The Week That Was In Running - September 13 - September 19, 2010

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September 21, 2010

The biggest news last week was off the track as USATF fired its CEO Doug Logan. We take our own crack at analyzing the firing here: Why Doug Logan Is Out At USATF And Where It Goes From Here. USATF could owe Logan more than a million in severance and we think more on the reasons for Logan's departure and his severance will come out over time.

On the roads last week, there was some tremendous action. It was the 30th anniversary of the Great North Run and Haile Gebrselassie, Dathan Ritzenhein and Chris Chataway (at 79 years old, he is most known for pacing Roger Bannister to his sub-4 minute mile) were on hand.

In the states, the Rock N Roll Series took over the Philadelphia Half Marathon and they brought in an all-star cast with Meseret Defar and Shalane Flanagan on the women's side and Gebre Gebremariam and Ryan Hall on the men's side.

We'll break down the action more below but first wanted to give some major props to the 79-year-old Chataway. He wanted to run 1:52 for the half marathon and beat 80% of the field at 80 (well, 79) and he pulled it off. He ran 1:51:09 (sub-8:30 pace). Pretty damn amazing. The crazy thing is Chataway now may do more training than when he was pacing Bannister to the first sub-4 and winning Commonwealth Gold at 3 miles.

Chataway generated a lot of pre-race press and said in an interesting article of his training sixty years ago: "It was so painful, because the sort of training we did one realises now was totally inadequate. I never ran more than 25 miles in a week. I smoked too. So the only way in which you could do well in major races was by pushing yourself extremely hard. In my old age I don't do that. I'm there to enjoy it."

Half Marathons In The US & Britain

Let us now turn to the major road action of the week, the great half marathons in the UK and Philly.

    May 16, 2010
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Geb Has Still Got It
The big news is that Haile Gebrselassie still has it and it's time for fans to get excited to see him run against a legitimate field in New York in seven weeks on November 6th. Haile ran the BUPA half marathon for the first time in his career and he did what he almost always does when he runs a half marathon and that is win and break 60 minutes. In his career, Haile has run 11 half marathons and he's won 10 and broken one hour six times.

That type of consistency is truly remarkable. Take a look at the 11 half marathons on his résumé:

Most Sub-1 Hour Half Marathons In History
Patrick Makau 8
Paul Tergat 7
Haile Gebrselassie 6
Deriba Merga Ejigu 6
Sammy Wanjiru 6
Zersenay Tadese 6

2001 - 60:03
2002 - 59:41
2005 - 61:46, 61:33
2006 - 58:55, 60:08
2007 - 59:24
2008 - 59:15
2009 - 59:50 (2nd place), 60:04
2010 - 59:33

11 half marathons over the span of 9 years and 9 of the 11 were run between 58:55 and 60:08 - just a 63-second spread. So basically when he runs a half marathon, you know he's going to run between 59 minutes and 60 minutes, give or take 8 seconds. In 2005, he did run two half marathons over 61 minutes but he won them both. The slowest of his half marathons is just 2:51 off of his PR.

Contrast with the American record holder in the half marathon, Ryan Hall. Hall ran a half last week and he struggled mightily in Philly and ran 63:55. In his career, Hall has run 5 half marathons and four of them were more than two minutes off his PR.

Hall's half marathons:

2007 - 59:43
2009 - 62:35, 61:52
2010 - 64:08, 63:55

Geb's PR - 58:55, Geb's Avg Time 60:01.1. Avg Time Off From PR - 66.1 seconds
Hall's PR - 59:43, Hall's Avg Time 62:26.6 Avg Time Off From PR - 146.6 seconds

What Does It Mean For Hall?
Looking ahead, what does it mean for Hall? Who knows? Hall said on twitter after the race, "Rough race today ... a little bummed but God is still good." Khalid Khannouchi was known for running some poor races before some amazing marathons, but as this poster points out, Khannouchi's record was not as bad as people make it out to be prior to marathons (Khannouchi did run a 29:47 two months before his 2:05:38 AR). Hall, however, is 3 weeks out from his race, he was well off the pace, and the wheels fell off the last 10k. As Hall has pointed out on the Nissan Facebook page, "It's not easy to still really believe that anything is possible on days like today when I raced half the distance slower than I typically come through half way in a marathon and I only have three weeks till Chicago. But the treasure in disappointments is that they serve as opportunities for me to get my heart right, which is especially important for me heading in to Chicago so that I not only have this same faith that makes showing up to the starting line so exciting but more importantly so that when I am out there running I make the most of the incredible experience that awaits me at the Chicago marathon."  

Ryan Hall celebrates winning the U.S. Olympic Men's Marathon Team Trials on November 3, 2007 in New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Hall then added he felt he could run 4:40 pace, so he was fixated on running that pace for too long and that caused him to crater and slow down at the end. He added, "Heading into today, I figured from my workouts that I would probably be able to average 4:40 pace, so my focus was on hitting those splits in the opening miles. Having this goal (instead of having the primary goal of having fun) I forced myself to run this pace as long as possible, which ended up being about five miles, even though I was running at an effort level that was not physically sustainable for me (on this day) for the 13.1."

If that's the case, then maybe it was a mistake for Hall to do Philly in the first place. If he was going to get trapped into running a pace he shouldn't be running because it was a race, then perhaps he should have done a training run instead. However, here is where the commercial realities of being a professional runner come in. Hall has a contract with the Competitor Group that organizes the Rock N Roll Marathons. We don't know what is in that contract, but he likely is expected to appear at some of their races (he did one half marathon this fall before Boston - Rock N Roll Arizona). In addition he has a blog on their website (he also has the Nissan blog and an Asics blog and his own website (which appears to be hacked)).

If a training run instead of a half marathon race was better for Hall on Sunday, that is what he should have done. Also, if Sunday was meant to be a training run instead of a full-fledged race, then don't market it as Hall "racing" Gebremariam and others. Either way, now Hall is facing a ton of adversity heading into Chicago as a result of running in Philly.

What About Ritz And Flanagan, Who Are Running NY?
As for the other American stars, Dathan Ritzenhein ran 62:34 in Britain and Shalane Flanagan ran 68:36 in Philadelphia. Considering both ran those times seven weeks from New York, they can't be too upset. Ritz was 4:11 off the fastest men's time in history, while Flanagan was 2:56 off the fastest women's time. Hall, on the other hand, only has three weeks before he toes the line in Chicago.

Ritz also has a blog at Competitor (but does not appear to have a contract to run their races). As he points out, he started out trying to run 59:30 pace, which was way too ambitious. He still ended up running a time faster than Hall and has plenty of time before NY.

Martin Lel's bad luck continued. When healthy, Lel - a five-time major marathon winner - is one of the best marathoners on the planet. However, he's been snake-bitten of late and hasn't actually run a marathon since finishing 5th in the Olympics as arguably the favorite. In 2009, Lel was undefeated on the year, winning two half marathons in under an hour, but had to pull out of both London and New York at the last minute. This year, he had to pull out of London once again. And then this week, he pulls out of the BUPA Great North Run with a fever. Let's hope we see him on the start line in New York this fall.

Mar 13, 2010; Doha, QATAR; Meseret Defar (ETH) won the women's 3,000m in 8:51.17 in the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Athletics at the Aspire Dome. Photo via Newscom

Meseret Defar's debut at the half marathon proved to be very successful as she defeated the hottest female road racer on the planet (Lineth Chepkirui) and won in Philly to become the 28th-fastest in history thanks to her 67:44. Those that were hyping Philadelphia as a matchup between Defar and American Shalane Flanagan don't understand the sport, as we were virtually certain Defar was going to handily dispatch Flanagan, and that's exactly what she did.

Top 5 US Performers At The Half Marathon
66:57 Kara Goucher*
67:34 Deena Kastor
68:34 Joan Benoit Samuelson
68:36 Shalane Flanagan
69:39 Cathy Schiro
*Aided course

Some might point out that in 2010 that in 2008, both Defar and Flanagan were Olympic bronze medallists (Defar at 5,000 and Flanagan at 10,000) but that doesn't tell the whole story. The fact of the matter is Defar has run 14:12 for 5,000. She's a class above Flanagan. If Defar had been in the Olympic 10,000 and run for a bronze, she would have gotten it over Flanagan 100 times out of 100. Plus, Defar has been running on the track in Europe while Flanagan is in the midst of training for her first marathon, so Defar should be sharper at the half than Flanagan.

Lastly we've got to give a Thumbs Down to the Competitor group - the organizers of the Rock 'n' Roll series of races - for botching the live Internet of Philly for the second straight year. Last year, they cut away to commercial as Ryan Hall was coming down the finishing straight battling it out for the win. This year, their broadcast just froze up for a huge portion of the race and was unwatchable. Then when they came back, they decided to have Carrie Tollefson interview the race's runner-up. That is fine. However, she shouldn't have stood in front of the finish line camera making it impossible to see all of the other top finishers coming in. Virtually everyone on the planet who was bothering to watch that race live was probably interested in Ryan Hall or at least one of the runners with NCAA ties in that race (finishers 5-10 all ran in the NCAA) and yet we didn't get to see them finish.

So after the interview of the runner-up was done, Competitor inexplicably said they were going to sign off. Competitor had decided to cover the women's race largely separately and they wanted to end the men's broadcast to go do the women's, which is fine, and we like how they tried to have a separate broadcast for the women. However, people still want to know what is going on in the women's race during the men's. So go ahead and sign off on the archiveable portion of the show but stay on the air until the women's winner finishes. Thankfully, Toni Reavis is smart and great and realized that there was a sprint finish on the women's side just as he was signing off. He ignored the orders to sign off and gave us the finish.

Competitor does deserve a Thumbs Up for bringing competitive fields to Philly. They created races a lot of people were interested in.

*Haile G Remains Undefeated As Adere Repeats! *LRC Thread On Race *LRC Matthew Kisorio Slays Gebre Gebremariam As Ryan Hall Struggles *LRC Meseret Defar Wins As Shalane Flanagan Runs 68:36

Props To Jordan Hasay & Univ. Of Oregon

This summer we generated some controversy on LetsRun by discussing the academic ranking of the University of Oregon. There had  been talk on the LRC message board about the quality of an Oregon education, and some people on the boards had compared it to top state schools like UNC and UVA. We perhaps stepped in it by trying to point out that Oregon is one of the lower-rated major academic state universities in the US. That may not matter as the bigger point is you can get an amazing education at a ton of schools and Oregon's Jordan Hasay proves it this week. Take a look at the blog post she put up about her trip to the White House to celebrate their national indoor title: Jordan Hasay's Blog on Trip To White House. It's incredibly well written. Congrats to Jordan, who seems to really have it all together.

More: *Photos *Video

Quotes Of The Week (That Weren't Quotes Of The Day)

#1 From Melody Fairchild
"I drew a line in the dirt and said, 'Each day I'm going to run one step farther.' Before I knew it, I was running from Fourmile over to Sunshine Canyon and back - about 5 miles round trip. I was 10. Then I started chipping away at the time it took me."

- former legendary teenage runner Melody Fairchild talking about how she got her start in the sport in fifth grade in the simplest of ways. It certainly shows that many people over-complicate things. Fairchild is now attempting a comeback at age 37 and was profiled in the The Denver Post.

#2 From Tyson Gay
"If you said to me on January 1st of this year that at the end of the season you would have the fastest time in the world at 100m, be undefeated at 100m, have an all-time world best at 200m on a straightaway and be part of the USA 4 x 1 relay with the fastest time of the year, I would have said, 'I'll take it.'"

- American sprinter Tyson Gay writing about his 2010 season in a diary on the IAAF site.

#3 About Andrew Wheating
"He's goofy. He's the same guy who would sit in the back of the room in junior high looking up dirty words in the dictionary."

- John Walls talking about his long-time friend Andrew Wheating, who was profiled in Sports Illustrated last week for running 3:30.90 less than six years after starting running.

#4 From Craig Mottram
"There was a lot of pressure (at the 2008 Olympics) and I stuffed it up to be honest with you. I did not have a good plan going into it and I just did not run well. That is hard to wear ... but you can get over it."

- former World Championships bronze medallist Craig Mottram talking in a Sydney paper about what happened in the 2008 Olympics. Mottram may be the best interview in the sport as he's always brutally honest. When's the last time you saw an athlete admit the pressure got to him?

Robert Cheseret (Bernard Lagat's Brother) Wins His First US Title

The US Road 5k champs were weaker this year than most *LRC Molly Huddle And Robert Cheseret Win US 5k Titles Don't know Cheseret? He's Bernard Lagat's brother as well as the guy who was able to beat Dathan Ritzenhein for the NCAA title even though he fell down in the middle of the race. Huddle, the new American record holder got an easy win.

Recommended Reads
Read of the Week:
Andrew Wheating Gets Props & Talks Big In Sports Illustrated Wheating got a feature profile in SI a rarity for a track athlete. Plus, he talks big and has others talking big about him. Wheating, who is known for running from the back, says he's not afraid to try to try to run on David Rudisha's shoulder in a world record attempt.

Former 5,000-Meter World Record Holder Sir Christopher Chataway Hopes To Beat 80% Of The Field on His 80th Birthday At The Great North Run
*LRC: Why Doug Logan Is Out At USATF And Where It Goes From Here
*A Brief Chat With Nick Willis Willis talks about his comeback, his feelings on drug cheat Rashid Ramzi and even Alan Webb being a third wheel.
*Alberto Salazar Talks In Depth About Alan Webb's Comeback Apparently, Five Guys burgers and beers are out as Webb has lost 8 pounds. Prior to his 3:36, Webb was discouraged as he struggled to run 10 200s in 27.5.
*10 Years After Speeding To Olympic 100-Meter Glory, Marion Jones Is Now Teaching Others (And Herself) To Slow Down Before Making Big Decisions

Other Happenings Of Note
*S. African Parliament Calls Caster Semenya "Mr."
*LRC Molly Huddle And Robert Cheseret Win US 5k Titles Don't know Cheseret? He's Bernard Lagat's brother as well as the guy who was able to beat Dathan Ritzenhein for the NCAA title even though he fell down in the middle of the race.
Former NAIA Star Aaron Rono (3:58.18) & Carmen Douma-Hussar (4:35.60) Win Grandma's Minnesota Mile

USATF Head Doug Logan Is Fired
LRC: Why Doug Logan Is Out At USATF And Where It Goes From Here *Phil Hersh: How The Logan-Hightower Relationship Went From Kiss-Kiss To Kiss-Off In The Last Year
Logan Replacement Likely To Come From Within Sport
*SI Claims Logan Secured $10 Million A Year Deal With Nike
*Logan Vowed To Clean House And Now He's The One Shown The Door
NY Times: Steph Hightower Says It's Halftime Between Olympics And Time To Make Changes
Reuters: Board President Steph Hightower Admits She Didn't Vote For Or Against Doug Logan When He Was Hired How a board member could not have enough info is ridiculous - either for them personally or the search process in general.
Chicago Tribune: Next Guy Had Better Be At Least $2 Million Better Than Logan
On The Boards:
USA Track & Field dumps CEO Logan *Farewell Doug Logan, we hardly knew ya... *Deena Kastor Comments

Doping News
*South African Sprinter Alleges She Was Injected With Actovegin Without Her Knowledge By A Former E. German Coach *Person Making Accusation Wants Spot On South African Athletics Board *Meet The Alleged Doping Doctor Here


Quotes Of The Day From Last Week

Monday: "I went out really hard with the front guys. It was just way too fast, obviously. I think my ego got the best of me a little bit."
- American Dathan Ritzenhein, talking after fading to a 62:34 4th-place finish in the BUPA Great North Run. It was a tough day for the US's top two half marathoners in history as American record holder Ryan Hall was way worse - running only 63:55 in Philly - and Hall didn't even go out hard. Ritz hit 5k in 14:09 as compared to Hall's 14:40. Ritz hit 10k in 28:53 as compared to Hall's 29:31.

Sunday: "He's a freak of nature, the guy is ridiculous. He's capable of challenging my American record in the 800, but in the 1,500, my goodness, he can break the world record [El Guerrouj's 3:26.00, in 1998] and win medals."
- US 800-meter record holder Johnny Gray (1:42.60) talking about Andrew Wheating in a Sports Illustrated piece on the "giant" talent.

Saturday: "He's a freak of nature, the guy is ridiculous. He's capable of challenging my American record in the 800, but in the 1,500, my goodness, he can break the world record [El Guerrouj's 3:26.00, in 1998] and win medals."

- US 800-meter record holder Johnny Gray (1:42.60) talking about Andrew Wheating in a Sports Illustrated piece on the "giant" talent.

Friday: "It was so painful, because the sort of training we did one realises now was totally inadequate. I never ran more than 25 miles in a week. I smoked too. So the only way in which you could do well in major races was by pushing yourself extremely hard. In my old age I don't do that. I'm there to enjoy it."
- Former 5,000-meter world record holder Sir Christopher Chataway talking about what running was like for him back in the 1950s and what it's like for him now. This weekend, he'll attempt to beat 80% of the field on his 80th birthday at the Great North Run.

Thursday: "It was huge. ABC set up nine cameras on the course and covered the race live. Britain's Steve Ovett, the world record holder at the time, committed to the race, and BBC agreed to carry it live, too (Ovett later cancelled at the last minute due to a viral infection). Lebow, perhaps the greatest athlete recruiter ever, got Coghlan, Scott, Steve Cram, John Walker, Tom Byers, Mike Boit, Ray Flynn and five other top athletes to commit to the race."
- David Monti writing about the 1st Fifth Avenue Mile 30 years ago. Live NATIONAL television in both the US and UK. Sydney Maree won the race in a still-standing record of 3:47.52. This year's 5th Avenue Mile has us really excited, although it will be live only on the internet.

Wednesday: And I figure, why not go for it?"
- 37-year-old Melody Fairchild, arguably the greatest high school American runner ever, talking about her improbable comeback in the sport. A recommended read in the Denver Post.
On The Boards: Melody Fairchild Going For It Again

Tuesday: "File this the under inmates running the asylum.
Here's the Monday statement from the inmates.
USATF Board to hire new CEO."

Chicago Tribune Olympic writer Phil Hersh's opening in a story breaking a story as to how Doug Logan has been dumped by USATF after just two years on the job.

Last Week's Homepages
*Mon (Sept. 20) *Sun (Sept. 19) *Sat (Sept. 18) *Fri (Sept. 17) *Thur (Sept. 16) *Wed (Sept. 15) *Tue (Sept. 14)

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