November 20, 2013
Thanks to our content management system, you can read past versions (at least the few we’ve archived so far) of the Week That Was here.
Last week was a busy week for us as we were working on the site re-design and starting to think about getting ready for NCAA Cross-Country, one of the biggest days of the year on LetsRun.com.
Thankfully, there wasn’t a lot of elite action to cover that we didn’t already cover. The big event of the week was USATF’s inaugural .US National Road Race Championships, which you can read all about on our special .US National Road Race Championships event page. A brief additional comment on that – we know some of you are jaded and used to instinctively ripping USATF for whatever they do, but we thought the event was great and give them an “A” for trying something new (and have a few suggestions to make it better) and a big Thumbs Up.
Also a big Thumbs Up to Track Town USA and Vin Lananna for bringing World Indoors in 2016 to Portland. World Juniors are in Eugene this summer, World Indoors in Portland in 2016, and the Olympic Trials in Eugene in 2016. Ken Goe of the Oregonian said it best – “Lananna is nothing if not ambitious.” The World Indoors definitely aren’t near the stature of World Outdoors (quick, do you know where the 2014 World Indoors are going to be? … Sopot, Poland). However, they are a global championship that does not cost that much to host and when marketed correctly can increase the popularity of track and field in America. While others complain about the status of track and field in America, Lananna actively does something to enhance it. Good move.
As for Mary Cain going pro, we had been wondering for months what she was waiting for, so there is not much more to add on that front. We thought Michael Wardian‘s attempt to break 2:30 twice in the same day was awesome even if he came up well short (2:31:19, 2:57:56).
But there always is plenty to talk about. So without further ado, here we go.
Nijel Amos In The News …
However, my fear is that Amos is fast losing interest in athletics and I doubt if he is talented enough to become a dj …
He has tasted a bit of success, a bit of fame and lots of money. He still has more opportunities to dazzle us at the highest level and also make lots of money. Amos has the opportunity to rub shoulders with Usain Bolt and even make a name for himself and his family. The point is there is a reason why Amos is now a club dj at some corner bar and why he is always in the papers for the wrong reasons. He may just be in a crisis. As a young person with money, he is susceptible to indiscretions, he is in a dilemma. Money, fame, sex and alcohol have confused and disorganized many people including political leaders, movie stars, musicians and sportsmen. He is not abnormal and is certainly not alone. Amos needs guidance; he is young and may just be falling apart. He cannot believe what he has got already and where he is in such a short period of time. Strangers and hangers-on now have an opportunity to deplete his pockets. It could be possible that they have cleaned his accounts already.”
– Olebile Sikwane writing in a column in The Botswana Gazette about Amos.
In 2012, the men’s 800 final at the London Olympics was certainly the highlight of the track and field action and one of the greatest races ever run. Finishing second in that great race was Botswana’s then 18-year-old wunderkind Nijel Amos, who ran 1:41.73 to win silver.
One of the things we were most looking forward to in 2013 was seeing world record holder David Rudisha try to hold off Amos. However, that never came close to happening as both Amos and Rudisha missed most of the season due to injury and neither made it to Worlds (Nick Symmonds says thank you, guys!). Now it looks like more than injuries have been keeping Amos out.
Amos has been in the news a lot recently in Botswana. He’s been spending a lot of time as a DJ and will soon be releasing his first single, “Summertime.” Reports indicate he’s going to go on tour to promote the single starting on December 20th.
Maybe not … “Forget about Nijel and music, we are getting tough on him,” Botswana Athletics Association Vice President Glody Dube said to the Botswana Guardian.
Amos in October was involved in a car accident, which he escaped from unharmed.
As a result, we are glad people are worried about Amos, as clearly we don’t want him to spiral out of control. 19-year-olds clearly need guidance, particularly when they’ve recently come into a lot of money.
We’re sure some of you are thinking, “Uh-oh, young prodigy, late nights, car accidents – that reminds us of Sammy Wanjiru. Here we go again.”
But there’s another teen prodigy that Amos also might remind some of you of – a man who was known for late nights and a car accident – Usain Bolt. Bolt’s doing just fine now, isn’t he?
We have no inside knowledge of which icon fits Amos closest right now, but do believe 19-year-olds also need to be allowed to be 19. We don’t buy the line of, “Athletes have to be serious 100% of the time to be great,” particularly when they are an 800 runner. If he wants to be focused on track for 8 months of the year from February through September and then relax with music for 4 months, that’s just fine.
Photo Of The Week:
The photo pretty much speaks for itself. Just from looking at it you can tell – now that’s a runner’s funeral.
51-year-old Jim Kelly of Grand Rapids, MI was struck and killed by a car while on a run on November 4th and his friends gave the runner a funeral he would have enjoyed, for he certainly was a runner. Last month, he completed the 2013 BOA Chicago Marathon in a stellar 3:18 despite being told by paramedics to stop after twisting his ankle on a grate midway through the race. The next week he ran the Metro Health Grand Rapids Half Marathon in 1:26:06.
Film Of The Week/Deep Thoughts While Running
Does your mind wander when you run? We imagine it most certainly does. One moment you’re winning the Olympic title, the next you’re solving poverty, the next you’re thinking about the attractive girl who sits behind you in class.
What goes on in people’s minds while running has always fascinated us.
UK filmmakers Matan Rochlitz and Ivo Gormley have come out with a great 11-minute short film called “The Runners” that delves into this topic from a different angle. They wondered if everyday people would be more open about their lives if interviewed while jogging. Gormley explained in The Guardian:
“Matan Rochlitz had the idea that people might be more open if they were asked questions while running. They’d be distracted; perhaps you could ask about things that you couldn’t otherwise. Perhaps it would be a different way of asking some big existential questions.”
So one of the filmmakers sat on a plastic stool and the other pulled him on a bike in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and off they went, asking complete strangers deep questions like “Who are you?”
The results were fascinating as in the film you see five or six different people answer and as a whole it reminds us of the amazing, diverse thoughts we have on single run.
From struggling with mental illness, to thoughts on dementia, how often one should have sex, not having kids, slowing down with age, the filmmakers got some amazing responses.
The best part of it all is you can watch the whole film for free, right now. Enjoy. It’s well worth it and only takes 12 minutes. We highly recommend it and give it a big Thumbs Up.
You can watch it below or in higher quality (which we recommend) on the Aeon site.
Personally, loved the grey-haired masters runner’s wisdom. He may have provided everyone with the key to life.
“It doesn’t matter if you are sweeping the roads or chairman of Lloyds. You have to be passionate about what you do. Passionate about your running, even at an old age.”
Stats Of The Week
36 – The number of Americans for all of 2013 under 64:30 for the half marathon according to results site http://www.tilastopaja.org.
71 – The number of Japanese that broke 64:30 in a single race last weekend, the Ageo City Half Marathon (26th).
The Ageo City Half amazes the LRC audience year in and year out as it’s the deepest half marathon in the World.
EPO Cheat Christian Hesch Talks
We’ve got our Recommended Reads at the bottom but wanted to highlight a piece that got pushed down a bit on LetsRun.com more than it was meant to because Mary Cain went pro at 7 am on Friday. Duncan Larkin had a lengthy Q&A with EPO cheat Christian Hesch as he approaches the end of his doping ban. The piece really makes you think about a whole host of issues – morality, why we run, forgiveness, etc. We highly recommend it: Hearing Out Hesch.
When asked if he’d run again after his suspension ends, Hesch said he wasn’t sure. The former triathlete admitted he never really loved to run, he just loved to travel but seemed tempted to prove to people what he’s capable of clean. To us, that’s absurd. If you don’t like running, don’t do it.
We were pleased to hear, however, that if he does run, he won’t take prize money:
“I don’t know (if I’ll run). That’s still debatable. The second-biggest question is if I will have time. The biggest question is if I will do it for the right reasons if I do. What I don’t want to do is go back just so I can put up some times and go, ‘Look, I can run this clean.’ I would do it essentially as a way to put up a middle finger to a bunch of people. That’s not a good reason to come back. That doesn’t help anything. That doesn’t show any contrition. That doesn’t show any apology … If I came back, it would be advisable not to take any money regardless if I won any money for some time. Obviously, it’s my prerogative to do that, but out of it I must show contrition. I can’t say, ‘Ok guys, I’m back and I’m going to go back to sweeping up.’ It’s just kind of tacky. I don’t know if I foresee racing for money again.”
More good news – Hesch said he thinks doping at least in the US is “minimal.”
More: Highly Recommended Read: Hearing Out Hesch
From LRC Vault: 2012: Christian Hesch Doping Article In The NY Times/Competitor.com
It’s Time To Move USAs Back On The Calendar
Not sure if you saw the Track and Field News column by Garry Hill last week, but we’ve always thought USAs were too early in the year and 100% agree with his sentiment.
“In a modern world, with qualifying standards getting tougher and tougher, with qualifying standards getting tougher and tougher, the Nationals shouldn’t be in June in the first place. It’s just too early. Too many athletes are forced to reach a peak long before the OG/WC and aren’t able to get back to that form when August rolls around.USATF ended on June 23 this year. By way of comparison, Germany wrapped it up on July 7, Kenya July 13, France & Britain July 14 and Russia July 25. That’s right: a 4½-week advantage to the U.S.’s biggest rivals.”
– Track and Field News editor Garry Hill editorializing that the USATF meet needs to be moved later in the year. We 100% agree with that sentiment.
9 Quotes Of The Week (That Weren’t Quote Of The Day)
“I’ve never been drunk or high in my entire life. How is that for irony? But I’ve done EPO. Go figure. Go figure.”
– Christian Hesch in a great lengthy interview on Roadsmillslaps.tumblr.com.
“In essence, I have only got Mo running a few seconds quicker over 5,000 metres than before he came here. The difference is he didn’t remotely have the background, speed and strength to grip a field by the throat over the latter stages of the race and win the way he did in London and the World Championships in Moscow.”
– Alberto Salazar talking to Seb Coe in The Telegraph about what he’s brought to Mo Farah.
“If you said to me ‘is this a war we can afford to lose?’ The answer is that it isn’t.”
“We must never get into a position where people think athletics is a bit like American professional wrestling, where the crowds turn up knowing that what they are watching is fake and frankly not caring.”
– Seb Coe talking to the BBC before the World Athletics Gala about the importance of the War on Drugs in track and field.
We 100% agree and got some flak for suggesting that it was wrong to say someone needs to tell Mary Cain she shouldn’t cite Mary Decker as a role model. To us, the war on drugs will never succeed unless the culture is, “This is 100% unacceptable.”
“The main problem in the Marathon is to control your mind for two hours. You have to be aware of how you are feeling, what time you are doing your splits, what are your targets, when do you break away from the group.”
“Mind control is really difficult, but you find that if you concentrate too much at the beginning of the race you lose a lot of energy. You should be doing that at the end.”
– Marathon world record holder Wilson Kipsang talking to Capital.Fm about the keys to the marathon. In the same article, Kipsang said his marathon world record can ‘easily’ be broken.
#5“I’m trying to do well in a race before we start talking about the Olympics. I’m looking week to week.”– Alan Webb talking to the Richmond Times about his goals after finishing seventh last weekend in 23:11 in the HCA Va 8-K, which was part of the Anthem Richmond Marathon. Webb also admitted the last few years have been “frustrating.” “I had lofty goals I wanted to reach. I did reach some of them, but not all.”
Why would someone want to get up at 5 a.m. and run 10 miles adorned with fluorescent tape to avoid being struck by someone who has the good sense to use a car for a 10-mile journey?
I have a theory. There is no more visible form of strenuous exercise than running. When runners are dashing down a street in the middle of town or through a subdivision, they know that every driver, every pedestrian, every leaf-raker and every person idly staring out a window can see them.
These days, people want more than ever to be seen.”
– Chad Stafko writing in a guest column in the Wall St. Journal entitled, “OK, You’re a Runner. Get Over It.”
We actually found the column to be pretty funny as we didn’t take him seriously and figured he was just trying to be funny (although after looking at his Facebook photo, maybe we should re-think that as he’s seriously out of shape).
He even took a dig at everyone who daily comes to LetsRun.com by writing, “When they’re not out there sweating through the miles, they can relax with a running magazine. There is Runners World, with its 660,000 subscribers, but also Running Times, Trail Runner, Runner’s Gazette and several others. Reading. About running.”
More: MB Discussion On The Article: Wall Street Journal trolling: “OK, You’re a Runner, Get Over It”
“When a leading German newspaper like Süddeutschen Zeitung, the day before the vote, runs a column that compares the IOC to both the mafia and the ‘North Korean regime’ – if you are the IOC, you’ve got issues.”
– IOC expert Alan Abrahamson writing about the problems the IOC faces in an article where he points out that European cities Vienna, Rome and Munich have all said they don’t want to spend the money required to host future Olympics. We don’t blame them. In a day and age of budget shortfalls, the amount of money towns and cities are spending on sporting stadiums is absurd.
Last week it also came out that the Olympic stadium that was built for the 1996 Olympics and then turned into the home of the Atlanta Braves is already considered outdated at age 17? That’s absurd.
“We were playing the biggest game there was. Anyone could kill you, and you could kill them. Like gladiators, really. And I sent these two fuzzy-cheeked kids right into it, knowing what would happen.”
– Isham Reavis, the father of announcer Toni Reavis, talking about his World War II service in a great piece written by Toni on Veterans Day.
*Sierra Leone’s Idrissa Kargbo Tries To Break The West African Sprinting Trend By Becoming An Elite Marathoner Kargbo is his country’s top marathoner and has run 2:35 under the tutelage of a sprint coach while living in poverty. He was hoping for big things in NYC, but ended up going to the hospital after running a disappointing 2:58.
*Is NY state to blame for today’s HS sports craze? Up until the 1950 NY State XC meet, state championships were banned in NY
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.
– Shalane Flanagan, jokingly taking credit for Molly Huddle‘s new 12k World Best that Huddle set Sunday at the inaugural .US National Road Racing Championships in Alexandria, Virginia. Flanagan pushed the pace and also broke the old record.
“A sponsor came up to us and was saying, ‘We’d like to sponsor you.’ They then used an agency that does background checks to figure out if it’s viable to sponsor you and it came back that WADA had said that I would not be eligible to run at the next Olympics.”
“That information is not correct, so there are a lot of things that are going on with this drugs thing that I really feel they need to clarify because, for me, it’s causing problems for me when it comes to making money from my sport.”
– Usain Bolt talking about how the current circulation of misinformation in the press about Jamaican drug issues is losing him sponsorship opportunities and costing him money.
“I would say another person I always looked up to was Mary Decker. My mom was actually the first person who kind of put that connection in my mind. In eighth grade I used to wear the pig-tails trying to channel Mary through that.”
– Mary Cain telling Running Times who one of her role models is. In case you are new the sport, Decker, who once trained under Salazar, was a former teen prodigy who never won an Olympic medal and ended her career in disgrace with a doping conviction. Discuss: MB: This week’s sign of the Apocalypse: Mary Cain’s role model is Mary Decker
“For the past couple of months, my family and I have been debating whether I should compete at a collegiate or professional level going forward. I have decided, and am truly excited to announce, that I will be turning pro. I believe that, in the long run, this is the best way for me continue to develop as an athlete.”
– Mary Cain announcing that she will be giving up her collegiate eligibility and turning professional ahead of the upcoming track season.
“Our conclusion is clear: while the stated objective of the new Code on penalties is to make longer – and specifically four-year penalties – the norm, there is a significant risk that the specific provisions of the Code will undermine and, in effect, work against the realisation of that goal.”
“Athletics will do its part, but we believe there needs to be a collective responsibility of the global sports community to move not just rhetorically but in reality to four-year sanctions for serious violations.”
“… It is no good the IAAF unearthing – as we did – a serious case of pre-meditated and sophisticated cheating involving multiple athletes if the CAS Panel is ultimately only going to impose a sanction of two years and nine months. When clear evidence of cheating is presented, four years must truly mean four years.”
– IAAF Council Member and 4-time Canadian Olympian Abby Hoffman speaking for the IAAF at the 2013 World Conference on Doping in Sport, talking about how the new WADA code allows for too many loopholes for athletes to get out of the supposed new “minimum 4-year ban.” Under the proposed code, athletes can get a reduction to 2 years simply by saying they didn’t mean to cheat or by confessing. Just say you’re guilty or not guilty and you win.
“For now, I have to take a break, watch some football and support my club Chelsea. It is important to give my body some rest and hope to come back stronger next year. In athletics, it is easy to challenge and win the top spot, but it is harder to retain the same.”
– Recent marathon World Record setter Wilson Kipsang after having his 2:03:23 at Berlin officially ratified by the IAAF.
“I told him he could let me have the stuff back or I’d call the police and keep running after him. He went a reasonable distance but when he stopped and looked back I said ‘we can do this all day’ so he threw the bag at me and I let him go.”
– UK 47-year-old marathoner Chris Read talking about how he ran down a thief and returned $376 worth of stolen merchandise to a store. Read is a veteran runner who has run 101 marathons.