Where Your Dreams Become Reality
The Week That Was January 26 - Feb 1, 2009
The last week of January was a big one as action heated up all over the globe. We start our Weekly recap with the granddaddy of them all - the Millrose Games in NYC - before looking at some great US college action. Then we go over the pond, and in between we pause to think about what an awesome year in marathoning it's going to be.
Thumbs Up and Down From The 102nd Millrose Games
Thumbs up to HS Boys Mile winner Robby Andrews. It's pretty obvious that Andrews isn't going to be a guy whose career highlight was to win the HS mile at Millrose. His last lap (145.45 meters) at Millrose was simply sensational. He absolutely destroyed the field with an amazing burst of speed that took him from third at the bell to an easy 2 plus second win. The guy was clearly very confident in his speed as he was content to run way back in 5th place with only a quarter to go. In the post-race interview on ESPN2, when Andrews was asked what he was thinking when the pace was 3:18 at 3/4 mile for the leader, he replied honestly with, "I was licking my chops."
And for good reason. We had his last 145.45 in 18.7, which equates to 25.7 speed for 200 meters on the notoriously-tight Madison Square Garden track.
Of course, one probably didn't need to watch Millrose to realize that Andrews is a bit more special than your average pretty good HS miler. College coaches are known to exaggerate but one told us the other day that Andrews ran a 4:12 mile the first time he ever ran it. And where is Andrews going? To UVA to run for Jason Vigilante. Vin Lananna may forever have the title of Greatest Recruiter in the NCAA but Vig may well deserve the title of Greatest Recruiter under the age of 40.
Don't believe us? Bret Johnson, the 2nd placer at Millrose, who ran 4:09 to win the NJ MOC last year, is also going to UVA.
Thumbs Up to Southern Regional HS coach Brian Zatorski for coaching the adidas Millrose Girls Mile winner for four straight years. Jillian Smith got the win this year for the 2nd straight year and before that, Danielle Tauro, who now runs for Michigan, got the win two years in a row. We don't follow the high school ranks all that closely but that is very, very impressive.
Event 16 Girls 1 Mile Run adidas =============================================================== Name Year Team Finals =============================================================== Finals 1 Jillian Smith Southern Regional 4:51.88 2 Cory McGee Pass Christian 4:54.59 3 Emily Lipari Roslyn 4:57.70 4 Juliet Bottorff Tatnall 5:04.76 5 Emily Menges Garden City 5:04.78 6 Melanie Thompson Voorhees HS 5:06.96 7 Ariann Neutts Roxbury 5:10.38 8 Ann Carey St. John The Bap 5:11.60 -- Grace Rodriguez Hanover DNF
Thumbs Down To NY Times ... And US (NYC Metro) Track Fans ...
We found it a bit embarrassing that the New York Times had virtually nothing on the Millrose Games prior to Friday's meet. Admittedly, the Times track writer Frank Litsky recently had surgery, so maybe it was hard for them to get much on it as it's hard to write about track if you don't really understand it.
They finally wrote something about the meet on Friday and it was an article on the brilliant Steve Hooker of Australia, who more than lived up to the hype by almost setting a world record in the pole vault. But there was nothing on the Wanamaker mile or the rest of the meet and for that we've gotta give the Times a Thumbs Down. (We encourage you to email the Times at
We were going to go totally off on the Times until we got to the meet. Once we were there we changed our tune a bit. Maybe we can't blame them for not writing too much. The one major pro meet of the year in New York and the arena had to be less than 2/3 full. If Northeast track and field fans can't even bother to show up for Millrose, why should the Times spend much effort on it?
The official attendance was 11,543. The average WNBA game supposedly brings in 7,931 per game. Can't track get a sellout once per year?
We're thinking about formally releasing the LetsRun.com Track Fans Code of Conduct and one of the Commandments would be "PAY to attend at least one US pro meet each year."
And while we're at it, how about a Thumbs Down to college track coaches as well. Why more college teams wouldn't be begging to show up and run is beyond us. There were only two teams in the women's 4 x 400. We guess teams would rather run faster on some oversized track in front of 200 people instead of let their kids compete in New York City in front of 11,000+ and possibly a national television audience.
A funny story:
On Friday night, LetsRun.com co-founder Rojo and his Cornell squad were making the short walk from the Official Meet Hotel - the Athenia (from which you can see MSG, as they are across the street) - to get ready to warm up for the college 4 x 800. There seemingly are a thousand entrances to MSG and the Ivy Leaguers were having a hard time finding the athlete/coach entrance. Rojo was getting a little antsy about not being able to get inside but then Rojo saw Kara Goucher and Alberto Salazar a few feet ahead and quickly whispered to his runners, "Follow them. They certainly know where they are going."
A few wrong turns later and Rojo's crew finds out that Goucher and Salazar had apparently walked around the entire MSG building looking for the entrance. Goucher was laughing about it and didn't seemed stressed at all.
Goucher may not have known her way around the outside of MSG, but once inside she certainly knew her away around the track as she looked sensational, making a mockery of the women's mile field by 4+ seconds in 4:33. And to think she's getting ready for the Boston Marathon. What a talent. Keep up the good work, Kara. A big-time Thumbs Up to Kara Goucher.
2009 World Marathon Majors Are Gonna Be Awesome
But before we get to Berlin there will be at least 3 savory road battles over the marathon distance. The other big marathon news this week was the addition of 2008 Boston champions Dire Tune and Robert Cheruiyot to the 2009 John Hancock Boston fields. Normally this would not be huge news, but Boston clearly made an effort to attract the top American talents to their race this year in debut record-setter Kara Goucher and 2:06 man Ryan Hall. We give Boston a Thumbs Up for not doing what we feared they might: water down the field to ensure victories by Americans. The addition of Tune and Cheruiyot doesn't make the Boston fields on par with New York or London, but it means that for an American to win, they'll have to beat not only the defending champions, but two of the world's top 5 marathoners in the process (top 5 in their respective genders, though this, we admit, is debatable). Cheruiyot, in particular, will be incredibly difficult to take down.
Robert Cheruiyot, the 2007 World Marathon Major champion after wins at Boston and Chicago, seems to be full of confidence as he came out this week stating that he plans to take down Geb's marathon record in Berlin at the World Championships this year. The marathon right now almost seems like the mile was back when Roger Bannister broke 4:00 for the first time in human history. After Bannister finally broke 4:00, suddenly runners around the world KNEW that they could do it too. Geb and Wanjiru (and to a lesser extent Martin Lel, Hall, Marilson Gomes Dos Santos, even Paula Radcliffe) have raised the marathon performance bar by leaps and bounds in the past 12 months, with new world records and Wanjiru's other-worldly Beijing marathon performance. And now the major players think that they too can run 2:03s, 2:04s, and 2:05s in almost any conditions; even 2:02 would not surprise Geb or Wanjiru if everything is perfect.
As stated above, the Berlin World Championships marathon is shaping up to be a monster, especially if Cheruiyot believes he can set the world record there without a pacemaker. Throw London into the mix, with Paula & Co. on the women's side and the men's stacked field, including Wanjiru and Lel, and it is very, very difficult not to look at 2009 as the year when marathon performances that previously were few and far between to become startlingly mundane.
Collegians Start To Run Fast
Ulrey Walks Down Rupp
The best performer of the week, though, might be Arkansas' Dorian Ulrey, who last week famously finished second to Fernandez, running 3:57 in the process. This week, Ulrey wasn't playing the supporting role to anyone, not even Oregon Olympian and NCAA XC champion Galen Rupp. Ulrey reportedly grabbed the baton 20 meters behind Rupp for the 1,600m leg of the DMR on Washington's oversized indoor track, only to work his way up to Rupp. Though Rupp, a 4:00 miler, ran a commendable 3:57 split, he couldn't hold off Ulrey, who split 3:54 (wow) en route to a 9:28 school-record performance by the Arkansas Razorbacks (who ran without their best 800 man, Andy McClary, who had an injury). It's almost a fairy-tale week for Ulrey, whose 3:57 the week before was only good enough for 2nd place to a freshman and only 9th all-time on the Arkansas indoor list. Can you imagine? And to top it off, Ulrey came back the next day to run 7:50 for 3000m.
Arkansas reportedly had a rough trip up to Washington with delayed flights, then had to shuffle their line-up at the last minute, and they still managed to defeat an Oregon DMR with two US Olympians on it (1:44 800m guy Andrew Wheating
"I beat him a few times in training but he would never admit that. That's something I've got up my sleeve. I know him. But then again, that was a few years ago and he's gone way up the ladder and I've got a lot of catching up to do. But I'm patient about it and I know that every man has his day."
Runner-Up Meet Promoter Of The Week: Texas A&M
Then this week, they had the SEC vs. Big 12 Challenge. A scored meet by conference featuring good teams from two conferences. A great idea. And what happened? More than 4,000 peole showed up to watch over two days as the Big 12 won both the men's and women's meets. Impressive. The Ivy League and Big East had a simlar meet a few years earlier but for some reason it was cancelled. More dual meets between traditional rivals and more scored meets. Very simple.
Alan Webb Sighting
In his preparations for his first competitive race of the season, Webb ran a 4:04/1:52 double as a workout last week. You can watch the race video yourself to see how he looked or hear from Webb after the "workout."
Message Board: ALAN WEBB races @ George Mason Indoor Meet
Newsworthy European Action: Shaheen Is Back, Borzakovskiy Runs 2:17 & Loses, Twell Loses And Farah Gets The British 3k Record
There wasn't much professional road running action last week but there was some great action overseas on the track and on the cross-country course. In terms of a long-term perspective, the biggest news of the week probably came from Italy where the world record in the steeplechase Saif Saaeed Shaheen earned a comfortable victory over 8-time European champ Sergey Lebid in cross-country.
After the race, Shaheen was very upbeat. It seems that his injury problems are a thing of the past as he told the IAAF, "I have great respect for Lebid who won eight European titles. Now I feel that I can run at the same level as before the injury or even faster. I will run at the World Cross Country Championships in Amman. If I finish in the top ten, it will be fine."
We'll certainly find out how fit he is in a few weeks at World XC.
In the women's race in Italy, Britain's teen prodigy Stephanie Twell was upset by Hungary's Aniko Kalovics in a thrilling race. Kalovics hammered hard from the gun as she didn't want it to turn into a kick with Twell and Twell was forced to play catchup. Catch up she did and she looked like a certain winner with 800 meters to go before Kalovics found a second wind and hammered home for a 4-second win in the see-saw affair.
Keitany Wins In Zurich
On the track, in Russia, 2004 Olympic 800 meter champ Yuriy Borzakovskiy shattered the Russian national record in the 1000 meter run by more than 4 seconds by running 2:17.10 - and he LOST. Yes that's right. You shatter your country's natioanl record and run 2:17 and get beat. Haron Keitany of Kenya ran 2:16.76 for the win.
"Who the hell is Keitany?" you ask. Just another obscure Kenyan who has never competed in a world or Olympic championship but is fast as hell. Except Keitany is no longer obscure. Keitany is a great story. The 25-year-old entered last year with modest PRs of 1:50 and 3:37. He had a great year last year, however, as along the way he won the African champs, was runner-up in the Dream mile and won the Wetlklasse 1,500 in 3:32.06 before winning again in the World Athletics Final. Shockingly, despite the fact that he didn't race in the Olympics (as he was only 4th at the Kenyan Trials), he earned Track & Field News #1 World Ranking for the Year. In the midst of that, he did lose a lot of races but still managed a better seasonal record than any of the other contenders for the top ranking.
Amazingly, his 800 PR is still officially 1:50.46. He certainly had to split faster than that in Russia.
The other meet in Europe that we wanted to talk about from last week was the Aviva 5-Nations Cup, where the Commonwealth team got the victory over the US, Great Britain, Germany and Sweden. The highlight of the meet came from Britian's Mo Farah, who has certainly put his Olympic disappointments behind him (Farah failed to make the 5k final). Fresh off a training stint in Kenya, Farah ran a huge PB of 7:40.99 to set a new British 3k record.
Very well done, Mo.
Bored At Work? Hopefully Not as Bored As This Guy Working At Comcast In Tucson
Well non-sports fans might say "sex" and apparently aren't the only ones thinking that, as for some still unexplained reason, Comcast cable subscribers in Tucson, AZ had their channels switched to a porno with, like, real nudity with 2:30 left in the game!
We're not making this up. Click here to read about the mix-up. Click here to be taken to a site that has a video of the mixup - warning: the video has frontal nudity.
Following one recommended read based on statistics comes another with tables and charts analyzing distance runners. We of all people know that comparing splits between runners in different races is akin to the apples and oranges line, but Brett Larner
of japanrunningnews.com makes a very interesting comparison. Larner puts the 5k splits of Paula Radcliffe and Kara Goucher in New York side-by-side with the splits of Japanese women marathoners Yoko Shibui and Yukiko Akaba from Osaka. Shibui won the Osaka Women's International Marathon last week in a slightly faster time than Radcliffe and with a similarly impressive negative-split effort. Shibui closed incredibly fast and was jumping, laughing and filled with energy as she crossed
the line, returning to the form that
made her the world's fastest debut marathoner back in 2001. Akaba ran her debut marathon in a slightly faster time than Kara Goucher. The Japanese, who used to be a dominant force in marathoning, have been less effective in recent years but perhaps they will be a force again this year and in 2012.
Poignant Brief Chat With 44-Year-Old Super Mom Colleen De Reuck She was amazingly 3rd behind Kelly Jaske in Houston. For someone who no longer considers herself elite, De Reuck can still perform with the best.
Looking Ahead: Reebok Boston & US XC