20th Annual Penn State Track and Field/XC Reunion

And SAVE THE DATE! The Executive Committee meeting of the Officers of the Group convened and chose the dates for the 2022 Reunion and Coach Groves Golf Tournament. This will be the 20th anniversary of the formulation of this whole shebang, and you better SAVE THE DATE!! So set aside May 13th and 14th, 2022. (Each year will alternate between May and August) We will be going all out for this event and you won't want to miss it. Adult beverages, camaraderie with old and new friends, mediocre golf, AND LIVE MUSIC FROM PROFESSIONALS! Stay tuned...

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Anyone Heading to the Big Apple?

There is said to be an expected 1,000,000 people headed to Times Square this evening! I will not be one of them. This puzzle demonstrates as close as I will come to being there. Those with knowledge of Manhattan will recognize Times Square in these photos. Have any of you ever been there? What was it like?

The puzzle was my best Christmas present. It is assembled in layers, with the 120 or so most prominent buildings added at the end in chronological order from 1812 to 2013. (I didn't have the heart to remove the Twin towers when I reached 2000.) And I doubt the future buildings will be on schedule too.

My family will be running in Red Lion PA's Double Deuce at 11:49 PM. The 2-mile run hasn't ever been finished before midnight by anyone yet as it's quite hilly, but the festivities at "The Square" are going on as the runners finish. (The Cigar drop is the centerpiece.) A used car is randomly given away every year by the main sponsor but everyone always takes the alternative of $1500. There are also 5 $100 random prizes and TV's, radios and other great prizes too. I'll be asleep, having already run my miserable 3 miles.

Happy New Year. And be alert for the coming announcements of the next Harry Groves Golf Tourney and Reunion.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Penn State* in the Year-End Distance Rankings

It was a good year for current and former PSU distance runners as evidenced by the year-end rankings on LetsRun.com*.

In the men's 10,000M, James Carney placed 5th with a 28:13.4 effort. (He has a 27:43 PR!)

In the women's 10,000M Rebecca Donoghue* snagged the number 6 spot with a 32:29 time.

Rebecca* also placed 10th in the women's 5,000M event with a PR 15:30.

And no post is complete without current Nittany Lion Bridget Franek who garnered 5th place in the 3,000M steeplechase with her World Championship qualifying time of 9:36.7.

*Rebecca is an honorary Nittany Lion and member in good standing of the PSU Track Alumni Golfers despite not wearing her wrist band in any of her pictures from big races!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

PSU is the Meteorology Capital of the USA

Except our Group was left out of the classroom I suppose. I know (redacted) would have gotten the poll question right, so I can assume he didn't see it. No one got the answer correct.

Syracuse (116 inches), in fact, receives the most snowfall yearly of the six choices I gave. They get a substantial amount of "regular" snow" and more "lake-effect" snow than Buffalo (91 inches). Buffalo does have better cataclysmic snow stories, especially the 1977 event and the one when Buffalo Wings were said to be invented. Third on the list is the North Pole with 77 inches yearly. Minneapolis only gets 45 inches while Philadelphia got more than its yearly average (21 inches) last week. Last on the list was the South Pole with 8 inches. In fact, Antarctica is the world's largest desert.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The End of a Weird Decade

I can think of no better way to highlight the end of the 00's than with a song from Italian superstar Adriano Celantano from the Wayback Machine in 1972. This song filled with gibberish was supposed to be what English sounds like to foreigners. With the decade that started with the Y2K Apocalypse and ended with our imminent destruction by overheating promised by our ex-Vice President, gibberish is just what the doctor ordered.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Best Week of My Life

1972 was a great year. Nixon was at his peak, the Vietnam War was about to be ended and Americans had been on the Moon 5 or 6 times. My sport was basketball, and I needed to get much better at it to compete with the likes of teammate Curt Clawson (who later became the greatest shooter Coach Keady of Purdue ever saw, including Michael Jordan!) I opted for the prestigious Pocono Mountain Basketball Camp run by Coaches Bill Foster and Harry Litwack. I headed off with spirits high and with ridiculous sneakers not really suitable for basketball.

My joy turned to ecstasy when I found out that David Thompson was going to be my Coach for the week. After his sophomore year at NC State, he wasn't yet a household word, but he was certainly one of the premier young players in college ball. His teammates Monty Towe and Phil Spence were with him. Tom Burleson had gone to another camp.

The first day was spent getting to know the camp layout and the set up for the coming week of intense drills, practices and games. Then, the rain began. Hurricane Agnes had hit Florida and meandered up the East Coast, delivering torrential rains which was only was made worse when it stalled over land. Worst hit happened to be where we were in the Poconos. All roads were washed out and we were marooned at our camp. Only the two indoor courts were usable by the hundreds of kids there, many counselors staying elsewhere weren't available, and we were on our own mostly. Lord of the Flies type stuff, may I add?

When the bridge over the little stream leading to the indoor courts washed out when it became a raging river, we improvised by swinging across the stream on a rope hanging from a tree. Those little kids that invariably fell in were retrieved downstream with the help of a dam we fashioned out of canoes left over from the camp's previous life. We never lost a single camper! Each day became worse with the rain and the inability of anyone to reach us from the outside. The menu deteriorated noticeably each day, with meals becoming a mish mash of whatever was available. The nightly movie reel (the World War II flick, Triple Cross) was repeated each night, and all of us learned the entire dialog by the end of the week. We were able to shout the words to the entire movie before the actor would, which somehow never got old. I remember the joy on David Thompson's face with this each night, pure innocent joy. I find it hard to believe that he later ended his basketball career in the throes of substance abuse.

Days were spent watching the college guys play pick-up basketball. Only one court at a time was available, as they tore down rim after rim with spectacular alley-oops and jams (Monty Towe and David Thompson invented the alley-oop!) none of us could believe. Those handy with tools would remake the backboards and rims on the one court as the players switched to the other.

Players were true amateurs in those days, and none of them was receiving any money outright, just room and board (eating the same crap the rest of us were!). We supplemented David by putting quarters on top of the backboards. Any quarter he jumped up and retrieved was his by default. And he pocketed a lot of change that week. I've been challenged on this many times, but I saw him do it hundreds of times. His vertical leap was unbelievable, even with just one step. He had a kid follow him just to hold all of his quarters. And I would have volunteered for the duty if someone else hadn't gotten there first!

It was a simply magical week, and I didn't mind eating Cream of Wheat for three straight meals by the end of the week. When the rain finally stopped and my parents picked me up, I was amazed to see all of Pennsylvania flooded. We didn't have a TV and no one bothered listening to the radio, we were there to watch basketball and there was none better than what was on the court live.

More Wristbands Around the World

Official Group Physicist Brian Boyer brings us several pics from around the world. He sure does get around! In this collection we see Tokoi, Japan, Roman Ruins in Chester, United Kingdom, and the Lenin Tomb in the Kremlin, with Yuri Gagarin's gravesite.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Streak Continues

It isn't quite finished yet, but after a day of moving the treadmill (successfully, against all odds!) the new workout room is now usable. The floor is concrete, the lighting is stark fluorescent and I am awaiting the lockers in battleship gray to recreate the feel of a Rec Hall locker room circa 1978. I celebrated with the 920th day in a row with a run of more than 1 mile, (all but 1 was a minimum of 3 miles). With the addition of an equal number of miles on the elliptical machine, you would think I was actually in shape. Nothing could be further from the truth! I can't run far, I can't run fast, but I can run every day. Those with IQ's higher than mine (many, many of you) know this is indeed stupid. But it's all I got (sic).

And Good News! We are now up to the 161,000th most popular blog in America! (As per Alexa) I thank my tens of readers for such an honor.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Indoor Track Next

Happy Holidays to all! Oh, what the heck, Merry Christmas. This is not a politically correct blog! Everyone is included in our group though. Even Festivus celebrants, (A festival for the rest of us). All political parties, all races, all religions and even "weight men" are an integral and welcome part of Penn State Track and Field Alumni Golf. Remember, the golf is optional. We do reserve the right to ridicule those who abstain, however. That may keep our gaze off the bald spot and the belly paunch, so you have that going for you.

I've included a photo of the 2009 Men's Cross-Country Team, seeing as I hadn't included any during the season. This is a young group, so look for an impressive improvement next year. And any group posing on the Lion Shrine always looks sharp.

I hope my phrase about studying posted on Facebook didn't trip up any of them during the recent finals. (The more you study, the more you know. The more you know, the more you forget. The more you forget, the less you know. So why study?) We are up to 86 members on Facebook.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another Blast From the Past!

Another great photo from the vast archives of the blog laureate (without asking, but with gratitude and appropriate attribution!). The last photo was from the 1978 Falmouth Road Race, won by Bill Rodgers. Our very own Greg Fredericks (am I allowed to say that?) came in 5th in a stellar field. That's Greg in the other photo tucked in next to Pete Bortolotti, who came all the way from New England to thrash greenery with us at last year's golf outing . Only Greg seems to have answered the question, and he is ineligible for the great prize that was available. Better luck next time. I'll make it so you idiots out there can actually get it.

The 1981 Falmouth Road Race seen above was won by Alberto Salazar, (with a stride reminiscent of a wounded pelican as always). Greg Fredericks placed 17th and I can't find him in the photo.

The caption saying "the runners chugged" is hilarious. Especially with Rod Dixon in the lead.

Climate Change Skeptic Pwn3d and Pwn3ing!

Both sides of the issue represented for a change! While waiting for the indoor track season to get underway.

Lord Monckton is pranked by "youts" (sic) who support global warming legislation. The old "kick me" sign gag never gets old!

And here, Lord Monckton obliterates a Global Warming Alarmist from Greenpeace who has no idea about what she's protesting!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Science We Can All Use!

1. A real scientist took the time to finally find the perfect parking method. It's science people! The formula looks really impressive too. This comes just in time for the flying cars they promised us since the early 60's! (Can you imagine the traffic accidents on Route 95 around Washington when idiots are allowed to fly into each other?)

2. Hadron Collider (CERN, "Doomsday" Machine) Questions Answered.

3. And remember, the Climate Change Models come from the same University that brought us Piltdown Man. *

* Make up your own mind about Climate Change. The Piltdown Hoax from East Anglia University doesn't mean they are necessarily trying to hoax again.

Friday, December 11, 2009

When Men Were Men

I was interested in track and field from an early age because my father was always a track official specializing in the high jump. One of the other stories that drew me to track and field was the epic duel between UCLA teammates and friends Rafer Johnson and C. K. Yang (from Formosa, part of Taiwan) at the 1960 Rome Olympics recounted in books and magazines and those great Olympic movies from back in the day.

As I review this story, I am amazed at how chiseled and "in shape" these two gentleman were. Weightlifting had already seen the introduction of steroids by Bob Hoffman at York Barbell in the 1950's, but I'm pretty sure it had not infiltrated track and field by then.* These guys were truly remarkable, and the 1500 run by Rafer Johnson was one of the best performances anyone could ever witness. He had to stay within 10 seconds of the previously much faster Yang, which he did. Decathlon expert Frank Zarnowski still counts these two in the top echelon of decathlon glory.

The PSU Track Season Begins this weekend with the Blue/White Meet. Go Blue?

* Use of steroids in Track and Field probably began in the early 70's and only in the Soviet Bloc countries.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Note About "Settled Science" From Beyond the Grave

Science, by definition, is never settled. So when anyone talks about it being beyond discussion, make sure you secure your wallet. Richard Feynman, a real Nobel laureate, was probably the 20th century's most clear thinking American. He seems to have had some prescience about the current scientific debate embroiling our world. Most of you know my side of the issue, but it is with the help of brilliant men like Feynman that I have reached these opinions. I invite you to marvel at the insights of a man who could juggle quantum physics, bongo drums, strippers, lock-picking and the Space Shuttle with equal charm and knowledge.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself--and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you've not fooled yourself, it's easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ho, Ho, Ho (and not about Tiger.)

8,868 Runners braved the streets of Las Vegas for the 2009 Great Santa Run, setting a new World Record. All runners receive a 5-piece outfit with the entry fee for the 5K run. All proceeds go to charity, so I can't find a thing wrong with the whole affair.

And my wife will again brave the streets and ramps of Disney World again this year with her double off-loading knee braces. She has upped the ante and is taking on the 2010 Goofy Challenge, a half-marathon on Saturday and the Marathon on Sunday. I will continue to run my daily three while being trapped like a rat on Disney Properties. Wish me luck, and oh what the heck, wish her luck too!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Photo Contest Mania!

Possibly fabulous prizes are at stake. (Well, maybe a little barely worthwhile prize anyway!) Name the two 2009 Penn State Track Alumni Golfers seen in this picture running next to each other.*

For an extra bonus of another possible barely worthwhile prize, name everyone you can in the picture, tell me what year it was taken, and who won the race.

* both were on the Elks Club course in 2009.

** in case of questions, blog laureate may be consulted.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Reason Number 9,876 to Be Very Afraid When Running Alone

I remember every year when we ventured into the Game Lands unknowingly on the first day of Small Game Season. (Apparently skinny distance runners are considered small game!) Not many of us were hunters, so we were never aware of what lurked around the corner in the woods. The first nearby gunshots always got our attention. We would then immediately begin conversing in extraordinarily loud voices, further irritating the actual orange-clad hunters in the vicinity. It's a wonder none of them ever took a shot at us. (Although I was rained on by shotgun pellets one time by a laughing hunter from fairly far off.)

Now, this story has me further afraid of the risks I took while on my honeymoon in Maine. Not only was I in danger of being killed by that seemingly innocuous beast, I was at risk of arrest for a crime I did not commit! (I also saw a moose, an osprey and Joan Benoit-Samuelson on the same run!)
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