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The Week That Was Feb. 23-March 1, 2009
March 3, 2009
*Last week's week in review can be found here.
By LetsRun.com

Thoughts About USA Indoors

  • It was great to see Khadevis Robinson get the win in the men's 800. After a heartbreaking 4th place finish at the Olympic Trials last summer, he did what most 30+ 800 meter runners would do - think about quitting. He's back and back in good form. Seems to have learned how to finally race from mid-pack. Could a smarter, more tactic-savvy, 32-year-old Robinson be the best Robinson ever? We'll find out this summer.
  • Sad to see that a 4:03 mile got you in the men's 1,500. How in god's name can that make the field? A 4:03 might not even make the fast heat of some of the collegiate last chance meets and yet it makes USA indoors? And then USATF tells the athletes to act more professional. It's hard to act more professional if you aren't being paid a professional salary at the national championship.
  • Speaking of the men's 1,500, there is lots to talk about in the race where Rob Myers got the win in a tightly-fought battle with Alan Webb. If you are a Webb fan, the race certainly is probably giving you a glimmer of hope that he can turn things around outdoors this summer, as Webb did look much better than he did at the Tyson Invite. At both USAs and Tyson, the early pace was slow, but this time Webb closed a lot better. A few weeks ago, we tried to answer the question "Where is Alan Webb's speed?" by telling you it was there but he wasn't quite fit enough to come out. This race supports that view. At Tyson, Webb was a well-beaten 4th in 4:05.60 for the mile. He hit 1,200 at 3:07ish and closed in 56.96 with his last 200 being his fastest in only 28.22. At USAs, Webb hit 1,200 in a similar 3:04.7 and closed in 55.4 with his last 200 being the fastest 27.1-27.2. Webb's close was clearly much better.

    How does it compare to someone who is really firing on all cylinders like
    Nick Willis? Well, at Tyson, Willis destroyed the field thanks to a 54.44 final 400 and 26.63 final 200 to win in 4:02.70. So Webb's got some work to do, but this race will probably have him being a bit more optimistic than after Tyson. Clearly heading into USAs, Webb's confidence wasn't that great. When Webb was asked by the Boston Globe after the race what was he thinking entering the homestretch of 1,500, the American record holder in the mile responded, "At least I'm still in the race."

    While Webb certainly improved, the one who improved the most was Rob Myers. A guy like Myers, unlike Webb, can operate under the radar. At Reebok Boston, when Webb ran 3:57.64, Myers embarrassed himself with a 4:04.64. He clearly turned it around and should be congratulated for getting the win.

    But for everyone who heads in the right direction, the law of averages seem to indicate there has to be someone who heads in the wrong direction. What happened to Chris Lukezic? At Reebok, he ran 3:56.04 to crush Webb and Myers but was way back at USAs - 6th in 3:47.51.
  • Amy Yoder Begley got a much deserved first US title in the women's 3k. With 800 to go, Begley, who sports a 1,500 PB of 4:16, had both Sara Hall (4:08 1,500 PB) and Lindsey Gallo (4:05 1,500 PB) right on her. Neophytes would probably think she had no chance. Even at 200 out, Hall was still right there on her shoulder. Who got the win? Begley. She just kept grinding it out. We'll take the most fit athlete over speed nine times out of 10.
  • Sara Hall certainly deserves praise for two gutsy races. Her kick for the win in the 3k came up short and she settled for 2nd as did her battle for the win in the women's 1,500, where she ended up 3rd. In the 1,500, Anna Willard looked fantastic as she destroyed both Hall and Shayne Culpepper thanks to a 61-second last 400.
  • It was good to see Katie Waits (formerly10-time NCAA All-American Katie Erdman) get the win in the women's 800 in impressive fashion after having a disappointing 2008. She was the only one in the field that seemed interested in trying to run a halfway decent time as she led wire-to-wire to win in 2:03. Treniere Clement, who like Waits had a very disappointing 2008, did finish second, but her 2:04.32 certainly didn't impress us unfortunately. Indoors this year, her seasonal bests are 2:04.32, 4:40.91 and 9:31.65 - not too good for someone whose PBs are 1:59.15, 4:29.92 and 9:11.41.

Thoughts On Collegiate Conference Action
It's amazing just how competitive some of the major conferences are. Take the Big 12, where the Colorado men went from winning the outdoor meet last spring to DFL indoors. Unbelievable. They went from scoring 138 points outdoors to just 16 indoors. Admittedly, Colorado had only 54 points and was only 7th indoors last year but that's a huge dropoff. But in the Big 12 and SEC, it's really, really hard to score big points. Teams with 4-5 senior studs will often load up and really go for it only to fall off the map the next year. In the Big 10s, a similar thing happened with Purdue. They went from 2nd indoors last year with 102 points to DFL with 41 points. A few studs could easily be the difference of 50 to 60 points in a power conference as it's very hard to score.

But the stories from the weekend in the conference action were the collegiate records set in the mile by Colorado's Jenny Barringer and Oklahoma State's German Fernandez.

  • Barringer ran 4:25.91 to win the Big 12s and smash Vicky Huber's 21-year-old collegiate record of 4:28.31. Very, very impressive. Add that to her collegiate record 5k (15:01) from a few weeks ago and you can tell the Olympian is on a roll. (People even emailed us to say we were sexist for not hyping her performance even more.) To us the most amazing stat was that this was only Barringer's 2nd Big 12 title. Proves our point just how competitive some of the major conferences are. An Olympian and she's only won two Big 12 titles. How can that be? Because up until Saturday, she had never beaten Texas Tech's Sally Kipyego

    The scary thing is Kipyego may have actually had a better weekend than Barringer. She did lose to Barringer for the first time but she also broke the old collegiate record in the process. Plus she had a lot on her plate as her team was going for it. The night before she had run anchored Tech to the win in DMR final in an NCAA provisional 11:13.77. And after the mile, she went out and won the 3k in a meet record and NCAA auto 9:09.83. Very impressive stuff. Thanks to Kipyego, Tech finished 2nd.

    And before you become outraged and start posting on the message board about how colleges abuse their athletes, please realize that we received an email exchange this week from an NCAA qualifier who had gotten a congratulatory email from the studly school record holder at his institution from 20 years ago in his event after he tore it up at conference. The alum was a big-time stud back in the day and he concluded his email by saying, "Don't forget to enjoy it because it is very different once you get out of school."

    That, folks, is the LetsRun.com Unsolicited Free Advice For The Week: College Athletes - Enjoy It. When you are in school and you run 3:55 in the mile, people go crazy. When you are out of school and run 3:55, no one cares. Running for a team in college is fun. Enjoy it.
  • Speaking of the 3:55 mile ... we almost forgot to talk about German. Well, we didn't almost forget, but we've put it off too long. The wonder kid ran a ridiculous non-rabbitted 3:55.02 solo effort in a race when second place was 10.53 seconds behind. All we can say is, "That's ridiculous." Lost in the shuffle was the fact that Fernandez then came back 2.5 hours later and ran a 7:57.71 to win the 3k. Fernandez is clearly a special, special talent. We were so amazed by his 3:55.02 that we put it up at the top of the web site for two days.

    That being said, we are now going to try to bring some rational thought to the mania and bring our boy down a little bit. We think some people are naturally a lot better at time trialing and running their own race without rabbits than others. Just as running in hot weather is in our minds sometimes a totally separate skill/sport from running in ideal weather, the same can be true about one's ability to run fast without rabbits. Some people who are very good runners couldn't run fast at all without pacemaking help, whereas there are others who can run nearly as fast without rabbits as they could with rabbits.

    From what we've seen, we'd certainly put Fernandez in the second category. At Pre-NCAAs in cross-country, he ran a very good time all alone and then when he got into actual NCAAs, he was basically doing the same thing - running his own race as if the competition wasn't even there. That being said, we'd love to see what Fernandez could do in a rabbitted race with lots of competition.

    And the more we think about, Fernandez's double shouldn't totally shock us. This is the same guy that ran a totally solo 4:00.29 1,600 last year before coming back and setting a national record 8:34.23 for 3,200.

  • It must be noted that Chris Bucknam and the Arkansas Razorbacks won arguably the best conference meet in the country - the SEC. Bucknam has the unenviable task of trying to succeed the most successful college track coach in history, John McDonnell, and he got a lot of criticism in the fall when his Hogs failed to keep alive McDonnell's 34-year streak of conference XC titles. He certainly should get credit, then, if the Hogs win.

    And not only did they win, the Hogs won in a fashion that would make the distance coach McDonnell proud - by winning the 800, mile, (1-2 finish), 3k (1-2 finish), and DMR and finishing a close 2nd in the 5k. It was almost a distance sweep for Arkansas. So a Thumbs Up to Mr. Bucknam.

    In our minds, the real evaluation of his record should come in 3-4 years when it's his recruits and his prize transfer Dorian Ulrey is gone. Success at the college level is very much about recruiting.

Does Australia Have Their Own Answer To German Fernandez?
Half a world away from the Big 12 champs, Australia's Ryan Gregson ran an 3:37.24 Australian junior record for 1,500 at the Sydney Track Classic. 3:37.24 equates to a mid-3:54 for the mile, so let the debate begin ... Who is better: Gregson or Fernandez? (On the boards, the debate rages: Fernandez couldn't hold a torch to Ryan Gregson).We think Fernandez is better, but arguing the point is useless as they will square off at this month's World XC Junior race. It should be interesting to say the least.

The meet in Sydney was a pretty high-quality affair, but what most interested us was the B heat of the 400, where former 100-meter world record holder Asafa Powell ran a huge PB of 45.94 - knocking some 1.23 of his previous best of 47.17. Powell clearly is in good shape and enjoying life as the underdog. There were several good articles written about Powell last week (please see our Recommend Reads section below for all of them) and in one Powell says, "It's a lot easier now being in second place. It gives you something to work for."

Sydney Track Classic *Results *Recap: Steve Hooker vaulted 5.95 and Asafa Powell in the "B" heat 400 ran a huge PR of 45.94.

Quote Of The Week #1

"Yeah, I really have surprised myself. I thought I was going to come in [to college] and kind of go backwards."
- Georgia freshman Torrin Lawrence - the revelation of the 2009 indoor season - talking in an Atlanta Journal Constitution article on him. The guy has run 20.77 and 46.18 this year and split a ridiculous 45.1.

Quote Of The Week #2
"I have a thing going into every race where I think I'm going to lose. It makes me run faster. I don't like to lose."

-Torrin Lawrence. If you're running that fast, you aren't gonna lose very often.

Thoughts On World's Best 10k

MEN (gun times) -
1. Sammy Kitawara, 21, KEN 27:26 CR* $20,000 + 10,000i
2. Silas Kipruto, 25, KEN 27:45 12,000 + 10,000i
3. Wilson Kiprotich, 27, KEN 27:45 8,000 + 10,000i
4. Sammy Kosgei, 35, KEN 27:49 PB 6,000 + 10,000i
5. Moses Kipsiro, 23, UGA 28:01 4,000
6. Kiplimo Kimutai, 27, KEN 28:04 3,000
7. William Chebon Chebor, 28, KEN 28:06 2,500
8. Regassa Tilahun, 19, ETH 28:25 2,000
9. Peter Kamais, 32, KEN 28:28 1,500
10. John Korir, 33, KEN 28:35 1,000
11. Boaz Cheboiywo, 31, KEN 28:37
12. Linus Maiyo, 26, KEN 28:42
13. Ridouane Harroufi, 27, MAR 28:47
14. Julius Kipyego Keter, 20, KEN 28:48
15. Benjamin Limo, 34, KEN 28:53
16. Yegezu Zembaba, 27, ETH 29:01
17. Ben Kimwole Kimutai, 31, KEN 29:02
18. Gilbert Okari, 30, KEN 29:11
19. Abebe Dinkesa, 24, ETH 29:25
20. Edward Muge, 25, KEN 29:28
21. Sahle Warga, 25, ETH 29:31
22. Robert Letting, 22, KEN 29:38
23. Tadesse Tola, 21, ETH 30:01
24. Abraham Rotich, 21, KEN 30:06
25. Luis Collazo, 35, PUR 30:06 1,200^
26. Tsega Demessew, 20, ETH 30:18
27. Juan Luis Barrios, 25, MEX 30:29
28. Ed Moran, 27, USA 30:30
29. Luis Rivera, 35, PUR 30:37 850^
30. Phillip Koech, 22, KEN 30:40

1. Vivian Cheruiyot, 25, KEN 31:12 PB $20,000
2. Lornah Kiplagat, 35, NED 31:45 12,000
3. Dire Tune, 23, ETH 31:55 8,000
4. Shalane Flanagan, 27, USA 32:25 DB 6,000
5. Jane Kiptoo, 26, KEN 32:30 4,000
6. Ashu Kasim, 24, ETH 32:41 3,000
7. Belaynesh Fekadu, 21, ETH 33:05 2,500
8. Irene Limika, 29, KEN 33:20 2,000
9. Rehima Kedir, 23, ETH 33:52 1,500
10. Teyba Erkesso, 26, ETH 34:28 1,000
11. Colleen De
Reuck, 44, USA 34:49
12. Zenaida Maldonado Torres, 30, PUR35:09 1,200^ + 5,000ii
13. Carmen Valles Rodriguez, 32, PUR 35:29 850^
14. Megan Armstrong, 23, USA 35:46
15. Maria del Pilar Diaz Padro, PUR 35:54 625^
16. Zivile Balciunaite, 29, LTU 37:36
Intermediate Times for Top Finishers (3 km and 8 km):
1. Cheruiyot, 9:16, 24:50
2. Kiplagat, 9:16, 25:13
3. Tune, 9:17, 25:21
4. Flanagan, 9:20, 25:50
5. Kiptoo, 9:16, 25:45

One of the richest road 10ks in the world was last week in Puerto Rico - the World's Best 10k. The revelation of the meet was Kenya's Sammy Kitwara, who smashed the course record by 17 seconds with his 27:26 clocking. And to think this guy was left off the Kenyan world cross-country team as he was just 7th in their Trials last weekend. The American record for 10k is 27:13 in perfect conditions on a track. This guy runs 27:26 on the road in conditions that were windy enough that wind was cited as the reason why more guys didn't break 28:00-flat by race director Rafael Acosta: "It was windy today. Otherwise, we could have seen more men breaking that mark."

Kenya should probably rethink things and put that guy on the team.

In the women's race, Vivian Cheruyiot, fresh off her national record 8:30 3,000m run in England, destroyed a very quality field by running 31:12. Lornah Kiplagat was 2nd but 33 seconds back. If the Kenyan federation wants to have a chance to compete with the Ethiopians on the women's side, they should strong-arm Cheruyiot into doing world cross-country. Clearly she is very, very fit. How fit?

Well, American 10k bronze medallist Shalane Flanagan was also in the race. Fresh off her American 5k indoor record, she finished 4th in 32:25. It's hard to imagine her being 73 seconds arrears of Cheruyiot. Good thing it wasn't on a track or Cheruyiot might have lapped the Olympic bronze medallist.

Going into the race, much was made about Linet Chepkurui being granted permission to leave the Kenyan team's XC camp to go to San Juan to compete, and yet we haven't found her in the results. Cheruyiot has to be the best Kenyan woman currently.

But the World's Best 10k may be a misnomer. Race Results Weekly David Monti wrote an interesting piece last week that pointed out that 8 guys broke 28:00 in the 10km at the RAK Half marathon in February. Eight is double the amount of sub-28 clockings in any other road 10km run in 2008. The World's Best 10k might very well be the first 10km of the RAK Half. Unbelievable. To be fair, we imagine it was it a lot hotter in Puerto Rico. Also, it came out that the 20km split was 73 yards short at the RAK half so maybe the 10km split was off although the race is claiming it was accurate.

World's Best 10k: Vivian Cheruiyot Crushes Lornah Kiplagat And Shalane Flanagan, Sammy Kitwara Smashes Course Record

Paul Tergat Is Back
Paul Tergat is one of the bona fide legends in the sport. From his duels with Haile Gebrselassie in the Olympics to his world record in the marathon to his 5 World Cross titles, is he one of the best of all time. However, nearing the age of 40 (he turns 40 this summer) one has to start wondering if Tergat's best days are behind him.
Tergat likely will never run a world record again, but he resurrected his career on Sunday at the Lake Biwa Marathon in Japan.

From the comments in this message board thread with the blow-by-blow account of the race, you can tell many wondered if Tergat was done. When the leaders surged and Tergat didn't immediately go with them some assumed he was toast. However, the veteran showed why he is one of the top marathoners in the world as he bided his time and then struck for the victory in 2:10:22.

Tergat thought he won the race when he crossed the finish line, as shown in the photo, but he actually had another lap to run. Fortunately, he had a little left and still got the win.

*Photo Gallery
*Lake Biwa Video Highlights
*Message Board Thread Blow By Blow

1st Of Ryan Hall's Two Pre-Boston Races Takes Place

American marathon hope Ryan Hall had the first of his two pre-Boston marathon races last week. His 43:26 15km was a personal best but nothing extraordinary for someone of Hall's accomplishments (and over a minute behind Todd Williams' 42:22 AR). Hall's coach, Terrence Mahon, summed things up perfectly when he said, "It ended up being a grind it out day." The race served its purpose as Mahon said he now knows Hall will need a few more speedy workouts until he runs a half marathon in two weeks.

To see Hall's take on the race, click to the right. Mahon's take can be found on the left.

If you are dreaming of an American male winning in Boston, don't fret. Hall's chances did get a big-time boost. We didn't mention it earlier, but one of his chief rivals, Deriba Merga, dropped out of the World's Best 10km. Merga ran a 2:07 in Houston in January, took at shot at the world record in the half at the RAK Half and then dropped out of the World's Best. Two marathons in four months is a lot, add in a half and a 10k and you are likely to be fried.

Ryan Hall 43:26 at Publix Gasparilla A decent run for Ryan as he prepares for the Boston Marathon. It was well off Todd Williams' American record of 42:22 and even off Keith Brantley's course record of 42:50. *Message board thread with post from guy who rode next to Hall on a bike
Educate yourself:
*A lengthy interview from Todd Willliams in 2003 after his retirement In the 1990s, American longer distance running was the Bob (Kennedy) and Todd show.

Other News: Godina Retires, Ismail & Defar Run Fast
3-time world champion in the shot put and class act
John Godina retired this week. We were particularly pleased that he mentioned his role in cleaning up the sport in his retirement announcement, "From the day-to-day challenges of training to the intensity of competition, I will miss the rigors of being an athlete. But I am retiring with pride and a true sense of satisfaction with what I've accomplished. I'm happy to have played a large role in the drug-free revolution in my events, and I look forward to continuing a heavy involvement in the sport."

Godina may be retiring from competition, but the good news is he isn't leaving the sport. He's volunteering for USADA and he's also involved with the John Godina's World Throws Center and John Godina's Center for Track and Field.

It would be a shame if we didn't give props to
Meseret Defar for running a world record of 9:06.26 for 2 miles (the IAAF doesn't recognize the 2 mile as a record distance) and Ismail Ismail for running the 4th-fastest indoor 800 ever at 1:44.76 at the Meeting of World Record Holders in Czechoslovakia. Abreham Cherkos ran a world leading 13:07 as well.
*Meseret Defar runs 9:06.26 as Ismail Ismail ran the 4th fastest 800 ever (1:44.76)!

Recommended Reads From Last Week
*Letter To Doug Logan From Kyle King
*Deena Kastor Offers More Thoughts On Professionalism And Project 30 Report
*Anonymous 2007 World Champion Writes Letter To The USATF
*Edwin Moses: "Why Baseball Is in Denial There's too much money in the game for a more aggressive approach on steroids."
*Revisiting Kenyan Violence 1 Year Later "I killed six Kikuyu."
Profiles: *Great Shannon Rowbury Profile
Great Article On Kara Goucher
*Profile On Amazing Asafa Powell We agree with Powell: "It's a lot easier now being in second place. It gives you something to work for. I'm working hard to get myself back on top. I'm working on everything. I've been working with a psychologist and others, just so I'm ready to win when the times comes."
*Asafa Powell Leaving No Stone Unturned In Quest To Perform Big On Biggest Stage

Running-Related Website Of The Week
Admittedly we are biased, but we thought Brett Hoover did an amazing job creating a whole website for a single conference meet as he created a site for the Ivy Championships - aka The Heps. We think all conference meets should have their own dedicated website. Our running-related website of the week is certainly - Hepstrack.com.
SIDs: This Is The Proper Way To Promote A Conference Track Championships

Weekly Drug Update
Decades Too Late: Putin Urges Crackdown On Cheating By Russian Athletes
*Great Comparison Of NBA Drug Testing To WADA Standards NBA testing = complete joke. WADA testing = borderline draconian.
*Expert: Using "Biological Passport" Seems To Be Effective Deterrent To Dopers In Cycling
*Good News: WADA Says They Are Close To Instituting Bio Passports Across More Sports
*USADA Will Help Fund Further Study Of Urine Test For HGH $65,000 for a 6-month test.
Jamaica Being Heavily Targeted In Out-Of-Competition Testing

Photos Of The Week: New: *Photo Gallery from Kenya XC

Quote Of The Week #3
"I went to Rome as an unknown - I myself was hoping for an outside chance to make the final - and then as we progressed through the heats, we found I was running better than expected. The excitement mounted, and in the actual final itself, during the race I found the pace was a bit hard in the middle stages. And then suddenly with 100 yards to go I found myself thinking well, I can get third, then I could get second, then I could win! And it just came up to a tremendous crescendo."

- Peter Snell from a great documentary from the '60s, commenting on the greatest moment of his career: winning the 800m gold in the 1960 Rome Olympic Games. Some of the footage is breathtaking. Since Arthur Lydiard is
LRC Coaching Guru John Kellogg's greatest coaching influence, we felt we should give Lydiard's greatest pupil the quote of the day. JK thinks they had 4 rounds of the 800 back then, with 2 on the first day

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