April 14, 2015
Previous versions of The Week That Was – our weekly recap – can be found here.
Correction: Over much of the weekend, we had the wrong link up on our Paris and Rotterdam women’s marathon preview. So if you missed the preview, you can read it here.
Weekly Free Coaching Advice
Some people are visual learners. This is for them.
Please don’t ever do this in any race, particularly a regular-season D1 college steeple where the winning time is barely under 9:00 and you have an 8:33 pb:
— Tyler King (@tkingsta) April 12, 2015
What you just saw was Oregon runner Tanguy Pepiot of France, who ran 8:33.42 in 2012 a day after his 21st birthday two years before coming to Oregon, losing an 8:57 race because he celebrated too early.
We bet Pepiot learned his lesson. We don’t see Oregon run too much in person, but last year noticed Pepiot hamming it up with the crowd at NCAAs in Oregon after the steeple prelims. We’re all for post-race celebrations, but make sure you win the damn race. Besides an 8:33 steepler winning an 8:57 race isn’t all that much to celebrate.
We weren’t the only ones who thought Pepiot’s actions were a bit ridiculous. Pepiot’s loss got him 51 seconds of fame/shame on ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption: More: 51 Seconds of Fame (Shame?) – Oregon’s Tanguy Pepiot Gets Skewered On Pardon The Interruption
Lucky #10 in Paris
The Paris and Rotterdam Marathons were held over the weekend and 10 was a lucky number for two entrants.
10 – Kenya’s Mark Korir had only the 10th-best PB coming into Paris (2:07:08) but he was the one that left with the win and third-best PB at 2:05:48.
10 – Ethiopia’s Meseret Mengistu had only the 10th-best PB in the women’s field in Paris (2:29:22) but left with the win and second-best PB at 2:23:26.
Japan’s Asami Kato (2:26:30) and Ethiopia’s Abera Kuma (2:06:47) got the wins in windy Rotterdam (Weather Underground shows a wind speed of 9 to 16 mph at the airport during the race but later in the day it was over 25 mph).
Canada’s Reid Coolsaet was seventh in 2:11:24 — maybe a performance that could have broken the Canadian record of 2:10:09 that has stood since 1975 if everything was totally perfect?
— Reid Coolsaet (@ReidCoolsaet) April 12, 2015
The Marathon WR (Masters) Goes Down
In Milan, 41-year-old Kenyan Kenneth Mungara ran 2:08:43 to break the previous masters world record of 2:08:46, held by 1993 NYC Marathon champion Andres Espinosa of Mexico (set in Berlin in 2003). Mungara also got the win in the process. 2:08 at age 41 is amazing — trust us if you aren’t yet 40 (Mungara is older than both of the LetsRun.com co-founders, who would
currently struggle not be able to run one mile — 4:54 — at that pace). After Mungara set the masters WR, we got an email from one of LetsRun’s most prolific and informed emailers who was happy to see Espinosa’s mark go down as he said he’d always been “suspicious” of Espinosa’s WR as shown in the email below:
Was pleasantly surprised to see that this weekend in Milan Kenneth Mungara took down Andres Espinosa‘s master’s WR for the marathon. I have always been suspicious of Espinosa’s performance in Berlin in 2003. Look at his record:
1988 Dallas Marathon 2:16:13 age 25
1989 Dallas Marathon 2:16:19 age 26
1991 New York City Marathon 2:10:00 age 28
1992 New York City Marathon 2:10:44 age 29
1993 New York City Marathon 2:10:04 age 30
1994 Boston Marathon 2:07:19 age 31 (very strong tailwind)
1995 World Champs Marathon 2:16:44 age 32
1997 World Champs Marathon DNF age 34
1997 Amsterdam Marathon 2:10:22 age 34
1999 Boston Marathon 2:18:47 age 36
2000 Olympic Marathon 2:18:02 age 37
2001 Torreon Marathon 2:10:57 age 38
2001 World Champs 2:23:06 age 38
2003 Boston Marathon 2:19:54 age 40
2003 Berlin Marathon 2:08:46 age 40*
2004 Torreon Marathon 2:11:43 age 41
2004 Olympic Marathon 2:29:43 age 41
*If we throw out that 1994 Boston performance (as we should, since all times – including Cosmas Ndeti’s course record & Bob Kempainen’s 3-minute lifetime PR – were really fast that year due to tailwind), then that means that in his life, Espinosa never broke 2:10 in the marathon….until he turned 40 years of age…when suddenly he shatters his lifetime best on a record-eligible course. Hmm….
Mungara didn’t start running until late in life, but even so, he had a consistent record: 2:08:32 at 35, 2:07:58 at 36, 2:07:36 at age 37, and now 2:08:44 at age 41. In other words, his master’s WR didn’t come out of nowhere.
We enjoyed the email and the thought that went into it. We didn’t know that Espinosa’s non-Boston pb came at age 40 in Berlin. However, we didn’t agree with the logic that one should be suspicious of Espinosa. If Espinosa doped in 2003, one of the following two things has to be true and neither makes a lot of sense to us.
1) He never doped up until that point but decided to start doping at age 40 and that’s why he ran the big PB at age 40.
2) He was always a doper but nothing really worked until age 40 — maybe some new wonder drug came out.
Neither one makes sense to us. If you are immoral enough to dope, you’d think you’d do it during the prime of your career when the big bucks are on the line. We don’t know of any new drugs coming out in 2003. EPO started in cycling in the 1990s.
An easier answer to us is, “Espinosa was a stud who ran 2:10:00 in New York. That’s easily a 2:08 on a flat course (in our reply to the emailer we said 2:06 but must have been on drugs when we wrote it). In his prime, Espinosa normally raced marathons like Boston and New York. As a master, he time-trialed one.”
After responding along those lines to our emailer, he responded:
It’s always good to have a devil’s advocate, as it keeps us honest.
I’ll answer by saying that I suspect there have always been athletes who didn’t start doping until later in their careers…when their times start to slow down and they begin to feel that they need “help.” (Personal hunch: I suspect that this was the case with Mary Decker. Possibly with Regina Jacobs as well.)
This would explain why a marathoner might not start doping until late 30s or early 40s. (When as a young runner you are winning or finishing 2nd in big races like NYC, doping probably doesn’t seem necessary.)
Espinosa ran 2:10 for three straight years at New York City, which I suspect was pretty close to his physiological limit. Yes, people were racing [not time-trialing] back then, but they were doing so by getting close to their physical limitations.
I’m afraid I can’t quite agree that a 2:10 at New York is worth a 2:06 on a flat course (Editor’s note: LetsRun.com agrees, we made a mistake when we wrote 2:06). That would mean that Mutai’s 2:05 at NYC is worth a 2:01 or 2:02, which is surely not feasible. I suppose a case could be made that a 2:06 flat course marathoner today might run 2:10 in New York, but to compare apples with apples and not with oranges, we ought to look at Espinosa’s times and compare them with the era in which he ran. Many past winners before 2000 – when Espinosa was running – ran lifetime bests in New York. And before 2000, the sub-2:07 club consisted of only one person (Khalid Khannouchi). I could be wrong, but I don’t think even a sub-2:08 runner competed in New York before 2000.
So it’s possible Espinosa’s 2:10′s would translate to 2:09‘s or 2:08‘s…but even that’s theoretical, since he never did it.
I would be surprised if Espinosa’s agent said anything other than that Espinosa was not taking PED’s. And without hard proof, a person should be presumed to be innocent. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look at performances and raise an eyebrow.
I mean, when Regina Jacobs was winning titles and running a lifetime PR at 39 years of age, it made a lot of people raise an eyebrow…and with good reason, as it turns out. I hope this will generate discussion among LetsRun.commers – would be interesting to know what others think.
In the end, we reached out to Troy James — Espinosa’s agent and a long-time friend of LetsRun.com (James is also now an author, who writes under the singular name of “Troy” — like a Brazilian soccer star. You can check out Troy’s book, The Money Island, which has 100% five-star reviews on Amazon.com, here). James’ email defending Espinosa was incredibly good:
Thank you for your email. I had sent an email to Andres informing him of the new record.
Kenneth Mungara has been one on my radar as someone who was a threat to Andres’ mark. Like Andres, he too got a late start with his running career. Until age 25, Andres was a steelworker in Monclova and had the upper body to show. He did not fit the skinny runner body that most runners have. Andres starting running in his 20s to hopefully someday win a trophy. He far exceeded those expectations.
Having explained that, I’ll offer this observation of Andres’ career. I watched Andres for the first time at the 1990 Dallas Marathon, this race had no prize money and Andres took a 24-hour bus ride to the start. Dallas is not a fast course but from Mile 6 to 15 he averaged 4:58 per mile. He won the race by several minutes in 2:16. I met him after the race and told him that I believed he could run 2:12 and be in the Top 5 in New York. (Boy, did I underestimate that.)
Keep in mind Andres was the elite of the elite in the early-90s. He was constantly in the top 10 marathon fastest lists and was consistent being at the top. We chose races like New York and Boston and both are not known as being easy or fast courses. Pat Lynch, the elite recruiter for Boston, recognized that Andres was built for Boston and lobbied hard to get him there. It paid off. When Andres ran his PB of 2:07:19, he was the 6th-fastest marathoner of all time. His splits were 1:05:00/1:02:19. His last mile was run in 4:20.
He was drug tested each race and I was present with him IN THE RESTROOM as was my duty to each athlete to insure all details and procedure was followed.
Then came the Kenyan explosion and other marathons popped up with fast courses. Andres never ran those races due to the then lack of money to acquire someone of his stature, otherwise you might have witnessed those times. What was once 6th-fastest now ranks as the 182nd-fastest marathoner.
In simple terms, late bloomer like Mangara, Andres ran tougher courses, later in his career he accepted bad advice choosing the wrong races, a fast Berlin gave opportunity for a record and he got it. I believe that Andres would be a 2:04 marathoner today if he were aged 30. This is the first time I have ever had a doping issue presented me regarding Andres. A quiet man, Andres is an unassuming champion who was kept out of the pre-race hype so that he would bask in his race day accomplishments and not offer excuses like so many of his competitors were reduced to do.
PS. BTW I had a doping clause in my contract with Andres. The contract was approved by the world’s biggest law firm, Baker & McKenzie.
So what do you think?
Post your thoughts in our messageboard thread here: Masters World Record, Andres Espinosa, and Doping
One more thing about Espinosa, who is 52: James says he’s planning on going for the over-50 mark of 2:19:29 in Berlin this fall.
An American Record Almost Goes Down?
Former Stanford runner, now Hansons-Brooks runner, Jake Riley deserve kudos for finishing as the top American and second overall at the Cherry Blossom race in Washington, D.C., in 43:28. Normally Cherry Blossom is 10 miles but an accident involving a pedestrian resulted in the course being shortened. How much the course was shortened is up for debate.
Some on the messageboard wrote that initially people thought the course was 9.54 miles long, which meant Riley ran it at 45:34 10-mile pace (59:58 half pace). We find that too good to be true as Greg Meyer‘s U.S. record is 46:13 (although others have run faster in 10-mile splits in half-marathons).
The 27-year-old Riley, who has pbs of 13:32/28:08/62:56/2:13:16, did beat 2:11 marathoner Elisha Barno (third in 43:31) and 13:08/27:07 man Daniel Salel (fourth in 43:34). Race Results Weekly and David Monti said the course was ‘roughly’ 9.4 miles which would mean Riley ran still 9.4 miles at 46:15 10-mile pace (60:37 for the half marathon) — still impressive.
Former Arizona star Stephen Sambu (43:20) and Mary Wacera (48:35) won the titles.
In The Year 2015, 3:43 Gets You Fifth (In A Dual Meet)
Last week, a number of traditional dual meets were held — Cal-Stanford (Cal M 101, Stanford 62; Cal W 111, Stanford 49), Harvard-Yale (Harvard M 99, Yale 62; Harvard W 89.5, Yale 66.5) and Marquette-UW Milwaukee (Marquette M 104, UW Milwaukee 79; Marquette W 104, UW Milwaukee 84).
What caught our eye was the 1500 results from Cal-Stanford on the men’s side. Imagine running 3:43.56 (4:01 mile) and finishing fifth in a dual meet — that’s two spots out of scoring. College running is deeper than ever.
1500m Men’s Results from 2015 Cal – Stanford:
1. Thomas Joyce JR California 3:39.43 PB 5
2. Sean McGorty FR Stanford 3:40.62 PB 3
3. Erik Olson SR Stanford 3:42.31 PB 1
4. Leland Later JR California 3:43.20 PB
5. Justin Brinkley JR Stanford 3:43.56 PB
6. Thomas Coyle FR Stanford 3:45.54 PB
7. Josh Lewis SO California 3:45.68 PB
8. Will Drinkwater SO Stanford 3:51.37
Usain Bolt Opens 200m Season with 20.20
Usain Bolt Wins First 200 Of The Season With 20.20 In Jamaica He wasn’t thrilled with it, saying it didn’t feel smooth and he was hoping for under 20 seconds. Second place was Nesta Carter (20.60). Elaine Thompson ran a world lead in the women’s 100 with 10.92. *MB: Bolt runs 20.20
Ryan Hall Loses To Webb (Again)
In the HS ranks, the 2015 Aracadia Invite was held last week and this year, 19 boys broke 9:00 in the 3200. The race was won by Jesse Reiser, who was 13th at NXN and 33rd at Foot Lockers and will be going to Illinois next year, in 8:52.00.
But what caught one astute messageboard poster’s eye (“CaliforniaFan”) was the fact that Caleb Webb of Big Bear, Calif., broke Ryan Hall’s school record by running 8:52.27. Ryan Hall just can’t beat the high school Webb in or out of HS: MB: Ryan Hall loses school record (to Webb).
To be the school 3200 record holder at a high school that includes Ryan Hall, one of the all-time great preps, as well as Ryan’s brother Chad, who won the Foot Locker HS national title in 2006, is quite an accomplishment.
For Big Bear High School (enrollment: 781) to have produced three sub-9:00 guys is pretty extraordinary as well. “PeppyOne” says only 20 schools in the United States have produced three sub-9s.
Webb hasn’t officially announced his college choice. He’s narrowed down his list to Colorado, Portland, Washington and UCLA, but the rumor on the messageboard is that Portland will win out.
Big Bear isn’t the only small high school producing fast runners. Another messageboarder realized in a separate thread that Kodiak, Alaska, (population: 6,423) has produced two sub-8:50 two-milers as Levi Thomet ran 8:48.32 for the full deuce indoors (former Oregon runner Trevor Dunbar ran 8:49 while in HS at Kodiak). That is simply amazing.
The Sub-9s At 2015 Arcadia
1. Jesse Reiser 12 McHenry (IL) 8:52.00
2. Elijah Armstrong 12 Pocatello (ID) 8:52.16
3. Caleb Webb 12 Big Bear /ss 8:52.27
4. Zach Dale 12 Conant (IL) 8:52.62
5. Benjamin Veatch 11 Carmel (IN) 8:53.42
6. Robert Brandt 12 Loyola /ss 8:53.49
7. Austin Tamagno 11 Brea Olinda 8:54.13
8. Alek Parsons 11 Ogden (UT) 8:55.56
9. Eduardo Herrera 11 Madera South 8:55.93
10. Stuart Smith 12 Nathan Hale 8:56.14
11. Wesley Walsh 12 Canyon (Ana) 8:56.25
12. Brian Zabilski 12 Saugus /ss 8:56.41
13. Steven Sum 12 Saratoga /cc 8:56.86
14. Ben Barrett 12 Norman North 8:57.97
15. Jack Yearian 11 Bellarmine P 8:58.61 (won 2nd heat)
16. Eric Hamer 12 Palmer Ridge 8:58.97
17. Phillip Rocha 11 Arcadia /ss 8:59.42
18. Kai Benedict 12 McQueen (NV) 8:59.80
19. Philip Hall 12 South View (NC) 8:59.84
As for Alan Webb, he didn’t have a good week last week: Webb DNF in ITU Triathlon this weekend in Australia.
Do Not Quit Track – Messageboard Thread Of The Week
There was a messageboard thread last week started by an NCAA first-year runner who is struggling with injuries and contemplating quitting. If you find yourself in that boat, or know of someone in a similar situation, please have them read this thread:
LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson, who basically quit running for almost six years, loved the thread as injured runners, particularly freshmen, are seemingly ignored by the coaching staff and need some encouragement. Another runner saw the thread and emailed us the following (slightly edited):
Photo of the week
Four Quotes of The Week That Weren’t Quote Of The Day
#1 – All Precautions Are Taken At The North Pole Marathon
“I have a couple of guys always on patrol with guns. You can’t be too careful about polar bears.”
– Richard Donovan, race director for the North Pole Marathon, talking about the precautions he takes for his race, the 13th edition of which was held last week. The entire course is run within binocular view of Donovan so he can keep a lookout for polar bears. Donovan says the race, where the start/finish line changes during the race as the ice moves under the runners during the race, is the cheapest way for someone to visit the North Pole as your $12,700 entry fee includes a helicopter ride to the physical North Pole after it’s over.
The winners of this year’s race were Petr Vabrousek of the Czech Republic (4:22.24) and Australia’s Heather Hawkins (6:57.39).
#2 – Coaches, Don’t Hang Out With Your Athletes
“[Coach Harry Marra] doesn’t hang out with the Eatons away from practice, and doesn’t want to. ‘Maybe after all of this is said and done I’ll be their friend,’ Marra says. ‘I don’t dislike them. But it’s my job to teach them how to run, jump and throw. I don’t want that compromised.'”
– Excerpt from an excellent article by Ken Goe of The Oregonian on Ashton Eaton And Brianne Theisen-Eaton. The article talks a lot about how the Eatons are humble and not in the sport for fame.
More:“It’s All About The Journey For Ashton Eaton And Brianne Theisen-Eaton, The Planet’s Most Athletic Couple”
*Video Interview With Coach Harry Marra With Footage Of The Eatons’ Workouts
*2nd Article: “What I learned photographing Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen.”
#3 – Jimmy Carter Isn’t The Only Politician With Really Stupid Sports Ideas
“This proposal [to bar Russian athletes from competing in more than two Olympics] bears no relation to real life. Any athlete has the right to compete for as long as they can qualify for the Games.”
– women’s pole vault world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva talking in a BBC article about a bill that the Russian parliament debated last week that would bar athletes from competing in more than two Olympics to give younger athletes a chance to shine. What utter stupidity. We only wish the politicians in Russia or the U.S. would limit themselves to a couple of terms in office.
#4 – Liu Xiang Hangs Them Up
“I hate my foot, I love my track and my hurdles so much, and if I hadn’t injured my foot … but then there are no ifs in this world. I injured myself, and can only accept it silently.”
– Liu Xiang, as quoted in his retirement announcement.
84-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor Says Running Saved Her Life Sylvia Weiner was the only one in her family of 10 to survive the Holocaust and was in a concentration camp together with Anne Frank. Weiner went on to become the first official Boston Marathon masters winner.
“It’s All About The Journey For Ashton Eaton And Brianne Theisen-Eaton, The Planet’s Most Athletic Couple” The Oregonian’s Ken Goe spends a day with the Eatons and coach Harry Marra, giving some great insight into the power-couple’s daily training routine and overall relationship.
*Video Interview With Coach Harry Marra With Footage Of The Eatons’ Workouts
*2nd article: “What I learned photographing Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen”
Quotes Of The Day And Last Week’s Home Pages
To see the actual quotes of the day from last week or last week’s home page or any home page, go to our archive page.