Grand Slam Central


RUNNING

Feb. 28, 2007

Triple Crown of Running is one of a kind

By NATHAN CHAMBERS
BeyondTheDerby.com

Louisville Triple Crown of Running logo

Wes Alkin describes his introduction to the Louisville Triple Crown of Running last year like this:

He heard about the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic on Thursday.

He registered for the race on Friday.

Then he arrived at the start line on Saturday, found more than five thousand people there for the same reason, and wondered, “What have I gotten myself into?”

So you may be wondering, “Where had he been?”

There’s a long answer to that, involving several countries and states. For now, let’s just say that Alkin was new to town, and he’d never seen a race like that anywhere else in his 24 years. Not until after he won the Anthem 5K, beating former Triple Crown champion James Mutuse, did he learn that there were two more races in the series.

He since has been cured of his Triple Crown ignorance, perhaps even blissfully so.

“It’s awesome,” said Alkin, a former University of Arkansas runner who is blogging about his training - and his interesting background - for BeyondTheDerby.com. “I had done a few road races in the past, but nothing of that magnitude. I didn’t realize the racing scene was as big as it is down here, and that’s sheerly because I hadn’t been in Kentucky before. It really is quite an experience.”

Another year brings another such experience to Kentuckiana. The 24th annual Louisville Triple Crown of Running, presented by Novo Nordisk, will begin on Saturday when Alkin defends his title in the Anthem 5K. The series will continue with the Rodes City Run, a 10-kilometer race, on March 17. The Papa John’s 10 Miler, which has ended its four-year association with the USA Men’s 10 Mile Championship, will conclude the series on March 31.

The Triple Crown, which was founded in 1984, averages more than 15,000 entries annually and donates its net proceeds to the Crusade for Children; a record $62,000 was donated to the cause last year.

Only one runner, Susie Bush in 2004, has won the Triple Crown championship since the Anthem 5K replaced the Kentucky Derby Festival mini/Marathon in the series that same year.

But Alkin, who had prior commitments that precluded him from running in the Rodes City Run and the Papa John’s 10 Miler last year, wants to take a shot at the crown. He intends to tackle all three races, as more than 3,000 others do each year.

“I’ve never run more than 10 kilometers before,” he said. “So I’m excited about the 10 Miler. That’s new territory for me.”

To get in a final prep before the Anthem 5K, many runners hit the Louisville streets for the Downtown YMCA’s Run to the Sun last Saturday morning. Former University of Louisville runner Mike Horan won the four-mile race in 21:08.16, seconds ahead of Alan Tobin. Amy Doolittle-Crider was the top woman in 24:53.26.

“I like to run once before the Triple Crown,” Tobin said. “Since the Anthem 5K is a week earlier this year, this was the best week to do it.”

Tobin completed the Triple Crown each of the last three years, finishing in the top 10 in all Anthem 5K and Rodes City Run races along the way. He’s even more ambitious this year, planning to run in five major events - each leg of the Triple Crown, the Boston Marathon on April 16, and the miniMarathon on April 28 - over the next two months.

“He’s trying to pad his stats,” Horan said jokingly.

BeyondTheDerby.com will follow Tobin in its “Go the Distance” feature, which will track the progress of runners who are trying to complete the unofficial Grand Slam. Please e-mail Nathan Chambers at nchambers@beyondthederby.com to be included.


COMING FRIDAY: Anthem 5K Fitness Classic preview