Where Your Dreams Become Reality
May 27, 2008
*Last week's week in review can be found here
By LetsRun.com This past week's homepages: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday
In case you missed it, last week saw the unveiling of the first ever LetsRun.com Rankings. In it, we rank at least the top 10 in the US in the middle-distance and distance events. We hope to do the ranking every week between now and the US Trials. And we hope to do it each week on a certain date (to be determined). But hey, the dates may vary each week as The Week That Was is supposed to be out on Tuesday but only got out Wednesday this week. Organization has never been our strong point.
Anyway, last week, we unveiled our rankings for the 800 and 1,500. Later in the week, we'll update those rankings as there was a lot of action last week, plus we'll give you our Steeple/5k Rankings. Next week, we'll give you our 10k rankings. In the meantime, keep emailing us your comments. The response to the rankings was amazing.
We'll start with the Golden League meet in Berlin this week, as it got somewhat overlooked with Usain Bolt's 9.72 WR in New York.
ÅF Golden League Gets Under Way in Berlin
On the homepage last week, when we linked to "The Week That Was" we linked to it under the title "A Star Is Born" as the biggest news of the week was the arrival of Pamela Jelimo. We had it wrong. We should have said - A SUPERSTAR IS BORN. Last week, she very evenly split a 1:55. This week she went for history and was in the hunt for a world record, but ended up settling for her first 1:54. Her first 600 was so fast (1:24.59), that the idiotic American announcers on ESPN2 were convinced that she was doing something foolish - even though it was as clear as it was the week before that she was doing something special. 1:54.99.
Jelimo's rise has been amazing. Last year she was a sprinter who ran a best of 54.93 for 400. As far as we can tell, 2 months ago she had never run an 800. A month ago she had never broken 2 minutes, and now she's the best 800m runner on the planet by a long shot.
2) Jeremy Wariner Loses (LaShawn Merritt Wins).
The race was fantastic as it featured a great stretch duel as Wariner and Merritt ran side by side for nearly the entire final 100 before Merritt prevailed in 44.03 to Wariner's 44.07. The race was the ultimate vindication for coaches across the globe. Coaching at times can be a depressing profession as the public at large often fails to recognize great coaching as superior genetics coupled with poor coaching often prevails over superior coaching with poor genetics.
But coaches can make a big difference at the highest level. A great coach can't normally have a 4:20 high school talent beat a 4:05 talent, but he can regularly have a 4:20 talent beat a 4:15 talent. At the Olympic level, he might take a guy who should have finished third and make him an Olympic champion. Same thing here. To say the least, a coach certainly might be worth .04 of a second. That being said, we'll never know if the coaching change resulted in Wariner's loss or not. But considering that the 400 is a Golden League event this year, Wariner's loss probably cost himself a minimum of $200,000. We doubt he saved that much from sacking Hart.
Certainly no time for Wariner to panic however. He ran 44.07. One needs to remember that he won the 2004 Olympics in 44.00. He's certainly capable of prevailing in Beijing but Merritt is the real deal and we have a real rivalry on our hands.
So a Big Thumbs Up to Merritt for getting the win, but in our minds the Biggest Thumbs Up associated with this performance should go to Berlin meet director, Gerhard Janetzky
who actually predicted that Wariner would lose. How is that for a prediction? While we had hinted that him losing this year was a possibility, Janetzky predicted it would happen in Berlin. Amazing.
Saladino Jumps Over 9 Meters
3) Irving Saladino Loses - While this may be a site devoted to distance running, we are fans of the whole sport of track and field and Saladino's loss in Berlin was shocking. Heading into Berlin, he'd won 21 straight long jumps and hadn't lost since the Paris Meet in early July 2006. The week before Berlin in Hengelo, he put up one of the top 10 marks of all time with his a leap of 28'7.75". More impressively, in Hengelo, he also had a jump that appeared to be possibly the longest in history - over 9 meters - if not for a slight foul. See his amazing 'foul' jump of 9+ meters in the video to the right.
Saladino had finally arrived as a big-time star at the perfect time - an Olympic year. The long jump is also a Golden League event this year so motivation was high. And he goes out and loses - shocking. That's what makes sports great - predictions don't mean squat.
*Many thanks to 2007 NCAA Triple Jump Champion Rayon Taylor For The Heads Up On The Video
4) African Men Start To Run Really Fast in 1,500 & 5k (Webb & Lagat get ready)
Need proof that it might be harder to win a Golden League 1,500 than The Olympics? Just look at the results in Berlin. It was unbelievable how many people ran fast there. The race had a ridiculous 17 starters (there shouldn't be more than 14) and six of them, including 5 Kenyans, ran 3:32.55 or better, led by race winner Augustine Choge of Kenya in 3:31.57.
Let's put the performances in Berlin in perspective. Remember double world champion Bernard Lagat's seasonal best last year was only 3:33.85. Guess how many times Alan Webb has only run faster than 3:32.55? Seven? Nope. Eight? Nope.
Try twice. Once in his very last 1,500 of the year in 2005 in Rieti and then last year in Paris when he won the Golden League meet in a world leading 3:30.54
Winning the Olympics isn't easy but the Olympic rules limiting each race to only three per country certainly helps the American cause greatly in the distance events.
UNREAL CALIFORNIA HS ACTION
He started things off by running a 4:00.29 solo 1,600. A few hours later, he came back ran the fastest 3,200 in US HS history - 8:34.23. Yes 4:00 and 8:34. Frequent LetsRun.com message board poster George Malley, who also is a former American record holder in the steeple, came up with the following great stats. Converting Fernandez's double into mile and 2 mile times, it's clear that it's by far the greatest double ever.
(12:38.9) 4:01.7 & 8:37.2 Fernandez 2008
(12:53.1) 8:46.5 & 4:06.6 Kimball 1974
(12:53.6) 4:02.6 & 8:51.0 Kimball 1974
(12:54.8) 8:42.6 & 4:12.2 Virgin 1973
(12:55.1) 8:46.0 & 4:09.1 Sage 2000
(12:57.1) 8:48.6 & 4:08.5 Virgin 1973
(12:57.3) 8:48.2 & 4:09.1 Fernandez 2008
(12:58.4) 8:46.6 & 4:11.8 Virgin 1973
*From the Thread:: How Good Was Fernandez's double?
The best part about the race may have been Fernandez's post-race comments. It's great to see the innocence of high schoolers come out. Fernandez told reporters he was going to celebrate by working the evening shift at Applebee's. "My job is pretty important and I don't think they'd give me the day off even if they knew how well I did today. My boss always tells me to mention Applebee's when I'm talking to the newspapers, so I wanted to make sure to give my job a shout out.''
The other thing super impressive about Fernandez was his super consistent pacing and his desire to crush the competition. California is the toughest state meet to win, yet Fernandez ran hard by himself from the gun. Incredible.
Fernandez wasn't the only one to impress in California. Christine Babcock ran a 4:33.82 in the girls 1,600, which is a HS record. We've always been impressed by Babcock as she's not overly obsessed by the high school scene. Each year, she has skipped the Footlocker XC meet as she didn't want to over-race. We don't get why Fernandez at this point even cares about going to Nike Outdoor Nationals. He could easily run this weekend's Prefontaine 2 mile - get the national record - and then call it a season. But then again, the kids are in HS so they should probably do whatever they want, within reason.
Lastly, in the girls 3,200, two girls broke 10:00 in the same race for the first time as Jordan Hasay ran 9:52.13 to Laurynne Chetelat's 9:52.51.
Unreal California HS Action:
Two Who Won't Be In The Olympics (And One Who Will)
Stember never was given much of a shot of making the team this year but Lincoln was someone who might actually have a remote chance at a medal, since after the Kenyans, no one is really dominant at the steeple (except for ex-Kenyans). Lincoln will miss the trials after having Achilles surgery. We aren't asking people to feel too sorry for them as they are previous Olympians but we know that doesn't make the disappointment of this year any easier for them. It's a real shame that Lincoln is out as
speaking of ex-Kenyan steeplechasers, steeplechase world record holder Saif Saaeed Shaheen of Qatar raced for the first race in almost two years. He was soundly defeated when he ran 13:29 in the 5k to the winner's 13:24. That doesn't mean a whole lot in our books as he's got plenty of time for the Olympics and most American steeplers would really have to be totally on their game to even have a shot at 13:29. It should make the Kenyans feel
a little better about themselves.
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Reebok Grand Prix 2008 - What A Meet and What A World Record!
We'd like to briefly focus on some other things (you can get a nice recap by looking at the links at the end of the section). The entire meet was a thing of beauty in our minds. It featured a sold-out crowd (Yes we know their maximum capacity is nowhere near the 70,000 plus in Berlin but a sell-out is a sell-out and it looks way better on tv), a world record in the biggest event in the sport, a live national cable television audience as well as a tape-delayed network broadcast. So a major thumbs up to Global Athletics for putting on the meet and for Reebok for sponsoring it and for the fans for coming out to support it. It doesn't get much better than a packed house for a track meet with the view of the NYC skyline (Truth be told, we're a bit embarrassed by how few non-Jamaican-loving fans showed up). (full disclosure: the meet advertised on our website).
Among the highlights - a 9.72 in the men's 100, a 50.04 in the women's 400 by Sanya Richards, a US all-comers record of 8:01.85 by Paul Koech in the steeplechase, a sub-15:00 clocking (14:58.48) by Lauren Fleshman in the 5k, as well as a 20.07 in the men's 200 (Wallace Spearmon), a 44.70 in the 400 by the X Man and a 10.91 in the ladies 100 (Veronica Campbell-Brown). The meet certainly had it all.
Enough for the praise, it's time to give out a few thumbs down this week- mainly to ourselves for our 5k predictions.
In our predictions for the men's 5k, we said "Kenyan Shadrack Kosgei, who ran 13:01 in 2005, is in the race but he's been running a lot on the roads this spring and not dominating there so don't expect him to contend here." He didn't just contend. He won. Shows you how tough the road racing on the US circuit is as Kosgei was only 3rd in the Azalea 10k, 5th in the Crescent City 10k and 6th in the Carlsbad 5k. Maybe Alan Webb's DNF at Carlsbad wasn't so bad after all?
Our prediction in the men's steeplecahse didn't come true as to who would be the top American, but we don't take back what we said. We're actually pleased to have helped longtime friend of LetsRun.com, Steve Slattery, out. Apparently, our calling his 2008 season a "disaster so far" motivated him as he told a NJ paper he was motivated to prove us wrong, and he did as he went out and got 2nd in 8:28.
You're welcome Steve. When Rojo first started coaching at Cornell, the first advice his boss, Nathan Taylor, ever gave him was "Don't be afraid to have them dislike you. Anger is a powerful motivator." Slattery's season up until that point had been a disaster. Now he's in a good spot a month out from the Trials.
The 20-somethings are probably too young to remember Kirk Gibson's famous blast in the 1988 World Series but we aren't. Gibson came through with one of the most clutch performances in sports history to propel the Dodgers to victory with two outs in the ninth. A once-in-a-lifetime experience for the hometown fans - except for the one idiot who left early and could been seen driving off in the parking lot as the ball was hit. Seeing his headlights come on was priceless. This is very similar.
We conclude our weekly recap by first looking ahead to what one can look forward to this weekend (Prefontaine Classic in the US, Oslo in Europe) as well as giving you links to the major road action from last week in the US.
Looking Ahead To This Weekend
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