What A Year! Thank You For Your Support

In such a tough year, there was no shortage of people within the sport being resilient and continuing to push forward.

This is the CITIUS MAG Newsletter, a weekly round-up of the biggest stories in the running and track & field community with analysis and commentary by me, Chris Chavez. If you’ve been forwarded this email or stumbled upon a link online, you can sign up and subscribe here:

Cheers! We’ve made it to the end of 2020. It’s finally time to put an end to the year that tested us in so many ways. The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to cut down on the number of people we get to see or interact with in-person, how much travel we get to do and totally upended our regular routines. I like to tell people that one of the main reasons why I got into writing and reporting was because the job allows me to travel the world, meet interesting people and share new stories. With travel and meeting new people in-person off the table, it would be easy to shut down or lose motivation before calling it a year. I think I did my best to adapt to the situation and try to continue the last element of my why. The storytelling is always at the heart of why I decided to keep at it and there was definitely no shortage of people within the sport being resilient and continuing to push forward.

I like numbers so here’s what some of my personal output looked like in 2020 to share some of the stories by those people:

  • On the CITIUS MAG Podcast, we had 4,006 minutes (66 hours and 46 minutes) of interviews with athletes, coaches and other notable people within the sport across 62 episodes.

  • I produced 36 episodes of Running Things Considered 1,575 minutes (26 hours and 15 minutes) in 2020.

  • Leigh Anne Sharek and I released 21 episodes of Runners of NYC with 22 different guests for 1,482 minutes (24 hours and 42 minutes).

  • We launched More Than Running with Dana Giordano, which is 19 episodes (18 hours, 10 minutes) deep.

  • I worked on five of Scott Fauble’s Showrunners episodes (6 hours and 24 minutes) which will return in 2021 with more – now that he’s back and out of his post-Trials rut.

  • Track and Field History was launched and provides a snackable podcast for your walks. Jesse Squire is delightful to work with on that show. I produced 16 episodes (4 hours and 31 minutes) of it. 

  • Plus, I recruited David Melly and Emma Zimmerman to bring on the Run Your Mouth Podcast and Social Sport Podcast into the CITIUS MAG family. 

In total, I was behind 133 hours and 28 minutes of podcasting in 2020 and I would do it all over again because through the analytics and metrics I can see that A LOT of you are enjoying it and keep coming back for more. I want to continue providing more. However, I will admit that it is a lot to do outside of my full-time job at Sports Illustrated, which gets most of my attention throughout the day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

I hope any of this year’s work has also made an impact on you.

Cue the Bernie Sanders meme, I will say if you appreciate the work, feel free to support CITIUS MAG on Patreon or pick up a sweater or t-shirt in our merch store. In 2021, I want to be able to explore some more projects through video, get some more writing on the site, send some of our personalities to the Olympic Trials or other meets – your contributions will make it possible.

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As I look ahead to 2021, there’s definitely going to be some challenges since the pandemic isn’t over but I have hope and I’m grateful for the blessings provided by the running community. 

I wish you and your families a very happy and healthy 2021!


Chris Chavez

PS: Feel free to let me know if any conversation from any of the podcasts really stayed with you and I’ll also share some of my personal favorite podcast episodes.

Onto this week’s news and more….

The Marathon Project

At this point, it’s been more than a week since The Marathon Project was a tremendous success in Chandler, Arizona. In the days that followed, I made a few appearances on Canadian Running’s Shakeout Podcast and the Run Local Podcast to share my thoughts and analysis of the race that saw Sara Hall become the second-fastest American woman of all-time in 2:20:32 and Marty Hehir’s delivery of the sub 2:09 as promised (2:08:59).  On the men’s side, seven men broke 2:10 including Hehir, Noah Droddy, Colin Bennie, Scott Fauble, Ian Butler, Scott Smith and Mick Iacofano. The women’s race featured the underlying storyline whether Keira D’Amato’s magical 2020 campaign would continue into December....and she exceeded all expectations by lowering her personal best from 2:34:24 to 2:22:56. Strong running as well by Kellyn Taylor, who went out with Hall’s American record chase and then ran a good bulk of the race solo en route to her 2:25:22 for third place. (That time puts D’Amato at No. 8 on the all-time U.S. list)

I’ve mentioned their names in the newsletter before but major kudos to HOKA NAZ Elite head coach Ben Rosario, agent Josh Cox and Matt Helbig of Big River Race Management for pulling off the biggest race since the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Big ups to Paul Swangard, Des Linden and Bernard Lagat for their insights and commentary on the USATF.TV broadcast.

There was a pretty bad take on Twitter that said we shouldn’t get carried away with the results from The Marathon Project. Personally, I think it’s OK to highlight the fact that a race was created for people to run fast and they did just that. The U.S. all-time list got a little bit of an edit and this could serve as a stepping stone for further progress by American distance running in the global picture.

If you want more Marathon Project content, there’s no shortage from The CITIUS MAG Podcast Network…

– David Melly and I reunited for a crossover episode of The CITIUS MAG Podcast x Run Your Mouth with Marty Hehir. I shared this in a few places on social media but in 2012, I interviewed Marty after his win at the Big East Cross Country Championships at Van Cortlandt Park. His win came as a surprise to some people and so I asked him, “Who are you?” Because all I really knew was that he was a redshirt sophomore. He politely gave me a response but then saved a photo from that interview for seven years and shared it on Instagram with a caption that said, “I’ve been running as hard as I can ever since to make sure no one has to ask me that question again.” We touch on that and how we viewed this win as the first major one of his career and his thoughts about what it all means. We also touch on his work as a medical student in anesthesiology at Sidney Kimmel Medical College and whether that’s more stressful than his work being a father of two. Great time management skills and advice shared in this one.

– Shortly after the race, I received a tip from an Instagram follower saying they believed that Nathan Martin’s ninth-place finish in 2:11:05 may have been the fastest performance by a U.S.-born, black marathon runner. I snooped around online and was able to determine that the previous record was 2:11.52 set by Herman Atkins in 1979. I tweeted about it but also wanted to learn more about Nathan. I reached out and was able to record another episode of The CITIUS MAG Podcast with him to share some of his backstory, what fuels the belief he can race with the likes of Scott Fauble and Jared Ward and how he hopes to inspire people in his community of Jackson, Michigan.

– I’ve been meaning to record an episode of the podcast with Noah Droddy for quite some time. We initially meant to meet up in Boulder over the summer but plans got a little wacky and never crossed paths. After his 2:09:09, we just had to settle for Zoom. As expected, this episode of The CITIUS MAG Podcast was a lot of fun. We go through his Division III glory days, taking a risk on himself to pursue running, “crashing” the Trials, being more than that image portrayed of him and eventually finding the marathon as his event. You’ll want to listen to this one for the drug-testing story at the end as well.

On Run Your Mouth, David Melly was joined by Mick Iacofano, who told the story about how his “accidental” 2:09 came to be. David was quick to point out after the race that Mick almost left the sport for good this year. In Run Your Mouth fashion, the episode also delves into bartending, college dorms, beer miles and much more. 

– David and I also recorded an episode with Emma Bates, which felt very fitting as a reflection of 2020. Emma was disappointed about her tactics in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and finished seventh. She narrowly missed a personal best at The Marathon Project but took fourth in 2:25:40. Couple that with some personal struggles and it’s been a taxing year on Emma. Yet, she’s still managed to run well through it all. It’s impressive.

Other news

– Rosario confirmed to LetsRun that there was one COVID positive test by an athlete after the race. Competitors and people who spent time around the athlete were informed of the positive test.

– USADA announces U.S. Olympian Brenda Martinez tested positive for the banned substance hydrochlorothiazide in a September test. However, they determined it must "have been ingested by her without fault or negligence.” She will not face any suspension as a result. 

The investigation by USADA determined: “Martinez provided USADA with records of a permitted oral prescription medication that she was taking at the time of her positive test. This permitted medication, which Martinez takes at the direction of a physician, did not list HCTZ or any other prohibited substances on the label. However, detailed laboratory analysis subsequently conducted on multiple tablets of the athlete’s medication confirmed HCTZ contamination at a level consistent with Martinez’s positive test.”

– The 2021 Millrose Games were canceled due to COVID-19 cases in New York City. It feels like an eternity ago but the meet actually did happen in 2020 and we saw Elle Purrier run the second-fastest indoor mile in history. The next edition of the meet will be held on Feb. 12, 2022. The Boston Indoor Grand Prix was moved from Feb. 6 to Feb. 13. 

– The 2021 Boston Marathon date is still in limbo. Massachusetts is averaging more than 4,000 COVID-19 cases a day throughout the past week. 

– Dani Jones, who was a guest on the podcast after her decision to turn professional and join Joe Bosshard’s training group in Boulder, announced that she has signed with New Balance. 

– One more plug for my friend Jenny Donnelly Grimshaw’s FKT around the perimeter of Manhattan with some more added context on why she tried to make the most of her running in 2020 before undergoing a procedure for the BRCA Gene Variant. Cindy Kuzma of Runner’s World wrote a great story about Jenny and her mother, Judi.

I think I threw enough podcast links for you at the top of this so I’ll stop right there.

That’s it from me in the last edition of the CITIUS MAG Newsletter of 2020. Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, learned something new or have any questions or commentary on anything featured in this issue, feel free to hit my inbox: chris@citiusmag.com

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