Thursday, February 16th, 2012...11:00 PM

Running for the Records

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So yes,

As some of you know I am a runner. Something that takes up hours of my day here at George Mason University on the team not only with the arduous amounts of practice where running in circles is just a pastime of ours, but also the amount of time put in just taking care of my mangled body as this sport takes a beating on all your muscles, bones, and even your brain. And honestly I am here to say that it is sad that running does not get a lot of coverage, but I get why that is.

It’s because running is more of a communal cult if you will, it’s not at all a commercial sport, I mean you have to be seriously sadistic to even think about doing half the stuff that runners do. Pound their knees, roll their ankles, and constantly challenge their tendon’s abilities just to hang on…just for that 2 minutes of glory. When you run that time, cross the line and hold your arms up and know that it was all worth it: the sweat, the tears, the pain. We as runners challenge our bodies abilities to its extremes, tight rope walking with its’ natural breaking point just so we can run 1, maybe 2 seconds faster. Running is lifestyle, a culture, an art form if you will. As the all famous ‘Pre’ once said “Some people create with words, or with music, or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, “I’ve never seen anyone run like that before.” It’s more then just a race, it’s a style. It’s doing something better then anyone else. It’s being creative.”

See people who do not run do not get that, so they say, “‘Oh it’s not a sport,’ you’re just running”. And to that I say, “Okay, well go for an easy run with me and we’ll see how you keep up.” The constant “RUN FOREST RUN” and “Nice shorts!” are always nice too from time to time. I feel that running as a sport always gets the back-burner behind all the other sports for this reason. For example, my senior year of high school, my cross country had a season to remember, making the to the state championship and placing well, but was still over-shadowed by a football team that won only one game and averaged scores of 35-0 in their losses.

The point is, us runners are like the demoted C class celebs of the sports world. As a runner, the word Bernard Legat, Nick Symmonds, Robby Andrews, Andrew Wheating, Alan Webb, Galen Rupp, Chris Salinsky and Sam Chalenga, are guys that I see as pure gods of American running, both on the NCAA and professional levels. I’m guessing the person reading this knows about 2 of those people at the most.

It’s not that I’m attacking the other sports, or saying that running should be the top news in the sports world, cause I realize both of those things are equally as silly. What I do want to show, is how this past weekend was honestly one of the best weekends in the world of running in at least the past 2 years, and ESPN passed it by.

We first start off with the Milrose Games, a yearly event that is usually held at the magical Madison Square Garden in New York City; a grand venue for the true main yearly event for running. The Milrose games have been around since 1908 started by a man named John Wanamaker. His name is important as the highlight of the night is running the annual Wanamaker mile, which takes the best milers from around the world and put them on the track to see who is the fastest and can be crowned the unofficial champion of the Milrose games. This year it was different though, the event was shifted to another venue, the Armory in Washington Heights. The change of the venue actually means a lot because the Garden is a much smaller track with tighter turns. The 160 meter track created exciting racing as fast paced as the Big Apple itself and some very memorable moments. Being shifted to what many people say to be ‘The fastest indoor track in the world’ has some major implications both on racing style and times.

Some highlights from the Milrose games include:

Samantha Nadel of North Shore (HS) in New York running a HS girls record time of 4:46.19 for 1 mile

Ajee Wilson of Neptune (HS) running a blazing time of 2:04.13 for 800 meters, also a HS girls record

…And on the boys side Edward Chaserek of St. Benedict’s (NJ) who many say is the best high school runner of all-time ran 13:57.04, a national record at the same time Lawi Lalang (Arizona) and Bernard Lagat (Nike) teamed up to break the Collegiate and American record respectively in the 5000 meter run.

That’s 3 major records going down, in one race. Talk about excitement!

The true highlight of the night as I said before though, was the Wanamaker Mile, a spectacle that people runners from around the world come or tune in just to watch. This year had much to talk about as Oregon runner just turned professional Matthew Centrowitz, representing Nike was the dark horse in a field of proven champions. It was his first professional race, and what better way to come out than on the largest stage of them all! He had heavy competition though, Miles Batty, former NCAA champion from BYU, Liam Boylan-Pett, part of the elite NY-NJ Track Club and a 3:56 miler among many others. The race went out and no one seemed to have control as the main contenders stayed near the back and waited to pounce on the opportunity when the race opened up. With 300 meters to go, Centrowitz shot to the lead with a large kick, the crowd exploded with cheer, they were up on their feet as they saw Batty go with him! The last lap bell rung and the place was all up on their feet, Batty charge to the side of Centrowitz seeing if he could work the outside down the backstretch, and with that Centrowitz opened up the lead and seemed to be relaxed and calm while Batty was winded and tensed. Batty made a final charge and leaned…Centrowitz won though. The time was 3:53.92, Batty getting out-leaned but still getting the NCAA mile record of 3:54.25.

I promise to not go as in depth as I did with the last meet but I will highlight the rest of the news of what possibly was, the best weekend for running. In Fayetteville, Arkansas Galen Rupp tore down the 2 mile record of 8:10.07 with a new time of ¬†8:09.72, Records were set in Mens and Women’s 60 meter dash, Men’s 400 meter dash, Silas Kiplagat sets the record in the Men’s Indoor Mile of 3:52. In Washington, Ryan Hill and Diego Estrada both break the collegiate record in the 3000 meter run with times of 7:43 and 7:44. In Boston, many NCAA national qualifying times were run on both the Men and Women side including Eric Van Ingen running 3:57 ¬†mile. In Ohio, George Mason runner David Verburg and George Empty ran NCAA qualifying races with a 46:39 for Verburg in the 400 M and 1:02.09 in the 500M for Empty and George Mason ran the NCAA leading time for the 4×400 M relay of 3:07.88.

So if you’ve made it this far, you can tell I love to follow running. My point of posting all of this, is to show you that running can be exciting. And that, ESPN should have at least mentioned this past weekend’s events in a blip on SportsCenter instead of talking about Tiger Woods withering play, Spring Training that hasn’t even started or offseason deals for the NFL that are just speculative.

I hope you enjoyed reading this, and maybe learned a few things about running in the process.



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