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
29 seconds and the fastest time ever run on Japanese soil by 23 seconds.
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
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.
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.
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 KenyanHellen Cheronoin 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.
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 Londonwanted everyone to know for sure that they have the #1 marathon in the world.
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 everyday 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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 Wanjiru, Martin 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.
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.