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AMAA Boston 2016 – The AMAA/ARA Staff View

As the door of the cab swung open, I saw a familiar face smiling at me—Norman, a long-time employee of The Colonnade Hotel. Each year he’s there to warmly greet us as the AMAA staff and guests arrive in Boston. It’s almost reminiscent of the old movie “Same Time Next Year,” as we all come together in the same place year after year. That’s what I love most about the weekend, getting to see Colonnade employees and AMAA members who have become good friends over the years. In addition, it’s such a wonderful community of comradery supporting the field of sports medicine and facilitating active lifestyles.

The first stop after my arrival was the AMAA suite where fellow AMAA employee Maria Kolanowski and Judi Babb awaited to do our final meeting preparations. Judi has been with AMAA since day one and has been a fixture at Boston since AMAA’s first medical meeting in 1971. She is an incredible source of the organization’s historical knowledge. Although Judi retired from AMAA years ago, she still makes a yearly trip from her home in California to the east coast to help with onsite meeting management. Together the three of us wrapped up the final meeting paperwork while AMAA Executive Director Dave Watt met with Amby Burfoot, Editor-at-Large for Runner’s World, to have him sign copies of his newly released book First Ladies of Running. Amby’s book was the inspiration for this year’s pre-marathon AMAA Pasta Party and was given as a gift to all party attendees.

The next morning, Saturday, April 16, we kicked off our two-day sports medicine symposium (in its 45th year) with an interesting talk on MASCAL (mass casualty) response at endurance events by Fred Brennan, Jr., MD, who served as a trauma physician in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and is in charge of one of the finish line tents at the Boston Marathon. The day of lectures also included talks by running legend Zola Budd Pieterse and best-selling author David Ludwig, MD, PhD, who discussed concepts described in his book Always Hungry?: Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells, and Lose Weight Permanently.

The following morning AMAA Board Member Mark Cucuzzella, MD, started the day with an informal gathering to discuss strategies for successfully completing the Boston Marathon. Australian cardiologist André La Gerche, PhD, opened the morning lectures with a talk focusing on anomalies of the athlete’s heart while long-time AMAA member and cardiologist Paul Thompson, MD, focused on lipid management for the runner and physical therapist Michael Silva outlined strategies for overuse injury prevention and recovery.

We concluded the symposium with a wonderful and inspirational talk on exercise and the developing brain by pediatrician Natalie Stavas, MD, who requested a “call for action” from all attendees to encourage our youth to run, especially those who are underserved. Natalie ran the Boston Marathon with an 18-year-old young man who she mentored through the Boston-based non-profit program Soul Train. At age 14, he was homeless but through mentored running, found “hope” and was able to get a full scholarship from Brandeis University to attend college this upcoming fall.

After the lectures concluded, we gathered for our AMAA Board of Directors meeting and then prepared for our annual pasta party. As we greeted arriving guests to the party, we were so surprised when not only did our three invited “First Ladies of Running” arrive—Zola Budd Pieterse, Jackie Hansen, and Sara Mae Berman—but they also brought with them many more featured female runners from Amby Burfoot’s book. It turned out to be quite an exciting evening with Dave Watt acting as the moderating commentator for Zola, Jackie, and Sara Mae, along with Julia Chase, Nina Kuscsik, Cheryl Bridges, and their Brazilian friend Ella, who will carry the Olympic torch this summer.

Marathon Monday started bright and early with AMAA runners gathering in The Colonnade lobby in preparation for a 5:30 am departure to Hopkinton. Once we arrived in Hopkinton, some runners left the coach buses to check out our surroundings and Athletes’ Village while others chose to stay put on the parked AMAA bus to get some extra sleep. The day began to warm up and as I shed my own layers, I realized the beautiful skies might not be so ideal for a run of 26.2 miles.

Following the first and second wave starts, I headed down to the corrals to see if I could spot any of our AMAA YOUTH FUND TEAM runners. Walking through Athletes’ Village, I saw the “new norm” following the 2013 bombings—military and police surveillance from the high school’s roof—as I slowly made my way through all the security check points. I also noticed an armored vehicle parked near a school bus.

The streets were filled with runners pushing their way toward the water stations and free sunscreen dispensers. In fact, the air smelled as if we were at the beach as runners covered themselves with globs of sunscreen. Again, I was reminded of the issues the runners would face as they ran under the blue skies and temperatures soaring to the mid-70s.

After I yelled “good luck” to many AMAA charity and qualified runners, I headed back to the bus to join Maria and Judi for our ride back to Boston. Upon arriving at The Colonnade, we unloaded the runners’ baggage into the Brasserie Jo restaurant, where the restaurant folks were busily setting up our post-race party and taping the televised marathon for our returning runners to enjoy the replay.

After four hours into the marathon, I headed out to the two finish line tents and as expected, saw quite a few IV bags hanging next to beds. It had been a warm day and many runners ended up dehydrated, even among the elite field. Some runners also had to be treated in the “heat deck” where they submerge individuals with excessively high body temperatures into ice tubs. Thankfully, though, the top-notch volunteer medical team was successful with everyone they treated.

As the crowds thinned out, I made my way to the finish line stands. I always enjoy watching the finishers come in after five and six hours. Although they are not the fastest group, they seem to be full of passion and drive to get across that line—even after the timer comes down. And the remaining crowds cheer for them as if they are elite runners heading toward victory. It’s extremely uplifting and often emotional. This year I saw a double-amputee wounded warrior cross the finish as they were dismantling the timer overhead; it took a while for him to gain his composure as family and friends jumped onto the course to congratulate him. That image continues to stick with me as a reminder of the 2016 Boston Marathon.

Once back to The Colonnade, we handed out the last few runners’ belongings that needed to be picked up and closed down the party room in the Brasserie Jo. Boxes were packed up to be sent back to AMAA headquarters in Bethesda, MD, and the staff, along with some friends, went to dinner to wrap up the weekend festivities.

Farewell Boston, we’ll see you again the same time next year!

-Barbara Baldwin, for the AMAA and ARA Staff

On the Road Again! The East Coast “NATIONAL RUN
A MILE DAYS” TOUR has a new twist in 2016. It’s the
“Dave & Dan Tour!”

(Dave Watt of American Running and Dan Kesterson of Youth Runner)

The shouts still echoed from last year, “ARE YOU A MILER?” That emphatic question to parents, teachers and other bystanders was all you needed to know. These students had just completed running a mile and they could not be happier. That is why he tagline for 2016 remained the same. We would ask others, “Are you a Miler?”; as in, come on and join us and run a mile. Kick start a fitness plan and find out how running the mile can be the catalyst to getting you in shape, losing weight and have a better sense of self-worth.

Maria Kolanowski of the American Running (ARA) staff had driven leg #1 to pre-position the RUN A MILE DAYS VAN in Atlanta. It saved Dave & Dan a good 10 hours of driving, so they could concentrate on the kickoff event in Columbus Georgia with the RoadRunner Club and their “Kids Mile Run” event on May 1st. Last year, we had a proclamation from the Mayor, which was plenty to motivate the young boys and girls to running the mile. “The Dave & Dan Tour” opted to repeat our Kickoff to RUN A MILE DAYS with Columbus Georgia. At 4pm, the young girls and boys lined up and took off on the horn for the large loop that constituted a mile. Our host is Dr Ed Lopez who is a podiatrist in Columbus and active in American Running and RRCA. His enthusiasm is a big reason the Columbus Roadrunners’ youth mile program is thriving

Next stop: South Carolina coast and a joint Youth Runner and American Running Mile. During the short stay, the “Dave & Dan Tour” edited photos and monitored the shipment of t-shirts and MILE Completion Certificates to sites around the Country. Monday was a rest day to confirm MILE DAYS events ahead on the Tour.

Northward the RUN A MILE DAYS VAN headed. The next NRAMD “ARE YOU A MILER?” event was a two-day Mile Days event in Midlothian Virginia. The school’s name is Robious Middle School and is a 6th-7th-8th combined school with a 1300 student body enrollment. May 4th was the first day of the RUN A MILE DAYS for Robious and their first year with the NRAMD Campaign. The lead PE teacher is Amy Canada. She was ready for us! Amy followed each suggestion to set up a MILE DAYS event including Site preparation. When we arrived, her course and Finish Line were separated far enough apart to provide ample room for the waves of runners to separate and not get congested at the Finish. Amy and her school’s staff had gotten on-board the concept of getting all students to run the mile. In fact to show how much they cared, the entire 6th grade staff of teachers came out and ran the mile with he students.

Stage One of the 2016 RUN A MILE DAYS TOUR was almost complete. In week #2, the RUN A MILE DAYS VAN was hitting two schools in the Virginia and Maryland suburbs of Washington DC. The next day, the Van’s movement heads north across the Appalachian Mountain divide and head to Grove City PA. This town is home to Grove City College and more importantly; it is home to our AMAA Board Member and top-flight marathoner Mark Courtney.

To follow the progress of this year’s NRAMD TOURs, go to We will post photos and short updates on the success of other MILE DAYS’ events.

ARE YOU INTERESTED in joining the MILE DAYS events in 2017? Contact Maria Kolanowski via email today if you or an associate want to add your school or community group to our list to be considered as a sponsored MILE DAYS Site in 2017 (Subject line – MILE DAYS 2017 Interest).

SEEN AND HEARD….at Track Meets from local high school tri-meets to the venerable PENN RELAYS.
There is nothing like running relays. For those coaches or track runners who say they do not like running on a relay or watching a competition between schools or even countries in relays, they are lying. There is simply no more pure element of competition on the track. Take the 4x100m race. It is just raw speed run on 4 curves and 2 straightaways. Do not think it is easy. It is the relay team that has practiced handoffs to the point that each member of the relay team sleeps with the baton. When you see a race where a team hands off the baton with precision and perfect timing, your jaw just drops. In fact that is what we have seen over the years at the PENN RELAYS. If was about 4-5 years ago when Team Jamaica brought their A team that included one World Champion, Usain Bolt. The other 4x100 relay teams knew that it was going to be fast and equally tough to beat Team Jamaica. The PENN RELAYS officials had even gone to the trouble of putting up a 2nd Finish Lynx laser camera at the beginning of the final leg, so they could get an accurate time on Bolt. For 38 seconds, over 50,000 Track fans were on their feet screaming as the teams flew around the Franklin Field oval. Yet it was the flash of Usain Bolt on anchor that electrified the crowd. He not only won by a large margin, he just kept on running until he reached the backstretch where he did his Olympian “arrow” thing. No encore was needed.

–Dave Watt

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