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September 27, 2016 | Issue 46
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Hot town, summer in the city—finally. More photos from my life on the run at instagram.com/mariofraioli.

Good morning! Long-winded intros are so last week. Let’s dive right in:

Fast follow-up. 

Last week’s lead photo was of Malcolm Richards, a relatively unheralded Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier who lives in San Francisco, educates the city’s youth, competes on the PA circuit for the West Valley Track Club and buys his own running shoes (presumedly). I’ve shared a couple starting lines with Malcolm, have chatted with him after the finish on a few occasions and see him hammering away on the track most Wednesday evenings before I coach my own group of athletes. Like most other runners in our area, I root for him to do well. Well, Richards ran 2:15:10 at the Berlin Marathon on Sunday, a 39-second PR “on a day when I wanted more.” He’s run well in his last two marathons (Richards was 18th at the Trials in L.A.) and, if I had to bet, is going to be one of those guys who pops a 2:10-2:12 in the next year or two and leaves a lot of people asking, “Malcolm who?” Well, remember that you probably heard the name here first.  

Speaking of Richards, we’ll be on a panel together tomorrow night in San Francisco to help kick off Strava’s Back Half Challenge campaign, in which runners can win a free pair of New Balance shoes for negative splitting a marathon this fall. Pretty cool promo, if you ask me. I wrote this piece for the campaign and got some good insights on negative splitting from Mark Coogan, Reid Coolsaet and others. Check it out—and take a stab at winning some free shoes!

And while we’re on the topic of Berlin, Kenenisa Bekele’s 2:03:03 win on Sunday deserves mention not just because it’s the second fastest time ever run on a certified course but because I, like many others, wish he would have been selected to race the Olympics in Rio last month. Can you imagine he and Eliud Kipchoge, two guys with cross-country pedigrees, stellar track credentials and a history of doing battle together on big stages, trading knockout blows in a(nother) championship race? It would have been amazing! As fun as it was to watch Bekele pull away from Wilson Kipsang in the final 2K, carefully orchestrated races, teams of pacemakers and world records have never interested me. Unadulterated, every-athlete-for-him/herself racing from the sound of the starter’s gun, however, is one of the most exciting things a fan can watch. Bekele’s beat Kipchoge in two other Olympic Games but it would have been super interesting to see the two of them go head-to-head for a couple hours, like a 12-round boxing match. It’s too bad Ethiopia’s subjective selectors didn’t deem perhaps the greatest pound-for-pound runner of all-time fit enough to wear his country’s colors when it mattered most.

Fine, keep your money. 

A few weeks ago I wrote about the ridiculousness of U.S. Olympic medalists paying taxes on prize money they receive from the USOC. Well, maybe someone in the The House was reading this newsletter, or perhaps lawmakers finally woke up and came to their senses in time enough to reverse course on the practice. The bill passed 415-1. My own view is that in the case of the Olympics, a once in every 4-year event where you are serving as a representative for your country (which doesn't come easy) that any earnings, i.e., the one-time bonus you receive from your national governing body or Olympic committee (which isn't a ton given the work that went into it), should not be taxed—especially since the athlete can't really "work" on behalf of their contracted sponsor during the period of the Games. On the flipside, I do believe any additional bonuses an athlete gets from his/her own individual sponsor, as part of a signed contract, should be taxed accordingly. "The vast majority of Olympic and Paralympic athletes will never sign an endorsement deal or get paid millions of dollars to compete – they're school teachers, full–time students, retail workers and more,” said representative Robert Dold of Illinois. “But when they return home with a medal for Team USA, the IRS forces our Olympic and Paralympic champions to pay a penalty for their success. Our bipartisan bill ensures that these athletes can remain focused on fulfilling their Olympic and Paralympic dreams without the fear of getting a huge tax bill in the mail.” (Thanks to Monica Prelle for the email dialogue on this topic.)

Lightning Rod. 

In my years working at Competitor Group, I had the good fortune to spend time with Rod Dixon at a number of Rock ’n’ Roll events and I always enjoyed chatting with him about his career, training, running shoes, and what he was doing with the KidsMarathon program. One of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. For those reading this who aren’t super well-versed in the history of the sport, Dixon was an absolute stud, ran some super fast times, qualified for four Olympic Games, bagged a medal in one of them, and won more than a few big races, perhaps most notably the 1983 New York City Marathon (n.b.This photo from that race is one of my all-time favorites.). I came across this recent interview with Dixon last week and really enjoyed it. Warning: It’s long! But, it’s full of incredible stories from his career (the one about his run with Pre and John Walker is a particularly good one) and awesome little anecdotes such as this that are relatable to running, and life: “We learn by doing and experiences we have such as heartaches and disappointments are just things to get over and to learn from and we move on. I don’t blame people for what is beyond my control. I just let it go and at some point the energy will come back. So, believe in yourself and stay with your energy and your spiritual self.”

Quick Splits

— Running has filled a lot of different roles in my life, many of them competitive in their nature. But the activity itself, more so now than ever, is when I get away from my desk, do my best thinking, come up with most of my ideas and solve 78 percent of the world’s problems on a weekly basis. I recently came across this piece on Farnam Street discussing how walking has shaped the lives of various writers and philosophers. What the activity of walking did for folks like Thoreau, Kant and Nietzsche, running (as a non-competitive pursuit) does for me. “[T]here is the suspensive freedom that comes by walking, even a simple short stroll: throwing off the burden of cares, forgetting business for a time. You choose to leave the office behind, go out, stroll around, think about other things.” Sound familiar?

— Steve Magness and Jon Marcus had me on their podcast after the Olympics and the episode was just released last Wednesday. It’s not the rosiest discussion you’ll listen to this week but it’s an honest dialogue on the state of the sport and some suggestions on what can be done to help improve it. Give it a listen

— The #saytwowords hashtag continues to gain a silly amount of steam as summer approaches its close. Shout out to Olympian Kate Grace for noticing the shortened captions in her Instagram feed and joining in our silly fun. (Note: There was a little explainer in Issue 25 if you’re wondering where the #saytwowords idea originated.)

That’s it for Issue 46. If you liked this week's edition, please do me a solid and share the web link on your social media channel of choice. You can also send your thoughts my way by replying directly to this email or shouting at me on Twitter.

Thanks for reading, 

Mario

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