should give college a look."

Banton - with less than two years of organized running under his belt - headed off to Ohio University. It was an educational opportunity made possible by his running. "I couldn't afford to go to college," admits Banton. "But I met with Coach [Stan] Huntsman. He got me a job and gave me a little money and I went off to OU. I just had this feeling that I could be pretty good at this."

Banton flourished under Huntsman's wing - dutifully following his coach's carefully crafted training regimen. After a highly successful break-through season on the frosh squad, Banton joined the varsity OU XC squad and two other African American distance stars. With three accomplished black teammates - far from commonplace in the mid-60's - Huntsman and the OU harriers forged the Bobcat team into a national power. "That was one of the most fantastic things about it," reflects Banton. "People couldn't believe that we had three black guys as the top runners on our team."

That unique team characteristic also prompted some uncomfortable moments. During a dual meet versus Tennessee in Knoxville, Banton witnessed the dark side of the South in the '60's. "We were all tired from the long trip. When the gun went off, I took off like I usually do. But I felt like crap," explains Banton. "At the two mile mark, the top Tennessee runner caught me and took a 20 yard lead. Just then, I heard a fan yell to the Tennessee leader, 'Way to go! Don't let that black boy beat you.' I don't know what happened. Suddenly, I just took off. I caught the leader and just killed him. I set a new course record that day. Later when I saw the top Tennessee runner that year at nationals, he came up to me and asked what happened back in Knoxville that day. I didn't want to tell him what really happened; I just said 'One of your fans inspired me.'" Banton not only discovered the harsh realities of a certain unsavory sliver of southern culture; he also discovered his inner fire.

It proved to be a fire the collegiate standout could direct in stunning ways. When a freak trip and fall in the NCAA championship race denied Banton All American status as a sophomore, the collegiate runner channeled the emotion from that disappointment into his training. "I came home that summer determined to make All-American my junior year. That summer, I worked my tail off like I never worked before. I ran a hill in front of my house hundreds of times getting ready for the fall," offers Banton. After methodically steeling himself for the then-shorter cross country distance, Banton returned to Athens ready to do battle. "I had four miles down to a science."

After a sparkling fall cross country season as a junior, Banton was on his way to East Lansing for the season-ending NCAA championship race - and a long-awaited shot at redemption. "I knew I could compete with the big boys. And I knew I could do well on the hilly course at Michigan State. Before the meet, it started snowing. And I thought this was wonderful. I love running in the rain, the snow, the mud. I told Coach Huntsman, 'This is the greatest thing in the world: it's a hilly course; it's snowing like crazy; half the people won't even want to run.'" Always a fierce frontrunner, Banton - undaunted by the miserable weather conditions - took the championship race out hard. "I had a 50 yard lead at the mile mark. I was scared as hell," he laughs. "I was thinking, 'They're coming after me, I gotta keep on rolling.' When I got to the 3 mile mark, I knew I could win. I knew if I could hold my composure I had it." And he did. Finishing in 20:07.5 over Michigan State's muddy, hilly 4-mile course, Banton rang up a comfortable wire-to-wire win - an NCAA championship first - to become the first African American to capture the individual national collegiate cross country title. "The others thought I was going to come back," notes Banton on his front running tactic. "I never came back."

Banton's senior XC season - at the new 6 mile distance - featured many highlights, including a scintillating Mid-American conference win - "I broke the 4 mile course record on the way to the 6 mile victory." While the magic wasn't there for Banton at the NCAA championship meet, his 8th place finish nonetheless secured his second All-American honor.

As his days as a competitor were slipping away, Banton was resourceful enough to find a way to maintain his romance with running. Coaching proved to be the key. In 1980, Banton - after fulfilling a military obligation, earning an advanced degree, and serving as an assistant coach at the University of Akron - was named as the head coach for track & field and cross country at his alma mater - the first African American to be named to a head coaching position at Ohio University. Soon expanding his duties to the women's programs as well, Banton went on to provide to his athletes more than two decades of the same type of thoughtful tutelage that he himself received as a collegiate athlete. The revered coach takes obvious delight in recalling the many special athletes he has coached (e.g. NCAA shot put runner-up Greg Jones and the All-American distance running Ritchie brothers) and the memorable team accomplishments he has experienced (e.g. 6 consecutive MAC titles for the OU women's XC team).

Now serving as an assistant at John Carroll University where he has coached since 2003, Banton continues to bring the experience he has gained - both as an athlete and as a coach - to his task of guiding the fortunes of the JCU cross country and track athletes. The coach - in the twilight of his career, but savoring every moment - is playful in discussing his longevity and his inability to just walk away. "This is the first year that I haven't coached cross country. I'm just working with the middle distance runners now," Banton explains. "I was planning on taking the fall off. You know what I am doing now? I am running the fall track program!"

Approaching 70, Elmore Banton can look back with a quiet pride on his life's work - a journey he never truly planned, but one that emerged so naturally from his love affair with running. As he reflects not only on his own accomplishments, but also on the many lives he has touched and shaped, he knows in his heart of hearts that the love affair - still burning brightly - is simply not over. When pressed about his future plans, Banton pauses before replying. "I'm just going to keep after it. I really enjoy these kids. Every year I say it's going to be my last year." And with a knowing smile he adds, "But then I always come back."

There is always a palpable sense of anticipation leading up to the starting cannon of the New York City Marathon. But this year was different. The havoc wrought by Hurricane Sandy's East Coast assault last year prompted a frustrating and controversial 11th hour cancellation of this international celebration of running. And in some ways, that loss - not just of the race, but of life and of property - seemed further magnified last spring after the horrific on-course bombings that marred this race's older sibling - the B.A.A. Marathon. It has all converged to build an unparalleled level of excitement for the 2013 ING New York City Marathon.

 
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Geoffrey Mutai, photo by PhotoRun.net
 

The pre-race excitement peaked early Sunday morning as over 50,000 runners - many inspired to race by Sandy's devastation, the Patriots' Day bombings, or both - gathered at Fort Washington to begin the first NYC Marathon in two years. As the cannon signaled the beginning of the women's elite race, Ethiopian and New York resident Buzunesh Deba charged to the front to grab the early lead. Joined by her training partner Tigist Tufa Demisse, Deba - untroubled by the pesky northern headwind - quickly settled into a 5:30 per mile pace - a Wanjiru-esque tactic that signaled to the elites that there would be no dawdling this morning, that the racing would begin immediately. Rhythmically, the Bronx duo built a prodigious lead over a Dream Team chase pack comprised of a dozen runners including two-time reigning world champion Edna Kipligat and reigning Olympic bronze medalist Priscah Jeptoo. For these two Kenyans there was a race within the race - their head-to-head battle for the World Marathon Majors title and the top prize of $500,000. Deba and Demisse - who had hit the 6 mile mark 2:00 ahead of the chase pack - went on to forge a margin of 3:30 by the time they crossed the Pulaski Bridge halfway mark in 1:12:38. ESPN2 commentators - and indeed millions of viewers of the live broadcast - were openly wondering if the women's race was over.

Meanwhile, the men's race unfolded as a more cautious affair. After conquering the opening 2-mile Verrazano Bridge, 16 elite men were bunched up front as the race headed up Brooklyn's 4th Avenue. Passing 4 miles in 19:59, the 16 racers - which included Americans Meb Keflezighi, Jason Hartmann, Ryan Vail, and Augustus Maiyo - cautiously eyed one another, conserving energy for the real racing that was more than an hour away. A wind-hampered 13th mile in 4:48 began to thin the herd as the elite men headed for the Queensboro Bridge. By the time the 1st Avenue throng greeted the leading men, the lead pack was reduced to 9. Ethiopia's Tsegaye Kebede - also locked in $500K World Marathon Majors battle with Olympic and World marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich - pressed the pace heading north to the Bronx, covering the always speedy 17th downhill mile in 4:39. The diminutive Kebede - in his third marathon in the last 7 months - was working hard while Geoffrey Mutai - the 2011 defending NYC champion running his first 26 miler of the year - looked well within himself as he deftly covered all 1st Avenue moves. It was clear that the others were waiting for Mutai - the race's alpha dog - to make his move. As the lead pack runners - now down to 8 - crossed the Willis Avenue Bridge into the Bronx - a kickers' race was in the making.

Back in the women's race, Jeptoo - sensing the women's title might be slipping away - took matters into her own hands as the chase pack swung off the Queensboro Bridge onto 1st Avenue. The Kenyan distance star set sail alone in her quest to reel in the two leaders. Positive results were immediately evident. Racing headlong toward the Bronx, Jeptoo soon held a 25 second lead on her World Marathon Major challenger Kipligat she left behind and had trimmed the advantage gripped by the Bronx duo down to 1:49. Was there enough time left? The effort was taking its toll on the two Ethiopian leaders: Deba dropped Demisse in the Bronx. Shortly thereafter Deba - 2011 NYC runner-up - threw up after coming off the Madison Avenue Bridge. The hunt was on.

Jeptoo - displaying her own unique, funky splayed-leg running style - continued to narrow the gap. By the 21st mile, the Kenyan had sliced the lead down to less than a minute and the hunter could see her prey. Flying past a fading Demisse in mile 22, Jeptoo closed on Deba, passing her shortly after the pair had entered Central Park at the 90th Street Engineer's Gate. As Jeptoo wrested away the lead, the absence of any response by Deba signaled the race was over. The Olympic marathon silver medalist raced on to cross the line in negative split 2:25:07 to capture not only her first New York Marathon title, but also the title and life-altering prize money which accompanied her World Marathon Majors crown.

In Jeptoo's wake, a disconsolate Deba - bridesmaid once again - finished 2nd in 2:25:56 with Latvia's Jelena Prokopcuka - the 2005 and 2006 NYC champion - crossing under the banner in 2:27:47 to finish 3rd and round out the podium. Not completely unexpected, no American women finished in the top ten.

Back uptown, Geoffrey Mutai - whose winning 2011 Boston time of 2:03:02 remains the fastest marathon time ever run - sensed it was time to go. Among the lead pack of 8 in the 20th mile, the defending champion threw down the gauntlet with a decisive move that sent 6 world class marathoners out the back door. Only fellow countryman Stanley Biwott could gamely hold on. Could Biwott - viewed by many in the pre-race analysis as a possible "X Factor" - give Mutai a race? Mutai provided a resounding answer to that question less than a mile later with one final powerful surge that made quick work of Biwott. All that remained was Mutai's coronation cruise through the park on his way to victory. Some may classify Mutai's winning time of 2:08:24 as underwhelming. But remember this: only 7 other past winners have posted a finishing time faster than the winning mark rung by an unchallenged Mutai today. And none of those 7 winning times are within 2 minutes of Mutai's 2011 course record of 2:05:06.

As Mutai savored his second consecutive NYC victory, Kebede - moving smartly over the final 5 kilos - weaved past some tiring elites to get up for second in 2:09:16. His second place showing placed him ahead of World Marathon Major challenger Kiprotich and assured him the WMM title and the $500K prize money. South Africa's Lusapho April - virtually unnoticed in the lead pack - made the podium with a third place finish and a 2:09:45 clocking that surprised some analysts. Biwott - the last racer vanquished by Mutai - struggled home in 2:10:41 for 5th place. Like the American women, no American man finished in the top ten.

The bracing weather, the spirited competition, the stunning performances of the international elites, and the 50,000 different individual stories behind every participant who answered the starting cannon and crossed the finish line - it all came together to make Marathon Morning In America a wonderful event by any measure. But years from now this race will be remembered as the day the marathoners, the City, and the country demonstrated the resilient fortitude to overcome disasters - meteorological and man-made - and reclaim the joyful celebration that has always been the hallmark of this race. And in the end, that may well be the most triumphant aspect of the 2013 New York City Marathon.

RunBlogRun Some photographs on this site have been reproduced with permission from runblogrun.com.