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LetsRun.com On Kara, Lisbon And The Oregonian
By: Weldon Johnson, LetsRun.com
Especially after both Vin Lananna and Alberto Salazar took me aside at NCAAs to express their belief that we are unfair in our coverage of Galen Rupp (and perhaps presumably Salazar's other athletes), I definitely need to comment on this.
A message board thread - Oregon paper calls out Letsrun over "wheels fell off" comment - points to this Oregonian article, "Goucher's 'wheels' just fine, thank you" that takes issue with our reporting of Kara Goucher's run at the Lisbon half marathon.
We were the only publication giving the race a lot of attention and noting that when Alberto Salazar was predicting that Goucher would run under 66 minutes, he basically was saying she would be threatening the world record (world best).
So what happened? Goucher went out and ran a very respectable 68:30 but well off the predicted sub-66 clocking. We (well at least LetsRun.com Employee #1, US steeplechaser Emory Mort) watched the race live on the internet and reported on it. This paragraph seems to be drawing the most attention:
The wheels came off, so to speak, for Goucher in the final kilometers (we think her last 1,000m may have been 4:10). In fact, though it appeared she had the race easily won from the early stages, Goucher was fortunate to win the race as Kenyan Alice Timilili came into the picture just in the final moments. Had the race been just another 400m, Goucher may have finished lower down in the standings.
A few things to note and that we need to correct. First, the splits on the broadcast were wrong and Goucher's last k was not 4:10. Alice Timilili was not going to catch Goucher in the next 400m as a result (Goucher wasn't going as slow as reported and Timilili was farther back (30 seconds) than she appeared). Our report was based on the information given to us (the television broadcast and the splits on the screen). So the wheels did not fall off as much as we thought they did and we need to correct the record.
Nonetheless, Goucher did appear to be struggling at the end and her split on the race website from 20k to the finish (we're assuming the mats were in the wrong place but it is okay to compare runners' times between mats and the finish) was the only one in the race where the other ladies in the race gained on her. Goucher was running 1.7 seconds a kilometer faster than them, yet the last 1k this became a 4 second defict. It is fair to say Goucher struggled at the end. Various reports have Goucher close to 48:15 when she went under the 15k banner (we're assuming the big banners on the course were more likely to be accurate). That is 1:07:51 pace, yet she finished at 1:08:30.
In hindsight, we're not sure when the Oregonian reported that "None of that (our paragraph above), apparently, is true" that we would use the same words. We do however feel the need to correct some of their reporting. When they say, "Goucher widened her lead over Timilili over the final stages of the race. And she finished strongly." That is false. The race splits show Timilili gained on Goucher the last k of the race. Goucher was also visibly struggling at the end.
Also the Oregonian reported, "Again, Goucher picked up the pace. Her wheels certainly did not fall off." That to us also seems to be false. The definition of "wheels falling off" is a subjective one, but picking up the pace is objective. All indicators point to Goucher slowing at the end of the race.