Endurance: Endurance

Grand CanyonCourtesy of Doug WilliamsProtecting scenic Grand Canyon trails has become a priority as runners continue to flock to the park.
In recent years, the popularity of running and hiking from rim to rim at the Grand Canyon has grown significantly. Running rim-to-rim -– and even rim-to-rim-to-rim -– has become a destination feat for ultra runners from across the U.S. and the world.

On some peak weekend days in the spring and fall, the National Park Service estimates as many as 800 hikers and runners are traveling the inner canyon.

Because issues and user conflicts have grown along with the increase in trail traffic, Grand Canyon National Park is instituting an interim system that will require some hikers and runners in groups to get special-use permits.

The interim permit system will go into effect Sept. 15, close to the expected release this fall of the park’s draft revise of its Backcountry Management Plan.

That draft, which may or may not include more permanent regulation of activity on the canyon’s trails, will be subject to public review and comment for about 90 days.

Special use permits will not be required during this interim period for individual runners or hikers, or small groups of friends or family. But permits will be required for organized groups, such as clubs and non-profit organizations. No groups of more than 30 will be allowed.

Permits will be required only for the inner canyon -- the area closest to the Colorado River -- which all rim-to-rim hikers and runners must cross.
The increase in runners and through-hikers has led to more litter and waste, vehicle congestion at trailheads, conflicts between trail users and crowding at restrooms. It also has overstressed the lone wastewater treatment facility in the canyon at Phantom Ranch.

“With rim-to-rim and extended day hiking and running increasing in popularity, we needed to find an interim solution that would give us the tool to educate hikers and runners on best practices until we have a longer-term solution in place,” park superintendent Dave Uberuaga said in a news release Wednesday.

More information about the new interim permit process can be found at nps.gov/grca/parkmgmt/sup.htm

Defending champs return to NYC Marathon

August, 21, 2014
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Mutai-JeptooAP Photo2013 NYC Marathon champs Geoffrey Mutai and Rita Jeptoo are back to defend their titles in 2014.
Two-time defending champion Geoffrey Mutai and reigning women’s champion Priscah Jeptoo will return to the TCS New York City Marathon on Nov. 2 to defend their titles, the New York Road Runners announced on Thursday. The Kenyans join an elite field that includes 2014 Boston Marathon Champion Meb Keflezighi.

“Last year, as they led 50,000 runners in the largest marathon ever, both Geoffrey and Priscah were inspirations to us all,” NYRR President and CEO Mary Wittenberg said.

“This November, when they line up in Staten Island to start their journey through the unique neighborhoods of the City’s five boroughs, these world-class athletes will be chasing history, as Geoffrey goes for a New York hat trick and Priscah looks to join an elite group of repeat winners.”

Mutai already holds the course record with his 2:05:05, run in 2011. He is also the fastest marathoner of all-time with his 2:03.02 from the 2012 Boston Marathon, but due to the course’s elevation drop and point-to-point layout the time is ineligible for an official world record.

Jeptoo won last year’s race in come-from-behind fashion, reeling in Ethiopian Buzunesh Deba in Central Park after 24 miles. She would cross the finish line in 2:25:07 for a 48-second victory over the Deba..

Here’s a look at Mutai and Jeptoo by the numbers:

0 - Marathons in the spring for Rita Jeptoo after a leg injury forced her to withdraw from the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon.

3 - Mutai looks to win his third consecutive New York City Marathon. He would become just the third man in history to accomplish the feat and the first since Alberto Salazar in 1980-1982.

4 - Although Kenyans have dominated the marathon scene in recent years, Jeptoo is only the second Kenyan woman to win the New York City Marathon since 2000.

6 - Years in age difference between Mutai and Keflezighi on race day. Mutai turns 33 on October 7.

7 - If Jeptoo captures the 2014 crown, she would be the seventh woman to win in back-to-back years. Only two women have won more than twice. World Record holder Paula Radcliffe last accomplished the feat in 2007 and 2008.

22 - Number of miles run with the lead pack before Mutai broke away for the victory in 2013. Is there a similar plan this year or will Mutai chase a faster time than his 2:08:24 from 2013?

60 - Number of minutes Mutai needed to win the New York City Half Marathon on March 16. He would finish sixth at the London Marathon a few weeks later.

2012 - Had the 2012 race not been cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, 2014 could have been an attempt at a four-peat for Mutai. Only Bill Rodgers has won the New York City Marathon four consecutive times.

Robin Williams: Cross-country runner & track star

August, 12, 2014
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Robin Williams often credited his drama club at Redwood High School as one of the sparks to his career in comedy. Before he made the world laugh, Williams was a cross-country runner -- and a good one too. On Monday, Williams was found dead in his California home at the age of 63.

"I love running cross country," Williams once said. "On a track, I feel like a hamster."

According to his high school yearbook, Williams ran 1:58.8 for 800 meters in 1969, according to Runner's World. That same year, his 4x400-meter relay team also ran 3:21.7.

Williams ran in the 1984 Dipsea Race in California, where he finished in 232nd place of 1,375 runners. The cross-country trail race is the oldest in America since its start in 1905.

"Besides the hills, the stairs and the downhill, it wasn't bad," Williams told the Marin Independent Journal afterward.

Williams also played soccer for Redwood and went on to play at Claremont Men's College before attending Julliard, where his acting career would take off.

Kenenisa Bekele to run Chicago Marathon

August, 12, 2014
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World-record holder Kenenisa Bekele will run the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 12. The Ethiopian is coming off a two-hour, five-minute, four-second marathon debut and victory in April’s Paris Marathon. He holds world records at 5,000 and 10,000 meters.

"Kenenisa Bekele is one of the best, most versatile and exciting athletes competing on the global stage today,” race director Carey Pinkowski said in a press release. “Any time an athlete of Bekele’s caliber lines up to race, course records and world records are in jeopardy. We expect Bekele to put on a speed show, and it’s not out of the question to think that Bekele could bring the world record back home to Chicago.”

Bekele by the Numbers:

0 – No losses. Bekele is undefeated since he moved to the marathon. Although Bekele struggled with hamstring cramps toward the end of his first 26.2-mile race, he held off Limenih Getachew. Bekele's winning time of 2:05:04 was the fastest debut by anyone older than 30 and a Paris Marathon course record.

1 – American road race debut for the two-time Olympian. He has raced on an American track only five times.

3 – Bekele had three pacers during his run in Paris. Race organizers put the spotlight on him as the star of the event. Bekele might see tougher competition from the elite field in Chicago and might not have as much control over the pace for the lead pack.

6 – Bekele had the sixth fastest debut in history. How will he fare in his second marathon?

$75,000 - 2:03:45 is the current course record, set by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto in 2013. Bekele aims to lower the time, which also comes with a $75,000 time bonus reward.

Marathon legend Alberto Salazar turns 56

August, 7, 2014
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Three-time New York City Marathon champion and 1982 Boston Marathon winner Alberto Salazar turns 52 today.

Now retired from competitive running, the former Oregon Duck is based in Portland, Ore. as the head coach of the Nike Oregon Project. His training group saw success at the 2012 Summer Olympics Games in London as Mo Farah (Great Britain) and Galen Rupp (United States) captured gold and silver medals, respectively, in the men's 10,000-meter run.

In honor of Salazar's birthday and #ThrowbackThursday, here is a quick flashback to his 1982 Boston Marathon win over Dick Beardsley.

Keflezighi returns to New York Marathon

July, 31, 2014
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Meb KeflezighiAP Photo/Charles KrupaMeb Keflezighi will attempt to get the rare Boston/NYC double victory this year.
Reigning Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi will run the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon on Nov. 2 as an ambassador for the Team for Kids Charity Program, the New York Road Runners announced on Thursday. The 2004 Olympic silver medalist is the first elite runner announced by NYRR for the 2014 edition of the race.

Keflezighi in April became the first American man since 1983 to win Boston, and his 2009 victory in the NYC Marathon was the first for an American man there since 1982.

"I am excited to be running the TCS New York City Marathon for the ninth time. This is a very special race and city for me,” Keflezighi said. "Additionally, I am honored to be a Team for Kids Ambassador and raise funds for the MEB Foundation."

The NYRR also announced that tennis pro Caroline Wozniacki, formerly the WTA's No. 1-ranked player, will be running in New York.

"I can’t wait to trade my tennis racquet for a pair of running shoes and take part in the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon as a New York Road Runners Team for Kids Ambassador," said Wozniacki.

As for Keflezighi, his return to New York offers up some interesting notes.

Meb by the numbers

6 – Only five men have doubled as the Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon champion in the same year. Bill Rodgers accomplished the feat twice, in 1978 and 1979. Alberto Salazar was the last American to do so, in 1982. Kenyans Joseph Chebet (1999), Rodgers Rop (2002) and Geoffrey Mutai (2011) are the most recent.

6 – Keflezighi has finished in the top 10 of the New York City Marathon six times in his career.

9 – 2014 will mark the ninth time that Keflezighi has raced 26.2 miles through the streets of New York.

14 – Since its inaugural race in 1970, there have only been 14 American winners of the New York City Marathon. There has been only one since Alberto Salazar’s third consecutive crown from 1980 to 1982: Keflezighi in 2009.

23 – Just four years removed from his victory, Keflezighi placed 23rd in last year’s NYC marathon. Calf cramping slowed him down to the point where he walked for a few minutes, yet he was determined to cross the finish line.

39 – Keflezighi turned 39 years old on May 5. He was the oldest winner of the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in 2012, when he was 36. Geoffrey Mutai was 30 and 32 when he won the NYC Marathon in 2011 and 2013.

Alan Webb enjoying transition to triathlon

July, 29, 2014
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Alan WebbAndy Lyons/Getty ImagesAfter much track success on the national level, Alan Webb is now focused on triathlons.
Five months into his triathlon career Alan Webb is progressing quickly and, perhaps more important, feeling mentally recharged, according to an update on the U.S. Olympic Committee's site.

Webb, who holds the American record in the mile, has done three individual triathlons since running his last elite track race on February 15 at the Millrose Games. In his most recent, held last July 26 in Magog, Quebec, Webb placed second and was 2 seconds behind 2012 Canadian Olympic triathlete Kyle Jones.

The sprint-distance triathlon was comprised of a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run. Not surprisingly, Webb had the fastest run time of the day at 14:20, which was four seconds faster than Jones. In fact, Webb was also four seconds faster than Jones on the bike and only one second slower on the swim.

Perhaps showing his inexperience in the sport, Webb lost out in the two transitions where he was four and five seconds slower than Jones.

"One of the exciting things about Alan is probably what we don’t know," Webb's coach, Jonathan Hall, told the USOC. "He’s already competing at a high level, and there’s a huge margin for the unknown and improvement."

After a stellar high school career -- including setting the U.S. prep mile record of 3:53.43 in 2001 -- Webb had wildly fluctuating results during the rest of his time as an elite runner. Highs included winning the 2004 Olympic Trials 1500-meter final and setting the American mile record of 3:46.91 in 2007. He is also one of two men in history to run under 1:44 for 800 meters and 27:40 for 10,000 meters.

But Webb was erratic and often injured as a pro. In the last part of his career, he had four coaches within a span of a few years. He failed to advance from his 5000-meter qualifying heat at the 2012 Olympic Trials. In recent years he often ran slower than when he was in high school, and the frustration was palpable.

At Hall's urging, Webb watched a sprint triathlon last fall and decided it was time for a change.

"I wanted to see growth in myself again," Webb told the USOC. "I finally got to the point where I was comfortable saying that I had given everything I had as a professional track athlete."

Webb told the USOC that he's taking his progression in his new sport as it comes, but said about being on the 2016 Olympic team that "I’d be lying if I didn’t say that was my goal."
Evelyn Stevens Harry How/Getty ImagesEvelyn Stevens is proving how much women riders can handle, and her team is innovating financially.
Evelyn Stevens can’t enter a three-week-long bike race like the celebrated Tour de France, which finishes up in Paris on Sunday. That choice has been made for her by cycling’s international governing body, the UCI, which limits women’s multiday or stage races to less than half that duration.

This is not something that sits well with many top women around the world, including Stevens, who gave up an investment banking career on Wall Street seven years ago to become a professional cyclist. Her own stock gained value quickly. Stevens has won two national time trial titles, a world silver medal in the time trial, several stage races and the Fleche-Wallonne one-day classic.

She didn’t know how her body and mind would react to a longer event, but she heard it might help her endurance in the long run -- that’s what the guys say -- and she chafed at the idea that she couldn’t test her limits.

So Stevens organized her own Grand Tour, the longest, hardest stretch she could string together on the calendar: Back-to-back races in Europe that totaled 17 straight days and 959 miles of racing.

She wobbled in the first one, by her own high standards. She won the second. She feels different, more impervious to mental and physical exhaustion. And she thinks she made a statement more emphatic than any written manifesto.

"The point of it is, the female body, we can race Grand Tour lengths," Stevens said from her home base in the Bay Area. "We’re not going to get weaker throughout it.

(Read full post)

Meb KeflezighiAP Photo/Charles KrupaMeb Keflezighi is following his Boston Marathon win with a new job off the roads.
Editor’s Note: Competitor Group is a content provider for ESPN’s Endurance section

Running promotion company Competitor Group Inc. is set to name 2014 Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi its first vice president of running.

The role is a part-time commitment that will allow training for elite races to remain the top priority for Keflezighi, who Competitor CEO David Abeles calls "one of our sport's great ambassadors".

In April, the 39-year-old San Diego resident became the first American man since 1983 to win the Boston Marathon. Keflezighi led for much of the race as the city celebrated its healing from the terrorist bombings near the finish line that marred the 2013 race.

Competitor Group owns and operates the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series, a 28-race roster that along with the group's TriRock Triathlons and Women's Running Series draws more than 700,000 athletes annually. Most participants are recreational runners, but appearance fees are paid to encourage professionals to take part.

Keflezighi turned down an offer to join CGI in 2000 in order to focus on his training, and in his new role will make event appearances on behalf of the company, run in some CGI events and help create training content for runners.

"My dream has been realized," Keflezighi told USA TODAY Sports. "Boston was the capping. Now I want to inspire others to get the best out of themselves, inspire others just getting started. It's a huge honor."

Keflezighi is looking toward the New York City Marathon -- where in 2009 he became the first American winner in 27 years -- this fall, and has made qualifying for the 2014 Olympics in Rio de Janiero one of his main goals moving forward.

“Running is still a priority, but you can do much with social media, with interviews, with appearances,” Keflezighi told Sports Business Journal.

The next Rock 'n' Roll Marathon is scheduled for Aug. 4 in Dublin, Ireland, with the series returning to the United States on Aug. 31 in Virginia Beach.

Rugby preseason survival of the fittest

July, 17, 2014
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Exeter ChiefsDan Mullan/Getty ImagesOffseason conditioning in rugby is no day at the beach.

Rugby is a tough sport; players are willing to get beaten to a pulp week in week out playing for their clubs. During my professional career, I have seen players in pieces after having played a game.

But there is one thing that unites all players, the general hatred for preseason training. This season is the 17th time I have dragged my sorry carcass through weeks of some of the most disgusting fitness sessions strength and conditioning experts can come up with. Everyone knows that it is tough and rugby fans all hear about how hard it can be during the summer months building up to the new season, but some of the physical effects range from horrific to flat out weird. But, by the end of it, you actually start to feel pretty good about yourself and are desperate for the matches to start.

Much of what is thrown at you during the couple of months of preseason is, of course, to improve player fitness and strength levels, but I have learned over the years that there is also an element of the coaches and trainers putting players in situations which mentally stretch them -- will they give up as soon as it gets tough or will they dig in for their teammates?

Read the full story here.

Abbey D'Agostino ready for pro challenges

July, 11, 2014
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Abbey D'AgostinoTim O'Dowd/Dartmouth AthleticsAbbey D'Agostino is taking her NCAA championship experience to the professional ranks.
Seven-time NCAA track champion Abbey D’Agostino signed a professional contract with New Balance on June 18. She will continue her professional career with coach Mark Coogan, who oversaw her success at Dartmouth.

D'Agostino's contract supports her through the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, where she will look to make her first Olympic team. She spoke with ESPN.com recently to discuss her transition from NCAA star to the professional ranks.

Christopher Chavez: How easy of a decision was it for you to feel comfortable with New Balance

D’Agostino: It was pretty seamless. I knew I was looking for a company that wasn’t just there to give me free gear. It was more of a holistic commitment to the company’s values. That jumped out to me instantly with New Balance. They support the individual and not just the runner. It’s a close-knit community and they really embrace the spirit of running. I’m so thrilled to have found what I was looking for.

Chavez: The original plan was to run the 5K at the Monaco Diamond League. Why have you decided to take the summer off?

D’Agostino: In the past month, I haven’t really been in one place for an extended period of time. I think that’s something I’m going to have to adjust to, but there was definitely a bunch of emotional input in those few weeks. Once that starts to affect you mentally, it starts to become physical. I was started to feel that.

I’m privileged to have a coach and support from New Balance that will support the decisions that are best for me. This is a year where I can afford to take a nice long break and that’s what I decided.

Chavez: What’s the plan for the fall?

D’Agostino: If I do any road race this fall, it would be to get my feet wet as a professional. My focus is going to be the U.S. Cross-Country championships in February.

Chavez: What’s the best thing about your chemistry with coach Mark Coogan?

D’Agostino: It’s more than just a coach-athlete relationship and I think it’s also become a friendship. There’s respect there as coach vs. athlete as well, but I’ve come to trust Mark because of his experience racing at this level. He’s also spent a lot of time fine-tuning the mental aspects for him as a runner. That’s what he’s translated to his athletes. That was a very critical element to my success at Dartmouth. I’m really looking forward to what our relationship has in store just building off what we’ve already established.

Chavez: When you first started off with running was it mainly for fun. You weren’t a running junkie that constantly looked up the rest of the competition before meets. When did you flip the switch into really thinking this could be a full-time profession?

D’Agostino: Towards the end of my junior year I started to become more comfortable racing at this caliber. Before it was like ‘Get in there with them and hang on’. I did a lot more leading and racing more consistently against tougher competition. It just felt more comfortable and I started to trust myself however the race played out.

To me, running goes best when I’m very well balanced with other areas of my life and I need to translate that to my professional career. I’m excited to put more energy into running now and also apply myself to things that I probably wouldn’t be able to do if I had a nine to five job. At Dartmouth, I was a student and an athlete and worked to keep those priorities balanced.

Chavez: Outside of running, what are some of your big hobbies and passions?

D’Agostino: I’m a psychology major and there’s much that I can do in terms of internships. I’m more interested in counseling. I really enjoy working with kids. I’ve spent a couple summers as a camp counselor. I did Girls on the Run at Dartmouth, so I’d love to do some volunteer coaching. I was involved with a couple Christian organizations at Dartmouth, so I’m looking forward to finding a new church in Boston and making new friends there.

Chavez: What is a little known fact about Abbey D’Agostino that the track world doesn’t know?

D’Agostino: Playing the violin in middle school was a traumatic experience for me. I always say that when people ask me if I’m musical at all. That turned me off from playing any instrument. I would cry every lesson, because I was so sensitive. I hated practicing. None of that would follow me to high school.

Chavez: You just joined Twitter (@abbey_dags). Why did it take so long?

D’Agostino: Oh my gosh! I had people nagging me to get that for years. It’s funny because I’m pretty much a 60-year-old woman with technology. It’s not my first interest. Even when I’m handling an iPhone, my mom will ask me if I have the flashlight app and I’ll say ‘I don’t even know what that is’.

Now my perspective has definitely changed, people think I had to get one. It was very much a choice. It’s a way to stay connected and I thought it would distract me. Now I do have the time to keep up with pop culture and what’s trending. It’s fun to see high school students and everyone being really enthusiastic about running.

Allen nets rare double at U.S. outdoors

June, 30, 2014
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Devon AllenAndy Lyons/Getty ImagesDevon Allen adds a national title in the 110-meter hurdles to his previous NCAA championship.
The USATF Outdoor Championships concluded Sunday with a handful of noteworthy performances. Here's the best of the best.

Performer of the day: Devon Allen of the University of Oregon became the first man to double as the NCAA Champion and U.S. champion in the 110-meter hurdles since Renaldo Nehemiah in 1979. Allen won with a time of 13.155, edging out defending champion Ryan Wilson by .005 seconds.

Allen’s 13.16 at the NCAA Championship in Eugene on June 16 was the second fastest time by a collegiate athlete and scored points that led to a team title for the Ducks. Allen is also a wide receiver on the Oregon football team.

Comeback watch: Wallace Spearmon may have finished in second place in the 200-meter dash, but his 20.19 matched his season’s best from the 2014 adidas Grand Prix. In his post-race interview, Spearmon said he will stick around through the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, which would be his third olympic team. The 29-year-old is currently unsponsored.

Donn Cabral had a dream 2012 season, capturing the NCAA steeplechase title to cap off an undefeated season over the water barriers, and he led the 3,000-meter steeplechase final for a few laps at the 2012 Olympics.

Cabral struggled in 2013, though, and finishing sixth at the U.S. Championships and being diagnosed with Lyme disease. He showed signs over the weekened of being back at full health with a late surge to challenge American record holder Evan Jager and Dan Huling in the last 400-meters of Sunday’s steeplechase final. Cabral would finish third in 8:20.04. Jager won in 8:18.83.

Heartbreak of the meet: Nike’s Bershawn Jackson went down after the first hurdle of the men’s 400-meter hurdle race with a pulled groin. Jackson finished fourth at the 2012 Olympic Trials, missing a place on the team by just one spot.

After qualifying for the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Jackson’s bad luck caught up to him in the semifinals and he suffered a hamstring injury. Jackson has said his goal is to return to the form that had him ranked in the top five in the world for most of his career.

Johnny Dutch won the 400 hurdles in 48.93 to capture his first national title after six previous appearances in the finals. Last year, Dutch missed a place on the national team for the IAAF World Championships by one spot.

Wire-to-wire wins: Duane Solomon took the men’s 800-meter title, running from the front at the start of the race. Solomon set a new stadium record with the 1:44.30 victory, thanks in part to an outstanding 1:15.8 split at 600 meters. Casimir Loxsom of the Brooks Beasts Track Club fought for second place and finished in 1:45.97 over Erik Sowinski.

New Balance’s Jenny Simpson won the women’s 1,500-meter run in 4:04.96, beating out teenage sensation Mary Cain. Simpson led from the start and took the field through the first 400 meters in 68.76 seconds.

Morgan Uceny fell 800 meters into the race, which brought back memories of her fall in the 1,500-meter final at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu and the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. She finished last in 4:24.01.

National depth: The United States has six of the top 20 fastest women in the world for the 800-meter run in 2014. Ajee Wilson captured the U.S. national title with her season-best 1:58.70. NCAA champion Laura Roesler broke the two-minute barrier for the first time in her career as she finished second in 1:59.04. Brenda Martinez, the 2013 world bronze medalist, finished fifth in 2:00.18.

Coburn beats the heat at U.S. outdoors

June, 29, 2014
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Emma CoburnAndy Lyons/Getty ImagesEmma Coburn's steeplechase title was won with a meet-record time.
The U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships continued on Saturday with more national titles awarded. Here's the best of the best from the day.

Performer of the day: New Balance’s Emma Coburn was not fazed by the 86-degree California heat. The 2012 Olympic finalist pulled away from the rest of the field to win the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 9:19.72, breaking the U.S. Championship meet record and coming within two seconds of her personal best. Coburn also has the third fastest time in the world with her 9:17.84 set at the Prefontaine Classic.

Ashley Higginson (2nd, 9:27.59) and Aisha Praught (4th, 9:34.69) set personal bests in the race, cutting seven and five seconds, respectively, off their previous marks.

Race of the day: 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson captured her third national title in the 100-meter hurdles, upsetting defending world champion Brianna Rollins in the final.

Rollins finished fifth in 12.81, but still owns the year's world-best time with her 12.53 from the Golden Gala in Rome on June 5.

Lolo Jones continued her return to track and field after competing at the Winter Olympics in Sochi with a third place finish in 12.65.

Comeback of the day: Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano kicked down Patrick Casey of the Nike Oregon Track Club in the final 100 meters to claim the 1,500-meter national title in 3:38.63. Manzano is in his first season under contract with Hoka One One.

American record threatened: Erik Kynard attempted three high jumps at 2.41 meters. Charles Austin's American record of 2.40 meters has stood since 1991. Currently 5th in the World, Kynard has spoken only about his desire to attack the world record of 2.45 meters set by Javier Sotomayor in 1993.

Lagat continues dominance at U.S. outdoors

June, 28, 2014
Jun 28
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Bernard Lagat Ezra Shaw/Getty Images Bernard Lagat now has seven national titles at 5,000 meters.
The U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships continued at Hornet Stadium at Sacramento State on Friday, with several national titles awarded and plenty of noteworthy accomplishments.

Best male performance: Bernard Lagat captured his seventh U.S. title at 5,000 meters. The 39-year-old closed in 54.76 seconds for his final 400 meters and took the title with an overall time of 13:31.41.

Lagat, who passed Andrew Bumbalough of the Bowerman Track Club with 100 remaining, is coming off an indoor season in which he captured a silver medal at 3,000 meters distance at the IAAF World Championships. He will turn 40 in December.

Best female performance: American record holder Molly Huddle out-kicked Shannon Rowbury to win her second U.S. national title at the 5,000 meters in 15:01.56. Huddle led the majority of the race, but had to hold off several attempts by Rowbury to pass her in the final 50 meters.

Most surprising moment: Camas (Wash.) High School junior Alexa Efraimson knew only the top four finishers in her section of the women’s 1,500-meter semifinal would advance to the next round. Halfway through the race Efraimson ran on the heels of world championship finalists Jenny Simpson and Mary Cain. The teenager would finish seventh in her section and fail to advance, but her race tactics will serve her well as she competes at the U.S. Junior Championships for a chance to represent America in the IAAF World Junior Championships.

Comeback stories
Trey Hardee won the decathlon with a world-leading total of 8,599 points. Hardee scored 8,518 earlier in the year at the Hypomeeting in Götzis, Austria.

Sanya Richard-Ross continues her comeback season after a toe injury sidelined her for a majority of 2013. Her 50.03 in the 400-meter semifinals matches a world-leading time. It is her fastest race since the Stockholm Diamond League Meeting after the Olympics, where she ran 49.89 seconds for the one-lap race.

Scratches yield new champions
Michael Rodgers has yet to run under 10-seconds in the the 100-meter dash in 2014, but his time of 10.09 was enough to claim the title in Sacramento. Justin Gatlin and Baylor freshman Trayvon Brommell are the two fastest 100-meter runners this year, but they opted not to compete this weekend, and Dentarius Locke pulled up with an injury in the semifinals.

Olympian Ryan Bailey took second behind Rodgers in 10.23. Rodgers will face stiffer competition as he takes on Gatlin and Tyson Gay, returning from a doping suspension, at the Lausanne Diamond League meet next week.

On the women's side, defending national champion English Gardner did not react well out of the starting blocks in the 100 meters, but Tianna Bartoletta took off quickly and captured the title in 11.15.

Bartoletta was fourth at the 2012 Olympics and dabbled in bobsled before refocusing on track. She capitalized Friday on the withdrawal of Olympic champion Allyson Felix and Tori Bowe, the fastest American woman in 2014

Triathlete Verzbicas back after injuries

June, 27, 2014
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Lukas VerzbicasAP ImagesLukas Verzbicas is back from a harrowing accident and aiming for success near his hometown.
Lukas Verzbicas’ road to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro is making a stop in his backyard, with the graduate of Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park, Illinois, taking part in the ITU World Triathlon Series in Chicago on June 29.

“The Olympics are two years away and there’s still a lot of work and improvement to be done,” said Verzbicas, who was a track star at Sandburg High before becoming a professional triathlete. “The Olympic qualification points period already started, but there’s still time to focus on the big picture and continue being healthy in training.”

For Verzbicas, a successful summer would be defined by a return to the podium that puts recent struggles behind him.

Verzbicas is less than two years removed from a bicycle crash while training in Colorado Springs that left him with broken collarbone, two fractured vertebra and a collapsed lung. The sub-four minute high school miler needed to learn to walk again after suffering post-operation paralysis in his right leg.

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