Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reno Pole Vault Summit

Reno Pole Vault Summit, this event is one of the few reasons that I dreamed of becoming a professional pole vaulter. When I first attended the Summit it was in 2007, I was totally in awe of these guys that were jumping over 18ft, I remember thinking there wasnt anything I wanted more than to be one of the elites jumping in front of everyone. 2 years later I was in the elite division and what an honor, every year has just gotten better and better.  This year was no different, I was there for 2 days before I jumped and through the meetings my thoughts kept going back to the elite competition.  I had good reason to be pumped up for the chance to jump, the week before I had picked up 4 brand new Carbon Skypoles the morning before I jumped.  The poles were 5.10m/16'9" ranging from 205-215lb ratings.  That day was the first meet I had ever jumped on only 5.10s I had put a great jump together on my final attempt at 18ft but the pole was too small.  At Reno I knew I had 2 more poles in the bag so I was confident that I would have enough poles to jump on, little did i know I would need probably 2 more.

The time leading up to the comp was filled with meeting people and seeing friends and fans from all over the country.  I love being able to interact with the athletes and coaches and give my insight on training and vaulting.  One of my favorite times of the summit is getting to sit down with about 15 high schoolers and tell them a little about myself and answer any questions they might have.  Its a more personal way for the kids to get to know me and pick my brain, this year was awesome as usual.

Warmups for the elite comp went really well for me, I wanted to take as few jumps as possible because my hamstring had been bothering me.  I took 3 jumps from long run and on my last one I cleared a bungee that was at 5.72m/18'9"!  I decided that it was time to step it up and to enter the competition at 5.52m/18'1" which is higher than I ever have started a competition before.  The comp started at 17ft and I think there were 7 people still jumping when the bar came to 18'1" and I was next to last on the order.  Now the energy at the Summit is unlike anywhere else in the world, Ive always had a little trouble keeping my head and being able to relax especially on my first jump of the comp.  I knew this and so I did everthing I could not to keep from getting anxious and overly excited.  My first jump of the comp is the video below and as you can see I didnt clear the bar by a foot but I made it pretty easily.  I wish I could of seen the video because if i had I probably would have gone up a pole right away.  I stayed on the same pole at the next height 5.62m/18'5" really blew through the pole on my second attempt and went up to the biggest one in my bag and blew through that one as well!  That pole was a 5.10m 12.7 flex and I was holding about 16'6" which is higher than I have ever held before!  I can tell you that even though I didnt jump as high as I wanted the things I was able to do and poles I jumped on mean big things for the season to come.  I ended up finishing 2nd in the comp behind the American record holder Brad Walker who jumped 19ft the easiest I have ever seen it done.  Seeing that jump really pushes me to be better, knowing that he is already jumping that well means I have to be at my best to compete with him which is a great motivation.

To wrap it up I had a great time at the summit, to all those athletes, coaches, and parents I met it was an honor, keep up the great work!  Next on the schedule Im planning on heading to Indiana University this weekend to jump with my buddies Jeff Coover and Dustin Deleo.  Im looking forward to jumping on those big poles again and hopefully some bigger ones.  Ill update how that meet goes and hopefully have a new PR to report.


 Always Pursuing

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Practice video and quick update

Thought Id upload a few videos of practice yesterday, my good friend Adam Pierson came down from Chicago for a few days and gave me a couple of things to work on.  Adam is originally from Bourbonnais, Illinois which is the same town as ONU where I went to college.  He vaulted at University of Illinois and moved to Texas training as a post collegiate, Adam helped me out a ton in my first years out of college.  He noticed that right after takeoff I needed to push upwards more, so we tried it out yesterday at practice and it really seemed to make a difference in opening up the bend of the pole allowing me to be in a better position as the pole unbends.

Im opening my season this weekend at Grand Valley State University up in Allendale, Michigan on Friday.  Im really excited to bring it full speed and see how the changes Ive been working on make a difference on some big poles.  

Always Pursuing -Mark-