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2007 Reebok Boston Indoor Preview
by: LetsRun.com
January 25, 2007
Editor's Note: The Meet is on ESPN2 Sunday from 3-5pm

The domestic US Indoor season (Visa Championships Series) gets underway on Saturday at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games.

For the last 4 years, the Reebok Boston Games, have been known for stellar distance performances by Ethiopians Tirunesh Dibaba (14:32.29 World Record in 2005, 14:35 last year) and Meseret Defar (who has just missed the world record at 3k (8:29.15) the last two years, with her 8:30.05 in 2005 and 8:30.94 in 2006). This year likely will not be different as Dibaba and Defar are both back.

2 More World Record Attempts?
Dibaba and Defar have set the standard internationally on the track in women's distance running the last 3 years. Dibaba is a three time world champion (2003 and 2005 at 5k, plus the 10k double in 2005 and a bronze medallist at the Athens Olympics) and the indoor world record holder at 5k. Defar, got the biggest prize, the Olympic gold in 2004 over Dibaba, but finished runner-up at 5k at the Worlds in 2005. The Reebok meets have been kind to her, as in addition to her two near misses indoors, she set the World Record at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York last year at 5k (14:24).

And while the raucous Ethiopian fans are likely to be out cheering in full force for their Ethiopian heroes on Saturday, don't expect the two runners to be showing much support for one another. They have a fierce rivalry on the track and a chilly relationship off of it. The "cold war" between the two countrymen is legendary and it reached epic heights last year, at the Berlin Golden League meet, the final Golden League meeting of the year, where Dibaba was up for a share of the $1 million Golden League jackpot if she could just defeat Defar in the 5000m. In an era where many jaded track and field fans assumed some sort of gentleman's agreement might be made between the two where Dibaba would win and share some of her jackpot with Defar, it was refreshing to see the "Dueling D's" battle it out down the home stretch. Defar edged Dibaba (15:02.51 to 1:502.87 with a 56.4 last lap) and cost her compatriot $125,000 in a country where GDP per capita is $800 a year.

First on the track will be Dibaba where she may make an attempt on her own world record in the 5k with the help of per pacemaking sister, Ejegayehu. American Bolder Boulder champ Sara Slattery is in the field, but if Dibaba is going after the record it will be a race against the clock.

Defar has two world record misses in Boston, and if she goes after the record again, it will be a bit harder to get, as the record was lowered to 8:27.86 by Liliya Shobukhova of Russia last year. Also in the field are former NCAA stars, Kim Smith of New Zealand, who returned to action from a serious achilles injury with a 2k New Zealand outdoor record (5:47.1) earlier this month, and Shalane Flanagan who grew up in Boston and won the Manchester Road Race last November, but is coming back from foot surgery that has prevented her from racing on the track since 2005. Smith turned many heads with a 14:50 5k at the Terrier Classic 2 years ago in Boston, but neither her or Flanagan are ready to challenge Defar.

Women's Mile
Sarah Jamieson
, who ran 4:00.93 last year for 1500 and picked up the Commonwealth Games silver medal highlights the field. Candian Carmen Douma-Hussar (4:02.29 best), Ethiopian Mestawot Tadesse (4:04.61), Americans Shayne Culpepper (world indoor 3k bronze medallist, 4:06.33), Lindsey Gallo(2nd at USA Nationals last year), and Sara Hall (Fifth Avenue Mile Champ, Ryan Hall's wife) hope to challenge.

Men's Distance Action: 800, 3k, and Mile
The first distance race on the men's side is the men's 800, which could represent the continued emergence of Nick Symmonds as an American middle distance star. Symmonds was a DIII star (7 for 7 at the outdoor NCAA track championships in the 800 and 1500), who no one had heard of until last year's USA Outdoor Championships. It sounds unbelievable but Symmonds entered the race undefeated at 800m since his sophomore year of high school, albeit with a relatively modest pr of 1:47.34 heading into the final. That changed in the final as he stormed down the homestretch to finish second in 1:45.83, a huge pr. Symmonds has started off 2007 where he left off in 2006. He kicked to a 6 second mile win (3:56.7) 2 weeks ago in Seattle, in his first race ever on an indoor track. Saturday's run will be he first time, the DIII star has ever raced on a banked indoor track. Talk about raw potential.

Symmonds will have his hands full with David Krummenacker, who won the World Indoor gold in this event in 2003, and was the standard bearer in the US in the 800 and 1500 for a while, but is hoping to regain his form of 2002 and 2003. Krummenacker likes the Boston track (he set the American 1000m record (2:17.86 in 2001)). Jebreh Harris, who finished one spot behind Symmonds at the USATF Nationals last year, is also in the field.

Webb leads the mile
Alan Webb
had very successful years in 2004 and 2005 (equivalent to sub 3:50 miles each year), and started 2006 off with a bang, with a 27:34.72 10k win at Stanford over Dathan Ritzenhein. Then his season fell apart, as Webb would only run 4:00 in the mile and 3:46 in the 1500 in a shortened campaign.

Webb says the 10k was part of his plan to get more strength for the mile, which he considers his best event. He has shown the ability in the past to come back after a disastrous season as his 2003 season was so bad people were saying he should quit or change coaches. Webb already appears to be rebounding nicely as he ran 3:56.7 last weekend, so 2007 appears to be looking up for Webb. Also in the race, is his sometimes training partner, Chris Lukezic (2006 US indoor champ who ran 3:33.3 last year), Webb's former Michigan assistant coach, Kevin Sullivan, and Webb's former freshman year roommate, Nate Brannen (who got the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games last year), and the feared kicker, Ivan Heshko of the Ukraine who got a world championship bronze in 2003. A very strong mile field indeed.

Men's 3k
The men's distance action and the meet concludes with Australian star Craig Mottram, the 2005 world bronze medallist who turned heads by beating Bekele last year at the World Cup 3k, racing Gebregziabher Gebremariam (double world xc runner-up in 2004, who despite running 27:03 for 10k last year (a time faster than any American has ever run) had a subpar 2006), Markos Geneti, and Irishman Alistair Cragg, who defeated Bekele here in one of the most bizarre races ever in 2005. American Jorge Torres, preparing for the US XC Showdown in his hometown of Boulder in 2 weeks, is also in the race.

Other Highlights:
The men's shot put features 2006 world indoor leader and world champ Reese Hoffa,  2006 world outdoor leader, Christian Cantwell, and three time world champ John Godina.

The men's pole vault features Steve Hooker, 2006 Commonwealth Games Champ and World #1, American record holder, Jeff Hartwig, World Indoor Champ, Brad Walker, and reigning US outdoor champ Russ Buller.

The women's vault has new American star Jenn Stuczynski, who has opened up this year and last with the lowest of lowkey meets at Cornell (home of LetsRun.com). Cornell has been good to her as she cleared 15'1.50" this year at Cornell.

Olympic 200m gold medallist Shawn Crawford is in the 60m. So is Steve Mullings. Yes that Steve Mullings. Please don't tell him what we look like.

*Meet Website and Start Lists Here

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