Asbel Kiprop Makes Statement with Convincing Win in Emsley Carr Mile

August 24, 2014

Asbel Kiprop hadn’t won a Diamond League 1500/mile since the season-opener in Doha on May 9, but there was no doubt about who was best on this day. Kiprop turned on the jets over the final 100 meters to pull away for the win in the Emsley Carr Mile in 3:51.89 at the Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix. Though his margin of victory was only .18 seconds, Kiprop let up at the end and could have won by more if he was going all out. World leader Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti was second in 3:52.07 and Kenyan Vincent Kibet was a surprising third in his Diamond League debut in 3:52.15.

In the battle for US supremacy, American champ Leo Manzano had the better last 300 to beat Matthew Centrowitz as Manzano was 8th in 3:53.05 and Centrowitz ninth in 3:53.46.

Kiprop had plenty of time to celebrate Kiprop had plenty of time to celebrate

The Race

This one featured a huge field of 15 runners plus two rabbits, but instead of getting out with the rabbits early and creating space to run, the field bunched up. The rabbits passed 400 in 56.4 with a small gap on the field and by 600, Ethiopian-born German Homiyu Tesfaye was the only man with the rabbits as he led Souleiman and Kiprop by about seven meters.

The first rabbit hit 800 in 1:53.46 with Tesfaye a few meters behind; Tesfaye’s lead had grown to 10 meters over the rest of the field, still led by Souleiman and Kiprop (Kiprop passed 800 in approximately 1:55.6).

By the bell, Tesfaye’s lead had shrunk and places 2-4 (Souleiman, World Indoor silver medallist Aman Wote and Kiprop) were all very close. Nixon Chepseba was behind them with Kibet a stride behind him; those two bridged the gap of a few meters between places 2-4 and the chase pack, led by Leo Manzano and Matt Centrowitz.

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Souleiman and Wote went around Tesfaye on the first turn of the final lap, with Kiprop, Chepseba and Wote quickly following on the back stretch. With 200 to go, Souleiman still led, perfect positioning for a man who likes to run from the front. Wote and Kibet swung wide in an attempt to pass, but Souleiman held his position. Kiprop waited on the inside of lane one in fourth, while Manzano and Centrowitz were a few strides behind.

Kiprop was unstoppable once he turned on the jets Kiprop was unstoppable once he turned on the jets

As they entered the home stretch, Kiprop swung wide and once he began to accelerate with about 80 meters to go, it was game over. Kiprop opened up his long stride and within a few seconds he was in the lead and threatening to pull away. His lead never got to be that big, but with 15 meters to go, Kiprop looked to his left, saw Souleiman laboring and knew it was in the bag. He looked back several times before the finish line and started to ease up but was already moving so quickly that the rest of the field was powerless to resist. Souleiman and Kibet held on for second and third while a hard-charging James Magut, the 2014 Commonwealth Games champ, sprinted it in for fourth. Manzano and Centrowitz could not close hard enough over the final 100 and had to settle for eighth and ninth, respectively.

We had Kiprop’s last lap in 55.4 — 28.7 for the first 200 and 26.7 for the last 200 (though he let up at the end).

Race video for USA Visitors:

Discuss this race in our fan forum: 2014 Emsley Carr Men’s Mile – Kiprop wins, Manzano over Centro

Results1 KIPROP Asbel KEN 03:51.89 MR 11 2
2 SOULEIMAN Ayanleh DJI 03:52.07 9 3
3 KIBET Vincent KEN 03:52.15 1 6
4 MAGUT James Kiplagat KEN 03:52.20 1 6
5 WOTE Aman ETH 03:52.34
6 CHEBOI Collins KEN 03:52.61
7 INGEBRIGTSEN Henrik NOR 03:52.79
8 MANZANO Leonel USA 03:53.05
9 CENTROWITZ Matthew USA 03:53.46
10 KIPLAGAT Silas KEN 03:53.52 12 1
11 HEATH Garrett USA 03:54.10
12 CHEPSEBA Nixon Kiplimo KEN 03:54.92
13 CRONJE Johan RSA 03:55.62
14 GRICE Charlie GBR 03:58.06
15 TESFAYE Homiyu GER 04:01.51 1 6
ROTICH Andrew Kiptoo KEN DNF
Intermediate times:
400m ROTICH, Andrew Kiptoo (KEN) 56.40
800m ROTICH, Andrew Kiptoo (KEN) 1:53.46
1200m TESFAYE, Homiyu (GER) 2:54.70

Quick Take #1: Has Asbel Kiprop secretly been the best in the world the last two months?

Kiprop’s last two races weren’t dominant (he ran 3:28.45 for second in Monaco behind Silas Kiplagat and was second to Souleiman in the African Championships last week) and even today his .18 margin of victory doesn’t seem that impressive. However, this is a perfect example of why it’s important to actually watch races rather than just look at results as Kiprop is still a total stud.

In Monaco, he ran the third-fastest time of the last 10 years even though he led much of the race; if the roles had been reversed and Kiplagat had gone for the WR and Kiprop was the one running down Kiplagat, there’s a REAL good chance Kiprop would have won the race and broken 3:28. Instead, Kiprop’s focus on the world record ended up costing him the win.

At the African Championships, Kiprop lost to Souleiman by .09 but he actually closed faster because he started his kick from further back before almost nipping Souleiman at the line. And today, Kiprop was clearly way better than everyone else and would have won by more had he not let up well before the line. Once you take everything into account, it seems that Kiprop has actually been the world’s best 1500/mile runner over the last two months in terms of fitness, even if the results don’t show it.

Quick Take #2: Kiprop is very difficult to beat when he gets his tactics right.

Souleiman and Kiplagat are both great runners, but Kiprop has the highest ceiling of the three. In the past, tactics have cost him in big races (he failed to medal at Worlds in 2009 when he entered as the favorite) but he’s gotten better at it recently, winning WC gold in 2011 and 2013. Kiprop’s strategy today was perfect as he was near the lead — but not leading — in the final lap and easily found space to accelerate off the final turn. The pace wasn’t even that fast, which means that this ran closer to a championship final than a normal DL race. If Kiprop is close to the lead with room to move in the final 100, he’s very, very hard to beat and he showed that today.

The field was spread out early The field was spread out early

Quick Take #3: Did leading hurt Souleiman?

Souleiman likes to lead and it’s worked for him at the past — notably at World Indoors, where he won gold — but it’s a risky strategy in the 1500. Souleiman didn’t actually have the lead until the final lap, but because the rabbits and Tesfaye broke away, Souleiman was the de facto leader and had to do the work of leading the main pack back to the leaders. When you add in that there was a slight breeze, leading may have dented Souleiman’s chances for the win. We can’t really say that he should have run differently though, as he still got second and no one was beating Kiprop today.

Quick Take #4: Who is Vincent Kibet?

Kibet was third today against a very good field but little was known about him prior to the race. We said above this was Kibet’s Diamond League debut, which technically isn’t true if you count the Glasgow 1500 (which he rabbited). But this was the first Diamond League race that the 23-year-old Kenyan has finished and he hung on impressively over the final 200, losing only to studs Kiprop and Souleiman.

Kibet had some decent accomplishments coming in: he ran 1:46.71 to win an 800 in the UK last week (the same one where Centrowitz finished last in 1:51) and had run 3:34.09 for 1500 earlier this year. It’s a testament to the depth of Kenyan running that guys like Kibet can step in and finish third in their first DL race, which would be a great race for established U.S. stars like Centrowitz and Manzano.

Just making sure Just making sure

Quick Take #5: Sorry, Silas.

After we heaped praise on Silas Kiplagat in our race preview, we may have jinxed Kiplagat as he was never in it today and only finished 10th. Kiplagat is usually very consistent so expect him to bounce back in the DL finale in Brussels.

Quick Take #6: Not what the Americans were looking for.

Both Manzano and Centrowitz wanted to break 3:50 but once the field bunched up early, it was clear that a sub-3:50 clocking was not in the cards. They competed well but couldn’t close well enough over the final 200 to pass many runners. Probably not what they wanted going in, but the victory for Manzano likely will help him earn the USA #1 ranking for the year however.

Quick Take #7: Were we the only ones who enjoyed this race a lot more than many of the faster DL races where the guys go with the rabbit?

Track and field’s obsession with rabbits is not great for the sport. Here, the slower pace was more fun to watch. The Americans were within striking distance on the backstretch, tactics mattered,etc.

Discuss this race and this topic in our fan forum: 2014 Emsley Carr Men’s Mile – Kiprop wins, Manzano over Centro.

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