Kenenisa Proves He Can Handle 26.2, The Netherlands’ Version Of Jordan Hasay, Motivation From The Webbs, And A World Record Holder Is Spotted From The Side Of The Road?

April 8, 2014

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Bekele Runs 2:05:03 In His Debut

Kenenisa Bekele made his marathon debut last week. Considering he’s the 5,000 and 10,000 world record holder, an 11 time world xc champion (5 short course), and 8 time Olympic/World gold medallist, his 2:05:03 debut was not shocking (Bekele himself said he was expecting a 2:04), but that doesn’t mean it was insignificant.

It proved to us that he could handle the classic 26.2 distance.

One could look at the the 26.2 success of  the two previous 10,000 world record holders on the track, Paul Tergat and Haile Gebrselassie (both world record holders in the marathon), had and think, “Of course Kenenisa Bekele was going to be good at the marathon.”

But just for fun let’s assume for a minute that Bekele had bombed in Paris. Afterwards, we would have pointed out the following things going against Bekele.

1) While it was assumed he’d be good at 26.2 because of Tergat and Haile, Kenenisa had run a grand total of ONE half-marathon in his career and was unproven at longer distances.

2) Yes, Bekele is the fastest distance runner in history on the track but it’s been almost five full years since he last won gold on the track. In 2009, Bekele won the 5000 and 10,000 at the Worlds in Berlin. That was a long time ago. At the time, Mo Farah was a 13:07/27:44 (yes 27:44 not 26) also-ran who finished 2.60 seconds behind Bekele at Worlds in the 5000.

Thankfully Bekele has proven himself and is officially relevant again. As we pointed out in our Paris recap, the beauty of the marathon is that if you are a 2:04 guy (and Bekele is as Paris is far from super fast), then you are a contender for the win when you step on the start line.

It should be pointed out that Bekele never did fully lose relevance. Last year, after all, he did win the Pre Classic 10,000 (yet was somehow left out of Worlds) and also beat Mo Farah in the first 13.1 run of his life.

What’s next for Bekele?

He says he’s now getting ready for the Prefontaine Classic 10,000 and will figure out his marathon future soon.

We hope his future isn’t a solo world record attempt. The repeated solo attempts by Haile Gebrselassie did nothing for us as fans. Solo record attempts make a lot of financial sense. A runner like Geb or Bekele can take on a watered down field, go for the record and even if they die still hold on for a win which doesn’t dilute their brand (ie appearance fees). Contrast that with losing luster by possibly finishing fourth or fifth in a stacked major like London.

The good news is the 2016 Olympics aren’t too far away and there is no way Bekele avoids that one.

Our dream schedule for Bekele’s future would go like this:

Fall 2014: World Record Attempt (We’re realists and know a world record would be an incredible feather in his cap)
Spring 2015: London
Fall 2015: New York
Summer 2016: Olympics only, or London and then Olympics.

Given his xc prowess, it’s likely Bekele would thrive on the challenging Boston and New York courses but doubt Boston has the money to get him.

One more thing about Bekele. We want to give him a lot of props for being honest with the press. When asked by the British press why he ran Paris and not London, he told the truth to The Telegraph. The money offered by both races was the same so he chose the easier one:

“London is a bit tougher because so many athletes are going there. If I’m getting the same offer, same invitation, why would I go to London?”

“There are very strong competitors there, tougher maybe than Paris, and I wanted to run an even pace. It was very important for me to win on my debut as well and maybe London is more difficult for that.”

More: LRC Kenenisa Bekele Runs 2:05:03 – Breaks Course Record And Smashes Debut Times Of Past Legends Gebrselassie, Tergat And Wanjiru
*Kenenisa Bekele Talks About His First Marathon:
*LRC Archive: 2009 Worlds Coverage
5000: LRC Bekele Holds Off Lagat & Completes Historic Double To Stamp Himself As The Greatest Of All Time
10,000: LRC A Day After Bolt’s Electric 100m Run, Bekele Reminds Us He’s Even More Dominant Than Bolt


Way Back in the Archives: Paul Tegat Meets President Bush Thanks to Little LRC

More Praise for Geoffrey Kipsang/Messageboard Post of The Week

Two Sunday’s Geoffrey Kipsang‘s got a dominant win at the 2014 World Half Marathon Championships. The more time passed, the more we really appreciated what a great victory it was. 59:07 is fast. Even more impressive than that it came out that Kipsang ran his last 10km in 27:18. He ran a 28:40 first 10km as a warmup and then finish in 27:18 with a 2:40 last 1k. Wow.

We know that Kipsang ran 27:18 for his last 10k because coach Renato Canova included that stat when he posted about Kipsang on the messageboard last week.

Longtime prolific LetsRun visitor ventolin^3 started a thread:  To Renato ; Do you know much about Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor?

Canova responded with a dandy of a post that you simply must read. Please do yourself a favor and read the post.

Geoffre Kipsang Kamworor

Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor

Since we don’t trust you to leave the page and read it. We’ll give you the highlights below. Canova responded by starting with the following story which shows you how the best champions often just jump off the page their talent is so incredible:

One day of October 2010, Patrick Sang was in his car, travelling for going to Kaptagat camp. Some kilometer before the camp of Global, where he trains the athletes, he saw one guy, still very young, running very fast on the side of the road. Patrick stopped the car, approached the runner asking him “are you interested to become a professional runner ?”. The guy answered : “Yes, last June already I went to compete in Finland before I’ve a friend paying for me the flight, but I was not very good : I ran my first 3000m in 7’54”, and one week later my first 1500m in 3’48””.

“I’m not interested in what you already did. I’m interested in what you can do in the future, and I think you can become a very good runner. Join our camp, tomorrow you can start to work with some of the best Kenyan we have in our group”.

The guy was Geoffrey Kipsang. In less than 4 months, he became the World Junior Champion of Cross Country, showing strong mentality and attitude of front runner.

Later in the thread, Canova reveals he supervised some of Kipsang’s workouts after the Pre Classic in 2011. After watching them, Canova was impressed:

After going back Kenya, I spoke with Patrick Sang about this attitude, telling him “the guy can become the next WR holder of HM and of Marathon, if there is patience to build his specific marathon endurance”.

Currently, Canova is convinced Kipsang can break Zersenay Tadesse’s half marathon world record of 58:23. The marathon so far has proven to be a struggle as Kipsang is a little bigger than most Kenyans.

More: MB: To Renato ; Do you know much about Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor ?
Archive: LRC  Geoffrey Kipsang: The Total Stud Who Could Win World XC, But Will He Run It?
LRC Geoffrey Kipsang (58:54) And Lucy Kabuu (66:09) Win 2013 RAK Half Marathon On Record-Setting Day

An Inspiring Story Turns Sour Real Quick – Or Does It?

How do you go from being a mere jogger to a 2:26 marathoner in the span of a few years?

Last year before Boston, we hyped up the fact that having a coach who believes in you and waits outside your office door for you while you get off work and eventually marries you is a big help: Six Years Ago Colombian Yolanda Caballero Was Only A Jogger, Now She’s A 2:26 Marathoner Trying To Persevere After Losing The Man Who Romanced Her & Developed Her Into A South American Running Force.

Can we amend that and say – that and a little EPO never hurts.

Last week, it came out that Colombia’s Yolanda Caballero, the inspirational widow that was hyped in the press last year, has dropped out of the 2014 Boston marathon as she’s tested positive for EPO.

It just shows people with ‘touching’ stories can also be drug cheats. Doping is a lot like criminality in regular society – hard to spot at times.

It would be a lot easier if criminals and dopers held up signs that say, “Look here, I’m a doper/criminal.”

Now, one thing needs to be made clear. What we said above – “It just shows people with ‘touching’ stories can also be drug cheats”  – is true in general but Caballero has not been convicted of doping. Caballero has issued a very strong and detailed denial in the Spanish press which we suggest you read. According to google translate, her positive resulted after a test was done on her in Kenya after she’d run a 30km workout. She said there were a number of problems in handling the sample in Kenya and her B sample still hasn’t been tested. Remember, Bernard Lagat once had an ‘A’ sample test positive for EPO and he never was sanctioned. A few highlights from Caballero’s denial:

1. I want to declare emphatically that I have never used any substance banned by the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA, for its acronym in English World Anti-Doping Agency). ….

I must say I have my conscience and I will go to the last instances to prove my innocence. 

Finally, I would add that these are difficult times for my family and me, but each of the blows I received in life and sport, have strengthened me and which I have superimposed things even much worst.

We have zero inside info on this case, but will be watching it. Conspiracy theorists will certainly think a bust of a runner for EPO in Kenya that isn’t Kenyan seems a little convenient, doesn’t it?

More: Cabellero Emphatically Denies EPO Claims in Spanish Press

Outdoor Track Season Heats Up


Last week, there were some early season meets outdoors in the US. The first Stanford meet was held as were the Florida Relays. At Stanford, the performance of the meet distance wise came from Texas’s Marielle Hall who ran an incredible 63 second personal best in the women’s 5000 to win in 15:19.26 tow in over Alisha Williams (BRC/adidas) 15:19.79. That’s pretty incredible for Hall. Indoors, she didn’t even qualify for NCAAs as her 3000 pb of 9:15.57 didn’t make it (that’s 3:05 per k for 3k). Now she’s running under 3:04 per k for 5km. Good work.

Jip Vastenburg via

The women’s 5000 was the fastest event at Stanford as no other mid-d/distance events produced times under the IAAF A/B marks for Moscow last year (not that you need the times for 2014, they just are a decent way to judge how good something was). The next best quality mark came in the women’s 10,000 where the Netherlands Kip Vastenburg, the 2013 European junior 5000 champ who just turned 20 on March 21, ran 32:11.90 to little fanfare sparking this snarky response on the messageboard poster  “zwama”:

This girl pretty much runs 32:11 by herself at age 19. When Hasay ran 32:45 last year in her 10k debut (yes Vastenburg also made her 10k track debut) she was pronounced the new hope for distance running! Are you Americans that arrogant?

For the record, we looked up the IP of the “zwama” as we thought it would be sort of funny if they were actually posting from the USA but he/she is Dutch. We did feel ‘zwama’s pain’ however and put the messageboard post at the top of the homepage to get Vastenburg a little hype.  Here is a little more. We went to her website and found this tweet.

Our tweet of the week:

Wooooooeeehh 32.11.90 in Stanford!!! Op naar Zürich. Tevens de wedstrijd gewonnen, wat een super ervaring! #Zürich2014

An online translator tell us that means, “Wooooooeeehh 32.11.90 at Stanford!! On to Zurich. Also won the match, what a great experience! # # Zürich2014”

For the record, we thought the hype over Hasay last year was because she’s a popular star. We never thought she was the ‘new hope for distance running.’ After her second Stanford run of 32:06, we simply wrote, “What do we make of Jordan Hasay‘s 32:06.64? Our main thought is that the move up in distance was the right one for her. She’s now basically as close to the ‘B’ standard in the 10,000 (1.64 seconds) as the 1,500 (1.28 seconds), but in relative terms she’s way closer in the 10,000 obviously. 1 second in a 1,500 is a lot. 1 second in a 10,000 – not so much.”

More: WHY is NOBODY talking about the 19 year old Dutch girl who won the Stanford 10k invitational in 32:11.90?
*Abbey D watch out – Texas’ Marielle Hall wins Stanford 5k in 15:19 over Alisha Williams!!!
*28 guys Break 29:00 At Stanford – Edward Cheserek 28:51
*Stanford Results

#Florida Relays

There was some good mid-d action as Florida senior Sean Obinwa ran a pb and collegiate leader of 1:46.68 with his freshman teammate Andrew Arroyo running a world junior lead and pb of 1:47.57 for 4th but the big news was all in the sprints. Florida junior, Dedric Dukes, who was the NCAA runner-up indoors at 20.34 became the 9th collegiate to break 20.00 as he ran 19.97 into a headwind.

Dukes wasn’t done as he came back and ran a leg on Florida’s 4 x 400 which ran the #2 time in NCAA history at 2:59.73, a time that would have gotten them silver in Moscow in the 4 x 400 last summer – just .02 away from gold.

Dukes wasn’t the star of the 4 x 400. The star was anchor Armon Hall. The Gators were competing against a bunch of pro teams and were just third heading into the anchor. Hall, who was third indoors in the 400 and fourth in the 200 (3rd last year as well outdoors – 45.02 pb), ran 43.7 however and gunned down former Gator Kerron Clement at the line to win by .03 at the Gainseville elite team of David Verberg – Torrin Lawrence – Christian Taylor – Kerron Clement ran 2:59.76. Video highlights of 4 x 400 below.

Speaking of Taylor, who of course the reigning Olympic triple jump champ, he ran the open 400 last week in Florida and ran 45.37.

In the women’s action, 2011 World #1 at 1500 Morgan Uceny opened her outdoor campaign with a 2:04.40 win. 2:04.40 isn’t very fast for someone with a 1:58.37 pb but before you lose hope, realize that 2013 World Championships finalist at 800 and 2013 USA indoor champ Ajee Wilson, who has a 1:58.21 pb, opened up her outdoor season last week as well and only ran 2:04.70 in winning in a meet at Princeton.

More: Gators Blaze Up the Track on Final Day of 2014 Pepsi Florida Relays
NCAA 200 runner-up Dedric Dukes runs 19.97 into headwind at Florida Relays
*So so sick: Triple jump gold medalist Christian Taylor 45.37!!! Will he focus on 400 in 2014? 

#Oregon vs. Arizona

The matchup between reigning NCAA 1500 champion Mac Fleet and NCAA superstar Lawi Lalang got the headlines (Fleet won comfortably 3:44.04 to 3:44.79 which wasn’t a big surprise), but who we were paying attention to was Laura Roesler. We really want to see her become just the fourth collegian to break 2:00 this year (Suzy Hamilton 1:59.11, Alysia Montaño 1:59.29 and Katie Waits 1:59.35) and she got some good experience in going out sub 60 before finishing in 2:01.10.

“I’m not very comfortable going out hard; I’d rather kind of sit back. So it’s a good thing that 59 felt pretty comfortable today,” said Roesler after the meet.

As for Fleet, we loved his pre-race talk to The Oregonian about wanting to be a legend, “I want to be remembered.I want my name so high on those school lists, it’s hard to take off.”

He’s got his work cut-out for him as the school record belongs to Matt Centrowitz at 3:34.46. #2 on the list is 3:36.48 by Joaquim Cruz and AJ Acosta. Fleet’s got a 3:38.35 pb, so #2 on the list is very doable. #1 is going to be pretty hard to do.

More:  Oregon sweeps Arizona in dual-meet
*Oregon’s Mac Fleet Wants To Become A Legend In His Final Season At Oregon 

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

“I never intended to be a runner. I was in denial that there was any real benefit other than proving you have a slight bit of insanity for revolving your life around running. Because if you really want to be successful, that’s what you end up doing. Once you set a running goal, you unknowingly develop your entire week around planning your runs. Eating, working, traveling, other time spent on your feet, sleeping, weekend socializing (including adult beverages) – all go into the equation of how your running will end up during that week.”

Julia Webb writing on her blog in a lengthy 2800+ word piece entitled, “What Motivates You?” We very much enjoyed the piece that talks about the various reasons why people run.

In Julia’s mind, the elites have it easy and we agree to some extent. As she wrote about her husband Alan, “he saw that if he kept it up he could be really good in the form of a scholarship to run in college and beyond to Olympic dreams. Motivation for that is usually pretty easy. Not to mention it’s really fun to outright win races and get attention.”

More:  “What Motivates You?

Interesting Athletics Canada Saga – USATF Malcontents Read This

Many thanks to a letsrun visitor who tipped us off to a great blog post by Steve Boyd (a coach in Canada who was described to us as “a regular viewer and sometimes regular poster” on LetsRun) on which can be read here.

In the post, Boyd describes the process that he and Clive Morgan went through to win the right to host the Canadian XC champs in Kingston from 2015 to 2018. Boyd and crew worked hard to submit a bid. One small problem, before a host was selected, Morgan uncovered a video of a city conference hearing in Guelph where coach Dave Scott-Thomas told the city council “We have been asked to host again” clearly indicating that Athletics Canada was already intent on handing the championships to Guelph.

Guess what happened? Sure enough, Athletics Canada gave the champs to Guelph but Boyd and Morgan appealed because amazingly the two committee members with ties to Guelph didn’t recuse themselves from the voting. On appeal, the trials went Kingston.

What can be learned from this? Well track fans in all countries clearly need to be vigilant in keeping an eye on their governing bodies. Things may not be ‘as insider’ as they once were but a lot of work needs to be done. As Boyd wrote:

That AC (Athletics Canada) could have been content to initially ignore such commonsense-beggaring irregularities as a committee allowing its members to argue for and vote on its own club’s bid for a lucrative, multi-year hosting contract, or one of its contract employees– and one with a direct connection to one of the clubs bidding on said contract– publicly stating that the bid selection had been predetermined, strongly suggests that AC’s transformation is not yet complete, and that those dealing with it should be prepared to demand greater clarity and accountability. If we had not been as persistent and skilled as we were in both preparing our bid and articulating our objections to the original vetting process, AC would ultimately have been allowed to award a four year championship hosting run to a bid that an appeal panel of three subsequently unanimously decided was inferior to one of its competitors. 

More: Blost post appears under “blog” here.

Editor’s note: This article initially incorrectly said that the video surfaced before the bids were submitted.

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

“It is a long established truth that runners are inherently awkward people. They run where and when they want, without heed for irate farmers, golfers, motorists, or police, for that matter. They are not given to taking advice on anything, unless it’s a new training regime or food fad (doubly so in the case of ‘born-again joggers’, but that’s another story). Like fishermen, they like nothing more than meeting up with a mate/rival, for a burn-up, while regaling them with unlikely tales of training feats that would have put (80 x 400m reps man) Emil Zatopek to shame. “

– excerpt from a piece by Pat Butcher on how it is now illegal to run in a group in Burundi.


Sympathy For The Kenyan Pros

In America, people often express sympathy for the aspiring pros who find it hard to get endorsement contracts. 2012 Olympic silver medallist Leo Manzano has been sponsorless for 16+ months.

We doubt the Kenyans are feeling too much sympathy for Leo. Last week, before the Prague Half Marathon was won by Peter Kirui in a pb of 59:22, it came out that Kirui who seemed poised for greatness after winning the 2012 NYC Half, has had trouble training at an optimal level since then as he’s gone though training for the Kenyan Police Academy. Imagine if 59 minute half marathon runners in the US were stopping their training to go to police school.

One thing many Kenyans do do is think about their careers after running.

More: Joyce Chepkirui Becomes 18th Woman To Break 67:00 (Runs 66:19) – Peter Kirui PRs At 59:22 To Win
*Peter Kirui, Who Paced Patrick Makau To A World Record While Sleeping On The Floor, Now Hopes To Set The World Record Himself

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

 “I don’t think track is a dying sport. It may be a changing sport. It’s becoming certainly a very expensive sport, with the athletes demanding more and the arenas, in many cases, more of a share.”

– Howard Schmertz, the man who led the Millrose Games for 29 years at MSG, talking in 1981 about the changing nature of the sport.

More:  NY Times Remembers Howard Schmertz, Man Who Guided Millrose Games For 29 Years At MSG

Recommended Reads:

Peter Kirui, Who Paced Patrick Makau To A World Record While Sleeping On The Floor, Now Hopes To Set The World Record Himself

NY Times Remembers Howard Schmertz, Man Who Guided Millrose Games For 29 Years At MSG

You Think Breaking A WR Is Tough? It’s Even Harder For Horses Human WRs have dropped significantly in the last 50 years, but horse times haven’t got much faster. This article looks at some of the reasons why.

Toni Reavis Argues That USATF’s Scope Is Too Broad And The Organization Should Be Broken Up Into Smaller Parts“Consider if Little League Baseball, Slow Pitch Softball, Wiffle Ball and Major League Baseball all came under the same organizational umbrella, with MLB having no standing, more or less, than any other component.  What odds of success would you offer that arrangement?”

NY Times Remembers Howard Schmertz, Man Who Guided Millrose Games For 29 Years At MSG

Other Key Results

Joyce Chepkirui Becomes 18th Woman To Break 67:00 (Runs 66:19) – Peter Kirui PRs at 59:22 To Win Joyce Chepkirui dominated from the start whereas Kirui took his time warming up before winning a race where 3 men broke 60:00.

Janet Bawcom Crushes Single-Sexed American Record By 76 Seconds, Runs 52:12 To Win US Title, Finishes Second To Ethiopian Mamitu Daska Janet Bawcom was very good as was Sara Hall, but no one could stop 2:21 marathoner Mamitu Daska in the overall race.

Christo Landry Earns His First US Title In 46:41 As Stephen Sambu Wins 2014 Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run Run In Sprint Finish At 45:29

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 4/07:

– Message board poster dkny64‘s reaction after Kenenisa Bekele obliterated the field at the 25k mark and continued on to a 2:05:02 debut marathon in Paris this morning, a time much faster than the debuts put up by legends Haile GebrselassiePaul Tergat and Sammy Wanjiru. How will Mo Farah do in London next Sunday?
*MB: POLL yes or no, will Mo debut faster than Bekele?

Sunday 4/06:

Saturday 4/05:

– Paris Marathon race director Thibault Vellard, talking to the New York Times, which devoted 1,264 words to Bekele’s marathon debut tomorrow in Paris.

MB: Official 2014 Paris Marathon Live Discussion Thread – Kenenisa Bekele Makes His 26.2 Debut

Friday 4/04:

“Like any agency with too thin a budget and too broad a portfolio, USA Track & Field has become a prisoner of its own constitution.  Irrespective of who has sat as head of the organization, USATF has been unable to extract itself from the knot of futility and frustration defined by its own internal inconsistencies. Without a common goal to bind its component parts, each discipline finds itself competing for limited resources, constraining the growth of any in the process. …”

“… Consider if Little League Baseball, Slow Pitch Softball, Wiffle Ball and Major League Baseball all came under the same organizational umbrella, with MLB having no standing, more or less, than any other component.  What odds of success would you offer that arrangement? … What has become abundantly clear is that this one-size-fits-all organizational model, while well intentioned, is over-burdened, under-funded, and simply a vestigial relic of a time now passed.”

– Toni Reavis suggesting that the problems with USATF may stem from the fact that it is too large for its own good as it is responsible for everything from professional track and field to youth events to mountain/trail racing.

Thursday 4/03:

 Kenenisa Bekele, talking about his marathon debut in Paris on Sunday. Kenny B says he’s prepared, has run up to 150 miles per week, and called some of the marathon training “boring.”

Wednesday 4/02:

– New Zealand’s Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams tweeting out in anger about Belarus’ Nadzeya Ostapchuk only receiving a 4-year ban (instead of lifetime) after having her second positive drug test. Ostapchuk initially finished first ahead of Adams and received the gold medal on the podium at London 2012 before she was DQed for doping.

Tuesday 4/01:

Questions? Comments? Email us.