The Week That Was In Running - August 8-14, 2011
August 15, 2011
In our weekly recap, LetsRun urges everyone to calm down on the anti-doping front so mass hysteria doesn't turn the Mike Rodgers' and Steve Mullings' cases into a repeat of the Salem witch trials; then we wonder if history will repeat itself again at the 2011 worlds if Kenenisa Bekele tries to do what Haile G couldn't do in 2001; we then introduce you to all of America's 3:55 milers on the year and tell you how lucky Gabe Jennings was to be born in 1979 and not 1989. We end the weekly recap by turning our famed analysis to the sprint world. All of that plus an old-fashion lesson in sportsmanship and lots of talk about New Balance Falmouth.
Big Anti-Doping News ... But Let's Wait For The Facts To Emerge
The big news from last week happened on the anti-doping front, as sprinters Steve Mullings of Jamaica and Mike Rodgers or the US both tested positive last week. Now, as leaders of the anti-doping front, we are never afraid to talk about drugs and don't ignore controversies like so many people in the media who are afraid drug talk will hurt their revenue/ratings.
That being said, we think CAUTION needs to be word of the day in both cases.
The fact of the matter is Rodgers has tested positive for a stimulant that his agent claims came from a Red Bull-like drink. Remember a few years ago, four Jamaican sprinters, including Yohan Blake, got off with minor 3-month bans for a similar episode.
As for Mullings, he has a positive test in the past for steroids and a past history with LetsRun.com, as it was only the uproar of the LetsRun.com nation that got him pulled from the 2005 NCAA Outdoor Championships as at that time the NCAA didn't acknowledge IAAF drug positives. That being said, Mullings' positive hasn't been officially announced as his B sample hasn't even been tested. Does anyone remember when Bernard Lagat was similarly smeared with an A test release but the B came back negative?
Additionally, the Telegraph has reported the details of the Mullings case as follows: "It is understood that the greater sensitivity of drug testing equipment to detect the masking agent furosemide, was behind Mullings' positive." Well, people need to realize that if that's the case, sometimes people who test positive for furosemide get off scot free, as was the case last month with some Brazilian swimmers. And lastly, people need to realize that Mullings has said he is "confident his name will be cleared."
So our initial take is:
1) Let's wait for the facts come out in both cases before there is a rush to judgment.
2) It's a disgrace that Mullings' A positive was leaked to the press before the B has been tested. We are 100% for the drug testing to be as stringent as possible, but if we are going to hold the athletes to the highest possible standards and insist they are going to be responsible for whatever goes in their bodies for whatever reason, the least we can do is expect the same of those in charge of the testing.
As a result, for us, the real long-term story on the anti-doping front had nothing to do really with Mullings and Rodgers.
The big news was that it was announced last week that every single athlete at the 2011 World Championships will be blood tested.
This proves to us that at last track and field seems serious about ridding itself of illegal drugs. If the athletes truly believe that the governing body is serious about catching cheats and not willing to turn a blind eye, then they are much less likely to cheat.
Yes, all parts of society have cheats but most people don't grow up dreaming of being a cheat. Sadly, in some sports, cheating has at times become so rampant that it basically was the norm like in cycling, and when that happens, some people have felt compelled to cheat to keep up with everyone else. That excuse doesn't make it right in our minds, but we want to get rid of all the excuses.
Additionally, the introduction of new drug tests with a greater sensitivity is always a positive. We just wish that instead of basically leaking it ahead of time that the IAAF wouldn't tell anyone and would just nail everyone at the World Champs instead of giving most an advanced warning as is the case now and with EPO in 2000.
More: Every Single Athlete To Be Blood Tested At World Championships *BBC Article On Blood Testing - It'll Be Interesting To See Who Now Pulls Out *Steve Mullings Tests Positive Yet Again *LRC MB: "Major" Drug Bust From Jamaican Trials *Telegraph: "It is understood that the greater sensitivity of drug testing equipment to detect the masking agent furosemide, was behind Mullings' positive." Now it's important for people to realize that sometimes people testing positive for furosemide get off scot free, as was the case last month with some Brazilian swimmers. *Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) On Mullings: No Comment *Mike Rodgers Waiting On A Hearing And "B" Sample Test To Find Out If He's Eligible For Worlds *US's Mike Rodgers Tests Positive For Banned Stimulant
History Repeats Itself???
As we start to get ready for the 2011 World Championships, one of the big unanswered questions is will Kenenisa Bekele show up? If he does, Bekele in his first race of 2011 will be going for an unprecedented 5th title at 10,000. If that scenario seems familiar to you, then you are a true fan of the sport, as it should remind you of something that happened 10 years ago.
As LetsRun.com super-visitor David Graham pointed out to us in an email:
One interesting parallel between Geb (Haile Gebrslassie) and Bekele: in 2001, Geb was going for an unprecedented 5th World Title in the 10K. This year, if Bekele shows up at Worlds, he will also going for a 5th world title in the 10K. If he gets it, he'll be the first person in World Champs history to have 5 World titles in the same event in track. (In field events, I think Bubka got 6 in the pole vault and Lars Riedel 5 in the discus, but no one on the track has gotten more than four in one event ... Michael Johnson earned 8 gold [4 in the 400] and Carl Lewis earned 8 gold medals at the world champs, but no more than 3 in any one event ...)
So how did it turn for Geb in 2001? Well, he finished third and got the bronze.
Bekele hasn't raced at all since January of 2010 and hasn't raced on the track since September of 2009.
An American Wins Falmouth
With New Balance on board as a new 10-year title sponsor, the New Balance Falmouth Road Race offered heavily increased American prize money this year and the results were immediate, as Magdalena Lewy Boulet double dipped and picked up a much deserved $20,000 payday by becoming the first American winner in Falmouth since Jen Rhines in 2003, running 36:58 for the 7.1 miles to win comfortably over runner-up Diane Nukuri-Johnson of Burundi, who ran 37:13. On the men's side, the wait for the first American winner since Mark Curp in 1988 will continue, as Kenya's Lucas Rotich got the win late over 2008 Olympic 10,000 bronze medallist Micah Kogo, reversing what happened last week at the TD Bank Beach to Beacon.
However, the American money did result in a slew of American men showing up, and 8:19 steepler Brian Olinger ended up getting 4th overall and the American title and picked up $11,500 in the process (more than the race winner as he got $1,500 for 4th and $10,000 for first American). Kudos to Olinger for racing Falmouth and then for calling a spade a spade after the race when he said, "I'm very grateful, but it feels a little odd that I end up getting more than the winner does in fourth."
As good as it was to see Lewy Boulet win in Falmouth, one has to wonder why the women's winner of the TD Bank Beach to Beacon road race, Aheza Kiros of Ethiopia, didn't also run Falmouth. At the Beach to Beacon, Aheza Kiros beat Falmouth runner-up Diane Nukuri-Johnson by 35 seconds. At Falmouth, Nukuru-Johnson was just 15 seconds behind Lewy Boulet. It's hard to believe Kiros wouldn't have most likely beaten Lewy Boulet at Falmouth as well, and $10,000 paydays aren't easy to come by.
New Balance Falmouth Mile - 3:55.00 Is The New 4:00.00 & Gabe Jennings, You Were Born At The Right Time
There was a mile race held the day before the road race in Falmouth and the winners were American Jordan McNamara (3:54.89) and Canadian Nicole Edwards Sifuentes (4:31.98). When we saw McNamara's winning time of 3:54.89, our first thought was something along the lines of, "Wow that guy's getting pretty good. Could he possibly be in the mix for the 1,500 team in 2012?"
And that thought put us to work and what we've uncovered is just how crazy-deep the US is right now in the 1,500/mile. A sub-4 minute mile may still be the standard of excellence for the average person and it's certainly a feat that should be always be celebrated (on that note, kudos to LetsRun.com visitor Christian Hesch for breaking 4 for the first time at Falmouth at age 32 last week), but it is by no means truly elite in the year 2011.
We started wondering how many Americans are like McNamara and have run a sub-3:55.00 mile or its equivalent in 2011.
Go ahead and take a guess - sub-3:55.00, so 3:54.99 or better for the full mile, or it's 1,500 equivalent in the calendar year 2011?
If you add in all the guys that have run between 3:55 and 3:56 or its equivalent, there are
20 22 Americans in 2011 who have gone sub 3:56.00.
So a sub-3:55.00 is likely just going to put you in the mix for the final of the US Olympic Trials.
The full list appears below.
Now remember, to go to the Olympics, one is going to need the Olympic A standard of 3:35.50, which equates to about 3:52.78 for the full mile (our mile/1,500 conversions were created using the multiplier/divider of 1.0802).
To put how quickly US milers have improved over the last decade, please realize that in 2000, Gabe Jennings (pictured on the right) was one of the big names of the Olympic Trials. His 1,500 personal best of 3:35.21 is barely even under the "A" standard for 2012.
Note: Will Leer definitely has some dedicated fans out there as we had about four e-mails within a few hours of posting this article letting us know we forgot him on our list.
3 Quotes Of The Week That Weren't Quote Of The Day
#1 Yet Another Clever Drug Excuse
"He has one of those energy drinks at a club, he thought it was Red Bull, but it was one of those drinks with one of those stimulants in it."
- Agent Tony Campbell talking to TVJ about his client Mike Rodgers, US 100m 3rd-placer, about Rodgers' positive test last week. The excuse is nowhere close to the all-time best excuse offered by the USA's Dennis Mitchell, who had the 4 episodes of sex and five beers excuse.
#2 It's Good To See Sportsmanship Still Exists For Some Pro Runners
"For me, it is quite difficult to lie to someone when running ..."
- Kenya's Micah Kogo, explaining why he was truthful when asked by fellow competitor Lucas Rotich how much distance remained in the 2011 New Balance Falmouth Road Race after the 10k mark was passed in the 7.1 mile race. Kogo ended up losing to Rotich in the drive for home, but we applaud him for his honesty.
More: American Magdalena Lewy Boulet Wins Falmouth While Kenyan Lucas Rotich Gets Men's Title
LetsRun.com Provides Some Of Its Famed Analysis To The Sprints
Last weekend, Olympic silver medallist at 100m, Richard Thompson, was forced to run the Trinidad and Tobago Trials as a number of other guys also had the standard for Daegu. We bet in hindsight he's happy the federation made him run the Trials, as he blitzed a 9.85 to become the 9th-fastest man in history.
Now since some guy on the message board was up in arms that we didn't have anything up on this race until more than a day later (simply because no other major news outlet did either, so we didn't realize it happened): Is LetsRun blind to sprints?, we thought we'd analyze this fine performance in greater detail.
With Tyson Gay (9.79 this year) out of Worlds and possibly Steve Mullings (9.80 this year) and Michael Rodgers (9.85 this year) out as well, many are now wondering if this makes Thompson the man most likely to win Worlds if Bolt falters, given the fact that Asafa Powell, who has run 9.78 this year, is known for shrinking from the occasion.
In our minds it does not for two simple reasons.
1) We'll point out that Yohan Blake ran the equivalent of a 9.85 in still conditions when he ran a 9.95 into a headwind into London. Thompson's 9.85 benefited from a 1.0 m/s tailwind, so it only equates to a 9.90 in still conditions.
2) In running 9.85 last week, Thompson beat 2nd placer Kesto Bledman by .21. In London, Blake beat Bledman by .28. Oh yeah, in that same race, Blake also beat Thompson by .20.
Regardless, 9.85 is a very good time and if Thompson can recreate it at Worlds, he'll almost certainly medal.
*Science Of Sport Continues It's Look Into How Genes & Practice Influence Athletic Performance *Science Of Sport Blog Analyzes Whether The 10,000 Hour Rule Of Deliberate Practice, As Popularized By Malcolm Gladwell, Is True The answer? Nope.
*Thanks To A "Crazy" HS Coach, Charles Jock Has Finally Realized He Was Born To Run Despite being the San Diego middle school mile champ, Jock hated running and loved basketball and only agreed to do the long jump, but after fouling on his first three jumps, the coach made him do the 800 instead and the rest is history. *LRC MB Talk on Jock Article
Quotes Of The Day From Last Week
Monday: "As to Sunday's workout I don't have much to say other then it was shit and I was pissed. You have a go like that during a stretch of dull unimpressive training like I've been doing, particularly coming back and it's very frustrating. Makes you feel like you want to quit. I hesitate to write that because I don't want 50 comments saying don't quit, etc. But I think it is important for people to hear that we all get down and want to pack it in. I wanted to quit many times in HS and college, just wanted to walk away. I wasn't nearly as good as I thought I should be, I was regularly beaten by guys I knew I was working harder than and then in college I was hurt all the time. On top of that other peoples success always seems so easy from the outside. It seems they never struggled and you should just walk away. Now I'm no world beater and I've not accomplished all my goals but as someone who could have easily walked away a thousand times and no one would have thought anything of it I can tell you, even if I never run 1 second faster in anything, that it is HARD, we ALL have bad days, we ALL get frustrated and IF you just keep picking yourself up and dusting yourself off and getting back at it you will reap the rewards. Maybe not the exact ones you want but rewards all the same."
- 2:14 marathoner (7th at the Olympic Trials) Nate Jenkins blogging about how even the most elite runners have bad days, go through rough periods in their training, and even think about quitting. But the ones who will "reap the rewards" are the ones who keep going anyway.
Sunday: "With the addition of women's triple jumper Yamile Aldama to the squad for the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, the transformation of Britain's track and field team into something akin to the ragged collection of travellers that attach themselves to Clint Eastwood in the film The Outlaw Josey Wales is complete."
- UK writer Martin Samuel talking about one of the worst "plastic Brits" yet, 38-year-old triple jumper Yamile Aldama. Come 2012, Aldama will have competed for three different countries at three different Olympics. She lived in and competed for Cuba for the majority of her life, before moving to the UK. However, living in the UK, she competed for Sudan for 7 years before deciding to switch allegiances to GB in 2010. The timing is a little more than convenient with the 2012 London Olympics just around the corner.
- San Diego running coach Kevin McCarey writing in 2005. Yesterday we had a quote from McCarey about Navy Seal Jon Tumilson, a San Diego runner, who was killed in the helicopter crash in Afghanistan earlier this week.
Friday: "He was magnificent- he lived BIG - and he was a very big country boy - with goals - with love for our way of life - Trust me, he had no fear - on his first tour I said - 'keep your head down' - HE SAID, 'NO, I'm gonna make that other guy keep his head down.' - REMEMBER HIS SMILE, HIS ATTITUDE AT OUR WORKOUTS - HE ALWAYS WENT FOR IT - WE WILL ALL MISS THE BIG MAN!"
- San Diego running coach Kevin McCarey posting on Facebook about Navy Seal Jon Tumilson, a San Diego runner, who was killed in the helicopter crash in Afghanistan earlier this week.
Thursday: "It wasn't just that he played basketball. He was a basketball player.
That's what he did. It was obvious in his body, in his ability, obvious
especially in a place clear out of sight - in his heart.
So why couldn't this guy see it, too? ...
So why did this coach, this crazy man with all the enthusiasm, this guy who would start talking, start selling, and just wouldn't stop doing either, keep bugging him about coming out for track and field? Charles hated running, totally abhorred it."
- Excerpt from an excellent piece in the Orange County Register written by Jeff Miller on how Charles Jock only reluctantly did track (actually he refused to do track and started only with field and jumps as he was a bball player) after being continually harassed by HS coach Emmitt Dodd, who only needed to watch Jock jog one lap of the track at basketball practice to know he was made for running.
- Eliud Kipchoge, 2003 World 5,000m champion, who has amazingly made every Kenyan team since 2003.
Tuesday: "I certainly came along at the right time. Track was at its zenith. And there wasn't nearly the gap between a high school runner and the best in the world like there is today. I was blessed, and I know it, and I wouldn't change anything ... Today, athletes in (individual sports) might dodge another because they feel losing would diminish their (luster), but we wanted to run against one another, whether it was in London or Los Angeles. It was exciting for the viewers, but I want to tell you: It was exciting for us, as well."
- Jim Ryun talking about running during the Golden Era of track and field. We don't blame athletes for not racing one another today. We blame the nature of the sport and the agents.