Where Your Dreams Become Reality
The Week That Was September 7 - Sept 13, 2009
We know many of you don't have time to keep up day-to-day with all of the happenings all over the globe in the world of running. So each week, we try to give you the highlights in our Week That Was recap.
This week, the major league track season came to a close with the World Athletics Final (WAF), where Anna Willard and Kenenisa Bekele impressed us once again and Usain Bolt was upstaged by Carmelita Jeter as everyone paused to ask, "Is she clean?" Plus some fine road racing performances by Brett Gotcher and Colleen De Reuck in New Haven as well as Sammy Kitwara in Rotterdam. And even though he got crushed, we tell you why it's time to get excited for Sammy Wanjiru's run at the BOA Chicago Marathon in less than a month and prove once and for all that we don't hate the Oregon Ducks.
New Haven 20k - Brett Gotcher & American Men Impress As Colleen De Reuck Defies Time
A stud as prep (Foot Locker finalist, #5 2-miler as a senior, US junior XC team in HS), Gotcher was sort of your under-the-radar very good collegiate runner who was never an All-American (PRs of 3:44 for 1,500m and at 28:51 at 10,000m. For guys like that, options as a pro are very, very limited. Thankfully, he hooked up with McMillan Elite as one of their original members and has blossomed at the longer distances as a pro. In 2008, he dropped his PR to 28:27 and that has translated to some great performances in 2009. He ran a 62:09 half in Houston in January before representing the US at the World XC Championships in March. But the win in New Haven was huge for him as, despite his accomplishments, he was basically living at the poverty level and the $8,000 first place check will come in handy.
Brett's coach Greg McMillan summed it up perfectly when he said, "You have to understand that most of our athletes live at or below the poverty level. A lot of people don't know that, but distance runners coming out of college, most of them are pretty poor. So when they can have a day like Brett had today, that changes their world."
We commend Brett for pursuing his dreams of being an elite runner as most Stanford grads aren't making $8,000 a year at their desk job. Brett's post-race quote to the New Haven Register was classic as well: "I work 20 hours in a print shop like Kinko's, but it's locally owned, and that's what pays the bills right now. I mean for me right now, $8,000 is life changing. That's my yearly salary right now at the print shop, so this is definitely a big positive for me."
So major kudos to Brett. Gotcher's 58:57 win puts him in some good company, as the last two Americans to break 59:00 on that course were Abdi Abdirahman (58:42 in 2005) and Meb Keflezighi (58:56 in 2003).
We feel like the nearly everyone who raced in New Haven on the men's side deserves kudos as the yimes were really fast this year. Seven guys broke 1 hour, which is the most ever. Looking back at the last few years, 2 went sub-60 in 2008, 3 in 2007, 4 in 2006, 1 in 2005 and 2004, 5 in 2003, 2 in 2002 and zero in 2001. US distance running just keeps getting better and better.
Women's distance running still is no where near as deep as men's, as proved by the fact that a 45-year-old won the US women's 20k championship. Admittedly, she put in an amazing performance, as Colleen De Reuck won in 67:21 - a new world record for those 45 and up by some 7 minutes! De Reuck does well in New Haven, as 11 years ago she set a 20k world record of 65:11 there. 67:21 is pretty fast - it "equates" to just under 2:30 for the marathon, so De Reuck likely will be a force at the US women's marathon championships in Minnesota.
More: Gotcher captures ‘life changing’ championship *Gothcer's McMillan Elite Bio *Gotcher's Stanford Bio *Brief Chat With Colleen DeReuck
World Athletics Final - Anna Willard Leads US Distance Charge
We can see why fans might think Willard should make the 800 as her main event in 2009 but think that would be mistake. Willard is so much stronger than everyone else at 800 that she does really well in tactical 800s run around 2:00, but can she really expect to be a world contender with a 1:58.80 PR? We say no.
In 2009, Willard is the 10th-fastest woman for the year with her 1:58.80 PR. But last year, she would have only been the 19th fastest. Contrast that to the 1,500, where she is the 4th-fastest women in 2009.
We hope she continues to train for the 1,500 (or steeple) but hope she plans on racing the 800 a little more often in 2010. In 2009, the 800 was probably a pleasant surprise for Willard.
Speaking of the World Athletics Final, it certainly was a great late-season meet for a slew of American mid-d and distance runners. In addition to Willard, the USA picked up top-3 finishes by Leonel Manzano (2nd in the 1,500 ahead of the world champ Kamel), Bernard Lagat (2nd in the 3k behind Bekele), Maggie Vessey (2nd in the 800), and Christin Wurth-Thomas (3rd in the 1,500). Not too shabby.
Bekele - A (Nearly) Perfect 2009 Track Season
David Rudisha Wins & Gets Two Quotes Of The Week
Quote Of The Week #1 - A Compliment For Rudisha
"He certainly is cut a above us all. If he remains focussed and disciplined, certainly Kipketer will have to be worried about his record. For the first time it looks, for real, that a heir to the throne has been identified."
An Olympic champ saying you are "a cut above." Compliments don't get any better than that. But if you pump up a 20-year-old, you must make sure you don't let it all go to his head. Thus, his coach brings him down with our Quote of the Week #2.
Quote of the Week #2 - A Putdown For Rudisha
Usain Bolt Produces Yet Again But Is Overshadowed By Carmelita Jeter
10.67 is insanely fast for a woman. It's the 5th-fastest 100 meters ever run by a woman. Three times, the late Florence Griffith-Joyner ran faster (10.49 [WR], 10.61, 10.65) and once Marion Jones ran faster (10.65). Considering that Jones is a confirmed drug cheat and many suspect that Flo-Jo was one as well, questions as to whether Jeter is clean have exploded over the internet (although to be fair, many were already wondering if she was clean to begin with).
Skeptics will say that the 29-year-old Jeter has gone from a wind legal college PR of 11.61 in 2003 (11.43 wind aided) to 10.67 now. Heck, coming into this year, Jeter's PR was only 10.97. So she's chopped off a ton in a very short amount of time. Believers in Jeter will say that in college she was a D2 athlete who suffered from hamstring problems from 2003 to 2005.
All we'll do is look at the short term and point out that Shelly-Ann Fraser ran 10.73 to win gold in Berlin. Considering that Jeter was 3-3 head to head against Fraser in 2009, we'll say that we aren't totally stunned by the 10.67 by Jeter, as she's been as good as Fraser most of the year.
Prior to this weekend, Jeter's PR was the 10.83 she ran in the semis of Worlds, where she got 3rd when many thought she would get gold or silver. Even the most cynical of all people aren't going to claim that a new drug made Jeter go from 10.83 to 10.67. So we'll take the optimistic view and praise Jeter and hope she's clean. Watch the race on the right and see for yourself - it clearly was a thing of beauty.
More: *Mboard: Is Carmelita Jeter clean? (born 24 November 1979) *Mboard: Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell, Carmelita Jeter, Shelly Ann-Fraser, Kerron Stewart- clean or not? *Mboard: Jeter - 10.67! (Hahaha)
Fortis Rotterdam Half Marathon - Sammy Kitwara's Spectacular 2009 Continues
All we can say is - unreal.
Not to put a damper on our praising of the US athletes fine performance at the New Haven 20k, but Kitwara hit the 20k mark in Rotterdam in 55:59. Yes, 55:59.
So far in 2009, Kitwara has done the following: In March he won the World's Best 10k in Puerto Rico (27:26) to pick up $30,000 and then defeated the great Haile Gebrselassie in a half marathon (59:47) in the Netherlands. In May, he won the prestigious Bay to Breakers in a course record and picked up another $40,000 and then crushed Ethiopian road racing senation Tilahun Regassa in a 10k in Puerto Rico to pick up another $8,000 (28:32 to 28:45). In June, he ran the fastest 10,000 ever run on Kenyan soil (27:44.46) to win the Kenyan Berlin World Championships Trials. In July, he won the Atlanta's Peachtree Road Race in 27:22 to pick up anothr $32,500, and now he wins the Fortis Rotterdam Half Marathon in 58:58.
It literally doesn't get any better than that unless your name is Bekele. And for his efforts, somehow Kenya decided not to run him in the 10k in Berlin.
Attention Athletics Kenya: In the future get rid of the bureaucrats and let LetsRun.com pick your team. We won't leave Kitwara on the bench.
Wanjiru A Well-Beaten 9th
People need to remember that last spring prior to Flora London marathon, people were wondering if Wanjiru, whose world record is 58:33, had let the Olympic gold medal get to him as he only managed a 61:25 7th-place showing in Lisbon in his last prep race for London. Well, 35 days later, his 2:05:10 victory silenced the critics. Chicago is 28 days after Rotterdam. So it clearly looks like Wanjiru is in great shape. If he's in good enough shape to win the London marathon, then he'll likely win in Chicago. The question is whether the 2:03:59 world record a possiblity.
Time will tell. But American distance fans should be excited as Wanjiru is clearly fit, as he went out in 13:37 and ran 61:08. Plus, he's totally focused on Chicago as he told the IAAF afterwards: "The conditions were not ideal. I could not follow as I am in full training for the Chicago marathon.''
Honestly, if you are training properly for a marathon, you probably don't want to be in 58-minute shape a month out, as it's too fast. One needs to be working on their endurance at that stage.
More: Post-Race: Kitwara blazes 58:58 in Rotterdam *Mboard: Kitwara 58.58 Rotterdam
Caster Semenya's Story Still A Worldwide Story
But to be fair to her competitors, we think that everyone else in the field should be moved up a spot and two gold medals should be awarded. Major kudos to LetsRun.com visitor Matthew Goodwin for the suggestion about awarding two gold medals as it's a brilliant solution.
Semenya deserves the world's sympathy and support, as what she is facing must be extremely difficult. Finding out you are basically are intersexed is tough enough. Finding it out through the media when you are a teenager might be too much to bear and thus no surprsie that there are now fears that Semenya might take her own life. Butana Komphela, the chairman of South Africa's Parliament's portfolio committee on sport and recreation, was certainly being dramatic when he told the Saturday Star the following, but his statement had a lot of truth to it: "She has been placed on an altar for all the world to see. If she commits suicide, it will be on all our heads."
More Semenya: *Fears For Caster's Safety Rise *MBoard: CASTER SEMENYA goes in hiding, scared, devasted and possibly sucidal- LEAVE HER ALONE! *A War Over Internal Testes: South African Sports Minister Threatens World War 3 If Semenya Is Banned *Must Read/Hear If You Want The True Story: The 2 Most Informed Members Of The Media Discuss What They Know About Semenya Ross Tucker of Science of Sport (based in South Africa) points us to an audio interview done with news breaker Mike Hurst of The Daily Telegraph. (click on "audio") *South African Fortress Around Semenya Could Get Her Banned Regardless Of Tests *IAAF Officially Comments On Leaked News Nick Davies, IAAF spokesman: "ASA's actions can have serious consequences for Semenya if we are not able to speak to her soon. In short, it will come down to her refusing to co-operate. Had it been a drugs issue, she would have been suspended a long time ago, but this is a unique problem for which the IAAF's rules do not make provision. It is important for us to talk to her about the results of the tests.'' *IAAF Source Leak: Semenya Is A Hermaphrodite And Will Be Banned *Based In South Africa, Ross Tucker, PhD Gives His Response *IAAF Source: Semenya Tests Show She/He Is A Hermaphrodite, Has No Ovaries Or Womb *Awesome Semenya Quote: "God made me the way I am and I accept myself. I am who I am and I'm proud of myself." *New: Caster Semenya's YOU Homepage Makeover Photos
Random Odds & Ends
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Email Of The Week / Duck Haters? Not Quite
Well, LRC is please to have allowed former Duck harrier Curtis Suver to graduate. Suver - a graduate student at UO in psychology (small groups lab) who is doing his masters thesis on group dynamics on cross-country and track teams, specifically gender differences - approached all of the major running websites about helping him out with his thesis. He needed a ton of people to fill out his online survey. Well, the big corporate sites of course said, "No." But LRC is a community and we said yes. And the response has been huge.
Curtis wrote us this week to report the following:
I wanted to thank you again for putting my survey up and being so
helpful! I have over 600 that have filled it out now and should finish
everything and graduate by the end of the fall at the latest.
Suver's online Survey can be found here: http://psych-survey.uoregon.edu/sgl/index-nonsona.html.
New Haven 20k
Interesting Message Board Posts Time.com Reports: Why Exercise WON'T Make You Thin ...
Recommended Reads From Last Week
1) Addis Fortune Magazine Takes A Close Look At Kenenisa Bekele's Monetary Earnings This is a really fascinating article as it gives you an idea of how money inspires Bekele and the huge monetary difference between being the world's best distance runner and the world's best golfer (or even the world's best sprinter).
2) Brother Colm O'Connell Says David Rudisha Can Break Kipketer's 800m Record And he should know considering he's coached so many of their great runners at St. Patrick's.
Remembering The Last Week With The Quotes of the Day - Day-By-Day:
Monday: "Any race, any race ... ANY RACE. I am not afraid of anyone."
Saturday: The South African Caster Semenya "Game" Quickly Unravels
does [the test result] matter? The issue is not whether she's a
hermaphrodite. She's a girl. Caster remains our heroine, and we
strongly believe that our Government and all well-meaning citizens
should protect Ms Semenya, her rights and her interests."
- Athletics South Africa (ASA) threatens World War 3 if their runner with internal testes is banned from competing as a female. Click here (and click "audio" in the video box) to hear an absolutely crucial interview with Mike Hurst that is undoubtedly the most clear-headed, well-informed statements you will hear on the Semenya debacle.