Where Your Dreams Become Reality
A Fan's Guide To The 2009 Reebok Boston Indoor Games
Feb 5, 2009 - Recently, we've come to the official conclusion that track isn't more popular because it's rarely presented properly. For a race to be truly compelling, people need to have a ton of information about the event and the main participants. If people know the story lines involved in the race, then it's interesting. If they don't, then it's not.
In our minds, information creates drama, which creates entertainment.
In that light, we hope to give you, the visitors of LetsRun.com, the story lines for the major meets this year. This is our first attempt, so hopefully it's goes alright. Below you will find a preview of the Reebok Boston Indoor Games men's distance events. To see the women's distance preview, click here. To see the sprint/field events, click here. New: If you are going to the meet and would like to have everything in one document listed in the order the events take place so you can print it out and use it as a program, click here.
Nutrilite Men's 1,000: A Race For The Ages
This is one of many races that in our minds is worth the price of admission alone. What a race. What a field!
In this race, you have two 2008 US Olympians at 800 meters in Olympic Trials champion Nick Symmonds and Trials 3rd placer Christian Smith battling a Kenyan Olympian at 800m in Boaz Lalang, who went all the way from Juco meets at Rend Lake to the Olympics for Kenya in on year (Remember, we told you he was a star in the making last year). Throw in a former world indoor champion at 800 in David Krummenacker, who will be looking to prove he's not past his prime, and you've got an unreal battle. Wait, we shouldn't forget 2007 World Championships team member at 800 meters, Duane Solomon, who used to run for USC.
Former prep star Karjuan Williams, who ran 1:50 as a 9th grader in 2004 before getting a Pan-Am JR silver in 2006 but has struggled since then, is also in the field.
LetsRun.com Analysis: We're going to rule out Williams for the win. Of the rest, Smith, Symmonds, Lalang and Krummenacker have had a lot more success at the mile than Solomon, who may struggle at 1k. Krummenacker is just past his prime in our minds. So that leaves us three: Lalang, Smith and Symmonds. Who between these three?
This field includes many of the best North American-based milers. The race has a ton of great story lines and is worth the price of admission itself. Where to begin?
Will the good or bad Alan Webb show up? That is the question.
Past history indicates a good Alan Webb should show up because he's sort of alternated good and bad years the last 4 years. His seasonal best in the 1,500 has yo-yoed up and down the last 4 four years. In 2005, it was 3:32, it was 3:46 in 2006, then 3:30 in 2007 before going back up to 3:35 last year. The trend says it's time for another good year.
If the good Alan Webb shows up, the question then becomes, "Can he challenge 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Nick Willis?" Whenever these two race, it has special meaning to most track fans, as every race is for some unexplained reason still viewed as a judgement of sorts as to whether Alan Webb made the right call to go pro and leave Michigan and Ron Warhurst (who is Willis' coach) seven years ago.
Willis clearly is the big favorite in this race. Compared to Webb, he comes into the race after a dream-like season, plus he is race sharp as he briefly made things interesting for Bernard Lagat last week.
Can anyone besides Webb possibly challenge Willis? Well, last week Willis was clearly a class above Chris Lukezic and Pablo Solares at Millrose. Lukezic only ran 4:03 last week and he has struggled in Boston in the past (4:05 in 2007) so we are discounting him. Solares shouldn't be totally discounted. At Millrose, he wasn't too far behind Willis (1.37 seconds) and he certainly has fond memories of Boston as he got the win in this meet in a big upset in 2007. However, the 2007 mile wasn't nearly as strong as this one. If you were going to look for a long shot pick to win, Solares might be the man.
The two with the most realistic chances of challenging Willis in our minds have to be the US's Rob Myers and Canada's Kevin Sullivan. Myers earned a win two weeks ago over a quality field in the New Balance mile at the Armory. That's the good news. The bad news is the time was only 3:59 and a 3:59 at the Armory by no means is anything close to Willis' 3:59 at Millrose. Additionally, Myers' indoor PR is only 3:57.82 and to challenge Willis, he'd probably need to be in close to outdoor PR shape (outdoor mile PR is 3:53.78) The ageless wonder Sullivan, 34, has run 3:57 indoors each of the last two years. However, to beat Willis, we think he'd have to be in PR indoor shape. His indoor PR is 3:55.33 but that is from 1995.
LetsRun.com Prediction: Attempting to predict what Webb does in this race isn't really possible. But we'll try. Willis is likely the class of this field by a wide margin with a reasonably fit Webb still a class above everyone else. 1) Willis 2) Webb 3) Myers
Men's College Mile: An Unbelievably Deep Field
This is a hell of a collegiate race if we do say so ourselves. We've listed the PBs of everyone in the field next to their name.
Eleven guys are racing and no doubt all of them are dreaming of going sub-4 at some point in their careers, perhaps in this race. Only three of them have actually done it at the mile distance indoors, so this should be exciting, as seeing an athlete break 4 for the first time is always special.
For many in the field, this race is a rematch from the Terrier Classic on January 24th. At that race, which you can watch in the video player below and on the left, Syracuse's Brad Miller got the win in 4:00.19 over BU's David Proctor (4:00.26), Hayden McLaren (4:00.28), and Felix Kiboiywo (4:02.93). You really should watch the race, as it's rare to get a more thrilling blanket finish between 3 guys. The win was undoubtedly nice for Miller, but we're sure he wants to go sub-4.
Between those 3 for this race, who is the favorite? It's hard to say. Cases can be made for all of them. Proctor is running in his home town and he's got the best mile PB of the bunch. McLaren did most of the work in the race on the 24th, so if he can sit behind a rabbit, he might be hard to beat. And one certainly can't ignore the fact that Miller was the actual winner of the race.
But honestly, no one in the field should be discounted. Rojo's boy Jim Wyner of Cornell just ran a 1:50.6 split on the tight track at Millrose last weekend, where they say subtract close to 3 seconds to get an 800 equivalent for a banked 200m track. Providence, Syracuse and Cornell both have two runners in the field. An interesting sub-plot becomes, "Will any school have two sub-4s in one race? Or will any school average sub-4?"
We'll find out on Saturday.
LetsRun.com Predictions: 1) See 2) McLaren 3) Proctor 4) B. Miller ... 10) Wyner 11) A. Miller. Rojo doesn't want to provide motivation for the other runners.
Men's 2 Mile: Can Rupp Challenge The Ethiopians?
This race is full of talented guys but is a bit hard to handicap as many of them haven't raced this year. In our minds, one of the following three people will win ths race: Markos Geneti or Bekana Daba of Ethiopia or Adrian Blincoe of New Zealand. If we had to pick a 4th, we'd say Galen Rupp.
The 20-year-old Bekana Daba of Ethiopia is a largely unknown guy who should really be better known (and he may very well be better known in the near future). Two years ago, this guy ran 13:06 as an 18-year-old when he went on to run at the WChamps (bombed out in the 1st round). His PB of 7:40.92 is 2nd best in the field. The guy with the best PB in the field is the 25-year-old Geneti. Geneti ran 7:32.69 in 2007 and he also has the best 5k PB in the field at 13:00. Last year, he ran 7:41.81 to get second in Boston.
Does anyone remember who won in Boston last year? It was Craig Mottram, who ran an Australian record 7:34.50. How quickly people forget in the track and field world. Mottram's season ended up being a disaster last year but it certainly started auspiciously.
If a non-African is going to win, we think Villanova assistant coach Adrian Blincoe of New Zealand has the best bet. Blincoe ran 13:10 last year for 5k and he's run 7:48 for 3k in the past. He ran the New Balance mile in late February and went out hard (1:57.5) before fading to a disappointing 3rd place finish in 4:00.33. Blincoe's post-race comments caught our attention, though, as he told David Monti, "My training has been going better than it was at this time last year. I'm in great shape." So he may get up there.
But since we wrote that, we just got an email from Blincoe who said he's sick and it's 50-50 that he'll race. So we're certainly not picking him to win.
The race also has a lot of Americans who in our minds are very, very good distance runners but likely overmatched at this short of a race. It's good to get to see them race and it's good that they want to work on their shorter distances, but we'd be shocked if they challenged for the win. Well, we take that back about one of them, Galen Rupp, as he consistently keeps surprising us. After Pre-NCAAs in XC, we thought no one would be able to beat Liberty's Sam Chelanga, but Rupp went out and did it. Thus, we're very excited to see Rupp race but to us, he is a natural 10ker/marathoner. Given the fact that his PRs are 7:49 for 3k and 13:30 for 5k, it's hard to see him challenging for the win. His foot speed just isn't quite good enough, but we admit his speed does keep getting better and better as he did beat Steve Sherer in a mile earlier this year.
Others in a similar boat include his training partner Josh Rohatinsky (who has a PB of 7:51 and was 6th here last year in 7:52) and Brian Olinger. Olinger is a steeplechaser but we find that ultimately there are a lot of steeplechasers who really are better suited for longer distances. It's hard to believe that Olinger's flat 3k PR is only 7:55 considering he's somehow run 8:19.29 for the steeple. Clearly, he's about maxed out at 8:19 unless he gets a bit faster in the flat 3k.
There are two Kenyans in the field in Solomon Kandie and Haron Lagat, but they really are B team Kenyans (Kandie has the best 3k PR of the two of them at 8:12.38, but has run 8:29.40 for the steeple) and likely won't factor in the race.
LetsRun.com Predictions: 1) Daba 2) Geneti 3) Rupp
Men's College 800: Which Red & White Is Better? Ohio State Or Cornell?
The favorite appears to be Ohio State redshirt sophomore Dan White, who ran the fastest 800 for a frosh last year in the Big 10 at 1:49.71. White is in good form, having gotten an indoor PB of 1:50.56 last week at Penn State. The guy most likely to challenge White appears to be Cornell's Andrew Levy, who ran a school record 2:24.31 to win the 1k at Penn State about a month ago. Levy, who is coached by LetsRun.com co-founder Rojo, has had the most remarkable transformation of any athlete Rojo has ever coached. Almost out of nowhere (he ran a 4:40 indoor mile at one point last year), Levy started splitting 1:50 last year and has continued the good form this year as his PB in the 1k has come down 11 seconds already this season. Levy was so slow as a freshman that one of the Cornell runners tried to convince Rojo that he must have lied about his times to get recruited.
Based on accomplishments, the field drops off significantly after those two. There are two junior college runners from JUCO power Rend Lake in this race. Don't know Rend Lake? Well, they produced the fastest collegiate miler in the country last year in Boaz Lalang, who ended up on the Kenyan Olympic team at 800 meters. Dey Tuach has a 1:52 PB from what we can tell, but we bet he ends up running better than that down the road. He was 11th in cross-country nationals this year. James Grantham is more of a miler, having run 3:54 for 1,500. Bentley's Dan Darcy recently ran 1:55.
LetsRun.com Prediction: 1) White 2) Levy
Reebok Boys High School Mile
To see the women's distance preview, click here. To see the sprint/field events, click here. New: If you are going to the meet and would like to have everything in one document listed in the order the events take place so you can print it out and use it as a program, click here.