May 3, 2015
NASSAU, Bahamas — The United States women repeated as 4×800 champions tonight at the 2015 World Relays in dominant fashion. Heavily favored on paper, the U.S. got four strong legs from Chanelle Price, Maggie Vessey, Molly Beckwith-Ludlow and Alysia Montaño and, after breaking away during Vessey’s second leg, cruised to an easy 8:00.62 World Relays and American record victory, defeating runner-up Poland by over 10 seconds.
Price ran the leadoff leg and got out well, leading the field through 400 meters in a quick 57.8 seconds with Cuba’s Rose Mary Almanza on her shoulder and Canada’s Karine Belleau-Beliveau in third. With 200 to go, Price still led, but Almanza was lying in wait on her shoulder and as they entered the home stretch, Almanza moved past Price and handed off in first, splitting a 2:00.45 (the U.S. was in second after Price’s 2:01.30). Australia was in third after one leg thanks to Abbey de la Motte’s 2:02.43, with Poland fourth.
Vessey quickly closed the gap on Cuba’s Arletis Thaureaux and 200 meters into the leg, she had the lead, though she was not alone as Thaureaux and Kenya’s Sheila Chesang — who had gone out extremely quickly were right with her. Vessey came through 400 in 59.5 with the lead of a few meters. 100 meters later, her lead had ballooned to 15-20 meters as Thareaux and Chesang (who ran a 56.66 first lap) had begun to fade. Vessey (2:00.92) handed off with a lead of 3.53 seconds over second-place Canada and the lead would only grow on the final two legs. Kenya, in second at the 1200-meter mark, was dead last 400 meters later as Chesang (pb: 2:03) split a 2:10.69 the hard way, going 56.66-74.03.
Beckwith-Ludlow ran a strong 1:59.50 to pad the Americans’ lead to 5.26 seconds for anchor Montaño, who capped things off with a 1:58.90, the fastest split of the race. Montaño’s big leg allowed this U.S. squad to break the national record set last year at the World Relays by just under a second (8:01.58 by Price, Geena Lara, Brenda Martinez and Ajee Wilson).
The US is the dominant force in the 800 in the world right now and this race showed it. Analysis and post-race reaction below.
Leg 1: Chanelle Price (2:01.30)
Leg 2: Maggie Vessey (2:00.92)
Leg 3: Molly Beckwith-Ludlow (1:59.50)
Leg 4: Alysia Montaño (1:58.90)
Quick Take #1: Getting four women to average 2:00.15 per leg is a great sign on the first weekend of May
USA's 8:00.62 in the 4x800m roughly works out to 2:00.15 per leg. The current world-leading 800m mark is 2:00.03.
— Jon Mulkeen (@Statman_Jon) May 4, 2015
Obviously three of those legs had a running start, but it was windy in the stadium tonight. The time shows you just how far ahead the U.S. is of the rest of the world.
The US dominated this race and it was running three different runners from last year’s world relays winning squad. The only holdover was Chanelle Price. It’s almost unfair to think that, out of the four women in this race plus 2013 World silver medalist Martinez and 2014 world leader Ajee Wilson, only three will be able to run at Worlds in August.
Quick Take #2: Maybe the world record isn’t totally untouchable
The Soviet Union’s (likely drug-enhanced) 7:50.76 from 1984 is still almost 10 seconds ahead of what the U.S. ran tonight, but the American womens’ performance showed that, with a perfect storm of events, they might be able to attack it. As we said in our preview, it would likely require running the race right after Worlds in a mixed-gender race. Sub in Brenda Martines and Ajee Wilson (both of whom have run 1:57) and with everyone in peak shape, the U.S. would run in the low-7:50s. Of course, such a race can’t happen without substantial prize money on offer, but it would be something cool to think about.
Quick Take #3: This was just what Alysia Montaño needed
Montaño ran well indoors (winning the 600 at USAs), but her first serious 800 since 2013 – a 2:01.78 for 5th at the Drake Relays last weekend – did not go according to plan. Tonight’s race went significantly better, as she soloed a 1:58.90 (splits of 54.95-63.95) under windy conditions. Montaño, 29, who did not compete in 2014 due to pregnancy, won four straight U.S. titles from 2010-13 and will be looking to reclaim her crown atop the American 800 runners next month in Eugene. This was a step in the right direction.
Beckwith-Ludlow’s 1:59.50 third leg — also solo — was also a good sign as it wasn’t far off her open pb of 1:59.12.
Quick Take #4: The US Women Enjoyed This One
The US women were expected to win this one, but don’t think for a second these ladies didn’t enjoy this. They were beaming in the mixed zone afterwards and it’s a rare occasion for anyone to hear their national anthem played on the victory stand at a track meet. Chanelle Price won world indoors and heard the US anthem at this meet last year, but the excitement of the World Relays had reached everyone else on the team here and they were across the board exuberant afterwards.
The hardest part for the US women may have been making the team. Chanelle Price said, “I feel bad for the person who has to pick the team because the depth of the US at 800 is phenomenal.” She noted that World Relays were earlier in the year this year (early May vs. late May) and “To come out in early May and average a 2-minute pace is great.” Veteran Alysia Montano credited Chanelle’s leadership for the team, having been here a year before, and giving Alysia confidence even though this was only her second 800 in a year in a half.
Lots of post-race interviews:
Alysia Montano and Chanelle Price:
Maggie Vessey on Blowing the Race Open:
Molly Beckwith Ludlow:
The Australians Were very Happy with third: