The Week That Was: Getting Yanked Off A Marathon Course, 2011 Foot Lockers, Africans Not Walking To School, And Sam Chelanga Dances

December 14, 2011

Another week is in the books and what a week it was.

This week we talk about yanking people off the course at major marathon if they aren't on sub-2:46 pace, how many African champions didn't actually walk far to school, the foreign boy invasion at Foot Lockers, the string of senior girl winners at Foot Lockers, and a whole lot more. Along the way, Sonia O'Sullivan rips the Chinese, Sam Chelanga dances, and we compare Usain Bolt to Allen Iverson.

Email Of The Week/The Appeal Of Fukuoka Keeps Growing & Growing

We'll start our weekly recap by going back two weeks to talk more about the Fukuoka marathon. In last week's recap, we talked about how Fukuoka, which requires a 2:42 qualifying time, has a very high dropout rate (21.1%) and median finishing time (2:37:43), whereas a race like New York which doesn't require a qualifying time has a very low drop out rate (2%) and median finishing time (4:22:39). Those stats caused us to jokingly say that dropping out of a marathon is a good thing.

Well we got an email from Japanese Running News' Brett Larner which shed more light on the high Fukuoka "dropoutr" rate. In reality, a lot of the runners in Fukuoka aren't dropping out - they are being pulled from the course.

In the SEC, kids are pulled from the indoor 5,000 when they get lapped. In Fukuoka, runners are pulled if they don't stay on 2:46 marathon pace.

We love it. Don't accept mediocrity.

Brett's email says it all:

    Hi, thanks for the kind words on my Fukuoka write-up. Kawauchi is the real deal.

    One thing with regard to the DNF rate at Fukuoka: The elite Japanese marathons like Fukuoka all have very strict cutoff times along the course. If you don’t clear a checkpoint by the cutoff time you will be stopped and pulled off the course. Likewise if you fall behind between checkpoints. Fukuoka doesn’t say this on the English part of its website but it is there in the Japanese section:

    Fukuoka checkpoint times:
    10 km: 39:00
    15 km: 58:30
    20 km: 1:18:00
    25 km: 1:37:30
    30 km: 1:57:00
    35 km: 2:17:00
    40 km: 2:37:30

    Given the prestige of getting into these races as an amateur I would guess that the % of Fukuoka DNFs that were voluntary, at least among the Japanese entrants, was less than 1%. My wife Mika, who has run all three of the elite women’s marathons multiple times, also puts the number at no more than 1%. Almost all would have been cut off.

Note: Africans Aren't Good Because They Run To School Every Day
Ever had someone tell you that the reason there are so many good African distance runners is because they all are poor and have to run to school as children?

Well, we haven't bought that theory since our college days when we met a Kenyan at the Penn Relays and asked him if he had to run to school as a child and he laughed and said, "No. I lived across the street from the school."

I mean, think about it. Sure, exercise as a youngster probably helps, but there are millions if not billions of school children in other poor countries that walk/run to school and they aren't good at running.

If you don't want to take our word for it, then take the word of Mohammed Aman - the 17-year-old who snapped David Rudisha's 800-meter unbeaten streak this summer. The IAAF did a profile of Aman last week and reported that Aman grew up in a middle-class family and didn't have to run to school.

"My father was a teacher, but now works in a government office. My mom is a house wife. I went to school in Assela which was near our house and did not need to run to school every day."

More: "17"-Year-Old Mohammed Aman, Who Stopped David Rudisha's Winning Streak And Ran 1:43, Is From White Collar Family, Uses Facebook, Likes Action Movies

Numbers To Think About From The 2011 Foot Locker Cross-Country Championships

Final 600m Or Full Race Of Great Foot Locker Finish

1 - Number of Foot Locker finalists who put their workouts up on prior to the regional qualifying race and asked visitor's to predict their time and their chances for qualification. The results were unanimously wrong - as everyone said the young man had zero shot of qualifying. Addison DeHaven - son of Olympic Rod DeHaven - did in fact qualify - the only sophomore to qualify. This leads us to our Weekly Free Coaching Tip - remember workouts only tell you so much. The point of the sport is to race well - not work out well. Too many people force workouts and have sub-par races.
More: Predict My Footlocker MW Regional Time

4 - Number of consecutive years that a foreign born boy has won the Foot Locker high school cross-country championships. This fact generated a thread on the message board appropriately entitled: Will an American male ever win Foot Locker again? The answer is definitely yes.

For some reason the foreign-born victories seem to happen in streaks. A US-born athlete has won Foot Locker every single year that it was held except for the last four years and from 1995 to 1997, when foreign born Abdul Alzindani (1995) and Abdirizak Mohamud (1996 and 1997) won the titles.

4 - Number of consecutive years that a 12th grade girl has won the girls title, tying the all-time record from 1998 to 2001 when seniors also won the girls title. This is a good sign in our minds, as far too often girls are good at high school distance running by being underdeveloped instead of actually great at running.

6 - Number of boys in the race who actually finished closer to the girls champion, Molly Seidel (17:21.4), than the boys champion, Edward Cheserek (14:51.5). Why do we point that out? Simply to show you that the boys winner, Edward Cheserek, is very good and to show you that nearly all races result in a bell-curve top finish. In many ways, we think it's better for a runner's development to not make Foot Locker than it is to make it and finish 35th because if you make it and finish 35th, you think of yourself as a "Foot Locker finalist" instead of thinking, "Man I really need to improve a ton to be good in college."

21 - Years that Melody Fairchild's course record of 16:39 has survived at Balboa Park.

26 - Years that Reuben Reina's course record of 14:36 has existed at Balboa Park.

More: *Boys Results *Girls Results *Boys Photos *Girls Photos *Full Girls Race Video *Full Boys Race Video
Boys: Cheserek Outkicks Futsum For The Win This race lived up to its hype as the top 2 African-born stars went mano-a-mano until the final 100m. After a cat-and-mouse 9:50 opening 2 miles, their last 1.1 was run at a pretty quick pace (4:31 mile pace), but the winning time of 14:51.5 wasn't close to Reina's 14:36 CR.
LRC Girls: Molly Seidel Turns Back Tough Challenge From Erin Finn Seidel was the favorite, undefeated in 2011, but Finn was the top returner and Finn made it super-interesting as she opened up a big lead and even managed to regain the lead once Seidel caught her.
Recommended Read: Dyestat Recap: Cheserek, Zeinasellassie Forge Bond In San Diego
More Coverage: *Newark Star-Ledger Recap
Note the paper incorrectly reports their last 800 as being a 1:54. No chance.

*San Diego Tribune Recap Cheserek says he just wanted win - might go for Reuben Reina's record next year.
MB: *Where would Cheserek have placed at NCAA XC? *Cheserek and Futsum's last 800 meters - 1:54? *Poll: How old are Cheserek and Futsum? *Will an American male ever win Foot Locker again? *Another FL Finalist Staying Home

5 Quotes Of The Week (That Weren't Quotes Of The Day)

#1 Irish Great Sonia O'Sullivan Talking About The Suspect Chinese Times From The 1990s And Why She Didn't Question Them At The Time

"I look back to 1993 and the Chinese and I think at the time I was so focused on what I was doing that I didn't want to be distracted by getting into a war of words. In some ways you kind of wish you were a bit more vocal and dig in a bit more, but then again maybe I would have been kind of going down the wrong road ... then they didn’t turn up the next year!

"It's amazing that some of those world records still stand and no questions about it ... 8:06 for 3,000 metres for a woman is kinda out of this world. It was part of my career. There's nothing you could really change. Even if someone came out now and said they were cheating it's not really going to change anything, is it? It's going to be a little story in the papers but you can never [replace] that feeling of crossing the line and winning if you do't cross the line winning. You often see that medals get taken off people and others get presented with it. It's just a technicality and a statistic."

O'Sullivan, who ran a 8:21.64 for 3,000 herself, has every right to be suspicious. Consider this: The top 7 times on the all-time 3,000 list and 9 of the top 11, all belong to Chinese runners. All of those times were run within the span of two days back in 1993 - September 12th and September 13th 1993.

A non-Chinese has never run faster than 8:21.42 and yet the world record is 8:06.11. If it wasn't for the Chinese, O'Sullivan would have been a world record holder back in 1994 and would still be #2 all-time. Instead, she sits at #6 all-time (9th best performance).

All-Time Women's Best At 3,000
1 8:06.11 Wang Junxia CHN 09.01.73 1 Beijing 13.09.1993
2 8:12.18 Qu Yunxia CHN 25.12.72 2 Beijing 13.09.1993
3 8:12.19 Wang Junxia CHN 09.01.73 1h2 Beijing 12.09.1993
4 8:12.27 Qu Yunxia CHN 25.12.72 2h2 Beijing 12.09.1993
5 8:16.50 Zhang Linli CHN 06.03.73 3 Beijing 13.09.1993 6
8:19.78 Ma Liyan CHN 03.11.68 3h2 Beijing 12.09.1993
7 8:21.26 Ma Liyan CHN 03.11.68 4 Beijing 13.09.1993
8 8:21.42 Gabriela Szabo ROU 14.11.75 1 Monaco 19.07.2002
9 8:21.64 Sonia O'Sullivan IRL 28.11.69 1 London 15.07.1994
10 8:21.84 Zhang Lirong CHN 03.03.73 5 Beijing 13.09.1993
11 8:22.06 Zhang Linli CHN 06.03.73 1h1 Beijing 12.09.1993

Looking for more all-time best performances? Go no further than - a great site!

More: Ireland's Chef De Mission For 2012 Olympics, Sonia O'Sullivan, Reflects On Her Own Great Career

#2 - Sportsmanship Still Exists At The Very Elite Level - Mohammed Aman Reveals To Him What David Rudisha Said To Him After Aman Snapped Rudisha's 34-Meet Win Streak

"I remember after the race that Rudisha turned towards me and asked 'How can you run like this under the heavy rain?' I just smiled. He said 'well done and keep it up.' That was really big of him to say that."

More: "17"-Year-Old Mohammed Aman, Who Stopped David Rudisha's Winning Streak And Ran 1:43, Is From White Collar Family, Uses Facebook, Likes Action Movies

#3 - Runnersworld's Jennifer Kahn Writing About Former NCAA Champ Julius Achon's Charity Work

"Julius Achon ran and ran, away from civil war in Uganda all the way to an NCAA title and the Olympics. But on a visit home, when he saw 11 starving orphans huddled under a bus - well, he wasn't going to run away from that."

Those are the opening two sentences of a great Kahn piece on Achon.
Meet Julius Achon - A Modern Day Hero

#4 Usain Bolt Reacts To Maurice Greene Saying Yohan Blake Will Win The Olympic 100m Title

"A lot of people have said guys are going to beat me but I am still No 1. I am still the Olympic champion. It doesn't really matter what people say. I go out there and prove them wrong everyday. That's just one more challenge, and I enjoy challenges."

- Bolt talking in a Reuters article.
Bolt - I Don't Care What Greene & Others Say, I'm The Man To Beat

#5 Usain Bolt Pulls An Allen Iverson: "We're talking about practice."

"(Yohan Blake and I) train together and push each other to get better. Yohan is a very competitive person and he competes in training all the time. But I am not really that much of a competing person in training. Some times we go at it (in training), but it is all fun and games."

More: Bolt - I Don't Care What Greene & Others Say, I'm The Man To Beat

Late Bloomer Emmanuel Bett Wins Zatopek 10k

The outdoor season got underway in Australia with the 51st Zatopek10k. The Zatopek10 is the most historic 10k in the world. This year's field featured three Kenyans (Stanford 10k winner Bitan Karoki, 26:51 10k runner Emmanuel Bett and 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Micah Kogo), and three Australians (record holder Ben St. Lawrence, former 5k bronze medallist Craig Mottram and former NAU star David McNeill).

The race came down to a great final 800m between Bett and Karoki with Bett coming out on top. Bett is a late bloomer in the sport and shows the amazing depth in Kenya. 28 years old, he shows up in results in a half marathon in 2006, then a few road races in Brazil in 2009. He then at some point somehow got hooked up with agent Ricky Simms' group in Kenya and earlier this year ran his first European track race. His result 26:51. That's faster than any American had ever run until that day (Galen Rupp was one spot ahead of him, setting the American record). How many other Emmanuel Betts never get a chance in Kenya?

Micah Kogo represents a different side of the Kenyan running ecosystem. The 2008 Oympic bronze medallist at 10,000m has moved primarily to the roads as that is where the money is. However, since 2012 is an Olympic year, expect to see more Kenyans like Kogo return to the track, as an Olympic medal still is the pinnacle in the sport. Kogo ran 27:50 at the Zatopek and missed the Olympic qualifying standard (27:45), so he'll likely have to run another 10k before the Kenyan trials.

*Zatopek 10k Recap  *Video Of Final 800m Of Zatopek 10k


Some Of America's Best Tune Up For Trials

Tune-up races or glorified workouts for an appearance fee often don't tell us too much about an athlete's preparation for a marathon. Some of America's best ran the Dodge Latin Music Miami Beach Half Marathon last week. Shalane Flanagan, with her 69:58 clocking, showed at the very least she is ready to be a factor at the Trials. Very few women in America can break 70 minutes. Kara Goucher's 72:59 leaves a lot of open questions. Goucher's goal was supposedly 73 minutes, but coming back from injury and now with a new coach she still has some work to do to get ready for the Olympic Marathon Trials, which are 1 month away (Jan. 14).

Flanagan Flies (69:58), Goucher Runs 72:59 But Leaves Upbeat & Simon Bairu Finds It Harder Than Expected To Run 65:38 Flanagan ran the fastest loop course US time of the year; Goucher, who ran 1:09:08 1 month before the Boston Marathon, only ran 72:59 but left the race upbeat. In the men's race, Miami Heat fan Simon Bairu found it harder than he expected to run 5-minute pace in a race that sub-4 miler Christian Hesch led early. *MB Talk: Simon Bairu, Brent Vaughn 1:05 Tempo Runs, Shalane Flanagan 1:09:58, Kara Goucher 1:12:59

Video Of The Week

As we said, it was a slow news week. As a result, check this video out. Where else can you see the collegiate 10,000 record and 2009 and 2010 NCAA XC champ Sam Chelanga dancing?



Recommended Reads

We know some don't like it when we pump our own stuff, but we honestly believe some of the best content we've ever produced has come of late when we've done the 12 Days of Puma and given out 55 pairs of shoes to the people who make so great. In giving out the shoes, we've gotten to really learn who it is that visits the site every day and it's a remarkable bunch.

From cancer survivors to boxers to cops to veterans to Olympic Trials qualifiers to 27:31 guys looking for a shoe contract, the viewing audience is truly special. See who your fellow visitors are below.

Day 12: A 1:46 800m Iraq War Vet, The Woman Who Roomed With NYC Marathon Champ Firehiwot Dada, 2 Olympic Trials Marathon Qualifiers (Including One Who Missed Qualifying By 29 Seconds In 2008), And 2 People Training In Flagstaff, AZ
Day 11: A "Brotha" Who Wants To Break 13:30, An All-American Getting Back On The Roads, A 58-Year-Old Female Marathoner Who Was Winning Marathons Before Most Of You Were Born, A Cancer Survivor Who Happens To Be Caitlin Chock's High School Coach, And A Lady Who Entered To Cheer Her Husband Up
Day 10:
 A Football Player Turned 31:30 10k Runner, A Cop Inspiring His Family To Run, A Collegiate Runner Constantly Injured, A Woman Who Thinks Puma Is Sexy, And A Guy Who Showed Up To Practice In Allen Iverson Basketball Shoes
Day 9:
A Girl Who Helps LRCers Get Dates, A Guy Who Wants A Shoe That Doesn't Suck, A Dog Lover, And A Sprinter Turned Distance Runner (Because Of A Car Wreck)
Day 8:
A 34-Year-Old Who Wants To Go Sub-4, A 26-Year-Old Who Grew Up With LRC, "The" Running Autograph Collector, A Guy Whose Pumas Were Stolen 13 Years Ago, And A Girl At A Nike School
Day #7:
 Read It To Believe It: A "Cigarette Smoking, Pill Popping, Booze Drinking Slob" Who Now Runs 90 Miles A Week, A 12-Year-Old, A Woman Who Trolls The Message Boards
Day #6: Rest
Day #5:
The Coaches
Day #4
Married Guys And A Guy Whose Wife And Kids Left Him
Day #3: Winter Wonderland:
South Dakota, A National Champion Coach, Valdez, Alaska, And TxRUNNERgirl Represent
Day #2:
A 27:31 10ker, A Marine Corps Marathon Champ, A Girl From Our Favorite High School, And A Guy Who Loves Asics, And A (Shoe) Geek
Day #1:
A Boxer Who Runs 100 Miles A Week, A Guy Sick Of Getting Free Nikes, A Soldier Doing Intervals With Incoming Rounds, A 16-Year-Old Aspiring Champ

*Dyestat Recap: Cheserek, Zeinasellassie Forge Bond In San Diego
*NPR Story On Mexico City Olympic Gold Bronze Medallist John Carlos Carlos was made famous by making his iconic "black power" salute on the medal stand and received a ton of backlash for it including threats on his life. The pressure led his wife to kill herself, but he still says he would do it again.
*Olympic 400m Gold Medallist Vincent Matthews Inducted Into T&F Hall Of Fame Matthews: "I had to work. I had to have a job. There was no possible way of making money from track. The top guys of today, they can't understand what we went through. He talks about night-time practice sessions where they scaled the fence of a locked-up high school track.
*Meet Julius Achon - A Modern Day Hero "Julius Achon ran and ran, away from civil war in Uganda all the way to an NCAA title and the Olympics. But on a visit home, when he saw 11 starving orphans huddled under a bus ... well, he wasn't going to run away from that."
*"17"-Year-Old Mohammed Aman, Who Stopped David Rudisha's Winning Streak And Ran 1:43, Is From White Collar Family, Uses Facebook, Likes Action Movies
*Learn All About Haile Gebrselassie's Business Interests & Kenenisa Bekele's The article is full of great details and says Haile is worth $50 million and employs 600 people. Bekele's infludence is growing and he's building a new track (to help stop his calf problems), as well as the Kenenisa Bekele Grand Hotel. But no worries - the Emperor still rules, as The Haile Resort is the best resort in Ethiopia and features the 2nd largest discotheque in Ethiopia.
*Ireland's Chef De Mission For 2012 Olympics, Sonia O'Sullivan, Reflects On Her Own Great Career She rips the Chinese along the way. "8:06 for 3,000 metres for a woman is kinda out of this world."

Other News Of Note From The Last Week

Back From Kenya Training Trip, Paula Radcliffe Hops In Local 10k, Finishes 4th Overall (1st Female), Goes To Pancakes With Family

USATF Club Nats
Men's Results:
Jonathan Grey Of Team USA Minnesota Wins Convincingly Aaron Braun 2nd, Centro 4th, McMillan Elite wins team title over Boulder Running Co. Prior to this, Grey's claim to fame was a 5th at NCAA indoors. If you have no idea who he is, click here.

Women's Results:
Brie Felnagle Over Neely Spence Adidas/Team Rogue Elite wins.
On The Boards:
Club Cross Updates?

2011 European XC *Results

  • Euro Women: Ireland's Fionnuala Britton Gets 2nd Irish Title At Europeans  She joins Sonia O'Sullivan as an Irish champ.
  • Men: Belgium's Atelaw Yeshe Bekele Goes Wire-To-Wire, Lebid Drops Out
  • IAAF Recap: Ethiopian-Born Bekele Dominates Sr. Men's Race No, not Kenenisa.
  • BBC: GB dominate at Euro cross country
  • Eurosport: Britain Reigns Supreme With 12 Medals - 6 Gold Steph Twell was 4th in U23 women's.
  • Under-23 Women: Emma Pallant Leads British 1-2
  • Under-23 Men: France's Florian Carvalho Gets Under 23 Win
  • Zatopek 10k
    Emmanuel Bett Outkicks Bitan Karoki To Win In 27:39, Ben St. Lawrence Wins Aussie Title
    Bett, 28, is fairly new to the pro ranks but quickly making a name for himself. One spot behind Galen Rupp in Brussels this year (26:51), he got his first big track win. Craig Mottram surprisingly could not stay with 13:56 pace. *Zatopek:10 Results

    Quotes Of The Day From The Week:

    Monday 12/12: "It's not my fastest half marathon ever, but it's given me the most confidence I've ever had going into a marathon, so I feel really good about it."

    - Kara Goucher after running a 72:59 half marathon over the weekend. One needs to realize that her training partner Shalane Flanagan ran a 69:58 in the same race and that Goucher ran 69:08 one month prior to Boston this year.

    Sunday 12/11: Futsum Zeinasellassie: "I was trying not to talk to him (Edward Cheserek) all week. I wanted to focus on this race because I wanted to beat him so bad."

    "(But) he came up to me and said 'Are you Futsum?' And I said, 'Yeah.'"

    Edward Cheserek: "(Ever since then), we've become friends and been chillin' together."

    - Excerpt from a great article from Marc Bloom recapping the 2011 Foot Locker cross-country championships (which Cheserek won), reminding us that in the end, the teenage stars at Foot Locker are relatively normal high schoolers. Zeinasellasie, who came to the US in 7th grade, couldn't help but have a soft spot for Cheserek, who just moved to the US last year.

    Saturday 12/10: "It was by far my best high school performance and overall is short only of making the Olympic team (1996 in Atlanta) and making the Olympic Games final (in the steeplechase). It set me up for the rest of my career."

    - Marc Davis on his 1986 Kinney (Foot Locker) win in 14:38, the second-fastest time ever at Foot Locker. Reuben Reina's 26-year-old course record of 14:36 could be in jeopardy Saturday.

    Friday 12/09: "I wasn't too happy with the distance but it's an Olympic qualifying mark so I can't be too angry with it. It's pretty cool, but I'm not happy just to qualify. I don't want to go over to London to fill out the numbers."

    - New Zealand's 16-year-old shot putter, Jacko Gill, talking about the throw that qualifies him for the London 2012 Olympics. His throw also would have placed him 8th at the World Championships had he been old enough to compete. *We recommend watching his Rocky-esque training montage video here.

    Thursday 12/08: "I reflect when they ask me 'Would I do it again?' You know, my reply to that is that as much as I love my wife, she'd have to take her life again, and again, and again. Because I cannot sacrifice society for one individual's life - mine nor hers."

    - 1968 Mexico City Games 200m gold bronze medalist John Carlos, talking about his iconic "Black Power" salute he and bronze gold medalist Tommie Smith did on the medal stand as a sign of protest against racism in the United States. Afterward, both of them were completely ostracized. They couldn't find work, were under constant FBI surveillance, and received threats on their lives; the constant pressure led his wife to take her life.

    Wednesday 12/07: "It was really painful but I love that kind of situation more than anything else. Telling myself not to give up, hitting him with everything I have and coming out ahead gives me a lot of satisfaction ..."

    "I didn't expect to actually be in the race for an Olympic spot in Fukuoka, and to be honest it's pretty sad that this kind of time was good enough to be the top Japanese man ..."

    "When I was getting close to the two lead Japanese men [Imai and Kazuhiro Maeda] I could see that they were running along peacefully.Then the imagine of the Rising Sun suddenly floated to the surface of my mind. As I ran I remembered being in the award ceremony for the team medal at the World Championships and I had the urge to experience the feeling of being on the medal stand one more time."

    - Japanese amateur Yuki Kawauchi talking about the 2:09:57 marathon he ran at Fukuoka, which he said he just ran "for experience" and that he's planning to make the Japanese Olympic team with "a fast time in Tokyo." But the Japanese federation isn't sure what to do as Fukuoka was one of the three Japanese selection races. Nonetheless, a Japanese federation member was impressed by Kawauchi: "He showed the best of what it means to be Japanese, and when the chance was there he went and took it himself."

    Tuesday: 12/06: "It honestly is a dream come true. I was hopeful, but I also knew it was kind of a long shot. But it clicked today, and it just felt great."

    - Tim Tollefson after making the Olympic Marathon Trials by 34 seconds at Sunday's Cal International Marathon. All in all, there were 33 Trials qualifiers at CIM and the article above looks at some of their reactions.

    Last Week's Homepages
    Mon (Dec. 21) *Sun (Dec. 11) *Sat (Dec. 10) *Fri (Dec. 9) *Thu (Dec. 8) *Wed (Dec. 7) *Tue (Dec. 6)


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