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Monday, April 20, 2015

Keep Boston pure by disallowing charity runners

The Boston Marathon is known as the granddaddy of them all when it comes to distance running, and it should remain pure.

The Boston Marathon allocates 20 to, 25 percent of its overall entries to charity runners. These are people who just have to collect enough donations and they're in. No running a previous marathon at the qualifying pace. In a way, charity runners are buying their way into Boston.

Even after running a qualifying time, non-charity runners have to go through the Boston Marathon registration lottery, and they may not make it in even after all of that.

But charity runners don't have to worry about running qualifying times. In fact, many are first-time marathoners who may not have even run a 5K in the past.

This would be like a weekend golfer entering the Master's Tournament by collecting enough donations even though he shoots well over 100, when par is in the low 70s.

It would be like a flag football team being able to participate in the NFL playoffs because it collected enough donations. Or a sandlot baseball team being in the major league playoffs leading to the World Series just because they met the donation threshold.

I don't have anything against charity races, but they should be kept out of Boston. There are numerous other marathons, such as the Rock N Roll Series and the Nike Women's Events, that cater to charity runners.

Anything less, and it cheapens the accomplishments of non-charity runners who had to qualify for Boston and then register through the lottery.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Don't call me a 'jogger'

As a long-time runner, it really gripes my goat when someone asks, "So you're a jogger?"

Even when I respond, "No, I'm a runner." They then ask, "So how far do you jog?"

The word "jogger" typically is emitted by someone who doesn't run or even jog. They are sedentary or otherwise of the couch potato sort. They may mean well, but they also may not realize that some runners take the word jogger as a downright insult.

Let me jog your memory a bit about word meanings.

Merriam Webster's dictionary defines jog as "to run or ride at a slow trot" or to "go at a slow, leisurely, or monotonous pace; trudge."

On the other hand, the dictionary defines runner as "one that runs; racer." Taken further, run is defined as "to go faster than a walk; specifically to go steadily by springing steps so that both feet leave the ground for an instant in each step."

Springing steps so that both feet leave the ground versus trudge. There definitely is a difference.

A jogger just dabbles in the sport; a runner is serious about going fast.

I think I need to get a t-shirt that says, "I'm a runner, NOT a jogger." Maybe then it will jog their memory.


Has the Central Valley reached the race saturation point?

Has the Central Valley reached the saturation point with running races? The answer may be "yes."

Take a glance at the calendar of events, and you'll see a myriad events. Some are perennial favorites, others are newcomers. Yet in any year, some will survive and others won't.

Many local groups think that putting on a 5K is an easy way to make money for their charity. That's the furthest from the truth, and you're lucky to break even the first year. These are the one-and-done types of events where their hopes of raking in some bucks didn't come to fruition.

Then there are the annual events, such as local turkey trots. Many continue to thrive with little promotion.

Yet still other events continue, but may have seen their heyday. Race organizers are trying to teach an old dog, so to speak, a new trick. This may mean new swag, bigger and glitzier finishers' medals, or other incentives. But these all cost money.

Will the race director each into his or her profits or pass the costs onto runners. And how big of an increase will runners pay before they refuse and just won't register. After all, there are tons of races out there from which to choose.

Just look at all of the half-marathons that have popped up the past few years. Events that once boasted a 5K and 10K now have a 5K and a half-marathon.

Some races, such as Disney Runs and the Nike Women's Half-Marathon, appear to be immune. With prices nearing $200 for a half (yes, we said a half), they still sell out in a As in a matter of minutes or have had to go to a lottery.

But other local races that increased their registration fees to cover the add-ons have seen registrations drop off.

As with any small business -- and these races are a form of small business -- a number will go under every year, with new ones starting out to replace them. And as in business, only those with strong business plans and the flexibility to meet changing consumer p
references will survive.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Modesto city leaders:
Open your eyes to the marathon

Modesto Marathon
The city of Modesto continues to look for the next great sporting event that city leaders hope will put the town on the map.

There has been the Amgen Tour of California multi-stage bike race and this year, the SuperKarts USA races Aug. 1-3.

Wake up city leaders!

All you need to do is look right in your backyard at the city's largest sporting event that's been going on for five years now. Unlike Amgen, it's not fickle and won't leave town just because another town offers more money or race organizers want to go to more populace areas along the coast.

In case you haven't guessed it, the city's largest sporting event is the Modesto Marathon. This year it's planned for March 23.

Not only does the event involve more than 3,000 runners, but many of these runners are from out of town and stay overnight in a hotel. They also eat dinner, pumping more money into restaurants.

It was born here in Modesto and wasn't some idea from a national organization, such as Temecula-based SuperKarts USA.

In the case of the SuperKarts races, the city will have to fork out $268,000 to entice the event. And in their overly optimistic view, city leaders think they'll net $50,000 profits. But that's a big risk they're taking with taxpayers' money.

In the case of the Modesto Marathon, the event does not get any city subsidies.

Plus the marathon, the half-marathon and the 5K enhance the city's image as being out of shape, lethargic and the nation's most dismal place to live (as Forbes ranked Modesto). Modesto was rated as the nation's most unfit city in the nation in 2004 by Self magazine.

Someone needs to pour a bucket of cold water over city leaders to wake them up to the Modesto Marathon and what it brings to the city.

If you'd like to participate, either as a runner or a volunteer, visit

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Women-only races promote gender discrimination

Many women want to have their cake and eat it too.

They want to be able to run in women-only races and ban men. Yet they also want to run in co-ed races when they feel like it.

These women-only races, such as the Tinkerbell Runs, Nike Women's Marathon and Diva Runs, are all the rage and are growing by leaps and bounds.

Many of these races even say in the rules that there will be no age-group awards for male participants.

But do they charge men less to enter because they don't receive all of the race benefits? No.

Men pay the same registration fees yet are treated as second-class citizens.

Imagine the public outcry and uproar if some men wanted to have a men's only race.  NOW (National Organization of Women) and every other women's rights group would be up in arms.

But it's OK if women want women-only races because it's a sisterhood thing. I think not.

Discrimination is disrimination, plain and simple.

If we allow this gender-based discrimination to occur in road races, what next?

Why do cities that issue parade and other permits to these race organizers allow this type of discrimination?

If women want to continue with these female-themed races, fine, let them. But they need to make the rules the same for both genders.

The simple solution is to create men's categories the same as women's.

If women can earn medals three deep in 10-year age groups, then men should be able to, also.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Globe-trotting adventurer Adrian Crane profiled in local magazine

Contentment Health, a slick-covered feature magazine published in Modesto, has spotlighted Adrian Crane with a feature and cover shot.

Crane has led a life that Indiana Jones would envy, having tried to summit Mt. Everest twice (he'll make his third attempt in May), summitting the highest point in every state in just 101 days and many other notable feats.

He's also a veteran of too many ultra-marathons (longer than 26.2 miles) to count.

Unfortunately, the magazine article falls short and is mostly fluff with few details of what could be a riveting tale of adventure and trekking.

Titled "A big life of adventure," the article just teases readers, leaving them clammering for more.

The subhead also is misleading, calling Crane a life-long Modestan when he actually was born in England and still has that stately British accent.

Despite the article's shortcomings, cheers to Crane, who truly is an inspiration.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Central Valley's bike-friendly community

The League of American Bicyclists every year ranks cities as to their bike friendliness.

Do they have enhanced bike lanes or bike paths that allow cyclist to commute or ride safely?

Do they encourage workplaces to provide showers and lockers for bike commuters?

Do they provide safe and secure places to lock bikes outside of businesses?

Do they have an all-round positive bike culture?

Davis was the only California to receive the platinum - or top - rating. Boulder, Colo., and Portland, Ore., were the other two that received the platinum status.

Several Bay Area cities received gold or silver status.

Fresno was the only Central Valley city that received any type of recognition, and it received bronze status.

How ironic, when the city of Modesto last year applied to be a Bike Friendly Community when it was seeking to host the 2013 Amgen Tour of California. Could it be city leaders only did so to try to attract the bike race?

Does Modesto actually think that painting a few green blocks on a few bike lanes within the city will earn them even bronze status?

Check out the green paint at the intersection of Scenic and Oakdale, heading south on the El Vista bridge.

They painted the same green blocks near Nedham and College, heading east on Nedham.

Otherwise, it's the same disfunctional system of unconnected bike paths, start-and-stop bike lanes, bike unfriendly stop lights (no bike activation pad or easily accessible push buttons) and otherwise dangerous riding conditions in Modesto.

Try finding a bike rack near Dick's Sporting Goods. Good luck.