The Week That Was Jan. 14 - Jan 20, 2008 January 22, 2008
*Last week's week in review can be found here
By LetsRun.com -EveryTuesday, we recap the major happenings in the running world from the previous week. In terms of actual races, the big ones last week were the Dubai Marathon, the New Balance Games in New York and the IAAF XC meet in Seville, Spain (26th Cross Internacional de Itálica). Early in the season, it seems as if the non-race action is actually bigger than the racing action. This week off the track, Oscar was banned, London got even better and a legend called it quits.
The Week That Was: Jan 14 - Jan 21: Week 3 of 2008
Dubai Marathon - Geb Runs Very, Very Fast (but not fast enough) Marathoning Enters the 21st Century with $250,000 1st Place Prize
The Dubai Marathon was promoted very much as a world record attempt by Haile Gebrselassie. There was a one million dollar bonus on the line and the weather ended up being very good. Geb clearly was fit and he likely would have ended up with the record had he stuck to his pre-race plans of going for a negative split. Instead, the 34-year old Geb made a rookie mistake (either he or the pacemakers did) as they went out on a suicidal pace. We're sure it made for great television in the Arab world when he hit 10k at 28:38 (2:00:49 pace), but in reality the world record attempt was already over. No way could he do it after that fast of an opening pace. It's a miracle that he held on to run the 2nd fastest time ever - 2:04:53.
At the time, we were totally shocked as to how the rabbits could make the mistake of going 8 secs per mile too fast. Then we read an article about Ireland's Martin Fagan qualification for Beijing in Dubai (the former Providence star overcame excruciating hip pain and crazy visa problems to run 2:14:06). The article revealed that there were no clocks on the course. Unbelievable!!!
Behind Geb, it was good to see Sammy Korir, who had the 3rd fastest time in history and now has the 4th fastest, back in pretty good form. The man who rabbitted Paul Tergat to the world record and nearly got it himself in the process ran a respectable 2:08:01 after struggling with injuries for a while. Well done, Sammy.
In the women's race, Berhane Adere picked up $250,000 by winning in 2:22.42.
The post-race coverage of Dubai also led to additional interesting tidbits of information. Haile G is apparently concerned about the pollution in Beijing. If it's really bad, he may just run the 10k. However, the 10k/marathon double is also still a possibility.
Thumbs Up Dubai for the Record $$$$ The news in our opinion just as big as Geb's record attempt was the prize money in Dubai. $500,000 in prize money each for the men and the women and $250,000 for the winners and $100,000 for 2nd place. The Flora London Marathon is the richest marathon in the world (runners often get six figure appearance fees to start major marathons like London) yet the media or press would never know it. Martin Lel got $55,000 for winning London last year plus a $25,000 time bonus. We're glad to see Dubai help move the sport into the 21st century with prize money that the media and public can see. We're sure the World Marathon Majors are watching closely as they have to compete with Dubai for the top runners in the world.
Men 1 Gebrselassie, Haile ETH 2:04:53 2 Macharia, Isaac KEN 2:07:16 3 Korir, Sammy KEN 2:08:01 4 Kudama, Gudisa Shentema ETH 2:09:27 5 Tesfaye Tola ETH 2:09:38 6 Kipkoech, Raymond KEN 2:09:39 7 Chisma, Deressa ETH 2:10:16 8 Fikadu, Asnake ETH 2:11:04
1 Adere, Berhane ETH 2:22:42 2 Bezunesh Bekele ETH 2:23:09 3 Magarsa, Askale Tafa ETH 2:23:23 4 Cheruiyot, Rose Jelagat KEN 2:25:48 5 Chelengat, Alice KEN 2:27:29 6 Roba, Asha Gigi ETH 2:28:24 7 Gemechu, Shitaye ETH 2:30:20 8 Tola, Roba Guta ETH 2:33:44 *
On January 14, the IAAF announced that double amputee Oscar Pistorius would be banned from the Olympics and Olympic qualification. After conducting a study, the IAAF determined that his prosthetic legs “should be considered as technical aids which give him an advantage over other athletes not using them.” In our minds, the IAAF made the correct call in this case. If Pistorius was allowed to compete, down the road they'd be creating a ton of potential problems as it's a very slippery slope from this very sympathetic case of artificial advantage to purposeful, designed cheating. It could get really bad in five or ten years given the potential scientific advances in gene doping, artificial limbs, etc.
London Gets Even Stronger - Boston Finally Gets Someone
Last week, we talked about the ridiculous strength of the Flora London Marathon field and how it's yet again going to be the premiere marathon in the world in 2008. Last weeks column came after the addition of Ryan Hall and Sammy Wanjiru on the men's side. Well it keeps getting better. This week the news concerned the ladies as world record holder Paula Radcliffe was added to the field. One thing we found interesting about the news coverage of the announcement was the fact that London Marathon director Dave Bedford is under the belief that Paula will try to use London as sort of a trial-run for Beijing. He thinks she'll run it tactically and try to prepare for the Olympics instead of hammering out from the gun. It certainly will be a must-watch event.
Last week when praising London, we also stated the obvious - it's time for Boston to get with the times, obtain a title sponsor and start attracting elites. Well there is some good news to report. Boston finally has found it's first big name for the 2008 race. Some would argue he is even a bigger name than anyone already running London. There is one small problem. He's not a professional runner as its Lance Armstrong. We guess you got to start somewhere. Since then, it's also been announced that Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee will also run.
Track and field at its essence is the simplest of sports. It's about competition - who wins, who loses. Yet far too often at meets nowadays, the competition is almost 100% irrelevant as everyone is chasing a qualifying time for some other meet or some bonus. Obsession with time isn't good for the sport (if you think it is, then ask yourself why was the 2nd fastest marathon in history by Geb considered a disappointment?) Whoever was the person responsible for bringing back the dual understands this.
They also understand that people don't want to spend 8 hours at a track meet. The dual-meet was over within 2.5 hours and attracted more than 1,500 fans. Well done.
Similarly, last night USATF's Visa Championship Series got underway with the Run for the Dream meet which featured team scoring of USA vs. The World. Scored professional meets are a harder sell for pro track as the teams often are so artificial, but Fresno State track coach Bob Fraley certainly has good ideas and deserves a ton of credit for putting this meet on. He clearly wants indoor track to return to its glory days when it was the ultimate 3-ring circus. In our mind, the smaller tracks like the one at Fresno and Millrose certainly can add to the excitement. The key is for people to get over their time obsession.
The meet apparently was very well run but was a disappointment at the turn-styles (this article talks about 4,487 fans but if you watched it online, some shots showed just hundreds of people in the stands). The cause for the small crowd might have been revealed in this post race article describing the lack of a crowd, "The most defining balance of news that developed at Monday's Run for the Dream indoor track and field meet ...could be seen and heard toward the end of the 10 1/2-hour event." 10.5 hours for a track meet? You've got to be kidding. Sure there was high school, college action, and then pro action, but make it clear when you want people to come. Confusion as to when to show up is just one more reason a consumer might opt for something else in their already busy schedule.
The good news is the meet apparently will be back. Major, major, major thumbs up to 86 Fred Arnold (great profile on him here),who gave over $1 million to make the meet happen. After the meet, he said, "As long as Bob wants to put it on, I'll back it, so that's all he needs to know. I've accumulated quite a bit [of income], and I can't
think of anything I'd rather do with it than support this event up here
for Bob Fraley.
Ana Guevera Retires
Yes, this is primarily a distance oriented website by Guevera is a track and field icon in Latin America. The Mexican was a 3-time world championship medallist, the Olympic silver medallist in 2004, and a 3-time Pan-American Games gold medal winner. She was ranked #1 in the world by the IAAF in the 400 from 2002 to 2004. 2003 was her finest year as she won world championship gold that year and also set her pr of 48.89. Many found it very surprising that Guevera who was 4th at world's last year would retire at the start of an Olympic year. However, she was fed up with the corruption in the Mexican track and field federation. She believes he head
of the Mexican athletics, Mariano Lara, is corrupt and she said 6
months ago - either he goes or I do and she's sticking to her word
right at the start of an Olympic year. Shockingly the IAAF gave Lara
IAAF XC In Seville, Spain The 26th Cross Internacional de Itálica on paper looked to be an unbelievable race on the men's side - Zerseney Tadese (gold ), Moses Kipsiro (silver) and Bernard Kipyego Kiprop (bronze). It did not disappoint as Kipsiro and Tadese waged an epic one on one dual. In the end, Kipsiro got a little bit of revenge as he earned a victory in a race that was so close it was almost a photo-finish. In the women's race, the Osaka 5k bronze
medallist, Priscah Jepleting, also got the win.
New Balance Games At The Armory In NYC - World Leading Ladies Mile - Chanelle Price Impresses
The 2008 indoor season is really getting in full swing a full-scale professional meet this weekend with yesterday's USA vs. The World meet in California and this weekend's Reebok Boston Indoor Games but last week there was some pretty good minor indoor action. The professional miles at the New Balance Games at the Armory.(which is largely a HS meet) are always pretty good. This year, they didn't disappoint once again.
In the women's race, Liliya Shobukhova ran a world-leading 4:31.90 to win as six women broke 4:35. In the men's mile, Andrew Baddely won in 3:59.29 as Adrien Blincoe also went sub 4. Interesting to note, that the top two finishers were both New Balance sponsored athletes.
(Shameless self promotion. The rabbitting was done perfectly by Cornell alum Will Seidel. He got lots of practice rabbitting for LetsRun.com's Rojo's runners at Cornell)
The performance of the day may have come from Chanelle Price. The US high school senior was a finalist at the USA championships last year when she ran 2:02.38. She seems to be only building on her stellar 2007 as she smashed the US high school record for 500 meters by more than second when she ran 70.30. Could this high schooler actually make the Olympic team? Let the hype begin.
Tyson Gay Honored Last but not least, the world's fastest man, Tyson Gay, was justifiably honored this week by the United States Olympic Committee as its "Sportsman Of The Year" for 2007. Gay had an unreal season in 2007. World champion at both 100 and 200 meters and the 4 x 100.
He was probably at his best at US Championships where he set personal bests at both 100m (9.84) and 200meter (19.62) while running into a headwind. Crazy.
Hopefully, another track and field athlete will win the award in 2007.
Quick Bits That Deserve Mention: Italy: Sergiy Lebid Edged Martin Lel in a 10.6k Road Race in Italy. It's Lel's first race of 2008. Up next is the Lisbon Half Marathon and then the defense of his Flora London Marathon title. Lel will be riding a super hot streak coming in with his London and NY victories. France: 15,000 Run XC Race as Linet Masai, Driss El Himer Win Le Mans XC Races The winners are not important. The numbers are: 15,000 people turned out to RUN a series of cross country races. We'd love to see something like this in the US. Carlsbad: Dirba, Fulton Win Carlsbad MarathonBut the story for us is the return of Janko Bensa, a good friend of ours from Flagstaff, who had not raced in 5 years. Janko, an immigrant from Serbia, is a tremendously talented runner who has suffered a ton of injuries, that forced him to focus on living the American dream and putting food on the table for his family rather than racing the last few years (he lived in Barrow Alaska, the most northern town in the US for a while). We are super excited to see him back running again because Janko at times seemed to believe his running career was over due to injuries. *Russia: Yuriy Borzakovskiy Gets 400, 800 Double in Russia