Week That Was: Frank Shorter Is Full Of It (Or Right?); Drugs, Drugs, Drugs; Ryan Hall Vs. Josh McDougal & Ingrid Kristiansen

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By LetsRun.com
November 12, 2014

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

Questions? Comments? Email us.

Frank Shorter Is Full Of It! Was Right?

Last week, 1972 Olympic marathon champion Frank Shorter, who in our minds is also the 1976 Olympic champ as the 1976 champ was a likely doper (and Frank got the silver), made some headlines as a result of some comments he made in a Juliet Macur article in the New York Times on doping in Kenya: Problems With Antidoping System Cast a Shadow on Kenyan Runners.

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We loved the following quote from Shorter:

“If you’re paying $100,000 for an appearance fee, why not spend $5,000 on somebody to make sure they aren’t doping? If they (the WMM) would have listened to me years ago, maybe they wouldn’t be embarrassed right now about their big winner.”

A great quote. Our only complaint is we believe it should apply to all sports – not just running.

Justin Gatlin #1 in 2014 Again

Justin Gatlin is from a country with an independent doping agency

If the major leagues spent just 1% of their revenue on anti-doping, the plague of doping could largely be eliminated (that would be $90 million per year for the NFL). In our mind, it’s in the team’s interest to do so. Think about it. The Yankees bring in more than $450 million in a year. If they spent a few million a year on testing, they wouldn’t owe steroid user ARod more than $60 million over the next few years as they’d have known to not sign him in the first place.

So far so good from Mr. Shorter.

But the following quote from Shorter was really over the top. Macur wrote:

For years, when someone would ask him who he thought would win the next major marathon, (Shorter) told me, his answer was always the same: “I don’t know who it will be, but the person will be from a country without an antidoping agency that is totally independent, audited and doesn’t have a dog in the fight.”

While we 100% agree that all countries need an independent and well-funded anti-doping agency, Shorter is basically implying that all major marathon winners are cheats and that Kenyans and Ethiopians are only good because of cheating.

Even if it comes out that doping in elite marathoning is rampant, at something close to Tour de France levels from 10 years ago, we still think Shorter’s comments are out of line. But the problem is they aren’t even accurate.

Let’s look at the Tour de France. Lance Armstrong dominated the Tour for years and he was from a country with an independent anti-doping agency.

But we don’t even need to turn to cycling. American Meb Keflezighi has won the New York City and Boston Marathons and he’s from a country with an independent anti-doping agency. Lance clearly was cheating; does Frank think Meb is cheating?

Was Kenyan Sam Chelanga on EPO at Liberty? He totally dominated the NCAAs.

Frank should read Sports Gene. Just because he competed in a semi-professional era when many Kenyans weren’t able to devote their lives to the sport doesn’t mean that they can’t dominate the sport without doping. Maybe they’d dominate by running 2:06 instead of 2:02 but we still think Kenyans would be winning major marathons.

Discuss: MB: Frank Shorter in the NYTimes basically convicts all of Kenya for doping

The Best Non-African Marathoner In The World Is Ranked (Go Ahead And Guess)

Speaking of Kenyan domination.

39-year-old Serhiy Lebid of the Ukraine ran a big pr of 2:08:32 last week at the 2014 JoongAng Seoul Marathon to take fourth. With the 2:08:32, Lebid, whose previous pb was 2:11:24 from last year when he finished his first marathon (he also ran 2:13 to win in Nagano earlier this year), moves to #2 on the European list for 2014 (Mo Farah ran 2:08:21 in London).

The performance got us to wondering. Is Lebid the fastest marathoner in 2014 not born in Africa?

No he’s not.

Lebid is #2. Japan’s Kohei Matsumura ran 2:08:09 for eighth in Tokyo in February.

But guess where Matsumura ranks on the 2014 yearly list?


If we’re counting correctly, there are 42 Kenyans, 25 Ethiopians, 1 Qatari (born in Africa) and 1 guy from Bahrain (born in Africa) faster than him. Does Frank think they are all cheating?

Despite Matsumura being only #70 on the list, there are still people on the LetsRun.com forums saying that genetics or place of birth has nothing to do with the African success in running. Take “dsrunner,” who wrote last week, “All of this progress in distance training and the continued obsession with mega-miles has moved us (the USA) further away from the Kenyans in the half marathon and marathon.”

If training mistakes were the cause of the US’s or even Japan’s problems in the marathon, then how come the African-born runners who train in the US like Meb Keflezighi are successful? Or what about Sammy Wanjiru? He rose to marathon stardom while training in Japan.

The African runners have pulled away over the years because the marathon has become a fully professional event. In 1975, when there wasn’t much money in the marathon, it made little sense for an African to devote his life to train fully for the marathon.

On the women’s side, things are a little more encouraging for the non-African born runners. Five of them are ranked in the top 25 in terms of time so far in 2014 (although none in the top 10):

Top Non-African Born Women’s Marathon Runners In Terms of Time in 2014
11. 2:21:14 Shalane Flanagan USA 3rd Berlin
13. 2:21:29 Aliaksandra Duliba BLR 6th Boston
23. 2:23:43 Mariya Konovalova RUS 1st Nagoya
24. 2:23:54 Desiree Linden USA 10th Boston
25. 2:24:07 Jeļena Prokopčuka LAT 2nd Nagoya

Guy Who Was Just 33rd at NCAA XC Breaks 2:09 Yet Again

Former Iona runner Stephen Chemlany, 32, ran his third successful marathon of the year last week. Chemlany, who ran 2:06:24 for second in Seoul in March and then was second at the Commonwealth Games in July, was third in Shanghai last week in 2:08:56. He picked up $17,000 for the effort. Not bad for a guy who at Iona never scored at NCAAs (12th in the 5k, 33rd in XC), only ran 14:03 and didn’t break 2:13 in his first seven marathons.

(Dsrunner probably really likes Chemlany’s rise to prominence as he only got good when he returned to Kenya to train.)

Chemlany was running for the Westchester Track Club as late as 2009

The winners of Shanghai both took down the course records. Ethiopia’s Tigist Tufa Demisse picked up $48,000 for running 2:21:52 and South Africa’s Stephen Mokoka $50,000 for running 2:08:43.


Since we talked about Seoul, apparently there are two marathons in Seoul each year. At the 16th JoongAng Seoul Marathon last week, Ethiopian Feyisa Bekele (2:07:43, $50,000) and Korean Ahn Seul-Ki, (2:37:47, $9,217) were the winners. In March, Chemlany ran in the 51st Seoul International Marathon.

We mention that as we don’t think we ever had that result up on the homepage.

More: LRC Archives: We talk about Seoul in March.

We Can All Dream – Might Doping Soon Be A Criminal Offense?

We loved the following excerpt that we read last week on a Qatari website – thepeninsulaqatar.com.

The President of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Sir Craig Reedie has called for increased cooperation between the public authorities and sporting regulatory bodies to improve the efficacy of doping sanctions in sports.

Reedie, who is also the Vice President of International Olympic Committee (IOC), said: “If you cheat, especially at the highest level of a sport, you can inflict huge damage on that sport. Yes, sport should sanction its own people but with greater assistance from the public authorities – for example, WADA is 50 per cent sport 50 per cent public authorities.”

We’ve never understood why doping isn’t treated as a criminal offense. By doping, people are stealing a ton of money from fellow competitors who are clean and would get that money otherwise. How many millions of dollars has Alex Rodriguez’s doping allowed him to make that some clean baseball player didn’t get?

Update: Our dream is becoming reality. We just found this article: Germany Set To Make Doping In Sport A Crime With Up To Three Years In Prison.

Stat of the Week That May Only Interest Us

4:59.8 – pace that former NCAA champ Josh McDougal averaged for 15k (9.3 miles) last week in winning the 29th Schenectady Gazette 15-K Stockade-athon in 46:34.

5:02.5 – pace that former NCAA champ Ryan Hall averaged for 10 miles at the EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler, where he was 10th.

So basically the two ran almost identical performances. What does it mean? Not much. It’s just interesting. Hall knew going into Pittsburgh that he wasn’t in great shape as he tweeted, “Not as fit as I’d like to be yet, but a great opportunity to get back out there and compete!”

Someone who is in good shape is Hall’s wife, Sara, as she won the Pittsburgh women’s race in a course record of 53:47.

MB: Ryan Hall 50:25 in Pittsburgh??
*EQT Pittsburgh 10: Leonard Korir Wins, Ryan Hall 10th, Sara Hall Sets Course Record And Wins $3,500 Jonathan Grey was the first American in 5th. *Results 

Running Was Once Much Different Than It Is Now

Last week, Athleticsillustrated.com had a nice Q&A with former 5,000, 10,000 and marathon world record holder Ingrid Kristiansen of Norway who was a dominant figure in the sport back in the 1980s. Kristiansen ran world records of 2:21:06, 30:13.74 and 14:37.33 (in that order) during a 16-month span in 1985 and 1986. In 1986, she won the Boston Marathon in April and then set world records on the track that summer.

As for the record she’s most proud of, Krisitansen said it’s the 10,000, and for good reason. Today, in a world record attempt, a woman would have rabbits galore. Not Kristiansen. Check out what she had to say about her 10,000 record:

“I think my 10,000m was the best. And I felt the race was very good. I passed all the other runners within 1st, 2nd or 3rd laps, so I had no competition. I had a rabbit for one to two laps, but she ran the first lap in 80 seconds so she ran eight seconds too slow from the start, bad for me, but I passed her and told her that I want to do the race my way.”

More: Q&A With Former 5,000, 10,000 And Marathon WR Holder Ingrid Kristiansen S

Weekly Free Coaching Advice – Only Train As Much As You Have To

“I believe very strongly in the principle of minimum, effective dose (MED). I think a lot of athletes and coaches get sucked into what I call volume and density traps, they train certain times too frequently and they train way too much volume when they do train it. I don’t think people research and respect rest and recovery, regeneration type work. It’s kind of an afterthought rather than a driver of the system.”

– LetsRun.com’s favorite sprint/field event coach Dan Pfaff talking in an interview on sportscoachradio.com,

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

I – “I love the job. I really love the profession of coaching”.

“Every day, I don’t feel like I succeed enough so I’ll get back to the field and coach again and again.

“I need to contribute more until I can’t work, until can’t move any more.”

– Ethiopian coach Sentayehu Eshetu, the Brother Colm O’Connell for his country, talking about coaching to The Reporter. Eshetu has worked with Olympic gold medallists Derartu Tulu, Kenenisa Bekele, Tirunesh Dibaba, Fatuma Roba, and Tiki Gelana.


II – “I don’t think I realised the honour and privilege of joining (the Nike Oregon Project) until afterwards. Alberto is very serious about what he does. He is very meticulous about everything we do. He is always very supportive and I appreciate everything he does.”

Cam Levins talking to Spikes about being in the NOP. Levins added, “It is about being a professional athlete. Before I joined, I was a student athlete. Now I’m serious about everything I do.”


III “I went out there and tried to do a hard run. I fell off in the middle but then I picked it up again. I really wanted to run under 73 but I can’t complain. A win is a win.”

– US Olymipan Janet Bawcom talking after winning the Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Half-Marathon in 73:06.

As for the ‘a win is a win’ statement, it’s not always the case. Many road races aren’t really competitive races – they often only have one ‘real runner.’ Take the full marathon in Savannah. Nick Hilton won in 2:21:32. Second place (Belay Kassa) ran 2:33:08. So Hilton could have run nearly 30 seconds per mile slower and still won.

Juco XC

Last week, 4:01 miler Harry Mulenga of Zambia successfully defended his junior college cross country title as he won the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I Championships for Central Arizona in 24:18. He’s only 20 and we assume will be going to an NCAA school next year. If you know where, email us.

The women’s race was won by Barton freshman Lydia Mato in 17:05. Mato was 26th at Chile Pepper earlier this year.

Other News Of Note

Recommended Reads

Tim Layden Nominates Meb Keflezighi As SI’s Sportsman Of Year “It was something plucked from fantasy and something that cannot be explained through reason. On the most American of days in running, in the most American of races, an American won the Boston Marathon.”

Good Read: The Brother Colm O’Connell Of Ethiopia: Sentayehu Eshetu Is Coach Of Ethiopia’s Past, Present And Future Eshetu coaches young runners in the tiny town of Bekoji, Ethiopia. He coached this year’s Berlin winner, Tirfi Tsegaye as well as others including Olympic champ Tiki Gelana and all-time greats Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba.
*LRC Archives: Move Over Iten, Kenya – Bekoji, Ethiopia Lays Claims To Be The Cradle Of Running

Cool Graphic: Watch Usain Bolt Race Against The Fastest Machines And Animals In The World

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 11/10:

– Excerpt from Matt Fitzgerald‘s new book 80 / 20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster By Training Slower, which attempts to bring Lydiard’s training to the masses. Believe it or not, you may actually get faster by running slower on your easy days.

Sunday 11/9:

– 5 time World Cross-Country Champion John Ngugi, who is in Scotland this weekend. He also talks about how he would have received a $500,000 bonus for a world record at 10k on the roads and missed by 1 second.

Friday 11/7:

Ryan Vail talking about competing in the windy conditions at the 2014 NYC Marathon where he was 9th place and 2nd American.

– Wilson Kipsang, head of recently-formed Professional Athletes Association of Kenya (PAAK), talking about doping after returning to Kenya after his New York win.

Wednesday 11/5:

Tuesday 11/4:

Questions? Comments? Email us.


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