LetsRun.com: The Week That Was In Running: March 30 - April 5, 2010

By LetsRun.com
April 6, 2010

To read last week's LRC Week That Was, click Here.
To read any 2010
LRC Week That Was, click Here.

Each week we try to recap the major events in the world of running to help make sense of it all. Staying on top of the sport is almost a full-time job as there is so much stuff going on each week (oh, wait; it is our full time job).

This week, we give props to Joseph Ebuya, pay homage to the man who invented running in Central Park, talk about how ridiculously stacked the SEC is, are inspired by the minds of two champions (Usain Bolt and Bernard Lagat) worry about Asbel Kiprop and talk about the women's 800 stars of 2008 (Pamela Jelimo) and 2009 (Caster Semenya).

Caster Semenya Returns For A Day
In terms of news that we'll remember years from now, the big news last week was that South African 800 meter star Caster Semenya announced, "I hereby publicly announce my return to athletics competitions." Soon after, the IAAF said, "hold on, Caster, we can't let you compete until June when we decide what gender you are  our medical report on you is finally finished and released."

Caster Semenya - Press Conference
Caster Semenya

In our minds, the IAAF is in a very tough spot but its current ban on Semenya competing is wrong. Some sort of compromise should be reached as Semenya is right when she writes, "I am an athlete first and foremost and it is vital for my competitiveness, my well-being and for my preparations for events during the European summer that I measure my performance against other athletes."

If the IAAF is going to take 10 months to complete its sensitive medical report (which is probably a good thing as you can't afford to mess something like this up), then Semenya should be allowed to compete now but under the condition that anything she runs in is considered an exhibition for everyone in the race for the time being. If it is ultimately determined that it's ok for her to compete as a woman, then all of the races should retroactively be entered into the record books. If in June it comes out she can't compete in women's races, then the races should keep their exhibition status.
More:
*Semenya Emphatically Announces Return To Competitive Running *Official Transcript Of Caster Semenya's Media Announcement *Caster Semenya Told She Must Wait Until June For IAAF Test Verdict

IAAF World Cross Country Championship
Joseph Ebuya

Joseph Ebuya's Life Story Unveiled
Another person that the world probably will still be talking about in 10 years (or actually sitting down to watch a movie about) is Joseph Ebuya. The life story of the 2010 World Cross-Country champion is remarkable. We tried to bring his life story to life last week as we spent more than hour with his coach and agent Ricky Simms as well as 2000 Olympic 1,500 champ Noah Ngeny, who also helps coach Ebuya. Our 7th edition of Track Talk may have been our best ever.

Ebuya comes from a nomadic upbringing and five years ago, he was so raw he didn't know what the numbers on a clock meant and he didn't know how to hold a pen and put his signature on his first Nike contract. Even the concept of winning a race wasn't fully understood by him, as Ebuya failed to kick at the end of the world junior 10k and ran in next to the winner, getting the silver instead of the gold. But to Simms, Ebuya's lack of desire to cross the line first made sense, as Ebuya joined his group after just trying to keep up with Simms pros by running next to them barefoot as 15- or 16-year-old teenager in trousers.

"[After the world junior 10,000] we kind of then started wondering 'what is going on?' And we realized that through his whole running career, the objective for him was to keep up with the leaders. If they were doing an hour he would keep up for 10 minutes, then 15 minutes then up to 40 minutes. So I think the concept of actually trying to beat someone in a sprint was still something that when you told him, he knew it, but it really wasn't deep down. He was still happy to kind of be in front and kind of finish at the front. He liked the feeling when you finished at the front of the group. He'd feel quite good about it. So that killer instinct in the last lap was something that we saw that he didn't really quite get it quite yet. It's something that took a couple of years working at to getting up to really wanting to win these races."

We highly encourage you to learn more about Ebuya as well as Simms PACE Management group in Kenya by listening to the whole podcast. More: *Highlights Of Ricky Simms And Noah Ngeny Track Talk *Full Transcript Of Ricky Simms And Noah Ngeny Track Talk  *LetsRun.com Training Talk Main Page

Quote Of The Week #1
Our quote of the week (that wasn't a quote of the day) comes from Olympic 800 meter champ Wilfred Bungei who summed up LetsRun.com's feelings perfectly when he talked about how it's becoming a major problem that so many Kenyan athletes are defecting to countries like Qatar, Bahrain and the US.

    "You will soon find 12 Kenyans in the final of 3,000m steeplechase, 5,000m or 10,000m in the Olympic Games or World Championships. So that will be a Kenyan championships, not Olympics or World Championships. And who is interested in that situation?

    This movement of athletes is portraying our sport very, very badly. Something ought to be done to curb these defections."

Bungei is a wise man. So wise that we took notice when he also said last week that he thinks that David Rudisha and Abubaker Kaki might break the 800-meter world record.
More: *Wilfred Bungei Says Kenyan Defections Will Kill Athletics *Bungei Says David Rudisha Can Break WR And Cautions Media In Dealing With Athletes

Quote of The Week #2
Our second quote of the week (that wasn't a quote of the day) comes from a great piece written by Donald McRae of The Telegraph on the Jamaican Boys & Girls Athletics Championships in Jamaica - aka "The Champs." The Champs is the highlight of the Jamaican athletics calendar and is one of the few track meets in the world that we haven't seen but really want to see.

British hurdling great Colin Jackson talks about The Champs.

    "I've been to a few championships in my time. And, you know, the Olympics, the worlds and the Europeans are all pretty good. They're OK. But this is different. This is Champs. When you come here you see the real root of the sport. The Jamaican kids have such desire to compete. It's incredible. And the knowledge of the crowds is fantastic. Inside that stadium will be women in their mid-60s who will be able to discuss the form of all these school stars. It illustrates the knowledge and commitment you find at Champs....This is athletics in its purest state."
    More: Why Jamaica's Champs Is One Of The Best Track Meets In The World

RIP To The Mayor Of Central Park
Jogging is commonplace nowadays, but it really is a relatively recent phenomenon. Today in New York, tens of thousands of people jog in Central Park but it wasn't always like that. The man who "invented" jogging in Central Park - Alberto Arroyo - has died and the running world has lost a great figure in the process. The "Mayor of Central Park," Arroyo, was the first man to run around the reservoir in Central Park, as he did so in 1937 after a policeman told him to get off the bridle path just below it as he was scaring the horses. You can read a New York Times article on Arroyo's passing, but the best thing we've found on Arroyo is an on-line profile of him from 1998.

In that article from http://ultrafondu.free.fr/GrandsFondus/2002-04-AlbertoEnglish.php, Arroyo talks about what it was like back in the day when he was basically the only one running:

    "His boss thought he was crazy, his colleagues looked askance at him. 'I wasn't really popular, he admits. While they were smoking cigars at lunch I was out, running. And they complained about feeling bad!'"

In the modern world, tons of people run, but Arroyo says many of them still don't get it:

IAAF World Youth Championships - Day Five
Kirani James
Frosh Phenom Is Only #2 Frosh In SEC

Message Board Post Of The Week/NCAA News/The SEC Is Ridiculous
Looking at collegiate track and field action, last week we talked about some fast distance times at Stanford. This week we want to praise the SEC for its ridiculous sprint action. The SEC is the best conference in the land for track and field, as pointed out by LRC message board poster "Quiet Observer" in our Message Board Post Of The Week, as he correctly pointed out there are 8 SEC men's teams ranked in the top 25. If you are wondering how that could be possible, consider the following ridiculousness.

Last week, SEC did the following on the men's side alone:

1) So. Marchus Rowland (Auburn) ran 10.03 (NCAA #1)
2) So. Jeff Demps (Florida) ran 10.11 (NCAA #2)
3) Evander Wells (Tennessee) ran 20.47 (NCAA #1)
4) Fr. Kirani James (Alabama) Ran 45.02 (NCAA #2)
5) So. Christian Smith (Florida) ran 45.55 (NCAA #3)
6) Calvin Smith (Florida) ran 45.62 (NCAA #4)
7) Johnny Dutch (S. Carolina) ran 49.52 in the 400h (NCAA #1) 
8) Julius Bor (Alabama) ran 3:41.11 (NCAA #1)
9) Florida ran 38.93 in the 4 x 100 (NCAA #1)
10) Florida ran 3:00.31 in the 4 x 400 (NCAA #1)
11) Fr. Ricky Robertson (Miss.) jumped 7'5.75 in the HJ (NCAA #1)
12) So. Brian Knight (Miss.) jumped 7'4.75 in the HJ (NCAA #1)
13) Walter Henning (LSU) threw  246'1 in the hammer (NCAA #2)

So all told, the SEC has the top two marks in the country in the HJ, the top three marks in the country in the 100, the top 4 in the 400, the #1 mark in the 200, 400h, 1,500, 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 as well as the #2 mark in the hammer throw.

In other unrelated news, Penn State ran 7:18 in the 4 x 800, which wasn't surprising considering they qualified 4 in the 800 for NCAAs indoors. What is surprising is that the time is only 7th best time all-time at PSU.

More: *17-Year-OldAlabama Freshman Kirani James Runs 45.02 To Break 32-Year-Old School Record At CARIFTA Games It's going to be an unbelievable year in the 400 in the SEC. *UF 4 x 400 3:00.31!!!!! *Florida Relays Results *Jeff Demps Runs 10.11 At Pepsi Florida Relays

News From Kenya - One Olympic Champ Appears To Be On The Way Back Up - Is One On The Way Down?
Last week, there was a low-key meet in Kenya that ended up being pretty standard stuff as a) a ton of people showed up to race as 534 wanted to run the 1,500 and 5k, showing you just how many people are hoping running will be their financial savior and b) the large contingent included two Olympic champions. The first one, Olympic 800 meter champ Pamela Jelimo, was probably encouraged by her 2:06 800 meter win as it was her first race back after a somewhat serious knee injury at the end of last year's track season.

The 2nd Olympic champ, 1,500 champ Asbel Kiprop, likely was disappointed, as he was only 4th in the 1,500 - some 10 seconds behind the winner. Kiprop is a Bolt-like talent in our minds, so we have no idea how that's even possible.
More: *Nixon Chepsaina Beats Asbel Kiprop By 10 Seconds In Nakuru 1,500

Weekly Free Training Advice
This week's free training tip comes from Meb Keflezighi courtesy of a Running Times article on him. Meb said that in 2009, he did a lot of ancillary work that he thought really helped him.

     "Running an hour and a half every day is the easy part. It's the other non-running stuff you do that makes the difference."

Now, before you start going crazy on plyos and weights, please realize that 99% of the world isn't running 90 minutes a day. The vast majority of the population would be better if they simply ran more. But if you have that covered, drills and plyos can be big, particularly for injury prevention. If you are going to do them, it certainly helps to have them supervised by official LRC-recognized coaching genius Dan Pfaff.
More:
*Stronger, Rejuvenated Meb

Weekly Doping Update
A couple of articles worth mentioning on the anti-doping front from last week:

1) New IAAF "Entourage Commission" Led By Sergey Bubka Will Examine Doctors, Physios And Coaches Accompanying Athletes According to one of our sources, the IAAF is trying to figure a way to hold coaches and doctors responsible if they have anything to do with athletes doping.
2) Russia's Sports Minister Admits 343 Doping Positives In 3 Years While President Medvedev Threatens Criminal Charges Against Winter Olympic Coaches

Road Racing News
The hot road-racing action continued around the planet last week, with the biggest race happening in New Orleans. Gotta give a Thumbs Up to Lineth Chepkirui, who skipped the raucous post-World Championships celebrations in Kenya to get the win in a very impressive 30:45 in New Orleans. Overall, the road highlights included:

Term Of The Week - Stawell Gift
Each week, we're not only trying to make sense of the world of running for you, we're also trying to educate you. This week, we urge you learn about the Stawell Gift - the most prestigiuos foot race in Australia each year. If you click on that link, you'll learn all about the race thanks to Wikipedia. The race is always held Easter weekend, so you can read about this year's race here: *"Johnny Drama" Accused Of Sandbagging As He Wins $40k At Australia's Richest "Gift" *Burbidge's "Entourage" Thrilled With His Win *Burbidge Absorbs Largest Fine In 129-Year History Of Stawell Gift

Video Of The Week
Our Track Talk with 2000 Olympic 1,500 champ Noah Ngeny reminded us that he also is still the 1,000m world record holder at 2:11.96. That trip down memory lane was an enjoyable one, but not nearly as enjoyable as actually watching the race. It's a thing of beauty. Enjoy:

 

The Minds Of Two Great Champions - Recommended Reads
Before we get to our list of Recommended Reads, we thought we'd talk about two articles written last week about two of the greatest athletes in the sport. One was on an old cagey distance runner, 35-year-old Bernard Lagat, and one was on a young sprinter, 23-year-old Usain Bolt. Both Bolt and Lagat are very talented, but it's clear that both of them have minds of champions and really enjoy what they doing.

Lagat said the following to Running Times:

    "Now, more than ever, I am having so much fun.  Before, I just wanted to win so badly. Even now, I hate when I lose, but I don't beat myself up about it. I used to want to win all the time. Now I'm having so much fun. Being a family man, having kids, it makes me even more relaxed. When my kid comes to watch me train, I'm having a blast. My son is like my coach. It's so funny. He does cooldowns with me.

    But most important is my mental toughness. I tell myself that I am the toughest guy here. I have the experience. Some of these guys are even 16 years younger than me. But I say, 'OK, you are a young guy, but when we square off, you know what? I'm going to be the winner, because I'm tough. I have the most experience. And I'm fast.'"

The above quote comes from a standard Q&A interview of Lagat where he even addressed his EPO A positive from 7 years ago.

The second piece we really enjoyed was a profile of Usain Bolt written by Donald McRae for The Telegraph. McRae spent time with Bolt in the club, at the track and on the beach in Jamaica and if you read the entire article, you'll really learn about the uniqueness of Usain Bolt's personality and how he is truly thriving in the limelight. He lives for big moments and is enjoying his success, whereas so many other athletes crumble once they reach the top. It's definitely worth reading. And Guinness drinkers rejoice; Bolt has had to change his lifestyle a bit, but he still loves his Guinness.

In terms of track and field, Bolt talks about his goals for the non-championship 2010 year. It's clear that if he's going to have a down year, this would be the year for Bolt to take it easy. We'll see how it plays out:

    "But this year, without a World Championships or Olympics, might be more difficult. You can slack off because you don't have to worry so much. But I have to try and stay on top because I owe it to my sponsors, Puma, who stuck by me when I was young and had some injuries. I also owe it the fans because they come out to see me win ... But this year I want to take it as easy as possible. Of course, if I need to run as fast as 9.5 to stay unbeaten I have to do it. But if I just have to run 9.9 to win every race, then that's what I want - because next year is different. I have to get back to 9.5 next year."

Speaking of Lagat and Bolt, both will be at the adidas Grand Prix on June 12th in New York City, as it came out last week that Lagat is in the men's field. Lagat will also be at the Drake Relays.


Top 20 Threads The Last Week
1. WTF Ryan Hall
2. April Fooled: Fell for it
3. UF 4x400 3:00.31!!!!!
4. Ritz beat Ebuya, Kipsirop and Komon in Zurich
5. Just Returned From Court - Busted for Peeing in the Bushes, cont.
6. I have a crush on a girl that works at a coffee shop.
7. boston lowering qualifying times in 2011
8. 2010 Alan Webb Prediction Thread
9. Crescent City 10k results????
10. Obama Nike/Hansons Article
11. Ebuya ran a 13:03 not knowing how many laps a 5k was. And you say Ritz would've been in the medal hunt.
12. Russian genius not sure if he'll take his $1 million prize for solving 100-year-old math problem
13. Jon Grey of W&M runs 13:54 and 30:08 in one night ??
14. Fayetteville-Manlius coaches start Nike-sponsored running club
15. If you are under 30, you are in trouble
16. Doctor tells Obama supporters to f*** off
17. My father in law wants to be the first to hold my newborn son... should I let him?
18. WHO was the best Steeplechaser of the decade of the 70s?
19. Canadian Simon Bairu embarrasses USA XC runners
20. Illinois Head Coach


Recommended Reads
*Highlights Of Ricky Simms And Noah Ngeny Track Talk
*
Full Transcript Of Ricky Simms And Noah Ngeny Track Talk
*Bernard Lagat Q&A
*Usain Bolt Talks To Guardian About Clubbing, Loving Life In Kingston, And Maybe Giving 100% In A 100m Someday
*Esquire Runs Lengthy Feature On Usain Bolt Titled: Mutant
*The Story Of Alberto Arroyo With Photos On His Bench
*Why Jamaica's Champs Is One Of The Best Track Meets In The World
*Kids, Read About Dave Wottle And How Track Used To Be Münich 800m champion Dave Wottle gives a long and interesting interview with Gary Cohen. Outside of running, he talks about water skiing naked with Steve Prefontaine.
*LetsRun.com And Maine Favorite Riley Masters And Coach Lech Talk About His Training For Sub-4


LetsRun.com Quotes Of The Day  - Day By Day:

Monday: "When I woke up today early I was feeling OK, and my mind was back again, and I said, 'OK, this is a good day for a nice race.' I could not tell how my body was going to be today after a long travel here, but I am happy because I did what I didn't expect."
- Lineth Chepkurui after running the #6 all-time 10km time in the world Saturday at the Crescent City Classic. Less than a week ago she finished 5th at World XC behind Tirunesh Dibaba in Poland, but got enough rest to run 30:45 and finish only a few seconds behind some of the elite men on the streets of New Orleans.

Sunday: "I think coaching the Kenyans is a little bit different because they train in a group. They don't analyze every single thing they do every day or every little ache and pain ... We go to the track, we do a workout, and then I don't see them until the next day when we go back to the track again ... Whereas, even as manager for a lot of non-Kenyan athletes ... they come into the office, we talk a lot longer about how they felt in the workout, about how their blood test was, about how everything is going. And I think perhaps we over think things too much sometimes."
- Ricky Simms talking about how he can help coach dozens of Kenyans like Joseph Ebuya from another continent in less time than it takes to coach one or two non-Kenyans.

Saturday: "Albert Chepkurui, who was one of the big guys then, said, 'Ricky, you wanna see this guy; he was running with us today, we were going fast and he was able to stay with us for 40 minutes. But he had no shoes on, he was running in trousers.' And I was like, 'Whoa, that's pretty good.'"
- Just the tip of the iceberg of the incredible story of Joseph Ebuya, the man who did the Kenyan equivalent of scoring the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl when he won World Cross-Country this week. Ebuya's manager and coach Ricky Simms and coach Noah Ngeny (yes, the 2000 Olympic champion and 2:11.96 1,000m WR holder) were generous enough to join us for an hour-long Training Talk on Thursday.

Friday: "Jackson shook his head in amazement. 'I go into stadiums in the UK and I can tell you that spectators won't even know the names of the major stars in our sport - never mind high-school runners. At Champs you get to understand how deeply ingrained track and field is in this nation. My parents are both Jamaican, and I was brought up with Jamaican culture, but I still couldn't understand why they had this passion for the sport. It was only when I came to Champs that I finally understood. This is athletics in its purest state.'"
- Sprinter Colin Jackson, who echoed Usain Bolt's praise for Jamaica's "Champs" in a good article by Donald McRae for The Guardian.

Thursday - April Fools QOD : "Russian officials question effectiveness of blood doping ..."
  - The sports page headline from Moscow on Wednesday. In a stunning admission, frustrated Russian political and athletic leaders are no longer convinced that blood doping really works.

Real Headline: "Most important is my mental toughness. I tell myself that I am the toughest guy here. I have the experience. Some of these guys are even 16 years younger than me. But I say, 'OK, you are a young guy, but when we square off, you know what? I'm going to be the winner, because I'm tough. I have the most experience. And I'm fast.' These are the things that are inside me."

- American Bernard Lagat talks about why he's still the best at age 35. Lagat just won the world 3,000m indoor title and almost outsprinted Kenenisa Bekele for the world 5,000 meter outdoor title last year. He plans to lower Dathan Ritzenhein's new US 5,000m record this summer and says he hopes to put it at 12:50.

Wednesday: "I hereby publicly announce my return to athletics competitions."
  - Caster Semenya in a strongly-worded speech she read to reporters on Tuesday.

Tuesday: "New Yorkers are obssessed with money, quantity. During the interviews, people always want to know how many kilometers I've run in my whole life, how many a day, whatever ... I really don't care. I'm only interested in living in harmony with nature and running for fun. That's it. I'm too old now to make performances. The most important thing is to be fulfilled in mind."
- Alberto Arroyo, known as the mayor of Central Park, who died in a nursing home this week at age 94. Read the New York Times article on his death.


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