Today we’re talking with Johanna Garton, author of the new book All in Stride, which is about the US Army’s World Class Athlete Program and two runners who were part of it, Elvin Kibet and Shadrack Kipchirchir. Elvin and Shadrack were born in Kenya, but left to pursue the American Dream, become professional runners, and hopefully realize their goal of competing in the Olympics. Also featured in the book is TKFLASTANI Samantha Schultz, who becomes friends with Elvin through the Army’s World Class Athlete Program. She gets to know Johanna as well and opens up to her about her struggles with body image and disordered eating.

Learn more about Johanna at her website. Get your copy through our bookshop.org storefront! Purchases made through this link will help the show earn money to bring you the most fun coverage from Paris 2024.

So much news is coming out of Paris! First, we have a lot of torch/flame news, including the fact that there will be a boat parade to accompany the flame coming into Marseille May 8. Register your boat here.

The torch’s luggage is complete – Louis Vuitton has made a snazzy traveling case for it, along with a medals trunk of epic proportions. LV is having a temporary exhibit of sport at its workshops in Asnières. Register online for a 30-minute guided visit.

Plus, we now know where the flame will “live” during the Games!

In other Paris news:

The volunteer uniform has been released – get ready for some very classy teal-and-pink-clad volunteers!

The Athletes Village is getting with the times when it comes to parents.

Remember the Zika scare of Rio 2016? It’s b-a-a-ck!

If you live in the US, get ready: The Opening Ceremonies is coming to IMAX. IMAX! Plus, Peacock is getting in on the multiscreen lifestyle.

Also, if you are looking for food for your Opening Ceremonies party (and you live in Australia or certain parts of the US), Patties Food Group is here to save the day! They’ve become a partner of the Australian Olympic Committee and now have the official pie (Four ‘N Twenty meat pies) and ready meal (Fitness Outcomes ready meals) of the AOC. And you can get the meat pies in certain US locations!

Speaking of licensing deals, the International Olympic Committee and eight National Olympic Committees have signed a deal with Warner Brothers for Looney Tunes-branded Olympic products. Look for them in multiple product categories such as pins, clothing, accessories, and candy.

In news from TKFLASTAN, we hear from:

  • Rower Kristi Wagner
  • Bobsledder Bree Walker
  • Former biathlete Clare Egan
  • Curler John Shuster – Team Shuster will be competing in the World Men’s Curling Champs from Mar. 30 to Apr. 7!
  • Figure skating analyst Jackie Wong, who was on NPR’s Here and Now.
  • Former cross-country skier Kikkan Randall, whose documentary KIKKAN is now on YouTube:


Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!

Photos courtesy of Johanna Garton/Roger Charlie.


TRANSCRIPT

Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript and may contain errors. Please check its accuracy against the audio. Do not quote from the transcript; use the audio as the record of note.

330-All in Stride Author Johanna Garton

Jill: The greatest festival of our contemporary society, the Olympic Games, is about to begin. This is gonna be close. Oh! They’re all completely Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. If you love the games, we are the show for you.

Each week, we share stories from athletes and people behind the scenes to help you have more fun watching the games. I’m your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co host, Alison Brown. Alison, hello, how are you?

Alison: I haven’t gotten to say this in almost two years. We’re actually over two years. It’s a magical hour of vacuuming.

Got some vacuuming going on, some construction, so.

Jill: Some good high powered shop vac.

Alison: Oh my goodness. It’s not, they’re not nearly as nice as our Chinese women, but they are lovely. I will get them some cookies, as we

Jill: did in China. Oh, it’s nice to go back to those days. I am very curious as to what surprises await us in Paris.

Alison: The magical hour of croissants or champagne corks popping.

Jill: Somehow I don’t think they’re going to be like doing that in the media room for us. I bet they will. We shall see. Ooh la la. one quick correction from last week’s show on blind soccer with Molly Quinn. , Molly Quinn joined the USABA in 2020, not 2000, as we stated last week.

So we apologize for that correction. And moving on to today’s show.

Johanna Garton Interview

Jill: Today, we are talking with Joanna Garten, author of the new book, All in Stride, which is about two runners, Elvin Kibbit and Shedra Kipchir, who left Kenya to pursue the American dream, become professional runners and hopefully realize their goal of competing in the Olympics.

Also featured in the book is Shukla Stani, Samantha Schultz. who becomes friends with Elvin through the Army’s World Class Athlete Program. And she gets to know Joanna as well and opens up to her about her struggles with body image and disordered eating. Joanna herself is a runner who competed for Syracuse University.

And she has since become a marathoner who’s completed over 20 marathons, including five Boston Marathons, which we’re getting close to. Patriots Day. Joanna is now a sports writer and high school cross country coach in Denver.

All in Stride is her third book. We talked with Joanna about the book and why these stories of these athletes are important to share. Take a listen.

Joanna Garten, thank you so much for joining us. Your new book, All in Stride, looks at the Army’s World Class Athlete Program. How did you get involved in wanting to tell that story?

Johanna Garton: Thank you. Oh my gosh. Well, that’s always a story in and of itself, right? Why an author decides to fall down a rabbit hole. And for me, , I love writing about sports. I’m a sports writer based in Denver. And after my last book, which was about mountain climbing, a female mountain climber, I was looking for another story.

And I’ve been a runner all my life. Um, and as I said, I live in Denver and I sort of heard through the grapevine about this program that’s part of the U. S. Army called the World Class Athlete Program. And the distance running component of that program is based in Colorado Springs. And I just thought it was this fascinating story.

I had never heard of this program. And I live in Denver. I’m a runner. I was like, I can’t believe I don’t know about this program. So. I went down to Colorado Springs and watched one of their workouts and kind of inquired a little bit more about what the program entailed and met some of the runners in the program.

And it just sort of snowballed from there.

Jill: In it, we talk about three different athletes, two distance runners and a modern pentathlete who coincidentally has been on our show before. We do know Samantha and are excited to. See her profiles here, but we’re talking about, uh, distance runners, Elvin Kibbit and Shadrach Kipchichir.

What drew you to their story in particular?

Johanna Garton: Well, I just felt like their journey was kind of a combination of all of these things that I think are just such juicy, interesting topics to dive into, both of them were born in Kenya and came to the United States on distance running scholarships for university, and then after they graduated, decided to make a life here in the United States and both have done.

So, as professional distance runners, and they’ve also come through this army program. So, they’re both soldiers, um, Shadrach is no longer serving the army. So he’s a vet, but it was just this really interesting combination of immigration and distance running and the military and the stories of both Sammy and Elvin in particular.

Women who are in high performance endurance sports. I just love that whole topic and I wanted to dive into that as well. So, when I met Shadrach, he was the first athlete I met and he started telling me his story. I was just totally sucked in and then I learned that he was actually married to Elvin.

And so the fact that there was also a love story in the middle of all of this, it was just that sealed the deal for sure.

Jill: How were they in wanting to share their story?

Johanna Garton: Well, I would say they were pretty good. It’s interesting when you have a writer or a journalist kind of drop out of nowhere and start asking you questions and then sort of announced, you know, this would make a really good book.

Do you have any interest in that? And they say, sure, maybe it takes a while, to get people to warm up, to be able to start talking to their friends. And so it’s a slow process of kind of walking through what it would entail. And that this isn’t something that can happen in six months, but that it’s going to be a long term.

relationship that will take many years. And so cultivating those relationships with your subjects is something that takes time. but I got there with all three of them luckily and they ended up being great. And so having their story in the pages of the book now, I think is really rewarding for all three of them.

Jill: How long did it take to, not just to cultivate the relationships, but also write the book?

Johanna Garton: Yeah, I think from beginning, from the time I started talking to Shadrach and Elvin, from beginning to, you know, if we call the end now with the book about to be published, about three years, about three years, and that’s actually pretty quick, I think, in the book publishing world.

Alison: In the middle of COVID too.

Johanna Garton: Right. How did that affect the project? Yeah. Yeah. So I started in the spring of 2021. And so if we sort of think back to where we were all were at that point. It was a really fascinating time because they were all just kind of getting ready for the Tokyo Olympics or preparing to, try out and the U. S. track and field trials is what Chad rec and Elvin were going for in order to get on that Olympic team and go to Tokyo. Sammy had already secured her spot. So it was definitely interesting and a little bit of a juggle to try to do the interviews and then, maintain their athletic schedules and their trainings.

I wanted to be really cognizant of that and we were all sort of dealing with each other at a distance as well. So it took a little. Longer, I think, to kind of get going. , but then it was really beautiful because Sammy, you know, went on to Tokyo and I was able to watch her through that whole journey and with Elvin, Elvin ended up running the track and field trials that summer.

And so I was able to kind of understand what that process involved for her. So it was a really interesting sneak peek into, being a part of an Olympic games, which was really rewarding.

Alison: So let’s talk about the World Class Athlete Program a little bit because we’ve spoken to Sam, we’ve spoken to a few other, uh, soldier athletes.

Um, what did you learn about it? How did that, cause you were coming at it totally blind, right?

Johanna Garton: Right. Yeah. It’s just, you know, it’s this really interesting program that I don’t think people know a lot about or know about at all. And they, I have to say they don’t do a very good job of sort of publicizing themselves.

So that was kind of the impetus for writing the book that I wanted to write about that program. And then as these things go, it ended up being more a story about these three athletes with the World Class Athlete Program, just being a component of their journey. but it’s a, it’s a really incredible program that was started many decades ago to train soldiers to essentially become world class, Olympic athletes.

And there are a lot of different disciplines and different sports, as you know, that are recognized in that program. And so soldiers who come in and who have training in riflery or distance running, or there’s a big wrestling component of that program, they all Do their basic training, and then if they meet sort of certain qualifications in terms of what their sport requires, they can enter this unit and the unit is essentially an athletic pursuit, you know, much like I compare it to like the army band.

For example, those soldiers come in, they do their training, they have to maintain military standards, but their job is to perform. And so that is actually what this unit does. And so they train year round, full time, in addition to maintaining some very basic military, um, standards. Because at any time, their athleticism.

could dip below the standard and then at that point they’d be transferred into the army into a regular unit. So I think people sort of imagine that they’re just, you know, athletes through and through all day long, but really all of the athletes very much see themselves as soldiers first. So I thought that was really interesting and I wanted to dive into that.

Jill: Why does the Army believe it’s important to have a program like this? I mean, also like the band, you mentioned the band, why should they have an athlete program?

Johanna Garton: Yeah, it’s so interesting, right? I think the Army is pretty progressive in that they recognize their soldiers come in all different shapes and sizes and backgrounds. And I think they want to honor those backgrounds and be able to create lives for soldiers beyond their military service. So I think that’s probably the main reason. And then I think in terms of the World Class Athlete Program, they want their soldiers to be seen on the world stage and spreading goodwill.

Um, so there’s definitely a sense of patriotism that goes beyond just being a soldier showing up in your fatigues and fighting.

Jill: What is it like then, did you learn from Alvin and Shadrach, because they come from another country and they decided to join the army partially because it was an opportunity to train, but coming in as immigrants and then becoming citizens?

Johanna Garton: Yeah, yeah, well, this is just the part that I think is fabulous that I just love, you know, because they both came through the American educational system at the university level, which a lot of immigrants do, we recruit, especially distance runners from all parts of the world, in particular, East Africa, because they’re known for their distance running.

And so, you know, a lot of times when students graduate, I’m talking about East Africans, in particular Kenyans, in particular, they opt to go back to Kenya. You know, they’ve done their 4 years in the United States, but they prefer to have a life in Kenya. And so they leave, but I think both. Shadi and Elvin really fell in love with the United States and wanted to create lives here.

They also both very much felt like they owed the United States, something for giving them the opportunity to come here and to study. So they both ended up joining the army because they felt compelled to serve. At the time that Shadrach joined the army, he wasn’t really even aware that there was this running program.

He just joined, he did his basic training. And then somewhere in the course of becoming a soldier, he heard about this program. The distance running program was kind of just seeing a resurgence at that time. And so he heard about it and thought, well, you know, if I can make the 10, 000 meter time and make that qualifying time.

Then maybe actually I can continue my running and be a soldier. And so it was really kind of killing two birds with one stone. And then of course the benefit was when they joined the army, they were both sort of fast tracked to citizenship. So they got their citizen citizenship relatively quickly. And so now they’re both American citizens, which was a real bonus for them.

Jill: How difficult. are those standards, those standards that they have to maintain speed wise? You’re a runner. we aren’t, so we don’t understand like what, I mean, you read it on a piece of paper and you’re like, oh, we have to meet standards and these are elite athletes anyway, so this should be no big deal, right?

But how difficult is that?

Johanna Garton: Oh my gosh, so difficult. So, so difficult. In fact, I think they would both say the distance running standards to get into that program are probably a little too difficult. but they both were able to achieve the standards though. It was, it was quite challenging, you know, and there’s a scene in the book of the race that Shadrach goes to, to try to achieve this Standard in order to make that unit and he fall short by about six seconds.

I think he runs the 5, 000 maybe, and it’s about six seconds short. And so he begs his coach to be able to go run a meet like two weeks later and try again, just one more chance coach. And his coach really sort of hesitates and then says, I’m going to take a chance on you. Because Shadrach is practically in tears.

This is the way that he wants to, get into the, army and get into the unit and sort of, he sees this path ahead for himself. And he actually ends up qualifying in the 10, 000 meters by a hair. So very challenging, very challenging, at least for the distance runners.

Alison: Did you find that there was any conflict between that service and the army and their training? Hmm.

Johanna Garton: I mean, I think particularly challenging to be able to do both of those things and I think because this particular unit is not well known, even within the army. I think a lot of times there was.

And there could be, and there is, an insecurity among soldiers in that unit about, are they serving at the level of their fellow soldiers? You know, what really is their responsibility? So I think that’s always sort of a push pull, though they do see themselves as soldiers first. I think from time to time they run into other soldiers who are like, well, wait a second.

Like, we’re doing A, B, and C, but you’re out here and all you’re doing is running. You know, not really knowing what it takes to be a professional runner, which is quite a task in and of itself. But I think that is kind of a rub that comes up quite often for them, for sure.

Jill: What are their duties besides training full time? What other kinds of training do they have to do as soldiers?

Johanna Garton: I think they have to maintain all sorts of training in terms of like military formations and riflery and they go through, monthly checkups to make sure their uniforms are fitting.

They have to go through all sorts of, physical fitness tests, which for them are actually pretty tough. Not so hard to achieve because they’re already in great shape. And then another component that’s part of their military service is actually traveling a fair amount out to other military bases and talking to other soldiers about the program, as well as going into the community and talking to potential recruits, because I think they’re always looking for more soldiers to come in and maybe enter the unit.

So there’s a big sort of public relations effort. on a small scale, which is very much geared towards increasing the capacity of the military to have soldiers serving in this unit.

Alison: There is a love story in here, which is great. But when you’re in the military, that can be a little tricky. So talk a little bit about their relationship and how that works with training and the military and all these different components of their very complicated lives.

Johanna Garton: Yeah. Yeah. So the really interesting thing about how they chose to serve is Shadrach came in.

I think it was 2014 when he joined and he did basic training and he came in. It was a typical sort of 4 year contract. So, he came in and Elvin was a year behind him in university. So, after she grabbed, they sort of did a long distance thing for about a year, got married at the end of her studies and then she transferred out to Portland where he was in training to try to make the 2016 Rio team.

And she kept running. Um, so they were there together for a while while he was serving, kind of going back and forth to Colorado. We have Fort Carson is , the military base here, um, that serves the army in Colorado. So he was coming back and forth to sort of do his military service. And, He did end up making the 2016 team, which you might talk about in a little, in a little bit, but he went on to conclude his time with the army in 2018.

He fulfilled that four year contract. And at that point, he was such a superstar that he was being approached by sponsors. And he was given an opportunity to run as a Nike athlete and then had to make the decision. Do I stay in the army or do I take my chances and take this contract with Nike? And so at that point, he decided to leave the army and take the contract with Nike.

And at that point, Elvin was very much struggling with like, where was she going to go with her career? Her athletic career hadn’t taken off quite like his, but she had seen the benefits that he had gained from being in the army. So just as he was leaving the army, she joined. So there was never a time where both of them were serving.

He sort of led the way and she joined after him. and so, yeah, it was really interesting to see kind of the very minimal overlap that they had with that. I think that made things easier though, for sure.

Jill: One of the things that I found very interesting in the book was discussing Elvin struggles and also Sammy struggles with the lack of women in this program and what it was going from for Elvin going from a college where you had a strong team around you to being the only one.

What was that like for her and how has that evolved as she’s been in the army?

Johanna Garton: I would say in a word for both of them, lonely, very lonely. I mean, I think Sammy had a few other women in her unit who were pinned athletes, but those relationships, I don’t know that they were particularly strong. You know, it can be a little cutthroat sometimes.

I think it can go one of two ways with women at this level. You can either bond and have great, fantastic, supportive relationships with your teammates, or you can know. That you’re all competing for the same two or three Olympic spots, and you can really start to buttheads. And I think that’s actually what Sammy experienced, and that was really hard for her and made things very lonely.

I think Elvin as well, for most of the time that she’s been in the unit, she has been the only woman in that unit. So she’s been training almost exclusively with men, who she loves, who are very dear, and actually they really have taken her to heart. Under their wing, which is wonderful. A lot of them are also Kenyan.

So they have sort of simpatico in terms of cultural background and transitioning to the United States as well. So that’s been helpful for Elvin, but she has definitely talked about a sense of isolation and wanting to have more women in that program. A few more women have definitely entered in the past year or two, who she’s been able to train with, but she frequently brings people over.

From East Africa or brings in other women from the community who are excellent runners just to run with her. So that she has that, component, and can lean on some other females.

Jill: Yeah. What is that difference? Because, you can go from one, one angle and go, well, what’s the big deal, but there is a big deal to it.

So explain, get into that. And also if we could talk a little bit about women’s bodies and how they’re different , and how that makes a difference also in this program.

Johanna Garton: Yeah. Yeah. So your question is more like how the training is different for men and women. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Okay. Yeah.

And then that really does get into the female anatomy and what we go through hormonally throughout all these different periods in our lives. her coach is pretty good about trying to tailor their workouts, her workouts, so that they’re not identical to the men, but ultimately a lot of times she is just doing sort of a reduced You know, workload, she’s doing what the men are doing, but a little bit less.

And sometimes that works, but as we know, like women’s bodies shift and go through all sorts of changes within the course of a month. So I think it’s definitely been a learning process for the coach to understand. There are times when Elvin can’t really do the 20 mile long run that the men are doing, and she can’t really do it just at a slower pace.

It has to be like a day next week when she’s feeling a little bit better. So that’s been for sure. An ongoing. Educational process with her teammates and with her coaches, all of whom are male, then the other component that’s been really fascinating to watch is that Elvin got pregnant about 2 years ago and had a baby.

And so the whole process of her body changing and adapting and going through childbirth or childbirth was incredibly stressful and it took quite a long time to recover. And that as well has been very similar to sort of watch. The dynamics of having her go from giving birth and then getting back into not just exercise, but running professionally long distance has been super challenging and to watch her coach sort of try to navigate that and use the right language.

It’s been a journey for sure. And she’s had to bring on, I would say other resources in terms of doctors and physical therapists to help her have those conversations about. I’m not ready. I can’t run that half marathon next month. It’s going to take me six more months to kind of get back to where I was.

And even then my body might not be quite the same. So very challenging for her coaches, her teammates, and also for her, because meanwhile, she’s seeing a lot of other women who are coming back into the sport after childbirth who are taking completely different paths. Sometimes very quickly. And so I think that’s been really hard for her for sure.

Jill: Yeah. I was going to say that was one of the things you mentioned in the book is the frustration at seeing other people just supposedly bounce back and not having that.

Alison: Yeah. And she’s in two extremely male dominated communities, you know, the military and elite long distance running, which has not necessarily been so open to women, nevermind women going through childbirth.

Johanna Garton: Yeah, yeah, it’s true. I mean, she’s got a couple of things that are, have always felt to her like uphill battles. And sort of has said to me a few times, like, I don’t know why, like, why is this my cross to bear to be the one who’s always the 1st here? The 1 who has to educate. it’s been frustrating for her, but I think she’s done a pretty good job.

And I think very much sees, her role in the future as continuing to sort of pave the way for others behind her. and definitely sees her role, um, In this book in that regard as well. So I think she’s excited to go out there and talk about the struggles she’s had. And Sammy as well, because it has not been, butterflies and roses by any mean, you know, this Olympic dream comes with it’s fraught, you know, it comes with a lot of dips and a lot of sacrifices for both of them and for all of, all of the athletes who end up, on the Olympic teams.

Jill: In meeting Sammy, why did you want to include such a different sport into the this tale.

Johanna Garton: You know, I’m a runner, so I felt really comfortable with the running component, but along the way, somebody said, Oh my gosh, you really have to talk to Sammy Schultz because she’s had a really magnificent journey as well.

And it would be good to get a different perspective. You know, you’re going to have this story that’s immigration based and has all sorts of cultural components that you can dive into, but it would be nice to also compare it with Transcribed A much more traditional American girl grows up on a soccer field and then goes to the Olympics by the time she’s 30, that kind of story would also be fun, and it would be fun to have sort of a juxtaposition.

So I did start talking to Sammy and Sammy and Elvin are friends through being in this unit. And so it was. It was something that was interesting to me to learn about that sport. You know, it’s a sport I don’t think a lot of people know a lot about. so just from a journalist point of view, I love to kind of dig into that.

And then I always find it really fascinating to weave people’s stories together and found ways to do that with the two of them, because even though they come from completely different backgrounds, they have had experiences that are very similar and I loved kind of being able to show that to the reader.

Alison: You get into some very complicated things with Sammy, and you really started this process right when she was going to Tokyo. And yet where she is now is, is so very different. So just talk a little bit about how your communication with her changed and how she changed and how she was talking about her story.

Johanna Garton: Yeah. Oh my gosh, this was so compelling and so unexpected because I did start talking with her either right before Tokyo or right after, and, She’s much more guarded, I think, than Elvin and Shadrach. So it took a little bit longer to kind of get her to open up. And, you know, we talked about her childhood, which I definitely include, which has had some highs and lows and some really crappy coaching.

So that I, I saw that in our early conversations, but it took six months or so. For her to kind of open up and also for her to begin on peeling the layers of what she had gone through in the past 10 years and coming back from Tokyo and having a moment to breathe and reflect it was apparent that she was struggling and had been for many years with disordered eating. And so it took quite a while into our conversations for her to recognize that herself, and then to be able to share that with me. And so just as I was starting to write her part of the story, all of a sudden the story changed. So we had to go back and have more conversations and dig even deeper to that.

And then I sort of kicked the can down the road on writing her piece of the story. Okay. So that she could actually seek help and go into a treatment center, which she did and spent many months there and her recovery from disordered eating is ongoing and will be lifelong. and we had very frank conversations about.

The importance of including that part of her story in the book, and at the end of the day, she really did want that included and saw that very much as her contribution to the story. And I think she very much hopes that it will open up conversations, you know, because if you can have an Olympic athlete who comes to you and to the community and says, look, this is a struggle, even for me, I think that’s going to help a lot of people.

women and girls who are going through the same thing.

Alison: Do you think the lack of understanding among coaches in dealing with women athletes is a problem in the, I mean, cause we keep hearing stories of runners who are over trained and underfed. And where is that coming from, from, from what you’ve, you’ve learned?

Johanna Garton: Yeah, we’re hearing more and more about it, which I think is good. I think probably the root of the problem is a lack of sports science around women and girls in sport. You know, I think it’s something like only 6 percent of sports science studies women and girls. So when we have a lot of sports science that is focused on men and boys, you’re totally missing half the population.

And so in terms of developing training and talking about nutrition, all of that conversation until very recently has been focused on male bodies. So I think. It’s not going to be until we get more of that and the dissemination of that information to athletes, coaches, parents, teammates, that we’re finally going to start to see more of a shift.

And I do think it’s coming. I mean, as you both know, there have been some incredible books recently, buying about female athletes, the Lauren Fleshman book, Good for a Girl is one example, Christine Yu’s book, Up to Speed, um, the sports section. Science around women athletes has been a really powerful voice in that field.

So yeah, I think education science, and then the dissemination of all of that to these important people, I think is probably what it’s going to take and it’ll take some time for sure. For sure.

Jill: What about a shifting in attitudes as well on the, on the coaching level? Because one of the things I noticed throughout the book is sprinkled these moments of coaches who talk about like, this is what your body is supposed to look like.

And, that’s a recurring theme, even though it’s just inserted here and there. And, you know, with Elvin and Shadrach, they seem more healthy and how they approach their, care of their bodies and how they fuel them. And with Sammy’s case, just, you know, it went a different direction. How do you see the attitudes changing?

When we’ve had just decades and decades of this kind of mentality.

Johanna Garton: Yeah. And it really has been perpetuated for so many decades. I mean, I remember being a girl in sport in the late seventies, eighties. And I honestly really. Don’t remember this being a thing. I think it’s kind of come about in the eighties, nineties and onward as title nine allowed more women to get into sport.

And I think initially women were just so damn happy to be there. They just competed and their bodies were their bodies. And we didn’t really think about it. And it’s only through, you know, the things that you can imagine, mass media, social media, all of that stuff, all of this imagery that I think we’ve gotten to this point.

And I do think it’s a very American. Situation in a very American challenge. I mean, I know it happens all over the world, but one of the things I wanted to show was how surprising it was for Elvin to come into a collegiate system and all of a sudden see this disordered eating all around her. Like she literally didn’t really understand what it was because she had come from a culture where she rarely had enough food to eat.

So when she came to the United States and she was at the college dining center, she was eating whatever she could, and was able to maintain a really healthy career all the way through because she got enough nutrients in those really formative years. So showing that, kind of cultural divide, I think was really important.

And in terms of change, I think the thing I talked about earlier, just more education, more women and girls, um, Showing up and talking about this and having those conversations, definitely more women coaches at the middle school and high school and collegiate level, I think, is going to help tremendously, tremendously as well.

Alison: Now, talking a little bit about that cultural divide and that transition from them coming here, I was wondering if they talked at all about their relationship. Kenyan runners now, like, is there, I don’t want to say animosity, but is there, what’s the relationship between Kenyan American runners and the Kenyan runners?

Johanna Garton: Oh, gosh, that’s a great question. I don’t think I’ve ever asked them that specifically, you know, I was able to Go over to Kenya, and I spent about a month in Kenya with Shadrach when he was in one of these training blocks for a marathon. So I was able to sort of see how he integrated into, you know, essentially what was his community.

And I wouldn’t say that there’s any animosity. And a lot of, you know, as I talked about, a lot of Kenyan runners who come over for university do make the conscious choice to go back because they just prefer life in Kenya. There is definitely a sense that he has struck it rich and hit gold and was lucky.

And certainly I think luck plays into it. but he has worked very hard to get where he is. And I think just saying it’s all luck and genetics would be really discounting how hard he’s worked. When he goes back. And when other elite, Kenyan born American athletes go back to Kenya, they do sort of get surrounded and people think that they have tons and tons of money, which relatively speaking they do.

So there are a lot of asks that they get when they go back in terms of money and resources. And can you bring me shoes and I need Gatorade and can you bring me this and that? I think that can be a little bit tiring. But I think they also both sort of see like, that’s kind of the price we pay for deciding to leave our home country and go elsewhere.

Jill: Okay. So you’re in Kenya. You live at altitude already. What was the altitude like for you?

Johanna Garton: Let’s see. I do. I live in Denver, which is 5, 200 and I was in E10, which I believe is more like 7, 000 feet. So it’s a little bit higher than Denver. And that’s where most of the heavy, heavy training, that area of, of Kenya up in E10 and Eldorette is kind of where the distance runners congregate.

Jill: What kind of differences do you notice just in yourself as you transfer to that higher higher altitude?

Johanna Garton: It took me a couple days to adjust, probably not nearly as long as it would had I been coming from sea level. So I adjusted pretty quickly. And yet still, as both of you know, when you go out for a run and you’re at seven or eight or 9, 000 feet, you’re definitely huffing and puffing.

So my runs were definitely huffing and puffing and the footing was not great. You know, the roads are terrible and they’re all these lovely running trails, but they’re covered with this red dirt and these big rocks. And so the footing was tricky. and so I would always go out with a guide to make sure that I was going the right direction, that I wasn’t totally falling and twisting my ankle.

so it was challenging even for me being, A seasoned runner who lives at altitude. It was, it was an adjustment.

Alison: I’m curious about the stereotype because, you know, the idea of Kenyan especially, but just East African runners in general have this stereotype of they’re just really good and better than everybody else. And what they think of that themselves.

Johanna Garton: I think they think. That that is dismissing all of their hard work and efforts and all the other things they’ve done to be able to accomplish what they have.

Certainly there is a genetic component, but just as in the United States, we’re all different. We all have different bodies. We’re, you know, good at different things. It’s possible that there’s a little bit of a genetic advantage for some of them, but there are plenty of Kenyans who are Not runners, . So I think they get a kick out of it and it feels a little dismissive to them in particular because, you know, they both came to the United States in their late teens, and they had both in both cases, they had only done competitive running for less than six months in Kenya. And then they came to the United States, so 99 percent of their competitive running has occurred in the United States. Now, granted, both of them did run back and forth to school every year for many years.

So they did have a base, but most of their developed running, has happened in the United States. So, to answer your question, yeah, I think it’s off putting, but they’re definitely used to that perception. That they’re just born genetically gifted and any Kenyan can, you know, step onto an Olympic team.

Jill: I want to talk a little bit about the writing process. This is creative nonfiction, and so it’s very much like a story with dialogue. Why did you choose to write in this style?

Johanna Garton: That’s how I’ve written my other two books, and I just feel like I personally as a reader love to read something that sounds like fiction, but is totally true.

I think that makes a book so much more compelling when you can fall into the characters and the dialogue, and then finish the chapter and think, Oh my gosh, that was so good. That’s actually a true story. I love that combination of journalism and being allowed to use a little bit of creative license in writing and in storytelling.

So yeah, that’s the short answer.

Jill: How did you end up organizing? All of, because it’s a lot of interviews and then you’re basing dialogue off of interviews. So how many interviews did you end up doing? And then how, how did we organize all of this stuff?

Johanna Garton: Are you asking? Cause you’re going to write a book just like this at some point, Jill.

Jill: You never know. Never say never.

Johanna Garton: Yeah. Yeah. Let’s see. I think I ended up doing maybe 30 interviews. 30 to 40 interviews and I just sort of take copious notes all the way along and I’ll kind of go back over my notes at the end of the day and I’ll color code things and eventually towards the end of my interview process, I will have sort of an outline in my head.

I mean, I end up many nights in those early stages, kind of laying in bed with all these images kind of floating above my head and I’m trying to organize it. Before I wake up in the morning and usually I have some semblance of an outline by the morning. and I’ll tweak that throughout the next few weeks and then just kind of go back and plug in pieces.

So, in this case, I very much wanted to have a timeline. For Shadrach and a timeline for Elvin and one for Sammy. So I believe what I ended up doing was writing each of those individual stories, in a vacuum and then going back and figuring out how to weave them together and seeing where the overlaps were.

It’s a process for sure. Tricky.

Jill: How did you know where to stop?

Johanna Garton: That’s a good question too. in terms of the writing or in terms of the interviewing?

Jill: In terms of the storytelling, first off, but I mean, yeah, when, when do you know you’ve had enough?

Johanna Garton: Yeah. So I think in this case, because these three individuals, are still alive.

I could have kept going forever, but I did get to the point where I realized, Oh my gosh, I have a deadline. And so I think this is where I’m going to stop. And it made a lot of sense for me to stop literally at the point with the three of them, Where I, I had to start writing. So I stopped talking to them and started writing.

And then the writing took about four to five months. And in that four to five months, there were actually more things that came up that I then had to go back and integrate. And by the time I handed over the manuscript to my editor, I was like, well, this is what I’ve got today. Um, but in a year from now, when it’s published, there’ll be even more.

And I was kind of fretting about that. And she said, well, you’ve decided to write about people who are alive. So that’s just how life goes. And all of that material and the things that have happened since then are just going to be fantastic things for you to talk about when the book is released. And so that’s how it’s played out.

Jill: So what are some of those things?

Johanna Garton: Let’s see. So as I mentioned, Elvin and Shadrach have had a baby and I think the book ends with their son being about. a year old, a year and a half, and he’s now about to turn two. So her journey and her comeback to running has gone on since the conclusion of the book and Shadrach as well.

He has made the leap to marathoning and that’s happened since the end of the book. So both Shadrach and Elvin Just recently competed at the 2024 U S marathon Olympic track trials in Orlando. And they were one of the very few, I don’t think they were the only, but one of the very few married couples that did that.

And so that’s happened within the past, just the past couple of months and their running careers have continued. I think his will continue in marathoning. I do think Elvin’s kind of at the point where her running career is. finishing. She’s interested in going on to become a nurse practitioner. So she’s going to be starting nursing school in the fall.

And in terms of Sammy, she has gone through, as I mentioned, four years or four months of treatment, for disordered eating, very intense inpatient treatment. And so is out of that now and is continuing her journey in recovery and sort of starting to look at what her career is going to look like. And so that was interesting to be able to talk to Sammy about whether she’d be comfortable so soon after the end of her treatment entered being out on the circuit, talking about that journey. and luckily I think she’s looking forward to that.

Alison: I have a quick question about Nike because Shadrach was a Nike athlete. There’s been a lot of stories coming out of, of the Nike camp. I know he was not there a terribly long time, but what did he have to say about that system.

Johanna Garton: Yeah. He has very positive memories from his time at Nike. He was always trained by somebody completely different and was not sort of part of the unraveling of that, Nike system in terms of the, the distance running component.

So his memories are always, have always been very positive. He was with Nike for about, I want to say, Who were three years and his Nike contract. That’s actually, I think. Something that maybe happened at the end of the book, but his Nike contract ended and he was picked up by Puma. So now he’s a Puma athlete.

and so that was really fascinating. The moment at his house where he had to pack up. I wasn’t there, but I heard about it. He had to sort of pack up all the Nike here and like move it out and bring it to the donation center. And then make room for all the Puma gear coming in was really. Really quite funny

Jill: When an athlete has to weigh a contract from a shoe company versus staying in the Army, how much of a difference is that contract to them?

Johanna Garton: Yeah. I don’t think that was an easy decision for him because he very much recognized at this point at which he could have chosen Nike or Army. He very much realized that his running career will not go on forever. You know, he’s only going to be running another few years.

He realized at that point, and now it’s actually been many years. So he’s, he’s gone the distance, so to speak, no pun intended. but I think he wanted to give it a chance. And so loves running. So I think for him, that was the tipping point. He’s so loves running and is so passionate about running that he very much wanted to continue that as long as he possibly could.

And I don’t know that he thought he’d be able to do that as well as he could. If he stayed in the military, because there is this other component, because they do have to maintain these standards and go through training and fly all over the country talking about the program. And so he very much wanted to focus on running as intently as he could as long as he could.

But it really was a hard decision because in the meantime, he gave up what could be a lifelong military career. And what many athletes in WCAP do end up doing is they, they finish their athletic career and they do stay in the army and get transferred into a different unit. And they are in the army for another 20 years.

So, um, not an easy decision. I would, I would say.

Has interviewing all these runners changed your running?

Johanna Garton: Oh, gosh. Yes, I would say that it has, because to be honest, it’s been hard to watch all of these runners go through highs, but also those incredible dips and the emotional challenges that come with those dips and sort of watching them ride that out.

It’s been very hard because inevitably most of them, they want to get back up to the top again. And that’s. It’s possible for, but for only so long. So there is an end to the athletic career. And I can see that because I am a solid, like 20 years older than most of the people I’ve been talking about. So I’m in my early fifties.

And I think the way that it’s changed my running is that it’s made me realize that my, that running and my contributions to running can be so much more than getting out there and pounding the pavement and finishing times and places that my contribution to running and this space can be through coaching or through writing or through advocating.

And so I think their experiences have changed me because it’s made me realize I’m here and there’s so much more that can be done and I hope that they find that too. I think most of them probably will.

Jill: I think that’s a nice place to end it. Joanna, thank you so much for coming on the show and talking with us. You’re welcome. And this has been a fun read and I hope our listeners find it a good read as well.

Johanna Garton: I hope so too. Thank you guys for having me on and for having Sammy on a few years ago.

Are you, and maybe again, is she coming back? Yeah. She’s coming

Jill: back. We’re excited. We’re excited. We’re excited to talk to her. And Elvin is coming on as well, so that’s really cool too.

Thank you so much, Joanna. You can learn more about her at joannagarton. com. We’ll have a link to that in the show notes. Also, All in Stride comes out on April 2nd, 2024. So if you appreciated this interview and plan on purchasing a copy of the book, we ask that you please do so through our affiliate site at bookshop.

org slash shop slash flame live pod. We earn a commission off of any title purchased. through that link, whether it’s on one of our curated booklists or not. And that money goes towards covering our operating budget and bringing you the most fun coverage from Paris, 2024.

Paris 2024 News

Jill: Speaking of the most fun coverage from Paris 2024, wow, we’ve got tons of news. Let’s start with torch and flame. Got some more information about the torch relay, specifically the parade in Marseille. The torch is going to arrive in France on May 8th. There’s going to be a huge celebration. The flame will come in by a three masted ship called the Belem, and that’s coming across the Mediterranean from Greece to France.

Uh, that will take several days for that journey to happen. And once it gets to Marseille, there’s going to be a maritime parade. So boat owners in the region are invited to register for this and be part of it. And they hope that the There’s going to be several hundred boats escorting the flame to the shore.

It sounds really awesome. We’ll have a link where you can register your boat if you happen to be in the area. And, they’re going to have more events that go on that day when the torch comes. So, uh, we are going to keep our ears open for more details and we’ll share them with you when we have it.

WW Deer’s reporting that Louis Vuitton has unveiled a customized trunk for the Olympic torch. This will have circular sockets in the base and lid to secure, protect and display the torch. So you slide it in, you could put the trunk on the end and voila, le torch! And the exterior is going to have LV’s signature canvas in a checkered damier pattern, brass corners and closures.

The interior will be black leather to avoid scratches on the torches surface and the lid will be embossed with the Paris 2024 logo.

Alison: It’s sweet. It’s a sweet little piece of luggage there.

Jill: It is. It’s very, very classy. Very beautiful. Looks like the torch looks so elegant in there. Uh, we’ll try to get some pictures of that to show you.

Otherwise we’ll link to the article. They’ve also made a giant metal trunk. Did you see this?

Alison: I did. It looks like one of those old steamer trunks from a hundred years ago.

Jill: Right. If you were, uh, a, a cruiser. and cruised on ships and you brought this giant trunk that kind of opened up into a mini closet.

That’s what this looks like. It’s very tall. It’s got a central section and two wings that open up and drawers for all of the medals and they have a magnetized system inside every drawer to keep the medals in place during transport. What I did wonder about this is

I guess you can keep all the medals together, but then they have to go their separate ways. Especially the ones going over to Tahiti.

Alison: Well, this box holds somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 to 500. I don’t remember the exact number. But I’m wondering if there’s multiples of those.

Jill: Good question. Because if they end up having a multiple winner, like if you have a tie for first.

And then you have two golds and a bronze, you need extra medals.

Alison: But remember that they’re going to do all the medals in that plaza, so except, I think except for the Tahiti medals, so they’re all going to be in that one spot. That’s right. So I think we’ll be okay. I wonder, this is what they did not say in the article, because there’s always a box that the medal winners get for the individual boxes and we have not seen one yet for Paris.

Jill: No. And when I started reading the article, I thought, yeah, that it was going to be an LV box too. And I got really excited.

Alison: I’m hoping that that’s going to come out next, that all the medalists will get their own little Louis Vuitton box as they should.

Jill: Right. How French! Louis Vuitton is also staging a temporary exhibition of its emblematic Maillé Courriere alongside artifacts relating to sport at their workshops in Assenaire.

You can register online for a 30 minute guided visit. So we will hopefully get the right link to that in the show notes. It’s a little hidden and, uh, there’s 404 action going on with this website, but uh, that would be also very, very cool to see.

After the, uh, flame has been lit, we now have a home for the flame. I don’t know if it’s going to be an actual cauldron. I’m very worried we’re going to have another snowflame situation.

Alison: I think we’re going to be okay. The French are not going to do a snowflame.

Jill: Let’s hope. But according to AFP, during the games, the flame will live and reside in the Tulières. Garden. This is along the Seine with the Louvre on one side and the Place de la Concorde on the other. So it’s going to be right in the center, heart of Paris, accessible for anybody to come and see it. It’s going to be really cool.

Alison: Now, do we know if this is going to be a secondary location or is this the main location?

Because that was unclear to me.

Jill: Also unclear to me, but it sounded like it was going to be the main because the ceremony is not in a stadium, there’s no real first place where the torch or where the cauldron gets lit and then stays lit and stays there. We’ll find out. Also, the volunteer uniforms have been released.

I thought, I thought of you immediately when I saw this because it’s time and place.

Alison: It is time and place. And the best thing about these uniforms is, once again, so modern looking, so 2024, and so little French details in it.

Jill: And those hats. Yes. Oh my gosh. The hats. Okay.

Alison: So the design of the volunteer’s uniforms is by Decathlon and it took a year to conceive and design each piece of this unisex uniform.

I think there are 15 items. One of the main pieces is a striped shirt in sort of a multi toned teal and it is emblematic of the Marnier, the sailor’s striped shirt. That sort of is that stereotypical French piece. And then it has pants and shorts and jackets. So you’ll see all the volunteers in these wonderful teal outfits with these fantastic sort of floral sun bucket hats.

Jill: They’re a little floppy, I will say, more so than a structured bucket, but they will hold the sun, you know, keep the sun out. That’s for sure, if they’re worried about that.

Alison: They look very practical, but very stylish. Which you would hope, for French fashion, they would pull that off.

Jill: They will also be very 2024.

Because they really, the teal, and there’s kind of a pinkish color in there, that really reminded me of early 90s, late 80s.

Alison: The 90s are back, man.

Jill: I know. I know. It’s going to be incredible. The IOC announced that the village is going to have a nursery with accommodations for athletes who are breastfeeding.

So you can bring your kid and they have a place to stay and you don’t have to worry so much.

Alison: Right. So the village will have a nursery because in general, no children are allowed in the athlete’s village. That runs into a problem when you have small children. So the nursery is an area where people can meet up with their children during daytime hours.

But then they’ve also made this accommodation where, uh, Athletes who are, breastfeeding their children can stay in a hotel right next to the athlete’s village so they can actually stay in the room either with their partner and the child or just a child. Because obviously if you’re nursing, you can’t nurse just in daytime hours, doesn’t work like that.

So the idea being that they’re trying to make accommodations because so many more athletes are parents now.

Jill: Yeah. It’s very interesting when you think about the fact that back with amateurs, people didn’t stay in sport very long because they had to go get jobs. And now that people can stay in sport longer and longer, obviously, if you’re a woman, you only have so much time to have a child.

And this is a nice way that the IOC has evolved to accommodate that.

Alison: You didn’t think Zika was back on your 2024 Olympics bingo card, did you?

Jill: I know. I first saw this. I saw that you put a, story in from the India Times and I first saw it in Inside the Games. And Inside the Games, we don’t really talk about them much anymore the way we used to because the original editors and founders sold the publication and, the quality is not as good as it was.

So when I saw this, I thought. Oh, this is somebody trying to cause a ruckus, but no, it’s in other publications too. No.

Alison: And also it’s the French trying to cause the ruckus. So apparently the French have been dealing with the Asian tiger mosquito, which is a disease carrying mosquito that has moved into Europe as a result of climate change.

So it’s been able to take root. It carries dengue. It carries yellow fever. Zika, the return of Zika and several other mosquito borne illnesses. So they’ve tried fumigating, they’ve tried a lot of, mitigation efforts, but they are still having this problem during their summers. So there will be monitoring and, and, uh, extensive attempts to wipe out mosquitoes during the Olympics and Paralympics.

Jill: Well, put that one back on your bingo card, everybody. We have some sponsorship news. Rachel Axen reported in the Sports Business Journal that Samsung has, Samsung, who is already a top sponsor for the IOC, signed some deals to do special support and sponsorship of surfing, skateboarding, and breaking competitions during the games.

And Uh, these partnerships will include activations at key events in the lead up to Paris and, they want to spotlight the cultures of every sport. Now, activations is, seems to be a new buzzword within marketing. Have you seen this pop up a lot?

Alison: I have not. That’s why I looked at you quite quizzically.

Jill: Was it Tiff Lee? Well, because I’m, I barely understand what that means too, but I think it’s, they’re going to have different events and saying an activation is kind of the fancy way of saying ideation. I have an idea. Or we have to , we have to ideate, come eight with, you know, big words. Big words, make it seem more important.

So. That’ll be interesting that they didn’t elaborate on what kind of, things they’re going to be doing but that could be something else going on in the games and maybe something outside of a venue that you could take part in. Remember when we were doing some deep dives on track cycling or I was going down rabbit holes on track cycling with Mandy Marquardt?

Alison: Uh, yes I do. I’m still wearing the helmet.

Jill: Ha, Italy is going to be using those fancy new bikes. We talked a little bit about the new bike shape that was going to be allowed, that was going to be incredibly fast. So Italy’s got something called the Pinarello Bolide bike. It is 3d printed and standout points include a humpback whale inspired.

arrow node pattern on the seat tube. So the, the tube of the seat where the, the tube of the bike where the seat sits on top of, that’s got like a ridge design not all the way, on one side.

Alison: So I will not be the only thing that is inspired by a humpback whale. at the Olympics this year.

Jill: Um, uh, the bike also featured a slimline bottom bracket and hubs. You can buy one of these of your own if you would like. The men’s version is 29, 000 euros and the women’s version is 12, 000 euros. 3D printing. That’s what makes it expensive. Uh, and that is courtesy of Cycle, Cycling Weekly, but I was very excited to see, like, oh yes, you’re going to see these new bike designs come out and be on the track.

And then I’m going to watch 1984 coverage and then go, wow, look at what bikes used to look like. Speaking of watching coverage. Okay, so we talked about some of the Olympics is going to be in movie theaters this summer. Opening ceremonies on IMAX.

Alison: This is amazing and such a great simple idea to bring the breadth of this very different kind of opening ceremonies.

Oh yeah. To people who can’t be

Jill: there. Yes. It’s going to be cool. it will be on, it will be on 150 screens across the U S so we will continue to monitor this to try to figure out where they are. But, oh man, If we were home, I’d be at the movies for this. It’s going to be all over that.

Alison: Because then again, and we talked about this with the movie there, it gives you that group experience. Mm hmm. You know, fireworks are big and fireworks are cool when you’re with other people.

Jill: Yes, definitely. I would bring my Kleenex or my puffs, depending. I just say, I bet I would cry through the whole thing.

it’s gonna be cool. And we have more information about NBC streaming coverage on Peacock, including a first. They will have multi screen action going on. I’m not sure if it’s going to be every sport, but they will have something called Peacock Discovery Multi View, which will allow you to watch four events at once.

And you would, you can pick which event is going to have audio. And then they’re also going to have on screen descriptions to help you understand what’s important. So you’re not just having one screen on focus and the other screens on mute. You can also figure out what’s going on or see key things pop up on the screen that’ll help you track everything a little bit better.

Alison: So basically they’re catching up to what a lot of our listeners have already been doing.

Jill: I know, I know, and we’ve asked in the Facebook group, are you going to multi screen the multi screen? The answer is yes. So not sure if this is going to be available for all sports. They specifically called out soccer and athletics and wrestling, which this is prime for athletics, especially if they have multiple.

Alison: Yeah. You’ve got multiple events happening at the same time. So you’ll have a throwing event, uh, a jumping event and race is going on and you know, one camera. So even when you’re there, you don’t necessarily know where to look. Yeah. Nevermind where the camera actually points. So this way you can really, again, get that feeling of being there and choose what you want to see, putting the viewer more in control.

Which is what I think more viewers want, just like we prefer watching screening, watching streaming to the curated packages in prime time. This is again, a move into that the viewer is in control of what he or she gets to see.

Jill: Exactly. for Peacock, you will also be able to search for coverage by sport and star athlete, whoever that may be deemed, and plan your viewing through an interactive scheduling feature.

basketball, golf, and soccer coverage is also going to have a catch up with key plays feature. So if you pop in in the middle of a game, you’ll be able to activate that and see highlights that have already happened in that match, which sounds kind of cool. They are testing their multi view feature at other events this spring.

So if you get Peacock, be on the lookout for it and you know, test it out and see how it works and let us know.

You know I love a good opening ceremonies food sponsorship. We just like a good food sponsorship period. Right? So if you need food for your opening ceremonies party, the Australian food company Patty’s Food Group has become a partner of the Australian Olympic Committee. They make four and 20 meat pies and fitness outcome ready meals.

fitness outcomes ready meals. So the AOC now has an official pie. They have an official ready meal and Obviously, they’re in Australia, but you can get them in the U. S. too. There’s a beef and cheese version. There’s a Philly cheesesteak version. I want to know if there’s a Philly cheesesteak version in Australia because that would be interesting to see what their interpretation is.

Alison: I kind of want to know if there’s a 4 in 20 Blackbird version.

Jill: You might be able to find those. Not sure where, but you might be able to find them. In the U. S. you can get them at Rudder’s, which is a convenience store chain in Pennsylvania, Moto Mart, which is in the Midwest, Easy Mart in Michigan, 7 Eleven Hawaii, the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

And at Walmart. I’m not sure where, which Walmarts, if all of them have it, but they’re at Walmart. So if you find them, if you have them at your opening ceremonies party, Let us know, and let them know.

International Olympic Committee News

Alison: That’s the wrong music for that, for this news coming.

Jill: We can’t license that music. I know, fair enough. We have Olympic mascots for every games, but the IOC has signed a licensing deal with Warner Brothers for Looney Tunes Olympic products. And Looney Tunes themed products are going to be available internationally now through 2026.

Also with that, eight national Olympic committees have designed have signed domestic deals for local team merch. These countries include the U. S., Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, and Mexico. Did

Alison: the Poles really love Daffy Duke?

Jill: they probably do.

So you will be able to find Looney Tunes Olympic themed merch like pins, clothing, toys, sporting goods, candy. They teamed up with Ferrara Pan Candy in the U. S., so. Looking forward to that. accessories and more and products will also be available in the WB shop.

I, I don’t know what you saw online about that, but I saw Michael Payne’s reaction. What did he say? He was very confused. Confused. Yeah. Why they would do this. this is not new. Back in 1996, there was a Looney Tunes deal as well around Atlanta, but we’ll see how this goes, but he was, he was surprised that you have mascots and then you, you license with another set of mascots.

People know the Looney Tunes. They don’t know the Freesial that much. And, and the, and the mascots tend to go away. Right.

Alison: You know? Daffy Duke is eternal.

TKFLASTAN Update

Alison: Welcome to Shookflastan.

Jill: It is the time of the show where we check in with our team, Keep the Flame Alive. These are past guests and listeners of the show who make up our citizenship of our very own country, Shookflastan. We have a Paris qualification alert. Rower Kristi Wagner and her teammate Sofia Vitas have been selected to compete in the Double Skulls event at Paris 2024.

It will be Christy’s second Olympics.

Alison: Bree Walker won gold at the final Monobob World Cup of the Year in Lake Placid. This is, Australia’s first Bobsleigh World Cup gold medal and she finished the season ranked second overall.

Jill: So excited for her. Claire Egan was recognized by the International Biathlon Union for her work as chair of the IBU Athletes Commission, a position that she held for six years and her term is now done and she’s stepping down.

Alison: World Men’s Curling Championships will start on March 30th and go through April 7th. Team Schuster will be representing the United States.

Jill: Jackie Wong was on NPR’s Here and Now, talking about Ilya Malinin. We’ll have a link to that, in the show notes.

Alison: And we mentioned a couple of weeks ago about Keekin, the movie about Keekin Randall, and now that is available on YouTube.

Jill: So we will link to that in the show notes

well, that is going to do it for this episode if you read All in stride, let us know what you think.

Alison: You can find us on Xthreads and Instagram at flamealivepod. Send us an email at flamealivepod at gmail. com. Call or text us at 208 352 6348.

That’s 2 0 8 flame it. You can chat with us and other fans on our Facebook group. Keep the flame alive podcast and sign up for our weekly newsletter with even more Olympic and Paralympic info. You can do that on our website, flame alive, pod. com.

Jill: Oh, next week is going to be good. Next week is going to be a good show.

So the Cleveland International Film Festival is getting started and we talk with the director of one of the movies. It’s a documentary that will be shown at the film festival called Athletes of War. It is about Ukrainian athletes who are struggling to try to train while the war is going on all around them.

We’ll be talking with director Gabriel Veras about how he made this film. Really, uh, interesting way that a documentary got made to be sure. So join us for that. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, keep the flame alive.