paulmerca.blogspot.com took some time off to enjoy the Thanksgiving holidays, so here's a rundown of what's happened since we last posted on Wednesday the 21st (I think we've set a record for the longest time between posts):
At the Chiba Ekiden on November 23rd, Bellingham native Jake Riley (left/photo by Paul Merca), who now competes for Hanson's/Brooks in Michigan, ran 28:46 on his 10k leg, as he got Team USA into third place going into the fourth of six legs of the marathon relay, consisting of co-ed legs of 5m/5w/10m/5w/10m/7.195w, as Kenya and Japan led.
Riley ended up running the second fastest time of the stage, as New Zealand's Jake Robertson took the stage win in 28:40.
In stage 5, Portland's Galen Rupp (far left) took the stage win as he ran 28:20, but was still 16 seconds behind the Kenyan and Japanese squads when he handed off the sash to Neely Spence for the anchor leg.
Former Eastern Washington standout Mattie Suver traveled with Team USA as an alternate.
Complete results of the Chiba Ekiden are available here. A recap of the race is available here (via japanrunningnews.blogspot.com).
The 2012 USA Track & Field annual meeting takes place in Daytona Beach, Florida starting Wednesday through Sunday.
The annual meeting will feature a post-mortem on what happened with Team USA at its various competitions this year, including the Olympics.
With 2012 an election year, delegates will vote on various committee chairmanships, including the men's track & field committee, where former Washington State University coach John Chaplin is stepping down, with current vice-chair Ed Gorman running against former Olympic team member Tonie Campbell.
Club Northwest founder Bill Roe, a former USATF president, is running for Long Distance Running chair.
Current USATF president Stephanie Hightower is running for another term as president of the organization.
The Jesse Owens Award will be handed to Allyson Felix and Ashton Eaton on Saturday night as the country's top track & field athletes of 2012 as voted by members of the national track & field media (disclosure: paulmerca.blogspot.com is a voter for this award).
Over the weekend, Felix and Jamaica's Usain Bolt received the IAAF's world athlete of the year award for their efforts in 2012 (disclosure: paulmerca.blogspot.com is also a voter for this award).
Felix won the Olympic 200m title in London and was part of the gold medal-winning 4x100m and 4x400m Relay teams to become the first woman since 1988 to win three gold medals at a single Olympic Games. The victorious 4x100m Relay quartet in London clocked a 40.82 World record. Her 21.69 victory in the 200m at the U.S. Olympic Trials was the fastest in the world this year and made Felix the fourth fastest woman in history.
“It is pretty much one of the coolest awards I’ve ever received,” Felix said. “Winning it means you are at the top of your sport, which is something we all strive for. To finally reach the goal during the journey of a long career is very special.”
Bolt successfully defended both his 100m and 200m titles at the Olympic Games in London, clocking 9.63 and 19.32 respectively, both the fastest times in the World this year. He concluded his Olympic appearance by anchoring a Jamaican quartet to a 36.84 World record in the 4x100m Relay. He won six out of seven competitions in the 100m, and three of four in the 200m.
Finally, some good news for US track & field, as the Drake Relays announced Wednesday a ground-breaking 5-year sponsorship deal with HyVee, a Iowa chain of supermarkets.
The deal includes an increase in prize money to draw world class athletes to the event. The commitment includes more than half a million dollars in purse money for a field that currently features 16 medalists from the 2012 London Olympic Games and a world record holder already confirmed to compete at the Relays with more to potentially join the star-studded field at a later date. Those Olympians and professional athletes will compete in ‘London Rematches’ for a $50,000 purse in the running events and a $25,000 purse in the field events.
The Relays and those athletes, including 2012 Olympic gold medalists Aries Merritt, Felix Sanchez, Renaud Lavillenie, Jenn Suhr, and Brittney Reese, will be featured on ESPN2 with 90 minutes of action being broadcast to nearly 100 million homes in prime time.
The deal with the Drake Relays, scheduled next year for April 24-27, will also help the meet draw more top collegiate teams to Des Moines.
Could the University of Washington, featuring Des Moines native Katie Flood make an appearance on the famed Blue Oval in 2014?
NOTE: USA Track & Field, the IAAF, and the Drake Relays contributed to this report.