Week In Review: Was Genzebe Dibaba’s 3:55.17 The Fastest Clean 1,500 Ever Run? The Marathon Trials Go To LA, The Depth Of Japanese Road Racing And Fast Collegiate DMRs And 3Ks

The Week That Was – January 27 – February 2, 2014

by LetsRun.com
February 6, 2014

Previous versions of the Week That Was can be found here.

Questions? Comments? Email us.

Article continues below player

We’re a little bit late getting this up this week, but it’s worth recapping a week that saw possibly the greatest women’s 1,500m ever run, one of the greatest high school 3,000m ever run, and some crazy-fast collegiate DMR action.

Genzebe Dibaba’s 3:55.17 The Greatest 1,500m Ever Run?

The highlight of the week was the historic 1,500m run by Genzebe Dibaba in Karlsruhe, Germany. Dibaba ran an earth-shattering 3:55.17 for 1,500m to absolutely destroy the former world indoor record of Yelena Soboleva (3:58.28).

In today’s era, beating a metric mile world record by three seconds is unheard of. Nearly as surprising was that this was Dibaba’s 2014 opener.

We then pulled up the fastest 1,500m times ever outdoors. What did we find? Eleven performers who have run faster than Dibaba.

What do you see when we looked closer? 8 performances by Chinese women, and 3 performances from the 1980s from Eastern Europeans.

We wouldn’t blame you for thinking all eleven faster performers were using performance-enhancing drugs. When a group of people does something the best athletes in the world can’t do thirty years later, it is natural to ask what was being done differently. Considering drugs as one of these things is perfectly rational.

Moving to the Chinese runners of the 1990s, we’d love to see a story on them. Six of them ran faster than Dibaba did in one race in Shanghai in 1997.  Poor Dong Yanmei ran 3:55.07 and only finished 6th in her race. Clearly, those women were doing something different in their training. If it was drugs, they must have been super drugs because no one has close to those marks since. If you have any ideas email us letsrun@letsrun.com

The 11 women faster than Dibaba ever:

Result P.A. Pos. Athlete Birth Cnt. Type Pl. Venue Date R.S. Rec.
3:50.46 1. 1. Yunxia QU 72 CHN F 1. Beijing (CHN) 11.09.1993 1283 AR, WR
3:50.98 2. 2. Jiang BO 77 CHN F 1. Shanghai (CHN) 18.10.1997 1279
3:51.34 3. 3. Yinglai LANG 79 CHN F 2. Shanghai (CHN) 18.10.1997 1276
3:51.92 4. 4. Junxia WANG 73 CHN F 2. Beijing (CHN) 11.09.1993 1271
3:52.47 5. 5. Tatyana KAZANKINA 51 URS F 1. Zürich (SUI) 13.08.1980 1267 AR
3:53.91 6. 6. Lili YIN 79 CHN F 3. Shanghai (CHN) 18.10.1997 1255
3:53.96 7. 7. Paula IVAN 63 ROU F 1. Seoul (KOR) 01.10.1988 1255
3:53.97 8. 8. Lixin LAN 79 CHN F 4. Shanghai (CHN) 18.10.1997 1254
3:54.23 9. 9. Olga DVIRNA 53 URS F 1. Kiev (URS) 27.07.1982 1252
3:54.52 10. 10. Ling ZHANG 80 CHN F 5. Shanghai (CHN) 18.10.1997 1250
3:55.07 11. 13. Yanmei DONG 77 CHN F 6. Shanghai (CHN) 18.10.1997 1245

If the 11 women faster than Dibaba were all on performance-enhancing drugs, that leads to the question, “Was this the greatest 1,500m ever run?”  It also leads to the related question,  “Do you think Dibaba’s 1,500 WR is clean?” There is some heated discussion on our forums.

In Dibaba’s favor, she clearly has some tremendous genes as her sister, Tirunesh Dibaba, is arguably the greatest female long-distance runner to ever live

Also in Dibaba’s favor is this idea: “The womens 1,500m record is weak. Suzy Hamilton ran 3:57 twice in 2000 off of far less mileage than the Africans now run (see her book for her training log), I don’t think that it is that inconceivable to have someone as sickly talented as a Dibaba sister with a lot more training and freedom from injuries to be 2 seconds faster. … Of course, this isn’t saying that her performance couldn’t be drug aided, but I don’t think the performance is so far fetched that everyone has to jump on the drugs bandwagon immediately.”

Dibaba has been coached by Jama Aden since last year. Aden clearly is doing something different in his training group as they are having tremendous success. The group includes Taoufik Makhloufi, the surprise Olympic 1,500m champ, World 800m bronze medallist Ayanleh Souleiman and Abubaker Kaki. Aden has a lot of ties to the US and was 2008 IAAF mid-d coach of the year. More on him here.

As for Dibaba running fast in her first race of the season? That is her pattern. Last year, she opened in 4:02 indoors and 3:57 outdoors (and never ran under 4:01 the rest of the year outdoors). In 2012, she opened in 3:57.77 outdoors and never broke 4 the rest of the season.

3:55.17 is a whole different ball game and worth a watch.

Dibaba hit 800 in 2:09, which is 4:01 pace and then she crushed the back half of the race.

More LRC Discussion here and here.


The 2016 US Olympic Marathon Trials Go To Los Angeles

We had written a piece talking about how we were totally fine with the Olympic Marathon Trials being in LA in 2016. That was until today’s news that the Trials will pay out $100,000 less in prize money than Houston according to USATF LDR committee member Ed Torres.

We were fine with the Trials being in LA over Houston, all else being equal. $100,000 less in prize money is not all else being equal.

If LA is a better place to promote the sport, then that should mean its a better place to garner sponsorship dollars. That should mean the athletes get MORE dollars in LA not less. We’re sure there will be more to hear on this story.

Our original piece is below.

Everyone knew heading into last week, the 2016 US Olympic marathon Trials would either be held in Los Angeles or Houston and USATF announced on Wednesday they’d be held in Houston.

Considering a USATF committee reportedly voted 5-0 for the Trials to be held in Houston and we’ve been big fans of Houston as we gave them great reviews for the job they did with the Trials in 2012 and for the amazing job they did a few weeks ago with the Chevron Houston Marathon/Aramco Houston Half Marathon/USA Half Marathon where Houston paid out $308,000 in prize money (contrast that to the $160,000 handed out last year in LA and the fact that it wasn’t too long ago that LA didn’t even think it was necessary to drug test), we imagine many of you think we are disappointed by the decision.

If that’s the case, you are wrong. We’re excited the Trials will be in LA in 2016, but can understand why Houston supporters aren’t happy.

In our minds, the past is the past. LA has a new race director in former Atlanta Track Club head Tracy Russell and how can fans not think it’s a good thing if LA is wants to be known as a major marathon town moving forward? LA wanting to be a big marathon town is a step in the right direction for the sport. The #1 reason why the people wanted Houston was the original March date for LA made it hard for anyone to double back for the 10,000 Trials, but USATF and LA listened and moved the date to February (although it should be pointed out the 2000 Men’s Trials were in May, the 2004 and 2008 Women’s Trials were in April so much later dates haven’t necessarily been a deal killer in the past). And even the native Texans on the LetsRun staff will admit the weather in LA is much more predictable in February than Houston in January.

Plus, we are big advocates of the Trials moving around. Just as we don’t think the track trials should be in Eugene every four years, we don’t think the marathon Trials should always be in the same city. Absence make the heart grow fonder.

Houston 2020, anyone?

Disclaimer, we are only fans of LA if this is the beginning of a concerted step for LA to be a real marathon town – not a one off swoop in and steal the Trials.

More: RRW Los Angeles To Host 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials The 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon will be in Los Angeles. Reportedly, a USATF panel voted 5-0 to put the Trials in Houston, but that recommendation was ignored by USATF CEO Max Siegel. One big change, likely because of the panel favoring Houston, was the date of the LA Marathon (and the Trials) being moved to the middle of February, so athletes could double back to the Track Trials.
*Discuss: Olympic Marathon Trials to Be in LA
*Meb Keflezighi’s Comments On L’’s Bid Victory
*Cincinnati Still Wants To Bid For Olympic Marathon Trials In Future
*LA Times: Move “… could boost the city’s efforts to bring the Summer Games back here in 2024.”


The Amazing Depth Of Japanese Road Racing

Last weekend there were two big road races in Japan, the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon and Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon. You may have missed it on the home page as they were overshadowed by all the action on the track and neither one had an out-of-this-world winning time. In Marugame, former World 10k champ Martin Mathathi won in 60:11. In Beppu, the winning time was 2:09:23 by Uganada’s Abraham Kiplimo and only one other runner broke 2:10. In today’s age when most major marathons are being won in at least 2:04 and guys frequently break 60 minutes in the half, neither race was particularly noteworthy for its performances at the front.

However, what was noteworthy in both of these races was the amazing depth of quality performances behind the winners. In the Kagawa Marugame Half, 26 runners broke 63:00, 70 broke 65:00 and in total there were 145 runners who ran under 70 minutes (5:20 pace). The top 238 were still going 6-min. pace or faster. Compare that to the recent US Half Marathon Championships in Houston, where we applauded the unusual depth of US distance running because we had 9 guys run 62:00 or better. 14 in the Houston field broke 63:00, 32 broke 65:00, and including the “masses,” there were 70 under 70 minutes. And this was a race we said was way deeper than most and a US championship race.

Then there was the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, where Japan Running News’ Brett Larner used the phrase “back in the masses” to describe Koki Kawauchi‘s (younger brother of citizen-runner Yuki Kawauchi) 2:21:48 for 32nd place. Now, while 32nd place doesn’t truly put you “in the masses,” 427th does and that’s what place 65-year-old Yoshihisa Hosaka came in with his 2:49:01. For comparison, 2:49:01 would be 349th place in Chicago and 250th in NYC. And keep in mind that Beppu isn’t even a huge World Marathon Major with runners from all over the world like these major US races. The field is nearly all Japanese runners.

More: Martin Mathathi Wins Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon In 1:00:11 As 20-Year- Old Kenta Murayama Gets Second In 1:00:50 For Japan Collegiate Record Aussie Collis Birmingham was 15th in 1:02:40 as the top 26 all broke 1:03. In 27th at 1:03:00 was US’s Jeffrey Eggleston. 59th place was Tomoki Kawamura, who ran 1:04:08 to set a Japanese HS record. Eri Makikawa won the women’s race in 1:10:27 in her debut. *IAAF Recap *Full Results
*Uganda’s Abraham Kiplimo Sets 4-Minute PR To Win Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon In 2:09:23 He beat a couple of Japan’s top marathoners to do it, including 2:08:00 man Kazuhiro Maeda. Back in the “masses,” Yuki Kawauchi‘s youngest brother Koki Kawauchi ran 2:21.48 for 32nd. Further back, 59+ world record holder Yoshihisa Hosaka became the 5th fastest 65-year-old ever by running 2:49:01. Crazier than that, his 2:49 got him 427th place. *IAAF Recap *Full Results

Fast DMRs And 3Ks Highlight Weekend College Action

There was a lot of collegiate/pro indoor action which we highlighted extensively on the homepage over the weekend. But one of the big highlights was the slew of fast DMRs that were ran on Friday night.

Running at their home invitational, the Penn State men’s DMR team of Brannon Kidder, Robby CreeseBrandon Bennett-Green and Za’Von Watkins  ran the second-fastest DMR time in NCAA history. They ran 9:26.59, missing the all-time collegiate record (held by Leo Manzano-anchored Texas from 2008) of 9:25.97 by .62 seconds. Unofficially, they split 2:52, 46-high, 1:48 and 3:58.

Another school running fast at Penn State was the Stanford men and women. The men came in second to Penn State with 9:28.95, led by a 3:57 anchor leg by Michael Atchoo. This puts them 3rd in the NCAA this year. And on the women’s side, the Stanford team of Amy Weissenbach, Kristyn Williams, Claudia Saunders and Justine Fedronic dominated their race with 10:54.04, which set the collegiate lead, broke their school record and ranked them 4th all-time in the NCAA. According to the Stanford website, Weissenbach split 3:20.7, Williams split 52.7, Saunders 2:06.9, and Fedronic anchored in 4:33.3.

On the other side of the country, fast DMR times were thrown down by the Oregon men at the University of Washington Invitational. Last year, Oregon didn’t get a team into NCAAs (they were the 4th team out), so this year they are trying to make up for it by getting in two teams as they ran the 2nd and 4th fastest collegiate times of the year. The Oregon “A” team led by Mac Fleet and Edward Cheserek ran 9:28.91 to win over the “B” team, which ran 9:31.64 and was anchored by Trevor Dunbar. The two teams were neck-and-neck going into the 1,600 leg, but Cheserek threw down a 3:55 last leg to get the “A” team the convincing win. With the elimination of last chance meets this year, Oregon has a good chance of qualifying either team for NCAAs.

DMR action aside, the most impressive individual performances came in the 3Ks. Lawi Lalang dominated his race at the UW Invite with a 7:44.20, which was the 4th all-time best performance in the NCAA, behind only Alistair Cragg‘s 7:38.59 record, Ryan Hill and Lawi’s own 7:42.79 from last year.

High School Record For Efraimson
At the same meet, Oiselle’s Amanda Winslow won the women’s 3k in 8:56.37, but the highlight of the race came from high school junior Alexa Efraimson, who ran 9:00.16 to break Mary Cain‘s high school record. We analyze that performance in more depth here.

Then at the Razorback Invy in Arkansas, Oklahoma State had an impressive team performance as they went 1-3 in the 3,000. Kirubel Erassa (7:54.05), Shane Moskowitz (7:57.79) and Chad Noelle (7:59.64) all broke 8 minutes and sit 5th, 10th and 13th in the NCAA for 2014.

More: *UW Results *Penn State Results

UW Invy: LRC Alexa Efraimson Breaks Mary Cain’s High School And US Junior 3,000m Record With 9:00.16 High school junior and 16-year-old Alexa Efraimson came in 4th place in the 3,000m at the UW Invy, breaking Mary Cain‘s 9:02.10 record. We share a few quick thoughts on Efraimson’s extremely impressive run and tell you where it stacks up compared to Cain.
*Oregon DMRs Go 1-2 At UW Invy Posting The Second And Fourth Fastest Times In The Country This Year The Oregon “A” team led by Mac Fleet and Edward Cheserek ran 9:28.91 to win over the “B” team, which ran 9:31.64 and was anchored by Trevor Dunbar.
*MB: Penn State DMR 9:26.59
*MB:King Ches Closes in 3:55.6 for Oregon’s A team 9:28!!!!
*MB: Solinsky with another DNF

Penn State National: Penn State Runs Second-Fastest Indoor DMR In NCAA History To Win At Penn State National The team of Brannon Kidder, Robby Creese, Brandon Bennett-Green and Za’Von Watkins ran 9:26.59 as Stanford was second in 9:28.95, anchored by Michael Atchoo in 3:57.
*Stanford Women Break School Record & Post NCAA-Leading DMR Time To Win At Penn State In 10:54.04 The team was anchored by Justine Fedronic in 4:33. A distant second was Dartmouth In 11:02.21, led by Abbey D’Agostino‘s 4:32 anchor leg.

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

The impact of Alan Webb.

If you just started paying attention to American middle distance running during the last five years, it would probably be difficult to understand how largely irrelevant the United States was in in the years leading up to Webb.  The expectation wasn’t that an American or Americans would medal in a major championship or place high in a big European meet.  One person making a final was rightly characterized as a victory.  Webb didn’t win any medals, the only legitimate critic of his career, but he did contribute to the success that would come in the later part of the 2000s. His 3:53 in high school and 3:46 American record, not to mention his 3:30 win in Paris or his brush with glory in the 2005 World Championship, were glimmers of hope in an otherwise bleak era.

Equally difficult to explain is how big of a star Webb was in 2001.  After he broke the high school mile record, interest was so high that SportsCenter cutaway live to show his race at the US Championships as Webb attempted to qualify for the World Championships….

Over-analyzing Webb was sport. His rise coincided with the Internet boom and there wasn’t a runner that saw more scrutiny than him.

Kevin Sully writing about the career of Alan Webb on DailyRelay.com. It’s totally true. A high school senior has no way to understand how different things are now than when Webb, Ryan Hall and Dathan Ritzenhein were seniors in HS in 2001.

If you are horrible at other sports, try running.

“I came from a very athletic family where I did all sorts of sports. I had private instructors for tennis and swimming and all these sports. I just was honestly terrible at everything. Running was the first sport where I could just do it. I didn’t have to think about where my hands were on the racket or where I was planting my ski pole. I just did it, and I fell in love with it right away. It took my family by surprise because I was so competitive and no one ever knew that that part existed in me. So, running was something that I just loved right away.”‘

Kara Goucher talking to therunnersdad.com about her start in the sport.

If you don’t want to have to run the mile, try the high jump.

“The runners had to prove fitness with a mile run. My friends and I didn’t want to run a mile, so we headed in to the gym to try the field events.”

– 2012 Olympic high jump silver medalist Erik Kynard on how he got into the high jump in middle school.

If you didn’t win NCAAs in XC this year, don’t blame Bud Light.

“I knew plenty of D1 national qualifiers – myself included – that knew how to throw down in college. 

1999 XC Champs were on a Monday, so my teammate and I hit the town in Bloomington on Saturday night for a fun evening. I still acquitted myself quite well on race day. I was third in Region and I think 4th Region finisher that day, about 15 seconds from All-American.

I went to Penn and believe me, we saw all kinds of All-Americans and National Champs at the parties on Saturday night after Penn Relays.

Of course, its fair to say that the level of achievement nationwide pales to what it is now, but believe me, that Bud Light in your hand is not the reason you didn’t beat Cheserek.”

Scott Clayton, Penn Class of 2000 (aka message board poster “AllIvy”), posting on a message board thread last week entitled: Which College XC/Track Teams Party the Hardest?

Balancing a full-time job while running 13:24 isn’t easy.

“I seem to be living my life in eternal darkness, which is awesome! But I love what I do and at least have the weekends off to enjoy a beer too many.”

– Former New Mexico runner Rory Fraser of the UK talking to eightlane.org about how he manages and full time job while running 13:24/62:48 (half). Fraser has a full-time job (at Nike, but he actually works a real gig and runs on the side).

Last Week’s News Of Note/Recommended Reads:

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 2/3:

– Two-time World Cross-Country champion Craig Virgin talking to LRC about having more transparency in the sport of track and field in terms of athletes listing what medications/supplements they are on. His comments come in the wake of Galen Rupp‘s  two American records over the span of nine days, the second of which was followed by a 5 x 1,600 workout ending with a 4:01.

Sunday 2/2:

 Genzebe Dibaba, the younger sister of Tirunesh Dibaba, after crushing the indoor 1,500m world record with 3:55.17 in Karlsruhe, Germany. The previous world record was 3:58.28 set by Yelena Sobolova of Russia; Dibaba’s time is arguably the greatest 1,500m ever run as it is the fastest time indoors or out since 1997.

Saturday 2/1:

– Mo Farah talking about the difference between his track and marathon training. Currently he’s doing altitude training in Kenya putting in 130-140 mile weeks getting ready for his debut at London 2014. On the race itself he says, “It’s going to be harder than the London, harder than Moscow. It’s going to be the hardest race of my life.”

Friday 1/31:

– New Zealand’s 1972 Olympic 1,500 bronze medalist Rod Dixon talking about the 1974 Commonwealth Games, which some consider one of the all-time greatest mid-distance races. Tanzania’s Filbert Bayi broke Jim Ryun‘s WR with 3:32.16 (which still stands as the Commonwealth Games record) in a race that included distance legends John Walker and Brendan Foster.

Thursday 1/30:

– Alberto Salazar talking about Galen Rupp going for Hicham El Guerrouj‘s 3:48.45 indoor mile world record in two weeks. Salazar says that this is the first race of the year Rupp will be fully rested for. Bernard Lagat has the U.S. record at 3:49.89. Rupp’s mile has been pushed back a week to the same day as the famed Wanamaker Mile, but Rupp will not be attempting to break the record in the media capital of the world: MB: Date of Galen Rupp’s 1 Mile Record Attempt Moved to Same Date as Millrose.

Wednesday 1/29:

“(I’m) feeling generally happy & liberated and comfortable in my own skin. Shame is not something I feel and I am a better person today because of my experiences. I don’t want to paint an unrealistic picture, however. It’s easy to get dolled up, with perfect lighting and a wonderful photographer, and everything looks peachy. While I try to paint a picture that I’m doing well, there are still dark days, and moments. Living with mental illness is a challenge to say the least. … So life is pretty good I’m still not prepared to disclose my diagnosis or tell my story. That will happen in time, and those who have asked me to speak have generally been very respectful of my wishes. Thank you for your unwavering support as it has helped me tremendously in my journey to get healthy and in a good place in life. It’s therapeutic to post on Twitter and Facebook and the support only reminds me that I’m not alone and/or there are plenty of people out there who have my back xo, Suzy …”

– Suzy Favor Hamilton, the fastest non-cheating 1,500 woman in US history, posting on Facebook as she starts to re-emerge after last year’s scandal. Hamilton will soon be running the LA marathon as a leader of a charity team.
MB: She’s back – Suzy Favor Hamilton returning to running as head of LA marathon charity team
MB: She really is back: Suzy Favor Hamilton posts new facebook photo & blog post

Tuesday 1/28:

– Mile American record holder Alan Webb talking to triathlon.com about his goals for the triathlon. Webb reveals he’s been working with USA Triathlon and that coach Jerry Schumacher encouraged him to make the switch.