This week the Austin Runners Club extended a good natured, neighborly invitation to Lance Armstrong to run its Decker Challenge Half Marathon on December 9th out on the rugged hills surrounding the Travis County Expo Center.
I have no idea whether Armstrong plans to run Decker, but if he does, he could possibly bring some national attention to the race. (Armstrong won last year’s accompanying Brown Santa 5-K). Even if he doesn’t show up, it’s a nice gesture by the ARC, designed to counter the Chicago Marathon’s ban of Armstrong.
Regardless of which side you fall on–whether you believe Armstrong is a victim of a witch hunt or guilty of using performance enhancement drugs—is basically irrelevant. What I believe is relevant is that Armstrong didn’t contest the charges leveled against him by the US Anti-Doping Agency which then leveled a lifetime ban against Armstrong from competing in any events certified by an Olympic sports governing body. That includes, cycling (natch) as well as road running, triathlons and, if he cares to pursue it, curling, the luge and rhythmic gymnastics.
Plain and simple, those are the rules. Armstrong could have contested the charges, but didn’t and accepted the ban. The Chicago Marathon had no choice in the matter when it refused to accept Armstrong’s application because its race is certified by USA Track & Field and must adhere to the USADA ruling. USATF has to enforce the ban of Armstrong which Chicago has to abide by as well.
I believe Decker should enforce the same ban. But the ARC claims it doesn’t have to deny Armstrong if he wants to run. Race director Eli Asch said, “The Austin Runners Club is a Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) organization. And although the Decker course length is certified by USA Track & Field, the event is insured and certified through the RRCA. As such, while the ARC reserves the right to deny entry to its events at its own discretion, we see no reason to do so in this case and would gladly welcome Mr. Armstrong…”
I don’t know if the ARC is legally correct in its stance, but it’s pretty evident that there’s no wiggle room in the USADA ruling (which Armstrong agreed to by not contesting it) that bans him for life from such Olympic events as road racing and triathloning. Even if Armstrong does run, the reality is USATF probably doesn’t care a hoot whether Armstrong runs Decker, the Lockhart 5-K or even the Livestrong Marathon.
But should we (or the ARC) make an exception? To me, there is no gray area. A runner who is banned from competition should remain banned.
O Leonel Manzano and Marquise Goodwin are headed to Washington this morning for a ceremony tomorrow at the White House, honoring the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic teams. Leo the Lion, who won five NCAA titles while at UT, was the first American to medal in the 1500 meters at the recently completed London Games since Jim Ryun did it in 1968. Goodwin, the three-time NCAA long jump champ who also won the Olympic Trials, finished 10th in London. Goodwin will then fly direct to Mississippi where he will hook up with the Longhorns who’ll need him for their Saturday night game against Ole Miss.
O Rumor on the street is the Competitor Group, Inc. and its roster of Rock ‘n’ Roll marathons and half marathons (as well as the Muddy Buddy and TriRock Triathlon series) has been sold for more than $200 million to the French parent company (Groupe Amaury) which owns the Tour de France, L’Equipe (the French national sporting newspaper) and other major events such as the Paris-Dakar race. The company is looking to broaden its reach by expanding into the American market. The sale hasn’t been announced yet but should be within the next month.
O David Fuentes, the winner of last fall’s San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and the past two Livestrong Austin Half Marathons, is headed to Philadelphia tomorrow. The former St. Ed’s stud is running his first Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly Half which is traditionally one of the most competitive, fastest half marathons in the world. (It used to be called the Philadelphia Distance Run.) Fuentes, who PR’ed in 1:06 in June in the national half marathon championships, will be facing the fastest field he’s ever seen with the likes of Dathan Ritzenheim, Simon Biwott and the fastest American of the year, Scott Bauhs, who ran 1:01:30 in Houston in January.
O Paul Terranova’s remarkable summer continued last weekend when he finished eighth overall in the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Race in Utah. The 38-year was the fastest flatlander in the race in 23:17 and it put a capper on the toughest race in his Grand Slam of Ultras (Western States, Vermont, Leadville and Utah). Now all that’s left is merely the Hawaii Ironman Championships on Kona on October 13th. Assuming he finishes Hawaii (and knowing Terranova, nothing will stop him), Terranova will become the first runner to compete all four Ultras and the Ironman in the same calendar year. Absolutely amazing.
O Latest heavy hitter on the Austin road circuit this fall could be Harlan Lopez. Lopez is a volunteer assistant coach with the Longhorn cross-country team who has impressive road credentials of late (2:30 at California International Marathon last year and 51:30 for 10 miles in April). He’ll be racing in Austin for the first time at IBM 10-K and then the Run for the Water 10-Miler. Originally from Walnut Creek, California, the 27-year-old ran at Northern Arizona University.
O What I’m listening to this morning: “The Very Best of Ray Charles,” by Ray Charles. (Willie sings a beautiful duet with Ray on “Seven Spanish Angels.”)
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