A Fine Way To End The Season – Africa’s Best and The American Steeplechase, 1500/5000 & 10,000 Record Holders Will Clash in Brussels 5000

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by LetsRun.com
September 4, 2013

All good things have to come to an end.

Track fans may be sensing a bit of sadness that the 2013 IAAF Diamond League season is coming to an end on Friday with the Belgacom Memorial Van Damme in Brussels, but the good news is the last distance event of the meet and therefore the Diamond League season – the men’s 5000 – is going to be a real treat for the fans, particularly US fans.

Up front, the field is totally stacked with virtually all of the world’s best not named Mo Farah, and behind them the race includes many of America’s best including the American record holder at 1500/5000 (Bernard Lagat), 10,000 (Galen Rupp) and the steeplechase (Evan Jager).

Making the race even more appealing than a loaded field of Africa’s best is the fact that the $40,000 Diamond League season title will be on the line between Ethiopians Hagos Gebrhiwet and Yenew Alamirew. Only two points separate them in the DL standings, so whoever finishes higher is your series winner. If non of them is in the top 3, then Gebrhiwet wins.

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Breaking Down The Leading African Contenders

Alamirew (l) was better than Gebrhiwet (r.) heading into Moscow

Gebrhiwet and Alamirew come into the race in contrasting form. Gebrhiwet was the early season wonder who dominated Doha and New York in May before becoming mediocre mid-season before rebounding at Worlds to grab the silver medal behind Farah.

On the other hand, Alamirew went into Worlds as the man most likely to beat Farah as he’d pushed Farah to the limit in Birmingham, had beaten Kenya’s three World Championship runners in Rome (12:54.95 winning time), and had beaten Gebrhiwet in Rome, Birmingham and Lausanne (which featured a 24.1 last 200 by Alamirew). Yet at Worlds, Alamirew was a non-factor and finished just 9th.

Heading into Moscow, we thought the leading Kenyan entrant was Edwin Soi. In June, Soi had handed Farah his first 5,000 loss since 2010 and then in July he ran a world-leading 12:51.34 in Monaco in his last race before Worlds. However in Moscow, Soi was a well-beaten fifth.

The top Kenyan in Moscow was 19-year old Isiah Koech. Koech really was the second-best guy in Moscow but he let up at the line and Gebrhiwet ended up stealing silver from him as they both were given the same finishing time. Koech  could be the guy to beat in this race overall as he also dominated the Kenyan Trials.

Who Else From Africa?

The field also includes the #4 finisher from Worlds, 31-year-old Thomas Longosiwa of Kenya. He might challenge for a top 3 spot but we’d be very surprised if he challenges for the win.

The real wild-card in the field is Albert Rop of Bahrain, who has run the second fastest time in the world this year.

The 18-year-old who was born in Kenya improved dramatically in June and July:

June 1st – 13:21.18 15th place at Pre.
June 6th – 13:10.14 8th place in Rome.
July 13th – 12:59.43 1st in Heusden.
July 19th – 12:51.96 2nd place in Monaco.

So how did he do at Worlds? He didn’t run. Non of the recently naturalized Bahrain competitors ran at Worlds so we’re assuming he wasn’t eligible to compete.

The Six Fastest Men of 2013
1 12:51.34 Edwin Soi KEN
2 12:51.96 Albert Rop BRN
3 12:54.95 Yenew Alamirew ETH
4 12:55.73 Hagos Gebrhiwet ETH
5 12:56.08 Isiah Koech KEN
6 12:59.81 Thomas Longosiwa KEN

To be honest, we’d be a little surprised if Rop won but he’s still in good form as despite a six-week layoff from racing, he was second in the 3000 in a new national record of 7:35.53 in Zagreb on Tuesday.

All told, the race includes the six fastest men on the year and the only six who have gone sub-13:00 this year.

An American Fans Dream Race

While we expect the race to be one by someone born in Kenya or Ethiopia, there is plenty in this race for American fans. For starters, the Kenyan-born American 5000 record holder Bernard Lagat, who was sixth in Moscow, is in the field. The days of the 38-year old as a Worlds medal contender are likely past him. But if the hip issue that was bothering him earlier in the summer is past him, it’s possible this race could serve as his last big-time showing of his illustrious career. Sooner or later, Father Time has to start winning the battle against Lagat but it would be incredibly exciting if Lagat found one more magical race on Friday.

At a minimum, Lagat should very much should be in the mix for top American honors here but it will be far from an easy task as this race also includes the American 10,000 record holder Galen Rupp and steeplechase record holder Evan Jager.

Another American record for Rupp would drastically change the views on his 2013 season

Rupp hasn’t quite had the season this year that he did last year when he won Olympic silver at 10,000, but if he gets a personal best in the 5000 on Friday,then the view on his overall season changes pretty dramatically.

When talking about Rupp, we need to start by pointing out that he’s still running at a very high level. Last year, he was 2nd in the 10,000 and 7th in the 5000 at the Olympics. This year, he was 4th in the 10,000 and 8th in the 5000 and the 10,000 was definitely full of stiffer competition with the likes of Jeilan and Gebremeskel in there.

Rupp’s PR is 12:58.90. Lagat’s American record is 12:53.60 and the fastest time ever run by an American born runner is Chris Solinsky‘s 12:55.53. If Rupp gets the American record, he’ll be a very happy camper.

Rupp does have a history of running faster after a disappointing showing at Worlds. Two years ago, after finishing seventh in the 10,000 at Worlds, Rupp went out and ran 26:48.00 to shatter Chris Solinksy’s American record.

As mentioned above, US steeplechase record holder Evan Jager is also in the field. His 5000 pb is 13:14.60 so on paper it’s a stretch to expect him to contend with Rupp and Lagat. 13:14.60 is actually only the 5th best American pb in the field as the race also includes Jager’s training partner in Moscow 10,000 meter runner Chris Derrick (13:09.04 pb) as well as Ryan Hill (13:14.22 pb) who soon will be either a training partner of Rupp or Derrick/Jager as he’s joining one of the Portland Nike groups next year.

American Garrett Heath (13:20.01 pb) is also in the field. If he’s not serving as the rabbit, major kudos to agent Dan Lilot for getting him in this field as he’s the only guy not from Belgium in it with a PB over 13:15.00.

Quick Take (QT) #1: We know Gebrhiwet got the silver medal in Moscow but he sort of came from behind to do it. As a result, we don’t think he’s your winner here. Picking the winner is tough as one of the unsolved mysteries from Moscow was, ‘What happened to Ethiopia’s #1 10,000 (Dejen Gebremeskel) and 5000 (Yenew Alamirew)?” as both were total non-factors. Can Alamirew rebound here? We’ll go out on a limb and say he does.

QT #2: We’re trying to figure out just how historic it is for the US steeple, 5000 and 10,000 record holders to race each other. So if you know, please post the answer in the messageboard thread below or email us:

MB: Stat geeks – help us out – when is the last time the US steeple, 5000 and 10,000 record holders raced in the same 5000? (Since starting it, some have pointed out Lagat has the 1500 record as well).

QT #3: We found it somewhat comical earlier this week when it was news in Britain when 1976 Olympic 10,000 meter bronze medallist Brendan Foster said that Mo Farah has a long ways to go before he can be considered in the same conversation as Haile Gebrselassie or Kenenisa Bekele. To us, what Foster said was stating the obvious.

And this race, which doesn’t include Mo Farah, supports that point. Not only did Haile and Kenenisa dominate the track for about a decade each, setting a slew of world records in the process, they also ran fast as hell year after year. Haile ran under 13:00 for 9 straight years. Kenenisa did it 8 straight years.

With Mo not racing here, it looks like his sub-13 streak will end at three as his seasonal best is just 13:05.88 this year.

QT #4: Below you will see the all-time US top 20 list at 5000. Look at that and you’ll realize that both Jager and Hill will probably both be upset if they don’t crack the US top 20 possibly even top 10 all-time on Friday. For Derrick to move up much, he’s going to have to run a huge pb as there is a big gap between #7 and #8.

The 20 Fastest US Men Ever at 5000 (Indoors & Out)

1 12:53.60 Bernard Lagat
2 12:55.53 Chris Solinsky
3 12:56.27 Dathan Ritzenhein
4 12:58.21 Bob Kennedy
5 12:58.56 Matt Tegenkamp
6 12:58.90 Galen Rupp
7 13:01.15 Sydney Maree
8 13:07.00 Lopez Lomong
9 13:09.04 Chris Derrick
10 13:10.00 Adam Goucher
11 13:10.86 Alan Webb
12 13:11.59 Ben True
13 13:11.77 Mebrahtom Keflezighi
14 13:11.77 Tim Broe
15 13:11.80 Hassan Mead
16 13:11.93 Alberto Salazar
17 13:11.93 Anthony Famiglietti
18 13:12.01 Andrew Bumbalough
19 13:12.91 Matt Centrowitz (father of Matthew)
20 13:13.32 Abdi Abdirahman

Bold = ran time in 2013.

QT #5: The full list of entrants is as follows:


Discuss this race in our forum:
MB: Rupp Running Brussels!!!! 
MB: Stat geeks – help us out – when is the last time thw US 1500/5000, steeple, and 10,000 record holders raced in the same 5000?
MB: Brussels Men’s 5000M this Friday


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