The Week That Was In Running - March 28 - April 3, 2011

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April 7, 2011

Alan Webb And Sammy Wanjiru Make News Off The Track

Before we get to the action from last week, we'll talk briefly about two of the biggest stories from last week which occurred off the track/roads. In our minds, two of the biggest stories were the fact that Sammy Wanjiru pulled out of 2011 Virgin London Marathon and Alan Webb pulled out of Alberto Salazar's group.

As for Wanjiru, all we can say is we doubt too many people feel too much sympathy for Wanjiru, as after all he was earlier this year accused of trying to kill his wife (although the possible Wanjiru - Tsegaye Kebede - Patrick Makau matchup had us salivating). It's almost fitting that he was replaced in the London field by Martin Lel. If anyone deserves the public's sympathy and support, it's Lel, as the three-time London Champ has been totally snakebitten since 2008, as he hasn't even run a marathon due to injury problems. And many of his pullouts were at the absolute last minute as things came up just before the race.

We really hope Lel runs well, as many seemingly have forgotten how great Lel was before his injury problems and the rise of Wanjiru. London is the most difficult professional marathon in the world to win and Lel won it three out of four years from 2005-2008 and the one year he didn't win, 2006, he still ran 2:06:41 to finish second to Felix Limo by two seconds. He also is a two-time ING New City Marathon champ.

As for Webb, we here at, had been hearing talk behind the scenes about Webb leaving Salazar. And much of that talk started right after we took a ton of flak for saying that Webb threw a tantrum after his disappointing showing at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. Many who thought we just put that story up with little thought or for sensationalism were mistaken. Webb's immediate reaction to that race and his reaction in the weeks after it were not your normal post-race reactions.

Webb's one year at Michigan showed that he is someone who pretty much expects immediate results, and in his mind, he wasn't getting those from Salazar. History in some sense has repeated itself.

Now, given the fact that it's also come out that there are financial factors at work here (as was with his decision to leave Michigan and turn pro), we believe Webb is currently in negotiations for a new shoe contract, as last week we contacted Webb's agent Ray Flynn so he could correct us if our reporting that Webb currently isn't receiving a pay check from Nike was incorrect, and Flynn didn't do so - it's hard to figure out exactly what pushed Webb to leave. Clearly if Webb stayed with Salazar, he'd have absolutely no leverage at all in negotiating a new shoe deal, as he'd pretty much have to take whatever Nike gave him, since he couldn't negotiate with another company (Salazar only coaches Nike athletes). Likely it seems Webb was upset with his performances and looking for more of a mid-d group, and at the same time had financial reasons to look for a new coach, so the difficult decision to change coaches was made even easier.

All we know is Alan Webb is one of the greatest talents in American history and it's not a good thing that his coaching situation is unsettled in early April as he prepares for what people hope will be his first full track season since 2007.

That's last part of the previous sentence is hard to believe, but it's true. The 28-year-old Webb hasn't had a track season that continued through August since 2007, when he had a glorious year and ran 3:46 for the mile and 1:43 for 800.

At the same time, if any American athlete can not have his coaching situation squared away and still have a tremendous 2011, it's Webb. He ran 3:37.82 for 1,500m nearly a month ago despite all of his "troubles." A lot of American milers would be patting their coaches on the back with 3:37.82 in March.


Road Races: Lelisa Desisa Is Back Better Than Last Year/Angering Steve Prefontaine In His Grave

So who is the 21-year-old Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa that swept the Cooper River Bridge Run 10k (28:59 tactical) and Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Miler (45:36 course record) to pick up a cool $18,250 over the weekend? Well, last year, as some of you may remember, he had a very strong year on the roads, as among other accomplishments he won the Dick's Sporting Goods Bolder Boulder as well as Boilermaker and finished 3rd at Peachtree and 2nd at Cherry Blossom. He also broke 1 hour twice for the half marathon, including once at the Zayed International Half Marathon, where he was third in 59:59 to pick up a cool $50,000. He also was 7th at the World Championships in the half.

This year, he seems to be in even better shape.  Had it not been for a car accident in Ethiopia that hurt his chest and affected him at the World's Best 10k in Puerto Rico, where he was third, Lelisa might be undefeated for the year, as after that race, he won the ABN AMRO Half Marathon in The Hague in a new personal best of 59:37 before picking up the two wins last weekend in the US. It seems like a bright future is in store for him if he manages his career properly.

We say that because of the following quote that Lelisa gave to the Washington Post after his win at Cherry Blossom:

"I want to compete all the time. When there is a chance to run, I'm going to run."

It's a great quote, but also shows that someone needs to make sure he doesn't over-race.

Dejene Gebremeskel Winning At Carlsbad

That wasn't the only quote that caught our eye last week from the road racing scene. In Carlsbad, high winds kept the talk of a new sub-13:00 world record from being a reality, as 2003 5,000 world champion Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya battled it out with Dejene Gebremeskel, himself another 21-year-old Ethiopian but one who happened to run 12:53 last year. At Carlsbad, Gebremeskel refused to lead even when Kipchoge frantically waved him on to do so.

Gebremeskel's refusal to lead until the sprint for home probably wouldn't make Steve Prefontaine happy, but it certainly was effective, as he blitzed to victory in 13:11 to Kipchoge's 13:14. However, if you've got the best speed, how often would you really want to lead before the final sprint?

You wouldn't - and Carlsbad elite athlete coordinator Matt Turnball understands that fact, as he said the following to The San Diego Union-Tribune about Gebremeskel's tactics:

"It's not bad sportsmanship. It's good running. Kipchoge knew it was happening. He just couldn't do anything about it."

More:  Lelisa Desisa Breaks 16-Year-Old Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Record In 45:36 To Win 2nd Race In Two Days And Complete $18,250 Weekend *Lelisa Wins $10,000 with sprint win at the Cooper Bridge Run in S. Carolina. Julliah Tinega got the sprint win on the women's side. *Results *Carlsbad: With 2 Shoes This Time, Dejen Gebremeskel Outkicks Eliud Kipchoge To Win Carlsbad 5,000m, Aheza Kiros Gets Her 2nd Carlsbad Crown *Results Jen Rhines and Bobby Curtis 3rd, Christin Wurth-Thomas 4th, and Ben St. Lawrence with a really bad performance (he's struggled since beating Solinsky at 5,000m in Australia). *Carlsbad Photos *IAAF Recap


10,000-Meter News

All-Time US 10,000-Meter List As Of 4/7/2011
26:59.60 Chris Solinsky USA 05.12.84 1r1 Palo Alto 01.05.2010
2 27:10.74 Galen Rupp USA 08.05.86 4r1 Palo Alto 01.05.2010

3 27:13.98 Mebrahtom Keflezighi 05.05.75 Nike Palo Alto, CA 4-May-01
4 27:16.99 Abdihakem Abdirahman 01.01.77 Nike Eugene, OR 8-Jun-08
5 27:20.56 Mark Nenow 11.16.57 Athletics West Brussells, BEL 5-Sep-86
6 27:22.28 Dathan Ritzenhein 12.30.82 Nike Berlin, GER 17-Aug-09
7 27:25.61 Alberto Salazar 08.07.58 Athletics West Oslo, NOR 26-Jun-82
8 27:29.16 Craig Virgin 08.02.55 Paris, FRA 17-Jul-80
9 27:31.34 Todd Williams 03.07.69 adidas Knoxville, TN 6-Apr-95

10 27:31.56 Tim Nelson USA 27.02.84 7r1 Palo Alto 01.05.2010
11 27:33.38 Robert Curtis USA 28 November 84  8r1 Palo Alto 01.05.2010
12 27:33.93 Alan Culpepper 09.15.72 adidas Palo Alto, CA 4-May-01
13 27:34.72 Alan Webb 01.13.83 Nike Palo Alto, CA 30-Apr-06
14 27:37.17 Bruce Bickford 03.12.57 Stockholm, SWE 2-Jul-85
15 27:37.45 Bob Kennedy 08.18.70 Nike Palo Alto, CA 30-Apr-04
16 27:37.74 27:37.74 Anthony Famiglietti 11.08.78 adidas Palo Alto, CA 30-Apr-06*
Bold indicates, athlete has run under 27:40 since start of 2009. *Fam ran 27:39.68 in 2009.

Again, we'll repeat what we said a few weeks ago: "How ridiculous is it that the IAAF makes the World Cross-Country champion chase the 10,000 qualifier A standard?" Answer: Totally.

Last week, the 2011 women's champ Vivian Cheruiyot got her A qualifier out of the way by running 31:07 in Spain (the A standard is 31:40). Men's champ, Imane Merga, will have to chase the time later. Attention, IAAF, please automatically grant everyone in the top 20 (or even top 25) at World XC the 5k and 10k qualifiers for a two-year period.

Speaking of the 10,000, we're not sure if many people realized that the A standard has been lowered on the men's side from 27:49 to 27:40. In terms of thinking about who is going to represent the USA in 2012 in the 10,000, the thinking should be clear - someone with the A standard. Only 16 American men have ever run under 27:40. Six Americans have done it in the last two years, as reflected by the chart on the right.

More: World XC (And 5k) Champ Vivian Cheruiyot Clocks 31:07 10,000m In Spain In Her Track Debut


Scored College Track & Field Meets

This year, we've been trying to praise those try to promote track and field in a spectator-friendly manner, since if the coaches and administrator's don't care about making the sport a spectator event, then certainly the public won't either.

In that light, we give a big Thumbs Up to LSU for having a scored outdoor meet with six schools, as in addition to LSU, Texas A&M, Iowa, Illinois Army and Uconn all showed up. The meet results are pretty interesting to examine. As Ken Goe of The Oregonian pointed out in a separate article about Oregon having a scored meet, having a balanced track and field team and having scored meets is certainly hard with the limited amount of scholarships that are out there. And at the LSU meet, in some events, there weren't even 8 competitors (only five in the men's high jump, for example, and four in the women's shot put).

That being said, take a look at the results and be impressed by A&M's sprint prowess, as A&M won both the men's and women's titles.

As we just pointed out, Olympic A standards in some events like the 10,000 are next to impossible (for most Americans) to achieve. But if you are a men's 400-meter runner at A&M, you probably are almost expected to do it.

At the meet, A&M had two guys hit the IAAF A standard of 45.25 in the men's 400, led by Tabarie Henry's 44.83. Demetrius Pinder ran 45.06 and their third-best guy, Bryan Miller, ran 45.49. With times like those, it's not a surprise they ran 3:02.21 in the 4 x 400. What is surprising is their B team ran a 3:04.69 and their C & D teams ran under 3:15. We guess that shows everyone on the team who is a field event guy or sprint guy probably can split about 48.5 on the quarter, as that's what their D team is averaging - and that goes down to the 16th-best guy on the team.

So kudos to LSU for having the meet and for everyone else that showed up. We don't agree A&M coach Pat Henry's ideas for to limit the amount of teams at NCAAs, but do agree with the following quotes he gave to

"It's exciting for our group and something that needs to happen more in track (having scored meets). We scored all of our home indoor meets and this is another attempt to try to help track and field while getting people in the stands to watch someone win a track meet."

More: Texas A&M Sweeps Team Titles At LSU Invite *LSU Results UCLA-Tennessee: *Tennessee Women Edge UCLA By 1 Point At Dual Meet In California *UCLA Men Crush Tennessee In Dual Meet


Proof Yet Again That World Cross Is The Most Difficult Race On The Planet

The World Cross-Country Championships may not get a ton of publicity any more ,so we here at try to help keep the prestige of the event up by hyping it whenever we can. Last week, one got an idea of just how difficult the race is to win - even on the junior side. If the fact that a 12:53 5k "junior" Isiah Koech couldn't win (many people - even a Kenyan sports editor - don't think he's a junior), then the following fact should help:

Last week, 2011 Junior XCc men's winner Geoffrey Kipsang ran his half marathon debut and he won in Berlin with a 60:38 but was disappointed as he thought the pace was "a bit too slow" and he wanted a sub-60:00 clocking. Hopefully, people realize only one American male in history has run under 60:00 in the half marathon - Ryan Hall (59:43).

That got us to thinking, "If America's best man trained for the World Cross-Country Championships each year, would he be able to win the junior race?"

We think the answer is "Sometimes." Most times, he wouldn't win. What do you think?

Other evidence of how fit the top guys at World Cross are came last week when the 7th placer in the senior men's race, Philemon Limo, blitzed a 59:30 half marathon in Prague.

Berlin: 2011 Jr. World Cross Champion Geoffrey Kipsang Runs 60:38 Two Weeks After Winning World Cross & Calls Pace "A Bit Too Slow" The 18-year-old was hoping for sub-60. Meanwhile, in America, people go bonkers when a teen runs 67 minutes. An 18-year-old Kenyan won the women's race in 70:12.
Prague: 7th-Placer At 2011 World Cross, Philemon Limo, Breaks Course Record With 59:30, As Lydia Cheromei Breaks Women's Record With 67:33

Track & Field's Self-Admitted Drama Queen Back On Comeback Trail
We're not sure if Jana Rawlinson is better known for being a two-time world champ or for "divorcing and then remarrying British athlete Chris Rawlinson and having breast implants removed because they impeded her running."


Quote Of The Week #1 (That Wasn't Quote Of The Day)

There were a lot of interesting sprint profiles in the British press last week as the Brits start to get ready for the Olympics in 2012, and last week, as it was announced Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell will clash twice this summer in Britain. In reading those, it was impossible to miss the contrast between Gay and Powell.

Gay is someone who clearly hates being the 2nd-best sprinter in the world and is obsessed with doing everything that is humanly possible to be the Olympic champ in 2012, as we pointed out when we gave Gay the Quote of the Day on Friday. As for Powell ... well, the following quote from The Mirror says it all:

"I haven't been a fan of the gym. Some sprinters are a bit lazy at times. I'm one of those. I definitely have to stay focused on my goal and get to the gym."

Of course, Powell did also admit that he knows he needs to work harder: "I am not getting any younger. I need to realise my potential now and make people stop telling me what I can and can't do."

That same article pointed out that Gay leads Powell 8-6 lifetime. More importantly, Gay has won their last four races.


Quote Of The Week #2 (That Wasn't Quote Of The Day)

"The only thing better than a race between Asafa, me and Usain would be one with the three of us and Christophe Lemaitre from France. If he keeps developing, he has the tools to deliver an Olympic medal to France, I think. He gets it done in the big races."

- American 100-meter record holder Tyson Gay giving high praise to the fastest white man in history, Christopher Lemaitre of France. The quote comes from a nice Telegraph profile of Lemaitre.


Quote Of The Week #3 (That Wasn't Quote Of The Day)

"Speed kills, no matter what distance you're running. If things get tactical, it never hurts to have one more gear."

- Newly minted NCAA indoor 3k champ Elliott Heath (whom we said two weeks ago has a very good shot of making the Olympics or World Champs down the road) recounting in a Running Times article some advice big bro Garrett gave him a few years ago.


Quote Of The Week #3 (That Wasn't Quote Of The Day)

"I have a picture on the wall at home of (Paula Radcliffe) going past me and when I'm doing strength training or weightlifting, I look at the picture and it gives me motivation."

- German Olympian Sabrina Mockenhaupt talking to Inside The Games about how a picture she has up of Paula Radcliffe passing her at the European Championships motivates her to train. We loved the quote, as it shows that the pros benefit from a little old-fashioned motivation just like the amateurs.


Recommended Reads/Clicks/Watches

*2011 April Fool's Edition Of
A MUST READ: Daily Mail Introduces Britain To Tyson Gay: "He is the second fastest man in history, and that is precisely what he does not want to be."
A Detailed Look At Christophe Lemaitre
*Thanks To Big Brother Garrett, Elliott Heath Was Able To Rebound From Disappointing XC Finish To Dominate NCAA 3k Indoors
*SD Union-Tribune: Three-Time Olympian Jen Rhines Thrives As She Ages


Other Happenings Of Note

*2000 Olympic Sprint Champ Katerina Thanou Testifies In Court - Says She Never Doped Nor Hid From Doping Authorities
Netherlands: Micah Kogo's 27:15 Triumphs Over Mike Kigen's 27:26, Irina Miktenko Wins Women's Race In 32:06 In Brunssum
Kenya: Narok, Kenya Recap: Asbel Kiprop Only 3rd In 800m In 1:49.7
*Florida Relays: Francena McCorory 50.50 400m, Jeff Demps 10.07 100m


Looking Ahead (Time To Start Getting Excited For ...)

April 10: Paris & Rotterdam Marathons
Aprl 17: London Marathon: 9 Japanese Women Who Were Going To Try To Make Worlds At Nagoya Marathon Will Now Run London Next Month Instead
April 18: Boston Marathon
April 30: Drake/Penn Relays: Olympian Webb To Run Mile At Drake Relays


Quotes Of The Day From Last Week

Monday: "(Eliud) Kipchoge turned toward Dejen Gebremeskel, waved his left hand forward, then pointed in front of him.
Roughly translated, this is runnerspeak for, 'Dude, you've been drafting off me long enough. Get up here and do some of the work.'"

Dan Norcross's excellent recap of the Carlsbad 5,000m in the San Diego Union Tribune. Norcross's article on Jen Rhines also had the quote of the day for half the day yesterday.

Sunday: "I did not let my age hinder me. I soldiered on until I finished the race ... I believe in going the whole hog. Not just retiring because people retire. I want to push my body hard. I have proved it is possible. Most runners of my age fear taking on youthful athletes, but I have been competing with them and I have out none worse for the wear."

- 54 year-old Kenyan runner Francis Kimeli Kemei talking about how "age is only a number" and his plans to continue competing as long as he can. He says that based on his recent races he is in shape to run sub 1:15 (5:43 pace) for the half marathon.

Saturday: "I'm ashamed to wear the Spanish jersey. Competing in an event with a Spanish shirt harms my image - I'm even thinking about not competing in the worlds. I only hope I can win an Olympic medal so that (Spanish Sports Minister Jaime) Lissavetzky comes to congratulate me. Then I'll smack him in the face with the medal and tell him that that's the thanks he gets for all the (expletive) help he's given me, which is nothing."

- World indoor silver medallist Sergio Sanchez speaking out big-time about the doping culture within Spanish Athletics.

Friday: "Yeah, I have fun. I chill. But for me track is all I have. It's all I know. I've been running track since I was 14 and from that point it was everything. I liked drawing as a kid. I played football and I liked it. But this I love doing.

Lauryn Williams (American sprinter) said last year that she took it pretty easy. She wanted to get herself together. To get a degree. To plan her life. It makes sense. But for me, this is all I have. I'm going to put everything into it. I can't put my energy anywhere else."

- American sprint star Tyson Gay talking in a profile where the Daily Mail introduces him to the UK as the "second fastest man in history, and that is precisely what he does not want to be." Gay also says the following: "I have not read Usain's book, but I believe he likes to party in Jamaica. I don't have a view on his lifestyle. I don't have that much rhythm. I don't do liquor."

Thursday: "Training is not only what you do in the official workouts. Training is also how you work, how you eat, how you rest. In other words, how you live.

Top champions are more talented, but also have all the interest in focusing at athletics full time. This means that their training is very much more consistant, as volume and intensity, because they have big advantages in running faster."

- Coach to the stars Renato Canova in a message board thread on how he trained Imane Merga to the World XC Championships.

Wednesday: "In 1976, though, an unexpected cloud burst doused the flame at Olympic Stadium. The problem was that no one was around, because there were no games scheduled that day. The only people on scene were workmen. One of the men, a plumber named M. Pierre Bouchard, quickly rushed up the steps of the platform holding the Cauldron and used a cigarette lighter to light some pieces of newspaper, then used his ingenious little contraption to re-light the cauldron. Naturally, when Olympic officials were notified of the situation, they quickly rushed over and extinguished Bouchard's make-shift Olympic Flame and used the backup torches to re-light the Flame."

Brian Cronin of the LA Times blogging about the history of the Olympic flame. Apparently the torch relay was re-started by Adolf Hitler, who felt the Ancient Greeks were the forerunners of modern Germany and that copying their torch relay was a "bold expression of this idea."

Tuesday: "Europe can be wild and crazy and fun ... and it can also shorten your career drastically if you are incapable of not acting a damn fool there. Euro 'wine and men/women' have prematurely ended many a promising career."

- Rule #2 of 10 that Ato Boldon (our favorite sprint announcer) gives out to today's pro track and field athletes that he says they don't understand now but will when they retire.


Last Week's Homepages
*Mon (March 28) *Sun (March 27) *Sat (March 26) *Fri (March 25) *Thu  (March 24) *Wed (March 23) *Tue (March 22)


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