Monday, August 17, 2009

What's Going on at Nike?

Let me get this straight. Alberto Salazar, one of America's best marathoners ever, coaches 10K runners Galen Rupp, Dathan Ritzenhein and Amy Yoder Begley, all members of the US team competing at the World Championships in Berlin. Another of his athletes, Kara Goucher (3rd in New York and Boston), is also a member of the team and is running the marathon. Salazar works directly for Nike- in fact they even have a BUILDING named after him. Recently it was announced that Alan Webb, American record holder in the mile, would be moving to Portland and Salazar would coach him.

Track and Field: USA Track & Field Championships
Alberto Salazar

NIKE also recently hired Jerry Schumacher who brought a crew of professional runners to Portland. Schumacher's Group includes 3 guys representing the US at Worlds in the 5K, along with Shalane Flanagan, who won a bronze at the Bejing Olympics in the 10K and holds the American record in the 5K and the 10K.

So you have 2 groups of runners, coached by 2 different coaches, all under the corporate umbrella of NIKE.

Flanagan joined Schumacher, with the goal of making the transition to marathoning. A couple of his other athletes, Simon Bairu and Tim Nelson, also apparently have marathoning in their long-term plans.

It's no secret that Flanagan has struggled since she arrived in Portland. She says she doesn't enjoy "being the only pony tail around here" and would love to train with Kara and Amy, so clearly they are "off limits".

Flanagan wants to be a marathoner, and her new coach Schumacher, to my knowledge has never coached one (or even run a marathon himself for that matter). Salazar, who has never coached a miler/1500 meter runner at a world class level, has said he is confident "he can aquire the knowledge necessary" to coach Webb.

If they haven't already, perhaps it's time for Al and Jerry (I envision their offices at NIKE across the hall from each other) to sit down and work something out.

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