Where Your Dreams Become Reality
The Week That Was April 7 - April 13, 2008
A transatlantic flight and having to pay our taxes has caused a big delay in our weekly recap. But what a week it was last week in the world of distance running. The most amazing marathon on the calendar lived up to its billing with two fantastic races
Before we get started in full force, let us start with two numbers.
Yes, that's right. There was either nothing or next to nothing in the LA Times about the 2008 Flora London Marathon or Ryan Hall's amazing performance. We searched their website and all we could find was the following on the marathon "Martin Lel of Kenya won the London Marathon for the third time in four years in 2:05:15, setting a course record. Ryan Hall was fifth in 2:06:17, the third-fastest time by an American." However, it's not clear if that actually ever appeared as if you click on the link that shows up in the search results, there is zero, zilch, nada about Mr. Hall or Mr. Lel.
Americans Can't Seem to Understand the
Top Marathon in the World is In London
Ryan Hall in the Distance
Photo by Simon Bradshaw
The LetsRun photos are here
Meanwhile, our favorite 90+ -year-old marathoner received two different articles. We find human interest stories associated with running to be great and we even highlighted Martin on our own front page. We just don't get why coverage of the human interest stories and of actual results have to be mutually exclusive. Can't running be covered as the professional sport that it is?
If you want to contact the Los Angeles Times, you can complain at this page.
Speaking of the Maasai, they got a ton of press in London. Then the race came and one of them (Isaya) had to drop out of the race and went to the hospital. (These guys hunt lions and now they're going to a hospital?) It was a letdown, but only for one day. Turns out his ceremonial strap (they ran with spears and shields) was on too tight and his circulation was getting cut off. So the next day, he went back and finished the marathon. He said, "It was very important for me to do this. This is
what I came to England for." Also running with him was his tribesman, Taico, who had dropped out as well to go to the hospital to watch after his friend. Great perseverance and great friendship.
Before we get to our own coverage of London, let us provide you with:
Almost makes us want to take an English class, but what would LetsRun.com be without daily typos and grammatical mistakes? At least we can acknowledge great writing when we see it.
(Wejo was also super impressed with how many British journalists from came up and thanked him, saying LetsRun was a must part of their day. It's the ultimate compliment for what we do at LetsRun. (He even heard from a guy who has done some broadcasting on WCSN who laughed about people saying his coverage "sucked ass." The Brits definitely are a bit more laid back than a lot of Americans and understand not everyone is going to like everything they do.)
2008 Flora London Marathon - Just How Good Was The Men's Race?
The race gave us the fastest-ever 3rd place ( 2:05:30 - Gourmi), 4th place ( 2:06:15 - Emmauel Mutai), 5th place (2:06:17 - Ryan Hall) and 6th place (2:06:38 - Deribe Merga) in history.
Putting Ryan Hall's Performance In Perspective
People can analyze the conversions all they want but it certainly ranks right up there with the greatest performances ever put forth by American-born athletes in distance running. According to LetsRun.com guru JK's tables, Hall's 2:06:17 converts to the following
All of those times are better than all of the current American records. Many like to point out that Alan Webb's American record in the mile is 8th all-time and Hall was only 5th in his race. True, but prior to Sunday, Hall's time would have made him 12th all-time, as prior to Sunday, only 11 men had broken 2:06:20. As it stands now, counting London and Rotterdam, Hall is 17th on the all-time marathon list. Considering the mile is run infrequently nowadays, Hall's performance certainly compares to Webb's.
Ryan Hall Talks About His RaceBob Kennedy was the standard-bearer for US distance running in the 1990s and he had the lead in the 5k at the 1996 Olympics at the bell. A true inspiration and hero, he ended up 6th. Fifth place at the 2008 London marathon and 6th in the Olympics are certainly comparable as both events represent the pinnacle of the sport - and London wasn't limited to just 3 Kenyans.
Conversions and comparisons aside, the most impressive thing for us about Hall's run was that the way it was run was very gutsy. 1) He got with the leaders right away - out in 14:21 for the 1st 5k. 2) He wanted the pace to be fast - when the pace slowed at 25k, he asked the rabbits to pick it up. 3) Hall considers himself to be a rhythm runner, but the pace was very erratic on Sunday and Hall hung in there. 4) The weather wasn't great at the end.
Women's Race - Big Breakthrough For Irina Mikitenko
Gete Wami very much impressed us with her 3rd place effort. The favorite finishing 3rd normally doesn't deserve big time praise but in this case it clearly does. She suffered a horrific fall in the 2nd half of the race, got up and made a race of it. Very impressive. A huge thumbs up to her for her efforts.
Gete Wami Talks About Her Fall
And Wondering If She Lost Her Teeth
It's too bad there wasn't a great camera angle of her fall as the spill was so violent she said the following of it, "When I first got up, the first thing I did was feel my teeth as I felt my teeth had fallen out." Also a huge thumbs up to her for the class she showed in her post-race comments. We're tired of reading about world-class athletes making excuses or being sore losers and you see it all the time in distance running. Here is someone who actually had a very legitimate reason to whine and moan about how she should have won, but she did not make excuses. She simply said, "I was disappointed at first, but now I am happy I was able to come back and finish 3rd."
Rotterdam Can't Be Forgotten
Since we are officially still in awe of the performances in London, we think it's interesting to compare the splits of Ryan Hall and Kipsang from Sunday. They certainly back up our contention that if they'd gone out slightly more conservatively in London and the weather had remained good, people could have run even faster.
At 35k (21.75 miles), Hall was 34 seconds up on Kipsang, which is basically the same amount he was up on Kipsang in the first 5k. Then Hall paid the price for going out so hard and for the weather being off and for him not being in the contention for the win.
Non-London Performance Of The Week
In other action at Arcadia, the boys and girls 3,200s did not disappoint. In the boys race, Luke Puksedra won a nice battle with New Zealand's Dominic Channon in 8:46.60 to 8:48.00 thanks to a 61-second last lap. In the girls race, Jordan Hasay was actually challenged, but she ended up with her 3rd straight title as she won in 10:03.07 to Christine Babcock's 10:04.03.
Post-College US Track Action
Not a chance.
Assuming he's been focused and training hard, we figured Lomong would prove to be the class of the field at 1,500 and we were proven right. In many instances, 1,500 prs are misleading, as a strong 5k guy can go over to Europe and hang on and run a good time that is often way faster than one seen in collegiate races in the US. It doesn't mean they stand a chance of winning a quality 1,500 - closing hard the last 300.
Lomong is the real deal. He's got 1:45.79 speed in the 800, coupled with endurance that was good enough to get him 4th and 3rd the last two years at NCAA cross country over 10k.
Well, apparently Lomong's training has been going just fine as he did what we thought he'd do - win fairly comfortably in 3:39.50 to Tegenkamp's 3:40.12.
Given the fact that he ran the 800 at USAs because he was unsure if he'd have his citizenship in time, people seem to forget that Lomong was the NCAA champ at 1,500 last year - not the University of Texas' Leonel Manzano (If you truly have forgotten, you can watch the race video here). Yes Manzano went on to get 2nd at USAs, even defeating the eventual world champion in Bernard Lagat, who was 3rd. But in our minds, if Lomong had run the 1,500 with a clear mind at USAs last year, he would have had to be considered to be the better bet for the team than Manzano.
It's hard to bet against Manzano as the guy was the NCAA 1,500 champ as frosh and he has greatly improved his endurance since then. However, how do you not pick the guy with way better 800 speed (1:45.79 pr vs 1:49.26 pr) and better endurance? Manzano had by far his best xc season this year when he finished a very credible 27th at NCAAs - but that's still 36 seconds behind Lomong.
It's hard to know what would have happened, but yes, we could imagine he could very well have finished 2nd with Manzano 3rd and then Lagat - who ended up as the world champion - being left off the team.
Which brings us to thoughts of this year. Assuming Lomong doesn't run the 800, one of the big 4 will be left off the US 1,500 team. And don't forget we haven't even mentioned 3:33.28 1,500 runner Chris Lukezic or 3:34.89 man Rob Myers, who in normal years would be considered real beasts. It's certainly going to be a great race to watch. It may not be popular to admit it but making the team is far from an easy guarantee for stars like Webb and Lagat. It's going to be an awesome race for sure.
Speaking of Lukezic and Myers, people in our minds have an unfairly poor view of how good they are compared to runners of recent past. They both have 1,500 PRs better than the over-hyped 2000 Olympic Trials champion, Gabe Jennings, whose career best is 3:35.21
While we are talking about Lukezic, he ran his first outdoor 1,500 of the season at the Sea Ray Relays where he finished 2nd to his training partner, Canada's Kevin Sullivan. Sullivan grabbed the win in very windy conditions by running 3:44.28 to Lukezic's 3:44.71. Trust us, it was very, very windy. Those were pretty good performances, as Kentucky's John Richardson, who went sub-4 (and 7:56 3k) indoors, was more than a second back in 3rd at 3:45.80. We only mention this as we were trying to get an excuse to mention that Cornell's Andy Miller, who is coached by Rojo, was 4th in 3:46.70.
European Cup 10,000
You'll Be Hearing About This For a Long, Long Time
Marion Jones' 8 Relay Teammates Told To Return Medals The IAAF told Jerome Young's teammates to do the same thing, but lawyers stopped the IAAF from making them do it.
Olympic Marathon Trials Are This Weeekend
Head of WADA Warns Olympic Hopefuls About New HGH Test He
says the belief that HGH can be cycled through the body quickly and not
get detected by a drug test is a thing of the past. The new test will
supposedly last longer.