>While Thanksgiving Day races are the thing in the USA, New Year’s Eve races are traditional in much of the rest of the world. Most are named after St. Sylvester, whose feast day is December 31.
The top domestic race is the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run, a four-miler in New York’s Central Park. The top entries are Bobby Curtis and Desiree Davila. Davila should be considered a “throwback” runner, as she races often and at a wide range of distances but still cranks out great marathon performances.
In Madrid, the distance is 10 km and it is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race. World half marathon record holder Zersenay Tadese is entered and will face local stars such as Ayad Lamdassem (World XC silver medalist) and Sergio Sánchez (World Indoor 3k silver medalist). The women’s race looks to be a very good one, as Euro XC champ Jessica Augusto takes on Liliya Shobukhova, the world’s top marathoner.
In Bolzano, Italy, the distances are 10 km for men and 5 km for women. It’s an elite-only race, but spectators are estimated around 10,000. This is probably the best race of the weekend, as European 5k/10k champ Mo Farah goes up against Diamond League champ Imane Merga, Olympic bronze medalist Edwin Soi, and nine-time European XC champ Sergey Lebid. The women’s race is not quite as deep, but still boasts World 5k champion Vivian Cheruyiot and World XC bronze medalist Priscah Jepleting Cherono.
Live webcast begins at 8:50 AM (EST) at RAI Sport
In Luanda, Angola, the distance is 10 km. This race has the biggest name in Haile Gebrselassie. He is going to have his hands full with Josephat Menjo, the fastest 10k runner of 2010, as well as 15k world record holder Deriba Merga. The women’s race features Grace Momanyi.
In São Paulo, the distance is 15 km. Top entries are Brazil’s Marilson Gomes, two-time defending champion James Kwambai of Kenya, and Abderrahim Bouramdane of Morocco. Defending women’s champion Alice Timbilili of Kenya is also entered.
In Soest, Holland, it’s a cross country race; the women run 6 km and the men run 10.4 km. European 800m silver-medalist Yvonne Hak is entered, and will face off against the top Dutch cross-country specialist Adrienne Herzog.
In Trier, Germany, the distance is 8 km for men and 5 km for women. Micah Kogo is entered.
In Peuerbach, Austria, the distance is 6.8 km and will feature world steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi against Austria’s Gunther Weidlinger and defending champion Abere Chane of Ethiopia. In the women’s race the top entries are Austria’s Andrea Mayr and defending champion Asmera Work Bekele of Ethiopia.
In Japan, it’s Ekiden season. The New Year Ekiden will be run on (you guessed it) New Year’s Day.
That, however, is only the warmup to the biggest of them all, the Hakone Ekiden on Sunday and Monday. To learn what the heck it is and how much attention the Japanese pay to it, check out Japan Running News.
You can watch both of these online. The New Year’s Ekiden coverage will begin 6:15 PM Friday (EST) and run for more than six hours. The Hakone Ekiden will be on from 5 PM to midnight (EST) on Saturday and Sunday. (Japan Time is fourteen hours ahead of Eastern Time, so it’s more or less it’s always already tomorrow there.)
Track on TV
There’s not much, but what there is is pretty good.
On 8:30 PM Thursday and 7 PM Friday, TV Land will show “The Olympics”, an episode of Sanford and Son in which Fred tries to impress his lady friend by doing the decathlon in the Senior Olympics. Besides having the single greatest theme music in all of TV history, the thing I like about S&S is that it’s a double-anachronism. Not only is it a 35-year-old show in reruns, it was made to be out of step with its time back when it was new.
To memorialize Bud Greenspan, Universal Sports will show one of his films each night for nine days in a row. It begins on New Year’s Day at 9 PM with 16 Days of Glory, his first official Olympic film which covered the 1984 Los Angeles games. The next two nights cover winter games, then back to the summer with Atlanta’s Olympic Glory on Tuesday, Sydney 2000: Stories of Olympic Glory on Thursday, and Athens 2004: Stories of Olympic Glory next Saturday.