Summer Sanders

Summer Sanders returns to run Boston Marathon again

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Summer Sanders doesn’t usually wear hats when she races, but she fitted a blue Boston Strong cap over her head and set out to train before breakfast Tuesday.

“Everywhere I looked,” she said, “I saw Boston Strong.”

Sanders was running in Hawaii on the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Sanders, 41, will ride a Friday night redeye to Los Angeles, connect to Salt Lake City, drive to Park City and spend some minutes with her family. She’ll grab a carry-on bag, drive back to the airport and fly to Boston, arriving at 4:19 Saturday afternoon.

She’ll take part in her second straight Boston Marathon two days later.

“I’m not complaining because I’m coming from Hawaii,” she said. “No one’s going to listen to any complaints.”

Sanders began running after her Olympic swimming appearance in 1992 — when she won four medals in Barcelona, including two golds.

“The day I retired, I went on a run around Stanford loop with a girlfriend, and I was hooked,” said Sanders, a Stanford alum. “I could have a conversation while exercising, which was totally new to me.”

She increased the distance while working for the NBA in the late 1990s, going for recreational runs on trips to different league team cities. (You may remember her as a host of “Inside Stuff”)

She put the Boston Marathon on her bucket list and, spurred by her 40th birthday, chose 2013 as the year to line up at the world’s oldest annual 26.2-mile race.

Sanders arrived in Hopkinton, population 15,000, best known as the race’s starting town on Patriots’ Day. Emotion enveloped her.

“You realized the significance of where you were when you looked around, and there were no pacers,” Sanders said. “Everybody had already paced themselves to get there. You had to run a qualifying time [to enter], so time was out the window at that point.”

She cried at the beginning. And at mile 17, when she saw her mother and a cousin in the crowd. And over the last six miles, due to the cramping pain brought on by rolling hills. And later recounting the experience on the fall 2013 HBO Sports documentary, “Sport in America: Our Defining Stories.”

“I focused on every moment on the course,” Sanders said. She remembered children along the route offering gummy bears baggies, icy pops and Dixie cups of water.

Boston Marathon security increased after backpack incident

Sanders could barely walk after she crossed the Boylston Street finish line in 3 hours, 33 minutes, 13 seconds. She visited a medical tent, found her mom holding an unmistakable neon green sign, and they walked into her hotel room — No. 911 on the ninth floor, she said — at the nearby Lenox on Exeter Street.

“That’s when we heard the first explosion,” Sanders said.

The first of two pressure-cooker bombs went off at 2:49 p.m. at the corner of Boylston and Exeter, across the street from The Lenox.

“I was already so emotional, every step of that day,” Sanders said. “I just lost it. I didn’t know what it was, but it didn’t sound good.”

The second explosion came 12 seconds later, on the opposite side of The Lenox, a little farther away on Boylston. But it felt stronger and sounded louder. She screamed and looked outside her window.

“I was freaking out,” Sanders said. “Everybody else around me had their wits about them and were calming me down.”

She said the hotel was quickly locked down, and she was told to turn off her cellphone. Are the bombers targeting hotels, she wondered. Sirens blared. A hotel evacuation began within an hour of the bombings.

“Scariest moments of my life, walking down nine flights of stairs,” Sanders said. “Every step, the words out of my mouth were, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.’ My mom was saying, ‘It’s not our time. It’s not our time. It’s not our time.'”

She exited into a sea of people, estimating half of them had a semblance of what had happened. Military trucks arrived with men in full gear.

“This strange moment of trying to grasp it all,” Sanders said. “I was in and out of just completely out of it to bawling.”

She reached her husband, three-time U.S. Olympic Alpine skier Erik Schlopy, and the rest of her family on the phone. Her 5-year-old son, Spider, heard some of the news and asked if she “had any scrapes or scratches.”

Schlopy told her to find an airport other than Boston’s Logan to fly out, for safety reasons. She went to Logan anyway, determined to land in Utah as soon as possible.

“Erik,” she said, “I just want to get home to you guys. That’s it.”

Sanders was home by 9 o’clock that night.

***

On her Hawaii trip, Sanders recently struck up a conversation with folks who told her they were from Hopkinton. They offered her their bathroom and some water for Monday.

“That’s the Boston Marathon right there,” Sanders said. “That’s what I felt last year. We were in thousands of people’s living rooms as we were running. It felt like a massive, giant hug from Boston.”

Sanders’ daughter, Skye, turns on 8 on Monday. Sanders will run 26.2 miles wearing a “Happy 8th Birthday Skye!” shirt, one her daughter helped make.

She’ll cross the finish in the shirt, quickly she hopes. Her flight home was recently pushed up to 3:50 p.m. She will forgo a post-race shower to make it to Park City in time for Skye’s birthday dinner, because her family will not be with her in Boston.

“I can’t think of a worse day for [my kids] than cheering their mom on for 3 1/2 hours,” she joked.

Sanders said she decided four days after last year’s marathon to return for this year’s race. She had put on all of her Boston gear, including not a hat but a visor, and went out for a run.

“I noticed this strong sense to represent and show ourselves and the world, and most important show the people the hurt us that we are not afraid,” Sanders said. “We are a strong community.

“Absolutely, I had to come back and run Boston.”

Catching up with Bruce Jenner

Cyclist in induced coma after Tour of Poland crash

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Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was put into an induced coma Wednesday after suffering injuries in a crash on the final stretch of the Tour of Poland, organizers said.

A massive crash at the finish of the first stage resulted in Dylan Groenewegen‘s disqualification from the race.

Leading a bunch sprint, Groenewegen veered toward the right barrier, pinching countryman Jakobsen, who barreled into the barrier meters from the finish line.

Jakobsen went head over heels, his bike went airborne and the barriers exploded onto the road, causing more cyclists to crash.

Jakobsen was airlifted to a hospital in serious condition and was put into an induced coma, the Tour de Pologne press office said.

Groenewegen crossed the finish line first but was disqualified, giving Jakobsen the stage win, according to the stage race website.

Groenewegen, a 27-year-old Jumbo-Visma rider, owns four Tour de France stage wins among the last three years.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) “strongly condemned” Groenewegen’s “dangerous” and “unacceptable” behavior. It referred Groenewegen’s actions to a disciplinary commission for possible sanctions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Figure skating Grand Prix Series will be held as ‘domestic’ competitions

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix Series will go ahead as scheduled this fall, with modifications due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Skating Union decided Monday.

Each of the series’ six tops around the globe will be “a domestic run event,” limited to skaters of the event’s host country, who regularly train in the host country and from a respective geographical area. The number of disciplines and skaters at each event are to be worked out.

The Grand Prix Series, held annually since 1995, is a six-event fall season, qualifying the top six skaters and teams per discipline to December’s Grand Prix Final. The annual stops are in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan, leading up to the Final, which is held at a different site each year.

The Final is the second-biggest annual competition after the world championships, which are typically in late March. The Final is still scheduled for Beijing, though whether or when it can be held will be discussed.

The series begins in late October with Skate America, which debuted in 1979 and has been held every year since 1988 as the biggest annual international competition in the U.S. Skate America’s site is Las Vegas, just as it was in 2019.

Skaters typically compete twice on the Grand Prix Series (three times if they qualify for the Final). ISU vice president Alexander Lakernik said skaters will be limited to one start in the six-event series before the Final, according to a Russian media quote confirmed by Phil Hersh.

The ISU has not confirmed or denied Lakernik’s assertion.

Most, if not all, top-level U.S. skaters train in the U.S. or Canada. That makes the first two Grand Prix stops — Skate America and Skate Canada — likely destinations. Grand Prix assignments have not been published.

“I appreciate the ISU is open to adapting competitive formats and is working to give athletes opportunities to compete,” Evan Bates, a U.S. ice dance champion with Madison Chock who trains in Montreal, wrote in a text message to Hersh. “This announcement gives reassurance that the ISU is doing their best to ensure a season will still take place. Of course, it’s hard to predict what will happen, and we’re not sure about what country we would compete in. It would probably depend on what the quarantine rules are at that time.”

The January 2021 U.S. Championships are scheduled for San Jose, Calif. The March 2021 World Championships are set for Stockholm.

In July, the ISU canceled the Junior Grand Prix Series for skaters mostly ages 13 to 18, including two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu, who cannot enter the senior Grand Prix until 2021.

Other early season senior international competitions scheduled for September were also canceled or postponed.

U.S. Figure Skating said in a statement that it will have more details on the Grand Prix Series in the coming weeks after collaborating with an ISU-appointed group.

“This is a great example of the figure skating community coming together to ensure that the world’s premier figure skating series will continue during these challenging times,” the statement read. “Figure skaters want to compete and figure skating fans from all around the world want to see their favorite athletes skate, and this format will ensure just that.”

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