“Excuse me sir, but before I can let you in, I need to know that you possess the multi-tasking capacity necessary to fully assimilate this meet.”
Then again, I’m glad they don’t test. Because based upon my early performance at the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships, I would flunk.
Walking in the door at the Albuquerque Convention Center, I was reminded of opening weekend of the fantasy football season, when each year without fail, I would freeze immediately upon entering my local sports bar – and then meander around aimlessly in search of the ideal seat for simultaneous viewing of every game in which one of “my guys” was playing. An aerial shot of me would look like one of those Family Circus cartoons with the big dotted line showing where Jeffy or P.J. had scampered off to that day, bless their annoying little hearts.
As far as I know, never in the annals of misguided sports odysseys has this been done before. I refer, of course, to chronicling two sporting events at once.
Not two events in one day. That’s child’s play. Not two events in one day in two separate cities. Yawn…did it.
I’m talking two separate events in two different states. Simultaneously. You tell me one other person doing a sports walkabout that has pulled that off. I’ll wait…
In 1959, British writer Alan Sillitoe published a short story entitled The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. It was made into a movie in 1962, and ultimately received enough acclaim to land it on the British Film Institute’s list of the greatest British films of the 20th century.
I never read the story nor saw the movie. In fact the only thing I’ve ever known about the plot line is that it revolved around cross country running. And that one small nugget of knowledge has always framed my perception of the sport. Cross country = lonely.
Hey, I never said it was a rational perception.
…Continued from the previous post.
Granted, the people in this final wave were running the half-marathon distance of 13.2 miles, instead of the 26.2 mile course laid out for the marathoners. But most of them were “first-timers”, taking part in their maiden distance-running event. To do it in just 45 minutes!? This is historic!!
No…hang on…wait a sec…OK, this is a little embarrassing. A closer read of my scribbling seems to indicate that it took 45 minutes to get every last athlete across the starting line. My bad.
See, everything gets all out of proportion when you’re talking about the kinds of numbers that the producers of the LBM dealt with. Once you stop and consider that almost 17,000 runners took part in this race, 45 minutes to get everybody off and running is a comparative heartbeat. And I can’t even fathom how long it would have taken to simply start the race if it hadn’t been run like a top.
Most of my time at sporting events is spent solidly underground. I go incognito, posing as a simple-minded sports fan – which come to think of it, hasn’t been too hard to get into character for. Recently though, I chose to blow my cover and accept an invitation to go behind the scenes and into the domain of the athletes.
When Steve Mackel, the co-founder of SOLE Runners, an L.A.-based running club, offered me the opportunity to observe his group as they prepared for and took part in the Long Beach Marathon, I was intrigued. When I received the special wristband that got me into the private Runners Club area of the event’s sprawling build-out, I was pleased. And when I found out that there would be a generous post-race spread of free food…need I go on?
SOLE stands for Seeking Out Life Experiences, and this particular running club focuses a good deal of its energy on introducing beginners to both the physical and psychic benefits of long-distance running. Steve and fellow coaching guru Gary Smith conduct step-by-step training programs designed to gradually prepare even the most novice of runners for conquering marathons and half-marathons.
…Continued from the previous post.
When last we visited, I was at the L.A. Velodrome to take in the USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships – specifically the Team Pursuit competition. Although I had struggled with the whole “pursuit” concept, I was enjoying the uniqueness of the event. This is not the cycling that the average Josephine on the street is familiar with.
For starters, the bicycles themselves are really just first cousins to the road bikes that are used in the Tour de France – or the Tour de Coffee Shops that we recreational riders take part in, for that matter. For one thing, there’s no brakes. While this could be problematic when out for a ride in the neighborhood, in the velodrome it’s pretty rare that some clown in a ’96 Toyota Celica blows a red light and cuts you off.
Scratch races, sprint races, pursuits, Madisons. Something called Omniums, which is cycling’s answer to track and field’s pentathlon…but with one extra event. Or heptathlon …but with one fewer…well, you get the point – they’re doing a lot of stuff on a bike on a track.
Hmmm…what to watch…what to watch? How about the Team Pursuit? Done and done. And it was off to the L.A. Velodrome.
Sunrise on Zuma Beach in Malibu. The majestic beauty. The serenity. Being at one with nature – and 6,000 other people. All here to take part in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon, even if it’s only as a curious and supportive Sports Fan.
I was actually on hand to take in Day Two of the event. On the previous day, the Herbalife International Distance Triathlon had been conducted, consisting of a swim of 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles), a 40 kilometer (24.8 mile) bike ride, and a 10k (6.2 mile) run. For obvious reasons, that drew a generally harder-core group of participants. It is today’s shorter course “Classic Race” that draws the amateurs who have been training hard and looking to test themselves. It also draws the celebrities – and by extension, the fans.
Think about the good things that might get you out of bed two hours and 19 minutes before sunrise. Childbirth, for sure. Perhaps the return of Halley’s Comet. An ESPN Classic replay of Game 7 of the 2002 World Series.
OK, maybe that last one is just me.
In any case, here’s one to add to the list: The Nautica Malibu Triathlon.
“That’s fine and dandy,” you may say (if you are comfortable using phrases like “fine and dandy”, that is). “But why so early?”
Well, in order to witness the starting cannon of this singularly L.A. event, you have to be on Malibu’s Zuma Beach by 7:00 AM. I guess the participants like to get the half-mile swim, 18-mile bike ride and 4-mile run in before the sun melts away the cooling marine layer.
Wimps. Hey, I had to drive 48 miles in the pitch black – and convince The Bird to go with me. All on a single cup of coffee!
I was living in Charlotte in 1996, when it was chosen to host one of four trials to determine the U.S. Cycling Team for the Atlanta Olympics. I was doing a lot of riding myself at the time and was familiar with a lot of the course, so I was able to take my bike and stake out some prime viewing spots. Others that I met had the same agenda, and we got to talking as we waited at various spots for the peloton to come through.