Sunday, August 25, 2013

Star of the North Games
Recap by Pat O'Regan

We haven't posted a blog post in quite some time. Thanks to Pat O'Regan for sharing his Star of the North Games experience from this past June. 

Track and field day of the Star of the North Games was on Saturday, June 29th. This year the event was held on the track and adjacent field of Macalester College in St. Paul. On a fair day, though with a stiff breeze on the home stretch, a good turnout of athletes – youth, adult and master – and appreciative fans came for the meet.

Perhaps my experience of running (the 800 m) in the meet is not unlike what other master athletes go through when they have trained hard and are determined to do well. I wake up at five and can’t fall back sleep. After tossing and turning and two hours, I finally get up. I eat a little breakfast, drink a cup of strong coffee, pack an athletic bag and set off – driving slowly and grumbling about putting myself in these situations.

I’ve done all I can in the way of training, but that “all I can” is less and less as the years march on. I tested myself on the treadmill on Tuesday. I came up a little short of a half mile at 10 mph (three minutes), but think the extra day of rest will make a difference. I want to break three minutes, and determine to leave nothing inside I can put on the track in the attempt.

The meet is in progress when I get to the track. The festive atmosphere lifts my spirits. Can anyone think physical effort is not good for the state of mind? I sit in the crowd for an hour, surrounded by cheering fans. They are running the hurdles; most of the fans seem to know one of the athletes. I spot Carter Holmes and George LaBelle down on the track and yell a greeting. Enlivened, I go down to talk to them. The three hours before the 800 m doesn’t seem so long.

Carter, slowed by a heart attack some years ago, walks with the aid of a walker. He tells me he’ll be doing the 100, 200 and 400 on the track and throwing the shot. The man is an inspiration. No longer able to run, he pushes himself physically all he can. The fire is undiminished. The fans clap and yell encouragement as he pushes along. Between events, other athletes congratulate him on the race.

George is one of the most accomplished athletes on the planet. Last I heard, he had over 8,000 awards of all kinds. I watch him run the 100 m. He looks good – for all his 70-some years. When I catch up to him later, he tells me that he is still in recovery from a stroke three years ago which partially paralyzed the left side of his body. In the first months of his recovery, he says, he ran by hauling his left leg after him in a stiff and awkward running motion. But he ran. “The pain,” he says, “I get so tired of the pain.” It is the left elbow and knee, in particular. But he doesn’t limp and, as I say, he looked good in the 100 m.

I can’t imagine – and don’t care to think about – the meet when someone tells me that George LaBelle is no longer competing. It would be like some inexorable force coming to a stop. No, I can’t see it happening. That evening, George and Tom Langenfelt are driving to Milwaukee for a meet the next day.

I watch the competition as it continues – a well-run meet, the rolling schedule going off without a hitch – and lose himself in the performances. The young women, all legs and little to carry, fly down the track, like gazelles. The young man, lean and muscular, come out of the blocks with startling acceleration. At all ages, the competition is stirring. Some of these athletes, one thinks, will be competing on TV in some major event in a few years.

Tom is a high jumper and one of the best around. Throughout the day, I see him at the pit. A couple years ago, he told me that he had the world best high jump for his age category (70ish) four of the previous five years. Apart from the superlative performances, he certainly looks the part – long, muscular legs that forgot to age. Below the waist, he’s a college kid.

As the 800 m gets nearer, I watch the competition more closely and search out the guys for chatter to escape from the tension. Several times, I engage Jim Schoffman in conversation. He’s another ageless wonder, a runner with the long, thin-legged build of an antelope (and 400 m runner); I feel older and slower just talking to him for a few minutes. He runs the 100, 200 and 400 that day, taking the 800 off for a change. Just short of 60, his time in the 400 is 58.8. He doesn’t seem disappointed, but talks of 57. Watching Jim compete over the years, I get the impression he passes through years as other people do months.

I run into Don Dornfeld – as I always do at meets. An outstanding runner, Don has to be one of the best all-around athletes from the area. Before getting into running, he was a champion powerlifter (ranked 5th in the nation in the bench press). He is running most of the events on the track, including the 800 m. I hope the other races will tire him for the 800 m, near the end of the meet.

We assemble to get our lane assignments. I feel sluggish warming up and turn to the others in my heat for consoling conversation. I always recall at times like this the interview Carter and I did with Carrie Tollefson a couple years ago. At one point, she said of a friend and outstanding middle-distance runner, “She quit. She got tired of the pressure.” We understood her knowing look. Olympians would know something about pressure.

“Hey, Pat,” Jim says to me, as I pass by him, heading for the rest room. “I’ll give you your split time at the lap.” I thank him – thinking, “as if I’m going to adjust my pace.”

I hit the first lap on schedule (about 1:30), but after that the race becomes a matter of survival. I finish in about 3:17, just ahead of Don. So I can tell people that I beat a guy who beat Bill Rodgers in a 10 k race a couple years ago.

Hints of mortality. Some eight years ago, I ran the 800 m in 2:37. At least in terms of effort, my training is the same. It is the ineluctable encroachments of age – a stiffening of the lungs – one cannot get rid of the old air as readily – and, mostly, a growing deficit of testosterone (male and female). Recovery is the name of the game. Following a single, hard workout, I am reduced to a slow jog or easy bike ride for three days. How can one improve when one cannot train enough to get better?

But I love the running. And the Star of the North Games is a terrific meet. I’ll try to age gracefully. But look at these guys – George, Tom, Don, Carter and Jim – do you call that aging gracefully? Aging with a passion, I should say.


Monday, July 23, 2012

The Latest Race Results

July 4
Bronco 5K – International Falls RESULTS

July 7
Dragin’ Tail 5M – Lake Nebagamon, WI RESULTS

July 11
YMCA Sidewalk Shuffle 5K – Duluth RESULTS

July 13
Catfish Festival Twilight 5K – Floodwood RESULTS

July 14-15
Bay to Bay 10K – Silver Bay RESULTS
Andover 5K – Andover RESULTS
Clover Cruise 5K – Little Fork 5K RESULTS
Clover Cruise 10K – Little Fork 10K RESULTS

July 18
Torchlight 5K – Minneapolis RESULTS

July 21-22
River Run 8K – Hastings RESULTS
Rails to Trails 5K – Watertown RESULTS
Park Point 5M – Duluth RESULTS
Scheels Run 5K – St. Cloud RESULTS
River Lake Days 5K – Richmond RESULTS
Log Run 10M – Stillwater 10M RESULTS
Log Run 5K – Stillwater 5K RESULTS
Find the Balance 5K – New Ulm RESULTS
Tator Days 5K – Eagle Lake RESULTS
Holy Moly 5K – Alexandria RESULTS
Run for Snow 5K – Grand Rapids RESULTS
Bay Days 5K & 10K – Ashland, WI 5K & 10K RESULTS
Run for Gold 4M – Rosemount 4M RESULTS
Run for Gold 1M – Rosemount 1M RESULTS
Highland Festival 5K – St. Paul RESULTS

Tri for a Cause – Crosby RESULTS
Paul Bunyan Long Course Tri – Bemidji LONG COURSE RESULTS
Paul Bunyan Short Course Tri – Bemidji SHORT COURSE RESULTS
River Days Tri – Chaska RESULTS
Buzz Ryan Tri – Duluth RESULTS
Bay Days Sprint Tri – Ashland, WI RESULTS
Chisago Sprint and Half IM Tri – Chisago SPRINT & HALF IM RESULTS
Chisago Kids’ Tri – Chisago KIDS' RESULTS
Door County Half IM Tri – Door County, WI HALF IM RESULTS
Door County Sprint Tri – Door County, WI SPRINT RESULTS

Monday, July 16, 2012

Recent Race Results

July 4th
Vermilion 4th of July 10K – Tower RESULTS
Firecracker 5K – Baudette RESULTS

July 6th
Heritage Days 5K – Two Harbors RESULTS

July 7th
Saint Urho 5K - Menahga 5K RESULTS
Saint Urho 10K- Menahga 10K RESULTS

July 11th
Endless Summer 10K – Murphy Hanrehan Park RESULTS

July 13th
Freaky Friday 5K – Gibbon RESULTS

July 14th or 15th
Raspberry Run 5M and 1M – Hopkins RESULTS
ACMC-RAH Kids’ 800m – Redwood Falls KIDS' RESULTS
ACMC-RAH Kids’ 5K – Redwood Falls 5K RESULTS
Whiz Bang 5K – Robbinsdale 5K RESULTS
Whiz Bank 10K – Robbinsdale 10K RESULTS
River Falls Days 2M – River Falls, WI 2M RESULTS
River Falls Days 10K – River Falls, WI 10K RESULTS
River Run 5K – Madelia RESULTS
Women of Today Retro Run 5K - Burnsville RESULTS
Eastview Scholarship 5K – Apple Valley RESULTS
River Fest 5K – Monticello RESULTS
Willow River Kids’ 1M – New Richmond, WI 1M RESULTS
Willow River 5K – New Richmond, WI 5K RESULTS
Willow River 10K – New Richmond, WI 10K RESULTS
Red Ore 5K – Hibbing 5K RESULTS
Red Ore 10K – Hibbing 10K RESULTS
Red Ore Youth Half Mile – Hibbing KIDS' RESULTS
Polzine 5K – Henning 5K RESULTS
Polzine 1M – Henning 1M RESULTS
Scheels 5K – St. Cloud RESULTS
Water Street 1M – Eau Claire, WI 1M RESULTS
Water Street 5K – Eau Claire, WI 5K RESULTS

Lifetime Fitness Tri – Minneapolis RESULTS
TriTonka Tri – Mound RESULTS
Graniteman Tri – Clearwater  RESULTS
Rice Lake Tri – Rice Lake, WI RESULTS
Rice Lake Youth Tri – Rice Lake, WI KIDS' RESULTS

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Track Trials - Final Thoughts

If you’ve been following along lately, you know that I just got back from the Olympic Trials for Track & Field in Eugene, Oregon – or as I like to call it, the greatest sporting event I’ve ever been to.  I can honestly say that, even though I only attended the second half of the meet.  Yes, even though I missed the Decathlon World Record, the 100m tie, the 10,000m, the 800m, and the women’s triple jump, where Amanda Smock became Minnesota’s only Olympian (not counting Kara Goucher), I still had a tremendous time.  Rather than recap all the events I saw, I thought I’d share some of the highlights from my trip that occurred away from the track – at least for the most part.
June 28th
I woke up at 4 AM in order to catch my plane.  This is going to be a long day!  I’m no sooner off the plane in Portland when I spot my first Olympian, American Record Holder in the Pole Vault, Jenn Suhr, formerly Stuczynski.  She had already punched her ticket to London and was on her way home.
I’ve been to Hayward Field one other time, during my honeymoon, 14 years ago to the week.  The site of it again makes me think that this is what Lambeau must look like to Packer fans.

Hayward Field
The first events on the track that afternoon are the qualifying heats of the men’s and women’s 1500m.  As I’m sitting with my buddy Paul Mullen, NBC announcer Ato Boldon appears in the stands right next to us and starts telling us the story behind these glasses.
Ato Boldon
A few minutes later, Oregon’s legendary coach, Bill Dellinger, takes a sit about 20 feet away from us.
During the very first race, I get my first taste of how “into it” the Hayward Field crowd can get.  As the runners approach, the nearby crowd begins to clap rhythmically.  This clapping leads the runners around the entire stadium, sort of like “doing the wave” at a football game.  They do the same for athletes competing in the field events.
June 29th
Since the main events that I wanted to watch didn’t start until the mid-afternoon, I was able to meet up with Bruce Mortenson for an 11 mile run along the Ridgeline Trail.  If you’re not familiar with Bruce, he ran at the University of Oregon in the mid-60s and was even the National Champion in the Steeplechase.  As you can imagine, running around his old stomping grounds was an absolute treat for me.
I realized that my media pass allowed me to stand very close to the track – just passed the finish line.  As I’m standing there today, I witnessed the emotion between a coach and athlete.  One of the women’s shot putters, Tia Brooks, placed 3rd and she came over to hug her coach.  I don’t know anything about the shot put, but witnessing first-hand the sheer joy between a coach and athlete was pretty cool.
The evening included dinner at King Estate Winery with Bruce Mortenson, his wife and about 15 other track fans – including two guys that used to run at Oregon too.  Listening them wax nostalgic was a great experience – especially when you consider that these guys knew legendary Steve “Pre” Prefontaine.  He’s more than just some running legend to them.  He was a friend and teammate and his death touched them much differently than the rest of us.

King Estate Winery
Night #2 concluded with a brief stop at what seemed to be the most popular bar around, the Wild Duck.  The highlight there was meeting Matt Scherer.  You probably don’t recognize the name, but if you watch any track meet that has a rabbit/pace setter, you’ll probably recognize Matt’s hulking frame (at least compared to the runners he’s pacing).  He currently makes his living by rabbitting track races.
June 30th
Even though I’m on “vacation”, my training doesn’t stop.  I’m training for TCM and I have to get in a long run, so I head to Pre's Trail for an 18 miler on a beautiful woodchip trail.
One of my favorite events of the trip surprised even me.  It was the women’s high jump.  There were a ton of different storylines, including Amy Acuff making her 5th Olympic Team at age 36, the University of Arizona’s Brigetta Barrett PRing twice in one meet and breaking Acuff’s collegiate record, and high schooler Gabrielle Williams setting a new high school record, clearing 6-2 1/4 and placing 5th – as a sophomore!
The evening began at Max’s with a college buddy, Joe Uhan.  He placed 9th at the Western States 100 mile race the week before, so it was cool to hear all about his experience. 
Joe Uhan showing off his Western States belt buckle.
I followed up Max’s with another trip to the Wild Duck where I was introduced to 2000 Olympian Nick Rogers.  He talked about how his coach, Bill Dellinger, had a stroke between the time he qualified for the Olympics and when the Games were held.  He basically said he lost his coach and would have given up his Olympics to have him healthy again.
July 1st
My last day in Eugene started with another run with Bruce Mortenson.  Along with TC Running Company owner, Adam Lindahl and store manager, Kurt Decker, we headed up to Pre’s Rock – the site of the car accident that killed him.
TCRC's Kurt Decker and Adam Lindahl
Pre's Rock
One of the clutch performances of the meet came in the women’s javelin.  Entering the final round, Brittany Borman was in third place, however, she did not have the A-standard so she wouldn’t be going to London unless she improved.  She “simply” threw a PR by over 6 feet, earned the A-Standard and placed first in the meet.  The coolest thing of all (at least for me) is that I was standing by her coach afterwards – the same guy who coached the shot putter I mentioned above. 
After the meet I was hanging around the media tent.  I poked my head outside and found the men’s 1500m team standing about 5 feet way, so I snapped a bunch of photos.
Men's 1500m team; Leo Manzano, Andrew Wheating, and Matt Centrowitz
Not wanting the meet to end, I hung around as long as I could before packing and heading out.  On my way out of town I stopped at Track Town Pizza where I bumped into fellow Minnesotans Erin Ward and Angie Voight.  We proceeded to share stories from the meet – and we began planning for 2016 already.

Angie and Erin - no this photo isn't from our trip.
Hope to see you again in 2016!
Thanks again to MDRA for this amazing opportunity!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Weekend Results - July 7th - 8th

July 4th

Firecracker 5K - Excelsior MEN'S RESULTS WOMEN'S RESULTS
The Lakes 8K – Blaine RESULTS
Janet Gensler Memorial 4M – Ely RESULTS
Firecracker 5K - Nisswa RESULTS

4th of July 5K – Delano RESULTS
4th of July 5K Wheelchair – Delano WHEELCHAIR RESULTS
City on the Bay 10K – Walker RESULTS
Freedom Days 5M – Apple Valley 5M RESULTS
Freedom Days 2M – Apple Valley 2M RESULTS
Firecracker Run 5K – Menomonie, WI 5K RESULTS
Firecracker Run 1M – Menomonie, WI 1M RESULTS
Langford Races 4M – St. Paul 4M RESULTS
Langford Races 2M – St. Paul 2M RESULTS
Independence Day 10K – Lake Harriett 10K RESULTS
Independence Day 5K – Lake Harriett 5K RESULTS
April Sorenson Half Marathon – Albert Lea INDIVIDUAL RESULTS
April Sorenson Half Marathon Relay – Albert Lea RELAY RESULTS
Watercade Lake Ripley 4M – Litchfield 4M RESULTS
Watercade Lake Ripley 1M – Litchfield 1M RESULTS

July 7th – 8th
Afton Trail 25K – Afton 25K RESULTS
Afton Trail 50K – Afton 50K RESULTS
Grandpa’s Run for the Walleye 5K – Cross Lake RESULTS
Lindstrom Loppet 5K – Lindstrom RESULTS
Pan-O-Prog 4M – Lakeville 4M RESULTS
Pan-O-Prog 1M – Lakeville 1M RESULTS
Challenge Diabetes 5K – St. Paul RESULTS
Lakewood Hills 5K – White Bear Lake RESULTS
Search Harbor House Crisis Shelters 5K – Superior, WI RESULTS

April Sorenson Half Marathon – Albert Lea INDIVIDUAL RESULTS
April Sorenson Half Marathon Relay – Albert Lea RELAY RESULTS
Watercade Lake Ripley 4M – Litchfield 4M RESULTS
Watercade Lake Ripley 1M – Litchfield 1M RESULTS

Elysian Tri – Elysian RESULTS
Funfest Short Tri – Balaton SHORT COURSE RESULTS
Funfest Sprint Tri – Balaton SPRINT COURSE RESULTS

July 1st
Green Lake 12M – Spicer RESULTS

Friday, July 6, 2012

Weekend Race Results - June 30, July 1 & July 4

Here are the most recent results I could find online.  Some of them are from two weeks ago, but most are from last weekend.  I've also include some of the July 4th races that have posted their results.  Those that have posted their results yet will be included next week.
Morgan Park 5K – Duluth RESULTS
Fill Their Plate 5K - Minneapolis 5K RESULTS
Fill Their Plate 10K - Minneapolis 10K RESULTS
Hat Daze 5K – Canby 5K RESULTS
Hat Daze 1M – Canby 1M RESULTS
Renegade 5K – Cambridge RESULTS
Tutto Bene 10K – Bemidji RESULTS
Cabin Coffeehouse 2M – Bemidji RESULTS
Komen Race for the Cure 5K – Brainerd – MEN'S RESULTS
Komen Race for the Cure 5K – Brainerd – WOMEN'S RESULTS
Music in Plymouth 5K – Plymouth RESULTS
Can-Am Games 5K – St. Cloud RESULTS
Can-Am Games TCA 5K – St. Cloud RESULTS
Can-Am Games 21K – St. Cloud RESULTS
Time to Fly 10K – St. Paul 10K RESULTS
Time to Fly 5K – St. Paul 5K RESULTS
Moonlight 5K – Maplewood RESULTS
Run Like the Dickens 5K – New Market RESULTS
Freedom Run 8K – St. Peter 8K RESULTS
Freedom Run 5K – St. Peter 5K RESULTS
Red, White, and Boom 5M – Minneapolis RESULTS
City on the Bay 10K – Walker RESULTS
4th of July 10K – Red Wing 10K RESULTS
4th of July 5K – Red Wing 5K RESULTS
Free to Run 4M – St. Paul RESULTS
Sawdust 5K RUN – Cloquet RUN RESULTS
Sawdust 5K WALK – Cloquet WALK RESULTS
Independence 5K – Duluth RESULTS
Du at the Dam – Coon Rapids RESULTS
Sanford Kids’ Tri – Jackson RESULTS
North Mankato Tri – North Mankato RESULTS
Average Jo Tri – Perham RESULTS
Minneman Tri – Oak Grove RESULTS
Zorbaz on the Lake Tri – Grand Rapids RESULTS

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Track & Field Trials Photos

Women's 1500m semi-final with Minnesota's Heather Kampf and Gabe Anderson just behind Oregon's Jordan Hasay.

Gabe Anderson in hip #8 with Heather Kampf right behind her.
Gabe Anderson in the media tent after qualifying for the finals.
Minnetonka's Will Leer, leading the men's 1500m final early in the race.
Winona's Garrett Heath in the black and red top.
Another shot of G. Heath.
G. Heath near the front with 2 laps to go.

Unfortunately, this is my only shot during the men's 5,000m.  U of M's Hassan Mead is in the middle of the photo.
Team USA Minnesota's Jamie Cheever on the jumbotron.
Cheever in mid-air over a barrier, on her way to 12th place.

The view into Nike's Camp Victory.

The festival outside the stadium.
No trip to Eugene is complete without visiting Track Town Pizza.
One of the many inspirational Nike "posters" created for the event.
Historic Hayward Field!