50 Years Waiting for American Gold (Get Used To It), The Men’s Marathon World Record Progression is Speeding Up, Proof Track Isn’t Popular in Eugene, Steve Scott’s Cancer Battle and Jerome Drayton’s Record Lives On
The Week That Was –October 13 – 19, 2014
October 22, 2014
Previous versions of the Week That Was can be found here.
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America Celebrates The 50th Anniversary of Its Lone 5,000 and 10,000 Olympic Golds – We Bet The Wait Is Even Longer Down the Road
Last week America celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 10,000 and 5,000 gold medals won by Billy Mills and Bob Schul at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. While Mills won in a huge upset and Schul was the favorite, the two golds are similar in the sense that both remain to this day the only golds ever won by an American in the 5,000 or 10,000.
The 5,000 and 10,000 were added to the Olympic schedule in 1912. So in 100 years, America has won a single gold in the 5,000 and 10,000.
That’s not very many. But guess what?
Having read Sports Gene, we bet in the next 100 years America wins even fewer than two. For most of the 100 years from 1912 to 2012, the Kenyans and Ethiopians weren’t big players in the Olympic distance movement.
Let us clarify our prediction a little bit as immigration is on the upswing. The LetsRun.com guarantee – fewer than two American gold medals will be won in the Olympic men’s 5,000/10,000 in the next 100 years by Americans who didn’t have at least one relative born in Africa after 1950.
We don’t always agree on everything here at LetsRun.com. Galen Rupp will likely be the #1-ranked 10,000m runner in the world for 2014. The idea he that wins gold in 2016 is not crazy. Over the next 100 years could there be another Galen Rupp born at altitude? Yes. We all do agree that the chances of an American winning gold from 1912-2012 is much higher than one winning from 2012-2112 because the sport is truly global now. For much of 1912-2012 it was not.
Video: “Look at Mills”
More: ESPN Takes A Look At Bob Schul’s Gold – 50 Years After The Fact – And His Amazing 1964 Track Season Schul is still the only American to ever win Olympic 5,000 gold.
*RW On The 50th Anniversary Of Billy Mills’ Amazing Olympic 10K Win RW shares “six things you probably didn’t know about Mills and his race.” Some interesting stuff.
*Good In-Depth Q&A With Mills “The fiftieth anniversary is a sacred moment for my wife and me, because it was a gift.”
Eugene 2019 – Give Them An A for Effort
We gotta give the people behind the Eugene 2019 World Championship bid an ‘A’ for effort. Look at the banner that was unveiled in the ‘student section’ of the Oregon football game last weekend.
— Craig Pintens (@UOPintens) October 19, 2014
We at LRC are somewhat indifferent to the Worlds being in Eugene. Eugene is too small a city to host Worlds. If the Worlds go to Eugene, presumably that means Nike bought it and pumped even more money into the sport which is a good thing. (Nike benefits the most if Worlds are in Eugene). The Worlds in Eugene will definitely be good for track in the USA, but it won’t move the needle that much. Hell, the 2019 Worlds TV rights in the US have already been sold to LRC partner Universal Sports, a TV station that most people in the USA sadly don’t get unless they have a special sports tier (click here to make sure you get Universal Sports). Presumably there is a provision in the IAAF contract that mandates some coverage on NBC as well though. TV execs in the US weren’t clamoring for Worlds in 2019. (What if 5 years ago some exec thought outside of the box and gave away the Diamond League rights to ESPN for free and thought of it as a marketing expense? Might the sport get more coverage in the US?).
Sorry, But We’ve Got Proof Running Isn’t Super Popular, Even In Eugene
The banner effort deserves praise. While there is no chance a banner that slick was the idea of actual students, it got track some good publicity.
Regardless, we’ve got proof that track and field/running isn’t really all that popular in Eugene (we’ve long maintained football is way more popular in Oregon).
Below is the sports section of the Eugene Register-Guard website at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday. Unless we’re missing something, on the day the #2 Oregon men’s cross country team had raced #1 Colorado in a regular-season matchup, there seem to have been exactly zero words on it on the RG website about it – but there was no way you’d miss the second-quarter score of the Washington-Oregon football game.
Nike/Eugene fanboys and girls, calm down, there is no reason to get upset. It’s not a big spectator sport in Kenya or really all that popular in Europe either. No biggie. Horse racing isn’t regularly a huge sport in Kentucky either but the Kentucky Derby is still an amazing event.
Stat of the Week I/2:10 Isn’t What it Used To Be
3 – performances in history that were faster than 2:10:09 when Jerome Drayton of Canada ran that time for the Canadian record in Fukuoka in 1975.
More: Laban Korir (2:08:15) & Mulu Seboka (2:23:14) Win 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon
*Eric Gillis seeks to break 39-year Canadian record at Scotiabank marathon (Gillis went out on pace in 1:04:48 and ended up in 2:11:21)
7 Quotes of the Week (that weren’t quote of the day)
I – “I had told the press that I was going to win the gold medal. Some people said that was cocky and I said, ‘Well, what should I tell them, I was going to lose the race?’ I was extremely confident.”
– Bob Schul talking to ESPN.
II – “If I went the surgery (or radiation) route, I wouldn’t be able to get an erection without a shot in my penis. And I’d have to wear diapers most of the time. Needless to say, I was pretty distraught.”
– former American mile record holder Steve Scott talking to Competitor about his current battle with cancer, which is going well. He went with proton radiation, rather than traditional radiation or surgery, to protect his manhood.
III – “There is no way you can be lazy in training and still hope to become a champion like other championships. It is all about hard training and discipline. It is also about setting goals and focusing on them. I myself had been admiring Tegla Lorupe and Paul Tergat running in my younger days and had always wanted to be like them one day,”
– 2:18:37 marathoner Mary Keitany, who will be returning the marathon in New York next week for the first time since the 2012 Olympics due to maternity leave, talking to RunBlogRun.
IV – “We know if we get people back into the cemetery, they’re going to be amazed at its beauty. Then, hopefully, they’ll think of us when time comes.”
– Bob Manning of the Springdale (Ill.) Cemetery Management Authority talking to the Peoria Journal Star about why the cemetery has started hosting road races on its grounds.
V – “I am yet to win any major titles besides the worlds hence my intention to enter the London Marathon. I need to do something major again since I am heading towards my sunset period,”
– two-time world champ and 2012 Olympic silver medallist Abel Kirui talking before last week’s Amsterdam Marathon, where he hoped to break the 2:05:42 course record. Instead, the 32-year-old ran 2:09:45 and was sixth.
VI – “People grossly underestimate the psychological component of what he did and what he had to live up to in the running world. That just wears on you. If he didn’t go out and give an incredible performance and set a record or win by an exorbitant margin, it was deemed a failure.”
– Jonathan Marcus, friend of Alan Webb, talking to the NY Times about why Webb may be better off in the triathlon.
VII – “For a long time we lost the plot with training. We learned a lot about recovery, regeneration and refueling and sometimes there’s a certain mindset that thinks you can overcompensate with that stuff, to avoid this stuff (running)”.
“But nothing beats being out there. You’ve just got to do the miles.”
– Dave Scott-Thomas, coach of Eric Gillis, talking TheStar.com about how there is no substitute for high-mileage training for a marathoner.
More: Eric Gillis seeks to break 39-year Canadian record at Scotiabank marathon (Gillis went out on pace in 1:04:48 and ended up in 2:11:21)
Stat of The Week II/ More Proof That Life’s Not Fair
2:09:53 – time put up last week by Vitaliy Shafar to win $4,000 at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (Shafar was 5th).
2:24:54 – time put up last week by Michael Andersen to win $4,000 at the Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon (Anderson was the race winner).
Video of the Week
D-II school Queens College did an interview with cross country runner (and LetsRun.com visitor) Andrew Nadler, who was recently named their athlete of the week.
Nadler certainly didn’t just give your normal boring, say-nothing response.
Check out his response to what he thought about the race where he set a PB, finished top 10 and was named athlete of the week.
It’s a bold move for a 16:30 5000 runner to refer himself in the third person and by his own nickname of “Nasty Nadz” but we gotta admit we loved it.
Here was his response in case you didn’t watch it: “Come November 8th, I will enter a world of pain and suffering but keep in my mind that Nasty Nadz is simply cut from a different cloth. Listen, I have a higher pain tolerance than the average man. I was born for this. It’s what I do and pain and suffering is the only thing I know.”
More: MB discussion: Best Interview of the 2014 season!
Good Week/Bad Week
Back in the day, a regular staple of the Week That Was was us regularly handing out thumbs up and thumbs down. This week, we’ll bring back a modified version of it. Those who had a good week and those that had a bad week.
It was a bad week for:
- Jeff Demps – The four-time NCAA sprint champion (he won the 60 in 2010, ’11 and ’12, and the 100 in 2010) was released from the practice squad of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL (this week is already better for Demps as the Colts signed him to their practice squad). Worried about concussions, the NFL moved the kickoff line from the 30- to 35-yard line in 2011 and kickers now routinely kick the ball out of the end zone. Thus the speedster Demps is a football player without a position, as he excelled at kickoff returns. 80.2% of NFL kicks were returned in 2010. Last year, just 48% of kicks were returned (we think it’s even lower – low-40s this year). In track and field, he may be a guy without a position as well. Demps’ non-wind-aided PR of 10.01 dates from 2008 – when he was still in HS (he has run a windy 9.96 since then). 10.01 for 100m isn’t going to cut it in the US as a sprinter – except for relay duty (Demps ran the rounds of the 2012 Olympics and got a silver medal as a result). In track and field, he seems best-suited to the 60m – where he won 3 NCAA titles – but that’s only run indoors, there isn’t a lot of money in it and it’s impossible for Demps to be in shape indoors when he’s trying to play in the NFL. So he’s a track and football guy without a position. We do have a proposal that could save Demps’ NFL career. We think it’s absurd there are so few kickoff returns. The NFL should move the kickoffs back to the 30 so there will be returns. Kickoffs are a key part of football – at a minimum they should move it back for the playoffs. If concussions are the worry, use the increased TV money to add 3-4 guys to the roster to play special teams. You could make the return men and gunners sit out every other kickoff. As for Demps on the track this year, he didn’t run track. He ran track in 2012 (in the NFL, he was on injured reserve and missed the season with the Patriots) and in 2013 (played in 2 games with the Bucs).
- Patrick Makau, the former world record holder in the marathon who is on the comeback trail, had a disappointing half marathon finish last week. Makau, who hasn’t finished a marathon since April 2013 when he ran London, finished 23rd at the Valencia Half Marathon (Medio Maratón Ciudad de Valencia) last week in 64:48 – definitely a significant step back from the 27:57 10k he ran at Beach to Beacon in early August.
- Isaiah Kiplagat – The man who has ruled Athletics Kenya since 1992 saw 41 of 61 delegates sign a petition asking for his removal. One delegate summed things up perfectly by saying, “Good leaders prepare for their exit in smooth transition. It is not good to die in office.” In related matters, Kip Keino said last week that the Olympic movement is upset that Kenya doesn’t seem too concerned with its recent surge in doping positives whereas Jamaica has taken “decisive tests” to deal with its doping problems. More: Kip Keino Says WADA Is “Disappointed With Kenya’s Handling Of Doping” *40 Of 61 Athletics Kenya Delegates Sign Petition To Remove Isaiah Kiplagat From Office *AK Head Kiplagat Answers Critics Saying He Will Not Rule For Life
- Justin Gatlin – Not only did the world’s most dominant sprinter not make the final 3 for IAAF’s Athlete of the Year award, but he also had to shut down his social media accounts after an hacker allegedly logged into his account and tweeted the following at a fan who gave him the middle finger, “Your mom gives the best b*** j*** too. She’s awesome. U can call me daddy like she does.” Does anyone actually believe he was hacked?
It was a good week for:
Norway’s Vegard Olstad. The 3:43 1500 runner, who attends Oklahoma State, is the one who made the initial tweet trying to rile up Gatlin – mission accomplished. On second thought, the more we think about it, if you are just a 3:43 runner at Oklahoma State, it may not be the best of ideas to be stirring up a ruckus. At most schools a 3:43 guy would be untouchable, but Dave Smith had 5 sub-4 minute milers indoors in 2013. More: MB: Justin Gatlin abuses SCRAWNY runner on Instagram!
- Kota Murayama – The 21-year-old Japanese collegian ran 58:26 to win at the Yosenkai 20k- the world’s deepest 20k – to get the fastest-ever Japanese win. Perhaps as impressive as the time is the way he did it – by front running. His bold style of running won rave reviews from Brett Larner of Japan Running News:
“And what was most notable was the way Murayama did (it), taking a huge risk in a critically important race, fearlessly attacking the best Kenyan on the college circuit and having the faith in himself to go it alone with none of the usual sit-behind-whatever-foreigner-is-in-the-race-and-try-to-hang-on Japanese mentality, the polar opposite of the kind of running seen from Japan’s top pros around the world this fall in Berlin, Chicago, the Great North Run, Philadelphia and elsewhere. “
Murayama has a lot of potential as he’s got more speed than your average Japanese elite – he ran 3:39 for 1500 this spring.
One more thing about the race. 136 Japanese collegiates broke 62:00 for 20k in the race. 62:00 is equivalent to roughly 29:20 for 10,000. And the race is for the ‘second-tier’ schools in Japan as it’s a qualifying race for the 20-school Hakone Ekiden that 10 teams are exempt from each year.
- Nick Symmonds – We all knew his book was coming out this week. What we didn’t know was he was going to come out with a new caffeinated gum company – Run Gum. Caffeine is a proven performance enhancer and we always took a double shot of espresso before we raced. We did that as we didn’t want all of the volume of liquid associated with coffee. Run Gum takes that a step further and is easier to get than coffee or espresso as it’s portable and doesn’t spill. A college kid can’t always get the coach to have the bus driver pull over at a Starbucks and Starbucks can’t always be found (LRC’s Wejo was interviewed in by the NY Times about caffeine in 2009). More: Nick Symmonds Announces The Launch Of Run Gum *Discuss
- LetsRun.com – Whenever someone with the scientific background and common sense of Ross Tucker of The Science of Sport blog agrees with you, you know you’ve had a good week. Last week, Tucker said we are a long way off from a sub-2 hour marathon, which is exactly what LetsRun.com is on the record as saying as well. “Two hours will not be broken in the next 30 years,” wrote Tucker, who noted that by going off horse and greyhound data, a human “limit” exists at around 2:00:37 (But he points out if that’s the limit and there is .5% error in it then sub-2 is possible). If that’s true, then it must have been a bad week for Haile Gebrselassie. Gebrselassie, who made a very lucrative career out of defying what many thought was humanly possible (he was the first human under 12:50 and 12:40 in the 5000, 26:50, 26:40 and 26:30 in the 10,000, and the first man under 2:04:30 and 2:04:00 in the marathon) said last week that he thinks we will see a sub-2 hour marathon, perhaps very soon. “I think we can reach a 2-hour marathon sooner than we expect. Maybe in ten years,” said Haile Gebrselassie to the Times of India. When we read that, we instantly thought, “No chance. In the last 15 years, the world record has come down just 2:45 (Khalid Khannouchi ran 2:05:42 in Chicago in 1999). The lower records get, the harder it should be to break and thus the world record progression should slow down as we move forward.” And then we looked at the stats. Maybe Gebrselassie knows something we don’t know.Would you believe that the progression of the world record has been speeding up? Check out how much the world record improved in the men’s marathon from 1969 to 1984, from 1984 to 1999 and from 1999 to 2014.
Stat of the Week III
Men’s Marathon World Record Progression In 15-Year Increments
1969 – 1984: 0:29 (Derek Clayton ran 2:08:34 in 1969, Steve Jones ran 2:08:05 in 1984)
1984 – 1999: 2:23 (Khannouchi ran 2:05:43 in 1999)
1999 – 2014: 2:45 (Kimetto ran 2:02:57)
For the record, in case you are wondering, the men’s marathon record in 1954 was just 2:17:40 by Jim Peters.
The best thing we read all week was certain this article: For Former AR Holder And World #1 in High Jump, Tyke Peacock, It’s Been A Long Road Back From Drug Addiction And Prison. It was well-written and told a great story of how Peacock has battled back from a drug addiction, which was so bad he purposely bombed out in the 1984 Olympic Trials as he knew he’d fail a test for cocaine.
Science Of Sport’s Ross Tucker Agrees With LetsRun.com: “Two hours will not be broken in the next 30 years.” We don’t even have any scientific training – we just know distance running – but it’s nice to have the support of a scientific genius.
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 run twice a day when I can and do whatever Jonesy tells me to do on a daily basis. I don’t wear a watch. Jonesy blows the whistle, and I run hard and then he blows the whistle to tell me when to stop. I just run hard. I don’t even know how many reps I am doing.”
– American Brent Vaughn, talking about his training under the tutelage of former WR holder Steve Jones. Vaughn, a father of two and the Colorado school record holder at 5,000 at 13:18 (not Goucher, Torres or Ritz) , seems happier now while he’s juggling fatherhood, running and managing his own roofing business – Faraday Construction – rather than just running and worrying about dollar signs.
– Jonathan Hall – performance leader for USA Triathlon – talking in a Sunday New York Times feature on Alan Webb‘s transition to the triathlon.
– Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel talking in his final arguments at the sentencing of Oscar Pistorius, which will be announced on Tuesday.
– 2:10:55 Canadian marathoner Reid Coolsaet talking about the difficulty of getting absolute perfect conditions on race day for marathon record chasing. The article is about Canadian Eric Gillis going for the 2:10:09 NR this weekend at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, but the quote is originally from Coolsaet’s post-London blog post here.
“It has been two long years. … I have now to focus on this new challenge ahead and the biggest rival will be myself. My training has been going on very well. I have also had a chance to compete and test my body, but this will be the first major hurdle in my program to return to the top of marathon running.”
– Kenya’s 2:18:37 woman Mary Keitany talking about making her return to the marathon in just over 2 weeks at the 2014 New York City Marathon. Keitany took time away from the sport to have a baby and this will be her first full marathon since the 2012 Olympics, where she was fourth.
“I work during working days eight hours every day. It is difficult to combine training with my work. I train at 6am and 6pm and in between I work all day. It’s not easy, but I just love running. I will run my whole life. While running, I organise my life and my businesses.”
– Haile Gebrselassie talking about how he has the time to train at the level he does and also manage his businesses. Geb also talked about the sub-2 hour marathon and is even going to a conference on it this December in Newcastle, UK. He thinks we could see one in 10 years.
“In later interviews [Billy Mills] has been consistent about that belief, calling it ‘self-hypnosis,’ and saying, ‘I put in my journal that I must believe I can run with the best in the world and beat them in Tokyo.’
On the athletes’ bus to the stadium he sat next to an Eastern European long jumper, who asked, ‘Who’s going to win your 10,000 race: Clarke, Halberg or Bolotnikov?’ ‘I will,’ the unknown American told her. That ended the conversation.”
– Excerpt from Runners World article celebrating the 50th anniversary of Billy Mills‘ 1964 Olympic 10,000m victory. Mills is still the only American to have won the Olympic 10,000. For a great in-depth interview with Mills,go here.
Questions? Comments? Email us.