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The Week That Was May 4 - May 10, 2009

May 11, 2009

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

We start off our recap with some sentimental stuff before analyzing the super GP in Doha and the Oregon 4 x Mile attempt. Along the way, we ponder whether Eliud Kipchoge is the most underrated runner in history and we also definitely answer who is the greatest 4 x Mile team in history - 2009 Oregon or 2005 Michigan?

Mother Of The Week Award (& Maybe Mankind Isn't Doomed After All)
We have long been critics of the "everyone is a winner" mindset that is pervading American society exemplified by how in some kids' races everyone is given bib #1. Thankfully, it seems as if not everyone is buying into the mindset.

A great story emerged out of Pittsburgh last week, where the marathon returned after a long hiatus. In the race, 22-year-old Jess Tambellini was on his way to a 3:40 time as he passed the 26 mile mark. Then he ran into some trouble. As Tambellini recounted to the Pittsburgh paper, "I just passed the 26-mile mark and then I went down. I don't remember falling down, I was delirious. But I remember the medical staff wheeling me past the finish line, I was so embarrassed I came that close."

Imagine that. Someone embarrassed that they collapsed at the end of a marathon. Well, it's clear this guy had some unreal parenting as Jess was taken to the UPMC Mercy hospital where he got treatment for low blood sugar and dehydration. Tambellini's parents and two older sisters were all running the race as well. When they finished, they were told Jess was in the hospital. Did Jess's mom go there freak out, and baby him? Nope, she pressured her son to get back out on the course (his chips were still on his shoe) and finish the race.

That's exactly what happened. He drove back out to the course and finished in 6:22:28 - and he still beat 8 men in the process.

Tambellini and his mom deserve major props. Tambellini summed it up perfectly, "When you start something, you might as well finish it."

Or Maybe Not ...

News from Korea last week did dampen our hope that maybe old-school values were on the comeback. Clearly there is a reason why people are overly cautious and babied - because if someone is told to do something difficult and it doesn't work out, watch out as a lawsuit might be coming ... even in Korea.

Yes, that's right. We thought America was the only place where trial lawyers dominated until we read that a professor and university in Korea were going to pay out roughly $40k to the family of a woman who sued after their daughter died running a half marathon. Apparently the professor offered extra credit to any woman running a 10k and any man running a half marathon. The woman attempted the half herself, tragically died and now someone has to pay.

Whatever happened to the concept of there just being really unfortunate accidents where no one is to blame? Life is a 4-letter word, after all.

Korea May Be Going Down The Tubes But At Least Japan Is Still Old School
Thankfully, the concept that life is full of unfortunate accidents (where no one deserves to be sued) apparently is still alive and well in Japan, as exemplified by an interesting article we read last week on the comeback of Japanese-based Kenyan, Mekubo Mogusu. The 22-year-old Mogusu is best known for running 3 sub-1 hour half marathons back in 2007. Recently he'd been out of training, suffering physically and emotionally from a car wreck back in Kenya that left his coach, Sho Kimura, in a coma. Given the fact that Mogusu was the driver of the car, it was natural that he was be feeling a sense of "survivor's guilt."

However, we loved reading how when Mogusu was struggling with motivation to resume training while his coach fought for his life, that another coach, Masahito Ueda, head coach of Yamanashi Gakuin University, said the following to the Kenyan:

"If Kimura wakes up and sees that you're not running any more it's going to be much worse."

True Friendship
Here's another good human interest story from the world of marathoning that we learned about thanks to the Eugene Register Guard. This time, it's from the Eugene marathon, where race winner Matt Hooley hit the US Olympic Trials "A" standard by winning in 2:18:38. Hooley's strong performance was only possible as he brought his own rabbit to the race in long-time friend and 2:16 marathoner Mike Reneau, who hammered 19 miles with Hooley.

So Thumbs Up to Matt for getting the job done and for Mike being a true old-school friend. Hopefully Matt at least bought Mike a six pack or a pair of shoes or something.

More Good Human Interest: *Cop Jumps In Moving Vehicle To Stop It From Plowing Over Marathon Runners

Enough human interest; the 2009 pro season got underway in major fashion last week with big meets in Doha and Osaka. Time to break down the pro action before we look at the collegiate scene.

IAAF Doha Super GP - What An Unreal Opening Meet!!! *Results *Watch Meet On Demand At Universalsports.com *If you watch online, see this viewer's guide so you can fast-forward to your events. *IAAF Recap Of Sensational Meet That Produced 13 World Leads!

  • Pondering what one must be feeling when they open their season with a 1:43.16 800 but LOSE. Actually, in the case of Asbel Kiprop, we imagine he's not too upset. He opens the season with a 1.54 second PB in the 800, and assuming Rashid Ramzi's B sample comes back positive, he'll shortly be elevated to the ultimate goal of any mid-d runner - Olympic 1,500 meter champion.

    And remember Kiprop is only 19. He is in our minds probably the greatest clean talent ever in the 800/1,500 and we look forward to seeing what he can do over the next few years. It certainly should be exciting.
  • Speaking of 19-year-old phenoms ... 2008 world indoor champ Abubaker Kaki is the guy that beat Kiprop in Doha with a sensational 1:43.09 wire-to-wire win. With the win, Kaki remains undefeated on the year (3 indoor wins in the 1k (2 at 2:17, 1 at 2:16). We still would love to know what happened to Kaki in the Olympic semifinal, where he finished dead last in the rain, barely breaking 1:50.
  • If you thought the 800 times were fast, how about the 1,500 where the top two in Augustine Choge and Haron Keitany both broke the 2007 world leader by running 3:30.88 and 3:30.90?

    And American mid-d runners, let's pause to ask you a question. What do Choge and Kiprop have in common? They both ran at least one legitimate XC race during the winter. Kiprop is a former World Junior XC champ who almost certainly would be one of the top 10 guys in the world in cross if he chose to run it. Americans, we urge you to get a real base and challenge yourself in the longer distances.
  • Speaking of events in Doha where the winning time was better than the 2008 world leader, how about the 7:58.85 performance by 2004 Olympic champ Ezekiel Kemboi in Doha? Interesting that last year no one in the world broke 8:00. Even more interesting is to realize that Kemboi, who also has 3 times been the world champ silver medallist, had never even broken 8:00 himself. Now drug cynics, there is no reason to start throwing out the drug rumors Kemboi's way. He's been on top a long time but he's still only 26 and, based on his accolades, he probably should have been under 8:00 a while ago.

  • The last 1km of the 2003 World Champs 5k.

  • And we haven't even talked about the 7:28.37 flat 3k win by Olympic silver medallist Eliud Kipchoge in a race where 6 guys, including Saif Shaheen, ran sub-7:33. That win was probably the most neglected performance of the night, which is only fitting as Kipchoge may be the most under-appreciated runner on the planet. It should never be forgotten that Kipchoge, a two-time medallist at Worlds in the 5k, a two-time medallist at the Olympics in the 5k and the 2003 World XC short course champion, defeated both Kenenisa Bekele AND Hicham El Guerrouj to win the 2003 world title at 5k.
  • In Osaka, world champions Jeremy Wariner and Kerron Clement both got victories but neither left satisfied. Wariner told the IAAF he was looking to run 44-low or 43 prior to the race and yet he left with only a 44.69 - slower than the 44.50 his rival, Olympic champ LaShawn Merritt, opened with last week. Clement was hoping for a sub-48 clocking but ran only 48.68. Afterwards, Clement was at least more honest than Wariner as he flatly stated, "That was not a good race for me." Contrast that to Wariner who tried to appear satisfied by saying, "I ran a good race, and a good time." *Osaka Results
  • In road race action, Dan Browne picked up his 3rd US 25km title and Sally Meyerhoff got her 1st at the Fifth Third River Bank Run as both finished 2nd overall. Dan Browne, Sally Meyerhoff Win USA 25K Titles At Fifth Third River Bank Run, Both Finish 2nd Overall *Results

Collegiate Action - Oregon Gets Record But Comes Up Short - FSU Jumpers Jump Far
The big news on the college front was Oregon going for it in the 4 x Mile. Prior to the race, we weren't quite sure what they'd be going for, as it was unclear if they'd field a squad of four Americans so they could go for the American record or field their 4 best milers. We give them a Thumbs Up for doing the right thing and putting Kenyan Shadrack Kiptoo Biwott on the team as the guy had beaten 3:36 1,500 meter runner Matt Centrowitz a few years ago. Heading into the race, there was some talk as to whether they could break Ireland's 15:49.08 world record or at least go sub-16:00.

Oregon's 4 x Mile race video.

While most LRC visitors clearly thought they'd easily go sub-16:00, analyzing it objectively ourselves, we figured there was no way they'd run faster than 15:57. What people don't realize is it's very hard to run by yourself from the front. We figured Centrowitz, Andrew Wheating and Galen Rupp, who might all be able to run 3:55 in a perfectly set up race, probably would run no faster than 3:57.5 for 2 of them and 3:59 for one of them. The wild card was the 4th leg. And since no other Duck had run faster than 3:46-7 for 1,500 this season, we figured the best they'd get out of this leg would be a 4:03, as you normally want to take someone's PR and add at least two seconds, which would indicate a 4:05-7 for this leg. Since we figured Kiptoo Biwott was really better than his PR, we thought maybe he could do 4:03. So we thought the sub-16 was possible but we also said to ourselves, "If that team is running at Penn Relays in the wind, where you don't get splits from an adoring crowd every 400, no way do they break 16:00."

In the end, our thoughts ended up being pretty accurate and we think the collegiate and Bowerman field record of 16:03.24 was the perfect ending on the night. Oregon gets the collegiate record, but the elusive sub-16:00 collegiate barrier remains intact.

Then we decided to figure out "Who truly is the greatest 4 x Mile team in collegiate history? How would the 2009 Duck team stack up against the old record holders, the 2005 Michigan Wolverine squad of Nick Willis, Nate Brannen, Andrew Ellerton and Mike Woods?" We decided to throw in the 2002 Stanford team of Don Sage, Grant Robison, Jonathon Riley and Gabe Jennings into the mix as well, as that was an old team coached by Lananna and there was talk that all 4 could go sub-4 on the same day. Here are the teams and their PRs on the day they made their 4 x Mile runs.

***Correction #1:  Nate Brannen emailed us. He read our comparison and noticed that our pre-April 2005 PR's for Brannen and Ellerton were not correct. Part of his email reads: "I ran 3:39.05 in 2004 for the 1500 meters but ran 3:55.11 indoors in 2005. That converts to a 3:37.85 indoors. Given indoors is slower than outdoors, one would think I would run faster on a 400 meter track than a 200, but for this purpose, take the exact conversion from my mile time indoors.  Ellerton ran 3:58.68 for the mile in 2004 in Burnaby, Canada and that converts to 3:41.19. This makes our average from 1500 (or converted mile times) to 3:38.2775." So we have changed the times below and also altered our analysis slightly, although this revelation only drives home our point further: Michigan 2005 was the best NCAA 4xmile team ever.  

  2009 Oregon 2005 Michigan 2002 Stanford
Runner #1 (weakest PR)

Kiptoo Biwott 3:45.00* (from 4:02.65 mile)

Ellerton 3:43.14 3:41.19 (from 3:58.68 mile)

Robison 3:42.73 (did run 3:41.72 later that year)
Runner #2

Rupp 3:40.00* (from 3:57.86 mile)

Woods 3:41.43 (did run 3:57.48 mile that year)

Sage 3:39.27 (only ran 3:40.31 that year)
Runner #3

Wheating 3:38.60

Brannen 3:39.05 3:37.85 (from 3:55.11i mile)

Riley 3:38.90 (did run 3:38.54 that year)
Runner #4 (strongest PR)

Centrowitz 3:36.92

Willis 3:32.64

Jennings 3:35.21 (only ran 3:41.48 that year)
Average 1,500 PR at time 3:40.13

3:39.035 3:38.2775


Based on 1,500 PRs at the time of their 4 x Mile attempts, the 2005 Michigan team has the best average over Stanford by almost a second. the 2005 Michigan and 2002 Stanford teams are nearly 100% identical (although Stanford has the slight edge). Despite the narrow PR margin, it's clear to us that the 2002 Stanford team couldn't be the greatest collegiate 4 x Mile team in history as none of them went sub-4:00 (Correction #2: Grant Robison emailed us and we now realize he did go sub 4 as his 3:57.5 was the fastest of the day) in a 4 x Mile and they actually lost their race against Arkansas. . Arkansas ran 16:09 to Stanford's 16:17 as Stanford's on-paper strength that year was very misleading, since Gabe Jennings was just a shadow of his former self.

The stats clearly reveal that the greatest 4 x Mile team (those that had actual 4 x Mile competitions, not converted 4 x 1,500s) in collegiate history (at least that we are aware of without trying to think back too far in history) is the 2005 Michigan Wolverine team, as those guys were all in their prime and on their way to running fast that year. Think about it; no way in hell do they lose with Willis on the anchor. The stats support what the LRC visitors said in the votes. 2005 Michigan would beat 2009 Oregon.

But a Thumbs Up to Oregon for going for it and creating some buzz. More: Ducks Get Collegiate Record, Miss 16-Minute Barrier  *Message Board Thread Race Video above.

In other collegiate action, FSUs Brian Chibudu jumped a collegiate leader of 26'5 over the weekend. Scary to think that he's only the 2nd-best jumper on the team. FSU also features 2008 outdoor NCAA champ Ngoni Makusha, who has been injured (Makusha jumped for the first time outdoors this year and went 25'4.5"). A college team with two guys who have gone 8.0 meters. Very impressive.

When's the last time that there is a team so good that their 2nd-best jumper could win NCAAs? Oh wait, that was only 2007, when Cornell's Rayon Taylor won the triple jump when his teammate Muhammad Halim was injured.

Jimmy Wyner At The Heps

The Heps (Ivy League Championships) is like no other track meet in the country. We're big fans and Rojo is the distance coach at Cornell, which won its 7th straight outdoor men's title on Sunday. Normally that wouldn't get mentioned in the Week in Review. However, this year there was a controversy surrounding Jimmy Wyner, one of Rojo's runners, and it is the talk of the message boards. Wyner won the 1,500m and then was DQed for excessive celebration (he started celebrating about 50 meters from the finish). There are nearly 80  160 posts (and counting) on the thread titled "Wyner" and most people seem to be in agreement; he may have made an ass of himself but he should not have been DQed. Many in the crowd rose and gave a standing ovation when his disqualification was announced. Video of race below. Post-race interview with him here (before the DQ). More Heps videos.

The incident even has gotten its own satirical story here: "Wyner's 1,500m DQ Part of Elaborate Plan to Increase LetsRun.Com Message Board Readership, Wejo Says"

Doping News:

Last week there also was a great article by Steve Cram on why no one was surprised that Rashid Ramzi was a cheat. In that article it said that Ramzi was coached by Khalid Boulami, the man who coached another disgraced EPO cheat, the former steeple world record holder Brahim Boulami (Khalid's brother). The article also revealed that Ramzi is a training partner of current marathon star Abderrahim Goumri, who was 6th in London. Let's just say we hope they tested for CERA at London.

And we like how Cram says that anger should be directed at Khalid Boulami. The guy has "coached" two of the more famous drug cheats in recent memory - a world record holder in the steeple and the Olympic 1,500 cheat - uh, we mean champ.

Cram wrote, "The route towards a flag of convenience taken for reward must be shut down altogether and tough questions need to be directed at Boulami. Athletes never work in isolation and I don't believe in coincidence when positive tests are the subject for debate. Cynicism can be a lazy standpoint but every now and then it is vindicated in such a way that one cannot help a little smile that says I told you so."

Other Doping Articles Worth Reading: *Good News, Bad News Heading Into the Giro d'Italia One of the contestants has already been booted but cycling fans seem to be excited about gradually ridding the sport of cheats. *Long, Interesting Read On The Dilemma Caught Dopers Face *AP On Freezing Blood Samples To Test Later Having your samples frozen to be tested later seems like a great deterrent and it's taking place more and more commonly.

Some Good Quotes From Last Week

1. "You know what? I don't know. I think any place can be [a good place to train]. Everybody talks about how 'you need to go to altitude, you need to go here, you need to go there,' and quite personally, I think it's where you're comfortable at. I feel really comfortable here in my job. Everyone at work and my boss is so supportive of my running. We have a nice national forest to run in, with trails and softer surfaces. There are sidewalks to run on. I mean, I can't complain. The weather I love, 'cause I like the warm weather. It's ideal for me, maybe not for someone else." - Kristin Price, winner of the Pittsburgh Marathon this weekend, in a great interview with Runner's World. 27-year-old 2002 NCAA 10k champ.

2. "Your endurance gets stronger as you get older. Maybe you need an extra day's recovery in between hard sessions but I think mental toughness and maturity comes to the fore a bit, and your heart's more in it." - Paula Radcliffe on the same day she announced she will run the Berlin World Championships marathon.

3. "I wanted not to be intrigued by the glamour of each place and just focus on my criteria. In the end, (Duke) was a clear first choice even though on the surface it looks terrible because historically they haven't been a great track program. They're definitely on the rise." - HS decathlon record holder Curtis Beach on his decision to attend Duke, not known as traditional track power.

Some Recommended Reads From Last Week
Agent Ray Flynn, Part Of The World Record Irish 4 x Mile From 1985, Wishes The Ducks Luck
2) Universal Sports: Talking Worlds With Kara Goucher
3) A Brief Chat With Chanelle Price The OT finalist as a HSer seems ready to go after a rocky start (stress fracture) to college.
4) Meet HS Decathlon Record Holder Curtis Beach The guy is a freak in that he comes to the decathlon from a mid-d background. He almost ran at NTN last fall. USA Today made a big deal of the fact that he's going to Duke. "In the end, it was a clear first choice even though on the surface it looks terrible because historically they haven't been a great track program."

Other News:
Solomon Haile Headed To Arkansas!
*IAAF World Champs/Golden League Announces New USA Television Deal Inked With NBC/Universal Sports

Looking Head to Next Weekend:
adidas Track Classic Is Next Weekend In LA: HSers Jordan Hasay And Reggie Wyatt To Run

Remember The Last Week With The Quote of the Day -  Day By Day:
Monday: "That was awesome."
-Galen Rupp after Oregon set a 4 x Mile collegiate record of 16:03.24 on Saturday night. Video of the race you can fast forward to where you want from Runnerspace on the right.

Sunday: "Whenever I look at athletes, I don't necessarily want to see the fastest or strongest. I want to see who's the most courageous. I want to see who's got enough guts. That's Alfredo."
-high school track coach Adam Guenther coach of the blind (and partially deaf) Alfredo Castaneda

Saturday: "It's a great victory and yes I'm very much looking forward to breaking Shaheen's record. And I want to do that well before the World Championships in August. I'm confident of achieving that mark. That's my goal for this season."
- 2004 Olympic steeple gold medallist Ezekiel Kemboi talking after opening his season with a spectacular 7:58 steeple at the SPECTACULAR Doha Super GP.

"From my experience, Kenya at that time was a society in which you could not express your feelings ..."
"We have been trying to tell these people, but they don't listen. Money was never an issue: zero ..."
"No, I never got any money (to change nationalities). But I wanted to tell the people in Kenya that I'm not happy."

- Steeplechase world record holder (and LRC visitor) Saif Shaheen (Stephen Cherono), who will star in a great 3k in the first big IAAF Super Grand Prix of the year on Friday, telling Al Jazeera why he switched nationalities.

"If Manny's on performance enhancing drugs, Major League Baseball is the official new WWF... All they need is [Vince] McMahon. He should be the new commissioner."
-- Jalen Rose on "The Herd" hosted by Colin Cowherd after Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games for taking steroids.

"This is from Jose Canseco, who we can call sleazy and oily and weird... and let's add truthful, honest, forthright and money."

- Colin Cowherd on his excellent 10am - 2pm show on ESPN Radio and aired on ESPNU. 2 months ago Canseco basically predicted that Manny was a user. "Why were owners gun-shy about signing arguably the game's best hitter? Nevermind that Ramirez was asking for a mega-deal at age 36. Manny Ramirez is most likely 90% on the list of 104 players who failed the 2003 drug test along with A-Rod."
- Jose Canseco before the 2009 baseball season began.

"It comes down to can you step on the track and run 3:56, and the next guy and the next guy on that day?"
- Ray Flynn in a must-read article on his Irish squad that set the 4 x Mile world record of 15:49.08 in Dublin in 1985.
Here is how the splits broke down in 1985:
Eamonn Coghlan
, 4:00.2
Marcus O'Sullivan, 3:55.3
Frank O'Mara, 3:56.6
Ray Flynn, 3:56.98

"I think we will see a 2:02 marathon by a Kenyan in maybe three years' time."
Wilfred Kigen, who came in second in the Düsseldorf Marathon Sunday, losing to the rabbit.

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