Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Bumbalough on his retirement from pro running

Andrew Bumbalough announced his retirement from professional running earlier this week, the 33-year-old bringing the curtain down on a career that saw him race well at every distance from 1500m to the marathon. The Tennessee native represented USA at the 2011 World Championships over 5000m and at the 2011 World Cross Country Championships, and ran for the Americas team at the 2014 Continental Cup in Morocco. On the track he had personal bests of 3:37.15 for 1500m, 7:37.62 for 3000m, 13:12.01 for 5000m and 27:56.78 for 10,000m. In 2017 he transitioned to the marathon, and in dire conditions at the 2018 Boston Marathon he finished fifth. In 2019 he clocked 2:10:56 to finish 12th in the Chicago Marathon. Below is a Q&A with Bumbalough on the decision to call time on his professional career and what the road ahead will look like.

How have things been this week since you made the announcement?

I knew it was coming so it wasn’t a surprise to me, but the reaction still takes you by surprise. Yesterday was full of text messages and phone calls and things like that, so it’s been a little crazy.

When did you make the decision?

At some point over the summer I started to think about it. With how the [US Olympic Marathon] Trials went, I felt like things were set in place. The Trials had been my focus for the last four years, and what happened after I didn’t really have a plan for. If I made the team I obviously would have gone to Tokyo, but that was the focal point and end point for what plans I had. I dropped out, and I was hoping to pivot after that and run another race, to use the fitness in another marathon, but then Covid started to make its way into North America and things started to unravel with any race plans. With the Boston Marathon cancellation and everything cancelled into the Fall, I didn’t have anything to train for. A lot of my teammates were on the track but I’d moved along from the track, so it gave me a chance to think about what I want to do with my life now and with my future. Around the summer was when I really started to consider it seriously, but it became a little hard to let go moving into the fall. I wasn’t ready to make an announcement until this year.

Were you still running throughout the fall and planning to target any races?

It was more maintenance, keeping the options open. I was definitely not training properly, I told Jerry [Schumacher] I was taking a step away, doing running on my own terms. I was still running a decent amount, and I still am, at least five days a week. But in the summer I was cycling a lot, something I always loved doing, and that’s been a nice outlet. I’ve been getting out into the mountains and doing some hiking, trail running, other forms of exercise that I typically wouldn’t do during a focused training cycle.

You recently launched Highgear Running, which offers personalized coaching for runners at various levels. How did that come about?

I did a project for Nike that connected me with some athletes and the athletes I was working with were CrossFit, multi-sport athletes. One of them approached me and wanted to work on improving the running aspect of his training and he didn’t know how to start. His goal was to run a five-minute mile; he was a big, strong guy, and it was a lofty goal for him. He wanted to squat 450 pounds and also run a five-minute mile so I thought that was a really interesting problem to solve, how to help him work towards his goal. We started working together and through that I met some other athletes and started working with them, and I have realized I really like working with athletes. I always knew I wanted to coach in some form, but didn’t know what that would be. I don’t think I wanted to coach full-time, and I still don’t, in terms of it being my sole career path, but that experience led to the ideation of Highgear and what that might look like.

Is that your primary focus now?

No, my primary focus is product creation and product marketing. Through my time at Nike, I was often used as an athlete to come in and work with product creation teams, working with developers, product managers. In 2014 or 2015 I started to work with the innovation team charged with developing the Next% footwear line so I was at ground level, in the weeds with them, being one of the athlete voices in what became the 4%, the Vaporfly, and the Alphafly, and I still have a voice with that team. I did some work with them into the fall; that was my main thing over the summer and fall. What I really hope to do full-time is work in footwear in the sports industry.

As you look back, what are some of your best memories you’ll take away from your pro running career?

One of the things I’m most proud of, and something that’s bittersweet, is that for five years, from 2010 to 2014, I was in the top five in the 5K at the US Championships. I was third once, second once, one year I was fourth. In 2011 I got to go to the World Championships – I was an alternate and it was because of an injury to Chris Solinsky – and in 2012 I was a couple of seconds off making the Olympic team. I’m proud of being one of the most consistent athletes in the US at 5000 meters, but unfortunately with how deep the US was getting during that time, a couple of juggernauts in Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp were at the top, and it seemed for a lot of that time there was only one spot to go after. But that’s the beauty and the cruelty of our sport.

That run of five years is something I’ll take away and be very proud of along with, later in my career, making a successful transition to the marathon. My first couple of races were OK, they weren’t great, but I started to learn the event and one moment I’m really proud of is being fifth at the 2018 Boston Marathon in those conditions – getting through it and toughing it out. Coming away with a top-five finish at a Marathon Major is something I feel pretty good about. I think I could be a very good marathoner, but my better strength was on the track so to make that transition and run a big PR [2:10:56] in Chicago in 2019, having that range of being a sub-four miler who’s run 3:37 for 1500 and 2:10 for the marathon gives me a lot of pride.

While you will no longer be a professional runner, do you think there will still be races in your future?

I’m not ready to close the door on the idea of racing. It’ll never be the same in that running won’t be the primary focus of my professional life so it’ll have to look different. But other athletes have shown it’s possible at a very high level to have a professional career and also be an elite runner. I haven’t made a decision on what that looks like. I know I owe nothing to anyone other than myself, so that decision would be totally due to my own desire, but over the last month or so my desire to add some more organization to my training has been there, and my body feels really good. It feels really fresh. I’ve been running five days a week, 60 miles a week, half of what I usually do. I’m only 33, I’m not super-old, so it’s very possible that with the right circumstances going after a Boston Marathon or a New York City Marathon or some road racing is out there. I’ve also met some people very into ultra-running and trail running and they are pulling me to do something there, but I don’t know if I have much in me over 50K. I could see myself doing something off-road over a shorter distance.

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Monday, January 11, 2021

Bumbalough calls time on professional running

Andrew Bumbalough has announced his retirement from professional running. The 33-year-old, a long-time member of the Nike Bowerman Track Club, will now transition into coaching. Last week he launched Highgear Running, which offers personalized coaching for runners of all levels from the mile to the marathon. 

During a decorated career, Bumbalough showed his class across a range of distances, clocking 3:37.15 for 1500m, 7:37.62 for 3000m, 13:12.01 for 5000m, 27:56.78 for 10,000m and 2:10:56 for the marathon. He finished fourth in the US Olympic Trials in 2012 over 5000m, and he finished fifth in the 2018 Boston Marathon, his highest finish at a Marathon Major.

Speaking to the Citius Mag podcast, he explained the reasons for his decision.

“Over the course of 2020, I was able to decide, I think I’m ready to finally move away from running. I’ve done OK the last few years but I’m ready to take on new challenges and see where I can contribute in different ways. Does that mean I never run a competitive race again? I don’t know. I think that’s too hard of a question to try and unpack.

“Physically, I feel better than I have in a really long time because I’ve taken a big step away from Jerry’s grind, where it just beats you down. If you survive it, you run amazing. If you don’t, you could be pretty tired after a little while…In 2021, I am no longer part of the Bowerman Track Club professional group and no longer a Nike athlete. That just took a little time to say that publicly. I think people who know me pretty well know that’s where I was headed this year. My passion for product has really come alive this year. Some of the teams that I’ve come to work with at Nike have just pushed me even further in that direction.”

“You really have to relish the moments that are good. Ask anyone who has done this.”

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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

World record ratified for 4x1500m team

The 4x1500m world record of 16:27.02 set by Kimbia’s Elise Cranny and Karissa Schweizer, together with their Bowerman Track Club teammates Colleen Quigley and Shelby Houlihan, has been ratified.

The quartet clocked their time in Portland on 31 July, averaging sub-4:07 legs to smash the previous record of 16:33.58 set by the Kenyan quartet of Mercy Cherono, Faith Kipyegon, Irene Jelegat and Hellen Obiri at the World Relays on 25 May 2014.

Quigley opened with a 4:08 leg and passed the baton to Cranny who ran just inside 4:09.

“Distance relay races are hard to come by in the professional running world so having the ability to go after a world record with three teammates, especially in a year with so much uncertainty, was very special,” Cranny told World Athletics. “Running with that baton in my hand and knowing my teammates are depending on me has always provided a source of additional motivation.”

Schweizer was next, producing a 4:05 split before handing off to Houlihan who sealed the record with a 4:04 final leg.

“To set our minds to something together and successfully complete it during a year that was extremely different from what we imagined and had planned for was something I will forever cherish,” said Cranny.

The news of the ratification capped a fine year for both Cranny and Schweizer, who moved to a new level in 2020 despite all the challenges they faced. Cranny clocked a huge PB of 14:48.02 for 5000m in June, while Schweizer ran lifetime bests over 1500m (4:00.02), 3000m (8:25.70) and 5000m (14:26.34).

Cranny returned to racing in early December by finishing second to Houlihan over 5000m in San Juan Capistrano in California, clocking 15:04.88.

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Saturday, August 8, 2020

Schweizer clocks 2:02 for 800m

Karissa Schweizer continued her fine form with another personal best at the final Bowerman Track Club intra-squad meeting of the summer, running 2:02.77 for 800m on Friday night (7) in Portland.

The 24-year-old finished runner-up to BTC teammate Shelby Houlihan (2:01.08). Elise Cranny came home fourth in 2:04.53 with fellow Kimbia athlete Courtney Frerichs fifth with 2:06.33. Watch the race below.

The BTC men raced an elimination 2000m, with the last athlete after 800m, 1200m and 1600m eliminated from the race. Kimbia’s Grant Fisher was the second BTC athlete eliminated, crossing the line fifth at 1200m, with Lopez Lomong eliminated after 1600m. Evan Jager and Sean McGorty both completed the race, with McGorty passing Jager on the final lap and clocking 5:09.75. Jager was close behind with 5:11.42.

The race was won by Mohammed Ahmed in 5:00.72. Watch the race below.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Stand: How One Gesture Shook The World

The image is iconic, one with which all those interested in Olympic history and the civil rights movement are most familiar. Less well known, however, is the story around it, the journey taken by Tommie Smith and John Carlos to the medal rostrum at the 1968 Mexico Games.

That tale, and the social and political context around it, is the subject of the latest film by Kimbia Athletics director Tom Ratcliffe who, together with Becky Paige, made The Stand: How One Gesture Shook The World.

Released yesterday, the 69-minute film features revealing interviews and insights from the surviving protagonists of that seminal moment in history, and it has so far received superb reviews.

“Powerful and electric, ‘The Stand’ boldly and clearly delivers the message that the ‘Olympic rings should tie the world together, not tear it apart,'” wrote Bob Ramsak for World Athletics. “Critically, it transcends sport like the gesture did at the time. Given current worldwide events, its release could not be better timed.”

Jonathan Gault of Letsrun.com wrote that “the true value of the film is its ability to place that moment on the podium into context.”

“It’s worth the watch. While the entire film is, nominally, about ‘The Stand,’ the segment dedicated to the gesture itself runs just seven of the film’s 69 minutes. Which makes sense when you consider the medal ceremony lasted less than two minutes and the protest itself had only been planned shortly beforehand, after the 200m final had taken place earlier that day.”

Steve Warren of Insite Atlanta wrote that it was ” a good story well told by the people who lived it.”

Alex Billington of Firstshowing.net wrote that it is “a revealing exploration into the circumstances that led runners Tommie Smith and John Carlos to that historic moment at the Mexico City Games, mining the great personal risks they took and the subsequent fallout they endured.”

John Defore of the Hollywood Reporter: “An iconic image of protest gets its backstory explored in The Stand, Tom Ratcliffe and Becky Paige’s look at two Black Olympians who raised their fists and bowed their heads at the 1968 Mexico City games. Reminding viewers that Colin Kaepernick was far from the first athlete to be told he should keep his principles off the field, the straightforward but welcome doc doesn’t need to spell out how many of its protagonists’ concerns remain pressing today.”

Watch The Stand on Amazon or on the following platforms:

Digital: iTunes, Google Play, Microsoft, Vudu, FandangoNOW
Cable: iNdemand, Bell, DirecTV, Dish, Telus, Vubiquity




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