I am well aware of Joanie's knee procedure prior to her gutsy Olympic qualifying effort in 1984. Amazing woman and an amazing story. And she used to smoke a pack-plus of cigarettes a day until her physician told her to quit smoking and start running. She did that and then some.
Still, I avowedly disagree that yesterday's runners were better (you did forget yesteryear's Mark Nenow who ran 27:22 at Crescent City, N'awlins, La., and 27:20 on the track as well as Pat Porter--27:46 and an XC god). What's happened is today's runners have demonstrated barely any discernable improvement and eschew the road scene, while Geb and company have ratcheted up the ante three cranks, now running 7:20, 12:39s and 26:22s WRs instead of 7:32, 13:00 and 27:13 WRs. Maybe it's just good doping. Hemopure makes EPO look like a cheap imitation.
It's clear that those times I listed in the previous post for current US runners are consistent with the performances of yesteryear's best American male distance runners: Salazar @ 27:25 10K pr, Meb is better, Alan Culpepper (who handed Falmouth race winner James Koskei his ass at 2002 Bolder Boulder BTW) and Kennedy are just off. Craig Virgin ran 27:29. Goucher (also 7:34 3K) used to waste above-mentioned those guys in XC too and he never ducks Kenyans on the track circuit. Broe, Abdi, Browne, Rogers, Wells, all sub-28 or thereabouts, etc.
There are more tough contemporary American guys waiting to bust out, just maybe not at Falmouth: Dan Browne 27:43--does do a fair number of US road races, Clint Wells 27:56, also does occasional road races (6th at 2002 Bolder Boulder), 8:14 steeplechase runner Tim Broe, beat all comers at the NYRRC USATF 8K men's championships in Central park in New York last April in 22:23 or so. Maybe Brad Hauser or Nick Rogers if they got on the roads more...Jorge Torres is almost graduated from Colorado, so is Tom McArdle at Dartmouth. Ryan Shay wants to run the roads and train for a marathon with Team USA California and he's right out of Notre Dame. The Hansons might have some guys break through, Team USA, Boulder's WCAP, etc.
The US women are as good or maybe better--we have Elva Dryer, Jen Rhines (31:41 10K on the track), Colleen De Reuck (3rd 2002 IAAF World XC, 2nd at 2002 Bolder Boulder), Deena Drossin (2nd 2002 IAAF World XC, Carlsbad WR, Bolder Boulder 2x winner, etc.) off the top of my head, all of whom have shown they can mix it up with the best in the world on the roads. There's also (cough! cough!) Regina Jacobs and maybe Libbie Hickman who is admittedly getting older.
I think Falmouth has always been a great, tradition-laden race. And if more of these top Americans raced it they would run the times and earn the places consistent with the expectations and standards of yesteryear's runners. Clint Wells considered it but it is too early in his base-building phase. It's hard for the top American's to put that race in their schedule. I don't think they want to shoot their wad in August when they might be rebuilding their mileage after a track season or gearing up for a winter XC or late fall marathon race.
Does that make perfect sense to me? Not necessarily. If an American can race Olympic-caliber competition right in their own backyard and not trash themselves for XC and track races, why travel way the hell out to Europe to get the same net effect? That kind of travel disrupts diet (big-time) and training for several days so maybe the guys of yesteryear were a little smarter about staying close to home. IMHO more top Americans should run the roads, even if it's only three or four times a year, at a time and locale when it's optimum--but that may not be during the Falmouth event. There's good money in the roads, and the Drossins, Hickmans, Jennings', Samuelsons, and hardy men of yesteryear have proven time and again that a few road races will not trash a career any more than jet-setting to Europe and eating poorly while galavanting to European meets of questionable repute.
I agree--Go Deena and the rest of the Americans. I hope this conversation will be moot in a couple of years.