Week That Was: Wilson Kipsang’s World Record in the Marathon, Eliud Kipchoge and Paula Radcliffe Get Some Props, College XC Underway

by LetsRun.com
October 3, 2013

Last week’s week in review can be found here.

Wilson Kipsang Sets The Marathon World Record And We’re Reminded What An Amazing Decade It’s Been For Men’s Marathoning And Just How Crazy Good Paula Radcliffe Was

As you know, last week Wilson Kipsang broke the world record in the men’s marathon by running 2:03:23 in Berlin. In the year 2013, world records in track and field and marathoning are few and far between. Kipsang’s world record is the only one set this year, and the streak of a world record being set every year since 1907 continues, but barely.

While records are getting harder and harder to set, that certainly hasn’t been the case in the world of men’s marathoning over the last decade. With more and more money in the sport, the performances have just gotten better and better.

Paula Radcliffe 2002 World Record Chicago Marathon The LetsRun.com singlet (right) pacing Paula Radcliffe to her first marathon world record.

We share with you an email we received from super visitor David Graham, who once again wins “Email of The Week” honors for the following email which he sent to us before Kipsang’s world record:

The WORLD record, a mere ten years ago – September of 2003, on the eve of the Berlin Marathon – was Khalid Khannouchi’s 2:05:38.

Article continues below player.

Only ten years later, there are five – count them, FIVE – marathons whose TOP TEN time AVERAGES are FASTER than Khannouchi’s WR!!!

In the last 11 years, 62 performances by 40 men have bettered Khannouchi’s WR mark from London.

Khannouchi’s WR time (not merely CR but WR) from 2002 now only ranks as the #10 time…at London!

By contrast, Paula Radcliffe’s women’s WR from 2003…still stands!

And the fact that the second best performance, even after more than a decade of trying, is almost three minutes slower, speaks to what an amazing feat her 2:15 was. And the fact that Radcliffe’s 3rd best marathon time is still 38 seconds faster than the #2 woman in history…speaks to what an amazing athlete she was in her prime.

But the men’s marathon progression…dizzying stats to contemplate.

They indeed are dizzying. Now if you are young, you may be thinking, “Big deal. Records are made to be broken and always are coming down.”

That’s only sort of true. For a 10-year period from 1988 to 1998, the world record remained constant – Belayneh Dinsamo‘s 2:06:50.

After Berlin, here is the average top 10 times for the 10 fastest marathons on the globe. The stats come from the Rotterdam marathon website:


Avg Top 10 Times






















Four Thoughts About Wilson Kipsang’s World Record

2013 Berlin Marathon Photo Gallery An idiot ruins Wilson Kipsang’s photo opportunity. (Click for a full photo gallery)

A world record was set in the men’s marathon in Berlin and we found ourselves struggling a bit to come up with informative things to say about it. To us, the sport should always feature competition over time (and Berlin actually featured three guys together at 35k).

While we were excited to see a class act like Kipsang get the record, it was by no means an “Oh my god” moment and nothing close to one of the “one of sport’s greatest-ever achievements” as claimed by Eurosport, particularly since no time barrier like 2:04 or 2:03 was broken and Geoffrey Mutai had already run faster on a heavily wind-aided Boston course.

But here are three takeaways we had from Kipsang’s world record.

1) Kipsang got the record by running 8 seconds per mile faster than Makau from 35km to the finish.

Many entities, including our friends at the Science of Sport, have already broken down the fine pacing by Kipsang in great detail. In a nutshell, Kipsang was 20 seconds behind Makau’s 35km split but ran way faster over the final 7.195 km to get the record. At 40km, he was still 3 seconds behind Makau’s time but was 15 seconds better over the final 2,195 meters:

Kipsang 2013 Makau 2011 Comment
1st 5k 14:34 14:36 two seconds ahead of Makau/projected 2:02:56
2nd 5k 14:42 14:41 1 second ahead of Makau/projected 2:03:29
3rd 5k 14:29 14:34 6 seconds ahead of Makau/projected 2:03:04
4th 5k 14:34 14:39 11 seconds ahead of Makau/projected 2:03:03
5th 5k 1454 1448 5 seconds ahead of Makau/projected 2:03:35
6th 6k 14:48 14:20 23 seconds behind Makau/projected 2:03:48
7th 5k 14:35 14:38 20 seconds behind Makau/projected 2:03:41
8th 5k 14:36 14:59 3 seconds ahead of Makau/projected 2:03:38
Last 2.2 6:11 6:23 15 seconds ahead of Makau

Let’s break this down in the more understandable pace per mile terms. Pace-wise, Kipsang was 8 seconds per mile faster than Makau was from 35km to the finish (the final 4.5 miles of the race)

From 35k to the finish, Kipsang’s average pace was 4:38.9 per mile, whereas Makau ran the final 7.195 km at 4:46.8 pace. From 35 to 40k, Kipsang averaged 4:42.0 pace (versus 4:49.4 pace for Makau) and then he picked it up and averaged 4:32.0 from 40k to the finish, the last 1 an 1/3 miles of the race (versus 4:40.8 for Makau). So Kipsang was 7.4 seconds better than Makau from 35km to the finish and 8.8 better from 40k to the finish.

2) Kipsang’s world record proves Berlin isn’t short.

In the past, when college kids or US pros have run super-fast for example at Stanford in 2010, many have speculated (here and here), “Maybe the track is short.” Since we’ve never seen anyone wheel it off, the conspiracy theories live on (we’ll pay someone $20 to get a wheel a wheel off the Stanford track on video, email us if you are interested).

In Berlin, the times are so fast, we even wondered, “How do you know it’s accurately measured?”

“Well, how do you know anything?” we ask. At some level, you have to trust the people that certify courses to some extent. But in comparing the splits between Kipsang and Makau from when they set their world records in Berlin, we’ve found strong evidence that Berlin isn’t short.

When Makau set his 2:03:38 world record, all of his 5k segments were run very evenly between 14:34 and 14:48 except for the last one when he was tiring (14:59) and the sixth one, which was a blazing 14:20.

Maybe the sixth 5km segment is short? Nope. That was actually Kipsang’s second-slowest 5k segment 14:48.

Kipsang 2013 Makau 2011 Comment
6th 6k 1448 1420 23 seconds behind Makau/projected 2:03:48
7th 5k 1435 1438 20 seconds behind Makau/projected 2:03:41
8th 5k 1436 1459 3 seconds ahead of Makau/projected 2:03:38
Last 2.195 611 623 15 seconds ahead of Makau

We guess good conspiracy theorists won’t let the above faze them. They’ll just argue the splits were moved and the 30km was made longer and the last 7.195 was short.

3) What was the weather really like?

Heading into Berlin, the forecast called for windier than ideal conditions. But a world record was set.

After the race, coach Renato Canova said the conditions were perfect:

“Instead, the weather was perfect, such as two years ago, and Wilson could produce his effort without fighting against bad conditions.”

Kipsang disagreed and said, “Today there was a lot of wind, I was really fighting.”

Whom to believe? We’ll go with Kipsang, as the weather records back him (and since he actually ran the course):

Weather during the 2013 Berlin Marathon men's race according to timeanddate.com Weather during the 2013 Berlin Marathon men’s race according to timeanddate.com.

Additionally, if you take a look at our 2013 Berlin Marathon Photo Gallery, you’ll see the flags flapping in the background of a few photos.

4) Who deserves to be world #1 in 2013? Certainly not Kipsang.

The year isn’t over but it will be interesting who gets ranked #1 in the world for 2013. In our minds, Lelisa Desisa is your 2013 world #1 barring something crazy being put up by Stephen Kiprotich or Tsegaye Kebede later in the year, but even that likely won’t overtake Desisa.

The LetsRun.com Top 4 World Marathon World Rankers For 2013 If The Year Ended Today

1) Lelisa Desisa ETH
1st Dubai 2:04:45
1st Boston 2:10:22
2nd Worlds 2:10:12

2) Wilson Kipsang
5th London 2:07:47
1st Berlin 2:03:23 World Record

3) Stephen Kiprotich – Uganda
6th London 2:08:05
1st Worlds 2:09:51
??? New York – if he dominated New York might he move to #1?

4) Tsegaye Kebede – Ethiopia
1st London 2:06:04
4th Moscow SB 2:10:47
??? We don’t know of any other marathons he’s signed up for, but he’s winning the $500,000 World Marathon Majors by just 5 points so might want to run NY, which has no Ethiopians.

How About Some Props For Eliud Kipchoge?

In the world record hoopla for Kipsang, many casual fans may have overlooked the fine second-place performance by 12:46 5,000 runner Eliud Kipchoge, the 2003 world champion, who ran 2:04:05 after debuting with a 2:05:30 win in Hamburg earlier this year.

Insiders certainly didn’t miss the fine run by Kipchoge, who had run a stellar 2:05:30 debut earlier this year in getting the win in Hamburg. Check out what Renata Canova said about Kipchoge after the race on Alberto Stretti’s blog:

There was another great performance coming from Eliud Kipchoge, who was only at the second marathon of his new career. Due to his lack of specific experience in preparing marathon (training and competition), Eliud can have good room of improvement, and next year can be a new pretender for bettering the WR (emphasis added by LetsRun).

We likewise were impressed by Kipchoge, who is still just 28. He inspired us to do a little research and he’s run the fastest average time in history for his first two marathons:

Fastest Avg. Time For 1st Two Marathons

1. Eliud Kipchoge 2:04:47.5 (2:05:30, 2:04:05)
2. Patrick Makau 2:05:01 (2:06:14, 2:04:48)
3. Moses Mosop 2:05:20/2:04:21.5* (2:03:06*, 2:05:37, 2:05:03)
4. Tilahun Regassa 2:05:32.5 (2:05:27/2:05:38)
5. Dennis Kimetto 2:05:33 (2:04:16, 2:06:50)
6. Ayale Abshero 2:05:40 (2:04:23, 2:06:57)
7. Wilson Chebet 2:05:49.5 (2:06:12/2:05:27)
8. Sammy Wanjiru 2:05:51.5 (2:06:39, 2:05:24)
9. Evans Rutto 2:06:04.5 (2:05:50, 2:06:19)
10. Wilson Kipsang 2:06:14.5 (2:07:13, 2:04:57)
11. Haile G. 2:06:27.5 (2:06:35, 2:06:20)

* = wind-aided Boston.

More: Discuss: Fastest avg time for 1st two marathon finishes- Eliud Kipchoge is the record holder at 2:04:47

From the Archives: Kipchoge Beat El Guerrouj and Kenensia Bekele to Win Worlds in 2003 at 5000m as an 18 Year Old
Eliud Kipchoge won the World Championship 5000m in 2003. He also got an Olympic bronze in 2004, an Olympis silver in 2008, and a Worlds silver in 2007. Clearly he was very good at 5000m. However, he never dominated the event because it was the Kenenisa Bekele era and that made us forget how impressive his 2003 World Championship win was.

At the 2003 Worlds, Kipchoge, then officially only 18 years old, beat both Hicham El Guerrouj and Kenenisa Bekele. El Guerrouj was doubling back from the 1500m and Bekele from the 10,00m, but beating both of them looks even more impressive ten years later. They are two of the sports all-time greats.

Video of the final 400m from 2003 Worlds below and there was a great discussion thread on LetsRun.com on Kipchoge’s win in 2010.

*LRC archives: 12:52.79 5,000 meter battle in 2003 Word Championship featuring Bekele, El Guerrouj and Kipchoge
Women’s Race – A New Masters Best

Mikitenko is the new Masters World Record holder.

The biggest news coming from the women’s race was that 41-year-old German Irina Mikitenko set a world masters best by running 2:24:54, improving the previous mark of Russia’s Ludmilla Petrova of 2.25.43 from New York 2008.

Florence Kiplagat coming through as the favorite to win in 2:21:13 wasn’t a surprise as she ran 1:29 faster in Berlin two years ago (her first marathon finish).

Quote Of The Week (that wasn’t quote of the day)

I have co-created my OWN track club to reach out to the community with greater numbers and unity. I have put on my OWN race (BAXC) where we paired up the average casual runners with the elites and had a scored meet. I recently went to Compton to kick off a weekly run event that the Mayor created for her community that lacks a strong running culture, and jogged 2 miles with the youth of the city. I signed autographs and interacted with fans so quickly after my race in Stockholm, for so long, and standing so still (due to the stairs) that my body was unable to clear the lactic acid like it normally does, and I vomited during my cool down for the first time in my entire running career.

Am I an international phenomenon? Am I a national hero? Do people even recognize me on the trails in my own CITY where I train and live 6 months out of the year? No, no, and no.

The blaming of the elites HAS to stop

– 3:52 miler David Torrence writing on LetsRun.com responding to John Bingham, who said the first elite to show interest in the masses would become a hero.

More: David Torrence Responds To John Bingham: The Blaming Of The Elites Has To Stop

Photo Of The Week: Where’s Waldo The Elite Cheering On The Back-Of-The-Packer?

According to John Bingham, this photo of elites cheering on back-of-the-packers doesn’t exist:

Several elites supported the masses at 5th Avenue (click on picture for 5th Ave. Photo Gallery).

Without trying, we see one American record holder, one World Championships silver medallist, and a former World #1. How many elites do you see? We know there are more, so email us.

For historical record, Bingham last week sent out a tweet acknowledging that there are many elites that do support the masses, which is contrary to what he wrote on Toni Reavis‘ blog.

He tweeted the following about David Torrence’s piece on LetsRun:

“A very thoughtful, well written opinion. We agree. Most elites humble. Not jerks. They are not the problem.”

and then added

“David is talented, dedicated, and well spoken. He is not the problem.”

More: LRC David Torrence Responds To John Bingham: The Blaming Of The Elites Has To Stop
5th Avenue Photo Gallery: Pros Inspiring The Youth At The 5th Avenue Mile Presented By Nissan

Weekly Free Coaching Advice – Having A Routine Is Critical, But Changing It Up Every Now And Then Is A Good Idea

We think a routine is critical to being a highly successful distance runner.

If you wake up each morning and wrestle with the thought, “How am I going to figure out a way to get 15 miles in?” then you are in big trouble. It needs to be almost automatic and not thought about.

If you wake up and bang out a 5-6 mile morning run before most people have even had a bowl of cereal, change and go to work/school, and then bang out an evening 8-10/or workout at practice/after work as if you are almost a robot, then you’ve got a chance.

Now that I (Robert Johnson is writing this blurb) am 40 and am lucky to run 40 miles in a month, I’m amazed I was ever able to run over 40 miles in 3 days routinely. But at the time, it was pretty easy. It was part of my routine.

Having a routine is critical, but that can get boring, stale. So change it up – or at least parts of it up like Desi Davila did last week. On the comeback trail from injury, she in our opinion made a wise decision to not run Chicago like she so often does, as she’s very familiar with Chicago. Instead, she went to Berlin where she placed fifth in 2:29:15. She explained the rationale perfectly:

“This (Berlin) is a flyer of a course. It lends itself to fast times. And I want to run fast. I’d run any of the (Marathon) Majors in a heartbeat, but if I were to run Chicago, I know all the checkpoints, and if you’re not on the time you expect, you can get disheartened; and New York is too hilly. But this (Berlin) is flat and forgiving, it’s a good course for coming off an injury; and I’ve got great memories of 2009 here (she was 11th in the IAAF World Champs). I’ll start conservatively, and hope to come through at the end. I’m hoping for top five, maybe if some of the others misjudge the pace, top three would be good.”

More: Desiree Davila Explains Her Decision To Run The Berlin Marathon Citing Among Other Reasons, The Course Is “Flat And Forgiving”

College XC – Edward Cheserek Wins His Debut

PHOTO: Jake Leingang (l) and Edward Cheserek celebrate after finishing second and first, respectively, at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown cross country meet in Boston's Franklin Park (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly) PHOTO: Jake Leingang (l) and Edward Cheserek celebrate after finishing second and first, respectively, at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown cross country meet in Boston’s Franklin Park (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly)

Collegiate XC action is starting to heat up as we’re now into October. Things will really get going in 2.5 weeks during Pre-Nats weekend, but last weekend two-time Foot Locker champ Edward Cheserek won his collegiate debut in Boston for Oregon. The better news for Oregon was that fellow frosh Jake Leingang (4:10.60 mile, 8:51.23 3,200, 14:26.16 5,000 in HS), who was third at Foot Lockers last year, was second overall in the Battle of Beantown meet.

It’s very hard for freshman guys to make an impact on a national player team unless they are total studs (Cheserek falls into that category). Despite finishing third at Foot Lockers, Leingang wouldn’t fall into the huge-impact guy category necessarily as a freshman based on his HS times. However, last week was very encouraging.

The bad news for the Ducks was that 13:31/28:34 man Parker Stinson was only 18th in the meet, in his first cross-country race since finishing 240th at NCAAs last year. Even if you add in Eric Jenkins, Stinson has to be WAY better than that if there is any chance they challenge defending champs Oklahoma State, which rolled over #2 NAU last week, 29 to 57.

Providence Women Are What We Thought They Were – Powerful Up Front

The #1 Providence women, like Oregon, raced in Boston and they were very impressive as they went 1-2-4-7 in a meet which featured three top 10 teams. Coming into the year, everyone expected them to be dominant up front. The question is, “Do they have a 5th?” The answer so far is, “Not yet.”

In Boston, their fifth runner was 41 seconds behind their fourth and the race was only 5k. Project that over 6k and that’s 49 seconds. Even if the top four Providence women are individual All-Americans at NCAAs, if the fifth girl is 49 seconds behind their fifth, they almost certainly lose. 49 seconds behind 40th place last year means you are 152nd overall (117th in the team standings).

What does 4 All-Americans and a fifth runner in 117th get you? Probably third, as that’s basically what the Stanford women did last year, four All-Americans and fifth was 115th in the team standings.

Here’s a trivia fact East Coast collegians will find hard to believe. Oregon didn’t start classes until Monday, Sept. 30th.

More: *NCAA XC Polls: *Oregon Men, Providence Women Win At Coast-To-Coast Battle In Beantown As Edward Cheserek Wins His College Cross-Country Debut The Ducks raced in Boston.
*Polls: Oregon Vaults From #12 To #4 In National Men’s Poll, Colorado Men Up To #2; Arizona Women Up To #3
*Men’s Results *Women’s Results

Recommended Reads

LRC David Torrence Responds To John Bingham: The Blaming Of The Elites Has To Stop John Bingham recently wrote that the first pro to show “even a LITTLE interest in the rest of the pack will become a hero overnight.” 3:52 miler David Torrence saw that and was spurred to share his story as he’s been showing a ton of interest in the back of the pack and is far from a well-recognized hero. *Discuss

Wilson Kipsang Going For The WR At Sunday’s Berlin Marathon; Talks About Paying Athletes To Pace Workouts And How Some Elites Sabotaged The Pacing In London This Year

Great Op-Ed In NY Times: Losing Is Good for Kids The author decries the fact that everyone gets a trophy, even multiple trophies nowadays.

Abandoned Mother Of 4 Wins $1,100 At Turkana Cross-Country Championship, Former Cattle Rustler Wins Men’s Title

Learn About The Life Story Of Diane Nukuri-Johnson, Who Enjoys Being Safe Training In Iowa

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 9/30:

New World Record:
Wilson Kipsang 2:03:23

 Sunday 9/29:

“This is a dream come true; 10 years ago, I watched Paul Tergat break the World record in Berlin, and now I have achieved the dream. I felt strong, so I attacked at 35k, because the pace had become a little too slow.

“If I prepare very well, and with the same shape (I can go faster). Today there was a lot of wind, I was really fighting. Looking at my Marathon progress and career so far, I still think I have the potential to run faster. Anything under 2.03.23 would do.”

Wilson Kipsang, the new world record holder in the marathon.

Saturday 9/28:

“From the start of my training, I was focused on breaking the world record.

From my side, the training has been going well, I have run 2:03.32 in training and the time is beatable.”

Wilson Kipsang, the favorite for Sunday’s BMW Berlin Marathon talking about going after the WR. Not sure what he means saying he has run 2:03:32 in training (WR is 2:03:38). Kipsang wants to hit halfway in 1:01:44. LRC preview of race here.

Friday 9/27:

“This is a flyer of a course, it lends itself to fast times. And I want to run fast. I’d run any of the (Marathon) Majors in a heartbeat, but if I were to run Chicago, I know all the checkpoints, and if you’re not on the time you expect, you can get disheartened; and New York is too hilly. But this (Berlin) is flat and forgiving, it’s a good course for coming off an injury; and I’ve got great memories of 2009 here (she was 11th in the IAAF World Champs). I’ll start conservatively, and hope to come through at the end. I’m hoping for top five, maybe if some of the others misjudge the pace, top three would be good.”

Desiree Davila sharing her thoughts and expectations ahead of making her marathon comeback in Berlin this Sunday. Davila last finished a marathon at the January 2012 Olympic Trials, where she was 2nd.

Thursday 9/26:

“Whether your kid loves Little League or gymnastics, ask the program organizers this: ‘Which kids get awards?’ If the answer is, ‘Everybody gets a trophy,’ find another program …

If I were a baseball coach, I would announce at the first meeting that there would be only three awards: Best Overall, Most Improved and Best Sportsmanship. Then I’d hand the kids a list of things they’d have to do to earn one of those trophies. They would know from the get-go that excellence, improvement, character and persistence were valued.”

– Author Ashley Merryman writing in an Op-Ed in the New York Times entitled, “Losing Is Good for You.”

Wednesday 9/25:

“Standing shirtless on the training track, Ben Johnson looked at me, then dropped his running shorts.He stared at me, apparently willing me to take a picture and prove I was just another paparazzo desperate to get a sensational shot of the world’s most famous athlete ahead of the Seoul Olympics.”

“I stared back but did not put my camera to my face. Training over, Johnson told me everything was fine and I could come back and watch him train as often as I liked. I had, it seemed, passed the test and won his trust.”

– Reuters Olympic photographer Gary Hershorn talking about how he gained special access to Ben Johnson in the lead up to the 1988 Olympic 100m final, the race that would later be called “the dirtiest race in history.”

Tuesday 9/24:

“To get ready for Berlin, I have used about 40 other athletes to train, some every day and others when we are doing hill run. After the sessions, I take them to a hotel and pay for tea or lunch. For some, I provide running gear and accommodation and in all, preparing for a race like Berlin can see a top runner using about $5,724.10. You use the athletes as pace makers, some to run up to 15km, others 20Km, others 35Km and the rest to finish when doing a 45Km work-out for example. When doing speed work on the track, you require others to pace you through the intervals.”

Wilson Kipsang talking about the number of training partners he has gone through in preparation for his World Record attempt at the Berlin Marathon this Sunday.

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