Running and Track & Field. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
1. Chase all the clouds from the Nebraska sky.
2. Count all the bees in the National hive.
In 2007 I was fortunate enough to attend the USATF annual meetings. Scheduling dictated that I spend my 50th birthday toiling away. Assuaged by location, Honolulu. One of my Biggest Victories in our Elite Development Club Council meetings was successfully arguing for the inclusion of the 10,000 meters at our USA Club National Championships. It was not an easy fight but the longest of our track races was contested between 2008-2014. No longer.
I spent Tuesday afternoon on a conference call that included the principals from Icahn Stadium in New York City, the USATF National Office in Indy, and our brief EDC Club Council. Brief because for the first time since the program’s inception in 2000, its original architect and my good friend and long time mentor (and former USATF President), Bill Roe, was not present. He has stepped down to more fully address pressing concerns as our USATF LDR Divisional Chair, President of Club Northwest, and his coaching duties at Western Washington University. That leaves me as the “elder statesman” of the Council. With Bill, as always, just a call away of course.
We discussed/debated our USATF Club Track & Field National Championships. Where it came from, where its been, and what the future holds.
Here are some of the major changes that we approved: Beginning this year, the meet will be condensed into a single day (July 11th). Lots of reasons ($) for this, including the $5500/day price tag at Icahn. And the $10-$15,000 lost annually by the national office. The meet, when contested in NYC, ends up costing ~$30,000 total. I did it for half that in Omaha 2012- what, you think they keep me around for my incredibly good looks?
Back to the future. Moving forward we will no longer (sniff!) contest my beloved 10,000. The Sprint Medley Relay will also go by the by. And likely the Race Walk too. We are also tightening or eliminating some of the early rounds.
And more. For the first time ever we will accept qualifying “Unattached” athletes, no club membership required. Yes Andrew, they will need to have a USATF membership to play in our USATF games. This will certainly elevate the level of competition.
And this. We will also restructure the prize money (gasp!). In the past the pay out has been, for each winning gender team, $2000, $1500, $1000, $500. We have decided to reward excellence at the top by setting the new structure as $1500, $1000, $500. With the $2000 from the top of each going into a pool of prize money that will pay individual event winners $100. (40 events x 100 dollars). Don’t be surprised to see the individual event winners take home burgeoning amounts via sponsorships, both for winning marks and performance incentives. This is a good move in my never humble opinion because it goes away from rewarding depth of mediocrity.
And finally. After much gnashing of teeth, tearing of beards, laments and wails, we have decided to move the meet into June beginning 2016. This has been perhaps the most contentious and difficult portion of our deliberations since last December’s annual meeting. In a nutshell, Club purists vs. Open purists. What is always best for clubs isn’t always best for open athletes and vice versa. And it is up to the Elite Development Club Council to formulate policy that best serves both constituencies. I remain, proud and privileged to serve.