No Lightening But A Definite Bolt

June 12, 2009

By Louis “King of Roncesvalles” Pisano


Usain Bolt of Jamaica ran, and won the 100M dash in 10 seconds flat before a packed Varsity Stadium at the Festival of Excellence in Toronto amidst rain, which he seemed to elude due to his lightening fast strides. After the race, he ran a lap around the track while giving fans whose hands eagerly reached through the metal fence on the far side of the stadium high fives. He jogged another lap around the track with the group of student athletes who had competed previous to his main event run to their obvious thrill. Shawn Crawford from the USA finished second with a time of 10:25.


As media clamoured to get their shots and questions in, I squeezed between a camera man and a reporter from CP24 and asked Usain about the race wondering if he slowed up due to track conditions and he said “I wouldn’t say slowed up I was just trying to get to my strides and just trying to be cautious because the rain here ya got to be very careful.”  About his performance and running the race in 10 flat he said “I think I should have done a little bit better but the false starts kind of threw me off a little bit, but I’m ok and I’m just hoping next time to do better than this so I’m looking forward to my next one.” There were two false starts with the second leading to the disqualification of Marvin Anderson also of Jamaica.


I caught up with former Canadian track star Donovan Bailey and asked him about Usain Bolt “He’s a great kid and I support him a hundred percent…” he said, I also wanted to know what he thinks Bolt is capable of “I mean he could have ran nine five in Beijing so obviously nine five is in his grip.” To hear that from a man who knows track is unreal and in my mind if Bolt can run the hundred in nine five it will be a record that will never be broken.


The women’s 100m hurdles was the other main event and it didn’t disappoint bringing  a huge roar from the crowd, when Priscilla Lopes-Schleip and Perdita Felicien were two one hundredths of a second apart at the finish line. Schleip (12:86) edged out Felicien (12:88) for the win but talking with Perdita after the race she seemed very happy with her performance coming off an injury and said “I was the hunter… it was really close and it was a great great finish…it’s coming along its working.” Her physique was unreal, a pure sculpted machine and with the determination she has shown in the past I wouldn’t be surprised to see her winning a few of these races in the near future.


Photos by Paolo Cescato 

Insane For Usain - Laureus World Sportsman of the Year

June 10, 2009

By Louis “King of Roncesvalles” Pisano…
The whole world is enamoured with the Jamaican track sensation Usain Bolt who tore through the world record for the 100M dash last year at the Beijing Olympics, posting a new world record of 9.69, even slowing at the end, leaving a hint of mystery as to what he can possibly accomplish in the future. He was the first man in history to win the 100M (9.69), 200M (19.30), and 4×100M relay (37.10), setting world record times in each at the same Olympiad.

On June 10 2009, Usain Bolt received the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award at the Four Seasons Hotel in down town Toronto from 5 time Olympian Canadian track star Charmaine Crooks and American greats Edwin Moses and Michael Johnson, in doing so he joined such superstars as Roger Federer, Michael Schumacher, Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods, previous recipients of the award. The international coverage and media on hand was a definite indication of the attention this young man has brought to track and field.

Perdita Felicien from Oshawa Ontario a Canadian Women’s 100M Hurdler, who is coming back from injury and had that devastating fall on the first hurdle in the 2004 Olympics, where she was a favourite to win gold, spoke to me about being the hunter now and not the hunted “I’m relishing the role that I am in…I do like being the person who is not in the lime light and doesn’t have all the attention or focus on them especially coming back from an injury…it’s an awesome challenge to have…I can’t just expect having won 7 national titles to come back and win another one I’m going to have to work really hard.” On the amount of attention that Usain Bolt is bringing to track and field Perdita said “I love the fact that he’s here.” Her great smile, strength and charm shone through in her willingness to discuss her the tragic fall in 2004 and how Charmaine Crooks helped her through that tough time “She was the one who saw me right after and just consoled me, she was basically my life line at that point because I couldn’t talk to anyone, I didn’t have access to anybody, and that is something I will always be grateful to her for doing.”

I am sure all of Canada will cheering on Perdita tomorrow when she runs in the 100M hurdles at 8:04pm before Usain Bolt takes centre stage in the men’s 100M, which goes off at 8:21 pm. This all begins at 5:30 pm at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Stadium, June 10 2009.


June 9, 2009

By Valerie IancovichWhen Usain Bolt hits the track at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Centre on Thursday, June 11th he’ll be in good company. He is joined by more than 50 fellow Olympians and four Paralympians across 14 events.

Athletes confirmed to date* include:

*Olympians and Paralympians in red

Men’s 100m

Marvin Anderson (Jamaica)

Usain Bolt (Jamaica)

Jared Connaughton (Canada)

Shawn Crawford (U.S.A.)

Mario Forsythe (Jamaica)

Anson Henry (Canada)

Bernard Williams (U.S.A.)

Ivory Williams (U.S.A.)

Men’s 5000m

Eric Gillis (Canada)

Charles Chepkurui Kibet (Kenya)

Haron Lagat (Kenya)

Josh McDougal (U.S.A.)

Sean Quilgley (U.S.A.)

Dathan Ritzenhein (U.S.A.)

Hosea Kibet Rutto (Kenya)

Saif Shaheen (Qatar)

Rob Watson (Canada)

Men’s High Jump

Jim Dilling (U.S.A.)

Mark Dillon (Canada)

Tora Harris (U.S.A.)

Dusty Jonas (U.S.A.)

Andra Manson (U.S.A.)

Mike Mason (Canada)

Keith Moffatt (U.S.A.)

Jamie Nieto (U.S.A.)

Jesse Williams (U.S.A.)

Women’s Mile

Courtney Babcock (Canada)

Keri Bland (U.S.A.)

Kaylyn Christopher (U.S.A.)

Nicole Edwards (Canada)

Malindi Elmore (Canada)

Sally Kipyego (Kenya)

Leanna McLean (Canada)

Megan Metcalfe (Canada)

Marina Muncan (Serbia)

Dacia Perkins (U.S.A.)

Hillary Stellingwerff (Canada)

Kate Van Buskirk (Canada)

Men’s 400m

Sanjay Ayre (Jamaica)

Ricardo Chambers (Jamaica)

Tyler Christopher (Canada)

Jermaine Gonzales (Jamaica)

LaShawn Merritt (U.S.A.)

Ato Stephens (Trinidad)

Andrae Williams (Bahamas)

Miles Smith (U.S.A.)

Men’s Mile

Kurt Benninger (Canada)

Kyle Boorsma (Canada)

Nate Brannen (Canada)

Shedrack Korir (Kenya)

Matt Lincoln (Canada)

Chris Lukezic (U.S.A.)

Taylor Milne (Canada)

Rob Myers (U.S.A.)

Adam Perkins (U.S.A.)

Jeremy Rae (Canada)

Steve Sherer (U.S.A.)

Steve Slattery (U.S.A.)

Pablo Solares (Mexico)

David Torrence (U.S.A.)

Women’s 400m

Esther Akinsulie (Canada)

Christine Amertil (Bahamas)

Shana Cox (U.S.A.)

Monica Hargrove (U.S.A.)

Carline Muir (Canada)

Moushaumi Robinson (U.S.A.)

Sonita Sutherland (Jamaica)

Clora Williams (Jamaica)

Women’s Pole Vault

Stacy Dragila (U.S.A.)

Kelsie Hendry (Canada)

Becky Holliday (U.S.A.)

Chelsea Johnson (U.S.A.)

Jillian Schwartz (U.S.A.)

April Steiner Bennett (U.S.A.)

Women’s 800m Wheelchair

Tracey Fergusson (Canada)

Melanie Hawton (Canada)

Jessica Matassa (Canada)

Chelsea McClammer (U.S.A.)

Tatyana McFadden (U.S.A).

Susannah Scaroni (U.S.A.)

Men’s 800m

Adam Currie (Canada)

Geoff Harris (Canada)

Johnathan Johnson (U.S.A.)

Sheridan Kirk (Trinidad)

Khadevis Robinson (U.S.A.)

Brandon Shaw (U.S.A.)

Christian Smith (U.S.A.)

Kyle Smith (Canada)

Karjuan Williams (U.S.A)

Men’s Triathlon

Jake Arnold (U.S.A.)

Bryan Clay (U.S.A.)

Trey Hardee (U.S.A.)

Tyler Koskenoja (Canada)

Paul Terek (U.S.A.)

Men’s CIS 1500m

Andrew Aguanno (Windsor) Allan Brett (Guelph)

Michael Del Monte (Toronto)

Scott Emberley (Western)

Ryan Finn (York)

Rob Jackson (Guelph)

Lee McCarron (St.FX)

James Poulin-Cadovius      (Sherbrooke)

Josh Roundell (Guelph)

Matt Sinclair (Windsor)

Derek Snider (Guelph)

Dave Weston (Windsor)

Women’s 100m Hurdles

Jenny Adams (U.S.A.)

Andrea Bliss (Jamaica)

Damu Cherry (U.S.A.)

Vonette Dixon (Jamaica)

Perdita Felicien (Canada)

Priscilla Lopes-Schliep (Canada)

Nickiesha Wilson (Jamaica)

Virginia Powell (U.S.A.)

Women’s High Jump

Amy Acuff (U.S.A.)

Sarah Boyle (Canada)

Chaunte Howard (U.S.A.)

Deirdre Mullen (U.S.A.)

Vita Styopina (Ukraine)

The Festival of Excellence is part of a series of track and field events celebrating Varsity Centre’s IAAF-certified track and the new throws area that makes its debut in June.  Other key events include the OFSAA track and field championships, Ontario’s biggest high school athletics event, which takes place June 4-6, and the 2009 Canadian senior track and field championships June 25-28.

The breadth of this summer’s line-up reflects U of T’s playground-to-podium philosophy, which fosters long-term development for all students and athletes, from the elementary school student to the international competitor. The playground-to-podium model extends to the proposed Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport, which when complete will feature a world-class sport medicine clinic, sport science research and teaching labs, and the 2,000-seat Kimel Family Field House for basketball and volleyball. The Goldring Centre will serve as a major nexus for innovation in sports science research, sports medicine and the training of coaches.

Tickets for the Festival of Excellence are available through  For event details, visit

The Greatest Athlete You’ve Never Heard Of

April 20, 2009

By Bryn Swartz… Everybody knows who the greatest athletes in the world are. Guys like LeBron James. Alexander Ovechkin. Albert Pujols. Michael Phelps. And many more.

These are the athletes who dominate their respective sports to the point of absurdity. They win Most Valuable Player trophies, championships, and gold medals. They set records and make millions of dollars.

So I found it somewhat shocking when I heard about a man doing some of the most unbelievable acts of physical fitness in the history of mankind, and I didn’t even know his name.

Meet Dean Karnazes, the world’s greatest running machine since…well…ever.

That’s right. A runner. It’s what Dean does, every day, for several hours. He doesn’t run 5K’s or 10 K’s. He doesn’t just run marathons either.

“I seek extremes. Why run 10 miles when you can run 100? Moderation bores me. For me, a marathon is just a warm up. I run 50-mile races, 100-mile races. I’ll run 24 hours and more without sleep, barely pausing for food and water, or even to use the bathroom.

“I’ll run up and down mountains; through Death Valley in the dead of summer; at the South Pole. I push my body, mind, and spirit well past what most humans would consider the limits of pain and exertion.”

Dean Karnazes was born on Aug. 23, 1962 in Los Angeles. One of his earliest memories came in kindergarten when, to save his mother the trouble of picking him up from school, he ran home–every single day.

Karnazes enjoyed the running so much that he began creating new routes to take home from school. He increased the length of these routes to an unnecessary extent, simply running for fun.

As he recalls, “Running gave me a sense of freedom and exploration that school never did.”

Karnazes began competing in more running events over the next few years, many of which he organized himself. He became more passionate about physical exercise, specifically pushing his body to extremities.

By age 11, he had biked across the Grand Canyon. He also climbed Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous United States.

As a middle schooler, Karnazes was introduced to long distance running. His track coach, Jack McTavish, lived by the simple philosophy: “If it comes easy, if it doesn’t require extraordinary effort, you’re not pushing hard enough: It’s supposed to hurt like hell.”

Karnazes states that this advice helped him win the one-mile California State Long Distance Championships.

Karnazes’ freshman track coach, Benner Cummings, believed that a runner should “run with their heart.” Karnazes lived by this motto, and was awarded “Most Inspirational” member. He also ran his first marathon that year.

However, Karnazes had a falling out with his track coach. He reacted by hanging up his running shoes for 15 years.

When he turned 30, he had a sudden panic attack, which he now considers his midlife crisis.

Karnazes went on a spontaneous 30-mile run, in which he transferred from a “drunken yuppie fool into a reborn athlete.”

And on that day, a legend was born.

In the last 17 years, Karnazes has become one of the world’s greatest athletes. He has accomplished more as a runner than many would have thought was humanly possible.

Eleven times, Karnazes completed the Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mile race through mountain trails in California.

He ran 148 miles on a treadmill in a 24-hour span in 2004.

He completed the 199-mile Providian Saturn Relay six times.

He won the 2004 Badwater Ultramarathon in 120-degree weather. The Badwater Ultramarathon is described as “a 135-mile trek across Death Valley to Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States….widely considered the ultimate test of endurance and human resolve…or just plain insanity.”

He joined a team of runners to become the first men to complete a marathon at the South Pole, finishing in second place, with a time of nine hours and 18 minutes.

He completed the North Face Endurance 50, which is 50 marathons…in 50 states….in 50 days. The day after Karnazes completed his final marathon, he decided to run home: from New York to San Francisco.

But Karnazes’s single most impressive accomplishment came in 2005, when the 42-year-old businessman ran for 350 consecutive miles without stopping. Yes, 350 miles. As in, the equivalent of 13 and a half marathons in a row.

So why? Why does Karnazes run for such great distances?

“Running great distances was a release, and, on some level, my boundless energy needed an outlet. Running great distances is my way of finding peace. It’s a sense of adventure that keeps me running.

“I love nothing more than to put a credit card in my pocket, tuck the kids in for the night, and head out the door for an all-night run. If I want a latte, I stop by Starbucks and grab one. If I see something interesting, I stop and check it out. It’s never tedious when I’m immersed in the adventure.”

Karnazes isn’t satisfied with running for 350 miles either.

His goal? To run for 500 consecutive miles without stopping.

The biggest challenge? Not the actual running.

“The biggest challenge for running 500 miles is the sleep deprivation. I’ve fallen asleep while running before on several occasions. I didn’t fall over or anything–just kept “sleep running” for a fair distance.

Initially I thought this was a bad thing, but I realized that when I awoke I was actually refreshed. So now I’m going to try to train myself to sleep-run as a way to overcome sleep deprivation.”

Some things about Karanzes’s running may surprise you.

Not only does Karnazes need to eat during his runs to, well, stay alive, but he literally eats whatever he wants.

He’ll order enormous pizzas with everything on them, topped off with chocolate eclairs or a gigantic cherry cheesecake. He doesn’t gain weight from it either. He’ll burn 9000 calories during a 24-hour run.

Karnazes has, as you may have imagined, developed some pretty intense sores from running. He has lost dozens of toenails, and will often take off his shoes after a run to find his feet covred by giant, foot-devouring blisters. Want to know Karnazes’s chosen methods of treatment?

Krazy Glue and duct tape.

That’s right. Karnazes’s blisters are popped open, filled with Krazy Glue, and sealed with duct tape. As he says, “I feel like a raft having a leak repaired.”

Whether or not Karanzes ever runs his 500 miles, there is no doubt that he is one of the most dominant athletes in history. But Karnazes doesn’t have the heart of a champion because of how fast he can wrong. Running great distances isn’t about speed.

“Being a champion means not quitting, no matter how tough the situation becomes, and no matter how badly the odds are stacked against you. If you have the courage, stamina, and perseverance to cross the finish line, you are a champion. And if you can’t run, then walk. And if you can’t walk, then crawl. Do whatever you have to do. Just keep moving forward and never, ever give up.

Karnazes’s final piece of advice for future runners?

“Dreams can come true…especially if you train hard enough. Sometimes you’ve got to go through hell to get to heaven.”