Hope you ran the 3M Half Marathon on Sunday. If you didn’t, you missed a perfect morning and a near-perfect race. Now, it’s up to 3M race committee, headed by long-time race director Matt Fagan, to decide whether they should stick to their game plan and return to its traditional course in ‘09 with the finish back at House Park off North Lamar.
Nobody’s asked me my opinion about moving the finish back to House Park, but here it is anyway: Don’t. Make this interim course permanent.
The interim course is simply a smoother, faster one with much better logistics. Certainly much of the two courses is the same, but the final three miles on the ’07-’08 course is much faster and produces a much more exciting finish on the long straightaway on Trinity. The House Park course also has plenty of downhill, but there was the tricky little up and down on Guadalupe, right near the finish which was always a pain to get up and over.
Making the House Park finish worse, was that it finished on a little alley which was too small for spectators, lacked any drama (or quality finish photos) and is just too rinky-dink for an important race. Contrast that with the finish on Trinity with the long, flat straightaway and gobs of room for spectators that can line both sides of the road for the final half mile. The Trinity finish is second only to the AT&T Austin Marathon finish on Congress in terms of beauty and impact.
In addition, Waterloo Park is a much better venue than House Park for music, food and awards. Waterloo has more room and is much easier to access than House Park which gets muddy and is a tight squeeze. Plus, there’s virtually no parking around House Park, while at Waterloo, there are tons of lots and empty parking spaces on a Sunday morning.
Last Sunday’s 3M had a record number of runners that even surprised race organizers who were expecting 1000 fewer. (They ran out of medals.) Next year, they can expect an even bigger field, but only if it retains this course. The roads can handle bigger crowds—and so can the Trinity finish.
The 3M Half is becoming a nationally prominent race with great growth potential based on its PR course. It has simply outgrown House Park. Let’s leave 3M alone. Returning to House Park would be a giant step backward.
- AT&T Marathon race director John Conley has made it official: The marathon (and half) is a complete sell out with three weeks to go. Both races have been capped at 12,000 runners combined. According to Conley, the field can not be expanded this year as all the medals, cups, water and T-shirts have been ordered. Congratulations to AT&T for the earliest sell out in race history. Look for next year’s field to be expanded to at least 15,000. BTW: The final entrant in the half was none other than Desiree Ficker who probably had a little pull after finishing second last year in the marathon.
- Handling the commentary on My Fox Austin TV (KTBC) for the marathon along with Dennis De la Pena will be Austin’s adopted son of Dick Beardsley (who ran 1:18:34 last weekend at 3M) and Jim O’Brien, a nationally known race announcer and writer.
- Spotted running on Lady Bird Lake was Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy who had some free time after getting knocked out of the Super Bowl chase by the New York Giants. McCarthy was in town to get off the frozen tundra and visit his daughter who goes to UT. Bet our near-freezing weather last week felt tropical to him.
- Word on the street is that the three leading candidates to replace Craig Masback as head of USA Track and Field appear to be former 800/1500-meter runners Steve Holman and Rich Kenah (who were teammates at Georgetown) and former Hawaii athletic director (and 400-meter runner at Arizona State) Herman Frazier who was recently axed when he couldn’t retain football coach June Jones who went to SMU. I’d like to throw another name in the hat: Steve Miller. No, not The Joker, but the former track coach at Kansas State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo who since leaving the coaching ranks 17 years ago has been the director of global marketing for Nike, president of the Pro Bowlers Association and briefly was my boss at Devine Sports. Not certain how the decision gets made (and when), but there is one certainty: Nike, one of the primary sponsors of USATF, will have plenty of say. It always does.
- Derek Yorek, who won the EAS Run for the Water 10-Miler in November, is sticking with duathlons for the foreseeable future as he hopes to qualify for the national championships this year. Yorek, who has improved considerably on the bike, won the Frost Yer Fanny Duathlon (a 21-mile bike sandwiched between two 5-Ks) a couple of weeks ago on a bitterly cold morning in Round Rock in a time of 1:25:32. What made Yorek’s race especially impressive was that he had the second fastest bike split of the day, ahead of such studs as Todd Gerlach and Brandon Marsh.
- The Beer Mile, scheduled for Saturday, has been postponed due to permitting issues. Boo. Stay tuned whether Logan Delaware reschedules it.
- Pam LeBlanc, the talented fitness writer for the American Statesman whose feature page makes Monday mornings worth getting up for, ran her first half marathon Sunday at 3M and finished with a leap across the finish line in 2:10:33. A swimmer and cyclist, LeBlanc had such a great time that I can foresee a marathon in her future.
- Joshua Keena, a major in the U.S. Army who won the ARA 30-K in early January, won the military division at 3M in 1:09:57 by more than five minutes over Mike Richardson. Keena, who is pursuing a Ph.D. at UT, is hoping to run in the 2:30 range at the AT&T Marathon.
- Eric Polonski also had a great race at 3M. The 37-year-old has raced sporadically in the last couple of years, but had a terrific comeback effort at 3M in 1:05:57.
- One of the more fascinating times at 3M was the 1:24:09 (6:25 pace) by 61-year-old Alberto Emiliano of Wimberly. I never have seen his name in any results and a Google search didn’t reveal much either. But thanks to Jon Walk of Spring (didn’t know we had readers clear down there) who dug a little deeper than I did and came up with an Alberto Emiliano Martinez—same age—who ran 1:23:34 in a half marathon in Guadalajara and ran a 3:05:41 at the Mexico City Marathon. Must be the same incredible runner.
- Triboy Patrick Evoe was the fastest multi-eventer at 3M on Sunday with a two-minute PR of 1:11:52 which left him a wee bit sore the next day. Starting his second year as a pro, Evoe is planning on three Ironman-length races this season: Arizona, Lake Placid and hopefully, Hawaii. He also now has what every professional triathlete has: his own web site. Go to www.patrickevoe.com to follow his exploits this year.
- It didn’t take Jeremy Wariner long to find a new coach to replace long-time mentor Clyde Hart. One day after parting ways with Hart, Wariner hired 34-year-old Baylor assistant Michael Ford to be his personal coach.
- The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon is no more. Well, the marathon will continue but it switched from one bank for another and now will be known as the Bank of American Chicago Marathon. The 31st running of this great marathon will be held on October 12th and will be capp