Monday, January 18, 2010

Duke Medicine Becomes Tobacco Road Marathon Title Sponsor

Duke Medicine has agreed to be the title sponsor of the Tobacco Road Marathon to be conducted in Cary, North Carolina on March 21, 2010, the Tobacco Road Marathon Association (TRMA) announced today. The event is now officially named the "Duke Medicine Tobacco Road Marathon."

"We are extremely pleased to have Duke Medicine join us in making Cary's first marathon a reality," said race organizer and five-time Boston Marathon veteran Kazem Yahyapour. "This relationship is particularly meaningful to me personally as I began running to regain my health after suffering a heart attack in 2002. Exercise is essential to taking responsibility for your health."

As a result of the agreement, Duke Medicine's name and logo will appear on the TRMA Web site and figure prominently on tee-shirts, awards and signage along the course. They will also have a prominent booth at the event's exposition hall at the Embassy Suites in Cary off Harrison-Oaks Boulevard.

The Duke Medicine Tobacco Road Marathon's scenic course includes 18 miles of the American Tobacco Trail (ATT). The ATT will also account for 7 miles of a half-marathon to be run simultaneously. Runners will start from the USA Baseball/Thomas Brooks Park complex in Cary at 7 a.m. TRMA believes they will deliver an ideal performance environment with a course largely devoid of hills and an average temperature for March 21 of 52 degrees Fahrenheit. Registration is moving at a brisk pace, but there are still slots available for both events.

"One of our key goals is to give runners the best opportunity possible to qualify for the Boston Marathon," says Yahyapour, who was co-founder of the successful City of Oaks Marathon. "We believe we have put together the fastest course in North Carolina."

TRMA is a group of highly experienced marathon runners and athletic event production managers headed by Yahyapour and Cid Cardoso Jr., president and founder of Inside-Out Sports. Plans call for proceeds to go to the Wounded Warriors Project and the Triangle Rails to Trails Conservancy (TRTC). Details about the event, including on-line registration and training tips, can be obtained through TRMA's Web site at You can also become a friend of "Tobacco Road" on Facebook.

SOURCE: Tobacco Road Marathon Association (TRMA) | CARY, N.C., Jan. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire

Marathon News: Marathon proves exercise for body and spirit from first finisher to last, thousands receive stellar support

All things considered, Diane Kassab had a blast running the 2010 Chevron Houston Marathon. So much so that her time might have suffered a bit.

“It was fun. The spirit is tremendous,” said Kassab, of Houston. “I danced to every band. That was probably my mistake.”

Officially, Kassab, 56, was the last runner to cross the finish line Sunday, her time clocked at 6 hours, 1 minute and 5 seconds.

“I'm disappointed, because last year I actually made 5:45,” she lamented before letting out a laugh. “Maybe this proves this should be my last marathon.”

More like a reason to look forward to next year's. After all, there is something to be said about the institution

That is the race, which is that, aside from being the largest sporting event in Houston, it might be the most special. Much like in years past, the 38th edition of the marathon and its accompanying races was full of personal victories, inspirational stories and acts of hospitality and kindness.
Raising the bar

The event began on a good note, boasting the largest field in its history — more than 26,000 registered participants, including nearly 9,000 for the main race. Aided by superb conditions — cool temperatures and clear skies — the elite runners proceeded to make it the fastest marathon in Houston history, smashing three course records.

Teshome Gelana of Ethopia, a last-minute entry and relative unknown, won the men's marathon in a record 2:07:37.

Five other men broke the 2:10 barrier, something no man had done in Houston until Deriba Merga's 2:07:52 last year.

“I'm still trying to get my head around it,” marathon race director Brant Kotch said.

Teyba Erkesso, also of Ethiopia, became the first woman to break the course record in consecutive years, posting a 2:23:53 to best her 2009 mark of 2:24:18.

American Shalane Flanagan, an Olympic bronze medalist in the 10,000 meters in Beijing, shattered the women's half marathon record, clocking in at 1:09:41.

Marathon organizers were ecstatic.

“We are managing each year to raise the bar a little,” race managing director Steven Karpas said. “We raised the bar a lot today.”

Most of the runners and wheelchair racers hit the streets for reasons other than money or competition. For many, it was a matter of personal fitness. For others, the chance to come through on a dare or promise. Still others did it in memory of a loved one or to benefit a cause close to the heart.

Mostly, though, the marathon gave them all a reason to celebrate life.

“It's a spiritual thing almost,” Kassab said. “It really is.”

Participants flocked downtown as early as 4 a.m. to prepare for the 7 a.m. start. The 26.2-mile route took them past portions of the Fifth Ward and the Heights, down Montrose, through West University to the Galleria, across Memorial Park, east on Allen Parkway and back to downtown.
They're with the band

Folks needed not run to be part of the action. Jason Killen, Brian Warwick and Andy Klueh, who form the rock band Days Drive, serenaded the runners at the corner of Montrose and Warrick — complete with amplifiers, speakers and a three-piece drum set.

“It's the least we can do when all these folks are out here training themselves to run as far as they can,” Killen said.

The scene was quieter — though no less warm — along tree-lined University Boulevard, which looked its best adorned with American flags.

Red Powerade bottle in hand, Chris Dobson of Houston stood alongside daughters Kirsten and Ainsley while waiting for her husband and their father, Monte, to pass by. Kirsten, 13, had a pair of backup sneakers at the ready should he need them. Ainsley, 10, sported a handwritten sign that read, “You look like lightning, Daddy.”
Fruit, anyone?

Two driveways down, the Reids were offering runners orange slices and banana halves.

“A few people need bananas right about now,” Taylor Reid said.

Some estimates put the number of spectators at 200,000, among them at least 5,000 volunteers. The runners — and their families and friends — appreciated the support.

“It says a lot about Houstonians,” Chris Dobson said. “These guys need the support; it's hard to run 26.2 miles.”

Said marathoner Brett Gotcher, who finished seventh, good for the best time by an American: “The people here, the officials, the crowds, everything — I feel like it's another home. I plan on coming back.”

As Kassab made her way to the finish line, organizers scrambled to find a medal to hand her. As it turned out, they had run out — at least on the spot — as more people than anticipated had finished, with Karpas noting at least a 20 percent increase from last year's total of 5,300.

All in all, not a bad problem to have.

“Those figures blow us away,” Karpas said. “To have that growth in one year is phenomenal.”

Kassab didn't mind one bit. Just finishing — and enjoying the support throughout — made her day.

“I had a blast,” Kassab said. “Let them know that.”


Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Balance back in the running for Singapore Marathon

When the estimated 17,000 runners start off on their 42.1km marathon tomorrow, another chapter in the battle between running shoe brands for market supremacy will also take place.

Running brand New Balance is back in as a sponsor of the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, replacing adidas. Rivals adidas had replaced them as a sponsor in 2005 and subsequently went on to sponsor the next three editions.

It is a development that the New Balance team in Singapore is happy with.

“From the brand point of view it is actually a good run for us because the brand is about running. Running is in our blood and running is what we are good at,” said Mr Patrick Wong, the New Balance country representative.

“So to be part of the premier running event is something we have always wanted and it will push the profile of the brand up a little bit as compared to the last few years.”

As for previous sponsors, adidas – who still have the adidas Sundown Marathon on their calendar – their focus on running has taken on a different form.

“The decision [to pull out of the Singapore Marathon] has been largely due to a shift in terms of our Sports Marketing focus for the year,” said Janice Lee Fang, brand manager for adidas Singapore. “This year, for example, we launched a new brand specific initiative, our island-wide running community effort called the adiNation of Runners – a club which seeks to provide runners with a closer touch point with the brand.

“adidas has had an excellent relationship with the organizers of both events over the year and we’re confident that there will be opportunities for us to work together again in the future,” she added.

The foray of New Balance into the Singapore Marathon is meant to complement and not replace the REAL Run, the brand’s other sponsorship vehicle.

“We are not going to replace the REAL Run. REAL Run will always still be with us,” reassured Wong. “The marathon is more for the elite while the REAL Run is more for mass participation. This is not the end of our sponsorships. We do have some plans for next year.”

Although there are marathons in different parts of South East Asia, the Singapore sponsorship is not part of a regional plan, confirmed Wong.

“It’s not a regional plan. In different countries, the StanChart Marathon is owned by different organisations and so it’s quite hard for us to do a regional agreement. But we try to make sure we get the other countries involved as well. Unofficially, we are working with StanChart for most of the races,” added Wong.

New Balance remains a strong brand of choice for consumers, Wong confirmed.

“In terms of running, depending on how you look at it, we are probably the number one brand. In running, we are very strong on the male side. At most of the races, we do a shoe count, we are either first or number two,” said Wong. “We are weak in the female side because the shoe doesn’t look flattering on the female feet.”

In recent years, the retail scene has seen a proliferation of retail stores set up by Nike, adidas, Fila and Asics. Nike has 14 stores while adidas has four. New Balance too has made their presence felt with four retail stores.

The stores are a necessary part of the brand’s strategy to educate consumers, said Wong.

“Our retail shops are meant to show a complete picture of what the brand offers. The retailers have limited space and they have to cater to all the brands. To a certain extent, they can only present part of the range and so it’s not a true representation of the brand. And because they don’t sell much apparel, they don’t present the apparel story as well,” said Wong.

“In terms of education, in our stores we can afford to give a longer time for consultation. This is something that consumers are coming back to our shops for because we give proper consultation and advice. This is something that we can’t force the retailer to do. It’s dollars and cents and everybody understands that.

“But it’s good, because when we educate them, maybe they will subsequently go to the retailers shop to buy. To us, it’s left pocket, right pocket,” added Wong.

Wong acknowledged that regular retailers initially felt the brand was competing with them for business.

Said Wong: “In the beginning they did [treat our shops as competition], but after awhile they realised the advantage of having us because we do educate the consumers on shoes so that when they go to the retailers shop, they know exactly what to buy and that translates to less time for the retailers to convince them to buy. So that’s the good part.”

Despite the economic crisis earlier in the year, New Balance is doing well.

“I’m glad to say that the brand is doing well. We’ve exceeded our sales targets and so it’s a good year for us,” said Wong.

“Our sponsorships, our retail shops, our consultation, helps us to project a more professional image of the brand. So people do want to stay with the brand. We are an accountable brand, reasonably priced and we do make good shoes and so even in an economic crisis like this, people are still coming back to us,” said Wong.

“We are up from last year around 10% [in terms of market share] while the rest are either flat or declining. Basically we are gaining from others. In terms of market share for running, we are around 22%. Asics is around 20 to 22%. They are on par with us,” added Wong.

Source: Les Tan/Red Sports

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

RP triathletes advance to Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Florida

Part of New Balance’s global commitment to the sports is to support professional and everyday athletes. In the Philippines, New Balance has proudly supported triathlon and particularly the team that hails from Clark, Pampanga, known as Tri Clark.

New Balance Marathon
The group photo shows Tri Clark team with Planet Sports president Anton Gonzalez.

In the recently concluded Ironman 70.3 Philippines in Camarines Sur, all 16 members of the Tri Clark team successfully completed the race with five of them advancing to the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, Florida. Tri Clark athletes training for the Ironman World Championships are: Rene Ricardo "Abe" Tayag, Jose Antonio Narciso, Michael Mandap, Adonis Edwin Co and Jose Raphael Zapata.

"We are very proud of how the athletes of Tri Clark performed at the Ironman 70.3 Philippines. With five of the team members qualifying to the Clearwater, Florida, Ironman competition it only proves that Filipinos are world-class athletes. New Balance is proud to be supporting these athletes," said Bing Buenaventura, brand manager of New Balance.

Tri Clark’s Tayag started his engagement in sports at the age of seven playing tennis and won local and international competitions. Later on he tried his hand at playing golf where he became a two-time club champion at the Mimosa golf and country club. His love for sports led him to eventually try triathlon in 2005.

Since then Tayag became a regular participant in the National Triathlon Championship, National Duathlon in Clark, Subic International Triathlon (2005-2009), Whiterock Long Distance Triathlon (2005-2008) and Ironman Malaysia 2007-2009, where he was the top Filipino finisher for 2008 and 2009.

"Sport is a passion that I have, even as a young boy. Excelling in my current sport and trying a new sport later on is something that came naturally. In triathlon, I want to enjoy as much race as I can and proudly wear the Philippine colors in international competitions," shares Tayag.

After his success at the Ironman 70.3 Philippine in Camarines Sur, Tayag and the rest of the Tri Clark team are on their 10-week training program to prepare them for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships on Nov. 14.

As Tayag and the rest of Tri Clark train for their next triathlon race, New Balance will support the team to help them stay in form and elevate their performance.

Source: (November 09, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Run for Education brings in $125,000 for district programs

Sunday's Run for Education to benefit a pair of key school initiatives was called a success, with $125,000 raised in corporate sponsorships and donations and perhaps more as a final tally of money raised by race registration will not be available until later this week, according to race organizers.

Members of the public were shuttled on seven buses from the RC Willey parking lot to Damonte Ranch High School where the races were held. Students from many Washoe County schools were bussed in from their campuses and hundreds of parents and teachers and between 250 to 300 volunteers were on hand for the event, race director Eric Lerude said Monday.

Through the Education Alliance of Washoe County, the funds will benefit the Washoe County School District's Kids in Motion Program, which promotes and provides health and fitness programs at elementary schools where there are no formal fitness programs, and the Passport Program, which assists K-12 students who need additional assistance to help them meet educational goals.

"This event is vital to those programs, there's no doubt about it," said Lerude, who has directed the 5-year-old event the past two years. "This event has become very popular in this community, and it's obviously for a good cause."

The Kids in Motion program provides money to participating schools in the form of grants to help purchase fitness equipment, such as basketballs, soccer balls and jump ropes, fund field days, support running teams or provide formal physical education instruction.

The Passport Program helps fund tutoring, summer school and has helped nearly 2,000 students in the last four years.

Lerude said company sponsorships and other contributions this year raised about $125,000 for the two programs. Last year, the sponsor donations and registrations totaled approximately $188,000.

"We are still totaling the runner registration entry dollars," Lerude said "That number as of (Monday) is $30,000, but we are not finished processing checks. We'll have that part figured out within days."

Source: (BY MICHAEL MARTINEZ • October 21, 2009)

At 75, George Hirsch Will Run New York City Once More

George Hirsch, a founder and publisher of running magazines, told his wife that he was retiring from marathons two years ago.

Old habits die hard.

George Hirsch is 75. He is the founding publisher of New York magazine, he ran for Congress in 1986, and he has a personal-best marathon time of 2 hours 38 minutes (Boston, 1979). A founder and publisher of running magazines, Hirsch helped Fred Lebow plan the first five-borough New York City Marathon, in 1976, and is now chairman of the New York Road Runners, the race’s organizer. He has run more than 30 marathons over four decades.

On Nov. 1, Hirsch plans to be at the starting line of the New York City Marathon on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. His friends are hoping for the best. Some of them also worry.

“The last few times George has raced marathons, he literally came out looking like a welterweight boxer who had been T.K.O.’d in the eighth round,” said Amby Burfoot, a longtime editor at Runner’s World.

At the Chicago Marathon in 2003, Hirsch, then 69, collapsed 50 yards from the finish and fell on his face. He lost part of two front teeth. At the Mesa Falls Marathon in Idaho in 2007, Hirsch, then 73, fell on his face again. His sunglasses smashed and he was left with a black eye.

Two months later, Hirsch was on pace to run a 3:27 marathon in Albany when he lost his balance running downhill after the 20th mile. He was bleeding, but he picked himself up and took off again. His back soon seized up. Two police officers on bicycles escorted him the rest of the way. He refused their requeststo go to a hospital.

Bart Yasso, who has run more than 1,000 races, described Hirsch as the “most mentally tough runner I have ever met.” But in Albany, Hirsch’s wife, Shay, watched her bloodied husband shuffle into the finishers’ gate and decided they should talk.

“I said, ‘This has got to be it, George,’ ” she said. “ ‘You’ve run your marathons. You’ve put it out there and you know what you can do, but this is not good.’ ”

Hirsch is not the only septuagenarian who has found it difficult to give up marathoning. Ed Whitlock, a Canadian athlete, was 73 when he ran a 2:54 marathon; this month, at 78, he ran a 1:37 half-marathon. Last year, 174 finishers of the New York City Marathon were 70 or older, and 15 were in their 80s.

Hirsch, razor thin with a warm smile, had always longed to be good at some athletic endeavor. “I had no natural gifts,” he said.

Growing up in New Rochelle, N.Y., he set up a high-jump pit in his parents’ backyard and spent hours trying to clear the bar, even though “there isn’t a single high-jump gene in there,” Shay Hirsch said. In his 30s, he took up distance running — a sport in which “you can improve a lot just on persistence,” Hirsch said.

His grit served him as well in life as in running. Hirsch built The Runner and Runner’s World into popular magazines that conveyed his enthusiasm and broadened the sport’s appeal. Then, in 1988, Hirsch was working at an exposition for the New Jersey Waterfront Marathon when he met Shay Scrivner, then 40, a brunette with kind eyes.

Hirsch asked her to dinner that night, but she refused. He was so taken with her, however, that he showed up at the starting line the next day — for a race that he never intended to run. He surveyed the crowd but still had not found her when the gun went off.

“I waited for every person to cross the starting line,” Hirsch said. “And then I started to jog. I kept looking left and right, and looking and running and jogging and looking, and at five miles, there she was up ahead of me. I came up next to her and said, ‘Hi, how are you?’ She said, ‘What are you doing here?’ And I said, ‘Looking for you.’ ”

They ran the remaining 21 miles together and shared their life stories, including their failed first marriages, and wed the next year.

Hirsch loves his wife more than running, so when she suggested after the Albany race that it was time to stop doing marathons, he agreed. He even seemed relieved. He e-mailed his close friends, including the four-time Boston and New York City winner Bill Rodgers and the Olympic champions Frank Shorter and Joan Benoit Samuelson.

“I’m retiring from marathoning,” he wrote. “Yes, this time for good. I really do mean it.”

Mary Wittenberg, the president and chief executive of New York Road Runners, remembered receiving that message. “I never accepted or believed that resignation,” she said.

In early August, Hirsch went for a long run and made it 17 miles. He began to see some significance in numbers. It was the year of his 20th wedding anniversary and the 40th running of the New York City Marathon, which he last ran in 1994. As he took longer runs, Shay asked, “Are you training for anything in particular?” He kept saying no.

In September, though, Hirsch told her that he wanted to run one last marathon in New York. She agreed.

Hirsch intended to run only part of the Chicago Marathon this month as his final long training run. He told friends he would go no farther than 20 miles. At Mile 20, he felt good and decided to jog in the last six miles. He finished in 3:58 without injury.

Hirsch’s friends have mobilized to help him through the finish line in New York. Germ├ín Silva, the 1994 and ’95 winner, will run the early miles with Hirsch. Rodgers, who is fighting plantar fasciitis, will run the last few miles with him.

Shorter, the 1972 Olympic champion, said he received a cortisone shot in his damaged left hip so he could join Hirsch and Rodgers. But he realized last week that he would not be healthy enough.

“George is whipping Frank and me,” said Rodgers, who has been friends with Hirsch since 1976. “We’re 15 years younger than him. We’re struggling a little.”

Shay Hirsch will be waiting at the finish. Her husband is running for a charity that benefits research into multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer that she is battling. When she was recovering from a stem-cell transplant three years ago, he rarely left her bedside for months.

“He is very tenacious,” she said. “He doesn’t give up on people, either.”

Source: nytimes

New Balance slides into snowboarding (Introducing 686 Times New Balance)

New Balance Athletic Shoe is jumping into action sports with the launch of a snowboarding line.

The Boston company known primarily for its running shoes has partnered with California snowboarding brand 686 on the “686 Times New Balance” collection of snowboard boots, sneakers, jackets and T-shirts.

686 Times New Balance
SHOE-IN: The 580 Times New Balance Snowboard Boot sells for about $300.

New Balance will debut the collection locally tomorrow night at the Concepts sneaker store in Cambridge’s Harvard Square.

The partnership with 686, a company owned and operated by snowboard riders, allows New Balance to “add freshness” to one of its classic sneakers and introduce it to a new sport, according to product manager Jen Lynch.

The collection’s footwear includes two adaptations of New Balance’s 580 trail-running sneaker introduced in the mid-1990s.

The 580 Times New Balance Snowboard Boot, which retails for $300, incorporates New Balance’s patented Rollbar stability and Abzorb cushioning technology and other features typical of snowboarding boots.

“The outcome is that you get this really high-tech boot that fits and feels like a sneaker,” Lynch said.

New Balance also has customized a 580 sneaker for the collection using leather and yarn-dyed plaid panels. It will retail for $100.

Concepts will carry the 686 Times New Balance boots and sneakers, both of which come in black and white.

The collection’s outerwear is available at Eastern Boarder in Nashua, N.H., and North of the Boarder in Salem, N.H.

Source: Donna Goodison