Where Your Dreams Become Reality
The Week That Was May 25 - May 31, 2009
Lots of action/news to get to from last week. We'll start with things we can recap quickly before we get ready for Usain Bolt to move to the 400, break down the Reebok Grand Prix in depth, heap praise on Anna Willard and officially write off Alan Webb.
A Quick Breakdown
Usain Bolt Wants The 400-Meter World Record/Talk of An Olympic Triple/Oh, Wait - He May Have Some Competition At 100/200
Despite Bolt's belief that training for the 400 would hurt his 100, the IAAF didn't seem to listen to Bolt as they immediately said they'd look into making the 100, 200, 400 triple possible at the 2012 Olympics.
That triple is insane, but if anyone could do it, it would be Bolt. Just the other day, we were wondering ourselves about Bolt picking up another event - the long jump. Could he not go at least 27 feet?
Not sure what would make the most sense on that front. Do you pick up the long jump while you are still a 100/200 runner or do you do it at the end of your career after the 400?
All of the pie-in-the-sky talk was fun early in the week but later in the week reality struck and we got to salivate something even more exciting and certainly more immediate than hypothetical 2012 Olympic triples for Bolt. How about Bolt having a real rival in 2009?
We found 110 hurdle great Allen Johnson's comments about Gay's performance in USA Today to be entertaining, "It sends a message to Bolt. You better bring at least your B-plus game."
It'll be interesting to see just how good Bolt is in 2009, but a 19.58 would have be more than his B+ game. That would be an A- in our book, unless of course last year's Olympics were just the start for Usain.
We'll get an idea of just how good Bolt will be in 2009 in a week-and-a-half when Bolt runs his only North American race of the year in Toronto. The Canadians are getting excited for Bolt. Check out what columnist Steve Simmons wrote about Bolt in the Toronto Sun. He says he's personally going to buy a ticket to watch Bolt run and compares seeing Bolt to seeing the Beattles (and he trashes Michael Phelps in the process).
"After 30 years of writing sports, you don't get mesmerized all that often.
But every once in a while along comes a Muhammad Ali, along comes a Michael Jordan or a Mario Lemieux, and you stop, you catch your breath and remember how fortunate you are to have the best seat in the house.
Usain Bolt did that to me. He ran fast and froze everyone else around him in amazement.
I was seated not far from the track at the Bird's Nest late on a summer night in Beijing when Bolt shattered the world record in the 100 metres.
It was the fourth time in my life I had witnessed the record change in person -- but clearly this time was different, completely captivating.
It was enough to bring me back to the track to watch him run his ridiculous time in the 200 a few nights later and back again for the 4 X 100 metre relay: Three races, three gold medals, three world records, three breathtaking performances.
You can have your Michael Phelps and all your swim medals -- I've seen a bunch of them the last two Summer Olympics -- but I wouldn't necessarily pay to watch him swim.
I'm buying tickets so my kids can say they saw Usain Bolt run in Toronto.
The way my brother saw The Beatles when they were here.
The way so many went to Woodbine to watch Secretariat run.
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a once-in-a-lifetime kind of athlete. This isn't any paid political announcement. This is from the heart. If Bolt does what only he can do, he is worth the price of admission, even these lofty prices."
Reebok Grand Prix - An Awesome Meet
We want to give a Thumbs Up to Reebok and the people in charge of the Reebok Grand Prix for putting on another great meet in NYC. A very big Thumbs Up for the Jamaican fans for showing up and filling the stands and a thumbs down for American fans for once again making excuses as why they couldn't pay to attend a meet. Reports are that the crowd was 90% Jamaican. Unbelievable.
It would be impossible to recap the whole meet but we'll try to give out some props to the big winners.
Let's start with a Thumbs Up to Khadevis Robinson for taking down a great field in the men's 800 as he beat 2008 Olympians Gary Reed, Boaz Lalang, Nate Brannen and Lopez Lomong by running 1:46.00. Thank God he didn't retire after last year's Olympic disappointment.
In the women's 1,500, a big Thumbs Up to 2008 Olympian Christin Wurth-Thomas, who got the win, meet record and PR (4:03.96), as Canadian Malindi Elmore also got the A standard. Heartbreak once again for Amy Mortimer, who once again cam up just short of the 4:07.00 A standard as she ran 4:07.19 - the 4th time in the last year that she's run between 4:07 and 4:08. Her pursuit of the sub-4:07 mark is starting to remind us of Sam Bair III's pursuit of the sub 4:00 last year, as he four times went under 4:01 and 6 times under 4:02.
Thumbs up to 19-year-old Linet Masai for slaying Tirunesh Dibaba in the women's 5k. We don't care if it was Dibaba's first race or not - any time you beat the double Olympic champ, you deserve praise.
And praise to Michah Kogo for taking down the US all-comers record with his 13:02.90 win in the men's 5k and props to 2nd placers Bernard Lagat (13:03.06) and Dejen Gebremeskel (13:03.13) for also breaking the record and for giving us a hell of a race. Too bad the race couldn't have been in better weather or we would have had the first sub-13 on US soil (to watch the race in its entirety with no commercial breaks, click here to get instructions).
Leo Manzano also deserves praise for his win in the men's 1,500 in 3:34 (race video here).We said in our preview that "if Webb or Manzano or Lukezic win this race in 3:35 or better, they will be on their way to a stellar 2009. Anything less than that and we say, don't expect much from them this year." It's clear that Manzano is going to have a strong 2009.
RIP (For 2009): Alan Webb
It's also clear that Alan Webb (and maybe Chris Lukezic) are in a LOT of trouble. In less than two years, Webb has gone from being a guy who was #1 in the world on the stopwatch in the 1,500/mile in 2007 to being in dead last - nearly 4 seconds off the pace at 800 in a domestic 1,500, where he runs 3:42 as he did at Reebok. After his subpar indoor season, people were hoping he was just training through and getting ready for outdoors. After his mediocre 3:59 and 4:00 wins to open the outdoor season, people were saying "Oh he did win both races and the guy he beat both times - Peter van der Westhuizen - has gone on to run faster." Well, van der Westhuizen ran 3:35 in New York this week and Webb was nowhere close.
Now people are saying, "Hey, Manzano ran 3:56 for 1,500 just two or three weeks ago at the adidas meet, let's just hope this was a similarly bad race for Webb and he'll be fine in a few weeks." Webb's agent Ray Flynn told USA Today Webb had been feeling "flat all week."
No. Stop it. We have to stop deluding ourselves. It's time to call a spade a spade. WEBB IS FINISHED FOR THIS YEAR.*
Hell, we here at LetsRun.com somehow were deluding ourselves up until this weekend. Although we had no real confidence he would do so (we had great confidence in Manzano making the Worlds team), we for some reason foolishly picked Webb to win in New York as we so desperately hoped he could do it. But what we said in our preview is what we are sticking to now. "If Webb or Manzano or Lukezic win this race in 3:35 or better, they will be on their way to a stellar 2009. Anything less than that and we say, don't expect much from them this year."
Facts are facts. Here are Webb's pro races so far this year: 3:57.64 indoor mile at Reebok, 4:06.60 indoor mile at Tyson, 3:45.82 indoor 1,500 at USAs, 3:58.90 outdoor mile at Kansas, 4:00.61 outdoor mile at Drake and now a 3:42.58 1,500 at Reebok outdoors. That's six races in 2009 and he's only convincingly broken 4:00 for the mile (or the equivalent of a 4:00 mile) in one of them - his first one. Yes, that's right, Webb if anything has been getting worse as the season has gone on.
The guy ran 3:53 in HIGH SCHOOL. Right now, he's a sub-4:00 guy on a good day with an all-out effort.
Seriously, the more we analyze the stats, the more depressed we get. In 2007, he was a 3:46 miler. In 2008, he was a 3:53-5 guy (maybe his 3:35.86 1,500 last year was a 3:53). Indoors this year he opened up in 3:57 but now he's struggling to break the equivalent of 4:00. Seriously, it seems that he's losing roughly 2 seconds every 3 months.
How someone can fall so fast so quickly is beyond us but something needs to change immediately. Webb immediately needs to get all sorts of blood work done and immediately be looking for him to change locations, coaches - everything. There is no reason why someone should be feeling "flat" all week of one of the few races he runs in the US each year.
As for Lukezic, he doesn't get nearly the same attention that Webb does, but this was a guy that went pro early largely because Reebok paid him a ton of money thinking he would be the one to challenge Mr. Webb. Lukezic ran great at the USA meet while at Georgetown as he was the runner-up in 2005 and went on to run 3:35.22 that year. In his first full year as a pro, he ran 3:33.28 in 2006. But since then, nothing faster than a 3:36.95. His 3:37.32 at Stanford on May 2nd, however, was pretty good even if he did lose to several collegians. But his 3:43 in NY was disappointing. Probably can't totally write him off yet, but in all honesty, we feel we are probably not just writing him off out of hope that he turns things around.
*And let us get back to Mr. Webb. There is one guy in the US who for the last 8 years makes you curious as to how he is going to do every single race - Alan Webb. He is a phenomenal talent. Just 2 years ago, he was nearly #1 in the world at 800 and 1,500 (on time). No other mid-d runner born outside of Africa has his talent, so we hope he can somehow put it all together again. Talent like that doesn't evaporate overnight. We put the asterisk up because we'd say if anyone could go from where he was at Reebok to somehow on the WChamp team, it would be him. Like if he got diagnosed with anemia or something, he might be able to pull it off.
And one more thing - those of you who said he should move up to the 5,000 last year are nuts. His 2008 year was baffling, but for a guy who nearly ran the fastest 800 and 1,500 in the world in 2007, to think the answer is to suddenly move up to 5,000 is crazy.
How Good Is Anna Willard?
Willard is having a fantastic year. If they ran the US Champs right now, we'd probably have to pick her as the favorite in the 800, 1,500 and steeple. There is probably zero chance she runs the 800. The crazy thing is that the event she is most likely to run - the steeple - may be the one she has the least chance to win. Willard's chances are very, very good in the steeple, we'd probably have to consider her to be the favorite in the event but her competition in the steeple - Jenny Barringer - is having the best year of any US distance woman not named Willard.
Speaking of Barringer, she ran a ridiculous world-leading 9:26.20 in steeple at her regionals in Norman, Oklahoma. Now you may be wondering why we say 9:26 is ridiculous for someone who has run 9:22. Well, it's because we believe it was 88 degrees at race time (we checked our iphone after we heard the time and it said, "Norman, OK - 88 degrees.").
More NCAA Regionals Coverage: The Link Of The Week - A Must Click: All NCAA Regional Results - Event By Event On Same Page *IAAF Recap of NCAA Regionals
More Reebok Coverage: Usain's Got A Rival: TYSON GAY 19.58!!!
Easy Money At Road Races
Before we get into this, we want to warn guys who were competing in the early 1980s to brace yourselves for a shocker as the following item will likely make you cringe.
Ok this news is actually a week old but it's worth mentioning. Do you think you could run 20km at 5:46 pace (71:45)? If so, you should have run in May 22nd Ogden Newspapers 20km race in Wheeling, WV as you would have got 2nd and won $1,000.
We guess we'll give a Thumbs Up to Kansas City's Rikki Hacker, who picked up the easy money but a Thumbs Down to the overall depth of road racing in America. If a foreigner doesn't show up, the times are just awful.
In that same race, third place went to John Brockenbrough, who ran 74:45. Instead of giving a Thumbs Down to the fact that a 6:05 pace won someone $750 bucks, we want to give Mr. Brockenbrough a huge Thumbs Up for getting third at age 50.
The easy money was the result of the fact that the newspapers all across the country are struggling, so the elite budget was way down. If you don't pay appearance money or at least travel money (for example, we know that some of the contestants who finished out of the money in the NYRR Healthy Kidney 10k in New York got $2,500 to show up), it's hard to expect good people to show up in West Virginia.
Kind of sad to see the Ogden Newspapers 20k struggling, as Steve Jones and Catherine Ndereba are past champions.
Easy money also was to be found at the Buffalo Marathon, where Brian Caldwell ran 2:39:23 for 2nd and picked up a grand.
And to think when the Boston marathon was still a an all amateur affair that 83 runners, most of them American, broke 2:20 in a single race.
Only In Texas/Most Interesting Message Board Thread Of Week
Dick's Sporting Goods Bolder Boulder 10k (& Last Week's Other Memorial Day Action)
The Bolder Boulder 10k was held last Monday on Memorial Day and many of you, including some of us at LetsRun.com, may have just glanced over the results as it came on Memorial Day. However, it was an event with a lot of compelling story lines that need to be told.
Where to begin? How about with the race itself.
The Winner - Tilahun Regassa
Ethiopiaplanet.com had an awesome profile of Tilahun Regassa that we and apparently nearly everyone ignored (from what we can tell it's only been viewed 68 times). At age 15, Regassa's father died and he ended up homeless and living on the streets for three years. Somehow he overcame these obstacles and the Ethiopian federation recognized his talent. Now he's one of the top road racers in the world. We highly recommend that you scroll down to the bottom of this article to lean about Regassa's rise to the top. It's simply unreal as summed up by the following few sentences:
"For three years he lived in the streets. He worked for a stone company and when hungry, heíd go to a local hotel where theyíd give him food.
He developed stomach problems, which he continues to have, but local coaches told Makkeí about his promise. He found him last year living in the streets of Nazret. He hadnít run competitively in five years, but the Ethiopian system put him in a hotel, fed him and trained him. In his first half-marathon, in Lille, France, last year, he ran a 59:34, nearly breaking the junior record."
The New Finish
The Denver Post's John Meyer wrote of the successful format change, which was widely praised by the athletes including 3rd-place female Yurika Nakamura of Japan who said, "Big stadium, so much cheering, it gave me the feeling of coming into the Olympic Stadium last summer." Nakamura was 13th in last year's Olympic marathon.
And last week's Week That Was also didn't have mention of the LA Marathon, which was also held on Memorial Day. Former Louisville runner Wesley Korir picked up almost $200,000 with a spectacular run.
More: Bolder Boulder: 19-Year-Old Tilahun Regassa With Smashing Victory Over Central Park 10k Record-Setter Tadese Tola *Simon Cheprot
in the Citizen's Race. *Men's Photos At Bolder Boulder Results: Men Women
The Next Big Craze In Road Running/Reality TV - Avoid Getting Eaten By A Lion
Men's race winner Philes Ongori gets our Quote of the Week award for summing up what it feels like to race inside a natoinal park in Kenya.
"To finish inside a game park knowing that wild animals could come out any time was exciting."
(Editor's note: The Lions are making a comeback at the Park)
Recommended Reads From Last Week
How Fam adopted a skateborading/rebel mentality to running.
How Fam now realizes, he can't always be a rebel to be successful.
1) Unhealthy Lifestyle Nearly Ruined Famiglietti Fam's disasterous 2007 is explained as the guy's diet was a joke.
Looking Ahead: It's Gonna Be A Great Next Two Weeks - Prefontaine, NCAAs and Usain Bolt
Remembering The Last Week With The Quotes of the Day - Day By Day:
Monday: "Texas A&M's Justin Oliver and Texas Tech's Gil Roberts
quickly over the first 200 meters of the anchor leg, building as much
as a 20-meter lead over the Bears. With 100 meters to go, Roberts, the
nation's top 100-meter runner, held a stride's advantage over Oliver
and a 15-meter lead over Quentin Iglehart-Summers. But the Baylor senior had a
kick left, making up ground over the last straightaway and lunging
across the line ahead of Roberts in a photo finish."