Sunday, September 03, 2006

We've moved!

Come visit us at the newly-created, a much more ambitious site covering sports in Louisville, Ky.

This blog will no longer be updated.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Note to readers

This blog is undergoing changes to prepare for a new, expanded venture. More information will be posted later. Thanks!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Anyone want Rolling Stones tickets early?

Tickets are available now - for Rolling Stones Fan Club members, American Express Cardmembers and anyone with a Twin Spires Club promotional code word.

I got six tickets today with the latter, and it doesn't seem necessary that you be a Twin Spires Club member to get the code word (although I am one).

Think you should have heard about this sale - which ends tomorrow, three days before the general sale begins on Monday? I agree. But don't ask me how I heard about it. I wouldn't want to bore you with the exhaustive details.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Running for the Gulf Coast

Continuing his inspirational adventure across the United States, Vicksburg, Miss., native Sam Thompson ran a full marathon for the 25th consecutive day when he finished the Louisville Marathon course in four hours, nine minutes today.

Thompson has reached the midpoint in his mission, which he began in Leadville, Colo., on July 1. He intends to run 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days, and in so doing he aspires to remind the country that much still needs to be done to repair the damage that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita wrought along the Gulf Coast last September. He also hopes to raise money for the rebuilding effort.

Thompson was living in Dallas but was visiting his parents in Vicksburg when the storms hit. Instead of returning home, he stayed in the area to help in the recovery until he started running earlier this month.

Thompson next will run the Healthy Huntington Marshall University Marathon route in Huntington, W. Va., today.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Louisville cyclists win national titles

Three Louisville cyclists returned from the USA Cycling National Festival with gold medals earned in Pennsylvania over the weekend.

Tracey Huber (Texas Roadhouse/Roark Cycling) won two in the master women's 45-49 age group, taking the road race and criterium titles. She also won a bronze in the time trial.

And Papa John's Racing teammates Stephen Spanbauer and William Crecelius won the master men's 70-and-over tandem title.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Eleven locals named All-Tournament

In addition to the two national titles the Kentucky Indiana Volleyball Academy (KIVA) won at the USA Junior Olympic Girls' Volleyball Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo., this week, the club had seven players named to All-Tournament teams.

Alexis Bauer, Whitney Craven and Ellie Roberson all were so honored from national champion KIVA 15 Red, and Bauer was chosen MVP.

Kaitlin Craven and Leah Meffert were picked from third-place KIVA 17 Red, and Sloane Donhoff and Stephanie Riley were named from third-place KIVA 16 Red.

The MidAmerica Volleyball Association (MAVA) had four players make All-Tournament teams, including Kelsey Anderson, Casey Garvey and Paige Wessel from second-place MAVA 15 Elite, and Natalie Schonefeld from fifth-place MAVA 16 Elite.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

KIVA wins two Junior Olympic titles

The Kentucky Indiana Volleyball Academy (KIVA) typified its reputation as one of the most competitive clubs in the country with two national titles at the USA Junior Olympic Girls' Volleyball Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo., this week.

The MidAmerica Volleyball Association (MAVA), meanwhile, further expanded upon what has been anything but a typical summer for that other Louisville-based club, following its first-ever national titles at the AAU Junior Girls' National Championships last month with three top-three finishes this week.

KIVA 15 Red, which had lost the championship match to MAVA 15 Elite at the AAU event, turned the tables and beat its local rival for the Junior Olympic crown. KIVA 13 Red also won a national title, repeating its AAU victory, and KIVA 17 Red, KIVA 16 Red and KIVA 14 Red each placed third.

The aforementioned MAVA 15 Elite and MAVA 12 Elite each placed second, and MAVA 14 Elite - which had won the AAU title - placed third.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Louisville volleyball clubs flourish

The Kentucky Indiana Volleyball Academy (KIVA) and the MidAmerica Volleyball Association (MAVA) will return to Louisville with three national titles and 25 All-Americans after a successful week at the AAU Junior Girls' National Championships in Orlando, Fla.

KIVA, which won three titles at this event last year, came away with just one this time but had 16 players named All-Americans, including: Coral Maybrier from fifth-place KIVA 12 Red; MVP Courtney Robison and Natalie Keck from national champion KIVA 13 Red; Deja McClendon, Lindsey Roth and Madison Hardy from third-place KIVA 14 Red; Whitney Craven, Emily Hayden and Alexis Bauer from national runner-up KIVA 15 Red; Morgan Springer from fifth-place KIVA 16 White; Sloane Donhoff and Stephanie Riley from third-place KIVA 16 Red; Sara Hayden, Rebecca Bloemer and Kirstie Brangers from national runner-up KIVA 17 Red; and Christina Kaelin from fifth-place KIVA 18 Red.

MAVA won the first two titles in the club's history and had nine players named All-Americans, including: Claire Gerwig and Jennifer Houserfrom third-place MAVA 13 Elite; Melanie Hicks and MVP Emily Juhl from national champion MAVA 14 Elite; Casey Garvey, Grace Krauser and MVP Kelsey Anderson from national champion MAVA 15 Elite; and Emily Lechleiter and Natalie Schonefeld from third-place MAVA 16 Elite.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

KIVA, MAVA win national titles

Two Louisville-area volleyball clubs each have won at least one title at the AAU Junior Girls' National Championships in Orlando, Fla., and are in a position to accomplish more today.

The Kentucky Indiana Volleyball Academy (KIVA), which Assumption High School coach Ron Kordes has built into one of the best clubs in the country, won the 13-and-under national championship with its 13 Red team on Friday.

The MidAmerica Volleyball Association (MAVA) also won a national championship on Friday, taking the 14-and-under division with its 14 Elite team.

The two clubs then collided for the 15-and-under national championship today, and MAVA 15 Elite beat KIVA 15 Red to win the title.

Additionally, MAVA 12 Wilson won the consolation title at 12-and-under; KIVA 14 Red placed third at 14-and-under; and MAVA 13 Elite placed third at 13-and-under.

KIVA 17 Red will play for the 17-and-under national championship tonight.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Louisville dominates USTA league senior state championships

Louisville teams won six of the seven divisions at the USTA League Tennis Senior Kentucky District Championships in Henderson last weekend.

That guarantees the city will send a strong contingent to the Southern Sectional Championships in Charleston, S.C., in July - regardless of what happens at the Adult Kentucky District Championships later this month.

The Louisville winners (listed by captains) included Brook Seymour’s team at the women’s 3.0 level; Sherry Geissler’s team at the women’s 4.0 level; Jean Jansen’s team at the women’s 4.5 level; Michael Schneider’s team at the men’s 3.0 level; Skeeter Stark’s team at the men’s 3.5 level; and Joe Hampton’s team at the men’s 4.0 level.

Patricia Lee’s Pennyrile team from Western Kentucky was the only non-Louisville winner, taking the women’s 3.5 level.

Those district champions will play their counterparts from eight other states at the Southern Sectional Championships, which will be divided into two parts: July 22-25 for seniors at the 4.0 and 4.5 levels and for adults at the 2.5, 3.0 and 3.5 levels; and July 27-30 for seniors at the 3.0 and 3.5 levels and for adults at the 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 5.5 and Open levels.

The National Championships will be held in September and October.

USTA League Tennis is the largest recreational tennis system in the world and includes more than 500,000 players.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Runners take lead in LMPD event

More than 300 people kicked off the Louisville Metro Police Department’s 200th Celebration with a five-kilometer run through downtown this morning.

Scott Holzknecht was the overall winner with a time of 16:11.79, fractions of a second slower than his victorious mark in the da Vinci Downtown Festival race in New Albany, Ind., last month. He easily beat 318 other runners and walkers - including Bret Vanpoppel, who finished second in 16:33.48.

Jen Alessandro, who won the Polar Bear Grand Prix in February, topped the field of women in 18:11.39. She was 12th overall. Katie Braekkan, who was the runner-up in the Polar Bear Grand Prix standings, was second behind Alessandro again today in 18:57.64.

Full results for the race, which began on E. Witherspoon Street between Floyd and Preston, can be found here.

The LMPD’s 200th Celebration was organized by the Louisville Metro Police Foundation, a non-profit partnership between the department and the local business community created earlier this year.

The event, which was based at Waterfront Park, included the road race, several cycling races, a health and safety fair, a food court, live music and entertainment, and an autograph signing session with the Louisville Bats.

Friday, June 09, 2006

About those LMPD races. . . .

Thanks to the likes of Fleet Feet Sports Louisville and 2WheelSports, most serious runners and cyclists in the area already know about the races that will be part of the Louisville Metro Police Department’s 200th Celebration tomorrow.

Thanks to the likes of The Courier-Journal, however, a lot of other people don’t have a clue.

As hard as it is to believe, the newspaper’s only reference to this event was a traffic brief buried at the bottom of the left column on Page B3 of today’s edition.

So… It’s not always where you live.

Here’s what The C-J had:

“The Third Street exit ramp from westbound Interstate 64 will be closed from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. tomorrow because of the Louisville Metro Police Department's 200th Celebration Run, part of a department event from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Great Lawn of Waterfront Park. The celebration was designed to highlight 200 years of Louisville law-enforcement history with activities for children and adults. Besides the run, there will be a health and safety fair, food, concerts and information on police units and departments."

That even neglects to mention the existence of any cycling. Six criterium races, beginning on E. Witherspoon Street, are scheduled for cyclists: a 4/5 category (9:30 a.m.), a women’s category (10:15 a.m.), a 3 category (11 a.m.), a masters’ 40-and-over category (noon), a category for kids and celebrities (1:30 p.m.), and a pro/1/2 category (2:30 p.m.). With sponsorship from Texas Roadhouse and Papa John’s Pizza, the races have been said to offer the richest awards in Louisville criterium history. More details are available here.

The five-kilometer run, which will begin on E. Witherspoon Street at 8 a.m., will offer awards to the top five men, the top five women and the top three in each age group. More details are available here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Triathlon University now enrolling

Wannabe triathletes, it’s time to go back to school.

Triathlon coach Nancy McElwain and Fleet Feet Sports Louisville have teamed together to create Triathlon University, which will offer 10 weekly classes for beginners.

The classes, which will be held every Wednesday from May 31 to Aug. 2, will involve lectures, practices and homework (training) assignments, all relating to the sport’s three disciplines - swimming, biking and running - and other relevant aspects like nutrition and injury prevention.

The course is primarily intended to prepare athletes for E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park’s 25th annual sprint triathlon - which features an 800-meter swim, a 14-mile bike and a 5-kilometer run - on Aug. 5. But it also may be effective training for the Woodmont Triathlon’s sprint on July 15 and TriAmerica’s sprint on July 23.

McElwain, a former practicing attorney, has a master’s degree in exercise physiology. She is a USA Triathlon-certified coach and has been operating Train Smart, a multi-sport coaching service, since 1999. Among her many accomplishments as an athlete, McElwain won her age group at the World Long Course Triathlon Championships in 2004.

Two informational meetings will be held at Fleet Feet Sports, 1500 Bardstown Road: tonight at 6 and Sunday night at 5.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Rahman sells tennis now

Two young men were playing tennis on the Iroquois Park courts when Sharon Rahman arrived there May 13 for the Louisville Tennis Association’s Block Party, one of the local events that’s been held to celebrate May as Tennis Month.

Rahman, who is the State League Coordinator for the Louisville-based Kentucky branch of the United States Tennis Association, said the two men expected to be kicked off the courts. But they were invited to play instead.

“We recruited them for league tennis,” Rahman recalled. “We said, ‘Come play doubles with us.’ They had no idea we had these programs.”

Therein lies one of the challenges that Rahman, a former computer saleswoman, has faced since USTA Kentucky hired her in February. Although almost 600,000 people nationwide already play USTA League Tennis, there still are many who could benefit from it but don’t yet know about it.

“Tennis has always been known as kind of a solitary sport,” Rahman said. “I don’t think a lot of people understand that it’s a team sport at the recreational level.”

And that also makes it a communal sport, which Rahman considers particularly appealing. She has played USTA League Tennis for about 10 years.

“Most of all, I like the social aspects,” she said. “There’s great social support for each other.”

Established in 1979, USTA League Tennis allows adults to play against others of similar ability levels in an organized setting. Players are grouped by National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP) levels within four divisions - adult (19-and-over), senior (50-and-over), super senior 60 (60-and-over) and super senior 70 (70-and-over) - and join teams that compete within those levels in local leagues.

State Championships for adults and seniors will be held in June, and the Southern Sectional Championships and National Championships will follow in the months ahead.

Rahman, who is a Louisville native, sold computers at Entre Computer Center for 17 years before she took the USTA Kentucky position.

“It came at a good time,” said Rahman, who is divorced and has a son, Nick, a Virginia Tech sophomore who reached the 2004 Kentucky High School Athletic Association State Tennis Tournament doubles quarterfinals with former Ballard teammate Tyler Durham. “I can travel and work odd hours.”

She estimated that she has been working about 60 hours a week recently, but she describes the job as “cushy” nonetheless.

“It’s tennis,” she said. “How great is that?”

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Runners, cyclists paint New Albany in da Vinci Downtown Festival

Racing was an integral part of the ninth annual da Vinci Downtown Festival in New Albany, Ind., again today as a five-kilometer run/walk and a cycling criterium were held in conjunction with the community event.

Scott Holzknecht and Cara Nichols were the men’s and women’s winners, respectively, in the da Vinci Downtown 5K Run/Walk.

Holzknecht finished first overall with a time of 16:11.41, and Mike Horan was second in 16:24.26. Nichols, who was sixth overall, topped the women in 18:18.25; Katie Braekkan was nearly a minute back in second.

Patrick O’Donnell (Kentucky Flyers) won the Pro/1/2/3 category in the da Vinci Downtown Criterium, which was the first of two races in the Tour da Vinci this weekend.

Other criterium winners included Christopher Heintz (Team Barbasol/Rapid Transit) in the 3/4 category; Matt Straub (Team Louisville Bicycle Club) in the 4/5/Citizen category; Robert Bobrow (Better Cycling of Louisville) in the Master 40-and-over category; and Tracy Huber (Kentucky Flyers) in the Women’s category.

The second Tour da Vinci race, the Martinsburg (Ind.) Fire Department Road Race, will be held Sunday.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Hundreds run Throo the Zoo

There is one morning every year when hundreds of people run through the Louisville Zoo and all but ignore the animals.

It’s the Throo the Zoo 5K Run/Walk, a family-friendly event that included participants as young as 3 and as old as 80 in its 14th annual edition today.

Nearly 700 people completed the five-kilometer race, which started on Trevillian Way and finished in the zoo. Joseph Lynn and Deborah Fletcher were the overall men’s and women’s winners, respectively, and earned the Ostrich Egg Award.

Lynn won with a time of 16:10.11. Alan Tobin was second in 16:22.67, and Benjamin Draper was third in 16:40.85.

Fletcher led the women with a time of 19:29.35. Erika Fairweather was second in 19:50.50, and Amy Doolittle-Crider was third in 20:30:45.

The full results for the race, which was presented by Norton Audubon Hospital and the Friends of the Zoo, can be found here.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Wells wins in her return to mini; KDF races have record turnout

Of the thousands who crossed the finish line along Market Street during the Kentucky Derby Festival’s record-breaking road races today, few made those last strides with the kind of grin that lit Christina Wells’ face.

Always cheery anyway, it seems, Wells just had to smile now.

She hadn’t run in the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon since she won her first Louisville Triple Crown of Running in the days after her father Earnie Brown’s death in 2001.

She hadn’t run in any Kentucky Derby Festival race since she won her third straight Triple Crown in 2003.

She hadn’t run in Kentucky at all since 2004, shortly after she and her husband Bobby moved from Owensboro to Woodbridge, Va.

And she hadn’t run more than 10 miles in a race since her first child, Anna Catherine, was born in 2005.

But none of that could thwart her triumphant return to the miniMarathon this morning. Wells not only won the women’s division of the 33rd annual event but did it overwhelmingly, finishing more than three minutes ahead of her closest challenger.

“It was great to be back in Kentucky and running this race again,” she said - with a smile, of course.

But Wells isn’t the only one who enjoys the event. A record 8,655 people entered the races and a record 7,745 people finished them, with temperatures in the 50s and a steady drizzle making for good running conditions.

A significant - and fitting - change to the course likely attracted some of those runners; the races, which started on Southern Parkway near Iroquois Park, were directed through the Churchill Downs infield for the first time - one week before the Kentucky Derby.

“That was pretty neat,” said Westwood, N.J., resident Matt Downin, who won the men’s division of the miniMarathon. “You go in there, look around and see where all the great horses have run.”

Wells, a two-time Class A state champion in cross country at Owen County High School and a three-time Sun Belt Conference champion in track at Western Kentucky University, won the women’s division with a time of 1:17:48. Michelle Scott, who won four Sun Belt Conference titles at WKU and became an assistant coach there during Wells’ career, was second in 1:20:57. WAVE-3 reporter Anne Marshall was third in 1:24:35.

Downin, one of America’s elite distance runners, had the best overall time of 1:05:44. He finished a disappointing 30th in the USA Men’s 10 Mile Championship in Louisville just two weeks ago; he had been in fifth place at the midpoint of that race but developed a cramp in his side around the seven-mile mark and stopped for more than a minute.

“This was good redemption,” Downin said.

Log Lane Village, Colo., resident Sean Nesbitt was second in 1:07:09 and Boulder, Colo., resident John Supsic was third in 1:07:10.

Another Boulder, Colo., resident, Charles Njeru, won the marathon for the fourth straight year, finishing in 2:18:18. Chicago resident Chris Wehrman was second in 2:25:24 and Sacramento, Calif., resident Chad Worthen was third in 2:28:48 - although those two places could be contested if certain other runners, who have claimed they were misdirected and strayed off the course as a result, file a protest.

Bethesda, Md., resident Katie Nowak was the surprise winner in the women’s division of the marathon. The former Ball State University standout had never run a marathon but won easily in 2:48:43. Oakham, Mass., resident Barbara McManus was second in 2:56:33 and Powell, Ohio, resident Sharon Hathaway was third in 2:57:02.

Highland, Mich, resident Sarah Plaxton was sixth in 3:05:20; she won the marathon in 2004 after finishing second behind Wells in 2003.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

All will be Wells again in mini

Christina Wells was running royalty, the thrice-crowned queen of the Kentuckiana kingdom.

During an extraordinary reign rivaled just once in the 23-year history of the Louisville Triple Crown of Running, Wells was coronated with the crown’s three jewels three successive years.

And then she was gone, and the crown that no one could take from her was just left on the throne.

After winning all nine of the Triple Crown races from 2001 to 2003 (which are the only nine she has ever run), Wells moved from Owensboro, Ky., to Woodbridge, Va., in late 2003. Since then she has raced in Kentucky just once, when she won the Celebrating Women 5K in Louisville on June 26, 2004. Nine Triple Crown races have been run without her since she won the last of her nine.

But Wells finally will revisit the kingdom again this week, and she will return to some of the roads that she followed to those bygone glories when she runs in the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon on Saturday morning.

“I’m excited about it,” Wells told Beyond the Derby’s Nathan Chambers. “Anytime we have a chance to be back in Kentucky, it’s special.”

Both she and her husband (and longtime coach) Bobby were born and raised in Kentucky and ran at Western Kentucky University. But his career in federal law enforcement pulled them to the Washington, D.C., area more than two years ago. So Kentucky, once a home, now is a vacation spot.

He actually had vacation time to use or lose this spring, and he proposed using that time to visit family and friends in Kentucky this week - without even knowing the date of the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon and Marathon. But she knew it.

“And I already knew my mom (Anna Cook) was running in (the mini),” she said. “I told him, ‘We can’t go and not watch her run in it. So I might as well run in it, too.’ It beats going out to do 13-15 miles by myself.”

Those are the circumstances that have lured the 31-year-old Wells back to the city where she graced so many headlines for her victories in the Rodes City Run (in 2001, 2002, and 2003), the Papa John’s 10 Miler (in 2001, 2002, and 2003) and the Kentucky Derby Festival races (miniMarathon in 2001, Marathon in 2002 and 2003). Mary Anne Lyons-Tonini is the only other three-time Triple Crown champion (in 1996, 1997 and 1998).

Wells won all but two of those races after the death of her father, Earnie Brown. He died on April 15, 2001, and, 13 days later, the daughter he had encouraged to run years earlier clinched her first Triple Crown.

“The last time I saw Dad was at the finish line of the Papa John’s 10 Miler in 2001,” she recalled. “He had the biggest, most proud smile you’ve ever seen. He passed away the next weekend on Easter Sunday while walking the dog. They think it was probably a heart attack. He had been in poor health for many years. Unfortunately, he never got to see me run some of my best races or qualify for the Olympic Trials. But I always think about him before big races and how proud he is of me.”

Wells will not be coronated again Saturday, if for no other reason than that the KDF races have not been part of the Triple Crown since the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic replaced them in 2004.

But she also emphasized that she is not the same runner we remember - at least not yet. She gave birth to her first child, Anna Catherine, on March 25, 2005, and she has been trying to balance the often incompatible demands of motherhood and running for a year.

“If (running) was a huge priority of mine, I could make it work,” said Wells, who left her job as the program coordinator for the Northern Virginia chapter of Girls on the Run International last October to stay home with her daughter. “It would be tough, but I could make it work.”

She has run in nine races since her daughter was born. Her first was the 9-11 Memorial 5K in Arlington, Va., last Sept. 10, when she finished fourth in 18:29. She followed that with five other fall races of distances up to 10 kilometers.

“I was using races as workouts because it was so hard to get in any real workouts,” Wells said. “Then winter hit, and the races stopped.”

She was back on the roads for the St. Patrick’s Day 8K in Washington, D.C., on March 12 and was second in 27:51, just three seconds out of first. Then she won the Scope It Out 5K in 16:59 on March 25.

One week later, she placed a distant 12th against international competition at the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Road Race in Washington, D.C. She finished in 57:46, well off Russian Lidiya Grigoryeva’s winning (and world-record) time of 52:11.

“I forgot what those longer races are like,” Wells said.

So don’t expect her to make any predictions about the miniMarathon on Saturday.

“I don’t know,” she replied when asked if she’s coming to win. “I’ll just give it my best shot.”

Of course, her best shot has been difficult to beat over the years.

Before she was a Triple Crown champion, she was a two-time Class A state champion in cross country at Owen County High School, a three-time Sun Belt Conference champion in track at Western Kentucky, and the NCAA Woman of the Year for Kentucky.

And since she last won a Triple Crown, she was sixth at the 2003 USA Track and Field National Club Cross Country Championships; 15th at the 2004 USA Cross Country Championships; ninth at the 2004 USA 15K Championships; 24th at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Women’s Marathon Trials; and 10th at the 2004 USA Half-Marathon Championships.

Wells would like to reach those heights again and qualify for the 2008 Olympic Trials, but she is not making any plans for it as she would have done in the past.

“I’m thankful I have the opportunity to get back in decent shape and race again,” she said. “I’ll just take it a month at a time now.”

The crown jewels will be waiting.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Bickel first Ky. woman in Boston

Louisville resident Jill Bickel was Kentucky's first woman to finish the 110th Boston Marathon this afternoon.

The 31-year-old Bickel was the 218th female overall with a time of 3:16:26.

Three other Louisville women finished within three minutes of Bickel, rounding out Kentucky's top four. Lisa Martin, 23, was 230th in 3:16:31; Lynn Riedling, 45, was 250th in 3:18:10; and Shelley Perrone, 37, was 288th in 3:18:59.

Coffman third in age group in Boston

Don Coffman, a nationally recognized masters runner from Stamping Ground, Ky., placed third in the men's 60-69 division at the 110th Boston Marathon this afternoon.

The 63-year-old Coffman, who was 1342nd overall, also was the third Kentuckian to finish the race with his time of 3:03:01. Poway, Calif., resident Ron Enos won the age group in 2:58.42, and El Cajon, Calif., resident Hal Goforth was second in 3:01:50.

Louisville's Rouchka follows Grecco

Eric Rouchka was the second Kentuckian - and the first from Louisville - to finish the 110th Boston Marathon this afternoon.

The 33-year-old Rouchka was 924th overall with a time of 2:58:39.

Grecco leads Kentuckians in Boston

Lexington resident Chris Grecco was the first Kentuckian to finish the 110th Boston Marathon this afternoon.

The 38-year-old Grecco was 344th overall with a time of 2:48:04. Kenyan Robert Cheruiyot won in 2:07:14; he also won it in 2003.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Sun shines on Papa John's race

More than 6,000 runners and walkers started the sixth annual Papa John’s 10 Miler under a blue sky and a hot sun this morning, and at least three of those people finished the race in a familiar position inside Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

Abdi Abdirahman successfully defended his title in the USA Men’s 10 Mile Championship, which was part of the Papa John’s 10 Miler for the fourth straight year. And James Mutuse and Bonita Paul repeated in the men’s and women’s divisions, respectively, in the third leg of the Louisville Triple Crown of Running.

"This is a good race and a good course," said Abdirahman, a two-time U.S. Olympian from Tucson, Ariz. "To defend my title means a lot."

(Read more about the USA Men’s 10 Mile Championship in USA Track and Field’s press release, which Beyond the Derby’s Nathan Chambers wrote for the organization.)

Although weather forecasts had indicated a possibility of thunderstorms, a record number of participants flocked to the start line on Southern Parkway south of Central Avenue and began their 10-mile journey at 8:35 a.m. with the temperature hovering around 75 degrees.

The course followed Southern Parkway to New Cut Road, went around Iroquois Park, returned north on Southern Parkway, made turns onto Central Avenue and Floyd Street, and then ended in the stadium.

Mutuse, the 2002 Triple Crown champion from Richmond, Ky., finished the race 13th overall in 51:03; each of the 12 runners ahead of him only were in contention for USA Men’s 10 Mile Championship awards. Mutuse also won the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Rodes City Run, on March 25 after placing second behind Westley Alkin in the first leg, the Anthem 5K, on March 11.

“I thought I could break 50:00, but it was too hot,” Mutuse said, echoing comments that other runners made. “I couldn’t go any faster than that.”

Bowling Green, Ky., resident James Scott was second in 52:27, and Columbia, Ky., resident Jared Segara was third in 52:54. Scott was the top local runner in the USA Men’s 10 Mile Championship , taking 19th overall; neither Mutuse nor Segara qualified for it.

Louisville residents Jamie Weedman, a blind Jefferson Community College student, and Dave Gassman, his running guide, placed 945th in 1:27:02. They were 1,000th in the Rodes City Run.

Paul, who also lives in Bowling Green, finished in 1:01:18 - nearly a minute ahead of the next woman. Leigh Daniel of Ashland, Ohio, was second in 1:02:16, and Louisville’s Amy Doolittle-Crider was third in 1:02:49.

Lexington, Ky., resident Susie Bush had won the women's divisions in the first two Triple Crown races but ran elsewhere this weekend.

Full results can be found here.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Papa John's race will be interesting

(NOTE: This is the fifth in a series of stories about the Papa John's 10 Miler/USA Men's 10 Mile Championship, which will be run in Louisville on Saturday.)

For the second year in a row, no Triple Crown champion will be recognized after the Papa John’s 10 Miler ends tomorrow morning. So much for that storyline.

But there will be others:

With several perennial contenders out of the picture, which man and which woman will win the final race in the Louisville Triple Crown of Running? Good question.

Which elite athlete will triumph in the fourth Papa John’s edition of the USA Men’s 10 Mile Championship? Ask Abdi Abdirahman.

Will the race break participation records in its sixth year? Yes.

And will there be storms? Don’t worry about it.

The Papa John’s 10 Miler could be wide open. Louisville resident Westley Alkin was the men’s winner in the first Triple Crown race - the Anthem 5K on March 11 - but did not want to finish the series. Richmond, Ky., resident James Mutuse was the men’s winner in the second Triple Crown race - the Rodes City Run on March 25 - for the fourth time but it isn’t known if he will show tomorrow. And Lexington, Ky., resident Susie Bush, the 2004 Triple Crown champion, was the women’s winner in both races but decided to run elsewhere tomorrow.

Abdirahman is the favorite in the USA Men’s 10 Mile Championship, which is the third of eight national championship road races in the USA Running Circuit. A two-time U.S. Olympian in the 10,000 meters, Abdirahman won the race last year in record time (47:27) en route to the overall USARC title.

His challengers include two other former Olympians, 2004 champion Dan Browne and steeplechase specialist Anthony Famiglietti; Andrew Carlson, who was fifth at the USA Men’s Half Marathon Championship on Jan. 15; and Matt Lane and Matt Downin, who were fourth and fifth, respectively, in this race last year.

The winner will receive $10,000 out of a purse that exceeds $26,000.

Entries for the Papa John’s 10 Miler already were hovering at record levels on Wednesday, when company spokesperson Tish Muldoon said the number stood at 5,350 with more online entries still to be counted and registration available all day today and before the race tomorrow.

“Isolated thunderstorms” are in the forecast, of course. But that’s true for the next 36 hours or so, and there’s no more than a 30 percent chance of rain during most of that day-and-a-half period. And lightning already struck once in this series, remember?

So let’s assume the race will be just fine.

Graff's plan works for everyone

(NOTE: This is the fourth in a series of stories about the Papa John's 10 Miler/USA Men's 10 Mile Championship, which will be run in Louisville on Saturday.)

When the USA Men’s 10 Mile Championship starts in Louisville tomorrow morning, 2003 champion Chris Graff and his wife will be home in the Washington, D.C., area enjoying the ninth day of their newborn son’s life.

That’s all according to plan.

Graff, who finished in the top three in each of the three years the race has been part of the Papa John’s 10 Miler, has known for a while that he wouldn’t be running in the fourth edition tomorrow. What’s the time frame for a pregnancy these days, nine months or so?

To avoid certain conflicts (such as the World Series, which Yankees fans like the Graffs believe is a birthright), Chris and Elizabeth carefully planned the pregnancy that ended happily with the arrival of Owen Anton last Friday.

Missing the 10-mile championship was a reasonable sacrifice, although Chris did admit that he likely would be running tomorrow if the U.S. Olympic Trials were on the schedule instead; he placed fifth in the 10,000 meters at the 2004 Trials.

“The pregnancy was planned with reference to when we wanted to have him so I think it wouldn’t really come up,” he told Beyond the Derby’s Nathan Chambers. “We would, of course, have him whenever we could get him. But we decided to try to conceive in July because he would come after the NCAA tournament, and his birthday would always be at a good time. As a Yankees fan you don’t want to have lots of things conflicting with the World Series in October. We are crazy, I know, but it worked.”

Nonetheless, Graff has maintained ties to the 10-mile championship, developing what could be called a long-term relationship with the race that has been such an important part of his career in recent years. Working from home as the elite athlete coordinator, he has assembled a strong field with race director Camille Estes and has handled the travel logistics for the runners.

“Since I know my way around in Louisville, I know Jim (who is a USA Track and Field official) and (his wife) Camille well, and I know the people who make the race happen at Papa John’s, it was a good fit for all parties for me to do the elite athlete coordination for them,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed the experience, as well. It’s a lot of work putting a race together, and I am a small cog in the machine, but it’s rewarding work to make it happen.”

The list of runners competing for the 10-mile championship includes 2005 champion Abdi Abdirahman and 2004 champion Dan Browne, both of whom ran in the 10,000 meters at the 2004 Olympics; Anthony Famiglietti, who ran in the steeplechase in the 2004 Olympics; previous top-five finishers Matt Downin, Matt Lane and Justin Young; and Bowling Green, Ky., residents James and Jef Scott. Ryan Shay, who was third in 2004, and James Carney have withdrawn.

“Overall, we are looking at a very strong field,” Graff said. “There are certain obvious people missing because they are running in Boston (on Monday), and frankly we aren’t going to compete with the Boston Marathon. Other than those few guys, we have a tremendous field. We have six guys who post a 10k of 28:08 or better.”

The 10-miler is the third of eight national championships in the USA Running Circuit, a road series that USA Track and Field started in 1995, and the winner of the race will be awarded $10,000 from a total purse that exceeds $26,000. So many of the runners don’t have to be recruited.

“We have the luxury of being a USATF championship, which means we are on everybody’s radar from a long way out,” Graff said. “Since I know most of the participants personally I was able to go out and try to get a few new faces. For example, I remembered cooling down with Anthony Famiglietti last year after the 15k in Jacksonville and his comments about how much he enjoyed the relatively low stress environment of road racing as opposed to the track. So I contacted Fam and he liked the idea of getting a longer race in this time of year for his summer steeple preparations, and he decided to come. And we are happy to have him.”

Of course, one of the most prominent runners who won’t be in Louisville tomorrow is Graff, and others have taken notice.

“I’ll miss having Chris Graff running,” Lane said, although he won’t miss having Graff finish ahead of him. “He’s always competitive, especially at 10 miles for some reason. I can’t figure out how to beat him at 10 miles.”

Graff wants to return to racing this summer and is targeting the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Indianapolis in June.

“I hope to be in enough of a routine by the end of the month so that I can resume full training May 1,” he said. “That will give me enough time to be fully prepared for nationals.”

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Abdirahman wants it all in Louisville

(NOTE: This is the third in a series of stories about the Papa John's 10 Miler/USA Men's 10 Mile Championship, which will be run in Louisville on Saturday.)

He has returned to Louisville to do more than defend his title in the USA Men’s 10 Mile Championship on Saturday.

“I’m looking for the American record,” he declared.

Not that he’s even certain where to find it on the stopwatch.

“I don’t know what the record is,” he admitted, “but I’m coming to break it.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is endearingly ambitious Abdi Abdirahman, one of the best - and most candid - distance runners in the United States.

A two-time Olympian and former University of Arizona star, Abdirahman set two national championship road race records last year - at the USA Men’s 10 Mile Championship in Louisville on April 9 and the USA 20 Kilometer Championships in New Haven, Conn., on Sept. 5 - en route to the USA Running Circuit title. He also won the 10,000 meters at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships.

He finished the USA Men’s 10 Mile Championship in 47:27 and is the favorite to win the race again on Saturday, when it will be run in conjunction with the Papa John’s 10 Miler for the fourth year in a row.

Nonetheless, he will have to knock more than a minute off that time to break the American record (46:13) at that distance, which Greg Meyer established in 1983.

“I’m ready,” Abdirahman, a Tucson, Ariz., resident, said during an interview with Beyond the Derby’s Nathan Chambers. “I don’t want to say I can’t be beat. I’m a human being. But if someone is going to beat me, he has to train hard. I know the shape I’m in, and I’m ready to run.”

He won’t get an argument from 2004 champion Dan Browne, one of his challengers on Saturday.

“You have to expect Abdi to make it tough,” Browne said, referencing Abdirahman’s front-running style. “He’s running great right now, and he’s a fantastic competitor. I see him going out fast and making the race difficult.”

Abdirahman has another record on his mind. He wants to break the U.S. 10,000-meter mark, (28:13.98), which Meb Keflezighi set in 2001. He also wants to compete in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing - although not necessarily in the 10,000 meters, where he finished 10th in 2000 and 15th in 2004.

He ran in the New York City Marathon each of the last two years, placing fifth in a personal-best 2:11:24 last year, and he said he will consider the marathon at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. Either way, he intends to make a career at that distance eventually.

“Hopefully I’ll move up permanently after Beijing and do a marathon twice a year,” he said. “My long-term goal is to become a good runner, and the marathon is a challenging distance.”

Abdirahman also is looking forward to the 2007 International Association of Athletics Federations World Cross Country Championships. The 35th annual event will be held in Mombasa, Kenya, where he lived for much of his youth after his birth in Somalia.

“I’m so excited,” said Abdirahman, who came to the U.S. in 1989 and became a citizen on Jan. 28, 2000. “I’ve already started my preparations for it. I’m going to do whatever I need to do to get to that race. I want to be part of it the first time Kenya hosts it. It’s a good homecoming for me.”

In the meantime, he has a race to win in Louisville.

“I won it last year,” he said, “so I want to win it this year and go from there.”

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Track star Lane likes the roads, particularly in Louisville

(NOTE: This is the second in a series of stories about the Papa John's 10 Miler/USA Men's 10 Mile Championship, which will be run in Louisville on Saturday.)

When Matt Lane tries to play the piano from time to time and quits in frustration, he’s reminded of running.

“You keep working at it and don’t get any better,” he said.

That thought offers a little perspective on Lane’s decisions after the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials, when he just wanted to get off the track after a torturously disappointing run in the 5,000 meters. He finished fourth, just as he had done four years earlier, and failed to qualify for the Olympics again.

“I needed a break from running around in circles - no pun intended,” Lane said during an interview with Beyond the Derby’s Nathan Chambers. “Well, maybe the pun is intended.”

Either way, his career intentions were clear. The track star hit the roads.

He had never run a road race longer than seven miles and wasted no time changing that in 2005; he entered the USA Men’s Half Marathon Championship in Houston on Jan. 16 and placed fifth.

That began an adventurous year in which he was third at the USA Men’s 15 Kilometer Championship in Jacksonville, Fla., on March 12; fourth at the USA Men’s 10 Mile Championship in Louisville on April 9; and 14th (second among Americans) at the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 9.

“I hadn’t done any of these,” said Lane, who still runs on the track and plans to compete in the 10,000 meters at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Indianapolis in June. “It was fun to get out there and just do one.”

But the marathon’s 26.2 miles were a real stretch for Lane, whose longest previous race was half that distance earlier in the year.

“I used to never want to run a marathon,” he said. “It didn’t make any sense to me. But it became, like, ‘If you’re a distance runner, it’s something you have to do.’ And I wanted that experience. It was something else I hadn’t done before.”

He also welcomed the more relaxed atmosphere of the road races, which, he noted, offer much better prize money than track events. (The USA Men’s 10 Mile Championship, for instance, awards $10,000 to the winner and more than $26,000 total.)

“Most of us are not highly paid anyway, so that’s a nice bonus,” said Lane, who runs for Nike.

Of course, he also did well in those races last year. So, after a particularly impressive run in the Chicago Marathon, he targeted the more prestigious Boston Marathon, which will be held on Monday. He tried to let his body recover with some time off before training for Boston, but a nagging foot problem eventually caused so much pain in January that it curtailed his workouts.

“So it wasn’t time to run another marathon,” he said. “I wanted to be at the same fitness level for Boston as I was for Chicago. It became clear to me that I couldn’t do that.”

Instead, Lane will return to Louisville for the USA Men’s 10 Mile Championship, which will be held on Saturday in conjunction with the Papa John’s 10 Miler for the fourth year in a row. He is one of the runners to watch in a race that also includes defending champion and record holder Abdi Abdirahman and 2004 champion Dan Browne.

“The Papa John’s fit in well with my schedule; my fitness is coming along,” Lane said. “And it’s just a fun one to do.”

He could have more fun this time around with a little less on his mind. A year ago he was thinking about wedding plans; he and his fiancee, former Stanford University All-American Erin Sullivan, were getting married exactly two weeks after the race.

“It was stressful,” he said. “We did a good job planning for the wedding so I wasn’t that overwhelmed. But my training just wasn’t going as well as I’d want it to.”

Matt and Erin currently live in Menlo Park, Calif., and she is enrolled in a teacher certification program at San Jose State University. They plan to move to Maine, his home state, this summer, and, with an interest in politics, he will begin law school at the University of Maine.

He actually volunteered at the Santa Clara County Democratic Party office in 2004 and did campaign work for U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, California Assemblyman Ira Ruskin and the Kerry-Edwards ticket. He wants to get more involved in 2008.

With such interests and his running career, Lane has little time for the piano anymore. But that already had become clear to him at the College of William & Mary (2001 graduate), where he was an All-American, majored in finance and music, and developed a friendship with pop pianist Bruce Hornsby.

“When I went to his house for the first time, I talked to him about what he did to get where he is, the work that went into making him as good as he is,” Lane said. “That made me realize I had to focus on what I really wanted to do, and that was running.”

Monday, April 10, 2006

Hoping for better days ahead, Browne looks to one from the past

(NOTE: This is the first in a series of stories about the Papa John's 10 Miler/USA Men's 10 Mile Championship, which will be run in Louisville on Saturday.)

Dan Browne experienced the best of times and the worst of times in the last two years.

Since his nationally celebrated triumph in the USA Men’s 10 Mile Championship (and his privately memorable first taste of a Mint Julep) in Louisville on April 10, 2004:

He ran for Team USA in the Olympic Games for the first time.

He lost his record 10-mile championship time to a snafu.

He won the USA Men’s Half Marathon Championship.

He underwent surgery on his left knee.

He underwent an emergency appendectomy more than 2,000 miles from home.

He underwent surgery on his right knee.

He got married.

He was inducted into the Army Sports Hall of Fame.

And, all in all, he could not race for 14 months.

“There were a lot of highs and a lot of lows,” he said during an interview with Beyond the Derby’s Nathan Chambers.

Now, as he resumes one of the most successful distance running careers of his generation, it’s fitting that Browne will revisit the Derby City for the 2006 USA Men’s 10 Mile Championship on Saturday. One of eight races in the USA Track and Field road series known as the USA Running Circuit, the championship will be part of the Papa John’s 10 Miler for the fourth year in a row.

“Any race right now would be great,” he said. “This one is more special.”

It would seem so. Browne, who lives in Portland, Ore., won the 3,000 meters at a University of Oregon track meet on March 18 in his first race since the half-marathon championship back on Jan. 16, 2005. He decided to run in Louisville next, and it’s his intent that the 10-miler will be his only road race until September as he returns to the track for the summer.

“When I won (the 10-mile championship in Louisville) before, I really enjoyed the experience,” said Browne, who already had friends in the city. “I like the area, and the people are friendly. I came away from it with a lot of good memories.”

He doesn’t even seem to care that his time of 46:32, which initially was considered a race record, was invalidated when the course was re-measured four months later and found to be too short.

“I think I ran fast there, even though they called it a short course,” Browne said.

Running fast is his focus for the coming months as he tries to regain the form he lost to injuries in 2005.

Browne already was feeling discomfort in his knees during the 2004 Olympics in Athens, where he placed 12th in the 10,000 meters but a disappointing 65th in the marathon as he struggled to finish the race in the stifling heat.

Within a week of winning the half-marathon title the following January, he suddenly couldn’t run. He eventually was diagnosed with iliotibial band syndrome in both knees and went under the knife in March and May.

Between those surgeries, he needed an emergency appendectomy late one April night while he was visiting his then-girlfriend, Cristan, in her hometown of Dallas.

He was targeting a marathon in the fall, but his legs still weren’t ready - much to his frustration.

“It was one of those years,” said Browne, who also turned 30 in 2005. “Psychologically, I took a beating.”

Of course, he did have his moments last year. He married Cristan in July, and the former Quartermaster Corps lieutenant was inducted into the Army Sports Hall of Fame in November in honor of his record-setting collegiate running career at the U.S. Military Academy in the mid-1990s.

But all of that is behind him now.

“I had to ride the roller coaster out until I got to the end,” he said, crediting his coach, Nike Oregon Project founder Alberto Salazar, for encouraging him to do just that.

As Browne begins a new ascent from the bottom, he seems to have relatively modest expectations for his first significant race in 15 months. He will be running against Olympic teammate Abdi Abdirahman, who won the race in record time (47:27) last year, and several rising distance stars.

“I just want to have a positive experience,” he said. “Even if I don’t win, if I run a mentally strong race, I’ll be happy.”

Just a few moments later, however, Browne sounded a little more confident.

“I know come race day that I’ll give my best no matter what,” he said. “As long as my body is holding up, I can take stock in knowing that my mind will push it. And my body is starting to agree with what my mind wants it to do.”

And make no mistake. His mind wants his body to be the best again.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Komisarz to bring back three medals

Louisville resident Rachel Komisarz earned her first individual medal tonight in her last event on the final day of the FINA Short Course World Swimming Championships in Shanghai.

Komisarz was the seventh seed in the women’s 100-meter butterfly final and had to swim in the first lane. But she surged into second place with a time of 57.43 seconds, a full second faster than her semifinal time, to secure her second silver medal and her third medal overall. Australia’s Lisbeth Lenton won the race in 56.61.

“I knew I had to be out and aggressive on the first 50,” Komisarz said in an interview with Team USA, “but I tried to stay relaxed and then just hammered it home. I knew I could bring it back faster than anybody, so I had to be confident and know I could do it. It was all about swimming my race and not worrying about what everyone else was doing.”

Komisarz, a 2004 Olympian who trains with the Lakeside Seahawks in Louisville, already had earned a silver medal in the 400-meter medley relay and a bronze medal in the 800-meter freestyle relay.

Team USA won the most medals overall - 21, including six gold, seven silver and eight bronze - during the five-day event. The women, with Lakeside’s Mike DeBoor as their coach, won 11 of those medals.

Lexington, Ky., resident Elaine Breeden, a Trinity Christian Academy senior who trains with Wildcat Aquatics, placed fifth in the women’s 200-meter butterfly in her best finish earlier in the competition.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Komisarz advances to 100 fly final

Rachel Komisarz is in contention for her third medal at the FINA Short Course World Swimming Championships in Shanghai after finishing seventh in the semifinals of the women’s 100-meter butterfly tonight.

Komisarz, a 2004 Olympian who trains with the Lakeside Seahawks in Louisville, posted a time of 58.43 seconds, nearly a second behind Australian Jessicah Schipper’s 57.52. She will swim in the final on Sunday night, the final day of the event, with a chance to add to her one silver and one bronze earned in relays.

Lexington, Ky., resident Elaine Breeden, a Trinity Christian Academy senior who trains with Wildcat Aquatics, helped the women’s 400-meter freestyle relay team post the second-best time in the heats but was left out of the relay for the final tonight as her teammates tied for fourth. The same happened in the 400-meter medley relay earlier in the competition.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Komisarz wins another medal

Rachel Komisarz finished seventh in the women’s 50-meter butterfly at the FINA Short Course World Swimming Championships in Shanghai tonight, but the Louisville resident also earned a silver medal in the 400-meter medley relay.

Komisarz and teammates Margaret Hoelzer, Tara Kirk and Maritza Correia finished the relay in 3:55.65, edging third-place China by a fraction of a second. Australia won the race in 3:51.84, setting a world record.

Komisarz, the 2004 Olympian who trains with the Lakeside Seahawks in Louisville, now has a silver and a bronze and will compete in the 100-meter butterfly on Saturday.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Komisarz advances to another final

Rachel Komisarz, who trains with the Lakeside Seahawks in Louisville, tied for fifth in the semifinals of the women’s 50-meter butterfly tonight at the FINA Short Course World Swimming Championships in Shanghai and will swim in the final on Friday night.

Komisarz, a 2004 Olympian, finished her semifinal heat in 26.45 seconds and was the only American to advance to the final in the event. Austria’s Fabienne Nadarajah was the fastest semifinalist with a time of 26.05 seconds.

Komisarz already has one medal after earning a bronze in the women’s 800-meter freestyle relay on Wednesday.

Komisarz swims to relay bronze

Kentucky is making a splash at the FINA Short Course World Swimming Championships in Shanghai.

Mike DeBoor, who has been the head coach of the Lakeside Seahawks in Louisville for 12 years, is the women’s coach for Team USA in the five-day event.

And Lakeside’s most prominent swimmer, 2004 Olympian Rachel Komisarz, won a bronze medal in the women’s 800-meter freestyle relay on the first day of competition on Wednesday. Komisarz, Kate Ziegler, Amanda Weir and Kaitlin Sandeno finished third in 7:49.16. Australia won the race in 7:46.96, and China was second in 7:47.07.

Lexington, Ky., resident Elaine Breeden, a Trinity Christian Academy senior who swims with Wildcat Aquatics, placed fifth in the women’s 200-meter butterfly. She finished in 2:08.70, nearly four seconds behind winner Jessicah Schipper of Australia.

Full results can be found here.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Eaton represents Kentucky well

Bowling Green, Ky., resident Michael Eaton, a senior at Greenwood High School, fought through strong winds to finish 60th out of 98 runners in the junior men’s race at the International Association of Athletics Federations World Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, on Sunday.

Eaton, who has signed with the University of Louisville, was the fifth runner in Team USA’s six-man contingent to complete the eight-kilometer course and was timed in 26:39. He was the only high school runner on the team.

Kiel Uhl, who finished 36th in 25:31, was the top runner for Team USA - which placed ninth in the junior men’s team standings. Kenya was first.

“I nearly fell on my face at the beginning,” Eaton said in an interview with USA Track and Field. “I was hoping to get out a little better, but it didn’t happen. I made it to the outside and tried to work my way to the front. That wind really sucked. I gave up trying to get up front and started drafting behind people. In the last stretch, this Canadian guy passed me, and I said, ‘I don’t think so,’ and I found another gear and tried to push through it.

“There certainly are a lot of fast people out there. I’ll work harder and try to get back here next year.”

Team USA fared better in several of the other five divisions, including fifth-place finishes in the senior women’s long race (eight kilometers), the senior women’s short race (four kilometers), and the senior men’s short race (four kilometers).

Full results can be found here.

Clark wins Health Care Classic

Stan Clark finished ahead of 172 other runners and walkers to win the 18th annual Health Care Classic in downtown Louisville on Saturday.

Clark completed the five-kilometer course in 18:01, easily outpacing the field in the men’s division. John Hodge was a distant second in 18:48.

Roberta Myer won the women’s division in 20:47. Holly Bartelt was second in 21:03.

Full results will be available at a later date.

The Health Care Classic, which benefit’s The Healing Place, is a University of Louisville Medical School event.

Attkisson rides to cycling series title

Patrick O’Donnell and Kevin Attkisson led the Texas Roadhouse Cycling Team to another impressive showing in the finale of the Kentuckiana Spring Training Series on Saturday, finishing atop the men’s 1/2/3 category in Promotion Cycling’s Lexington (Ky.) Spring Circuit Race as Attkisson won the series points title.

O’Donnell and Attkisson placed first and second, respectively, for the second consecutive race. Teammate Curtis Tolson - who also won the Masters 35-and-over race - followed them in third.

That was enough for Attkisson, a Louisville resident, to secure a series-best 77 points in the category. O’Donnell, an Indianapolis resident, finished second in the standings with 59 points.

Louisville’s Clayton Omer (Papa John’s Racing Team) won his first race in the 4/5/Citizen category and surged into second place in the final standings with 51 points. Louisville’s Sean Steele (Team Louisville), who placed ninth in the race, won the points title with 71.

Wellington, Ky., resident Brian Schworm (Pedal Power) equaled Omer in the 3/4 category , winning the race and clinching second in the final standings with 39 points. Fishers, Ind., resident Paul Wood (Sorenson VRS), who was third in the race, won the points title with 57 points.

Texas Roadhouse teammates Tracy Huber, a Louisville resident, and Briana Kovac, an Indianapolis resident, did not compete in the women’s race but still finished first and second, respectively, in the final standings with 65 and 50 points. Lexington’s Bena Halecky (Pedal Power) won the race in their absence.

The Lexington Spring Circuit Race, originally scheduled to be the fifth of six races in the 2WheelSports-sponsored series, instead was the fourth and final race. The New Washington (Ind.) Classic Road Race, scheduled for March 11,and the Shawnee Park Criterium, scheduled for April 15, both were cancelled.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Blind student runs down challenges

So, Jamie Weedman had never embarked on a race like the Rodes City Run before last Saturday morning. No doubt he was not the only one for whom that was true among the thousands of people who flooded the streets of downtown Louisville for the second leg of the Triple Crown of Running.

But this particular young man’s decision to brave the 10-kilometer distance and the bustling crowds for the first time in his 22 years has attracted a lot more interest from the local media. He has granted interview requests from such outlets as WHAS-840, WAVE-3, WLKY-32 and FOX-41, and he has begun to hear people call him “an inspiration.”

Weedman, who is blind, certainly didn’t seek any of this attention. “I just want to run,” he said.

But he has accepted it gracefully, understanding what many of us might assume about him despite what all of us now see him doing.

He only asks that we believe our own eyes.

“Blind people are just as capable as anybody else,” said Weedman, a Louisville resident and Jefferson Community College sophomore. “If anyone sees me running, that’s the message I want to put out there.”

He’s making that point loud and clear - without saying a word.

Running alongside guide Dave Gassman as each clutched a lanyard with his inside hand, Weedman successfully navigated the City Run’s congested course on Saturday and completed the race in a brisk 50:37. He placed 1,000th overall, cracking the top 20 percent of the 5,089 people who finished.

But that was only the beginning for the ambitious Weedman, who intends to run in the Papa John’s 10 Miler on April 15 and the Kentucky Derby Festival’s miniMarathon on April 29. Five miles had been the farthest he had ever run in a race before the City Run. Now he wants to tackle a 10-miler, which would match his longest training run, and a 13.1-miler.

“It will be a challenge, but I think I can do it,” he said. “If I can do 10, I can do 13. It’s just three miles more.”

Keep in mind that Weedman has a solid running background. Born in Paducah, Ky., with an eye disorder known as retinopathy of prematurity, he was adopted by Louisville residents Maury Weedman, a former runner, and Pauletta Feldman shortly after his first birthday. With his parents’ support, he started running competitively as a high school student at the Kentucky School for the Blind and wanted to continue running after he graduated in 2004.

That summer, Robin Frazier, the development director for Visually Impaired Preschool Services, asked Gassman if he would be Weedman’s guide in the Texas Roadhouse Stampede for VIPS in August. Gassman, a miniMarathon veteran who had started running about 10 years earlier to improve his health, agreed.

Since then, Weedman and Gassman, now 49, have run together in more than 20 races.

“It’s been a good friendship and a good partnership,” said Weedman, who, like Gassman, is a member of the Iroquois Hill Runners. “I’ve made a lot of friends, and I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Gassman, who said he lost a job around the time he met Weedman, has been inspired by him.

“Meeting Jamie and seeing his positive attitude towards life and can-do attitude in general has helped me remember to keep things in perspective and realize what is important in life,” he said.

And, like many other people have come to do, Gassman believes in Weedman. So he’s been encouraging his running mate to take a shot at the miniMarathon.

“I didn’t think I was ready last year, but I think I’m ready now,” Weedman said. “Why not give it a try and see how I do?”

Indeed, why not?

Friday, March 31, 2006

Look who's in Japan

Kentucky will be well-represented in the International Association of Athletics Federations World Cross Country Championships, a two-day event that begins in Fukuoka Japan, on Saturday.

Louisville’s Jim Estes, who is the programs manager for the long distance running division of USA Track and Field, is coordinating Team USA’s appearance in the 34th annual competition.

One of Team USA’s 36 athletes is Bowling Green, Ky., resident Michael Eaton, a Greenwood High School senior and University of Louisville signee. Eaton, who has won four Class AAA state titles in cross country and track, is the only high school student among the six runners on the junior men’s team.

The event includes six races: a senior men’s long race (12 kilometers); a senior men’s short race (4 kilometers); a senior women’s long race (8 kilometers); a senior women’s short race (4 kilometers); a junior men’s race (8 kilometers); and a junior women’s race (6 kilometers).

Monday, March 27, 2006

City Run champ wins marathon

The Rodes City Run was just a workout for James Mutuse.

Less than 24 hours after easily winning that 10-kilometer race in downtown Louisville on Saturday, the Richmond, Ky., resident ran the Covenant Health Marathon in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday and won that, too.

Mutuse, who had finished 51 seconds ahead in the City Run, completed the 26.2-mile course through Knoxville in 2:33:06.6. He beat 540 other runners and won by more than eight minutes.

The Covenant Health event also included a 5K, a half-marathon and a marathon relay.