The Week That Was In Running - September 6 - September 12, 2010

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September 13, 2010

Below we try to make sense of the last week in the world of running for you. Enjoy the show.

Something To Consider ...

Ever heard of the Eindhoven Marathon? We didn't think so. It's a small marathon held in Eindhoven, Netherlands that last year had 1,390 finishers. The race is best known as the launching pad for Georffrey Mutai, as he set the course record there two years in a row - 2:07:50 in 2008, and 2:07:01 in 2009 - before running 2:04:55 in Rotterdam this year. Well, last week the elite field for their 2010 race, which will be held on October 10th, was announced and on the men's side, there are 8 Kenyans entered in the race with PRs under 2:08.

Why do we mention that? Because in the history of the US, there have only been two Americans under 2:08 and one of them was born in Morocco. In the history of the US, there have only been six under 2:09.

All Time US Marathon List Kenyan Entrants In Obscure 2010 Eindhoven Marathon

Khalid Khannouchi 2:05:38
Ryan Hall 2:06:17
Alberto Salazar 2:08:40
Bob Kempainen 2:08:40
Dick Beardsley 2:08:54
Abdi Abdirhman 2:08:56

Paul Biwott         2:07:02  Amsterdam (3) 2009
Alfred Kering    2:07:11  Paris (2) 2010
Isaac Macharia      2:07:16  Dubai (2) 2008
Charles Kamathi    2:07:33  Rotterdam (3) 2008
Felix Keny         2:07:36  Barcelona (2) 2010
Nicolas Chelimo     2:07:46  Amsterdam (5) 2009
Patrick Ivuti       2:07:46  Chicago (5) 2005
Stephen Kibiwott    2:07:54  Prague (2) 2009

Why do we mention this? Just to point out once again how incredibly deep the world of professional running is in the year 2010 (particularly in the marathon, where the money is biggest) and how tough it is for Americans to compete.

There are a lot of reasons for Americans to get excited about our medal chances at 5,000 or 10,000 thanks to Chris Solinsky's performances this year (and the fact that Matt Tegenkamp got 4th in the 5,000 in 2007). An American-born athlete really could medal. That being said, the fact of the matter is if the Kenyans and Ethiopians manage to get the most talented and in shape top three to the start lines at the global championships, then the US guys are almost certainly toast.

In that light, let us introduce you to another foreign prodigy that launched himself onto the world scene last week. It's time that everyone met Yenew Alamirew. Heading into last week, the 20-year-old Ethiopian was a virtual unkown who was undefeated on the year, having won two 5ks in 13:16 as well as a 3k in 7:46 that included a 54-second last lap. A week later, this guy has destroyed a field that included 2010 world 1,500 leader Silas Kiplagat and 2008 Olympic 1,500 champ Asbel Kiprop to win the 3,000 in Milan in 7:28.82 - the world's #2 time for the year. The unkown guy would be the world leader at 3,000 but he was overjoyed with his breakthrough and started celebrating 60 meters from the line - not knowing he could get the world-leading time.

Italian coach Renato Canova reports that agent Jos Hermans picked up Alamirew a few days before the Milan meet as he saw him blitzing some workouts in Ethiopia. And now he's #2 in the world.

Americans - our advice - don't ever pay attention to the foreign competition as you can't control their progress. Kenya and Ethiopia only can send three to the Games and it's so hard for them to make the team that by the time the Games roll around, they often are burned out.

More: *Yenew Alamirew - Unknown Runs 7:28, Beats Silas Kiplagat *Yenew Alamirew Splits *7:28.82min 3k In Milan!!!

EUGENE, OR - JULY 03: Asbel Kiprop of Kenya wins
the Bowerman Mile during the IAAF Diamond League Prefontaine Classic on July 3, 2010 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Asbel Kiprop - Let Us Coach You

There was one other thing worth mentioning from the 3,000 in Milan. Olympic 1,500 champ Asbel Kiprop, only ran 7:53.22 to finish 11th in the race. That time in our minds is an embarrassment and shows that Kiprop's training needs improving. Yes we know that Kiprop was upfront and then basically just stopped running with a few laps to go. Yes, we know it's the end of the season and we know he rarely runs anything but a 1,500 or mile anymore but that doesn't matter to us. Kiprop is a TRUE PHENOM in our minds.

He should excel at 3,000. People tend to forget that Kiprop is the former world junior cross-country champion. Thus, he has GREAT natural endurance. In our minds he is a TRUE PHENOM (did we already say that?). Now, it's not like he hasn't done well - really well - as he is the Olympic champ and he only lost two 1,500s this year, but he clearly could be doing so much more. If you think we don't know what we are talking about and that's it's ridiculous to assume too much from seeing the results of one race, then take the word of coach Renato Canova, who agrees with us and wrote last week on the message board that Kiprop "never goes for something long in training, and this right there was the demonstration that his training is not the best, also looking at 1,500m."

Maybe we'll fly to Kenya and offer to coach Kiprop. We'd get him on a heavy diet of longer stuff and maybe even make his goal for 2011 to be to make the Kenyan senior men's XC team. With that type of endurance, he'd never lose again.

Tim Nelson Deserves Some Press - And We Give It To Him

Last week, it came out that some nice names have been added to the Chicago and New York marathon fields this year (see info below) but the one we wanted to highlight was the fact that American Tim Nelson will be making his marathon debut in New York this fall. Nelson's entry certainly didn't receive much fanfare but it probably should. It just shows you how far US distance running has come in the last decade.

Nelson is a guy who has PRs that are better than two-time Olympian Alan Culpepper at every event from the 5,000 on up.

Alan Culpepper's PRs:           13:25.74 - 27:33.93 - 63:11
Tim Nelson's PRs:                 13:20.33 - 27:31.56 - 62:11

Ten years ago, US distance running had the big three of Alan Culpepper, Abdi Abdirahman and Meb Keflezighi at 10k. Nelson, who is equally as good as Culpepper on time at shorter distances (Culpepper does have a 10th place in the Olympics to his name) is an afterthought in many ways in 2010.

We want to wish Tim the best of luck in New York. We're thrilled to see him move up to the marathon as it took Culpepper, Meb and Abdi a long time to get there.

Culpepper, for example, didn't run his first marathon until the age of 30. And his first proved to be his best, as he ran 2:09:41 in Chicago.

The lack of buzz that Nelson's entry caused really is a sign as to how far elite US distance running on the men's side has come in the last five years. In 2006, Dathan Ritzenhein received a huge appearance fee to make his marathon debut in New York (all told Dathan took home in the $200,000 range for his debut from what we could tell). At the time, his PRs were very similar to Nelson's current PRs - 13:16.61 and 27:35.65. Admittedly, PRs don't tell the whole story, as Nelson certainly in our minds doesn't have the same pedigree as Ritz, as Ritz was a two-time Foot Locker champ, a former world junior medallist, and the NCAA XC champ.

That being said, only 14 US men have ever broken 2:10:00 in the marathon. Nelson is unlikely to do it in New York, but he certainly has the potential to do it elsewhere. Nelson heads into New York after having a great 2010 so far, as he's set PRs at 5000, 10,000 and the half marathon (debut) and also finished 2nd at the US champs in the 5,000 and 15 km.

More: *Top Americans Antonio Vega, Tim Nelson, Blake Russell + Canadian Simon Bairu To Take Part In 2010 ING New York City Marathon *Nice Brief Chat With "Little Meb" (Simon Bairu) *Desiree Davila Talks About Her Preparations For Chicago She's running Chicago instead of NY, which also is the US champs, and could give her a $40,000 payday (Shalane Flanagan, however, is running NY).

Lukas Verzbicas Passes 42 People In 5,000 To Finish 4th At Worlds

12, 2009; San Diego, CA, USA; Luke Verzbicas won the boys' race in 15:08 in the 31st Foot Locker cross country championships at Morley Field at Balboa Park. Photo via Newscom

Last week, 2009 Foot Locker high school cross-country champ Lukas Verzbicas competed at the world junior triathlon championships. He had an incredible running leg where he passed 42 people to move up and finish 4th. The result sparked a huge discussion on the LRC message board as to whether or not Verzbicas should focus on the triathlon or running. His coach points out that Verzbicas is world class in the triathlon but only national class in running.

Well, we'll point out that he's the national champ in the US in running and only 2nd-best in the US in triathlon (the bronze medallist was an American). We'll also point out that there aren't any Kenyans or Ethiopians doing the triathlon so it's probably way, way, easier to medal in the tri than in running. Regardless, we think he should focus on whatever he wants although we think ultimately his swimming is going to kill him in the triathlon.

We also found the arguments that 2012 Olympics aren't going to happen for Verzbicas to be convincing and we now present to you our Message Board Post Of The Week from LRC visitor Things To Know About The Triathlon, who gave out a ton of great information in a single post.

    "This thread is almost painful. Ok here are some things you need to know about olympic/itu triathlon.

    1. The swim is essentially pass/fail. You either make the bike pack or your race is over. Lukas had one of the slowest swim splits in the Jr race. Over twice the distance, at the professional level, there's no way he'll be fast enough to make the bike pack for a few years. In the draft legal races I've done, fellow Americans who have gone to the Olympic trials for swimming come out in the middle of the pack. It's that fast.

    2. I can't comment on the 13:50 (Editor's Note: as to whether or not Tri guys can run a 5,000 in 13:50), only that there are guys that have run that fast or close to it that now race tris - Jefferson, Vanort, Shoemaker. And those guys aren't the ones winning the WCS series races either. Earlier in the year Tim Don from Britain ran 28:50 on the road in the off season, finishing 50 seconds behind GEB. He's won one race all year, but has made every bike pack (meaning he's been outrun).

    3. It's impossible for Lukas to make the olympics in 2012. It's not like swimming or track, for better or worse, there's not one "Trials" race. It's an accumulation of 'points' scored at races over a two year period. That 2 year period started last June. He hasn't scored any points yet, and it will be impossible for him to do so in time to race the World Cup events being used to select the Olympic Spots. Realistically there's 6-8 guys that could make the team, again, for better or worse.

    Triathlon is the fastest growest sport, in terms of money and participation, so it makes sense for even very good runners to take it up - as sponsorship opportunities are there. This is the case in countries where tri is as big or bigger than distance running - europe and oceania. It's awesome that Lukas wants to race triathlon, but it's silly for him to think making the Olympic Team will be easy, and it's alarming that he and his coach keep bringing up 2012 as a possibility, as it highlights a severe lack of knowledge or respect for the qualification process.

    Sidenote, it's possible he may actually be a better runner than triathlete.

    By the numbers, he lost thirty seconds in the swim to the AVERAGE swimmer (8:30 to 9 minutes) and only gained back 27 seconds over twice the amount of time(15:47 to 15:20) - where the leaders were running a tactical race in a pack.

    In a more competetive race, it's going to be harder to make the bike pack if you have a slow swim. Obviously US nationals has less fast guys than worlds, so Lukas was able to make a pack of cyclists, draft off them, and run to victory. Running people down is a lot harder as the quality of swimmers goes up, as the front bike pack is faster and gains more time."

More: Foot Locker Champ Lukas Verzbicas Goes From 42nd To 4th On 5k Run Leg At World Triathlon Junior Champs

Former World Triathlon Champion Mike Pigg's Daughter Dominates A College Cross-Country Race At Age 12

Since we're talking about triathlons, we thought it was worth mentioning that Chloe Pigg, the daughter of former Triathlon World Champion Mike Pigg, ran in a college cross-country race last week at the age of 12. She won by 1:59 on a "5k" course that apparently was short, as Chloe finished the 5K course in 16:43 in a race where the top collegian ran 18:12. Congrats to her.

More: *12-year old GIRL runs 16:43 XC 5k in College Race?

News From Three Of The Four Great White Milers

The 1980s had Cram, Ovett and Coe trading world records and battling it out in the 1,500. We can always hope that the 2010s ends up with similar battles with Andrew Wheating, Nick Willis, Alan Webb and Ryan Gregson.

PARIS - JULY 06:  Alan Webb of USA celebrates his victory from Mehdi Baala (R) of France in the men's 1500m during the IAAF Golden League at the Stade de France on July 6, 2006 in Paris,France.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Well last week, three of the four GWHs (Great White Hopes) made news. The news was certainly positive for Nick Willis and Alan Webb, whose comebacks from injury continued in Milan. Willis looked as smooth as ever and got the win in 3:35.17 as Webb moved up late to get 5th in 3:36.21. A Thumbs Up to both of them. Willis seems poised to have a great chance to defend his Commonwealth Games title next month in India, as he's rounding into shape and one of his top potential rivals in 20-year-old Aussie Ryan Gregson is now out with a stress fracture of the navicular.  Let's hope Gregson's injury heals in the next two months as navicular stress fractures can be very tricky, as the blood flow is very limited down there in the foot and sometimes they require surgery to heal.

As for Webb, the message board exploded as Webb fans started the fan bandwagon in a major way: Official Webb bandwagon pulling into town - hop on or get left off in 2011, 2012.

We agree that Alan Webb fans should be ecstatic. In less than a month, he's gone from running a 1:52.82 800 to a 3:36.21 1,500. Now that is sign of a true talent. In one race over the span of 12 days, Webb came down almost five full seconds, as he went from 3:41.16 to 3:36.21.

Our only concern is quite honestly Webb himself. The guy is incredibly high strung and competitive (some might say competitive/insecure). We watched a post-race interview of him on flotrack and were a bit uneasy with how concerned Webb was with how close he was to the winner of the race. Admittedly, that's what the interviewer - who clearly hadn't seen the race - was asking a lot about, but we just found it a bit odd. If we were Webb, we'd be thinking, "Wow this is great. On two months training, I'm running 3:36. I can't wait for next year. I'll be a player again."

Alan - you are doing great. We don't care what place you finish in any race this year (although we must admit it's going to be fun to watch the 5th Avenue mile on September 26th). If you had finished 70th in 3:36, we would have been happy.

Just focus on the process, staying healthy and don't worry about your competition, as you don't control what they do. Just realize that you came down five seconds in less than two weeks and if you come down five more seconds in the next year, you'll be a factor on the world stage, as you'll be in the 3:31 low range and the world's best miler in Asbel Kiprop only ran 3:31.78 this year. The key isn't learning how to run 3:46 in the mile in front of zero fans in a forest in Belgium. The key is learning how to race and race well when it counts. That Nick Willis guy only has a 3:32.17 PR and yet he has an Olympic silver medal somewhere in his house.

More: LRC Nick Willis Runs 3:35.17 To Win As Alan Webb Runs 3:36.21 To Finish 5th! *Want A Rematch? You've Got It!!! *Webb/Willis Race Video *Results *Australian 20-Year-Old Phenom Ryan Gregson Pulls Out Of Commonwealth Games With Navicular Stress Fracture Lagat, Manzano, Webb And Willis To Clash On September 26th At Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile In a day and age when people say there aren't any rivalries or races worth watching, this one looks like a real dandy.

Drug Update/EPO Use By An American (Running For Puerto Rico)

The big news on the drug front was that former University of Iowa star Racheal Marchand was suspended last week for EPO use. Now, one is assumed innocent until proven guilty, but we've got to give Marchand a big Thumbs Down for running in a road race after the suspension was announced last week. Shame on her at the very least for running the race while suspended.

We here at certainly don't think EPO use is widespread in the collegiate ranks, but it's naive to think that cheats aren't at all levels of sport. There have been EPO rumors surrounding collegiate runners in the past on Marchand gets the chance to clear her name, but it's naive to think there aren't some collegians doping.

While one doper may have been caught last year, it looks like 104 multi millionaire dopers will get away with it, as sbown by this article: 104 Baseball Cheats Can Breathe Easier Tonight As Court Rules Government Illegally Seized Records Of Their Positive Drug Tests.

More: *Former University Of Iowa NCAA Standout Racheal Marchand Tests Positive For EPO Marchand was fifth at the NCAA XC champs in 2008 and quit her job this past year to train full-time for the 2012 Olympics for Puerto Rico. We and everyone else are bit late on this story, but this message board thread is all over it. *Racheal Marchand Wins XC Race, Refuses To Talk To Reporter, Her Mom Blasts Reporter In Comments Section *Flashback: Racheal Marchand Quits Her Job As A Drug Rep To Train Full Time For 2012 Games

Video Of The Week - Bernard Lagat's AR Of 7:29.00

We had never actually watched a video of Bernard Lagat's 7:29 American record in the 3,000 until last week. We encourage you to take a look at it, as his last lap is a thing of beauty. Lagat comes from way, way back to challenge Tariku Bekele and get the AR. Below you can watch the last lap - it will take you way less than a minute (or you can also watch the whole race by scrolling back).

After watching it you can see that Bob Kennedy's record was safe until the final lap.


Photo Of The Week/Meet The Future Wife Of Asafa Powell

Last week, Asafa Powell updated his blog on the IAAF site and revealed that he is engaged to Yanni Phillipps - Ms. Jamaica for 2010. Powell talked about how he supported her in Las Vegas as the Miss World Universe Pageant, where she was the runner-up.

We wondered if this was typical sprinter bravado but we did a little bit of research and it's true. Asafa's future wife was indeed the runner-up for Ms. Universe.

Please, no jokes about them being made for each other as they are great at finishing 2nd.

Anyone that rips Ms. Phillipps is probably just jealous. Judge for yourself:

 LAS VEGAS - AUGUST 23: Miss Jamaica
2010, Yendi Phillipps, is named a top 10 finalist during the 2010 Miss Universe Pageant at the Mandalay Bay Events Center August 23, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Nothing Like Being Humble/Quote Of The Week (That Wasn't Quote Of The Day)

Newly minted world record holder David Rudisha returned to Kenya last week and he certainly didn't remain humble. Check out what he said to Kenya's Daily Nation:

    "I feel no threat. There is nobody in the current crop of athletes I have run with who can challenge it.

    "I'm not saying it will never be improved, but for the time being, it is safe.

    "The way I felt after running was sensational and it will require a genius and exceptional talent to break it."

Bold words for Rudisha, considering 21-year-old Abubaker Kaki lowered his PR to 1:42.23 this year.

That being said, a humbler side of Rudisha did come out last week, as he credited his mom's genetics as playing a big role in his success. Apparently, his mom was a 400-meter hurdler. He also credited the support of his wife.

More: *David Rudisha Dismisses Kaki As A Threat: "I feel no threat. There is nobody in the current crop of athletes I have run with who can challenge it." *Rudisha's Welcome Trumps That Of Kenyan National Soccer Team *David Rudisha Credits His Mother's Running Genes In Addition To His Dad (His Dad Won An Olympic 4 X 400 Silver) (link fixed from homepage mistake)

Recommended Reads

*Nice Brief Chat With "Little Meb" (Simon Bairu)

Quotes Of The Day From Last Week

Monday: "I think it's important to live life, and to enjoy life. You can't stress about things because stressing doesn't change problems, so enjoy life to the fullest."
Usain Bolt with another quote of the day. The other option was this Jamaican editorial calling America a bunch of drug cheats.

Sunday: "We don't offer all the bells and whistles but it is affordable for everyone and the most important part of the event it the social atmosphere. It is a chance to experience a quiet, pretty, off-the-beaten-track part of New Zealand and we finish off with a beer and a laugh."
New Zealand distance enthusiast Roger Morrison takling about New Zealand's The Marton to Wanganui Relay - a 66km race that only costs $15 to enter.

Saturday: "Last but definitely not least is the Miss World Universe pageant in which Yendi my fiancée took part."
- Asafa Powell writing about his 2010 season and off-season. Partying he says is out of the question because his back hurts. For the sake of the sport, Tyson Gay needs to start dating a celebrity.

Friday: "I just want to beat Joe once. I've never won a cross-country race in my life."
- 8:51 2-miler Jim Rosa, talking about his goals for his upcoming senior cross-country season. The standout who is the third-fastest in New Jersey history for XC has never won a single XC race, as his twin brother Joe always finishes just ahead of him.

Thursday: "Growing up, before I even knew who Meb (Keflezighi) was, the Eritrean community in Regina used to call me Little Meb. He's known all over North America. Being able to race against him for the first time (in New York)  is actually going to be pretty awesome for me, and that's something I'm looking forward to."
- Simon Bairu on running this year's ING NYC Marathon. Bairu was officially announced yesterday for the ING NYC Marathon in addition to 27:31 10ker Tim Nelson and US half marathon champ Antonio Vega plus Olympian Blake Russell on the women's side.

"The Fastest Man in the World. Never, ever do I get tired of hearing that. If you lined up a hundred people and asked them who the best basketball player in the world is, the best footballer, or the best cricketer, it is unlikely they would provide the same answer. But ask any of them "Who is the best sprinter in the world?" and there is only one answer - Usain Bolt. Why? Because that is what it says on the clock. There can be no dispute or argument ... It doesn't get any cooler than knowing you are the fastest of them all."
- Usain Bolt in his new autobiography, which is being praised for many things, including its marital advice - we swear!

"It feels great. Up to this point I've felt that my post-collegiate career has been a disappointment. To get this win is huge."
- Sean Quigley after winning his first US Championship at the Stratton Faxon New Haven 20k.

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