The Week That Was In Running: May 7-13, 2012
To read last week's LRC Week That Was, click here.
May 15, 2012
Three Thoughts As The NCAA Conference Action Comes To A Close + A Lesson About The #1 Benefit Of 800-Meter Frontrunning
Last week, the biggest collegiate conferences in the land held their meets, as the Big 10, Big 12, PAC-12 and SEC meets (and others) were held. It's impossible to recap them all (click here for more coverage), but here are three thoughts that jump out at us:
1. Casimir Loxsom Seems To Be On The Way Back
Every year, the Penn State 800-meter ace runs fast early indoors, struggles mightily at the end of indoors/beginning of outdoors before pulling it together for the end of outdoors. Last year, for example, he ran 1:47 in January before not making the NCAA finals indoors and then ran 1:54 in April before running 1:45 in June and July. This year, he ran 1:48 in January, bombed NCAA indoors, finished 9th at Mt. SAC before running a Big 10 record 1:46.12 to get the win over the weekend.
The NCAA outdoor final might be outrageous yet again this year as last week at the Big West Champs, Charles Jock and Ryan Martin put on another show, this time with Jock coming out on top in 1:44.75 to Martin's 1:44.77. MB: Charles jock 1:44.75!!! Ryan Martin 1:44.77!! *Race Video
If you haven't watched the race, you must do so as college races simply don't get much better than that. Certainly our "Video Of The Week."
That race resulted in a huge message board discussion where many people were saying Jock needs to change his frontrunning tactics if he is going to have success on the international level.
And we certainly understand why people think that, as in distance races, people rarely lead. But the 800 isn't a distance race. Using similar logic, many thought last year that David Rudisha was going to be in trouble at Worlds without a rabbit as he only knows how to run from the front ... but guess what? He pulled away from everyone and got the gold.
The discussion certainly was an interesting one and it prompted LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson, who has had some success in coaching the 800 at Cornell, to chime in about one of the forgotten benefits of front-running in the 800 - saving ground. If you lead an 800 wire-to-wire, you run exactly 800 meters. If you run the whole thing in lane 2, you run more than 812 meters.
Here is a slightly edited version of Rojo's explanation:
The thing about the 800 is that it's easy to say, "Oh people should learn to run in the pack." But I believe some guys are just front-runners.
Just as in horse racing, certain horses have their styles, same thing in the 800.
The thing about leading is yes there can be some wind - but not normally a lot in a big stadium but you get to run way less ground. 800 meters exactly.
Let's say Robby Andrews runs in the back and run one turn in lane 3. That's an extra roughly 9 meters.
Well guess what at 1:45.00 800 pace, a runner runs 7.62 meters each second.
So by coming from behind, Andrews runs an extra 1.18 seconds if he's running a single turn in lane 3.
After Penn Relays, when everyone was going gaga over Symmonds 1:43./1:44.0 split at Penn Relays, I meant to chime with this argument about how much less distance he ran at Penn than what Symmonds normally runs in a race.
Was Symmonds' run impressive? Yes, but people need to remember that he's probably at least saving 1-second from what he normally runs in coming from behind as at Penn he was running in lane 1 with zero traffic.
With a guy like Symmonds, he might have saved more ground - 1.5 seconds worth - than what he normally has to run in an open 800 when he's coming from way back.
Throw in another .5 seconds for the running start and one can easily make the argument that split is like him running 1:46.0 open.
2. Lawi Lalang Seems To Be A Bit Past His Peak
During cross-country and indoors, Arizona star Lawi Lalang was simply unbeatable at NCAA level. He was running so fast, we openly wondered if he could become the first collegian under 13:00. But outdoors, he's lost a bit of his luster. Last week, he did win the 1,500 at PAC-12s but he was beaten by both Chris Derrick and Stephen Sambu in the PAC-12 5,000. What does it mean? He's human.
If he wasn't named Lawi Lalang would anyone be surprised that a low mileage sophomore simply isn't quite strong enough to keep it together for all three seasons?
3. Florida's Trouncing At SECs Shows That All The Marketing In The World Won't Make Track & Field Super Popular
We here at LetsRun.com have always thought track and field and distance running could be marketed better but we've never been ones to think, "If only we had some really smart people in charge, track and field would be super popular like the NFL." No, there are aspects inherent to the sport it that limit its popularity (one is the length it takes to complete a full meet, but we won't talk about that here).
That was on full display at the SEC meet, where the Arkansas men racked up 196 points to destroy everyone as the #1 ranked Florida men were just fourth with 93. Indoors, Arkansas also won SECs but Florida won the national title.
One of the problems with track and field is that a loss in one meet normally has zero bearing on the next meet. That's certainly not the case in most other sports.
Florida knew going into the meet they had no chance - not after a DUI arrest for star decathlete Grey Horn - and so in many ways they just skipped the meet as they also held out sprint star Jeff Demps as a precaution.
And you see things like that all the time. Teams that have no chance of winning a particular meet skip it to focus on another meet or one or two individual stars (you see this all time now at the IC4A/ECAC meet).
Similarly, the Penn Relays are important to the teams in the hunt for the wins. UVA was all about the Penn Relays when they were winning the last few years - this year they have no chance - and so they don't even show up.
This mindset of "We'll show up when we might win but not even compete if we can't" isn't a part of other sports, as wins and losses matter. In track and field, only the meet that a particular team/individual wants to make as their #1 priority matters.
A Few Comments About The Samsung Diamond League Opener In Doha
The 2012 edition of the Samsung Diamond League got underway last week with a spectacular opening event in Doha. If you didn't have time to watch it, don't worry - we've got you covered as you can relive the action in in a matter of minutes rather than hours here:
In terms of mid-d and distance action, what did we learn?
Well, a lot of the beliefs we had coming into the year were affirmed.
Silas Kiplagat and Asbel Kiprop are the ones to beat in the men's 1,500.
Vivian Cheruiyot is the one to beat in any race she runs.
Pamelo Jelimo and David Rudisha are the ones to beat in the 800, but everyone remember it's an 800 and people will be there with 100 remaining.
We've got to admit that it was surprising to see that the one person who seemingly knows this the best is David Rudisha himself. We were caught a bit off guard by the honesty of his post-race comments about how he knows the 800 is a bit of a quirky event. As Rudisha told the IAAF, "1:43.10 is a very good time for me. I know all the athletes want to beat me now but I am well prepared to face the challenge. Great 800m runners like (Seb) Coe failed to win an Olympic gold but I will do my best to make it."
A Few Bad Days
In terms of surprises, there were a few big negatives. Brimin Kipruto, who is hoping to be the first ever to defend an Olympic steeple crown, was way, way back in the men's steeple as he ran only 8:26.59. Very surprising given the fact that he opened in 8:02 last May and that he did run indoors (7:39 3,000), so we're assuming he hasn't been injured.
And in the women's 3000, many may have not realized that 2007 and 2009 world 1,500 champ Maryam Jamal was buried in the results, way back in 9th in 8:54.51. We always say, "Running results should be logical" but Jamal's up-and-down results the last few years are a mystery to us. She can look terrible one week and then amazing two weeks later.
Let's see how she looks when she runs her first 1,500 of the year before making any judgments. As for Kipruto, we also think it's wise to see one more result before writing him off.
Don't Write off Kenenisa Bekele
In the middle of the pack of the 3000 in Doha was none other than 20 time World Champion Kenenisa Bekele in 7:40.00. Don't start writing off Bekele yet. This was his first track race under 10,000m since 2009. It's logical he might struggle with a fast pace. Bekele still has 11 weeks to go before the Olympics. If he drops a second a week, he'll be ready to defend his Olympic title.
You won't have to wait too long to see Bekele race again as he's entered in the 5,000m in this weekend's Shanghai Diamond League Meet. Jos Hermen's, Bekele's agent, is the meet director in Shanghai, so you'll hopefully see Bekele again this Friday. We'd expect a better run as he'll be moving up in distance and the pace won't be quite the same limiting factor. A bigger test might be the Hengelo 10,000m at the end of the month which is serving as the Ethiopian Olympic Trials. If Bekele runs that, we'll have a better indication of what his endurance is like, but his world leading 10,000m last year in September, and this 7:40 likely indicate it is pretty decent.
One New Star?
The biggest surprise of the meet was the fact that formerly unknown 21-year-old Kenyan Job Kinyor was second in the men's 800 in 1:43.76.
If 1:43.76 rings a bell, then you must be a Nick Symmonds fan, as that is Symmonds' PR.
Kinyor, who ran 2:17.53 (1,000m) back in July of 2010 as a 19-year-old, is certainly someone who could spoil Symmonds' medal dream. Last year, Kinyor was 4th at the Kenyan champs.
Americans Get "A"
Kudos to Americans Russell Brown and Mollly Beckwith for not being afraid to take on the world's best. Both were rewarded with "A" standard qualifiers (although Beckwith already had one).
Brown is now a legitimate Olympic team contender at 1,500. Only 6 Americans have the "A" and two of them may just run the 5,000 at the Trials.
Americans With Olympic "A" at 1,500
3:33.11 Bernard Lagat (Nike) Paris DL 07/08/11
3:33.59 Lopez Lomong (Nike) Barcelona 07/22/11
3:33.66 Leonel Manzano (Nike) Paris DL 07/08/11
3:34.11 Russell Brown (OTC) Doha 5/11/12
3:34.39 Andrew Wheating (OTC) Paris DL 07/08/11
3:34.46 Matthew Centrowitz (Or) Monaco DL 07/22/11
*LRC Ryan Hall Talks Olympic Marathon Atop The Empire State Building
*LRC Eight Days Of
Glory Surprise: Kenyan Olympic Marathon Team Analysis The marathon world has turned upside down in 2012, as the six best marathoners
in the world in 2011, all from Kenya, have run their spring marathons and only one, Wilson Kipsang, came out on top. The Kenyan Olympic team of Kipsang, double World Champ Abel Kirui and Moses Mosop is not the team that would have been selected at the end of 2011. Emory Mort, author of the 8 Days of Glory Series, tries to make sense of it and he looks at the Kenyan and American medal chances in London.
*Excellent Look At Masters Ace Kevin Castille Castille was sexually abused as a kid and was a former drug dealer. He finally quit feeling sorry for himself for the cards dealt to him in life and now he is rewriting the US masters record books. *Pete Magill 15:11 5k At 50
*Nick Willis Reflects On His Start In Running And His Silver Medal In Beijing "I was a late developer, so having [my brother] pave the way inspired me to suck it up and not quit on my sport like I wanted to when I was a 14-year-old skateboarder being tempted by cigarettes and other stuff."
Other News Of Note From The Last Week
LRC Daniele Meucci Wins $25,000 Healthy Kidney 10k Crown, Leonard Korir Second In Pro Debut The Italian Meucci, who ran 27:32 at Stanford on the track two weeks ago, triumphed over two-time NCAA champ Leonard
Korir in Korir's pro debut. Bobby Curtis was 3rd, Abdi was 5th, Meb 7th, and Ryan Hall 15th behind masters runner Kevin Castille. Meucci was best today but would have had his hands full last year or the year before. Afterwards, Abdi jokingly got himself into the 4 mile tomorrow and the half marathon next weekend.
*Ryan Hall: "You know I just haven't done 10k work, my training is very specific to the marathon, even this far out I haven't done any 10k work and I think that was just a reflection of that today."
*More: Race Results Weekly Recap *IAAF
US 25k Champs: Janet Cherobon Bawcom Gets US 25k Record Bawcom picked up $12,000 for the win over Lindsey Scherf. Bawcom may have gotten the AR, but Deena Kastor has split 2 minutes faster in a marathon. On the men's side, Robert Letting pulled away from Joseph Chirlee to win overall, but Chirlee got the US title.
Yohan Blake 1 - Usain Bolt 0
MB Yohan Blake Runs 9.84 Since Usain Bolt ran 9.82 last weekend, many may think the scorecard reads Usain Bolt 1, Yohan Blake 0. But we point out that adjusting for wind, Blake ran 9.86 and Bolt ran 9.90. *Race Video *Article *More MB
David Rudisha Vs. Usain Bolt At 400? Both Promise To Run 4 X 400 At Olympics Bolt will do it if Jamaica can win gold and Rudisha will do it if Kenya makes the final.
Bolt: "I need to win ... and run fast" - Usain Bolt charts route to legendary status
*Gatorade Chooses Usain Bolt To Lead Its Global Ad Campaign
*Usain Bolt Ad In Britain Banned For Being Misleading
*Ethiopia's Deressa Chimsa Wins Prague Marathon Title In 2:06:25 Kenya's Agnes Kiprop won women's title in 2:25:40 as Mary Keitany's training partner Lydia Cheromei was through the half in 1:09:22 and led at 38k, but was caught and dropped out with injury.
- Christophe Lemaitre Runs World-Leading 200 In 26.25 According to the article, that is.
- Puerto Rico's Javier Culson Won Over "Batman" Jackson And Gets 400H World Lead At 48.00 Maggie Vessey won the 800 (2:00.19); a lot of US sprint action as well.
Dwain Chambers had a poor showing (10.52 for 6th). *Full Results
*IAAF Recap Ryan Wilson won 110 hurdles over WR holder Dayron Robles and World champ Jason Richardson.
- Kenya Defence Force Champs: World Indoor 3k Champ Hellen Obiri Dominates 1,500 Gladys Cherono beat out Boston Marathon champ Sharon Cherop in 5k & 10k.
- IAAF Recap Asian Grand Prix
High School: Fast 1,500s For Josh Lampron (3:45.74) And Cayla Hatton (4:18.65) #18 all-time for Lampron, #14 all-time for Hatton.
*Craig Novak Wins Texas State Championship 1,600 With 4:06 And 55 Last Lap
*Aggie Recruit Madu Wins 4 Texas State HS Titles
*MileSplit Weekend HS Coverage Mary Cain ran season-leading 2:03.34. #10 all-time, just off Mary Decker's soph. record (2:02.29).
Caster Semenya II?
Is She A He? Furor Erupts Over Athlete's Gender At East African Track Champs
Kenya won the 2012 East African Youth Athletics Championships over the
weekend, the Semenya phobia gripped athletics fans at Namboole when a
Kenyan 800m gold winner was mistaken for a male.
The muscled and flat-chested Sheila Chepngetich led from the start of the two-lap race to finish in a time of 2:07:14. Because of her style of
running, some fans started expressing doubt on whether she was really a
*2nd Article With Addtional Photo Here
*Vaguely Related: MB: Did Brittney Griner Turn Down Olympic Basketball Spot Because She Feared Gender Testing?
Quotes Of The Day From The Week & Last Week's Homepages:
Note: To see a particular day's homepage, click on the hyperlink of the date on the left. The quote's hyperlink will take you to that particular article - not that day's homepage.
Monday 5/14: "I
thought I trained hard (in the past). Right now my eyes are opened.
Honestly, a lot of people told me 'You're just so naturally talented'
and I used to get frustrated when they told me that because I felt like I
worked extremely hard to get where I was. But now I kind of realize
after I missed a whole season (last year) and I came back in the first
race and ran 10.0 and came back in the 200 and ran 19.9, there is a lot
of natural talent there, but now I'm putting hard work into the equation
- Wallace Spearmon on his new 7-hour training days that start before he eats breakfast.
Sunday 5/13: "When I was 20-21 and had to do the hard training in summer while my mates were at the beach it was a major sacrifice. Now in my late-20s all my friends have jobs and work in offices, it seems like the easiest thing to do is go for a run rather than sit at a desk for 10 hours. As you get older it becomes less of a chore to run and you realise what an awesome privilege it is."
time you make an improvement you get a euphoric feeling that gets
addictive. You want that sensation again. I've had that and I'm craving
for that taste again. I don't care about the fame or fortune, I've got
the best job in the world and I want to keep doing it for as long as I
- Nick Willis reflecting on his early years in running and what motivates him to continue after he's already had so much success. Also talks about his thoughts before and during his surprise medal in Beijing 2008.
Saturday 5/12: "History
has a big place in my heart. It is not easy to achieve three Olympic
titles, and it will be great if I can do it. I have been thinking about
it a lot."
- Kenenisa Bekele talking optimistically about becoming the first man in history to win three Olympic 10,000 titles prior to getting spanked in the 3,000 in a fantastic Samsung Dimaond League opener in Doha.
Friday 5/11: "The thing people say about the Olympics is 'you're either going for the
experience or you're going for the medal.' But I think that's bogus,
people need to feel the energy of the event. The big mistake I made in
Beijing was I didn't harness the energy of the Olympic Games, and I was
totally removed from all that. I grew up Olympic-mad. I loved watching
the Olympics, and in Beijing I was totally removed. The marathon was the
last day, and rather than soaking in the energy of the Games I stayed
out by the coast, watching Chinese television in my hotel room. I
skipped the opening ceremonies and didn't even go to any other events.
This year I'm gonna
soak in all that energy, I'm gonna go to the opening ceremony, attend
some events, and really get into the spirit of the Games."
- Ryan Hall talking about the Olympic Marathon atop the Empire State Building before he takes on Olympic teammates Meb Keflezighi and Abdi Abdirahman at Saturday's UAE Healthy Kidney 10k.
Thursday 5/10: "If
someone asked last year if Chris Derrick was some(one) I thought could
potentially make the Olympics, I would (have) said "no way," but he's
proven that he's at the level where he could make it... (And) you have
somebody who you thought was a lock a few years ago, Chris Solinsky, and
he says he's not even running the Trials."
- Olympic "A" qualifier Bobby Curtis talking about how he's been paying close attention to the US 10,000-meter drama this year even though he's purposely been laying low and staying off the track in an effort to try to run his best races in the July and August, not May. Curtis will test his fitness Saturday against the US Olympic men's marathoners Abdi, Meb and Ryan in Central Park at the UAE Healthy Kidney 10k.
Wednesday 5/9: "You
play the cards that you're dealt (in life), and that's it. That's all
you can do. You either play 'em or you just lay 'em there, and lay down
and die. And that's what I did for a while.
I didn't play the hand that I was dealt. I just set it there and I walked away from it. But it's your hand. Eventually, you're going to have to pick it up and you're going to have to play it. And that's what I did."
- 40-year-old Kevin Castille on how he went from feeling sorry for himself (he was molested as a kid), drug dealing, and not running, to being the American masters (40+) record holder at 10,000m. Great read.
Tuesday 5/8: "I met with the team every day. I passed a mural with a life-sized [photo] of me every day. I kind of remembered that I used to be good, I used to be a performer ... And I got to run with the boys on certain intervals, and that makes me feel like a bad-ass."
found that spark. It's hard to articulate exactly what it is. But
running all the miles and doing all the weights, and icing, and eating
right and sleeping right, it's just gathering dry material and at the
end you have a pile of sticks. And just remembering what it's like to
catch fire; I caught fire again."
- American leader in the 5,000 (15:08), Julia Lucas, talking about how she went back to her roots at North Carolina State after a downturn in her running career. In a year she went from "running slower than I did as 19-year-old" to being a possible contender for the US Olympic team.