Competitor.com http://running.competitor.com Your Online Source for Running Mon, 29 Aug 2016 14:03:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.2 Tech Buzz: Lumo Run is a Next Generation Wearable Device http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/shoes-and-gear/tech-buzz-lumo-run-next-generation-wearable-device_154301 Fri, 26 Aug 2016 15:15:11 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=154301

The sensors inside the Lumo Run tracking pod can tell you a lot about your running.

The new Lumo Run ($99) from Lumo Body Tech combines a small sensor pod (that can be clipped to a pair of running shorts) with a GPS run and

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The sensors inside the Lumo Run tracking pod can tell you a lot about your running.

The new Lumo Run ($99) from Lumo Body Tech combines a small sensor pod (that can be clipped to a pair of running shorts) with a GPS run and coaching app. The system currently measures five running form metrics, Lumo calls them the 5 pillars of running form: pelvic rotation, pelvic drop, cadence, bounce and brake. According to Lumo, improve the pillars and you can become a more efficient faster runner with less chance of injury.

Lumo Run is the first form and exercise tool I have seen and used that I am actually following. I am cross-train lazy, hate the gym and after 45 years of running have a real need to work on my form, particularly my stiff hips and pelvis.

Lumo Run does not focus on the formerly oh-so-popular heel vs. midfoot strike or strictly on cadence and the lower portion of the legs as many run form tech companies do. Instead, Lumo targets the center of your body, the pelvis and hips the area that is the driving engine of running. I think their approach is far more actionable than trying to change foot strike, if this is really even possible for most without dealing with the areas of the body, the “core,” which I think really determine form and running efficiency.

The app includes a pre-run video demo of the form tip du jour (system or user selected), optional configurable in run audio live feedback for the metric and for tip reminders, and then post run exercises to improve the metrics, your run stats, and a view of trends for all of the metrics.

Overall the system is very well-executed, from flawless communication of sensor to app to the algorithms analyzing the data which have been extensively tested and verified in development by testing against sophisticated lab run and biomechanics equipment, stuff well out of the the reach of the average runner. My testing and their improvements and fixes as I run with Lumo Run tell me they will launch with a very polished and effective run form system.

The sensor pod itself is a marvel of engineering and includes:

  • 9-axis IMU (Inertial Motion Measuring Unit)
  • Accelerometer
  • Gyroscope
  • Magnetometer
  • Barometer
  • Low-energy Bluetooth
  • Vibration motor

The app itself is very well done. The screens are clear and easy to understand, yet just data rich enough for even a geek. Sure more extensive graphing and feedback on and comparisons of two metrics at  once on a given run. might make some of us geeks happier but for 90 percent of users there is just the right amount of data and flexibility to set feedback to preferences.

During my testing, I provided Lumo feedback. I suggested for example if you are way off the benchmark for a metric, start with more reasonable goals. For me it is cadence and instead of the “standard” 180 steps per minute Lumo is trying to get me to 175. Reasonable goals are implemented in the release version now on sale.

What I do know is working for me is to focus on the audio tips while running. They are easy to understand and do. Recently, as I worked on pelvic rotation, the app suggested thinking about pushing off on a skateboard and rolling my shoulders down and back. For cadence it suggests imagining running through puddles without getting wet and elbowing someone behind me. My cadence has improved but the trick is to have the strength to maintain the form when tired, the exercises are key. New tips appear all the time for the different metrics.

The artificial intelligence in the system is considerable, determining for each run a personalized form element to work on, setting a reasonable goal upfront if you are not close to the gold standard goal metric but also allowing you to chose whichever metric you prefer. I think the app overemphasizes cadence, which for me is highly pace dependent. I often head for Pelvic Rotation, my weakest metric. Posture tips are also be periodically given via the audio feedback for example: “roll your shoulders down and back,” “engage your core,” “look ahead.” I am unclear if they are triggered by your posture, but I believe they may be.

I have welcomed the positive feedback chimes and jumped a bit when I heard the negative tuba chime-when you go off the goal for a period of time.  A bit of adjustment may be required by Lumo as the negative chime is often rapidly followed, when you get back on track, by a positive chime which can be a bit confusing. You can turn such instant feedback on or off. You can also turn on or off  the easy to “feel” and do the audio form tips you hear periodically. I focus on recalling the tip when I hear the negative chime if my metric is headed off target. At the end of each interval, one mile for me but configurable by distance, the app will tell you how you measured up to the selected metric for that interval. If you are having an “on” or “off” day after a while the coaching seems to ease off in its frequency. Overall the feedback is extremely well done and timed. Never too much. After all the purpose is to improve form.

Walking through a Run
Recently I had very tired legs after a 500-mile drive and a brisk, 8-mile trail run the day before, so I went for an easy trail run in Park City’s Round Valley.

The sensor pod (pictured above) clips to the rear of your shorts at mid back at the tailbone. Shorts and capris with a special pocket and instant feedback button are also available. A snug, no slip waistband is very important. The ridges that hold the pod to the shorts are not as “sharp” as I would like to see. No issues on the run, but caution removing shorts as you may lose the pod if shorts are twisted. (I lost one at a race … I think in the porta potty.)

The pod itself slips out of a rubber like carrier for USB charging. The tip of the pod snaps off and has a thin leash, caution advised as it is easy to break the leash. I did on my first pod. Battery life has been outstanding. Specs say 20 hours of in-run time and seven days of standby, which seems right to me. The unit is advertised as waterproof and machine washable. I wouldn’t … but did … and it came out just fine.

You can run without the phone app, the sensor will automatically synch when you are back in range but you will miss the audio tips and will have no GPS tracking. With GPS tracking you also get Auto Pause and all the usual distance and pace metrics.

Run Time 

While the app suggested Cadence … again. I chose Pelvic Rotation by touching the icon at the top left. You can chose any of the five metrics for a given run. I would welcome the opportunity to chose more than one during a run as I believe many are related. I am sure Lumo is working on this.

Lumo suggested a pre-run tip. I watched the video and did my best during the run to “skateboard” more. The tip was repeated occasionally and the tuba chime indicated if slipped off the 15-degree target.

At mile intervals, my setting, I heard my Pelvic Rotation average in degrees for the last mile. I did not hit 15 every mile but was at least 2 degrees better than usual, times when I was not focused on that particular tip. And best part, the tips are easy to remember so next time, if I am say focusing on Cadence, I will be thinking of the skateboard as well.

After the Run

Once complete, I saw my basic stats and since my pace and  Cadence was painfully slow due to being tired, Lumo suggested I work on some post run exercises for Cadence, Line Toe Taps.

Finally, I saw an overview of the entire run including stats for the other metrics.

The app keeps track of trends, personal records, tips and exercises performed.

Personal Records

I forgot to stop the app returning from a run so I picked up a fast mile time but the personal records screens is very useful and motivating. Touching to the right of each metric brings you to your top 3 for each.

Trends

As the app was finalized in the last few days from its beta status, I lost a couple months worth of trend data but generally speaking I have been improving my cadence, pelvic rotation, and pelvic drop.

While my cadence approaches 180 at approximately 7:30-8:00/mile pace at slower paces it is lower and I personally don’t see that as necessarily a bad thing, usually running around 174. The data shows my Pelvic Rotation tends to increase as pace increases. I was at 32 degrees in a recent downhill half marathon where I ran 1:37, running with pod only, so no GPS and fastest for distance in the records table above. I wonder if my arms were flying off to the side, instead of driving through by elbowing back in line, a key Rotation tip and I am betting I was wind milling and not skateboarding either thus increasing rotation.  This said on downhills will most rotate their hips more as a rule at high speeds? I don’t know.
Another metric, Pelvic Tilt, was removed from the final production app version due to variations in shorts but was a particularly important one for me. Lumo plans to work on the algorithms to improve reliability for those with looser shorts but it worked fine for me. Lumo is very careful and diligent in its testing and product quality from everything I have seen, and I applaud them for this but I hope Pelvic Tilt comes back!

Recommendations
The recommendations screen has the most recent recommended exercises and tips, all easily accessible including video demos for each.

Summary
Lumo Body Tech has really pushed the boundaries of what is possible in wearable fitness tech with the Lumo Run. The hardware and app have been mostly flawless and reliable, the app is well designed and usable by all types of runners, the tips to improve form actionable and simple, the exercises on point, the overall experience excellent. And I expect this is only the start for this platform. All runners are concerned with improving their form and efficiency to run faster and further and maybe help prevent some types of injuries. Few have access to sophisticated video analysis and a coach commenting on form on every run. Without being overbearing or intrusive Lumo Run is a fine and objective coach indeed!

 

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A Day in the Life with Trail Runner Zach Miller on Pikes Peak http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/video/day-life-trail-runner-zach-miller_154948 Fri, 26 Aug 2016 01:01:11 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=154948

A look at how this 27-year-old Nike Trail Elite runner lives and trains in a cabin in the woods halfway up Colorado's Pikes Peak.

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Zach Miller lives in a cabin in the woods halfway up Colorado’s Pikes Peak, and it’s a big reason why he’s become one of the world’s top trail runners in recent years. The 27-year-old Nike Trail Elite runner is one of the five year-round caretakers at historic Barr Camp, and although it’s an arduous job that requires a rather spartan lifestyle, it provides him with an ideal place to train for the world’s toughest trail races. We caught up with Miller this summer as he was preparing for the 104-mile Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc race on Aug. 26-27 through parts of France, Italy and Switzerland.

 

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Q&A with Obstacle Racer Amelia Boone, the Modern Masochist http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/interviews/qa-obstacle-racer-amelia-boone-modern-masochist_154974 Thu, 25 Aug 2016 22:06:08 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=154974

Photo: Chad Riley

Besides being the Spartan Race World Champion in 2013, Amelia Boone is also a corporate attorney for Apple and has a high tolerance for

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Photo: Chad Riley

Between her athletic prowess and her job as a corporate attorney for Apple, Amelia Boone is a quintessential competitor. The 32-year-old lanky blonde from San Jose, Calif., with a high tolerance for suffering ran her first Tough Mudder obstacle race in 2011 and was hooked. She won the World’s Toughest Mudder, a 24-hour race, in 2012, 2014 and 2015. Plus she was the Spartan Race World Champion in 2013, a three-time Death Race Finisher and recently placed second at the Sean O’Brien 100K, her longest ultra so far. These days, Boone says she is happiest when out on the trails.

You recently said you feel like you’re a runner. Why?

What I realized is that I loved obstacle racing, but my favorite part was the mountain courses and running up and down mountains. I like to run to see pretty things. Every run is an adventure to go see a sunrise or something fun.

What was your motivation for jumping into ultrarunning?

I don’t ever take the easy way. I’ve never been a person to want the participation trophy. If I’m going to push my body to those extremes, I want a carrot. Running the Sean O’Brien 100K, I didn’t know if I could qualify for the Western States 100, but I decided to see. Having that motivation is cool for me. If it means I fall flat on my face, then I fall flat on my face. I don’t want to play it safe.

What do you think about the growth of obstacle course racing?

Like any young sport that’s growing, it has an identity crisis, with people clamoring for standardization and pulling it in different directions. I got into obstacle racing because of the unknown component—I liked that every course and the obstacles were different. I don’t want that standardization. But some feel it’s necessary to make it a fully sanctioned sport.

Is your ability to suffer your best attribute?

I definitely think so. As races get longer, the mental part becomes more important than the physical part. There are certain people who have the ability to turn off that pain mechanism. That could be how I ran myself into a femoral stress fracture, because I don’t regulate the pain as well. There is a certain something special among endurance athletes and their willingness to suffer.

What’s the best racing advice you’ve received?

I don’t remember who told me this but it’s something I ask myself all the time. “If it’s not making you happy, why are you doing it? Are you enjoying this? Is this making you smile? Are you happy?” Especially for someone like me, with a full-time job outside of racing, this is supposed to enhance my life, not add to my stress. The moment I’m not having fun racing anymore is the moment I won’t.

Did you have any rookie mistakes in obstacle course racing?

The 2011 World’s Toughest Mudder was held in New Jersey in December. It was cold, and you basically end up running in a wetsuit for 24 hours. I had no wetsuit experience, and learned the hard way that you should never ever, wear a thong under a wetsuit if you are wearing one for 24 hours. I didn’t understand how bad chafing could be. The chafing is real. I also didn’t bother to lube anything. It was about a week before I could sit down.

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The Pros and Cons of Small Races Versus Big Races http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/features/pros-cons-small-races-versus-big-races_154966 Thu, 25 Aug 2016 21:50:12 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=154966

In 2014 the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta had a total of 57,660 finishers. Photo: Shutterstock.com

Do you get more from running a small local race or a big city race?

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In 2014 the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta had a total of 57,660 finishers. Photo: Shutterstock.com

People love to race. And they love to race together. The reigning king of big events in the U.S. in 2015 was the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta with almost 55,000 finishers. That’s enough racers to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, single file from the starting line to the finish line of the 10K event, back to the start and then out again to the halfway mark.

Other big events like the Chicago Marathon are lined with spectators and packed with friends you haven’t met yet. Even if you’re not running with a buddy, there’s a good chance you’ll meet one in the tens of thousands of runners. In the past, participants have gotten married during the race, counting the other 37,000 people as wedding guests. In addition to the possibility of nuptials, events like Chicago have loads of amenities for finishers, including VIP packages that ensure post-race massages, special pre- and post-race meals and private bag checks.

Tyler McCandless, a pro runner and two-time U.S. Marathon Olympic Trials qualifier is an expert on races of all sizes. McCandless says the crowds of spectators can be one of the biggest advantages to big city events. “I remember distinctly at mile 16, it was the first time I could hear my feet hitting the ground when we finally got to an area of minimal spectators,” McCandless says of his experience running the Chicago Marathon. “There’s more ‘hype’ and simply more people, so the anticipation and excitement are much bigger. It certainly helps to feed off of the crowds.”

RELATED: Like a Crowd? These Are the Largest Road Races in the U.S.

There can also be a downside to that much energy. “After about an hour, having big crowds and lots of cheering can make executing a race plan difficult,” McCandless says. “It’s hard to keep adrenaline in check. It’s also something you can’t practice in practice.”

Logistics can also be an issue. “There’s more planning required to have a good experience at a big race. You can’t show up just before the start and expect to find parking,” he says. “Similarly, you can’t expect to get into any restaurant that’s in the main area of the race start or finish.”

On the other end of the spectrum are events like the Running With The Bears Marathon in Greenville, Calif., one of the smallest Boston qualifiers in the U.S. that boasts only 93 finishers in 2015 (last year race officials limited entries to 300 people). Still too crowded? Try the Turtle Marathon in Roswell, N.M., with only 13 finishers in 2015.

A behemoth in comparison, McCandless’ favorite little race is the Kauai Marathon, a small event on the small Hawaiian island of Kauai with roughly 250 finishers last year. It could be that he loves it because he’s won the event’s full marathon three times and its half marathon twice, but according to McCandless it has more to do with local turnout. “With the Aloha spirit and the community support, you feel like you know every competitor, every neighbor and every race organizer,” he says.

Don’t be surprised if pro runners get more involved at small races, too. “Last year I volunteered to run in a chicken suit before the Keiki (kids) races,” McCandless says. “I ran six races on this beautiful grass area—it was 80 degrees and the suit was so hot my rubber ‘beak’ kept filling with sweat. But my fiancée stood by and gave me Pedialyte from a bottle between races. Nearly 200 kids race the races, and the experience was incredible!”

Whether you’re more of big crowd runner or enjoy the small-time scene like McCandless, there’s a race for everyone. Here’s what to expect with each race size:

Think Big

New York City Marathon: According to the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races, New York was the largest marathon in the world last year with just over 49,000 participants. Nothing beats the thrill of crossing the Verrazano Bridge and seeing the first throng of spectators along Fourth Avenue, and there’s always big time bragging rights when you say, “I ran New York.”

Think Medium:

Napa Valley Marathon: With only 1,700 finishers in 2016, the Napa Valley Marathon in Northern California’s wine country is about as far away from New York City as one can get. A notoriously spectator-unfriendly course ensures peace and quiet for much of the 26.2 miles, but the beautiful sights along Napa’s famous vineyards guarantees plenty to think about. Special touches include a duffel bag in lieu of a plastic throwaway. And of course, there’s wine.

Think (Really) Small:

AK Salmon Run Marathon: With only 18 finishers in 2016, the AK Salmon Run is the definition of isolation. Held in Cordova, Alaska—an area with only air or sea access—the event epitomizes independence. Water stations? Sort of. According to race officials, water is “cached” along the course. Entry fee? Fifty bucks. There’s no cattle call to wade through when the gun goes off—everyone gets a spot on the starting line. In the event’s early years, each runner was assigned a follow vehicle to ward off possible bear or moose encounters. Fortunately, there hasn’t been a need yet.

RELATED: 25 Iconic American Road Races

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Latest Update on Karl Meltzer’s Appalachian Trail Record Attempt http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/news/update-karl-meltzers-appalachian-trail-record-attempt_154951 Thu, 25 Aug 2016 17:45:53 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=154951

Karl Meltzer is battling to nab the Appalachian Trail record. Photo: Courtesy of Red Bull

The ultra-running legend known as "Speedgoat" is fighting to stay on pace.

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Karl Meltzer is battling to nab the Appalachian Trail record. Photo: Courtesy of Red Bull

Ultrarunning legend Karl Meltzer is three weeks into his attempt to break Scott Jurek’s Appalachian Trail record. The 48-year-old began his campaign in early August, hoping to best Jurek’s mark of 46 days, 8 hours, 7 minutes set last year for the 2,189-mile trail that stretches from Mount Katahdin, Maine, to Springer Mountain, Georgia.

According to a recent crew report, the going has gotten tough for the runner known as “Speedgoat.” However, if anyone has the fortitude to get back on track it’s Meltzer, the winner of 57 ultra-distance races, including the daunting Hardrock 100 in Colorado for a record five times.

MORE: Follow Karl Meltzer’s Appalachian Trail attempt on his Red Bull website.

An update from the trail on Day 20 was described as, “an all-around rough day for Karl.” His support crew expressed concern as Meltzer, “started having pains in his shins early in the day which made it difficult to navigate and run. The pain also took a mental toll on Karl so Mike decided to join in on the trail for about eight miles. Mike mentioned that Karl’s knee kept buckling during their run—one can only imagine the pain that Karl must be in.”

RELATED: Karl Meltzer Sets Sights on Appalachian Trail Record

The crew reported that they iced his legs a bit longer than usual and tended to both his shins and knee. Meltzer will also start wearing a wrap around his ankle. “Though the plan was to complete 50 miles on Day 20, Karl only completed 35.2 of those miles due to the challenges,” reads the report. “On a physical and mental journey of this magnitude, the gravity of knowing when to push yourself and when to hold back is immense…Karl will be up and at it again early in the morning as he heads further south into Pennsylvania.”

RELATED: Karl Meltzer Plays 230 Holes of Golf in 12 Hours

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Trail Runner Brandon Stapanowich Runs Up and Down Pikes Peak Four Times http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/trail-running/trail-runner-brandon-stapanowich-runs-pikes-peak-four-times_154876 Wed, 24 Aug 2016 19:07:01 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=154876

Brandon Stapanowich turned the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon into an epic running adventure. Photo: Dave Labosky

The 30-year-old trail runner ran up and down the 14,115-foot mountain four times and accumulated 100 miles of running.

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Brandon Stapanowich turned the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon into an epic running adventure. Photo: Dave Labosky

“Pee-ew!”

When you hear someone say this, it typically means their olfactory senses have detected something very stanky, right? Well, those who came across Brandon Stapanowich on Sunday afternoon in Mantiou Springs, Colo., probably would have forgiven his staunch odor after what he accomplished on Pikes Peak over the weekend.

Including Saturday’s 13.32-mile Pikes Peak Ascent and Sunday’s 26.2-mile Pikes Peak Marathon, the 31-year-old runner ran up and down the 14,115-foot mountain four times and accumulated 100 miles of running and an eye-popping 31,200 feet of elevation gain in the process.

As if the Pikes Peak races aren’t hard enough, a handful of people every year enter both the Pikes Peak Ascent and Pikes Peak Marathon with the chance to be officially recognized as a Pikes Peak Doubler. That’s how I spent my weekend and I thought that was tough—and it was—but that was just child’s play for Stapanowich, who is known as “Stank” by local runners and his Team Colorado teammates.

Stapanowich has a reputation for pulling off some rather freakish running adventures in Colorado, many of which occur on the the trails in Manitou Springs. He’s also done something he calls the Inclinathon—13 times up and down the savagely steep Manitou Incline, to accumulate about a marathon’s distance on the trail that is just short of a mile—and, of course, he’s also done a 24-hour rendition on the Mantiou Incline known as the UltraInclinathon. He’s also one of only a handful of finishers of Nolan’s 14, a dastardly hard 100-mile route with 90,000 feet of vertical gain as it traverses 14 peaks higher than 14,000 feet through Colorado’s highest mountain range.

RELATED: America’s Toughest Trail—The Manitou Incline

In fact, it’s not the first time Stapanowich has turned Pikes Peak into his own personal 100-mile fun run, either. He completed his first “Pikes Ultra” (aka the “P.U.”) in September 2013 amid cold weather, high winds and blowing snow. (During that one, he battled sub-zero temperatures through the night and at one point succumbed to getting a few hours of sleep in the fetal position while hugging the composting toilet at Barr Camp at 4 a.m. just to stay warm.)

On the heels of setting a new self-supported record for the 485-mile Colorado Trail about a month ago—he covered the route from Durango to Denver in 9 days, 14 hours, 28 minutes—Stapanowich was keeping his next fantastical adventure quiet because he didn’t know how his body was going to be feeling after such a long effort.

“It was something that I had a hard time committing to as I wasn’t sure if I’d be recovered enough from finishing Colorado Trail,” he said. Stealthily, he jumped into race the Pikes Peak Ascent on Saturday with a realistic outlook and completed the official course up the mountain in 3:27:23—a time good enough for 141st place overall out of 1,702 official finishers, not to mention 19th in his age group. He ran back down to complete his first roundtrip, then immediately ran up and down the mountain again, finishing his second roundtrip just as the final bit of daylight was fading into darkness.

“I went into it planning on just taking one lap at a time,” Stapanowich said. “That way, if the weather turned or my body wasn’t feeling right, there was no shame in stopping. The decision to go all in wasn’t made until around 9 p.m. as I came down from my second trip.”

When he got back down to Manitou Springs, he saw people out and about, enjoying their Saturday night at the local pubs and restaurants. He was admittedly tired and hungry, and ready for a nice meal and maybe a hard cider, too.

So what was he thinking?

“I had a decision to make,” he said. “I could go home, sleep, and come back in the morning for the marathon with a respectable 75 miles for the weekend and no one would care. Or, with 10 hours before the marathon start, I could complete my third lap in the darkness, maybe snag a couple winks of sleep, and be ready for the final trip in the morning. Still, probably no one would care, but I’d know that I’d chosen to do the hard thing.”

RELATED: Do Something Epic—Planning an Unsupported Adventure Run

Hard thing, indeed, because the thought of 100 miles with over 31,200 feet of gain is not soft and most people barely make it up once. But Stapanowich has set his struggle-meter and mental-flux-capacitor on very high.

So, without any fanfare or anyone supporting him, he went back up the Barr Trail and reached the summit of Pikes Peak for a third time in the middle of the night. He came back down in the wee hours of the morning and had enough time to get about an hour or so of sleep in his car.

When his alarm went off, he headed over to the starting line of the Pikes Peak Marathon and ran his second official race of the weekend, once again running to the top of the mountain and back. He finished that race in 6:07:34—about two and a half hours behind Alex Nichols’ winning time of 3:40:29—and although Stapanowich was still good enough for 135th place out of 696 official finishers, his more impressive stat was his cumulative time of 30 hours, 7 minutes, for the four-lap, 100-mile adventure.

RELATED: A Look at the Top Fastest Known Times and Trail Records from 2015

“Some people have asked, ‘Why?’ and I still wonder the answer to that question. Then I wonder why do we do anything,” Stapanowich said in a moment of reflection on Monday night. “I guess I just enjoy imposing challenges on my mind and body and the feeling of achievement when they work together to overcome a difficult situation. When the adversity is self-imposed, it often teaches me lessons that are applicable in other scenarios of my life where I feel like I have less control. I think for this Pikes Peak Quad trip, the lessons have been about choice and the experience of pain without suffering.”

If you think Stapanowich is just a wacky nut job looking for publicity, he’s far from that. He’s as authentic and as tough as they come, plus he has the gift of being able to think outside the box. Plus, he gives back on a daily basis.

When he’s not running, he works full time as a children’s physical therapist in a program that serves special needs students in several schools in Manitou Springs, Cripple Creek and Woodland Park. He’s also the founder and developmental director of the Pikes Peak chapter of Achilles International, an all-inclusive running/walking/biking/moving group based in Colorado Springs. Stapanowich leads weekly group runs that pair dozens of disabled and able-bodied athletes and advocates active lifestyles to promote personal achievement and enhance self-esteem.

Stapanowich admits he gets inspiration from a lot of people and places, but certainly his connection with the Achilles group is a big part of it.

“I like to think of these escapades as a form of artistic expression,” he said. “And like a poem or painting, the ‘meaning’ behind the best pieces aren’t concrete, but are left to the interpretation of the viewer. And like any artist, my hope is that it makes you feel something. Inspired, hopeful, motivated to push limits and challenge assumptions.”

RELATED: Joe Gray Breaks Matt Carpenter’s Manitou Incline Record

MORE: Watch a Video Interview with Stapanowich from PikesPeak Sports

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U.S. Triathlete Gwen Jorgensen to Make Marathon Debut in New York http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/news/u-s-triathlete-gwen-jorgensen-make-marathon-debut-new-york_154890 Wed, 24 Aug 2016 13:55:56 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=154890

The Olympic gold-medal winner will join other top athletes in NYC.

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American triathlete Gwen Jorgensen, who won gold in Rio, will make her marathon debut at the New York City Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 6. She will join an already stacked American professional athlete field that includes U.S. Olympic distance runners Molly Huddle and Kim Conley, who are both also racing 26.2 miles for the first time.

“What a thrill it is to have Gwen join our amazing group of American professional athletes for the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon,“ said Peter Ciaccia, president of events for New York Road Runners and race director of the TCS New York City Marathon. “We have so much respect for what Gwen achieved in Rio and how well she represented the USA. Her gold medal proved once again that she’s the world’s top triathlete.”

RELATED: Molly Huddle to Make Marathon Debut in New York

The Olympic title was particularly special for Jorgensen, who had packed up and moved to Australia and then Spain to train full-time after finishing 38th at the London 2012 Olympics because of a flat tire. “This has been such an incredible year for me, and I thought what better way to continue to challenge myself than by running my first marathon,” said Jorgensen. “The triathlon will always be my first love, but I am really looking forward to the marathon and cannot think of a better place to make my debut than New York City.”

Jorgensen will join an American professional athlete field that also includes 10 men and 11 women who participated in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Marathon Trials. Three other athletes will also be making their marathon debuts, including Olympic 5000-meter runner Kim Conley and NYRR Team for Kids Ambassador and Olympic 10,000-meter runner Molly Huddle, who broke the 10,000m American record at the Rio Olympics.

The 2016 TCS New York City Marathon will be televised live on Sunday, November 6, on WABC-TV, Channel 7 in the New York tristate area from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET, and for the rest of the nation on ESPN2 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET.

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Photos: Sneak Peek at New Running Music & Wearable Tech Gear http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/photos/photos-sneak-peek-new-running-music-wearable-tech-gear_154161 Wed, 24 Aug 2016 09:15:36 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=154161

A preview of new wearable tech and music gear coming out this fall that will also make great holiday gifts.

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Game-improvement wearable tech gear—in other words, products aimed at helping you run better and more consistently—remains a white hot category in running. The massive Aug. 3-6 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market trade show in Salt Lake City showed off a lot of new and improved trackers, watches, music accessories and tech apparel, but it also coincided with a big week of announcements and releases of wearable fitness tech for the upcoming holiday season. Click through the photos below for a look at some of the new wearable tech gear you’ll see in stores this fall and winter.

RELATED: Take a Sneak Peek at 2017 Running Shoes

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Gear We Love: August http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/photos/gear-love-august_154853 Tue, 23 Aug 2016 21:56:32 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=154853

Gear our editors can't stop gushing over this month.

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The last month of summer means our editors are getting the most out of their favorite hot-weather gear, including versatile running shoes, cool tees and tanks and colorful sunnies.

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Photos: Scenes from America’s Finest City Half Marathon http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/photos/photos-scenes-americas-finest-city-half-marathon_154821 Tue, 23 Aug 2016 00:08:43 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=154821

Nearly 5,000 elite and recreational runners participated in the 39th edition of the San Diego race on Aug. 21.

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Nearly 5,000 elite and recreational runners from 46 states and 19 countries participated in the 39th edition of the America’s Finest City Half Marathon and AFC 5K held Aug. 21 in San Diego. The scenic and fast 13.1-mile half-marathon course sent runners from the historic Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma, past Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, along the San Diego Bay and through downtown San Diego before winding up near the Hall of Champions in Balboa Park.

Eliud Ngetich of Kenya was first across the finish line, winning the half marathon in 1:04:10, while American Scott Fauble finished two seconds back for second place (1:04:12). Kenyan Jane Kibii captured the women’s crown in 1:15:04, while three-time Olympian Jen Rhines, 42, placed sixth overall among women (1:18:36) and first among masters women.

Get a glimpse of the race by scrolling through the photos below.

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10 Amazing Running Moments at the Rio Olympics http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/photos/10-amazing-running-moments-rio-olympics_154792 Mon, 22 Aug 2016 17:48:55 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=154792

We recap 10 of the best running moments from Rio de Janeiro that should never be forgotten.

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The Rio Olympics are done and gone, but the legacy of the XXXI Olympiad will live on forever by way of memorable highlights, record-setting performances and legendary athletes. Here are 10 of the best running moments from Rio de Janeiro that should never be forgotten.

PHOTOS: How the U.S. Track & Field Team Shined in Rio

 

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U.S. Track & Field Storms to Huge Success at the Rio Olympics http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/news/photos-u-s-track-field-highlights-rio_154542 Mon, 22 Aug 2016 08:09:47 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=154542

A look at the moments when U.S. Track and Field absolutely crushed it during the Rio Olympics.

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The U.S. track and field team absolutely crushed it in the Olympics, racking up medals, setting records and turning in unprecedented results in Rio. Team USA collected 32 medals by running, throwing and jumping, the most in any Olympics since 1984 and the most in a non-boycotted Olympics since 1932. Here’s a glance how the Americans shined.

RELATED: The 10 Most Amazing Running Moments at the Rio Olympics

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Snoop Dogg Will Headline Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Races http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/news/snoop-dogg-highlight-rock-n-roll-las-vegas-races_154554 Sun, 21 Aug 2016 22:26:10 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=154554

The 2016 Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon weekend—which also includes a half marathon, 10K and 5K—is set for Nov. 11-13. Photo: Ryan Bethke

The rap icon will perform for more than 40,000 runners on Sunday, Nov. 13, during the pre-race concert.

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The 2016 Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon weekend—which also includes a half marathon, 10K and 5K—is set for Nov. 11-13. Photo: Ryan Bethke

Need some inspiration to get your shizzie to the hizzie in your next half marathon or marathon? Well, Snoop Dogg might be able to help.

Snoop will be headlining the 2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon & ½ Marathon. The rap icon will perform for more than 40,000 runners on Sunday, Nov. 13, during the pre-race concert at 3 p.m. prior to the start of the marathon and half marathon.

“Snoop Dogg is an entertainer who needs no introduction,” said Josh Furlow, President of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. “He’s one of the all-time great performers, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him send off 40,000 runners on the Las Vegas Strip as we throw the biggest party of the year in running.”

VIDEO: Time-Lapse Video of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon Finish Line

One of the most commercially successful artists in music, Snoop Dogg has been at the forefront of pop culture for more than 20 years. He’ll kick off the race day party by performing a number of his house party anthems and chart topping hits, including “Gin & Juice,” “Who Am I? (What’s My Name?),” “Beautiful,” and “Drop It Like It’s Hot.”

Not much is off-limits in Las Vegas, but running on Las Vegas Boulevard (a.k.a. “The Strip”) without traffic is limited to one night a year. You can play slots just about everywhere in Vegas and feast on fine cuisine all over town, but the only way to reach the most high-decibel, laser-infused finish line in running is by entering the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon, Marathon or 10K on Nov. 13.

PHOTOS: Sights and Scenery from the 2015 Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon and Half Marathon

The marathon and half marathon provide epic after-dark tour of casinos, chapels, the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign and the Fountains of Bellagio, plus an amazing finish line at the foot of the Mirage volcano. (There’s also the Brooks Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K race presented by SLS Las Vegas off the Strip on the night of Nov. 12.) Runners can choose to participate in the “Remix Challenge” and earn a bonus third medal by running in both the 5K on Saturday and any distance on Sunday.

Race day on Sunday will begin with the Snoop Dogg performance at the Las Vegas Village, across from the Luxor Hotel. In addition to the headlining concert, live bands and DJs spanning all genres will play along the race courses entertaining and encouraging runners as they make their way to the finish line.

As the saying goes, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But if you give this legendary race a shot, it might be the Sin City memory you’ll want to remember for years to come.

For more information or to register for Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas, visit StripatNight.com.

(Editor’s note: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, Competitor magazine and Competitor.com are owned by The Competitor Group.)

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New & Improved: Changes Made for Oct. 8 Synchrony Financial Rock ‘n’ Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/rock-n-roll-marathon-series/new-and-improved-changes-to-the-rock-n-roll-brooklyn-half-marathon_150267 Sun, 21 Aug 2016 19:33:30 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=150267

The 2016 Rock 'n' Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon will have a new start line in front of the Brooklyn Art Museum. Photo: Ryan Bethke

Several adjustments to the course and logistics of the Rock 'n' Roll Brooklyn Half will give runners an unforgettable experience.

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The 2016 Rock 'n' Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon will have a new start line in front of the Brooklyn Art Museum. Photo: Ryan Bethke

On any given day, running through Brooklyn can be a real treat. The famous New York City borough is full of incredible sights—from the gorgeous foliage throughout the borough’s Prospect Park to the stunning architectural gems in its brownstones that line its iconic streets. But on Oct. 8, running through Brooklyn will be better than ever with the Synchrony Financial Rock ‘n’ Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon, thanks to a new course and several other key improvements to the overall racing experience.

VIDEO: Watch a highlight video of the Synchrony Financial Rock ‘n’ Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon

Given some of the challenges participants experienced at the start last year, organizers immediately began working on changes that were needed to make this event even better, including adjustments to the pre-race experience before the starting gun sounds. The race’s start line will now be conveniently located outside the iconic Brooklyn Art Museum, and corrals will line up on Eastern Parkway, avoiding any congestion around the Grand Army Plaza area. Additional security screening checkpoint entrances have been added for a quicker and easier entrance into the corrals. And to minimize the stress of finding a bathroom before the start, additional porta pottys have been added in the start line village. Lastly, the gear check area has been moved closer to the start line on Flatbush Avenue near the library, for easy access to drop off items you’ll need post race.

Besides these key logistical improvements, the race has also undergone a slight course facelift. Course operations director Ted Metellus has been front and center with the new design and says the impetus for the change was to make the experience a better one for participants and their loved ones.

“We wanted to simplify the security screening process to the corrals at the start,” said Metellus, adding that the change was a win-win for everyone. “The NYPD and the Office of Special Events supported us, because the new course provides participants easy access to the start and gear drop.”

The key changes focus on the start and opening miles. Runners will line up next to the museum and then head out along the city’s tree-lined Eastern Parkway and then back on Kingston Avenue in the first two miles. Between the second and third mile, participants will make a left onto Washington Avenue and get some great visuals of the fall foliage in Prospect Park on their right.

Elevation is everyone’s friend at this point in the race. Runners will experience some nice descents at the start and right after the 2-mile mark (100-plus feet). By mile 3, Metellus says runners will be back on the 2015 course along Ocean Avenue filled with trademark NYC architecture of historic brownstones and beautiful apartment buildings. Elevation-wise, miles 4 to 8 are all about cruising on flat pavement and checking out the best parts of Brooklyn while jamming to entertainment along the sidelines.

The course begins to get challenging from mile 10 as runners turn into beautiful Prospect Park. A steep uphill awaits at mile 11, so runners should be sure to save “gas in the tank” for this final stretch, but the views of the park and the roar of the crowds near the finish line should help. The course flattens out in the final mile as a stunning finish line awaits everyone in the heart of one of New York City’s most charming green spaces.

“The Rock ‘n’ Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon course offers a little bit of everything in an urban course,” Metellus said. “It’s got its climbs and its descents. It has its straightaways and its turns. But during it all, you will be running down tree-lined streets and through a beautiful park.”

In addition to all the improvements this year, there are also a lot of great things from last year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon that will remain the same. This race is one of the only running events to exclusively shut down major streets and landmarks in New York City’s most populous borough, which means runners will get an intimate and exclusive experience as they bound through parts of the Big Apple.

More good news: even more entertainment and cheer squads will be along the course than last year. So if you’re considering Brooklyn, don’t hesitate.

Register: 2016 Synchrony Financial Rock ‘n’ Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon

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Running Deep in the Heart of Ethiopia’s Rift Valley http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/photos/running-deep-heart-ethiopias-rift-valley_154692 Fri, 19 Aug 2016 19:38:36 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=154692

Inspiring images from Ethiopia's Rift Valley.

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Located in the heart of Ethiopia’s ancient Rift Valley, along the shores of lakes Abijata and Shalla, the international Ethiotrail trail race is held every August. Set in the wild and beautiful Abijatta-Shalla Lakes National Park, Ethiotrail offers 21K and 12K distances that wind through Oromo tribal villages, thick Acacia forests, up and over ancient volcanoes and along the shores of Lake Shalla. For the third year, a large field of Ethiopian and international runners from more than 20 countries raced over the landscape in a celebration of trail racing, park conservation and cultural honoring.

August is the rainy season in Ethiopia, and so it was no surprise that the Aug. 7 race was true to its trail running roots, with small ravine crossings, off-trail sections climbing rocky volcanoes and winding two-track sections that took runners through Oromo tribal villages. Many of the local Oromo people came out to cheer on the runners, watching as everyone had a chance to win the substantial prize purse of 10,000 Birr (roughly equivalent to one month’s pay in Ethiopia). In the end, despite the rough nature of the course, the winning Ethiopian runners were able to cover the course in 1:16 for the men and 1:28 for the women.

Get a glimpse of the splendors of the Ethiotrail races through the images and captions below.

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The North Face Takes a Stand Against Doping in Trail Running http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/news/north-face-sets-clean-sport-policy-endurance-challenge-championship_154621 Fri, 19 Aug 2016 16:41:50 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=154621

The North Face Endurance Challenge Series 50-mile championship race in the Marin Headlands near San Francisco is annually one of the most competitive trail races in the U.S.—due in part because it offers a $30,000 prize purse (including $10,000 for the winners). Photo: UltraRacePhotos

The new anti-doping policy at The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship shows that trail running is taking a proactive stance on

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The North Face Endurance Challenge Series 50-mile championship race in the Marin Headlands near San Francisco is annually one of the most competitive trail races in the U.S.—due in part because it offers a $30,000 prize purse (including $10,000 for the winners). Photo: UltraRacePhotos

The North Face has taken a small but potentially very significant step to aid the movement against performance-enhancing drug use in endurance sports. As part of opening the elite registration for this year’s Endurance Challenge Championship 50-mile trail race on Dec. 3 in Mill Valley, Calif., The North Face today released a clean sport policy that it says will better ensure fair play across all of the Endurance Challenge Series (ECS) events in North America.

It comes on the heels of growing anti-doping sentiments coming out of the Rio Olympics. Also on Friday, the New York Times reported there are at least 120 athletes who have served suspensions competing in the Rio Olympics and 25 who have won medals in the past two weeks. Additional anti-doping efforts backed by elite athletes and big athletic brands are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Although it didn’t suggest it would start drug testing at its races, The North Face confirmed that it is committed to clean sport and does not condone the use of performance-enhancing drugs or banned substances at any level of competition. It also says it believes all athletes competing in the events put on by The North Face should educate themselves and abide by the anti-doping rules and banned substances established by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Furthermore, it said athletes banned from competition by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) or WADA are prohibited from competing in any of its ECS events. Once an individual’s ban has been lifted, the athlete may participate in those events but will be forever ineligible to receive prize money, awards, podium recognition or overall age group competitive rankings at any distance, including the 50-mile elite field.

Last December, The North Face found itself in the middle of a firestorm when 33-year-old Italian runner Elisa Desco entered its 50-mile championship race. Desco, an accomplished and decorated athlete, won the 2009 World Mountain Running Championship in Campodolcino, Italy, only to be stripped of the title after testing positive for a form of the banned substance erythropoietin or EPO, a hormone that stimulates red blood cell production and improves endurance.

Because she had served a two-year suspension from 2010-2012, Desco was fully legal to compete again and had done well in numerous international trail races in the ensuing years. But dozens of elite and age-group ultrarunners, including Olympian-turned-elite-ultrarunner Magdalena Boulet, spoke out against her ability to enter The North Face race last year.

Performance-enhancing drugs are creeping into trail running and ultrarunning, but it’s not known how prevalent of a problem it is because there is almost no testing at those events. In July, the fifth-place finish of Ecuador’s Gonzalo Calistos was eliminated from the final results of 2015 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc race in Europe after it was discovered he tested positive for using banned substances.

RELATED: Ultrarunning at a Crossroads: Is there a Growing Doping Problem on the Trails?

The North Face 50 annually has one of the richest prize purses in trail running, including a $10,000 cash payout for the winners. It was to be Desco’s first race in the U.S., where trail and ultrarunning are governed by U.S. Track & Field (as well as the IAAF and WADA), but there is no drug-testing protocol or budget for trail running races. (The American Trail Running Association has been investigating ways to implement drug testing at major U.S. trail races and has a preliminary system it could implement next year.)

Taking a stand and putting the new regulations in place not only gives The North Face the ability to keep dopers out of its race, but also discourages those who served bans from entering because there is no ability to win prizes or be recognized for finishing on the podium. Plus, it raises the awareness about PED use in trail running and shows that doping will not be tolerated, even without drug testing.

“We took our time to do this right. We did a lot of research and looked at a lot of data and we’re feeling pretty confident that it’s the right thing to do at the right time,” says Katie Ramage, Director of Sports Marketing for The North Face, who heads up the ECS series and The North Face elite athlete team. “Certainly it came to a head last year and it forced our hand to do something instead of talking about actually doing something. But we decided that we have a platform and a louder voice, but that platform is really about the community and we want to use it to be able to educate and to get educated by the community.”

RELATED: An Open Letter to Seb Coe To Ban Convicted Dopers for Life

The North Face is also providing educational resources and awareness about clean sport in trail running through a dedicated ECS Clean Sport website. The site will serve as a place for athletes, coaches, race directors, media and fans to better understand the facts, scientific research, opinions and other resources, including the full policy, code of ethics and educational materials for the Endurance Challenge Series.

In addition to the 50-mile championship near San Francisco, The North Face ECS events also have shorter races ranging from 10K to 50K and relay events to encourage all levels of runners the opportunity to participate. There are three events remaining on the ECS series schedule in 2016:

  • Sept. 17-18 – Kettle Moraine State Park, Eagle, Wisconsin
  • Sept. 24-25 – Park City Mountain Resort, Park City, Utah
  • Dec. 3-4 – Marin Headlands, near San Francisco

Several other U.S. races have put similar policies in place this year—led by Ian Sharman’s efforts at the U.S. SkyRunning Series—although many have taken it even further by permanently banning convicted dopers from their events even after their suspensions have been served. Also, numerous elite trail runners signed an ant-doping pledge last year at RunCleanGetDirty.org.

RELATED: The Effects of Performance-Enhancing Drugs on an Athlete

PHOTOS: Images from The North Face Endurance Challenge Series 2015 50-Mile Championship

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Old Guys Rule: Meb Keflezighi and Bernard Lagat are Olympians at 41 http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/news/old-guys-rule-meb-keflezighi-bernard-lagat-41-year-old-olympians_154631 Fri, 19 Aug 2016 16:10:57 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=154631

Veteran runners Bernard Lagat (left) and Meb Keflezighi—both 41 years old—hope to be in position to earn more Olympic medals this weekend in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: PhotoRun.net

It's been a good Olympics for age and experience.

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Veteran runners Bernard Lagat (left) and Meb Keflezighi—both 41 years old—hope to be in position to earn more Olympic medals this weekend in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: PhotoRun.net

It’s been a good Olympics for age and experience prevailing over youthful exuberance. From swimmer Michael Phelps (age 31) to cyclist Kristin Armstrong (she just turned 43), several Americans will exit the Games with gold medals in the twilights of their careers.

On the track, Usain Bolt’s remarkable streak of winning 100- and 200-meter sprints in three consecutive Olympics might earn him honorary old guy status, but the 29-year-old Bolt is still a baby compared to a pair of 41-year-old American runners, Meb Keflezighi and Bernard Lagat, who both hope to contend for medals in the final days of competition. Even if they don’t finish on the podium, their ability to remain fit and competitive on the world stage into their 40s has been impressive.

Keflezighi and Lagat bring formidable resumes to their races— Keflezighi will run the marathon on Sunday morning, while Lagat will contest the 5,000-meter race on Saturday evening after qualifying with a solid 13:26.02 effort in his semifinal heat on Wednesday.

RELATED: How to Watch Track & Field at the Rio Olympics on TV

The two men are already legends in the sport, but they can certainly cement their legacies with strong performances. Keflezighi earned the silver medal in the 2004 Olympic marathon and finished in fourth place in the 2012 Games at age 37. He also won the 2009 New York City Marathon and the 2014 Boston Marathon, among many other notable results. Lagat earned a bronze medal in the 2000 Olympic 1,500-meter race, then followed with a silver in that event in 2004. He’s stood on the podium in multiple world championships, competing in events at the 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000 meter distances, both indoors and outdoors. Lagat also placed fourth in the 2012 Olympics at age 37, just missing a bronze medal in the 5,000.

Both men immigrated to the U.S. from Africa: Keflezighi from Eritrea in 1975, Lagat from Kenya (the country he represented in his first two Olympics) in 2004. As a recent article in The New Yorker revealed, Keflezighi and Lagat share a scrupulous attitude about training for their events, and both display a joy for running that appears to be undiminished from their younger years. And a 2015 article in Competitor.com outlined the over-40 success of Keflezighi, Lagat and Deena Kastor.

The Olympics are not without a precedence of relatively older runners earning medals. In 2008, Constantina Diţă of Romania won the marathon in the Beijing Olympics, while Carlos Lopes of Portugal won the 1984 Olympic marathon in Los Angeles at age 37.

Keflezighi, a four-time Olympian, earned a spot on the U.S. team by finishing second at the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles, outrunning dozens of runners 10 to 15 years his junior. Lagat was equally impressive in earning his spot on the team, winning the 5,000-meter race at the U.S. Olympic Trials on the track on July 9 in Eugene, Ore. He closed with a furious 52.8-second final 400 meters to win the race and earn the chance to compete in his fifth Olympics—his third for the U.S. after two for his native Kenya.

RELATED: American Men to Watch in the Olympic Marathon

Neither is considered a clear medal favorite in their events—but it’s a safe bet that none of their competitors will be overlooking this pair of ageless athletes.

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American Men to Watch in the Olympic Marathon http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/photos/american-men-watch-olympic-marathon_154489 Fri, 19 Aug 2016 09:36:54 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=154489

Get to know the U.S. men competing in this weekend's Olympic marathon.

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If you’ve ever run a marathon (or even a half marathon), then you will appreciate how grueling this 26.2-mile event will be in the heat and humidity of Rio. The route is the same for both men and women, starting and finishing in the long, narrow Sambódromo open-air stadium (where Carnival celebrations are held every winter) and sending runners on multiple criterium-style loops along Guanabara Bay.

RELATED: Check Out the Olympic Marathon Course via the RioRun Interactive App

Sticking with Olympic tradition, the men’s marathon is the very last event in this year’s Olympics, starting at 9:30 a.m. local time (8:30 a.m. ET on NBC and NBCOlympics.com) on Sunday, Aug. 21. The men’s race at the Olympics has been pretty fast over the past two Olympics, with the late Sammy Wanjiru (Kenya) setting the Olympic record of 2:06:32 in 2008 and Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) winning in 2:08:01 in London four years ago.

This year Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezighi and Jared Ward will represent Team USA for the 26.2-mile event and here’s what you’ll need to know about each of them before watching it.

RELATED: How to Watch Track & Field at the Rio Olympics on TV

RELATED: Jared Ward’s Steady Approach to the Olympic Marathon

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Ancestral Athletes: American Runners Chase Olympic Dreams for Other Countries http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/features/ancestral-athletes-american-runners-road-rio-countries_152667 Thu, 18 Aug 2016 20:38:28 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=152667

David Torrence

[Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the original version posted on July 1 to reflect Olympic results.] David Torrence

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David Torrence


[Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the original version posted on July 1 to reflect Olympic results.]

David Torrence vividly remembers sitting on his grandmother’s porch in the Reseda neighborhood of Los Angeles with his sister and cousins after school when he was a kid in the mid-1990s. They’d do homework, eat picarones and sip Inca Kola while waiting for their parents to pick them up after work.

Picarones are a traditional Peruvian fried dough treat similar to a donut or a beignet that are made from pumpkin or squash and flour and served with a sweet syrup. Inca Kola is a gaudishly bright yellow soda from Peru with a lemony flavor that, he says, although available at some stores in the Los Angeles area, typically only Peruvian kids seemed to like.

“Some of my friends would come over and try it and the majority of them wouldn’t like it. It was a Peruvian thing,” Torrence, an elite American distance runner, recalls with a laugh. “As kids, we definitely all knew we were Peruvian—the Peruvian culture, the food, the language, the music was all around us at our homes and at family gatherings—and we were very proud of it.”

His mom, Bianca Torrence, grew up in Peru and emigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s with her parents and five siblings. As the family grew, they maintained their connection to the vibrant Peruvian community that was prevalent in the San Fernando Valley. (His dad, who died when David was 6, hailed from the U.S.)

“Everything we did as a family and the customs and attitudes of my family was all based in Peruvian culture,” Torrence recalls.

As he grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of Tarzana, though, Torrence, became a typical American kid. He liked American music, movies and sports teams, just like the rest of his friends. He ran cross country and track for Loyola High School in Los Angeles and improved enough during his senior year to run a 4:10 mile, win a few state titles and earn a scholarship to UC-Berkeley.

Since graduating from college in 2009, Torrence, who is 30, has emerged as one of the better middle-distance runners in the U.S. between 800 and 5,000 meters. Working under veteran U.S. coach John Cook, he’s continued to improve his times as a professional—including 3:52.01 in the mile and 13:16.53 for the 5,000. (After being backed by Nike for several years, he’s now sponsored by Hoka One One.) He’s also won four U.S. titles, set an American record in the 1,000-meter run indoors, helped the U.S. win a silver medal in the 4 x 1,500 relay at the IAAF World Relays in 2014 and earned a silver medal in the 5,000 while wearing a Team USA singlet in last summer’s Pan American Games in Toronto.

Like just about every elite distance runner, Torrence has dreamed of running in the Olympics since he was a teenager, and four years ago, he was so close he could taste it.

He ran smart and competitively to get through the prelims of the 1,500m at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. In the final—which was one of the deepest U.S. middle-distance race fields in decades—he was in contention with 150 meters to go. But his hard-charging sprint down the homestretch wasn’t quite fast enough and he finished a disappointing sixth—missing a chance to run in the London Olympics by three places and a mere 1.02 seconds.

It was a harsh reality that immediately relegated his Olympic dreams to a four-year hiatus.

But this time around, Torrence didn’t race in the July 1-10 U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, where the top three finishers earned a spot on the U.S. team bound for Rio de Janeiro. Instead, he’s competing in the Olympics for Peru—the country from which his mother’s side of the family hails—in the 5,000m.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to run for Peru, both to represent my family and the country,” Torrence says. “My family has been wanting me to do this for a very long time, both my family in the U.S. and in Peru. I first looked into it back in 2008, but I didn’t think it was the right opportunity for me at the time.”

Torrence is very familiar with the culture and the customs of Peru. He has visited there numerous times since he was a kid, including several post-collegiate, high-altitude training sessions over the past several years. He did a training stint there last fall while visiting family for the holidays and again recently while preparing for his 2016 outdoor track season.

Strangely enough, as the U.S. Olympic Trials got underway in Eugene, Torrence was the No. 2 ranked U.S. runner in the 1,500 (3;36.02) and the fourth-ranked runner in the 5,000m (13:19.4). But the U.S. has plenty of depth in that event, too, and, Peru doesn’t have any other runners who have surpassed the Olympic qualifying standard in the 800, 1,500 or 5,000.

Torrence, one of only about two dozen athletes competing for Peru in Rio, narrowly advanced to Saturday’s Olympic final in the 5,000m on Aug. 17 after running a 13:23.20—a new Peruvian national record. Although his time was faster than the winning time in the first heat, he was the last of the non-automatic qualifiers allowed into the final based on time.

The irony of Torrence’s situation—and perhaps a state of the modern Olympics—is that while Torrence will be competing in a Peruvian racing kit, two runners in the field—Bernard Lagat and Paul Chelimo—are Team USA competitors who were born in Kenya. Also, the pre-race favorite and defending champion is British runner Mo Farah, who is a native of Somalia.

“I think I would have had an excellent shot at making the U.S. team, but this is a decision I made and I’m happy with it,” Torrence said back in June. “Whoever makes the team for the U.S., it will be a competitive group. I was happy and proud to represent to the U.S. when I did, and now happy and proud to represent Peru, and hopefully be able to inspire some people there and maybe impact the running culture in a positive way, too.”

Torrence is one of a handful of U.S. distance runners competing for another country at this summer’s Olympics in Rio. Among the others are Colorado Springs-based marathoner Carlos Trujillo, who is representing Guatemala; Oregon’s Alexi Pappas, who placed 17th in the the 10,000-meter run while competing for Greece; and Oregon’s Aisha Praught, who placed 14th in the 3,000-meter steeplechase for Jamaica. (San Francisco’s Jorge Maravilla attempted to reach the 2:19:00 Olympic qualifying standard in the marathon on July 3 so he could run for El Salvador but came up just short.)

It’s not a new trend—it happens every four years in numerous Olympic sports. Each of these runners has a different story, but they’re unified with the intent of following the dream of running in the Olympics for a country that is tied to their family heritage.

“I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to run in the Olympics,” says Pappas, who is connected to Greece via her maternal grandmother who was born there. “It’s a dream come true.”

RELATED: Olympic Dreams Unfolding on and off the Silver Screen for Alexi Pappas

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U.S. Women 4×100 Relay Team Gains Spot in Finals http://running.competitor.com/2016/08/news/u-s-women-4x100-team-granted-re-run-opportunity-tonight_154615 Thu, 18 Aug 2016 20:20:01 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=154615

The U.S. women 4X100 squad earned a finals spot with an unusual time trial effort.

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The United States women 4×100-meter squad has earned a place in the finals after they were granted a highly unusual opportunity to re-run its qualifying race.

On Thursday evening, they ran 41.77 seconds, good enough to best the Chinese team’s 42.70 mark—the slowest of the finals qualifiers—and replace them in the medal event.

The Americans dropped the baton during their first attempt on Thursday morning. The fumble occurred at the exchange between Allyson Felix and English Gardner—however, officials determined that Felix was interfered with by Brazil’s Kauiza Venancio, running in the lane next to the Americans.

Shortly after the fumble, Felix told Gardner to retrieve the bottom and finish the race, enabling the Americans to lodge a protest. Germany won the heat in 42.18 seconds; the Americans finished last. 

Olympic officials faced a tough decision after the American appeal. With all the qualifying teams set for the finals, and only eight lanes available on the track, the determination was made to allow the Americans a chance to re-run the event by themselves.

After the successful time trial on Thursday evening, the U.S. squad will have a chance to medal on Saturday.

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