Three Thoughts About The Nike Oregon Project’s Record Assaults In Boston In 2014

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by LetsRun.com
January 16, 2014

Many of Alberto Salazar‘s Nike Oregon Project athletes are going try to run fast and break American records at Boston University this winter. You can read the press release from BU, but the skinny is Galen Rupp and crew will be in Beantown three times this winter chasing six American records. The first race is today (Thursday):

Jan. 16 – Multi-Team Meet
Women’s 1,000m (7:30 p.m.) – 2:34.19 AR – Mary Cain, Treniere Clement, Shannon Rowbury, and Morgan Uceny (adidas)
Men’s 5,000m (7:40 p.m.) – 13:07.00 AR – Galen Rupp, Cam Levins and Sam Chelanga

Jan. 24-25 – John Thomas Terrier Invitational
Women’s Mile – 4:20.5 AR – Shannon Rowbury, Jordan Hasay, Mary Cain and Treniere Clement
Men’s 1,000m – 2:17.86 AR – Matt Centrowitz
Men’s 2-mile – 9:09.49 AR – Galen Rupp

Feb. 8 – David Hemery Valentine Invitational
Men’s Mile – 3:49.89 – Galen Rupp

Here are two thoughts on Thursday’s races and one about Rupp’s American record attempt on the mile on February 8th.

LRC Thought #1: The women’s 1,000 record isn’t going down.

Any talk of Jen Toomey‘s 2:34.19 American record is simply nonsense in our book (same thing with the 4:20 mile as well but we’ll wait a week for that). LetsRun.com stat/coaching guru John Kellogg says a 2:34.19 is equivalent to a 1:58.00 800. That’s still a Tall, Tall order. If you think Mary Cain was surprising last year, if she somehow does this on Thursday, then that’s more surprising by a factor of two than her entire 2013 season.

Last year, one woman in the world broke 2:00 indoors and the world leader was 1:59.58 (Yekaterina Kupina). In 2012, six did it but Pamela Jelimo was the only one under 1:59.00 (1:58.83). No way these women do it this early in the season.

The high school record of 2:43.40 is something Cain should get with an average showing (that’s about 2:05 equivalent for 800). And yes in our book, she’s still eligible for high school records as she’s still in high school.

LRC Thought #2: Could Rupp really break Lopez Lomong’s 13:07.00 AR in his 2014 opener? We’re certainly not ruling anything out after watching him run 3:50 for the mile indoors last year.

Of the three American records Rupp is going for, Salazar told Flotrack, whom you can pay $19.99 to watch the race, that he thinks the 5,000 is the easiest American record for Rupp to get.

The first race is the 5,000. And that race will be more of a strength race. He won’t need as much raw speed for a 5k. The 5k I think is actually the easiest of the three – in terms of at least breaking the American record. The next race will be the two mile – now it starts to get faster but he has a couple more weeks to peak for that. Certainly the training is such that we think he can be in there somewhere between 8:04 and 8:09.

The next race is the mile. Last year, Galen ran 3:50.9, and the goal is to go back and obviously run faster.. Normally you’d think indoor tracks aren’t fast enough but I think the BU track is as fast as an outdoor track.

We’re trying to run faster than 3:50.9 and the American record is 3:49.9. You’re not going to set the goal to run 3:50.2 – certainly the goal is to break that American record . The world record is 3:48.4 but once you start trying to get below 3:50, what the heck, anything is possible.

Sub-13:07.00 in an opener? That’s not easy to do.

Rupp’s only run under 13:07.00 four times total in his life. That being said, Rupp now in 2014, is a totally different runner than he was in 2010 when he’d never broken 13:07 . Rupp’s actually gone sub-13:07 the last two times he’s run the 5,000 not at Worlds, so it’s certainly possible he gets it.

But to go sub 13:07, you need some help unless your name is Albert Rop. The good news for Rupp is he might have some company for much of the race as former NCAA rival Sam Chelanga, who has a 13:09 PR, is in the race.

We called Chelanga’s coach Mark Coogan, who is coaching Chelanga for the last time on Thursday before Coogan starts his new job at New Balance, on Wednesday night to ask if Chelanga was in the race to rabbit Rupp. We didn’t mean that as a sign of disrespect to Chelanga. Chelanga and Rupp may have been rivals in college, but in recent years, Chelanga hasn’t been in close to the same league as Rupp.

So we asked Coogan if Chelanga was in the race just to set the pace for Rupp/be the rabbit. Coogan said definitely not. He said Chelanga, who ran a 4:05 mile last week on the flat track in Dartmouth, is in good shape and most definitely isn’t just a rabbit (the rabbit is Rich Peters).

Coogan said the plan was to try to hit 3,200 in 8:28 and go from there. “They definitely are going to go hard and fast. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone ran 13:05,” said Coogan.

So 8:28 and then 13:05. That’s not easy to do. 8:28 is 13:13 pace. Add on another 32 and you’ve got 9:30 with 1,600 to go. So they’d have to close their last 1,600 in 4:05 (Lomong was 8:25 last year).

That’s not easy and we don’t see Chelanga closing that fast. But could Rupp go 4:15-4:13-4:08-30 for 13:06? Yes. It’s all about the kick.

Cam Levins is also in the race. The Canadian record of 13:25.87 (Jason Bunston 1997) is much easier to get.

Galen wants his 2-mile record back

Galen wants his 2-mile record back.

LRC Thought #3: If an American record falls and no one is there to watch it watches it on TV, does it matter?

Take a look at the schedule above. Rupp’s third and final attempt at an American record, when he goes for Bernard Lagat‘s American record of 3:49.49 in the mile, comes on February 8th. The 2014 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix which will be live on ESPN2 this year is on February 8th. So you’ll get to see Rupp possibly make history on live national TV, right?

Nope.

Rupp’s record attempt is coming at a collegiate meet at BU – not the nationally televised meet at Reggie Lewis.

It boggles our minds that Rupp’s mile attempt is coming at a college meet and not at the nationally-televised New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. Wouldn’t Nike want him to do it on TV? Honestly, when we first got the BU press release yesterday, we thought it must be some sort of mistake.

Editor’s note: Wejo has posted in the forums on how a track meet on ESPN gets roughly half a million viewers, while a track meet on the internet gets a few thousand.

But we called and talked to the organizers of the NBIGP and they confirmed Rupp wasn’t running there. And no, this isn’t about some petty Nike/New Balance rivalry as other Salazar coached athletes like Mary Cain and Jordan Hasay are going to the New Balance meet. The NBIGP people said that Rupp has run there in the past and they’d love to have him again. Salazar just really likes the BU track and Rupp loved the atmosphere there as well when the college kids lined the track and cheered for him.

But for us, having Rupp chase history at a college meet on February 8th is sort of absurd. Salazar and Rupp are almost missing the whole point of setting records. Records are meant to inspire and mesmerize.

You know the old saying, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to see it, does it make a noise?” Well we’ve always wondered, “If an American record falls and no one witnesses it, does it matter?” Ever since Alan Webb set the American mile record at a meet where people joke there were more trees than spectators, we think it’s absurd AR attempts are made at obscure meets.

Toni Reavis has a great piece out about how chasing times is bad for the sport (which isn’t related to the BU meets). We think record attempts have their time and place but the stage they are set in matters – A LOT. Don’t you agree with us?

You should. Think about it. Usain Bolt is a global icon, not because he’s the world record holder (Asafa Powell had the WR – when is the last time he had an ad in the US?). Bolt’s a global icon because he set the world record in the biggest meet in the World – the Olympics. David Rudisha similarly mesmerized the world with his WR because he did it at the Olympics.

And yes, Lomong’s 13:07.00 last year was obscure as well.


LRC Note: Live coverage of the meet will be posted on the messageboard so come-back later for coverage of Rupp’s race if you don’t want to pay the $19.99 for the Flotrack Pro Subscription to watch it.

More: Galen Rupp And His Nike Oregon Project Teammates Will Be Looking For American Records At Boston University’s Track & Tennis Center In 2014
*2014 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix Coverage
*LRC Vault: Lopez Lomong Sets New American Indoor 5,000 Record – Runs 13:07.00