The High School Season Ends With A Bang At Foot Lockers, The Dallas Marathon Impresses, Galen Rupp Blitzes A Holiday Half, Bill Walton & Meb, And Ryan Hall’s Olympic Chances

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by LetsRun.com
December 14, 2015

Our weekly recap – the Week That Was – appears below. Past editions of The Week That Was can be found here.

Questions or comments? Please email us or post them in our fan forum.

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American Stars Show Up In Dallas

A big thumbs up need to go out to the organizers of the Dallas Marathon and race director Patrick Byerly. In December, when virtually nothing of note happens in the pro ranks, they got many of America’s top pros to show up at their race. Many of America’s top Olympic marathon hopefuls ran half of the marathon in a mixed-sex marathon relay – The Duo to Rio Relay Presented by AT&T.  The teams were:

  • Abdi Abdirahman & Deena Kastor [2:19:49 (1:04:04 / 1:15:45)]
  • Meb Keflezighi & Becky Wade [2:20:35 (1:04:06 / 1:16:29)]
  • Sam Chelanga & Molly Huddle [2:21:35 (1:03:47 / 1:17:48)]
  • Luke Puskedra & Annie Bersagel [2:22:10 (1:03:48 / 1:18:22)]
  • Jared Ward & Desiree Linden [2:23:34 [(1:03:47 / 1:19:47)]

This was a perfect chance for US marathon fans to try to get a glimpse at the fitness of many of the top pros some nine weeks out from the Olympic Marathon Trials. The race also featured mid-d runners Matthew Centrowitz, Leo Manzano, Robby Andrews, Ryan Hill, and Boris Berian  plus Ryan Hall running the opening leg of a relay representing the pro sport franchises in the DFW area.

The starting line with Meb, Leo, Centro, Abdi, Hall,  Andrews, Hill, Berian, Chelanga, Puskedra and Ward had to be the most impressive American starting line this season. Throw in the women and you had quite the crew. (The Brojos grew up in Dallas and should have an LRC convention in Dallas if this is the field that will be brought in every Olympic year):

We were on site to cover it and provided some takeaways right after the race, but want to give you three more.

  1. It’ll Take a Miracle for Ryan Hall to make the 2016 US Olympic Team
    We’ve been as big of fans of Ryan Hall as anyone on the planet over the years (little known fact: when he left Terrence Mahon a few years back, we even wrote him and proposed that John Kellogg coach him as we think he’s one of the biggest talents to ever lace them up for Team USA) but we’ve got to call a spade a spade. Hall got dropped by mid-d guys running a 4.2-mile tempo. (We’ll have more on Hall this week and his incredible story has continued as he has adopted 4 kids from Ethiopia. If you just want to watch 30 minutes of video we did with Ryan in Houston click here)
  2. At least for a day, age was just a number
    In the history of the world, Father Time is undefeated. Don’t tell that to Abdi Abdirahman and Deena Kastor. Their combined ages might add up to 80 (Kastor is 42, Abdi 38) but they won the relay in 2:19:49 thanks to Kastor’s 75:45 split.
  3. Don’t read anything into Desi Linden’s 79:47
    When you glance at the results for the marathon relay, one stat does jump out at you. Desi Linden ran by far the slowest of the day. That got people speculating and wondering if Linden had perhaps been hurt – MB: What was the deal with Desi today in the Dallas Marathon Relay? We reached out to Kevin Hanson for comment and he emailed us the following statement, “She is 100% healthy, but only has 1 race scheduled over the next 2 months. She had strict orders to treat it like a normal training run and NOT a race. This is why she was wearing long sleeves and in training shoes. Did not even bring racing flats on the trip.”

More: LRC The Greatest American Starting Line Of 2015 Was In Dallas For The Marathon Relays: Meb, Deena, Ryan Hall, Leo, Centro, Molly And More, Video And Recap
LRC: Leo, Centro, Ryan Hill, And Robby Andrews Talk Mid-D, Pro Sports And World Indoors After Dallas Relays Good news for track fans as all four want to do World Indoors.
*Becky Wade TV Profile
*MB Discussion:  Dallas Marathon Live Thread: Greatest Starting Line in US This Year?

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Drew Hunter and Weini Kelati

Drew Hunter and Weini Kelati

Stat of the Week I / Which Was Better, Foot Locker or NXN?

Every year, the Foot Locker and NXN fans argue as to which meet was the best. We’ll jump in the debate and try to let facts, not emotions, guide us.

14 – number of girls that finished within 30 seconds of Katie Rainsberger at NXN.
24 – number of boys that finished within 30 seconds of Casey Clinger at NXN.
7   – number of boys that finished within 30 seconds of Drew Hunter at Foot Locker.
5  – number of girls that finished within 30 seconds of Weini Kelati at Foot Locker.

Now there are two ways to look at those numbers. Were Hunter and Kelati so dominant because they are really, really good or were Clinger and Rainsberger less dominant because NXN has more runners and is deeper? We think its more of the latter than the former.

Why?

The best way to compare the two is to get rid of old metrics like margin of victory and look at the Tully speed ratings generated by each race (FL here, NXN here). When you do that, it’s clear that yet again in 2015 Foot Locker was better at the very top end than NXN was, which makes sense as Foot Locker is the individual high school championships. Hunter’s winning time produced a 206 Tully speed rating whereas Clinger produced just a 200. In the girls’ race, Kelati produced a 163 as compared to Rainsberger’s 161 at NXN.

Each point is worth three seconds. So according to Tully, a race between Rainsberger and Kelati would be close. A race between Hunter and Clinger would not (Hunter would have beaten Clinger by 18 seconds).

Hunter and Kelati were so dominant because they are both really, really good.

In terms of depth, there were 12 boys’ speed ratings at 195 or higher at Foot Locker versus 9 at NXN. On the girls’ side, however, the depth at NXN and Foot Locker is much narrower. Fifth place at Foot Locker garnered a 166 speed rating at Foot Locker versus a 164 at NXN but once you get down to 10th place, the results at NXN are better than Foot Locker (150 Foot Locker, 152 NXN).

Hunter crushed the competition to earn the national title in San Diego

Hunter crushed the competition to earn the national title in San Diego

How Do Drew Hunter and Weini Kelati Fare Historically?

Neither Hunter nor Kelati were historically great on Saturday. Hunter’s 206 speed rating is better than what Grant Fisher put up in 2013 and 2014 but Edward Cheserek put up a 207 in 2012 and 33 boys in history have recorded a 207 or higher. Twelve boys have actually put up a 207 speed rating or higher and lost at Foot Locker. Nearly all of the boys who have produced such a great speed rating and lost ended up being really good themselves or lost to a total stud, which we think shows that speed ratings are a great way to look at the quality of the field and winner.

Fastest Non-Winning Foot Locker Tully Speed Ratings In History
1985: Mark Mastalir (207) – lost to course record holder Reuben Reina
1986: Todd Williams (207) – lost to former American record holder and Olympian Marc Davis
1993: Meb Keflezighi (209) – lost to former NCAA XC champ and Olympian Adam Goucher
1999: Don Sage, Ian Dobson and Josh Rohatinsky (all ran 210)- all three of these guys ended up being great runners, but they were denied glory by future American record holder and Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein
2000: Alan Webb (207) – lost to future American record holder and Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein
2003 – Galen Rupp and Shadrack Kiptoo (207) – lost to Matt Withrow
2005 – Michael Coe (207) – lost to AJ Acosta
2007: Chris Derrick (207) – lost to Michael Fout
2011: Futsum Zeinasellassie (210) – lost to Edward Cheserek

On the girls’ side, Anna Rohrer won with a 164 in 2014. Looking back at history, 24 women have produced a 165 or higher.

More: LetsRun.com’s 2015 Foot Locker Event Page
Historical Tully Speed Ratings at Foot Locker From 1982 to 2012
*2015 Speed Ratings *2014 Speed Ratings *2013 Speed Ratings
*MB Talk: MB: Is Rocha the number 2 XC runner or is it Clinger?
*MB: Footlocker is a joke!!!

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Tweet of the Week

The following tweet is just too good to pass up. Meb Keflezighi looks like a tiny little kid out for a bike ride with his dad. In reality, a giant from men’s basketball and a tiny giant from men’s marathoning were out for rides on the Elliptigo.

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Ridiculous Photo Of The Week

At the 2015 SPAR European Cross Country Championships, the organizers offered runners the option to run with a normal bib or one with the words “I run clean” under their name. We like the idea, but there was one small problem. The organizers let anyone choose the “I run clean” bib including this guy:

That’s men’s runner up Alemayehu Bezabeh of Spain. Bezabeh was arrested as part of Operation Puerto and banned from the sport for two years in 2011. Bezabeh led Spain, which went 2-3-4-5 (only four people score), to the men’s team title. Of the four Spanish scorers, zero were born in Spain – Bezabeh was born in Ethiopia and the next three were born in Morocco. That’s very ironic as one of the reasons the European Championships swere started in 1994 because the Europeans were tired of getting crushed by the Africans at World Cross.

More: 2015 European XC Results *Sifan Hassan Runs Away With Euro XC Champs As GB Dominates The Team Race Former NCAA champKate Avery was 2nd, 8- seconds behind Hassan. *Turkey’s Ali Kaya Wins Comfortably As Spain Takes Places Two Through Five To Destroy The Field

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Ridiculous Performance Of The Week

Galen Rupp went out and ran 61:20 at the low-key Foot Traffic Holiday Half in Portland. Second place was 71:24. More impressive than running that fast and winning by 10+ minutes is how he looked. Take a look at the video. Rupp looks like he’s running six-minute pace when in reality he’s running 4:40 pace.

61:20 is fast for an American. We did a little research. Since the last Olympics, guess how many Americans have run faster than 61:20 in a half marathon?

Two (possibly three).

  1. Dathan Ritzenhein ran 60:57 in 2012 and 61:10 in 2013.
  2. Diego Estrada ran 60:51 in Houston in January.

(Tilastopaja.org lists an Emmanuel Bor, with US citizenship, as having run ran 61:06 in Gaia, Portugal in September. There is a former Alabama runner, who is onow in the US Army and running for the US, by the name of Emmanual Bor, but we don’t believe they are the same person and think Tilastopaja may be making a mistake and the Portugal race results website lists Bor as being Kenyanan. Bor is not listed as a qualifier on the Olympic Trials website and we called the Army WCAP program and they said Bor is not part of their program. Of course, that doesn’t mean the American Bor didn’t run 61:06 as Elkanahah Kibet was a regular member of the Army when he ran 2:11:31 in ChicagoIf you know either way if there is an American by the name of Emmanuel Bor or Emmanual Bor in the Army that has run 61:06, please let us know.

Update: Michael Banks, a 13:38 5k runner and former Georgetown All-American from Charleston, has emailed us confirmation that 61 minute half running Bor isn’t a US citizen. He wrote, “The Emmanuel Bor who ran 1:01 in Portugal is not the same one as the former U. of Alabama runner (who ran for the US Army at the USA XC champs in Feb). The Alabama Emmanuel Bor is 7-8 years older (28 now I believe) and may have U.S. citizenship, but has never run close to1:01 or anything equivalent. The other one is 20-21 now and posted some impressive races while here in the U.S. for a couple of years. He popped up in 2013 as part of the the Chapel Hill Kenyan training group and then sometime in 2014 disappeared. I’ve seen since then that he’s won some big races in Kenya and internationally. You can see his results (which are mostly very impressive) along with the results of the Alabama Bor at athlinks: http://www.athlinks.com/Result/Search#!athlete/emmanuel%20bor.”)

If Rupp wants to be an Olympic marathoner, we think all he has to do is run the Trials and he instantly becomes our #1 pick for the team.

*MB: Galen Rupp told Larry Eder last weekend he had not really spoken to Alberto about next season yet
*MB: Rupp solo 1:01:20 half marathon today in Portland
*Oregonian: Rupp Says He Hasn’t Made A Decision About The 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials

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Email of the Week

Last week, on the messageboard, we mentioned that we hear a lot about the lack of quality out-of-competition (OOC) testing in Kenya but wondered if quality OOC testing occurred often in any developing countries. Specifically, we were wondering about Africa’s other major distance-running nation: Ethiopia. (MB Ok, so Kenya doesn’t have great out of competition testing but do any developing countries – what about Ethiopia?). We received the following encouraging email from journalist Paul Gains, who “felt compelled to write this email after seeing the thread about doping in Kenya and (our) question about whether Ethiopians have out of competition testing.”

(These 3 Really Did Race Last Year) Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Archive licensed by LetsRun.com

(These Three Really Did Race in 2013)
Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Archive licensed by LetsRun.com

I have just returned from 3 weeks in Ethiopia, my third time to that country.  I stayed at the Kenenisa Hotel in Addis and saw a lot of Kenenisa and of course spent a lot of time with Haile with whom I have been friends for 15 years or more.

I can tell you there is indeed out of competition testing done in Ethiopia. On my 2013 trip Jos Hermens and I were waiting for Kenenisa in the lobby bar of his hotel – he was going to take us out for dinner. There was a man and woman, caucasian, sitting in the lobby. As soon as Kenenisa walked into the restaurant they approached him. It was an anti doping test. He complied while we waited at the bar.

I believe the leading athletes are subjected to more than a couple of tests a year. And although I am not privy to the inner workings of the Ethiopian athletes and their programs I have had many conversations over the years with Haile and Kenenisa and the tone has always led me to believe they have always been clean. They are shocked and disappointed with the news out of Kenya.

It is easy to dismiss the notion that ‘they train harder than anybody and at high altitude and ‘want it more’ but I have seen what these guys do.

At his peak Haile used to run in the Entoto Hills at sunrise then eat breakfast with his kids before going to the office. He works 9 to 5 managing his many business interests: a coffee plantation, six office towers, condominium projects, an Hyundai dealership, three luxury hotel resorts etc. Then he would run for one hour on a treadmill – hard!!!! before driving home.

I have given up calling him after 7pm because he spends time with his wife and kids in the evenings and usually switches off his phone. I think the training regimen and discipline sets these guys apart from western athletes.

While in Ethiopia on this recent trip I went with coach Haji Adilo to see  his group train in Sendafa (35 minutes outside Addis and at an altitude of 8,000 feet above sea level). He picked me up at 515am from the Kenenisa Hotel. It was indeed very early especially since I had been at a jazz club the previous night quite late.

I asked Haji who the girl sitting in the back seat was. She was bundled up in a winter coat trying to get some sleep. He asked ‘Do you know Mare Dibaba?” She smiled at me – she ran in Toronto a few years ago and as you know I do some work for Toronto.  I asked her what time she got up to come to the workout. She said 4am.

When we got to Sendafa there were close to 100 runners gathering for the workout. Deriba Merga and Lelisa Desisa led the elite marathon group (about 40 runners including Tadese Tola – a 2:04 guy, Talome Regassa 2:05) in a 2 hour 30 minute run over very rough unpaved roads that had many, many hills. This was all above 7500 feet above sea level. The women included Amane Gobena, another athlete I know from Toronto. She had just won the Istanbul Marathon. Fatuma Sado, 2nd in this year’s Toronto race was also there grinning widely when she recognized me.

More: MB Ok, so Kenya doesn’t have great out of competition testing but do any developing countries – what about Ethiopia?

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Quote of the Week (That Wasn’t Quote of the Day)

A Track Star is a Punter in the NFL
“A lot of my athletic ability stems from my track and field career as a discus thrower and shot putter in high school. I won the California state championship three times. After that I shifted my focus to football and I knew I was putting my track and field career behind me. I was a linebacker first and I spent a lot of time in the weight room at a young age working on my power and explosiveness. I’ve carried that with me through my career as a punter and it has really helped.”

-6’1″, 220-lb Matt Darr, a rookie punter for the Miami Dolphins talking to MiamiDolphins.com. Darr is far from you run-of-the-mill punter as he picked up an unnecessary roughness penalty earlier this year.

He indeed did win multiple state titles in high school, as he won the California shot put title as a junior and senior (best mark we think was 63’9.75″) and the discus as a junior (best mark 194’11”). He also threw in a few meets as a freshman at Tennessee in 2011 without much success.

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Stat of the Week II

$1,713.46 – amount of money (25,000 South African) that Caster Semenya‘s family paid to marry her long-term girlfriend, Violet Raseboya. A lobola payment (bride price) is customary in many South African marriages made from the husband’s family to the wife’s. So there you have it – Semenya is the one who wears the pants in the relationship. Please don’t send us an angry email, it’s true as shown below:

More: MB: Caster Semenya Marries Girlfriend
*Caster Semenya marries girlfriend in traditional ceremony

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Recommended Reads

Toni Reavis Gives A State Of The Sport Summary To End 2015 Reavis says “we find a sport existing, barely, on life-support, reeling from the toxic shock of massive corruption” and drug scandals. He calls on athletes to take ownership of their sport and unite into a “player’s union”.

19-Year Old Eritrean Immigrant Weini Kelati Has One More Year Of Eligibility And One Goal, To Win Foot Locker Champs Kelati is a junior, but due to her age, this is her final year of high school eligibility.

Ashton Eaton Writes An Event-By-Event Recap Of What Was Going Through His Mind When He Broke His Own WR To Win Gold In Beijing Eaton credits his amazing 45.00-second 400 in the decathlon to running the 400H in 2014 and to watching and taking advice from other elites.

Previous “Recommended Reads” can be found here.

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Quotes Of The Day And Last Week’s Home Pages

To see the actual quotes of the day from last week or last week’s home page or any home page, go to our archive page.

Past editions of The Week That Was can be found here. Questions or comments? Please email us or post them in our running fan forum.

More from Dallas here and a tweet below.


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