Thursday, October 31, 2013

Nnenna Lynch Profile in People Magazine (May 1994)

Matt Kane Helps BMRC Steal Boston Mayor's Cup XC Title

The Bryn Mawr Running Company harriers traveled up I-95 from Philadelphia last weekend to compete in the 14th annual Boston Mayor's Cup Cross Country Invitational.  The meet has been held by the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) since 1990.  In this year's edition of the 8K race, the guys from the BMRC (37 places) stole the meet, defeating the home-standing favorites from the B.A.A. (67 places).  Former Villanova stalwart Matt Kane (second from right, above) came 11th overall in 24:45 to help his team take the title.

Bryn Mawr Running Company  (37 places)
2.    2.  Cameron Marantz    23:58
4.    3.  Kyle Dawson        24:03
5.    4.  Owen Dawson        24:16 
11.   9.  Matt Kane          24:45
22.  19.  Eric Arnold        25:09
24. (21)  Joseph Carpenter   25:25
25. (22)  Anders Hulleberg   25:27

Friday, October 25, 2013

Villanova Great Sheila Reid Looks Back on Canadian Prep Days

Villanova has had its share of Canadian talent come through the program -- think Carmen Douma, Ryan Hayden, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Bouma, Allan Brett, and current team member Rob Denault -- but perhaps the most lauded of them all has been Newmarket, Ontario's Sheila Reid.  Here is an article in which Reid reminisces about her days as a Canadian prep.  The article is written by former Columbia standout Liam Boylan-Pett, writing for Running Times.

Throwback Thursday: Sheila Reid

The Canadian standout explains why getting to college was easier after the club experience north of the border.

Running Times
October 24, 2013

Who: Sheila Reid

High School: Sacred Heart Catholic High School, Newmarket, Ontario, Class of 2007

Club Team: Newmarket Huskies

HS Personal Bests:

    800m: 2:08

    1500m: 4:34

    3,000m: 10:07 (indoors)
    5,000m XC: 17:04 

Current Personal Bests:

    1500m: 4:02.96

    Mile: 4:27.02
    3,000m: 8:44.02
    5,000m: 15:23.64

Sheila Reid hails from Canada, where for teenagers, club teams are the main focus of competition. She ran for the Newmarket Huskies and also for her high school, Sacred Heart in Newmarket, Ontario, about 30 miles north of Toronto. Reid was captain of her high school team.

One day, she thought it was a good idea to cut through the school and wait around a corner to goof off instead of going for the coach’s prescribed run. There was only one problem with Reid’s plan: “Coach beat us to the punch and was waiting for us when we came through the other side of the school,” she says. “We got reamed out pretty good.”

We may not follow Reid on a short cut, but we will let her take Running Times HS where it has never been before: north of the border. After a storied career at Villanova, Reid now runs for Nike. She spoke with Running Times about her high school days in Canada, which weren’t that much different than a U.S. high schooler’s.

Most Memorable Race:
Ontario splits high school racers up into age groups. If you’re in grade 9, you’re a midget; grade 10, you’re a junior; and grades 11 and 12, you’re a senior. In grade 11, racing with the seniors for the first time, Reid faced the toughest competition she had ever seen at the Provincial OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations) high school cross country meet. She took second place in 17:04 for 5K. “It’s the only time I’ve ever been happy for a second-place finish,” Reid says. It also gave her some confidence. “After that, I went on to qualify for the junior national team for Canada for the first time,” she says.

Favorite Workout:
Reid ran only about 45 kilometers (about 28 miles) per week and did her easy days with her high school’s team, which wasn’t nearly as serious as the club. Says Reid: “We’d run super slow and goof off a lot.”
But that’s because the ridiculous workouts she did twice per week with the club would have worn her down. They’d start the workout with a 20-minute tempo run. Then they’d follow that up with five or six quality intervals of varying lengths on a loop around a grass field. Finally, they would run up and down the hills of the abandoned ski hill where they trained. After all of that? “I was on my ass,” says Reid, laughing at how exhausted she would be. “I remember getting to college and thinking it was a piece of cake.”

Other Activities:
Reid also played soccer and tennis and she had one of the most professional-sounding titles ever: public relations officer. But it wasn’t all it was made out to be. “I basically just said the morning announcements and I wasn’t very good at it,” she says.

Least Favorite Song:
“It’s called Banana Phone. It’s the most irritating song you’ll ever hear. There are maybe about eight words top in the song and maybe seven of them are just the word ‘ring.’ I remember that for like a month they’d play it on morning announcements as our song to get to class and they were basically holding the school hostage until we’d donate enough money for some charity. It pretty much ruined everyone’s life for a month.”
In case she forgot, here’s “Banana Phone” as performed by Raffi.

A Loving Mother Who Packed Lunches:
Reid wasn’t much for the cafeteria. “My mom was awesome and she packed me a lunch every day and I totally didn’t appreciate her enough for it,” she says. Not that she didn’t want some of the perks of the cafeteria: “Sometimes I’d eat other people’s fries, but people hate mooches, so I avoided that at all costs.”

Advice to High School Runners:
“Have fun with high school. I think it’s great to do a variety of activities. Don’t commit yourself to just running. Especially now that running is my job, I’m certainly glad that I was well-rounded in high school and tried a lot of things and had a lot of friends outside of the sport. Do as many things as you can now because it will become a bigger commitment as you go along through college and post collegiately for sure.”

Bobby Curtis to Contest the Fukuoka Marathon in December

Curtis set a course record at the 2013 Gasparilla 8K
Bobby Curtis will run the second marathon of his career on December 1st at the Fukuoka Marathon in Japan.  Curtis debuted at the New York City Marathon in November 2011, where he finished 15th overall (3rd American) in 2:16.46.  Curtis had targeted a sub-2:10 finish in that NYC debut, but struggled a bit over the final 8K.  In that race, he went through the half in 1:05:23, and came home in 1:11:23. Indicative of his difficulties, his final 10K was covered in 36:15.

Since then, however, Curtis has switched sponsorship from Reebok to Hansons-Brooks and has enjoyed some success, such as winning the Gasparilla 8K in Florida earlier this year in a course-record time.  Curtis has a nice 1:01:52 PR over the half-marathon.  Such a PR predicts something in the 2:08-2:09 range for a full marathon.

Here are the names of the top entries in the Fukuoka Marathon:  CLICK ME

Fukuoka's course is fast and flat

Monday, October 21, 2013

Villanova's Aussie Pipeline Paying Big Dividends

Aussies (R-L) Williamsz, McEntee, & Tiernan lead Villanova
Villanova's top three cross country harriers this year -- Patrick Tiernan, Jordy Williamsz, and Sam McEntee --  all hail from Australia, the latest in a series of top-notch talent that has come to Villanova from Down Under in Australia or New Zealand.  This new "pipeline" (superseding the famous "Irish Pipeline" established by legendary coach Jumbo Elliott) started almost 15 years ago when two New Zealanders -- distance man Adrian Blincoe and hurdler Nic O'Brien -- came to Villanova and had almost instant success.  Blincoe won an NCAA individual title over 3000i meters and anchored two NCAA DMR championship relays for Villanova, and O'Brien was an NCAA finalist and All-American hurdler.  When Blincoe was named assistant coach after graduating, this fertile recruiting ground was tilled ever more thoroughly and produced many high quality runners for the men's program: In addition to Blincoe and O'Brien, Villanova successfully recruited Matt Gibney, Hugo Beamish, Carl Mackenzie, Mathew Mildenhall, and (briefly) Ben Guest to the Philadelphia campus and all contributed mightily to the program.  The Villanova women also recruited Australian Brooke Simpson, who as a frosh helped the women win the 2009 NCAA cross country title.  Add to that corpus the current trio of McEntee, Williamsz, and frosh Tiernan and the theme becomes clear.

Here's a nice article about the new Pipeline from the folks at The Armory, reflecting on this past weekend's race at the Princeton Invitational:

The Pipeline From Oz

by Elliott Denman

Once upon a time, many a Villanova great traveled "the Irish Pipeline" to track and cross country stardom on the Wildcats' Main Line campus in the Philly 'burbs.

The long line of  Irish running notables who rose to the sport's loftiest heights donned in Villanova blue and white included such celebrated men as John Joe Barry, Ron Delany, Eamonn Coghlan and Marcus O'Sullivan, each, in turn, the best of their contemporary best.

Now, though, the Pipeline to 'Nova extends a whole lot further — half way round the globe, 11 and 13 time zones away, one hemisphere and across the planet's largest ocean distant.

It's "the Aussie Pipeline" nowadays at Villanova and O'Sullivan, who has been the Villanova coach for the past 16 years, is hopeful that his current "men of Oz" can start running to the glories of the earlier "men of Eire."

The Princeton University Cross Country Invitational — run Saturday over the Tigers' West Windsor course — served as an excellent venue to see this Aussie talent up close and personal.

Melbourne's Jordy Williamsz
They didn't run all out. They hung as a group in a togetherness-building drill. They let two others — Lehigh senior Tyler Mueller (23:36) and La Salle graduate student Alfredo Santana (23:40) — snare the top individual honors in the 8k race. And then they swooped home — Patrick Tiernan of Toowoomba, Queensland, third; Jordan Williamsz (that z is no typo) of Melbourne, Victoria, fourth; and Sam McEntee of Perth, Western Australia, fifth.

How together were they? Together enough to claim identical 23:50 clockings.

With good buddy Robert Denault, out of Aurora, Colo., [correction -- Denault is from Aurora, Ontario, Canada -- VR] a mini-step behind them, sixth in 23:51 and then teammate Brian Basili, a Jersey guy out of Columbia High in Maplewood (the school best known as the alma mater of the Running Clarks — Joetta, J.J. and Hazel) 10th in 24:06, the Wildcat men clinched their winning low total of 23 points.

La Salle (led by 14th place Nico Grego), ran a distant second at 94; host Princeton (led by steeplechaser Eddie Owens in 11th) was third at 135; St. Joseph's (which put Aaron Leskow in seventh) took fourth at 158, and Mueller-powered Lehigh ran fifth with 183, in the 30-school field.

Admittedly, Villanova was one of the few "majors" running its top group — other teams either ran at distant invitationals or went with reserves — but the Wildcats' team dominance was impressive nonetheless.

Perth's Sam McEntee leads Williamsz at NCAA Regionals
"We were solid today," said O'Sullivan, the four-time Olympian, three-time world indoor 1500-meter champion who ran over 100 sub-four-minute miles, and is now busy restoring Villanova to its traditional place of prominence.

"We're training hard: I wanted to have a race over a relatively flat course, where it could be nice and controlled," said the Wildcats' chief.

"They're a really good bunch of guys. I wanted the whole group to stay together, I didn't want them to be strung out. They stayed within themselves and were comfortable. At this stage in the season, that's important."

Next big one for the Wildcats: The Big East Championships Nov. 2 in Kenosha, Wis.
But "the most happy fella" in the men's race surely was Lehigh's Mueller. Right arm raised high, sporting a wide smile, he crossed the line in a run of delight.

He'd run a powerful sixth in 23:58 the talent-laden Paul Short Meet on his home Goodman Campus course two weeks ago and this one served as another big confidence-builder."Sure, I was excited," said Mueller. "My Paul Short race was awesome. That was real hot, but today was perfect, no wind, no sun, 60 degrees, on an even flatter course (than his own).

"I wanted to make sure the pace was fast from the beginning. It was 4:44 at the mile,  two miles a little over 9:30, and 14:25, I think, at three miles, pretty much even splits. Then we really cranked it down the last 2K when the Villanova guys started to push the pace.

Queenslander Patrick Tiernan
"I just tried to hold on to them as long as possible. Then I think Coach O'Sullivan told his guys to back off a little. So then it was just Santana and me going for it. We shared the lead for a while, we've always been close to each other. But then I got a little gap with a half-mile to go. I dropped my arms, pumped my arms, and brought it in.

"That last stretch, I kind of looked around and took it all in. It was a great feeling. Who knows? I may never win a race as big as this one again."

Mueller, a biotechnology major and Lehigh's Scholar Athlete of the Year Award winner, has one indoor season of eligibility remaining, but hopes to continue running for years to come. He calls his best track times — 14:19 for 5,000 meters; 29:54 for 10,000 — "modest" performances.

He knows that three of the top Villanovans have sub-4-minute mile credits, but knows there's room in this sport for him, too. Next time out for Mueller and Lehigh will be the Patriot League Championships at Lafayette, Nov. 2. And then he'll enjoy an ultimate home-course advantage at the NCAA Atlantic Regionals, Nov. 15 at the Goodman Campus course.

"Hopefully, I can qualify for Nationals (Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind.)," he said.

"But now I know I can run with the front guys. Our Lehigh team workouts have been fantastic, but we've had a tough time racing. Two of our  best guys have been out with jnjuries. Hopefully, they'll be back and if so, I know our Lehigh team will be due for a big one."

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Unchallenged, Villanova Men Win Princeton XC Invitational

It's (L-R) Denault, Tiernan, McEntee, and Williamsz at the Princeton XC Invitational

The Villanova men traveled across the river into New Jersey yesterday to compete at the Princeton Cross Country Invitational.  Rather than face a stiff challenge and measuring stick in the #10-ranked Princeton Tigers, the #23-ranked Wildcats went virtually unchallenged and won the meet with a mere 23 places.  Princeton did compete -- however, it was the Tigers' "B" squad that hosted the visitors on Saturday.  The Tigers "A" squad went to Terre Haute to compete in the Pre-Nationals meet, where they finished 6th.  Back home, Princeton's "B" squad finished a distant third (135), behind Villanova (23), and LaSalle (94).  St. Joseph's (158) was fourth.

The most noteworthy comment to make about the men's performance over the 8K course concerns the tight 16-second spread between 1-5.  Indeed, Villanova's first four finishers (Patrick Tiernan, Jordy Williamsz, Sam McEntee, and Rob Denault) all finished within one second of each other in 23:50/23:51.  Brian Basili was 5th for the squad, 15 seconds behind Denault.  All in all, a nice display of tight pack running, with four men under 24 minutes.  One gets the sense that coach O'Sullivan instructed the squad to run as a group, eschewing individual times for the practice of group running.  Given the level of competition, it's hard to draw conclusions from the meet, although the top times were encouraging.  The individual race was won by Lehigh's Tyler Mueller (23:36), with former LaSalle harrier Alfredo Santana (23:40) in second.

Complete results of the race are HERE.

Here's Villanova's results:

1.    23  VILLANOVA                 (  23:54  1:59:27)

Overall Team
Place   Place
  3      2    Patrick Tiernan             23:50
  4      3    Jordan Williamsz            23:50
  5      4    Sam McEntee                 23:50
  6      5    Robert Denault              23:51
 10      9    Brian Basili                24:06
 12   (11)    Alex Tully                  24:11
 21   (20)    Harry Warnick               24:26
 25   (  )    Kevin Corbusier             24:30
 33   (  )    Robert Hurlbut (ua)         24:38
 37   (  )    Dusty Solis                 24:41
 66   (  )    Chris O'Sullivan            25:03
 77   (  )    Mike Palmisano (ua)         25:08
 84   (  )    Charlie Bates               25:10
132   (  )    Tom Trainer (ua)            25:34

Villanova Recruit(s) Excel at New York XC Sectionals
Erin Jaskot & Brian Cook Take Decisive Wins

Erin Jaskot recently committed to Villanova
Villanova has already gotten a commitment from Tappan Zee's Erin Jaskot (pronounced Jay-Scott), who picked Villanova over Boston College and Penn, and is competing with Syracuse and Fordham for Pearl River's Brian Cook.  Both won their races in convincing fashion at yesterday's cross country Section 1 meet in New York.  Jaskot has been regarded primarily as a middle distance ace, where she has run 2:09 for 800 meters and competed at New Balance Nationals.  Only recently has she moved up in distance and entered the fray in cross country.  As the story below reveals, it's been a very positive transition and Jaskot has achieved solid success at longer distances.  She ran 19:15 yesterday, winning by over a minute.

Brian Cook, from the same high school as current Villanova runner Kieran Brennan, is being heavily courted by coaches O'Sullivan and Carberry, and has narrowed his choices to Villanova, Syracuse, and Fordham.  Cook ran 15:54 -- the third-fastest time ever on the Bowdoin Park course.

Here is the story from The

Winners in Section 1 Coaches Cross Country Invitational eye counties next

 by Brian Heyman
The Journal News

WAPPINGERS FALLS — Erin Jaskot sprinted under the finish-line sign in her red jersey with “Tappan Zee” emblazoned in white across the front, way ahead of the rest in the senior’s 5K Varsity I race. Next year, she will be proudly crossing the line with “Villanova” on the front of her jersey.

Villanova is also in the running for Pearl River cross country and track star Brian Cook. Later in the day, the senior showed why the Division I program would want him on its side as well.

Cook ran the fastest Bowdoin Park time ever for a Rockland runner and the third-fastest time there ever by a Section 1 runner, winning his Varsity III race in 15 minutes, 54.8 seconds and leading the Pirates to a team title Saturday at the Section 1 Coaches Cross Country Invitational.

Cook will choose Villanova, Syracuse or Fordham
 “I knew the conditions were good, so I figured I would go for a really fast time,” said Cook, who’s also considering Syracuse and Fordham.

Jaskot took her race by a little more than a minute, running 19:15.7 and leading Tappan Zee to a team title, too. The recruiting race for her cross country and track talents came down to Villanova, Boston College and Penn. The Wildcats won, receiving her oral commitment two weeks ago to run on a full ride.

“They offered the most money," Jaskot said. “And it was just the atmosphere of the whole team. I can tell they want to succeed, and that’s something I want to be a part of.”

Next up, Jaskot will try to succeed at the Rockland County Chanpionships Thursday at Bear Mountain.

“I’d like to say I have a chance, but I’ve been battling some calf soreness and tightness,” Jaskot said. “But today I felt fine. … It could be anyone’s race between Kate Zendell, Kelly (Hayes) and I.”

Friday, October 18, 2013

October 18, 1968: Mighty Burner Takes Olympic Silver

On this day in 1968, Villanova's legendary Larry James won a silver medal in the 400 meters at the Mexico City Olympics. In so doing, James became one of only two men at the time to break the 44 second barrier in the event. James finished second to his nemesis Lee Evans, who set a new world record of 43.86. Evans and James finished 1-2 at the US Olympic Trials, where (due to a technicality having to do with unsanctioned spikes won by Evans) James set the World Record of 44.1.

James and Evans were the top men in the world at the Olympic Games as well. In the 400 meter final, Evans won Gold with a time of 43.86. James was second, winning the Silver in 43.97; both broke the existing World Record. Evans and James were the first two men to run 400 meters in under 44 seconds (see photo below). The Americans swept the medals in the event when Ron Freeman cam third, in 44.41. Interesting, this Evans-James-Freeman finish at Mexico City was the identical finishing trio at the 1968 NCAA championships in Berkeley, California. James won a Gold medal at the Mexico City Games as well, running the third leg in the USA's World Record-setting 4 x 400 meter relay team. Vince Matthews, Ron Freeman, Larry James, and Lee Evans crushed the opposition -- defeating the Kenyan team by 3.5 seconds -- in running 2:56.16. This World Record stood from 1968 until 1992.

1968 Olympics: 400 meter medalists
1. Lee Evans (USA)     43.8  WR
2. Larry James (USA)   43.9
3. Ron Freeman (USA)   44.4

While at Villanova, James was a four-time NCAA individual champion. He won the NCAA outdoor title at 440 yards in 1970 (45.5). James won the NCAA 440 yard indoor titles in 1968, 1969, and 1970. He was part of 6 Penn Relays championship relay squads from 1968 through 1970, and was 10-time IC4A champion (5 outdoor and 5 indoor).

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Sonia O'Sullivan Interview

by Christopher Kelsall
Athletics Illustrated
October 10, 2013

© Copyright – 2013 – Athletics Illustrated

Sonia O’Sullivan represented Ireland on the international athletics stage for 19 years between 1988 and 2007. In that time she competed in four Olympic Games, six World Cross Country Championships, six World Track and Field Championships and five European Championships, medalling 11 times, including double gold during the 1998 World Cross Country Championships. She also won a silver medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games 5000 metre race and gold in the 5000 metre event at the 1995 World Championships. She set an Olympic 5000 metre record in Atlanta with her 15:15.80 semi-final win.

Her range as a top-level athlete stretched from 800 metres, where her best at that distance is an international quality 2:00:69 to the marathon, where she has run as fast as 2:29.01. She set at least seven national records from the 1000 metre distance to the half-marathon. She also owns three world records in the 2000 metre and 2 mile distances as well as taking the world indoor 5000m record at the age of 22, by finishing in 15:17.28.

The mother of two grew up in Cobh, Country Cork, Ireland and has recently moved to Australia. O’Sullivan retired before the 2008 Beijing Olympics Games, and has started a new venture called AgRith; an athlete mentoring service.

Personal bests:
800 m – 2:00.69
1500 m – 3:58.85 NR (July 1995)
Mile run – 4:17.25 NR
3000 m – 8:21.64 NR
5000 m – 14:41.02 NR
10,000 m – 30:47.59 NR
Half marathon – 67:19 NR
Marathon – 2:29:01

Christopher Kelsall: Growing up in Cobh, was the environment encouraging for a sport-minded person?

Sonia O’Sullivan: Cobh is a very sporting town, primarily soccer when I was growing up and a thriving athletics club with some very motivational and encouraging people involved. Though I did a lot of my training alone as I was in my last few years at Cobh vocational school, my achievements did not go unnoticed and I was well respected throughout the town. My parents and grandparents were very encouraging and supportive and think the main thing was that I enjoyed what I was doing and this was probably helped by having a taste of success from an early age so the motivation to do better was always within me.

CK: When did you decide that you wanted to pursue athletics with seriousness?

SO: I suppose when I decided to go to college at Villanova, I was treating my college education and athletics life on an equal basis. I never really looked on athletics as a career until after finishing fourth at the Olympics in 1992 where I started to earn some money and also had a shoe contract and the bonuses were stacking up as I continued to break Irish records.

CK: Do either of your two daughters show interest in running?

SO: Yes my youngest daughter Sophie likes to run cross country at school and takes part in little athletics in Australia now in the summer season.

Last summer before the London Olympics Sophie took part in the all-Ireland juvenile championships and won a gold medal in the high jump for the under 12s.

CK: What precipitated the move to Australia?

SO: I have been spending time in Australia since 1995, while training for the Sydney Olympics. As a result I began to spend more and more time here and as my children reached school age we had to make a decision on a more stable lifestyle for both Ciara 14 and Sophie 11. I still split my time between Ireland and Australia, but the girls don’t travel as much now due to their school commitments.

CK: It has been a few years since you retired from competitive running, after such a long and successful athletics career, how was the initial adjustment?

SO: It took a few years for me to drop the full time athletes training and just enjoy the sport. I kept trying for a few years to train at a high level and had the Beijing Olympic marathon as a goal, it seemed all the years of hard training were catching up with me and all the niggling injuries never gave me a smooth run towards Beijing, once this dream was gone that’s when I eased off on the training and just maintained a normal level of fitness….so the twice a day running schedule was over and I was able to maintain a healthier lifestyle balance at home rather than being tied down with two runs each day.

It took a while to move away from high level athletics and be able to set myself more realistic goals which I do now and really enjoy the challenges that I set out for myself. Trail running, cycling, swimming have all become a part of my routine and they each complement each other and I get that great positive lift that running gives each day even on a non-running day. I have made some great friends across all fitness levels and enjoy the company of cyclists and runners of all levels and feel a connection as I am also new to cycling and learning as I go. My pb’s are so far out of reach in running but the running fitness allows me to chase pb’s and goals in swimming and cycling. It’s not enough to just run around casually I need a goal and target to get me out the door everyday whatever the event. I have been welcomed in so many charity events in Ireland and enjoy every minute of these events and inspired by people who are out there doing a sport for the first time and challenging themselves each day to lead a fit and healthy lifestyle.

CK: Typically athletes feel they could have done better, regardless of their level of achievement. Is there any distance or discipline you feel you could have bettered?

SO: I would like to think that maybe could have done better at the marathon, but I also think if I hadn’t run the marathon, maybe I would have had a few extra years running on the track, so all the decisions we make change the next stage in our careers and sometimes you make decisions without weighing up the likely outcomes and where that may lead you next.

CK: Will you continue to run marathons as a master?

SO: I ran five marathons and walked one due to injury in Cork a few years ago. My best time is 2:29 from London in 2005; I won the Dublin Marathon in 2000 and ran the rest for charity. I really enjoyed running New York in 2006 and Boston in 2008.

Sonia1I rather not run marathons now as I feel they cause too much wear and tear on the body and require too much recovery time after. I like to take part in Parkrun 5km runs, a few local 10km runs and the odd half-marathon. I don’t run every day but like to get out on the bike a few times a week and feel that this allows me to run about five times a week without too many aches and pains and the risk of injury. I run for fun, fitness and enjoyment now wherever I am in the world.

CK: Have you taken up coaching others?

SO: I don’t coach any athletes but I have advised and mentored numerous athletes down through the years. I am currently involved in setting up a more formal mentoring group in Ireland called Sonia AgRith. The aim is to provide a support system and bridge for young Irish athletes as they progress from junior to senior athletics.

CK: Is “AgRith” Gaelic? I know it has something to do with your twitter handle.

SO: AgRith, simply means running, when I was younger I often let my thoughts ramble through my head in Irish while out for a run, it all started while practicing for an Oral Irish exam in secondary school. I always wanted to promote this name and hopefully I can be a leading light for young Irish athletes and help direct them on the right path to fulfill their dreams.

CK: Do you find that there is a high rate of loss of participation from junior to senior? And is this bridge, there to empower them to continue?

SO: There has been so much success over the years in Irish athletics of young athletes at European level! There doesn’t seem to be the ability to concert this talent and ability to a higher level and see a large number of athletes compete on the world stage and achieve greatness. It takes a huge commitment and possibly success at a young age provides too much expectation and not enough persistence to fulfill the potential and expectation.

CK: How does the model work in terms of funding and are the outcomes about getting athletes to compete in the NCAA for example?

SO: At the moment I am just self-funded and in time I hope to deliver sponsors to help provide support and services when we will get together for weekend training camps. The ideas are there I just need to make connections with athletes and their coaches, gain their trust and work together to get the best result possible for each athlete as the grow and develop.

CK: Regarding the 31Turkish and half a dozen Jamaican athletes recently having tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, do you feel that this is an indication that WADA is getting somewhere on the fight on drugs?

SO: Obviously there is some progress being made in the fight against drugs in sport, but it always amazes me that there are athletes who continue to cheat and try to take short cuts and if we are making inroads now and you would expect deterring athletes then you don’t really want to think about the cheating that went on in the past. You just have to shake your head and let it go as people got away with it but are they really happy in themselves, happy that their success is not their own but pharmaceutically enhanced.

CK: You were recently quoted as saying the following, “Irish athletes need to be made more accountable for their performances, their fitness and their funding.”

Often it is said that great athletes have trouble coaching others because of the inability to relate to the lack of commitment or competitiveness compared to their own, any chance that you are afflicted with this?

SO: I don’t ever look at athletes and compare to myself. I look at what they have, what they are capable of and how they are managing their lifestyle. It doesn’t take much to see that many athletes enjoy the lifestyle of an athlete and if you can survive on that for a few years then possibly you will enjoy it more than if you try to strike out on your own take some risks and operate outside the comfort zone that allows you to be a big fish in a small pond but unable to fight to find your way in the Ocean. It may be harsh but it is realistic and I think there are so many gadgets and gimmicks and extra things that athletes fill their time with these days that if you just look at things simply and focus on the basics you will be a better athlete and achieve greater success. I definitely believe success comes with a level of risk, but you have to back yourself and really go after what you want and not always play within the parameters of the scientists who do have a part to play in an athlete’s guidance but should not be the driving force that holds the athlete back at the slightest irregularity in a scientific test. Practice will always win out over theory and no more so than in athletics.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Villanova Women 3rd at Paul Short Run

Lipari leads Akande at Paul Short Run
Saturday at nearby Lehigh University the #12 ranked Villanova women (168) came third in the team competition at the Paul Short Run (6K), behind #6 Georgetown (112) and unranked Dartmouth (125).  Villanova bested #10 Cornell (182), #29 West Virgina (257), and #13 Penn State (326) in the meeting.  Leading the way for Villanova were seniors Emily Lipari, who came 6th overall, and Nicky Akande, one second behind in 8th place.  Freshman Angel Piccirillo took another top-20 finish, some 28 seconds behind Lipari.

Here are the Villanova results:
  6.  Emily Lipari          20:30   5:30
  8.  Nicky Akande          20:31   5:30
 20.  Angel Piccirillo      20:58   5:37 
 41.  Stephanie Schappert   21:18   5:42 
 93.  Sydney Harris         21:46   5:50
187.  Megan Venables        22:31   6:02
308.  Katie Brislin         24:13   6:30      

Total Time = 1:45:03
Average Time = 21:01
Spread:  1:16
Places = 168

For complete results of the Gold race, go HERE.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Carrie Tollefson to Hawk Reebok Brand

Her competitive running career at an end, former Villanova great Carrie Tollefson has signed a deal to represent Reebok in its marketing efforts. Always media-savvy, Tollefson will focus focus much of her energies for Reebok pushing the company's ONE Series Running campaign. Tollefson is making her marathon debut today at the Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota.  Here is a story detailing the new arrangement with Reebok.

Reebok signs US Olympian Carrie Tollefson as brand envoy

October 05, 2013

Global Fitness Brand Reebok, has announced a partnership with middle distance runner Carrie Tollefson, who competed for the United States against the best in the world at the 2004 Olympic Games. Carrie will work alongside Reebok's product teams on the brand's performance running footwear and apparel range. 

Most notably, Carrie will be instrumental in driving ONE Series Running, the pinnacle collection in Reebok's running category, built around a function-first design philosophy.

Carrie's expertise will help Reebok continue to establish the brand as a leader in the performance running market.  In addition, she will be featured in Reebok Running's 2014 marketing campaign and other initiatives.

Carrie has a deep passion for running, and her career achievements reflect her long-time dedication to the sport.  Carrie began running at a young age and her talent allowed her to compete at collegiate level at Villanova University, where she won the 1997 NCAA Cross Country Championships and the 1999 NCAA Outdoor and Indoor 3000 meters and Outdoor 5000 meters.

On the back of these fantastic achievements, Carrie went on to join Team USA's Track and Field team, ultimately competing at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, where she reached the semi-finals in the 1500 meters.

"We're extremely excited to have Carrie join the Running team here at Reebok," said Bill McInnis, Head of Reebok Running. "Her years of experience in the sport will be instrumental in helping us establish Reebok in the performance running marketplace and her guidance will help us develop new groundbreaking and innovative products."

"I am extremely passionate about running and honored to join the Reebok Running team," said Tollefson. "Reebok's running vision is something I strongly believe in.  Mixing up your running routines and trying something new is a great way to keep your running fresh.  I look forward to helping spread this message and I am excited about Reebok's future plans and products in this sport."

This year, Reebok launched its 'Live With Fire' campaign, which aims to show how fitness and creativity can inspire people to live their lives with passion, intent and purpose and celebrates those who do so.  Carrie joins a team of fellow athletes who share in this belief, which include world-renowned yoga expert, Tara Stiles, elite CrossFit athletes Josh Bridges and Samantha Briggs, and Spartan Racer Hunter McIntyre, among others

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Villanova Men Push #8 Arkansas at Chile Pepper XC Festival

The Villanova men entered today's Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival at the University of Arkansas' home course ranked # 27 in the country, but put a real scare into the #8-ranked hosts, 31-44. Villanova was again led by super freshman Patrick Tiernan, who came 4th overall in 24:27.0 over the 8K course. He was joined in the top 10 by sophomore Jordy Williamsz, who was 10 seconds behind. Their compatriot Sam McEntee came 13th, 17 seconds behind Williamsz. Overall, Villanova had 5 finishers in the top 20 individuals, with a tight 1-5 split of 39 seconds. The race was won by defending NCAA champion Kennedy Kithuka of Texas Tech, who won by almost 7 seconds over Arkansas' Kemoy Campbell, 17th at last year's NCAA cross country national meet.

The Villanova men should gain some confidence from this performance and are likely to move up a bit in the national poll. Alex Tully, an Arkansas native, made his season debut for Villanova after missing the first two meets with minor injuries. If he rounds into competitive fitness, Villanova could be a dangerous team in the Mid-Atlantic region. Brian Basili, who finished 15th, seems to have had no fitness hiccup from his severe arm injury during outdoor season. Rob Denault, held out with a minor niggle last week from the Main Line Invitational, returned to competition was was 19th in 25:06.1. Harry Warnick has insinuated himself further into the top-7 squad with a nice 25:09.5 run, good for 21st overall.

Villanova Results (overall finish)
4.   Patrick Tiernan       24:27.0
8.   Jordy Williamsz       24:37.8
13.  Sam McEntee           24:54.3
15.  Brian Basili          25:02.1
19.  Rob Denault           25:06.1
21.  Harry Warnick         25:09.5
30.  Alex Tully            25:26.0
34.  Kevin Corbusier       25:29.4
126. Dusty Solis           26:52.5

The complete results of the race are HERE.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Vicki Huber: Passing the Parents' Torch is Not Easy

Vicki Huber Rudawsky: Passing the parents' torch

Delaware Online, October 2, 2013

When I was younger, I was a pretty good kid. My parents didn’t have much to worry about, mostly because between school activities, homework and a job, I didn’t have much free time.

Ironically, it was my running that probably caused my parents the most distress. Looking back as a parent myself, I shudder at some of the ways I unknowingly tortured them.

Vicki Huber: 8x NCAA Champ
Many, many times, I started out the front door for a run and all my mom or dad wanted to know was where I was going and how long I would be gone. Most of the time I didn’t even know myself, so instead of giving them a vague idea of where I might run when they asked, I would just roll my eyes and say, “I don’t know!” and shut the door behind me.

Sometimes, the skies would be black and threatening. Sometimes it would be raining, or snowing. On these days, my parents would ask that I not go running, and I am sure I made a face like they were crazy. I mean, why would I let bad weather keep me from getting my run in?

My dad really got upset when it was snowing and I still headed out in the car for evening track workouts. Whether it was me driving or someone else, he was just so worried that we would get into an accident. He didn’t realize that the workout was so valuable that we were willing to take the risk in order not to miss out.

They hung in there, however, and we were all rewarded with a scholarship to college. Then, the torture continued in the form of tearful phone calls. I had a tough time in the beginning, especially since I had never run cross country, and I struggled with the new level of running. I am pretty sure that I called home two or three times a week, crying that the running was too hard and that I didn’t think I could make it. Even though I was only 40 minutes from home, there was not much my parents could do to make it better for me. [Huber did struggle and did improve in cross country, finishing 75th (1985), 29th (1986), 9th (1987), and 1st (1989) at NCAA XC Nationals -- VR]

There were only a few races my parents could see since we traveled by plane to most of our meets. I know they sat by the phone and waited to hear we had arrived home safely from wherever we were, but more importantly, that I came away from my races healthy and happy.

I know my parents love me very much, but I also know they repeatedly prayed that some day, I would understand what they went through all these years.

Well, their prayers were answered.

Our daughter, after playing soccer and field hockey for a while, decided running was her sport. It took a while, but eventually she got to the point where she was heading out the door for long runs and track workouts.

When I would ask her where she was running, she would roll her eyes and reply, “I don’t knowwwww!” Then she would get in her car and drive away, leaving me with a pit in my stomach until I heard her car rounding the turn into our neighborhood.

Huber was a two-time USA Olympian
We had many arguments about whether getting a run in was worth the risk of getting struck by lightning. When Hurricane Sandy was on the horizon, I had to stop her from heading to the trails for her workout because she didn’t even think about the possibility that the high winds could cause a falling branch to hit her. Lucky for me, I have been able to run with Alyssa quite a bit during these last few years, so on those days, I knew she was safe.

She didn’t choose a college close by. In fact, she is farther away than we would like. Thank goodness I have not gotten tearful phone calls every other day, but I do receive text messages letting me know that the workouts are pretty hard and between running and school, she is tired.  [Alyssa Rudawsky is currently a freshman on the cross country and track team at NC State University -- VR]

But, she loves it.

Like my mom and dad, we won’t be able to see her run a lot because of the distance, and we will sit by the phone for either the call or text letting us know how she did and that she is healthy and safe.

Whoever coined the phrase “what goes around, comes around” really nailed it. For all those times I caused my parents stress with my running, I have lived it myself with our daughter. Mom and Dad, I am so sorry! Thank you for hanging in there.

Vicki Huber represented the USA in the 1988 (6th place, 3000 meters) and 1996 Olympic Games (1500 meters). While at Villanova, she won 8 individual NCAA titles (3 indoor and 3 outdoor titles at 3000 meters in 1987, 1988, and 1989, the 1988 indoor mile, and the 1989 cross country individual title). Huber was USATF national champion in the 1500 meters in 1988, set a USA 5K record, and was 4th at the 1992 World Cross Country championships.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Emily Lipari named Big East Female Athlete of the Week

VILLANOVA, Pa. - Senior Emily Lipari (Greenvale, N.Y.) is the BIG EAST Female Athlete of the Week, as announced this afternoon by the league office. Lipari made her season debut last Thursday at the Main Line Invitational and won the individual title at the local meet. This is the first weekly cross country honor for Lipari, who is part of a strong core of runners at the top of the Villanova lineup.
     Lipari covered the three-mile Alumni Course at Haverford College last week in 16:08.03 to pace a field of 86 runners. She won the race by a margin of more than 14 seconds and registered her second career individual victory.
     This early in the season the focus is not yet on results, and the Main Line meet did not have any team scoring, but it is still noteworthy that Lipari finished with a time that was 26 seconds faster than the one she ran last season in the same meet. The top finishing spots in the race were dominated by the Wildcats, who had their top five runners all place in the top seven overall.

Patrick Tiernan is Big East Male Athlete of the Week

Tiernan set a collegiate course record at the Main Line Invite
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Freshman Patrick Tiernan (Toowoomba, Australia) is the BIG EAST Male Athlete of the Week, as announced on October 1 by the league office. In just the second race of his collegiate career Tiernan won the individual title at the Main Line Invitational last week. He adds his first career weekly honor with Tuesday's selection.
      Tiernan covered the four-mile Alumni Course at Haverford College last week in 19:09.48 to pace a field of 122 runners. He won the race by a margin of more than 11 seconds while leading a large group of Wildcats who finished near the front of the race. Villanova boasted seven of the top 12 overall finishers.
     Prior to last Thursday's race Tiernan had made his collegiate debut at the Friend Big Five Invitational on September 13. In that meet he came in ninth out of 74 runners on the Belmont Plateau course, which measures 6,000 meters for men's races. Tiernan recorded at time of 18:56.46 at the Big 5 meet.