Category Archives: Endurance Sports

I Run For Boston

By:  Kaitlyn Kacsuta, Ruling Sports Intern (Twitter:  @KRKacsuta)

When I arrived in Boston, I was not particularly excited for the Marathon.  It has been my experience with marathon and ultra running that pre-race events are fairly low-key, and those who are most excited about the event are generally the runners.  That is not the case with Boston.

From the time I landed in Logan Airport, I saw Boston Marathon race jackets everywhere I turned.  Some wore the 2013 jacket; others wore jackets from previous years.  There was an immediate sense of camaraderie with fellow Boston Qualifiers.  Everyone I met shared their personal running history, number of Boston Marathons they had run, and tid-bits of advice for me as a first-timer.

I took the Green Line to a friend’s office, on Boylston St.  The skeleton of the finish line was already up, and I realized that this was not just another race.  At the Marathon expo, there were throngs of people and a buzz of excitement.  That excitement carried on with everything that I did leading up to the Marathon.

On Saturday afternoon, I attended my first Red Sox game.  Fenway Park was in Boston Marathon spirit, with American marathon legends throwing out the first pitch, the scoreboard welcoming all runners to Boston and wishing us good luck.  During that game I decided that I was a Red Sox fan.  Admittedly, the Pittsburgh Pirates have not had a winning season since I was three-years-old and it was not very hard to change my loyalties.  But I sang “Sweet Caroline” with Boston, danced to Dropkick Murphys, “Shipping Up to Boston,” and cheered as the Red Sox won in extras and played “Dirty Water” to signal victory.

On Marathon Monday, Patriot’s Day, Boston was up early to cheer.  It is a long ¾ mile walk from the school in Hopkinton to the race start, but people lined the streets, partied and played music to watch us walk.  Beginning with a long downhill, all I could see was people – masses of runners and spectators.  And that sight never changed.

Spectators make that race special.  I saw people dancing to “Party Rock,” on mini trampolines along a sidewalk, I heard the Wellesley College scream tunnel from nearly a half-mile away.  And every new sight, every crowd and every cheer made me run better.  It gave me a spark and a rush of adrenaline.  The crowds of fans made my run the best race I had ever had; I have no doubts about that.

After I finished and received my medal, I met my friend inside her office.  She works on Boyleston Street, in a building right next to the finish line.  I was changing out of my race gear when I heard the boom.  I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but within a few seconds, my friend ran in to find me and told me we needed to leave.  We exited the office and made sure that everyone was accounted for.  Then we reconvened at an apartment in Cambridge to watch the news, contact friends and family.

Over the two weeks since the Marathon, I have seen, watched, and read about the love and support that Bostonians have shown for one another and for perfect strangers they had never met before.  I saw runners come together to show solidarity.  I have experienced the spirit of a city that will not quit, will not give in, and will not be deterred.

Now that I am back in Pittsburgh, I have decided to run in honor of all the victims of the Marathon tragedy.  I will run a total of 180 miles over 26 days, with the hope that I can encourage people to donate to One Fund Boston.  Thus far, One Fund Boston has raised well over $20 million for those most affected by the Marathon tragedy.  Boston-based businesses and marathons across the country have also pledged millions to One Fund Boston.  It is both wonderful and inspiration to see that outpouring of support from across the world.

In the midst of heartbreak, the compassion of a nation has shown through.  While marathon security will undoubtedly change in the wake of Boston, the Boston Marathon will always be the pinnacle of running achievement.  President Obama was absolutely right when he said, “And this time next year, on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever, and to cheer even louder, for the 118th Boston Marathon.”  I’ll be there to run even harder, too.  But until I get back to Boylston Street in 2014, I’ll run for Boston.

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Allowing Lance Armstrong to Compete: What Races Gain and Lose

By:  Kaitlyn Kacsuta, Ruling Sports Intern (Twitter:  @KRKacsuta)

As most people are well aware by now, Lance Armstrong received a lifetime ban from cycling and other sporting events governed by the World Anti-Doping Code.  On October 10, 2012, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) released a report that outlined the evidence against Armstrong and the “reasoned decision” to impose the ban.

Despite the sanctions, Armstrong continues to participate and compete in races, runs and triathlons.  Most recently, he competed in Maryland in the Half Full Triathlon, and won the event.  The event organizers chose to forfeit their certification with the sport’s governing body, USA Triathlon, in order to allow Armstrong to race.  USA Triathlon adheres to the World Anti-Doping Code and is subject to the USADA.  The ban imposed on Armstrong prohibits him from participating in USA Triathlon sanctioned events.

It is important to note that the Half Full Triathlon is a race series that raises money for the Ulman Cancer Fund, an organization created by Livestrong’s CEO, Doug Ulman.  The charitable nature of the event and Armstrong’s work in the fight against cancer, make the race director’s decision to drop certification far more reasonable – and possibly unique to this type of racing event.

By contrast, the Chicago Marathon prevented Armstrong from participating, though he was registered to race with his charity, because USA Track and Field (USATF) and the World Anti-Doping Code govern the event.  A USATF spokesman said that, “[t]he code is very clear regarding the ineligibility of sanctioned athletes,” and that, “Mr. Armstrong’s ban extends to track and field, road running, and all [USATF] disciplines.”

Similarly the Ironman World Championships, held annually in Kona prevented Armstrong from entering its race even before the USADA sanctions were imposed.  Ironman, who had partnered with Armstrong in February 2012 after he announced his plans to attempt to qualify for and compete in the Ironman World Championships, banned Armstrong from competing in its events when the formal charges were announced by USADA.

Armstrong has received mixed receptions since USADA sanctions were announced.  It is unclear if events and organizers that were once willing to drop certification will continue to make exceptions for Armstrong in the wake of USADA’s release of its “reasoned decision.”  There will continue to be those who push Armstrong away from events, in part because of the race benefits from maintaining certification with governing bodies – such as lower cost insurance for the event and professional competitors vying for higher placement in international rankings who are attracted to competing in certified races. 

However, there will also be those who welcome Armstrong with open arms because he brings press coverage, increased participation and ultimately more money to every event he attends.  The Half Full Triathlon had hundreds of additional athletes sign up after it was announced that Armstrong would race.  No matter the ultimate fallout from the USADA report, Armstrong will always be the moneymaking machine that led so many to ride along in his slipstream with U.S. Postal Service.

A possible solution may be for Armstrong to begin a career in the niche, yet growing sport of ultramarathon running.  Many of the most storied ultra events in the United States are not USATF certified events, though the International Skyrunning Federation (largely a European mountain running organization) is subject to the World Anti-Doping Code.  Theoretically, if Armstrong were able to qualify for an event like the Western States 100, considered the most prestigious ultra in the U.S., he would be able to run like any other competitor.  Armstrong has recently begun to hit the trails for mountain running events, so perhaps the increases in prize money and notoriety for ultra-distance running will entice him to toe the line in the future.

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Filed under Bicycling, Drug Testing, Endurance Sports