Women’s 5k Semifinal: The Americans Advance, Meseret Defar Says Her Training Is ‘Stronger’ Than When She Set World Record
August 14, 2013
Moscow, Russia – Round 1 of the women’s 5000m got underway Wednesday morning in Moscow with little fanfare on the track.
With 15 of the 21 finishers of the women’s 5000 semifinals making the final there was very little drama.
The one big casualty was Kenyan Margaret Muriuki. The third placer at the Kenyan Trials suffered an injury in heat 1 and dropped out before being stretchered off of the track.
With 5 automatic qualifiers for the final and five on time, being in heat #2 is a huge advantage. Americans Molly Huddle and Shannon Rowbury were in the unfavorable heat 1, which meant that had to run a bit (10 of the 11 people in heat #2 made the final). As a result, they got a little test and they both responded well to make the final.
Heat 1: Goes Out in 91 and then Slows Down
Heat one went out in a ridiculously slow 3:43 for the first kilometer (that’s over 18 minute pace for 5k), almost assuring immediately that all of the time qualifiers would come from heat #2. For reference heat #2 was 3:09 at the kilometer, 34 seconds faster over just 2.5 laps. How does that happen? Well the first lap was a 91.23. Amazingly, the second lap was even slower (92.49).
The pace in this one actually ended up being very strong for the last two and a quarter miles. The fourth lap was run in 73.46 to get to 1600 in 5:35.95 and then they ran a 70.85 and then a 70.62. The next lap was a 68.70 and the field was breaking apart. Mercy Cherono and Almaz Ayana were clear up front with a five meter gap to third with a chase pack 10 meters back that included the Americans Huddle and Rowbury.
Cherono and Ayana would stay out in front throughout and get the top two spots. Huddle and Rowbury moved up largely together to secure the third and fourth spots. Huddle pulled away a little on the last lap and Rowbury then shut it down completely the last straight as there was no doubt they’d get top 5. Tejitu Daba held on for the fifth automatic spot as only 5 women broke 16 minutes in this one.
QT #1: Huddle ran sub 15:00 pace for the last 4k
The opening pace was so slow that the finishing times are deceiving. For most of this one the pace up front was honest. Molly Huddle ran roughly 14:45 pace the last 4k of this one. She should be pleased with that. If you listen to our audio only post-race interview with her and Rowbury, you’ll hear that it wasn’t a cakewalk for Huddle but there is a reason for that – she was running pretty darn fast for 4k.
However, the top Kenyans and Ethiopians are still at another level.
QT #2: Muriuki Being Out is Not a Big Deal for the Final
While it was unfortunate, Muriuki got injured, her not making the final should not change things much. Here’s what Robert Johnson wrote in his 5000m preview: “The third Kenyan in the field is Trials third placer Margaret Muriuki. I don’t expect the 27-year-old who has a 14:40.48 PR to contend for a medal…”
QT #3: Shannon Rowbury Has Some Harsh Words for USATF
Shannon Rowbury, who has run 4:01 this year for 1500m, ideally would have run the 1500m here at Worlds instead of the 5000m. However, she was not the official alternate despite being 4th at USATFs and that meant she had to run the 5000m. Rowbury told us that she told USATF several times both verbally and by email USATF she wanted to be considered for the 1500 team. Technically, Rowbury said she now realizes someone from her team (agent, coach, or herself) was supposed to tell USATF Director of International Teams & Championships Sandy Snow she had run the “A” qualifying standard by July 20th (Rowbury ran it on July 19th). Rowbury’s team didn’t do that. USATF as a result gave her spot to Sarah Brown.
Rowbury said, “I find it pretty unfathomable that USATF did not know I had run 4:01 in Monaco… More than anything I was just really disappointed that I wasn’t given the option and I had to find out via twitter that my spot was forfeited without me knowing it… The way it was handled was pretty disappointing.”
She then added, “My interaction (with USATF) was basically, ‘We would have preferred to have you in the 1500, but it’s your fault, but just go rest up,'(USATF was telling me that) in the middle of the lobby (of the hotel) as I’m pulling out tears. It could have been handled so much better. It was just really disappointing.”
Ultimately, Rowbury and her agent Ricky Simms are responsible for not emailing USATF. However, USATF has people whose full-time job is to put forward the best team possible at Worlds. Their JOB is to be aware of all world-class performances out there. They should do that and then contact the agent to make sure there they are not aware of some bureaucratic rule being missed.
The 1500m semifinals yesterday were not that impressive. It’s a shame Shannon Rowbury, a bronze medallist in the event, is not in the final. USATF must accept the blame for not putting its best team forward.
Shannon Rowbury Talks About USATF Leaving Her Off of 1500m Team
Audio Interview With Rowbury and Huddle below. We have it set to start where Rowbury Talks about USATF.
Molly Huddle Post Race Video
|1||558||Mercy CHERONO||KEN||15:34.70 Q|
|2||327||Almaz AYANA||ETH||15:34.93 Q|
|3||919||Molly HUDDLE||USA||15:40.91 Q|
|4||943||Shannon ROWBURY||USA||15:50.41 Q|
|5||188||Tejitu DABA||BRN||15:56.74 Q|
|569||Margaret Wangari MURIUKI||KEN||DNF|
1000M 3:43.62 Molly HUDDLE UNITED STATES USA
2000M 6:46.80 Almaz AYANA ETHIOPIA ETH
3000M 9:42.23 Mercy CHERONO KENYA KEN
4000M 12:42.98 Mercy CHERONO KENYA KEN
Heat 2: Break 16 Minutes and You’re In the Final
Heat 2 had 10 legitimate World Championship caliber athletes in it. All ten should have known after the results of heat 1, all they had to do was run under 16:00 and they’d be in the final.
Some of the athletes in heat #2 knew that and others didn’t.
World record holder Meseret Defar didn’t act like she knew it. She had to know top 5 were automatically in the final, but that didn’t stop her to kicking to the heat win in 15:22.94.
Kim Conley of the US said she didn’t realize the situation either and ran with the lead pack securing a top five finish.
Former NCAA champ and dual US, Australian citizien, Jackie Areson did realize the situation. She ran 15:40 and made the final.
Defar Says She’s Training Better Than When She Set World Record
Post-race coments from Defar, Areson, and Conley below. The most interesting comments were from Defar. LRC asked her about her fitness and she said it was better than last year when she won 5000m gold. We asked if she might go for the world record later this year, and she said she didn’t know. She then said, “My training is stronger than when I broke the world record. Now it is much better. ”
Unless she has one of her weird stomach problems, the gold looks like its her in this event.
Areson Knew She Just Needed to Break 16:
|1||329||Meseret DEFAR||ETH||15:22.94 Q|
|2||332||Buze DIRIBA||ETH||15:23.41 Q|
|3||562||Viola Jelagat KIBIWOT||KEN||15:24.47 Q|
|4||742||Elena NAGOVITSYNA||RUS||15:26.95 Q|
|5||898||Kim CONLEY||USA||15:27.35 Q|
|6||639||Karoline Bjerkeli GRØVDAL||NOR||15:29.41 q|
|7||621||Susan KUIJKEN||NED||15:34.31 q|
|8||110||Jackie ARESON||AUS||15:40.21 q|
|9||311||Dolores CHECA||ESP||15:43.73 q|
|10||658||Dominika NOWAKOWSKA||POL||15:45.10 q|