Loon Highlights and Video

By now, we all know the results of the Loon Mountain Race (and if you missed it, we have results below). Sure, results tell one story but there is another story that remains hidden behind the final numbers.  Here are some highlights from inside the race:

  • Kenny Rayner of HFC ran most of the race with only one shoe. He lost his racing sneaker about 1.5 miles into the race and just kept going. Now, would be a good time to remind our audience that this is a trail race with sharp rocks and other such things on the ground. Some may say that barefoot running is becoming more and more common but I would interject that those who run barefoot usually plan on doing it before the race. Mr. Rayner did not yet he kept going. That’s on the Level. He has proven worthy of his Mar/April 2014 profile.
  • Last year E-j Hrynowski traversed Upper Walking Boss twice-by accident. This year he did it twice-on purpose. Yes, this sadistic man ran UWB once during the race and once after he finished. Some people are just gluttons for punishment. But here at the LVL we think that’s totally cool, and like Rayner, he proved himself worthy of his Level feature in the Nov/Dec 2012 issue.
  • The race has Upper Walking Boss and The Legion has Christin Doneski who is a complete boss when it comes to mountain running. Doneski, who finished 11th overall as a master, beat many top (women) open runners and maybe even all of them besides Kasie Enman. Doneski even finished better than Mt Washington champion Shannon Payne and Olympian Magda Lewy Boulet. eing the augurs that we are, we profiled Christin in our Sept/Oct 2013 issue.
  • What to hear a badass story? Dave Dunham won a national age group title. That’s all well and good, but here comes the badass part: immediately following the race, Dunham put himself right into a walking boot to take three weeks off. Running through injury takes guts and DD has enough of them to fill a small cadre of sedentary people. We are proud to say that Dunham is a regular contributor to our magazine.

Check out Loon video coverage.


Top 50 Men 

top 50 men loon 7.11.14
Top 50 Women
top 50 women loon 7.11.14
For complete results, go to coolrunning.com.

Unsponsored McLaughlin Earns National Title

Allie McLaughlin, a 23 yr old resident of Colorado Springs, earned herself a US Mountain Running National Championship with a win at the Loon Mountain Race on Sunday. Allie will also represent the US as part of the national mountain running team. McLaughlin ran the 4.5ish mile course in 47:12, good for a 9:51 clip on the challenging terrain. Morgan Arritola was more than a minute back in second place (48:15).

McLaughlin Loon Mt Viger 7.6.14

Allie breaking the tape against a tremendous backdrop, courtesy of Joe Viger Photography.

It may come as a bit of a surprise to some that it was McLaughlin breaking the tape considering how stacked this field was. Besides Arritola, the race featured former world champion Kasie Enman, recent Mt Washington winner Shannon Payne and former Olympian/US mountain running team member Magda Lewy-Boulet. Stacked. But it was McLaughlin who came out on top, and here we have an interview with the new champion:

Was this your first US Mt Championships race?

Yes it was!

How long have you been running the mountains for?

Well I mean living in Colorado a lot of my trails are a little hilly, but I first did the incline at the base of Pikes Peak with my best friends freshman year in high school. Needless to say, I kind of fell in love!

Did training at elevation out west make this lower evelation seem easy, or did this race have its own special challenges?

I’m not really sure how much the elevation played a factor. I’ve never really felt any kind of race being easier at lower elevation, my time is just faster sometimes. So maybe I did get up quicker being at a lower elevation than if I was running it at home!

What was your game plan going in?

It’s been a long time since I’ve raced consistently (fall of ’09) and so I’ve kind of had a chance to start over and not overthink it too much. That said, my plan was just to pretend I was going out for a run up Keystone at home! Obviously as the race went on I probably made adjustments or reacted to situations differently than if it was just a training run but I like how it went!

What position were you in when hit the Upper Walking Boss (the last, long climb)?

I was in the lead heading up the last climb and I wasn’t 100 percent sure how to handle it cause everyone in the race is obviously a strong climber and I didn’t want to get passed!

What did you think of Upper Walking Boss?

It was pretty legit, but I made it up without getting passed so that made it seem easier when it was over! It was pretty long, but the 500m to go sign was super encouraging. I just treated it like it was the last incline and definitely took the first half slower.

How did you celebrate making the team?

I didn’t do a ton since I had to head straight to the airport after the race, but it was fun to see all the pics pop up on social media in the car! My parents were in town Monday which was special and I’m planning to get out on my wakeboard soon now that the water is warming up here!

Who are you sponsored by and what team do you compete/train with?

I do not have a sponsor and I do not train with a team. As of right now I have found I do best staying healthy on my own. I do though often run with Zach Miller (4th at Loon) and that’s been really great. He is super enthusiastic about racing and has helped push me back into the scene and for that I am grateful!!

Where can we expect to see you racing next?

Italy.. wearing the Red, White, and Blue!!

Congrats to Allie and good luck to her in Italy. Now will someone step up and sponsor this stud runner?

Cayuga 50 Trail Championship

Champion Chris Vargo

Champion Chris Vargo

The Cayuga 50 Mile Trail Race acted as a USATF Championship event last month. The event took place in Ithaca, NY and hosted some of the best long distance runners in the country. Lucky for us, Legionnaire Joe Viger was on hand and with camera. He provided outstanding photography of our race and there is only a small sample within. Click here to see Joe’s gallery in its entirety.

Champion Chris Vargo

Champion Magda Boulet followed by Kathryn O’Regan


Place Bib Name M/F Age Section Distance Time Status
1 2747 Chris Vargo M 32 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 06:57 FINISHED
2 2756 Tristan Williams M 28 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 07:02 FINISHED
3 2567 Matthew Flaherty M 28 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 07:09 FINISHED
4 2551 Yassine Diboun M 35 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 07:19 FINISHED
5 2667 Benjamin Nephew M 38 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 07:29 FINISHED
6 2674 Zachary Ornelas M 22 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 07:31 FINISHED
7 2541 Cole Crosby M 25 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 07:46 FINISHED
8 2740 Chad Trumbo M 31 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 07:49 FINISHED
9 2659 Jim Mollosky M 38 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 07:51 FINISHED
10 2698 Iain Ridgway M 34 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 07:55 FINISHED


16 2521 Magdalena Boulet F 40 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 08:22 FINISHED
22 2658 Kristin Moehl F 36 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 08:51 FINISHED
23 2678 Jacqueline Palmer F 26 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 08:57 FINISHED
27 2599 Karen Holland F 27 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 09:04 FINISHED
32 2707 Amy Rusiecki F 34 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 09:12 FINISHED
33 2640 Darcy Lucas F 33 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 09:13 FINISHED
37 2653 Keila Merino F 33 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 09:17 FINISHED
41 2769 Ashley Moyer F 26 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 09:28 FINISHED
42 2569 Kristina Folcik F 36 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 09:30 FINISHED
45 2751 Chantal Warriner F 34 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 09:34 FINISHED
47 2624 Bree Lambert F 45 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 09:38 FINISHED
50 2505 Kelsey Allen F 30 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 09:43 FINISHED
61 2579 Jess Gockley F 33 #12 - North Shelter 50.0 09:55 FINISHED


Legion member Ben Nephew

Legion member Ben Nephew

For full event results, check the Cayuga 50 homepage.


Legion member Ben Nephew

One of the beautiful views at the Cayuga 50

Galoob, Fairchild Ramble Off With Titles

Ramble Mason Galoob Hammer

For the second year in a row, the James Joyce Ramble 10k also served as the USATF masters national 10k championship. Local masters took advantage of the opportunity to go toe to toe with some of the nation’s best, despite the fact that many of them were fresh off racing the Boston Marathon. When a national championship race is in your backyard, it’s hard to avoid silly the temptations like rest and recovery. Plus, it’s not too often the masters group gets a three minute head start before the rest of the field is sent charging after them.

Mike Galoob continued his journey from seemingly out of nowhere to the top of the ranks in New England. New England might be an understatement of his position since he now can add ‘national champion’ to his resume. The 40 yr old from Peace Dale, RI ran a 32:37 to secure the title. It wasn’t an easy win, and Peter Hammer (BAA) damn near surged back to steal it in the end. Although it’s safe to say Peter’s not leaning on excuses to explain coming up short, we’ll throw one reason out: a 2:33 marathon. Yes, the 47 yr old Hammer ran a 2:33:02 at the Boston Marathon only six days earlier and almost fought his way to a national masters title. Almost. Peter came up four seconds shy of Galoob’s winning time. “It was awesome to have Peter Hammer come up and put in a strong surge there at the end, that really woke us up and it was go time then.”

The race itself started out very tactically, with the main, large pack of contenders sticking together through the first four miles or so. After that, things started to stretch out a bit as runners began to fall off. According to Mike, the first half of the race was more like a ten mile race pace, while the second half ended up being more like sub-16 minute 5k pace. “We sped it up a lot after the halfway point.”

Things weren’t nearly as interesting in the women’s race because Melody Fairchild took off and ran with the faster men. Melody is still relatively new to the masters circuit, and not only is she enjoying some success but she’s also racing like a young open runner. This was Melody’s second race in eight days, after having ran a 16:46 at the BAA 5k back on 4/19. That was good enough for second masters on the day and 65th overall in the large, deep field.

Melody’s 35:15 not only earned her the national title, but it also enabled her to pull off what the masters men couldn’t: beat her open competition as well. Jess Minty was the top open runner on the day and ran a 35:35. Would things have unfolded differently had Jess and Melody started at the same time? Hard to say, but one could make the argument that Jess having to hunt down a woman three minutes ahead of her was extra motivation.

That was the task that Amos Sang and Galrius Rop were charged with as well. Right from the gun they were bounding out in front, the two training partners matching each other effortless stride for effortless stride. Their relentless pursuit was just too much for the masters men to hold off. The top three all got in ahead of Mike’s winning time (Stephen Polito was the third), and it got interesting in the end as Amos and Glarius were charging in after some of the elite masters runners.

Kent Lemme of the Greater Springfield Harriers was the 9th masters runner in 33:22, and he just barely held off Amos Sang’s 30:26. Kent kept throwing glances back as he surged toward the finish line, not wanting to give up one more second on the younger runner. Glarius Rop (30:51) wasn’t too far behind Sang, and he dug in and overtook Ethan Nedeau (33:53) just before the line. The Sang/Rop combo impressively caught all but nine masters.

In the team scoring, the BAA 40+ team won a close one over the Atlanta Track Club. There was a scant three seconds separating the two units. Peter Hammer and Wayne Levy (35:39) both raced the Boston Marathon, while Chris Magill (32:58) was the top masters runner at the BAA 5k. On tired legs they stepped up and defended their home turf.

The BAA women’s 40+ team lost a close one to the Athena Track Club, and it’s quite possible that the 67 second gap separating them could’ve been covered by Mimi Fallon had she not had to hobble in on a bad hamstring over the second half of the race. A 40:25 for the 48 yr old on a bad leg is still quite impressive. Really, a 40:25 for most people on a bad leg, no matter the age, is impressive.


Mike Galoob interview

Melody Fairchild interview

Photos courtesy of Scott Mason Photo. Check out the rest on his site. For results (including team scores), check out the official results.

Fairchild Nabs Masters Title

Melody Fairchild capped off a busy week of racing by winning the James Joyce Ramble 10k, which also served as the USATF masters 10k road championship. Melody ran a 35:15 and pretty much cruised to the win.

Full recap here.

Galoob Captures First National Title

Mike Galoob (Peace Dale, RI) won the 2014 USATF national masters road 10k title at the James Joyce Ramble on Sunday, April 27, 2014. The 40 yr old ran a 32:37 in securing his first national title, and had to hold off a ferociously surging Peter Hammer in the end. Mike was also sporting the new Level Renner singlet for the first time. What a way to christen it!

Full recap here.

USATF “Responds” to Outcry

After weeks of silence, this is what we all finally get from USATF regarding how they will respond to the events that unfolded at indoor nationals in Albuquerue, NM back in February.

Statement from USATF President and Chairman Stephanie Hightower


There has been public discussion the last several weeks about a range of topics in our sport, centered around field-of-play decisions made at the USA Indoor Championships. As we have stated, USATF is taking a look at the events of Albuquerque as well as our related systems and processes. Public suggestions to the contrary, the topics related to Albuquerque are not quick fixes. These are topics that involve important elements of our structure that have ramifications far beyond race results at a single meet.

Since Albuquerque, CEO Max Siegel and I have engaged in a discussion of how best to address these issues in a deliberate, thorough and thoughtful manner. As USATF President and Chair with oversight of governance, I have asked USATF Board Member and IAAF Senior Vice President Bob Hersh, one of international track & field’s foremost experts on competition rules and governance, to lead a USATF working group that will look into these matters. We will announce other members of this group in coming weeks. Athletes will be a very important part of this process, as well as others in our organization. We appreciate the passion of all our stakeholders. Because it is far-reaching, this process will take place over weeks and months.


In about a month’s time, this is what they came up with? This?! Come on, man! Don’t know about you, but this isn’t good enough for me. Remember that scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark?

“We have top men working on it now.”
“Top. Men.”

Seems to me that if they were serious about getting athletes involved then they wouldn’t have blown off and then subsequently ignored the TFAA’s request to get involved. No reason they can’t have the athletes’ union involved right away, unless the Top Men need to go through and child proof everything first.

The running community is very intelligent yet our governing body seems to act like we’re a bunch of idiots. What happened regarding the DQ’ing of Grunewald and Bumbalough was egregious and definitely impacted the integrity of the sport. This won’t just go away, and we can’t let it just go away. Let’s keep the pressure on these guys until they treating us with a little more respect.


TFAA Will Not Stand for Athletes’ Voice Being Ignored

We will not stand for the collective voice of athletes being ignored. #USATFchange

The following is a release from the The Track and Field Athletes Association:

As many of you are aware, the integrity of the results of a national championship was compromised at the USATF Indoor Championships in February. Proper procedure was not followed after the women’s 3000m, resulting in the disqualification of the winner, Gabriele Grunewald. In the men’s 3000m, Andrew Bumbalough was disqualified for contact he never made, which is clearly evident in the race footage.

USA Track and Field reinstated Grunewald as the winner of the women’s 3000m two days after the race, but with no explanation as to why proper procedure had not been followed and how they would prevent this from happening in the future.

USATF has not responded with regards to the disqualification of Bumbalough.

The Track and Field Athletes Association proposed to the USATF that there be athlete representatives observing the protest and appeals process at future USATF championships. This proposal intended to improve transparency and accountability going forward for all parties involved. The proposal was sent directly to the USATF and was also presented openly to the public, garnering almost 1000 signatures in a matter of days.

USATF canceled a conference call initially scheduled for Monday, March 10, 2014, to discuss this proposal and since then has ignored all follow-up requests to reschedule from both the TFAA and the USATF Athlete Advisory Committee.

Why would our national governing body ignore the athletes association, their own athletes advisory committee (which is required by the Ted Stevens Act) and the 1,000 athletes, coaches, agents, sponsors and fans who signed the petition calling for change?

The lack of action is the most recent in a long-string of failures to engage in meaningful dialogue with the TFAA and the AAC.  We’ve identified a number of issues that would enhance the professional side of our sport: improved transparency in the processes for protests, greater visibility into the bid processes for national championship sites, revenue-sharing opportunities and more.

We support USATF in their mission of driving “competitive excellence and popular engagement in our sport” and we recognize them in their role as a national governing body, but we do not agree with the tactic of shutting out THE ATHLETE VOICE.

It is unacceptable for the collective voice of the athletes to be disrespected and dismissed. Track and field is our life, our dream, our soul. It is OUR sport. We are aligned with our fans in our quest to improve our sport. We cannot sit idly by while its integrity is compromised and our calls for action and change fall on deaf ears.

It’s time for action! This communication is just the first step. We call on your support and input as the TFAA prepares and acts on a series of important initiatives.

Please share this link with the hashtag #USATFChange to support our stance that our collective voice should not be ignored.

Ferenc 3rd at 50k, Voltron Style

Guest blog by Josh Ferenc

Editor’s Note: Ethan Coffey and Emily Harrison both won and set new records at the 50 km Road Championships over the weekend (in Caumsett State Park on Long Island, N.Y.). Josh Ferenc competed and made the podium, running an impressive 3:04:16. Here’s a firsthand account on the race and the trip from Josh.

Survival Musts

Let’s start this with a great big ol’ “holy cuss!” This past weekend I embarked in a vision questing miracle trip to the USATF 50k road championships in Long Island. I’ve been here twice before and left with a 2nd place the first adventure here and a disappointing 5th the other.  So I know what comes with the race, having been successful once and very disappointed the other attempt.

I had done the long runs and the distances needed for the race but definitely didn’t have the “in between” efforts I should have. Only the divine could have survived the way I did. Holy cuss…

I was rolling to the event Voltron style with Greg and Fyffe. It was to be a dude adventure where the pressure of disappointment was not going to be tolerated: I had to step up and not let my people down.

The car ride down was eventful as we spoke of politics, life, unmentionables, and general topics that drifted through my ever racing mind. I was in charge of reserving a hotel/motel/holiday inn and did one better: Rodeway Inn.

Now, on the line of the internet it had a 3.5 star rating out of 5. It wasn’t a 3.5 star hotel, that was just it’s rating. Upon arrival at the check in desk, the clerk let’s me know that the room I reserved would not be available. I then proceed to do my best Seinfeld and explain that she knew how to take my reservation, but didn’t know how to hold the reservation. The whole point of me calling 10 days prior was to assure I would have the room available that I needed… Instead of a non-smoking room with double beds, we now had a smoking room with double beds. What the cuss!!!

Greg and Fyffe weren’t to bothered by it but I wanted to keep at the poor women until she either conceded and gave us a free room or provided… Never mind.

We wanted to run so we hit the room to change before heading to the course. Now, smoking rooms are bad, but our to be room was a mixture of a Tijuana brothel where you paid in cigarette cancer smoke. It was bad. The room was probably the site of many an amateur movie where bad things with lots of diseases were filmed. Great pre-race environment. The only benefit was that our hotel stay got us 20% off at TGIFridays. I did a lot of head shaking and knew a huge effort tomorrow was in order. Cuss.

The course run was good, I felt fine on the 3 miler Greg and I did and I was getting less nerved up and more anxious and excited.

When we got back to the hotel we found our room cleaned and it appeared to be normal, except for the lingering smoke smell. Whatever. It was dinner time so we walked to the TGIFridays. No sidewalks were plowed so Fyffe and Greg walked in the unplowed sidewalk snow banks while I opted for the road. I wasn’t scared of a car hitting me, I’m going to live to be 98 and I feel super human.

Fyffe and Greg on a 3ft sidewalk snow bank.

After a mini game of Frogger to cross the highway we made it to dinner. It wasn’t bad. The bar tender was able to shed a little more light on our hotel of choice, (I’m paraphrasing) “yeah, strippers and hookers work there, a lady with a duffel bag of cash was there…” Awesome. I’ll enjoy digging the crabs out of my pumpkin patch when I get home…

I was hoping for a good night sleep and wake up as rested as possible before my quest towards 100% of everything I have.  But a good nights sleep was out of the question, it ended up being an epic Wild West story night. Haha. I didn’t need any sleep anyways…

Mid story time in the brothel cancer smoke shed.

I woke up the next day ready to eat and head to the site to get my head wrapped around ten 5k laps. The laps are esthetically pleasing and I really like the course (except one hairpin turn which BLOWS). Main goal: stay within myself. I had “mantra” going though my head. I figured it was going to be an even-run effort with the needle pinned on the fastest grind I could do, so the mantra was, “wallflowers don’t get laid, I need to hit the dance floor and GRIND!”

Race time: the weather was cold and damp but never got wet (that’s what she…). I looked the part as I was rolling with the Wild Neoteny signature series hat and arm sleeves which aptly read, “Last Hero, Only Hope” and was the appropriate decision (I needed a miracle). The plan was to go hit at race pace, 6 min miles, and hold it as long as possible. Looking at the field there appeared to be about 5 guys to challenge up front. Two years ago there were 3 guys up front but I still managed to finish 5th, which meant I faded badly. Not this year.  To win would have been a whole winter of different training, and winning was just a bit out of the question and just finishing was priority number one, with holding as close to 6 min pace as long as possible being priority number 2. The realization that I could run 3:15 was a nerve racking truth and would have been demoralizing (but a possibility).

Once the race started it was evident that there were only 4 dudes there, with me clearly the 4th guy. This settled in quickly and the only way I could move onto the podium was by staying within myself and having one of them come back. This also had nothing to do with my race so I just focused on me.

At 1.5 Joe Gray initiated for my to join him and Micheal Wardian. This would have looked super cool, race hob knobbing with them but I’m already super cussing cool so I elected to not ruin my race and stick to the game plan.

I was running hot every mile to start and commited to it. The first mile has a long gradual downhill and hit 5:51, second mile has a small roll to it, 11:42, the third mile is flat with a hairpin turn in it. You hit the start for 5k and head out for the lap. I was 18:10 for the first 5k. I reminded myself to relax, I was in no mans land and would be racing by myself for a while until we started lapping people. Same story to open up the second lap, 5:42, 11:39, 18:00 5k. I thought I was slowing down but I was settling in to 5:50.

I had to really focus on chilling and not continuing to gradually pick up the pace. After two laps, the effort did start to become “real,” meaning I could feel it and it was going to be tough. I was on the edge the whole race, and with 8 laps to go I realized two things: you may not hold this pace, immediately followed by don’t ever think that again and of course you’ll do it, you have to.

In the mix of the third 5k I started to get a bit more comfortable. Same story, 5:45 fist mile then held that effort to finish up 18:16, cool. Again and again I rattled off even 5k’s which was high octane confidence fuel. The middle few 5k’s were becoming a blur. Fyffe and Greg were on the opening mile and I was hydrating and fueling perfectly.

Lap 4: 18:18
Lap 5: 18:21… And smooth.

After crossing half way I preplanned a mental shift. I knew that half way was a whole different race and I had to really really focus. Around this time I was hoping that the guys up front were beating the cuss out of each other and one or two may fade back. Just the idea made me relax a bit but every lap I could see no ground was being made up.

Lap 6: 18:09

I opened up the second half with one of my fastest laps which was more adrenaline than me making moves. I kept taking deep breaths and reminding myself to relax. It was on my seventh lap that I knew I had to pray for help. Now, to clarify, my praying and to whom I pray is its own entity and my own belief structure. I prayed to my ancestors from which my family derives, I prayed to nature, I prayed to my extended godly lineages, and asked for help. I asked for help with laps 7 and 8, where if I received help I could do the last two laps on my own.

I heard the hammer and chisel from the quarry of the gods in which I was cut. A flock of crows flew to the tree that over hung the course and started cawing wildly and my family was silent, which meant it was about to get real! In seriousness, immediate after my pray request a group of crows to fly above me and did caw wildly, this was inspirational and exciting. I just kept telling myself that I was going to get help these two laps and the last two laps are your.

Lap 7: 18:36
Lap 8: 18:30

Some time in the mix of things Greg and Fyffe let me know that Gray had stepped off the course. This is unfortunate, but does benefit me as I moved up to 3rd. Joe has been on fire lately, traveling around the world and absolutely crushing souls. Afterwards he said it just caught up with him and he was tired and his legs were flat. If it could happen to him, it could happen to anyone (including me) so I had to continue to grind even splits as long as possible. Some dude I don’t know was wailing everyone in first while Wardian was in second. With two laps to go, it didn’t look like Wardian was putting any more time on me since half way and to catch him would have been improbable.

Lap 9 was one of the most fun laps. I kept telling myself positive things and knowing only one lap was left was uplifting. Every lap before, Greg and Fyffe were calmly providing updates and encouragement but upon the opening of the last two laps they started getting pumped and wild and really fueling the effort.

Lap 9: 18:51, but still feeling ok. I was gradually slowing down each 5k, but it was 2-3 seconds a lap and not at all discouraging.

Lap 10 was great, all I had to do was finish. My legs were about 5 miles away from cramping, but the good news of 3 miles left was awesome. I pushed as hard as I could the opening mile of the last lap. I thought “what the cuss, take a risk and put everything you got into it.” Evidently that was a 6:02 mile. This made me smile, 2 miles left. On the downhill of the second mile I tried to surge and felt like it was one of my best miles in the whole race, where it was my slowest at 6:22. Worst case scenario now is I hobble in at 8-9 min mile pace but the legs didn’t cramp and I attempted another surge the last mile. I hit the last mile at 5:55 and cruised in for a new PR (barely) and a third place finish.

It felt great to have a positive experience where everything went great. Greg and Fyffe immediately came over to congratulate me where I instantly let then know that “it was too easy…” Hahaha.  I may have overextended and ran a bit above expectations. That was confirmed during the ride while we were leaving the Island when I asked Greg his thoughts. Greg shook his head and said to me, “dude, that was a miracle…” Hahaha.

It really was awesome to roll Voltron style with my bros. They added an extra element where I didn’t want to disappoint them for making the trip. Sharing time with my buddies is more fun than a gutterpig…

Check out full results here, and of course follow Josh on his blog Wild Neotony.

Alberto Salazar: No One Man Should Have All That Power

Editor’s Note: I was contemplating putting together an editorial on the weekend’s events regarding Salazar and the USATF but then thought it’d be far more interesting to let someone else do it. Someone else who has written a whole lot about it and has been in touch with many of the key players. That person is Jon Gugala, and you’ll find links to his various other pieces throughout his editorial. It’s a controversial subject that has sparked passionate debate, and we welcome you to share your thoughts in the comments below.

by Jon Gugala

So Alberto Salazar finally responded to my emails!

Over the weekend, from multiple accounts, the Nike Oregon Project coach was running around the 2014 USA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., swearing near children and at spouses, coaches, and Lost Boys of Sudan. And each day, before I reported on these stories that paint the picture of a new low for a coach with a long history of striking out at critics like a stepped-on snake, I’ve trotted out my own form email to Salazar, something that sounds more tired each time I write it: “Hey. Buddy. What do you say about this?”

You could read the stories that I reported over the weekend and mistakenly conclude I’m trying to smear one of the best coaches, knowledge-wise, in the U.S. And I’ve worried about that, too, going through plenty of introspection on the subject.

Salazar Rupp BU full size

Salazar and Rupp confer at an indoor meet at BU back in 2013.

What I’ve come up with? Nah.

Not to say I don’t have hesitations. The most recent was yesterday. Twitter has been a constant source of activity over the weekend, and many people have followed me as these stories have developed. One of those, Maria Salazar, sounded familiar, and sure enough, it’s Salazar’s daughter.

Now I’m not saying that Salazar, with no personal account himself, has sent his daughter on Twitter Watch 2014 to monitor me and others who have added unflattering angles to the story arc of the weekend.

But I wouldn’t put it past him.

So after I’d interviewed a Lost Boy and both of the weekend’s DQs, I threw my Hail Mary. I had followed Maria Salazar, a ”Hey, I see you, too.” And since we both followed each other, I could send her a direct message.

It was, verbatim, “Could we speak over the phone? It would be off the record.”

At the time, I felt kind of guilty about it. Not that it was crossing ethical boundaries. Hers would be an interesting angle on the events of the weekend. But maybe contacting Salazar’s daughter was crossing my own moral boundaries. I mean, jeez, is nothing sacred? The guy’s obviously under a lot of stress, and now you’re reaching out to his family for comment?

Well, I don’t feel so bad about it anymore, especially since he’s already deployed his progeny on PR cleanup. Alex Salazar, whom I believe to be Alberto’s son, emailed LetsRun.com from a Nike email address about a story I wrote for them about a meeting between Alberto and Justin Grunewald, the spouse of the U.S. 3000-meters champion Gabe Grunewald who Alberto may have pulled strings to disqualify, in an elevator in the host hotel Marriott. In that email to LRC that only shows a rudimentary grasp on written English, Alex tries to refute that his father ever told Grunewald to “Get the f— out of my face.”

“I just ask you report the truth, not 2nd and 3rd hand stories that are tweeted and emailed to you by biased parties,” writes Alex Salazar, a Nike employee who was not in the elevator with Grunewald and Alberto (and is himself recounting what his father, days later, told him).

Well, within an hour of my DM to Maria, an editor from one of the websites I wrote for over the weekend contacted me, saying Salazar had called him asking why I was harassing his daughter. Despite my misgivings and my ability as a human to “take the role of the other,” I don’t regret it. I don’t regret offering the opportunity for adults, both Salazar and his daughter (and this morning, his son, Alex), to speak on their behalf and put out their viewpoint. I’ve been doing it all weekend, and Salazar’s been mum to not only me but even the Wall Street Journal, only speaking briefly and in a limited capacity to Ken Goe of the Oregonian.

I have been open about my own relationship with Salazar, about the 6 a.m. phone call I received after a story I wrote that wasn’t even about him referred to his tech-centric approach as “gimmicks”. In the spring of 2012, after another story I wrote that wasn’t even about him ran on Runner’s World, he wrote that same editor (note: these are two completely different publications now) to harp on the “gimmicks” comment again, how I’m obviously biased against him because I don’t jump on Chris Solinsky for using an AlterG to rehab his hamstring after it had pretty much ripped off from his pelvis.

So back then, 2012, I reached out to Salazar. “Hey. Buddy. Let’s hear your side.”

Paraphrased (not so loosely, since you don’t forget the ego dripping from these words), Salazar said he had no interest in he or any of his athletes speaking to me or any of my readers. And then a few months later, at the 2012 Stanford Invite, where Dathan Ritzenhein was mounting a comeback, after sitting down for a confirmed interview with me for Competitor Magazine, he backed out, saying he didn’t want to get mixed up in whatever was between me and his coach, Alberto Salazar.

Think what that means: an athlete actually turns down free PR in one of the most critical times in his career (keep in mind, this was an Olympic year) to please his coach. You are falling on your own sword for your coach. And that is why so many people are distrustful of Salazar and his athletes: the power.

Now, despite this history with Salazar, I still like the guy. In a world so fully lacking individuals with passion, who doesn’t admire someone so obsessed to be excellent at his chosen profession? I respect him for that.

The problem is not Salazar’s myopathy for his athletes’ success. The problem is that myopathy paired with too much power.

Because then, when you submit protests in consecutive races at a national championship that lead to rival teams’ athletes disqualified, and when USATF policy appears circumvented in pursuit of this end, then the worst-case scenario is realized.

USATF, in a statement for the reinstatement of Grunewald as national champ, said the initial DQ came from “enlarged, digital footage of the legs and feet of both athletes.” And that would be a fine excuse if you have no reading comprehension whatsoever. Here’s a question: Where did the footage come from? Was it new, or was it the same footage they’d already looked at? If it was new, who took it? If it was an enlargement, does that constitute new evidence, a requisite to reopen the case, after it was already ruled by the head official and then a three-person committee that there was no infraction? Did Salazar exert undue pressure on officials, whether with Nike’s tacit or explicit support, to get this case reopened (what Team USA Minn. coach Dennis Barker described to me as “hovering” after Salazar’s initial protest failed)?

And furthermore, if Salazar is only an “advocate for my athlete,” as he says, then was it Jordan Hasay withdrawing her protest or Salazar, the latter of whom filed it? Does ownership of said protest transfer to Hasay once Salazar files it? Did Hasay actually want to protest in the first place, or was it just Salazar knee-jerking before going on to an alleged verbal assault of at least one coach and one athlete?

If these seem like a lot of questions regarding something that’s supposed to provide those answers, I’ll say it’s a shame the USATF statement isn’t in print. At least then it would have a practical purpose the next time I step in dog shit.

God, Salazar, everyone already thought you were an asshole, but thanks to a new horizon of your asshole-ishness this weekend that everyone saw, you have good reason to keep your dumb trap shut. Just don’t send your kids after me, if they are so sacred to warrant a phone call to an editor after ignoring my emails.

That editor asked me, maybe too honestly, “Do you still want relationships with these people [i.e. Salazar] after this is all over?”

Sure. Yes. But not in this same context, where all us journalists are bugs waiting for Salazar to drop a crumb of access to his stable of the leading track and field athletes in the world. Nope. I’m fine with this relationship, as it stands, to end so that something else can develop in its place.

In the meantime, I’ll just write about everyone else.

Over the course of the weekend, I have received so much support by the running community. Acquaintances higher up in the food chain have reached out in encouragement. They are amazed that even one person can speak out, or empower others’ voices to speak out, against a coach that has wielded his power and influence like a bludgeon. Nike employees. Coaches. Athletes. Former athletes of Salazar’s. Media, from running blogs all the way to publications that cover Big Four sports.

They are all united by a love of the sport of running, and their collective voice has moved a governing body to quit dicking around with athletes’ careers. It’s their collective voice, not just mine, that has decried Alberto Salazar because, like that Kanye West song, no one man should have all that power.

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