- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 18, 2002


Nearly every competitive athlete is looking to gain that extra edge. In many sports, it has much to do with the equipment, but with track and distance running, it all has to do with the human body.
Performance-enhancing drugs long have played a significant role in our sports. Just ask Frank Shorter about East German marathoner Waldemar Cierpinski, who denied the Munich-born American his second straight Olympic gold medal, then was busted years later as a long-time user.
But now many athletes are shunning drugs and instead embracing technology in pursuit of this competitive edge.
For years, Suzy Favor Hamilton has talked of a sleep chamber in her bedroom that simulates high-altitude living. Altitude training, if done appropriately, has proved to enhance athletic performance.
Marathon great Alberto Salazar has been supervising a multi-million-dollar pet project in Portland, Ore., with Dan Browne, Brad Johnson and several other American marathon hopefuls. The deal is to live at high altitude but train at low altitudes, which is physically impossible unless you live in a sea-level city like Portland and go home at night to a five-bedroom house with a cabin pressure of 12,000 feet. That's exactly what Salazar's guinea pigs call home, a house with molecular filters inside that remove oxygen, creating the same thin air found at 12,000 feet.
And last week we found out, in Khalid Khannouchi's last chat with the press before the Oct.13 Chicago Marathon, that the Moroccan-born American and world's fastest marathoner ever is doing much the same thing from his home in Westchester County, N.Y., which sits just above sea level.
In a teleconference Thursday, the 30-year-old explained a radical change in his training, saying that for three months he has been sleeping in a $16,000 altitude-training room he had installed. There's no need to leave New York and head west for the mountains during the pre-race buildup.
"I started using it in May," Khannouchi said. "I really felt a big difference two weeks later when I went to Albuquerque to train and didn't feel it."
Khannounchi will need every edge he can get because last week history's No.2 marathoner, Paul Tergat, committed to running Chicago. Tergat was just 10 seconds behind Khannouchi and his world-record 2:05:38 last April in London.
America's newest millionaire Nike announced in a press release "a new relationship with miler Alan Webb" of Reston that began last week.
The release did not reveal terms of the contract, but they were reported in The Washington Times on July 18. The deal calls for a guaranteed annual salary of $250,000 through 2008, the year of the Beijing Olympics. There are incentives for Webb to be richly rewarded for breaking time standards and garnering Olympic and World Championship medals.
Filling up fast Officials at the Army Ten-Miler say more than 11,000 runners have registered for the 18th annual event. The world's largest 10-mile race, canceled last year in the wake of September 11, is scheduled for Oct.20 at the Pentagon.
Army officials said mail-in registrations must be postmarked by Aug.30 and online registration at www.armytenmiler.com will close at 18,000 runners or Sept.20 at 5 p.m., whichever comes first.
This just in From Jim Adams of the Baltimore Running Club: "Plans are in place for a supported course run along the Baltimore Marathon course on Saturday, Aug.31. Options will range from 10 miles to 20 miles."
Adams needs to plan for water and GU so be kind and e-mail him if you will be joining this run at [email protected]

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