WTW: USA The Best 1500m Country in the World, Tokyo Gets the Olympics, Ben True Keeps Kicking Butt, Caster Semenya, Tegenkamp, and Lance Armstrong

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by LetsRun.com
September 9, 2013

Our weekly recap is back. This week we praise the decision to give the 2020 Games to Tokyo, tell you that Caster Semenya is back, wonder if the US is the best nation in the land in the men’s 1500 and men’s 5000, urge Matt Tegenkamp to aim higher, and praise Ben True and wonder why all US pros can’t be like him. Along the way we enjoy the fact that Lance Armstrong had a tough week and share words of wisdom that Ajee Wilson has for Mary Cain.

(Note: Last week, the 2013 Diamond League season came to end with a big meet in Brussels. We provided a lot of insight into the meet when it took place so if you missed our analysis last Friday then you should check that out now as we give insight on to the rest of the week’s action below).

Tokyo Rightly Is Picked To Host The 2020 Games

Our thoughts on the IOC awarding 2020 Games to Tokyo?

Tokyo seemed like a no-brainer on so many levels.

Obviously Spain has a lot of economic and Turkey a lot of political problems going on currently that made Tokyo by far the safest choice. Additionally, Spain has hosted a Summer Games much more recently than Japan.

The fact that the doping history of the three countries was taken into account or at least mentioned in some press reports was a watershed moment.

Awarding the Olympics to either Spain of Turkey which both have had huge doping problems in the past, when doping may be the #1 problem facing the Olympic movement, would have been a big mistake.

Japan is a beacon of the anti-doping movement which brings us to our stat of the week.

Stat of the Week I – The Number of Positive Doping Tests By Japanese Athletes in The History of The Olympics/Paralympics


That number comes from Olympic expert Alan Abrahamson.

More: Tokyo Will Host 2020 Olympics
*Alan Abrahamson: Here’s How Tokyo Won

Caster Semenya is back

2009 world champ and 2011 and 2012 silver medallist Caster Semenya didnt’ even qualify for the World Championship as she was unable to run the 2:01.50 qualifying time in three tries in July. Then after Worlds, she was a non-factor finishing seventh in Zurich in 2:01.83.

Now, in September, last week without much fanfare she ran 2:00.74 and then 1:58.92.

Our thoughts are rather simple.

1) Discount her as a player in 2015 and 2016 at your own peril.

2) Either she’s the biggest head-case in history or there was/is some sort of hormonal treatment going on. Who else goes from 2:06.58 to 1:58.92 in less than 8 weeks?

Take at her races in 2013. It’s been basically a steady progression down.

Caster Semenya’s Races in 2013
2:06.58 17 Jul
2:04.48 21 Jul
2:01.86 27 Jul
2:01.83 29 Aug
2:04.48 31 Aug
2:00.74 3 Sep
1:58.92 8 Sep

The best 1500 nation in the world is???? The USA???

Last week, there were some fast 1500 times put up in Rieti, Italy. In Rieti, Kenya’s Silas Kiplagat showed why he probably should have been the silver medallist at the World Championships had he run a tactically smart race as he ran a seasonal best of 3:30.13. A slew of other seasonal/personal bests were set in that race, including a new South African national record of by Moscow bronze medallist Johan Cronje of 3:31.93.

One American set a pb in Rieti. Before we tell you about him, let’s ask you a trivia question. Who is the second fastest US 1500 meter man in 2013?

We doubt many of you knew the answer.

It’s non other than David Torrence of the US, who ran a 3:33.23 pb (previous pb of 3:34.19) in Rieti:

1500 Metres - 2013 Rieti - Men                                   
    1 Kiplagat , Silas                 KEN    3:30.13         SB          
    2 Cronje , Johan                   RSA    3:31.93         NR          
    3 Moustaoui , Mohamed              MAR    3:32.08         SB          
    4 Willis , Nicholas                NZL    3:32.57         SB         
    5 Choge , Augustine Kiprono        KEN    3:33.21         SB          
    6 Torrence , David                 USA    3:33.23         PB           
    7 Zebrowski , Krzysztof            POL    3:35.07         PB          
    8 Robinson , Paul                  IRL    3:35.22         PB         
    9 Robertson , Zane                 NZL    3:35.45         PB         
   10 Sawe , Jonathan Kiplimo          KEN    3:40.83                   
   11 Haidane , Abdellah               ITA    3:41.96                   
   12 Batty , Miles                    USA    3:45.75                   
   13 Manzano , Leonel                 USA    3:48.83
      Cheboi , Collins                 KEN        DNF                   
      Kombich , Ismael Kipngetich      KEN        DNF

Seeing those results and the impressive 3:33.23 by Torrence, who was seventh at USAs in Des Moines this year, inspired us to do a little bit of research. We thought, “My gosh, so many US men are running fast. Is this some sort of record?”

It appear that it this is a record-breaking year for US 1500 meter men.

Guess how many US 1500 meter men have broken 3:35.00 this year in the 1500?


That’s easily the highest in history, well at least the history we could find as we searched the Track and Field News lists dating back to 1999.

The Number of Sub 3:35 1500s By US Men
2013 – 10 (Manzano, Torrence, Centrowitz, McNamar, G. Heath, Bayer, Lomong, Symmonds, Rupp (i.), Leslie)
2012 – 7 (Centrowitz, Manzano, Brown, Fernandez, Lagat, Rupp, Andrews)
2011 – 5 (Lagat, Lomong, Manzano, Wheating, Centrowitz)
2010 – 5 (Wheating, Lomong, Manzano, Lagat, Torrence)
2009 – 3 (Lagat, Lomong, Manzano)
2008 – 1 (Lagat)
2007 – 3 (Webb, Lagat, Tegenkamp)
2006 – 2 (Lagat, Lukezic)
2005 – 3 (Lagat, Webb, Myers)
2004 – 2 (Webb, Gruber)
2003 – 0
2002 – 1 (Krummenacker)
2001 – 2 (McMullen, Lassiter)
2000 – 1 (Holman)
1999 – 2 (Holman, Lassiter)

If those stats don’t impressive you maybe the following stat will.

Stat of the Week II – Most # of Sub- 3:35 1500 Runners in 2013

USA – 10
Kenya – 9
Morocco – 5
Ethiopian – 5
France – 4
Bahrain, Djibouti, Great Britain, Germany, Norway, New Zealand, South Africa, Turkey – 1

Disclaimer: Yes we included indoor times so we could count Galen Rupp‘s 3:34.78 to put the USA over the top. The above list doesn’t include mile conversions.

While we were at it, and since the US had a good week at 5000 as four Americans were in the top 11 in 5000 Diamond League finale in Brussels, we decided to compile a similar stat for the 5000.

Most # of Sub-13:12 1500 Runners in 2013
USA – 7
Kenya – 7
Ethiopian – 6
Australia, Great Britain, Morocco, Uganda – 1

Disclaimer: Yes we cherry picked 132:12.00 to make the US look good. At 13:10.00 which we initially picked, the results were Kenya 7, Ethiopia 6, USA 5. Not many African runners want to go to Europe and potentially lose money by running 13:11.

 Matt Tegenkamp (l) and Abdi Abdirahman battle it out in the final 2 kilometers of the 2013 USA 20-K Championships at the Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race; Shadrack Biwott is behind Tegenkamp (photo by David Monti for Race Results Weekly).

Matt Tegenkamp (l) and Abdi Abdirahman battle it out in the final 2 kilometers of the 2013 USA 20-K Championships at the Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race; Shadrack Biwott is behind Tegenkamp (photo by David Monti for Race Results Weekly).

Tegenkamp Eyes A 2:11??

Last Monday on Labor Day, former 12:58 5ker Matt Tegenkamp showed some good fitness prior to his marathon debut in Chicago by winning the 203 US 20k Championships in New Haven in 60:29. Prior to the race on a teleconference, Tegenkamp had told LetsRun that he was eyeing a 2:11 debut in Chicago.

“The training is all based off of 5-minute pace which is going to be 2:11 (for the full marathon) … Let’s get in there through 18 (miles) and if 5-minute pace feels comfortable let’s see what I can do when I hit 20 or 22,” said Tegenkamp.

Anyone else think that’s too conservative? We certainly do. According to the conversion chart of LetsRun.com stat man/coaching guru John Kellogg, Tegenkamp’s 12:58 5k pr is equivalent to a 2:07:16 marathon. His 27:28 10k pr is equivalent to a 2:09:14. And yes, we know Tegenkamp is moving up to the marathon so we know he may not be as good as it as the 5k, but 2:11?

A finishing time of 2:11 would mean Teg likely would be more than a mile behind when the winner crosses the finish line. We can’t imagine Tegenkamp ever said in the 5k, “My goal is to finish 1/26th behind the winner.”

In a 13:00 5k, 1/26th of that is exactly 30 seconds. Tegenkamp certainly never went into Worlds and said, “My goal is to run 13:30 pace for the first 2 miles and then see how I feel at 2 miles.”

Yes, we know setting modest goals and beating them is much better than the reverse, but we think anything over 2:10 is a disappointment.

That being said, relaxing in practice and actually training and getting fit is the way to go, versus trying to force a certain pace. And we can always hope that Tegenkamp’s marathon debut ends up similar to Chris Solinksy‘s 10,000 debut.

Tegenkamps 2:11 talk certainly in with the conservative philosophy of his coach Jerry Schumacher. When Solinsky made his 10,000 debut at Stanford in 2008, Schumacher supposedly had Chris Solinsky ready for something like sub-27:30 pace for his first 10k, and the result was he ended up in a faster race and took down the 27 minute barrier. So let’s hope this is another example of something like that.

US 20k Champs: Matt Tegenkamp (1:00:09), Meghan Peyton (1:09:54) Win US Titles At Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race *2013 New Haven 20k Results
*Tegenkamp Post-Race Interview
*Men’s Race Highlights *Women’s Race Highlights *Post-Race Videos Interviews
Pre-Race: LRC Teg Ready To Defend In New Haven, Eyeing 2:11 In Chicago, Abdi Ready To Challenge

More Chicago News: Elite Field For Chicago Marathon Released: Moses Mosop Leads 3 Other Sub-2:05 Men As The Top 2 Women From Last Year Return

picture of Ben True

Ben True minutes away from finishing 6th at the 2013 World XC Champs
*More 2013 World Cross Country Photos

Ben True Gets On A Top 10 US List

Ben True has had a fantastic 2013. From a sixth at world cross country where he led the US to a historic silver medal in the “Miracle on Dirt”, to a US road title at 15k, to a 13:11.59 personal best in the 5000 to top showings at road races like Falmouth where he was the runner-up, True has run well at whatever distance and surface he’s showed up to race at.

That trend continued last week as he came back to the track from the roads and ran a 7:36.59 to grab second in Rieti. In the process, he took the scalp of former world junior xc and 1500 runner Caleb Ndiku, who has run 3:29.50 this year, and got his name on a US all-time top 10 list for the first time, finishing only .06 behind the winner Edwin Soi.

The 2nd place finish in a quality field is what impressed us most. While we praised David Torrence above, we shouldn’t get too carried away with Torrence’s time as he was only 6th in Rieti.

All-Time US Top 11 At 3000
1. Bernard Lagat – 7:29.00
2. Galen Rupp – 7:30.16
3. Bob Kennedy – 7:30.84
4. Sydney Maree 7:33.37
5. Chris Solinsky 7:34.32
6. Adam Goucher 7:34.96
7. Matt Tegenkamp 7:34.98
8. Evan Jager 7:35.16
9. Doug Padilla 7:35.84
10. Ben True 7:36.59
(11.) Steve Scott 7:36.69

True deserves major, MAJOR props for his great 2013. If the sport was full of old-school racers like Ben True, Toni Reavis wouldn’t have to be barn-storming ideas to make the sport more popular at the professional level (more on Reavis below).

To everyone who says you can’t race a lot and still run well, what do you have to say about True’s unreal 2013? To everyone who says if you run on the roads, your track career is over, how do you explain Ben True’s success? To everyone who says running World Cross country is bad for you, what do you have to say about True?

Way to go Ben.

Update at 11:11 am on 9/10/2013: And we just realized one thing. Ben True wanted to run the Diamond League finale in Brussels but didn’t get into the mee. True tweeted, “Unfortunately due to politics I will not be racing @MVDbrussels 5k. Will race 3k @RietiMeeting instead. <13 will have to wait ’til next year.”

Think True won’t be a little extra motivated to beat Ryan Hill, who was third at USAs and got to go to Worlds instead of True and who also got into Brussels (and ran 13:43 we might add), next year?

More: MB: Wow: Ben True wanted to run Brussels DL 5000, didn’t get in – went to Rieti and ran 7:36
MB: Ben true 7:36.5 3000 = what for 5000?
Ben True 7:36.59, Emily Infeld 8:41.43
MB: Ben MF True 7:36.xx .06 seconds behind soi

Video of The Week

We like to share a video of the week if we can find one. This week, the race isn’t particularly interesting to watch but many of you likely didn’t watch this race as it happened as it occurred before the international feed of the Brussels Diamond League finale began.

In Brussels, there was a world junior 1000 record attempt by Ajee Wilson that came up well short (The record was 2:35.4 and Wilson ended up last in 2:44.05), but we’ve found the race video and it might be worth a watch as 1000s on the International circuit are very rare. Also, if you are a Morgan Uceny fan, she looked much better in this race than she had recently as she closed in roughly 31.3 to finish third in 2:37.61.

More: Ajee Wilson comes up short in World Junior 1k Record Assault in Brussels

Lance Armstrong running Boston in 2008

Lance Armstrong running Boston in 2008

Lance Armstong Had A Bad Week

Not sure how many of you are still paying attention to Lance Armstrong but there are some interesting developments we almost missed. For starters, we finally found one of those class action lawsuits where people get like $1 but the lawyers get hundreds of thousands/millions that we love. Last week the AP reported that “a federal judge is considering a class-action lawsuit against Armstrong by readers of his book “It’s Not About the Bike” that claims fraud and false advertising.”

How great is that? The entire book was based on a fraud. A big thumbs up to that lawsuit.

The other interesting Lance news is that a federal judge last week ordered Lance “to answer questions about who knew what and when about his doping, including possibly his ex-wife and his attorneys.” So it’s possible, unless Lance wants to hand back his three million, that he’ll have to for the first time testify under oath about his doping. We’d be stunned if he ever does this as we imagine those who benefitted by his doping (including his ex-wife and attorneys) will strongly push him to reach a settlement with the insurance company so they don’t end up looking like total fools themselves, but it would be awesome if he ever had to do it.

More: Judge orders Armstrong to answer doping questions

Quote of the Week I (that wasn’t quote of the day)

Ajee Wilson, who went pro early, on whether Mary Cain should go pro early.

“I’ve gotten to know Mary a little bit, and she’s a really sweet, likable, and smart girl. …I think that she should do whatever she thinks will make her, Mary the phenom, Mary the student, and Mary the person, happy. There are a lot of things she’ll have to consider and factor in when deciding what she’ll do next year, but with the support of her parents and coach, I’m sure that whatever route she chooses she’ll continue to kill it and amaze us all.”

– quote comes from a DailyRelay interview with Wilson: 5 Questions with Ajee’ Wilson

Quote of the Week II (that wasn’t quote of the day)

“Toni, if this sport truly went professional, most of the people running it would lose their positions.”

– Three time Olympian Anne Audain talking to Toni Reavis back in 1991 about running’s management problems.

Reavis has recently had a series of great articles on his blog offering possible solutions to helping grown the professional side of the sport. They appear in our Recommended Reads a little bit further below.

More: Toni Reavis Tries to Brainstorm Idea For Running To Become A Truly Professional Sport

Quote of the Week III (that wasn’t quote of the day)

“(We need) a PGA Tour model at the professional level, and AARP at the grassroots. Every man, woman, and child who enters a member race is sent a membership card. Now we have millions of people in a data-base to whom we can market goods and services, and with whom we can go into the market and generate sponsorship. Then we offer them gold, silver, and bronze level memberships which attach to hotel and car discounts, meals, frequent racing miles, guaranteed entry into ING NYC Marathon and the like.”

Toni Reavis offering one vision for future.

More: Toni Reavis Tries to Brainstorm Idea For Running To Become A Truly Professional Sport h

Recommended Reads


Dwight Phillips

A Legend Calls It A Career Zurich Was Dwight Phillips’ Last Competition – Goodbye, Dwight, And Thank You He retires with 4 world titles and one Olympic title to his name.

Toni Reavis Tries To Brainstorm Ideas For Running To Become A Truly Professional Sport

Toni Reavis Q&A With NYRR President Mary Wittenberg On Competitor Group’s Decision To Drop Elite Athlete Funding

The Silence Of The Lambs: Toni Reavis Asks Why We’re Not Hearing Anything From Top Athletes Or Agents In The Wake Of CGI’s Decision

Josh Cox: “The Competitor Group’s decision will undoubtedly result in less sports page headlines on race weekends but they’re wagering they will come out ahead.”

Quotes Of The Day & Last Week’s Homepages:

Note: To see a particular day’s homepage, click on the hyperlink of the date. The hyperlink below the date on the quotes will take you to that particular article – not that day’s homepage.

Monday 9/9:

“Wrestling’s back. It was never really gone, but it’s certainly back for keeps now. Voted out of the Olympics in February, the sport missed nothing: no Olympic Games, not even any free food in the International Olympic Committee hospitality suite. The IOC was supposed to add a new sport for the 2020 Olympics. Instead, it made sure one of its oldest didn’t leave. … As the saying goes, the last amateurs left in Olympic sports are the people running them.”

– USA Today columnist Christine Brennan, talking about wrestling’s successful bid to be reinstated for the 2020 Olympics, defeating baseball/softball and squash. With Tokyo chosen as the 2020 host city, two of three IOC votes are completed. The only remaining vote is to decide who will replaceJacques Rogge as IOC president.

Sunday 9/8:

“When I heard the name Tokyo, I was so touched, overwhelmed. The joy was even greater than when I won my own election.”

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Prime Minister, talking about Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics.

Saturday 9/7:

“I realized I have not taken a break from athletics from secondary school, to police training college through two world championships. … It may sound strange but I find myself watching golf on television more than any other sport apart from athletics. I have been following many events such as the USA Open and British Open keenly and I think I like the game.”

“There is a lot of concentration and focusing in golf that should also help me in athletics. … It has all been athletics year in year out hence I need to find some good distraction that will also make me focus.”

– Kenya’s World 5000 silver medalist Mercy Cherono talking about how she wants to take up golf and give herself some downtime from track and how she thinks it could even help her running.

Friday 9/6:

“We need to reshuffle the deck. It is hard to win, to dominate anymore. Maybe we’ve been too flexible. We work very hard to take a ten-year approach with our six pro races at NYRR. Year after year we look at when a race might work within the arc of an athletes’ career. When it does, we are here for them. But what we haven’t done is say, ‘If you want to be in the upper echelon of the sport, you need to run X number of races over this period of time.’ We haven’t mandated continuity.”

” … If we put out a vote asking runners which they would rather support, pro athletes or getting another tee shirt, see you later pro athletes. The question is how do we grow the pot and benefit all elements? Sponsors are hugely important, and they do recognize the spectacle that pro athletes bring. And we do ask our athletes to work with our kids’ program. And we want to know who the public wants to see. For us it’s Meb, Kara and Ryan (Keflezighi, Goucher, and Hall) along with Shalane and others. We require a media presence, because athletes need to provide something for us to build and focus around them. Pro athletes have to attract more media and excite runners and inspire kids. The number of kids Meb has cheered on here, or five-hour marathoners, it’s amazing. We need to tighten up the focus of athletes so they understand they have to connect. Our campaign at this year’s marathon is 26.2 miles makes it a race, but you make it the marathon. And by that we mean the athletes, the crowds, the participants, the sponsors, everyone together. Pros exist in that universe, are a constellation shining bright. But to keep up support and build around them the real need is for storytelling. Pro runners aren’t the entire raison d’etre anymore, but they can be a shining star in the midst of it helping connect with the fitness runners.”

– NYRR President Mary Wittenberg talking in the wake of Competitor Group’s decision to cut elite athlete funding, about what can be done to improve interest in the sport. Some other good quotes came from Toni Reavis as he said, “People watch foot races for the same reasons they watch other sports: to root for the home team, see how the drama plays out (especially if the stakes are high), and to be inspired by those who do it exceedingly well. … Caring who wins matters.

Thursday 9/5:

“[After London 2012] I couldn’t find that goal, that drive to get going again. I sat down and thought to myself, ‘What do I really want?’ and ‘What can I do in this sport some more?’ I’ve made up my mind that if I want to be among the greats of Ali, Pele and all these guys, I have to continue dominating until I retire. … I think [after Rio 2016] will be a good time to retire, on top and just been dominating for so long.”

Usain Bolt talking about his career and retiring after trying to defend his 3 Olympic titles in Rio 2016.

Wednesday 9/4:

“I can’t say how low we intend to reduce the world record. However, if the weather and other factors remain constant, running under the 2: 03 mark is very much possible. I have no idea if it will be me or Makau, but both of us are fast runners and we are on the comeback of sorts. The pace makers also have to do their part, but even if we fail to run under the 2:03 mark, it will not take long before somebody does that.”

– The second fastest marathoner of all time at 2:03:42, Wilson Kipsang, talking about his and World Record holder Patrick Makau‘s World Record chase at the 2013 Berlin Marathon at the end of this month.

Tuesday 9/3:

“He was an almost totally unknown quantity, to Americans as much as anyone else. He had never before won a major race, yet his time, (28 minutes, 24.4 seconds), set an Olympic record; it was the fourth fastest 10,000 ever run; it broke the old American record by almost half a minute; and it was 45 seconds faster than Mills had ever run the distance before. It was an utter and absolute surprise.”

– Sports Illustrated’s John Underwood writing in 1964 about Billy Mills‘ upset 10,000 gold at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. Mills has now officially backed the 2020 Tokyo bid.

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