WTW: 2015 Is The Year Of Bernard Lagat; Shannon Rowbury, Cas Loxsom And Moses Mosop Off To Good Starts; And Kawauchi Triumphs Over The US Again

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by LetsRun.com
January 28, 2015

Happy New Year, everyone. After a month-plus hiatus, the Week That Was is back. After Foot Lockers (that’s the U.S. high school XC champs for our international visitors) on December 13th, nothing of real consequence goes on for about a month so we took a break as well. Now, though, things have really started to heat up and we need to get back in the swing of things.

We won’t recap everything that happened over the last month-plus, but in case you missed anything, you can catch complete coverage of many key events at the following links: *2015 Dubai Marathon – Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon *2015 Houston Marathon and Half Marathon – 2015 USA Half Marathon Championships *Great Edinburgh XC *Xiamen Marathon

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

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The Beginning Of The End For Bernard Lagat or The Beginning of A Truly Magical Year for Bernard Lagat?

Rather than recap the last month of action, we thought about starting our recap with a list of runners whose early season results should have them encouraged heading into 2015 and those who should be a little discouraged or nervous. As we speculated who would make the good and bad lists, one name came up for both – Bernard Lagat.

Let us explain.

Lagat certainly can’t be feeling great about the way he ran earlier this month at the Great Edinburgh XC meet. He was third to last in the international 4K race and finished nearly a minute back of Garrett Heath (Heath won in 12:11, Lagat ran 13:07).

To be fair, it should be pointed out that an xc race at the beginning of January might not mean anything come August. For the record, Silas Kiplagat was last in Edinburgh, some 49 seconds back of Lagat, and we aren’t writing him off.

Daddy still can kick. Lagat USA 3000m Champion at 39.

Will Lagat be truly great in 2015 or just great for a 40-year-old?

But Father Time is undefeated and we’ve always said that it’s pretty interesting the way aging works in track and field. Often, we’ve seen an aging athlete run near their lifetime bests into their mid- to late-30s, but when age catches up to them, their performance can totally fall off a cliff.

When it gets bad, it often gets really bad very quickly. Seeing Lagat’s 2015 start and looking back at his 2014, it’s fair to ask, “Was 2014 the beginning of the end for Lagat?” In 2014, Lagat’s seasonal bests were ‘only’ 7:38 and 13:06, very modest by his standards.

On the other hand, while Lagat started of 2015 with a disappointing result, it’s still almost certainly bound to be a great year for Lagat in 2015. He’ll likely get tons of national press. If it were 2016, the amount of press coverage he would receive would be unreal. If he hires a publicist, we imagine it still will be pretty remarkable in 2015. Why? Because even if he’s bad, he’s going to break every 40+ masters mark imaginable.

The U.S. and world records from 800 through 10,000 should be a walk in the park for Lagat even if he’s ‘awful’ this year. So even if Lagat has a ‘bad year’ as judged by his recent standards, it will still be the greatest year in the history of the world for a man 40+.

Lagat should be able to smoke every world and U.S. record from 800 through 10,000 for a 40+ master without much of a sweat.

World 40+ Records
800 1:48.22
1500: 3:42.02
Mile: 3:58.15
3000: 8:01.44
5000: 13:43.15
10,000: 28:30.88
Half-Marathon: 1:02:28
Marathon: 2:08:46
U.S. 40+ Records
800: 1:50.34
1500: 3:44.06
Mile: 4:04.98
3000: 8:14.40
5000: 14:00.09
10,000: 28:57.88
Half: 1:03:23
Marathon: 2:12:53

Looking at the world records, Andres Espinosa‘s 2:08:46 marathon is the only mark we are certain Lagat couldn’t break. All of the other marks seem easy except maybe for the half-marathon (Bernard if you are reading this, yes you can do a 28:30 10k. We’ll have a LetsRun.com party at the end of the year with a 10k just for you if you are interested). Lagat has only raced 13.1 once and his 62:33 pb from NYC 2013 is five seconds slower than the WR.

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Four Other Runners (Who Haven’t Received Much Publicity Yet This Year) That Have To Be Feeling Good About Their 2015 Prospects

Other runners don’t have it as ‘easy’ as Lagat this year. They’ll have to be truly on top of their games to have successful years (as if running say, 13:15, at age 40 is easy). Here are some who are off to great starts.

(Editor’s note: We didn’t include people like Garrett Heath, Chris Derrick or Diego Estrada who already had huge articles written on them on the site this year).

1) Shure Demissie Ware – She has already had a very successful start to the year and set a world record at the other end of the spectrum from Lagat. The Ethiopian was fourth in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon in 2:20:59. Not bad for someone who is just 19. Yes, 19. That’s the new world junior best (the IAAF doesn’t officially keep world junior records for the 26.2 distance).

The marathon was Ware’s debut but didn’t totally come out of nowhere. Last March, she showed promise with a 68:53 half marathon. Amazingly, two weeks after that she was only 11th in the African Champs U-20 cross country 6km.

Pablo Solares and Shannon Rowbury

Pablo Solares and Shannon Rowbury

2) Shannon Rowbury – Rowbury entered 2014 with the agonizing PRs of 2:00, 4:00, 8:31, and 15:00. She thrived during her first year with Alberto Salazar as she broke most of those barriers, improving her 1500 to 3:59.49, 3000 to 8:29.93 and 5000 to 14:48.68.

What’s in store for 2015 for Rowbury? Time will tell but her year started with a bang. At Washington, she opened with a 2:40.25 1000 and then came back a little more than an hour later to win the mile in 4:27.86. Rowbury is clearly miles ahead of where she was last year. Last year, she opened at the same meet with a 2:07.72 800 (MB: 2014 Openers: Hasay 2:08.85 800M – Rowbury 2:07.72, MB: Jordan Hasay and Shannon Rowbury were knocking out 62s after their 800 today). The mile equates to 4:08.0 in the 1500 and remember she ran another race before it.

If that wasn’t enough to make her feel good, her fiancé started a job at Merrill Lynch on Monday so the family clearly won’t be hurting for money. In case you didn’t know, her fiancé is former Rice runner Pablo Solares. Solares knew the hours at Merrill would be long, so before starting he ran a 3:56 mile (and 2:22.08 1000 a day later) at the Armory so he would have a world indoor qualifier for 2016 (MB: Pablo Solares runs 3:56.86 at Armory in race where 2nd place was 4:20!!). Rowbury’s Nike teammates Jordan Hasay (2:41.08 800, 4:21.73 mile) and Matthew Centrowitz (2:19.53 1k, 3:58.60) also had some nice doubles. Centrowitz, who suffered from a virus during the 2014 indoor season, like Rowbury is way ahead of where he was last year.

3) Moses Mosop – The first three marathons of Moses Mosop’s career were all pretty darn good.

A 2:03:06 debut in Boston in 2011 was followed up with a 2:05:37 win in Chicago. The next year he went for the world record in Rotterdam but ended up third in 2:05:03. In the nearly three years since 2012 Rotterdam, Mosop has struggled mightily. In 2013, he finished one marathon, running 2:11:19 in Chicago. If you think failing to break 2:10 was bad for Mosop, well in 2014, he finished one marathon and failed to break 2:20, running 2:20:37 in Prague in May.

Moses Mosop

Moses Mosop after setting the 30k WR in 2011.

If that wasn’t enough, at the end of September an unusual press release came out from his agent saying Mosop had been released from his contract “as a result of a set of untenable circumstances and unprofessional conduct.” The release went further as it said Mosop had shown a “disappointing lack of commitment to his training and professional conduct.”

Long marathon careers aren’t common as to be successful in the marathon, you have to run a lot of miles and it’s hard to stay healthy. Also if you are really good at the marathon, you can make a ton of money and that can cause problems (Sammy Wanjuru).

At 29, was Mosop down and out for good? No. A little more than three months after that press release, Mosop is no longer irrelevant as on January 3 he ran a course-record 2:06:19 (previous CR was 2:07:32) to win $80,000 in Xiamen, China beating the likes of Tadesse Tola and Tilahun Regassa. In the process, he ran the fastest marathon ever in China, breaking the 2:06:32 that the late, great Sammy Wanjiru ran at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In the women’s race in China, Mare Dibaba once again passed up a chance to win $200,000 in Dubai to dominate in Xiamen. Last year, she won by five minutes in 2:21:36 and won $71,000. This year, she won by 7:46 won $60,000 by equaling her pb of 2:19:52.

Running Xiamen offered two advantages for Dibaba. First, though Xiamen pays out less for a win than Dubai ($60,000 vs. $200,000), she was almost guaranteed a payday against a much weaker field. In 2012, she ran 2:19:52 in Dubai but only finished third ($40,000). Second, it gives her an extra 20 days to prepare for the Boston Marathon, where she finished third last year.

More: Renato Canova: Any Thoughts on Mosop’s 2:06 in Xiamen Win Today?
*Moses Mosop and agent/Canova part ways – He’s shown a “disappointing lack of commitment to his training and professional conduct”

Alex Amankwah (picture via rolltide.com)

4) Alex Amankwah – The claim to fame for the Alabama senior up until last weekend was having placed sixth in the SEC indoor meet last year and having a 1:47.89 pb. Now he’s the collegiate indoor leader thanks to his stellar 1:46.86 run at Vanderbilt. Amankwah, who didn’t start track and field until his junior year at Los Angeles High School, was the national junior college leader in 2013 for West Los Angeles College.

Amankwah was born in Ghana and the Ghanaian press is reporting his mark as a new Ghanaian indoor record as it smashed Kennedy Osei‘s 1:47.24 from 1995. One small problem: the Ghanaian press must not realize that Vanderbilt has an oversized track which makes it ineligible for record purposes.

We guess some schools are recognizing oversized marks for school records as Alabama says it’s a school record. If a school wants to count it as a school record, we guess that’s okay, but it can’t be a national record.

This is yet another example of a mark that is faster than a national record but not officially a national record. Welcome to the 2015 version of track and field (more on that below). One of the beauties of track and field is it’s the world’s oldest and simplest sport – first one to the finish line wins, only when it’s not.

We’re not sure where the oversized track phenomenon originated. They are great for practice and a logical outcome of the incredible indoor facilities with AstroTurf that were built for football teams. But it would have been A LOT easier if the coaches/administrators had said back in the day, it’s great for practice but not qualifying meets. Whoever OK’d them for official meets back in the day wasn’t thinking very clearly. Or maybe the IAAF/USATF should just OK it for record purposes. The system we have now is clearly the worst possible solution.

*MB: Oversized Tracks Aren’t Fair!
*MB: Old indoor tracks vs. new indoor tracks

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Also running well in the 800 at Vanderbilt was Furman Elite’s Cory Leslie, who set a lifetime pb of 1:47.63, eclipsing his outdoor pb of 1:47.71. A good early-season start for Leslie, who in recent years has focused on the steeple, producing an 8:20.08 pb in 2013.

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What Do Cas Loxsom and Emma Coburn Have in Common?

Trivia, what do American mid-d runner Cas Loxsom and American steeplechaser Emma Coburn have in common?

I guess we should have added besides blonde hair and attending a large state school.

The answer we were looking for is both runners have run times faster than the American record in their event without it being an American record.

What the hell are we talking about?

The splash page and Coburn's pb sill exist  but the time isn't the AR.

The splash page and Coburn’s pb sill exist but the time isn’t the AR.

Cas Loxsom Way Out in Front in Albuquerue (Last Year in His Qualifying Heat at USAs)

Cas Loxsom way out in front in Albuquerque (last year in his qualifying heat at USAs)

Well in Glasgow on July 12, Emma Coburn ran 9:11.42 in Glasgow, eclipsing Jenny Simpson’s American record mark of 9:12.50 and earning her a much deserved LetsRun.com splash page. However, Coburn’s mark, while the fastest in American history and her official pb, isn’t the American record as she and USATF failed to realize she needed to be drug-tested after the event (Coburn doesn’t have an agent) and all American records require a drug test within 24 hours to be officially ratified.

Loxsom’s strange quirk has a happier ending. This weekend, Loxsom gave the Brooks Beasts their first American record as he ran 1:15.58 to eclipse Eric Sowinski‘s 1:15.61 AR. Loxsom’s fastest indoor 600 is actually faster than both of those marks. In college in 2013, he ran 1:15.42 to win the Big 10 Indoor Championships, but it wasn’t an AR as it was on an illegal (for record purposes) oversized track.

So Coburn has run the fastest time in history and does’t have the American record whereas Loxsom’s second-fastest time is the AR.

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Speaking of the 600, we bet many of you don’t know that at the 2015 USATF Indoor Championships in Boston on Feb 28 and March 1st, there will be a 600 and 1000, but no 800. With it being a non-championships year, USATF is spicing things up and running the 300, 600 and 1000 instead of the 400 and 800.

It will be interesting to see how it works out. We’ve always wondered if the NCAA should go back to having indoors be different than outdoors in terms of events. Run the 500 and 1000 instead of the 400 and 800.

The early 2015 USATF Indoor schedule can be found here.

More: LRC Cas Loxsom Breaks American 600m Indoor Record
*Discuss: American 600m Record Broken

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Thank You Houston

Houston didn’t win the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials but they certainly aren’t pouting about it and are continuing to do great things for the sport. We’ve done the math and all told, this year the 2015 Aramco Houston Half-Marathon paid out $120,000 in prize money and time bonuses for this year’s race to US runners, which produced 48 Olympic Trials-qualifying performances on the men’s side (sub-65:00) and 27 on the women’s (sub-75:00).

For the full marathon, the Chevron Houston Marathon, there was even more money – $184,000 in prize money and bonuses for a total amount between the two races of $304,000, just behind the figure we raved about last year. Last year, Houston paid out $308,000 ($138,000 in prize money and bonuses in the half marathon and $170,000 in the full).

Houston dropped $304,000 on prize money/time bonuses (plus we imagine some more on appearance fees) last weekend. Very impressive.

More: Complete 2015 Houston Coverage
*2014 Houston Coverage

Kawauchi Leading New York

Kawauchi Leading New York

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Wrapping Up Yuki Kawauchi’s Year / Kawauchi Comes Through At Last Minute To Top All of USA Yet Again

Prolific Japanese marathoner Yuki Kawauchi ended up running 13 marathons in 2014. On December 21st, he ran and won his last marathon of the year – the Hofu Marathon in 2:09:41.

Here are his marathons for 2014:

Date Time Place/Location
16-Feb – 2:10:14    1st Kumamo
2-Mar – 2:10:38    4th Osu
6-Apr – 2:13:02    1st Saga
20-Apr  – 2:15:25    1st Tokushima
4-May – 2:09:36    9th Hamburg
1-Jun – 2:15:57    1st Chitose
6-Jul – 2:11:27    3rd Brisbane
31-Aug – 2:12:53    1st Birth
3-Oct – 2:12:42    3rd Incheon (Asian Games)
2-Nov – 2:16:41    11th New York
23-Nov – 2:12:59    1st Kyoto
7-Dec – 2:13:43    1st Naha
21-Dec – 2:09:46    1st Hofu

So all told, he won 8 of his 13 marathons (61.5%) and broke 2:10 in 2 of the 13 (15.4%) meaning his win rate was up but his sub-2:10 rate was down as compared to 2013. In 2013, according to tilastopaja.org, he won 5 of his 11 marathons (45.5%) and broke 2:10 in 4 of the 11 (36.4%).

One thing remained the same: for the year, once again Kawauchi surpassed the entire USA in terms of number of sub-2:10 marathons. Meb’s 2:08:37 win in Boston was the only U.S. sub-2:10 time in 2014 and Ritz’s 2:09:45 in 2013 Chicago was the U.S.’s only sub-2:10 in 2013.

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Stat of the Week I / Collegiate Distance Running in Japan Is Way More Popular Than NCAA Football in America

18.5 – rating that the Ohio State-Oregon college football title game received this year on ESPN, meaning 18.5% of U.S. households were watching.

28.3 – the rating that the two-day Hakone Ekiden, the Japanese collegiate distance championship, received on NTV this year according to Japan Running News’ Brett Larner. It rated a 28.2 on day one and a 28.3 on day two.

Like bowl games in the U.S., the Hakone is a New Year’s Day tradition in Japan, and one of the biggest sporting events in the country. And while spectator figures for street events are suspect, some say the race gets more than a million spectators.

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Stat of the Week II / Proof That Life’s Not Fair

$65,000 – amount of money that Ethiopian Sentayehu Merga Ejigu won for winning the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon last week in 2:13:00.

$40,000 – amount that Ethiopian Deribe Robi Melk won running 2:06:06 for third at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon. Six people in Dubai broke 2:13:00 and got zero prize money.

On the women’s side, it was even worse. North Korean (yes North Korean) Kim Hye Gyong won $65,000 in Hong Kong for winning in 2:31:46 whereas in Dubai the third-placer ($40,000), Lucy Kabuu, ran 2:20:21. In Dubai, eight women broke 2:30 and received zero prize money, including four that broke 2:26.

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Weekly Free Coaching Advice From Dathan Ritzenhein – When You Are Older You Can Run Less

“I try to look at guys like Bernard [Lagat] and Meb [Keflezighi], guys who get a little older and they adjust things. It’s the truth: You don’t have to do as much when you’ve been doing it for a long time.

“I get in shape fast and so I just need to avoid the trap of feeling like I’ve got to do what I did when I was 25. It’s a case of backing off when I feel the need to. If I need to take an afternoon off, I don’t feel bad about not doing a second run.”

Dathan Ritzenhein talking to Running Times about his training in the year 2015 at age 32.

When LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson was coaching in college, he used to tell any senior that was feeling a niggle something like the following:

“Look, this is it. The final year. The one thing you don’t want to have happen is you waste away and get injured (as there is no redshirting in the Ivy League). If anything, you can run a little less than before because you have three and presumably seven (if they ran in HS) years of base behind you.”

Well, similarly, Ritz has 10+ years of base behind him. He can’t afford to get hurt heading into the 2016 Trials and is being smart.

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Great Quotes (that didn’t make the cut for Quote of the Day):

#1: Who Makes More – Sprinters or Distance Runners?

“Back when I was running distance runners thought the sprinters got all the money, and the sprinters thought the distance runners got all the money. They were bitter toward us, and we were bitter toward them. And everybody had no idea what was really out there.

“Nobody hears what anyone else makes. Nothing is transparent, and it creates a petty jealousy throughout the sport. Everyone feels like they aren’t getting their due, so nobody works together and everyone is mad, though they don’t know why.”

– Juli Benson, 1996 US 1,500m Olympian and former Air Force coach, talking in a Toni Reavis piece in Running Times.

 #2 Don’t Let Your Kids Do Track and Field As There Is Too Much Doping

“I wouldn’t encourage my kids to do athletics. Every time there’s an allegation of systematic doping, it is very difficult to keep believing in the sport.”

– Retired UK sprinter Darren Campbell.

The drug testers must have got something right in the year 2000, when Campbell won his Olympic silver medal in the 200. Campbell won Olympic silver despite not coming close to breaking 20.00 for the year. His ran his lifetime pb of 20.13 that year and ran 20.14 in the Olympic final.

The drug testers were really incredible in 2003 (or maybe all of the cheats cycled off so they could gear up for the 2004 Olympics) as the men’s 100 was won by Kim Collins in 10.07 and men’s 200 by John Capel in 20.30. No one in the world broke 20.00 for the year in 2003.

Discuss on our fan forum/message board: Sprint historians, how could the 2003 Paris World Champs be won in 10.07 and 20.30?

One thing Campbell fails to acknowledge is that doping is awful in other sports – they just don’t try to catch people very hard. With billions of dollars at stake, it’s clear doping in the NFL is big.

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Recommended Reads

We don’t have a list from the last month plus but wanted to let you know you can always check our our Recommended Reads tag.

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Quotes of the Day and Last Month’s Home Pages

Similarly, we don’t want to list every single QOD and homepage link for the last month plus below, but did want you to know you can always find every LetsRun.com homepage since 2005 in our archives.


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