A Fan’s Guide To The Women’s Mid-d and Distance Action at the Third Stop of the 2013 Diamond League Season
May 21, 2013
The third stop of the 2013 IAAF Diamond League season is Saturday at Randall’s Island in New York City where the 2013 adidas Grand Prix takes place. Internet/television coverage is from 1 pm to 3 pm ET on Saturday afternoon and the meet will be on live on NBC: 2013 adidas Grand Prix: Schedule, Results and Streaming Information.
Today, we break down the the two women’s professional mid-d/distance events scheduled for this year. The highlight is certainly the 1500 which is serving as the US debut for Sweden’s Abebe Aregawi, the 2013 world #1 at 3:56.60, and also features US stars Shannon Rowbury and Morgan Uceny as well as up and comers Kate Grace and Brenda Martinez. There also is a women’s steeple where the top two runners from Doha in Lidya Chepkurui and Sofia Assefa will battle it out yet again as four Americans including Olympian Bridget Franek chase the ‘A’ standard of 9:43.00.
Yesterday, we analyzed the men’s mid-d/pro-action for you – LRC 2013 adidas Grand Prix Men’s Preview: David Rudisha Set To Shine Again as Hagos Gebrhiwet and Dejen Gebremeskel Prepare To Clash – and on Thursday we’ll preview the high school boys mile where a number of guys will be trying to become just the fifth American sub-4 minute HS miler in history and second in 36 years.
The 4 American Sub-4 Minute Milers
2001 – Alan Webb: 3:53.4
1967 – Marty Liquori: 3:59.8
1966 – Tim Danielson: 3:59.4
1965 – Jim Ryun: 3:55.3
(Note: Lukas Verzbicas ran 3:59.71 in 2011 while a student at a US high school but he was not an American citizen).
1:41 pm ET Women’s 1500: Abebe Aregawi Makes Her US Debut
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The NYRR women’s 1500 won’t have any win/loss drama up front but we’re happy with that. This race will be won by Sweden’s Abeba Aregawi. The former Ethiopian, who opened her 2013 outdoor season with a spectacular 3:56.60 in Doha, is making her US debut in this race and there is no one in this field that stands a chance of touching her barring a fall. So if you are attending, consider yourself lucky to get to watch Aregawi in person in the US as no one else has had the privilege.
The real drama in this race for us is, “Does Aregawi get the US all-comers record of 3:58.92 that convicted drug cheat Mary Slaney set in 1988 (the all-comers mark is the fastest time ever run on US soil)?” and “Who gets second?” and “How do the Americans stack up?”
We’ll address the all-comers question at the end of this piece.
We’ll address “who gets second” and “how do the Americans stack up” now together as there are six women in the field with PRs in the 3:59-4:00 range including two Americans.
Ibtissam LAKHOUAD 3:59.35
Hellen OBIRI 3:59.68
Morgan UCENY 4:00.06
Nancy Jebet LANGAT 4:00.13
Kalkidan GEZAHEGNE 4:00.97
We’ll break down all six of their chances in order of their PRs.
Lakhhouad - The 32-year old Moroccan was fourth at the World Champs in 2011 and has gone sub-4 in two of the last three years. Last year, she was DNF in the Olympics. This year, she was DNF in Doha so we doubt she contends here.
Obiri - The 23-year old Kenyan will be making her individual 2013 debut in this race (she split a 2:02.8 at Penn Relays on the 4 x 800). Obiri enjoyed an incredible 2012 as she was the world indoor 3000 champion, ran 3:59.68 in Rome (when Aregawi ran her 3:56.54 pb) and was an Olympic finalist last year. Since Obiri didn’t run indoors, she’s probably not as sharp as she was last year when she ran 3:59 in Rome on May 31st. That’s a good thing for her long term (but maybe not here).
Uceny - The 28-year old world #1 from 2011 is trying to bounce back after suffering the nearly unimaginable despair of falling at the 2011 world champs (where she was the favorite) and 2012 Olympics. She clearly wasn’t in shape a month ago in Iowa (4:17 at Drake on April 20) so there seems to be no reason to think she can contend for second here. The question is, “Does she take a big step forward so there is optimism that she can challenge for a Moscow spot when she returns to Iowa in a month for the US champs (June 19-23)?”
Langat - The 2008 Olympic champ of Kenya, who is 31, dominated the Penn Relays mile earlier this year (4:28.50 2nd was 4:38.06) and appears to be in better shape than she was in all of last year, when she only managed a 4:09.10 1,500. However, that’s not saying a whole lot as last year she wasn’t higher than seventh at any Diamond League event. That being said she is the Olympic champion and has a ton of talent.
Rowbury - The results on paper so far in 2013 don’t look good for Rowbury, the 2009 world championship bronze medalist. They show a 16:08 5k at Carlsbad and a 4:09 fourth place 1500 at Drake. However, she had food poisoning at Carlsbad and ran gutsy at Drake as she tried to go with Jenny Simpson and ended up losing out on a lot of cash as a result as she was sniped at the end in a race where third place paid $10,000.
At Drake, she finished well ahead of both Gabriele Anderson and Mary Cain and they’ve gone on to to run 4:05 and 4:04 respectively so we think Rowbury is in pretty good shape. There is a reason why she was sixth at the London Olympics after all.
Gezahegne – The 22-year old, who was world indoor champ in 2010 and fifth at the 2011 worlds outdoors, is on the comeback trail after not competing at all in 2012. Her comeback got off to a slow start at the road mile in Boston last month as she was only fifth there so we don’t expect her to be ready to contend for runner-up honors here.
Of the above six, none of them really jump out at you as a clear second to Aregawi. We guess we’d go with Obiri if forced to make a pick with Rowbury maybe as our second choice.
Can Brenda Martinez Approach 4:00?
There are two other Americans in the field who we think will do well. Brenda Martinez has been on fire so far this year, definitely the best American not named Jenny Simpson – and actually one could argue she’s been just as good as Simpson.
Already this year, Martinez has won the BAA road mile, run a solo 4:04.86 1500 at Mt. Sac, been on an American record 4X800 team and also run 1:59.59 800, which would be the 2013 world leader had the ReRun meet in San Diego had a curb on the track as that is the only sub-2 in the world on the year. Based on her 2013 campaign so far, she has to be considered the American to beat at this race. She’s been on fire. In her 4:04.86 at Mt. Sac she not only won by over 5 seconds, but she set a pr by over 2 seconds.
Let’s pause to realize that despite being on fire in 2013, Brenda’s pr is .26 slower than high schooler Mary Cain. That’s how good Cain was last weekend.
Former Yale runner Kate Grace played it a bit safer than Rowbury at Drake and ended up third and $10,000 richer thanks to her 4:08.24 pb. Grace has also won the US Road mile champs over Anderson and Rowbury this year as well. As a result, we think an Olympic ‘A’ time of sub 4:05.50 is well within her reach.
Former Villanova NCAA star Sheila Reid, who now runs for Canada, was the runner-up at Drake ahead of Grace and Rowbury and certainly could contend for top non-African born honors.
LRC Prediction: Aregawi obviously wins. We also say she gets the US all-comers record of 3:58.92.
Top American: We’ll say Martinez but if Grace and Rowbury end up as the #1 American we won’t be shocked. We’ll also go out on a limb and pick Martinez for runner-up overall. No one else stands out so we will be a homer and pick her for second. Can she get close to the 4:00 barrier?
As for Uceny, we’ve got our fingers crossed that she does well here. We know you aren’t supposed to cheer in the press box – but there aren’t two more deserving people of success this year than her and Julia Lucas in the 5000 as both suffered huge heartbreak last year.
1:11 pm ET Women’s 3000 Steeplechase: Sofia Assefa and Lidya Chepkurui
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The IAAF opener in Doha featured five of the top six from the 2012 Olympics and the surprise winner was 27-year old Lyda Chepkurui of Kenya. The non-Olympian got the victory in a new personal best of 9:13.75 (previous pb of 9:14.98) after a blistering last 1 km of 2:57.32 (last lap 67 low). Chepkurui, the 6th placer at the Kenyan Trials last year, will be New York and is the woman to beat.
On paper there only seems to be one woman with a shot of beating her and that’s Doha runner-up and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Sofia Assefa.
Assefa, the 25-year old Ethiopian national record holder, is really good at finishing second in Diamond League races. It’s something she’s done seven times since the start of 2011. How many wins does she have in that time frame on the DL circuit? One (although she did win the 2012 ISTAF Berlin meet as well).
She’s got a very good shot of getting victory #2 here though as this field isn’t nearly as deep up front as the one in Doha. If anyone besides Assefa or Chepkurui wins, we’d expect it to be one of two youngsters in Olympic fifth placer Etenesh Diro of Ethiopia or 2010 world junior champ Purity Kirui of Kenya.
Diro was 4th in Doha (9:17.78) on her 22nd second birthday whereas the 21-year old Kirui had a huge PB in Doha to lower her PB from 9:35.61 to 9:19.42 to finish sixth, but six seconds is a lot to make up in the span of two weeks.
There are four American women in the field and all are in need of the coveted IAAF ‘A’ standard time of 9:43.00. 2010 NCAA champ and 2012 US Olympian Bridget Franek (formerly of Penn State) is the fastest of the four Americans for her career (9:29.53) and won the only steeple of the year she’s done (a 9:46.99 in Eugene). Considering that and that she made the 2011 World Champs team and 2012 Olympics, she has to be considered the one to beat.
Olympic Trials fourth placer Ashley Higginson (formerly of Princeton) has the best 2013 seasonal best as she won in Oxy last week in 9:45.83. Former UVA star Stephanie Garcia has lowered her 1500 pb from 4:17.01 to 4:14.47 this year and ran 9:50.79 in Puerto Rico last weekend after disappointing with a 10:07 at Stanford. Former Stanford runner Sara Hall, who turned 30 last month, has run 10:11 and 10:06 in her two steeples so far this year.
LRC Prediction: Assefa actually wins a DL event again and Franek is top American.
Quick Take #1: Can someone tell us how the sport is supposed to marketed to the masses when the names of the runners actually change from meet to meet or even at the same meet. In Doha, Chepkurui’s first name was listed as Lidya on the meet website but when the IAAF emailed out the official meet results to journalits her name was spelled Lydiah so we called her Lydiah in our Doha recap but it looks like she’s back to Lidya this week.
More: *2013 adidas Grand Prix: Schedule, Results and Streaming Information
*LRC 2013 adidas Grand Prix Men’s Preview: David Rudisha Set To Shine Again as Hagos Gebrhiwet and Dejen Gebremeskel Prepare To Clash