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The Week That Was* March 10- 17, 2008
LetsRun.com
March 18, 2008

Since the US financial markets are total disarray and your house (well most likely your parents' house as the audience here is pretty young) may be worthless and your bank is likely to fail, we feel there is enough negative news out there. As a result, we decided this week to change things up and be more positive. Thus this week in our weekly recap, we for the most part just mention people who made a positive impact on the sport this week.

The biggest US action took place in Arkansas as the 2008 indoor campaign came to an end with the 2008 NCAA Indoor Track & Field championships. We won't give you a detailed recap the meet for you  here (although at the end of  The Week That Was, we do give you a slew of links in case you were gone over the weekend). Instead, we'll start with praise for the men's and women's 3k winners from the meet.


Kyle Alcorn: Mr Clutch or Should We Say Mr. Big Kick
We've got to admit it. We knew basically nothing about this guy until this weekend. He's even employed by good friends of ours (Carlos Paradelo and Brianna Torres at RunAZ) and we still had no clue. Maybe we should have known a little about him as he did run 8:35 for the steeple last year, but that made him only the 2nd best steepler on his college team (his coach is the famed Louis Quintana (former Kinney (Footlocker) XC Champ). Alcorn was a stud in high school (a California state title in the 2 mile at 9:00 as a junior). But we really should have paid attention to him when he got mentioned in this letsrun thread discussing the gnarliest kicks in the world, and he got mentioned for his 55 point last 400 (26 point last 200) at the State meet as a senior in high school that he lost. The poster said it was "the best race I have seen in person (including oly trials and other "big time" meets)." Pretty high praise for a high school race.

So even if we missed word of Alcorn having the best kick in the world, maybe we should have taken notice of Alcorn after his 3:58 DMR anchor on Friday night, but we didn't. In the DMR, Alcorn outkicked everyone around him and came on really strong the last lap and tried to go around Leonel Manzano of Texas (Manzano btw worked for our uncle 2 summers ago). But Manzano had been taking it easy up until that point and has one of the best kicks in the NCAA (now with Lopez Lomong a pro, maybe the best) and he was able to hold off Alcorn.

However, after Saturday's 3000m we're taking notice of Alcorn. He impressively kicked away from a very, very strong men's 3000m field to get the NCAA title by a convincing 1.4 seconds.  How could he win by such a large margin? A final 1k of 2:26.39 will generally do the trick.

The most important thing for Alcorn was it basically gave the NCAA title to Arizona State. Going into the 3k, Alcorn was not even expected to score in the 3k and ASU's title hopes were looking slim. Instead, he pulls off the improbable - he wins the damn race and propels ASU to the NCAA title along with the help of the ASU's 4*400. It doesn't get any more clutch than that. His run is what collegiate sports are all about. We'll never call a win from Alcorn improbable anymore as he is the real deal and has a potent weapon, incredible finishing speed.

Kyle started out at the University of Oregon (a Martin Smith recruit), but transferred to Arizona State in 2005. This poster couldn't have been more wrong, "Huge, Huge mistake for Kyle." Congrats to Kyle and Loui Q.

Susan Kuijken - Big Time Improvement
Like Alcorn, the new NCAA 3k champ came up big when it mattered most.  The 21-year old athlete from the Netherlands entered NCAAs with a 9:08 3k pr.  She left NCAAs with an 8:58 pr and her first NCAA title - after being the runner-up in the 1,500 last spring.

Kuijken arrived at FSU last year as a stud, sporting PRs of 2:06, 4:19 and 9:28. It's virtually impossible to find Americans at that level. That being said, she has absolutely flourished at FSU under Bob Braman and Karen Harvey. Her 1,500 has come down 8 seconds (certainly more to come this spring) and her 3k 30 seconds.  Not too shabby.  Sort of disproves the theory that people who give scholarships to foreigners are just buying championships.  Improvement like that can't be bought.  

Keep up the good work.

We'd also like to praise the entire women's 3k field as they ran fast.  Four of the top 5 pr'd as runner-up Brie Felnagle dropped her pr from 9:09 to 9:00, fourth-placer Lauren Centrowitz went from 9:17 to 9:11, as fifth-placer Marisa Ryan went from 9:15 to 9:12.

Haile G. Dominates The Headlines On and Off The Track
On the international front, the greatest distance runner in history, Haile Gebrselassie dominated the news both in competition and out of it.  In terms of racing, Haile cruised to victory in one of the greatest half marathons on the planet - the EDP Lisbon Half Marathon.  Prior to 2008, the Lisbon half had featured a record 23 sub 60 minute half performances. This year, the course was slightly altered at Geb's request to make it record-eligible and a 50,000 euro bonus was being offered for a new world record.

Geb didn't get the record but he did the get victory as he easily destroyed a very quality field that included 2007 Boston and Chicago marathon champ, Robert Cheruiyot, 2003 and 2005 marathon world champ Jaouad Gharib,and 2001 world 10k champ Charles Kamathi.

1. Haile Gebrselassie, ETH            59:15
2. Charles Kamathi, KEN             1:00:45
3. Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, KEN   1:00:50
4. Sammy Karanja, KEN               1:01:52
5. Eduardo Henriques, POR           1:02:10
6. Manuel Damiao, POR               1:03:07
7. Paulo Gomes, POR                 1:03:20
8. Hermano Ferreira, POR            1:03:22
9. Nixon Kiprono, POR               1:03:25
10. Jaouad Gharib, MAR               1:04:28

Off the track, the reaction to Geb's announcement that he wouldn't run the marathon in Beijing continued to create huge press. The press attention to Geb's initial decision to not run the marathon was so great, Geb attempted to explain himself, which in turn created even more attention.

What all happened. Let's try to remember. Early in the week, Jos Hermens, Geb's manger, correctly pointed out that the winner of the Olympic marathon often never does much after winning gold.  Our response would be: So what. He's already accomplished almost all that there is in the sport - if he has a chance to win Olympic gold, he should go for it.

Later Geb said that he'd reconsider his decision if the marathon was moved out of Beijing and the start change was changed.  Lastly, the Ethiopian Athletic Federation came out and said they might force Geb to run the marathon.  How about this quote from EAF technical director Duje Jillo:

"It is not up to Haile Gebrselassie to decide on participation in the marathon event in Beijing  It is the Ethiopian Athletics Federation, representing the nation, that determines whether Haile is fit to compete in the marathon event in Beijing's Olympics or not."

Then Geb came back yesterday saying his decision to not run the marathon was now definite, "My decision not to run [the marathon] in Beijing is definite. Now I have to decide whether to run the 10,000 meters"

So it sounds like Geb realizes even he is unlikely to get the marathon moved out of Beijing.

*Geb Now Says He Might Run Marathon If It's Start Time is Changed and Its Moved Out of Beijing
*Haile And His Manager Explain Themselves

*
Haile G Might Be Forced To Run Olympic Marathon
*Geb Says Decision to  Not Run Marathon Definite

City-Pier-City Half Marathon
While Geb won Sunday's big European half-marathon, there was another nice half in Europe on Saturday. In the City-Pier-City Half Marathon, world half silver medallist Patrick Makau Musyoki came in as the favorite and lived up to the billing as he won his 4th half-marathon of the year in 60:08.  Pauline Wangui easily won the women's race in 69:49.
*World Half Silver Medallist Patrick Makau Musyoki Lives Up To Favorite Status and Wins

Sammy Korir Is The Man Yet Again
On January 18, in the Dubai Marathon, Korir became the first man to ever run 10 sub 2:09 marathons as he was third in 2:08:01.  Well 57 days later, Korir decided it was time to become the first man to have 11 sub 2:09 clockings as on Sunday he won the Dong-A Seoul International marathon in 2:07:32.  

At this rate, we'll probably see him on the start line in London or Boston.
*
Sammy Korir Gets it Done Again (His 11th Sub 2:09) as He Wins Dong-A Seoul International Marathon in 2:07:32
*Message board blow by blow on the race here.

Rome Marathon:  Galina Bogomolova Runs 2:22
The Russian who ran 2:20:47 two years ago in Chicago ran 2:22:53 in Rome to pick up at nice 66,000 payday (50,000 bonus for the Italian all-comers record). It's the third fastest marathon for women this year so far.
*Rome Marathon Recap: Galina Bogomolova Runs 2:22

Drug Cheat Cathal Lombard Retires
In our minds major, in a perfect world, intentional drug cheats should be banned for life, so we don't shed many tears when they end their careers. (We're not out for vigilante justice but this poster said it best when he noted if you're caught stealing in the financial industry, you'll never get a job in the industry again). This week saw the end of Irish EPO cheat Cathal Lombard's career.

We must admit we were shocked to hear that Lombard was retiring, as last month he was the surprise winner of the Irish cross country title. Apparently Lombard was just tired of the negative reaction his reintroduction to the sport received.

In the modern era of drugs in sports, all drug cheats are not created equal in our minds.  We give Lombard credit for a) admitting it when busted and b) aborting his comeback. A moral 2008 cheat if there is such a thing.
*Cathal Lombard Retires

Shalane Flanagan
Shalane Flanagan Winning Again

Photo by Victor Sailer

US 8k Champs:  Jorge Torres and Steve Jones, Food Poisoning and Confirmation of Andrew Carlson's Arrival
The New York Road Runners put more money into professional running than any other non-profit group in America. So it shouldn't be a shock that quite a few of America's stars showed up for the US 8k Champs and the Central Park Women's 8k (you'd think with a $10,000 first place prize a few top international women might show up, but they didn't). Alan Webb and Shalane Flanagan were the headliners and they both ended up getting sick from something they ate at Thursday's pre-race press conference at New York's fabled Tavern on the Green.

But Shalane Flanagan is so much better than everyone else in America, a little food poisoning didn't stop her as she cruised to a wire-to-wire 16 second victory. Alan Webb's outcome was a different story. Webb led through 5k, and then ran into trouble. He was forced to stop in the fourth mile before he struggled home in 16th place. (For more on Webb including his future plans click here, to watch a 50 minute pre-race video interview or download it click here). Post race commentary, analysis, photos are here.

Video: Jorge Torres Talks About His Win
And His New Steve Jones Training Group (5:12)

The big story for us was Jorge Torres emerging as a force under his new coach, marathon legend Steve Jones. Torres' career was in limbo last year, when his coach, Brad Hudson, left Boulder to go with Dathan Ritzenhein to Eugene. But Torres found the Steve Jones group and was full of praise for it, "My confidence is riding high. A lot of it has to do with two things. One, Steve Jones has really helped me build my confidence back up, he's given me some great advice, he's a good guy to listen to because he's been to the top of the world, and the other thing is I have good training partners and we're out there to help each other out and try and get to the top (his training partners are multiple time US Champ and Olympian Alan Culpepper, US 25k record holder Fernando Cabado, his twin brother Ed, and Andy Smith)."

The other big story in our minds was the confirmation of the arrival of Andrew Carlson at the top of America's ranks. Carlson won the US 15k Champs at the Gate River Run a week ago, but this run in our mind, showed that Carlson has officially arrived. Carlson said a disappointing run at the US Cross Country Champs (15th place, 1:10 behind Torres) helped propel him to the top.  Carlson said, "After cross that lit a fire underneath me. I was pretty mad and I've kind of taken that out the last two weeks."

Carlson and Torres both show that America's pros, despite an enormous wealth of physical talent, can suffer the same bouts of lack of confidence that the rest of us suffer. It's refreshing to see their human frailties, but also encouraging to see them overcome their lack of confidence.

*LetsRun.com Recap, Post Race Analysis, Quotes, Photos and Video
*
2008 8k Results
*
Pre Race Coverage including a 50 minute video interview with Alan Webb

2008 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships
We won't reinvent the wheel in terms of recapping everything as it just concluded three days ago. Instead we'll let you peruse our coverage below if you were somehow out of the loop over the weekend. University of Texas freshman Bianca Knight ran an NCAA record in the 200, and then proceeded to turn professional. (Message board thread on her here)

2008 NCAA Indoors:Complete Results
D2 & D3 Info Here

*Kyle Who?
Arizona State Wins Men's & Women's Team Titles as Kyle Alcorn Shocks Field & Wins 3k To  Lead Sun Devils To Team Title Over FSU
On Friday, Alcorn led ASU to a surprise 2nd in the DMR. On Saturday, he shocked everyone once again and blew away the 3k field with a big kick in the next to last event to put his team into a tie with FSU. It came down to the 4 x 400 and ASU edged FSU by a second to win. Alcorn's never been a real big collegiate name before today, but he apparently had a gnarly 55 second last lap in HS in the 3200.
*
3k Thread Here
In other action, Texas' Leonel Manzano completed the DMR/Mile sweep as was expected by winning the mile with the big surprise being that his teammate Jake Morse was 2nd. The other big surprise was
how average the field looked considering you had to run 4:00 to get in. In the ladies' distance races, it was all FSU as Hannah England won the 3k and Susan Kuijken won the mile.
Day 1: Men's 5k: Isaac Sangok Blows Away LaSalle's Sean Quigley In Last 200 Early leader Josh McDougal was 5th.
Women's 5k:
Sally Kipyego Completely Dominates As Expected.
DMR/Mile: Sarah Bowman
and Leonel Manzano looked really good as they both controlled their heats in the mile and anchored home titles in the DMR. In the men's DMR, the Horns got a big lead on the 1200 and Manzano closed the deal but only after 
LSU's John Kosgei made things interesting by closing a huge gap with a ridiculously fast first 200 that many are saying is the greatest first 200 of a 1,600 they have ever seen. How fast was the 200? Anywherer from 24.7 to 26.
*
Without Walter Dix, FSU Men Take Day 1 Lead
*
Arkansas' Very Good Day 1 Ruined By Terrible DMR Performance Anchor Mickey Corbin had nothing left on the anchor after making the mile final.
*FSU's Title Damaged As Walter Dix Is Scratched Due to Strep Throat|
*Post Race Interviews

Secret Anti-Doping Checks Taking Place In Australia
Lastly, we thought we'd point out how aggressive the anti-drug crusade is getting in other countries. In America, the richest of the rich pro athletes are barely tested, but in Australia, the Olympic hopefuls are now having their medical records accessed by the anti-doping people to see if any doping is taking place. Is it necessary?

Honestly, we were so busy covering the New York 8ks, NCAAs and everything else that we haven't had time to sit down and examine if we think this step is going too far. Probably not when you consider that 29% of elite level Australian athletes admit they'd consider doping. Thankfully 90% think it's morally wrong.
*
Secret Anti-Doping Checks Taking Place In Australia
Got an opinion, news, info, or results? How about a name for our column? "The Week That Was" is not too catchy. Email us at
letsrun@letsrun.com

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