The Week That Was Feb. 11 - Feb 18, 2008 Feb 19, 2008
*Last week's week in review can be found here By LetsRun.com
A lot of action occurred this week in the world of track and field. Action included the Tokyo Marathon, the 2008 US XC Champs, two big time professional meets in the Norwich Union Grand Prix in Britain and the Tyson Invite in the US, but we'll start by boring you to sleep with some drug news.
The Tide Seems To Be Turning Within Athletics on the Perception of Dopers For years, we here at LetsRun.com felt like we were the only ones that truly really cared about the anti-doping fight. Meet promoters, agents, journalists, even fellow athletes seemed to always to be turning a blind eye to the rampant cheating which in our mind was killing the sport. We always said the only way the fight against doping would succeed would be if the impetus came from within. If the movers and shakers in the sport of track and field (meaning the athletes, meet promoters, and agents), refused to allow cheating to be viewed as acceptable, it could start to be stamped out.
This week, while nothing substantive occurred that will end doping, there were a few things that showed the tide may be truly turning against the drug cheats. The Dwain Chambers case has brought doping back to the forefront in Europe and the major agents and meet promoters seem to be sticking to their pronouncements of late last year that they won't represent doped athletes or allow them to participate in major professional meets.
The next step is for the current athletes to join the fight.
None of these measures will be that effective at combatting the drug problem on their own (the key is coming up with better drug tests), but athletes will at least have to think twice before using an undetectable drug if they think it could be the end of their career if caught.
2008 US Cross Country Championships: Ritz and Flanagan Men's Race: Ritz Reigns Supreme
Another Dominating Win (Photo by PhotoRun.net)
The US Champs were held in San Diego this year. Major thumbs up to men's champ Dathan Ritzenhein. Back in the year of LetsRun.com's founding, Ritzenhein was dominating arguably the greatest high school class in American history. In 2000, Ritzenhein and American mile record holder Alan Webb and American marathon phenom Ryan Hall were all high school seniors and they all toed the line at the Footlocker HS XC Championships. 14 minutes and 35 seconds later Ritz was the undisputed king of high school cross country for the 2nd straight year as he absolutely crushed Webb by 20 seconds and Hall by 24. Think about that, he destroyed Hall and Webb.
As a result, LetsRun.com was involved in a full-fledged love affair with Ritz . Finally, America had a great hope for the future. However, his college career didn't quite live up to the hype despite his one NCAA XC title as he never won on the track. No worries, our love affair with Ritz still survived. Ritz even motivated Rojo to write his first column in 8 months in May on 2004, when he made his 10k debut. (Hyping Up Ritz's 10k Debut) But post-collegiately, Ritz certainly has been way overshadowed by both Webb and Hall.
And just when it seems like our love was going to 100% be transferred to our new crush (Ryan Hall), Ritz comes up with a victory that reminds us of why we were so enamored with him in the first place. He's an amazing cross country runner. Just as it seems as if Alan Webb was made for the mile and Ryan Hall made for the marathon, Ritz seems made for cross country.
Hopefully, he'll year in and year out run a big xc season and try to take out the world's elite in xc. Could he still become the first white man to break 27:00 in the 10k? Yes. But instead of viewing his track accomplishments as being disappointing, we'll from now on forever try to appreciate his prowess in xc. Everyone has things they are better at (The great Haile G. never won a world xc title). Ritz excels at what in our minds should be the most admired of all the running disciplines - cross country. So well done Ritz.
See Here While You Can Girls (Photo by PhotoRun.net)
Women's Race - Shalane Flanagan Total Domination
The women's race was simply a 25:26 infomercial for Shalane Flanagan, who crushed her nearest competitor by a staggering 70 seconds. We thought we might not ever witness another performance like the one Deena Kastor put on last year in Boulder when she beat Flanagan by 61 seconds, but Flanagan somehow topped that performance. Flanagan was on fire early in 2007 before fizzling late in the year. This year, she seems to be much stronger. If she stays strong through the Olympics, she could medal if the Ethiopians falter like they did at last year's worlds (although the Kenyan women emerged in 2007 for the first time as international threats at the World level on the track)
When a high schooler wins the junior race (as compared to a college freshman), you know they are something special. Mark our words - German Fernandez and Jordan Hasay will be heard from again many times in the years to come.
LetsRun.com's Post-Race Awards From USAs Go To ...
Women: Emily Brown
The Team USA Minnesota runner was only 29th at NCAA XC as a senior in 2006. On Saturday, she was third in the pro ranks at USAs. Certainly deserving of praise for our Breakout Performance of the Week. Keep up the good work and enjoy your trip to Great Britain.
Men: Ryan Sheridan
Those who live in New York will certainly remember Sheridan. He won the New York state cross country meet in 2004 (all classes) as a sophomore. That basically never happens. He then didn't run for two years due to injury. Last year, Rojo was thinking perhaps other college coaches wouldn't want Sheridan as they'd view him as 'damaged goods.' Wrong. Mick Byrne's Iona Gaels smartly picked him up and obviously have done a good job of getting him healthy and letting his unreal talent come out. On Saturday, he was the runner-up by 1 second to Fernandez in the junior boys race. *Messageboard thread on Sheridan here.
Norwich Union Grand Prix
The two biggest stars entered in the meet stole the show. In the men's 1,500, American double world champion Bernard Lagat destroyed a quality field that included Dan Komen, who had run a world leading 3:34.80 earlier in the week, as well as 2007 World bronze medallist Shadrack Korir.
Lagat has pretty much been unchallenged so far in 2008. After his phenomenal success in 2007, the question was "Would father time start to creep up on the 33-year-old?" So far the answer is clearly no.
The men's 2-mile featured a real rarity in track and field. A great race and a world record/best. Kenenisa Bekele did end up with a world record of 8:04.35 but the race was in doubt until the final 200. Major props to Kenyan Paul Koech for making things interesting.
It's rare for Bekele to admit he actually had a tough race on his hands but afterwards he said, "It was not easy today but I knew I could do it. Paul was very close but I knew I had a fast finish in me.”
1 Bernard LAGAT USA 3:35.23 SB
2 Daniel K KOMEN KEN 3:36.55
3 Shedrack KORIR KEN 3:38.68 SB
4 Rui SILVA POR 3:38.84 SB
5 Michael EAST GBR 3:39.42 SB
6 Reyes ESTEVEZ ESP 3:39.51 SB
7 Brimin KIPRUTO KEN 3:39.56 PB
8 James MCILROY GBR 3:39.73 PB
9 Cornelius CHIRCHIR KEN 3:42.51
10 Jakub HOLUSA CZE 3:42.83
11 Galen RUPP USA 3:43.96 PB
12 James BREWER GBR 3:46.87
Splits: 400m Abraham CHEPKIRWOK UGA 57.69
800m Abraham CHEPKIRWOK UGA (55.95) 1:53.64
1200m Bernard LAGAT USA (58.51) 2:52.15
Finish Bernard LAGAT USA (43.08) 3:35.23
Men's 2 Mile
1 Kenenisa BEKELE ETH 8:04.35 WR
2 Paul KOECH KEN 8:06.48 NR
3 Abraham CHEBII KEN 8:13.28 PB
4 Markos GENETI ETH 8:16.49 SB
5 Bekana DABA ETH 8:18.92 PB
6 Mo FARAH GBR 8:20.95 PB
7 Nick MCCORMICK GBR 8:26.44 PB
8 Erik SJOQVIST SWE 8:36.74 NR
9 Francisco ESPANA ESP 8:43.31 PB
10 Adam BOWDEN GBR 8:47.57 PB
Javier CARRIQUEO ARG DNF
Bikila DEMMA ETH DNF
Splits-1000m Javier CARRIQUEO ARG 2:29.66
2000m Kenenisa BEKELE ETH (2:30.95) 5:00.61
3000m Kenenisa BEKELE ETH (2:33.99) 7:34.60
Finish Kenenisa BEKELE ETH (29.75) 8:04.35
Tyson Invite USA: American Record in the Women's Mile
Before getting to the distance action, we have to point out that the performance of the meet had to be Adam Nelson's mammoth throw of 73'6 in the shot put. Since we know Adam from his Ivy League days at Dartmouth, we'll celebrate his mark as everyone's own friends are always clean, right? Actually, he's been a public figure in the anti-doping movement throughout and his own website is Throwclean.com, so we give him major props.
We'd also like to give out some props to 37-year old Allen Johnson. Anytime a 37-year old wins something in track, they deserve praise.
In terms of the distance action, we admit we totally dropped the ball on this one. A major, major, major thumbs up to Christin Wurth-Thomas for her new American record in the indoor mile. Yes, we missed an American record. Technically, her 4:27.18 isn't an AR but considering the fact that both the two women ahead of her, Regina Jacobs and Mary Decker Slaney, are drug cheats - she's got the record in our books.
In the men's mile, Nick Willis effortlessly dispatched of a bunch of guys in 3:56-7 shape as he always does. Will this be the year that success translates to the big-time world stage? Time will tell.
In the college action, the Texas Longhorns set a new world record in the indoor DMR with their 9:25 clocking (the DMR isn't an official world record distance, but 9:25 is the fastest ever indoors). Congrats to Manzano, Vig, and the Horns.
1 Nick Willis Reebok 3:55.93A
2 Kevin Sullivan Reebok 3:57.50
3 Steve Sherer USA 3:57.81
4 Rob Meyers Reebok 3:57.82
5 Boaz Lalang Rend Lake CC 3:58.34
6 Pablo Solares Mexico 3:58.50
7 John Kosgei LSU 4:02.40
- Josphat Boit Adidas DNF
- David Freeman Puerto Rico DNF
1 Alistair Cragg Adidas 13:32.01
2 Lex Williams Michigan 13:47.57
3 Jacob Korir E Kentucky 13:48.13
4 Ian Burrell Georgia 13:50.40
5 Tyler Hill Arkansas 13:57.07
6 Tibor Vegh NC State 14:03.03
7 Matt Clark Clemson 14:04.16
8 Braden Forrest Brooks 14:08.26
9 James Strang Arkansas 14:16.60
10 Patrick Mutai UTEP 14:27.33
11 Scott MacPherson Arkansas 14:32.00
I'm on Page 2
Continued: Page 2 of the Week That Was: How to Improve 30 Minutes in the Marathon and Run 2:08, Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down Including Roger Clemens, Viktor Rothlin, Asbel Kiprop and more. Plus perhaps the greatest running quote in history from one of the greatest runners in history.
Got an opinion, news, info, or results? How about a name for our column? "The Week That Was" is not too catchy. Email us at [email protected]
*Last week's week in review can be found here