The Spider Web
By David Yon
March 17, 2000

This weekend the World Cross Country Championships will be contested in Vilamoura, Portugal. Tallahassee will have its representative there - Breeda Dennehy-Willis. Breeda, who recently ran a 15:34 5K on the track, will be participating in at least her second World Championship and is in really good shape. Breeda's 15:34 is an Olympic "A" qualifying time, except that she ran it in a mixed sex race. She is well on her way to making the Irish team for the 2000 Olympics. You can check results from the cross country championships and other information on the race at http://www.iaaf.org/wxc00/index.asp.

We all love running and some of us love Track and Field. You often hear how the sport is dying in the US and there is support for that idea. However, track and running are not dead yet according to USA Track and Field CEO Craig Masback. Craig, a former miler, has brought tremendous energy to the sport as CEO and has the audacity to suggest things are even getting better. Here are nine reasons he listed on the Runner’s World web page to support his assertion:

1. The top six track meets during the recent U.S. indoor season averaged close to 10,000 spectators per meet (the Golden Spike Tour plus the NCAA's). No other country in the world had a single event with 10,000 spectators.

2. Recently released statistics from USATF's Road Running Information Center indicate that participation in leading U.S. marathons continues to grow apace with more than 430,000 participants in 1999, some 35% of whom are female.

3. Participation in high school track and cross-country are both up, with more boys and girls participating than in any other sport, and with more than 1,000 schools adding track teams in the last three years.

4. Television ratings for 1999 network (over-the-air) coverage of track and field and the marathon averaged a 2.1 (about 3 million viewers), topping the averages of NHL Hockey (1.7), the WNBA (1.5), and Major League Soccer (0.9).

5. More than 10,000 eight-day ticket passes have already been sold for the Olympic Trials in Sacramento in July. Those Trials will feature more than 11 hours of prime time (7 to 11 p.m.) television coverage in addition to the typical Saturday/Sunday afternoon coverage.

6. More than 80% of the participants in the Women's Olympic Marathon Trials in Columbia last month had college degrees, with more than 1/3 having obtained graduate degrees.

7. RRCA membership is up, Runner's World sales are up, running shoe sales remain the #1 category of every athletic shoe manufacturer.

8. U.S. athletes are currently featured in four national television advertising campaigns - more than any other sport. Several other ads are planned for later this year in association with the Olympics.

9. The U.S. is favored to win roughly 25% of the gold medals in the track and field events at the Sydney Olympics, and athletes such as Marion Jones, Maurice Greene, Michael Johnson, Regina Jacobs, Stacy Dragila, and several others will all be the "signature" stories of the Games.

We hope to have complete results from the Heritage run 5K last Saturday in Thomasville some day. So far we are still waiting though. They were promised via the postal system. Despite all of this, this is a very nice race and first class event. Saturday, Rob Pautienus, 16:40, and Julie Caroki, 20:21, were the overall winners. They each got to pocket $50 for their efforts. Peggy Simpson and David Yon (yeah, that’s me) got the masters prizes. There were a ton of walkers in the race. Thomasville is very effective at getting the walkers out.

Have you checked out the Grand Prix scoring? The magic number is 50. Three men are tied for the lead with 50 points, while the top two women also have the same total. And how about Bob Berzin? We had to create a new grand prix age group of him. The 76-year-old finisher ran a 37:30 at the Cookie Run. If you see any mistakes, please let us know. There is confusion about who joined or renewed when, so we need your help.

Is there a better club historian than Bill McGuire? His knowledge and research abilities are unmatched. I found his 1990 story on Springtime’s history to be wonderful. He is in the process of updating it for us now. He was the Grandmasters winner last weekend at McGuire’s 5K in Pensacola. He was also the fastest master. He has now won his age classification for 10 straight years. This is a race that typically has a couple thousand runners, so it is no small feat. In case you are not familiar with the race, all runners must run without watches. Prizes are awarded based on who runs the closest to their predicted time. Bill’s trophys come from the head to head competition, as the best he has done in the prediction competition is finish 3rd.

Lastly, for now anyway, this weekend is the FSU Relays. I will miss them because I am out of town, but this is probably the best track meet to be held in Tallahassee. It is a full schedule of events with distance events scheduled for this evening. One athlete is seems to be excelling on the FSU Track team is decathalete Darius Jones. For more detail go to http://www.fansonly.com/schools/fsu/sports/m-track/recaps/031500aaa.html. Tonya Carter won the 60 meter dash at the NCAA indoor championships with a time of 7.21 seconds.

Remember it is easier to stay away from running then to get away once you get caught in the spider web.