Jené Shaw has a nice article in the January edition of Triathlete Magazine. She discusses the benefits of a fixed gear bike. Ms. Shaw even scraped the bottom of the barrel and quoted me a couple of times in the article. If nothing else, it's worth checking out just for the cool drawing of the half hipster/half tri-geek, complete with aero helmet, rolled up pants cuffs and u-lock. Apparently the headshot I sent didn't arrive in time.
Our friend Will Sanchez was kind enough to interview me for his cable access show Gotta Run With Will. We got to talk about Christopher Bergland, NSQ, Shane, Race Across the Window and lots of other fun stuff. You can take a look here, and I'll post updates when it's going to air.
Congratulations to Alisa Stern for a strong effort at the Serpentine Running Club's Last Friday 5k on 12/24. Ms. Stern ran 20:17, which was good for 5th place among the women. Way to represent in England, Alisa.
And for the record, I realize that 12/24 was not the last Friday of the year. Serpintine named the race. And speaking of serpentine, in lieu of a race video (which I don't have) I give you the following.
Congratulations to Lauri Young on her marathon debut at the Jacksonville Bank Marathon on 12/19. Lauri finished in 4:27:54, good for 7th out of 20 in the 50-54 AG. Now can we get back to some more reasonable distances please Lauri?
Congratulations to City Coach newbie Stephen England for his performance at Sunday's Ted Corbitt 15k in Central Park. Stephen ran a PR of 57:59 for an average of 6:14 per mile. Great work by Mr. England in his first scored event as a member of the team. No doubt there are many more to come.
For the record, I like alliteration as much as the next guy, but a running race should never have the word "jog" in it. Nonetheless, I congratulate Iris Shalam on a PR at last weekend's Jingle Bell Jog. It was the first time Iris broke 8-minute miles in anything longer than a 5k, as she finished the 4-miler in 31:29.
In addition, there was a strong performance from Michele "Don't Call it a Comeback" Levy.
The results of the NYC Half Marathon lottery are in, and if you're from NYC it's likely that you're out. Apparently NYRR had separate lotteries for NYC residents (in which 12% were accepted) and out-of-towners (in which 83% were accepted). The results have set off an uproar from NYRR members and other New Yorkers. The NYRR Facebook page has been dominated by complaints, as have other message boards. Let's look at some of the comments floating around Facebook.
NYRR doesn't care about the average NYC runner. If you're surprised by that, then you'll be really shocked to hear that the sun is going to rise in the east tomorrow morning. Of course they're doing different lotteries. Out of town runners make more money for the NYRR. NYRR likes money. Plus those who get rejected and go the charity route let NYRR double dip. Did I mention that NYRR loves money? All the lottery rejects who go the charity route (which NYRR is quick to suggest) guarantee NYRR an extra $225 per person, because NYRR charges that surcharge on top of the usual entry fee. So rejecting you and then suggesting that you run for a charity is a win-win for NYRR.
A not-for-profit shouldn't make so much money. My understanding of the tax codes is about what you'd expect from a dumb jock or a 9-year old, but I do know that even not-for-profits can pay their executives handsome salaries. NYRR has repeatedly made their love for money clear. The lottery for the Half and the NYC Marathon are clear examples of that. Each year NYRR charges $9 per application for the NYC Marathon regardless of whether you're accepted. That's a lot of money for simply holding a lottery which costs them next to nothing. And now they do the same for the Half, in which they make tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars simply by having the lottery. And let's not pretend that their "9+1" policy is anything other than a money grab as well. It's nine entry fees and free labor for NYRR.
NYRR should have made the lottery policies clear in advance. To me, this is the most legitimate complaint. NYRR is entitled to do whatever they want with their race, but if they're going to change their lottery policy and weight it in favor of non-New Yorkers, they should let potential applicants know in advance. Presumably many potential applicants would not have paid the $5 fee for the lottery if they had known that their chances were so slim, and that for the same application fee, non-NY runners had a better chance. The lack of transparency is (and should be) troubling to many NYRR members.
Until NYRR gets out of bed with the charities, which they likely won't do (not for altruistic reasons, but because the charities make them extra money) and travel agencies, or until New Yorkers stop patronizing their races, it's unlikely that any significant changes will take place. Even their "concession" to the complaints — to allow automatic qualification to those who run four of the five "borough" half marathons– will simply further line their pockets; however, this won't make the race more New Yorker-friendly. In fact, unless they take more New Yorkers, this will simply allow for fewer lottery slots for locals.
The following may sound surprising based on my disdain for NYRR, but I have no sympathy for many of those who are angry. Do I think that Mary Wittenberg and some of the other NYRR executives are overpaid? Yes I do. (If you disagree, take a look at NYRR's tax returns, which are public record.) Do I think that NYRR's policy of needing nine races plus mandatory volunteering in order to get automatic acceptance into the marathon is greedy? Yes I do. (And no, I don't believe that it's set up to benefit their "good customers", but rather to get people to enter races that they're otherwise disinterested in.) Do I think that their policy of charging charities $225 extra for half marathon slots and up to $500 for marathon slots is immoral albeit legal – yes I do. But guess what? I don't apply for the Marathon or Half Marathon.
Say what you will about NYRR, but they're not stupid. The understand supply and demand. Until and unless their races don't fill up, they're unlikely to make any significant changes to their policies or their prices. They will continue to fund staff salaries and elite runners' appearance fees with the entry fees of the masses. Thankfully, there are plenty of other races out there.
Heidi Jones, the WABC Meteorologist who has gained notoriety as a runner, was arrested this week for filing a false police report. Ms. Jones initially claimed that she was the victim of an attempted sexual assault in Central Park but according to the NYPD she has now recanted that story. Still her attorney says that she will plead not guilty. Considering the vile nature of sexual assault, it would seem that falsely accusing someone of that crime is a pretty horrendous act. (Ms. Jones described her assailant as "hispanic" and apparently a suspect was briefly detained before police released him.) Still, judging by comments on her now suspended Facebook fan page and on Twitter, she is not without her defenders.
In addition to facing criminal charges, Ms. Jones has been suspended by WABC pending an internal investigation. According to her running website, her motto is "If you knew you wouldn't fail, what would you try?"
***Update***According the the NY Daily News, Ms. Jones got a personal phone call from the Police Commissioner, and for weeks police detectives acted as her personal bodyguards.
Six detectives spent three weeks "taking her wherever she needed to go," the source said.
Some of the places included a flea market at Union Square, restaurants around the city, movie theaters and even walks with her dog on the West Side Highway, near where she lives, the source said.
"We don't do it on a typical victim," the source said. "We just don't provide that kind of assistance."
But as Jones enjoyed the perks of being chauffeured around town by the city's Finest, she continued to flake out of meetings about her case with Internal Affairs detectives and prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney's office.
Sunday was NYRR Pete McArdle Cross Country Classic 15k in Van Cortlandt Park. The race was 3+ loops of the classic VCP course including the back hills. Throw in some heavy rain, mud, and Wizard of Oz-worthy winds, and it made for a slow, painful race. NSQ finished third in the women's field, despite mismatched gloves and taking the time to ham it up for the cameras.
Perhaps more impressive was that Agnes came out to run a lap of the course. Personally, if I had run a rocky 50k for 7+ hours the previous day, I'd still be in bed, but Agnes is not as easily deterred.
Congratulations to NSQ for her strong finish and to Agnes for being Agnes.