California Track & Running News, June-Aug 2015

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ct&rn ctrn

June–August 2015

At the Hoka One One Middle Distance Classic at Occidental College last month, STEPHANIE GARCIA won the steeplechase in 9:37.19, well under the 9:44 World Champs “A” standard. The meet was cut short due to weather. See story on page 14.

California Track & Running News Victor Sailer/

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SEPTEMBER 26-27, 2015 ½ MARATHON | 10K | 5K | KiDS ROCK

on your marks

California Track & Running News

Vol. 41, No. 3 June–August 2015

FORTIUS Media Group LLC Publishing Director Larry Eder Editorial Director Christine Johnson Holding Space LLC CT&RN Contributing Editors Cregg Weinmann Apparel, Footwear Reviews Mark Winitz Northern California Photographers Victor Sailer Bob Betancourt Photography Steve Pensinger/Getty Images Association Consultants Dave Shrock Pacific Lawrence Watson Central Rebecca Trahan Southern Greg Wagner San Diego/Imperial Proofreader Red Ink Editorial Services Madison, WI Website Chuck Bartlett ADVERTISING Publisher Larry Eder FORTIUS Media Group LLC ph 608.239.3785 Advertising Production Alex Larsen Alex Graphics


Regards, Larry Eder California Track & Running News (ISDN #10986472), incorporating Pacific Athlete, is the official publication for the four USA Track & Field associations in California and Northern Nevada. It is produced, published, and owned by FORTIUS Media Group LLC, P.O. Box 6450, San Jose, CA 95150, Larry Eder Publishing Director. All ad materials and insertion orders should be sent to Larry Eder at the address above. Phone 608.239.3785. Also please send PDFs of ad materials to Alex Larsen at Publisher assumes no liability for matter printed. Publisher assumes no responsibility or liability for content of paid advertising and reserves the right to reject paid advertising. Publisher expects that all claims by advertisers can be substantiated and that all guarantees will be honored. Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Publisher. Copyright © 2015 by FORTIUS Media Group LLC. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be repro­duced in any form without prior written permission of the Publisher.

California Track & Running News is represented by FORTIUS Media Group LLC which also represents members of the Running Network and Publisher recommends, as with all fitness and health issues, you consult with your physician before instituting any changes in your fitness program. Let Us Hear From You! We welcome your suggestions, comments, and questions. Direct them to: Christine Johnson, Editorial Director 608.239.3787 Address Changes/Missing Issues Third class mail is not forwarded. Contact your local USATF association about address changes, duplicate mailings, or missing issues. See below for contact information. Member of:

California Track & Running News is a magazine for members of the California and N. Nevada associa­tions of USA Track & Field. Contact your region regarding changes of address and missing issues. Central California Association — — Pacific Association — 916.983.4715 — — San Diego/Imperial Association — 619.275.6542 — — Southern California — 562.941.2621 — —

June–August 2015 • ct&rn 3


Harry Marra is featured in this issue of California Track & Running News. Harry coaches Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton and currently is preparing them for both the USA Champs in June and the World Champs in August. Harry has been involved in track in the Golden State for some time. In the early 1980s, Harry coached at San Francisco State University and started the Johnny Mathis Invitational there. My training partner, Tim Gruber, and I raced it several years—Tim did the steeple and I ran the 10,000m with my college training partner, Gerhard Behrens. Cal Track editor Christine Johnson, our son, Adam, and I also visited Harry Marra and Fred Samara when they ran the VISA Decathlon program, from 1990 to 2000, which helped develop a generation of decathletes. In 1994, we attended the USA vs. Germany Decathlon, which was a wonderful event. No spectator stands; we were on the field. We met and chatted with Bob Mathias, Bill Toomey, Rafer Johnson, and Fred Samara, and many others. It was a bit like being one of the few outsiders invited to a private party. Marra remains a student of the sport. He realizes that his job as a coach is to keep the athletes healthy and help them finetune. Observing Marra with Ashton and Brianne is one of my favorite pastimes. Thanks for supporting us in this third issue of the 2015 California Track & Running News. This issue mails out digitally and via print. Christine also sends a monthly enewsletter the middle of every month, as well as being present in social media like Facebook, and posting regular updates on We’d love for you to join us on any or all of these platforms!

association news Dave Shrock

Pacific Association

Track & Field Competition Opportunities 6/12–14

USATF JO Region 15 T&F Championships, Cerritos College


USATF Pacific Open T&F Championships, College of San Mateo


7th Annual Pride Track & Field Meet, Cox Stadium (1600 Holloway Av, SF), all day Contact Andrew Bundy,

6/20–21 USATF Masters West Region Championships, Cerritos College (11110 Alondra Blvd, Norwalk) 6/26–28 USA Youth Reg. 15 JO Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Cerritos College 6/27

Race to End Hunger All-Comers Track & Field Meet, Davis Senior HS, Davis, 11am–3pm


USA Youth Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Lisle IL

6/25–7/30 Chabot T&F Summer All Comers Meet, Thursdays from 7–11pm Chabot College (25555 Hesperian Blvd, Hayward) $5 per event Field events + High Hurdles, 1500m, 400m, 100m, 800m, 200m, 3200m Contact Kyle Robinson, 6/23–7/28 Chabot T&F Youth All Comers, Tuesdays, 5:30 pm, entries are free! Long Jump, Soft Ball Throw, 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m 7/11–12

USATF JO Region 15 Multis, West Covina High School Meet Director Steve Todd, 562.618.0435,


California State Games, Mira Mesa HS, San Diego

7/27–8/2 USATF National Junior Olympic T&F Championships, Jacksonville, FL

Visit for complete calendars for all events taking place within the Pacific Association. It’s always a good idea to verify the details on the website.

Lawrence Watson

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Central California 6/13–14 Region 14 Youth JO Multi Champs Hosted by Pacific Assn. 6/20 Central CA Assoc. JO T&F Champs Top 8 Advance to Region 14 Register at Coach O. 6/27–28 Region 14 JO Youth Champs hosted by Pacific Assn.

7/9–12 Region 14 Youth JO T&F Champs Individual Events: Top 5 Advance Multi-events: Top 2 Advance Register at Coach O. 10/8 Central CA USATF Annual Meeting 6:30pm, location TBA

Association Events continue on page 8


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CALIFORNIA A RUNNER’S MIND 1111 Howard Ave., Burlingame, CA 650-437-2217 3575 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 415-800-7575

A SNAILS PACE 1040 E Imperial Hwy., Brea, CA 714-842-2337 8780 Warner Ave., Fountain Valley, CA 714-842-2337 24451 Alicia Pkwy., Mission Viejo, CA 949-707-1460 750 S Myrtle, Monrovia, CA 626-471-9101 ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE 55 W. Main St., Los Gatos, CA 408-354-7365 1115 Lincoln Ave., San Jose, CA 408-297-0100 CHAMPS 1248 3rd St., Promenade, Santa Monica, CA 310-395-3627 San Francisco Centre 865 Market St., Sp C-36, San Francisco, CA 415-975-0883 FEET FIRST 2800 Leavenworth St., Ste. 12, San Francisco, CA 415-885-6393 FLEET FEET 2311 J St., Sacramento, CA 916-442-3338 615 2nd St., Davis, CA 530-753-7771 1850 Douglas Blvd., Ste. 418, Roseville, CA 916-783-4558 277 Lincoln Ctr., Stockton, CA 209-952-1446 859 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park, CA 650-325-9432 8128 Madison Ave., Fair Oaks, CA 916-965-8326 2076 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 415-921-7188 26 Rancho Del Mar, Aptos, CA 831-662-0886 912 Del Monte Ctr. #68, Monterey, CA 831-372-5664 354 Merchant St., Vacaville, CA 707-449-9266

317-296-9003 LADY FOOTLOCKER WFL San Francisco Centre 865 Market St.San Francisco, CA 415-512-9177 NAPA RUNNING COMPANY 942 Main St., Napa, CA 512-473-0040 REI 1338 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, CA 510-527-4140 2962 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 714-505-0205 RED LEAF 111 The Crossroads Blvd., Carmel, CA 831-624-4112 ROAD RUNNER SPORTS SHOP 5553 Copley Dr., San Diego, CA 858-974-4455 1125 Industrial Rd., San Carlos, CA 650-654-2603 24291 Avenida De La Carlota Ste. P5, Laguna Hills, CA 949-855-9252 25359 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance, CA 310-326-8530 1975 Diamond Blvd., E-36, Concord, CA 925-825-8052 1714 Newbury Rd., Newbury Park, CA 805-375-1415 1835 Newport Blvd., Ste. A101, Costa Mesa, CA 949-515-9540 877 E Hamilton Ave., Campbell, CA 408-796-6979 5617 Paseo Del Norte Ste. 100, Carlsbad, CA 760-444-3020 1338 4th St., Santa Monica, CA 424-214-3535 12115 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA 818-579-7222 1326 10th St., Berkeley, CA 510-900-6272

FORWARD MOTION SPORTS 432 Hartz Ave, Danville, CA 925-831-3745

RUNNERS HIGH 5338 E 2nd St., Long Beach, CA 562-433-7825 6416 E Stearns St., Long Beach, CA 562-430-7833

FRONTRUNNERS 11620 San Vicente Blvd., Ste. 121, Los Angeles, CA 310-207-0216 8625 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 310-360-0067

RUNNING CENTER 28751 Rancho California Rd., Ste. 107, Temecula, CA 760-941-0035

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FOOTLOCKER 4545 La Jolla Village Dr., San Diego, CA 858-457-4114 2313 Stoneridge Mall, Pleasanton, CA 925-463-9645 7007 Friars Rd., San Diego, CA 619-296-1657 8500 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 310-652-5749 3333 Bristol St., Ste. 1036, Costa Mesa, CA 714-540-0525 283 Horton Plaza, San Diego, CA 619-238-7141 865 Market St., San Francisco, CA 415-227-4834 24201 Valencia Blvd., Valencia, CA 661-259-6378 301 Arizona Ave., Santa Monica, CA 310-260-7913

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SIX: 02 Santa Monica 1329 3rd St. Promenade, Santa Monica, CA 310-394-7275 The Oaks 350 West Hillcrest Dr., Thousand Oaks, CA 805-379-0634 Westfield Topanga 6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Canoga Park, CA 818-593-8520 Beverly Center-Opening in June 8500 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 310-854-0070

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association news

Greg Lopez

San Diego/Imperial

We’re excited to be partnering with CTRN to promote and spread the word about all the exciting local events that will unite our passionate community of track and related sport athletes, coaches, officials, and fans. It’s vitally important that we remain accessible and socially relevant in an ever changing, digitally connected world—especially for our youth and elite athletes who can feel disconnected easily without social media like Facebook and Twitter. Our goal is to further unite and engage all USATF members and encourage others to get involved. Quality publications like CTRN allow us to cross promote easily and reach the people that are hungry for more track news. All events are at

The final Road Champs race is the Bonita 5km on June 20 at Rohr Park. Start is 7:30am. Beginning in August, there will be two cross country series: the adult Dirt Dog Series, plus a new youth XC series. Look for details on our website and in the CTRN enewsletter.

Opportunities to Compete in Track & Field: 6/12–13 SD/USATF Association Championships, OTC, Contact Adam Henderson, AHende400@ 6/27 SDTC Chuck McMahon Masters T&F Meet CSU San Marcos, Age 30+, starting at 8am Contact Steve Kleinstuber, 619.244.7691, or


6/10 University City HS (Contact Jim McCarthy,

6/24 Clairemont HS (Contact Sean Stevenson,

7/8 San Diego State University (Contact Sheila Burrell, )

7/22 Sweetwater HS (Contact Tim Latham,

All ages and abilities are welcome. You may compete in any or all of the meets.

8 ct&rn • June–August 2015

Cost: $5 Per Event Pre-Registration (at; $7 Per Event on Meet Day begins at 5pm. Competition Start Times: Field Events 5:30pm; Running Events at 6pm Events Contested Track Hurdles (100 or 400m); Mid-Distance (800m to Mile); Sprint (100- 200m); Distance (3000-5000m); Long Sprint (400m) Field Shot Put, Long Jump, High Jump

The first 200 participants at each Summer Nights event will receive a free souvenir! Series Director Paul Greer 858.573.1500

Like Our Facebook Page: Summer Nights Track and Field Follow Us on Twitter: @SDTrackandField

SHOE REVIEW by Cregg Weinmann

Trail Shoes Spring/Summer’15 The trails will be calling your name soon, if they haven’t already. We hope you’re listening because there’s some great running on the single track, fire roads, and hiking paths. To get you outfitted for them, we present our semiannual review of trail running shoes. We’ve taken a look at four updated shoes and four brand new shoes. Because trails vary considerably, so do trail shoes; therefore, you’ll want to select the ones best suited to the surfaces and types of running you’ll be doing. Don’t know where to begin? Start by taking a look at your road running shoes: If your preference is protection on the road, you’ll probably lean toward Responsive Trail shoes. If you gravitate toward Performance shoes on the road, Performance Trail is probably your best bet. Use these eight reviews as a starting point in your search for trail shoes. Then seek out the help of a specialty running retailer when possible. And don’t forget to visit

ASICS GEL-FujiAttack 4 $110

The FujiAttack represents a successful synergy between Japanese and California trail influences, and the latest iteration is probably the best yet. Round 4 focuses largely on the upper with a few other touches. The upper features a stretch mesh over the toebox and tongue, with a handy lace “garage,” combined with an open mesh from the midfoot to the heel. Synthetic leather overlays form a nearly complete rand for protection, structure, and durability. Overlays extend from the rand to wrap the midfoot. The laces continuously adjust, thanks to a cord that runs through the overlays and incorporates the laces, adapting to the foot’s movement. The Solyte midsole has a firm feel and provides good surface feedback. The outersole is full-contact, with multidirectional, low-profile lugs for grip, plus a protective rock plate. This is a shoe that thrives on the trail and manages the roads getting there, all the while performing responsively. “Adjusts well to the foot with a comfortable fit. Traction was really good. The wrap-around bumper on the front of the shoe is a protective reminder of the shoe’s function.” RESPONSIVE TRAIL Sizes: Men 6–13,14,15; Women 5–12 Weight: 11.9 oz. (men’s 11); 9.7 oz. (women’s 8) Shape: semicurved Construction: Strobel slip-lasted Recommended for: medium- to high-arched feet with neutral biomechanics

Brooks Cascadia $120

For a decade, the Cascadia has been Brooks’ solution to off-road running. Round 10 receives a needed overhaul that pushes it forward technologically. The upper received the most significant attention, with many of the sueded overlays replaced by welded, no-sew alternatives. Further changes to the upper include a full rand, rearfoot-only supports that extend to the lacing to break up the film overlays that are needed to anchor the heel and midfoot. The midsole received minor tweaks to the molding. Its geometry is retained, and the pivot points and shaping are much the same. The outersole has also received noteworthy attention. The flex grooves and lug placement are well-thought-out: Lugs are lined up with the pivot posts in a more deliberate way to ensure better articulation. The result is a significant improvement to this reliable trail cruiser. “Wraps the foot well; nice and secure with a smooth feel. Good traction and protection. Felt confident on the trails.” RESPONSIVE TRAIL Sizes: Men 7–13,14,15; Women 5–11,12 Weight: 13.2 oz. (men’s 11); 8.2 oz. (women’s 8) Shape: semicurved Construction: Strobel slip-lasted, EVA Strobel board Recommended for: medium- to high-arched feet with neutral biomechanics

Hoka Challenger ATR $130

The Challenger ATR is the new trail version of Hoka’s lightest road shoe, the Clifton. Even though it’s a new shoe aimed at trail running, it benefits from the design and production of its sibling, giving it a useful head start. The upper is a closed mesh supported by no-sew overlays, which means the interior is smooth. The midsole is the expected tall stack height, with the flatter slope of 5mm geometry that handles the trail well. The ride is cushy, though not too soft, thanks to the foam. The outersole is a grippy, lugged design that comes in on the minimal side to save weight. All in all, the Challenger ATR does an admirable job providing protection, grip, and performance on the trails as well as the roads. “Fit was good, but with several lacing options that allow me to dial it in. Great cushioning! Good grip for the trail.They did a good job for me.” RESPONSIVE TRAIL Sizes: Men 7–13,14; Women 6–11 Weight: 9.9 oz. (men’s 11); 8.1 oz. (women’s 8) Shape: semicurved Construction: Strobel slip-lasted, EVA Strobel board Recommended for: medium- to high-arched feet with neutral biomechanics

Inov-8 Race Ultra 270 $120

Though the Race Ultra 270 is new to the Inov-8 line, it gets its name the way all Inov-8 trail shoes do: from its function and mass in grams. The closed mesh upper has overlays of laminated film with traditional overlays at heel and toe, fairly beefy in the rearfoot. The interior is smooth and fairly supple. The midsole is low-profile, with good flexibility, responsiveness, and protection. A responsive ride couples well with the outersole, which provides some of the comfort and protectiveness of the ride. The outersole is a toothy tread that splits the difference between shark-like and low-profile, and is made of a rubber compound that offers extra grip in the loose stuff and traction on the smooth stuff. While the shoe is a tad heavy for a traditional racer, its function as an Ultra racer with its low-profile fit and feel makes it suitable for use on a variety of trail surfaces. “Nice, smooth fit hugs the foot comfortably. Good light feel, low to the ground but with enough cushion to prevent feeling beat up. I like the performance, grip, and looks of this one.” RESPONSIVE TRAIL Sizes: Men 8–13 Weight:11.5 oz. (men’s 11) Shape: semicurved Construction: Strobel slip-lasted Recommended for: medium- to high-arched feet with neutral biomechanics

LaSportiva Helios SR $125

The Helios SR is a new shoe that builds on the design of some of La Sportiva’s most successful recent models. It bears a resemblance to its sibling, the Helios, but features a few new bells and whistles. The upper is closed mesh with welded overlays, the thickest of which makes up the saddle. The tongue is gusseted, and the interior linings are smooth against the foot. The midsole is injection-molded EVA in a wave-like configuration that flexes well and adds traction to the outersole by its shape. The outersole is a sticky rubber formulation and lends the “SR” to the name; the heel portion is La Sportiva’s Frixion rubber. The combination of these two compounds, along with multidirectional lugs and the negative space created by the sole’s geometry, provide effective traction. This is an effective, lightweight trail goat that’s a racer as well as a nimble performance flyer. “Great racer fit. Very flexible, nicely cushioned, low profile. This one can really fly.” RESPONSIVE TRAIL Sizes: Men 6–13; Women 6–11 Weight: 8.9 oz. (men’s 11); 7.3 oz. (women’s 8) Shape: semicurved Construction: Strobel slip-lasted, EVA Strobel board Recommended for: medium- to high-arched feet with neutral biomechanics



Montrail FluidFlex ST $95

The FluidFlex ST is the stable twin to the FluidFlex, Montrail’s neutral shoe. The upper has open mesh on the tongue and over the toes, while two other meshes combine to form the midfoot saddle and extend back to the heel. All three work together to wrap the foot well without inhibiting flexibility. The midsole uses the same tooling as the FluidFlex, though here they’ve used pellets of several densities, intentionally arranged to make a cradle of denser foam under the midfoot. The result adds a bit of stability, while maintaining the flexibility of the trail racer that’s the heart of the FluidFlex shoes. The outersole is Gryptonite rubber, again, mirroring the neutral model and providing traction to get the job done. The bottom line? The stability, traction, and versatility of the FluidFlex ST earned it our award for Best Trail Shoe. “I’m impressed with the fit; it wraps my foot nicely. The traction, flex, and feel are really great on the trails here in the Sierras.” RESPONSIVE TRAIL Sizes: Men 7–13,14,15; Women 5–11 Weight: 9.9 oz. (men’s 11); 8.1 oz. (women’s 8) Shape: semicurved Construction: Strobel slip-lasted, EVA Strobel board Recommended for: medium- to high-arched feet with neutral biomechanics to moderate overpronation

New Balance 1210 Leadville $125

The 1210 is named for one of the iconic races of the Ultra marathon scene, the Leadville 100. Version 2 maintains the best of the original while incorporating the usual material and design upgrades. The upper shifts to a more closed mesh, updated nosew overlays across the saddle and heel, with a traditional synthetic toecap for protection—all similar to Version 1. The tongue is gusseted to keep out trail debris, and because it stays in place well (rather than sliding back and forth), the fit is improved. The midsole is the same chassis as before: a fairly firm foam formulation with geometry built for stability and protection, a rock plate in the forefoot as well as the N2 element lending its cushioning. The outersole is also retained, its moderately toothy and effective lugs offering good traction without hindering flexibility. The long and short of it is that the 1210 v2 is a protective, moderate-weight trail shoe designed for long-distance. “Snug heel fit with plenty of toe room. Decent flexibility with the rock plate providing good trail protection. Good job on the traction as well.” RESPONSIVE TRAIL Sizes: Men 7–12,13; Women 5.5–10,11 Weight: 11.5 oz. (men’s 11); 9.3 oz. (women’s 8) Shape: semicurved Construction: Strobel slip-lasted, EVA Strobel board Recommended for: low- to medium-arched feet with neutral biomechanics

Skechers GoRun Ultra 2 $90

The GoRun Ultra proved to be a surprisingly effective trail running shoe, with its well-cushioned, oversized sole. Round 2 maximizes the positive, steps up the aesthetics, and focuses on the upper’s fit and performance. The Ultra 2 has a completely redesigned upper, with the overlays, both traditional and welded varieties, combining to form a complete rand. The stretchy mesh that extends from tongue to toe both conforms nicely to the foot and flexes well as the foot moves. The lacing options also accommodate a variety of fit needs. The midsole and outersole remain unchanged: a top layer of fairly soft foam that cushions surprisingly well and resists bottoming out, and a tough outersole that adds a touch of cushioning while conforming to the trail surface—even if it’s paved. “Fit wrapped the foot; felt supportive and flexed nicely as I moved. The sole has amazing cushion, good traction. It’s my favorite.” RESPONSIVE TRAIL Sizes: Men 7–12,13; Women 5.5–10,11 Weight: 10.1 oz. (men’s 11); 8.2 oz. (women’s 8) Shape: semicurved Construction: slip-lasted Recommended for: low- to medium-arched feet with neutral biomechanics Cregg Weinmann is footwear and apparel editor for the Running Network LLC, which is solely owned by FORTIUS Media Group, LLC. The Running Network and its 42 partners provide daily reviews of product via All content, regardless of media delivery system, is copyrighted by the Fortius Media Group, LLC. Cregg can be reached at Copyright © 2015 by FORTIUS Media Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be stored, copied, or reprinted without prior written permission of FORTIUS Media Group, LLC. Reprinted here with permission.

Convenient Nutrition Do you want maximum performance from your athletes? Proper nutrition is the key to reaching maximum potential. Convenient Nutrition is proud to announce a special offer to California Track and Running News to help fuel athletes properly. Oats n’ Protein provides the perfect amount of protein and carbs to help carry your athletes across the finish line! To order go to and use code: CALTRACK Twitter: @OatsNProtein

Instagram: @convenient_nutrition Phone: (714)-366-7837

multievent coaching

Dave Hunter

HARRY MARRA: The 10-Event Maestro

12 ct&rn • June–August 2015

Steve Pensinger/Getty Images

More so than in most sports, competent coaching is a critical ingredient in the success of any track & field performer. And unlike most sports, the skillful coaches who guide the athletic fortunes of our sport’s greatest athletes toil in virtual anonymity. Frequently ununiformed, seldom interviewed, and rarely in the spotlight, these mentors work on meet day in the shadows of the sport. After months or even years of preparation, seeking that one final edge, they might offer their athlete a final tip, a gentle reminder, or a last word intended to send their gladiator off to battle in the best mental state possible. You have to work to spot these corner men and women, but you can find them if you try. And if you do, you might be able to observe veteran multiple-event coach Harry Marra, perhaps the best in the business.

A competitive decathlete himself several decades ago, Marra now sees how that experience aids his multi coaching and endows him with street cred. “I think you can do [multievent coaching] without being a decathlete. But I think [a coach’s own decathlon experience] makes the road that much straighter.” Marra, who guides Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Ashton Eaton and Eaton’s Olympic silver medalist spouse, Brianne Theisen Eaton, has firsthand insight into the challenges of multievent coaching. “There are a lot of nuances about the decathlon/heptathlon that you have to [understand]. The decisions I make at the level I coach are really as tough any decision a young coach faces starting out. There’s no cookie-cutter program for multievent training—absolutely none. Every decision you make—to go, to not go; to push this workout, to back off this workout; to add more strength training, whatever it may be—[it] all comes down to knowledge and experience that you have gained over the years. And I’ve been at it a lot of years.” His years of experience have allowed him to craft his own multievent coaching philosophy. “We have a saying that Ash and Bri and I use: ‘I coach to the athlete.’” Marra, who eschews the one-size-fits-all thinking, prefers a more tailored approach to multi coaching. “I design a program that fits whatever abilities Ash and Bri have, and then we go forward with it. Instead of a cookie-cutter program—this is what you are supposed to do in the fall and this is what you are supposed to do in the winter—I look specifically what their attributes are and then I play to those attributes.” When Marra joined the University of Oregon track & field staff as a multi coach in the fall of 2009, both Eaton and Theisen were well into their college careers. The veteran coach jumped right in, but also took time to assess the talent and other attributes these already-accomplished athletes demonstrated. “When you look at an athlete relative to the multievents, you have to look beyond just athletic ability,” Marra explains. “A lot of guys have athletic ability, but do they have the mental state to carry on over two days in a stressful situation and deal with the chaos surrounding multievents? You can’t script the multievent as to how it will unfold. It’s just going to change time after time after time again.” Marra liked what he saw. “I saw those essential other qualities in Ashton. He’s a very smart kid, a very practical kid, a very analytical kid—as is Brianne—in all these cases. And they’re obviously very good athletically, too.”

tired. I’m exhausted. I don’t even want to see a decathlon next year.’ So we left it at that. Later that summer, before Moscow, we were doing a workout on the track at Hayward. I was standing at the first turn near where the first intermediate hurdle would normally be. Ashton, now in his flats, shouted to me from the start line and said, ‘Hey coach, watch this.’ He crouched down, simulated a start, ran 21 steps to where the first hurdle would normally be and then mimicked a perfect hurdle clearance. He then took 13 steps in between and mimicked a clearance of each imaginary hurdle through 200 meters. I said, ‘That’s it. Next year: 400 meter hurdles. No question.’” Freed from the bondage of 10-event training, Eaton worked with Marra to turn 2014 into a fun, reinvigorating year of new challenge. The result? A PR, a season best of 48.69, and a #6 world ranking in an event in which he had never before competed! Looking ahead, Marra sees no difficulty in keeping both Eaton and Theisen inspired and focused. “It’s really not a hard thing to do—at least in Ashton’s case and in Brianne’s case. They’re two driven individuals,” states Marra. “They’re goal might be to win medals and win championships. But their real goal is to keep improving in each event. I know that’s what their goal is. It’s my job then to make sure I’m on top of my coaching end and to bring them along: Not just to be in shape for Beijing this summer, but to be at their best-ever for Beijing. So my job is to play to what their desires are—improving in each event—so that their total score can lead to a new PR. I think both of them would say that they will walk away from the event when they feel they have done everything they can in the event, and that’s it, that’s the best we’re going to do. But they haven’t found that yet. It’s still wide open. I can say this: Both are committed to winning in Rio in 2016.” When asked about how he would like to be remembered Marra, who’s seldom at a loss for words, pauses. “I never thought of that,” he admits. But then he offers, “A good coach. A hard-working coach. An honest coach who played by the rules and created an environment within coaching that was both growth-producing and offered fun along the way.” He quickly adds, “Fun is always a huge part of my deal in life.” Marra, who will soon release his new book, My Life in the Decathlon, has specific goals left to achieve. “One of my goals with the challenge of daily practice is to be very well prepared for practice,” notes Marra, referring to his daily work with two of the world’s greatest athletes. “I want to be so prepared that something positive comes out of each practice so they are on the road to keep moving forward and keep improving day to day right up to Rio—and beyond, if we keep going.” With a smile, he adds, “Another of my goals is to make sure that when I’m done coaching Ash and Bri, whenever that may be, that I can live for at least 10 more years so I can sit back at home in California in my garden with a nice big glass of red wine and say, ‘Yeah, we kicked ass.’”

“There’s no cookie-cutter program for multievent training—absolutely none. Every decision you make—to go, to not go; to push this workout, to back off this workout; to add more strength training, whatever it may be—[it] all comes down to knowledge and experience that you have gained over the years. And I’ve been at it a lot of years.” —Harry Marra

June–August 2015 • ct&rn 13

Marra couldn’t wait to get to work. “Over the course of three months’ time, I started to add in some dimensions athletically for Ash that were more of the elite level,” the coach explains. “He adapted to them immediately, and I mean immediately—beyond immediately! And then I saw specifically, hands-on, his ability as an athlete. So when you combine those two aspects—his athletic ability and his attention to detail—you have something very special.” Marra, who currently serves as the multievent coach for the Oregon Track Club Elite, notes that both Ashton and Brianne leave nothing to chance. “Eaton and Theisen are both students of the game. They go home at night and do their homework,” Marra says. “You don’t become a great multievent guy simply by working out two or three hours a day on the track and that’s it. You have to go home and do your studies. You have to look at video. You have to think about your event. You have to review what practice will be the next day. You have to eat properly. You have to sleep properly. You have to get enough rest and whathave-you. And,” Marra adds, “they do that.” Coach Marra doesn’t get hung up on a singular Athenian body type as essential for multievent success. “They have done studies on that. Studies are studies—and that’s all they are,” the coach notes dismissively. “There’s no real practical implication to that. In the ’60s and ’70s, maybe 6-1 and 195 pounds was supposedly the right size. But in today’s world, you are looking for the more springy, wiry, athletic-type athlete,” Marra says. “You don’t need to be enormous like the ’60s and ’70s guys thought they had to be in order to throw the shot, discus, and javelin. Does it take strength to do those events? Of course. But in the decathlon and heptathlon, it takes more skill than it does strength. Ninety percent of the kids who do the multievents don’t do the techniques correctly— because they don’t have as much time to prepare each of the techniques because you’re doing so many other events. Ashton is billed as 6 feet and 175 pounds. He’s lighter now than he ever was. It’s not a brute force event; it’s an athletic event—10 different skills that have all athletic techniques. And you have to be a well-rounded athlete.” Marra is all about keeping a performing athlete’s emotions on an even keel. “If you get all fired up about some event that you did real well or if you get all depressed about some event that you just stunk the house out, that’s not the path to take to become a multievent athlete,” he explains. “There’s time after the meet when you can sit back and say, ‘Wow, that was pretty good.’ But not during the competition.” As a former decathlete, Marra knows how exhausting training for and competing in the 10-event competition can be. And he was savvy enough to find a way to provide a rest year for his multi thoroughbred. “Some time in the spring of 2013, I said to Ashton, ‘We’re not doing this nonsense next year. There is no way in hell you’re doing the decathlon. You’re shot to hell. You’re



Victor Sailer/

14 ct&rn • June–August 2015

Race Results Weekly

Dave Monti

Hopes for World Championships qualifying marks were washed away for many when Hoka One One Middle Distance Classic at Occidental College on May 14 had to be cut short due to heavy rains, dangerous lightning, and chilly temperatures. The meeting—which was contested in typically dry Southern California conditions with 90-degree heat last year—was interrupted by officials at 8:04 p.m. as 14 men lined up for the second of three sections of the 1500m. Rain began to fall heavily, combined with hail, and lightning flashed in the distance. Officials pulled the athletes off of the track to wait for conditions to improve. Athletes huddled shoulder to shoulder under white pop-up tents along the backstretch which were originally erected to protect them from the sun. After more than an hour of waiting, the rain was still pouring down and lightning flashes became more frequent and closer to the Occidental campus. At 9:19 p.m., officials said that the remainder of the meet was cancelled.

Two sections of the men’s 1500m, and both the men’s and women’s sections of the 5000m were scuttled. Robby Andrews, Chris O’Hare, Nate Brannen, Brie Felnagle, Kara Goucher, Natasha Wodak, Galen Rupp, Lawi Lalang, and Cam Levins were among the dozens of athletes who weren’t able to compete. But before the meet was called off, the few hundred fans in attendance got to see several quality races, led by four very strong sections of the 800m. On the men’s side, USA indoor 600m record holder Cas Loxsom held off a hardcharging Matthew Centrowitz in the first section to win in 1:46.23 to his rival’s 1:46.55, just off of the 1:46-flat IAAF World Championships “A” qualifying standard. Charles Jock made a strong stretch run to get third in 1:46.55. “Centro was right on me,” Loxsom told Race Results Weekly after catching his breath. “It was great to have someone there to push me the last 400. I just tried to stay as relaxed as I could on the homestretch, not break form.” Ryan Martin won the second heat in 1:46.37

Bob Betancourt Photography


to post the second-fastest time of the night overall. In the women’s two-lap race, the top two sections both played out dramatically. In the first section, reigning IAAF World Indoor champion Chanelle Price held the lead with 200 meters to go, but four-time USA 1500m champion Treniere Moser got around Price on the outside in the homestretch to take the win in 2:01.67. Price would fade to fourth in 2:01.99, beaten also by Olympian Geena Lara (2:01.87) and LaTavia Thomas (2:01.89). “It was great,” said Moser, who explained that her recent workouts focused on improving her finishing kick. “We’re trying to perfect that.” In the second section, 2011 World 1500m champion Jenny Simpson chased 800m specialist Maggie Vessey down the homestretch, but couldn’t quite catch her taller rival. Vessey clocked 2:00.70, the fastest time of the night, to Simpson’s 2:00.79. Both women bettered the IAAF World Championships “A” qualifying mark of 2:01-flat. “I’m trying to wrap my brain around racing again,” Simpson said of her opening outdoor performance this year. “Last year, for me personally, was very much about times. So being able to step back from that and say, OK, we’re back in a championships year, racing is going to be really important. So I knew in an 800 I was going to be buried.” None of the athletes who ran in the 1500m races made the World Championships qualifying times of 4:06.50 for women and 3:36.20 for men. The women came the closest when Katie Mackey won the first section in 4:07.51, just holding off Gabe Grunewald (4:07.67) in the final meters. Mackey, who has the meet record of 4:04.60, thought that she competed well. “It’s always a little trick to know when do you go,” said Mackey in her yellow and black Brooks uniform. “It’s just something that you learn over time and racing 1500 af-

ter 1500.” She continued: “I decided to go for it and see if I could hold on the last 150 and it worked out. I felt really, really good.” Only one section of the men’s 1500m was contested, and Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano—wearing a new one-piece Hoka One One uniform—bolted away from the field with 250 meters to go, and went on to win in 3:39.96. Two-time Olympian Andrew Wheating was second (3:39.56). In terms of producing world championships qualifying marks, the two steeplechase races did best. Stephanie Garcia of Team New Balance ran away from the women’s field to win in 9:37.19, well under the 9:44.00 World Championships “A” standard. “We wanted it to be a tactical race,” said Garcia, who’s coached by Robert Gary in the Furman Elite program in South Carolina. “It went just as planned.” Ashley Higginson (9:41.27) and Genevieve Lalonde (9:42.40) also made the World Championships qualifying standard. Nicole Bush, the 2013 USA steeplechase champion, fell into the water pit and finished well back from the leaders. “I have no idea,” said Bush, when asked why she had tripped over the water barrier. In the men’s steeplechase, Canada’s Matt Hughes dominated the race, leading nearly every step to win in 8:25.54. He was pushed in the homestretch by compatriot Taylor Milne, who finished second in 8:25.72. Travis Mahoney of the New Jersey-New York Track Club finished third in 8:27.08 and was the last man to get under the World Championships qualifying standard of 8:28.00 “Canadian steeplechase is really strong right now,” commented Hughes, who represents Nike. He continued: “It’s going to be a dogfight at Nationals.” © 2015 Race Results Weekly. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.









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