Could Aussie style Pro Running work in the USA?

American, Australia and England are the three most obese nations in the world. The obesity epidemic, " it so hard not to eat another burger". :smiley:

pro running = waste of time

people ( can’t call them athletes ) that run pros are simply those that don’t have the guts to race athletes off the same starting point because that would be reality. It’s not entertaining, more than 5% ( maybe like 50% ) of athletes run dead and its obvious.

Thats a real show intellect. I take it you’re gifted in both intellect and athletic ability.

Another event grouping or sports you want to have a shot at Jumpa?

no just pro running is fine with me. The reason pro running would never work in the usa is that americans don’t care about handicapping in that it’s not part of their culture to give an advantage, but rather they thrive on participating in and viewing head to head challenges. This is why team sports are huge on so many levels from high school and college sports to the various proffessional leagues that exist.

The only ‘live, free to air’ athletic event in this country is a pro race off handicaps!

More people turn up to the average to good bush race than you ever get to any State’s major titles.

It gathers over $100,000 in on course punting money at Stawell.

You would never pick up $40000 for winning a National title, let alone a few $1000 at any local interclub meet. All those that progress through heats get paid. (BTW- if funding for our best athletes in this country was based on performance like pro style running it may actually raise the standard required for the next level of competition that we seem to fail at most times).

I am yet to be at a pro race that has start times delayed, but seemly every local amateur competition runs late and is usually unprofessionally organised.

With athletics needing to compete with many other sports these days, pro style racing does cater for the ‘entertainment’ factor. You certainly can’t be at the same pro or am events that I go to!

That can be changed. It is called running for your dinner. Offer the money and usually the runner will come. I don’t think I would market the handicapping as the major incentive, but rather the $$$$ and but even toward the sub-elite and ordinary competitors. Seemingly, thats where the pros gather mosts of its clients in Aussie.

Jumpa - it would be appreciated that if you wish to comment on a subject at least possess a tad of knowledge on it.

As Kentcounty suggested, I’m not looking at the elite end of the market, but the weekend athletes that may stick to keeping fit and enjoy track if they thought they could win some money and other prizes.

Btw, if you think my pro runners are hacks and not genuine athletes, you are welcome to come along to one of my squad’s training sessions of say 6 x 50/20/50’s and drop your blocks down. After you’ve given up by number 3 because you have been smashed by these ‘hacks’, you might like to rethink your uneducated “waste of time” comment.

I must admit I have not read the whole thread, just - page 1.

One point has been missed. I agree with Youngy on many points he has raised. However, many pro runners INTENTIONALLY run slower to achieve better marks for the season they are competing in. I know of many pro runners who have been doing it hoping to win the cash by running off more attractive mark.

It is one of the reasons I do not like pro running. However, I reckon the prize money in the USA would be much bigger than in Australia and many Australian pro runners would even head there to compete. From business point of view I reckon it would be a very viable exercise.

There are still some old style pro running coaches who will never change but they are finding it more difficult to hang on to good runners as the athletes seek more modern and conventional training methods in order to get faster. The internet (ie: websites such as this) has opened up opportunities for athletes to better educate themselves on training methodology. If the coach is not at the cutting edge, he/she will be left behind.

Absolutely agreed!

The following commentary was posted onto a pro-running forum some time ago and has recently been re-posted. It was originally written in 1999 by a former amateur based athlete who took the plunge into a pro running stable in 1994.

This is his story.

After over ten years jumping and sprinting with the amateurs and not having run a PB for a few years, I decided at the end of the 92/93 season that it was time to give up serious athletics.

The ’93 Stawell Gift was to be my last competition and I was run out in my Gift heat and the 200m semi. After my last race at Stawell, a family friend suggested that I should have a serious go at the professional circuit and introduced me to the famous Scottish coach Jim Bradley.

I had ‘dabbled’ in the pros for about five years, running in a few Gifts each year, but had only ever won two heats. Based on my amateur times (10.8 to 10.9 hand-timed average) I should have won more races. I had rationalised my poor performances on an inability to handle running on grass and the fact that I ran the Gifts the day after the amateur competitions.

I thought ‘what the heck, I’ll give it a go’ and Jim Bradley said he would give me a call when training for the next season started. I had seen some pro stables training at Olympic Park, Melbourne and they didn’t seem to train very hard, running 120m repetitions with a coasting stage in the middle of each rep. This would be a breeze compared to the sessions of 10 x 200m reps I had been given by Stampfl or 6 x 300m given me by Gaffney.

I was a bit sceptical with the pros training regime after my first training night. I turned up at Jim’s garage that he had converted to a gym to join Steve Brimacombe and a bunch of other seasoned pro’s from the Bradley stable. The gym sessions consisted of 6 x 3 minute rounds of speedball – with a 1 minute break between each round – followed by a circuit of chin-ups, sit-ups, dips, push-ups and squats (without weights). Winter training consisted of fourteen weeks in the gym, seven days per week without any running at all!

This was different to any training I had done with Stampfl, Shuravetsky and Gaffney but I thought I might as well give it a go and see what happened. I eventually got the hang of the speedball and at the end of a very tough fourteen weeks, I found that I had gained about 6kg, and was bigger and stronger than I had ever been from conventional gym work.

After lagging behind in the gym work, I was eager to show these pros (other than Brimacombe) a clean pair of heels on the track. Well it didn’t take long for my amateur ego to be brought back down to earth. Sessions of 12 x 60m or 12 x 120m (in two sets of six) sounded pretty easy to me. In practice, with a brisk walk back between each rep and each run flat out, these sessions were just as hard as any I had done in the past and I initially found myself bringing up the rear. I was further put in my place in our first trial over 100m (the pro stables run trials to gauge how ell they are running without giving away their form to the handicappers). In a race situation without handicaps on the Newport track, I thought I would beat my training partners – I ended up near the rear of the squad I about 11.0 seconds with the winner running 10.6 seconds. So it finally dawned on me – these pros can run!

After getting to know the pro scene a bit better I was surprised by the depth of good sprinters (say sub 11.0 seconds) in the competition. Admittedly there are also a lot of hacks on good handicaps, but I would say there are a lot more sub 11.0 second sprinters in the professionals than there are in the Victorian amateur competition. The top few State amateur sprinters may be better that the pros although in a ‘competition of origin’ match the pros would be hard to beat (note that Brimacombe, Witnish and Crawford started in the pros).

Possible reasons for the greater depth in pro sprinting are as follows:

  1. The handicap system gives the 10.6-11.0 second runners a chance of winning a Gift, providing an incentive for these runners to stay in the sport. Amateurs running these times are good club runners but will be lucky to scrape into a final at the State
    Championships (not many of these runners have the incentive to stay on after the Juniors, preferring to use their speed to advantage in other sports).

  2. There is a great deal of comradeship in the pro stables, with all runners training together and sharing each other’s success. This is often lacking in the amateurs, with a coach’s athletes often preferring not to train together if there is rivalry between them.

  3. There is a lot of intrigue at each Gift meeting as to who will win, who will try, and who will stand up to the pressure of the day. This makes each Gift meeting very interesting for competitors and supporters.

These factors all contribute to keeping pro sprinters in the sport longer (note that many of the best pro sprinters are well into there thirties).

During my first pro season (93/94) I avoided running 100ms in the amateurs so I did not harm my pro handicap. My first race for the season was a 200m at Box Hill. Considering the longest distance I had been training over was 120m, I was unaware how I would handle the 200m (note that I was doing exactly the same training as Brimacombe at the time and he beat both Capabianco and Marsh in the National 200m Final that year). Steve Hasker was in pretty good form and would be a good measuring stick for me in my heat. I was surprised when I led comfortably into the straight and won easing down in just over 22 seconds into the wind – my PB was 21.9 seconds. I could not believe how much I had improved in nine months. I believe the main benefits I had gained from Jim Bradley’s pro training system were as follows:

  1. I learnt how to stay relaxed while sprinting, which allowed me to maintain my top speed for much longer.

  2. Jim Bradley significantly improved my running action, which helped me keep my form over the finishing stages of the race.

  3. Continually training with quality sprinters kept me motivated to work on my weaknesses at every training session.

In conclusion, while there may be an element of cat and mouse among professional runners to protect and improve handicaps, there is no shortage of good sprinters. In fact, I think in Victoria there is a greater depth of good quality sprinters in the professionals than there is in the amateur competition. This is largely due to the ‘almost elite’ standard professional sprinters staying in the sport longer because the professional competitions are more enjoyable and rewarding.

So I have learnt my lesson, I am no longer an amateur snob and will never underestimate the ability of a pro sprinter again!

Great read Youngy. Who is this person?

That was what I was thinking! :smiley:

Great post, is that person you, Youngy?

It isn’t pro running but I can vouch for the enjoyment and appeal of handicap meets. We had one last Friday night with the sprints off distance and the longer races off time. Even though some of the handicapping was a bit hit and miss due to entries being received up to 15 mins prior (and in 1 case on the start line) it was all good fun and as a spectator VERY enjoyable to watch.

The mens 800m in particualr was a great finish with all entrants (20?) in the home startight and gaining on the front marker who was 72 years old. He won by .5 sec from a group of 5. The roar from the small crwod was definitely the larger than any I have witnessed at amateur meets there.

I understand there are good entries rolling in for the Wanganui meet incluiding some of the top middle and long distance guys chasing cash over shorter events.

I can assure it wasn’t me, I retired from competing in 1992 after 12 years on the pro circuit and one year in the amateurs.

The athlete is Michael Bourke, a died in the wool amateur before joining the Bradley stable in the winter of 1993. In March 1993 at the Burramine carnival, Jim Bradley and I dined with a couple of gentlemen in Pat O’Kane (a former international tennis player circa 1950’s) and Jack Carr, (winner of the 1957 Stawell Gift). Jack said he knew of an amateur athlete in Melbourne who had run a few times with the pro’s but with no success and was looking for something different to reinvigorate his career. He said the runner’s initials were MB, and I initially thought of Michael Benoit, but realised he had already been on the pro circuit for some time and lived in Ballarat, 100kms from Melbourne.

Jack ultimately confided in Jim and I the name of the runner was Michael Bourke, and having a pretty good knowledge of most sprinters on the circuit I told Jim, Bourke could run but as a result of some mediocre seasons, and his advancing age (29) his mark had crept out to 8.25m. I suggested he would be a good prospect for a race like Stawell, as he was definitely an inside evens runner at his best and with a decent winter could get down to 12s or better off 8.25m.

As Bourkey has written in his commentary he did everything right and when it came to Easter 1994, Jim and I thought we had a good chance. Unfortunately so did everyone else and the best price we could get was 3-1, and after taking has much as we could at those odds we backed him into even money favourite.

As the heats of the Gift progressed and no one was running too quickly - 12.3’s, 12.4’s, we finally came to Bourke’s heat. At Stawell the number ‘12’ stays in the frame on the scoreboard for the heats unless there’s the occasional very slow heat, then 13 might go up. When Bourke smashed them in the heat scoring by 5m, a broad smile came across Jim’s face, as the 12 was replaced with an 11, and the time 11.93 went up.

I must admit having seen all the heats and with Bourkey being the only runner inside 12s, I thought it was only a matter of time until the semi’s and final on the Monday.

On Easter Monday, Bourkey won his semi in 11.98s, and was now the only runner at the meet to have broken 12s - and he had done it twice.

Prior to the final, he didn’t appear too nervous although he appeared to not be enjoying the occasion and wanted it over as soon as possible.

It’s history now that Bourke (8.25m) was sent out 1-3 favourite (and I know one punter who unloaded 3 grand to try and win 1 grand…), but got smashed at the start by the big Samoan Rod Lewis (7.50m) and never recovered, running 12.3 in the final and finishing 6th. Jim Bradley’s other finalist - Steve Brimacombe, ran an unbelievable race, to finish 2nd behind Lewis, running 12.18s off scratch. The winner ran 12.05s.

If you ever wanted a picture that truly expressed complete devastation, you should have the seen the look on my face after the race! It was one of my most shattering experiences in the sport. But that’s the way the cookie crumbles, Rod Lewis was too good when it mattered. And we lived to fight another day.

[i]We are pleased to announce that two top international athletes have entered New Zealand’s richest athletic meeting to be held in Wanganui on February 2, 2008.
The athletes are, Nathan Allen-Stawell Gift Winner 2007 and Anthony Alzoie who ran for Nigeria at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Nathan Alan said, ”Running in pro meets like the New Zealand Gift is vital specific preparation for my bid to qualify for the Beijing Olympics’.
Nathan went on ”I find it incredible that you guys have managed to become the second richest gift in the world, second only to the great Stawell Gift, and ahead of the famous New Year Sprint in Scotland”.


Stuart Dempster
Promotion Manager

Cooks Gardens Board Trust
Wanganui, New Zealand

Tel: 06 348 1444
Cell: 027 201 2685
Fax: 06 348 0566[/i]

This post is funny as!!, How can the so called “pro runners” call themselves athetes?? they are a bunch of scrubs!! HAHA lol… that have nothin better to do but try and win some crappy race against other Scrubs…the only thing that there “pro” at is being a Scrub… real pro sprinters run for real cash in the European circuit against other real pro sprinters and start from the same mark!! like a real race should!!!

You know Joshua Ross came from the Pro’s. According to the vile you wrote, JR is a scrub. Have you run faster than 10.08?

Does he still run in the pros now after running that time?? cos if he is he is wassting his time!! why would you wan to run with scrubs if you can run 10.08…oh i just saw that he won a so called “pro race” back in 05 of scratch. yeh thats how you know so called "pro runners are SCRUBS! and im hopefully quessing since that date he hasnt botherd wasting his time with something as silly as that.

how can you call yourself a pro runner if you run over 10.5 seconds…lol… amature should be the word