Notes: Finally, True Togetherness for Racing Couple

October 31, 2013 at 7:45am EST | by Barbara Huebner, Marathon News Service

The last time Ben True and his girlfriend, Sarah Groff, raced together, at the B.A.A. 5K in 2011,True won the men's race.

It was also the only time they’ve raced together. Matter of fact, it might have been one of the few times they were in the same country that year.

True and Groff (who finished sixth among women in that B.A.A. race), are seeing more of each other lately, and they'll both be on the starting line for the NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5K on Saturday.

The race, which begins at 8:30 a.m. at the United Nations and ends at the ING New York City Marathon finish line in Central Park, features almost a dozen Olympians, including 2008 medalists Shalane Flanagan of the USA (bronze, 10,000 meters) and Nick Willis of New Zealand (silver, 1500 meters); 2012 10,000-meter silver medalist Sally Kipyego of Kenya;  U.S. 5000-meter record-holder Molly Huddle; and U.S. 3000-meter steeplechase record-holder Evan Jager.

True, 27, is a two-time USA 5K champion on the roads and was sixth in the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships on a U.S. team that won a surprise silver medal. Groff, 31, is a triathlete who finished fourth in that event at the London Olympics and is the 2011 ITU Triathlon World Championships bronze medalist.

The two met in Hanover, NH, in 2010 when True stopped by to pick up something from Groff’s manager. True had broken his toe earlier in the day, so was “kind of out of it and all disappointed,” but the situation brightened when, unable to run, he began cross-training on bike rides with her.

They moved in together—in a manner of speaking—not long afterward.

“The year of the Olympics she wasn’t in the U.S. basically at all,” said True, “so I shared a house with her stuff, I guess.”

Most triathlon training groups are based outside the United States, so Groff was destined to live abroad for at least eight months a year unless she made a change. She did, getting a new coach who will allow more U.S.-based training, but True said that their biggest challenge remains finding time to be together in their old farmhouse in Enfield, NH, with its wall of shoes in the mud room, a barn housing an industrial-sized ice bath, and dirt roads aplenty.

True said that they’ve learned a lot from each other, though, in the time they’ve had.

“The biggest difference [between us] is our attitudes before races and how we deal with pressure, either the pressure we put on ourselves or the pressure one of us feels that outsiders are putting on us. Sarah is a lot more vocal about things and timid about things; I’m a bit quieter [but] I tend to put up more of an air of confidence even though it’s not necessarily there.

“I’m able to open up with Sarah; I don’t have to fake my confidence with her. And she sees how I’m able to put on an outward appearance to competitors, how in actuality, on the inside, every athlete is shaking in the knees at those big races.”

Groff even gave True a swimming lesson recently, so that he can improve his technique and use the sport for cross-training. He’s quick to explain that “improve” and “technique” are relative terms.

“That’s the one thing she knows she will always be better at than me,” he said, regardless of how much time they spend together. “I could get from Point A to Point B if I was in a boat and fell overboard, but that’s pretty much it. Swimming laps is not my forte. Hopefully in a few months I may be halfway to being a beginner.”


American Icons to Enter NYRR Hall of Fame

Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Ted Corbitt—who together have made running in America what it is today—will be inducted into the NYRR Hall of Fame at a ceremony beginning at 10:00 a.m. Thursday at the ING New York City Marathon Media Center presented by Timex.

Corbitt, an African-American distance-running pioneer and a founder and the first president of New York Road Runners, died in 2007 at the age of 88. His son, Gary, will accept the award on his behalf.  For more on Corbitt, click here and here.

Following quite literally in Corbitt’s footsteps were fellow inductees Rodgers, Shorter, and Benoit Samuelson.

“Frank was the one who showed us that Americans could run supreme at this crazy distance, the marathon,” said Amby Burfoot, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon who was a longtime editor at Runner’s World. “Bill was a master week-in-and-week-out champion. And what Joan shares with both of them is this incredible ability to concentrate and go inside herself, and on race day produce these incredible performances. It’s unbelievable how she has done that over 30 years.”

She’s not finished yet: Samuelson, 56, is planning to run the marathon on Sunday.

Check out a New York Times story here by George Hirsch, chairman of the board of New York Road Runners.


High Stakes in World Marathon Majors Race

For a quartet of pro athletes—two men and two women—in the ING New York City Marathon, there’s even more at stake than a coveted victory: the World Marathon Majors title for 2012–2013 and its $1 million in prize money area lso on the line.

Tsegaye Kebede, Stephen Kiprotich, Edna Kiplagat, and Priscah Jeptoo each has the chance to win $500,000 for their season-ending performances on Sunday. On the men’s side, it all comes down to NYC: Kebede and Kiprotich are the only athletes still in contention for the big payday. For the women, however, Bank of America Chicago Marathon winner Rita Jeptoo *(no relation to Priscah) currently heads the leaderboard, with Kiplagat and Priscah Jeptoo chasing her in absentia for the prize.

What does each athlete have to do on Sunday to earn the title? Click here.


Title Sponsor ING Hosts Orange Money Marathon

It’s Race Week, and the color orange is popping up all over the city.  ING, title sponsor of the New York City Marathon, is hosting a special “Orange Money Marathon” on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., with “Mile Markers” placed throughout Manhattan and at the marathon's Health and Fitness Expo.  Runners and spectators are encouraged to stop at one of six locations to engage with brand ambassadors, post or tweet on social media, pick up some fun ING U.S.’s “Orange Money” and enter for a chance at an ING New York City Marathon jacket by ASICS. The six locations:

  • ING New York City Marathon Health and Fitness Expo (ING Runner’s Nation Lounge), Jacob Javits Convention Center
  • First Avenue between East 59th and 60th streets 
  • Columbus Circle between Central Park West and Broadway
  • Union Square, East 15th Street, between Union Square and Fifth Avenue
  • Sixth Avenue and West 49th Street
  • First Avenue between East 77th and 78th streets


Marathon musings

Scheduled to speak yesterday at a school appearance sponsored by the Boston Scholar Athletes program was Wesley Korir, the 2012 Boston Marathon champion who will be competing in his first ING New York City Marathon. When Korir—a member of Kenya’s parliament—spoke to the group in April, Boston businessman John Fish was so impressed that he donated $50,000 to Korir’s Kenyan Kids Foundation, according to Korir’s manager, Karen Locke …. New Zealand’s Kim Smith, who lives and trains in Providence, RI, won the B.A.A. Distance Medley crown earlier this month for the second consecutive year when she won the B.A.A. Half Marathon in a course-record 1:09:14. The $100,000 prize goes to the runner with the lowest cumulative time from the B.A.A 5K, the B.A.A. 10K, and the half-marathon. Smith said afterward that she’s looking for a podium finish in NYC. For more, click here …. Smith’s training partner, Amy Hastings, says here that she’s in better shape than she’s been in for her last two marathons, one of which was a fourth-place finish in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials … Croatia’s Lisa Stublić grew up in Connecticut and was an All-American at Columbia University. Click here for “5 Things You Should Know" about her.


Big wheels

Louise Sauvage, 40, is coming out of a 10-year retirement to compete in the ING New York City Marathon.  A four-time winner of the Boston Marathon (1997, 1998, 1999, 2001), Sauvage last competed at the 2004 Paralympics.  She has since been coaching, and in NYC she'll be facing one of her athletes, Madison De Rozario. A nine-time Paralympic gold medalist, Sauvage told an Australian media outlet, “I’m there to finish and to have a good time.” …  If Kurt Fearnley’s Twitter feed is any indication, he's a happy man today: The Australian wheelchair star seems to be quite the Boston Red Sox fan.


Dash dishing

Nick Willis is in the midst of an adventurous stretch. Last weekend, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist at 1500 meters for New Zealand competed in the Speedgolf World Championships, in which he finished 13th. Here a story. On Sunday, he plans to pace a friend from Italy, masters runner Piergiorgio Conti, for part of the ING New York City Marathon. In between, he will be one of the top contenders in the NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5K on Saturday  …. The entire women’s podium contingent from the USA 5K Championships, held on September 22 at the CVS Caremark Providence 5K, is expected on Saturday at the NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5K:  Molly Huddle, a three-time winner and the U.S. record-holder at 5000 meters on the track; Emily Infeld, and Alexi Pappas. To read more on Infeld and Pappas, click here and here …. Chris Derrick and Evan Jager were high school rivals in suburban Chicago, but they're now roommates and training partners on the Oregon Track Club Elite. Read the story here … Kenya’s Sally Kipyego, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist at 10,000 meters, is making a comeback more than a year after suffering a broken heel. Click here for more.


“On the Run” Looks at Lakota Nation

“On the Run” at 8:00 p.m. will feature:

  • The One Spirit Runners, a group of Native American runners representing the Lakota Nation, who are back for this year’s race after spending Marathon Day last year helping with Sandy relief
  • A look at the contenders for the World Marathon Majors title and its $1 million in prize money

Guests will include Wesley Korir, the 2012 Boston Marathon champion and member of Kenya’s parliament; and NYRR Hall of Fame inductees Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter, and Joan Benoit Samuelson.

Tim Hutchings, Carrie Tollefson, and Karla Bruning host the show, which will be live here  at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, and 4:00 p.m. on Monday, and available on demand.

With Kristine Smith