Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Sunday, December 25, 2016

V 6 N. 90 (Satire) Project Shoeshot: A Business Plan to Produce a Sub-Two Hour Marathon


Project Shoeshot: A Business Plan to Produce a Sub-Two Hour Marathon By a Joint Venture of Nike Inc. and Adidas AG

Presented by Paul O’Shea

Recently, Nike (NYSE: NKE) and Adidas AG (Deutsche Borse: ADS) revealed separate programs designed to produce a runner who completes a marathon in less than two hours. Nike, with its GPS-spread resources calls its effort “Moonshot.”  Adidas has not given the test a nickname, though it is reported to be considering “The Dassler Brothers Redux” (“Redux”).  

Each of these initiatives would require substantial capitalization and staffing commitments while at the same time oblige invited runners to forego the lucrative certified major marathons.  This Project envisions another way to achieve the sub-two goal.

The following is a Business Plan offered as a way to obtain maximum acclaim for these two companies while conserving resources, both measured by financial and human capital.  In addition it will generate widespread public recognition and subsequent rewards that will accrue to the individual who completes the assignment.  The working title for this joint venture is Project Shoeshot.

Business Concept
No male or female runner has yet run 26 miles, three hundred eighty five yards (“the distance”) in less than two hours.  Project Shoeshot is a meticulously planned, fully financed program designed to consume fewer than seven thousand two hundred seconds.  Though it would break a long sought running barrier, our attorneys stipulate that this performance would qualify as a World Best, not a World Record.

Current Business Position
Nike and Adidas have been merciless competitors for decades in the world of athletics.  Though Nike, the Beaverton, Oregon based company, currently has about 60 per cent of the running shoe market, the last four runners to break the world marathon record have worn Adidas footwear.  Current record holder Dennis Kimetto ran 2:02.57 in 2014.

Nike elite runners have long graced multitudes of marathon podia.  But its senior executives, tired of having bestowed the running world with shoe contracts and equipment overstock, have authorized an emendation to its slogan.  The new tagline: Just Do It, Already.

In an effort to advance the boundaries of human achievement, recent discussions between Shoe Dog executives and descendants of the Dassler brothers have brought the athletic behemoths together. In an abundance of corporate altruism, each has voluntarily put aside market share and share price in an effort to crack the greatest running barrier since the four-minute mile (see under Bannister, Roger).

Shoeshot Plan and Participants
Three elite level runners will be selected to take on the challenge.  Additionally, four nonpareil distance runners (of the stripe of a Bekele, Farah, Rupp, etc.) will be enlisted to serve as pacemakers for each of four ten-thousand-meter segments.  To continue the pursuit a middle distance runner (Centrowitz, or runner of comparable standing) will run the next two kilometers at sub-world record pace. Celebrity commitments permitting, Usain Bolt will accompany the leader(s) to the finish.

Each company would of course want the sub-two athlete to wear its shoes, without question.  Our program anticipates this dilemma and provides a solution: Each contestant will wear a different company’s shoe on each foot. A coin toss hosted by a short-fingered vulgarian will determine starting line positions.   

Anticipated Outcome
A final time of one hour, fifty-nine minutes, fifty nine seconds or less is anticipated. (Full disclosure: This achievement will not allow it to receive official world record recognition due to IAAF guidelines requiring medical checks, downhill course prohibitions, the Shoeshot plan to insert ten thousand meter pacemakers at twenty, thirty and forty kilometers, in addition to one who will take the pace from the start.) Shortsighted rules continue to hamper the growth of athletics, the international term for track and field.

Marketing Opportunities
The first individual to run one mile in less than four minutes, Roger Bannister, achieved lifetime immortality. Even his compatriots, Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher will forever be known as having vital roles in the barrier breakage.

When the announcement was made in 1954 by one Norris McWhirter that the race was won ”in a time of three minutes… those words will live forever in the memories of all who heard them at the Ifley Road track in Cambridge, England.  

Students of Shakespeare will recall Henry V’s speech on St. Crispin’s Day, when the English, vastly outnumbered before the Battle of Agincourt, heard the King say: “From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remembered—We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.”

Final Preparations
Concluding details are in work.  A team of internationally respected surveyors is seeking a venue that will have a significant down hill aspect. A closed course far from automobile and other pollutants is sought; climate change is providing an increasing number of sites.  In addition the medical community has offered its services pro bono in the run up to the sub-two attempt. Video cameras will be deployed at undesignated locations.  All runners must initiate contact with timing mats.

Shoeshot Awards
A first place medal will be awarded to the winner of the competition.  Participant ribbons to second and third place finishers.  Additional compensation based on performance.

Safe Harbor Statement: The information contained in this communication is confidential.  It is intended solely for use by the recipient and others authorized to receive it. Under no circumstances does this communication imply an offering of securities. The underwriter J.P. Morgan Goldman Sachs has not registered these securities with the Securities and Exchange Commission in anticipation that the Securities and Exchange Commission will soon cease to exist as a federal regulator.

Paul O’Shea is a lifelong participant in the track and field and running world as athlete, coach and journalist.  After a career in corporate communications he coached a high school girls’ cross country team and was a long-time contributor to Cross Country Journal and Athletics, the Canadian publication. He now writes for Once Upon a Time in the Vest from his home in northern Virginia, and can be reached at Poshea17@aol.com.  His shoe of choice was the widely unknown Finnish Karhu, which served him well for eighteen miles of the 1978 New York City Marathon.

Friday, December 23, 2016

V6 N. 89 Miruts Yifter R.I.P.

Miruts Yifter passed away today in .....Canada?  So the story goes.  Double winner of the 5000 and 10,000 meters at the Moscow Olympics 1980, Yifter was one of the early and great Ethiopean runners along with Abebe Bikila and Mamo Wolde who would inspire the modern day Ethiopians.  I had no idea about his Canadian residency as reported in the story below.  Further reading on news releases say he emigrated to Canada 16 years ago and was living in Toronto when he passed away from respiratory problems.  His finishes in races were absolutely devastating to anyone still on the same lap with him.

Yifter the Shifter

I took this pictute of Miruts Yifter at the Montreal Pre Olympic Meet in 1975

More unpublished pictures of Yifter can be seen on this posting from our blog three years ago.  They were taken by Jim Gerard of Kettering, Ohio.

Springbank Road Races

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

V 6 N. 88 Betty Robinson and some Football Coaches

Knute Rockne

     Football coaches are remembered for a long time,  think  Pop Warner, Knute Rockne, Red Blaik or Paul Brown. Whereas world class  track athletes have a much shorter time for instant name recognition. But it should not be forgotten that Rockne hired on at Notre Dame as a track coach and was there several years before becoming the football coach.  He is also credited with elevating the Drake Relays by bringing his track teams there made up of many of the well known football players thus helping attract major crowds to the meet.     Most of our readers hear the name  Wilma Rudolph and their minds quickly go back to Rome, 1960 and see Wilma outclassing everyone in the 100, 200, and 4x100.  But if you ask your children or grandchildren if they ever heard of Wilma, you get the 1000 yard stare.  Or, "Wilma? Was she in the Flintstones?"

     Well, here's one for you old timers.    Betty Robinson.   No she wasn't Mrs. Robinson  in "The Graduate"  Football coach John Robinson's wife?  Guess again, lads.    It's Betty Robinson, 1928 Olympic 100 meters champion.  If you got that one right you get an extra deduction on your income tax this year.
Betty Robinson
     An old Peace Corps  friend Bill Gingrich of Philadelphia sent along a piece from the Philadelphia Enquirer November 27, 2016 issue by Frank Fitzpatrick titled "A Track Heroine Lost to History".    

     Betty Robinson was born in 1911 in Riverdale, IL about 14 miles south of Chicago.   A high school track coach recognized her ability running to catch a train.  And four months later he had the 16 year old running in the 1928 Olympics.

Robinson Winning the 100 meters Amsterdam 1928

Cook Winning Anchoring the 4x100 in Front of Robinson
     Robinson won the 100 in 12.2 defeating Fanny Rosenfeld of Canada and breaking the World Record.  The favorite, Myrtle Cook of Canada DQ'd at the starting line.    Cook would later hold off Robinson on the anchor of the 4x100 to give Canada the gold over the US.   I knew this only because we mentioned this race in a recent posting about the Canadian runner Diane Palmason who was coached by Cook.

     The remarkable part of Robinson's story is the comeback she made after being severely injured in an airplane accident.  She and her cousin, a pilot , went up in a biplane to cool off on a hot summer day and crashed into a farm field.  A witness to the crash pulled two bodies out of the wreckage and thinking they were both dead, threw them into the trunk of his car and hauled them to the local undertaker.  This guy obviously had not been to medical school, because it turned out that they were both stlll alive and breathing though unconscious.

    Robinson recovered from her injuries, but with a pin put into one of her legs, she was unable to get into a starting crouch to run the sprints.  Nevertheless she resumed training after four  months but failed to make the team for the 1932 games is Los Angeles.
Berlin 4x100
Annette Rogers, Helen Stephens, Harriet Bland, and Betty Robinson
Stephens set the WR in the 100 at 11.6 which held up until Wilma Rudolph broke it at Rome

     Robinson didn't give up, and in a legendary comeback qualified to run the relay in the 1936 Olympics.  She ran the third leg and handed off to Helen Stephens.   The favored Germans bungled their last exchange, and the Americans won.  So almost 8 years after surviving that plane crash, she came home a winner once more.  However Jesse Owens' four golds overshadowed everyone else on the team,  and she was soon just a statistic in track and field.  Fame is fleeting and Betty Robinson was  prima facie evidence of that belief.  She died in 1999.  There was a 2014 biography  written about her by Joe Gergen, The First Lady of Olympic Track.  

     Recently the following comment came in from Joe Faust.  We're posting it here,  because it would only appear on four year old posting.  Joe mentions what he is up to these days.

Age 74: Designing busable short pack apparatus for standards, bars, and a landing apparatus. Still jumping in back yard. Watch-and-see Stage Zero CLL, City of Hope. Aiming for some masters HJ efforts in spring of 2017. Some email contact recently with Gene Zubrinsky https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Zubrinsky 

     Okay, I know you are asking , why did they even mention football on this track blog?  Ans.  It was just to put these following utterances from the football world on here for some levity.  This may or may not be our last posting of the year.  If it is, it has been another fun year, and we plan to keep chugging along for another twelve months.  Best to all of you for 2017.
George Roy and Steve

"Gentlemen, it is better to have died a small boy than to fumble the football "
  - John Heisman

"I make my practices real hard because if a player is a quitter,I want him to quit in practice, not in a game."
- Bear Bryant / Alabama

"It isn't necessary to see a good tackle, you can hear it!"
- Knute Rockne / Notre Dame

"At Georgia Southern, we don't cheat. That costs money, and we don't have any."
  - Erik Russell / Georgia Southern

     There is a misspelling of Erk Russell's name. He was famous for banging his bald head against a players helmet to celebrate a good play, then having blood drip down his forehead. Erk died of a stroke while driving his pickup truck.
Florida State Crimenoles. Think Spurrier came up with that one.
Bruce Kritzler

Merry Christmas to all.

"The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it."
  -  Lou Holtz / Arkansas - Notre Dame

"When you win, nothing hurts."
  -  Joe Namath / Alabama

"A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall."
  -  Frank Leahy / Notre Dame

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."
  -  Woody Hayes / Ohio State

"I don't expect to win enough games to be put on NCAA probation.  I just want to win enough to warrant an investigation."
-  Bob Devaney / Nebraska

"In Alabama , an atheist is someone who doesn't believe in Bear Bryant."
-  Wally Butts / Georgia

"I never graduated from Iowa.  But I was only there for two terms - Truman's and Eisenhower's."
-  Alex Karras / Iowa

"My advice to defensive players is to take the shortest route to the ball, and arrive in a bad humor."
  -  Bowden Wyatt / Tennessee

"I could have been a Rhodes Scholar except for my grades."
- Duffy Daugherty / Michigan State

"Always remember Goliath was a 40 point favorite over David."
-  Shug Jordan / Auburn

"I asked Darrell Royal, the coach of the Texas Longhorns, why he didn't recruit me ."  He said, "Well, Walt, we took a look at you, and you weren't any good."
  -  Walt Garrison / Oklahoma State

"Son, you've got a good engine, but your hands aren't on the steering wheel."
-  Bobby Bowden / Florida State

"Football is NOT a contact sport, it is a collision sport.  Dancing IS a contact sport."
-  Duffy Daugherty / Michigan State

After USC lost 51-0 to Notre Dame, his post-game message to his team was, "All those who need showers, take them."
-  John McKay / USC

"If lessons are learned in defeat, our team is getting a great education."
  -  Murray Warmath / Minnesota

"The only qualifications for a lineman are to be big and dumb.  To be a back, you only have to be dumb."   -  Knute Rockne / Notre Dame

"We live one day at a time and scratch where it itches."
  -  Darrell Royal / Texas

"We didn't tackle well today, but we made up for it by not blocking."
  -  John McKay / USC

"I've found that prayers work best when you have big players."
  -  Knute Rockne / Notre Dame

Ohio State 's Urban Meyer on one of his players:  "He doesn't know the meaning of the word fear. In fact, I just
saw his grades and he doesn't know the meaning of a lot of words."

Why do Tennessee fans wear orange? So they can dress that way for the game on Saturday, go hunting
on Sunday, and pick up trash on Monday.

What does the average Alabama player get on his SATs? Drool.

How many Purdue freshmen football players does it take to change a light bulb?
None.  That's a sophomore course.

How did the Auburn football player die from drinking milk?
The cow fell on him.

Two Texas A&M football players were walking in the woods. One of them said, "Look, a dead bird." The other looked up in the sky and said,  "Where?"

What do you say to a Florida State University football player dressed in a three-piece suit?
"Will the defendant please rise."

Saturday, December 10, 2016

V 6 N. 89 David Hunter, Writing for the Future Today

David Hunter, Writing For The Future Today

By Paul O’Shea

David Hunter

The journalist, it is said, writes the first rough draft of history. Historians of the future, who write the polished books and biographies about today’s track and field achievements, will be well served. Our journalists are one of the sport’s impressive strengths.

One journalist with a steadily rising reputation is David Hunter, who came to write about track and field after a successful legal and banking career. Hunter is now a prolific presence in our media, writing for enthusiast magazines and blogs, announcing at meets, and leading efforts to expand road competitions. All while disproving F. Scott Fitzgerald’s hoary observation that there are no second acts in American lives.

In print Hunter is a U.S. Correspondent for Track and Field News. He writes about a half-dozen pieces a year, and interviews elite athletes at the magazine’s tour events. On the Internet he produces a weekly column called “Right on Track” for RunBlogRun. At major competitions such as the Olympics and World Championships, he provides a daily story. In the last five years, more than three hundred articles have carried his byline.

As a journalist Hunter’s reported at three World Championships, an Olympics, and covered dozens of other major competitions including the U.S. Olympic Trials, USATF Championships, Diamond League meets and Penn Relays. His work also appears in Road Runners Club of America and Princeton alumni publications.

Larry Eder, RBR’s editor says, “David Hunter began writing for me nearly five years ago, on a fluke.  A mutual friend, Creigh Kelley, suggested that I give David a try as a writer.  I respect Creigh, and so I gave it a try.  David’s first few pieces were surprisingly good: grammar, pace, but most of all, appreciation for the sport.  For Hunter this is a second career.  David has been with me at the World Champs in Beijing, the Rio Olympics, and U.S. championships, for the past five years.  He is a great resource and great friend.  I learn something each time he opines on an athlete, coach or key player in our sport.”

Hunter’s extensive knowledge, both of the sport’s present day precincts as well as of its news clip history, opened up opportunities in broadcast as an on-site meet announcer and in telecasts.  He is the stadium voice for one of the Midwest’s prominent outdoor meets, the Jesse Owens Track Classic.  In the winter he is the meet announcer for the Millrose Games held at a sold-out New York City Armory. He’s also fulfilled assignments for the Spire Institute, the Big Ten Network, FloTrack and USATF.

“The Rio Olympics—my first—were terrific.  It surprised me to see how much I savored the medal ceremonies, especially since the U.S. won thirty-two, the most since the l932 Games, in a non-boycotted Olympics.  I had thought of those podium sessions as rituals, somewhat corny and overly dramatic--until I witnessed them.  They are truly stirring and in many instances, captured what certainly is the zenith of an athlete’s life.

“When the gold medalist was an American, I found myself lustily singing the Star Spangled Banner.  On the other hand, the low point came when the clueless Brazilians booed the athletes from other nations such as French pole vaulter Renaud LaVillenie and U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin.  That stimulated me to write an article for RunBlogRun titled: “Excuse Me, No Booing at the Olympics.”  

Of all the performances he’s written about, the most impressive was the decathlon world record set by Ashton Eaton at the 2012 Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon. Before a crowd of more than twenty thousand at Hayward Field, Eaton ran the 1500 meter final event two seconds faster than needed to break an eleven-year old record.

“To be at Hayward among a packed crowd—that included every living American Olympic decathlon gold medalist—to witness Ashton’s dramatic decathlon world record performance was a track and field performance I will never forget.”

In addition to covering the sport’s news, the Ohioan played a leadership role in two events involving prominent road races. The first: Hunter led the near-miss bid by the city of Akron as it sought the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials, one of four cities vying for the honor.  Though the effort was ultimately unsuccessful, his law background was particularly valuable.  

“During the in-person visit we received from the USATF, you could see that the representatives thought a quick, cordial visit would allow them to check the ‘Akron box,’ and then they would be on their way.  But as our two-day inspection unfolded, you could see their eyes get bigger as they learned we had an impressive and carefully assembled presentation.  While we ultimately didn’t get the nod, I was told privately that had the Long Distance Running sub-committee not been pre-disposed to award the bids to large urban areas, we would have been awarded one of them,” Hunter emphasizes.

He also played a key role as a member of the leadership team that in five years took the Akron Marathon from concept to national status.  In addition to designing the course with a colleague, he now serves as the event’s co-announcer, which draws one hundred thousand spectators. His website is www.TrackandFieldHunter.com.

A Buckeye native, his early days were spent in northeastern Ohio. As a high school freshman at Kent State University School in Kent, he became interested in track and ran a 4:44 mile.  Transferring to Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, he left with marks of 4:24 and 9:31 for two miles.  From there he matriculated at Princeton University and joined the track team, but a knee injury and surgery ended a collegiate career much too soon.  Later, in his thirties, he resumed serious running in Open and Masters events, eventually completing seventeen Boston Marathons.  

His crowning athletic achievement was running the 1983 Boston Marathon in a scintillating 2:31:40 where he was the 358th finisher.  Two elite women finished ahead, the legendary Joan Benoit Samuelson and 1980 Boston winner, Jacqueline Gareau.  “In 2010 I ultimately had to hang up my Asics, when a persistent and dangerous cardiac condition forced me to the sidelines.”

Hunter’s undergraduate degree, with a concentration in economics was conferred by Princeton.  He then attended the University of Akron School of Law, receiving a J.D. degree, and received L.L.M. honors in corporation law from New York University School of Law.

Hunter’s legal career spans more than forty years. He joined Brouse McDowell, a midwestern business law firm in l974, rising to Senior Partner, and became Of Counsel this year. Concurrently with working at Brouse he was chairman and chief executive officer of Valley Savings Bank for nearly a quarter century.  

The writer/lawyer crossover is not an unknown blending of talents.  John Grisham comes easily to mind; less so does Harper Lee, who dropped out of law school before accomplishing greater feats behind a typewriter. Even Franz Kafka had some legal training.
There was a seamless transition from corporate life to the world of track and field journalism for Hunter. Both demand accuracy, the discipline to meet frequent and unrelenting deadlines, and the ability to sift the wheat from the chaff, measured as carefully as a high jump world record.

His evolvement was based on a passion for the sport he was to write about. “My private law practice centered around banking law, real estate and corporate and business reorganization.  That involvement helped me to organize my thoughts in a logical way and develop the writing skills that were essential to producing interesting and informative pieces.”

And for a second calling, to contribute his own polished work to the historian/writers of the future.
When Bicknell Prize recipient David M. Hunter graduated from Western Reserve Academy
in 1968 he held all of the school's records in track and cross country.  Legendary WRA coach Frank
Longstreth considered Hunter to be the greatest distance runner in the history of the school.  After an
abbreviated collegiate career interupted by injury at Princeton, Hunter enjoyed a distinguished legal career
with the Akron-based firm of Brouse McDowell and was a lifelong, highly-competitive marathoner [2:31:40]
and road racer.  He competed in 17 Boston Marathons and played a primary role in the development of the
Akron Marathon.  David Hunter contributed to Western Reserve Academy in exemplary fashion over the course
of 30 years as a member of the Board of Trustees, culminating with his being granted Trustee Emeritus status
in the fall of 2015.  David's commitment to excellence, and his passion for the school were reflected in all
that he did as a student alumnus and trustee of Western Reserve Academy.

His life is a shining example of how to compete, serve and lead.

Paul O’Shea is a lifelong participant in the track and field and running world as athlete, coach and journalist.  After a career in corporate communications, he coached a high school girls’ cross country team and was a long-time contributor to Cross Country Journal and Athletics, the Canadian publication. He now writes for Once Upon a Time in the Vest from his home in northern Virginia, and can be reached at Poshea17@aol.com.

 David Hunter's writing was the essence of this article, but his announcing must surely be notable as well.  I have not heard him in action but I am confident he is very good.     Bill Schnier

V 11 N. 3 "Quicksilver: The Mercurial Emil Zatopek" by Pat Butcher, a Book Review by Paul O'Shea

When we come across books to review, we know that there is a particular skill set needed to be fair and honest and at the same time literary...