DES MOINES, Iowa -- At their best, Jeremy Wariner and Sanya Richards-Ross make the very difficult look very easy. Their job is to run once around a track -- 400 meters -- faster than seven opponents. It's painful work, a mix of speed and stamina and more technical execution than you might imagine.
BERLIN -- The giant thud reverberating across the world track and field championships in Berlin on Tuesday night was the sound of Sanya Richards throwing the boulder of never-winning-the-big-one off her shoulders.
Running is a sport where relative success matters. A single group of striving runners can contain an individual for whom running at the pace of the pack is an act of utter laziness, and next to him or her, an individual for whom keeping up with that same pack is a heroic effort.
BEIJING -- To be the champion, you have to clear all 10 hurdles. That's the mantra LoLo Jones kept reciting to reporters between tears after she hit the ninth barrier in the Olympic final of the 100-meter hurdles, and fell from first to seventh in the last steps of the race.
He watched on Thursday night from a seat high in Section J in the old wooden grandstand on the Hayward Field backstretch, anonymously punching a stopwatch while surrounded by another sellout crowd at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. Clyde Hart is 75 years old; he has been coaching track and field for more than five decades, and he is to 400-meter runners what Bill Walsh once was to quarterbacks.
ON THE toughest of training days, when repeat sprints painfully take their toll under the central Texas sun, Sanya Richards reaches for motivation and finds a name. Allyson Felix. "I think about her all the time when I'm working out, because she has such great talent," says Richards. "And such fast times." Richards drives her arms and pushes harder, chasing a distant ghost. Half a continent away, Felix works at UCLA on a weathered orange track framed by eucalyptus trees. She, too, knows where to find her best race. Sanya Richards .
Here was movement sweeter than beautiful music or fine wine, a combination of speed and style that ever so briefly transcends sport. We see it rarely in person and squeeze our eyes shut to remember it in ways that YouTube cannot convey.