Track is my field: Mark Cullen's international track and field website featuring storytelling, commentary, and predictions and event analyses for the Olympics and World Championships. I'll be writing from the 2018 European Championships in Berlin in August. I'm active on Facebook and Twitter: @trackerati.
Monday, August 28, 2017
Who else would run that but David Torrence?
The Olympian and middle distance star, known not only for his remarkable talent but for the effervescent spirit he brought to his craft, died in Scottsdale, AZ, Monday morning. Torrence was 31.
The fun and joy that characterized his approach to track and field brought him some serious results. He sported outdoor bests of 1:45.14, 3:33.23, 3:52.01 and 13:16.53.
In less than a month in 2014, Torrence set the indoor world on fire when he set an individual American record and a relay team world record.
His finest individual performance was his indoor 1000m of 2:16.76, = #10 on the all-time world list and still the American record, set on February 8, 2014, in Boston.
He was also a member of the indoor world-record setting 4x800m relay team dubbed the "US All-Stars" - all-stars indeed, as their 7:13.11 still stands as the world record. This was set 22 days after his 1000m record, also in Boston.
Torrence ran the second leg of the 4x800m relay. Richard Jones led off in 1:51.0, Torrence followed in 1:47.46, Duane Solomon was next in 1:47.98, and Erik Sowinski anchored the world record in 1:46.66.
Torrence ran for his mother's native Peru in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and finished 15th in the 5,000m final.
Just 8 days ago, he placed fourth in the Emsley Carr Mile at the Birmingham Diamond League Meet in 3:56.10.
Torrence was noted for his courageous stand against doping and for speaking truth to power when it came to speaking with authorities about his brief but deeply uncomfortable relationship with Coach Jama Aden's training group.
For more on his engaging, fun-loving side, be sure to read LetsRun.com's wonderful tribute: https://tinyurl.com/ydfqvmnd
We share in the profound sense of loss of David Torrence and send our deepest sympathy and condolences to his family and his many, many friends in the track and field world.
On the morning of his 1500m heat at the recent London World Championships - in which he missed advancing by .28 - Torrence posted on his Twitter page:
"Hard work doesn't guarantee success... but it sure as hell gets your foot in the door. It's race day, and it's time to fly."
Photo: Hoka One One
Sunday, August 13, 2017
|Usain Bolt's Farewell Ceremony at London Olympic Stadium|
photo courtesy of and copyright by IAAF/Getty Images
Saturday, August 12, 2017
Note Gemili raising his arm and Su flinching in response.
Great Britain won the race and China finished 4th.
Click on link here:
Friday, August 11, 2017
Coburn set a personal, American, and Championship record of 9:02.58, breaking her previous best by over 5 seconds.
Frerichs' 9:03.77 broke her own best by an astounding 15.32 seconds. She came in with a best of 9:19.09 and left as #7 on the all-time world list, with Coburn ahead of her at #6.
In a dramatic and electrifying final lap, Coburn and Frerichs sprinted away from the Kenyan and Bahraini athletes at precisely the moment it might have been expected that the reverse would happen.
As they sprinted off the last water jump, Coburn broke away for the win while Frerichs sprinted away from Kenya's Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi for silver.
In a historic race whose implications will reverberate for years to come, Coburn and Frerichs rewrote expectations for US women in the steeplechase.
With Evan Jager's bronze, the US won half of the steeple medals here and recorded a nifty tally of gold, silver, and bronze.
Frerichs summarized it best when she asked - several times - "Is this really happening?"
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
She had both patience and belief in bundles Wednesday night.
|Note the facial expressions of Miller-Uibo, Francis, and Felix (l-r)|
|Phyllis Francis Framed Felicitously by Flames|
It's Wednesday of Worlds - the midpoint of these Championships - which have been characterized by cool but generally favorable conditions for the athletes.
No steam bath of Rio, no furnace of Sacramento.
All was well until last night when it got cold.
As a Seattle native, I am well-prepared for damp conditions, but I got chilled to the bone last evening in spite of multiple layers of clothing. The cold started in my hands and traveled up my arms into my core.
Now it is wet - soaking wet.
It was raining when I awoke early this morning, and soon I'll head back into it for travel to the evening session. From the Underground (subway) station to the stadium is easily a mile.
I'll be able to tolerate wet shoes quite successfully. My coaching mantra in Seattle: rain days are practice days.
But this, most unfortunately, is a day of finals in the women's shot put, and qualifying in the men's hammer.
Not a good day to be spinning in a ring.
The women's long jumpers, too, will encounter a possibly slippery takeoff board.
In conditions like these everyone hesitates just a touch, and that hesitation wreaks havoc. Athletes become understandably cautious.
Caution changes everything when throwing caution to the wind is what we're here for.
Dwight Stones - 1976 - Montreal. 3rd in the high jump final in the drenching rain when the covering of the stadium was not finished on time, he set the world record in good conditions just days later in Philadelphia.
In a statistical and geographic oddity, Stones had set the world record also in Philadelphia on June 5th. For Stones, world records were bookends to Olympic bronze.
Ask Stones if weather conditions made a difference - in his career, in his life.
I understand that everyone is competing under equal conditions, and that athletes should prepare for all. But how well can anyone prepare for drenching rain? Or, for that matter, blistering heat: 111F/44C, as it was at US Nationals in Sacramento, CA this year?
Is it time for us to consider covered stadiums as a requirement for World Championship sites?
Did I mention that the 2019 World Championships are in Doha, Qatar?
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
It's 59F/15C in London Olympic Stadium.
Much anticipated finals will be held in the women's javelin, men's steeplechase, men's 800m, men's pole vault, and men's 400m.
There is much buzz about a possible win by Evan Jager (US) in the steeplechase, and even more about the possibility of a world record by Wayde van Niekerk (RSA) in the men's 400m.
Most unfortunately, the single person most likely to push van Niekerk was Botswana's Isaac Makwala. It is widely being reported that he was turned away at the gate tonight. A norovirus went through his hotel, and he is now only 24 hours into the 48 hour quarantine requirement.
The steeple, 800m, and 400m will take place within a sparkling 40 minutes at the end of tonight's program.
A great finish is guaranteed.
Hours later, Sieg Lindstrom of Track and Field News placed "Teardrop of Sunlight" at the top of the center column of the Track and Field News website.
On Friday of Worlds.
Exposure was never like this.
It was the turning point for my blog - the before and after moment.
In fond acknowledgment of what has proved to be a turning point in my life, here is a link to "Teardrop of Sunlight":
A longer piece, "A Ride for Robert "- my #1 post these last four years - tells the story of how I came to that moment:
I would like to thank my readers - you honor me every time you read a story. Thank you for your enthusiastic support.
I remain deeply grateful to Sieg Lindstrom and Track and Field News for their ongoing support and encouragement;
to Thomas Byrne of IAAF's Spikes Magazine who has been singularly enthusiastic about my perspective on this sport we care so deeply about;
to the crew at LetsRun.com for their ongoing support of my work - and for their courage and the risks they take to make ours a sport of honor and integrity.
Meanwhile, it's Friday of Worlds again, and this evening I'm honored to be trusted with covering the men's hammer throw and women's steeplechase finals for Track and Field News.
What a difference four years makes.
I've got to get back to the stadium.
With gratitude and appreciation,
|Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow|
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
World Athletics Championships
Photo by Dmitry Rozhkov
Monday, August 7, 2017
|Torie Bowie (lane 7, US) wins 100m over Marie-Josee Ta Lou (lane 4, Ivory Coast)|
|Bowie's momentum causes her to fall after the finish line.|
Sunday, August 6, 2017
Saturday, August 5, 2017
Friday, August 4, 2017
Let's hope this saves our sport.
|Sandi Morris, US, Pole Vault|
copyright Getty Images/IAAF
Thursday, August 3, 2017
|Allyson Felix, Jenny Simpson, Tianna Bartoletta, Christian Coleman, Christian Taylor, Ryan Crouser|
at the United States team press conference
London, August 3, 2017
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Coos Bay, Oregon
“I can't tell you how happy I am to come back to the community I was born and raised in and see the residents come together and embrace what I'm doing to help make it successful. It means everything to me,” said Linda.
“To see Jordan speechless when he got to hold a pair of Steve's shoes was worth a million bucks. To watch both of them running around Prefontaine Track (slow but it's the effort that counts!) made me smile, and to share so much history between us was pure joy.”
“When my moms, Carrie Fleming and Tina Preece, first told me that they had scheduled for us to take a tour through Coos Bay with Steve Prefontaine's sister, Linda Prefontaine, I was in a state of disbelief. It was unfathomable that I was going to have the opportunity to visit the place where my idol was molded into the legend that he became. Taking a tour with his sister? Get outta here!
“The Tour de Pre was without a doubt, one of the best experiences of my entire life. Linda is such a wonderful person that is filled with charisma and love. Her passion to share her brother's TRUE story and show off the town that her family grew up in was more than admirable. I can never thank her enough for opening up her heart to share personal stories and provide a human element to the dynamic track star that everyone knows. It was an absolute pleasure to spend time with her and make new memories. Thanks Pre! 😊
“I had the opportunity to literally run all over the Coos Bay region. When Linda Prefontaine tells you to run, you run. From running laps at the Marshfield High School, to running along an ocean beach, and to sprinting up a hill that puts all others to shame. I was able to run the paths of my idol, not just the record setting athlete, but the loving brother and son.
“Smiles were shared, laughs were had, and tears were shed. It was an amazing day filled with healing and growth. In life, we often are faced with unbelievably challenging trials that test our limits. It is so easy to let ourselves crumble underneath these difficulties. This is not the way. Life is a beautiful thing. Every moment that we are able to share with those around us should never be taken for granted. Live without limits; I know that Steve did.”
Said Carrie Fleming, “I know this trip has changed me personally. So many laughs and tears were shared from us all that day. Best part was I made a new friend... Thank you Linda Prefontaine.”
Saturday, June 24, 2017
High Heat - a term usually reserved for baseball came into play during the men's hammer on Thursday, especially in the first three rounds. Throws were flying noticeable higher than usual; streamlined arcs were few and far between.
Eric Werskey, former Auburn shot put standout and now assistant coach at meet host Sacramento State, observed that it was not only the heat that was a factor. While athletes may have been just a bit slower in the ring due to the 111F temperatures, he noted that the single flight of 16 (rather than two of 8) in the first three rounds may have had a bigger impact.
Imagine waiting - desperate for shade - under a small awning while 15 other throwers take their turns. It's beastly hot. That would slow anyone down, and did.
It was clear in the finals that form improved, as did the distances thrown. But still it wasn't pretty, as half of the final 24 throws were fouls.
Green Cards All Around - Jerome Young's non-false start in the men's 100m Friday evening must have our European counterparts seeing red - again. He clearly jumped the gun but was reinstated. Same in men's 400m final on Saturday. A false start was called but no one was DQed.
When is a false start a false start? When, at US Nationals, does a false start stick?
Notable Exits - Tyson Gay and Nick Symmonds brought their notable careers to an end. Symmonds did not advance out of the preliminaries of the men's 800m, and Gay was a first-round 100m exit as well.
Notable Upsets - All of you who predicted that Shalane Flanagan and Galen Rupp would not make the US 10k team, please step to the front. No one? That appears to be accurate. Flanagan took the early - and middle and late - lead, but could not hang on against veteran Molly Huddle in the women's 10,000m final. Rupp fell victim to the stellar team tactics of the US Army racers and found himself unable to respond to their collective charge over the last 200m.
Here Comes the US Army - Flotrack is keeping team scores for the various teams represented here. Leading the men's distances going into tomorrow's steeplechase final? Let's see... the Nike Oregon Project? Nope. Bowerman Track Club? Nope. NAZ (Northern Arizona) Elite? Keep going. US Army? Why yes, and by far. In the 5k and 10k they have three of the six qualifiers. Two on the men's marathon team. And with Hilary Bor and Haron Lagat in tomorrow's 3,000m steeplechase final, expect their roster for Worlds to grow even more.
Cannot move on without noting one of the greatest 5,000m races ever run by an American: Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo's Prefontaine-esque demolition of the 5000m field while smashing the meet record by over 4 seconds.
Highlight of the Meet - Gabe Grunewald being surrounded by her heat-mates after the opening round of the women's 1500. The 1500m star, the American Cancer Society, and USATF announced a joint fund-raising partnership on Thursday. Grunewald left the meet after the race to resume chemotherapy for a rare type of cancer that has now returned for the 4th time.
I'm working to obtain permission to use a magnificent photo of this moment, and it's my fond hope that this will work out and I'll be able to post it on Sunday.
Working in the Heat - On Thursday I covered three field events for Track and Field News: the men's hammer at 1:45, the women's javelin at 5:00, and the women's discus at 6:50 - and then, mysteriously, at 8:00, for no announced reason.
The highest recorded temperature was 111F in the stadium, and I took all the usual precautions: relentless hydration, spending most of the day in shade, and wearing a broad-rimmed sun hat and dark shades to deflect the impact of the sun. There was quite some camaraderie in the press corps about being in this together.
It all worked out rather well, I thought, and I felt quite good at the end of the 10,000m races late in the evening. Then I went back to my hotel - and slept for 12 hours. It took me 65 years to figure out how to get that much sleep in one night - duly noted! But I don't think I'll be trying it again anytime soon...
Monday, June 19, 2017
Most unexpectedly, an opportunity to go from full-time to part-time teaching was created when a veteran teacher decided he was veteran enough. I blew through that door and will be teaching 3/4 time next year.
If that sounds like a modest change, it is, but the bigger change is with reduced duties, such as no advisory, no overnight camping trips, no lunchroom cleanup. I'm pretty sure I gave up 25% of my income to avoid lunchroom cleanup! I am very excited to have such a clear focus on teaching itself.
Meanwhile, two welcome emails came, one with a media credential for the USATF Outdoor Nationals and the other for credentials to the IAAF World Championships in London.
USATF Nationals begin on Thursday in Sacramento, CA, and the forecast is for 109F on Thursday and 97F for Sunday. Of considerable interest is how meet management will respond, especially with Thursday evening's 10,000m races and Friday evening's 5,000m runs.
London Worlds run from Friday, August 4 through Sunday, August 13. The meet is a sellout and over 1,000,000 tickets have been sold.
I'm off to Sacramento on Wednesday for the USATF press conference at 2:00pm and I'll post any heat-related updates here and on twitter: @trackerati.