Where Your Dreams Become Reality
The Week That Was Feb. 9-15, 2009
There was a lot of action both on and off the track this week. So much so that there is even a 2nd page of The Week That Was this week. Be sure to read it as it has a great tabloid photo of Usain Bolt. Let's break it down right away. Domestically, the action was dominated by the Tyson Invite in Arkansas as well as another super-fast meet at the oversized track in Washington. Where to begin?
Race Of The Week: Tyson 5k
But to us, the race was riveting because there was intrigue. If you didn't watch the race, you missed half the story. The pacesetter only went maybe a mile. After that, Ethiopians Marcos Geneti and Bekana Daba alternated sharing the lead, with Daba doing most of the work.At 3,600, Daba, who'd had the lead since the 3,200 meter point, got tired of leading and motioned with his right hand for the person behind him (in our mind he might have thought Geneti was still there but in reality Rupp was behind) to take the lead. Rupp simply ignored the request. Just over a lap later at the 3,850 mark, Daba went a step farther. Daba moved out to lane two to demand that Rupp share the burden.
Rupp, in a move that would make most coaches happy but Steve Prefontaine squirm in his grave, simply slammed on the brakes and refused to lead as the lead group of 4 almost bunched into each other. Daba gave up and ended up leading once again. At 4k, Daba did it again; he motioned to Rupp or Geneti to take the lead but they refused. With 500 to go, Daba finally saw his desire to have Rupp in the lead realized as Daba once again went to lane 2 and Rupp had no option but to take the lead if he wanted to get the American record.
As they approached the bell, the race really got going as Sam Chelanga made his bid for glory and the lead at the same moment that Daba did. At the bell, the three were basically three wide and only separated by .22. In the end, thanks to a scintillating 27.11 final lap, Daba got a much-deserved victory, but Rupp really made him work for it as he showed a great kick thanks to a 27.27 final lap.
Rupp doesn't have elite speed at 800 or the mile, but he's so strong that he's getting fast enough to kick at 5k and 10k.
Where's Alan Webb's Speed?
Webb ran the final 400 in 56.96, with his last 200 being the fastest at 28.22. Certainly not impressive, but the fact of the matter was he was also well beaten the week before. What did him in in Boston and Arkansas wasn't a lack of speed but rather a lack of fitness.
Don't believe us? Well, 800 US Olympian Christian Smith, who ran a very strong 2:21.90 in the 1k the week before in Boston, was also in the mile in Arkansas. He has plenty of speed. How much speed did he have at the end of the mile? Not much. His fastest lap was a 28.91 and his last 400 was 58.45.
To watch Webb's race on television and say he's lost his speed shows a lack of true understanding of the sport. Willis is simply in way better shape than Webb and everyone else in the field at this point and it showed big time over the last 400.
Speaking of the mile, can we give a Thumbs Down to the entire field for being scared to death of Nick Willis? Willis said he felt flat so he didn't go with the rabbit. The rest of the field simply bowed down to Willis and refused to pass him. Willis covered the first 409 in 65.56 and - guess what - he was in the lead! Unbelievable.
We actually enjoyed the race as we get so tired of seeing rabbitted affairs.
And one more comment about the mile: While Webb continued to struggle, Bernard Lagat continued to shine:
Stat Of The Week (Does .29 Mean Anything To You?)
Last year, they raced twice indoors and Robinson won both by a total of .25 for two races. He won by .01 at Reebok (1:46.95 to 1:46.96) and by .24 at USAs (1:50.92 to 1:51.16). Now Symmonds returns the favor by .04. So in their last 3 indoor races, they've been separated by a total of .29. Unbelievable. So on average, they are less than a tenth of a second away from each other.
Project 30 Task Force Report Released
To us, huge changes aren't needed as nothing had changed systemically between 2007 and 2008. Sports are full of randomness (if you want to read a great article that explains randomness in sports, read this excellent NYTimes piece on the NBA). Thankfully, a few days after the report came out, some big names in the track world, from Alberto Salazar to Vin Lananna, have come out and basically supported our point that yes, some changes are needed, but Team USA and The Trials are working pretty damn well.
Exactly - no one was going to beat Bolt. Yet the way you hear van Commenee and Logan talk about it, thanks to them there won't be any medals left for Jamaica to win as the UK and USA will be winning so many more. Van Commenee is actually a big-time coach so we can see him helping them win a lot more than Logan.
Logan may be a bit off in his assessment of Team USA's performance in Beijing, but we are very, very encouraged by his stance on drugs. Check out what he said about San Diego State hiring former drug cheat Larry Wade as a track coach:
We couldn't have said it better ourselves. Using drugs in sports isn't some minor offense; it is complete fraud and people need to realize it and we're very glad that Logan understands this because much of the mainstream media doesn't get it. Lots of writers have been comparing Michael Phelps' use of marijuana and Alex Rodriguez's use of steroids when in our minds the two aren't remotely comparable.
Using marijuana? Totally stupid for someone with millions in endorsements, but it's something that 47% of Americans have done. Bad judgment? Yes. But not a big deal. Using PEDs is a form of fraud and way, way worse. But don't tell that to this writer who thinks what Phelps did is way worse than Rodriguez.
Not sure if we ever linked to this: Trackshark 9 Part Video Interview With Doug Logan
Collegians Continue To Run Fast, Fast, Fast (On Oversized Tracks)
But evidently so are most college coaches, as the results across the country were simply staggering. All told in meets in Boston, New York and Washington, some 23 guys broke 8:00 in the 3,000. Earlier we reported that 20 guys did it, but we were wrong as we forgot to look at the "slow" heat in Washington, where 3 guys broke 8:00 and the winning time was an NCAA automatic 7:53.64 by Stanford's Elliott Heath! 7:53 in the non-elite heat. Are you serious?
Admittedly, not all of the guys breaking 8:00 were collegians; by our count "only" 15 were.
On the women's side, the performance of the week came from Jenny Barringer, who ran a ridiculous 15:01 collegiate record. Well, we're not sure if it's a collegiate record as it was done on an oversized track. It's certainly not eligible for an IAAF record, so we don't think it really should count as a collegiate record either but the NCAA doesn't seem to care. A collegiate best? Yes. But indoor track should be run on a 200 meter track.
Quite honestly, we're not sure what to think of the fact that performance after performance is being done on oversized tracks. LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson will be the first to put his team on a plane to a last chance meet at an oversized track, but that doesn't mean we think it's the way the sport should be run, as it muddles the picture for record-keeping purposes and for obtaining qualifying marks for championship meets. We're not sure really. What do you think?
We do know that track was way more popular when guys raced without rabbits and on small tracks. In case you didn't bother to watch it above, scroll down here to see the American record 5k from MSG in 1982.
Oh yeah, German Fernandez, a freshman, ran 7:47 for 3k and we almost didn't mention it. Fernandez is good - really, really good. Watch it below.
"It's official to make NCAAs, you have to run in Washington."
We feel bad for nearly forgetting about you, German: