Where Your Dreams Become Reality
The Week That Was April 21- Apri 27, 2008
Lots of stuff to recap, including two of the better events in US track and field - the Penn Relays and Drake Relays. Large crowds and (given the fact so many of the races are relays) people are actually competing to win instead of chasing a time.
Penn Relays: Texas, the Mystic of Leo, Alicia Follmar, Centro, Gags and More
The Longhorns won the 4 x 800 without the help of Manzano to get a sort of program-defining win, making the statement that says, "we're a whole program, not just three good college guys and one world class miler." Coach Vig has done a great job at Texas, but Leo staying in school has done so much for the program, and the 4*800 win shows it.
On the women's side, Michigan, which swept all three distance relays last year, won the only two they contested this year - the DMR and the 4 x 1,500. The DMR ended up being a reversal of indoor nationals as Nicole Edwards outkicked Sarah Bowman for the win. Our hearts go out to the Tennessee women, who put forth a strong showing all weekend but left with no titles as they finished 2nd in all three distance relays.
In terms of giving out thumbs up, let's start with Stanford's Alicia Follmar. In the opening leg of the DMR, she fell down, got spiked in the head and got up and kept running. And when we say she got spiked in the head, we mean she got spiked in the head big time. Please look at this photo to see the blood gushing out of her as she ran. And when she say she kept running, we don't mean she got up and jogged in last and handed off to hear teammate. She somehow handed of in 3rd with a 3:26.0 split. Remarkable.
Other remarkable splits - How about the 2:01.7 800 split from Tennessee's Phoebe Wright on the DMR as well as the 2:02.1 from Michigan's Geena Gall. Villanova's Francis Koons' 4:34 anchor on the DMR wasn't the fastest of the day but it was very impressive, coming just 10 months after she was diagnosed with cancer.
The USA vs. The World Mens' DMR was interesting to watch for a number of reasons. One, the race was entertaining. The USA's Blue team pressed the pace from the gun and got a big lead of nearly 3.5 seconds after the first two legs, only to see it whittled down and then completely discarded after a disastrous 4:06 anchor from Christian Smith. The team that won was actually Kenya, which entered the anchor leg next to last. They won thanks to the 3:58.95 split from Josephat Kithii.
But what we really enjoyed about the DMR was that just based on the way a few guys run, it was easy to know who their coaches were. Those guys that ran with major ... uhhh ... cajones clearly had the Frank Gagliano/Matt Centrowitz imprint on them.
Let us explain. Saturday was a bit cool and it was very windy. Thus one wouldn't expect someone to try to lead the 1,200 from the gun. Well, that's exactly what Nick Symmonds did. He pushed the pace from the get-go, went through 800 in 1:52-flat and handed off with a huge lead after a really well-run 2:51.19 split. Clearly, he didn't fly half-way across the country to dilly-dally around and try to hand off with a small lead. He wanted to test his limits and get a great workout in.
On the anchor leg, things bunched up and it was any of four teams' race. Two Kenyans, Christian Smith and then former American University runner Sean O'Brien. The pace was fairly slow and it was going to come down to the last 300. Based on prs, we were thinking "O'Brien is outclassed here". But deep down we knew what would happen next. Yep, O'Brien is the one that went to the lead and threw it down and nearly got the victory.
Sort of what you'd expect as O'Brien was coached by Centrowitz in college and now Gags post-collegiately.
So a major thumbs up to them for going for it. Also we think hardly anyone noticed the really fine relay leg run by Ismael Kombich (1:44.66) for the world All-Stars.
In contrast to O'Brien and Symmonds who weren't afraid to go for it, we'd like to give out a thumbs down to all of the anchor legs in the men's DMR and 4 x mile who refused to pass Texas Leonel Manzano. Yes, we know he's better than you. Yes, he's got a better kick than you. So why not pass him when he's running slow the first 1,300, or at least try to? The only way you have any chance of beating him if you are ahead of him when the kick starts - well really the only way to beat him would be to get ahead of him and hope he gets tripped up trying to come around you. But regardless, it's shameful that it looked like there was an imaginary line extended outside of Manzano's shoulder which prevented anyone from even trying to pass him.
2008 Penn Relays Coverage
2007 Drake Relays *Results/Quotes/Notes *Results Here *Meet Preview
Drake stands out in that it packs the house every year. Sure Penn gets over 100,000 in total attendance (a question for us is whether Penn counts its athletes in these totals each day. It has over 20,000 athletes competing each year so half that 100,00 could be athletes), but there is something about performing before a crowd without an empty seat in the house that is appealing.
If you haven't been to Penn, you need to experience it. It really is almost as much about the crowd as the races with at least half the crowd being supporters of the Jamaican teams (or any non American team). It truly is more carnival than track meet. Hopefully we'll experience Drake next year.
But we're impressed that Drake, despite its packed house, every year still tries to expose itself in the community. This year they had a pole vault competition in the mall. Be sure to check out the photo here.
Remember This Name: Boaz Lalang
Photo from Reng Lake College
But what caught our attention a few weeks ago but somehow failed to make it into our weekly recap (I guess we shouldn't type it up at the last minute) was Lalang's 1:46.87 clocking at the Sea Ray Relays a few weeks ago. A 1:46 800 is pretty fast but not remarkable. But Lalang's 1:46 was truly unbelievable. People don't understand how windy it was that day at Sea Ray.
The wind was huge - like 20 to 30 mpw huge. Lalang didn't care. He took the race out hard and then when he got to the bell, he just opened up an even bigger gap from 400 to 500. One of Rojo's Cornell runners was in the paddock area waiting for another heat of the 800 and he said everyone there including the officials just stared at Lalang in awe before one of the officials said, "I've been doing this for 20 years and never seen anything like that."
Obliterating a very good 800 field by 2.50 seconds just doesn't happen. The 800 almost always ends up being close. But Lalang ran 1:46.87 and second was 1:49.37. Lalang is the real deal.
Lalang's 1:46 had to be equivalent to a 1:45 at the worst. Maybe even 1:44.
Jeremy Wariner - Watch Out Here Comes LaShawn Merritt
In the article, the 200/400 runner Merritt said the following about Jeremy Wariner, "I haven't beat him yet. But I will, and I feel I can." Typical spring bravado? We're not so sure. With the way Merritt is running now, he very well may beat Jeremy Wariner, which we're sure many would view as sweet poetic justice since Wariner dumped his long-time coach Clyde Hart earlier this year over a contract dispute.
Wariner is so good he can beat just about anyone on talent alone but if Merritt keeps up his early-season form, Wariner may wish he had that extra .20 that a coach may be worth on the day you need it most.
Last week, Merritt ran a stellar 19.80 with an illegal 3.2 tail wind behind him. Still, that is smoking fast. This week, he led off with the fastest first leg at Penn - a 44.9 leadoff. Pretty good. Of course, Wariner did run a 43.88 on the anchor.
It should be interesting to say the least.
It also should be interesting on the women's side if Allyson Felix decides to run the 400 as both Felix and Sanya Richards split 50.1 at Penn Relays. Track and field need rivalries so we sure hope Felix runs the 400. We don't think the double is doable but wish something could be done with the Beijing schedule.
A Legend Announces His Retirement At Season's End: Please Take a Moment to Read
Let us provide you with the numbers first - 42 national titles and 83 conference titles including a ridiculous 34 straight in cross country. But let us put those numbers in perspective. People are currently asking on the message board if any team has ever won the triple crown (xc, indoor and outdoor) in their conference four years in a row. McDonnell's teams at Arkansas almost regularly do that. Heck, McDonnell's teams in the mid-1990s came close to winning the triple crown for the national championships four years running.
McDonnell's team won the indoor NCAA crown 19 times, including 12 years in a row from 1984 to 1995 and 16 out of 17 up through 2000. Outdoors, they won 12 including eight in a row from 1992 to 1999. In cross country, his teams won 11 titles including 8 of 11 from 1990 through 2000. In conference, he nearly pulled off a triple crown every year. Look at the number of triple crowns he's had since joining the SEC.
Since joining the SEC in 1991, they've won the triple crown the following years.
91-92, 92-93, 93-94, 94-95, 96-97, 97-98, 98-99, 99-00, 00-01, 02-03, 04-05, 05-06, 06-07. They've only not won 3 SEC crowns from what we can tell. Tennessee won indoor in 96 and outdoor in 02, and Florida won indoor in 04. So in 17 years, he's won 47 of 50 conference crowns (94%) with the 2008 outdoor meet yet to come. As close to perfection as you can get.
And we forget to mention the fact that the SEC is arguably the best track conference in the nation.
And since we've been talking about Penn, let's look at Arkansas' record at Penn. Penn titles: 4 x 100 (1 ), 4 x 200-meter relay (1 ), 4 x 400-meter relay (1 ), 4 x 800-meter relay (2 ), 4 xMile / 1, 500 (19 ), SMR (2 ), DMR (15 ) and shuttle hurdle relay (1 ). Pretty impressive.
John McDonnell To Retire At Season's End
Drug News - The First athlete Defeats USADA
For proper anti-doping to work, everything has to be followed to protocol. Bans need to be very, very harsh but there can't be any doubt. Here there is doubt on this one particular test, so let her go. It doesn't mean she isn't a drug cheat. It just means she's free to compete.
This all reminded us of a talk we had with someone at Penn. We were talking of Darren Brown running 3:59.99 at Texas Relays to become the first father-son sub 4 combo. The guy we were talking with wanted to know if their been independent confirmation of the time? We laughed it off at the time, but now after seeing the women's finish in Japan were reminded of our conversation in Penn. Apparently we aren't the only ones just a little bit curious.
More News: Further proof, everyone reads LetsRun.com. LetsRun.com Message Boarders Quoted in the NY Times After the British journalists we met in the UK for the London Marathon, admitted that LetsRun.com was required daily reading, the mention in the Times is all we needed to think even more highly of ourselves. We also see why the NY Times is considered the paper of record in the US. They actually attributed the quotes on our message board to letsrun.com instead of ripping them off like Sports Illustrated did for a Jeremy Wariner article a few years ago.
*Kenyan Olympic Marathon Team Announced The men's team as expected is Cheruiyot, Lel and Wanjiru. That mean's a 2:05 guy and the current World Champ get left off.
Vienna Marathon: Abel Kirui 2:07:38 Course Record, Luminita Talpos Defends Her Women's Crown IAAF This race is much bigger than we thought. 20,000 people and a beautiful setting as these photos and these show.
Madrid Marathon: Chema Martinez Wins Madrid Marathon in 2:12:42 IAAF
Padua Marathon: Francis Kirwa Wins Hot Padua Marathon in 2:11:00
Country Music Marathon Recap $17,500 for the winners.
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