Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano Nuevo

Falling snow arrived on Monday evening to make this year's Christmas in Santa Fe a white one - bringing with it peace and wonder, warmth to holiday drinks, and added cheer to the farolito arrangement at Casa Dirt.

Merry Christmas, and best to you and yours. 

Peace on earth and goodwill toward man - Santa Fe, NM


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Santa Fe's First Snow of the Year - 2012

Dawn breaks on the season's first snow 11/16/12
A drier than average Fall finally broke to form last Sunday with the season's first substantial snowfall. A few of us were actually out running that morning, complaining wickedly that the forecasters had blown their previous day's call for snow. Roughly four inches fell in town later that afternoon, fourteen inches were reported on the mountain. Not as much as a flake fell south of La Bajada, even in Tijeras, near Sandia Crest in the hills above Albuquerque.

This was not the year's first snow of course which arrived November 16th. Pretty late in the year compared with previous years unless you count a very small dusting of the trees up above 9,500ft in mid-October. The November snowfall was exciting, not because I'm charting this stuff, but because it was the first snow that mini-Dirt had ever seen! Little guy couldn't seem to get his stoke on though due to the part about it being freezing cold. Not enough perspective yet on what stuff is awesome and what stuff is so-so. He'll get the hang of it before too long.

Myself, the Pistol, and Lucy (Sangres far left)

In any case, we made note of 2011's first snow (up on the mountain) here.
2010's first snow (in town) noted here

Area ski resorts are up and running - as of yesterday (Sat. 12/15). Snuck in my first turns of the season early this morning. Daniel Gibson does a great job writing about area conditions in his Snow Trax column in The New Mexican, so I'll defer to him on what's open and what the conditions are. Interestingly Wolf Creek got jobbed on last week's storm, receiving a paltry 4in. of new. Pretty sure they'll catch up during the first few hours of the next system that blows through. 

If you need any extra motivation for the winter season - a clip from In Deep, Sean Pettit, Hains, AK, 2009. Snow! Snow! Snow!

Friday, December 7, 2012

New Belgium Brewery and Their Awesome Beer

Alright, I'm sitting at home the other evening drinking a cold frosty beer. Three separate friends brought it to my attention earlier in the day that it's the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. It's Repeal Day! I'm pretty ok with that. What kind of nonsense feeds into prohibiting beer anyhow? It's both delicious and refreshing. There are clearly better things to go about stamping out of American culture.

OK, but here's the real story I'm getting around to here - the frosty beer I was drinking was a New Belgium Snow Day. A marvelous beverage. A bicycle on every beer cap, what more can you say. So several weeks before this I was - in a very similar manner as before - drinking a New Belgium beer thinking the exact same thing, and I thought to myself 'is there a way to invest in New Belgium, Inc.? Because these guys are sitting on a damned gold mine'! The answer to my question it seems is no, at least not in the publicly traded markets. Samuel Adams, yes. New Belgium, no.

But in my research I discover that New Belgium is so popular right now that they cannot make and ship their product fast enough to meet demand! They've actually had to reduce distribution of late to meet demand in their core markets in and around Colorado. That's a fantastic problem for a business to have. Their solution - which has been in the works for some time now apparently - is to add production. Specifically, build a new commercial sized brewery on the east coast. They put together plans for a new $175m LEED-certified facility and narrowed down their choice to bids from the cities of Philadelphia and Asheville, NC, and went with Asheville on account of the little town being a lot like the little town of Fort Collins, CO, the beer capital of the largest craft beer state in the country.

Asheville already had ten craft breweries before this announcement. Since the announcement it has landed the new east coast commercial expansion of Sierra Nevada. It also has a boat load of trails to go out and hammer on to work up a thirst for malt and hops. To sum up this little anecdote on beer I want to make it known that Asheville, NC - of all places - is now firmly on my list of places I have to visit, as it should be for any adventurous soul who likes to get out on the trails and recover later with a cold beverage and then tell cool stories. Simple pleasures my friends. The secret to life.

P.S. When I'm not drinking New Belgium I'm drinking local. Support your local breweries.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Moonlit Ride in the North Hills

Early a.m. ride out at La Tierra this morning. Crested the hills at Frank Ortiz Park when the morning colors went berzerker - a December sun lit up the east foothills in red while cotton-candy pink arced out and over just about everywhere else.

Rode a variation of the Super Loop. Terrific extended weather for biking and running but don't be like me and think that applies to the hours around dawn. Friggin' ice box. The fingers and toes paid a price.

December sunrise in the east. Full on volcanic red and orange

The full November moon sets down in juniper hills to the west

Pink and crimson over the Sangres

Lovely colors in the north as well

Big Blue points upward and onward. The morning lamp still lights the path

View Super Loop - Santa Fe, NM in a larger map

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sun Mountain Loop - Santa Fe, NM

Distance: 5.5mi roundtrip
Starting Elevation: 7,000ft
Summit Elevation: 7,920ft
Total Elev Gain: 1,400ft
Run time: 65min

Earlier this summer the city finally formalized hiking access to Sun Mountain. The trails have been there as long as I can remember, there was just never any central trailhead. Folks would set out from St. John's College or other informal waypoints and, as with many of the older trails around town, you just had to know from memory that a trail spur started behind that fence post, or that pinon, or up the driveway 40ft then veer left. New homes in the area over the last twenty five years have also closed off some sections of north-south trail that used to connect to the Arroyo Chamisos. In a fairly publicized development dispute a couple years ago, the Save Sun Mountain campaign came about, and donated money was rounded up to buy the last parcel of undeveloped land off the mountain's west slope which was then placed in trust for public access. The trailhead was mostly built out last summer, then left fenced off and unopened from what I could only guess was a reaction to the dangers of an incredibly destructive fire-season. The city finally opened it all up earlier this summer and it now gets a fair amount of traffic, particularly before sunset.

The new public easement and trailhead

I've yet to see a map of the existing trails on and around the mountain, particularly off the northside of Sun Mountain where access to St. John's College is a mess of unimproved trail, cairns to nowhere, spiderwebs of bullshit, and deadend ravines and drainages. The one well defined thru-trail heads away from St. John's, into the saddle with Moon Mountain, then east into the Arroyo Chamisos at the foot of Atalaya. It's marked decently with cairns but can be difficult to follow at dusk.

From the summit: Moon mountain at right, rising moon at top left, south Atalaya ridge at center

After poking around these these trails and hills over the last few weeks I finally mapped out the best existing loop during a run with Hoskisson over the Thanksgiving weekend. Beginning from Museum Hill the full loop is just short of six miles, the section of climbing is a bit less than one mile (trailhead-to-summit) with about 800ft of climbing.

We made the summit in 28min from the Cristobal Lane trailhead (Note: the area at Conejo Rd and Calle de Leon is fire lane access only. Neighbors have asked me to make clear this is not a trailhead nor open to parking; use the Cristobal or Cam. Corrales trailheads), running the loop counter-clockwise. 65min to run out the full loop. Sections of the climb are scrambling-steep and not rideable by bike.

Nearby Trails:
  - Atalaya Mountain
  - Dorothy Stewart Ridgeline
  - Upper Arroyo Chamisos &  East Foothill Trails
  - Moon Mountain

View Sun Mountain Trail Loop - Santa Fe, NM in a larger map

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Colorado River and the Politics of Water

The Colorado River Watershed
A bit of back-page news from this week that is actually a bit of a ground-shaker: The varied parties to The Colorado Water Compact, which include CA, AZ, NV, UT, CO, NM, and Mexico, have agreed in principle to amend the landmark 1922 agreement on how to allocate the water from the Colorado River watershed. The communities and monied assets that depend on this trickle of desert water include Colorado's western slope, Phoenix, the city of Las Vegas including a large part of its power grid generated at Hoover Dam, Los Angeles and San Diego via extensive canal systems, and commercial farming in the valleys of southern California. A lot of stuff. Vegas and Phoenix would not exist without it, neither would the Hoover Dam, Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell.

I first became interested in this oddly academic topic after picking up a dog-eared copy of Cadillac Desert sometime in college. I was also making my way through Abbey's Monkey Wrench Gang, and Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas at the time. Cadillac Desert may be more of an enduring classic of the southwest than even those two blinding lights, ironic because of its dry, non-stylized, non-beer fueled, non-fiction subject.

Bishop Lamy's Chapel
In any case, there's an entire chapter in there about the original Colorado River Compact and how it all went down just north of Santa Fe here at Bishop's Lodge. A bunch of old guys sat down in a room right there at the Lodge and parceled out 90% of the available fresh water in the southwest, sent it out to the necessary law-making bodies, and it became law. Their signatures on the agreement a metaphorical spigot on the mighty Colorado, the very force of nature coursing down through millennia(?) of rock to route-out the mighty Grand Canyon! Funny thing is they screwed it all up, generously over-estimating average water flows by a not insignificant amount. For several decades now the river runs dry before making the Mexico border, and even in wet years it might carry only brine and brackish water unusable for crops or irrigation. The Mexicans have a problem with this but seeing as they are the party most down-river they've had little recourse other than monetary settlements.

Thought I'd try something a little different with a carousel of awesome books here

A portion of New Mexico's allotment actually arrives into the Chama via the extravagantly expensive and long-disputed San Juan Diversion Project. Water levels at El Vado and Abiqiui would be a lot lower if weren't for a bit of engineering and piped in runoff from the peaks above Pagosa.

In any case, this fascinating historical footnote always crosses my mind when I'm running or cycling past Bishop Lamy's old place. Interesting stuff. Reisner's book has been updated several times over the years and is still the benchmark for those seeking an understanding of the value and politics of water in the southwest.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Early Morning on the Mountain Bike - Chamisa Trail

Photos from this morning's ride on Chamisa and Sidewinder Trails. This linkup used to be one of the best cycling trails in town, it's now just one of many but still a personal favorite.

Patrick Smith Park w/ elm trees

Santa Fe River Preserve w/ willows

Dale Ball with juniper

Chamisa Trail w/ ponderosa

Sidewinder Trail w/ winds

Sidewinder w/ autumn scrub oak and my rig Big Blue
A look back at the peaks w/ pinon

A look down across the valley w/ pinon

Gets a bit steep near fence-line, steep enough to thieve the very life from the trees

Peering down canyon at Hyde Park Rd w/ beetle-downed tree

Little Tesuque, w/ willows and cedar

Goat head massacre back in town

Rail Trail > Santa Fe River Preserve > Dale Ball Central > Hyde Park Rd > Chamisa Trail > Sidewinder Trail > Little Tesuque Trail, Bishop's Lodge Rd > Arroyo Barranca > Rail Trail
Door to door: 2hrs 55min, ride time 2:45
Mileage: ~28mi
Highest Elev: 8,500

View Chamisa and Sidewinder Trails in a larger map

Friday, October 26, 2012

Santa Fe Bicycling in The New York Times

Shared:  An article by Henry Shukman about bicycling and the beauty of Santa Fe's new city trail system, published in this weekend's travel section of the New York Times. I don't know Mr. Shukman, but I'm guessing we've criss-crossed each other around town and exchanged passing nods on several occasions. I'm almost thinking that's Cat Downing in the lead photo with the Slurp Airstream Trailer.

Park the Pickup: Santa Fe by Bicycle (NYT, Oct 2012)

"...Every day I ride three miles to my office. These days there’s an autumn crispness in the air, and an almost detectable scent of frost. Along the way I pass under cottonwood trees, between adobe compounds and past the Capitol building before the morning rush has filled its parking lots, then follow the train tracks for a while along a dedicated bike trail, before reaching the rusty loft where I work. It hardly ever rains, and I have learned to love my bike...

Included are mentions of the recent IMBA World Summit, Melo Velo Bicyclery, Second Street Brewery (natch), and Counter Culture Cafe. A glaring omission was evident in leaving out Better Day Coffee. Inexcusable sir. Henry, send me an email when you read this and we'll hit it up, talk bikes and New Mexico, my treat.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

There's More to Dirt than Trails and Adventure

Busy fall. So busy it seems there's only time enough to operate as a Man of Action, and less so as a Man of Letters. But some activities are so first rate little description is required - an image gets the job done with aplomb. And so I present a summer's worth of toil in my garden, the first summer where the rewards outnumber the disappointments.


Spinach too but not pictured! I'm like the gardening equivalent of Hannibal from the A-Team but without the badass speeding black van. Life is good at Casa Dirt. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

IMBA World Summit - Santa Fe, NM

If you happened to wander downtown Santa Fe yesterday you probably noticed it had been half-overrun with mountain bikers and serious top-of-the-line bikes (there were also bus loads of Balloon Fiesta visitors which is nice to see but not remotely as interesting as the bikes. Bikes!). Yep, the IMBA World Summit is here and will be anchored at the SF Convention Center through Saturday discussing bike advocacy, trails and trail building, marketing and branding strategies, and naturally getting out for some riding on our local trails followed by green chile and refreshments at the local establishments.

New trail maps at La Tierra
This is huge for Santa Fe and it's the impetus for the city and county accelerating the time table on the La Tierra master plan and rushing work to install maps and building out proper trailheads at the site (heavy machinery was still at the site on Sunday). A lot of the ground work for this was done by members and volunteers of the Santa Fe Fat Tire Society and the Santa Fe Trail Alliance (the volunteer arm of the Santa Fe Conservation Trust) and their partner sponsor REI Santa Fe (general manager Bob Ward is a huge trail advocate and bikeaphile). Literally thousands of volunteer hours have gone into our trail systems this summer, and if you're a frequent visitor it's impossible not to notice.

A couple of World Summit events open to the public include a scooter criterium on the Plaza this Friday (7pm), followed by a screening of Where the Trail Ends - Red Bull's new mountain bike feature - at the Santa Fe Convention Center ($10 admission). This afternoon, Thurs. 10/11, Red Bull athlete Darren Barrecloth and a few of his bros will be out at the La Tierra Jump Park beginning at 5pm. I don't know much about Darren but do know that he rode in Red Bull Rampage this year which is the equivalent of surfing Mavericks, skiing Valdez Alaska, or climbing alpine big walls. Only dudes with spooky levels of technical skill admitted.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Not Seen on Treadmills

My man Komarnitsky was in Taiwan recently and snapped this sweet image of the Busch beer stock at the local market. Apparently the secrets of Busch as an athletic performance enhancer are not entirely unknown even in the Far East. Nice get Komar.

Busch Beer Taiwan
Cold Taiwanese-sourced Busca

Busch was a widely used recovery beverage in Boulder, CO back in the day, or any place really that the old Boulder Hardman Adventure Club used to map out impossibly unrealistic endurance challenges and assorted suffer-bunny epics. Busch was prized among other recovery options due to its unique combination of favored properties:
  1. It is cold and delicious
  2. It has a colossal glaciated peak on the label that is an instant conversation starter regarding how it should be reconnoitered and climbed
  3. It is more-likely-than-not fortified with loads of anti-oxidants and trace minerals
  4. It is inexpensive
Busca for the win.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Brief Meeting with Billy Mills

Billy Mills Steve Gachupin
Old adversaries - Billy Mills and Steve Gachupin
Had the chance to meet and talk with Billy Mills this weekend. The guy is an American running icon primarily for his come-from-nowhere victory at the Tokyo Olympics back in 1964. Mills was the VIP guest at this weekend's Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon along with Jemez Pueblo's Steve Gachupin who was with us as well, and double Olympic Trials qualifier Alvina Begay who wasn't there because she was storming up Old Taos Highway with the rest of the race field.

As for meeting Mills, I mostly just wanted to shake the guy's hand and tell him that it was an honor to have him visit Santa Fe, but with Steve standing there I mentioned that the two of them had some history since they raced each other in the 1968 Olympic Marathon Trials in Alamosa. This was the correct thing to say and it started Mr. Mills off on a story about how he had run the Trials only to pace George Young to victory. Knowing that Young was from New Mexico I found this story more than a little compelling. Apparently it was Young's first marathon and he kept wanting to press the pace. As Mills tells it, he repeatedly advised George to hold back then sent him on his way at mile 20. George won the race and competed later that summer in Mexico City running 16th. Mills mailed in the rest of his Trials race, abandoning soon after 20mi, Gachupin claimed bragger's rights with a 15th place showing.

1968 Olympic Marathon Trials
1968 Marathon Trials - Gachupin at left, Kenny Moore of Oregon, George 
Young of Silver City (10), Billy Mills at right
Mills went on to say that he never ran another marathon, the distance was too grueling especially since he had a hypoglycemic condition that made things difficult. I noted that he had pretty good credentials for a guy that couldn't run a marathon, running to 14th place at the Tokyo Games in '64. He answered that it was just as grueling then even though he had been in the shape of his life, by his estimations he was in 3:56 mile shape at the time. He continued his story saying that there were no water stations along the route in Tokyo. Runners were allowed to set one bottle out on the course and his had only water in it. He had asked the other runners what he should be adding to his bottle (sugar, salt) and apparently they wouldn't give him the time of day, even the Americans. Not because of strategy or gamesmanship, but rather as Mills explained, because it was 'a different time'. Kinda like how the color of the Olympic medal Mills wore around his neck on the flight home was a bit 'different', I'd imagine. Golden rays of Olympic immortality different.

Here's some video of Mills wrecking dudes on a cinder track in Tokyo. Olympic and American record, a PR by 50 seconds, and the making of an American legend. 

Related Posts:
  - Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon, 2011
  - Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon, 2013

View Santa Fe to Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon in a larger map

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

La Tierra Trails - Trail 34

Frenchys field Santa Fe
Sunflowers and the Sangre de Cristos at Frenchy's Field
If you make it a point to get out to La Tierra from time-to-time and cruise a few miles of singletrack (on foot or bike), you've no doubt noticed that it has become fairly awesome. This is the work of a few local groups most notably the Santa Fe Fat Tire Society - our resident mountain bike club - and the Trails Alliance of Santa Fe. With the support of dozens of volunteers and the financial support of REI, IMBA, the Santa Fe Conservation Trust, and now the City of Santa Fe, these groups have slowly transformed the trails from meandering jeep-track to a jewel of a recreational trail network. The work being done out there has been considerable, to the point that the folks with SFFTS landed this year's IMBA World Mountain Bike Summit (the other finalist was Tahoe, CA). A stunning development actually, and the basis for this.

Trail 34 - up top and exit right
Aside from improving and building new track, the good folks with SFFTS also helped to map out the existing network and to add signage at trail intersections to help navigate this map. Taken together this an enormous plus to those who love running out there but dislike getting lost and tacking on an extra three or four miles every time out (that would be me - and my sense of direction is actually quite good). Alright, now with this new map I noticed immediately that there was a line that ran right off the page!, traveling east from the cell phone tower on Camino de los Montoyas, clear out to Ridgetop Rd. I had explored some of this trail a few times before only to get hopelessly lost, but now it appeared I had the upper-hand.

The trail is marked as 34. To be precise, it begins as trail 31 and then becomes trail 34 for most of its eastward travel. What makes this trail so magnificent, sublime even, is that it fills a missing link to circumnavigate Santa Fe almost entirely by trail. And piecing that together is what I've been doing with my free time over the last couple weeks.

Townie (Super) Loop - Distance: ~21 miles
Duration: approx. 2hrs by bike
Good For:  Mtn biking from your doorstep/marathon long runs
Trail Quotient: 90% traffic free

River Trail

Folk Art
Frenchys Field sunflowers
Flowers and morning moon

Santa Fe acequia mural
Acequia Trail mural

Santa Fe river mural
River Trail mural

La Tierra and Unity Church

Big blue at Trail 34

Route Description: Rail Trail north -> Acequia Trail west -> north at Camino de Chelley bridge -> Frenchy's Field -> River Trail east -> Mesa Vista Rd north -> Ortiz dog park east -> Camino de los Montoyas north -> La Tierra Trails at Unity Church -> find your way in any fashion to the Cell Tower (northeast) -> Trail 34 to Ridgetop Rd -> Tano Rd east over Hwy 285 -> Old Taos Highway or Arroyo Barranca -> SF Plaza -> Don Gaspar -> Montezuma Rd west -> Rail Trail south. 

View Super Loop - Santa Fe, NM in a larger map

What's more, is that the Townie Loop has a twin... (*head exploding*)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Big Tesuque Trail Run is on the Horizon

A few of the iconic area trail runs passed me by in the month of August. Both the La Luz Trail Run and the Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent seemed to scream right by when I wasn't looking. Taos' growing trail event, the Up & Over Trail Run passed as well. Imogene Pass is tomorrow.

All of this means that Santa Fe's premiere trail run - The Big Tesuque Trail Run - is just four weeks away. Saturday Oct. 6th to be precise. This year will be the 28th iteration of the venerable event. Race director Peter Fant has all the mechanics of organizing in motion, and expects another beautiful Fall morning with coffee, breakfast burritos, prizes and raffle, as well as a field of the finest high altitude trail runners in the area. So if you haven't registered just yet, mark it on your calendar and start running laps on Atalaya to bring those climbing legs into form.

Results from past events are slowly being compiled and presented on the new Big T webpage. Similarly the page includes links to registration, a course map, details of the race's gracious sponsors, and links to past photo albums. Yes, I may have had a hand in all of this. Twenty-eight years of history add substantial value to an event, and when gathered up in one place, the weight of it all carries a bit of glory to all of the runners who have challenged themselves on the course through the years. 

big tesuque run aspens
An overcast morning on Big Tesuque in 2008 - photo by Max Mujynya

View Aspen Vista Trail (Big Tesuque Trail), Santa Fe, NM in a larger map

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Olympic Marathon Recap

flanagan goucher marathon london
Goucher and Flanagan at right in the early miles
Continuing a short series of posts - A quick look back at the Olympic Marathons:

A few weeks have passed obviously since the conclusion of the men's and women's marathons, but the drama was top notch and the re-match isn't scheduled for another four years so we're going to go through it just the same. The women's marathon properly set off the second week of the Games on an early Sunday morning (led by Rupp's silver medal performance the evening before) . The Americans brought a strong team with Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher, and upstart Desi Devila. Flanagan was the one runner with truly elite talent and possible dark-horse aspirations. Devila was rumored to be injured, and she substantiated this by starting the race and dropping by 5K. Team Kenya were the heavy favorites (all three athletes), as was Russia's Liliya Shobukhova. But this was a marathon, and the London course was winding, narrow, and slicked with rain.

Flanagan Goucher london marathon
Goucher and Flanagan spent at the finish
Team Kenya moved first, breaking the race open just past the half-way mark. Shobukhova dropped due to injury soon thereafter. Flanagan and Goucher led the chase pack and Flanagan would eventually bridge only to be dropped at the next surge in pace. She would drift behind for some time then fade from the front over the last few miles ending up almost within reach of Goucher at the finish (Flanagan at 2:25:51 for 10th, Goucher at 2:26:07 for 11th). Hard to believe, but Joan Benoit's winning time of 2:24:52 from the '84 Games will remain the American Olympic record for at least another four years.

Up front the battle for medals was down to five women, Kiplagat (the reigning world champ) was dropped over the last 7K, and then the gold medal favorite Mary Keitany of Kenya cracked in the final mile after a move by unheralded but eventual champion Tiki Gelana of Ethiopa. Gelana finished in a new Olympic record time of 2:23:07, and was followed across the line by Jeptoo of Kenya and Arkhipova of Russia. It's an amazing thing to see the pressure build in a championship race of this caliber and then everyone throws down their cards and things get real over those last couple minutes. Full women's results here. Watch the full replay of the women's marathon here.

The two Americans walk-off with eleventh and tenth place finishes at the Olympic Games, Flanagan beaten and disappointed

The men's Olympic podium, Kiprotich at left
The men's race set off one week later, nearly the last competition of the Games. Heavy favorites once again were the entire Kenyan team - so good they left world record holder Patrick Makau, and Geoffrey Mutai, last year's Boston and NYC champion (who ran to course records at each race!) at home. Team Ethiopia arrived with a strong but less deep team, and the Americans brought American record holder Ryan Hall, Athens silver medalist and all around badass Meb Keflezighi, and three time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman. A runner who was not a favorite was anyone from Uganda.

A first for the flag of Uganda, Kiprotich at the finish
Unlike the women's race, the weather for the men was hot and in the 70's most of the morning. This lead to an easy early pace after which race favorite Wilson Kipsang of Kenya made a move to clinch it from a looong way out, laying down a series of 4:30 miles after the 10k mark. This surge destroyed the field and caused two of the Americans, Abdi and Hall to abandon after just 10 miles (weak). Even with this huge move, Kipsang had built himself only a 60m lead over the front pack, which chipped away at it for the next 20k. When the pack finally bridged there were only two men remaining plus Kipsang. It was two-time Kenyan World Champion Abel Kirui and Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda, naturally. The Ugandan struggled after 30k, and was actually dropped for a while lingering several meters back. Kipsang remarkably tried to go once again but couldn't reach escape velocity. At 35k Kiprotich regained his strength and countered with an incredibly gutsy move of his own, a vaguely known Olympic underdog, all alone, attacking the might of team Kenya. The move was well timed, and ultimately golden. The first Olympic medal won by his nation of Uganda (2:08:01). Kirui held on gamely for silver, Kipsang finished bronze - his astonishing bid for gold at 10k was ultimately too much even for himself.

Meb Keflezighi mid race...
Behind all of this drama, Keflezighi of the US ('Meb') ran a super smart race as always - reaching halfway in a group with places 13-20 - he began to stomp everyone down in the second half. By the last 2k he had moved all the way up to 4th (2:11:06), and ran the last few hundred meters with an American flag held above his head and a fiercely pissed off Brazilian watching him trot on in ahead of him. With that, Meb solidly claimed his position as the greatest in American marathoner besides Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers. Just an absolutely brilliant career. The guy is a champ and he's going to be missed when he exits the sport and hangs up the flats. Love me some Meb. Men's full results here.  Watch the full replay of the men's marathon here

...and Keflezighi finishing like a boss with the Stars and Stripes at 42K

Spyros-Breal Silver Cup
The Spyros-Breal Silver Cup
Thought I'd make mention of the news surrounding one of the most revered pieces of Olympic memorabilia - the Breal's Silver Cup - awarded to the very first men's marathon winner, Spyridon 'Spyros' Louis of Greece for his victory in 1896. It was of course the very first race over the marathon distance, commemorating the ancient plight of Pheidippides from Marathon. Well, Spyridon is a Greek icon for winning that first race, and his Cup recently went to auction and was purchased for an incredible sum ($860K) by a Greek businessman who wants to put it on permanent display as a symbol to the Greek people not to give up in these desperate economic times. Quite the story. I'd never even known about the cup until having read of it just recently.

2012 London Olympics
 - Olympic 800m Recap
 - Olympic 1500m Recap
 - Olympic 3000m Steeplechase Recap
 - Olympic 5000m Recap
 - Olympic 10,000m Recap
 - Olympic Marathon Recap
 - Week One: The Olympic Vortex


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