The Week That Was – January 6, 2014 – January 12, 2014
January 14, 2014
Previous versions of The Week That Was can be found here.
Putting Mary Cain’s Loss In Perspective
Oh my gosh, did you see Mary Cain lost her pro debut? Is it all over? We’re sure there were some over-reactions like that from some but not us.
Cain’s pro debut came at the 500-meter distance. That’s a sprint. She lost to 34-year-old Jamaican Sophia Smellie. Many of you probably have never heard of Smellie but she is running better than ever in her mid-30s as she ran her PRs of 52.38 outdoor and 52.65 indoors in 2012.
What many don’t realize is Cain beat 2007 and 2009 NCAA 400 hurdles champ Nicole Leach, who is on the comeback trail after not competing in 2013.
Perhaps the best way to understand Cain’s time is to understand that her 72.43 time would have won the Big East meet last year (72.48).
So Cain, a 1,500 runner, is fast enough to compete with Big East sprinters. And has enough endurance to run 15:45 for 5,000.
Most collegians don’t run the 500 but Cain’s time would have placed her 5th on the NCAA depth chart last year for 500.
The highest-placed American teen phenom at Worlds of course wasn’t Mary Cain but rather Ajee’ Wilson, who was sixth in the 800 final. Like Cain, Wilson’s 2014 debut also came last week in the Armory in an off-distance. In Wilson’s case, it came in the 1,000.
Wilson “won” her race in 2:50.44 but second place was totally non-competitive (2:57+). A 2:50.44 1,000 is roughly equal to 2:10-flat for 800, so nothing amazing, but a win’s a win and the time was fairly close to the 2:08:51 that Cain ran in her own 800 after her 500.
Remember, at the end of the outdoor season, Wilson took a crack at the world junior record of 2:35.4 but came up well short. Her time of 2:44.05 in Brussels was still a lot faster than what she ran last week.
Speaking of the 1,000, Cain herself and teammates Shannon Rowbury and Treniere Moser are running the 1k on Thursday this week in Boston. Any talk of them possibly getting Jen Toomey‘s 2:34.19 American record is simply nonsense in our book. LetsRun.com stat/coaching guru John Kellogg says a 2:34.19 is equivalent to a 1:58.00 800. Some of you may think that conversion won’t necessarily apply to the more distance-oriented Cain and teammates, especially since Toomey’s 800 PR is “only” 1:59.64, but in any case, it’s still a tall order.
More: Mary Cain Makes Pro Debut; Finishes Second In 500, Wins 800 At Armory
*Alberto Talks About Cain’s Races
MB: Mary Cain about to run a 500 at gotham cup
MB: Mary Cain beaten in pro debut
*LRC Archive: Ajee Wilson comes up short in World Junior 1k Record Assault in Brussels
*DyeStat Video Interview
Stat Of The Week I
24.1 - average age of Olympic debut for American male mid-d and distance runners.
26.1 - average age of Olympic debut for American female mid-d and distance runners.
Those stats, which indicate that women really do age better than men, come from a great guest column by Eric Schmidt and Adam Roth that we posted last week on LRC: When Should You Give Up The (Olympic) Dream? We Tell You – The Oldest American First-Time Olympians Revealed (if you’ve already read it, maybe read it again as we modified a few things after getting a few visitor emails).
Considering how many ninth and tenth graders dominate the girls high school ranks, the older age of female Olympic debuts is somewhat of a surprise.
We imagine the women’s average age will be coming down in 2016 when Cain and Wilson likely make the team.
The Americans Are Coming/Ritz’s Boston Debut
Speaking of marathon debuts, it came out last week that Dathan Ritzenhein will be making his Boston Marathon debut this year as barring injury he’ll be competing with a slew of American in Beantown in April: American Field Announced For 2014 Boston Marathon – Ritz To Make Boston Debut And Will Compete With Desi, Meb, Shalane And Many Others.
Our thoughts? This is fantastic. What took so long?
Why someone of Ritz’s pedigree in the marathon would want to run a rabbitted races like Chicago and/or London where he has zero chance of even running with the leaders for 5k is almost beyond us.
Boston makes perfect sense for Ritz for three reasons.
1) It’s not rabbitted.
2) It’s hilly and Ritz’s best surface is cross-country.
3) Every big-time American needs to run Boston at least once.
More: American Field Announced For 2014 Boston Marathon – Ritz To Make Boston Debut And Will Compete With Desi, Meb, Shalane And Many Others Also in the field are Jason Hartmann and Nick Arciniaga, while the US women are led by Shalane Flanagan, Desi Davila and Amy Hastings.
A Sad Anniversary For Ryan Hall
The other big news on the Boston men’s front was who wasn’t announced - Ryan Hall (and Kara Goucher).
With Hall not being announced for Boston, some are speculating the injury-prone runner is taking the spring off from marathons to focus on getting healthy and work on his speed.
Speaking of Hall, does anyone know what today, January 14th, is for Hall?
It’s the two-year anniversary since the fastest American-born marathoner in history last finished a marathon. Two years ago, on January 14, 2012, he was second at the 2012 US Olympic Trials in Houston.
As for Goucher, she’s said she wants to re-gain her speed so we assume she’s not running a spring marathon either.
Desi Davila Healthy And Training In Kenya
The last bit about Hall might depress some American marathon fans so we’re going to immediately switch gears and provide you (and Hall, if he’s reading this) some uplifting news.
Desi Davila, who – like Hall – made the 2012 US Olympic Team but then dropped out of the Olympics as she struggled with injury, is 100% into her comeback.
Last week, there was a nice Peter Gambaccini Runner’s World story on Desi Davila‘s preparations for 2014 Boston.
The article revealed that Davila will be doing the base portion of her training for the 2014 Boston Marathon in Kenya. More importantly, as if her near-half marathon PR in Japan at the end of 2012 hadn’t confirmed it, she appears to be back 100% physically. According to coach Keith Hanson:
“We’re really pleased with where she’s at. Obviously, the Boston preparation is all about repeating where she was at Boston last time  and contending for a victory. … I think she’ll be ready to compete with the top runners in Boston.”
So Hall fans take note, there is hope. Davila is the same age as Hall (just 9 months younger at 30 to Hall’s 31) and until she ran 2:29:15 Berlin in September, she hadn’t competed a marathon in 20 months herself.
The Runner’s World article stated that Berlin was really just a trial run for Boston. The main goal for Berlin was for Davila to get through a marathon training cycle healthy. It’s a bit of an added bonus that on the women’s side, given the relative lack of depth as compared to the men’s, she can go and run nearly 7 minutes off her PR and still get fifth.
With that accomplished, she’s now hoping she can try to contend in Boston like she did in 2013.
More: Keith Hanson Talks About Desiree Davila Training In Kenya And Says He Thinks She’ll Be Ready To Contend For The Win This Year At Boston Her fall comeback races along with recent training tell them she’s on her way back to where she was in 2012.
Stat Of The Week II/The Early Favorite For The First Major Of The Year?
47 seconds - average margin of victory for 21-year-old Geoffrey Kipsang at the famed Kenyan Police champs over the last two years. Kipsang beat Geoffrey Mutai by 54 seconds last year and 40 seconds this year.
Kipsang, the 2011 World Junior XC champ who skipped the Kenyan XC Trials last year as he was running 58:54 to win the RAK Half in February, said after his Kenyan XC win that he’s in the midst of preparations for next month’s Tokyo Marathon.
The rest of the elite field for Tokyo 2014 hasn’t been announced but Kipsang, who has a 2:06:12 PR, will be tough to beat.
The women’s winner of the Kenyan Police champs, by an equally impressive 45 seconds was Florence Kiplagat. The 2:19:44 runner said her goal is to try to get close to and perhaps surpass Mary Keitany‘s 65:50 world record for the half marathon when Kiplagat runs in the Barcelona Half Marathon on February 16. As for her next marathon, she said she’s hoping to get invited to London where she was fourth and sixth the last two years, instead of going to Boston where she was a DNF in her debut in 2011.
Thoughts On Kenenisa Bekele
Kenenisa Bekele made a lot of news last week.
First, it came out that he’ll make his marathon debut in
London, Boston Paris. Then he ran the BUPA Great Edingburgh XC meet and lost to Garrett Heath. Our thoughts?
As for him losing the race, we don’t really care to be honest. Why did he run this race anyway? (Obvious answer: Money) He’s training for a marathon. When is the last time Paula Radcliffe ran a 4k race?
The thing that we do care about is what Bekele said about his marathon prospects while in Britain. Bekele told The Scotsman that he’s 100% healthy and training has been going well:
“I have many years running together with Mo. But at the moment I want to get experience. I want to concentrate on the marathon now. So for that reason Paris is better at the moment for me. I thought for a long time now that if I’m fit and healthy at that moment, of course I want to run in the marathon at the Olympic Games. Actually, sometimes when I’m training and on a long run, I’m more confident that I can do even better at the marathon [than on the track]. I have confidence. I feel I have good capacity to do it.”
“I’m not nervous. I’m happy and excited to run a marathon. I want to see how it feels – the first marathon is special and very important. At the moment I’m not worried about injury. I’m 100 per cent healthy and I’m feeling good and comfortable, so I hope I will be like that for the next few years.”
If he’s truly 100%, his half marathon win over Mo Farah last Fall showed he’s still got some good races left in the tank.
As for him debuting in Paris, while not great for fans, it’s probably the right move strategically. The last two great track icons on the track that moved up to the marathon, Paul Tergat and Haile Gebrselassie, both made their marathon debuts in London, and both lost (Geb ran 2:06:35 and was third in 2002, Tergat ran 2:08:15 and was 2nd in 2001). Mo Farah is trying to snap that streak this spring himself.
With most of the cash going to Farah, why would Bekele want to go to London, compete in a totally stacked field and be overshadowed by Farah unless certain of victory? Answer – he wouldn’t.
More: Triple Olympic Gold Medallist Kenenisa Bekele Will Make Debut At April 6th Paris Marathon
*MB: Bekele to run PARIS marathon
*MB: Did the Boston Marathon even try to get greatest ever in Kenenisa Bekele?
Garrett Heath Picks Up The Ultimate Two Scalps
The winner of the 4k race at BUPA Great Edinburgh XC meet was American Garrett Heath, who beat both Kenenisa Bekele and Asbel Kiprop in the process. In the year 2014, which features ridiculously deep American running, the 3:34/13:20 man Heath is often forgotten on the domestic scene, so it was great to see the 28-year-old get some international publicity even if Bekele and Kiprop weren’t fully prepared for the race.
Now, no matter what happens during the rest of his career, Heath can go to the grave saying, “I once beat both Kenenisa Bekele and Asbel Kiprop, in the same race.”
It’s a shame that Kiprop ended up third and not second. If Kiprop had finished second, then Heath could lay claim to being the only person in history to beat Asbel Kiprop and Kenenisa Bekele in the same race (Kiprop and Bekele had only raced each other twice before but Kiprop won both of those races), but now Heath has to share the honor with race runner-up, 17-year-old Meresa Kahsay (we’ve also seen it spelled Meresa Kassaye) of Ethiopia.
Of course, Kahsay himself is quite a talent. Maybe the ultimate two scalps will become three down the road as Kahsay is the world junior record holder in the 2,000 steeplechase (5:19.99) who won World Youths in the 2k steeple this summer.
The winner of the men’s 8k race in Edinburgh was fellow Stanford alum Chris Derrick. With no Worlds spots on the line, next month’s USA Cross-Country Championships in Boulder won’t have the deepest fields in history, but with Derrick likely in the field defending his USA title, it might not matter who else shows up.
Who Is Overpaid?
A wise man once told us that when giving a gift that the wrapping/presentation is the gift. His point? Presentation matters A LOT.
That was confirmed last week.
Consider these facts:
$269,757 – reported salary for UK Athletics head Niels de Vos in US dollars.
$500,000 – reported salary for USATF head Max Siegel when he was hired by USATF.
$750,000 – reported salary for USA Swimming head Chuck Wielgus.
$20,000,000+ – reported annual salary of the NFL and MLB commissioners.
Looking at those figures, many might think, “Wow, UK Athletics is getting a nice bargain.”
Last week, many were outraged in the UK when it came out that Niels de Vos would be receiving a $152,668 bonus (UK Athletics officials say it’s a one-time retention bonus for four years of work) to bring his total compensation to $418,598.15. Many in the UK were upset as they claim it reveals how out or touch de Vos is to the average athlete’s plight.
Our thought? If you want to hire someone to run an organization that has a $41 million + budget, you are going to have to pay them several hundred thoustand dollars whether you want to or not.
More: Many Are Upset With the UKA CEO’s Big Pay Bonus, But The Guardian Asks If Niels de Vos Is Worth It This article points out that De Vos has saved UKA millions and secured lucrative sponsorship deals such as the move from adidas to Nike.
For The Love Of The Sport
In perusing obscure results in our Race Results Weekly subscription, we found the following results that entertained us and might entertain you if you are getting up their in age.
1992 Olympian John Trautmann is still going strong at age 45. The former 13:20 performer tripled at the NYRR Night at the Races Meet #1 at the Amory on January 9th.
600: John Trautmann, Unattached (45+) 1:32.71
1,000: John Trautmann, Unattached (45+) 2:41.38
2 mile: John Trautmann, Unattached (45+) 9:53.04
Videos Of The Week
Two videos of the week. One is inspirational to get you motivated for 2014.
We loved the video. It’s a takeoff on Nike’s “Find your greatness” ads and mixes other shoe company clips in it (there is a Saucony clip and Usain Bolt of Puma in there.) Shoe geeks, if you know who made the video, email us.
The second video of the week is completely the opposite and a comedy. It features Usain Bolt vs. Michael Phelps in a race:
More: MB: Funniest video ever!
What About The Sport?/Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon
Actually make that three videos of the week. If you liked the first video above or are from Pittsburgh, then you’ve got to see this third video. It features all-star baseball player Andrew McCutcheon of the Pittsburgh Pirates trying to motivate Pittsburgh natives to come back to run the marathon in Pittsburgh in May.
Kudos to the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon folks as they are always thinking of creative ideas to promote running. Pittsburgh did a great job of hosting the 2000 US Olympic Trials Marathon and then a few years later was without a marathon. Now the marathon is back and thriving and there is even a EQT 10-miler in November with special compensation for Americans.
Pittsburgh race director Patrice Matamoros was recently honored as the Sportwoman of the Year for her efforts in Pittsburgh.
Poem Of The Week
Kudos to several LRC visitors for emailing us a link to a poem in The Atlantic by University of Maryland Professor Michael Collier entitled “Penn Relays,” which talks about the importance a Penn Relays title plays in one’s life even 70+ years later:
Mark Coogan Leaves Dartmouth For New Balance
Mark Coogan left Dartmouth last week for New Balance. The lifestyle of a pro coach is way better than that of a college coach. LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson, who coached for a decade in the college ranks, loves to say college coaching is the “Ultimate 35-40 Lifestyle,” meaning many coaches work 35-40 weekends a year and are lucky to make 35-40 thousand a year (someone like Coogan was making more at Dartmouth, but you catch our drift). As a pro coach, you also are working with better athletes.
With Coogan, who has two kids living with their mom in the Boston area some two hours away from Dartmouth, it’s a no-brainer.
So why don’t more college coaches become pro coaches? Well, for most, there is little money in it as struggling athletes aren’t used to paying anything for coaching. While a coach is more important to an athlete’s success than an agent, the agent has a built-in advantage. Much like a real estate agent, track agents are just taking money off the top from money you are receiving.
If you are retired like Frank Gagliano or can find a shoe company to fit the bill, being a pro coach is a dream job. Coogan now gets:
1) More Pay
2) Better Lifestyle
3) Better Athletes
On the downside, the team aspect of coaching in college is truly special as is working with developing athletes, but recruiting, fundraising, and dealing with NCAA regulations are far from what any coach dreams of doing.
While Dartmouth was far from a one-woman show in Abbey D’Agostino (they will would have won the Ivy League championships and made NCAAs if you removed Abbey from the team scoring this year), the facts are D’Agostino was a once-in-a-generation type talent at a school like Dartmouth. Coogan arrived when she did and caught lightning in a bottle. He very well could have coached the rest of his career trying to re-create the magic of this year’s team (although it should be pointed out Dartmouth was 5th in 1996 and 4th in 1997 at NCAAs).
The biggest downside of Coogan moving to New Balance is he will no longer be able to work with Ben True (and Sam Chelanga). True was one of the breakout stars the last couple of years under Coogan, and was primed to go sub-13:00 at the end of last year. As a college coach, Coogan was free to coach whatever pros he wanted to on the side. As a pro coach for New Balance, New Balance is not going to let Coogan work with True, a Saucony athlete. Understandable, but a bummer.
Quote Of The Week (that wasn’t quote of the day)
“I want to give some young talent the chance to star in the Commonwealth Games.”
- World and Olympic 1,500 champ Asbel Kiprop talking in November in Kenya about whether he would compete in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland.
“I’ll be back in top form in the next couple of months and look forward to returning for the Commonwealth Games later this year, ” said Kiprop, talking last week in Edinburgh last week, the capital of Scotland.
Will Kiprop really run the Commonwealth Games in 2014 or was he just trying to please the local crowd? If you know, email us.
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.
“It’s still early in the new year, but this was a real smack on the head. He crushed me. In terms of time there was nothing wrong with how I ran, but he taught me a valuable lesson. Before the race I was all snug and comfortable in a nice warm hospitality tent, but he was different. A difference of attitude. You can’t let yourself get too comfortable and complacent. I have to be more stoic.”
- Japan civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi talking about his surprise defeat by the unknown amateur Hideyuki Ikegami. Ikegami set a PR by more than 2:30 to win the Tanigawa Mari Half Marathon in 1:03:09 to Kawauchi’s 1:04:17.
“I always still feel like I’m on the cusp of just getting there. When I go to workouts, I’m still just trying to make it to that top level. I feel like I’ve threatened to be a threat but no one really thinks, ‘Oh, you’re the real deal.’ I don’t know if that’s just something I have to keep in my mind so that I keep working hard.”
- Desi Davila speaking about how she was on the “cusp of stardom” back in 2011 when she was 2nd at Boston. She and coach Keith Hanson talk about her ongoing comeback and training in Kenya ahead of Boston 2014.
“All runners know that the commitment required to be successful is extreme … the efforts of the driven distance runner can be noticeably single-minded and consuming. It’s a simple but demanding lifestyle that can be lauded when an athlete is young but looked upon curiously or even with contemptible pity as a runner begins to enter the twilight of his or her youth.”
“At what age is it still acceptable to still be devoting most of one’s physical and mental energy to being a better runner? At what age has the ship of the dream of running glory sailed beyond the point of no return? In short, at what point does it just start getting sad?”
- Excerpt from article where LRC guest columnist Eric Schmidt and researcher Adam Roth reveal the oldest American first-time Olympians for all distances 800m to the marathon.
“I felt pretty lucky mixed with ‘wow we really did it that fast?’ Take the combo of 2 lanky noodle distance runners, running 80-110 miles a week, suppressed libido, tired sperm and what odds would you give them of procreation? …”
“… No one could have prepared me for what I was going to experience the first 10 weeks of my pregnancy. I initially felt like I was hit by a bus. … I was very far from a professional runner the first 3 months, as I was barely a surviving pregnancy lady.”
- US marathoner Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce blogging about getting “knocked up” only 2 months after she and Ben Bruce decided to try, and her first few months of pregnancy. Congrats to Stephanie and Ben!
“If I am going to do a marathon, of course I want to win … Of course, if I train hard I will do a fast time. But I can’t say I will run 2:03, 2:05 or 2:06. I cannot say. The only thing is I have to prepare myself and train hard until I finish a marathon. I have to motivate myself to train hard to be ready to put myself in a good position. We will see in the end what the result will be.”
- Three-time Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele talking about his upcoming marathon debut, which he will make at the Paris Marathon on April 6th. *MB: Bekele to run PARIS marathon
- High school throws coach Dan McQuaid blogging about one of the reasons why the Oregon “monopoly” on the NCAA Championships isn’t good for track and field fans outside of Oregon. McQuaid, for example, lives in the Midwest and doesn’t know if he’ll ever be able to afford to make the trip.
- Kenyan 400m runner Stephen Ndwiga explaining to a judge after he was caught using cannabis that it was to help him achieve his Olympic dreams. The judge said he must still be under the influence and threw him in jail for 2 weeks to sober up. But that didn’t stop Ndwiga from asking the court to allow him to keep using drugs while in custody so he could continue his training.
Questions? Comments? Email us.