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LetsRun.com The Week That Was
December 1 - November 7

by: LetsRun.com
December 8, 2008

The LRC Week That Was is back. This week we cover everything from 21-year-old marathon phenoms to 15-year-old HS phenoms. We also cover some great highs and one terribly saddening low.

Yet Another 21-Year-Old Marathon Phenom? Tsegaye Kebede Shines In Fukuoka
On the marathoning front, nothing has been bigger in 2008 than the arrival as one of the all-time greats in Sammy Wanjiru, who at the age of 21 shattered the Olympic record in one of the greatest races ever run.

On the professional front, the biggest race of the week was the Fukuoka marathon which was won by 21-year-old Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede (after a huge negative split) in 2:06:10. After running the first 30km with the rabbits and other top mainly Japanese runners, Kebede destroyed the field. His second half was run in a remarkable 1:02:08 as he blitzed the 5k from 30 km to 35 km in 14:17 and ran his last 15 km in 43:55. Kebede's 2:06:10 winning time was a personal best by 30 seconds, a course record by 29 seconds and the fastest time ever run on Japanese soil by 23 seconds.

Tripping Kebede Couldn't Stop Him From Winning
Fukuoka photo gallery here

With the win, in case anyone was doubting his credentials, Kebede has officially marked himself as one of the big stars of the marathoning world. In 2008, the 21-year-old won Paris in 2:06:40, got 3rd in the Olympics and then set a Japanese soil-record at Fukuoka. Hard to believe that Kebede has only had the 2nd best 2008 marathon season for a 21-year-old as Sammy Wanjiru, who is now 22, was only 21 when he ran his remarkable 2:06:32 in Beijing. Speaking of Wanjiru, it was his year-old course record of 2:06:39 that Kebede broke on Sunday. Kebede also closed harder than Wanjiru, as his final 2.195 km was run in 6:25 - 9 seconds faster than Wanjiru.

All we can say is - we can't wait for 2009 London as Kebede and Wanjiru are going to clash there yet again.

In ranking the top marathoners in the world in 2008, it's clear that it starts and stops with Wanjiru up top (Gebrselassie did run two sub 2:05s and a 2:03:59 but is #2 in our book), but Kebede might get in there at #3. It's remarkable to think that two of the top marathoners in the world both did all of their damage this year at the ripe old age of 21. And yet there are so many coaches who still say people need to wait before moving up to the marathon. All we can say is - you are a bunch of idiots. People have been great at the marathon at a young age for a long time. Remember Alberto Salazar?  He was only 22 when he won his first New York.

The success of Wanjiru and Kebede at such a young age also make us understand how hard it is going to be for someone like American phenom Ryan Hall to ever win an Olympic medal. Hall is unbelievable and can certainly run with the best in the world when he's on his game but he's four-plus years older than Kebede.

More: *Fukuoka Video Highlights (click on the lower blue bar on the right with the Windows Media Player icon) *Fukuoka On The Boards *Japan Running News Fukuoka Recap *Kebede Wins Fukuoka In Japan All-Comers Record 2:06:10!!

Kerryn McCann Loses Her Fight With Cancer
While a new marathon star was arriving on the scene in Fukuoka, there was a very sad departure down under in Australia as two-time Commonwealth Games marathon champion Kerryn McCann lost her courageous battle with cancer at the young age of 41. McCann is survived by her husband Greg as well as three children all 11 or younger. Very sad indeed.

McCann was a very popular athlete in Australia as she successfully defended her Commonwealth title in 2006 as she edged Kenyan Hellen Cherono in a great race where the lead changed six times in the final 2km before McCann, cheered on by the home crowd in Melbourne, found a way to win in the last 200 meters on the track. Sport truly doesn't get any better than that. Most Americans likely never saw the race at all so we urge you to watch the video on the right. It's truly the highest of highs.

And now the lowest of the lows. It's truly hard to believe that someone at the top of their physical abilities less than three years ago can be gone so quickly.

More: *Kerryn McCann Loses Battle With Cancer *Australia Grieves The Loss Of One Of Their Most Beloved Athletes *Nic Bideau Writes About Kerryn McCann's Death *LRC Message Board Thread: RIP Kerryn McCann  *Sprint Champ Raelene Boyle Talks About McCann's Death *TV News Account Of McCann's Death

London Does It Again - Deep London Women's Field Announced
Paula hopes to challenge her world record. She will be pushed by Dita, Mikitenko, Wami, Adere, Ndereba, Zhou Chunxiu.

Last week the women's field for the 2009 Flora London Marathon was announced. And it's simply remarkably good yet again. Given the fact that New York has been upping it's game a great deal in recent years, it's almost as if London
wanted everyone to know for sure that they have the #1 marathon in the world.

The women's field in 2009 in London is insane. Leading the way is 3-time London champ and world record-holder Paula Radcliffe. She'll be challenged by 5 of the top 6 from the Olympics plus 2008 London champion Irina Mikitenko as well as the Olympic champ Constantina Tomescu Dita. Paula may not have won Olympic Gold but the London organizers are giving her the next best thing - a quick opportunity for revenge over all of her major rivals.
More: *Paula, 3 For 3 In London, Including 2:15 WR, Will Have Hands Full This Time *London Being Billed As Paula Vs. Dita We doubt Dita will do much. *Incredible Women's Field Announced For London 2009 (IAAF) *Radcliffe Will Go For 4th London Victory In 2009

Weekly Doping Update
There were two big developments on the drug front last week and neither of them received much notice in the US. One is that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is now requiring athletes to give them a 60-minute window every day where they can be found and given an out-of-competition drug test. We think this is a good development as drugs need to be taken out of sports period.

However, we do ask people to ponder the outrage that would occur in the media and popular press if the rich millionaires of the NBA or NFL were requried to do the same thing. It would be labeled a huge "invasion of privacy" for the club-hopping stars to tell people where they'd be each day. Yet many runners who often struggle by on less than $25,000 a year take it without even the slightest protest.

The other story that was of note on the anti-drug front was that it came out of the BALCO scandal that Sugar Shane Mosley used EPO and steroids in the leadup to his defeat of Oscar De La Hoya in boxing.

And yet again the media and public have dropped the ball. There hasn't been an uproar or a demand that the victory be forfeited. Mosley should be stripped of the victory and the public, media, boxing officials, etc. should be outraged. Instead everyone ignores the situation, and as a result, people will continue to cheat. The only people that the press and public vilify for using PEDs seem to be Olympic track and field athletes and the even more vulnerable cyclists. If athletes in the more popular sports like baseball or football do it - hell, even boxing - everyone seems to barely raise an eyebrow.

Lots of Administrative News
Britian Cuts Track Funding As US Raises Track Funding And Gets A New USATF President

The big news overseas this week was that the British decided to be cutthroat and cut funding to sports that weren't producing big medal counts. Much ado was made about the fact that track received a cut. In reality, the slash was very modest from £26.5m to £25.1 million. A small cut isn't particularly a big deal to us since later in the week British athletics signed a TV deal with the BBC. However, it is significant to us that track is now a lower priority than cycling. Athletics/track & field should in our minds be the pre-eminent sport for every country's Olympic committees.

While that was going on, most people failed to realize that athletes in Australia get less than half the money doled out in Britian.

Meanwhile, the USOC announced that US sports would received a 12% increase in spending - no word yet on how that would effect USATF.

Speaking of USATF, there was a lot of news this week as a new president was elected at he USATF convention. And the winner is ... Stephanie Hightower? What does that mean? We have no idea as we haven't paid too much attention to USATF of late but we do take the fact the head of the New York Road Runners, Mary Wittenberg, endorsed her as being a huge positive. She hopefully can't be that bad if Mary supports her.

USATF also finally did some long-overdo restructuring and reduced the size of their board from 31 to 15 as the USOC mandated. Maybe if USATF gets to be more functional, we'll start to pay attention to them.

International Olympic Finances:
British: *
Crew & Swimming Now More Important Than Athletics In Britain *Athletics, Flagship Event Of 2012 Games, Given Slight Funding Cut *Despite Funding Cut, UK Athletics Chief Niels de Vos Is Bullish About 2012 *Athletics To Grin & Bear £1.4m Funding Cut *It Could Be Worse: Volleyball, Fencing, Handball, Table Tennis, Water Polo, Weightlifting And Wrestling Get Nothing
*UK Athletics Signs Extended Deal With BBC To Televise Track Meets
Recommended Read: Lottery Money Doesn't Make Or Spoil Champions Recommended Read: Sports Are Uplfiting & Worth Paying For A great read. Read this and you'll never feel guilt for being a sports fan and not, say, an art guy/girl.
Australia: We Can't Compete As Half-Priced Heroes British Olympians get more than 571 mil compared to 213 in Australia.
US: *USOC To Increase Spending On Athletes By 12%

Stephanie Hightower Elected USATF President *USATF Enacts Restructuring Details of the restructuring can be found in this press release here from USATF, which says the board had been cut from a ridiculous 31 to 15.
Bill Roe Opens USATF Annual Meeting
LRC: USATF "Run Amuck" And The USATF Presidential Election
 The Finalsprint.com has done a 7-part series on the dysfunction in USATF. LetsRun.com's Wejo finally took a read of it and gives his snyopsis, thoughts, and criticism of the piece and a few thoughts on USATF.

Usain Bolt Says "I Can Run Sub-19" and We Say Dream Higher
LetsRun.com Concludes Paula Radcliffe Has Run The Equivalent of 18.69
Last week it also came out that sprint king Usain Bolt and his coach are thinking a sub-19 200 meteres is possible. All we can say is "shame on you for not dreaming big." An 18.99 may impress mere mortals and it would have impressed us until a Stanford biologist published a paper this week saying a human is capable of an 18.63 200 meters. The same paper says that a woman is capable of 2:14.97 (sic) for the marathon, which we assume means 2:14:58. If that's the case, then Paula Radcliffe's world record of 2:15:25 is very close as it's just .333% too slow. If a human truly is capable of 18.63, then Bolt should aim way faster than 18.99. Our rough calculations show that Paula has run the equivalent of a 18.69 according to the Stanford biologist. So Usain, all we can say is, dream bigger!!!
*Coming Soon: 18.99! Usain Bolt Is Dreaming Big  *Stanford Biologist Publishes Paper Saying World Records Have Limits And They Are ...

Achilles Injury Updates
The big news in the track and field world last week from a global perspective was that 2004 Olympic 110m hurdle champ Liu Xiang had successful Achilles tendon surgery in Houston. Billions of Chinese love the guy so it is big news. But in LetsRun.com world, Oklahoma State freshman German Fernandez is a bigger deal. His Achilles tendon injury is supposedly a lot less of a deal than people had feared. Supposedly, he'll be out just two to four weeks.

All we can say is, we hope German is only out that short time but we doubt it. Achilles tendon problems are hard to get rid of and since Fernandez struggled with Achilles problems last year in high school, we're wondering if the injury is chronic. If so, surgery is the solution. If you need the name of a good Achilles surgeon (Amol Saxena), give us a call as LetsRun.com co-founder Rojo is finally going to bite the bullet and finally have the Achilles surgery he almost had 6 years ago. Hell, the recovery time with the surgery can be as little as three weeks. Might as well just have the surgery as a precaution.
*German Fernandez Only Out 2-4 Weeks *MBoard Thread on Fernandez's Injury

2007 World Champion Luke Kibet Gets Back To His Winning Ways At Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon
Luke Kibet
got the win in a course record in Singapore on Sunday. The win in Singapore further proved one point: Kibet loves running marathons in the heat. Well, we don't know if he loves it, but he certainly is good at it as does come through for the win often enough. Of course, he clearly was the class of the field as World champions don't normally run Singapore.

But we really are mentioning Kibet's win just as an excuse to talk about Kibet's life. Kibet has one of those amazing stories that it seems like so many Kenyan runners have. As a 13-year-old living with his grandmother, he became interested in running as he'd look out the window before school and see the likes of Paul Tergat, Moses Tanui and Joshua Chelanga running regularly past the front door of the house. Watching the 1996 Olympics on TV, he decided to become a runner.

"It was about seven in the morning, before I went to school. And seeing the 1996 Olympics on television. I watched (Joseph) Keter and (Moses) Kiptanui winning. I was sweating just watching it, and my grandmother said, why donít you try it? And she bought me some shoes and a tracksuit, and I started running when I got back from school, about 7 o'clock every night. Thirty minutes at first, the longest would be an hour."

From such modest beginnings, Kibet progressed mightily in his training and won the World Championships last year. The highest of the high. And then, just in this year alone, Kibet went through some ridiculous battles. He almost died from stoning during the murderous riots in Kenya. Kibet survived the stoning attack but his best friend Lukas Sang, who was like an older brother/father to Kibet, wasn't so fortunate. Sang was slain by the same mob that attacked Kibet. Kibet and Sang were as close as two people can be as Kibet isn't even called Luke in Kenya - rather he he's called "son of Lukas."

Kibet missed some weeks of training to get healed up and get over the loss of his friend. He got back running well, but despite his gold medal marathon performance at the hot and humid 2007 Worlds in Osaka (imagine an American World champion in the marathon not making the Olympic team the next year!), Kibet was left off of the Kenyan Olympic squad in favor of Sammy WanjiruMartin Lel and Robert Cheruyiot.

Or so he thought. The day before the plane left for Beijing, Kibet was added to the roster for the Olympics as Cheruyiot was too injured to compete. Unprepared, Kibet hurriedly got a Visa and made it to Beijing but dropped out of the marathon. Now, with the Singapore win under his belt, Kibet is back and ready to have a smoother 2009, with the focus on Worlds in Berlin. He just adds to the list of ridiculously fast Kenyan marathoners, a list that seems to grow every year. But he's more than just your mundane Kenyan. This is a guy who has shown he can win in the heat, win in championship races, and win after overcoming extreme adversity.

You can read Kibet's whole amazing story here: Recommended Read From IAAF Here On Kibet

One More Recommended Read
Truly Interesting: British Marathoner Mara Yamauchi Considering Switching To XC Skiing 
She just got sixth at the Olympics at age 35 but that may not be enough for her.
"I have this dream of becoming a cross-country skier because it is an endurance sport. Starting out as a 35-year-old, I do not know if it will go anywhere."

Nike Team Cross Nationals
Since LetsRun.com is devoted to primarily covering the elite level of distance running, with a focus on the action in America, you think we'd have a lot written about the Nike Cross Nationals that were held this weekend in Portland, Oregon. Well we didn't. We're not sure what we think of the whole NTN - we mean NXN. This year the Nike Team Natioanls switched its name to the Nike Cross Nationals and added in a ton of individual qualifiers (44 in addition to the 22 teams) - putting it in direct competition with the single greatest high school championship in any sport at the high school level - the Footlocker Cross-Country Nationals, which celebrates is 30th anniversary next week. While other high school sports have had their mythical #1 rankings in newspapers, cross-country has always enjoyed the great simplicity of having the best individuals toe the line to decide it on the course at Footlockers.

Nike is trying to change that. It seems as if most of the top individuals still are going to Footlocker but by no means is it an exclusive majority as shown by this messed up chart. Many of the top boys in the West Coast went to Nike as Nike gave them bids straight from the state meet and thus they didn't even have to qualify. Why risk qualifying for Footlocker when you have a guarantee at Nike? Particularly when it was either/or as the Footlocker West regional was last weekend as well.

The beauty of running is its simplicity. First one across the line wins. Well now, running is screwing things up and quickly turning into the joke that is college football as soon it could be viewed as there are two national champions each year. We've never seen the point of having a high school national team champion as it's not done in any other sport, the whole thing seems set up to avoid state federation rules (the teams run under fake names), and at the high school level most of the top individuals are not on top teams (thus we've never covered NXN much). But Nike treats the teams royally, they get a ton of free gear (if you don't think that sways a high schooler, you're nuts), and Nike has the resources not to back down. Unless, the federations step in and completely ban "club" participation at NXN (which they would definitely do if the sport were, say, basketball), the picture will probably get even murkier.

For the record, the boys race at Nike was won by Texan Reed Connor individually and North Spokane on the team front.

The winner of Nike race on the girl's side was Chelsey Sveinsson, who attends Greenhill in the Dallas, TX area. She competes in the same conference - SPC - that LetsRun.com co-founders Robert and Weldon Johnson competed in. Rojo met her at Penn Relays last year and was very impressed. And no, we don't mean just by her times. Everyone is impressed by a frosh who runs 2:08 and 4:43. He was impressed by her cheerful attitude. She's only a sophomore, so let's hope she keeps on running well.

In the girls team battle, Fayetteville-Manlius three-peated. Unbelievable. Bill Aris is a sick, sick coach, that's all we can say.

More: *Jordan Hasay Wins 4th Consecutive Foot Locker West Regional
*NXNs: Spokane (Men's) And Manlius (Women's)
*FM Girls Win Third NXN Title In A Row
*Boys NXN Photos *NXN Girls Photos

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