WTW 6/26/14: Increased Depth In Women’s Running, High Praise For Molly Beckwith-Ludlow, Dismissing Galen Rupp’s WR Chances, And Please Don’t Bring Back The World Relays (Next Year)

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The Week That Was In Running – June 9 – 15, 2014

by LetsRun.com
June 25, 2014

After a long hiatus, our famous Week That Was is back.

We recap the week in running below and apologize for the delay but the spring/summer is incredibly busy for us. As we’ve started covering more events in-depth and in-person, we’ve sadly figured out a way to justify blowing off the WTW much like a runner coming back from injury justifies not getting out the door on some days. “I’m not quite feeling it, maybe next week.”

It becomes a cycle which we need to break in a major way. So in the midst of an incredible busy week with the USA championships, we bring back the Week That Was, mainly to prove to ourselves that we should figure out a way to get it down each and every week.

We talk about last week as well as a little bit about the last few weeks. Along the way, we praise Molly Beckwith-Ludolow, praise the increased competitiveness of women’s track, show you just how dominant the SEC and Pac 12 are at NCAAs and make a $10,000 guarantee that Galen Rupp won’t set the 10,000 WR. Plus why it’s unacceptable for commentators to talk about the weight of female track stars.

Previous versions of the Week That Was can be found here.

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Weekly Free Coaching Advice

We’ve always said we’ve only seen two geniuses coach work in person, John Kellogg who coached LetsRun.com co-founder Weldon Johnson from 30:13 to 28:06 after he couldn’t break 30:00 for two different college coaches and sprint/field event expert Dan Pfaff, who was an assistant at the University of Texas when Weldon ran a fifth year at the University of Texas.

Pfaff knows what he’s talking about it and is very much a student of both the sport, performance and the coaching profession. Please do yourself a favor and read his interview with the World Athletics Center about the mental side of the sport and how to best perform under pressure.

Even if you don’t read it, please do us a favor and follow one of the things Pfaff favors – get off your cell phone. Stop texting in the middle of a track meet/practice.

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A Results You May Not have Noticed/Proof That American Distance Running Is Quite Deep

You know American distance running is deeper than ever when an American runs a 2:14 marathon last week and it doesn’t even get a peep on the LetsRun.com messageboard. Not too long ago, a performance like the 2:14:31 put up by Under Armour’s Nick Arciniaga at Grandma’s last week might have put him on the Olympics team. Now that’s a tough way to make $2,500.

More: Kenya’s Dominic Ondoro Breaks Dick Beardsley’s 33-Year-Old Grandma’s Marathon Course Record With 2:09:06 Victory Nick Arciniaga was 9th in 2:14:31. Pasca Myers ran 2:33:45 to win over US’s Brianne Nelson (2:34:44). Julius Koskei won the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in 1:03:36 while Cynthia Limo took the women’s race in 1:09:50. *Results

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Hidden Gems from Ostrava

There was an IAAF meet in Ostrava last week. Since it wasn’t a Diamond League affair, it didn’t get a lot of attention but there were two results of note in the women’s 800.

1. Winnie Nanyondo, UGA, 1:59.27 PB

Molly Beckwith at the 2012 Olympic Trials

Molly Beckwith at the 2012 Olympic Trials

3. Molly Beckwith-Ludlow, USA, 1:59.77

The women’s 800 at the top level is very weak right now. Anything under 2:00 and you are suddenly in the mix to win any race without Eunice Sum in it. Thus we’re on the lookout for the next star capable of running sub 1:57. 20-year old Ugandan Winnie Nanyondo ran 1:59.27 FTW last week in Ostrava. A big PR for her as she had a pb of just 2:02.38 from 2012 world juniors where she was 8th.

The first-sub 2:00 clocking for Beckwith in 2014 is a mark that should be celebrated. After finishing an agonizing 4th at the 2012 US Olympic Trials, Beckwith missed 2013 but has slowly worked her way back to her old form in 2014. 3rd at USAs indoors, she should be a contender in the stacked women’s 800 at USAs this week in Sacramento.

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

So why is it not acceptable for an athletics commentator to talk about a female distance runners weight, when it’s fine for a horse racing pundit to talk about the weight of a horse, or a football commentator to say a male player is overweight? Because horses aren’t already under tremendous sociocultural pressure to conform to a certain body type. I believe the level of eating disorders in horses is less than 1% (Common Sense et al, 2014).

- excerpt from an article by 2:01.81 800 runer and 2007 World Youth silver medalist Alison Leonard who became enraged after a male commentator talked about the weight of Sofia Assefa on the NY DL broadcast. Leondard’s post – Some thoughts on body image and the media in women’s athletics – appears on eightlane.org.

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

“I just feel like we’re in a 10K, we’re not in a 1500, so why race it like a 1500? It’s a lot entertaining I think for the crowd when it’s faster and it’s more satisfying.”

- Michigan freshman, Erin Finn, talking after pushing the pace in the 10,000 final at NCAAs the week before last.

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

“At school I was the guy who hid in the bushes with my flat mate during the first lap of the cross country and then rejoined the field when they came round again. I have never competed in a major championship before and until recently I had almost no contact with British Athletics. And now I will be running at the Commonwealth Games.”

- Steve Way, former 20 cigarette a day smoker, who will be running the marathon for England at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, talking to The Guardian.

More: Meet Steve Way – England’s unlikeliest athlete for the Commonwealth Games

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(At Least) 5 Thoughts About The 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships

1) The favorites came through on the men’s side, while upsets took place on the women’s side.

The 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships featured some great distance races. Four of the five men’s races from 800 on up were decided in the final straight (with three decided in the final meters). Only one women’s race — the 10,000 — was close over the final 100 meters, but two other saw big upsets as pre-race favorites Abbey D’Agostino of Dartmouth and Shalaya Kipp of Colorado were toppled in the 5,000 and 3,000 steeplechase, respectively.

Many were shocked that D’Agostino and Kipp both lost, as historically upsets are rarer on the women’s side. But just how rare? Before we get into the analysis, here’s a quick and dirty review of how the distance events played out last week:

Win by heavy favorites: Edward Cheserek (men’s 10,000); Anthony Rotich (men’s 3,000 steeple); Laura Roesler (women’s 800)

Repeat win: Lawi Lalang (men’s 5,000); Mac Fleet (men’s 1,500); Rotich

Cheserek and Lalang Battled in the Greatest NCAA 5000 Ever

Cheserek and Lalang Battled in the Greatest NCAA 5000 Ever

Win by moderate favorite: Brandon McBride (men’s 800)

Slight upset: Emma Bates (women’s 10,000)

Moderate upset: Shelby Houlihan (women’s 1,500)

Big upset: Marielle Hall (women’s 5,000); Leah O’Connor (women’s 3,000 steeple)

To determine how much of an anomaly these performances were, we decided to look at performances from the NCAA outdoor meet since 1982 on (the first year women competed at NCAAs). Since it’s difficult to go year-by-year and determine who the favorite was in each event, we used a proxy, repeat winners. Here’s what we found:

Men’s repeat winners, 800-10,000, 1982-2013

Repeats: 16; Three-peats: 2

Women’s repeat winners, 800-10,000, 1982-2013 (flat 3,000 instead of steeple before 2001)

Repeats: 21; Three-peats 5; Four-peats: 1

But in 2014, there were three repeats on the men’s side and none on the women’s. To be fair, D’Agostino was the only one with a chance to repeat on the women’s side (three-peat, actually), though you could also argue that Kipp counts since she won in 2012 and redshirted in 2013.

Still, 2014 definitely bucked the historical trend as women’s running generally isn’t as deep as men’s. If there was a 14:42 5,000 woman in the NCAA right now, she’d win the 5,000 easily as well as the 1,500 and/or 10,000. Well that’s basically what Lalang is on the men’s side (Lalang’s 13:00.95 ranked him #8 in the world last year; the #8 women’s time was 14:42.07) and he came within .35 seconds in the 5,000 of winning no NCAA titles in his senior year, indoor or outdoor.

2) The SEC owns the sprints and the Pac-12 dominates the distances

We scored the sprints and distance events at NCAAs by BCS conference (we put 800 as it’s own event as we didn’t know if we should count it as distance or sprint). The results are below:

Men’s sprints (100, 200, 400)

SEC         44
Pac-12        24
ACC         18
Big 12        14
Big 10        0

Men’s 800

SEC        29
Pac-12        4

Men’s distances (1500, 3k steeple, 5k, 10k)

Pac-12        73
Big 12        18
Big 10        17
SEC         8
ACC        3

Women’s sprints (100, 200, 400)

SEC        40
Big 12        36
Pac-12        26
ACC         7
Big 10         7

Women’s 800

Pac-12     21
Big 12        8
SEC        6

Women’s distances (1500, 3k steeple, 5k, 10k)

Pac-12                27
SEC                23
Mountain West (non-BCS)    23
ACC                19
Big 12                16
Big 10                16
Ivy (non-BCS)            11
C-USA (non-BCS)        10

Clearly, the SEC is the best conference in the country when it comes to sprinting while the Pac-12 dominates the distance events. It’s also interesting that when it comes to the crossover event, the 800, the SEC dominated on the men’s side while the Pac-12 was almost as strong on the women’s.

Other observations:

  • There’s a bigger separation between the top conference and everyone else on the men’s side than on the women’s side. The SEC is way out in front of its closest competitor in the men’s sprints (44 to 24), as is the Pac-12 in the men’s distances (73 to 18). On the women’s side, it’s a lot more even. The SEC is still tops in the women’s sprints, but by just four points over the Big 12 (40 to 36). The women’s distances might be the most even event area of the entire meet, with the Pac-12 just four points up on the next two teams (27 to 23) and eight conferences tallying 10 or more points.
  • The SEC is the strongest conference overall. This is reflected in the overall team standings. On the men’s side, the SEC has five of the top 10 teams (Pac-12 is next closest with three). On the women’s side, the SEC is even more dominant, with six of the top 10 teams (no other conference had more than one).

The Oregon Men Celebrate Their 88 Points

3) People need to appreciate how crazy it is that the Oregon men scored 88 points. For 75 percent of schools in the NCAA, scoring 88 points at their conference meet constitutes a successful season. Well, in one of the most dominant performances in NCAA meet history, the Ducks piled up 88 points, the most since the last time they won the meet in 1984 (though the scoring system from 1982-1984 awarded 15 points for first and scored 12 places, not eight).

Apart from that 1982-1984 stretch, the only other time a team has scored more points than the 2014 Oregon men came in 1936, when USC scored 103 ⅓ (an even more impressive feat considering that only six places scored at the time). Even if you scored just the distance events (1500, 3k steeple, 5k, 10k), the Ducks would still have 47 points, a total that would almost always land them on the podium. Head coach Robert Johnson said that the focus all year has been peaking for NCAAs, and Oregon certainly accomplished that last weekend.

4) The Florida men also had a historic performance, racking up 70 points for second. Scoring 70 points at NCAAs and losing is kind of like throwing a no-hitter while the other guy pitches a perfect game. No team had scored 70 points at NCAAs since Stanford did it in 2000, and 70 is second-most among runners-up (excluding the 1982-1984 stretch), behind only the 73 points from a Jesse Owens-led Ohio State team in 1936. The Gators couldn’t have performed much better than they did, but in the end they weren’t even close to Oregon.

Side note: The 1936 NCAA meet was nuts. Not only did USC and Ohio State set records for most points by first- and second-place teams, but Owens won four events for the second year in a row — including a world record of 10.2 seconds in the 100 meters — before mirroring the feat with four golds at the Berlin Olympics later that summer. What a meet.

5) Florida could score even more next year. The Gators return almost their entire group of scorers from this year, including all four members of the 4×100 (first) and 4×400 (second). Of their nine scorers in individual events, only one graduates (senior Eddie Lovett in the 110 hurdles), which means they bring back 66 of their 70 points. Oregon, on the other hand, graduates four of its 11 scorers and brings back just 59 of its 88 points. That’s still a lot, but it might not be enough to topple the loaded Gators.

More: Full 2014 NCAA Outdoor Coverage

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Four Thoughts On World Relays

Yes, we know it didn’t take place last week but we haven’t written a WTW since then. In case you missed the inaugural World Relays, you can see our coverage here.

1) We loved the event. The atmosphere in the Bahamas was special.

2) Despite point #1, we’re not convinced event should be held again in 2015 (particularly in the same location). The event was exciting in large part because it was novel and fans had no idea what to expect. Let it still be novel again in four more years.

3) Put it at the end of the season. All runners would love a free trip to the Bahamas as an end of season reward.

4) We just thought of this one. We wonder if the event will end up wiping out the USA vs the World at Penn Relays. We hope not.

Rupp is America's best at 10,000 meters

Rupp is America’s best at 10,000 meters

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(Depressing) Stat of The Week

A few weeks back, Galen Rupp ran an incredible 26:44 to set a new American record and win the 2014 Prefontaine Classic 10,000.

Guess where the accomplishment ranked in terms of the most read sports stories on Oregonlive.com:?

8th- just ahead a poll on who was the best boys high school golfer in Oregon and a few spots behind an article on what uniforms the Oregon Ducks will win next year.

6. Oregon Ducks 2014 football uniforms: Meet the man who already knows everything they’ll wear

7. Inside Oregon Ducks’ custom Air Jordans: Nike strategy sets player, celebrity, sneakerhead tongues wagging (photos)

8. Galen Rupp smashes own American record in 10,000 meters at Prefontaine Classic

9. Who should be The Oregonian’s high school boys golfer of the year? (poll)

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Galen Rupp Is Good, REALLY REALLY GOOD, But He’s Not Going To Get The World Record – We Guarantee It

Speaking of Rupp, his training buddy Mo Farah recently talked about Rupp or himself Farah possibly breaking the 10,000 world record. We loved that talk as the only hole in Farah’s resume is a lack of super fast PBs at 5,000 and 10,000.

As for Rupp, Farah said, “I definitely think Galen can go close (to the WR), a lot faster than what he has run just with having rabbits all the way.”

We’re not sure what Farah is talking about. Rupp had one of the best road racers on the planet, Stephen Sambu rabbit him for 8100 meters. Sambu stayed in the race and ended up breaking 27:00 himself. There are only a handful of people on the planet who could possibly rabbit it any farther, one of them being Farah himself, and most of them would likely want to race it.

Guess how far the rabbits took Bekele when he ran his ridiculous 26:17.53 WR? Just 5000 meters. The entire second half he was all alone.

Don’t misunderstand us. Rupp is INCREDIBLY GOOD, but he’s not going to set the 10,000 WR. As good as he is, he’s miles away from being as good as Bekele in his prime. Rupp is 26.83 seconds away from the WR – that’s more than one second per lap

We guarantee it. If ever sets the 10,000 WR, we’ll give $10,000 to the charity of his choice.

If you missed Farah’s return to the track at the intimate Portland Track Classic click here.

More: Oregonian sports top 10 last week *Recap of Rupp’s 26:44 *Race Recap of Bekele’s WR *Race Video

Grant Fisher Dominated the Final 200m to Win the Brooks PR Invite in a US Leading Time

Grant Fisher Dominated the Final 200m to Win the Brooks PR Invite in a US Leading Time

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Records Were Made To Broken (Or Not)

The first Brooks PR invitational was held last week in Seattle and the Grant Fisher (if you haven’t read our in depth profile on this superstar click here) show continued as he destroyed the field in the boys 2 mile running 8:51.28.

A race that got less attention was the 4 boys 4 x mile where South Eugene’s 38-year old record boy 4 x mile record of 17:06.6 barely survived an assault from a Northport team of  Justin Leopold, Jack McGowan, Tim McGowan and autistic superstar Mike Brannigan.

Northport ran 17:06.92. Since South Eugene’s 17:06.6 is a hand-time, the standard conversion is to add .14 to it so Northport missed it by just .18.

More: Messageboard discussion: Northport boys nearly get South Eugene’s decades old 4xmile record

Brooks PR Results: Alexa Efraimson Wins 800 (2:03.26), Grant Fisher 2-Mile (8:51) And Bethan Knights Sets 2-Mile NR With 9:53.54

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Recommended Reads

LRC Meet Grant Fisher: The Foot Locker Champ And 4:02 Miler Is Only A Junior, But He’s Already Wise Beyond His Years

RIP Tony: USATF CEO Max Siegel Was Tony Gwynn’s Agent And Friend

Article On Alexa Efraimson With A Lot Of Interesting Insight From Her Coach, Who Apparently Goes To Joe Vigil And Alberto Salazar For Advice

Marc Bloom Examines Why HS Girls Are So Fast Nowadays

Pretty Amazing Story: Minnesota Man Tim Bowman Runs Grandma’s Less Than A Year After Having Brain Tumor RemovedAfter his surgery he had to relearn everything including walking and talking.

Article Looks At Distance Running Couple Hannah England And Her Husband Luke Gunn, Who Will Represent GB Together At Team European ChampionshipsEngland is in the 1500 and Gunn in the steeple.

Competitor.com: What Ever Happened To Daniel Komen?

Homeless S.F. marathoner, who is getting ready for San Fran Half, is also a budding artis

Follow your passion: Rice University pole vault coach David Butler has started a pole vault museum on facebook Maybe we should buy him out and start letsvault.com.

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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 6/23:

- Excerpt from a Competitor.com piece by Matt Fitzgerald on the career of 3,000m and 2-mile world record holder Daniel Komen. Fitzgerald explores what made Komen’s career so great and the reasons it may have been cut so short.


Sunday 6/22:

- Paid pacer Geoffrey Ronoh talking about stunning marathon world record holder Wilson Kipsang by staying in the race and beating him by 8 seconds at the Olomouc Half Marathon. Ronoh won in a CR 60:17.


Friday 6/20:

- Grandma’s Marathon co-founder and race director from 1977 through 2013, Scott Keenan, talking about how he’ll enjoy finally sleeping in on race day in his first year of retirement.


Thursday 6/19:

- Steve Sisson, coach of Marielle Hall during her first three years at Texas, singing high praise for the newly-minted NCAA 5,000 champ.


- Caleb Ndiku, birth date of October 9, 1992 according to the IAAF, talking after yet another impressive performance in Ostrava where he destroyed the 3,000 field and Bernard Lagat by nearly 5 full seconds. Lagat got a consolation prize of being the oldest man in history to break 7:40 and Nick Willis broke John Walker‘s NZ record. *Race Video *MB: Former World jr champ Caleb Ndiku said on facebook that today is his bday, but official stats say bday is Oct 9th *MB: Willis & Lagat Go 3-4 in Ostrava


Tuesday 6/17:

- World renowned track coach Dan Pfaff talking in an interesting interview about his philosophy on the mental side of coaching.


Questions? Comments? Email us.