Proud to be an American

November 6, 2008

Like many other godless liberals, I’m thrilled that Barack Obama will be our next president. Thrilled, and also relieved that the pre-election polls did not mislead us as to who was going to win. My favorite anecdote from the campaign’s final days was this:

During a flight to Pennsylvania, Charlie Black and Sen. Sam Brownback boarded the press charter to share their optimism. “At this time four years ago, Bush was down five points” in Iowa, Black said. Now McCain is currently down by one point, according to their internal polls. (And by “internal,” one reporter quipped, they mean pulled from their ass.)

Speaking of rear ends, my friend Henry bid me farewell on Tuesday with the phrase “Da un calcio a qualche culo italiano,” which apparently means “Kick some Italian butt.” You see, I’m now in Italy as part of the U.S. squad competing at the World Cup 100K on November 8th. (Race updates and/or results will most likely be posted to www.iau.org.tw and/or www.ultramaratonadeglietruschi.it/home_en.asp.)

The U.S. team is currently staying at an “Agriturismo” place — i.e., a farm with guest lodging — outside of Tarquinia, which is about an hour northwest of Rome along the west coast of Italy. At the family-style dinners, staff members vigorously scoop generous portions of homemade dishes from gigantic serving bowls. Preliminary attempts to supplement these meals with raw olives from local trees were abandoned due to the bitterness of the olives.

On paper, the American men are as strong as we’ve been in several years. The top two finishers on last year’s bronze medal-winning team, Howard Nippert and me, have been joined by Mike Wardian (winner of three USATF ultramarathon championships this year) and Adam Lint (2nd at White River). I regret to report that Chad Ricklefs (our #3 man last year) and Steve Stowers were unable to make the trip due to knee injuries. The American women, 4th in 2007, will likely be led again by Kami Semick (2nd at White River; 2:45 at the Portland Marathon) and Devon Crosby-Helms (1st at the Vermont 100). They’ll be joined by fellow World Cup veterans Connie Gardner and Carolyn Smith and newcomer Meghan Arbogast. Julie Udchachon is here as well but has been ill, so I’m not sure whether she’ll be able to compete.

As for my own personal outlook… Having placed 11th individually at the last World Cup, I’d love to break into the top 10 this time. On the other hand, my recent training difficulties and continued exposure to my son’s reservoir of germs suggest that a top-20 finish might be a more realistic goal.

Regardless of what my exact goal is when I toe the starting line, it will undoubtedly be revised as the race develops. I’m reminded of the old prayer asking for the serenity to accept the things we can’t change, the strength to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I wonder how you say that in Italian.


  1. Greg,Best of Luck and Best Wishes!!!I'm sure your less than optimal conditioning will pull you through. Not optimal, but when have any of us entered a race with optimal training background?Appropriate advice in Italian.Both the US men and women look very strong.Can't wait for your post race column.

  2. My unnamed sources report that your recent training difficulties only put you 1% back, so with a proper Mediterranean diet while in Italy I'm sure you'll be on top of your game.Seriouly though, good luck Crowther.

  3. Best of luck, Greg!And remember:Non importa se tu sei un leone o una gazzella: sara' meglio che cominici a correre!

  4. I found it ironic that as a "godless liberal" you'd end your post with a prayer!In my own godless liberal way, I'll be praying for you to have a great race! 😉 Best of luck to you and the rest of the US team.

  5. GOOD LUCK!!! I'm too lazy to luck up the time zone difference, but I'll be sending you good vibes on race day and I hope you reach your goals!

  6. What better place to carbo-load than in Italy? At least that bit of your pre-race preparations should be exceptional!Good luck Doogie!

  7. "…asking for the serenity to accept the things we can't change, the strength to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.""…chiedo la serenita' per accettare le cose che non possiamo cambiare, la forza per cambiare quello che possiamo cambiare, e la saggezza per saper distinguere tra le due cose."Sincerely, "in bocca al lupo" prof. Crowther. I'll be rooting for Giorgio. But what I love about sports is Fair Play. And don't forget you have a butt too…

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