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LetsRun.com The Week That Was
The LRC Week That Was is back in a week that was dominated by the NCAA D1 collegiate XC Regionals, a Man vs. Dominos race and much, much more.
Letsrun.com The Week That Was 11/10 - 11/16
The big competitive news last week came from the American cross-country scene as the 9 Regional Championships were held and the NCAA field was announced for Division 1. The D3 field was also announced. Rather than talk about everything that happened, we'll try to give you a few highlights and interesting tidbits.
All Men's and Women's NCAA D1 Regional Results Here.
Letsrun.com's JK Previewed The Men Here.
JK's Women's Regional Predictions here.
Top Teams Look Good as Washington Continues To Dominate
The women's Regionals didn't produce too many surprises. The biggest story coming out of the women's regions was the fact that the top 6 ranked teams in #1 Washington, #2 Oregon, #3 Florida St. #4 Princeton, #5 Villanova and #6 West Virginia all looked good and ran well in their regionals. #2 Oregon closed the gap a little bit on the super-dominant Huskies. After getting skunked by UW at PAC 10s, Oregon's top two took the top two places in the West region. Is Washington starting to crack? Are they vulnerable? Could they be upset just as heavily favored Wisconsin lost several times this decade on the men's side?
No. There is no need to worry. Washington held out it's #1 runner in Kendra Schaaf. Think about it, #1 Washington is so good they can beat #2 Oregon 25 to 62 without their #1 runner. Washington's 6th runner at the West Regional (who is really their 7th) is better than Oregon's #4. Washington could easily win NCAAs without their #1. Unreal.
In the Mid-Atlantic region, #4 Princeton and #6 West Virginia tied for the team win as #5 Villanova was only 8 points behind. #3 Florida St. scored 41 points to win the South Regional.
Galen Rupp & West Region Impress
So the West region is totally stacked with really good guys and teams, and what happened? - Oregon's Galen Rupp made a mockery of the competition as he put on a breathtaking performance. Rupp won the Regional by a staggering 51 seconds as he ran 27:41 for a course that was supposedly measured to be 85 meters short. The performance was so good it's got some people wondering, including The Oregonian's Doug Binder, if Rupp's performance was the fastest near-10k in NCAA history. Binder correctly points out that - even with the extra 85 meters - Rupp would have broken 28:00, whereas Henry Rono ran 28:06.7 at the 1976 NCAAs.
We will be the first to admit that Rupp is in phenomenal shape. He was in great shape in Beijing when he ran 27:36.99 in the heat and smog. Considering that the American record is 27:13.98, it's clear that he was in American record 10k shape or very close to it. We feel if anything he's in better shape now. Rupp is in such good shape, in fact, we are officially getting very scared about the guarantee we gave out after Pre-NCAAs that Sam Chelanga will win the individual title at NCAAs this year. We think someone will need to be in American record shape or near it to beat Chelanga, but Rupp might be able to do it. But that being said, it's not fair to compare Rupp's performance to Rono's. Take a look at the picture of the West Regional course. That course is the ultimate track meet on grass. The 1976 NCAA course was not a particularly tough one (letsrun.com's JK ran it a few times in college), but that course (at the University of North Texas) was definitely more difficult.
Besides, some on the message board are saying the West course was re-measured after the race and found to be 150 meters short. So if it wasn't 10k, why are we even talking about it?
Mountain Men - Colorado Peaking When It Counts Better Than Anyone Once Again
During Mark Wetmore's tenure as Colorado, they have proven to peak better than anyone in cross-country. Twice in the last five years, they went into NCAAs as underdogs to Wisconsin but emerged with the title. This year, the CU men (and women) are down quite a bit as they lost their first Big 12 title in history. However, while some things change, others stay the same. They apparently seem still know how to peak as they shockingly won the Mountain Regional. Colorado's top 5 all finished within a span of 19 seconds, all between 6th and 18th, and the 16th-ranked Buffaloes took home the unexpected team title over #7 Northern Arizona. NAU held out a few people and it hurt them as their 5th man was only 37th.
Mountain men's results here.
Michigan and Wisconsin men ran a team time trial, both placing their pack of 4 in the top 12 of the race, within seconds of each other. It's fascinating that former Foot Locker champion Matt Withrow can't keep up with the Wisconsin tempo running pack, as he was their 5th man, 23 seconds behind. Patrick Smyth, who blasted the Big East pace from the gun, only to get kicked down by a drafting Andrew Bumbalough in the stretch, got a well-deserved win in the Regional meet, though none of the Badgers or Wolverines were going for it on that day.
Notre Dame made it into the Big Show, but they are not even in the same universe as a team as Michigan and Wisconsin. Michigan, ranked ninth in the country, scored half the points the Domers did while having their top 4 do a pack tempo run.
Great Lakes men's results here.
Message Board Post Of The Week
Our Message Board Post of the Week certainly goes to "Lucky Kleinschmidt." While coaches across the country were trying to predict who would get in and get left out, Lucky proved that nothing beats the collective wisdom of the running aficionados found on the message boards of LetsRun.com.
Wanna Know What Real Talent Is? Then Read The LetsRun.com Quote of the Week
"At my high school, we were required to do a sport. I didn't like these hard sports like running. I chose table tennis because it was easy ... (But then) I missed the scholarships that were offered (at Kenyan colleges). I had to stay for awhile at home to try and find some money, but it was hard. Just hanging out with my brother every day, doing nothing, just running family errands, one day my brother just decided, 'you know what, you should start running.' For a second, I didn't think that he was serious, but then after awhile we had to sit down and talk about what I wanted in my life and what were his ideas."
- NCAA cross-country favorite Sam Chelanga talking about how he got into running a few years ago after previously being a ping pong player.
Think you have enough running talent to be complacent? A story like Sam Chelanga's shows what talent really is. You've been lounging around the house for a few months. Your brother, who is a 2:07 marathoner, tells you that you should start running. Why? Because visiting the grocery store and gas stations in Kenya for your Mom wasn't bringing in enough dough. Oh, and playing ping pong with the buddies at school wasn't cutting it either. Fast forward a couple years, and we have a guy breaking the course record at Paul Short, then gapping a Pre-Nationals field in passing the first mile in 4:16 en route to another course record.
We don't mean to say that Sam doesn't have a fantastic work ethic to go along with that talent. In fact, just the opposite. It takes some serious motivation and self belief to dismantle the finest collegiate fields in the world this fall like he has. Quite frankly, we can't imagine better motivation for a runner than what he has. "Ok self, if I train you to run as fast as humanly possible, maybe I can do more than lay around the house doing errands for my brother and getting hungry." That is way better motivation than most Americans have. But the immense talent that this guy has should not go unnoticed. Perhaps comparing his career up to this point with that of his principal NCAA Championships rival Galen Rupp would be illustrative. We hear all sorts of arguments from people in America and Britain, for example, about how Americans and Brits aren't active enough as youths, so of course they won't develop into great athletes like the Kenyans, who are supposedly doing all sorts of sports and running and walking as youths. Well Sam didn't do sports, he wasn't a runner, he didn't have a coach, or youth programs, or any of that. Instead, his brother told him one day to get some shoes and start training so he could go to college in America. And look what happened. He wasn't putting on BreatheRights or doing all sorts of technologically advanced things or getting daily guidance from a fantastically knowledgeable and motivational coach from a young age. And we wouldn't have a problem with any of those things, it's just amazing the contrast between this guy and almost any elite American runner.
We aren't trying to make much of a point here. The beauty of it all is the story behind Chelanga, a story that could be taken for granted. As Toni Reavis pointed out last week, sports are only interesting when we get to know the participants over the course of time. Furthering the drama, we have a perfect rival for the super-heroic Chelanga - Mr. Rupp in Eugene. Ladies and gentlemen, have your picks ready and don't let this NCAA final pass you by, because a rivalry like this is not going to come along every year. The precocious Kenyan super-stud meets the so-precocious-for-so-long-he-drives-people-crazy American Olympic golden boy. Damn, we are excited, and we hope you are too! Letsrun.com Thumbs Up for Thanksgiving-time mano-a-mano international NCAA XC drama!
Weekly Update On Anti-Doping Front
Brits May Not Be Ready By 2012
In terms of performance-enhancing drugs, the big news was that Britain's proposed new anti-doping agency may not be operational in time for the 2012 Games due to a lack of funding. Britain's proposed agency is the type of agency that is needed in all countries (including the US). The proposed new agency would be kick ass as it would liaise with police and customs authorities to eradicate drugs. People need to realize that it is law enforcement, not USADA, that busted Marion Jones, Roger Clemens, and BALCO. Unfortunately, people across the globe seemingly don't care about PEDs or don't care enough to spend the serious dough needed to eradicate the problem.
In the grand scheme of things, it's not really that much serious dough. Britain is reportedly going to spend £3.3 billion ($4.93 billion US) to stage the Games and that doesn't even count security and yet they can't currently come up with £32 million (less than 1% of the total Games budget) to make sure that the British team is actually clean, as the new agency would cost £8 million per year to run.
Add in security and cost overruns and we bet the Games will easily cost more than £5 billion. Isn't it worth £32 million to have clean heroes?
Hey Brits, here is some advice for you. In our mind, you should just add the money needed for the doping agency to the security budget. In our minds, nothing is more important than making sure that people don't steal Olympic gold medals with impunity. It's certainly worth 32 million pounds.
Other than the British development of lack thereof, it was more of the same-old, same-old on the drug front, as more Moroccans and Russians tested positive.
*5 Moroccans & 1 More Russian Banned For Drugs
The biggest news on the anti-doping front didn't come from the anti-drug fight. Rather, there was some very, very big news on the gene doping front.
Scariest and most important news of the week: The Age Of Gene Doping In Athletics Is Fast Approaching
Lee Sweeney, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has been getting calls - dozens of calls - from cyclists, track athletes, even high school football coaches, all asking him if there is any way they can get his help. Is he a great coach? A world-renowned spiritual guru? Does he have some amazing herbal supplements? Is he a master of active release therapy?
Nope. Nope, nope, and nope.
Instead, through gene
What does this say about the human race and sports? It says that a lot of people out there are out of whack. So to all those people - the people who understand sports, or business, as only a competition to see who can get to the top no matter how little dignity they have left once they get there - you get a hearty Letsrun.com Thumbs Down. This goes out to all of the wannabe Gene Dopers (we're saying "wannabe" hoping that no one has actually done it yet).
Link to The Telegraph's article on gene doping here.LetsRun.com Race Of The Week: Man Vs. Dominos
Since there wasn't a whole lot of competitive action last week involving the pros last week, we had to find some other competitions to captivate us. And boy did we find one. The LetsRun.com Race of the Week undoubtedly was the match race of Churandy Martina (the guy who crossed the line 2nd in the 2008 Olympic 200m) versus tens of thousands of dominos at Domino Day 2008. Never heard of Domino Day? You probably will in a few years, as it was watched by 85 million last year. This year, they were going for tons of world records including highest domino mountain, the longest domino wall, the smallest domino and the fastest domino toppling.
So how did Martina fare? Well check out the great video. His race appers 3:00 into it: *Olympic
Pro Action Recap
Bekele Is Beaten & Injured
There weren't a lot of pro events last week but there was one huge event involving one of the sport's biggest stars. Double Olympic 5k and 10k champ Kenenisa Bekele, Mr. Unbeatable, was paid a reported 150,000 euros ($189,000 US) to race 15km at the 25th edition of the Fortis Zevenheuvelen loop 15k (Seven Hills Run) in the Netherlands. Besides the big appearance fee, there also was a 100,000 Euro bonus for a world record.
Things went swimmingly for 10km as Bekele was on world record pace (27:56). However, just after 11km, Bekele was injured. He refused to drop out and staggered home in 43:42, meaning he covered his last 5k in a pedestrian (by his standards) 15:46. The race was won by Ethiopia's Ayele Abshiro in 42:17 (Bekele was 3rd).
It's believed by many that Bekele has a stress fracture currently. Going into the race, it was clear that Bekele was injured and suffering some pain. While we haven't seen an English languages story on the race that details what exactly was wrong with Bekele prior to the race, it's clear that if one reads this page translated from Dutch that some people thought Bekele shouldn't run prior to the race. (Here is video (in English) of Bekele's pre-race press conference. A pet peeve of ours is people just throwing up video and assuming someone is going to watch it to find out what the thing is about. We figure very few people watch the things but went through this one to see if Bekele said anything. He said his leg "is not good". And he "is injured around his knee". He said he "is worried about it". (Later he clarifies he meant his ankle, not his knee.) He starts talking about it 5 minutes in)
The women's race produced a near world record as Ethiopia's Mestawet Tufa perfectly exectued a big negative split and just missed Kayoko Fukushi's world record of 46:55 by 2 seconds. Running 5km splits of 15:55, 15:36 (31:31) and 15:26, Tufa absolutely obliterated the field as she won by 3:10. Tufa, who missed much of 2007 with an injury before winning silver at the World Championships earlier this year, clearly has a bright future if she can stay healthy. Her DNF in the Olympics was a big reason why American Shalane Flanagan was able to get a medal.
San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and Half Marathon Is A Big Success
The inaugural edition of the San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Marathon was held on Sunday and it was a huge, huge success. The race appears to be the biggest debut race in road race history as some 25,000 plus packed the streets. The turnout even impressed the veterans of Elite Racing, the company that has now put on 49 different Rock 'n' Roll races.
"Never ever have we had a community respond with this much general excitement and buzz," Tracy Sundlun, vice president of Elite Racing, told San Antonio Express-News. "It's incomparable with any other event we've ever had going into it and immediately afterwards. It is over the top."
We're pleased that the race isn't just going to be a giant fun run as the first year professional fields were petty good. The half marathon was highlighted by American Olympian Brian Sell, who won in a strong 1:02:50.
In the marathon, American Matt Downin was second in 2:15:36 behind Kenya's Kirwa Meschack (2:14:36). In the women's marathon, Texas resident and New Zealand Olympian Liza Hunter-Galvan nearly got the win in front of the home town fans but was 2nd in 2:29:37 to Romania's Nuta Olaru (2:28:54).
*Inaugural San Antonio Race is Big Success *Interesting Article On How A Texas Lawyer Got Liza Hunter-Galvan An Olympic Spot For New Zealand *Adopted Texan Liza Hunter-Galvan Finishes 2nd In Women's Marathon
Other Pro Results That May Interest You:
Article Of The Week: Haverford College Tom Donnelly profiled in the New York Times
Recommended Read: Read the NYT article here
World Famous Letsrun.com Message Board thread here. The article inspired many former Haverford runners to share their stories about "TD" on the boards, and dtbrooklyn wrote: "It's amazing how someone like TD can turn letsrun into a veritable love fest. Even the troll posts here seem half-hearted."
We give a Thumbs Up to Haverford College coach Tom Donnelly and the New York Times editors. The story of Coach Donnelly throwing his Coach Of The Year trophy into the Mississippi River is a classic, especially when Donnelly, an American history buff, says the only thing he regrets about the event is polluting such an historically important waterway. It's encouraging for two reasons to see such an extensive profile of Donnelly in the NYT. #1: a compelling coach of cross-country and track and field in the mainstream news for the right reasons. #2: Coach Donnelly goes about coaching college runners in the right way. His teams do great academically, they run fantastic times and win conference and national titles, and Coach Donnelly always seems to keep things in perspective. Donnelly talks about the "pressure" of racing in the NYT article: "You may be really nervous about this race right now, but this is something we do for fun and it is not pressure. Nobody is shooting at you in battle. History gives us real examples of pressure. Go back to the Great Depression. Pressure is not having a job with five starving kids. This is a race. All you have to do is try your very best. Then you cannot lose." It reminded us of the Monday Night Football broadcast last night where Ron Jaworski quoted former Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy who said something like, "Must win game? The only must win I know of was World War II." College coaching is about teaching athletes all sorts of good things, not about winning coaching awards, and that's why we give a thumbs up to Donnelly.
Speech of the week: Toni Reavis' Speech To Road Race Directors
The title is "Kids and Heroes: A Call To Inspire"
Toni Reavis transcript here.
World Famous Letsrun.com Message Board thread here.
We spent a good hour and a half today re-reading frequent Letsrun.com visitor and contributor Toni Reavis' speech and the corresponding LRC Message Board thread. We give Reavis a warm Letsrun.com Thumbs Up for taking advantage of the occasion to make truly meaningful and inspirational remarks that may really get our whole sport moving forward. Rather than read any more of this section of The Week That Was, we recommend you read Reavis' transcript and the thread, too. On the boards, LRC readers responded to Reavis' remarks in different ways, and Toni himself made several posts to clarify what he was saying in his speech, answer questions, or engage in arguments over different points people were making. Hanson/Brooks leader Kevin Hanson also made an appearances on the thread. It's ironic - as we sometimes lament the relatively small stature of running as a sport in the jumbled mainstream American landscape - that the small, "grassroots" stature of running also permits regular "Joe The Runner" to hop on the message boards and engage in a great discussion about, literally, the future of the sport we are immersed in, and talk about it with the sport's leaders who are out there making the headlines.
For those of you too lazy or too busy to read Toni's speech, we'll attempt to paraphrase it for you with our "LRC 2-minute drill" version. In the 2-minute drill, we take a particularly important or complex topic and try to condense all the details into a 2-minute read. We encourage you to start your watch, much like at the beginning of your daily morning run, to see how much time it actually takes.
Letsrun.com's Toni Reavis Speech "2-Minute Drill"
Ladies and Gentlemen, start your watches!
Elite racing isn't a popular sport for the masses. Sports that aren't on TV aren't popular. Sports that aren't interesting aren't on TV. Running and runners have the potential to be interesting and popular. Sports are only interesting if the masses know the entrants and can root for or against them. The masses can "meet" athletes if they run a well-marketed series of races. Individual races should form series. The same runners should compete the whole series. Having a series director is better than having each race operate independently. Fields should be controlled for marketability. More unity is better than fragmentation. Many factors have contributed to the decline in popularity of racing. Running never evolved from a grassroots sport to unified national sport. Continued in next paragraph ...
Kids look up to heroes. Kids want to try to be champions. Kids want to be on TV and drive fast cars and sign autographs because they're famous. Races are tending to stress participation rather than running fast. Kids don't find participation medals inspiring. They find victory, fame and glory exciting. Kids don't have enough heroes in distance running. Heroes are out there, but they're not on TV and there's no way for kids to get to know them unless they read the Letsrun.com boards (and that is just scary). Continued ...
Races are focused on having 30,000 slow people. Kids don't find 30,000 slow people inspiring; they find champions inspiring. Tons of people run slow for charities. Most charities have nothing to do with running. Races should be about racing and running and training for greatness. "Causes" that relate to racing are the problems of childhood obesity and diabetes, caused partly by lack of fitness. Races should adopt a more unified message such as: "Kids! Run! It will improve your quality of life and you might become a champion!" Then kids will run, lives will be improved, and the whole "running for charity" thing will just plain make sense. Continued ...
C'mon people, let's put our heads together and do something about this. It might mean shaking up the current system, but it needs to be done. I thought distance runners were supposed to be smart. Why hasn't anyone figured this problem out yet? Don't leave me hanging! The end. (stop your watches here)
One of Toni's posts from the boards is here: My goal wasn't to call for a limit to foreign athletes in U.S. road races, rather to encourage race directors, USATF, and other component elements (including agents and athletes) to join together to bring focus back onto compelling competitions so our sport might return to the mainstream of America's sporting landscape. It's a position we once held, and have let slip away. I encourage this as part of a comprehensive plan to address the issue of childhood obesity,and child healthcare, issues which I believe should be the industry's own charitable cause.
Reavis again from the boards, this time talking about his call for "controlled elite fields" on the running circuit, similar to the PGA or WTA or PBA:Again, there may be 1,000 golfers who have the ability to play on the PGA Tour, but there are only 156 golfers who are "eligible" to play in this weekend's Tour event. If you want to play in one PGA Tour event, you have to earn playing privileges and agree to participate in a minimum of 15 Tour events per year. We have to know who is coming for our own benefit.
Sports must control access in order to control the message and manage the competition fairly. If we allow anyone to show up and compete any time they want, A) we lose the ability to create an even playing field, B) we lose the ability to promote and sell interest in the event, and C) we lose the ability to attract athletes who feel they are being put at a competitive disadvantage.
We find this kind of open dialogue about new ideas for the improvement of the sport interesting, refreshing, and inspirational. Keep up the good work, Toni!
Other Interesting Things From Last Week
After We (and IAAF's Lamine Diack, and Paula Radcliffe) Blasted Jacques Rogge's Call For The 2012 Olympic Track Stadium To Be Used For Soccer, Steve Cram Writes A More Balanced, Realistic Piece Showing Merits Of Both Sides
Steve Cram Article here.
University of Delaware Men's Running Program On The Rocks
Will The University Of Delaware Drop Men's Track & XC? This thing leaked before anything is official, so the running community has been able to start pressuring the administrators not to cut the program before it was actually cut. All we can say is it's an embarrasment if they drop it, as the sport costs $88,674, while the athletic operating budget is $24,855,072. The fact that they only spend $88k on XC, indoor and outdoor is also an embarrassment. To get involved, please read the message board on delaware situation here.
Runner's World &