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LetsRun.com: The Week That Was April 13 - April 19, 2009

By: LetsRun.com
April 20, 2009

To read last week's
LRC Week That Was, click Here.
To ready any 2009 LRC Week That Was, click Here.

As everyone got ready for the excitement of Boston, a ton happened in the week of running last week. From Mt. SAC to dopers possibly going to jail to Alan Webb's outdoor debut, we've got you covered as we try to make sense of it all, tell you what it all meant.


Feeling sorry for yourself or down at the start of the week? Well, stop and be inspired about Will Tarantino. The LRC visitor was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. What has he done since then? Only ran a bunch of marathons, including a 2:29:30 and a 2:26.09. He'll be running London this weekend and we wish him the best of luck. Get more info and check out his charity here.



Mt. SAC Related Links
*
Results Here *Entries

Lee Emanuel Sizzles, Juan Barrios Over Fam And Solinsky*5k Video *1,500 Video *Mile Video
*
Videos With Announcing *Videos With No Announcing

*
American Olympian Lindsay Anderson Wins Steeple In World Leading Time At Mt. SAC

Were you one of the guys that thought that Lee Emmanuel's victory in the NCAA indoor mile was a fluke? Think again. He showed this week he is 100% legit as he dominated the 1,500 at Mt. SAC with a new meet record of 3:37.99. 2nd place was 3:41.46. People should have realized he was a stud when he won indoors and ignored the fact that he wasn't a big name as his indoor victory was so dominant. 0.98 up on second place and almost 2 seconds up on third (1.83) thanks to a 54.81 last 400 and 1:22.88 last 600. If German Fernandez does end up running the 1,500 outdoors, Emmanuel is the favorite in our minds as his kick seems to be pretty lethal.

The rest of Mt. SAC featured a lot of interesting action, including Mexico's Juan Barrios outkicking Anthony Famiglietti and Chris Solinsky in 13:16 (video of last 100 here) and Lindsay Anderson running a world-leading 9:46.56 in the steeple. Distance-wise, David Torrence got the biggest applause, winning the Puma mile and a 1-year contract by going 2:05.4 - 1:55.7.


Kansas Relays Related Links
*Alan Webb Wins In 3:58.9 After Being Challenged By Peter Van Der Westhuizen
*
AP: Webb, Who Opened His 2009 Outdoor Season With A 3:58.9 Win, Is Focused On Training Less In 2009
*Jim Ryun's 42-Year-Old 3:54.7 Record Survives
*Pre-Race Article On Webb

Running Fame Comes & Goes Quickly ... Interesting to note how a year ago at this time, Alan Webb was the talk of the track world (despite his bombing at Carlsbad). Ryan Hall was a big deal in the LRC community but not the mainstream media world as only Wejo and Liz Robbins on the NYTimes bothered to interview him in London. This week, Hall is surrounded by every media outlet imaginable in Boston and the LRC messageboard is exploding with Hall-related threads while Webb debuted at the Kansas relays with minor fanfare.

Speaking of Webb's debut, he did win the race in 3:58.90 - defeating former Nebraska runner Peter Van Der Westhuizen (3:59.54) - in the last 75 meters. Not sure really what it all means. A 3:58.9 off of a 3:00 isn't super-impressive, but Webb may have just been playing it safe and going for the win as he's racing Drake next weekend. Clearly, given his 2008 disaster and his 2009 mediocre indoor results, we aren't witnessing the super-confident Alan Webb that we saw in 2007.

It's certainly too early to totally write Webb off, as Van Der Westhuizen isn't a totally slouch (he's run 3:38) and Webb admitted this week that he overtrained last year (as we suspected) and he's clearly trying to take it back a notch this year and play things conservatively. However, it certainly is shocking if one takes a step back and realizes how starkly different things are between now and 2007, when Webb started the year on fire with a 3:51 solo effort at Drake and went on to run the #1 time in the world at the mile and #2 or #3 in the 800. Verizon Fios pointed this out perfectly with a great message board post:

What I find interesting in this whole thing is how low Webb has sunk in a short period of time. Not long ago he was running 3:46 for the mile, winning the occasional European meet and making World teams.

Now it seems like he's lowered his standards to preying on college and B level American runners, and he's not even dominating against them. At least he's trying to get back on track though.

It would be like Ryan Hall running a mid-sized local area race and actually focusing all of his energy on trying to win.


Is Webb cooked or does he have a brilliant conservative strategy? Time will tell, but we think we'll find out real quickly.



Dwain Chambers

Dwain Chambers' Outdoor Debut. Jumping back to Mt. SAC action for a minute, there was some good sprint action, led by Dwain Chambers' outdoor debut. Two great pieces were written on Chambers' run in Mt. SAC, one in the LA Times and one in the San-Diego Union Tribune.

As the Dwain Chambers saga has gotten bigger and bigger each week, we've found ourselves pulling for him more and more and sort of wondered why that was given our famously strong anti-drug stance. Then it hit us when the LA Times Kurt Streeter wrote his piece on Chambers. Unlike Barry Bonds or Marion Jones or Roger Clemens, Dwain Chambers didn't lie once caught. He came clean and it somehow seems that the shock value of the truth is too much for some people to handle and he's being crucified as a result. He didn't opt to continue to lie like Marion Jones and for that he should be commended:

"Ever cheat on your spouse? Ever hide big money from the IRS? Ever arrive at a test with a raft of answers on a piece of paper stuck in your left sock.

Many of us have never done these sorts of things. But, imperfect as we tend to be, some of us have: cheating, lying, obfuscating and, to make matters worse, when the truth comes out, hiding.

To this mix I give you sprinter Dwain Chambers. He's an outlier in the sports world. Maybe, better said, in our world. Chambers, 31, was uncovered as a steroid cheat before the 2004 Olympics. Instead of falling for the temptation of further lies, instead of climbing behind the veil too often used by our fallen athletic stars -- "Uh, yeah, I took steroids, but it was only for part of a season, to help my torn tendon, and I got 'em from my cousin" -- Chambers accepted the full weight of his disgrace.

He blamed himself and coughed up the unvarnished truth. He exposed himself to ridicule and embarrassment, speaking out, trying to educate, and then starting an against-the-odds effort to return to a world-class level in track."

But one thing that troubled us about Chambers' comeback, although we find talk that he'll challenge Usain Bolt to be ludicrous, is how could he be so good? Admittedly, there is a theory that drug use helps one for a lifetime, but that didn't seem to be convincing on our end. Well Chambers' coach, Dave Plummer, may have provided us with the answer with a quote in the San Diego Union Tribune article:

"A lot of people don't remember that he's been world junior record holder (10.06 seconds in the 100 at age 19). He's raw talent. He's not one of those guys where you say, where did he come from? And mentally, he's just from another planet.

“You can't teach that. All the great sportsmen have that mentality of no matter what's going on in their life, when they step on that field or that track or wherever, they can turn it on."


Vienna Marathon: No Experience Necessary - Günther Weidlinger Comes Up Just Short. We certainly are giving a Thumbs Up to the Vienna marathon for a novel idea. No chance that last year's champion would repeat, as the elite field was open only to debut marathoners. Very interesting and it got us to pay attention to the race, which ended up being won by Gilbert Kipruto Kirwa in 2:08:21. Think Kenyans aren't forced to be a bit more ambitious than their Western counterparts? How about Kirwa's post-race comments?

Kirwa said in an IAAF article, "I am very happy with this debut victory and with my time. The spectators helped me a lot. It was a great race in a great city. After this debut I hope to run 2:04 one day."

The most famous debutante in the field, 2000 Olympic and 2001 Worlds steeple champ Reuben Kosgei, dropped out.

Even if the race wasn't only for first-timers, we would have paid attention to Vienna as we have been fascinated by Günther Weidlinger's attempt to become the Austrian national record holder at every event from the 1,500 through the marathon including the steeplechase and half marathon. The Austrian record is 2:12:22 and Weidlinger came up agonizingly short as he struggled in the last 2km and ran 2:12:39 - 17 seconds too slow. Hopefully he gets it in his next attempt.

Austrian Andrea Mayr became the first woman to win since 1987 as she clocked 2:30:43.


Some interesting conference action led by the ACC meet and a tight UCLA-Oregon dual meet.


Andrew Wheating

Trash-talking always raises interest in events and thus we paid attention to the UCLA - Oregon meet this week, as after last year's meet, UCLA coach Art Venegas guaranteed a victory in 2009. Well, Venagas' prediction almost came true as the meet was tied heading into the 4 x 400, which Oregon won. Andrew Wheating and Galen Rupp returned to Hayward field and picked up easy wins in their outdoor debuts (Results here, MB Thread).

We found the ACC meet to be fascinating as it didn't quite go according to form. Heading into the meet, Florida St. coach Bob Braman seemed to think his women were in for a dog-fight while the men would largely coast to victory as Braman said prior to the meet:

"On the men’s side, we have to be careful not to hurt our elite athletes and make them run three or four events. We need to also respect the conference and know Virginia is right there as well as Virginia Tech. A lot of teams can beat us if we don’t outsmart ourselves like last year. We need to understand winning the conference is this week’s mission. Winning nationals is June’s edition. I am going to send that message. We want to keep our streak going. We have four in a row so this would be our fifth. We don’t want to look back and say that one got away from us.”

Well, showing the beauty of conference meets where an easy projected 20 or 30 point victory in the form charts can literally evaporate in an event or two, one almost did get away from the Seminoles, as in the end they won the 4 x 400 to end up tying with UVA for the team title with 141 points. Meanwhile the FSU women ended up defeating V. Tech by 33.

Congrats to the UVA men. In Jason Vigilante's first year at UVA, they ended up getting a share of the first ever conference track crown in program history, as it's clear that UVA really brought their A game. Braman admitted as much as he said, "I can't imagine efforts greater than what were chased down by today."

Now that's an unbelievable stat to us and our Stat of the Week. Someone tell us how in God's name it's possible for a school with UVA's academic reputation and $$$ to have never won a conference title in track before?

Oh yeah. One more thing. Can we give yet another annual Thumbs Down to the ACC for holding their conference meet in April before Penn or Drake? Conference meets are supposed to be championships, not mid-season tests. Clearly the ADs don't give a crap about track and just want to save a ton of dough by not having to keep athletes around after school gets out.

*ACC Meet Results Here


Streak of the Week - 20+ years and counting of sub-2:00 800s. Living in upstate New York, we were well aware of the one of the greatest streaks we'd ever hear of in running. No, not yet another boring neurotic streak of consecutive days run but rather a streak of annual sub-2:00 800 meter runs (without ever running over 2:00). Scott Weeks has done exactly that every year since 1988. Glad to see it show up on the net as if it hadn't we would have actually had write the piece ourselves as it certainly deserve praise.

Weeks clearly loves to run and compete at a fairly high level. We wonder if he can make it 25 years. Scroll Down And Read About Scott Weeks' Sub-2:00 Streak


A very interesting week on the anti-doping front - Bolt smokes up, A USSR legend dies, and an Olympic champ is busted, & Jail time for a race walker?
It wasn't your normal week of yet more drug cheats being nailed for doping. Three big things caught our eye.

1) If you ever wanted to know why Usain Bolt is so popular and why athletes often given bogus answers to reporters, you found it last week given the minor uproar when Usain Bolt, a Jamaican, admitted he had once tried marijuana. Besides the fact that he is unreal fast, Bolt is very popular, as people view him as authentic and genuine. Unlike so many jaded American sports stars, he gives honest answers to questions. Well, given how everyone reacted and how Bolt ended up giving a PR apology later in the week, you can see why so many athletes give boring corporate-friendly responses to media questions.

We loved Brian Moore's column in The Telegraph that said Bolt's apology was unnecessary. Moore summed up our thoughts perfectly when he said, "The 'news' that Usain Bolt recently admitted to knowing as a child how to roll a joint belongs in the same category as the fact that bears defecate in woods."

That line right there is proof yet again that the Brits are way better with the English language than Americans.

*British Column: Bolt's Apology Unnecessary "The 'news' that Usain Bolt recently admitted to knowing as a child how to roll a joint belongs in the same category as the fact that bears defecate in woods."

The week started out with news that Greek prosecutors are trying to send the 2004 Olympic race-walking champion for jail for doping. We certainly think it's fraud and that all intentional drug cheats should go to prison. So score one for the anti-drug movement.

2) There was one big bust on the drug front, as 2004 Olympic cycling champ Tyler Hamilton was busted for a 2nd doping offense and rather than be banned for life, he just retired. While there is no doubt that Hamilton was an out-and-out cheat in his prime who reportedly doped on 114 out of 200 racing days, we are taking back what we wrote about him when we reported his retirement. The headline we used was "Once A Cheat Always A Cheat - Tyler Hamilton Tests Positive For DHEA In Anti-Depression Medication - Career Over Not sure if we're buying the anti-depression excuse." We are feeling a bit guilty as further examination shows that Hamilton was so depressed he knowingly took a banned substance found in anti-depression medication and even told his family he expected to be booted. While we are glad to see a cheat's career come to an end, we are saddened on a human level to see someone struggle so mightily and we hope Mr. Hamilton can find some happiness in the rest of his life.

3) And lastly, we will point out that former 3k world record holder Svetlana Ulmasova died last week at the age of 56. Now, while she was never labeled as a drug cheat, we are certain that her death at the relatively young age of 56 (although given Russian life expectancy is only 62 for men and 72 for women, it's not that young) is causing some ex-dopers some concern as they likely are wondering, "Am I going to pay health costs for my past doping?" We only say that because there clearly was a huge amount of doping going on all across the track and field world in the early 1980s. Click here to see a picture of Ulmasova back in the day and decide for yourself whether you think she was clean or not.

More Doping News *Usain Bolt Apologizes For "Rolling Joint" Comment *In Other Cannabis-Based News: Entire Japanese Track And Field Team Suspended Indefinitely After Pole Vaulter Allegedly Smokes Pot
*
Justin Gatlin Settles Out Of Court With USADA, USOC *Gatlin Message Board Thread
*Proof That Almost Anyone Might Be A Cheat
*
44-Year-Old Italian Roberto Barbi (A former 2:10 Guy) Banned For Life
*
South Africa's 2:06:33 Gert Thys Eligible For Competition After Serving 2-Year Ban


Recommended Reads:
There were a lot of great articles written last week in the world of running. However, our #1 Recommended Read of the Week wasn't written last week but rather in the 1980s. Kenny Moore's timeless treasure Best Efforts is back in print and you can get we highly recommend you get a copy. When this book showed up at LRC corporate headquarters to be reviewed, the response was, ""Holy sh*t! That book is one of the top 2 running books I've ever read."

This week we did the official LRC review is in and it is very positive: "I believe a great work only receives the label 'great' if it has passed the test of time. Best Efforts passes the test because it will refresh the man or woman who was following the runners of the 60s, 70s and 80s."

Looking for something to motivate you this summer as you bang out the miles? I should do the track. As a special to LRC readers, you can buy an autographed copy of the book for only $14.95.
Kenny Moore's Best Efforts Is Back In Print

*Great Dire Tune Article - She's The Reigning Boston Champion And Will Be In The Running In 2009 *Another Must-Read Dire Tune Article Universal Sports This article uncovers a tense drama that took place between Ethiopian teammates before Beijing. Bezunesh Bekele's husband pulled a gun on Deriba Merga, Tune's training partner at the time, all because there was sentiment that Tune didn't deserve her national team spot. Interestingly, Tune, Bekele and Merga will each be competing in Boston on Monday.
*Excellent Brief Chat With Dathan Ritzenhein Read about Ritz, who in the lead-up to London is playing second fiddle to the American he beat in Beijing, Ryan Hall. Ritz, the formerly self-named "fastest 2:11 guy in the world," says he'll be happy with a 2:06 or 2:07 at the stacked FLORA London race.
*Wow, Curb Your Enthusiasm - Great Article On Deriba Merga Imagine going most of the day as a child without food, that would make you hungry to train your way out of poverty.
*1984 Boston Marathon Champion Lorraine Moller On Her Life As A Women's Distance Running Pioneer Moller wrote a book on her ground-breaking career and life outside of running. Definitely you should read this article.
*Meet Duncan Kibet - The Kenyan not only runs fast but he also entertains off the track, like Usain Bolt.



BAA Road Miles: Darren Brown Surprises, Anna Willard Confirms Again She's a Really Good Miler Darren Brown did something very unfamiliar on Sunday - win a race. He got used to being beaten in high school and college, but got a very big win on Sunday. Anna Willard did something she is growing accustomed to - winning. She easily dispatched Olympic 10k bronze medallist Shalane Flanagan on the streets of Boston. Photos, video, and more.



Quote Of The Day: Day-By-Day
Sunday: #1: "How cool is that? People think I can win the Boston Marathon!"
- Kara Goucher trying to stay grounded before Monday's Boston Marathon. If she wins on Monday, a lot of people in the US will feel much better.


Sunday #2:"Ever cheat on your spouse? Ever hide big money from the IRS? Ever arrive at a test with a raft of answers on a piece of paper stuck in your left sock.

Many of us have never done these sorts of things. But, imperfect as we tend to be, some of us have: cheating, lying, obfuscating and, to make matters worse, when the truth comes out, hiding.

To this mix I give you sprinter Dwain Chambers. He's an outlier in the sports world. Maybe, better said, in our world. Chambers, 31, was uncovered as a steroid cheat before the 2004 Olympics. Instead of falling for the temptation of further lies, instead of climbing behind the veil too often used by our fallen athletic stars -- "Uh, yeah, I took steroids, but it was only for part of a season, to help my torn tendon, and I got 'em from my cousin" -- Chambers accepted the full weight of his disgrace.

He blamed himself and coughed up the unvarnished truth. He exposed himself to ridicule and embarrassment, speaking out, trying to educate, and then starting an against-the-odds effort to return to a world-class level in track."

- Kurt Streeter writing in an unbelievably good piece on Dwain Chambers in the LA Times. Chambers ran a leg on the 4 x 100 and got 2nd in the 200 at Mt. SAC.

Saturday: "At the end of the day it's just running, running down a road. I'm not changing the world in any way. I'm not bettering the world."
- Kara Goucher trying to stay grounded before Monday's Boston Marathon. If she wins on Monday, a lot of people in the US will feel much better.

Friday: "Tell him good luck. I'm more than happy to have been a winner. I don't need to be the last American, for damn sure."
- Greg Meyer, the last American to win the Boston marathon, speaking to Dick Patrick about Ryan Hall, America's big hope for a Beantown victory, in a front page sports feature in USA Today.

Thursday: "Training became my hope in a difficult childhood ... I woke up before 6:00 a.m. for training and could not ask someone in the house to make me breakfast because it was too early and I could not wake them up. I would go to training on an empty stomach, then train hard, and go to school for the whole day without eating. I would then go to the farm to tend to the cattle and might not eat until later in the evening. I tried to go to school, but I could not. It became a choice between training and school and I chose training."
- Boston Marathon elite entrant Deriba Merga, 26, on his rough upbringing in a piece from Running Times. Merga, an Ethiopian, loves to race, push the pace, and has often paid the price for it. If he hasn't overraced this year, he could be a contender for the win in Boston.

Wednesday: "I will not let my age be a hindrance. When I decided to run competitively, I took the advice of a friend, who is an international athlete: Train hard, train hard, train hard -- and never, ever give up."
- 32-year-old Kenyan Mark Kiptoo after his win in the Crescent City 10km race last weekend. Kiptoo (who was the Kenyan XC captain in Amman) didn't start running until 28 and didn't win his first race until 30.

Tuesday:
"His looks aside, Kibet's post-race celebration was also unique. He lay spread-eagled on the tarmac in sheer delight, a far cry from the nonchalant warm-down associated with the otherwise colourless Kenyan runners ...The Eldoret-based Kibet could easily pass for a hip-hop artist, a rarity among Kenya's overly reserved athletes, with his flashy dress code and no-holds-barred demeanour making him a sports marketer's dream."
- Excerpt from a Daily Nation profile of running's newest star and a rare Kenyan personality in Duncan Kibet.

Monday: "That (10.00) was real good. That's like a low 9.9 or a high 9.8 (with no wind). So that was a great time. That's what I wanted to do. That's as good as it gets."
-Walter Dix, after opening his 2009 campaign with a 10.00 100 into a slight headwind.

Did you miss a 2009 LRC Week That Was? Click here to catch up on the most pressing topics in track and field in our 2009 LRC Week That Was Archives.


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