Where Your Dreams Become Reality
LetsRun.com's 2009 USATF Coverage: A Preview Of The Men's 10,000 Final
This 10k is going to be a real treat for the distance-oriented fans in Eugene. It is loaded with talent and features an Oregon Duck, Galen Rupp, as the favorite. Rupp will be wearing his Oregon jersey for the very last time and that will mean he will be the darling of the crowd as the crowd loves the Ducks (way more than they love the imported OTC guys).
Consider that only 43 Americans in history have broken 28:00-flat in history and this race features 10 guys who have done it. And it's not like it's full of guys that ran 27-something 4 or 5 years ago and aren't in good form. Eight of the 10 have gone sub-28:00 since the start of 2008. The two that haven't done it that recently are two of the bigger names in the field in Dathan Ritzenhein and Meb Keflezighi. It's also worth noting that there were three others in Adam Goucher, Fasil Bizuneh and Anthony "Fam" Famiglietti, who have also gone under 28:00 but elected not to run in Eugene.
We know the pace will be hot from the gun as, despite the fact that the race has so many sub-28 guys, only four of the guys have hit the new cruelly-lowered IAAF Standard of 27:47.00. We say "cruelly-lowered standard" because Scott Bauhs ran 27:48.06 last year which was under the Olympic A standard of 27:50.
The Four A Standard Guys
Assuming the weather holds up (projections of 13 mph winds make us a little bit scared), we certainly expect this race to be a sub-27:47 race and we think those four, along with Bauhs, Ritzenhein and Keflezighi, are more than capable of running that type of time in Eugene.
To be honest, based on their history and recent peformances, we'd be surprised if the other three guys in the race who have gone sub-28:00 - Ed Moran (27:52), Josh Rohatinsky (27:54) and James Carney (27:58) - go sub-27:47 in Eugene, but there is a reason why the race is held, so they can't be totally discounted.
Everyone else in the field we are 100% discounting for a top 3 finish.
Rupp Or Abdi?
We felt that when Rupp ran in the 27:30s in the less-than-ideal conditions of Beijing, that he was in near-American record (27:13.98) shape last year. Considering he just finished one of the greatest collegiate seasons and history and seems to be at a much higher level in 2009 than in 2008, it's hard to think Rupp won't get some sweet revenge on Abidrahman. If there was a professional rabbit and ideal conditions, we'd probably predict an American record for the 23-year-old.
So if Rupp might be in American record shape, it's hard to see him losing, particularly when one considers the biggest development for Rupp this year has been that he has developed a lethal kick. The guy that used to never be able to win a race has won nearly everything in 2009 thanks to a new lethal kick. Rupp closed the PAC-10 10k in 54 looking over his shoulder and the PAC-10 1,500 in 52.2 or 52.3. At NCAAs, he went 2:25 his last 1k of the 5k and he wasn't even going all-out in the last straight.
Abdirahman hasn't had a particularly impressive 2009, as he's only run one race - a disappointing 29:02 10k in Central Park on May 16. However, in a recent interview with Running Times, Abdi seemed very positive about how his training has been going. He said, "My fitness is great. It's better than it's ever been. I'm doing long runs better than ever and training is going well."
But talking big and running big aren't necessarily one in the same (we've rarely seen a runner discount his chances before a big race), so it would be a leap of faith to think Abdi is going to win this race, as he likely needs to be in best shape of his life to beat Rupp and his results in 2009 don't indicate that is the case. However, if you are looking for a reason to bet against Rupp, then you probably are aware of the fact that Rupp hasn't had to run fast in a distance race all spring.
We imagine Rupp's fit as hell, as the end of his races have been incredible. However, there is a difference between kicking off a slow pace and a fast pace. Moreover, Rupp has been racing a ton for a long time as he was the star of the NCAA indoor meet back in March. Rupp has said that 2009 is the "year of Oregon" so if you are an Abdi fan, we guess you can try telling yourself that Rupp's not really fit as it's hard to maintain your fitness when you are racing so much over such a long period of time.
Go ahead and lie to yourself if you want, but we think Rupp is going to put the crowd into a frenzy with a devastating kick that simply destroys everyone else in the field.
If it ends up that Abdi isn't really fit but has just been talking big, then the guy we think that is most likely to challenge Rupp is the OTC's Tim Nelson. The former Wisconsin Badger is, like Rupp, having a dream-like 2009. Second at the US 15k, 2nd at US XC, any heart-ache he had about narrowily missing his first national titles probably instantly vanished when he ran 27+ second PR at Stanford on May 2nd and won in 27:36.99.
A Look At Time - Nelson & Others
Meb Keflezighi and Dathan Ritzenhein both come into the 10k after running PRs in April's London Marathon. Keflezighi, the American record holder at 10k, should never be discounted if he's in good form and so far in 2009 he's been in great form, as he set a PR in the Houston half (61:25) before beating Nelson to win US XC, before PRing again in London, albeit in the somewhat disappointing time of 2:09:21.
The 26-year-old Ritzenhein has been running fairly well - just a step or two behind Meb all year. He ran 61:35 at Houston before running 2:10:00 in London. Ritz did run a 5k a few weeks ago. Some might think his 5k of 13:34 on June 11th in Toronto was less than stellar, but we think it's pretty encouraging. It was his first race back and he did run 27:38 way back in 2004 when his 5k PR was only 13:27.77.
But considering that both Meb and Ritz are coming into this race with limited preparation, it's hard to see them beating Rupp, as they'd still be the underdogs even if this was their sole focus for 2009. Moreover, Meb is 34 and he set his AR 8 years ago.
What About Jorge?
Jorge wrote, "I ran the 10k a few weeks ago here in Eugene. I wasn't planning on running the whole 10k because I was only here to help pace through 6 or 7k. When I looked back at 6k, I realized that Ed was on his own so I made the decision to help pace him through the entire 10k. So for me to run 28:16 was a just a good workout for me."
"Tomorrow I'm looking to make another USA team. Stick my nose in the race to make the team and maybe even surprise some people by winning another 10k title."
LRC Predictions: 1) Rupp wins - we're very confident in that 2) Abdi? 3) Nelson. We quite honestly have no idea where to pick Abdi.
Men's 1,500 1st Round
The men's 1,500 features 51 people. Now, don't misunderstand our criticisms. We actually think that's about the right number of people to have in the meet - but only if there are three rounds. We'd go for 4 heats of 12 with 3 rounds. You eliminate half the people in the first round and half in the semis. 48 to 24 to 12. Very simple and clean.
Instead, we have a joke of a race. 4 heats and only the top 2 automatically advance. Does USATF understand that the 1,500 is normally a very tactical race? Apparently not, as in the women's 1,500, they are having 6 time qualifiers.
Heat 3 is by far the most interesting. If everyone who is entered shows up, you've got the following people in this heat. 2009 NCAA 800 champ Andrew Wheating, 2009 NCAA 1,500 champ German Fernandez, 3:37er Will Leer (who was 4th at the Trials last year), and 3:36 guys Andy McClary and Steve Sherer - although truth be told we'd bet a ton of money that neither McClary or Sherer are in 3:36 form right now. Plus a 3:56 miler in David Torrence. And oh yeah, one more guy - American mile record holder Alan Webb.
This is actually a great heat, though, for Webb to be in, as we doubt he's very confident in his kick. Everyone should just assume German will take this heat out if he ends up running it and Webb might advance on time. Predictions for the heat if everyone shows up: 1) Fernandez 2) Wheating 3) Leer 4) Webb. However, we'd be totally shocked if Wheating actually toed the starting line. We imagine he'll scratch unless he falls or something in the 800 prelim, which is first, as he's double-entered in the 800 and 1,500.
As for Fernandez, who is double-entered in the 1,500 and 5k, he'd probably be more competitive at the senior level right now at 1,500 and might even make top 3. But he's had a long season and if he gets top 3, there would be a lot of pressure for him to extend his season. We imagine he'll probably end up in the 5k as the AJR is an enticing goal.
Men's 800 1st Round
Like the 1,500, heat 3 is the most interesting as it has Olympians and NCAA champs Andrew Wheating and Jonathan Johnson in it, as well as former NCAA runners-up in Kevin Hicks and Tevan Everett, plus LRC hero Golden Coachman. The class of these fields are the young guys - Wheating and Everett. In our minds, they are two of the top 3 in the US right now. We think Everett is that good and know that Wheating is.
One other thing to note is a disappointing one. 2008 NCAA outdoor champ and 2009 NCAA indoor champ Jacob Hernandez apparently isn't recovered from his injury that kept him out of NCAAs and isn't entered. Hopefully that injury didn't cost him a ton of money but we imagine it did.
Men's Steeplechase 1st Round