The Week That Was In Running - May 3 - May 9, 2011
May 10, 2011
This week, we analyze the amazing 3,000 from Doha, which shows you in a weird way why Chris Solinsky might have a chance for a medal in the Olympics, talk about Asbel Kiprop moving up to the 5k, give props to Japanese marathoners and talk about Julia Lucas, Sally Kipyego, Andrew Wheating and a conspiracy theory involving Nick Symmonds.
The Crazy-Good Men's 3,000 From Doha Shows You Why So Many Talented Guys Switch Countries Of Allegiance Or Turn To The Marathon
Last week, the Diamond League got under way for 2011 in Doha and the results from the men's 3,000 were staggering. Proof positive that the depth of professional running continues to get more and more ridiculous.
In the men's 3k, nine men broke 7:34 and 12 broke 7:35. To put that in perspective, please realize that only one American-born athlete has ever broken 7:34 in history - Bob Kennedy (African-born runners Bernard Lagat and Sydney Maree have run 7:29.00 and 7:33.37 for the US). Kennedy's old American record was 7:30.84.
So in a season-opening meet at the beginning of May, there are nine African-born men that are as good as all but one American-born athlete in history.
The results in Doha made us think two things that we often think about distance running.
1) Thank goodness the Olympics limit each event to three Kenyans and Ethiopians per event; otherwise, an American-born athlete might have zero chance of medalling in the 5k/10k. That thought is one we often have, but it was reaffirmed after watching the Doha race.
2) That race right there is why so many talented young distance runners are moving up to the marathon or switch whom they compete for (and why American-born athletes have a chance for a medal at 5k/10k).
While watching the 2011 Boston Marathon, many LetsRun.com visitors may have heard announcer Toni Reavis tell how one of the Ethiopian marathoners once earned just $500 for breaking 13:00 in a 5,000 and thought that it couldn't possibly be true. But then when you see a result like Doha, it all makes sense.
The fact of the matter is there are so many talented African-born athletes that unless you are the very best on the track, it's very hard to make a great living on the track while representing your country of birth. Thus, many people either move up to the marathon or switch their nationality.
Ignoring past accomplishments, how marketable would someone like 16th-place finisher James Kwalia really be if he were competing for Kenya? The Kenyan-born Kwalia, who now represents Qatar, was the 12th Kenyan-born athlete in the race at 7:37.52. Ignoring past accomplishments, if he were Kenyan, his prospects for a spot on the start line in another Golden League meeting this summer with a nice appearance fee would be very, very low. As a result, guys like that either move up the marathon or switch their allegiances. Making the Kenyan team at 5,000 is incredibly hard. But in Qatar, it's significantly easier and the fact of the matter is Kwalia has thrived in Qatar, as he was the bronze medallist in the 5,000 at the 2009 World Championships.
Most Americans don't realize the type of talent that is abandoning the track for Kenya/Ethiopia. At the 2011 Boston marathon, the 5th-place finisher was 21-year-old Abraham Cherkos of Ethiopia. He is the guy we think Toni Reavis said once made just $500 for going sub-13:00 in Europe (we're not 100% certain that's the guy, but are 90% confident) and Cherkos is a talent.
If you believe his age to be accurate, in 2006 at age 16, he ran 12:54.19 for 5,000. In 2008, at age 18, he was the world indoor 3k bronze medallist, the world junior champion at 5,000 and finished 5th in the Beijing Olympics in the 5,000. His PR at age 16 is faster than any American-born athlete in history has ever run and yet he's already running the marathon.
Now we know some of you are thinking, "But that's wrong. He's better at the track, he should do that?"
We understand that thinking, but many of you thinking that are the same people who every single day go to a job that probably is far from your "dream" job but the pay is way, way better, so you endure it.
We imagine lots of Letsrun.com visitors sitting in a cubicle each day might be thinking, "Wouldn't it be better if I was the cross-country coach at the local college?" But then when they realize that individual might only make $35,000, they quickly get back to their papework. Well, it's no different in the world of running.
Last Lap (And Highlights) Of Men's 3,000m In Doha
More on Doha: *Results *Photos *3k Highlights *Yenew Alamirew's 7:27 3k Highlights 10 World Leaders To Start Diamond League Season In Qatar *Olympic Bronze Medallist Walter Dix Sets World Lead In 200m At 20.06 Dix after race: "Walter Dix is reloaded! ... I'm aiming high in Daegu and I can tell you that everyone is beatable." *Capital Sports Recap: 1,500 World Leader Nixon Chepseba Wins Over Fastest 1,500 Man From Last Year, Silas Kiplagat
5 Quotes Of The Week That Weren't Quote Of The Day
#1 Paula Radcliffe On Her Future
"No (I won't retire if I win Olympic gold in 2012), I'm going to keep going as long as I can. I've had a very long career and I'm very grateful, but this is still what I most want to do ..."
"I know I can still run times capable of winning the event. I can definitely run a sub-2:20. Whether I can run sub-2:15 I don't know. I don't think it's impossible, but I don't think it will be necessary. I think 2:17 would do it."
- Women's marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe talking to The Independent and revealing the passion she has for the sport. More: The Independent Catches Up With The Great Paula Radcliffe - Even Olympic Gold In 2012 Won't End Her Career
"If you'd asked me 10 years ago, I'd have said that I needed that Olympic medal, that it was about defining my career. But my perspective has changed. The most important thing for me now is that my children stay healthy. That doesn't mean I want to win the Olympics any less, just that it's no longer the most important thing. And that's not just me, it's anyone with children. They don't care if a training session has gone well or not."
- Paula Radcliffe revealing to The Independent the perspective the being a mom has given her.
#3 Deadspin Commenter On Marathons
"The Boston marathon isn't about winning or losing.
It's about emotionally stunted people reaching a goal and proving something to their parents/ex-spouse/employer who passed them over for the promotion to management/friends who mocked their weight gain during childbirth/deity of choose after getting a clean bill of health after fighting cancer.
That, and an excuse for spectators to drink like it's St. Patty's day again."
- "Hate McLife" writing on the general sports website Deadspin.com in the comments section below an article on the Boston marathon, giving one non-runners view on what Boston is truly all about. The quote was written a few weeks ago, but we didn't get it into the weekly recap the week after Boston.
#4 Asbel Kiprop On Moving Up To The 5,000m
- Reigning Olympic 1,500-meter champion Asbel Kiprop talking to a Kenyan reporter about his plans for 2011.
It's LetsRun.com's humble opinion that 5k training for the Olympic champ might really help his 1,500, as it was clear to us that Kiprop's fitness was lacking last year. And we weren't the only ones to think that.
One of Kiprop's strength's has always been his great endurance as the guy after all was the world junior cross-country champion, but last year he ran a 7:53 3k at the end of year, which simply isn't good at all and that performance caught the attention of Italian coach Renato Canova, who wrote the following on letsrun about Kiprop after that race: "never he goes for something long in training, and this night there was the demonstration that his training is not the best."
The interview of Kiprop on capitalfm.co.ke from which we took the quote about him moving up to the 5k is worth reading, as it also struck us how much the lanky prodigy is effected by pressure. Kiprop admitted he does better at global championships when he loses the Kenyan Trials as he said, "Same applies to (the) Berlin (World Championships in 2009), when I won the Trials here, I won no medal. It's really hard to sustain the pressure from fans when you win here."
Kiprop's 2011 Golden League season started last week in Doha, where he got the win in 1:44.74.
#5 Julia Lucas On Kenyans' Recovery: Sally Kipyego The Dark Fast Cat
"We all agree that recovery is important, maybe as important as training. The quicker we recover from our last workout the quicker we can put in another one, and we'll only reap the rewards from all that work if we're fresh on the starting line.
The Kenyan model, however, demonstrates a new level of achievement in the field of recovery. After a run and a meal Sally collapses over the couch and does not move until it's time to run again. She and her husband, Kevin, are like cats. Two very thin, very dark, very fast cats who know the entire TV guide schedule by heart, and beat the pants off these busy-bodied Americans ...
Instead, (Kipyego) sits deep in her chair and rolls her eyes repeatedly as we buzz around her, demonstrating our American-ness. We plan a big night out. We'll get some pizza. Maybe go bowling if we're feeling frisky. We'll ask Sally to come, but we know she won't, because Sally's got her night all planned out: She's just gonna sit right there ..."
-American elite Julia Lucas blogging about what the difference is between her and Kenyan friend Sally Kipyego when they aren't running. The politically correct police may not like that quote but LetsRun.com was actually founded as a result of the boredom Weldon Johnson had to fill between his training runs in 2000 in Flagstaff, AZ. The willingness and ability of runners from Kenya to just recover is legendary.
Stat Of The Week/Proof Of Just How Good The Japanese Are At The Marathon
We are continually amazed by just how good Japanese runners are relatively at the marathon. Japan is a country that loves distance running and their runners are amazingly good at doing all the work required to succeed at the 26.2-mile distance.
Consider this: At the Stanford 10,000, three Japanese marathoners with PRs under 2:10 ran and two of them set personal bests and the fastest any of them ran was 28:24.
In that same Stanford race, there were 10 different Americans who ran under 28:24 and yet in American history, only 15 men (who have not represented another country in competition) have run under 2:10:00 in the marathon.
The 15 Sub-2:10:00 US Men (who did not run for another country during their careers). In case you're wondering, All-Athletics.com says 56 Japanese men have gone sub-2:10 in the marathon.
2:04:58a Ryan Hall USA 2:08:47a Bob Kempainen USA 2:08:51a Alberto Salazar USA 2:08:53a Dick Beardsley USA 2:08:56 Abdihakem Abdirahman USA 2:09:00a Greg Meyer USA 2:09:15 Mebrahtom Keflezighi USA 2:09:27a Bill Rodgers USA 2:09:31a Ron Tabb USA 2:09:32 David Morris USA 2:09:35 Jerry Lawson USA 2:09:37 Dick Beardsley USA 2:09:38 Ken Martin USA 2:09:41 Alan Culpepper USA 2:09:57a Benji Durden USA
More: 3 Japanese 2:09 Marathoners Ran 10ks Last Week & Two Set PRs And The Fastest Was A 28:24 At Stanford Additionally, the article talks about how their amateur 2:08 marathoner did a 3 x 5k race/workout last week all under 15:00 - 14:58, 14:48, 14:21.
Kaki And Rudisha Both Miss Doha Meet
One of the things track and field badly needs is rivalries and head-to-head competition. World record holder at 800m, David Rudisha, was supposed to face his young Sudanese rival Abubaker Kaki in Doha last week to kick of the Diamond League. Both pulled out with injuries.
It was perhaps too good to be true to believe Kaki and Rudisha would race so early in the season, but for the sake of the sport hopefully they can race a few times this year. Neither injury is suspected to be serious. Rudisha has a left foot injury and Kaki "a small muscular injury."
*USC Hurdler & National
Leader Nia Ali Is On Comeback Trail After Shutting Down After Her
Father's Murder-Suicide Rocked Her World (And All Of Philadelphia)
*The Independent Catches Up With The Great Paula Radcliffe - Even Olympic Gold In 2012 Won't End Her Career
*Oregon's David Klech, Who Was Once Confined To A Wheelchair As A Result Of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Gets 2nd In 2nd-Ever Decathlon
Quotes Of The Day From Last Week
Monday: "I'd always said to my friends and family growing up, when I started to run better in college, no matter what I'm going to do, I feel like God's blessed me with this gift, with running, and I'm going to work in a running store, I'm going to just scrap and borrow and beg for two years at least while I give this a shot, to run professionally."
- Brandon Bethke talking about the difficulties of trying to run professionally after college and trying to make it financially. Bethke won the 5k at Payton Jordan in 13:25.82, good enough for the World Championships "B" standard (13:27), but has no shoe contract. Instead he has resorted to convincing a surfing company, Quiksilver, to sponsor him.
Sunday: "I was stunned. Sometimes being an athlete is such a closed little world. You are so focused on yourself and you don't really look outside of that and appreciate what it means to other people around you."
- New Zealand's Commonwealth Games double silver medallist (800/1,500), Nikki Hamblin, explaining her shock when a man stopped her on the street to congratulate her, saying that "watching her storm home for silver had brought him to tears." Track might not have the fan base that more mainstream sports do, but it's nice to know that for the fans that are out there, it matters a lot.
- British announcer (and 4th place finisher in the 1984 Olympic 5,000m) Tim Hutchings on the super-fast men's 3,000m to kick off the 2011 Samsung Diamond League Season in Doha, Qatar yesterday. Young Ethiopian sensation Yenew Alamirew got the win in 7:27.26 as 12 guys broke 7:35 (for reference, Chris Solinsky's PR would have been 10th in this race).
Friday: "Last weekend I was chatting with Rod Dixon (the 1983 New York City Marathon champion and a 3:53 miler and Olympic medallist at 1,500) and he advised me to break four minutes for the mile as soon as possible. While I realize it may take a number of tries to go sub-four, it is a lifelong goal of mine and I believe that if I achieve it, it will certainly help my marathon."
- The fastest American marathoner in history, 2:04:58 man Ryan Hall, announcing that he'll return to action for the first time since Boston next Thursday at the US 1 Mile Road Championships, where he'll certainly have his hands full with the four-minute barrier and the likes of David Torrence, who blitzed a 2:48 1,200 at Penn last week.
soon as he gets the stick, it's over! I mean, no, but really, ever
since high school ... it's amazing what this kid can do. Once (third leg
runner Anthony) Kostelac handed off, in my mind, I thought it was over. I
mean, I have respect for Cas (Loxsom) and all that, but I've seen Robby
- UVA lead-off runner Brett Johnson explaining the faith he has in teammate Robby Andrews, who anchored UVA's 4 x 8 to win Penn Relays. He got the baton about even with Penn State's Casimir Loxsom and split a 1:46.00 to Loxsom's 1:46.70 for the win.
of the nasty secrets about the DMR is that sometimes being in the lead
is not the place where you want to be ... I knew it's a possibility that
given my team, I might get the baton in the lead and there's two
options you have when you're in that position. You can push the pace or
you can stay calm and keep feeling good and make sure you're ready to go
at the end. I chose the latter ... but it didn't quite work out."
- Russell Brown explaining the racing tactics that go on during the anchor leg of a DMR. In the Penn Relays USA Vs. The World race, a great leadoff 1,200 leg by Bernard Lagat put Brown in the lead when he got the baton, but despite his best efforts, he lost in the final 40 meters by less than a second. Commenting on Brown's tactics, Lagat said, "You ran good, not forgetting that, you know, when you are leading over there, you're doing all the work. Everybody is sitting, sitting, sitting, and all they have to do is just run that last 150, which happened today. You know, they started making that move and you were able to hold them, and the guys are feeling much fresher, because you did all the work. So I applaud your work, man, you did well today."
didn't want to know symptoms and side effects. I didn't want to
mentally create reactions. I didn't want to imagine negative outcomes.
The mind is a strong healing factor, if you make it one.
... I'm sure the doctors thought I was crazy at the beginning, or they'd
just ignore me. But I honestly think being so focused on coming back
made me better."
- WSU high jumper Shawn Swartz talking talking about his battle with leukemia and undergoing radiation treatment. While most would use something as serious as that as a very legitimate excuse to not train and give up, Swartz didn't even what to know all the possible side effects because he didn't want to give himself the option of making extra excuses. He was determined to return to high jumping and he has jumped an impressive 6 feet 7 1/2 inches this season.
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