Clayton Murphy Calls His Shot by Craig Rice

Don't you just love it when an athlete calls their shot?  

In 1932 Babe Ruth pointed to the stands during Game 2 of the World Series and hit a home run on the very next pitch.  It's the stuff of legned.  At Sunday's Portland Track Festival, Clayton Murphy, a 2016 bronze medalist, is pointing his bat at the 1000m American Record record of 2:13.9h held by 1976 bronze medalist, Rich Wohlhuter.   It's Bronze on Bronze.

You'll get a chance to meet Rick Wohlhuter, as he'll be holding the finish line tape for Clayton. To prep for the big race we asked Rick a few questions beginning with his recollections of that 1974 race.
 

Q. You set the 1000m record at the 1974 Bislett Games in Oslo which we know as a Diamond League meet today. What was the setting on that night?  Did you specifically request the 1000m distance to chase the record?

The Bislett Games in 1974 was an important meet on the European circuit.  I remember it well.  That night the meet conditions were near perfect with cool weather and little wind.  The fans sat on the edge of their seats close to the track where they pounded on the metal banners surrounding the track.  The atmosphere became feverish when fans sensed a world record might be set.  For the race we had a great field with many of the best 800 meter runners lined up for the start..  I knew the race would be fast so I asked for a rabbit to set a fast pace through the first 400 meters.  The pacer did his job well and we were on our way.  The force of competition keep the pace quick through 800 meters.  Around the final turn several of us struggled to maintain form and speed as we approached the finish line.  The race was over and I prevailed with a new World and American record.  This was one of the highlights of my track career.
 

Q. 1974 was a big year for you.  It was midway between the Munich and Montreal Games and a decade before the IAAF World Championships were introduced.  In that amateur era of the sport what did a career in track and field look like between Olympic years?

During those years between Olympic Games, I lived, worked, and trained in Chicago.  In the 1970s track and field was not yet a professional sport.  So I was also focused on my job, as I had to support myself.  I worked full time from 8 to 5 followed by training on the track. Several days a week I trained before and after work.  I trained at the University of Chicago facilities during the winter and during the spring.  Like many athletes, I often traveled to various cities in the U.S. for meets and spent at least one month each season competing in Europe during the summer.  Back then, I often made appearances and occasionally spoke at various events.  There was not much free time.  Being one of the best middle distance runners in the world was reward enough for me.
 

Q. You competed in Munich and Montreal but abandoned a comeback attempt when the US instituted a boycott of the Moscow Games in early 1980.  What did the boycott mean to your generation of athletes?  

I had competed in two past Olympics so the boycott did not affect me as it did those striving to make their first team.  The boycott was unfortunate for various reasons mostly because it achieved so little as boycotts often do.  Most of all it needlessly affected those dedicating their athletic lives to compete in the Olympics.


Q. Do you hope the record goes down this weekend?

Any record is important to the record holder as it represents the new performance standard.  I am surprised the American record lasted this long; but a new standard needs to be set for 1000 meters. This would be good for American middle distance running. So the time is right for the record to fall.  Moreover, I still hold a world record at 880 yards since yard records (except the mile) have been retired.

The 2nd Annual PTF Pop-Up Shop by Craig Rice

If you are a fan of the major ball sports you can find all the fan gear you want at every turn - jerseys, books, movies, art...  It's everywhere.   We'd love to have that kind of access as track fans.

These items may be hard to find but there is some pretty cool stuff out there and we are doing our best to bring as much of it to our Second Annual Portland Track Festival Pop-Up shop.  The proceeds go back to the creators of this merch; we are just bringing it together for your enjoyment.  It's the kind of stuff we'd like to find if there was such a thing as a track and field store.  Here's a sampling of what you'll find:

ART:  The Pre:Stop (pictured) was created by the creative director for Runners World, Benjamen Purvis, for an article called That Pre Thing by our good friend Michael Heald of Portland .

ART: Forest Park Print by Open Studio Collective.  Artist Allison Bryan has created a gold-foil, letter press map of every runner's favorite Portland destination - Forest Park.  

VINTAGE: For the collector you'll find a 1980's Olympic Trial Tshirt, a 1970's Nike warmup , Cascade RunOff memorobilia, and lots of other one-of-a-kind finds

TEAM GEAR: Grab a tshirt from Oregon Track Club, Jacuzzi Boys AC, or High Performance West

RUN FAN SHOP: Ben Rosario's collection of fan gear will come out of retirement for this one weekend.  Pick up shirts from some of the legendary college programs like Colorado, Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Oklahoma State.

BOOKS: 

Run Fast - Eat Slow, Shalane Flanagan
Like Father Like Son, Matt Centrowitz
Once a Runner
Running with the Buffaloes
Men of Oregon,  
Bowerman's Jogging
 

MORE: We've got a lot of stuff but we're willing to add to the collection.  Contact us if you're interested in sharing your new or vintage items.

PRE:STOP by Benjamen Purvis

PRE:STOP by Benjamen Purvis

Get Paid for Straight A-s by Craig Rice

We are rewarding each and every automatic qualifying mark for the USATF National Championships and IAAF World Championships set at the Portland Track Festival - High Performance Meet.

Here's how it will work:

 

HIGH PERFORMANCE EVENT PRIZE MONEY

Top-3 to achieve IAAF standard in each High Performance race.

  1. $1,000 
  2. $700
  3. $500

Bonus Money

  • IAAF Entry Standard: $300 if not in the top-3
  • USATF-A Standard:  $200 if not awarded IAAF prize money


FLOTRACK 1500 PRIZE MONEY

The individual winner of the men's and women's 1500m will be awarded an additional $1000 from FloTrack 


SEATTLE VS PORTLAND 3000M

The winning team of the Seattle vs. Portland 3000m will receive $1000
 

HOUSE OF RUN RELAY

The winning team of the House of Run Mile Relay will receive $250.

 

Up Next: The Portland Track Festival Youth Meet by Craig Rice

The 10th annual Portland Track Festival - Youth Meet is being held June 3-4 at Liberty High School.  1,000 Portland area athletes will compete at Liberty High School  as they close out their season in Portland's largest youth event and get ready for the Junior Olympic events of the summer.  

While Portland's future stars get ready to compete it's interesting to look back at the athletes that have competed in the last decade of competition.  Several of them will be competing at the NCAA championship in Eugene next weekend.  

The very first PTF in 2008 included a 1500 with future NCAA qualifiers Amy Eloise-Neale (photo) and Maddie Meyers of Washington as well as Taryn Rawlings of the University of Portland. The boys race included Stanford's Ryan Silva, Tate Schienbein of Purdue and Georgetown's Darren Fahy.   More recently the Oregon and Washington the high school state meets featured many past participants of the PTF-Youth Meet including champions Josh and Makenna Schumacher, of Jesuit High School, Sophie Cantine of Lakeside High School, Washington, and Elisabeth Goodrich of West Salem High School.

Registration for the 2017 PTF-Youth Meet closes Tuesday.  Information at http://www.portlandtrack.com/ptf-youth-meet-1/ .

The Portland Running Route You Never New Existed. by Craig Rice

Tuesday Washington Park Fartlek Club.        Graphic by Gary Lomax

Tuesday Washington Park Fartlek Club.        Graphic by Gary Lomax

The Portland running scene was humming in the 1980s.   The Cascade Run Off offered the first above-the-table first prize money in 1981, the LA Olympics buoyed the running boom all up and down the west coast, the University of Oregon was hot again, and Nike's Athletics West team brought big names like Joan Benoit Samuelson and Mary Decker Slaney to Oregon.

Members of the local training groups had their patterns but one of the staples was the Washington Park Fartlek each Tuesday.  All the big names were there.  Today, you could run all over Washington Park and never find this route but if you were there at the time and suffered through a few weeks at the back of the pack you might pick up the scent.  Like any moment in time, the route has faded to memory.  You'll have to find one of the original members to give you a tour. 

Here's  recollection of the route from Larry Merrifield; one of those regulars:  

The words “Wildwood Fartlek” still bring a certain mix of dread and joy, much as fartlek workouts do, but Wildwood is different. How? First, it is a set loop that clocks in at around 3.5 miles, second, it isn’t based on time, but on landmarks, finally, the terrain throws everything at you. The end result? Run the fartlek loop and you will become fitter and faster.

Let’s go back to the beginning. I can’t say the exact date that the Wildwood fartlek started. My earliest recollection is sometime in the late 1980s. One look at the names confirms this. Matt Cato, Rob Arkes, Peter Ffitch, Mike Heffernan, Dave Frank, the late Bill McGrath, plus many more. The participants might vary some weeks, but there was a core out there every Tuesday from August until late September meeting on Tuesday evening after work at the parking lot on West Burnside where the Wildwood trail crosses Burnside.

The warmup loop to prepare for the workout was in itself a legend. It started off on the Wildwood trail and quickly traveled over other trails in the Hoyt Arboretum. It was a relatively short warmup, maybe 2 miles, but it seemed to go uphill a lot more than being flat or downhill. Eventually the warmup it took you to the start of the fartlek loop where there would be a little stretching, the razzing of someone, and then a silence as we all knew what we were about to undertake.

The Wildwood fartlek loop starts in the Hoyt Arboreteum at the White Pine Trail where it meets SW Fischer. From the start the fartlek hits you like a sucker punch by leaving you winded and wishing for it to end. The first segment is 400 meters uphill where it ends at the Bristlecone Trail intersection. The group at this point was relatively unscathed, winded, but still together. Now came a 600m recovery segment, if running at a good clip could be called “recovery”, and included “Gardner Gulch”, so named for Bill Gardner and his unfortunate fall. The recovery segment rolled and never truly let you recover for the second pickup.

The second pickup started 200m from the crest of the White Pine Trail. This segment was the equivalent of climbing the side of a mountain. It goes straight up with two switchbacks, and it remains the toughest 200m I’ve ever run. At the crest of the trail with a fir tree on the left you got a respite but not for long.

In an oxygen deprived state you took a few steps and stumbled onto SW Fairview where you hoped a car wasn’t coming as you crossed the road and jumped onto the Wildwood Trail. The recovery from the last segment is all of 100m and while it is downhill, it goes way too fast before you launch into a short 50m sprint on Wildwood. After this short and intense burst you did get some recovery as you ran a 400m before the next pickup of 800m.

The 800m segment starts just off Wildwood and above the Vietnam Memorial at a bench. It traverses an unnamed trail before going what can be best described as “off-roading” as you ran through what appeared to be a goat path through a grass field which once was the 18th hole on the old Washington Park golf course, but which had also been given back to nature when the golf course was closed. Was it a smooth green? Nope, you just hoped you didn’t twist you ankles as you made a 180 degree turn at full speed around the old hole and dropped down to SW Kingston before finishing with a final 150m crawl back to Wildwood.

It was at this point where oxygen was a rare commodity and the feeling of puking first rears its head. Your body is working. Your lungs are demanding oxygen because your legs aren’t getting enough and they are letting your body know. How to deal with this? A 400m recovery before your next pickup.

After the recovery you hit a 400m segment on the Maple Trail right above SW Kingston. This segment is out in the open and is probably the easiest part of the loop because except for about the last 10m it is downhill to flat and you could stride out and move. Finishing this segment you reentered the forest for about 200m before making a quick 50m stride across what used to be called Frog Hollow, but is now the Archery Range. After the short burst you run for 400m on the Wildwood that allows you to prepare the next to last hard segment – 1,000m.

On a topo map the 1,000m segment really doesn’t stand out. It’s pretty flat with a couple of 180 degree turns. The problem? The cumulative effect of all the prior segments, because by 500m into this hard push you are either ready to throw up, fall over the cliff on the right and land down in the Japanese Garden, or both, but you push on and after what begins to seem like an eternity you come to a metal pole standing up on the right side of the trail where you stopped. What the pole stands for other than to stop the pickup I do not know, but it a welcome sight. Now for the final rest segment which really doesn’t allow much of a recovery in its 400m of twists and turns and ups and downs.

The final pickup is 400m. How to describe it? Take the 200m segment from earlier and put it on steroids. It is a long, hard climb with three switchbacks that makes your entire body scream. Your arms are hurting, your legs are burning and you are focusing solely on getting to the top. When you reach the top at SW Fairview you’d better hit the brakes immediately lest you stumble in front of a car and get put out of your misery. Fortunately, at this point you can spend as much time as you want recovering, unless, as we were known to do back in the day, you want to run the loop a second time.

I love the Wildwood fartlek. It’s been a loop that since 1989 I’ve run every year at least once. It’s a loop I’ve enjoyed teaching others about, and it’s a loop I used when Lincoln High School Cross-Country alums held a group run for Coach David Bailey after he stepped down after over 45 years as coach. So, if you are looking to get fit for cross-country and test your limits, wander on over to SW Fischer and White Pine Trail and follow the footsteps of prior generations.

What the Hell is the Roots Running Project?- by Craig Rice

2016 was a break out year for the Roots Running Project.  We first noticed the group at the Portland Track Festival  where RRP member, Noah Droddy, lay exhausted on the track after qualifing for the US Olympic Trials.  We also know member, Willie Milam , as a Portland product from Jesuit High School.  After Noah's incredible half-marathon this weekend we contacted Willie (WM) and head coach Richey Hansen (RH) to ask about the origin and outlook for the training group.

Noah Droddy finishes 7th in 61:48 at the New York Road Runners Half Marathon on March 19, 2017.

Noah Droddy finishes 7th in 61:48 at the New York Road Runners Half Marathon on March 19, 2017.

Who are the core members of Roots Running project – athletes and coaches?

(RH) - Current athletes in the group include (alphabetical): Margaret Connelly (@MM_Connelly), Noah Droddy (@IBuiltTheArk), Molly Grabill (@MollyJo_Grabill) , Alia Gray (@aliatgray) , Brian Llamas (@brianllamas), Katie McMenamin (@KatieJMcMenamin), Willie Milam (@wmilam03), Tyler Mueller (@TylerMFMueller), Mara Olson (@MCOlson5), and Andy Phillips (APhillips307)

I coach am the sole coach of the group, however, Alia, is individually coached my Coach Vigil.  He additionally has served as a tremendous mentor to me as a young coach, but doesn't provide me input on how to structure the schedules outside of Alia's individual training.  


I think it was more of a “well f*ck it, looks like we have a group now” moment. 
— Coach Richey Hansen

What was the Big Bang moment for this group? What brought you together?

(RH) - I think it was more of a "well f*ck it, looks like we have a group now" moment.  I was coaching at a high school when Alia and I first started dating, she wasn't super excited about the way her training was going in her current group, so decided to step away from that group and was considering "self-coaching" following the NYC Marathon in 2014.  Shortly there after, we were put in touch with Coach Vigil, who agreed to take Alia on as an athlete.  She had modest marks at the time but saw pretty quick success once switching to Coach Vigil's training.  We were then approached by Mara Olson (5-time All-American at Butler), who inquired about joining Alia as a training partner with me writing her training, and we were like, "well, let's do this".  Noah approached us that Fall about joining and his success that Spring, is what ignited the influx we had at the end of summer (Willie included in that influx).  


In any given week, how much does RRP function as a team? (workouts together? group house? long runs? Meals?) 

(RH) - We meet 4 days a week for practice.  But, they have become a family so tend to socially hang out together frequently outside of training as well when grabbing dinner or drinks out.  

(WM) - We usually meet up on weekday nights (depending on all of our work schedules) and weekend nights for dinner/drinks/casual hanging out at one of our places to break up the monotony of training. We are still such a new team and a young group, but I feel like we have become very close already - typically trying to hangout with each other most of the time outside of practice when we aren't working our day jobs.


What’s up for the 2017 season? What are the big goals for the team and where will you chase them?

(RH) - Track is the main focus this Spring season with everything culminating at the USATF Champs in June.  Alia and Noah have already auto-qualfied, but we're hoping to have the majority of their teammates join in the fun.  Meets we're targeting are some of the standard ones: Stanford, Mt Sac, Payton Jordan, and Portland Track Festival.  We will adjust accordingly though based on how people are performing to add or take away meets as needed.  


Training groups are structured and funded in all kinds of creative ways. What does it take to keep an upstart running team like RRP going?

(RH) - We are currently self-funded.  All athletes work part-time jobs to cover living and training expenses.  I have my own private sports medicine practice in Boulder that prevents me from being reliant on the group as a source of income, but allows the athletes to get treated as needed.  Additionally, we have an Alter-G treadmill in-office and the necessary strength work for any ancillary routines I'll have them do.  

As of Nov. 2016, we are a 501(3)c non-profit and in the process of establishing our operating budgets for the group's future with the hope of providing travel, living, and training assistance to make competing as a post-collegiate a little bit more manageable.  


Noah Droddy made a splash at the Trials last year. What did his success mean for RRP?

(RH) - It was a major contributor, as his success, along with the success Mara showed early on, showed we were doing something right from a development standpoint.  Noah's personality is also contagious, so I think his story resonated with a lot of people: a goofy blue collar dude that works his butt off to come out of nowhere and have success on the stage that he has is definitely inspiring.  


Who are your worst teammates?  

(WM) - Worst teammate is a tie between Andy Phillips and Brian Llamas. Andy because I have to live with him and he never cleans his dishes, and Brian because he uses too many emojis in text messages. Second worst goes to Molly and Noah because Molly is way too serious during hard workouts and Noah is incredibly judgmental of me and my attire on most occasions. With that said, on a more serious note, we truly are a family and I couldn't ask for any better teammates and friends to spend so much time with.