Friday, May 19, 2017

A Fool's Race

Fort Myers or shall I say, Southwest Florida, needs a good marathon.  The current edition of the Fort Myers Marathon just doesn't cut it.  Word is a "new" management group has taken control of this race.  Something tells me that not much has changed.

The first problem is the course, it stinks.  Four trips over bridges is disheartening over what should be a pancake flat course. Going hand in hand with that is the course management, which also stinks.  Since this sham of a race was first launched on Fort Myers Beach four years ago, going off course has become a big part of the tradition.  Maybe the new management will solve the ongoing problem of runners running more than 26.2 miles.

The second problem is the weather.  Early November for a marathon in Southwest Florida is an invitation to disaster.  The fact that no one ended up in the hospital in 2015 from heat stroke is beyond belief.  A marathon in this part of the world needs to happen from mid-December to mid-February, otherwise the risk of heat and humidity is always at hand.

The third problem is the lack of support from the Lee County Sports Authority.  With the right amount of TLC, Lee County could host an event that would surpass the Naples Daily News Half Marathon.  There is no reason why the right course, in the right part of Lee County, a quality race could attract five thousand plus runners.  The desire alone to run a Boston qualifying time should draw a ton of runners.

So here's my advice, if you're looking to run a marathon, stir clear of the Fort Myers Marathon.  If you want to run the half or one of their shorter offerings be my guest.  But Fort Myers deserves better when it comes to 26.2 miles.  

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Lee County's GOAT, Krissy Gear

I've been lucky to have been around countless outstanding high school distance runners over the last 40 plus years.  I've been lucky enough to have witnessed, trained with, even coached, young men and women who eventually made national teams including the United States Olympic Team.  Given my background as a coach and journalist I think I can accurately assess runners and their accomplishments.

Krissy Gear has established herself as the greatest distance runner in Lee County history.  Middle distance is defined as the 800/1600/3200.  Friday she swept to a remarkable distance double at the Florida State High School Track and Field Championships.  She captured gold in the 800 in 2:10.29, a school record and the fastest time in Lee County history.  About three hours later she hit the track and made up a stagger gap over the last 800 meters to capture the 3200 meter title in a school record and lifetime best of 10:40.5.  That also stands as one of the fastest times in county history.

On a windy Saturday and with a 800 meter relay leg in her legs, Gear finished up an incredible triple capturing the 1600 meter gold in an outstanding time of 4:56.04.  She ends her high school career at Fort Myers High School with six state championship golds.  She won three titles at 1600 meters.  In the span of those same three years she was 2nd, 5th and 1st in the 800 and captured back to back titles in the 3200.  Oh, and don't forget she scored in the pole vault as a sophomore.

It is fair to mention Gear with other great prep distance runners in Florida High School history, Betty Jo Springs, Ashley Brasovan, Nicole Tully and Jenny Simpson, world champion and Olympic medalist.  And soon Gear will add to her honors representing the U.S.A. in a international competition upcoming in Cuba.

Gear has one final prize she would like before she puts a cap on her outstanding prep career and heads to Furman.  She will travel to North Carolina in June with Coach Rob Strong looking to add run a fast mile.  The goal is a sub 4:45 which would rank her among the best five in the nation.  I suspect deep down inside she would like to take a crack at running the fastest mile by a Florida girl, ever.  With her 800 meter speed it's not beyond her grasp.  Regardless, Gear can stake her claim as Lee County's GOAT.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Crap Fest That's Called Tegna

Once upon a time Gannett had a sterling reputation as a television news operator.  Most of their stations were among the best of the best.  Then the Internet came along destroying their newspapers while the 2008 recession blew up TV station budgets everywhere.  Gannett got cheap.  And to compound things instead of splitting up its television and newspaper operations 10 years ago it bled its TV operations to support its dying newspaper chain.

The split finally came two years ago and a company called Tegna was created.  It has quickly sunk the lowest depths of television news that would rival renowned TV bottom feeders, Sinclair and Nexstar.  A handful of their stations, in Denver and Minneapolis, are still producing amazing work.  But many high profile names have been chased out of their jobs even at those stations, in order to save money.

How bad is the cutting?  Look at News10 in Sacramento.  I worked there for one year from 2010 to 2011.  It was a very rough environment, manned by incredible people.  Tonight news surfaced that the two main anchors that I worked with, Dale Schornack and Cristina Mendonsa, are being let go.  That means that of all the on-air people I worked with in 2011, save one, is left.  And I'm betting meteorologist Monica Wood will be gone when her contract is up.

The station has shipped off or chased off more than two dozen very experienced and very talented anchors, reporters and photojournalists.  The station, despite limited support and resources, when compared to market powerhouse KCRA, did a very good job of holding its own.  But money matters and losing 200 plus years of experience in the newsroom just doesn't appear to matter.

And it just wasn't the faces on air that have been chased off.  As best as I can tell, every single producer that I managed is gone.  My replacement, who was eventually named assistant news director is gone.  All of the web people I worked with are gone.  And only one soldier from the assignment desk remains.  Oh... and the station is on its third news director since 2011... not exactly a sign of great station stability.

Sacramento isn't some backwater small market station where massive turnover is the norm.  Experienced is valued in top 20 markets.  The NBC and CBS stations in that market have very, very experienced staffs.  But it appears Tegna has turned its back on great story telling and great journalism.  It's a disservice to the public that the company pledges to serve by broadcasting over the public airwaves.  Shame on Tegna and mark my words, the bloodletting at their stations is far from over.