The Week That Was(n't) In Running - December 13 - December 19, 2010
December 22, 2010
Last week, little of note happened in the world of running, so instead of writing a weekly recap, we decided to finish up our Christmas shopping. However, we still wanted to get our weekly recap out there. Below, we provide you with enough links to relive last week's limited action and then we highlight two things of note.
1) Last week, we highlighted the decision of Dathan Ritzenhein and Galen Rupp to run the Edinburgh XC meet next month. What some of us (half the LetsRun.com staff) didn't know was in essence they are running a "B" race. As a result, we share a great email we got from an overseas visitor that implores the Western stars like Ritzenhein and Rupp to not fear racing Africans
2) Praise Haile Gebrselassie for being such an icon that he is getting paid $100,000 to promote Johnnie Walker scotch.
Johnnie Walker And Haile G
Last week, it came out that Haile Gebrselassie is being paid $100,000 to promote Johnnie Walker Scotch. Some were upset that Haile was promoting a scotch company.
We were thrilled. Why? Two reasons.
1) It's great to see that a professional runner is such a worldwide icon that he is considered a legend by an international brand like Johnnie Walker.
2) The ad was so well done that it reminded us of a Nike commercial in that it didn't seem like a commercial at all. Rather than be annoyed by an ad, we were entertained and inspired by watching it.
Even if you are a complete teetotaler, we don't understand how anyone couldn't like the ad. Judge for yourself:
Email Of The Week: Don't Fear Racing The Africans
Last week, of the limited distance news that came out, a lot of the articles concerned the Great Edinburgh cross-country race in Scotland on January 8, 2011. Some of the links on LetsRun.com last week were as follows. We were pretty excited to see two of America's starts taking on the World's best at XC:
Rupp And Ritzenhein To Race Great
Edinburgh XC On January 8th Message board thread on their decision here.
*Serhiy Lebid To Lead European Team At Edinburgh XC
*Lebid Would Love To Get His 10th European XC Title Next Year
*Cross-Country Is In Crisis But Edinburgh XC Meet In Scotland Is A Lone Bright Spot The race even gets good television ratings in the UK. Meanwhile, in the US, track and field is rarely on mainstream TV.
We certainly will be thrilled to see Rupp and Ritz racing on the grass in January. What we didn't full realize (or at least the person in charge of the site that day) is that Rupp and Ritzenhein aren't racing the world's best in January. They are in a Team Challenge Race without any runners from Africa. Call it what you want, but it's a "B" race, a "JV" race. Races have the right to set their own fields and set interesting matchups and we don't begrudge them for doing that (the NYC Marathon if it went off PBs in selecting its field would have probably 30 runners from Africa for every non-African, the Olympics even limits entries to 3 per country), but this is taking it to a whole different level. What's next? A race for whites and a race for blacks? Last time we checked there were countries in Africa, too. The organizers could have gotten around this with a "European" team race, but then they wouldn't have had Rupp and Ritz who speak English (good for sponsors) in the race.
This was brought to our attention by an email from LetsRun.com visitor Mark Ince which we loved.
Mark's email speaks for itself:
Here's my view on why cross country is dying in the western countries; we can't compete with the best in the world so we come up with ways of not having to …
This is from my blog (link at the bottom).
The Edinburgh cross country international is always the January highlight. It's the meeting that gets rid of the turkey fat and Christmas cheer lingering around the house and running community. It says "Boys, the fun's over. Now the real fun can start again."
So when I looked over the press releases for the 8 January 2011 event I had some lofty expectations.
One of the best bits of the Edinburgh race is watching the best in the world tough it out, man-on-man. The organisers always put together an impressive field. There are always some tasty head to heads - usually linking in some top westerners (i.e. Americans), top Europeans (Sergey THE LEGEND Lebid) with the top East Africans.
Make no mistake, Kenny B, Eliud Kipchoge et al pretty much always dust the pretenders and run away unchallenged for the final portion of the race. Almost always.
Anyway here is my gripe for January's race. They invited Dathan Ritzenhein and Galen Rupp, two of the US's brightest stars. Dathan in particular has a fantastic cross country pedigree.
But why then are you griping midpack slacker? Here's why:
THEY HAVE SET UP A SEPARATE RACE FOR THE NON-AFRICANS.
A Men's International Team Challenge. Ridiculous. We want to see Ritz charging off alongside Asbel Kiprop, going "hey there, what you have got? Here's what I got." That’s how Ritz races and that's why we love watching him. All the guts and glory of the opening miles of a cross country race. Different athletes, specialising in different distances, meeting over common ground. Literally. It's the magic of cross country.
But not this year.
Nope. You'll get Kiprop, Kipruto and the gang smashing up a 4km race, before a second race, an 8km team challenge (??) comprising the US, UK, and rest of Europe runners. Granted, it will be interesting to see the pecking order in this "second string race" (yes, that's what it is, sorry). But the point is this pecking order would have been just as well decided had it all been in one mass race.
C'mon Edinburgh Cross Country, let's go back to the good stuff next time around, yeah.
Disappointing to say the least.
Like Mark's email? Then visit his blog at http://runinbrum.wordpress.com/.
Thank you Mark for bringing this to our attention. Wejo was contemplating staying a few extra days in Europe to go to this race, but didn't realize it was a "JV" race.
One race in the UK that always gets the world's best is the Virgin London Marathon, the world's most competitive annual marathon. This year is no different. We're still excited about the matchups:
Incredible 2011 Virgin London Marathon Field Announced: Wanjiru Vs. Kebede Vs. Makau On Men's Side Director Dave Bedford is calling the women's field "undoubtedly our strongest ever," but we once again are amazed with his men's field. London's got the top 3 men's marathoners in the world - Sammy Wanjiru, Tsegaye Kebede and Patrick Makau - going head to head to head. This year's Chicago marathon with Wanjiru vs. Kebede duelling to the finish was incredible (and left Sammy Wanjiru exhausted). Now throw Makau (Amsterdam and Berlin champ) into the mix. *Message Board Thread On London
*Meet The Only Two-Time Olympic Pole Vault Champ - The Amazing 84-Year-Old Bob Richards He's lived an amazing life, as he also founded the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, won 11 straight Millrose Games, was an Olympian in the decathlon and had a son who went 18-2 in high school.
Other Happenings Of Note
American Hopefuls Kara Goucher And Desiree Davila To Run Boston 2011
Davila has come a long way in her career, as she got equal billing with
Goucher in the press release. Last week it was announced Ryan
Hall is running Boston.
On The Boards: Desi will kick Kara's butt this April
BAA Expected To Make Changes To Boston Qualifying Times Bill Rodgers has a great quote: "You've got to be good with the computer these days. I'm not. If I was a qualifier, I would lose out." *Joann E. Flaminio Has Been Elected The First Female B.A.A. President
Quotes Of The Day From Last Week
Monday: "The weather is warm and my heart is beating fast. It's Albufeira 2010, we are here. There are six of us and, whatever may be, there is a special electric feel in the air. I can feel it as I type and visualise the race at the same time. I can feel it running through my veins, down my arms to my fingertips. I am ready, we all are. Whatever may be, we have done everything in our control to make it happen. Now we can just let it happen.
And so, for the sake of everyone who has ever believed in me, stood by me when times were rough, or simply asked how I was getting on with 'the running' and given me a clap on the back - when I feel burning pain, when I grimace with anguish, when I know that courage is what I need to get me through, I will not surrender."
- Excerpt from the journal of Brendan O'Neill, member of Ireland's U-23 gold medal-winning European championships team, from the night before the European championships. O'Neill and his teammates have been the toast of Ireland for the last week and even appeared on Ireland's biggest television show - the Late Late Show.
Sunday: "I've never done an 800 outside a heptathlon. I just couldn’t put myself through it; I only do it cause I have to. (I) Absolutely hate it (the 800m). Not just me, either. You sit there in the call room before the 800 and see all the other girls pacing back and forth, all looking petrified."
- British hepathlete Jessica Ennis, who (when not being asked about people googling her a**) talked about her hatred for the 800. The 800 fascinates us. If you still haven't read or watched our piece on Seb Coe, Alberto Juantorena, David Rudisha and Wilson Kipketer all together talking about their love/hate relationship with the 800 click here.
Saturday: "What we as an organization do is we put ourselves out there, we take risks. It was really risky. I was really nervous. Here we are, we're bringing this guy into New York City, he's never been on a plane. We're bringing him in on a wet rainy day. We put him in front of media and, despite working very hard to discourage him from running a marathon, put him on our marathon course.
We did everything we could to make sure we was okay, and we managed the (medical) risks as best we could and lo and behold, I have never in all my years felt like a guy was such a living embodiment of what this was all about, what we're doing here. You know, 'running was my light in the darkness, running kept me alive, running was my salvation.' That's what we advocate and preach, that's what we're doing here, is promoting and developing running to really help people. But this guy, it literally saved his life. And it was like he was meant to be here this week. It really was."
- NYRR head Mary Wittenberg talking about Chilean miner Edison Peña in part 2 of a two-part Runner's World interview.
Friday: "We are improving! I think the attitudes of American runners now are
totally different. They think they can compete, and win honors, titles
and all that. They can go and run with Kenyans and Ethiopians. We saw
Meb win New York City. We saw Dathan get a medal in the World Half
Marathon. We see people breaking American records, which is good! So you
cannot say that because nobody has broken my record that we are not
"I said, 'You know what, I want to get back and compete!' I never wanted to run after 40. But I've got this opportunity: to be in the Olympics. I had the world record. I won the best marathons. But I've never been in the Olympics and I want that on my résumé."
- Khalid Khannouchi in a lengthy profile on raceslikeagirl.com.
- Andew Wheating recalling in a teamUSA.org profile on him how the conversaion with his coach Vin Lananna went last fall when the two talked about their goals for the 2010 season. Wheating ended up far from broke, as he wound up with two NCAA titles and two new impressive PRs of 1:44.56 and 3:30.90. It wasn't enough for him, however, to win the Bowerman award for the top collegiate track athlete as teammate Ashton Eaton and Queen Harrison were announced as the winners yesterday.
Wednesday: "It's very easy to walk into a doctor's office with 7,000 bucks in your pocket (5,000 euros) and tell the doctor that 'the time has come to reach my full potential. Do anything you have to do, here are my veins. Just make me into a champion.' I could have done that."
- Sergio Sanchez talking about doping in track and field and in particular in Spain.
tank's empty. The motivation to do all those little things you need to
do - eating right, getting your sleep - just wasn't there. You can't be
successful in track and field without doing the little things. It's an
all-consuming, 24/7 lifestyle. I love track and field, but it's not
something you can just hang around and do and be good at ..."
"I've said it a million times that I'd rather retire from track than have track retire me. You don't do your career any justice when you limp out of the sport. I did everything I could do, I left it all on the track."
- Canadian 800-meter star Gary Reed, who retired officially on Monday at age 29. Reed went from sleeping on floors to Worlds silver and 4th in the Olympics. To help future struggling athletes, Reed will donate 3% of his salary for life to a foundation he's forming to help up-and-comers. We can just say, "Bravo!!! Gary, you are a class act."