Lelisa Desisa’s Classy Move, Ben True Battles Jeilan, Manzano And Andrews Update, Natoye Goule Dominates, And Discus Love

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This week’s Week That Was will be a bit shorter than normal as we need to spend our time previewing the upcoming action in Oregon (Pre Classic/2013 NCAA outdoors), where we’ll be for 9 days starting on Thursday. Plus, we’ve already recapped/analyzed much of the key action from last week at the 2013 adidas Grand Prix. There are 2 big pro track meets in the USA every year, the adidas Grand Prix (last week) and the Prefontaine Classic (this week). We hope being the fans of track and field that you are you are already up to date on what happened at the adidas meet but if not, it’s listed below:

LRC *Men’s 800: Even Rain Can’t Stop David Rudisha; A Fall Robs Erik Sowinski Of Another Great Finish
*Men’s 5k: Hagos Gebrhiwet Establishes Himself As Mo Farah’s Biggest Rival, Ben True Runs Well
*Women’s 1,500: Aregawi Wins Easily As Expected; The Americans Miss The “A” As Morgan Uceny Improves
*Rest Of Meet: Blanka Vlasic Returns With A Win, Tyson Gay Wins Again As Does Jenn Suhr, Favorites Christian Taylor And Brittney Reese Struggle *Women’s Steeple *High School

Not your normal track and field photo. Our adidas GP Photo Gallery is updated.

Now some additional analysis.

This week we praise Lelisa Desisa for a classy move, wonder who Ben True really beat, wonder about Leo Manzano and Robby Andrews, give out props to the totally dominant NCAA 800 runner that no one talks about, talk about three NCAA studs that didn’t advance, throw out some love to discus stud Robert Harting and ourselves.

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Quote Of The Week (That Wasn’t Quote Of The Week)

“Sport should be a pleasure and never a battlefield.”

– 2013 Boston Marathon winner Lelisa Desisa talking at a ceremony in Ethiopia with the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, during which Lelisa gave his 2013 Boston marathon winner’s medal to Kerry as a sign of good will.

A VERY classy gesture by Desisa.

More: Boston Marathon Champ Lelisa Desisa Gives Boston Marathon Medal Back To The City

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A Few More Thoughts About 2013 adidas Grand Prix: Ben True, Leo Manzano And Robby Andrews

Now that we’ve returned home from the adidas GP, we’ve been thinking about the meet and had the following observations.

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Not sure what the television viewers got to see, but in person, it was a lot of fun watching American Ben True battle two total studs in Ibrahim Jeilan (2011 Worlds 10,000 gold) and Dejen Gebremeskel (2012 5,000 silver, 2011 5,000 bronze) for third at the adidas Grand Prix. Gebremeskel fell off hard and Jeilan eventually beat True, but it was exciting to watch True mix it up with two big names.

That being said, now that we’ve had some time to think about it, we’re not sure what to make of True’s 4th place finish. We guess if he stays within 7 seconds of Hagos Gebrhiwet all year that means he had an incredible season. But who did he really beat? Everyone else was just way off – more than 10 seconds back ultimately.

5,000 Metres - Men                                             
                                                            Pts
    1 Gebrhiwet , Hagos                ETH   13:10.03          4 
    2 Chepkok , Vincent Kiprop         KEN   13:15.51          2  
    3 Jeilan , Ibrahim                 ETH   13:16.46          1  
    4 True , Ben                       USA   13:16.94            
    5 Barrios , Juan Luis              MEX   13:28.17             
    6 Gebremeskel , Dejen              ETH   13:31.02           
    7 Kiptoo , Mark Kosgei             KEN   13:36.92             
    8 Meucci , Daniele                 ITA   13:50.53

The biggest testament to True’s progression this year was that he was the last guy in the front group. And we shouldn’t knock the second group. Gebremeskel is a stud and Juan Luis Barrios was 8th in Beijing at 5k and 7th in London.

It was fun to watch and we thought it was very cool in his post-race interview True told us he didn’t know who he was battling at the end, but he didn’t care, he just wanted to beat him:

“If I’m next to him, and it comes down to a sprint, I don’t care what his (accolades?) are. I’m going to try to beat him,” said True (video embedded on right to this point).

One other thing about the men’s 5,000, 2013 World Cross-Country champ Josphat Korir, who had struggled in the 3000 in Doha, didn’t show up.

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In watching the men’s 800 race replay to try to figure out what truly happened when American Eric Sowinski fell, we ended up becoming a bit discouraged with Robby Andrews‘ 1:48.57 performance. Afterwards, we were encouraged that Andrews sounded optimistic about the rest of the year and was a tiny bit happy that he passed some people in the finishing straight. But in watching the race replay, we were stunned at how far back he was for most of the race.

We know that’s Andrews normal way of racing and that when the leader only goes out in 51 Andrews is unlikely to mow down the field from behind, but seeing him that far back was unsettling. Perhaps Andrews thought the pace up front was going to be much faster.

Moreover, a re-examination of the results was unsettling as well. Andrews, with his 1:44.71 PR, shouldn’t be finishing one second behind 1:45.03 man Michael Rutt and more than two seconds behind Eric Sowinski had Sowinski not fallen. Remember, indoors Andrews was right with Sowinski at USAs.

One of the guys Andrews passed on the final straight was Olympic 1,500m silver medallist Leo Manzano (and for some reason we think of Leo as not having great wheels; he ran 1:44.56 in 2010). Last year, Leo did what no one in America had done since Jim Ryun 44 years ago, win an Olympic silver medal at 1,500m. This being America and the land of capitalism, Leo is still without a shoe contract. Afterwards, Leo’s optimistic talk on the way his training has been going this year encouraged us for his prospects in 2013. Watching the race replay and seeing Leo grimace going out in last place for the first 200 didn’t, but what Leo runs for 800 in May isn’t too important to us. Last year, Leo didn’t go sub-1:47 until July and he ended up with the Olympic silver.

It will be interesting to see how Andrews and Manzano do the rest of the year. With Leo, we’ll get a good idea of how his year is going to turn out this weekend at the Bowerman Mile, as the field there is better than the Olympic final. However, maybe we shouldn’t read too much into Pre.  Last year at Pre, Leo was 12th, Andrew Wheating was 16th and last, and Matt Centrowitz was 8th in the “B” mile. Yet at the Olympic Trials a month later they were 1-3-2.

More: Even Rain Can’t Stop David Rudisha; A Fall Robs Erik Sowinski Of Another Great Finish

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The sport got a big boost with the return of Blanka Vlasic. As we detailed on Friday, she is a media star. Additionally, she is a very good athlete. Lost in her meet record triumphant return was the fact that she beat the competition, which included Olympic silver medallist and NCAA record holder Brigetta Barrett, by clearing 1.94 without a miss. 

Speaking of Barrett, she finished third at 1.91.

Brigetta BarrettThumbs Up to Brigetta Barrett for competing in New York. You may not have heard, but Barrett competed after advancing out of the Preliminary round of the NCAA championships in Austin, Texas on Friday night. That competition started at 6 pm Central Time and she was somehow in New York jumping at 1:15 pm Eastern on Saturday.

It’s very cool that Barrett flew to New York to compete less than 24 hours after jumping in Texas. And getting to NYC by 1:15 pm on Saturday morning from Austin isn’t easy. We don’t know Brigetta’s exact flights, but the 6:15 am Jet Blue flight from Austin doesn’t get to New York until 10:54 am. That means she would have gone straight to the track to start warming up. If you know Brigetta’s exact flight details, email us.

Thumbs DownBrigetta flying out to NYC Saturday morning was mentioned on the NBC broadcast, but it’s a shame the media didn’t make a bigger deal about her going to New York and getting third at a Diamond League meet. We can’t blame them too much as Arizona’s own sports information website still has nothing on Barrett getting third in a Diamond League meet on its website. So a Thumbs Down to Arizona SID department.

Note: The AP did a nice pre-meet story on Barrett: High jumper Brigetta Barrett set for full weekend

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The adidas GP was a huge step forward for 2011 world #1 Morgan Uceny. A month ago at Drake, she was in a windy race won by one of the world’s best and she finished in 4:17. On Saturday, she was in a windy race won by the world’s best in 4:03 and she finished in 4:08. From 12 seconds down, to just five.

Assuming she’s got no setbacks, in another month, she’s got a very good shot at making the US Worlds team, which seemed almost unfathomable a month ago. In three months, might she be in the mix at Worlds?

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2013 NCAA D1 1st Round Is In The Books

The newsworthy stuff from the preliminary rounds of the NCAA Championships is normally who didn’t advance. That certainly was the case, as the 4th fastest women in NCAA history at 10,000, Jordan Hasay, shockingly failed to advance in hot conditions in Austin, Texas to the NCAA 10,000 finals. It was a total shock, as if Hasay had run within three minutes of her 32:06.65 PR (that’s 30 seconds per mile slower), she would have made it. Instead she ran 35:51.20 and didn’t qualify. She would come back and qualify in the 5,000.

Jordan wasn’t the only fast distance runner to not advance.  As we pointed out in the message board, the top two finishers from last year’s super-fast Swarthmore last chance 1,500 meet failed to advance in 3:35 man Kyle Merber of Texas/ Columbia and 3:36 man Jordan Williamsz of Villanova.

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Thumbs UpLooking for a positive from the first round of NCAAs? How about a big Thumbs Up to the Arkansas 800 group?

Earlier this year, we slammed Arkansas coach Chris Bucknam for not having his 4 x 800 run at Penn or Drake as they are studly and they proved it in Austin last week as four Razorbacks qualified for the next round of the 800 in Eugene.

 1 Momoh, Leoman             SR Arkansas               1:48.03Q   
 4 Lieghio, Anthony          SR Arkansas               1:48.74q   
 2 Rono, Patrick             SO Arkansas               1:46.49Q   
 4 Squella, Tomas            FR Arkansas               1:49.49q

But come on, Bucknam; you’ve got to let them run a 4 x800 next year. Plus, it’s good for recruiting as Penn or Drake are times to shine for 800m runners.

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LSU 800 runner Natoye Goule is totally dominant right now.

The 22-year-old junior from Jamaica came into LSU with a lot of hype (PR of 2:01.45 from 2011) and she’s living up to it. An NCAA indoor title, a 2:00.76 PR outdoors this year, a 2+ second victory at SECs (2:01.12 to 2:03.23) and now a 3.77 second margin of victory in her heat at the preliminary round. If Goule wants to be challenged in Eugene, it might be best for her to head out early and run the Prefontaine meet this weekend. NCAA titles are never easy, so someone will likely step up and push her at NCAAs.

1. Natoya Goule              JR LSU (JAM)              2:01.04Q
2. Brigitte Mania            JR Connecticut            2:04.81Q

Total domination.

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Stat Of The Week I

Above, we spoke of the 2012 Swarthmore 1,500. Well we did some research on how much of a crazy outlier that meet was for nearly everyone involved. Below are the top five finishers from the meet and then their next best time last year and for their careers:

1 Kyle Merber USA 3:35.59 – next best time 3:42.49 last year (3:41.63 this year)
2 Jordan Williamsz AUS 3:36.74 – next best time 3:39.91 last year.
3 Nate Brannen CAN 3:36.77 – had big lead, but tied up – ran 3:34.22 later in year.
4 Sam McEntee AUS 3:36.81 – next best time 3:42.33 from last year.
5 Liam Boylan-Pett USA 3:37.05 – next best time 3:39.65 from last year (3:38.26 this year).

More: MB: Kyle Merber does not make it to NCAAs!

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Stat Of The Week II

Robert Harting Hasn’t Lost A Discus Competition In 34 Meets And 1,014 Days

He’s still got a ways to go, though, to catch Edwin Moses. As kids, LRC’s founders loved how Edwin Moses had his crazy-long 400 hurdles win streak.

Harting’s streak reminded us of that and made us look up how long Moses’ streak was.

122 races – 9 years, 9 months and 9 days (more than 3,500 days). Now that’s a streak.
*NY Times Article On Streak Coming To An End

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LetsRun.com Had A Good Week In Our Oh-So-Humble Opinion

We pride ourselves at LetsRun.com calling a spade a spade. If something is good, we say so. If it’s bad, we say so. And that includes our own work.

Last week was certainly a good week for us. For starters, Reuters reported as news last week something that we brought to you way back in on January 25th – that Mary Keitany is pregnant with her second child and not competing.

Ben Saarel On His Way To Victory

Then Ben Saarel won the Boys High School Dream Mile at the adidas Grand Prix. The media called it an upset as after all Saarel only had the ninth best PR coming in. Meanwhile, little LRC had predicted it and we don’t even normally cover the high school ranks.

How did we do it? A lot of research. We wrote 2,641 words on a single race. To be truthful, it wasn’t that hard. Saarel had won the 3,200 at Arcadia and the mile an Mt. SAC. If a guy has already won everything in sight over many of the guys in the field, he’s your pick. Running is logical and makes sense so if you have enough stats, and do enough research, you should have a good idea of what is going to happen before it happens. The lack of variability and upsets hurts running as a spectator sport. It sure makes us look smart, however.

Not only did we get our prediction right, but Saarel didn’t break four and we knew that was going to be the case days before the race and even said we’d pay out $1,000 if it did happen. So while the Internet announcer was still debating whether Saarel was going to break four even until 10 meters remained (we don’t know why, as after a 3:07 1,209, it was clearly over), we had declared the sub-4 attempt over the minute we saw the New York weather forecast. In reality, the actual weather ended up worse than that.

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Who The Heck Is El Hassan El Abassi?

Last week we pointed out the incredible improvement of Moroccan 1,500m runner Zakaria Maazouzi, who has lowered his PR by nearly 7 seconds this year at age 27. We noted such an improvement is rare. If clean, Maazouzi’s story is  “a great story of perseverance.” We also encouraged WADA to target him for testing.

Well, now some of you are doing our homework for us. At  Ottawa 10k over the weekend, Morocco’s El Hassan El Abassi ran a very quick 27:37 to upset the world’s fastest (p-t-p) marathoner ever, Geoffrey Mutai. Mutai, the defending champ, had been after the course record of 27:24.

Who’s Abbassi? His name never rang a bell with us, although he was 4th at the Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon last year and won the Marrakesh half marathon this year. We got the following email from a visitor:

Who that heck is El Hassan El Abassi??

He has a pb on track of 3:42 1500m (2009) (editor’s note: in the two databases we use, we only find Abassi’s PR to be 3:49.2), 13:57 for 5000m (2010), 28:12 for 10000m (2012), 2h18 marathon (2012). In 2013, he is now a world class elite!

What an improvement!! The guy is 31 and he is having all of sudden the breakthrough of his life! Running 1h01 for half in Marakech and beating a such strong field with the conditions ( it was windy in Ottawa) in 27:37 on roads ( the course is not that easy in ottawa)! If he can run those times, then watch out Moscow, the guy can run easily 45-50sec faster on track. My only question is how come we never heard of this guy before and why that does he prefer small meets where the Doping control ”may be only be” in effect in accordance to IAAF/Athletic Canada requirements for Member athletes.

Malika Asahsah is the girl who won in 31:46 over Firehiwot Dado in 31:49 … remember those names …”

LRC Take: Now, we can’t fault a guy whom basically no one has heard of before from running smaller races. Big races aren’t going to take him. However, we encourages authorities to test the hell out of Abbassi. A 31- or 33-year-old (http://www.tilastopaja.org lists him as being 33 years old, all-athletics.com says he was born in 1982) all of a sudden becoming world class is highly unusual. Doesn’t mean he’s dirty, but he definitely should get an extra drug test or two. Big improvements are often a red flag to drug testers, but we remind you all that there are also athletes like Marion Jones and Lance Armstrong who were consistently good and from the best we can tell consistently dirty (and passing drug tests).  Everyone is under suspicion these days. *IAAF Article On Ottawa 10k

Recommended Reads/Listens

LRC Coach Brother Colm O’Connell Talks On David Rudisha’s Past, Present & Future And Greatness The coach of David Rudisha is taking a rare trip abroad to watch Rudisha compete. LRC talked to him about Rudisha past, present and future (he’s running a 1,000m this year).

NY Times Writes Feature On Colm O’Connell And David Rudisha: Improbably, Missionary’s Work Is To Mentor Kenyan Stars

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Other Results Of Note

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Quotes Of The Day & Last Week’s Homepages:

Note: To see a particular day’s homepage, click on the hyperlink of the date. The hyperlink below the date on the quotes will take you to that particular article – not that day’s homepage.


Monday 5/27:

“I’ve gone to some dark places before, but this was the worst because I was forced to live a life that wasn’t used to …”

“I just knew in my heart that I was not done, I was not finished. Even on the days when I didn’t want to get out of bed, I would get myself together and get myself to training to do whatever I could, no matter how little …”

“… It was like the longest preparations of my life, the longest training camp at home. There were so many moments when we needed to go back, take some time off, because we had hit the wall and could go no further. … It was a constant forward, backwards, forward, backwards. I’m happy that I didn’t lose my mind.”

– Croatia’s Former World high jump champion Blanka Vlašić, talking about the 20 months she spent away from competition with an Achilles injury and surgery and the very long road to comeback which culminated with her win at Saturday’s NYC adidas Grand Prix. She put things in perspective, though, when she said, “Who am I to complain when there are so many terrible things going on in the world? I was in my beautiful home town. I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t cold. I was just injured.”


Sunday 5/26:

“We’re down to shrubs.”

– Brother Colm O’Connell, coach of Olympic champion David Rudisha, explaining that Rudisha didn’t get a tree planted in his honor at St. Patrick’s (as is the custom) in an excellent New York Times profile of him and Rudisha. Apparently they’ve had too many previous champs and planted too many trees.


Saturday 5/25:

“I think people look back on that (London) now and say there are three or four very young 800 runners nipping on his heels, so he has to be careful, and he showed that by losing his last race, losing to (Mohamed) Aman. He has to be careful. That helps keep him grounded – the fact that he loses a race now and then. He doesn’t carry the tag of being invincible which I think is good. It keeps him on his toes. The day you think you are invincible that is your biggest enemy.”

– David Rudisha‘s coach, Brother Colm O’Connell, talking about having some young guns who are running really quick in the 800 (and occasionally beating Rudisha in the case of Mohamed Aman) is good for him and keeps him motivated. And on that topic, he explains that finances aren’t a huge motivating factor for Rudisha, saying, “Yes, it’s a consideration but I don’t think any of these athletes are going to starve if they stop running.”


Friday 5/24:

“There’s no secrets and nothing ground breaking. We’ve kept it simple, and just focused on staying healthy and staying focused. One thing my coach has told me is your gonna hear a lot of things from a lot of different places and people try to over complicate things and over think things, and he’s taught me that at the end of the day all you need to do is focus on giving your greatest effort to win the race and at the end of the day if you can say that, only positives can come from what you accomplished.”

– 4:05 high school miler Ben Malone showing wisdom way beyond his years.


Thursday 5/23:

“Elijah is eccentric. He’s extremely smart, but it was funny watching him come in for our freshman year of camp, when making food and doing laundry and just taking care of himself was almost comical. Now he’s one of the leaders on the team. It’s pretty cool.”

versus

This year, I wanted to be the guy who will take it, the guy who will grab it. I feel doing that can give you the initiative, the edge. It can make you more of a champion to reach out and grab things, to seize the opportunities in races.”

– Up top is Mac Fleet talking about his Oregon teammate Elijah Greer, who is quoted on the bottom. Greer has rid himself of self doubt and is now an NCAA champ.


Wednesday 5/22:

“I am very happy to announce that I will take some time off from athletics this year as I am pregnant with my first child. I have been running for many years and at 29 feel that now is the right time to start a family. Unfortunately I will not be able to defend my World Championships 5,000m and 10,000m titles in Moscow but I will be back for the 2014 season and the 2015 World T&F Championships in Beijing.”

“I have already spoken to some of my colleagues who had babies to get advice about when to return to training after giving birth. My long term goal is the 2016 Olympic Games in Beijing and to finally win Olympic gold.”

– Vivian Cheruiyot announcing she is taking time off from running to have a baby and won’t defend her titles at Moscow 2013.


Tuesday 5/21

“How messed up is the track and field in the year 2013 that (Ben) True is the only American racing in New York City in front of a live NBC television audience? We know running in the middle of the day in New York might not be the ideal place to chase an ‘A’ qualifying time, but that’s exactly our point.”

“In the year 2013, common sense doesn’t rule. The sport has devolved into guys and girls chasing obscure ‘A’ and ‘B’ marks at meets that are nothing more than glorified practices with F.A.T. timing, rather than competing in the Big Apple in front of a live national and global TV audience. That’s what happens when the IAAF insists on individuals not countries hitting the standards and athletes have their various shoe allegiances they don’t want to violate.”

– LetsRun.com writing in a preview of the men’s 5000m at this weekend’s adidas Grand Prix in New York which will be live on NBC from 1-3 pm ET. The 5k features a clash between Hagos Gebrhiwet and Dejen Gebremeskel (with Ben True).


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