Week that Was: More Madness From the World Half Champs, Colleen De Reuck Still Has It, Some US Road Action and Should the IAAF Change the World Track Champs?

The Week That Was In Running – March 21 – March 27, 2016

by LetsRun.com
March 30, 2016

Past editions of The Week That Was can be found here. Questions or comments? Please email us or post them on our fan forum.

Stat of the Week I

27:31 – time it took Geoffrey Kamworor and Bedan Karoki to cover the 10km between 5 and 15km at the 2016 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships.

Yes, that stretch of the course was wind-aided but the fact of the matter is both the full half marathon course and the 15km split were record eligible. Kamworor and Karoki’s 15km split was 41:41. To put that in perspective for you, please realize that the U.S. record for 15km on the road is 42:22, a record which Todd Williams set way back in 1995 in one of the best runs of his great career. The British record on a record-eligible course was 42:39 (Jon Brown). Farah held the overall record of 42:29 on the non-record eligible Great North Run course (Editor’s note: Farah likely split faster than 42:29 when he ran 59:32 in Lisbon last year as 59:32 takes you through 15k in 42:19 if you run it even). On Saturday in Cardiff, Farah split 42:03 and found himself more than 20 seconds back.

That stat bring us to our Tweet Of The Week /Weekly Free Coaching Advice

It’s not as if Jon Mulkeen is revealing a secret. Coming into the World Half Marathon Championships, everyone pretty much knew that theoretically best way to beat Mo Farah is to simply run away from him mid-race. The problem is no one had been able to do that in a global championships since he joined Alberto Salazar‘s group – until Saturday.

What made it more remarkable is that Kamworor was able to run so fast after falling at the start, which brings us to our Video of the Week. How someone overcame this at the start to catch the leaders within 90 seconds is beyond us:

Article continues below player.

It’s also amazing to even Mo Farah himself who classily said this about Kamworor after the race,“I think Geoffrey is capable of breaking the [half marathon] world record, for sure. If he could run this pace in these conditions, he’s definitely capable of running a much faster time.”

More: *Complete World Half Marathon Coverage
*MB: Runner with GoPro captures video of Kamworor playing catchup!

Note: If you are a fan of history, we highly recommend you read this great article by Clayton Freeman that was in Jacksonville.com last year – the 20th anniversary of Todd Williams’ 42:22 scorcher: Twenty years after a cool Jacksonville morning that made American running history, Todd Williams still looks back on the day that helped to immortalize his career. Williams ran the first mile in 4:23.

Stat of the Week II / Jen Rhines Wins Big – Isiah Koech Doesn’t

$10,000 – amount of prize money won by 41-year-old Jen Rhines for finishing third in 33:21 at the 38th Allstate Sugar Bowl Crescent City Classic 10-K in New Orleans last week. Rhines triple-dipped: she didn’t just earn money for finishing in the top five but also earned bonuses for being the first master and setting a new masters course record. $10,000 is the amount of money that the bronze medallists won at the World Half Marathon championships won last week.

2012 World Junior 5000 champ Buze Diriba, who has a been fixture on the U.S. road circuit the last two years after finishing 5th at the 2013 Worlds in the 5000, was the overall winner of the women’s race in 31:57. John Muritu successfully defended his men’s crown.

It’s worth noting that the gradual decline of Isiah Koech continued in the race as he was only fourth in 28:37. It’s shocking to see Koech, who has an official age of just 22, putting up mediocre result after mediocre result. In 2011, at allegedly just 17, he ran 12:53 for 5000 indoors and ended up 4th at Worlds. The next year he ran 12:48 and was 5th at the Olympics. And in 2013 he earned a bronze in the 5000 at Worlds (should have been silver but he let up at the line). Yet in each of the last two years, he’s failed to break 13:07. 2016 doesn’t seem to be going any better for him as he was just 8th in the 3000 at World Indoors.

We know that his age may not be accurate but even if he’s five years older than his listed age, it’s surprising to see someone running so much slower than when they burst onto the scene. If you’ve got insight into how he’s failing to live up the great promise he showed when he first arrived on the scene, let us know by sending us an email.

38th Allstate Sugar Bowl Crescent City Classic 10-K Results
MEN (gun times) –
1. John Muritu, 19, KEN         28:02 PB $6000
2. Silas Kipruto, 31, KEN       28:07     4000
3. Dominic Ondoro, 28, KEN      28:13     2500
4. Isiah Koech, 22, KEN         28:37     1500
5. Tolossa Gedefa, 23, ETH      28:49     1000
6. Belete Assefa, 25, ETH       29:54
7. Mourad Marofit, 34, MAR      30:22

WOMEN (gun times) –
1. Buze Diriba, 22, ETH         31:57  $6000
2. Monicah Ngige, 22, KEN       32:10   4000
3. Jen Rhines, 41, Boston, MA   33:21   5000d + 4000m + 1000i
4. Veronicah Maina, 26, KEN     33:57   1500
5. Gladys Cheboi, 26, KEN       34:23   1000
6. Valentina Zhudina, 33, UKR   34:24
7. Mary Wangui, 23, KEN         35:11

More: John Muritu repeats as Crescent City Classic champion; Buze Diriba claims women’s title


De Reuck in 2008 at Chicago

Caroline Wöstmann and Colleen De Reuck Impress In South Africa

“Two Oceans is going to be [a] long training run I have not tapered at all for it and I do not plan to take a recovery day afterwards. The plan is to run the first 45 kilometres at an easy pace and then up my race tempo over the last few kilometres so that I can get used to finishing fast on tired legs. Hopefully I will still be able to sneak into the top 10 but I don’t think I will get a top finish.”

-South African Caroline Wöstmann talking last week before the Two Oceans (Ultra) Marathon, which she won for the second year in a row. Does that mean Wöstmann lied? Not at all.

Wöstmann did exactly what she planned on doing. Her coach said after the race he wanted her to run a controlled pace for the first 48km of the 56km race and then do whatever she pleased in the last 8km. That’s what she did. If the online splits are accurate, she ran the first 50k at 6:33/mile pace and then last 6km at 5:42/mile pace.

Wöstmann trailed by 4:59 at 28k, 3:31 at 42k and 53 seconds at 50k but ended up beating runner-up Tanith Maxwell by 1:11, winning in 3:44:44. Now she’ll try to defend her Comrades title in nine weeks. Last year, when Wöstmann completed the double of Two Oceans and Comrades she felt very tired and thus had decided to back her training off this year to feel better at Comrades.

American Colleen De Reuck (who is still the South African national record holder in the marathon thanks to her 2:26:35 in 1996) was also very impressive at Two Oceans. The 51-year-old De Reuck, who ran in three Olympics for South Africa and one for the U.S., broke the age 50+ 50k world record with her 3:27:38 split, crushing the old record of 3:41:57 by Lavina Petrie (GBR) in 1994. De Reuck ended up fifth in 3:53:07.

More: South Africa’s Caroline Wöstmann Defends Her Two Oceans Marathon Crown, Zimbabwe’s Mike Fokoroni Wins Men’s Title

A Track Race Of Note

With the outdoor track season just getting under way, there wasn’t much of note to report on last week but one result did catch our attention. Two-time NCAA 800 champ Brandon McBride of Mississippi State, who took things easy indoors this year and mainly ran relays, had a big PR in the 1500 last week at the 37th FSU Relays.

McBride came into the race with a pb of 3:55.68 and left with a 3:46.19 pb as he was the winner  (McBride did run 4:11.86 for the mile indoors this year). It’s not that often that you see a guy go from running a leg on a 3:06.90 4 x 400 (where McBride split 46.49 at NCAAs) in one race to a 3:46 in the 1500 in his next race.

Speaking of 800 stars, it’s worth reporting that 1:45.93 man Donavan Brazier appears to have recovered nicely from the back injury that caused him to drop out of NCAAs a few weeks ago as he ran a 1:50.6 split on Texas A&M’s 4 x 800 team that soloed a 7:21.43 last week.


Some things need to change more than others © Getty Images for IAAF Some things need to change more than others © Getty Images for IAAF

What About The Sport?

“We go from September to May when there’s not a lot to be talking or writing about. We have got to remedy that and to look at extending the season.”

Seb Coe talking last week about how he wants major changes to be made to the athletics calendar.

We are all for major changes but don’t agree that nothing takes place between September and May. The major marathons — Berlin, Chicago, New York, Tokyo, London and Boston — all take place, as do events like World Indoors, World XC and the World Half Champs.

We do agree with Coe that, aside from the marathons, events like World Indoors, World XC and the World Half are no longer events where all the best guys feel as if they have to compete. We’d like to see that change. When Mo Farah showed up at the World Half, it was a huge event. When he doesn’t, it’s not (and we gave him big props for showing up here).

One notion that we really liked last week that we heard on the BBC broadcast of the World Half Marathon Championships was the idea of promoting a “Grand Slam of Distance Running.” The commentators Paula Radcliffe and Steve Cram didn’t exactly spell out what events would be in the slam but it was clear that they had the World Cross Country Championships in it. Since the broadcast was of the World Half Marathon championships, we assume that would be on their list but aren’t 100% sure.

The ultimate four events for a distance runner to win would be world/Olympic titles at 5,000, 10,000, cross country and the marathon. If the 5,000/10,000 are too similar, they’d be the 10,000, half-marathon, XC and a marathon? Good luck winning all of those. Maybe we should find a Triple Crown.

We love the idea. What do you think should be the events? Tell us in our messageboard: MB: What events would you include in the “Grand Slam” or “Triple Crown” of distance running?

Coe also hinted that 10 days for a World Championships is too long. As track fans, we certainly don’t think the morning qualifying sessions of a championship should be hyped as things casual fans need to attend. If the NCAA or USA champs were held in our hometown, we’d 100% always tell the fans to go on the final weekend.

There is one way to shorten Worlds, have it become a finals-only event. That being said, there is no way you can do it on just one weekend and a lot of countries wouldn’t be participating. And we don’t think 10 days is automatically too long. A Grand Slam tennis tournament takes place over 14 days. The action needs to be compelling and having it over two weekends makes sense.

If you wanted to shorten it, we’d be open for two weekends of Friday-Saturday-Sunday or Thursday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday like March Madness (the NCAA basketball tournament in America). But then you’ve got to either get rid of some events or qualifying. One option we thought of: what about having the qualifying rounds at the Diamond League events two to four weeks in advance? You hold the prelims and semis at various DL events, people get to see how everyone looks, then there is a break and a big buildup in excitement.

Significant change for Worlds (not so sure about the Olympics) is not something we are opposed to. You could even do Worlds over three weekends in different locations. Have the Sprint Worlds Friday-Saturday-Sunday in one location. The Distance Worlds the next Friday-Saturday-Sunday in another location. And the Throw Worlds in another. Even four as the Jumps Worlds also need to take place.

However, the World Championships and Olympics are not the big problems with the sport. They are well attended and get good TV ratings. The problem is everything else in between where the stars rarely face on another.

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

#1 Don’t Try This At Home

“I was pretty fit at the point, [the alcohol] didn’t seem to affect me, judging by how I ran. I may have been a little sluggish warming up, but usually when I put on my racing gear on and the gun went off, I was a different animal.”

Steve Jones talking to Spikes about the day he set the WR for the half-marathon by running 61:14 in 1985 after drinking five or six pints the night before the race at a friend’s wedding, which ended at midnight. On the morning of the race, he had to drive 115 miles to get there.


#2 The World Loved Emil Zatopek 

“Sportswriters had been mocking him for this for years – for his grimaces, his clawing arms, his twisting torso: ‘He runs like a man who has just been stabbed in the heart’; ‘…as if there was a scorpion in each shoe’; ‘…as if he might be having a fit’; ‘..like a man wrestling with an octopus on a conveyor belt.’ He laughed it off gracefully: ‘I am not talented enough to run and smile at the same time.’ Yet in the heat of competition, it made him thrilling to watch: you could see, even feel, the effort that each stride cost him.”

-excerpt from an article by Richard Askwith in The Independent which itself is adapted from a new book that is coming out this year on Emil Zatopek – the only man to win the 5,000, 10,000 and marathon at the same Olympics.

Here is another great excerpt from the book:

“When Emil entered the stadium at the end of the marathon in 1952, 70,000 people chanted his name with such spine-tingling unanimity that one British journalist described it as ‘the greatest happening in athletics history.’ ‘At that moment,’ recalled Juan Antonio Samaranch, a future president of the International Olympic Committee, ‘I understood what the Olympic Spirit means.’

More: Emil Zátopek: The greatest Olympian vanished from public life after he defied Russian tanks in 1968
*Pre-Order the new book on Zatopek and support LetsRun in the process

#3 Track and Field Is A Winner-Take-All Sport

“Here’s the thing about American track and field and money: There is no middle class. You have the very rich, such as Allyson Felix and Ashton Eaton and Justin Gatlin and Meb Keflezighi, ones who have shoe and apparel deals and their names on power bar wrappers, living lavishly off endorsements. Then you have everyone else, existing four to a room while eating Top Ramen three times a day. The majority are dirt poor.”

-excerpt from a column by Ed Graney in the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Vashti Cunningham‘s decision to go pro with Nike, a decision with Graney felt was a no-brainer after she won World Indoor gold.

More: Vashti Cunningham’s decision to turn pro was golden

#4 Are Modern Runners Soft?

“In Seb Coe’s era there used to be a lot more depth in distance running…

“That’s partly a change in the culture, there’s much more pull on young people’s time now and better access into lots of different sports…

“It’s also a hard sport. Maybe we’re not as tough as we used to be. You have to be mentally tough to do such a physically challenging sport and maybe we have a different mindset these days.”

-two-time Olympic marathoner Liz Yelling of Great Britain talking last week to the Daily Mail.

More: Liz Yelling leaps to defence of Britain’s athletes after Lord Coe criticism

Tweet Of The Week II

A Non-Correction

Last week, a few emailers wrote us to say that our recap of the Seoul Marathonn was incorrect. We said the European record of 2:06:36 almost fell as 4th placer Tadesse Abraham of Switzerland ran 2:06:40, but the emailers pointed out that the third placer in Seoul, Mike Kipruto Kigen, has Turkish citizenship and ran 2:06:10. The emailers were wrong – our story was correct. While Kigen has Turkish citizenship, his transfer of allegiance from Kenya to Turkey hasn’t been approved by the IAAF as explained by Race Race Results Weekly:

Third place Mike Kipruto Kigen received Turkish citizenship last October and also goes by a Turkish name (Kaan Kigen Özbilen). However, the IAAF has not yet processed a change of allegiance for him from Kenya to Turkey. As such, Race Results Weekly does not recognize his mark of 2:06:10 as the Turkish and European record, at least not yet.  

Other News Of Note / Fast Teenage Sprinting

Recommended Reads

We share with you some of our favorite articles from the last week in case you missed them.

If you call yourself a distance fan, you must read the following article if you haven’t done so already: Excerpt From New Biography Called “Today We Die A Little: The Rise And Fall Of Emil Zátopek, Olympic Legend”

Did You Know? Steve Jones Was Hung Over And Running On Four Hours Sleep When He Ran 61:14 To Set The World Half Record In 1985

Previous Recommended Reads from other 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.

Past editions of The Week That Was can be found here. Questions or comments? Please email us or post them in our running fan forum.

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