WTW: Mary Cain Races Against Men, Molly Huddle Continues To Roll, How Many Women Have A Realistic Shot At The Olympic Marathon Trials, A Runner Steals $1.5 Million, And More

The Week That Was In Running – September 28 – October 4, 2015

by LetsRun.com
October 6, 2015

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

We already provided our thoughts on the NCAA cross country action in a separate article: LRC NCAA XC Weekend Recap: Wisconsin Jeopardized The At-Large Process And Should Be DQed From Louisville + No. 1 Colorado Debuts And The Six-Man XC Team That Beat Everyone At Notre Dame.

How Many Women Have A Realistic Shot at Top 3 At The 2015 US Olympic Marathon Trials?

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Would you expect a 13:30 runner to beat a 13:00 runner in a 5k? What about a 14:48 runner and a 14:20 runner? The answer is of course not.

Ten seconds a mile is a lot and the same applies for the marathon, even if overcoming a gap of 4+ minutes (10 seconds * 26.2 comes out to 4 minutes, 22 seconds) over the course of a marathon is a little bit easier to fathom as one can always hope the superior athlete totally craters.

On the women’s side, it’s pretty clear that, barring injury during the buildup or race or some sort of food poisoning, sickness, etc., Shalane Flanagan and Desiree Linden are locks to make the team. Flanagan ran 2:21:14 in Berlin last year. No one in the field is within 5 seconds per mile of that. Desi Linden (2:23:54) is the only woman actually in the field that has run within 13 seconds per mile of that pace since the start of 2013 as Amy (Hastings) Cragg is the next-closest at 2:27:03.

The battle for the third spot is where things get interesting. Counting Cragg, six women have run between 2:27:03 and 2:28:48 since the start of 2013. Thus these women are the eight most likely to make the US Olympic Marathon team. Think of them as the equivalent of the eight U.S. men who have broken 2:12 since the start of 2013.

1  2:21:14  Shalane Flanagan  Berlin 2014
2  2:23:54  Desiree Linden  Boston 2014
3  2:27:03  Amy Cragg  Chicago 2014
4  2:28:01  Serena Burla  Amsterdam 2013
5  2:28:11  Kara Goucher  Boston 2013
6  2:28:29  Annie Bersagel  Düsseldorf 2015
7  2:28:40  Kellyn Taylor  Houston 2015
8  2:28:48  Lauren Kleppin  Los Angeles 2014

After that, there are nine women who have an outside shot, those who have run between 2:30:00-2:33:00 since the start of 2013.

9  2:30:41  Becky Wade  Sacr. 2013
10  2:31:15  Adriana Nelson  Boston 2014
11  2:31:39  Clara Santucci  Chicago 2013
12  2:32:19  Lindsey Scherf  Duluth 2015
13  2:32:37  Melissa Johnson-White  Chicago 2013
14  2:32:39  Deena Kastor  LA 2013
15  2:32:44  Sarah Crouch  Chicago 2014
16  2:32:49  Kristen Fryburg-Zaitz  Sacr. 2014
17  2:32:49  Wendy Thomas  Boston 2014

We guess on this outside list we’ll add in the six other women who have run under 71:00 in the half-marathon as 71:00 is equivalent to between 2:29:25 (McMillan) to 2:31:50 (JK) on the conversion charts.

18  68:31  Molly Huddle
19  69:44  Kim Conley
20  70:16  Brianne Nelson
21  70:46  Janet Bawcom
22  70:49  Sara Hall
23  70:53  Stephanie Bruce

If Huddle for some reason ran it, we’d add her to near-lock category with Linden/Flanagan. However, a smarter financial move for Huddle might be to agree to debut in New York next fall.

More: Last week’s analysis of the men’s Olympic Trials

Mary Cain Races For First Time Since July

19-year-old Mary Cain hadn’t raced since LetsRun.com founders’ day (July 24), when she ran 4:12.89 for 1500 in London. Over the weekend, she competed in a mixed-gender 5k cross country race put on the at famed Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. Cain ran aggressively against the men, going out in the lead for the first 1k, before finishing 10th overall (top woman) in 17:11.

17:11 is a fairly strong time on the course. The high school Foot Locker Northeast Regional has been held there for a long time and 17:11 would dominate that race most years. For example, last year’s FLNE champ, Brianna Schwartz, ran 17:35. The year before, Tessa Barrett ran 17:32 to win the girls’ race. The HS record for VCP is 16:46 and was run by Cathy Schiro back at FLNE in 1984 when Schiro was a 2:34:24 HS marathoner.

We couldn’t figure out what the overall women’s record is at VCP but 17:11 would certainly be competitively collegiately. Historically, the Ivy League Heps championships were always held at VCP and 17:11 would be the 11th-fastest time in Heps history (16:55.7 is the fastest).

Cain’s race in New York sparked speculation on the messageboard as to whether this meant that Cain was no longer attending the University of Portland since the fall semester started on August 31 (MB: So is it a fact that Mary Cain dropped out of U Portland?).

It’s natural for fans to ask about the status of one America’s most promising young pros. We tried to help put an end to the speculation and reached out to Cain’s management team (Ricky Simms is her agent) to get an official update on her school and training status.

Perhaps because of the LetsRun.com chatter and our inquiry, Cain put out a statement on her blog Wednesday clarifying her situation. She no longer is attending the University of Portland. She has followed her mom’s advice and gone “back to basics.” She’s living at home, attending classes at Fordham and is still a member of the Nike Oregon Project, but being coached remotely by Alberto Salazar like she was in high school with Kiwi John Henwood overseeing her day-to-day training.

More: MB: So is it a fact that Mary Cain dropped out of U Portland?

A Runner Steals $1.5 Million, Gets Caught, Doesn’t Pay It Back But Gets Welcomed To The Olympics?

The disgraced marathoner Liliya Shobukhova announced last week that she’s fully intending on competing at the 2016 Olympics (article translated from Russian). More depressing is the fact that after the 37-year-old’s ban was reduced by seven months for providing “substantial assistance” and after being cleared to compete in August, she wasted little time and already is back in action. On September 12, she ran in the Russian Half Marathon champs and placed 5th in 76:30.

While we personally believe EPO-type violations should result in lifetime bans, we’re fine with former drug cheats coming back to the sport as long as they properly serve their punishments. It’s our view that Shobukhova has not done this. Since she was banned for a Biological Passport violation, she was stripped of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Chicago Marathon victories, as well as her 2010 London Marathon win and 2011 London runner-up finish, as well as two World Marathon Majors series victories at $500,000 apiece. Just those performances alone add up to nearly $1.5 million in prize money that she needs to pay back.

Liliya Shobukhova’s $1.5 Million Theft
2009 Chicago – $75,000
2010 London – $55,000 + 25,000i
2010 Chicago – $75,000 + 40,000i
2009-10 WMM – $500,000 (unpaid winner is Irina Mikitenko)
2011 London – $30,000 + 50,000i
2011 Chicago – $100,000 + 40,000i
2010-11 WMM – $500,000 (unpaid winner is Edna Kiplagat)
i = time bonus
Total Prize Money Owed – $1,490,000

Breakdown of Money Owed
Prize Money Owed to Chicago – $330,000
Prize Money Owed to London – $160,000
Prize Money Owed to WMM/Mikitenko – $500,000
Prize Money Owed to WMM/Kiplagat – $500,000

We’re not aware of Shobukhova paying back any of the money and will try to confirm that this week when we are in Chicago. Until she does so, she should not be allowed to compete. Basically, her punishment involved both a suspension and fine and she hasn’t paid back the fine.

The Olympic Charter starts with its Fundamental Principals of Olympism and princple #1 talks about a “respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.” Shobukhova clearly has been lacking in that area.


That wasn’t the only significant doping news of last week. One of Eunice Sum‘s training partners, 1:59 runner Agatha Jeruto of Kenya, was busted for steroids.

More: Liliya Shobkukhova is planning competing at 2016 Olympics
MB: Eunice Sum’s training partner – 1:59 runner Agatha Jeruto – banned for steroids as is 67:32 half marathoner Josephine Chepkoech She’s also represented by Rosa Associates.
*Rosa Associates (Who Represented Jeruto) Hasn’t Made A Statement

Stat of the Week

— 53 minutes, 16 seconds – old women’s course record at the Medtronic TC 10 Mile.

— 51 minutes, 44 seconds – new women’s course record at the Medtronic TC 10 Mile after Molly Huddle destroyed the field to win the US road 10 mile champs by 92 seconds. Since Huddle barely missed out on a medal at Worlds in the 10,000, she’s unleashed that frustration on her competitors, winning the U.S. 5k, 10-mile and 20k champs over the past four weeks.

51:44 is also under Janet Bawcom’s ratified USA record for an all-women’s race (52:12), but the course in Minnesota is point-to-point and thus isn’t record-eligible even though it’s got a net elevation gain of some 50 feet. And there wasn’t a huge tailwind or anything. Weather Underground reports the wind was less than 5 mph during the race and coming from the east, which meant it was in the runners’ faces as they ran from west to east. 51:44 is equivalent to sub-15 and sub-31 (14:54/30:57). Even though Huddle wasn’t eligible for the US record, she had plenty of reasons to run fast as there was a $10,000 battle of the sexes bonus, which she claimed, raising her total payday to $22,000. Huddle started 6:18 ahead of the men and beat them by 5:03, giving her a 75-second cushion.

The #2-4 finishers in the women’s race also broke the old course record:

2. Neely Spence Gracey – 53:03
3. Alexi Pappas – 53:10
4. Laura Thweatt – 53:14

In the men’s race, Sam Chelanga earned his first US title in 46:47, edging Tyler Pennel by one second.

US Olympic marathon hopefuls are now officially praying that Chelanga doesn’t run the Trials in February.

More: LRC USA 10 Mile: Molly Huddle Crushes It, Sam Chelanga Gets First USA Title *Full Elite Results We have published more than top 10 results as some big names like German Fernandez (48:19) show up.

Stat of the Week II

$2,500 – amount of money that was won by former Loyola runner Sam Penzenstadler and former NC State runner Kenyetta Iyevbele for running just 4:16.07 and 4:52.34 at the inaugural Navy Mile on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

That’s a lot of money for such slow times although it should be pointed out that both race winners could likely have run faster if needed – Penzenstadler has pbs of 3:39/3:58 for 1500/mile and and Iyevbele has pbs of 2:02/4:20 for 800/1500.

Top 5 Results at 2015 Navy Mile

1. Sam Penzenstadler, 23, Arlington, VA    4:16.07  $2500
2. Yigezu Diriba Degefa, 29, ETH           4:16.76   1500
3. Ryan Hagen, 24, Fisherville, VA         4:17.00   1000
4. Donnie Cowart, 29, Winston-Salem, NC    4:17.38    750
5. Josef Tessema, 26, Colo Springs, CO     4:19.27    500

1. Kenyetta Iyevbele, 23, Raleigh, NC      4:52.34  $2500
2. Rachel Schneider, 24, Washington, DC    4:54.55   1500
3. Weynshet Weldetsadik, 19, ETH           4:56.06   1000
4. Kate Grace, 26, Sacramento, CA          5:00.02    750
5. Samantha Malmfeldt, 24, Youngstown, OH  5:00.73    500
6. Abby Farley, 22, Durham, NC             5:09.09

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

#1 Who is correct?

“All the experts in the field came to the conclusion that no, there is no way to believe that thyroid hormone could be performance enhancing,”

Dr. Olivier Rabin, science director for WADA, talking to the Wall Street Journal last week after WADA refused to ban thyroid meds.


 “Ukad formed the view, along with a number of other national anti-doping organisations, that thyroid medication, if used without a genuine medical need, is harmful to health.

“It can be used in a manner which is contrary to the spirit of sport and, in some circumstances, can be considered performance enhancing.”

-UK Anti-Doping chief executive Nicole Sapstead, expressing her disappointment about WADA’s decision to the BBC.

It certainly was an interesting week last week on the thyroid front as WADA refused to add thyroid meds to banned list. WADA’s science director said “there is no way to believe that thyroid hormone could be performance enhancing” and yet the head of UK Anti-Doping said it indeed could “be considered performance enhancing.” One of those two statements is incorrect. Which one is it?

More: Despite Heavy Lobbing From USADA And UK Anti-Doping, WADA Declines To Ban Thyroid Medication
*MB: Rupp certified: Rupp could medal in 2016 as WADA refuses to ban thyroid meds despite lobbying!!
UK Anti-Doping Chiefs Disappointed By WADA Ruling To Not Ban Thyroid Medication

#2 Proof Positive – The Smartest Track and Field Fans In The World Come to LetsRun.com

“Impossible to prove, but I might just have written more words on athletics than anyone else in the world!”

-Brit Mel Watman talking after winning our Running Warehouse World Championships Prediction Contest. Watman was the former longtime editor of Athletics Weekly.

Mel’s win shows that what we always say about LRC — the best part of it is you, our smart visitors — is true.

(Watman currently publishes an emailed publication, Athletics International, which has subscribers in over 50 countries. There is no website for it. It comes via email and costs $120 per year. If you’d like a free sample copy, email him.)

More: 77-Year-Old Legend Wins & The LetsRun.com Jinx Is Real: LRC $200,015 Running Warehouse Prediction Contest Recap

#3 Carl Lewis Says The Sport Has Been In Decline… Since He Retired

“I retired in 1997 and the sport has been in steady decline since then. I was one of the ones, with Sergey Bubka and Sebastian Coe, who set the model for what the sport was. I think sometimes you have to look backwards to move forwards.”

Carl Lewis as quoted as in Athletics Weekly.

#4 Your Check Is Waiting For You To Claim It

“R20 000 cheque awaits, you’re a great athlete. We trust now that you know will receive something you will come get it.”

-South African sports minister Fikile Mbalula, in a tweet to South African javelin medallist Sunette Viljoen, who had complained she was snubbed financially by the federation. Turns out, she didn’t bother to turn out to an awards ceremony where the checks were handed out.

More: Mbalula, Sunette in Twitter spat

#5 Thank Goodness Someone Talked The Black Lives Matter Movement Out of Their Plans of Disrupting The Twin Cities Marathon

“My hope is the marathon runners realized they’re not going to be able to finish this race and instead of being angry and complaining, that they join in in the protest and stand in solidarity because justice is all we are asking for. I’m not concerned about them feeling threatened. We’ve always been non-violent, we’ve been peaceful. Hypothetically we’d be more afraid of a car running through the crowd like they have in the past than we would a marathon runner reacting with violence.”

Rashad Turner of the St. Paul chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement talking to the local CBS affiliate before plans were scrapped to disrupt the race.

More: Twin Cities Marathon Organizers Respond To Black Lives Matter Plans
*MB: Black Lives Matter plans to disrupt Twin Cities Marathon

#6 Are Non-Corporately Owned Running Stores More Authentic?

“What kills me is the arrogance — that running specialty and name-brand doesn’t matter.

“People nowadays want to feel tied to something. They want to feel connected to something. How many people feel connected to Sports Authority? It’s not the same as your independent retail stores.”

Henry Guzman, founder of the independently-owned Flatirons Running Inc. in Colorado, reacting to the Denver Post to the decision by Finish Line to rename all of their running stores, including the Boulder Running Company stores, under the brand name JackRabbit. Next time you see JackRabbit, think Finish Line. 

#7 Rah-Rah Speaches Don’t Work in Endurance Sports

“You’d be surprised how little we talk about that (potentially winning the men’s and women’s NCAA cross country titles). I don’t have any pep talks or rah-rah speeches in me. They know what’s on the line. They know the kind of work it takes, and they know rah-rah stuff lasts 20 or 30 seconds and then there’s 24 minutes [of racing] to go. They look into each other’s eyes in early July, make an agreement and go to work.”

-Colorado coach Mark Wetmore talking to the Denver Post’s Daniel Petty last week. Wetmore’s two teams opened their seasons with strong wins last week at the Rocky Mountain Shootout.

More: Can Colorado Sweep The NCAA XC Titles This Season?

#8 Phil Knight Says If He Could Go Back And Sign Any Pre-Nike Era Athlete, It Would Be Roger Bannister 

“… Breaking the four-minute mile … A lot of people said it was impossible. I was a junior in high school [when Bannister broke the four-minute barrier] and my history teacher says, ‘The stopwatches were wrong, a human being can’t run that fast.’”

Phil Knight talking to USA Today about the one athlete he wishes he could have signed but didn’t sign (Nike didn’t exist at the time).

More: Phil Knight Says If He Could Go Back And Sign Any Pre-Nike Era Athlete, It Would Be Roger Bannister

#9 Proof Positive That Athletes Will Do Anything If They Think It Will Help Improve Their Performance

“One prominent example he (WADA science director Dr. Olivier Rabin) cited (of athletes trying things to improve performance that doesn’t work) is a practice seen with some regularity in German athletes, in which they infuse ozone into the rectum for the perceived benefit of improving their oxygen intake. It was brought up to our technology department, they come to us and say, ‘What is your opinion on this?’ We had a good laugh, because frankly it doesn’t work.”

– excerpt from a piece by Sara Germano in the Wall Street Journal.

More: MB: Not making this up: German athletes shoot ozone up their rectum to try to improve their performance

#10 You Gotta Learn To Be Physical If You Are Going To Race in Europe

“In high school in the U.S., sportsmanship is so important and so emphasized, and pushing isn’t allowed. People from different countries aren’t necessarily taught the same views. I saw that first-hand in 2009 when I was tripped in the world championship heats. From the gun, an Ethiopian athlete elbowed me, then kicked my legs out from under me. I got up and she continued to elbow me. And in [Lausanne, Switzerland,] I ran the 800, and before the race, the woman I shared a lane with warned me, ‘You no push,’ then proceeded to push me all over the track. Honestly, it made me laugh. You just have to be really grounded and refuse to let anybody push you around.”

Shannon Rowbury talking to ESPNW about how you need to be physical to survive racing in Europe.

MoreJenny Simpson And Shannon Rowbury Share Their Experiences And Give Advice On Racing In A Pack

#11 On What It’s Like For An Average Joe To Run With Geoffrey Mutai

“On the last day of my last trip to Kenya, Geoffrey Mutai, with whom I was pretty close, went for a run with me. We did about half an hour near his training base, and I was telling myself not to look at him while I was running, because I was going as fast as I could, obviously, and I knew he’d hardly be moving. Towards the end, when I was just about to call for an ambulance, he looked over at me and I saw one drop of sweat roll slowly down his forehead. That was my Olympic gold medal, right there.”

Ed Caesar, talking about what it was like to run with Geoffrey Mutai in Kenya. Caesar, the author of Two Hours: The Quest to Run the Impossible Marathon, is good friends with Mutai.

Tweet of the Week

That vehicle above is the home of 2:16 Olympic Trials marathoner Stephan Shay.

Marathoner Stephan Shay Is Living The Dream, Living In A Vintage 1960s Motor Home And Training For The Olympic Trials Shay spends most nights sleeping in various LA beach towns, living the life of a beach bum – except he runs 90 miles a week.
*MB: US OT marathon qualifer Stephan Shay lives in a van down the beach

Recommended Reads

Days After His Son’s Death, Cameron Bean’s Father Finishes Ironman In His Memory

WSJ Article On The Everyday Non-Pros Who Fight For A Spot At The Olympic Marathon Trials Despite Knowing They Have No Shot At The Games

GQ: Sneaker Wars: Inside The Battle Between Nike And Adidas

Jenny Simpson And Shannon Rowbury Share Their Experiences And Give Advice On Racing In A Pack Some free coaching advice from two of the best.

Marathoner Stephen Shay Is Living The Dream, Living In A Vintage 1960s Motor Home And Training For The Olympic TrialsShay spends most nights sleeping in various LA beach towns, living the life of a beach bum except he runs 90-miles a week.
*MB: Profile of US OT marathon qualifer Stephan Shay who lives in a van down the beach

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.