LetsRun.com: The Week That Was In Running: January 25 - January 31, 2010
Millrose Coverage: *Results
Last week, the Millrose Games in NYC took center stage once again. We won't provide a total recap of the meet in this weekly recap but do give you the option of reading the coverage above. But we did want to give out a quick Thumbs Up to the star of the show, Bernard Lagat. He dispatched Asbel Kiprop and Andy Baddeley so easily that we heard two different people within 30 minutes of the meet say, "Do you think that was race was set-up so that Kiprop would let Lagat win?"
The answer is no. Lagat is very, very good and he's even better at Millrose. Remember, Kiprop did beat Baddeley and Baddeley had run 3:55 at the Armory the week before. Plus, Kiprop had never run an indoor race in his life and wasn't even planning on coming to Millrose until Deresse Mekonnen didn't get his visa.
But really the credit must go to Lagat. He's been so dominant at Millrose that many people probably aren't properly appreciating his eight titles. We did a little bit of research into who he's beaten in his 8 victories and by how much and it's rather staggering.
In winning eight titles (2001, 2003, 2005-2010), Lagat has beaten quite the cast of characters. His Millrose scalps include the likes of Olympic champions Kenenisa Bekele and Noah Ngeny, Olympic silver medallist Nick Willis, World Championships bronze medallist Craig Mottram, and American mile record holder Alan Webb. Lagat actually has embarrassed some of the big names at Millrose, as he beat Bekele by almost 5 seconds in 2006 and Webb by 8-plus seconds in 2005 and 10-plus seconds in 2007.
In general, when he's won, Lagat has normally won in dominant fashion, as he did this year.
Only three of Lagat's 8 wins have been by less than a second:
2008: Lagat 3:57.51 to Mottram's 3:57.90
2007: Lagat 3:54.26 to Mottram's 3:54.81
2001: Lagat 3:58.26 to Laban Rotich's 3:58:40
Lagat's first Millrose win in 2001 clearly was the closest, as four guys finished within 1 second. It went like this: Lagat 3:58.26, Rotich 3:58.40, Mark Carroll 3:59.09, and Seneca Lassiter 3:59.16.
Clearly, the two competitors who have given Lagat the stiffest competition in New York have been Craig Mottram and Laban Rotich. In addition to his near miss in 2001, Rotich did actually beat Lagat in 2002 (3:57.04 to Lagat's 3:57.36). Lagat didn't compete in 2004 and every other year since 2001, Lagat has been the winner.
Lagat is definitely the new Chairman of the Boards as he has beaten studs every which way. He's won in races over four minutes (4:00.36 in 2003) as well as fast ones - as in a Wanamaker mile record 3:52.87. In that 3:52.87 race in 2005, second place was Rotich in 4:00.36 and Rotich had beaten Lagat the week before at Reebok Boston.
In terms of other Thumbs Ups from Millrose, we think one should go to Sara Hall, who had another fine showing and near miss at Millrose. In 2008, Hall, who in many circles is best known for being Ryan Hall's wife, finished 2nd at Millrose - just .08 behind Kara Goucher, 4:36.03 to 4:36.11. Well, this year, she made things even more entertaining as she came up an agonizing .02 short of the victory, 4:31.50 to Hannah England's 4:31.48. Losing is never fun, but considering she ran almost 5 seconds faster than she did in 2008, when she went on to run her 4:08.55 PR outdoors, Sara probably is pretty happy with her showing.
A Rare Double Thumbs Up Is In Store For 49-Year-Old Willie Gault.
One Thumbs Up is for being one of the all-time greatest athletes in history. Gault has done it all.
In football, he was a key member of the Chicago Bears NFL Super Bowl championship team in 1986. In Super Bowl XX, he had 129 receiving yards as the Bears routed the Patriots. Gault also was a key figure behind the Bears smash-hit song - The Super Bowl Shuffle. If you were born after 1980, please make sure you watch the video on the right.
In the bobsled, he made the 1988 Olympic team and broke the world record in the push start.
In track, his accomplishments are truly ridiculous. He made two US Olympic teams (but competed in zero as in 1980 the US boycotted and 1984 he wasn't allowed to compete as he was also an NFL player), won two medals at the World Championships (Gold in the 4 x 100 and silver in the 110h in 1983) and set a world record (37.86 on that 4 x 100 team with Carl Lewis, Emmit King and Calvin Smith). Well, make that three world records (if you count age group world records), as Gault is still competing as a master, where he is truly dominant.
At age 45 in 2006, Gault ran 10.72 seconds in the masters 100 meters, and at age 47 in 2008, he set a new world record of 21.80 seconds for the 200 meters. Truly ridiculous. We got to watch Gault run in person at Millrose and it was truly inspiring. If the race against other former NFL players, some of whom were more than 20 years his junior, had been 100 meters instead of 60, Gault probably would have won. Instead, he settled for a close third in a ridiculous 7.07.
As part of his Millrose appearance, Gault received some nice press in the New York Times. Gault's 2nd Thumbs Up goes to him for saying that without a doubt, track and field is his favorite sport.
Quote Of The Week #1. Willie Gault on why track is his favorite sport:
"It's not a team sport. It's a pure sport. Mano a mano."
- Willie Gault quoted in NY Times article where the Times writes says he "said it was 'unfortunate' that 'corporate America' has put so much money into football, saying that 'Americans love violent sports.'"
More: *George Vecsey: A Run To Twlight At The Millrose Games
*Yahoo Sports: Willie Gault is still racing around at 48 (This article was from May but is fantastic)
*NBC Olympics/Universal Sports: Speaking with Willie Gault
Another Double Thumbs Up To Alan Webb
We here at LetsRun.com have been helping spread the word on efforts to save various HS indoor track programs around the country (although truth be told, we don't think indoors is really that important for HS. We just don't want track to be viewed as an unimportant sport at the HS level). Well, we received word from someone at the public hearing in Fairfax county. The excerpt from his or her email says it all:
"Guess who came back in town and spoke at the Hearing last night: ALAN WEBB. BTW: "he looks downright lean compared to a year ago."
So there you have it. Two Thumbs Up to Alan Webb. 1) For showing up to try to save indoor track in his native Fairfax County and 2) For losing some weight.
We expect big things from Webb in 2010 if he's healthy.
Thumbs Up to Nolan Shaheed. Not sure how we forgot to put this in the weekly recap last week, but somehow it happened. On January 23rd, in Ithaca, NY, we watched Shaheed become the first 60-year-old in the history of the world to break 5 minutes in the mile indoors, as he ran a new world record of 4:57.06.
Yes, 4:57.06 for the full mile indoors as a 60-year-old. And for that, Shaheed was rightfully named USATF Athlete of the Week last week.
More: *Shaheed Named USATF Athlete Of The Week *Ithaca Journal Recap of Hartshorne Memorial Masters Mile
Quote Of The Week #2
"What’s really interesting is we know the amount of mileage that athletes have to run to perform well. We know the training that it takes to be great ...
My belief is that for our runners to be successful in the
marathon, they need to be able to run between 120 and 150 miles a week. That’s
what almost all of the great runners have done. We need to get them to that
point and we need to be smart in how we get them there. Once they can do that, then we can
step back and we can look at how can we push the pace faster, how can we get
marathon-specific training going."
- coach Greg McMillan talking in the third edition of the LetsRun.com's exclusive Training Talk radio show. Read highlights from the show here, or listen to it via player on the left or go here to download it.
Quote of The Week #3
"Unless you're Galen Rupp, everyone starts off as a blue collar runner ... I like to think of myself as the blue collar guy. I'm just going to get out there and run a ton of miles and its going to pay off. We don't have any Alter-G's in the living room."
- 2:10:36 American marathoner Brett Gotcher responding to a question as to whether he's a blue collar or yuppie runner in the third edition of LetsRun.com exclusive Training Talk radio show.
Thumbs Down to TV company Blakeway Productions. The outfit is going to do an investigative piece on the amount of money the London Marathon and other races make from charities. In case you haven't figured it out, the Virgin London Marathon is the best and most competitive marathon in the world.
The reason they are the best is they have the most money to give out in terms of the combined appearance fees/prize money. Where does the money come from? From sponsorships and race entry fees. A huge amount of the race entry fees come from charities that pay the London marathon each year for guaranteed entry spots.
The math behind the big dollars in London is quite simple. According to Steven Downes of morethanthegames.com, if a charity wants to have guaranteed entry, they have to pay London roughly $478.80 per entry (London doesn't use dollars so they actually charge £300 for one entry per year or £7,500 for 25 entries over 5 years (which comes out to £300 per entry)). The charity then in turn gives that entry to runners who promise to raise even more money for the charity; typically, they promise to raise a minimum of almost $4,000 US (£2,000 or $3,192.20).
The whole system works quite well, as last year some $75.3 million was raised for charities by London runners, and London in turn itself got a ton of money to assemble the greatest distance race on the planet. It's hard to know exactly how much the selling of charity spots raises each year for London but it's clearly a minimum of $2.2 million and may be as high as $9 million (the article in one spot implies that 3,700 spots are sold each year, but elsewhere says that "nearly half the field of more than 40,000" will be entered thanks to charities).
So why are we giving Blakeway Productions a Thumbs Down? It's quite simple. We've always thought that if anyone ever did a piece on the London charity scheme that it could only harm the race, as the piece is likely to talk about what London spends (we think it's 50-50 that they use the word "waste") millions a year for elite athletes.
It's likely that whoever is doing the piece thinks the money would be better spent if 100% of the money went directly to the charities. We disagree. Getting people to be physically active is worth billions of dollars a year and kids need pro runners as role models. Plus, professional running takes lots of Africans out of poverty each and every year.
So Blakeway, please save yourself the time and effort. We just did the math for you.
Thumbs Down To Xavier Carter
Last week it came out that one of the great talents in track and field history seemingly continues to want to waste it. The X man - Xavier Carter - who won the 100, 400, 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 at the same NCAA meet - was arrested for the 4th time since turning pro. We needn't say more.
*Arrest #4 *Arrest #3 *Arrest #2 (we actually expressed some sympathy for him after this one) *Arrest #1
Thumbs Down to the Millrose Games for disrespecting Olympic 1,500 champion Asbel Kiprop in the introduction prior to the Wanamaker mile. Every year, we enjoy Millrose (more on Millrose below). The HS races are insanely fun to watch. We love how they do the national anthem right before the Wanamaker mile and and how they introduce each runner one-by-one for the Wanamaker. But we nearly fell out of our chairs when they introduced Asbel Kiprop.
One can debate how exactly he should have been introduced, but one thing would be clear. If we were introducing him, the biggest thing we'd mention is he captured the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in the 1,500. Our intro might have gone as follows: "This next athlete is universally regarded as one of the greatest young talents in the history of running. He captured the 2008 Olympic gold in the 1,500 at the unbelievable age of 19. Ladies and gentleman, if he was in the US in college, he'd still only be a sophomore or junior, please welcome the Boy Wonder, Asbel Kiprop of Kenya."
Instead, the people at Millrose started with something about his 2009 season and then said something to the effect "and in 2008, he crossed the line in 2nd place at the Olympics but was later upgraded to first."
Outrageous. Yet again, the powers that be are seemingly condoning drug use.
Now don't tell us we are overreacting. Yes, we probably still haven't gotten over that in 2002, Millrose elected convicted drug cheat Mary Slaney to its Hall of Fame, but when someone talks about how Kiprop crossed the finish line 2nd, they are giving some credibility to Rashid Ramzi and totally disrespecting Kiprop.
And this is the perfect example of how PED use nearly killed the entire sport of T&F. If not for the cheat Ramzi, Kiprop would be viewed as the "boy wonder" or as the Usain Bolt of middle distance by the whole world, not just LetsRun.com.
Weekly Drug Update
There was a lot of actual drug news last week including some very important developments. They all show just how complicated it is to have a drug-free sport.
Thumbs Down To Crystal Cox
LetsRun.com is known worldwide for its hatred of drug cheats. But our biggest hatred is for drug cheats that don't fess up to drug use after they got caught. Add former 2004 Olympic 4 x 400 medallist Crystal Cox to that list.
Last week, Cox signed a sanction accepting a drug ban but then had the gall to send out an email saying the following: "I fought as long as I could, and tearfully signed the sanction,
accepting the four-year ban, but knowing in my heart and every fiber of
my being I was innocent."
Well, don't sign for the sanction then. It's not like Cox was caught up in a possible false positive or lab error. She was caught in the BALCO scandal.
More: Crystal Cox Given Retroactive DQ As She Tearfully Signs Admission *USADA Release On Cox's Ban *USADA Bans Garfield Ellenwood 2 Years For Non-Analytical Positive Ellenwood's quick file is interesting: was fired in 2009 from coaching Bethune-Cookman, coached the Liberian Olympic track team in 2008, was a low-level elite sprinter who testified in the Balco case against Trevor Graham, and coached an NCAA champion, Ronnie Ash, in 2009.
Drug Case Of The Week: White 8:04 Steepler Is Cleared
Speaking of false positives and lab errors, there was one last week. In case you missed it, the BIG doping news from last week is news that very few people are talking about. Former European steeplechase record holder, Simon Vroemen, who ran 8:04.95, was declared TOTALLY INNOCENT of his drug suspension. Well, we don't think WADA properly used the term "totally innocent," but that's how Vroemen called it on his website.
The facts behind the Vroemen case are unbelievable and we've got to give a major Thumbs Up to Simon Vroemen. And honestly, we have to give an embarrassing Thumbs Down to WADA. If you are going to crack down had on drug cheats, there simply can be ZERO manipulation of things by WADA or scientists working for WADA. Suspected drug cheats need to be 100% given the presumption of innocence and clearly Vroemen wasn't.
Check out how Vroemen describes what happened to him on his website:
"The more spectacular innocence came from scientific research, demonstrating that Vroemen did NOT test positive for steroids (metandienon) prior to the Beijing Olympics. Vroemen's test in the laboratory in cologne showed traces of metandienone, but it was proven that the test was false positive and resulted from an anti astma medicine (budenoside).
Vroemen demonstrated that his urine was
kept 5 days in warm temperatures before the analysis. Budenoside reacts
positive in the Cologne metandienone test under such circumstances.
Moreover, it was demonstrated that the B test of Vroemen's urine was
negative, but the test result was manually corrected and made positive
by the lab. Because of this manual correction, the required 2
certifying scientists did not validate the test result. This is against
We're not sure what "manually corrected" means in this case, but the thought of it disgusts us. If there is any chance someone might be clean, they have to be given the benefit of the doubt. If anyone knows the specifics of this case, please email us.
Because of his vindication, we give Vroemen our:
Quote Of The Week #4:
"This proves that running 8.04 is possible without taking drugs. This must be an encouragement to all Western athletes training hard to achieve the same."
More: Dutch 8:04 Steeplechaser Declared Fully Innocent In Major Drug Doping Case
*Dutch Article On Vroemen Translated *LRC MBoard: VROEMEN declared 100% INNOCENT LR *LRC MBoard: EUROPEAN STEEPLE CHASER VROEMEN REALEASED OF DOPING CHARGES
26 is the number of days until the greatest marathoner on the planet races in New Orleans. Last week, it was announced that Sammy Wanjiru will race in the first Rock 'n' Roll Mardi Gras Marathon & ½ Marathon on February 28, 2010. So the people of New Orleans now officially have two sporting events in February of 2010 to get excited about. The race apparently fits well into Wanjiru's plans, as it's 8 weeks prior to his London marathon defense.
The bad news is that American Ryan Hall has pulled out of the same race. Well, that's probably bad news to the average runner but good news in our minds. After his recent subpar showing at another Rock 'n' Roll race in Arizona in January, it's clear that Hall needs to be 100% focused on getting ready for Boston. One certainly doesn't need to run a good half marathon to run a good marathon and we don't see how getting thumped by Wanjiru in less than 4 weeks would be good for Hall. So we give Hall and his coach Terrence Mahon a Thumbs Up for staying focused don the big long term goal instead of a $hort term one.
More: *Hall Backs Out While Wanjiru Signs Up For Mardi Gras Half Marathon
US College Track Action Heats Up
Last week - roughly a month out from most teams' conference meets - was the weekend when the NCAA collegiate indoor season started to heat up on the distance side. In meets around the country, there were 92 provisional or automatic NCAA qualifying marks hit on the men's (41) and women's side (51).
The highlights by gender and event.
|800: 15 qualifying marks (two autos) led by two athletes in 1:47 territory for Penn State, as well another Nittany Lion at 1:48 and 1:50.||800: 12 provisional marks|
|Mile: 10 qualifying marks (3 autos) and a ridiculous 7 sub-4s.||Mile: 10 provisional marks, led by super frosh Jordan Hasay's national-leading 4:38:38|
|3k: 14 qualifying marks, including 7 sub 8:00s.||3k: 27 qualifying marks (5 autos), with two autos from Villanova.|
|5k: 2 provisional marks, including a 13:48.||5k: 2 provisional marks.|
Teams/individuals deserving special praise include the Penn State men, who
had r 4 NCAA qualifiers in one heat of the 800 at their home meet. Leading the way was national leader Ryan Foster, who set a new Australian indoor record of 1:47.48, which goes nicely
with the Australian 1k record he set two weeks ago (2:19.60). The nation's #2 is also a Nittany Lion in true freshman Cas Loxman, who was a 1:50.45 performer as a prep. PSU also had another 1:48 and a 1:50.
Speaking of Penn State, we realize we almost forgot to praise former Nittany Lion Shana Cox, who broke the US 500 meter record in the same meet with her 68.70 clocking.
The Indiana men had a great weekend as well and look like a top 10 XC team for sure next fall, as they had three provisional qualifiers, as freshman Andrew Beyer went 3:58.98, sophomore De'Sean Turner went 4:02.68 and sophomore Andrew Poore went 13:48.88.
In terms of the women, Thumbs Up to the national champion Villanova Wildcats, who appear to not be resting on their laurels, as they picked up two automatic 3k qualifiers, with Sheila Reid running a national-leading 9:04.85 and Bogdana Mimic runnng 9:07.96.
More: *List Of NCAA Qualfiers In 800 - 5k
And before we get to the Recommended Reads, we just wanted to say there was a ton of news written last week about barefoot running after a study from Harvard University was released on the topic. Honestly, there was so much written about what the study actually means that we got confused.
But we always trust our friends at the Science of Sport to know what's going on, so we recommend that you read their take on it. And if you really are into reading about barefoot running and running shoes, then maybe try former 4:01 HS miler Steve Magness, who wrote a piece earlier this year about the whole phenomena.
More: *Science Of Sport's Take On Harvard Study *Steve Magness On Barefoot Running *Harvard Researchers Launch Website For Those Interested In Barefoot/Minimalist Running *LRC Very Lively Thread On Mark Plaatjes' Article On Barefooting *Brooks CEO Jim Weber Canded On Barefoot Running *LA Times Discusses Study On Barefoot Running *WebMD On The Latest Research On Barefoot Running *Brooks CEO Addresses Barefoot Running *Brooks Shoes 25pg PDF On Why You Shouldn't Run Barefoot And Run In Their Shoes *Mark Plaatjes Jumps In With An Anti-Barefoot Kind Of Perspective *A Letter By The Head Of Road Runner Sports Talking Abut Dangers Of Barefoot Running: *Newton Running's Take On It
Recommended Reads/Listens/Watches From Last Week
*LRC: Training Talk With Brett Gotcher & Greg McMillan
*Yahoo Sports: Willie Gault is still racing around at 48 This article was from May but is fantastic.
*George Vecsey: A Run To Twlight At The Millrose Games
*Irish Times On Eamonn Coghlan Writer Ian O'Riordan recalls being a runner at Brown when Coghlan was a hero running 4:00 miles at the age of 40.
Remembering The Last Week With The Quotes of the Day - Day-By-Day:
Monday: "When I started my study, everybody sort of knew exercise was
beneficial. The government was saying you get benefits by walking three
or four times a week. My data has shown the more you do, the greater
I've had people doing 100 miles a week of running, and you could see benefits up to that level."
- Scientist Paul Williams in a front page story in the San Francisco Chronicle about his research that is being hailed as "the world's largest study on runners." It appears we have long telomeres, and that's a good thing.
"It's definitely a circus, and we're the big animals that people come to see."
- Adam Nelson sums up perfectly what it's like to be at Millrose.
me it is like winning the Olympics today ... I've been here since 2001
and today I'm signing autographs for kids who in 2001 were not even
born and to me that's special."
- Bernard Lagat on being the new
Chairman President? of the Boards, with his 8th Wanamaker mile title.
Friday: "It was a tough field already, and having the Olympic champion makes it better. Bernard's the guy who's proved himself here over the last seven years, but they're making it difficult for him."
- Quote from Andrew Baddeley about tonight's Wanamaker Mile, which just this week got incredibly interesting with the addition of the Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop. Kiprop says he "feels good" about the race. WATCH IT LIVE tonight on ESPN2 AT 9:50 PM EST. If you live in NY, get your butt in the seats.
Thursday: "What we were doing wasn't rocket science ... It was just the attitude of the team. He just made you believe."
- Quote from 2:10 debut marathoner and US 20km Champion Brett Gotcher talking about being coached by Vin Lananna his freshman year at Stanford. Gotcher and coach Greg McMillan of McMillan elite were LetsRun.com's guests on "Training Talk" on Wednesday night. We highly encourage you to listen to the 90 minute show and have provided you with highlights at the link above.
Wednesday: "The Boston Marathon, the oldest annual marathon in the world, will celebrate its 114th anniversary this April. Long time sponsor John Hancock Financial, which became the main sponsor of the event in 1986, will celebrate its 25th anniversary as sponsor by creating a Twitter page."
- Opening line of news release issued on MyBankTracker.com. We can't believe people get paid to come up with this stuff.
Tuesday: "Wanjiru's plans to race in Berlin last year were nipped in the bud by reluctance of organisers to enlist him at the event since they had a contract with Haile, who was responsible for selecting the field."
- Mutwiri Mutuota writing for The Standard. In the article, Sammy Wanjiru talks about getting shut out of Berlin last year because Haile Gebrselassie had a contract with Berlin that said he could essentially pick the field. He calls out Haile for not racing the good Kenyans and says this year Haile's contract with Berlin is up, so expect Wanjiru in the German capital.