Tsegaye Kebede vs the USA, Don’t Positive Split the Marathon, Worlds is Coming, an Improved World Marathon Majors and More

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by LetsRun.com
February 23, 2015

Previous versions of The Week That Was – our weekly recap – can be found here. We already gave many of our thoughts on the great action at the 2015 XL Galan meet, 2015 Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix, and 2015 Tokyo Marathon when they took place:

LRC Genzebe Dibaba Smashes Indoor 5,000 WR By Over 5 Seconds With 14:18.86 In Stockholm

LRC Mo Farah Gets His First World Record, Runs 8:03.40 2-Mile

LRC Tokyo 2015: Negesse And Dibaba Get First Major Wins, Stephen Kiprotich = Hero In 2nd, Japanese Twitter Erupts, Lauren Kleppin Risks It All

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Stat of the Week

# of Sub-2:09 Marathons Ever Run

Tsegaye Kebede – 15
USA – 16
Japan – 62
Ethiopia – 244
Kenya – 635

Note, we calculated the Ethiopian and Kenyan stats using alltime-athletics.com.

A Hard Way To Run A Marathon / The Opposite of A Negative Split – A Positive Split

By now most you have learned the best way to run a distance race is to do a tiny negative split. For example, last week, Mo Farah went 4:03-3:59 for his WR last week. Dennis Kimetto went 1:01:45-1:01:12 in his 2:02:57 marathon world record.  Both of the Tokyo winners last week ran slight negative splits as well. Women’s winner Birhane Dibaba went 1:11:41 / 1:11:34 and men’s winner Endeshaw Negesse went 1:03:08 / 1:02:52.

Well at Sunday’s Tokyo Marathon, one runner ran 2:37 the hard way. American Lauren Kleppin‘s 5k splits were as follows: 17:09, 17:26, 17:30, 18:03, 18:14, 18:59, 19:33, 20:46. Shen then staggered home from 40k to the finish at 21:43 5k pace for a total time of 2:37:33 and an 11th-place finish in a race that only had 10 elite women in it. In terms of a marathon, everyone also knows that it can be very dangerous to go out too hard. Kleppin ran a solid 2:28 in her first serious attempt at the marathon in LA last year, but became the new poster girl for the ‘Don’t go out too fast in a marathon” mantra in Tokyo. She ran a perfectly-run positive split. Every single 5k segment of the race was slower than the one before it.

Kleppin’s performance is the perfect example of what we talked about last week- everything averages out to be average. Her first marathon was dreamy, her third was a nightmare.

LRC Tokyo 2015: Negesse And Dibaba Get First Major Wins, Stephen Kiprotich = Hero In 2nd, Japanese Twitter Erupts, Lauren Kleppin Risks It All
*MB: Official 2015 Tokyo Marathon Thread
*Full 2015 Tokyo Coverage


Dopep Shobukhova Won $1,000,000 from the WMM

Dopep Shobukhova Won $1,000,000 from the WMM

The Abbott World Marathon Majors Ramp Up Drug Testing/Change Their Series Format

We’re pleased about the news that came out with the Abbott World Marathon Majors last week. The series is switching their $500,000 bonus to a one-year + one race format and also putting up a lot of money for out-of-competition drug testing of its top competitors. They also are making it clear that no one with any doping violation can win the $500,000 prize and to discourage someone from doping up and taking home $500,000, the $500,000 will now be paid out in $100,000 increments over a five-year period.

While we’ve always felt the $500,000 bonus was a bit of a gimmick (we’d rather just see the winner of each race get a ton of prize money), we are pleased with the developments.

The IAAF held a conference call last week for select members of the media (LetsRun.com was on the call) and one of the things the IAAF is very much aware of is the fact that marathoners, because they don’t race very often don’t get drug tested very often. And without a lot of drug tests, it’s next to impossible to build up a biological passport that might result in a doping violation. That’s certainly a little ironic as the biological passport is designed in many ways to catch EPO cheats as the EPO window for a standard drug test is very small. So the ramped up testing of the marathon stars is huge.

In terms of the series moving to a one-year format, we like it as it will mean that the series doesn’t always end in New York, which we felt was unfair to the other races. Now each of the majors will be the season-ending race at some point. Plus, a one year plus series means a marathoner can no longer win the $500,000 two years in a row, largely based on doing really well in one year.

That being said, changing the rules in the middle of the series is incredibly unfair to Wilson Kipsang.

With two Abbott WMM wins last year (London and New York), he seemed poised to take home another $500,000 in 2015 (he won the 2013-14 series as well) with just a single win in 2015. Now his two wins last year mean nothing for 2015. It would have been fairer to Kipsang to announce that starting in 2016, the series format will change.

More: LRC Abbott World Marathon Majors Unveils New Race Series (One-Year) Format To Debut At Tokyo
*World Marathon Majors Will Fund Increased Out-Of-Competition Testing Of World’s Top Marathoners

Benk Blankenship

Hard To Believe – An American Is The First Person Ever Go To Sub-4 Indoors in Ireland

Given the indoor exploits of Eamonn Coghlan and Marcus O’Sullivan over the years, it’s hard to believe that American Ben Blankenship became the first athlete last week to break 4:00 in the mile indoors in Ireland. Blankenship’s hot 2015 continued last week as he won in Ireland by more than five seconds in 3:56.75 before running a 3:35.28 1500 pb in Birmingham later in the week.

He’s had a great three-week run with no bad races. First, he took Galen Rupp’s scalp with his 8:16.53 2-mile at the Armory, then he ran 3:53.18 for the mile in Boston, and now 3:56 and 3:35 last week.

Jen Rhines and Neely Spence-Gracey Impress

Is 2015 the year of the 40-year-old?

Thumbs up to 40-year-old Jen Rhines for taking down $8,000 by winning the Publix Gasparilla Half-marathon in 72:35. Neely Spence-Gracey, the former 8-time NCAA D-II champ, was second in 72:39 in her half-marathon debut.

This week’s run was a nice rebound for Spence-Gracey after being a DNF at US Cross where she was up in the top three before kicking a lap too early.

It wasn’t entirely her fault as meet management rang the bell a lap early in Boulder. Gracey was embarrassed by the snafu after the race, but we didn’t think she should be. You could almost view it as a positive.

She clearly runs as hard as she can in a race given the distance she thinks she has remaining. Many racers are artificially limited by a time range they put on themselves beforehand.

Regardless, the half-marathon was a nice race for Spence-Gracey who has only raced a handful of times the last two years due to injury.

“This race far exceeded my expectations,” said Spence-Gracey to the Tampa Tribune after the race. “I had a lot more in me. This is so encouraging.”

Spence-Gracey is no longer is with the Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Project as she’s relocated to Boulder, CO. She told us her husband Dillon (a long time LRC visitor and even emailer) had “a job offer there and we jumped on the opportunity” to move to Boulder which they had grown to love during the 5 summers they have spent in the area. She said she’s “in no rush to join a new coach/team. I’m just enjoying being back to racing and setting up a new life.”

More: MB: Neely Spence Gracey quits Hansons ODP!!
*MB: Ritz wins Gasparilla 1/2 1:03
Tampa Tribune – Like her dad, Neely Spence Gracey finishes second at Gasparilla.
*Sunday: Dathan Ritzenhein, Jen Rhines Pick Up Wins And $8,000 At Publix Gasparilla Half Marathon

Could another world record be in the cards on Sunday?

Could another world record be in the cards on Sunday?

Less Than Six Months To Worlds / The 800 in Beijing is going to be awesome

Sunday, February 22 marked the six-month countdown date to the start of 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing and the start of the men’s 800 which gets underway on Day 1. We can’t wait.

With a full year of healthy training, will King David Rudisha be back on top or will Nijel Amos stay on top like he was last year? How will Mo Aman fare now that he’s training in the U.S.? LRC’s Rojo has always said it’s all over when the Africans start training like Westerners.

Think about it from a statistical standpoint. It’s very unlikely that the very top talents from Africa just happened to emigrate out. The odds that Meb Keflezighi, Mo Farah, etc. are the most talented isn’t very high since only a small percentage of Africans leave each year, but yet they have done amazing things on the world scene in large part to some combination of superior medicine, coaching, facilities, etc.

With those big three, the 800 is going to be unreal this year.

Last week, we started to get even more excited for the men’s 800 at the 2015 IAAF World Champs as it looks like others want to be in the mix if any of the Big 3 falter. Qatar’s Musaeb Abdulrahman Balla put up a 1:45.48 world leader and national record last week in Spain. In 2013, Balla was an unlucky loser as he failed to get into the final at Worlds despite finishing third in his semifinal but in his next race won in Rieti in a 1:43.93 national record. Balla is in his prime as he’s 25.

Quote of Week I (that wasn’t quote of the day)

“For a few delusional moments I walk onto a golf course and think I might be Tiger Woods. How many of (the road racers) for a few delusional moments think they are Haile Gebrselassie? I’m not sure enough do. Do all the millions of people who run, around the world, think they are part of the track and field family? I’m not sure they do.”

Seb Coe, two-time Olympic gold medallist and 2012 London Olympic head, talking to sportspromedia.com about his vision for the sport if he is elected IAAF president.

Quote of Week II (that wasn’t quote of the day)

“I ran a 100m PR indoors, the other day, with a flying start. I really believe the statistics suggesting certain age curves are skewed by the old amateur era. The longer we move into the professional era, we’ll find more Bernard Lagats, more Kevin Sullivans, and others.”

Nick Willis talking to the IAAF last week.

Quote of Week III (that wasn’t quote of the day)

“I agree with Darren (Campbell) that it’s the situation the sport is in. I’ll try to guide Milo in different paths. You might as well throw the sport to the dogs.”

-Olympic long jump champ Greg Rutherfod on whether he wants his son to be a track athlete. Rutherford was talking to the BBC.

Quote of Week IV (that wasn’t quote of the day)

“#ComeBackWhenYouWinSomethingDecent … You’re an embarrassment.”

Mo Farah responding on Twitter to Andy Vernon complaining about Farah facing less than stacked fields in the UK. Farah shut Vernon up by running a world record in the two mile.

More: LRC Andy Vernon Calls Out Mo Farah On Twitter: “I would just rather watch a race than the Mo Show.”
*MB: Mo Farah and Andy Vernon go at it in Twitter

Quote of Week V (that wasn’t quote of the day)

“It was mind blowing to see the speed and intensity and mileage that Mo did there in Ethiopia.”

Abdi Abdirahman, who has been training with Mo Farah in Ethiopia, talking to Toni Reavis last week.

Quote of Week VI (that wasn’t quote of the day)

It doesn’t look like every Brit was happy Farah got the WR:

“[The WR attempt is] a neatly manicured circus with scripts rehearsed to greater exhaustion than some of the competitors’ bodies.

“Will he break the world indoor record over 2 miles? Who really cares other than Farah’s bank manager, British Athletics’ marketing department and the Nike Oregon project?

“Farah has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons this week – not what you are thinking if you have just arrived back from a holiday, much as your heart might leap. His spat with Andy Vernon has shown him to be a chip off the old Nike block when it comes to dealing with detractors. Attack! Attack! Attack! And then, when that hasn’t really worked, go for the jugular. We have seen this from just about every controversial Nike star you can think of: Woods, Armstrong, Salazar, Radcliffe and numerous others – when criticised they seek not to clarify but humiliate, undermine and ultimately destroy their target.”

James Fairbourn writing on eightlane.org.


Oregon Women Celebrate an NCAA Title

Oregon Women Celebrate an NCAA Title

Will Splitting the Men’s and Women’s NCAAs Be Good (or Bad) for Women’s Track? 

We think fans of women’s running should be a tiny bit nervous about the NCAA deciding to run the men’s and women’s NCAA action on separate days at the NCAA outdoor championships. The change does make some sense as the NCAA wants to focus on team scores.

In track and field, the women are treated much more similarly to men than any other sport in the world. If meets start becoming male- and female-only, you’re likely to see the outcome skew towards what happens in other sports — the men get much more attention, exposure and money as that’s what the fans prefer to watch.

People can debate whether they want to call it sexism or simply the free market at work. That’s not our job. We just know it’s reality. Our internal stats show way more people click on our men’s articles than women’s. For example, our 2014 NCAA men’s cross country results page generated 29.5% more clicks than our 2014 NCAA women’s cross country results page.

More: MB: NCAA T&F Championships to have men’s and women’s events on alternating days – what ?

Recommended Reads

You can always find our Recommended Reads on this page but those from last week appear below.

Cam Levins Feeling Positive About A Breakthrough 2015 Despite Millrose Setback

Renato Canova says Florence Kiplagat’s WR was a surprise for even him

Nick Willis Is More Movtivated Than Ever To Succeed At Track So He Can Keep Being A Stay-At-Home Dad

NY Times: “Forget Barefoot; New Trendsetter, If Not Pacesetter, Is Cushioning”

Kenyan 2:34 Marathoner Hyvon Ngetich Crawls To 3rd Place In The Austin Marathon; RD Is So Inspired Gives Her Runner-Up Prize Money (includes video)


Last week, we wrote that Colorado has had only two athletes break 4:00 in the mile. We should have made it clear that we meant indoors.

Outdoors, the Buffs have had at least one.

A LRC visitor wrote that on June 1, 1974, Ted Castaneda ran 3:58.4 a week before finishing second in the 6-mile at NCAAs.

LetsRun.com stat/coaching guru John Kellogg (JK) wrote in as well. He think there may have been two more.

Rick Musgrave ran 3:59.3 in 1976. JK is “pretty sure” he was still running for CU then.

Tom Smith ran 3:58.3 in 1979. JK is “less sure about his eligibility, but CUBuffs.com has him as a letter winner in 1979, so he probably was running for them outdoors.”

If you know about the eligibility of Musgrave and Smith, please email us as sadly Colorado’s school website doesn’t list outdoor mile pbs on its website.

Quote of The Day and Last Week’s Home Pages

To see the quotes of the day from last week or last week’s homepage or any homepage, go to our archive page.

Questions, comments, please email us or post them in our running fan forum.

That is it, if you were gone over the weekend. We had extensive coverage and analysis of the 2015 XL Galan meet, 2015 Sainsbury Indoor Grand Prix, and 2015 Tokyo Marathon when they took place:

LRC Genzebe Dibaba Smashes Indoor 5,000 WR By Over 5 Seconds With 14:18.86 In Stockholm

LRC Mo Farah Gets His First World Record, Runs 8:03.40 2-Mile

LRC Tokyo 2015: Negesse And Dibaba Get First Major Wins, Stephen Kiprotich = Hero In 2nd, Japanese Twitter Erupts, Lauren Kleppin Risks It All.

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