Some Ridiculous NCAA Performances, Analyzing Emma Coburn, Calling Foul On Greg Rutherford, And Sports Gene Proven To Be True

The Week That Was In Running – May 12 – 18, 2014

May 21, 2014

We recap the week in running below. (If you’d like more in depth on the Shanghai Diamond League click here or the  2014 USATF Oxy High Performance Meet). Previous versions of the Week That Was can be found here


Emma Coburn Is A Diamond League Event Winner

The biggest news last week was Emma Coburn’s win in the women’s steeple in Shanghai.

Article continues below player.

We broke down her 9:19.80 win, which moved her to #2 all-time in US history, on Sunday, but will talk a bit more about it here as we know many people are still scratching their heads.

The win was very surprising to many, but the more we look at it, the less of a shock it becomes.

As we wrote on Sunday, 9:19.80 is a time only six women in 2014 broke in 2013 (only 19 women have ever run faster). All six of those women raced on Sunday. It’s clear that even if they hadn’t spotted Coburn 12+ seconds at 2k, that there is no way that three, probably four of them had a chance to beat  Coburn as they simply don’t appear to be in good shape (either that or they just had a REALLY bad day).

Fastest Steeplers In World In 2013

1 09:11.65 Milcah Chemos Admitted she wasn’t in great shape and ran like it (9:38.21 – 12+ seconds behind Assefa)
2 09:12.55 Lydia Chepkurui Not in shape. Even worse than Chemos (9:38.82 – 13+ seconds behind Assefa).
3 09:12.84 Sofia Assefa Doesn’t seem to have the winning mindset. Spotted Coburn 12 seconds through 2600, got half of it back on last lap (9:25.76).
4 09:15.25 Hiwot Ayalew Finished 3rd. 1.51 seconds behind Assefa (9:27.25).
5 09:16.97 Etenesh Diro Not in shape. 10.69 seconds behind Assefa (9:36.45).
6 09:19.42 Purity Kirui Finished 4th. 7.48 seconds behind Chemos (9:33.24). We don’t think the gap mattered for her.

The three people in bold are ones we think had zero chance of beating Coburn based on how far they finished behind the runner-up Assefa. The pack was on 9:42 pace at 2k and many of them barely picked it up off of that slow pace. Purity Kirui probably also should be bold but since she was ‘best of the rest’ we didn’t rule her out.

Likely the worst Coburn would finish right now on the DL circuit when she runs her best is third.

Are there any other women on the circuit who weren’t in Shanghai who could beat Coburn?

We don’t think so.

A look of disbelief after the race A look of disbelief after the race

Olympic champ Yuliya Zaripova is out expecting baby #2. The Olympic silver medallist Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia only ran 9:22 last year.

We just thought of one person currently in great form on the circuit who possibly could beat Coburn.


She’s American. And she ran 9:12.50 in her last steeple.

Yes, Jenny Simpson, Coburn’s teammate. Simpson gave up the event after the 2009 World Championships when she ran that 9:12 American record but was only fifth partly due to the fact she thought sub-9 times were going soon be commonplace.

Perhaps, Simpson should have stayed in the event and let the Biological Passport work its magic. The event clearly has regressed over the last five years.

Simpson in her prime wouldn’t be a sure bet over Coburn as Simpson herself only broke 9:20 once in her career.

Maybe we should raise a lot of money and pay them to have a match race at the end of the year. $5,000 for showing up, $10,000 for the winner.

Sports Gene Vindicated

Eunice Sum edges Mariya Savinova for the DL Title Eunice Sum edges Mariya Savinova for the DL Title

For the few of you left that haven’t read Sports Gene (by the way, the book is now out in paperback if you haven’t read it) and think running isn’t at least partly genetic, we’d like to start this week’s recap by letting you know that the Japanese national record in the 800 was set last week by Sho Kawamoto. In Japan, a country that loves running, a country that had 7 sub-2:10 marathoners last year, and a country where there are a slew of well-funded college and pro teams, guess what the record is:


Before last week it was 1:46.16.

Now, for those of you who are jaded and think running is entirely genetic, please read this:

Good Interview From Spikes Mag With Eunice Sum: Did You Know Before She Was World 800 Champion She Was A Heptathlete?

Guess how fast just 5 years ago that the world champion Sum, who now runs 1:57, was running the 800 … 2:27. Admittedly it was at the end of a heptathlon but it takes a lot of hard work to be great at running. Of course, it certainly helps if your cousin is a world champion, as is the case with Sum (Alfred Kirwa Yego).

 (A reader has written in and pointed out that the Japanese 4×100 record is 38.03 which is quite good, while the 4×800 record is 7:23.88 which isn’t, yet the Japanese are very good at the marathon. His point is that the lack of success at 800 is more a lack of emphasis on behalf of the Japanese than anything else).

More: Sho Kawamoto Sets Japanese NR At 1:45.75 Winning 800 At Golden Grand Prix Tokyo

A Few Studly Performances At NCAA

The final conference meets were held last week at the collegiate level. With BCS power conferences like the PAC-12, Big 12, Big 10 and SEC all taking place, one would expect the action to be incredibly tight, right? Don’t tell that to Texas Tech’s Kennedy Kithuka or Michigan’s Erin Finn.

The 19-year-old Finn lapped the entire field to win the Big Ten 10,000 crown in a meet record 32:41.65 before coming back to win the 5,000 in another meet record of 15:48.90. Absurd.

Kithuka was even better as he lapped the entire men’s field at Big 12s just 9 laps into the race, including NCAA 10,000 leader Shadrack Kipchirchir of Oklahoma State, who beat Kithuka by nearly five seconds when Kipchirchir ran 27:36.79 at Payton Jordan. Kithuka won the 10,000 in a meet record of 28:48.04 before coming back to win the 5,000 by 49.75 seconds in 13:54.46.

Yes, we know Kipchirchir decided to not go all out but we don’t really care. Kithuka led the Texas Tech Red Raiders to their first team title since 2005 in front of the home crowd which was his big goal for the year. Plus it’s not like the rest of the Big 12 is awful. There are 4 guys who broke 29:00 in the conference and 12 who have broken 30:00.

Finn and Kithuka weren’t the only two to have ridiculous weekends. Other big-time studly performances were put up by the following:

Shelby Houlihan – The Arizona State junior won the PAC-12 1,500 over Stanford’s Aisling Cuffe by 2.62 seconds in 4:15.67. The win at 1500m wasn’t a shock but the win over Cuffe in the 5,000 was – 16:11.63 to Cuffe’s 16:11.97.

Lawi Lalang Back on Top Lawi Lalang Back on Top

Lawi Lalang – In the PAC-12 1,500 final, the Arizona senior handed Oregon’s Edward Cheserek the first loss of his collegiate career on the track in a race that Cheserek was actually trying to win. Cheserek basically tempoed a 10k earlier in the year to get a regional qualifier but other than that hadn’t lost a race since Pre-Nats in cross-country on October 19th. From October 19th to May 18 – 7 months – Cheserek was undefeated when he wanted to be.

To win, Lalang had to run 3:36.34 from the front. He wasn’t too tired, though, as he doubled back to win the 5,000 in 13:41.44 later in the day. Of course, given the fact that Lalang is a 13:00 guy, we guess running 13:41 and beating up on a mere 13:18 guy like Eric Jenkins isn’t too bad even if you are a little tired from the 3:36.

Anthony Rotich – The UTEP junior, who is the reigning NCAA steeplechase and indoor mile champ, pulled triple duty at Conference USA as he won the 1,500 (3:43.25), steeple (8:53.27) and 5,000 (14:24.58). That comes off his mile, 3k, 5k triple indoors.

Marielle Hall – The Texas senior only ran one event but it’s amazing that she somehow could win a BCS conference 1,500 by 7.21 seconds. We probably should be ripping the rest of the Big 12 instead of praising Hall as the winning time was a modest 4:20.82. The conference has 14 women who have broken 4:25 this year but none came close to Hall.

More: NCAA Conference Action *MB: ERIN FINN – BIG TEN RECORD 10K *MB: Kennedy Kithuka lapped the entire men’s 10k field 9 laps into the race, wins by 1:39 *SHELBY MF HOULIHAN, takes down AISLING CUFFE in Pac 12 5k *Eric Jenkins pac10 5k *MB: He’s not done yet: Lawi Lalang 3:36.34 over Cheserek 3:36.50 at Pac 12s!!

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

Going to the dentist isn’t always too bad as Willis ran a big 5,000 PR last week in Oxy.

Quote Of The Week II (that wasn’t quote of the day) Becomes – We’re Now Jumping Experts

“If I turned up to an Olympic final and the same sort of scenario came about what would I do? Would I just say because of some grainy footage of someone taking a picture from behind you, you don’t want to be involved anymore? There’s always going to be people talking about things when you do well.”

Greg Rutherford talking about the controversy that has erupted since he jumped what will be a new British record of 8.51 if it is ratified.

The jump, which came in front of a handful of people at the US Olympic Training center in Chula Vista, CA, isn’t a record in our books. Take the so-called grainy video combined that with the fact that a “plasticine indicator” board wasn’t used and we don’t even know why this is a controversy.

Up until now, we haven’t considered ourselves to be long jump experts, but we do know how to read. IAAF Rule 184 clearly states you need to use a “Plasticine indicator board” and that wasn’t used:

3. Immediately beyond the take-off line there shall be placed a plasticine indicator board for the assistance of the Judges.
5. The plasticine indicator board shall consist of a rigid board, 0.10m± 0.002m wide and 1.22m ± 0.01m long made of wood or any other suitable material and shall be painted in a contrasting colour to the take-off board. Where possible, the plasticine should be of a third contrasting colour. …

Since Rutherford dismisses the evidence against the jump being legal by calling the video grainy. How about a still shot. Here is the money shot from the video – the point of no return – the take-off:

Greg Rutherford takes off. Looks like a foul to us. Greg Rutherford takes off. Looks like a foul to us.

Rutherford’s comments came before last weekend’s Great City Games Manchester where he did beat rival Chris Tomlinson, who has been one of those most vocal in leading the “it’s not a record” charge, 8.02 to 7.77. More: *Olympic Champion Rutherford Puts Record Fuss Behind Him *IAAF Rule Book.

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

9.77 Is Still Fast, Wind Or No Wind

“Wind or no wind, you still have to set for the perfect race to end up running the times you get. In an outdoor environment, you’re going to get wind-aided times, but you still have to be the type of person to go out there and run it.”

“I’ve looked up records of Tyson Gay and Usain Bolt running 9-lows with 6-point wind, 7-point wind, so anything’s possible.”

– Baylor freshman Trayvon Bromell talking to after running a windy 9.77 (4.2 m/s) at the Big 12 championships in Lubbock over the weekend.

Correcting for wind and slight altitude thanks to one of our favorite web pages on the Internet, Bromell’s mark still would have been a stellar 9.94, something he’s clearly capable of as he’s already run a legal 10.01 this year.

In terms of wind-aided performances, this one has a long way to go to catch up with some others run in Texas.

Back in 1978, in Dallas, Oklahoma’s William Snoddy ran a 9.87 thanks to a tailwind of 11.2 m/s. LRC’s JK, a Dallas native, was at that meet.

Snoddy was no slouch. He’d go on to get second at NCAAs that year in the 200 in 20.28 but that much wind helped him by more than a quarter of a second, as with zero wind it’s a 10.14.

We found an old Track and Field news thread on Snoddy’s race and some are speculating the wind reading was made up as 25 mph is 11.2 m/s. With winds that high, the wind gauge may not record that high or might be blown over so people might just say “Put down whatever 25 mph is.”

For the record, 4.2 m/s is just under 10 mph (9.5 mph), which at head and chest level normally corresponds to weather reports of 16-20 mph when taken 10 meters above ground.

More: MB: Trayvon Bromell goes 9.77 windy at Big 12s!!! *Who is William Snoddy?

Courtney Okolo Sets NCAA 400m Record: Is She the Best 400m Runner on Her Team? (+ Bad Track Sports Publicity Part III)

In the fall after seeing regular instances of how sports information staffers didn’t even know how the scoring in a college cross-country meet worked, we promised to semi-regularly highlight bad track and field coverage on the college SID fron. For fairness, sake we started off by picking on the sports info department of Yale – the alma mater of co-founder Weldon Johnson (Wejo) (example here, another critique of other schools here). This week, we direct our ire at another school close to Wejo’s heart – the school he ran for in his fifth year – the University of Texas.

In case you weren’t paying attention to the college conference action last weekend, Bromell wasn’t the only one to run super-fast at Big 12s. On the women’s side at Big 12s, Texas sophomore Courtney Okolo broke the collegiate record in the women’s 400 by running 50.03 – just missing the hallowed 50.00 barrier.  In the prelims the day before, she broke the 50.82 school record of Olympic gold medallist Sanya Richards-Ross by running 50.76.

You think those two feats would garner huge publicity – at least in the official press release put out by the school.


After the prelims, Okolo’s breaking of an Olympic gold medallist’s school record garnered attention in just the 9th paragraph of the release and was covered as follows.

“Courtney Okolo, who entered the meet with the top time nationally this season in the 400 meters (51.36 seconds), improved that mark by cruising home in a Big 12 meet-record 50.76 during the prelim.”

Her collegiate record in the final only warranted mention in paragraph eight, and nothing in the headline.

“Morolake Akinosun won both the 100 and 200 meters and fellow sophomore Courtney Okolo not only set a meet record in the 400 for the second-straight day, but also eclipsed the collegiate markGet Acrobat Reader with a blazing time of the 50.03 seconds. Monique Henderson of UCLA held the record of 50.10 since the 2005 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Okolo’s time is also first on the 2014 IAAF World performance list.”

Since the University of Texas didn’t do it, we’ll give Okolo the headlines she deserves:

Longhorns Poised For Conference Title, Courtney Okolo Breaks School Record Of Olympic Gold Medalist Sanya Richards-Ross

Longhorns Win, Courtney Okolo Sets Collegiate Record Of 50.03 In Women’s 400

We don’t even need to do that. We gave her a headline on LetsRun before the meet was even over: LRC Courtney Okolo, Texas Sophomore, Sets New NCAA 400 Record Of 50.03 At Big 12 Meet.

Congratulations Courtney.

The crazy thing is Courtney may not be the best 400m runner on her team. Okolo’s Texas teammate is Ashley Spencer, the 2012 400m World Junior Champion, formerly of the University of Illinois, who transferred to Texas this year to follow her coach, former hurdle star Tonja Buford-Bailey, who took a job at Texas.

Okolo has never beaten Spencer in her life. They’ve only raced once this year at 400m and it was very close 51.54 to 51.56 at Big 12 indoors. Spencer ran the 100 and 200 at Big 12s, so the match-up with Okolo was avoided. Likely they’ll both run the 400 at NCAA outdoors this year.

Photo of the Week: Nick Arciniaga’s Spider Man Singlet

We haven’t mentioned anything about one of America’s craziest road races Bay to Breakers which was last weekend. LRC’s 1.1 ran the race and his recap of the festivities/craziness is here. Bay to Breakers is known for what runners wear and don’t wear (some run naked).

American Pro Nick Arciniaga has a new Under Armour contract and got some publicity running in a Spider Man outfit.

That is our Photo of the Week.

Nick Arciniaga’s Spider Man Singlet

Rumor has it the famed LRC singlet ame out of retirement and made an appearance too.

More: LRC Nick Arciniaga Enjoying New Sponsor Under Armour; Says Yuki Kawauchi Is One Of His Heroes, Talks About Racing In A Spider-Man Singlet Arciniaga thanks to Under Armour had a very cool singlet.
LRC The LRC Singlet Comes Out Of Retirement As Employee 1.1 Represents
LRC Sara Hall Talks About The Difficult Bay To Breakers Course, Her Busy 2014 Racing Season and A Fall Marathon Debut
LRC Kenya’s Geoffrey Kenisi And Iowa’s Diane Nukuri-Johnson (Burundi) Get The Wins As Sara Hall (2nd) And Ben Bruce (7th) Are Top Americans Nukuri-Johnson recovered quickly from a 12th place showing in London to hold off Sara Hall.

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

Who Should Be The Next Coach at Washington State?

“If we’re going to specialize, where are we going to do it?

When we’ve had success in the past, it’s been in the distances and the throws. Can we still go head-to-head with Oregon, Stanford and Arizona in the distances? The question I’ll have is, ‘What is your recipe for success?'”

– Washington State Athletic Director Bill Moos talking to John Blanchette of the Spokesman-Review about the questions he has as he tries to find a replacement for long-time coach Rick Sloan.

The Cougars used to be a throwing powerhouse but now haven’t won a throws event at conference in 14 years. They also used to be a Kenyan distance powerhouse but clearly aren’t that any more either. So what direction do they go in?

We loved the article by Blanchette as it was full of honesty. Star freshman CJ Allen, who won the PAC-12 400 hurdles last week, summed it up best when he said, “I like this program. It fits me – nose to the grindstone, work your ass off. But as much as I love Pullman, it’s hard to get high-level recruits. I had recruiting trips set up to Arkansas and Florida, big-name track schools, and I canceled them all. But a lot of people don’t give it a chance.”

Are you new to Let us share a secret with you. Annually, one of the most popular threads on is a thread discussing the job openings in the collegiate track and field ranks. Get caught up on the openings, gossip: 2014 Open College Track And Field Coaching Positions Discussion.

More: Columnist: Who takes over at Washington St. and what do they focus on? Rick Sloan is out after 20+ years. Wayne Phipps and former Coug decathlete Rodney Zuyderwyk are possibilities.

Quote Of The Week V

You Know You’ve Got The Race In The Bag When Your Coach Doesn’t Bother To Give You A Race Plan

“(My coach) normally gives me a race plan at the last minute. But he was just kind of, ‘Go from the front, go from the back – you can do it 100 different ways.'”

– Oregon’s Laura Roesler talking to Ken Goe about the PAC-12 women’s 800. Roesler has more than 2+ seconds on the next woman in the NCAA (and PAC-12) and won her conference title by 1.43 seconds in 2:05.77 after a HUGE negative split. For the record, she was in fourth of six at 400 and went with 300 left.

More: Oregon Rules The PAC-12 Track & Field Championships – Again

Stat Of The Week I

9.30 seconds – difference in time between Roesler’s second and first lap at PAC-12s.

She went out in 67.54 and came home in 58.24

More: PAC-12 800 Splits

Other News Of Note

With Shanghai and Oxy, a few road races slipped through the cracks. The biggest was the very lucrative TCS World 10-K in Banglore, India. The race had a ton of prize money, at least $160,000. In this year’s race, world half champ Geoffrey Kamworor obliterated the field by 40 seconds and Zerseney Tadese‘s 27:51 course record to win $28,500 in 27:44. Lucy Kabuu won $28,500 with a new course record on the women’s side as well (31:48).

Top five results appear below courtesy of Race Results Weekly. RRW rarely lets anything slip through the cracks.

MEN (gun times) –
1. Geoffrey Kamworor, KEN         27:44 CR* $21,000 + 7,500*
2. Joshua Cheptegei, UGA          28:24      15,000
3. Kinde Atanaw, ETH              28:35       9,000
4. Thomas Ayeko, TAN              28:47       5,000
5. Vincent Chepkok, KEN           28:54       4,000

WOMEN (gun times) –
1. Lucy Kabuu, KEN                31:46 CR* $21,000 + 7,500*
2. Joyce Chepkirui, KEN           31:54      15,000
3. Linet Masai, KEN               32:27       9,000
4. Guteni Shone, ETH              32:41       5,000
5. Helah Kiprop, KEN              33:19       4,000

Just as in America, where there often is prize money only for Americans, this race had prize money for citizens of India in similar fashion. A woman won $3,400+ for running a 37:22 10k. The top Indian male got the same amount for running  30:26.

We want to regularly feature the slowest times that pick up the most money. So if you see a race with big prize money for a slow time, email us These might be the winners for the year.

Other news of note:

Former Sub-4 HSer Tim Danielson Convicted Of Murder Danielson tried to get off by saying he had temporarily gone insane due to an anti-smoking drug called Chantix.
*MB: Former HS Sub-4er Tim Danielson: Guilty of Murder – Faces 50 to life

Boulder-Based Dutch Distance Runner Adrienne Herzog Provisionally Suspended After Testing Positive For Testosterone

Bupa Great Run: London Winner K Bekele Blows Wison Kipsang’s Doors Off In Final 500, T. Dibaba Wins In 31:09

Results: Duane Solomon (1:44.79) Beats Vazquez, Abda, Jock, Loxsom, Torrence, Wieczorek – Gabriele Grunewald Wins The 3k
*Recap: LaShawn Merritt Runs World-Leading 44.14; Ibarguen Wins 13th Straight TJ With 14.87m

Recommended Reads

Good Interview From Spikes Mag With Eunice Sum: Did You Know Before She Was World 800 Champion She Was A Heptathlete?

Renato Canova Says Moses Mosop Faces Long Rebuilding Process Built On Speed 

Recommended By Craig Virgin: 13-Year Old 800 Runner Stops And Carries Her Twin Sister To The Finish Line The one sister fell to the ground in pain and the other carried her on her back for the rest of the race (last 350m). *Video Interview With Twins

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 5/19

– Lawi Lalang talking after he went wire-to-wire to win a sensational men’s 1,500 at the PAC-12 Championships. Oregon’s Edward Cheserek sat right behind Lalang the entire race and  pulled even with him on the homestretch, but Lalang held him off as both ran 3:36 with no rabbits. Lalang wasn’t done as he came back and won the 5k for good measure as well. *Message Board Discussion

Sunday 5/18:

– Dying words of the father of Martin Fagan, according to Fagan. Fagan, an EPO cheat and former Providence Friar, is on the comeback trail, still claiming he only used EPO, which has a tiny detection window, once.

Friday 05/16:

Thursday 05/15:

– World 800 champion Eunice Sum talking about the start to her distance running career back in 2009. Originally she was a heptathlete, but 2007 World 800 champ Janeth Jepkosgei saw potential in her after watching her run the heptathlon 800 in 2:27 (she must have had a great eye) at the end of a meet in Kenya.

Tuesday 5/13:

Questions? Comments? Email us.

Want More? Join The Supporters Club Today
Support independent journalism and get:
  • Exclusive Access to VIP Supporters Club Content
  • Bonus Podcasts Every Friday
  • Free Shirt (Annual Subscribers)
  • Exclusive Discounts
  • Enhanced Message Boards