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The Week That Was Feb. 18 - Feb 24, 2008
Feb 26, 2008
*Last week's week in review can be found here
By LetsRun.com

The last full week of February featured action all over the globe, including the US champs. We'll start our weekly recap with some press accounts we found interesting and worth reading before moving on to recap the action.

Weekly Training Tip - How To Take 30 Minutes of Your Marathon PR and Maybe Make the Olympic Team
We'll start our week that was with a training tip. Have you ever dreamed of cutting a half hour from your marathon time? Sounds too good to be true? Nope. It does happen.  Japan's Arata Fujiwara did exactly that as a few weeks ago he ran 2:08:40 to finish 2nd at the Tokyo marathon and put himself into Olympic contention.  To learn how it's all possible, we encourage you to read the following profile of Arata Fujiwara.

*Arata Fujiwara Profile

I Want The Gold Medal

Nick Symmonds
Nick Symmonds

If you like big dreams and profiles, you should be sure to read the profile of American 800 meter runner Nick Symmonds in the Eugene Register Guard. Symmonds, a former D3 star, certainly is dreaming big - really big.  How about this quote from the profile:

"Last year was about gaining experience, just going around and learning what itís all about. And that was a great year for me, but I have my goals set high this year. Every day when Iím out running, all I think about is Olympic gold."

*Eugene-Register Guard Profile of Nick Symmonds

Now it wouldn't be fair for us to mention Symmonds without mentioning his US rival Khadevis Robinson.  While Symmonds was being profiled out West, his rival one-upped him and earned a rare profile in the New York Times.  Robinson then one-upped Symmonds at the US Champs, but we'll talk about that later.

*Khadevis Robinson Profile From NYTimes 

Lots of Big Time Track Action
2008 AT&T US Indoor Track and Field Champs

If you don't know what happened at USAs, we're not going to redo our coverage of the meet right here. Instead, we'll tell you to read the links below for seeing us hand out our thumbs up / thumbs down awards from the meet.

LRC Recap of Day 2: Thrilling Men's 800 Highlights, Rob Myers Proves He's Class of Men's 1,500 and Nicole Teter Takes Down Women's 800.
Day 2 Photos
*Winners Quotes From Day 2
Controversy in Men's Shot Put
*Messageboard thread on Shot Put Controversy
Cantwell Calls Hoffa a "f****** hypocrite"

LRC Recap of Day 1:
Favorites Tegenkamp, Wurth-Thomas Win, Shannon Rowbury Surprise Winner of 3k
*Madison 1-2-3 at USATFs
*Boston Globe Recap of 3k, 1500
*Photos of Day 1 of 2008 USATF Nationals

Thumbs Up:
To LetsRun.com for being so amazingly accurate in our preview of the meet. Clearly, people come to this website because we live and breathe elite level distance running but we must admit we even impressed ourselves with our picks. Too bad we didn't have a world famous prediction contest as we might have won it.

In our men's preview, we correctly picked the winners of every event we previewed.  Not only that but we got the top three in order 100% correct in both the men's 1,500 and men's 3k. Pretty impressive.  We didn't do as amazing of a job in picking the winners in our women's preview, but don't accuse us of not trying as we put the women's preview up first and spent more time on it.  We actually did pretty well on that as we correctly picked two of the top three in all three events - just often it was in the wrong order.

Thumbs Up
To Shannon Rowbury for making a really good indoor campaign even better.  Rowbury entered USA already having dropped her indoor mile PR from 4:38 to 4:34 and her indoor 3k pr from 9:02 to 8:55.  Now she's the US 3k champion.

Thumbs Down
To USATF for putting the racewalk in the middle of the meet on Saturday.  Is there any way we can give the racewalk to some other sport? If not, can you please not put it in the middle of a meet that you expect people to pay to watch.  Give us a break.

We're sure that we'll get slammed by a few racewalking fans like we always do when we rip this joke of a sport. But for all of you racewalking defenders, if it's a sport, can you please tell us why a man was competing with a lollipop in his mouth.  Yes, we're not making this up.

(PS. IF anyone has a photo of the guy competing with the lollipop, please email it to us. If you are the first to do so and we use it on the site, we'll send you a check for $25.)

We know racewalkers work very hard and it is a very difficult thing to do. The only problem is that racewalking has no fan following in the United States, and the goal of USATF should not be to bore sponsors and spectators alike.

Putting racewalking in the middle of the program reiterates our impression that USATF does not care too much about entertaining the fans at the US Champs. We whole-heartedly agree that TV coverage should be the #1 priority for the sport (a race on TV can attract from a few hundred thousand to a million-plus viewers, including casual fans who otherwise would not be exposed to the sport), but TV was not the reason fans were bored to death at the USATF champs. The action from Saturday was all shown on  tape delay on ESPN2 the next day, yet USATF for some inexplicable reason dragged the schedule out over 4.5 hours.  There were hour-plus gaps with no professional races on the track. Not many people want to be bored to death and the attendance on Saturday showed it.

Thumbs Up
To 42-year old Alisa Harvey.  Twice this weekend she set the American masters record in the women's indoor 800. Her 2:06.08 on Saturday was good enough to get her into the final. Amazingly, she came back and ran even faster in the final - 2:05.75.

Very well done. 

There is some bad news associated with Harvey's amazing runs this weekends. We're sure it's depressing the hell out of a few elites who probably in their minds think they are training for the Olympics this year.  We got news for you. If you're losing to a 42-year old in the 800, you aren't making the Olympics this year. Period. End of story.

World's Best 10k: Lornah Kiplagat Gets Richer, Controversial Men's Finish May Have Cost a Guy $18,000
The richest 10k race in the United States, the World's Best 10k, is not in the mainland US but rather in Puerto Rico. The race's big time prize money ($20,000 for 1st, $100,000 for a world record) and chance for a warm winter vacation help it attract the stars of the sport each year.

Lorna KiplagatWorld XC champ Lornah Kiplgat has made a small fortune in Puerto Rico. She added to that on Sunday as she won for her 6th time, picking up $20,000 by pulling away from Mestawet Tufa over the final kilometer to win in 31:02. A sub 31 clocking would have netted Kiplagat another $10,000 but if one athlete in Puerto Rico didn't need the money too badly it was Lornah.

The men's race was marred by a controversial finish.  Ethiopia's Deriba Merga, the bronze medallist at last year's World Road Running Champs, led from the gun and appeared to be on his way to victory when Kenyan Silas Kipruto made what the IAAF called "a furious charge." Kipruto blew by Merga with a quarter to go and was likely on his way to the win ($20,000) and a sub 28:00 time (another $10,000). Problem was he followed a motorcycle on the course as it went on the wrong side of fence. Kipruto realized his mistake and tried to backtrack but it was too late. Merga got "the win" and $20,000. Kipruto was left winning $12,000 instead of $30,000.

The IAAF recap does not go into much detail on the controversy (likely written by the race or a journalist on a free vacation at the expense of the race), but we found one article in Spanish on it (that google can translate into English). Kipruto said he will protest the result, but race director, Rafael Acosta, said he will deny the protest.

Technically, no doubt Kipruto is responsible for knowing the course. But runners often instinctively follow vehicles and LetsRun.com's Wejo ran off a course midway through a race one time because he assumed the lead car knew where it was going, so we can sympathize with Kipruto.

The World's Best 10k is flush with cash and a fair resolution to us seems to be to make up at least the $8,000 difference from 1st to 2nd place. Kipruto, no matter how the issue is resolved, says he'll be back next year.
World's Best 10k: Kiplagat Gets Her 6th Title, Men's Race Decided by Controversy IAAF
*Local Article on Controversial Finish (Spanish and English)

Continued: Page 2 of the Week That Was:  The future of the men's 800, proof 19% of the world is idiotic, plus news on Jeremy Wariner, Kenenisa Bekele, Alan Webb, and Asafa Powell.

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

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