The Week That Was In Running - February 28 - March 6, 2011
March 8, 2011
Old School Performances Of The Week
In a day and age of declining track and field popularity, due in part to nearly every athlete, agent and coach doing what's in their best interest (and not necessarily the sport's) by chasing times instead of competition all over the globe, it was refreshing to see two very old school performances last weekend.
1) At the IC4A Championships in Boston, Virginia Military Institute's Felix Kitur was a stud - in four different races. On Saturday, Kitur broke VMI"s 800-meter school record and put up the nation's 21st-best time with a 1:48.35 clocking before coming back some two hours later and anchoring his 4 x 800 team to the finals with a 1:50 split, as the team broke their school's 32-year-old 4 x 800 record by running 7:31.18. In an era of self-absorption and a focus on the individual, many were probably surprised that Kitur even ran the relay, as his 1:48.35 was unlikely to make NCAAs and he might want to try to better his time in the final on Sunday.
The next day, Kitur won his second-straight individual IC4A indoor crown with a 1:48.52 clocking before coming back and making a 1:47.45 split look way, way too easy in his fourth race of the weekend, anchoring VMI to a surprising win in the 4 x 800, as the squad obliterated their day old school record and ran the fastest indoor 4 x 8 in the country by clocking 7:24.70. Honestly, watch the race video - it looks like he could do it all over again.
Editor's note: Video link fixed. We had the wrong video up earlier. You can drag the slider to the end to try and watch the last leg but you'll have to wait a minute for it to buffer.
The best part of it was not that just Kitur stepped up with an unbelievable performance (there is no way anyone can tell us that Kitur doesn't belong in the NCAA championships next week) - his teammates also rose to the occasion.
Senior Dean Gonsalves came in with a personal best of 1:54.52 and seasonal best of 1:55.52 and got things started by splitting a 1:52.14.
Freshman Andrey Dmitriev came in with a personal best of 1:50.34 but seasonal bests of just 2:32.63 and 4:10.11 and he split 1:51.59.
Freshman Jacob Lysher came in with a personal best of 1:53.84 and split 1:52.73.
2) Our second old school, refreshing performance of the week came in Wisconsin, where Reed Connor hit the NCAA auto time in the men's 3,000 by running 7:56.58 at home - on Wisconsin's flat 200-meter track. Connor didn't see the need to fly to a last chance meet on an oversized track (although we must admit he did get rabbits - the most hard-core old school guys would do it sans rabbits) to get the job done. Connor explained his reasoning on UWbadgers.com as follows: "I told (coach) Mick (Byrne), 'I have some school work, I want to sleep in my own bed and I can do it at home, so let me stay here,'" Connor said. "He said, 'If you think you can do it, I trust you.'"
Kudos to Connor for doing it at home and for actually being a college student that cares about school.
More: *Keydets Run Fastest 4 X 800 In NCAA This Season, Kitur Takes Open 800 At IC4A/ECACs *Kitur Breaks Big South Record, 4 X 800 Sets New Mark At IC4A/ECAC Championships *Sophomore Reed Connor Doesn't Travel To Oversized Track - Qualifies For NCAAs In 3k At Home On Flat Track
Quote Of The Week #1 (That Wasn't Quote Of The Day)
Speaking of old school, this seems like the perfect time to share with you a great quote a very old school runner. Running Times came out with a great feature on 2007 NCAA Cross-Country champ Josh McDougal, who has barely been seen since 2008 as he's struggled with injuries. Check out what McDougal says about a possible comeback:
"I haven't ruled out coming back. It's not that I don't want to. I do more than anything. But at this point in my life I just feel like if I spent another year or two to get completely healthy, and that was my only focus, and I ran 13:10, 27:35, or whatever, and that was all I did for two years, that would be a complete waste of my life. I've spent too much of my life the past few years just focusing on running."
The piece on McDougal is a definite Recommended Read in our book. To those of you who think running is simply a matter of talent, McDougal is living proof that hard work plays a big, big role as well. He tapered down for the 2006 NCAA cross meet and didn't do as well as he hoped, so he ran 115 miles the week of his 2007 NCAA title. We remember watching McDougal run 10-plus the day before the race and being thrilled to see him get the win the next day.
Running Times talked about that incident as well:
"He headed into NCAAs in the best shape of his life, and, eschewing the traditional method of peaking, ran 115 miles the week of nationals. Right before heading to the line, McDougal pulled aside Jimmerson. "I told Coach, 'There's only one way this can end. You know I have to win this.'"
More NCAA News - NCAA Fields Are Released / German Fernandez Struggles
The 2011 NCAA Indoor fields came out on Monday night and it looks like we have a winner. The meet has been getting harder and harder to make in recent years and we have for the first time in recent memory - and probably ever (email us if it has happened before) - a situation where a sub-4 minute miler didn't qualify for the NCAA indoor meet. Butler senior Kris Gauson is the unluckiest man alive, as he went sub-4 over the weekend - 3:59.74 to be exact - and didn't make the indoor field. Truly unbelievable. Let's hope he's at least pumped about going sub-4 for the first time. (There are other sub 4 guys not in the field but we believe they are running relays, etc. It's hard to tell what everyone declared for).
One person also not included in the mile field at NCAAs is Oklahoma State junior German Fernandez, who won the NCAA 1,500-meter title outdoors as a freshman in 2009, as Fernandez only ran a 4:03.13 in a last chance meet last weekend in Arkansas. This was one week after Fernandez dominated the Big 12 mile winning in 4:06 and getting 2nd in the 3k. Fernandez will compete at the 2011 NCAA indoor meet, as he already got the auto time in the 3,000 when he ran 7:53.82 in Seattle on February 12th.
Fernandez's 4:03 created a lot of talk on the LRC message board. Some were saying that those who expressed concern about Fernandez's 4:03 were overreacting, as it's just indoors.
In our minds, people who are concerned are not overreacting. The 20-year-old Fernandez (it's crazy to think he's still just 20) ran 3:55.02 indoors as a freshman. 4:03 is a long, long way from 3:55.02, particularly for someone who already ran 7:53 indoors earlier this year. We know Fernandez has struggled with injuries and anemia in the past - we sure hope those things get checked up on ASAP. Unless he was sick, a performance like that is at the very least a major warning sign that something could seriously be amiss and if he's going to have a good outdoor campaign, it's critical that everything is figured out now.
Yes, everyone is allowed a bad race now and then, but a bad outing is when a miler runs a last chance, time trial race 2-4 seconds off what they should do - not eight (although we didn't truly expect him to run 3:55). It is perfectly ok to show some concern with Fernandez's 4:03 and try and figure out why it happened.
2011 Melbourne Track Classic
Runner A Or Runner B?
Yet again, we ask if you were a general manager of a professional track and field team (wouldn't it be nice if that job title existed?), which runner would you prefer to have, Runner A or Runner B? We ask this to point out that sometimes one runner is considered to be better than another simply because they are more famous (and often American).
It would be a tough call as, while Runner A is a tiny bit slower for the most part and didn't make the World's final, Runner A is also a bit younger.
Well, in this case, Runner A is Australia's Jeff Riseley and Runner B is America's Leo Manzano.
What does that have to do with the last week of running, you ask? Simple - last week, Riseley was the surprise winner of the 1,500 at the Melbourne Track Classic, as he defeated the Olympic gold and silver medallists in Asbel Kiprop and Nick Willis, plus Alan Webb.
Many Americans probably were stunned by Riseley's win, but if instead of Riseley winning, it had been Manzano, most American fans would have been surprised but not stunned, as it's conceivable to think that an Olympic finalist could beat Kiprop and Willis, particularly early in the season when Kiprop is making his 2011 debut. So basically, all we're trying to point out is the Jeff Riseley is a very, very good runner. Kudos to him for the big win.
Athletics Victoria Has Sent Us the Nice Highlight Video Below With Highlights of the 1,500m and Interviews with Riseley and Nick Willis After the Race:
Men's 1,500m Melbourne Highlights (Riseley Wins, Kiprop 2nd, Webb 3rd)
Also in Melbourne, the men's 5,000 went pretty much according to plan, as American Bernard Lagat got the win (13:08.43) and Americans Chris Solinsky (13:10.22) and Matt Tegenkamp (13:16.27) got the World Championships "A" standards that they sought. The results weren't totally according to form, as Australia's Ben St. Lawrence's transformation from a six-nights-a-week boozer (we urge you to click on that link if you don't know of St. Lawrence's story) to world class runner continued in stunning fashion, as he gave Lagat a scare and took the scalp of both Solinsky and Tegenkamp by finishing second with a huge new 15+-second personal best of 13:10.08 (previous best was 13:25.88). American Andy Bumbalough, who used to run for Georgetown, also had a huge PR as he knocked exactly 14.00 seconds off his previous best to run 13:16.77 to get 5th.
But we love the St. Lawrence story, as he truly used to be a fat partygoer (see the link above) and now he's a world-class runner. Moreover, since 2011 is unofficially the Year of Kawauchi - or the Year of the Amateur Runner - it's only natural that we praise St. Lawrence. Last week, Kawauchi, who works a full-time job, stunned the world with his 2:08 PR in the marathon. Well, St. Lawrence may be the fastest 5ker on the planet with a real job as we received the following email from a LetsRun.com visitor from Sydney:
Just a quick note about another runner working full time and producing world class results. Ben St Lawrence who ran 13:10 and 15sec PR in the 5km in Melbourne last night also works full time at the ANZ bank. He fits in all his training in at lunch and before and after work. He only got back into running in late 2006 after being a talented junior and is on a very steep improvement curve. A sub 13 in the near future is not unrealistic. In 2006 he started back running and could not even run a lap of the block with out stopping!
Miss the race because you didn't get up at 5:00am to watch it like we did? Then check out the last 250 of the 5k in Melbourne, as well as interviews of the top runners (Lagat, Solinsky, Tegenkamp, Bumbalough, Mottram, St. Lawrence) below.
Athletics Victoria Has Also Now Posted Highlights of the 800m with Interviews with Rudisha and American Nick Symmonds.
*LRC: Bernard Lagat Wins And Leads Five To "A" Standard; Jeff Riseley Stuns Kiprop And Willis (And Webb) In 1,500; David Rudisha Cruises To 1:43.88 Win In 800 *LRC Melbourne Talk *Who in the hell is Andy Bumbalough? *Full Results *Event-By-Event Results *Photo Gallery *Jeff Riseley Upset Nick Willis And Asbel Kiprop Last Year In Melbourne And Then Struggled With Plantar - He's Back This Year Fitter
If At First You Don't Succeed ...
What's the old saying? "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." That certainly proved to be the case at the 2011 USATF Masters championships, where Burt Saidel won the over-80 men's 60m - his first national championship in 61 years of competition. Saidel credited his victory to the fact that he was able to "outlive his competition."
Saidel is no slouch - he competed in the 1952 Olympic Trials. At last week's race, he won by .007 in a photo over William Platts, as both ran 9.60.
Men's Over 80 60m
1 575 Saidel, Burton M80 Dayton, OH 9.60 9.593 2 516 Platts, William M82 Boise, ID 9.60 9.600 3 556 Robinson, Willard M80 Santa Fe, NM 11.54 4 180 Donley, Jerry M81 Colorado Springs, C 12.46
2011 European Indoors
Early in the week, the head of Portugal's athletics federation, Fernando Mota, resigned from his position after he mistakenly entered Sara Moreira in the women's 1,500 instead of the 3k at the 2011 European championships. A big kudos to Mota for taking the blame and resigning. We don't think someone at USATF would be likely to do the same.
At the time, we were thinking, "Why can't people be mature and just let her run the 3k, where she was the silver medallist in 2009; everyone knows that's what she wanted?"
Rules are rules we guess. In the end, Moreira did end up running the 1,500 - some thought she might not compete at all - and she made the final, where she finished 5th overall.
As for the rest of the Europeans, distance runners produced some of the headlines - none bigger than the fact that 37-year-old Helen Clitheroe won gold in the race that Moreira wanted to run - the 3,000 - preventing a Russian sweep of gold in the 800, 1,500 and 3,000. Clitheroe is having quite a breakthrough as a 37-year-old, as this winter she's dropped her PR from 8:51 to 8:39. The secret? She's been training for the 5,000 and 10,000. In the men's 3,000, it was good to see defending champion Mo Farah get the win since he did almost all the work, as silver medallist Hayle Ibrahimov sat on his shoulder the entire race.
In the women's 60, British teenage sensation Jodie Williams didn't let the pressure of her first major meet as a senior get to her, as she set a personal best in the semi and matched it in the final (7.21), just missing a medal by .01.
In the men's 60, the man whom we haven't heard much about this year, Dwain Chambers, got faster each round (6.71, 6.61 and 6.54) and ended up with the silver as "White Lightning" Christophe Lemaitre - the first white sub-10 guy from last summer - finished with the bronze in 6.58 in a race that was won by 2004 Olympic 100 silver medallist Francis Obikwelu of Portugal, who ran a new national record of 6.53.
More: *2011 Euros Results *Clitheroe Delivers, Kszczot Surprises On Final Day *Ageless Clitheroe Advances In 3,000m *37-Year-Old Helen Clitheroe Has Run European Leading 8:39 3k After Shifting Training To 5k And 10k *17-Year-Old Jodie Williams Ready To Make Her Senior Debut At European Indoors *Francis Obikwelu Upsets Defending Champ Dwain Chambers And Christophe Lemaitre In Euros 60m Final *2nd Article *Head Of Portugal Track Federation Steps Down After Entering Star In Wrong Event At European Indoors
Quote Of The Week #2 (That Wasn't Quote Of The Day)
"I'm just so happy. It's not really sunk in yet. It's an absolute dream come true for me. You know how long I've been trying to get on a podium and win a gold medal. At 37 --everybody keeps mentioning it-- it's just unbelievable. I'm just so delighted.
Over the last couple of years there have been times where I jut walked off the track depressed, with my head down thinking, what am I doing this for? It's just because my husband has kept believing in me. He said, you're a long time (from) finished. Don't give up until you're ready, and do it on your terms. So that's what I'm doing. And, it's just great to get a bit of payback for all the hard work I put in over the years."
- Helen Clitheroe after winning her European gold at age 37.
More: *Day 3 Euros Recap
Other Happenings Of Note
Lake Biwa Marathon: 2:04:57 Guy Paul Kipsang Turns Back Deriba Merga's Surges To Win In 2:06:13 Merga was broken at 38k and then staggered in, losing 3 minutes to Kipsang in the final 3k.
*IAAF Article On Kipsang Kipsang mentions that he "hopes to run the world record in the future." Hiroyuki Horibata is the top Japanese runner, sneaking onto the World Champs squad by running 2:09:25, just under the 2:09:30 standard.
Kenyan XC News: Kenya Team Sweeps All Medals At Africa Cross-Country Championship The only problem was that Ethiopia was barred from attending. An African Cross-Country championships without Ethiopia would be like a North American contest without Mexico or the US. *Victorious
Kenyan Team At Africa XC Champs In S. Africa Is Stranded Their After They Miss Their Flight
*Athletics Kenya Says Their "Final Verdict" Is Komon Won't Be Reinstated But Komon still isn't satisfied and it looks like while he has accepted he will not run in Spain, he wants an apology from AK. It is still unclear whether or not there will be any legal action.
*Athletics Kenya Says Leonard Komon Matter Is Finished (But From Reading The Article, It's Not) Komon says AK still hasn't met with him or apologized. Some regional AK officials may sue on his behalf. Meanwhile, does anyone know if Geoffrey Mutai is in camp?
*LRC It's Official: Galen Rupp To Make Half Marathon Debut At 2011 NYC Half Marathon
*LRC Bernard Lagat Wins And Leads Five To "A" Standard; Jeff Risesey Stuns Kiprop And Willis (And Webb) In 1,500; David Rudisha Cruises To 1:43.88 Win In 800
*Nike's Holy Grail: Bowerman's Waffle Iron Unearthed A Nike historian likens it to "finding the Titanic."
*Running Times: The Rise, Fall And Rebirth Of Josh McDougal *LRC Chat: Running Times: The Rise, Fall And Rebirth Of Josh McDougal
*Coming Off Of Three Years Of Injury, Yale Senior Johnny Van Deventer Anchors DMR In 4:02 ... in his first-ever competitive 1,600/mile. Great success story of someone who was injured most of college, but didn't give up and showed up big at the end.
*European Indoors - Farah Defends 3,000m Title
Looking Ahead (Time To Start Getting Excited For ....)
This Weekend: NCAA Indoors, National Scholastic Indoors
Next Weekend: World Cross-Country, NYC Half Marathon
Quotes Of The Day From Last Week
Monday: "It's not good enough for us to call ourselves Track Town, USA, anymore. It's important for everybody else to call us Track Town, USA. Hayward Field needs to be upgraded to bring us into the next decade and beyond."
"We can't just have current spectators. We have to create new fans and spectators, and therefore, we have to have facilities that take Hayward Field from this great historical and spiritual home to a more pleasant physical home ... In today's modern age, we have to create a good fan experience."
- Oregon coach Vin Lananna saying what we've been saying for a while now - that track needs to start focusing more on the fans and attempt to generate more interest in the sport.
"I know obviously from experience in the past to have something left right at the end, so I wasn't going to go full-out and let him pass me in any way, I think he tried to come past me on the last lap when we hit the bell. I was just like, 'no.'"
- UK's Mo Farah
on his 3,000m victory at European Championships yesterday. Farah demonstrated his dominance leading from lap 5 all the way until the end,
holding off a last lap attack from Azerbaijan's Hayle Ibrahimov, who drafted off him the entire race. We were happy to see running tough beat out the sit-and-kick.
*Farah also took this opportunity to announce that he will be racing the NYC Half Marathon on March 20th.
Saturday: "Yesterday, Johnny was thrust into a situation that so many of us have been in and he handled it with an aplomb and skill that were truly mind boggling. He ran with a confidence that he had no reason to have. He believed. He shocked us all. ... When the pressure was at its greatest, in the bubbling cauldron of the Armory, Johnny Van Deventer put himself out there with no fear, and the result was legend."
- Yale Coach David Shoehalter speaking about the inspirational story of Yale senior Johnny Van Deventer, who came back from 3.5 years of injury to anchor his DMR team with a 4:02 during the Heps Championships last weekend. He went out on a what his coach called a "suicide mission" with splits of 56 and 1:57, but still managed to hold on and pull his team from 5th to 2nd in what was his first-ever competitive 1,600/mile. All of this from an injury-plagued runner who runs maybe 10 miles per week.
- Akio Hayashi, the boss of marathon sensation Yuki Kawauchi, the amateur who ran a ridiculous 2:08:37 last week in Japan and passed out after crossing the finish line. Kawauchi, who says he runs with "no fear of dying," returned to work the day after the marathon (after getting in a 5:30am jog before work) and has been inundated with media requests.
Thursday: ''It's been a long time between drinks and it's quite a big step to jump straight into the deep end and run a national championships final against one of the best fields ever put together in Australia.''
- Australia's Craig Mottram, spicing up a pre-race running article like only he can do, using "drinks" as a metaphor for the 5,000. Mottram had his 2nd "drink" in 2.5 years when he raced the Melbourne Track Classic on Friday night.
- LRC legend Yuki Kawauchi, the 13:59, 29:02 amateur runner who ran a stunning 2:08:37 marathon in Tokyo this past weekend and then fainted at the finish. Although it is a cultural tradition in Japan to fall to the ground at the end of a race, like Ritz in high school, Kawauchi has run six marathons and ended up in the medical area after 5 of them. Message board thread on him here.
Tuesday: "I didn't want to be sneaky and just ride along behind them when I caught them, so I told myself, 'If you've come this far you've got to keep going. There's no other choice.' ... This was my sixth marathon, and the fifth time I've ended up in the medical area. Every time I run it's with the mindset that if I die at this race it's OK."
- Yuki Kawauchi speaking of his decision to surge away from national champion corporate team ace Yoshinori Oda and 2010 Hokkaido Marathon winner Cyrus Njui and his "run well or die trying" attitude toward racing. Message board thread on him here.