Running Decathlon: Homage to Hicham

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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.

If you ever saw Hicham El Guerrouj run, then you perhaps saw the greatest runner to ever put on a pair of spikes.

Yes I know, many of you will ask: “Who?”

Well, El Guerrouj, to this day, holds the world records for the 1500m and the mile. And they were both set in the last century.

Today, for the second time this month, I took to the track at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome with the goal of running those two events in twice the time, or half as fast, as those records. And with thumping pride I report that, for the second time in a week, I crushed it. Today’s 1500m saw me finish with a time of 6:24.34, or better than :27 faster than I needed to beat the doubled time of 6:52.0 I had set as my goal.

Now this time is nothing special for a real life runner. But for a 60-year-old runner (El Guerrouj was 24 when he set the 1500m record) who outweighs El Guerrouj by 60 pounds, it ain’t bad.

But more importantly, it achieved the goal I set when I originally conceived this whimsical, selfish fantasy of attempting to run in the footsteps of the fastest men who ever ran on a rubber track.

And most importantly, it has led many to come to the race2walk2016.com website, learn about the Bionic Exoskeleton suits we are raising money to purchase, and make a donation. You can do the same.

My pacer, or “Rabbit” as I like to call him, Mattia Barbaro (yes, like the 2006 Kentucky Derby Winner) was aware of the record that had been set in this stadium, but did not know who El Guerrouj was. Of course, he was just 2 years old when the Moroccan accomplished the feat. I told him he needed to check out the YouTube video of the race and then I remembered that when El Guerrouj set the record, YouTube was still seven years shy of its invention.

The race, if you want to call it that, and I do, was similar to the mile run last week. A beautiful empty stadium that seats 65,000, with a translucent overhang that shelters the azure (that’s Italian for blue) seats, has not a single banner, sign or light board that advertises anything. There was a purity to both the visual and aural elements that made running a joy. There was the sound of my breathing resonating off the seats as I ran, but other than that it was pretty silent.

For the uninitiated, the 1500m, or Metric Mile, is the race that is officially contested in the Olympic Games. It is 100m, or 109 yards, or about the length of a football field and one end zone, shorter than an actual mile. You may think that would make the race easier, but I really don’t think so. For one thing, you start the race on the opposite side of the track from where you finish. And that means your first lap is the short one if that makes any sense. I had a difficult time pacing as a result. Which is why I was glad I had my “Rabbit,” or as they call the pacer in Italy, my “Fox.”

But I had watched the aforementioned YouTube video, as sketchy as it is, of El Guerrouj setting his record and it was inspiring. Not just for the speed, but for the precision and economy of motion he puts on display. It is like watching a great thoroughbred run a horse race. There is just rhythm to the motion. Each stride is the exact length, each arm pistons in time, and every fiber of his being moves in a forward motion.

Now obviously, I duplicate none of that. But in my mind, as I ran around the far turn before turning for home, I was running the way you are supposed to run. Oh, I’m sure the attached video will dispute my self-image and reveal how I flailed down the stretch. But again, it matters not. I set the rules for The Running Decathlon. It’s my game. And right now, I’m up 2-0. Eight races to go.

It’s on to Hengelo in the Netherlands and the 5000m.

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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.