Monday, 30 November 2015

Cross country nationals and other unrelated things

My last race of the year, the Canadian XC championships, is complete. Hosted atop Kingston's Fort Henry on a cold but windless day, it felt a suitable end to the season. A very minimalist race, as XC tends to be, but well organized. My only suggestion for next year: buy some Drones to get a fresh race perspective. AC: I guarantee this will boost your numbers.

I placed 45th overall (out of 120 finishers) with a time of 31:40. The course was muddy (7 races had gone before ours), and included some sharp U-turns and rolling hills. Certainly a competitive race, perhaps the most competitive I've ever encountered. There were 20 runners who ran 31:00 or faster, and 50 who ran under 32. On paper, more than half the field had distance PBs better than mine.

Despite the *apparently* low placing, I was pleased with the result given how rarely I dip under 32 minutes for 10k, even on flat roads. Guys running within 10 seconds of me have dipped below 14:30 for 5000m. Good company, if a little crowded!

Factoring in the tricky conditions, the afternoon start, my low 1:09 half PB in October, I really ought to run both a 30:xx 10k and sub-15 road 5k sometime very soon. Or am I getting too old? (I turn 34 in a few weeks). No, not yet given Colin Fewer beat me by 9 seconds and he's 5 years my senior. There is time to be had.

As for personal stuff, that's all to say.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Doping, athletics, and the Olympics

A spectre is haunting Athletics. Ok, so there has *obviously* been a lot of media attention on the Russian doping scandal. It boils down to an East German-era doping program alive and well in modern Russia. They even were brazen enough to dump all the evidence in the form of stored samples.

Taking a step back, the precipitator to this story was Hajo Seppelt investigative report, released in German, then quickly dubbed into English. Most importantly it implicated Kenya, Nike Coach Alberto Salazar, and the Russians.

Dick Pound, and WADA collectively, are considered the official whistleblower in this story, which is neat because a) they're an organization actually doing what they're mandated to do, and b) headquartered in Montreal, doubly impressive given how that city has its share of bribery scandals. In a nice play of feedback, Hajo then commented that WADA should be given more power.

IAAF responded with a timid press release on the situation. They are in the awkward situation of either knowing very little about any doping coverups, which is bad, or a lot, which is worse.

Browsing online there is ample opinion floating about. Steve Magness is severe on IAAF and it's leaders:
People are going to try to use Russia as a scapegoat. It's much easier. Don't be surprised if the IAAF or any organization under attack singles out Russia and claims that they were a rogue nation...The problem is widespread. It's in the U.S., UK, Europe, Africa, every where. Don't delude yourself. Don't think this is a one-off issue. It's not.
Cathal Kelly from Globe and Mail is more casual about the situation
Dick Pound has called for Russian athletes to be banned en masse from the Rio Games next summer. It makes a good headline and no sense. Thanks to that state-sponsored conspiracy Pound helped publicize, there is no hard evidence left on which to base such an unprecedented penalty. That was sort of the point....Russia will be in Rio. No amount of western garment-rending will change that.
So the big shots should be kicked out and we should do as Nick Willis suggests
Or clearly if something is valuable enough, some will inevitably cheat to have it. Hence some percentage of cheating is unavoidable, right?