Week That Was: Thou Shall Not Skip USAs, Medals For Emma And Evan, And Thou Shall Not Compare Matt Llano To Ryan Hall
This week we wonder if there is a skip USAs jinx, marvel at some amazing field eventers, get ready for World Juniors, tell the suits how to market our beloved sport better, praise a racewalker, dash the dreams of those who compare Matt Llano to Ryan Hall, and wonder why Nike seems to be embarrassed by the fact that elite runners are skinny.
The Week That Was In Running – June 30 – July 6, 2014
July 7, 2014
The big news last week were the Diamond League events in Paris and Lausanne. We recapped both meets extensively as they happened. If you were celebrating the July 4th holiday and missed our coverage, check it out for Paris and Lausanne. Here are a few more thoughts.
The Skip USAs Jinx
It’s more than understandable if some American track and field fans had a little schadenfreude with the fact that the two big-name distance runners that skipped USAs to get ready for Diamond League races last week – Matthew Centrowitz and Ben True – finished 7th and 11th respectively and failed to PR. Meanwhile, three runners that ran USAs – Emma Coburn, Jenny Simpson and Shannon Rowbury – all ran big PRs on the circuit last week.
Centrowitz and True are well within their rights to skip USAs (USATF needs to do more to incentivize athletes to run USAs or punish them if they don’t) and breaking 13:00 or 3:30 for 1500 is a career-defining accomplishment. Still, skipping USAs is not good for the sport.
What’s wrong with Hagos and Dejen?
With Mo Farah taking the early part of the DL circuit off (most recently pulling out of this weekend’s meet in Glasgow), many expected Ethiopians Dejen Gebremeskel and Hagos Gebrhiwet – the silver medallists behind Farah at 5000 in 2012 and 2013, respectively – to dominate. Far from it.
Gebrhiwet is headed in the wrong direction. Here are his 3 DL results so far this year at 5000:
13:06.88 – 3rd in Shanghai on May 18th
13:13.19 – 7th at Pre on May 31st
13:20.17 – 12th in Paris on July 5th
As for Gebremeskel, he’s strangely only run one 5000 on the circuit this year – a 13:09.73 seventh-place showing in Oslo on June 11th.
It hasn’t been a great year for last year’s 5000 bronze medallist Isiah Koech of Kenya, either. He’s only run 13:07.55.
If only 2014 was a Worlds year…
With as well as steeplers Evan Jager and Emma Coburn have been running this year and how poorly the rest of the world has been running, we keep thinking to ourselves, “If only this year was a Worlds year, they’d be certain to medal and might even get silver.”
There is one caveat to this thought. If it was a Worlds year, we imagine the rest of the world would be better in these two events. The Worlds motivation would likely inspire them to run better.
Notable Field Event Streaks
Last week, New Zealand’s Valerie Adams won her 51st straight shot put competition in Lausanne. (Only 49 more wins and she’ll be at 100!). But Adams isn’t the only field eventer to have an impressive win streak. Colombian triple jumper Caterine Ibarguen hasn’t lost in a long while, nor has pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie.
Valerie Adams – 51 wins in a row. Last loss was August 18, 2010.
Caterine Ibarguen – 16 in a row. Last loss was August 5, 2012.
Renaud Lavillenie – 17 in a row. Last loss was September 7, 2013.
Getting Ready for World Juniors
Later this month, the World Junior Championships will be held in Eugene. Last week, the US junior meet was held to select the US team and the Ethiopian team was announced.
After the Ethiopian team was announced, we got a text from an outraged agent saying the following:
“So the guy who won this year’s Dubai Marathon (Tsegaye Mekonnen Asefa 2:04:32) is running the World Junior 10,000?! That is a joke, fraudulent and is killing the sport … And no one seems to care! I’d wager that ALL Kenyan, Ethiopian, Ugandan, Qatari, etc MEN are WAY over age!”
We thought the text was certainly over the top. Age cheating in African countries is certainly common but we certainly don’t think it’s at a 100% level.
The text did get us to thinking about the studs that are eligible for world juniors this year. Imagine this lineup:
1500: Lausanne DL winner Ronald Kwemoi – The 18-year-old Kenyan may be undefeated at 1500 for his life, including a stunning 3:31.48 victory in Lausanne last week over world championship silver medallists Silas Kiplagat and Matthew Centrowitz.
10,000: 2:04:32 marathoner Tsegaye Mekonnen Asefa – The 18-year old pulled a shocker and won Dubai in 2:04:32 earlier this year.
That’s a pretty amazing lineup.
Note the two Kenyans, Biwott and Kwemoi, aren’t on the Kenyan team.
The agent’s text reminded us of a story Oklahoma State coach Dave Smith told us earlier this summer. He said when German Fernandez finished 11th at the World Cross junior race in Jordan in 2009 that an agent came up to him and said, “Congratulations on coaching the world champ.”
Dave was like, “What are you talking about? German was 11th.” The agent said, “I’m certain the 10 guys ahead of him are over-aged.”
We personally think these statements alleging 100% age cheating are bad for the sport as they aren’t accurate.
However, age cheating is, to us, much like PED usage 10 or 15 years ago. Far too many people know it goes on and just sort of ignore it as not being a big deal. It should be viewed as a big deal. Even if only 3 of the top 10 finishers are age cheats, it kills the whole point of having a junior competition.
Think of it this way. The US’s Grant Fisher is viewed as a big-time potential future star because he’s a 4:02 miler while being just in 11th grade. Fisher wasn’t even the US junior champ last week as Virginia Tech freshman Patrick Joseph (13th grade for our international visitors) got the win. The hype surrounding the two isn’t comparable – even though Fisher was second, far more people will talk about him than Joseph. Why? Because on Sunday, Fisher was 17 years and 75 days old and Joseph was 19 years and 186 days old.
A year or two in age is a huge deal at the junior level.
Do you know of age cheating or PED usage? Please email us or give us a call at 844-LETSRUN – and we’ll look into it.
Last week, it came out the Bank of America Chicago Marathon course record holder Dennis Kimetto won’t defend his crown as he wants to try to go for the world record in Berlin (hoping for 2:03 flat).
The Chicago news that caught our attention, however, was that Matt Llano, the only openly gay professional male distance runner we have ever known of, will make his marathon debut in Chicago. Llano was talking big as he said, “I wouldn’t put Ryan Hall’s American marathon debut record of 2:08:24 out of my reach.”
We would put it out of reach. There is no reason to think Llano will debut better than every other American.
We think it’s good for the sport that Llano is talking big as the sport is very top-heavy with all of the attention going to the very best. If you are not in the top tier, you need to do something interesting to get some publicity. Llano’s quote got our attention and got us to look up his PRs.
Llano certainly seems made for the marathon as his half-marathon pb of 61:47 is way better than his 10,000 (28:43) or 5,000 pbs (14:00). There are plenty of marathoners that are like Ryan Hall – better at the marathon than they are on the track – but that doesn’t make them Ryan Hall.
It needs to be remembered Hall is someone who is a marathoner but also ran 13:16.03 for 5000 and made the US World Championship team at 5000 the year he won NCAAs in the 5000 in 2005.
Speaking of fast US marathons, there’s a good chance that the 2:10:52 that Jeff Eggleston put up last week in Australia might end up being the second-fastest US clocking of the year behind Meb’s winning time from Boston.
More: Messageboard Discussion: Who is Matt Llano and why does he think he can run 2:08?
*MB: Jeffrey Eggleston 2:10:52 PR for 2nd at Gold Coas
Dennis Kimetto won’t defend his Chicago Marathon title – will go for World Record in Berlin He wants 2:03 flat and will be joined by Tsegaye Kebede.
*Matt Llano to debut at Bank of America Chicago Marathon – thinks 2:08 debut is possible The openly gay athlete is a great story but this quote is quite ambitious: “I wouldn’t put Ryan Hall’s American marathon debut record of 2:08:24 out of my reach.” MB: Who is Matt Llano and why does he think he can run 2:08?
Americans Win at Peachtree 2014/Races Need Stories To Sell
Last week, there were American winners for the first time since 1995 in America’s biggest road 10,000, the AJC Peachtree Road Race, which is annually held on America’s Independence Day (July 4) in Atlanta, as Amy Hastings and Christo Landry each picked up $15,000 for the wins.
Of course, the American winner thing was a foregone conclusion as the race went to American-only prize money for this year. Given the fact that the race was going to serve as the US road championships for 2014, new Atlanta Track Club head Rich Kenah decided it made no sense to have both American and international prize money. Selling the story of “the eighth-place finisher is the US champ and made more than the second-place finisher” (which is what happened last year on the women’s side) is a hard one for the public and media to comprehend.
Next year, the race will focus on being the best international road 10k on the planet. This year, it focused on being the best American road championships.
We think the move was a smart one. Meets/races need a storyline that is easy to explain to the public. Having a US championship within an international race is confusing. Maybe Peachtree should alternate – even years are US champs, odd years are international races.
We wish marathons would do stuff like that. Even years, Chicago has rabbits. Odd years, they don’t.
One of the reasons why running isn’t as popular as the team sports like soccer is that one needs to understand the story of a race to really appreciate it. If you walk by a TV that is muted and a World Cup game is on, everyone can instantly understand what is going on by simply checking the score and clock.
That’s not true in running. Without context, you simply see people running in a circle. At a basic level, you need to know how many laps the race is, whether it’s a prelim or a final, etc.
One of the reasons why we spend so much time previewing events at LetsRun.com is so you, the fan, will know what is going on in each race and fully be able to appreciate it. The anticipation of the race and the story behind it are often times almost as important as the actual race result itself.
Don’t believe us? Well think of it this way.
At the Pre Classic this year, 15 men ran faster than 3:53.50, with the last being Evan Jager at 3:53.33.
Did Evan Jager get on the David Letterman show?
No, of course not. But in 2001, when Alan Webb was fifth and ran 3:53.43, it was one of the biggest track stories in decades because he’d run that fast while in high school.
Races need stories to tell.
One last thing about Peachtree, they did mess up one thing badly. Some of the elites, including one (Joey Nunes) who paid close to $1000 to race Peachtree, were forced to start a minute behind the very top elites. Totally unacceptable. Thankfully, the race has admitted they were in the wrong and made a mistake. Comping Nunes’ travel would be something we’d recommend they do to make amends.
More: MB: Peachtree: The USA Championships I Technically Never Ran
*Results **Photo Gallery
*Christo Landry And Amy Hastings Win 2014 AJC Peachtree Road Race & USA 10-K Titles
*New Atlanta Track Club Head Rich Kenah Leads American Revival, Patriotic Theme At Peachtree Road Race, But Race Won’t Be American Only Next Year
Quote of the Week
After writing above about how running/track and field must sell its storylines to the public beforehand, we came across a column by Paul Coover where he examines track and field’s struggle for popularity, Track is dead – for now (and that’s a good thing). He 100% agrees that one of track’s problems is the story behind the competition has to be told. As he wrote:
“The mere presence of beer can’t change the fact that great track races are nuanced dances decided by subtle moves that seem either invisible or obvious to untrained fans. Live bands can’t make the beauty of a 5.80m jump look much different than 5.30m to fans new to the pole vault.”
We loved Paul’s column. Go read it now.
Stat of the Week I
17 – number of dopers coached by Russian race walk coach Viktor Chegin (16 walkers and one marathoner).
The awareness of that amazingly high number has risen over the last few weeks thanks to the online protestations of 3-time Olympic walk medallist Jared Tallent of Australia. To say the least, LetsRun.com has never been a big fan of the race walk, but we are big fans of Tallent for being so passionate about the PED fight.
More: Talent’s website: jarredtallent..com *Russian walk coach Viktor Chegin allegedly has coached 16 different dopers Australian walker Jared Tallent has started a petition to get him banned. Here’s a list of the dopers.
Stat of the Week II
3.23 seconds – margin of victory of Duane Solomon at the Edmonton Track Classic.
And to think we were amazed last week when he won by 1.67 seconds at USAs.
1. Duane Solomon, 1984, USA, 1:44.92 MR*
2. Felix Kitur, 1987, KEN, 1:48.15
3. Anthony Romaniw, 1991, CAN, 1:48.92
4. Charles Jock, 1989, USA, 1:49.22
5. Casimir Loxsom, 1991, USA, 1:49.52
6. Nate Brannen, 1982, CAN, 1:50.25
7. Tyler Smith, 1994, Alberta, 1:50.96
8. Tayrone Reyes, 1990, DOM, 1:53.13
9. Shaquille Dill, 1993, BDA, 1:54.18
Geoff Harris, 1987, CAN, DNF
Matt Scherer, 1983, USA, DNF
Rafith Rodriguez, 1989, COL, DNS
*Meeting record; previous 1:47.47, Julius Mutekanga (UGA), 2012
More: Messageboard Discussion: 2014 Edmonton Track Classic: Solomon 1:44.92…but what happened to the rest of the field?? *Edmonton Track Classic Results
Photo of the Week
When distance runners are training at a truly elite level, it’s pretty amazing how thin they become. Most hard-core collegiate or pro runners have likely heard a comment from a family member or friend of, “Gosh, you are skinny. It’s kind of gross.”
Even Nike apparently thinks so.
A savvy messageboard visitor uncovered a Nike advertisement where it looks like all of the runners have been airbrushed to actually have fatter faces:More: MB: Nike think their athletes are too skinny
Track is dead – for now A great column on why track isn’t popular and what – if anything – should be done about it. Coover thinks it’s important for track and field not to be watered down for the hard-core fans.
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.
“I haven’t been in the high school circuit for a while. … The pros don’t talk to people. You kind of awkwardly sit in your corner. So everybody was talking before hand and I was like ‘I miss this.’ … I had so much fun running with Stephanie [Jenks]. One thing I love about high schoolers is they go for it. It’s not, ‘Oh, hey, let’s run a 6-minute mile,’ like I did. They jump in and they try and chase you. I had a really good time running like that.”
– Mary Cain talking about her experience racing with high schoolers again for the first time in 2-years at USATF Junior Championships this past weekend. Cain easily won the 3000 in 9:15.
“I’m lucky and overall grateful, but I don’t want to be defined by being someone who is back from a spinal cord injury more than by my accomplishments as an athlete, regardless of what I have been through. I want the story to be about an achievement, not a comeback. Winning a race is more important to me.”
– Lukas Verzbicas talking ahead of the June 29th ITU World Triathlon Series stop in Chicago. He ended up dropping out of the race, but despite dealing with lingering effects from his 2012 bike crash, he’s still shooting for Rio 2016. He also said, “I can’t be the same athlete I was. I have a whole new body to work with. But I do believe I can be a better athlete than I was.”
“I know her, but when I last saw her, she wasn’t this strong, so I thought she was pacing. … [Coburn] was gone. I wasn’t paying attention to her. I didn’t see her at all. Believe it or not, after I finished, I was looking for someone to hand me the [winner’s] bouquet.”
“I still didn’t know at that point! When I looked up ahead, [Coburn] was holding the bouquet and waving it. I said to Hiwot [Ayalew], ‘Wait – does that mean we’re second and third?!’ Hiwot was shocked. She couldn’t believe it. We’d thought we were first and second. I couldn’t believe it. I thought I’d won.”
– Ethiopia’s World steeplechase bronze medalist Sofia Assefa, talking about how she and the other top Africans in the Shanghai Diamond League meet back in May thought Emma Coburn was the rabbit and ended up giving her the win.
*LRC Emma Coburn Pulls A Meb: Gaps The Field Early, Runs PR And Stunningly Wins The Women’s Steeple In Shanghai
“All too often races don’t understand that it is their responsibility, our responsibility, to make sure the general public here in the host city have a chance to understand who the elites are. I’m excited that we’ll have almost 200,000 people as spectators who will hear that there are men and women racing for the U.S. Championships. They won’t have to look at the race this year and figure out, ‘OK, is that person American or are they a foreigner, and what race are they part of?’ They understand that this race is a US Championship event this year.”
– New Atlanta Track Club head and 1997 World Championships bronze medalist at 800, Rich Kenah, talking about the changes he made to 2014 AJC Peachtree Road Race. Next year, Kenah will attempt to bring the World’s best to Peachtree.
*MB: Peachtree 10k – Predict MCDOUGAL’s time! (McDougal ran 29:41)
“It’s really fun, and it’s the best job in the world. At the end of the day, it’s just running. It’s putting one foot in front of the other, and that’s what’s cool about it. … I feel really blessed to be able to get to continue to do this and at such a high level.”
– Jordan Hasay talking to the the local paper about her career as a pro runner.
– Indiana HS state champ and 1:50 man, Daniel Kuhn, talking to David Woods about the amount of training he did this year. A full-time baseball player, Kuhn simply showed up at the meet and destroyed the competition.
Discuss Kuhn’s talent on the messageboard: MB: Sports Gene: Indiana HSer Daniel Kuhn runs 1:50 and wins state on absolutely ZERO training.
“Earlier in the season, things weren’t going well and, if it didn’t go well today, I knew it was done. I would have had to seriously review my situation. You could say I was running for my career. I was running for everything. I wanted to still compete this year, I was running for the opportunity to compete.”
– Dwain Chambers talking after he won his 5th straight British 100 title at 36 years old. He came in ranked only 10th in the UK, but beat a field of much younger guys, including recent 9.96 man Chijindu Ujah, and talked about how he was thinking of retiring if he lost.
Questions? Comments? Email us.
- Dennis Kimetto ,
- Evan Jager ,
- Amy Hastings ,
- Ryan Hall ,
- Ben True ,
- Matthew Centrowitz ,
- Duane Solomon ,
- Hagos Gebrhiwet ,
- Grant Fisher ,
- Renaud Lavillenie ,
- Emma Coburn ,
- Tsegaye Mekonnen Asefa ,
- Dejen Gebremeskel ,
- Christo Landry ,
- Robert Biwott ,
- Matt LLano ,
- Ronald Kwemoi ,
- Caterine Ibarguen ,
- Patrick Joseph ,
- Valerie Adams