The Weeks That Were: Tirunesh Dibaba Returns, Trevor Dunbar Follows In His Dad's Footsteps & Meb Tries To Make The Olympic Team On 41 Days Of Running

By LetsRun.com
January 3, 2012

In case you've been (like us) more focused on the Holidays than keeping on top of the limited action in the world of running over the last two weeks, we are here for you. Below you will find a recap of the last two week's in the world of running in case you've been AWOL. From the return of Tirunesh Dibaba to Meb trying to make the Olympic team off of 41 days of running to another high-profile transfer, we've got you covered.

Double Olympic Champion Tirunesh Dibaba Returns To Competition

The big news of the last two weeks was the fact that Beijing Olympic 5,000 and 10,000 champ Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia returned to action with a road race win in Madrid. It was Dibaba's first race since August of 2010 and came around the same time that Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot was being named as Track & Field News 2011 Athlete Of The Year. With Dibaba absent for all of 2011, Cheruiyot certainly filled the void, as Cheruiyot was undefeated on the track in 2011. In case people had forgotten all about Dibaba, we have scrounged up a few facts to consider now that Dibaba has returned.

Here are a few things to consider now that Dibaba is back:

August 13, 2010 - The date of Dibaba's last track race.

August 13, 2010 - Also the date of 2011 world 5,000 and 10,000 champion Vivian Cheruiyot's last loss in a track race. In that London 5,000, Dibaba trounced Cheruiyot 14:36.31 to 14:38.17.

September 12, 2009 - Date of Dibaba's last loss in a track race (She enjoyed an undefeated 2010 campaign before missing 2011 with injuries).

We certainly are anticipating some great clashes between the two stars.

More: Kenyans Beware - Tirunesh Dibaba Is Back *Tirunesh Dibaba And Teenager Hagos Gebrehiwot Win In Madrid *IAAF Preview Of New Year's Eve 10k In Madrid

Trevor Dunbar Transfers From Portland To Oregon/Reason #1 To Be Skeptical Of All Press Releases, Interviews, Even Newspaper Articles

Over the Holidays, Portland's #1 man Trevor Dunbar announced that he is transferrring from Portland to Oregon. With Matt Centrowitz going pro and Lukas Verzbicas leaving, a lot of scholarship money had opened up at Oregon and instantly it was filled by the 13:42 man Dunbar. This comes not long after it was announced that Maine native Riley Masters was leaving the University of Maine to compete at the University of Oklahoma. Evidently, knocking 18 seconds off his mile time and being the first Black Bear to go sub-4 wasn't enough for Masters.

Certainly, individuals are free to do what is best for themselves, but these moves are yet another example of what we were talking extensively in our last Week That Was - everyone in society nowadays does what is in their own individual best interest but never takes a step back and thinks about the impact they are having on a larger entity. We guess if coaches are allowed to jump ship after a year and screw over programs, we understand why the kids want to do it, but it's still a disconcerting trend in society.

As for Dunbar, the thing that made his decision almost comical in our minds came down to two specifics.

1) His dad did the exact same thing when he was in college. Started at Portland but transferred to Oregon.

2) The interview Dunbar recently gave to Portland's quarterly alumni magazine, the award-winning Portland Magazine. You can read the whole thing for yourself on the left, but let us give you the highlights.

"I got recruited fairly heavily, and I thought long and hard about Oregon, but I made the right decision. Coach Conner is open, honest, colorful, and he's brilliant at wanting the world for us but letting us rise to it ourselves, you know? We can see how much he wants success for us but somehow he makes that your goal. Running is the best of all worlds, sports-wise - it's your drive and motivation, but you have 25 guys for banter and camaraderie ...

I want to enjoy this time, not miss a moment of the experience. I made the right decision, coming to the University of Portland, and I want to savior every bit of it."

And people wonder why we don't love blogs or do more interviews ourselves. Because people just tell you what you want to hear.

More: *Portland Tribune Writer Feels For Portland's Rob Conner As He Loses Trevor Dunbar To Supposedly Better Program (Oregon) *MB: Trevor Dunbar is a sell out *Trevor Dunbar's Move Reminiscent Of LeBron James *Bangor native Riley Masters transferring from University of Maine to Oklahoma *Riley Masters confirms transfer to Oklahoma in January

5 Quotes Of The Week (That Weren't Quotes Of The Day)

#1 Meb Keflezighi Updates Us On How His Attempt To Make The 2012 Olympic Marathon Team Just 69 Days After PRing At The 2011 ING New York City Marathon Is Going

"It's always a challenge to push your body to get ready for a marathon, and it's even tougher just 69 days after your last one. It took a little while to get back into it, but things are good now. I'm OK with how training has been going ...

I'm definitely not completely satisfied. I started really putting in miles the week of December 5, which was a little later than I'd planned. When I ran New York, I got an irritation on my foot that got infected, and it caused me to miss about a week and a half of training. I got in some workouts on the bike, but I couldn't go in the water because of the foot. But when I started back running I put a donut on the spot and there were no problems. I didn't rush back, just started off with 3, 4, 6 mile runs, and pretty soon things started coming along. But for a couple of weeks my wife didn't want to talk to me because my mood wasn't so great."

Coming back 69 days later is by no means easy. Now it looks from what Meb told Running Times that after the setback, Meb will be trying to make the team on 41 days of running.

Don't count him out. After all, he does have a NYC win and an Olympic medal on his resumé and he's a savvy racer. We loved this quote by Meb about said about the actual race: "Coach Joe Vigil used to say what counts on race day is the nine inches above your shoulders."

More: A Brief Chat With Meb Keflezighi

#2 A Struggling Track & Field Athlete With Zero Sponsors Talks About What Being Allowed To Have Two Sponsors' Logos On His Shirt Will Do For Him

"What sponsor is going to give you money to be on your shirt if no one sees it? You might as well put it on your pajamas."

- American pole vaulter Paul Litchfield talking in a New York Times article about the impact allowing a second logo on a uniform will due for him as he chases his Olympic dream. If you don't even have one sponsor, being allowed to have two won't help at all and Litchfield is the perfect example of this. "Last summer, with $5.59 in his checking account, $378.87 in savings and $4,501.35 in credit card debt," Litchfield, according to his website, "sold T-shirts to finance his trip to the national championships."

More: As Sponsorships Dwindle, Track Officials Loosen The Rules For Athletes

#3 13:18/28:08 Guy Brent Vaughn Talking About What It's Like Now To Be Training With Sub-13:00 Guys As A Member Of Jerry Schumacher's Nike Group

"The first day, the workout hurt so bad just halfway through, I was kind of wondering if Jerry was for real, was he really going to have us continue that workout as long as he planned from the beginning. The first seven weeks of workouts was really tough, it was like a race almost every time out in workouts for me. And like you said, I'm training with guys who've run 27:20 and sub-13:00 and they're just incredible athletes. I was and I still am just trying to hang on."

- Vaughn, the 2011 USA XC Champ, will be making his marathon debut at the Trials in Houston next weekend.

More: A Brief Chat With Brent Vaughn

#4 Beijing Olympic 5,000 & 10,000 Champion Tirunesh Dibaba Gives Her Thoughts After Running (& Winning) Her First Race Since August Of 2010

"Today's was my first competition for so long, so I have to be satisfied. I'm now fully recovered from injuries, my trainings are going well and I look forward to defending my two (5,000 & 10,000) Olympic golds in London next summer."

- Dibaba's quote comes from an IAAF recap of her Madrid road race, where Dibaba also says in the future she'd like to run the marathon but knows that Paula Radcliffe's world record is way, way out there and will be "really tough to break."

More: Tirunesh Dibaba And Teenager Hagos Gebrehiwot Win In Madrid

#5 -
Portland Tribune Writer Feels For Portland Coach Rob Conner As He Loses His Top Runner, Trevor Dunbar, To A Supposedly Better Program (Oregon)

"Doesn't seem right. That's life, I guess."

That was the concluding statement of the article by Kerry Eggers, who pointed out that Portland has been better than Oregon at the West Regional 5 of the last 10 years in cross-country and only two Ducks have run faster than the Pilots' best 5,000 man at 13:40.

He also points out that Portland actually cares about the athletes' well being and releases them when they want to transfer, whereas Oregon doesn't return the favor.

Good Recommended Reads From The Last Two Weeks

*Japan Running News Recaps The Life And Career Of Sammy Wanjiru Barcelona Olympics marathon silver medalist Koichi Morishita: "The people who were supporting Sam were only motivated by the money flowing around him, not from the heart, and they didn't give him the kind of support he really needed. You hear a lot of disturbing things about his family too, his wife, and I can't help but think that he should have had more people around him who cared about his soul."
*After D3 Outdoor NCAAs, Makrobondo "Dee" Salukombo Ran 120 Miles Back Home Over 3 Days He left without bringing food, water, money, a phone, or even a plan where to stay. He did this to raise money for his old school in the Republic of Congo.
*The Irish Times' Ian O'Riordan Writes About 3 Weeks Of Training In Iten Kenya
*Desi Davila: How She Went From 3rd Runner On A PAC-10 Team To 3rd-Fastest American Marathoner Of All Time Great article starting with Davila in HS and working all the way through college, the Hansons, and Boston. Gives great insight into her training and the Hansons program with lots of good quotes.
*As Sponsorships Dwindle, Track Officials Loosen The Rules For Athletes
*Junior College Cross-Country Champ Could Face Deportation Ayded Reyes is a top runner with a 3.5 GPA who has been offered scholarships to many universities (including an Ivy League school), but spent 5 days in prison when it was discovered that her parents brought her to the US from Mexico illegally when she was 2 years old.
*Great Overview Of The Breakout Year (And Career Leading Up To It) For Morgan Uceny Coach Terrence Mahon: "Since I believe that Morgan was the best 1,500 runner in the world in 2011 (minus some bad luck with an unfortunate fall in the world final), then I don't really think too much needs to change to be a podium athlete in London." *MB: Morgan Uceny article
*Remember Dwight Phillips' Wife - Valerie (Williams) Phillips - Was Once Quite A Jumper Herself Their kids may not realize that their mom once jumped, but she's still got the high school TJ state record in MD. Dwight credits her with a coaching tip that led to his breakthrough. A great article on love, family, etc. Perfect for Xmas.
*Dyestat Takes A Look At The Amazing Ekiden Relays In Japan, Including The HS Nationals That Are Held On Xmas Imagine a US high team of 7 HS boys who have an average 5,000-meter best of 14:11.28. That exists in Japan.
*USATF Profiles Former 8:19 Steepler And Now Marathon Hopeful Brian Olinger
*Professional Sprinting With Handicapped Starts, Big Prize Money & Tons Of Betting Used To Be Rage In Britain In Early 1900s What attracted the runners wasn't the joy of competition, the music of the Annon British Legion Pipe Band ("Champions of Dumfries and Galloway") or even the teas ("supplied by Spencers of Denton Burn"), but the prize money. The winner of a race at the Mickley show grabbed £70. At that time John was a junior police constable. His take home pay was £3 and 10 shillings a week.

Other News Of Note From The Last Two Weeks

Frank Horwill 1927-2012 Horwill founded the British Milers Club and coached Tim Hutchings (most of you in the US know him as the the really good British announcer on track TV broadcasts; his real claim to fame was a 4th in the 1984 Olympic 5k). BMC Remembrances here.

Wow - We Didn't See This Coming: World Indoor TJ Champ And WR Holder Teddy Tamgho Banned For 6 Months For Fighting With Female At French Training Camp Conveniently, the suspension ends in May - well before the Olympics - but he will miss out on defending his world indoor title (assuming that was possible, as he broke his ankle).
*"Not clear if Tamgho actually punched the woman"
*Tamgho has "expressed his regrets and acknowledges the verdict."
*Teddy Tamgho Does A Rap In Response To His 6-Month Suspension YouTube video here.

Pan Arab Games
Djibouti's Hassan Ayanleh Wins Quick 1,500m, Olympic Silver Medallist Ismail Ismail Upset In 800
Ayanleh, who had never run under 3:42 before, won in a quick 3:34 over Qatar's Hamza Driouch, who claims to be only 17. Maybe one day they can be as good as Matt Centrowitz.
Former Kenyan Silas Kirui (Now Ali Hasan Mahboob) Wins Gold For Bahrain In 10k At Arab Games

NCAA DII 5k/XC Champ Neely Spence Turns Pro She ran 15:27.72 for 5k last year, finishing 7th at US Champs and 8th at the Pan Am Games.
*College Press Release *FloTrack Interview *MB: Neely Spence Leaves College to attempt 2012 Olympic Dream

Michael Johnson Says Bolt Can Break 400 WR Maybe not if he trains like this: TMZ photo gallery of Bolt partying.

And Vig's Replacement At UVA Is ... Bryan Fetzer??? The former distance-based program named a former football player (but recruiting whiz) to head it's program, as all the gossip at the coaches' convention proved to be way off. MB: Fetzer to UVA as new Director of TNF and CC *Vallmon to UVA

2005 HJ World Champ Kajsa Bergqvist Comes Out Of The Closet "As lesbian as I feel today, as heterosexual I felt when I was together with (my ex-husband). But when I get old and look back on my life perhaps one can see that I'm bisexual." *Translated Article From Swedish *Wikipedia

Former NFL Star, 1980 Olympian And Current Star Masters Track & Field Athlete Willie Gault Sued By SEC In Stock-Pumping Fraud


Quotes Of The Day From The Week:

Monday 1/2: "If the shoe companies went away, you could have 100 logos and nobody would be as well off as they are today."

- Agent Mark Wetmore in an article on the New York Times on the new relaxed logo restrictions in track and field which started yesterday. One thing most people have forgotten is the rules have not changed at all for the Olympic Trials. They operate under their own rules. An executive for Affirmative Insurance wrote us wanting to sponsor a few athletes and was told it wasn't possible for the Trials.

Sunday 1/1: Happy New Year!

Saturday 12/31: Keith Hanson: "You're going to have a lot of years of putting in mileage that nobody sees. People won't know your name. It can take five or six years. This is what it is."

Desiree Davila: "I know what it is. I still want to be a part of it."

Kevin Hanson: "Okay. We'll give it a try. We'll see."

- The Hansons-Brooks Distance Project founders, Keith and Kevin Hanson, talking with Desiree Davila six years ago when she first joined their group. Keith Hanson actually said they "negatively recruited her" because she was coming from California and Arizona and they weren't sure she'd be able to handle the weather. Clearly she could.

Friday 12/30: "Some of the other marathoners would probably laugh at it. But 80 minutes used to be a long run for me. Now it's just my normal morning run. I've pushed my volume up to 95 to 100 miles a week."


"It's the number one thing people have said to me when I bump into them at the running store or some place. They say, 'Make sure you respect the distance.' And you know what? I don't know what that means. I don't want to cloud my head with a lot of scenarios. I know I'm not going out in 1:01 for the first half. It's more likely to be 5:10s going out. Whatever, I just want to keep it simple. I just want to find the players, to stick with the lead pack, and to come home strong the last 5K."

- 8:19 steepler Brian Olinger, talking about his preparations and thoughts ahead of the US Olympic Marathon Trials. Olinger qualified with a 10k time and this will be his first marathon and first race longer than 7 miles. One of the marathoners who might laugh at his comment could be Meb Keflezighi, as he actually said word for word in his interview, "No matter how it's run, whether it's uphill, downhill, or flat, a marathon is 26.2 miles, and you have to respect the distance."

Thursday 12/29: "When you have run 3:40, you are just waiting for the magical one to come along because that's the only one people really care about; nobody really understands that conversion. When you know you are in that kind of shape you just want to go out and get under the 4 minutes."

- Ireland's "Bullet with the Mullet," Ciarán O'Lionaird, talking about the first time he broke 4 minutes, this year at the Morton Mile in Dublin (3:57.99). His quote is exactly why in our last "Week That Was," we argued that the mile should be run in the US, not the 1,500. Go ahead and ask some non-runner friends or family if they know what the 1,500 is. We did and you might be surprised to find out that even some very smart people just don't know.

Wednesday 12/28: "I was so new to running. In my first college cross-country meets, I ran 19:50 or 20:00 for 5K. But I improved, and I had fun, and I decided to just stick with it. Since I started so late in running, I don't think I have nearly peaked yet. Also, for two years after college I barely ran a step. I just stopped. I didn't think I would ever run again. But my husband coached at a high school, so I began jogging a little with his kids. They told me I should enter some local road races, so I did, and in one of them I won $200. I was like, 'Wow, you can get paid to run?'"

- US road 20k, 10-mile and 10k champ, Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, talking about how she got her start in professional running. In this interview she says she didn't even start running until after she finished high school in Kenya and now she is one of the big question marks going into the Olympic Trials. She only has a 2:37 PR, but that was off shorter distance training and now she is being coached by Jack Daniels specifically for the marathon.

Tuesday 12/27: "When the history of modern Marathon running is written sometime in the future the year 2011 will almost certainly be considered as very special indeed. Strangely enough not mainly because of the new World record set in Berlin by Patrick Makau when he lowered Haile Gebrselassie's 2:03:59 from 2008 by 21 seconds ..."

"... No, what really made 2011 a year that will be considered of historical significance in the sport of marathon running was that it changed our perception of what is really possible."

- Statisticians A. Lennart and Mirko Jalava, writing for the IAAF in their "End of Year Review" on road racing. The article does a great job summing up and analyzing the marathon performances from 2011, which included new CRs for all five World Marathon Majors, Patrick Makau's WR and Wilson Kipsang's near miss, a 2:03 in Boston, the "crumbling of the infamous wall" in the second half of marathons, a trend for runners moving to the marathon earlier in their career, and Kenya's absolute dominance of the world performance list.

Monday 12/26: "I was like maybe I should put my arms up like you see people do when they cross the finish line or do a little victory dance. I had no plan at all because I didn't expect to be in that position."

-  Morgan Uceny talking about her surprising win at the Diamond League 1,500m in Lausanne on June 30th.

Sunday 12/25: Merry XMAS!!!!!

Merry XMAS!!!!!

Saturday 12/24"But what does a 2:15 marathon get you these days? Not much in anything in terms of financial incentive. I guess it is a matter of self-exploration, curiosity derived from trying to find out where your body's limits are and then testing them ... I think that's why we keep doing this shit."

- Sage Canaday on why he chases the dream. Canaday is a Hansons-Brooks athlete and ran for LetsRun.com's Rojo at Cornell, where he was the youngest qualifier for the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials. The quote above is from a book review on Canaday's book: Running for the Hansons.

Friday 12/23: "Coach came to me with the idea ... and I actually laughed. Knowing him I thought he was being sarcastic and joking, but he said, 'no I'm serious.' I told him if he really feels it was a good move and a doable thing, then why not. At the end of the day it is another opportunity to make the Olympic team. I'm certainly a long-shot. I've never in my life even run 26 miles period, so we obviously don't know what is going to shake out."

- 8:19 steeplechaser Brian Olinger talking about why he'll run his first road race ever over 7 miles at the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials in a few weeks.

More: USATF Profiles Former 8:19 Steepler And Now Marathon Hopeful Brian Olinger

Thursday 12/22: "At this point, I'm looking to win the race."

- Deena Kastor on next month's Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston.

Wednesday 12/21: "Scientists are exploring the theory that people are drawn to certain trades and professions based on the connotations of their surnames.

The phenomenon can be observed among famous figures such as the World champion sprinter Usain Bolt or the 18th century poet William Wordsworth."

- Opening two sentences from a story in The Telegraph.
Yes, mid-December to mid-January is a slow news time of year in the world of running.

Tuesday 12/20: "In the United States in recent years, we have tended to be so obsessed with the bottom line and material acquisition that we have not paid attention to the fact that we are not only temporal and biological creatures but spiritual creatures as well."

- The Rev. James A. Forbes Jr. being quoted in a New York Times piece that has the great title of "Avoiding the Trap of Big-Time, Big-Money Sports."


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