Month: March 2007

Dos Lunas…ready!

Just finished getting ready for my run this weekend — not too much to do really, other than prepping a small drop bag for Cozy Dell, roughly the half-way point where we’ll get to around sunset.  I’m meeting Mark Weineke, and Bob/Darcy Africa at the Ojai Cafe Emporium at 9:30 for breakfast.  We’ll go over the course map there, and any last-minute items before we head over to the Horn Cyn trailhead near the Thacher School for the Noon start.  Bob/Darcy will be starting a little later (3pm) — the idea is to have everyone finish around the same time, so Chris is staggering the start based on our predicted running pace.  The first group of 100-milers (Don/Nattu) started about 2 hours ago, and the next group, consisting of Sue Johnson, H’ard, and Bruce will begin in about an hour from now.

Best of luck to everyone racing this weekend — Lake Hodges, Ironman CA, Umstead, and those still finishing up at Baja Travesia.

Umstead — Largest Field

Unless they have at least 30 DNS’s, Umstead will have the largest number of starters in its 12 year history — 259 registered.  I don’t like how they have a “50 mile option” though, just like HURT has a 100K option.  If 100 mile races choose to offer shorter distances, runners should have to declare ahead of time, which one they wish to participate in.  If they do not finish the entire 100 miles, it should be listed as a DNF, and not get credit for the shorter distance.  Just my personal opinion…

So it looks like we got some competition…Serge Englund-Arbona, who has the second fastest time (14:42) on the course, and Connie Gardner, who has the women’s course record (17:13) will be participating.  Mike Fiorito (15:49) who will be going for his 10th finish, Paul Dewitt, and David Goggins will be blazing the way up front as well.

Race updates/results will be here.

Henry Rono — Making a comeback…in life

Rono tries to distance himself from troubled past

The runner, who broke world records in four events in short period in 1978, says his life is on the upswing after alcoholism and homelessness.

By Jerry Crowe, Times Staff Writer
March 26, 2007

Henry Rono, once the world’s preeminent distance runner and some say the greatest of all time, probably is best known for his mind-boggling assault on the record books in the spring and summer of 1978, when he broke world records in four events over an 81-day period.

“I was ahead of everybody,” he says. “I wasn’t competing with people. I was competing with time. It was me and the clock.”

The clock he could handle.

The bottle, he couldn’t.

The Nandi tribesman from Kenya, who in 1978 was a Washington State student unprepared for the sudden fame and blinding spotlight, has battled alcoholism for nearly half his 55 years.

His country’s boycotts of the 1976 and 1980 Olympics denied him an international showcase, and he says unscrupulous managers and corrupt Kenyan track and field officials, combined with his own erratic behavior, left him penniless.

Rono notes in his soon-to-be-published autobiography that he was so down on his luck in the mid-1990s — homeless and out of prospects — that he showed up at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., and pleaded for a job cleaning floors.

His former sponsor, the great runner says, turned him away.

If that was a low point for Rono, it was one of many.

He says that he was intermittently homeless through much of the 1980s and ’90s, was arrested more than once for driving while drunk, and drifted in and out of rehabilitation centers more times than he cares to remember. Friends took him in, then threw him out when his drinking got out of control. In steadier times, he worked as an airport skycap. He parked and washed cars.

But all that is past, Rono says. His life is on the upswing. After shuttling from town to town for years, he says, he finally settled 11 years ago in Albuquerque. He says he has been sober for the last five.

A full-time teacher pursuing a graduate degree in special education, he has taken a year off from work to write his recently completed memoirs and train for the Masters World Track & Field Championships in September in Italy.

On Sunday, he will compete in the Carlsbad 5K, and before the year is out he hopes to establish an age-group world record in the mile.

“I want to alert the public that I am back into running,” he told race organizers in Carlsbad after signing on for their event. “I want to teach people that you can come back from the streets and being homeless and recover your life again.”

The 5-foot-8 Rono, whose weight once ballooned to 220 pounds, says he is down to 165, 20 less than he weighed in December, when he ran in a 5K in Cincinnati and said, after spying a photo of himself, “I look like a heavyweight boxer.”

His goal, he says, is to slim down to about 140. That’s what he weighed as a 26-year-old sophomore in April 1978, when in a dual meet at Berkeley he set a world record of 13 minutes 8.4 seconds in the 5,000 meters. A month later, in Seattle, he established a steeplechase mark of 8:05:4, and a month after that, in Vienna, he set a record of 27:22:47 in the 10,000 meters. Sixteen days later, in Oslo, he set his fourth world record: 7:32.1 in the 3,000 meters.

“It was amazing,” he says, “but the way the media was handling my success was intimidating. I was not prepared for that. It was very stressful.”

Don Franken, a longtime track promoter and president of a sports celebrity talent agency, says Rono was “a fish out of water,” struggling to find his way.

“It was such a culture shock coming here from Kenya,” Franken says. “He was lost — and he had an addiction. You could call him a tragedy, but how many people set four world records in such a short span of time?”

Rono’s records in the 3,000 and the steeplechase stood for years, but by the early 1980s, he was drinking heavily. He started showing up drunk at races, or not showing up at all. But his talent was so immense that, in September 1981, he reportedly got drunk the night before a race in Oslo, ran for an hour early the next morning to sweat out the alcohol, then set a world record in the 5,000 that night.

Those days are long past, but Rono says his life has changed for the better. No longer homeless, he bought a house a few years ago.

“I feel happy with what I’m doing now,” says the gap-toothed Kenyan, noting that he runs two hours every morning and another hour in the evening. “I’m enjoying running. I’m doing more running now than even when I was young.”

He is reclaiming his identity, he says, “controlling my life.”

Franken is rooting for him.

“He’s gone through a hell of a lot of struggles,” the promoter says, “but he’s come out a survivor. Yeah, it’s a tragedy that his career wasn’t longer because he could have achieved so much more. He could have put every record out of sight.

“But you talk to him now and he has a very good attitude. I think in the long run he’s going to contribute a lot more in other ways, so his talent will not be wasted. I think he’ll be able to still inspire and motivate people, and that’s going to be his legacy. I think he’s still got a lot more to give.”

jerome.crowe@latimes.com

Baja Travesia Underway

Teams have made it through to CP1 already.  My friends from Kayak Lake Mead (Robert, Druce, and Brianna — father/son/daughter) were first to arrive along with Team Stride.  Shortly after, reigning champs DART/NUUN came in — they will be one of the teams to watch.

Keep an eye on here for updates, and at SleepMonsters for a more detailed report from Karen.

Update (3/27 @ 22:49): DART/NUUN arrives at CP2 first, with the Finlay family only 5 minutes behind.  Many teams have continued unranked due to problems with rough seas.

Update (3/29 @ 11:16): DART/NUUN is still in the lead, and Kayak Lake Mead are about 2 hours behind.  Not sure how accurate the leaderboard is, since it hasn’t been updated in over 24 hours.

Andy’s Special?

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?  Ok, don’t answer that…

Anyway, that’s what Carmela kept calling part of the route we did yesterday up to Mt Wilson — it seems that Hiker Bob’s connector to Jones Peak and over through Hastings is still a section that even locals are unfamiliar with.  We had a small group (Carmela, Michael, Matt, Ben, and David), and started the long climb up to the top from the Mt Wilson trailhead at about 10:30 (a later start than I’m used to).  The marine layer kept the sun from beating down, but the humidity was high (90+%), which made it pretty hot.  Matt went on ahead when we hit the first set of switchbacks, then waited at the connector because he couldn’t find where the trail picked up — he didn’t go far enough in the gully, at which point the trail would’ve been clearly visible to the right.  After we got to the top, he kept going, and I waited for the rest of the group at the newly constructed sign.  I hoped they put the flag up at Hasting’s Peak as well, but there wasn’t one unfortunately.
Matt continued up to Wilson as I waited on the Toll Rd, when I saw a runner approaching from the south — it was Guillermo.  He was out training as well, starting from Eaton Cyn, heading up to the top — he was doing that twice.  We’d been out for about 2 hours and around the 5 mile point — another 3 miles or so and 1000′ to the top.  Along the fireroad (those familiar with the AC course, we were around mile 80), we saw a big group of runners heading down towards Idlehour — it was Jorge, his wife Maria, and a few others I recognized from some local races.  They were also training, but started from Shortcut (around mile 60 of the AC course).  It’s always fun seeing people you don’t expect out on the trails, and If we had come off the ridge even 5 minutes later, we would’ve missed everyone.

We made it to the top just shy of 3 hours as Guillermo was heading back down, and discussed what to do as we filled one bladder and emptied a different one.  I decided to cut the originally proposed route short, since it would have been another 5+ hours from that point, and it was already close to 2pm.  Matt and Dave decided to add on a few more miles, so Ben, Michael, Carmela, and I started back down — back track down to the Wintercreek Jct, to Manzanita Ridge (where the bench is on the climb up from Chantry — around mile 79 of AC), then back to our cars on the Mt Wilson trail.

It was Carmela’s first experience on these trails, but she’ll become more familiar with them as she continues training for AC — an e-mail from her this morning requested more Andy’s Specials, and I’m always more than happy to oblige.  She obviously doesn’t know me very well… 🙂

So this week will be pretty light, not like it’ll be any lighter than usual I suppose.  Got a big weekend coming up though…100K out in Ojai.  Good luck to everyone heading out to Hodges…hope it doesn’t rain or hail like it did last year.

Glycerin Rocks Vanguard

My good friends Rich and Anna (AKA Glycerin) opened up for world famous British DJ Pete Tong at the Vanguard Saturday night. If you’re familiar with electronica, you’ll know who he is, and if you’re familiar with the LA club scene, you’ve most-likely have been to Vanguard. Glycerin was fortunate enough to go on about midnight, so they performed to a packed dancefloor. The Funktion One sound system was top-notch, not to mention the visuals, which were projected over the stage across several flat screen monitors. Their next show will be on the 29th at Belo in the Gaslamp in San Diego — they’ll be performing with the Misshapes.