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The Running Decathlon: The 1500m

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Kelly Hayes, a spotter on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, is attempting to to complete “The Running Decathlon” which consists of the ten most widely-run track events. His goal is to run each race “half as fast,” or in twice the time, of the current world record in each event. And he will attempt to run these races in the footsteps of those who set the records on the very tracks, and in the very stadiums where the records were set.

His “quest” serves as a platform to raise funds to purchase a $90,000 exoskeleton Bionic Suit, which allows those with critical spinal injuries to rise from their wheelchairs and actually take assisted walks. Think Tony Stark from Ironman. He is relying on donations to the Bridging Bionics Foundation to make this a reality.

Follow Kelly on his journey, which begins in Rome on July 7, 2016, here, on Facebook, Twitter and at race2walk2016.com where you can make a 100 percent tax-deductible contribution towards the purchase of an exoskeleton Bionic Suit for the Bridging Bionics Foundation. One hundred percent of your donations will go towards the purchase of these suits.

Please turn Kelly’s steps into dollars. And we will turn dollars into steps for those who want to walk again.

Eighteen years ago, Hicham El Guerrouj set a record that is currently the longest-standing world record in the 10 events that make up The Running Decathlon.

On July 14, 1998, at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome in the Golden Gala meet, El Guerrouj, inspired by both immortality and a $50,000 bonus for a world record, ran the 1,500m in 3:26.00. He averaged an incredible 54.93 per lap in breaking the standing mark of Algeria’s Noureddine Morceli by more than a full second.

There was justice in the victory. Just two years before, at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, El Guerrouj suffered a devastating defeat to Morceli in the same 1,500 meters. As the pair jockeyed for position at the start of the fourth and final lap of that Olympic final, El Guerrouj clipped Morceli’s right foot and tumbled to the track. Displaying incredible fortitude, he rose to finish the race, but his dream of a gold medal ended with a 12th-place finish.

The legend is that El Guerrouj, distraught and seemingly inconsolable, took tearful refuge in the bowels of the Olympic Stadium in Atlanta. There, he received a telephone call from Morocco’s King Hassan, who not only consoled him in his defeat, but also urged him to run his best in the future.

El Guerrouj went on to victory in a number of races over his rival over the next two years and today, still, he holds world marks in the 1,500m, the Mile and the 2,000m.  He also still holds indoors records in the 1,500m and the Mile that date back to February of 1997.

And gold would eventually be his as well. In the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, his final as a competitor, El Guerrouj won the 1500 meters that had eluded him in his two previous Games (he finished second in 2000 in Sydney to Kenyan Noah Ngeny who had paced the 1,500-meter record run in Rome two years before) and doubled up with a gold medal in the 5,000 meters.

Current NBC commentator, and former miler, Craig Masback,  told Sports Illustrated back in 2001 that El Guerrouj “has the cardiovascular system of a man 6-foot-6, the legs of a man 6-foot-2 and the upper body of a man 5-foot-2. In his prime he stood 5-foot-9 and weighed in at a sleek 126 pounds.

But, as a middle-distance runner, he towered above all who came before. Or since.

Other Standards in the 1500m

Olympic Record:   3:32.07  Noah  Ngeny  (KEN)

Women’s Record:  3:50.07 Genzebe Dibaba (ETH)

American Record:  3:29.30 Bernard Lagat  (USA)

** Lagat ran the third-fastest 1,500m ever in 2001 in a race where he finished second to El Guerrouj in Brussels. At the time, he was a Kenyan citizen. He became a citizen of the United States in 2004 and set the American standard in 2005.

Men’s 60-year-old Record: 4:24 Nolan Shaheed (USA)

Sportscaster Dick Enberg dies at 82

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SAN DIEGO — Dick Enberg, the longtime sportscaster who got his big break with UCLA basketball and went on to call Super Bowls, Olympics, Final Fours and Angels and Padres baseball games, died Thursday. He was 82.

Engberg’s daughter, Nicole, confirmed the death to The Associated Press. She said the family became concerned when he didn’t arrive on his flight to Boston on Thursday, and that he was found dead at his home in La Jolla, a San Diego neighborhood, with his bags packed.

“He was dressed with his bags packed at the door,” wife Barbara told the Union-Tribune. “We think it was a heart attack.”

Enberg retired in October 2016 after a 60-year career – and countless calls of “Oh my!” in describing a play that nearly defied description. He also was well-known for his baseball catchphrase of “Touch `em all” for home runs.

Raised in Armada, Michigan, Enberg’s first radio job was actually as a radio station custodian in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, when he was a junior at Central Michigan. He made $1 an hour. The owner also gave him weekend sports and disc jockey gigs, also at $1 an hour. From there he began doing high school and college football games.

During his nine years broadcasting UCLA basketball, the Bruins won eight NCAA titles. Enberg broadcast nine no-hitters, including two by San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum against the Padres in 2013 and 2014.

He said the most historically important event he covered was “The Game of the Century,” Houston’s victory over UCLA in 1968 that snapped the Bruins’ 47-game winning streak.

“That was the platform from which college basketball’s popularity was sent into the stratosphere,” Enberg said. “The `79 game, the Magic-Bird game, everyone wants to credit that as the greatest game of all time That was just the booster rocket that sent it even higher. … UCLA, unbeaten; Houston, unbeaten. And then the thing that had to happen, and Coach Wooden hated when I said this, but UCLA had to lose. That became a monumental event.”

Enberg’s many former broadcast partners included Merlin Olsen, Al McGuire, Billy Packer, Don Drysdale and Tony Gwynn. He even worked a few games with Wooden, whom he called “The greatest man I’ve ever known other than my own father.” Enberg called Padres games for seven seasons and went into the broadcasters’ wing of the Hall of Fame in 2015.

John Ireland, the radio voice of the Los Angeles Lakers, tweeted that “If there was a Mount Rushmore of LA Sports Announcers, Dick Enberg is on it with Chick Hearn, Vin Scully and Bob Miller. Rams, Angels, UCLA, NBC, and so much more. Was the first famous announcer I ever met, and he couldn’t have been nicer. Definition of a gentleman.”

Enberg won 13 Sports Emmy Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Emmy. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and UCLA named its Media Center in Pauley Pavilion after Enberg this year.

“Kindest, most proactive possible treatment of newcomers in this business, for the length of his career,” broadcaster Keith Olbermann said of Enberg on Twitter. “What a terrible loss.”

Sports world goes all-in on 2017 solar eclipse

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Nick Saban may not have had any interest in checking out today’s much-hyped solar eclipse, but he seems to be the only one in the sports world.

At least according to these epic #SolarEclipse2017 sports Twitter moments.

The NASCAR community was on point with their eclipse celebrations, seriously you’re missing out if you’re not following any of these teams/drivers on Twitter.

But they weren’t the only ones.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Billy Horschel weren’t the only golfers taking in the views (with proper glasses), Tiger Woods bought into the hype too.

The Rome Braves had their break, but Bartolo Colon watching the eclipse will be your moment of zen.

And remember, if you were truly amazed by #SolarEclipse2017 goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has some more mind-blowing universal knowledge for you.