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Records, Upsets Highlight 2008 Reebok Boston Indoor Games
By David Monti
(c) 2008 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

BOSTON (26-Jan) -- A world best by Meseret Defar, an all-comer's record by Craig Mottram, and upset winners in both the men's and women's miles gave the sell-out crowd of over 4000 fans plenty to cheer about at the 13th Reebok Boston Indoor Games here tonight at the Reggie Lewis Center at Roxbury Community College.

Defar, of Ethiopia, the reigning Olympic and world champion at 5000m, made her seventh appearance at this meeting her best yet.  Paced by Serbia's Marina Muncan and pushed by New Zealand's Kim Smith, Defar destroyed Regina Jacobs's 2002 two mile world best by nearly 13 seconds.  With Smith never more than a few steps back, Defar went through the first mile in four minutes and 38 seconds, and came back to run the second half in 4:33.5, breaking the tape in 9:10.50.  Smith powered home right behind her, running the #2 indoor time ever in history: 9:13.94.

Amazingly, Defar said she did not actually run a full effort.  "Yes, I'm not running today 100%," she told reporters in English after the race.  She was quick to add that defending her Olympic 5000m title would be an altogether different challenge.  "I cannot say that no one can beat me," she cautioned.

Smith was thrilled with her performance, particularly pleased that she had also gotten under Jacobs's old standard of 9:23.38.  "I knew I was in good shape," she said.  "I knew it was not a strong record."  Then she quipped: "It was a pity Meseret was there or I could have claimed it for myself."

Mottram, the 2005 IAAF World Championships bronze medalist at 5000m, ran a completely different kind of race, winning the 3000m in 7:34.50 and toppling Haile Gebrselassie's USA all-comers record set at the same meeting in 2004 by 74/100ths of a second.  For six laps of the 15 lap race, New Zealand's Nick Willis ran closely behind the tall Australian, but Mottram decided that he was a bit too close.

"He kept clipping my heels the first six laps," said Mottram who decided that he felt strong enough to push past pacemaker Christian Hesch and try for a fast time.  "You've got to keep pushing hard, pushing hard," he said, although he was not aware he was in striking distance of Gebrselassie's record.  "Had I known it was Haile's (record), I would have pushed a little harder," he said.  "That's one record I'm proud to have."

Buoyed by the cheers of the crowd, Mottram ran the rest of the race alone.  Willis fell off the pace (he would finish fifth in 7:51.35), allowing Markos Geneti of Ethiopia (7:41.81) and Andrew Baddely of Great Britain (7:45.10) to also make the podium.

The first big upset of the meet came in the women's mile when Jenelle Deatherage found herself in the lead with a lap to go.  She was feeling strong, but wasn't sure she had enough left to hold off the likes of Lauren Fleshman, Sara Hall and Liliya Shobukhova who were still within striking distance.

"I was hoping I had a little left in the last 50," she said.

She didn't need it.  Rounding the final turn alone she cruised to a 4:32.95 victory, more than half a second up on Fleshman.

"Pretty damn good," Deatherage said when asked how it felt to win in a major invitational meet.  "Seriously, that was a long time coming."

Deatherage credited her long-time coach Dennis Barker for getting her to a high enough level so that she was able to make some changes in her training this year with her new coach, Juli Henner.  Henner, who lives in the Washington, D.C. area, coaches Deatherage, who lives in Minneapolis, by e-mail and telephone.  "I do all my hard workouts on my own," she said.

The men's mile saw an incredibly close finish with Pablo Solares of Rice University upsetting a solid field.  Off of a slow 2:01.4 first half, Solares ran close to race leader Rob Myers trying to set himself up for the finish.

"I got a little worried," said the fifth year senior when he found himself still behind going into the last turn.  "I knew I had something with 50 meters to go."

The tall Mexican had just enough, passing Myers about a meter from the tape to win by just 1/100th of a second in 4:00.34.

"I thought coming out of the turn I had him," said Myers who was nonetheless pleased that he had run aggressively.  "Obviously, I was tightening up a little."

The meet was disappointing for Tirunesh Dibaba, despite the fact that she won the women's 3000m handily.  The reigning world 10,000m champion had hoped to challenge Meseret Defar's world indoor record, but she was sabotaged by the same mysterious abdominal cramp which bothered her in the 10,000m at last summer's IAAF World Championships in Osaka.  Despite clocking an indoor personal best 8:33.37, she was clearly frustrated.  "It's the same problem I had in the world championships and other places," said Dibaba through her translator.  "It's a cramp on the side of my stomach.  It's a very serious problem, and I think it's getting worse.  We have seen so many doctors and they told me I have nothing."

Older sister Ejegayehu, the 2004 Olympic 10,000m silver medalist, shared the lead until her younger sister took off with two laps to go.  She finished second in 8:36.59, a personal best by exactly 13 seconds.  Megan Metcalfe's personal best 8:52.85 in third place assured her of a spot on Canada's team for the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Valencia in March.

There was spirited action in other events, including both the boys and girls junior miles.  Luke Puskedra of Ogden, Utah, beat Colby Lowe of Southlake, Texas, in the final meters of the boys' mile, 4:08.77 to 4:08.99.  On the girls' side, Jillian Smith of Manahawkin, N.J., won handily over Jessica Parry of London, Ont., 4:48.83 to 4:53.05.  Morgan Uceny (2:05.75) and Khadevis Robinson (1:50.92) won their respective 800m races.

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