Not only is this my favorite running book of all-time, I’d be hard pressed to find another book that I prefer. I don’t think I’ve ever bothered to make a “favorite books” list, but I can’t think of anything that would bump this from the top spot.
Running with the Buffaloes is a look behind the scenes at the University of Colorado under coach Mark Wetmore during the 1998 cross country season. Coming into the season, the team is expected to compete for a national title. Much of the story revolves around Adam Goucher who is one of the top runners in the nation and likely expected to compete for the individual NCAA title.
Two-thirds through the book, something completely unexpected happens. I’m going to completely ruin the book if I describe anything more, but I was floored the first time I read it. I still can’t make it through this chapter of the book – which I’ve read 5-10 times – without feeling like I’ve just been shaken to my core.
It’s an awesome book that has made me a fan of many of those involved with the story for life. In fact, when I was working on my movie – For Three – a few years ago, my number one influence in what I was hoping to make was “Running with the Buffaloes.”
The fall road racing season is in full effect. This past weekend, we had a few very big races.
Tsegaye Kebede dropped the field with one mile remaining to run an impressive 2:04:38 to win the Chicago Marathon. American Dathan Ritzenhein ran a strong PR of 2:07:47 to finish 9th. Even more impressive his second half of the race which was pretty much an even split. His 2:07:47 makes him the third fastest American ever behind Ryan Hall and Khalid Khannouchi.
Twin Cities Marathon
An impressive array of men and women showed up for the US 10 mile championship (including current and former Olympians Abdi Abdirahman, Alan Webb, Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, Kara Goucher, and Julie Culley). The men’s race was won by Mo Trafeh in a time of 46:45 while Olympian Janet Cherobon-Bawcom overcame Kara Goucher to win in 53:43. Jeannette Faber of Portland, OR won the women’s marathon in 2:32:38 while Christopher Kipyego won the men’s race in 2:14:55. The most interesting read from the weekend, though, was a story about Phil Coppess – who still owns the TC Marathon record despite having kids and working a full-time job.
The Perham Yellowjackets boys are now ranked #50 in XC Nations Top 50 cross country teams in the nation and #4 in the small schools (which seems like a mistake as they have consistently run faster than all of the three teams ranked above them). The boys and girls continue their season with the conference championships in Perham today. The boys are going for their 11th consecutive conference title and the girls are aiming for their 9th straight.
As for my own running, I’m coming off a month-long bout of some foot soreness. I was convinced it was tendinitis or possibly plantar fascitis or a dreaded stress fracture. The downside is with life in general being busy in combination with a sore foot, I haven’t gotten in quite the speedwork I would like to get in before my big Fargo Half Marathon in two weeks. The foot is still tender, but I’ve managed to get my long runs in (which are going increasingly well) and I’ve managed to stay relatively consistent with my weekly mileage (between 35-50 mpw over the last month which a majority between 45-50). I’ve got a big VO2 workout on Wednesday and a long run this weekend, but then it should be smooth sailing. I’m really hoping in two weeks, I’ll break my half marathon PR, but it’s going to come down to the weather cooperating (I’m more worried about wind than temperature) and whether or not I have the guts to suck up those last few painful miles. Overall, the last three months of training have been as good or better than just about any cycle I’ve ever had, so here’s to hoping for a big race!
To those of you who just completed a marathon in Chicago and Twin Cities, congratulations and take some well deserved time off!
Joe Newton is to high school cross country as Bob Hurley is to high school basketball. As the coach of a suburban school in a large metro region, he’s been there forever and, in the words of DJ Khaled, all he does is win.
As the 2008 documentary about his York (IL) cross country team The Long Green Line shows, though, Coach Newton cares much more about winning. As he shows many times throughout the documentary, he has the intensity and fire of Bobby Hurley combined with the love and compassion of Dick Vermeil. The Long Green Line follows Joe Newton and the York cross country team during the 2005 season as they attempt to win the school (and Newton’s) 25th state title.
The stars of the movie aren’t necessarily the top 7 (out of 221) boys on the team who wind up runner at the state meet. In fact, John Fisher (an autistic kid with a lot of love for his cross country team) and Connor Chadwick (one of the slowest kids on the team who suffers from cerebral palsy) are as important to both the team and the movie as the fastest kids.
In the middle of the season, Coach Newton kicks off one of his top 7 runners. Shortly thereafter, two of his top 7 runners are arrested (and, of course, kicked off the team) for causing millions of dollars in damage in a starting a house fire the past summer. His top two runners, twins Matt & Eric Dettman, contract a viral infection late in the season and are running nowhere near their best.
The movie has everything you want from a documentary. A great central character, an interesting storyline, and an unforeseen plot twist make this story worth watching for sports fans. Created by first-time director (and former York student) Matthew Arnold at times looks really professional, but has a few sequences that look rather shaky and/or amateurish. Given the lack of budget and lack of experience, it’s probably to be expected (I, for one, have made a movie on a low budget that at times looks less than ideal). As a whole, though, he’s done a fantastic job of conveying an interesting story about a legendary coach.
The Fargo Forum had a feature on the Perham boys XC team. They emphasized we’ve got three of the top three runners in the state, but I felt like they missed a boat a little bit by forgetting to mention we’ve got the fastest #4-7 runners in the state along with a handful of JV guys who, given the new rules for state qualifying, would make it to state as individuals if the rules allowed it. Plus, no mention of the girls team that’s far improved from last year.
Don’t get me wrong, I love it that our kids are getting all of the attention they deserve, but it just bugs me a little bit when news comes out and does sort of a vanilla story when I think they could’ve done something unique and different rather than just kind of another color-by-the-numbers story that seem to be the norm in the understaffed newsrooms of newspapers these days.
Speaking of Perham runners, check out the debut episode of NYRR’s “On the Run” podcast. The NYRR has done a tremendous job promoting our sport, but I really appreciate that they approached this podcast the right way with some really good production values. I love seeing this kind of stuff and hope to see much more in the future. Check out the first episode below featuring Perham’s very own Gabriel Anderson:
ESPN’s 30-for-30 Series starts up again soon. Unknowingly, I watched “The Race That Shocked the World” before the Olympics which is a shorter version of 9.79* by British filmmaker Daniel Gordon. It premieres on ESPN on October 9th. If the BBC version is any indication (and I don’t know why it wouldn’t be), this documentary is going to be fantastic.