The Week That Was In Running: Vaughn And Russell Brown Surprise, Flanagan And Eaton Impress, Gebremeskel Wins With One Shoe, And Yenew Alamirew - The Next Great Star?
February 8, 2011
Performance Of The Week?
What a week. There were so many amazing performances that we asked for your helping picking out the best one from last week.
A few comments about most of them:
Brent Vaughn Wins USA XCs
It was great to see Brent Vaughn get the win at the US Cross-Country Championships in San Diego. A week after DNFing at the US Half Marathon Championships and contemplating quitting the sport all together, the CU record holder got his first big win as a pro. US distance running is so deep and strong right now that a 13:18/28:05 guy is basically viewed as an also-ran as a pro (as he had "only" managed two 13:26s during his first two years as a pro) until his big win on Saturday.
Let's hope that changes in the years to come. We'll offer both the pessimistic and optimistic views on Vaughn's future.
Is there a lot of a future in the 5,000 with someone with 800/1,500 PRs of 1:54/3:43? How do you possibly outkick the likes of Evan Jager (1:51/3:38), Chris Solinsky (3:37), Matt Tegenkamp (3:34) or Bernard Lagat (1:46/3:26) to make the Olympic team in 2012?
Brent Vaughn ran for Colorado and at the age of 26 has a 1,500 PR of 3:43.69 and 5,000 PR of 13:18.46.
Dathan Ritzenhein ran for Colorado and at the age of 26 had a 1,500 PR of 3:42.99 and 5,000 PR of 13:16.06. Before he was 27, he had run 12:56.
Oh interesting tidbit. About 8 weeks ago, coach Jay Johnson spray painted Uturns on Marshall Road (common place in South Boulder for runners to do 400 meter to 2k repeats). So his athletes (Brent Vaughn and Kenyon Neuman) could practice in prep for Houston.
Shalane Flanagan Absolutely Dominates USA XCs
The women's winner in San Diego was Shalane Flanagan. Not only did Flanagan win; she dominated, as second placer Molly Huddle was a staggering 44 seconds back. It almost seems as if Shalane was trying to prove a point and say, "Molly may have the American record at 5,000 but there is a reason why I have an Olympic medal and she has yet to make an Olympic or World Championships team on the track."
But it's not like Huddle ran poorly, as she beat some good runners. Heck, Flanagan's training partner, Lisa Koll, finished third nearly a minute back (54 seconds). Thumbs Up to Koll for saying pre-race that she is excited to run World XC - we don't like people running the US trials but not Worlds. Those were the only two that were able to say within 1:15 of Flanagan. It's worth noting that Kara Goucher's return from childbirth continued in a positive direction, as she wound up 7th.
Colleen De Reuck Wins Women's Masters Title By 1:34/Magill Wins Men's Masters And Dispenses Some Wise But Free Training Advice
Scary to realize that as dominant as Flanagan was, she wasn't even the most dominant winner on Saturday, as 46-year-old Colleen De Reuck won the women's masters race by 1:34. Her time of 28:47 would have placed her 18th in the regular women's division.
The men's masters race was won by 49-year-old Peter Magill in 26:17. Any guesses as to where that would place him in the junior boys division?
28th. Some college should recruit Peter!!!
More XC News: US XC Results *Brent Vaughn Wins Convincingly, Shalane Flanagan And The Other Winners Dominate *Denver Post: Brent Vaughn Makes Surprising Comeback After DNFing At US Half Marathon Champs Last Weekend *San Diego Union-Tribune: Flanagan Dominated But Says She Didn't Know She Had It In The Bag: "I always run scared." On The Boards: Men: BRENT MF VAUGHN Women: Shalane Flanagan Takes USA Cross-Country Title By 45 Seconds In 25:47 Masters: 50-Year-Old Pete Magill CRUSHES
Russell Brown Steals The Show In Boston
Many of the big US-based milers sans Bernard Lagat and Andrew Wheating were in Boston for the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix mile - Alan Webb, Nick Willis, Leo Manzano and even the high schooler Lukas Verzbicas. And the winner was ... Russell Brown???
"Russell who?," you ask. Those of you that don't know Brown can't be totally faulted, but it wasn't too long ago that he was viewed as maybe the one collegian that might be able to challenge Leo Manzano at Texas during Manzano's final year at UT.
Four years ago in 2007, Brown ran 3:37.89 to get third at NCAAs as a junior at Stanford. In that race, he finished within .49 of both Lopez Lomong and Manzano, who went on to make the Olympic team in 2008. But 2008 wasn't kind to Brown, as he didn't make the finals at NCAAs. In 2009, he was out early in the year but ran a few late season races and lowered his PR slightly to 3:37.32. Last year, it was the opposite, as Brown was hot early (a 3:55.79 mile in February and a 3:36.89 1,500 PR in May) but not as great late as he was "just" 6th at USAs.
We loved his quote where he admitted he was stunned he was actually winning at the very end, as Brown told AFP:
"I had no idea this was going to happen. Even when I heard
the announcer saying, 'Russell Brown, he's going to win it,' I still
didn’t believe him."
More: *AFP Recap Of Boston *Boston Globe: Brown Shocks With Mile Win
Patrick Casey Makes Menjo Proud And Runs 3:59.76 All Alone At Altitude With No Rabbits While Lapping People
Brown's mile win garnered the main stream attention in the US, but blue collar runners probably were celebrating most the performance of Montana State junior Pat Casey. Running at nearly 5,000 feet with no rabbits, he put up the first sub-4 on Montana soil, as he ran 3:59.76 while lapping people in a dual meet and getting zero help from any other runners.
According to the NCAA, the time equates to 3:54.59.
If you haven't heard of Casey, he is totally legit, as he was third at NCAAs last year.
Non-Distance Runners Ashton Eaton & David Oliver Impress
Former Oregon Duck Ashton Eaton bettered his world heptathlon record over the weekend by amassing 6,568 points to break his own mark by an impressive 69 points, setting PRs in the shot, 60m, and 60m hurdles. His hurdles time of 7.60 seconds is simply unreal. It is so good it would have tied for the bronze at the 2008 World Indoor Champs and actually breaks the old heptathlon best time of 7.74 held by Olympic decathlon gold medallist Bryan Clay.
But if you think 7.60 is good for 60mh, then you probably think David Oliver's 7.37 from last week is extraterrestrial. His new PR came in Germany.
As for Eaton, he is super impressive. World and Olympic decathlon champs Bryan Clay and Trey Hardee get a lot of the attention but Eaton's world records indoors had us pondering: Will Eaton beat them outdoors? Admittedly we know very little about the decathlon. However, an NCAA athlete in the decathlon wrote us this week saying we should praise Eaton's performance. The emailer went about it the right way, playing to our enormous egos: "First of all I love your site. I am a college decathlete and I still love reading everything you have on the site. You give great coverage to all events, not just the distance ones ..." Clearly, this emailer was a smart guy, so he could answer all of our questions on the decathlon. We asked what Eaton's chances were outdoors. Our emailer wrote back:
In all honesty he is relatively weak in the throws. I think his shot PR is something terrible like 43 ft with his disc pr in the low 140s and jav pr near 170. But hell, the guy runs a 10.2 100m. You can't teach speed like that, but you can teach a guy to throw. It just takes time. (editor's note: our emailer was right on the money. Until this weekend, when Eaton threw a huge PR of 47 feet, his PRs were 43 feet in the shot, 143 feet in the discus and 176 feet in the javelin)
If you look at his stats, he is INCREDIBLE in everything else. The guy can run a 1500 under 4:30, a 400 in 46, nearly 17' in the vault, and don't even get me started on his hurdling. His 60m hurdles last week was ridiculous. I'm willing to bet within 2 years he is untouchable and has a decathlon world record. I haven't seen a decathlete with speed like that...ever. Again, if I can throw 43 ft in the shot, he can throw 50ft. Again, he just needs some time and some good coaching.
As for the dec, I'd say it will be a toss up all summer between Clay, Hardee, and Eaton. They all have their strengths, but if you look at it Clay has already peaked, Hardee is amazing but somewhat inconsistent and is terrible at the 1500, and Eaton is great at EVERYTHING but the throws. So once he gets some more years under his belt, I give him at most 3, he is going to break the world record. He is the real deal.
I hope I am helpful. Don't hesitate to send me an email in the future if you ever have any questions, I would be more than willing to help.
Stefaan Engels Running His 365th Marathon In 365 Days
Last week, Belgian Stefaan Engels completed his 365th marathon in the last 365 days. We were going to say that's not an impressive feat - that's just stupid and that if you paid us enough money ($2,000,000) we promise you that we could find an employee at Letsrun.com that will do it for you, as it's not too hard to walk for 6.5 hours a day. But then we saw that Engels ran most of his marathons in 4 hours and his fastest was 2:56. A four-hour marathon is 9:09 pace. Of course, an average time of four hours might also mean 4:30 in some people's books, and the article on Engels that we read talks about him running 10km per hour pace on average which is 9:39 pace. Either way, not easy. A terrific accomplishment or a terribly stupid one depending on you look at it.
It looks like weight loss company Pronokal sponsored Engels. We have no idea what type of weight loss program Pronokal really is, but you can check out their website http://en.pronokal.com/. But we imagine it costs money. If you want some free weight loss advice, take it from us.
We can promise you one thing. If you run a marathon every day for the next year, you will lose weight.
Yenew Alamirew The Next Great Ethiopian Star?
He Runs 7:27.80 For 3k And Leads 3 Under 7:30
Heading into the weekend, you probably had never heard of 20-year-old Ethiopian Yenew Alamirew even though he'd run a 7:28 3,000 at the end of the outdoor season at a low-key meeting, destroying both Silas Kiplagat and Asbel Kiprop. Well, you had better take note of the name now, as the all-time 3,000 indoor list now reads:
1. Daniel Komen - 7:24.90
2. Haile Gebrselassie -7:26.15
3. Yenew Alamirew 7:27.80
Last week, in Stuttgart, Alamirew led three guys under 7:30 for 3k - the first time more than one man had ever broken 7:30 in an indoor 3k race. The men he beat weren't exactly chump change, as 12:53 and 3:29 man Augustine Choge was 2nd and former Olympic silver medallist and 5k world champion Eliud Kipchoge was third.
We don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but Alamirew appears to be the real deal. He has great finishing speed in addition to being really fast over the whole distance. He was behind Choge until the final straightaway in Stuttgart, but still managed to past him. Last year, when he first turned heads with his 7:28, 200m into the race he just ran away from Olympic 1,500m champ Asbel Kiprop and 2010 1,500m phenom Silas Kiplagat (he supposedly closed the last 1,000m in 2:25). We gave him some praise at the time, saying, "let us introduce you to another foreign prodigy that launched himself onto the world scene last week" and we pointed out he had closed another race with a 54-second last lap. However, unless you saw his race last year in Milan, it does not do it justice. He just sprints away from the pack with ease. We now have video footage below of Alamirew running away from Kiplagat and Kiprop last year, along with his race in Stuttgart.
Look for his 13:16 5,000 PR to come down in a major, major way in the very near future.
Alamirew's 7:27.80 Win In Stuttgart!!!
Alamirew Running Away From Kiprop And Kiplagat Last Year
Dejen Gebremeskel Runs 7:35 And Beats Mo Farah On One Shoe/The LetsRun.com Performance Of The Week
As good as Alamirew's performance was (and all of the other ones above were, as well), he didn't even run the most impressive 3,000 of the weekend in our book. Our 3,000 performance of the weekend and our overall performance of the weekend goes out to Ethiopia's 21-year-old phenom Dejen Gebremeskel. In Boston at the New Balance Grand Prix, he beat Britain's Mo Farah in the 3k by dropping a 26 over the final 200 to win in 7:35.37. Nothing special at the world class level, right? Especially considering Gebremsekel (like Alamirew) seems to be the latest young Ethiopian sensation, as he ran 12:53 last year as a 20-year-old.
Wrong. Alamirew ran the first 400 with a pair of shoes and the final 2,600 with one shoe.
One shoe and you manage to outkick Britain's best hope for a distance medal at the 2012 Olympic Games?
In a day and age when most college coaches are telling their runners, "If you lose your shoe with a lap or two left, gut it out, otherwise you have to go back and get it or you will tear up your foot, Gebremeskel toughed it out for 2,600. Ridiculous - and our performance of the week.
Watch the final 250 meters of the race below, as it was a great finish.
Overlooked Performances From Last Week
Last year, Silas Kiplagat burst onto the scene and ended up running the 10th-fastest 1,500 time in history (3:29.27). Then last week, he said he wanted to take a crack at the world indoor record. Well, unless you looked closely at the results from Stuttgart, you probably didn't realize that Silas Kiplagat lost his 2011 opener last week in Germany. He finished second in 3:37.32 to Kenya's William Biwott, who ran 3:37.14.
Reigning two-time world indoor champ Abubaker Kaki also opened his 2011 campaign. He showed why he's virtually unbeatable indoors, as he opened in a ridiculous 1:45.02. Actually, we misspoke when we said he's virtually unbeatable indoors; we should have scratched out the word virtually.
We just realized that for his life, Kaki is undefeated indoors at 800m when he finishes a race. Of course, right after we wrote this without the "when he finishes a race" part, Kaki dropped out of an indoor race Tuesday night, suffering his first "loss."
Kaki's indoor career according to tilastopaja.org consists of the following races:
Undefeated for his life and then this year he opens up a full second faster than he ever has before. Could it be that Kaki is motivated by having seen David Rudisha steal his thunder outdoors? Imagine how great it would be if the two beat each other a few times in the 1:41 range this year? Maybe one of them will be pushed to the 1:40 or even 1:39 range.
Proof That Often You Don't Even Need Drug Tests To Know Who's Doping
A decade ago, when distance runner Regina Jacobs was the darling of US Track and Field, we could barely hold in our contempt, as it was so obvious that she was on drugs even though she hadn't tested positive at the time. "But how do you know?," people would ask. By having a brain.
Drastically improved performance late in life with no significant changes in training environment = drugs nine times out of ten. It was the case with Jacobs and it also is the case with leading shot putter Mark Edwards of Britain. The 36-year-old has results listed on tilastopaja.org since 1997, with marks in the 18.42 to 19.72 range, with his 19.72 best coming in the year 2000. Then in 2008, he throws a modest PR of 19.88. Suspicious? Maybe eyebrow-raising. Definitely doping? Not necessarily. Then he throws 20.88 in 2009 as 33-year-old? Very, very suspicious and the positive drug test was announced last week. As the guys writing Freakonomics pointed out, sometimes the stats tell all. More: Third All-Time UK Shot Putter Mark Edwards Suspended For Failing Doping Test
Proof That Australian 800 Runners Aren't Doping (Or At Least We Sure Hope Not)
Maybe letsrun.com should lighten its anti-drug stance for one event group from a particular country - Australian 800 meter runners. It seems like every year now, there is an article about how the Australian record for the men's 800 still dates to the year 1968. Admittedly, the performance at the Mexico City Games by Ralph Doubell was very special - a world-record-equalling, gold-medal-winning time of 1.44.40. But 42, going on 43 years? More: Australia's 800m Record Is 42 Years Old
Track Promoter Of The Week
People are always complaining about why track isn't more popular and one of our responses is always to ask, "Well what are you doing to make it more popular?" Thousands of people who visit letsrun.com every week are probably in charge of high school or college meets each year where there is little to zero effort to make the events an entertaining proposition for the fans.
Not every visitor to LetsRun.com is just complaining and not acting. We received a great email this week from a third-grade teacher in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Bert Jacoby (who also is the founder of the racing team at William & Mary, Team Blitz). On the Friday of the Millrose Games, he promised his kids some extra credit if they watched the telecast that night and then wrote a paper about the meet.
"I teach third grade in Virginia. On Friday I gave my kids homework to watch the meet and told them I'd give them extra credit if they brought in a list of the events they saw and the winners.
I got back paper today with "fastest kid on the block," "sprint," "shot put," "girl's mile," and "super goll."
Kudos to Bert for trying to promote the sport and kudos to his one student for watching on TV (apparently she didn't get to watch the whole thing, as it went past her bed time, so she missed the Wanamaker mile).
Now we know a few pessimists are probably out there saying, "My gosh, track is so boring only one kid will watch it on television for extra credit."
But you gotta start somewhere.
Quote Of The Week #1 (That Wasn't Quote Of The Day)
"Quite honestly, I find that too many kids don't set high enough goals and are too scared to fail. It's much easier to guide a horse that wants to perform than to pull a mule that wants to stay in place."
*Boston Globe Introduces Lukas Verzbicas To The World
*LRC Lukas Verzbicas Talks To LetsRun.com
*LRC Alan Webb Throws A Tantrum After Disappointing Opener
*LRC Boston News And Notes Russell Brown thought he had a 5% chance to win, Nick W trying to lead, and Leo M okay with losing to Verzbicas. Plus Sam Chelanga says LetsRun.com is cool as long as you don't leave your family because of it.
*LRC Boston Photo Gallery
*Oops -BYU Doesn't Have A Track Conference To Compete In The Cougars decided to go for the money and go independent in football, leaving their track teams out to dry as the conference they joined for other sports doesn't even have track.
*NYT: US Citizen And Soldier Joseph Chirlee Barred From US XC Champs
Other Happenings Of Note
*Cathy Freeman Pregnant With Her First Child
Looking Ahead (Time To Start Getting Excited For ...)
This Week: NYRR Deuce Record Challenge, PSD Bank Meeting In Germany
Quotes Of The Day From Last Week
Monday: "I don't want to
stand up and make excuses. It was a bad day. The second I stepped off, I
was walking back and thinking, 'I'm going to find a job; I'm done
running. This is the worst moment of my life.'"
- Brent Vaughn sharing his thoughts after he dropped out of US Half Marathon Champs in Houston last weekend. A week later he is the US XC National Champion! Proof of the importance of having faith in your training; you never know when you're going to have a great race.
Sunday: "I can't really put it into words. I'm going to have a hard
time sleeping tonight."
- Former CU Buff Brent Vaughn, after winning the 2011 USATF NCAA XC Championships convincingly. Vaughn may have been the 5k record holder at CU, but until Saturday, he did not have a national title to go along with it.
Saturday: "LetsRun.com: "(Are you going for sub-4 on Saturday?) :="
Lukas Verzbicas: "Well, I'm definitely shooting for it. We'll see how close I get ..."
LRC: "Let's say hypothetically you break four but finish dead last. Will you be celebrating in last place?"
LV: "Oh yeah, I'll be the happiest last-place finisher ever."
- Exchange between LetsRun.com and US high school phenom Lukas Verzbicas, who will be attempting to become just the 2nd high schooler to break 4 indoors on Saturday at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. Will he do it? We say yes. Discuss in our forum.
Friday: "I came to America because I was told it was about equality for all. But any average person I
pass on the street can run in Saturday's race, and I can't. I took an
oath as a soldier to serve and defend the country, but I can't run in
the country's national championship? I don't understand how that is fair
or equal treatment."
- US Army Private Joseph Chirlee, who is banned from this weekend's USATF NCAA XC Champs because of a stupid USATF rule which says if you can't run for the US internationally you can't compete at any US Championship. Chirlee's coach, 3-time Olympic alternate Lisa Rainsberger, says things more bluntly: "He can take a bullet for us someday in Afghanistan, but he can't run with his American contemporaries?" Discuss Chirlee's situation here. He's a 1:02 half marathoner and 2:12 marathoner.
It's not easy to do, and it's becoming harder,
because some of the East Africans (have become citizens of) other
countries now, and they're really good. We're playing a little bit of
catch-up, but we're getting there. The gap is closing. We'll be there
before too long."
- Nike coach Jerry Schumacher talking in a great profile of him in the Portland Tribune. American distance fans will get to see how Schumacher's boys (and many of the other top Americans)stack up against many of the world's best early in 2011, as a slew of dream races will take place over the next month. Yesterday, Bernard Lagat was added to the Melbourne 5k on March 3rd, so threeof the fiveAmericans under 13:00 in history will all clash early in the year.
Wednesday: "Newlyweds have long recognized the risks of potential sickness,
infidelity and ill fortune. But few foresee themselves becoming an
exercise widow. After all, the idea that one's beloved will take the
occasional jog sounds appealing - until two miles a day becomes 10 miles,
not counting the 20-mile runs on weekends."
- Wall Street Journal article on exercising causing strain in marriages. One guy's family even had an intervention about his training and he told them to forget about it. Obviously meant to be a one-sided article. Discuss your spouse's take on your running here.
Tuesday: "I've been very up front about this piece of the jigsaw for a long time because I wanted people to be excited (to volunteer for the 2012 Olympics)but not deluded into thinking that they are going to be sitting there with Usain Bolt for two hours on the afternoon of a track-and-field meeting. They're not."
"It's not a free pass."
- Seb Coe sending a warning to the people wanting to volunteer at the 2012 Olympics. Even if Coe scares a bunch off, he'll have a ton left over, as 250,000 applied for 70,000 spots.