Week That Was: Ryan Hall = Joan Benoit?, Chicago Drops Pacers, We Celebrate Steve Jones’ 1985 Run, Great Advice From Joe Newton

by LetsRun.com
October 13, 2015

Our weekly recap – the Week That Was – appears below. Past editions of The Week That Was can be found here.

We already provided many of our thoughts on the 2015 Bank of America Chicago Marathon in a separate article – LRC Dickson Chumba & Florence Kiplagat Win, Americans Luke Puskedra And Elkanah Kibet Impress, Deena Gets Masters Record – and recapped the US women’s 10k champs here: LRC The Molly Huddle Show Rolls On With 31:21 Win At USATF Road 10K Champs in Boston

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Questions or comments? Please email us or post them in our fan forum.

Chicago Drops Pacers

As people who have long been advocating that most races shouldn’t have pacers, we were pleased that the Chicago Marathon dropped them for this year. Races need to do things to make themselves more interesting. Don’t misunderstand us, we don’t hate pacers. We just think an obsession with time makes for horrible television. We personally think you could alternate having pacers – make it an every other year thing (or once every three, once every four, it doesn’t really matter), or maybe the Abbott World Marathon Majors work together and agree to designate one fall and one spring race each year as the one that will have pacers. New York and Boston with pacers once every four or five years would also be an interesting story line. Pacers should be an exception to the norm in races, not the norm.

So in principle, moving forward, we liked race director Carey Pinkowski’s post-race comments to Phil Hersh. When asked about what he thought about the Kenyans complaining about the lack of pacers, Pinkowski said, “I thought it was great theater. If they (Dickson Chumba and Sammy Kitwara) didn’t like it, they can go to Berlin (which is paced) next year. This wasn’t a qualifying round for the 1,500 meters.”

Luke Puskedra Got a Lot More TV Time Because of Lack of Pacers

Luke Puskedra Got a Lot More TV Time Because of Lack of Pacers

That being said, we personally have sympathy for the top finishers this year. The fact of the matter is most of the elites signed up for the race thinking there were pacers. Check out how David Monti reported how Lucas Rotich said he found about the lack of pacers:

“Midway, they decided that there were no pacemakers. I just read this on LetsRun.com about no pacemakers in Chicago.”

The lack of pacers clearly cost the top pros some real money as historically a significant amount of money has gone to time bonuses in Chicago. In the 2014 men’s race, there was $200,000 in prize money in Chicago and $145,000 in time bonuses. In the 2015 men’s race, $0 in time bonuses were paid out without the rabbits even though the time bonuses were made easier to hit. The breakdown for time bonuses in 2014 and 2015 was:

Time 2014 Bonus 2015 Bonus
CR<2:03:45 $75,000   $75,000
Sub-2:04:15 $55,000 (1)   $55,000
Sub-2:05:00 $40,000 (2)   $55,000
Sub-2:05:30 $25,000   $40,000
Sub-2:06:00 $10,000 (1)   $25,000
Sub-2:07:00 $5,000  $10,000
Sub-2:08:00  $0  $5,000
Total time bonus $ paid out  $145,000  $0

The top pros who ran Chicago this year thinking there would be rabbits and they would pick up $40,000 or $25,000 in time bonuses went home empty-handed. Look how much less the top men made in Chicago this year compared to last:

Place 2014 Prize + Bonus $2015 Prize + Bonus Difference
1 $155,000 $100,000 $55,000
2 $90,000 $50,000 $40,000
3 $65,000 $25,000 $40,000
4 $25,000 $15,000 $10,000
5 $10,000 $10,000 $0
Total paid out $345,000 $200,000 $145,000

Moving forward, Chicago needs to think about how it wants to structure its combination of prize money, appearance fees and time bonuses. Do you get rid of time bonuses entirely? Or maybe reduce them and increase the prize money? Or maybe spread the time bonuses out? Having three at 2:05:00, 2:05:30 and 2:06:00 is putting an emphasis on time which is something we thought the race wasn’t trying to do. Or do you make it even larger for a super fast time to give someone incentive to go for it alone (and then how do you prevent a guy who knows he’s not in shape just working out a deal with another guy and becoming the unofficial rabbit?)?

This year may have been an anomaly as the lack of rabbits was announced less than seven weeks before race day, but normally people do what they are incentivized to do. If winning is what is most important, why not put more into prize money?

If you’ve got ideas, please email us or post them on the running messageboard.

More: MB: Chicago better or worse without pacers?
MB: Interesting. Lucas Rotich reads Letsrun.com

Don’t Rip Ryan Hall Unless You Also Are Willing To Rip Joan Benoit

Mention the name Ryan Hall to marathon fans and we know what some of the harshest fans will say. Something along the lines of, “He’s finished. What a waste of talent – how could such a big talent be done at age 30?”

We get it.

The now 32-year-old man with a 2:04:58 pb hasn’t broken 2:10 since turning 30 as his last sub-2:10 came at the 2012 US Olympic Trials at age 29 (in fact, he hasn’t even broken 2:17:50 since turning 30).

But something struck us last week when we were in Chicago for the marathon.

Ryan Hall = Joan Benoit Samuelson.

Joan Samuelson and Deena Kastor in Chicago last week

Joan Samuelson and Deena Kastor in Chicago last week

Let us explain.

Joanie has legendary status in running circles and for good reason as she was the first Olympic women’s marathon champ in 1984 and her 2:21:21 American record from the 1985 Chicago race stood for nearly 18 years.

But guess what? Joanie was basically finished as an elite marathoner after that 1985 Chicago race.

She would only break 2:32 once again in her career – and that didn’t happen for another six years (2:26:54 in Boston in 1991).

How old was Joanie when she ran that 2:21:21 in 1985?

28 years, 5 months, 5 days.

Hall’s 2012 Olympic Trials run came when he was 29 years, 3 months, 1 day.

Running marathons isn’t easy. We should appreciate the greatness people give us – even if it doesn’t last as long as we’d like.

Alberto Salazar‘s last competitive marathon finish – a 2:14:19 at the 1984 Olympics – came just five days after his 26th birthday.

Discuss this topic on our messageboard as we’ve got some more stats where we compare Hall to Joanie: MB: Ryan Hall=Joan Benoit Samuelson?

Don’t Forget About Steve Jones’ Legendary Run in 1985

Last week the organizers of the Chicago Marathon gave a ton of publicity to the 30th anniversary of Joan Benoit Samuelson’s American record win of 2:21:21 in 1985, but almost zero attention was given to the 30th anniversary of Steve Jones’s legendary winning run on the men’s side in 1985 (last year Chicago did honor the 30th anniversary of Steve’s 1984 world record run).

In 1985, Jones missed the world record of 2:07:12 by a single second in running the British record of 2:07:13 – which still stands today. By comparison’s sake, Samuelson was 15 seconds short of the 2:21:06 women’s world record.

Steve Jones (2nd from left) with LRC Founders Wejo (left) and Rojo (right) and Matt Taylor at the LRC Puma Party in 2008

Steve Jones (2nd from left) with LRC Founders Wejo (left) and Rojo (right) and Matt Taylor at the LRC Puma Party in 2008

Making Jones’ run all the more impressive was the fact that, without pacemakers, he went out in a ridiculous 61:42 for the first half. His first half included five straight sub-4:40 miles – the first time that ever occurred in marathon history (4:34, 4:39, 4:37, 4:39, and 4:38 for miles six through ten). For more about his and Samuelson’s historic 1985 runs, please click on this link which takes you to a copy of the first-ever edition of the now-defunct The Runner magazine. It will let people who have grown up with the Internet know what life was like before the Internet.

Thankfully, the Brits at Athletics Weekly and Bryan Metzer of Competitor.com didn’t forget about Jones’ 1985 run. Athletics Weekly caught up with him in Boulder, Colo., where he now lives and did a “Where are they now?” feature on him – Where are they now? STEVE JONES – and Competitor.com had a piece on him as well: King of Pain: Interview with Marathon Legend Steve Jones.

Jones doesn’t make a living talking about his running exploits from 30 years ago. Nope, he paints houses.

He occasionally runs but good luck spotting him out on the trails or streets.

“I still run, but only occasionally, not regularly. In fits and starts. If I do go out, it’s ten-minute miling or even slower, but I still enjoy it. I get a kick out of it.

“I run in the dark, early in the morning, so nobody sees me. I think to myself, ‘How the hell did I run that fast?’ My fastest marathon was 4:51 miling. I struggle to run a ten-minute mile now.”

If you read the Competitor article on Jones, you will find out why Jones may not be the best person for a marathon to have on site at a mass participation race. He’s incredibly honest.

Jones on how running has changed:

“Mass participation has hurt the sport, in my mind. It’s made a lot of people a lot of money. I have to be careful what I say because I get called out on it sometimes, but I don’t believe that starting and finishing a marathon makes you a marathoner. I don’t believe that. If you’re racing it to go as fast as you can, that’s completely different than being part of an event and just wanting to get from point A to point B. Like I said, I’m a purist. That’s not to say I dismiss people who are doing it. I have tremendous admiration for people who do that. I get emotional when I’m watching a marathon and see people after three and a half hours finishing a marathon. You start to cry, because you know what they’re going through. “

Jones went on to add, “The industry is huge, and the industry is running the sport now, not the sport running the industry” before even taking a swipe at the Competitor Group, “The focus has changed and now there are absurd headlines, and I have to say, you are just as guilty, publishing articles like ‘5 Weeks to a Faster 5K’ or ’10 Weeks to a Marathon PR.’ It’s bullshit. It’s just selling magazines or it just caters to people who are running 4 hours for a marathon or 25 minutes for a 5K.”

More: Where are they now? STEVE JONES.
*King Of Pain: Interview With Marathon Legend Steve Jones The former WR holder shares great insights on his career, old-school training methods, coaching and his problems with the sport today.
*MB: Steve Jones on running today

LRC Archives: MB: How tough was Steve Jones ?
*MB: Video of 1985 Chicago marathon Steve Jones and Joanie v Ingrid

Some People Did Run Fast Last Week (Just Not In Chicago)

With Chicago getting most of the coverage on our front page, we imagine most of you didn’t realize some fast times were put up at the 32nd De Lage Landen Marathon Eindhoven in the Netherlands last week. Chicago winner Dickson Chumba almost lost his 2012 course record of 2:05:46 as Kenya’s Stephen Chebogut ran 2:05:52 for the win – a big pb from his previous best of 2:08:01. For the women, Belgium’s Els Rens was the only one under 2:40, running a PB of 2:38:16

Sub-2:10 Times
1. Stephen Chebogut, KEN        2:05:52 PB
2. Deriba Robi, ETH             2:05:58 PB
3. Mark Kiptoo, KEN             2:06:00 PB
4. Abayneh Woldegiorgis, ETH    2:07:16
5. Edwin Kibet, KEN             2:08:17
6. Stephen Chemlany, KEN        2:09:04

Words of Wisdom from HS Coaching Legend Joe Newton – Is The Key To Building a Dynasty Tipping Well?

86-year-old Joe Newton of York (Ill.) HS is the most famous high school coach in US history. The father-son duo of Bill and John Aris at Fayetteville-Manlius (N.Y.) may have surpassed him in terms of national accomplishments, but no one has had a bigger and longer-running impact than Newton.

It was great to see a Chicago Tribune feature on him by Mike Clark over the weekend: Legendary York cross country coach Joe Newton still going strong at 86. The piece is full of many great nuggets of wisdom.

Newton admits as a coach you have to have talent to work with but even with talent, if you don’t have a personal relationship with your runners, you are doomed.

Newton uses his personal touch to keep runners, even those who don’t have a chance of making the varsity lineup, invested in the grind of training. He first learned how far a little extra effort can go decades ago, on a Christmas vacation in Florida with his wife Joan.

A hotel worker greeted Newton by name after not seeing him for a year.

“I remembered you were a big tipper and I remembered your name,” Newton recalls the employee saying. “That’s my business.”

Ever since, Newton has made it his business to do the same in his work.

“I learned that in coaching, a guy likes to hear his name,” Newton said. “So I try to call a guy’s name out every day in practice, try to yell his name out in a meet. And that’s one of the secrets. We’ve got that culture now.”

So that’s some free coaching advice for you from Newton. Now it’s time for some free life advice.

“I found out the people who are happiest in life are people who have a job helping other people,” Newton said. “You can make all the money in the world and what happens? You want more money and you don’t make more money. And you’re unhappy.

“But I’m happy every day, except when we lose. And then I’m unhappy.”

More: Legendary York cross country coach Joe Newton still going strong at 86

The Head Of The Canadian Olympic Committee Thankfully Resigns

We don’t know if sports attracts worse people to positions of power in non-profits than the rest of society, but 2015 has not been a good year for the sports governing body world. Self-enriching actions by members of FIFA have been exposed and now our neighbors to the north have been hit with their own scandal but with a slightly different angle.

Last week, the head of the Canadian Olympic Committee, 67-year-old Marcel Aubut, resigned after amid allegations that he had sexually harassed many women. He also resigned from his law firm and said he was going to seek help as Aubut said, “Today, to all those people and to all the others who have been outraged by what they have seen or heard in the last several days, it is from the bottom of my heart, the bottom of my heart, and with all the sincerity I am capable of, that I offer my unreserved apologies….Today, the wake-up call is brutal.”

How Aubut hadn’t gotten a wake-up call years ago is beyond us. His co-workers who looked the other way over the years should be ashamed, as should his friends who said last week he simply failed to adjust to a changing society. Really? Failed to adjust to a changing society. Here are some of the allegations.

  1. A woman, now in her 40s, said that in the mid-1980s she signed up to be a hostess for the Quebec Nordiques hockey team, of which Aubut was the president. So at the time, in the mid-1980s, Aubut would have been in his late 30s. Check out what it’s alleged he did to a 15-year-old, according to NationalPost.com:
    “The hand that descends a little too low to the upper buttock or the hand that climbs a little too high, with insistence, and brushes against the breast.
    You try to avoid falling prey, but it’s not possible. He is very strong. There was no way to extricate yourself. You had to endure Marcel Aubut.”
  2. Aubut thought it was perfectly fine to wear boxer shorts at his law firm as detailed on TheStar.com:

    Catherine, for her part, often saw Aubut in his boxers or half-naked in his office. “He was like that; he thought it was normal. I got used to it. One gets used to everything.”
    She went to human resources several times to discuss her boss’s attitude. “They told me: ‘That’s our Marcel. He’s like that.’ There wasn’t anything to do. Since he was in a position of authority, we had to adjust to his completely inappropriate behaviour.” 

  3. Aubut thought it was perfectly fine to tell a secretary she had nice breasts as he walked into a meeting. “He walked into city hall as if he owned the place,” said Denis de Belleval, who was the director general of Quebec City at the time, recalling the first time he met Aubut. “He told my secretary she had nice breasts, and then he walked into my office (to beg for millions in tax breaks).”
  4. A former executive assistant at his law firm said the following about Aubut,“I have never seen him respect a woman. Never.”

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

#1 – Aries Merritt Reveals Why He Finally Went Public About His Kidney Condition

“I just got tired of hiding it. I was tired of not letting people know why I wasn’t competing at my maximum potential. People were asking questions. People were speculating drugs. And I just didn’t want to be labeled as a druggie. And so, I wanted to let people know that I don’t take drugs; I’m human; I have a health issue – like normal people.

“I [also] felt like it was an inspiring story and it would inspire people to not give up and to keep pursuing things they love doing. That was one of the main reasons why I went public in Beijing.”

The quotes come from a nice feature on Merritt by Dave Hunter on Run Blog Run.

Speaking of Merritt, he amazingly is already back running. We’re serious. He had a kidney transplant after Worlds and is already back doing this:

More: Aries Merritt Is Recovering Nicely From His Kidney Transplant And Is On The Mend Dave Hunter catches up with the WR holder who is recovering nicely from his kidney transplant.

#2 – Give Him An A For Honesty

“I never thought to myself, ‘I’m going to beat these guys.'”

Luke Puskedra talking honestly to the Chicago’s Tribune‘s Phil Hersh after Sunday’s race.

#3 Give Her An F For Honesty

“I have a clear conscience. I can only repeat myself… I never tested positive, I never did anything which I should not have done at that time.”

-former East German sprinter Marita Koch talking to the BBC. Last week (October 6), Koch’s 47.60 400m world record celebrated its 30th anniversary. We actually agree with the first and last part of the second sentence. She never tested positive and she probably “at the time” would be expected to dope as an East German athlete. That doesn’t mean she should have a clear conscience.

More: Thirty Years Ago East German Marita Koch Ran The Still-Standing 400m WR Of 47.60; BBC Asks “Can We Believe It Was Genuine?” About 90% of LetsRunners will tell you, “Hell, no.”
*BBC Audio Discussion There is evidence that Koch cheated, but the IAAF can’t use it because of the WADA 10-year statute of limitations. Even so, the IAAF didn’t have to induct her into the Hall of Fame.

#4 Sara Hall Talks About Her Husband’s Struggles

“He has some hormonal imbalances which could quickly be fixed illegally by microdosing, but that’s obviously not the path he’s taking. I think he can get back to where he was, but he won’t be able to do it how he has done it in the past.”

Sara Hall talking to Runner’s World about how her husband Ryan suffers from low testosterone. We wish we’d asked her to clarify what she meant by “how he has done it in the past” in Chicago. If you know, email us.

More: Sara Hall Shares Her Thoughts Ahead Of This Weekend’s Chicago Marathon
*MB: Sara Hall piece – weird statement

#5 Great Sports Writing

“Another feel-good fairy tale ruined by the stain of steroids.

The Florida Gators storybook football season now feels like that thrilling Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa home run chase; or Lance Armstrong overcoming all odds to become a champion for millions of cancer survivors; or Marion Jones winning all of those Olympic gold medals to become a red, white and blue hero to teenage girls everywhere.

I guess we should have known this amazing Gator resurgence under new coach Jim McElwain was just another fish story that was too good to be true. Because — as we found out Monday when UF freshman quarterback Will Grier was suspended for the rest of the season for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug — it’s not true.

It’s not true at all.”

– excerpt from an Orlando Sentinel column by Mike Bianchi on the University of Florida suspending its quarterback a year for a failed PED test.

More: MB: Florida QB suspended for PED use – how often do football players get busted for PED’s?

USATF Critics – Read This

Important USATF Politics: Take a look at David Greifinger’s proposed changes so USATF won’t be able to screw the likes of Bob Hersh in the future

Recommended Reads

Aries Merritt is Recovering Nicely From His Kidney Transplant Dave Hunter catches up with the WR holder who is recovering nicely from his kidney transplant.

Free history lesson: Larry Eder recaps the career of Joan Benoit Samuelson in Chicago As she went from 2:50 in her first marathon all the way down to 2:21, the tough as nail Joanie helped women’s running arrive on the scene.

After Briefly Quitting Running And Gaining 23 Pounds, Luke Puskedra Is Heading To Chicago Looking To PR

King Of Pain: Interview With Marathon Legend Steve Jones

Chicago Favorite Sammy Kitwara Is A Kenyan Defying All The Stereotypes – “A great talent, with a late start.” 1) He’s from the Rift Valley lowlands 2) He didn’t start running until after HS. “I saw people from Eldoret running on television and I became interested,” Kitwara said. “So I went to Eldoret to try and started training slowly, slowly.”

Q&A With Sara Hall, Who Is Excited For A Chance At Marathon Redemption In Chicago And Excited To Be A New Mom X 4

Spikes Mag profiles US hurdle sensation – 20-year old Shamier Little Distance fans, we suggest you read this as Little is a stud and will be a star on NBC’s Summer Olympic coverage in 2016.

Recommended Reads from past weeks can be found here.

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.

Questions or comments? Please email us or post them in our running fan forum.

Correction: The article initially said Samuelson only broken 2:36 once again for her career after 1985, not 2:32 which is the corrrect time.