Week That Was: New York, New York, Rita Jeptoo Tests Positive, Can We Go Back To College, And More

We take one final look at the 2014 TCS NYC Marathon, Rita Jeptoo‘s positive “A” sample, ponder whether Phoebe Wright, Andrew Wheating and many pros might want to go back to college, and why high school marathoners should go to college.

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By LetsRun.com
November 5, 2014

The big story of the week on the roads was the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon, which came down to sprint finish victories by Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany. We were onsite in New York and you can find extensive coverage of NY in our special NYC Marathon section. Or if you just want men’s analysis click here, women here. We do touch on New York a little more below.

The other big meets of the weekend were the NCAA cross country conference meets. We break them all down in this article: OK State Shows Its Cards, Iowa State Women Impress, And Are The Team Races Over? 10 Thoughts On NCAA XC Conference Champs

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

Questions? Comments? Email us.

A Few More Thoughts On New York

With camera troubles, ESPN2 somehow managed to almost entirely miss covering the fantastic duel between Wilson Kipsang and Lelisa Desisa at the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon. Their coverage of the men’s race was almost non-existent the final 10k until the finish. Toni Reavis, who was commentating for ESPN2 in the lead motorcycle, has a nice writeup on his blog on the race so you can get a blow by blow of the final 10k.

We thought we’d try to put it in perspective for you.

The battle between to the two was spectacular. Consider this:

23:16 – that’s the 5-mile split that Wilson Kipsang ran between miles 21 and 26 to capture the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon. He then kicked it in at 62-second 400 pace.

From mile 21 to the finish, it took him just 24:13 to get home – that’s 2:01:40 marathon pace or 28:50 10k pace. Not too shabby. Yes, we know the wind was behind him, but please appreciate how great he was coming home.

The final 5+ miles of the New York City Marathon are hilly. There’s a roughly 60 foot elevation gain between miles 21 and 24. All-together, that’s got to slow you down at least 10 seconds. Very impressive.

Kenya’s male marathoners are doing pretty well right now. Check out how Kipsang, Eliud Kipchoge and Dennis Kimetto have done since the start of 2013.

  Wilson Kipsang Dennis Kimetto Eliud Kipchoge
Fall 2014 2:10:59 1st NYC 2:02:57 WR Berlin 2:04:11 1st Chicago
Spring 2014 2:04:29 CR London DNF Boston 2:05:00 1st Rotterdam
Fall 2014 2:03:23 WR Berlin 2:03:45 CR Chicago 2:04:05 2nd Berlin
Spring 2013 2:07:47 5th London 2:06:50 1st Tokyo 2:05:30 1st Hamburg
Kawauchi Leading New York

Kawauchi Leading New York


thumbsdownThumbs down to the New York Road Runners for reducing the prize money to the 11th- and 12th-place finishers in the men’s race by 50% for running slower than 2:16:30. Yuki Kawauchi of Japan (2:16:41, $750) and Lusapho April of South Africa (2:16:50, $500) deserve the money and $1,250 is simply the cost of five entries out of more than 50,000 for the NYRR.

Common sense would indicate that given the windy conditions, the NYRR would erase the time restrictions on the prize money. Kawauchi and April both finishing within six minutes of the greatest marathoner on the planet, Wilson Kipsang. There is NOTHING about their performances that merits a reduction, Kawauchi had the lead at miles 11 and 12 and stayed with the leaders through mile 17. April had the lead as late as mile 20. And the NYRR wants to reward them by cutting their prize money simply because the weather was horrendous for running fast? This is 2014 and world marathoning is as competitive as ever. The New York City Marathon should not reduce prize money for tough conditions.

Come on NYRR, do the right thing.

11. Yuki Kawauchi, 27, JPN             2:16:41       $750
12. Lusapho April, 32, RSA             2:16:50       $500


It’s worth pointing out that a new world record for most marathon finishers in a single race took place in New York on Sunday as a record 50,564 people finished the race (298 more finishers than in 2013). 50,869 people started the race, meaning an incredible 99.4% of the field finished the race.

Too Good to be True? - Rita Jeptoo smashed the course record in Boston by 1:46

Too Good to be True? – Rita Jeptoo smashed the course record in Boston by 1:46

Rita Jeptoo Tests Positive

Last week, the biggest news of all might have been that Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo, who in Chicago became the first person to ever cross the finish line first at four straight World Marathon Majors, had tested positive for EPO. Given she’s the best female marathoner on the planet right now and her connections to the some of the top training groups, agents and coaches in the world, doping busts don’t get any bigger than this.

Three quick thoughts.

1. Let’s wait for the facts to come out.

We don’t want to spend much time coming up with any key thoughts right now. Rushing to judgement and trying to make conclusions about a story where the facts aren’t known yet is just plain stupid. People need to wait for the B sample to be tested and for Jeptoo to make a statement.

2. If proven to be true, what happens to the $500,000 World Marathon Majors  first prize? Does it go to Edna Kiplagat or amazingly might Jeptoo still win it as a convicted doper?

Here’s a crazy thought. Let’s say Jeptoo gets convicted of doping for the test at the end of September that reportedly came back positive for EPO. That development would nullify her October 2014 Chicago win. But Jeptoo is on top of the World Marathon Majors leaderboard with 100 points. Take away 25 and she still has 75 points – 10 more than second-placer Edna Kiplagat.

Would the World Marathon Majors still have to award the $500,000 cash prize to Jeptoo? Talk about a public relations disaster if they gave it to her, but her three other WMM wins in 2013 and 2014 might not be nullified.

We imagine the WMM would balk and make Rita sue them for the money but it could become an interesting game of chess.

If you know of a WMM bylaw that would somehow let them off the hook, please email us (Here is an IAAF article from 2013 that talks about the WMM races having the right to suspend payment for athletes convicted of doping offenses but the article is focused on payments for a single marathon after a doping offense, not payments for a jackpot win accrued before a doping offense)..

3. We find the theory that the Internet is to blame for the seeming rise in doping to be an interesting one.

We’ve long supported the theory that the Internet has helped lead the improvement in American distance running. Coaches have no reason to not be well-informed and athletes instantly know how they compare to competitors across the country and globe. A 9:25 state champ from some rural state no longer thinks, “I’m the ****,” as all he has to do is get on Dyestat and see everyone ahead of him on the national list. Similarly, his coach no longer has to think, “Wow I’ve never had anyone remotely this good. How do I coach him?” as the coach can now get info from the top coaches across the globe with a few clicks.

But the Internet might have a downside. Jeptoo’s agent, Federico Rosa, told Competitor.com that he thought the Internet had led to there being more doping in Kenya over the last five-plus years. As Rosa said,

Why do you think doping has become so rampant in Kenya in the last five or six years?

“I think mainly communication is more easy, Internet, information getting by website or whatever and probably some have made it successfully and make some money and talk to others and get bigger and bigger and find out who they can go to. And I think like everywhere there’s more people, more use and it’s getting bigger.

More: Competitor Q&A With Rita Jeptoo’s Agent Federico Rosa Rosa was very blunt saying he “absolutely” thinks Kenya has a problem.

Quotes of the Week (that weren’t quote of the day)


“What’s the problem?” 

-Wilson Kipsang, recalling on his blog- http://www.wilson-kipsang.com/ –  what he said to Lelisa Desisa after contact was made between the two of them in the final 400 meters of the 2014 ING New York City Marathon. After the contact, Kipsang took off and got the victory.

MB: Kipsang to Desisa at the end of NYCM: “What’s the problem?”


“He is not an amateur who dreams of becoming an elite professional, but a once-elite professional who has finally learned to become an amateur.”

– Jeré Longman writing about former American 5,000 runner Bob Kennedy in the New York Times last week. Kennedy, who is less than five years older than Meb Keflezighi, used a 7:21 final mile to run 3:26:17 and edge Caroline Wozniacki (3:26:33) in New York. In 10 years of retirement, Kennedy gained nearly 60 pounds from his pro racing days. Now he’s using running to stay healthy and re-discover himself after a recent divorce. “This is, for me, finding myself again through running,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy wasn’t the only ex-pro to run NYC as an amateur last week. Former US Olympian and Dartmouth cross country coach Mark Coogan, who now coaches for New Balance, ran 2:55:11 at age 48. 1994 and 1995 New York champ German Silva ran 2:57:39 at age 46.

More: MB: *Bob Kennedy is back! Throws Down 7:21 Final Mile to Outkick Caroline Wozniacki
MB:*Bob Kennedy is back! Running NYC. Hoping to run…
MB: *How Would You Have Trained Caroline Wozniacki for the NYC Marathon?


“In this moment I really don’t want to have nothing to do with her (Rita Jeptoo). Twenty-five years of my life and 40 years of my father (Dr Gabriele Rosa), respect being publicly destroyed in the world.”

– Italian agent Federico Rosa talking to Competitor.com about his feelings towards his client Rita Jeptoo last week. 


“I can tell you it’s all bulls**t (the media reports about Asbel Kiprop).

“I’ve known the situation for years. This lady is crazy. She has gone to Asbel lying many times. They make a lot of problems. But of course anyone is free to report what they want to report.

“I know the story. I know the situation. I know it’s all rubbish and they have to prove it.”

– agent Federico Rosa, talking to Athletics Weekly, totally dismissing the reports from the week before last that Asbel Kiprop had threatened the life of former world youth 1500 champ Sammary Cherotich.


“(Airbnb) is not meant to be a replacement to hotels.

“It’s an alternative for runners.We see this as bringing the global running community together and we’re always looking for ways to get runners engaged. Airbnb is one of the leading communities, and the connectivity opportunity is amazing.”

Chris Weiller, a spokesman for the New York Road Runners, talking about marathon sponsor Airbnb which, according to state law, is technically illegal to use in most cases in New York unless the host is present.

To say that Airbnb isn’t meant to be a replacement for hotels is akin to saying steroids weren’t meant to be performance enhancers. The fact is that Airbnb is often a replacement for hotels, especially in New York, just as steroids are performance enhancers. Intentions are irrelevant.

Don’t get us wrong – Airbnb is a great service that benefits tourists and New York City residents. That’s exactly why the state needs to figure out a way to let it exist. LetsRun.com has used it in Eugene for NCAAs and Poland for World Indoors, looked into using it in NYC for the marathon (but found a better deal with a hotel) and Wejo has used it multiple times for longer vacations. We’ve also used “sharing economy” ride services Lyft and Uber. But let’s not kid ourselves, Uber and Lyft are often replacements for taxis, just as Airbnb is often a replacement for hotels. The  government needs to figure out away to let these “sharing economy” services exist with a level playing field versus hotels and taxis. The good thing is they are so popular that it will happen. But if you shelled out $900,000 for a taxi medallion in New York and were told that was the legal way to provide car services in New York, we can see why you’re not too happy with Uber.

Phoebe Wright at Prefontaine 2013

Phoebe Wright at Prefontaine 2013

Wouldn’t It Be Great If We All Could Go Back To College?

“Is college running better for a running career than professional running?

“In a lot of ways, for a lot of people, Yes, it is.”

– American 800 runner Phoebe Wright, blogging in great detail last week about the advantages of the NCAA collegiate system. Wright’s blog – http://phe800.blogspot.com/ – is the best in the business, by far.

We’ve long said the the NCAA system is vastly underrated, particularly for middle distance runners and sprinters. It gives people a ton of structure and a ton of meets. As a pro, a middle distance runner has nothing to do of real financial consequence from September 1 to May 1 each year. It’s also easy to put things off as a pro as if you feel a tiny discomfort, it’s easy to think, “I better skip this workout as I have to run fast as hell to do anything of consequence and I don’t need to be in top shape until August.” In college, you are forced to get in shape as the team needs you.

Wright ran her 1:58.22 800 pb during the summer of her last collegiate campaign (2010) and hasn’t broken 1:59.25 as a full-time pro. Similarly, that same year, 2010, Andrew Wheating ran 1:44.56 and 3:30.96 after his last NCAA meet. As a full-time pro, Wheating hasn’t come close to those marks as he’s only put up 1:45.95/3:34.39.

Now here’s a very interesting stat for you. Both Wright and Wheating ran their fastest times as full-time pros in their first seasons as a full-time pro. In fact, they’ve both had their outdoor prs get slower each and every year a pro.  Take a look at the numbers yourself. It’s pretty amazing how they’ve both gotten slower each and every year.

  Phoebe Wright
(Outdoor 800 SB)
Andrew Wheating
(Outdoor 800 SB)
Andrew Wheating
(Outdoor 1500 SB)
2010 (NCAA) 1:58.22 1:44.56 3:30.90
2011 (Yr 1 Pro) 1:59.25 1:45.95 3:34.39
2012 (Yr 2 Pro) 1:59.72 1:46.33 3:35.89
2013 (Yr 3 Pro) 2:00.20 1:46.63 3:37.03
2014 (Yr 4 Pro) 2:01.91 1:53.01 3:38.53

On a somewhat related note, there was a messageboard discussion last week entitled: Do you miss college?.

Stat of the Week I

$2,200 – amount of prize money that 17-year-old Alana Hadley won for winning the seventh annual Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in a course-record 2:38:24.
$250,000+ – amount that a full 4-year scholarship to an elite private university could be worth (not counting taxes). Factoring in taxes, it could be worth north of $400,000.

As you can tell, we think Hadley’s decision to turn professional last year was idiotic.

MB: *Alana Hadley wins Indy Monumental Marathon
Archive: *16 year old alana hadley turns professional

Stat of the Week II

10:30 – pace averaged per mile by the 24-person NBA team that ran the first-ever marathon relay in New York. It took the 24 runners, many of whom played in the NBA, 4:35:37 to finish the whole marathon.

Now, NBA fans (we personally aren’t big fans until the playoffs roll around), we aren’t including this stat to embarrass the NBA, but rather provide further proof that it’s not good to be tall if you want to be a great distance runner. It should also be noted that each leg ran alongside a kid from NYC, which may have slowed the times down.

More: Fastest Marathoners over six feet tall (1.83m or taller)
*Chris Solinsky Is The Tallest And Heaviest Sub-27 Man In History

The full list of members of the relay team is as follows:

Greg Anthony (NBA TV analyst), Tiny Archibald (Bronx native and NBA legend), Mike Breen (NBA on ABC broadcaster and MSG Network Knicks announcer), Amy Brooks (NBA Executive Vice President), Swin Cash (Three-time WNBA champion and Liberty forward), Jason Collins (Former Nets center),  Darryl Dawkins (Nets legend), Bob Delaney (NBA Vice President), Teresa Edwards (WNBA legend and Atlanta Dream assistant coach), Allan Houston (Knicks Assistant General Manager), Albert King (Brooklyn native and Nets legend), Bernard King (Brooklyn native and Knicks and Nets legend), Felipe Lopez (NBA Cares Ambassador and former St. John’s University star), Chris Mullin (Former St. John’s University star and Olympic gold medalist), Dikembe Mutombo (NBA Global Ambassador and Knicks and Nets legend (anchor-leg)), Charles Oakley (Knicks legend), Sam Perkins (Brooklyn native and NBA legend), Ruth Riley (Two-time WNBA champion), Adam Silver (NBA Commissioner (lead-off leg)), Katie Smith (two-time WNBA champion), Steve Smith (NBA TV analyst), Tad Smith (Madison Square Garden President and Chief Executive Officer), Mark Tatum (NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer), Brett Yormark (Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center CEO).

Passion Gets Rewarded

We mentioned this in the Ivy League cross country thread but know most of you didn’t read it. In 2013, we profiled Penn runner Conner Paez who was worried he’d lose his leg after a motorcycle accident in August of 2011 (Conner Paez: Meet LetsRun.com’s Inspirational/Blue Collar Runner Of The Week). In the spring of 2013, Paez returned to action and ran 4:19 and 4:15 for 1,500. Eighteen to nineteen months later, he is back at an elite level.

Passion goes a long way. He was a stellar 15th at the Ivy Champs last weekend.

More: 2014 HEPS cross country thread 
2013: Conner Paez: Meet LetsRun.com’s Inspirational/Blue Collar Runner Of The Week
2013: MB: Conner Paez – what is talent?

Not Good/Cross Country’s Jerry Sandusky Moment

Timothy “Timo” Sheard, a state title-winning cross country coach at Cedar Park HS in Texas was arrested last week on “three counts of indecency with a child by sexual contact — all second degree felonies.”

More: MB: Why did Cedar Park HS XC Coach Timo Sheard get placed on leave?

Other News Of Note

Recommended Reads

NY Times: A Brother Runs Past His Sorrow Stephan Shay honored his brother Ryan by finishing 14th (4th American). He said it helped him get some closure on Ryan’s death from the 2008 OT.

Lauren Kleppin: The Beer-Drinking Artist From Wisconsin Who Had The Courage To Risk It All To Chase The Dream Kleppin moved to California with no money and no plan, but made her way from a 2:42-marathoner working 3AM shifts at the bar to a 2:28 pro with Denna Kastor and the Mammoth TC.

Legally Blind Albino XC Runner Ryan Blume Is Excelling In NJ XC Blume is a varsity runner on one of the top teams in the state despite barely being able to see anything at all.? *MB Thread: Legally blind albino XC runner is excelling in NJ

NY Times: Finish Line? For Older Runners, It’s When They Say So Article talking about super masters runners like 86-year-old Joy Johnson who died the day after finishing last year due to head injuries from a fall at mile 20.

Five Pro Women Interview Each Other Talking About Running, Pregnancy, Motherhood And More Transcription of an open conversation between Deena Kastor, Kara Goucher, Desiree Linden, Blake Russell and Annie Bersagel.

Great Blog Post By Phoebe Wright On Her Theory About Why College Running Might Be Better For Your Running Career Than Professional Running

10-Years And 50-lbs Later Bob Kennedy Decided To Become A Runner Again

RFW (Recommended For Women): Kara Goucher Is Happier And Enjoying Running More Than Ever After Her Recent Sponsorship/Life Changes Goucher talks about how she has just been going through the motions the last couple of years, but now is really enjoying her running again. Article centers around Goucher’s running retreat for women from this summer.

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 11/3:

Wilson Kipsang on whether he was thinking of the $500,000 bonus he would win if he could outkickLilesa Desisa and win the 2014 TCS NYC Marathon. Kipsang was calm under pressure and he got the $500,000 bonus.

Sunday 11/2:

Jason Catlin, the owner of Bar-Coastal, a bar on 1st Avenue and 78th Street, talking about the impact the TCS New York City Marathon has on his business and many other 1st Avenue bar.

Friday 10/31:

Wednesday 10/29:

Tuesday 10/28:

Questions? Comments? Email us.