Week in Review: Ben True, Hassan Mead, Adam Goucher and The Payton Jordan 5000m, Molly Huddle’s 30:47, Aisling Cuffe, Elise Cranny, and Brannon Kidder

by LetsRun.com
May 7, 2014

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

Questions? Comments? Email us.

This week we break the fast men’s 5000 at Stanford in detail before moving on to a beauty contest where we wonder how does Ben Saarel stack up against Dathan Ritzenhein, ponder if Ben True and Hassan Mead might be better than Galen Rupp, and favorably compare Aisling Cuffe to Molly Huddle and Erin Finn to Huddle and Abbey D’Agostino. Plus a Sean McGorty/Galen Rupp comparison, don’t forget Brannon Kidder and a whole lot more.

Well Done US 5000 Men

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On July 22, 2006, Adam Goucher ran 13:10.00 on a humid night in Heusden, Belgium. At the time, he was just the fourth US man to run 13:10.00 or faster as the all-time list stood as follows:

12:58.21 Bob Kennedy (Nike) 08/14/96
12:59.29 Bernard Lagat (Nike) 09/04/05

13:01.15 Sydney Maree (Puma) 07/27/85
13:10.00 Adam Goucher (Nike) 07/22/06

Three days after that run, Goucher would drop down to #5 all-time in the US as Matt Tegenkamp ran 13:04.90 in Stockholm, but as recently as 2009, Goucher was still #6 all-time in the US.

Guess where 13:10.00 would stand on the 2014 yearly list for 2014 after one outdoor meet in 2014? 6th.

Five US men ran under 13:10.00 at the time trial that is known at the 2014 Payton Jordan Invite last week in California:

  1 Ben True                     Saucony               13:02.74
  2 Hassan Mead                  Nike Otc Elite        13:02.80
  3 Lopez Lomong                 Nike                  13:07.95
  4 Chris Derrick                Nike                  13:08.18
  5 Evan Jager                   Nike                  13:08.63

US distance running just keeps on getting deeper and deeper.

What do we have to say about the 5000m race at Stanford that we didn’t already mention in our race analysis – LRC Ben True And Hassan Mead Go 13:02 As The Top 5 Break 13:10 ?

A few things.

1. (We hate to say it but) This doesn’t mean a slew of new US men are going to break 13:00.00 later this year.

Many of you and many of the runners are probably thinking, ‘Wow, I (or those guys) ran so fast and it’s my first real race of the outdoor season. I’m (Those guys are) going to run so much faster later in the year.”

That’s not how it often works.

People need to remember a few things.

a) Stanford is run under ideal conditions – both weather, pacing and competition wise. Stanford really isn’t a race until the last 200 meters. Up until then, it’s a time trial where everything is about as perfect as it can be.

The weather almost always features zero wind. The pacing by Dan Huling this year was perfect. He rabbited this puppy very evenly for 3400 meters.  In a DL meet, the pace often starts off much faster. Guys at Stanford are there for one thing and one thing only – to run fast. Thus mid-race surges and other energy wasting things are kept to a minimum.

b) Speed work is vastly overrated.

Last year, only four of ten men who ran the Payton Jordan 5000 ended the year with a PB faster than what they put up at Stanford.

2013 Stanford Finish Faster Time in 2013 Improvement
1   Ben True    13:14.44
2   Evan Jager  13:14.60
3   Diego Estrada   13:15.33
4   Leonard Korir   13:15.45
5   Hassan Mead 13:15.50
6   Dan Huling  13:18.42
7   Eric Jenkins    13:18.57
8   Garrett Heath   13:20.01
9   Samuel Chelanga 13:20.07
10  Zane Robertson  13:21.15




Ben True and Hassan Mead Battled for the Win (Click for photo gallery) Ben True and Hassan Mead Battled for the Win (Click for photo gallery)

2) The messageboard chatter talk about Ben True (Ben True’s Improvement is Suspicious) and Hassan Mead (How does a second tier US runner become a 13:02.80 performer? ) being second rate talents, who have come out of nowhere and improved a lot – perhaps too much –  to run 13:02 is nonsense.

American society is very much a top heavy society. Whether in business, sports, politics, etc, everything is focused largely on the very top. Given the fact that True and Mead weren’t contending for NCAA titles while in college, they didn’t get a lot of press/fan attention. That doesn’t mean they weren’t big-time talents in high school.

As LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson pointed out on the messageboard (here for Truehere for Mead), both True and Mead were high school stars. Mead, who was born in Somalia, was 4th at the 2006 Foot Locker high school championships despite being lightly trained. True, who was a big cross country skiier, was fifth at the Foot Locker high school championships in 2003 – just seconds behind Galen Rupp despite being a part-time runner.

Mead’s performance was the bigger surprise than True’s but both had 13:11 prs coming in.

Comparing them to Rupp as youngsters is a good way to think of it which brings us to the following:

Stat Of The Week I

Galen Rupp’s 5000 PR at age 19 – 13:37
Hassan Mead’s 5000 PR at age 19 – 13:28

Galen Rupp’s 1500 PR at age 21 – 3:43.97
Ben True’s 1500 Pr at age 21 – 3:40.17.

Not winning an NCAA track title in college isn’t the end of the world. Lots of fast guys never won one on the track. Dathan Ritzenhein, Matt Tegenkamp etc. One stat that always has amazed us looking back is the fact that neither Bernard Lagat nor Nick Willis ever won an NCAA title in the 1500 and both are Olympic silver medallists in the event.

More: Messageboard Talk: Ben True’s Improvement is Suspicious *How does a second tier US runner become a 13:02.80 performer? *LRC Ben True And Hassan Mead Go 13:02 As The Top 5 Break 13:10 ?

Fast Teens

Speaking of running 13:37 at age 13:37 at age 19. Stanford frosh Sean McGorty, who just turned 19 in March, ran 13:37 in the B heat of Stanford last week. McGorty, the 2013 Foot Locker runner-up, won the US junior xc crown by a ridiculous 42-seconds.

With the 13:37 McGorty took the scalp by 11 seconds of Colorado freshman Ben Saarel. Prior to Stanford last week, Saarel got high praise from Colorado coach Mark Wetmore, who pointed out (in a quote that was our QOD on Saturday) that Saarel has already accomplished things as a frosh that past CU greats like Dathan Ritzenhein, Adam Goucher and Jorge Torres didn’t achieve, namely run 3:41 for 1500.

Considering LetsRun.com has been leading the “Saarel is a special talent” bandwagon for a year now, and we like Wetmore believe natural speed is crucial to success on the world stage, you think we’d be thrilled by Wetmore’s quote.

We were, but back in the day, we were leading the Ritz bandwagon (we predicted he’d be the first white man under 27:00). Thus we thought of Ritz’s perfect response to Wetmore’s remarks.

“But Saarel didn’t run 13:27 as a frosh either.”

Stat of The Week II
PRS as Freshmen at CU

Dathan Riztenhein: 3:42.99/13:27.77 
Ben Saarel: 3:41.54/13:48.97

More: Anyone Notice Sean McGorty’s 13:37 11 seconds faster than Saarel *Saarel’s Pace In All Things Hits Warp Speed

The women’s 5000 meters at Stanford also produced some performances of note. Pros Katie Mackey and Laura Thweatt both dropped their PRs from 15:22 to 15:04 as Mackey ran 15:04.74 and Thweatt 15:04.98 to get themselves within range of the 15:00 barrier.

We’re going to focus on the collegiate marks however.

PRS at 5000
Aisling Cuffe – 15:11.13
Abbey D’Agostino – 15:11.35

2010 Foot Locker champ Aisling Cuffe, who was the NCAA runnerup indoors in the 5k, had a massive day as she lowered her pb from 15:53.95 to 15:11.13 to move to #3 all-time in the NCAA. As dominant as Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino has been, it may be a surprise for many to realize that D’Agostino’s pb is now slower than Cuffe’s. Cuffe is a also a young junior. She’s got a September birthday and is a 20-year old junior. She easily could still be a sophomore.

Lauren Fleshman poses with Aisling Cuffe and Jessica Tonn After Cuffe broke Fleshman's school record Aisling Cuffe (left) and Lauren Fleshman

Now before everyone hands the outdoor NCAA title to Cuffe, please realize that while D’Agostino only ran 15:30 in a losing effort at Mt. Sac, there is a reason why she’s won five NCAA titles. She’s very, very good. While 15:30 probably wasn’t what she wanted at Mt. Sac, it must be pointed out that the person who won Mt. Sac by just 0.56 ahead of D’Agostino, Meraf Bahta of Sweden, was also at Stanford. Bahta’s time at Stanford? 14:59.49.

Michigan freshman Erin Finn also ran great at Stanford as she ran 15:26.08 for 5000 at age 19. The American junior record belongs to Molly Huddle at 15:36.95 but Finn’s isn’t an American junior record as she turns 20 on November 19. Had she been born 43 days later, she’d have smashed Huddle’s American junior record.

Finn put herself in some good company. As a 19 year old, she’s significantly faster than both Huddle and D’Agostino were at that age.

Stat of The Week III
5000 Prs At Age 19

Erin Finn – 15:26.08
Molly Huddle – 15:32.55
Abbey D’Agostino 15:40.69

To be fair to D’Agostino, it should be pointed out that she ran 15:19.98 at the 2012 Olympic Trials just a month past her 20th birthday.

More: Sifan Hassan Goes Sub-15 To Win As Katie Mackey Runs 15:04 – Stanford’s Aisling Cuffe Is The 3rd Fastest Collegian Of All-Time *Aisling Freaking Cuffe Third Fastest Collegiate Ever – 15:11!!! *Erin Finn sets American Junior Record at the Payton Jordan Invite?!!!

picture of Kim Conley One 15:20 is Olympic quality, 2 is even better.
*2012 US Olympic Trials 5000 Race Recap Here

Molly Huddle Runs 30:47.59

And speaking of 15:19.98 – that ALMOST got D’Agostino onto the 2012 US Olympic team as shown by the photo on the right. Why are we reminding you of that? Because American Molly Huddle just ran a 30:47.59 10,000 last week at Stanford to move to #2 all time in US history. In case you are good at math, messageboard poster “7890” reminds you that’s basically 15:20 back to back: MB: You guys realize huddle just ran 15:20…then ran another 15:20?


Huddle is now the 50th fastest women at 10,000 in history. To help put that in perspective, here are the 50th fastest performers in a few other events.

Women’s 5000: 14:42
Women’s Marathon: 2:22:09
Men’s 5000: 12:55
Men’s 10,000: 27:01
Men’s Marathon: 2:05:42

More: *LRC Molly Huddle Is #2 All-Time Fastest American At 30:47; Sally Kipyego Gets The Win In 30:42


1500 Action of Note

In the men’s 1500 at Stanford, the Brooks Beasts Riley Masters picked up the biggest win of his pro career in 3:38.42 over Olympic finalist Henrik Ingebrigstsen as Penn State’s Brannon Kidder broke PSU’s 27-year old school record to grab third in 3:38.82. 3:38.82 is pretty darn fast for a college sophomore and puts Kidder within striking distance of some recent fine American 1500 runners.

1500 PRs at Age 20
Matthew Centrowitz – 3:36.92
Leo Manzano – 3:37.13
Andrew Wheating – 3:38.60
Brannon Kidder – 3:38.82

Elise Cranny 4:10.95 1500!! – 

The women’s 1500 was won by Oiselle’s Kate Grace in 4:07.35, but the big story of the race was 17-year old Elise Cranny of Colorado running 4:10.95 – the #2 US HS Mark and a big improvement over her 4:15.07 pb from last year.

140504 CRANNY Elise2 SA Elise Cranny runs 4:10 (click for photo gallery)

If it wasn’t for Mary Cain (Cranny and Cain are the same age, Cain, who turned 18 on Saturday,  is 5 days older), the Stanford bound Cranny would be getting a ton of hype right now along with NXN winner Alexa Efraimson, who ran 9:00 for 3k this winter.

The lack of intense hype for Cranny (and Efraimson) may be a good thing in the long run. Cranny gets to avoid the intense glare of the media while being incredibly good and gets a free Stanford education in the process.

Now that’ we’ve said that can we hype up the mile race between Cranny and Efraimson that will take place in New York in the adidas HS Girls Dream Mile at the 2014 adidas Grand Prix on June 14th.

(disclosure: the adidas GP is an advertiser on LetsRun.com, but has no editorial say on what we write)

More: LRC Elise Cranny’s #2 All-Time 4:10.95 High School 1,500 Highlights *Elise Cranny and Alexa Efraimson To Clash in HS Girls Dream Mile at 2014 adidas GP in NYC


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

[raw][/raw]Considering, we just spent a ton of time analyzing the fast times run at Stanford, our first quote of the week is a bit ironic as the quote wonders if track and field would be better off it times weren’t as important.

Making it more ironic is the fact that the quote comes from Roger Bannister – who celebrated the 60th anniversary of the world’s first sub-4 mile on Tuesday.

“I sometimes think that we would be better off without stop-watches.…. The important thing would be the struggle of one man against another for supremacy’….

‘Records should be the servants not the masters of the athlete, preparing him for a forthcoming encounter with a respected opponent. They should not be an end in themselves (my italics)’.”

Both quotes comes from Bannisters’s Book, The Four Minute Mile, but we saw them after reading a column by Pat Butcher.

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

“Twenty six years ago I still had dark hair and scheduled my business appointments manually in a Day-Timer Agenda. I dictated letters to a secretary who typed them on her IBM Selectric typewriter. My company had just purchased their first Fax machines.

In 2040 I hope to be alive and driving everyone around me crazy. I will be 97 years old, hopefully continent, and still a passionate fan of this sport. In 2040 the Federation will still be paying for the lack of judgment of its current leadership.”

Doug Logan talking to Speedendurance.com about USATF extending its sponsorship deal with Nike through the year 2040.

More: Former USATF CEO Doug Logan Harshly Crticizes USATF’s 26-Year Deal With Nike “Twenty six years ago I still had dark hair … My company had just purchased their first Fax machines. … In 2040 the Federation will still be paying for the lack of judgment of its current leadership.”
*Agent And Attorney David Greifinger Writing For Track And Field News About How Bad A Deal USATF Got With Nike “Is there a scenario where USATF comes out ahead? Yes, if we encounter severe deflation never experienced in our nation’s history or if track & field falls off the Olympic map. Otherwise Nike wins big or Nike wins huge. … Nike negotiated as a visionary while USATF negotiated from a bunker. Bet on Nike.”

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

“When I did see Wilson (Chebet), I knew, if Meb can concentrate, he’s got the four victims’ names written on his bib, those four angels are going to carry him to the finish. The crowd was amazing. My bet was on Meb at that point. But it wasn’t until that very last 100 meters, that excitement was pouring out of me. Oh my gosh. He’s got this, he’s going to win. When he started pumping his fist, that’s when we all exhaled and began to celebrate his victory on the sidelines.”

Yordanos Asgedom,wife of Meb Keflezighi, talking to Runner’s World about his Boston Win.

More: How Meb Met His Match – Yordanos Asgedom, Meb’s wife, describes her 

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

“It’s not the least bit unusual for someone to hit the wall after they’ve run 14:29 from 35K to 40K. Even Kenyans crack when they run too fast. If they didn’t, the marathon world record would be under two hours.”

– Former Boston Marathon winner, Amby Burfoot, writing in Runner’s World trying to dispel some of the conspiracy theorists who for some reason believe the 2014 Boston Marathon was fixed to have Meb Keflezighi win because Chebet got within 6 seconds of Meb but then faltered.

More:  Give Meb Keflezighi Credit For a Brilliant Boston Marathon

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

 He finishes practices, takes his shoes off and goes to the library…..He’s intense in practice, intense about his school work. I’d like to find a way for him to get a 3.999 (GPA) and relax a little, gear it down a little more.”

– Colorado coach Mark Wetmore talking about super frosh Ben Saarel in a great article by B.G. Brooks on CUBuffs.com.

More: Brooks: Saarel’s Pace In All Things Hits Warp Speed

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

“I’ve been trying to break 13.20 for 5 years. I’m now sitting in my hotel room showered and fed with a smile. When it rains it pours. 13:11.50”

– Tweet from Brit Andy Vernon (@AndyVernonGB) after a big pb at Stanford.

It’s worth noting that the British 5k list is very similar to the US 5000 list from 2006 as Vernon is now tied with Tim Hutchings at #6 all-time now.

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

“An Olympic year isn’t the best time for new world records as everyone dreams about medals which creates a form of mental fatigue and athletes lose energy.

“On the contrary, two years before Olympic Games is a very good time to open all potential athletes and to achieve the maximum,”

– Respected Russian high jump coach Yevgeniy Zagorulko talking to European-athletics.org about why he thinks Javier Sotomayor’s world record will fall in 2014, not 2016.

More: Coach Zagorulko predicts high jump world record

Recommended Reads

DQGate Gets Interesting: Gabriele Grunewald DQ Footage From US Indoor Women’s 3,000 Mistakenly Leaked By USATF

Brooks: Saarel’s Pace In All Things Hits Warp Speed

How Meb Met His Match – Yordanos Asgedom, Meb’s wife, describes her 

Wall Street Journal Looks At Meb’s Win And The LRC Thread “The Boston Marathon Was Fixed” 

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 5/5

– Ben True after being asked if this was a career-defining moment, running 13:02.76 at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational to become the 9th-fastest American of all time.

Sunday 5/4:

Friday 05/2:

– Former USATF CEO Doug Logan harshly criticizing USATF’s 26-year “half billion dollar” deal with Nike.
*2nd Article In Track And Field News Explaining What A Bad Deal USATF Got

Thursday 05/1:

– Andrew Bumbalough talking about the fact that in the 67 days since he was DQed at USA Indoors in a case of mistaken identity, no one from USATF has contacted him to address the issue. USATF has written that the report from their “working group” will come out in June. It shouldn’t take 4 months for them to admit they made a mistake.

Wednesday 4/30:

– Canada’s defending half marathon champion Krista DuChene talking about how she finished this year’s race running with a fractured femur for the final 500m when an undiagnosed stress fracture turned into a full break. She was in first before breaking her leg and after limping to the finish line still managed third.

Tuesday 4/29:

– Paula Radcliffe tweeting about Russia’s Liliya Shobukhova getting a 2-year doping ban after she was caught by the biological passport. Shobukhova’s results since October 2009 have been annulled, including her win at London, three wins at Chicago and her 2:18:20 PR and she’ll have to pay back the prize money she won at London/Chicago. *MB: down goes liliya shobukhova

Questions? Comments? Email us.

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