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The Week That Was April 14 - Apri 21, 2008 (1 pm)*
April 24, 2008
*Last week's week in review (London Marathon) can be found here
By LetsRun.com

The weekend's big events were in Boston. First up was the women's Olympic Marathon Trials on Sunday, followed by the 112th Boston Marathon on Monday. While we won't try and recap the races themselves, you can see our Olympic Trials recap here, our Boston men's recap here, and our Boston women's recap here (text, photos, and video interviews at all three links), we will try and give a little more insight into the events below.

Marathon Trials

While we've been critical of the BAA in the past (and today, see below) for not bringing the Boston Marathon into the 21st century in terms of money for its professional athletes, the BAA did a great job with the logistics of the Olympic Marathon Trials.

So many things to give them props for. Where to start? 1) Great Course + Great Technology

The course consisted of one 2.2 mile loop and then 4 exactly 6 mile loops. The 6 miles loops enabled the BAA to be able to provide mile splits for every single mile for every single competitor on the course from mile 3 onwards.

Probably five years from now, people will perhaps laugh at major races not having splits every mile but for us it was a first and it made watching a marathon in person actually doable. Normally watching a marathon in person (without a portable tv) can be a difficult affair, because once the runner's pass you have no idea what is going on, but being able to see mile by mile progress on a cell phone web browser let us totally stay abreast of the race as it unfolded while we got to take in the atmosphere of the incredible crowds. We were able to see that it wasn't until the 15th mile that Deena started to cut into Magdalena's lead. (The crew doing the commentary for NBCOlympics.com didn't even seem aware of the mile by mile splits). Thumbs up to the technical people who came up with the idea of the mile splits.

The Crowds in Boston

2) The Crowds
When the men's Olympic Trials were held in New York we were impressed with the crowds. US Olympic Marathoning had not seen anything like it, that is until Sunday in Boston. We were simply blown away by the crowds in Boston(despite a few people live in Boston telling us they were worried no one would come out because of a lack of promotion).

Boston had a few things going for it (besides better weather) to make up for its smaller population base than NY and a less intriguing story before hand. First, Boston put the race right in the middle of town. No banishment to Central Park. Not sure how many of the people on the streets weren't hard core running fans, but bringing them into the mix, even by accident is always a good thing.

Second, Boston is more of a running town, but more importantly with roughly half the runners in Boston for the marathon having qualified for the marathon, the town was full of pretty serious runners who actually follow the sport. If even half of these people came out to watch you've already got a decent number of people on hand to watch.

Boston also had a more spectator friendly course with it possible to see the runners seriously 12 times in one spot. And that made for some packed places on the course especially as the race went on. The last mile of the course was literally body to body two, three, four deep in some places.

Both races started too early in our mind (NY 7:30 am, Boston 8 am), but Boston's race started way after sunrise while NY started in the dark. How about starting both races next time at noon with live national TV coverage? Then our sport might actually be considered what it really is, a sport.

Unheralded Performances at The Trials
With the 3 Olympians Deena, Magdalena, and Blake and even Joan Benoit Samuelson (press conference highlights with all four is here) rightfully getting all the attention from Sunday's run there are a few others who deserve attention. First up is Linda Somers Smith. The 46 year old ran 2:38:49 to set an age group American record. Super, super impressive.

Second up is 1984 Olympic marathon champ Joan Benoit Samuelson. The 50 year old ran 2:49:08 to set an American 50-54 record. Hopefully, four years from now Linda Somers Smith can take a crack at Joan's record.

Tera Moody (152 That's what
number seed she was)

Last and not least, how about a major thumbs up to 5th place finisher Tera Moody. Moody came into the race with a 2:46:40 pr and ran 2:33:54 - nearly a 13-minute PB. That's ridiculous. Admittedly her qualifier came in the heat wave of Chicago but she ran 30 seconds per mile faster at the Trials.

Moody was a high school talent who never did a whole lot at Colorado. We know several CU alums who when we asked one of them about her they said she was like the 6th woman at CU. They were amazed she was 5th in the Trials. Memories fade as she actually was the 5th woman on CU's 2000 National championship team when she finished 71st at NCAAs. Regardless, her post collegiate improvement is staggering.

As a senior, it looks like she ran 4:42 for 1,500, 9:49 for 3k and 35:54 for 10k. Less than two years ago, she was 60th in the club nationals cross country. Now she's 5th in the Olympic Trials. Well done.

LetsRun.com: Deena Triumphs in Boisterous Boston
LetsRun.com! Boston Women's Olympic Trials Photos
4 Minute Highlight Video of Post Race Comments (Deena, Magdalena, Blake Russell and Joan Benoit all give their take)

*Victor Sailor Photos link fixed. Photos rearranged. A few captions added.
More coverage:

*USAToday article by Dick Patrick
*Joan Benoit Article in NY Times
Olympic Trials Coverage *Splits for Every Mile Here
*LestRun.com Message Board Thread Here
*Watch on Demand Here

A Must Read 50 Yr. Old Joan Benoit Running Her Last Trials
*Maine Paper's Profile Of Their Hero*NY Times Profile Of Benoit
Samuelson To Be Inducted Into US Olympic Hall of Fame

Zoila Gomez and Tera Moody WTF??
*Tera Moody Bio

Boston Marathon: 2 Exciting Races And Some Criticism
We'll start with some very nice words. The 2008 Boston Marathon produced two gripping races. In the men's race, Robert Cheruiyot put on a show in the middle of the race as he grabbed his 4th Boston Crown. And the women's race? It's virtually impossible to have a better race than that. A record-fast second half that ended up only being decided in the final strides as the lead changed several times in the last 800. Unbelievably good drama.

But considering one of our favorite past-times here at LetsRun.com is angering New Englanders by criticizing the Boston Marathon for being stuck in the Stone Ages, it's time that the love-fest stopped and we put out some criticisms. Where to begin?

At least you get more
than the Laurel Leaf

1) While we think it's great that Boston is increasing their prize money by 38%, they need to raise more - much more to attract a field worthy of it being a world marathon major (one rumor we heard is that Boston is raising its prize money to try and hide the fact it's appearance money is so small). The lack of depth in Boston - particularly on the men's side is starting to be simply embarrassing. With the unbelievable crowd support that showed up in Boston all weekend, there has to be a way for them to figure out how to raise some more money. New York does it, Chicago does it, London does it. (Tokyo will be doing it soon). Figure it out.

Same goes for hosting the 2012 Olympic Trials. Boston is already complaining about the costs. A weekly nationwide Tour (minor league) golf event has double the prize money than the Olympic Marathon Trials. Assuming the $250,000 prize pool stays the same you are getting huge, huge talent (on the men's side) for a fraction of the cost. Dathan Ritzenhein got a reported $200,000 to run NY last year, so you can imagine what Ryan Hall can get here on out. If anything the costs are going to go up. But the good news is if Boston doesn't want to pony up the money, NY might bid for both Trials or cities like Akron have shown they will shoulder the costs.

2) We have always loved Boston because it's on tv live. As time progresses, we're starting to wonder if we enjoy watching the coverage simply to make fun of how difficult it is to watch if you are true aficionado of the sport. Our main criticisms: 1) Boston is famous for its Hills, particularly Heartbreak Hill. And with two commentators in the press truck on the course, we don't understand how it's possible that in both the men's and women's races we had Larry Rawson asking out loud if they were on Heartbreak hill or not and trying to figure out by seeing what houses are in the background.

There shouldn't be any debate as to whether or not they are on Heartbreak Hill as it should be a big part of the coverage. But in the future, if you can't figure out if they are Heartbreak Hill, please do the following. 1) Ask your reporter in the truck (if the connection is down call him on a cell phone) 2) Look at the clock and figure out what mile they are on the course.

A Great Women's Finish

2) When two women are battling it out down the stretch (literally in the sprint) in the greatest duel in Boston marathon women's history, please don't cheapen the moment by saying they are battling it out for a $75,000 difference and then use the moment to go off on a tangent to explain how there are appearance fees as well. They are battling for a win and a place in history. You can talk about money earlier in the race for the first hour when nothing is happening or when 3rd and 4th battle it out, but not literally in the middle of the greatest sprint finish in women's history. Can you imagine a golf commentator saying on the 18th hole of the US Open, "If Tiger woods sinks this putt, he will make $600,000 more than second." They talk about history and don't feel the need to try to justify the sport.

To us, $150,000 is an embarrassing low amount of money for a runner to make to win a major marathon. Stop mentioning it as if it's something that legitimizes the sport. It's an amount for the minor leagues.

3) We find it embarrassing that given the fact that Ryan Hall was in the men's press truck right next to Lewis Johnson the entire race that he wasn't interviewed at all during the race. Wouldn't that have made for some great tv?

4) During the commercial break on tv, we were watching the commercial free feed on wcsn.com and realized that on the press truck, every mile split was being given out in the background. Wouldn't this be something that the on-course reporters should report every mile and something that should be mentioned or at least listed on a tv screen? Maybe we weren't paying close attention but we had no idea the women were absolutely blistering the 2nd half of the race by listening to the telecast.

5) Please start the men's and women's races farther apart. They shouldn't finish within 5 minutes of each other. The whole enjoyment of watching a marathon comes as the tension builds with each mile and the question looms "Who is gonna take it down?" If you are watching decisive moves in both the men's and women's races at the same time, it makes it impossible to truly enjoy both.

6) We find it to be unacceptable that the decisive move by Cheruiyot was missed on the telecast. Normally in a marathon, one move is decisive. Please cut to it immediately when it happens.

50th Mt. Sac Relays
The Mt. Sac Relays turned 50 this year and there was good action all around. The women's 5k was fantastic as Sally Kipyego and Lauren Fleshman waged a battle until the final strides. With 200 to go, Kipyego threw it down and appeared to have the race in hand. We're not sure if she started to coast with 100 to go or if Fleshman was just waiting to kick but Fleshman came roaring back over the final 150 and pulled up next to Kipyego who was tipped off by the 'roar' of the small crowd. Kipyego got the win in 15:11 to Fleshman's 5:12.

In the men's steeple, Anthony Famiglietti crushed the field by almost 10 seconds to pick up the win in 8:26.94. The 2004 Olympian looks to be in good early season form. Not unreasonable to think he could break his 8:17 pr by season's end.

In the men's 5k, 23-year old Australia's Collis Birmingham used a fantastic last 600 (he must have been close to 1:30) to break open a close race and hit the Olympic A standard with his 13:21.12 clocking. A nice 13-second PR. A big thumps up to Mr. Birmingham and to second place finisher Mark Carroll who ran 13:28.09. Carroll, a former Providence star and 13:03 runner, is 36. Watching the race with another 34-year old, Rojo was simply amazed. He almost felt inspired to start training again but thought better of it when he realized he probably couldn't rabbit Carroll farther than 800 meters.

Since the month of April is unofficially Ryan Hall month here on LetsRun.com given his amazing performance in London, we thought we should mention that Ryan's wife Sara Hall ran well in two races at Mt. Sac. She ran a 2:05.86 personal best for 2nd in the 800 on Friday before coming back and winning the 1,500 on Saturday in 4:16.37. Very well done. No need to worry about the subpar 800 she ran against her coach Terrence Mahon while in London.
Mt. Sac Results
Sally Kipyego
over Lauren Fleshman 15:11 to 15:12 in the 5k, Fam won the steeple in 8:26, and Aussie Collis Birmingham ran 13:21 to hit the "A" qualifier in the 5k.
Live Video
Men's 5k Talk
Day 1: *
Khadevis Robinson 3:46 in 1500
B Heat 10k 28:36
*Tyson Gay Runs Fast 100m on 4*100 at Mt. Sac

Thumbs Down To The ACC -
The ACC conference meet was last weekend. The ACC is a pretty good track conference and we're sure the meet was a fairly good meet but we won't get into the specifics other than to say the FSU won the men and V. Tech won the women. Then why are we mentioning the meet? Just because we want to state for the record we think it's a joke that a conference would have their outdoor conference meet every year before the Penn Relays.

By putting the meet so early, it totally marginalizes the sport. Why have two seasons indoor and outdoor if the conference meets are only seven weeks apart. The ACC meet is only 5 weeks after NCAAs. So a team like FSU takes it down for a week to recover from NCAAs, trains for 3 and then gets ready for conference. Ridiculous.

Either have indoor and outdoor track and make it legitimate or don't. The Pac 10 doesn't have indoors, maybe the ACC shouldn't either. Actually, maybe the ACC shouldn't even have outdoors. Just have indoors as there isn't ample time for schools like Boston College to get ready for an outdoor meet given the fact the weather in the Northeast doesn't get good for throwers/hurdlers until April.

And yes we know other conferences had their outdoor championships this week as well including the CAA but they aren't a major conference with lots of people competing at NCAAs.
*Conference Results - V. Tech Women - FSU Men Win

*Letter: V. Tech Women Deserve Recognition

But everyone knows the biggest event this weekend was the LetsRun.com Boston 08 LetsRun.com Part The party hosted by Puma was a smashing success. A packed house as those passionate about running (from ages 5 to 65+) came to celebrate a great weekend in Boston. LetsRun.com fans celebrated with Rojo, Wejo, Matt Taylor, and a few legends in the sport, including former marathon world record holder Steve Jones and Olympic Silver Medallist Sonia O'Sullivan. The Harpoon beer was flowing, DJ Inkognito kept things going and contrary to popular opinion there was a healthy mix of males and females. The reviews were excellent. "It's refreshing not to see the same 50 people (industry insiders) at a party." "Most favorable female to male ration I've seen in a long time."

*We'll have John McDonnell's retirement next week

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