LaShawn Merritt And Kirani James On Track To Collide In Rio, Is Yohan Blake Back? Donovan Brazier Stumbles, A Marathon Legend Retires And Women’s Sport May Be Changing For The Worse

The Week That Was In Running – April 11 – April 18, 2016

April 21, 2016

Last week was a great week as there was a ton of fast pro action on the track plus the Boston Marathon (technically Boston was on Monday, but we’re including it here). We talk a little about the Boston in this article but if you missed anything, you can check out our compete 2016 Boston Marathon coverage here.

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

Fast Sprint Times In The Bahamas – The Men’s 400 Is Looking Like Must-Watch Drama In 2016

In recent weeks, we’ve been showing you the collegiate leaders put up during the previous week. This week we’ll also add in the pro world leaders as well as the pros are starting to get going on their 2016 seasons in earnest. In our mind, for the sport to be popular, people need to be interested in the sport as a whole – not just the distance events.

The second edition of the Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational was a huge success as seven different world leads were put up. The men’s 400 could be a real barnburner this year as both 2012 Olympic champ Kirani James (44.36 WL) and 2008 Olympic champ LaShawn Merritt (19.78 pb and WL for 200) showed fine form in the Bahamas last week in different events. Meanwhile in South Africa, reigning world champ Wayde van Niekerk got the win and his first sub-45 of the year (44.98).

2016 outdoor world leaders set last week

Women’s 100m: 10.95 Jenna Prandini USA (Mt. SAC Relays)
Women’s 200m: 22.26 Tori Bowie USA (Chris Brown)
Women’s 400m: 49.69 Shaunae Miller BAH (Chris Brown)
Women’s 400h: 54.84 Wenda Nel RSA (South African champs)
Women’s 800m: 1:58.45 Caster Semenya RSA (South African champs)
Women’s 5000: 15:20.44 Lauren Paquette USA (Mt. SAC)
Women’s HJ: 1.95m Akela Jones BAR / Kansas State (Mt. SAC)
Women’s PV: 4.80m Sandi Morris USA (Pittsburg State Gorilla Classic)

Article continues below player.

Men’s 100m: 9.95 Yohan Blake (Jamaica, wind-legal); 9.90 Justin Gatlin USA (Chris Brown, wind-aided), 9.90 Ameer Webb USA (Mt. SAC, wind-aided)
Men’s 110h: 13.35 pb Johnathan Cabral CAN (Mt. SAC, wind-legal); 13.30 David Oliver USA (Chris Brown, wind-aided)
Men’s 400h: 48.36 Johnny Dutch USA (Chris Brown)
Men’s 200: 19.78 pb LaShawn Merritt USA (Chris Brown)
Men’s 400: 44.36 Kirani James (Chris Brown)
Men’s 800: 1:44.6h Asbel Kiprop KEN (Eldoret)
Men’s LJ: 8.34m Rushwal Samaai RSA (South African champs)
Men’s TJ: 17.11m Christian Taylor USA (Chris Brown)
Men’s SP: 21.34m Ryan Crouser USA (Texas Invitational)

Kudos to former Baylor runner Lauren Paquette, née Hagans, for clocking a world leader and Olympic standard of 15:20.44 in her 5000 debut at the age of 29.

Stat of the Week I

1,325 days (3 years, 7 months, 17 days) – time between Yohan Blake‘s last two sub-10 100-meter races. Blake, who was the youngest 100 world champ ever at 21 in 2011, earned silvers at the 2012 Olympics in the 100 and 200 and gold in the 4×100 relay. 

As fans of the sport, we were pumped to see Blake, who hadn’t broken 10.00 since August 2012, do so once again last week in Kingston, running 9.95. He has struggled mightily with injuries in recent years and many thought he’d never break 10.00 again.

It needs to be remembered the 26-year-old Blake has PBs of 9.69 and 19.26 — only Usain Bolt has ever run faster at either distance. To give you a sign of how much he’s struggled in recent years, realize he hasn’t even broken 21.00 for 200 since 2014. Two weeks before his sub-10 in Kingston, he ran 21.33 into a massive headwind (-4.2 m/s) but said he felt better than ever. We were skeptical, but the 9.95 shows it’s not just talk.

Sprint talk on the MB: IT’S ON! LaShawn Merritt runs 19.78 wind legal!

Stat of the Week II

13.18 – combined margin of victory across three events — all on the same day — for Caster Semenya at last week’s South African Championships. Semenya won the 400 by 2.56 (50.74), then came back 50 minutes later and won the 800 by 7.30 (1:58.45, off of a 61 first lap) and then a few hours later won the 1500 by 3.32 (4:10.91).

That’s what happen when you allow people with internal testes to compete in the women’s category.

This was all so very predictable. In fact, we did predict it last July when we wrote this article:

The End Of Women’s Sports As We Know It? Is Caster Semenya The Favorite For Gold For The 2016 Olympics? The Court Of Arbitration For Sport Suspends IAAF’s Hyperandrogenism Regulations

If you read that article, you’ll see that we totally understand why CAS suspended the the IAAF’s hyperandrogenism rules. Courts want to be fair and act on facts. There apparently was no proven scientific evidence that the IAAF’s regulations, which barred women from competing unless they got their serum testosterone below 10 nmol/L or more, were scientifically valid and thus suspended them.

Well if you are looking for proof, we hope that the court acknowledges how drastic the performances of both Caster Semenya and Francine Niyonsaba have improved since the ruling. Before the ruling, Semenya hadn’t broken 2:04 last year and Niyonsaba hadn’t broken 2:07. Now Niysonaba is the World Indoor champ and Semenya is the outdoor world leader.

Coincidence? We highly doubt it. The fact that testosterone improves performance is beyond obvious.

More: MB: Hand her the gold medal(s) now – Caster Semenya completes ridiculous 50.76/1:58.46/4:10 double in span of 50 minutes triple in span of 4:10
*The Guardian’s Sean Ingle: “Caster Semenya’s Comeback Puts Her On Course For Rio Gold – And Controversy” Ingle talks to sports scientists Ross Tucker to explain how CAS’s court decision on hyperandrogenism has ultimately “changed the nature of women’s sport” … and not for the better. Ross Tucker: “The old rule was a workable compromise with a scientific basis. It was an attempt to manage a difficult situation and CAS have effectively removed the management. Now there’s no regulation and ultimately this changes the nature of women’s sport. … CAS were also saying that testosterone you inject is different from testosterone your body produces, which is ridiculous because it’s the same thing.”


Kaela Edwards Kaela Edwards

NCAA DI Leads Put Up Last Week / An Unknown American Freshman Runs 13:36

Women’s NCAA Leaders Set Last Week (DI)
Women’s 100: 
10.99 (1.7 wind) Hannah Cunliffe (Oregon – Mt. SAC)
Women’s 200: 22.55 (0.4 wind) Felicia Brown (Tennessee – Seminole Invite)
Women’s 800: 2:01.97 Kaela Edwards (Oklahoma State – Mt. SAC)
Women’s 100h: 12.66 (2.0 wind) Cindy Ofili (Michigan – Mt. SAC)
Women’s Steeple: 9:47.17 Elinor Purrier (New Hampshire – Ocean State Invite)
Women’s 4 x 100: 42.68 Oregon (Mt. SAC)
Women’s HJ: 6’4.75″ (1.95m) Akela Jones (Kansas State – Mt. SAC)
Women’s LJ: 21’5.5″ (6.54m) Gabrielle Farquharson (Rutgers – Seminole Invite)
Women’s Discus: 200’5″ (61.10m) Tera Novy (USC – Cal State LA Twilight)
Heptathlon: 6307 Akela Jones (Kansas State – Mt. SAC)

The 2:01.97 by Edwards at Mt. SAC came in a battle between the 2016 NCAA indoor mile (Edwards) and 800 (Oregon’s Raevyn Rogers) champs. Edwards came out on top as Rogers ran 2:02.81 (Laura Roesler won in 2:01.54). The night before the 800, Edwards ran 4:17.57 in the 1500.

Kudos need to go out to NCAA mile third placer Elinor Purrier for putting up an NCAA leader in Providence, proving there is no need for every college to spend thousands to go out to the West Coast.

Men’s NCAA Leaders Set Last Week (DI)
Men’s 5000: 13:37.24 Patrick Corona (Air Force – Mt. SAC)
Men’s 10,000: 28:47.48 Shaun Thompson (Duke – Mt. SAC)
Men’s 4 x 100: 
38.95 (LSU – Texas Invite)
Men’s SP:  67’0″ (20.42m) Nicholas Scarvelis (UCLA – UCLA vs. A&M)

A few weeks ago, we talked about how Ian LaMere‘s DIII 10,000 best of 28:38.64 is better than the DI mark. Well that’s also true for the DII mark in the men’s 5000 thanks to the great work of Adams State’s redshirt freshman Sydney Gidabuday, who ran 13:36.83 to win the title at Mt. SAC. With a name like Gidabuday, you may be wondering where he’s from. Answer: California (his father is Tanzanian).

Indoors, Gidabuday became the first person to win the 3000 and 5000 at the DII meet: MB: Sydney Gidabuday 5000/3000 DII Double (First Ever)

*MB: Mt SAC 5k: D2 Frosh CRUSHES in 13:36
*Post-race interview with Gidabuday


Brazier made 1:45.93 look easy in January Brazier made 1:45.93 look easy in January

Stat of the Week III

Unfortunately, not everyone ran fast last week.

5.63 number of seconds slower that Donavan Brazier of Texas A&M ran in his outdoor 800 opener (1:51.56) than in his indoor opener (1:45.93).

Brazier has managed to go from a guy everyone was clamoring for to run the Olympic Trials instead of the US juniors to a guy who might struggle to simply make the NCAA regional meet. Of course, it’s possible he’s not 100% healthy as he had to drop out during his prelim at NCAA indoors last month.

MB: Donavan Brazier is done.


Zach Hine at the 2010 NYC Half Mararthon Zach Hine sporting the LetsRun singlet at the 2010 NYC Half Marathon

Stat of The Week IV

30 – number of years since a Massachusetts-born runner had finished in the top 10 at the Boston Marathon until South Hadley native Zach Hine finished 10th on Monday, according to the Boston Herald. 1986 was a great year for MA as MA native Bob Hodge was 6th and MA residents Bill Rodgers (4th) and Dan Schlessinger (9th) were also in the top 10.

More: MB: Congrats to MA native and formell Cornell star Zach Hine – Top American at Boston Marathon 

Stat of The Week V

21 minutes, 25 seconds – margin of victory for former Alabama star Julius Bor in the Boston Marathon in Afghanistan Shadow Run, which the BAA supported by providing bibs, finisher medals and finishing tape. The 30-year-old Bor, who ran a 3:58 mile in 2008, clocked 2:35:56 for the US Army in Afghanistan.

A Modern-Day Bobbi Gibb / Tweet of The Week

How great was it that on April 9 – a week before people in Boston were celebrating the 50th anniversary of Bobbi Gibb becoming the first woman to run the Boston Marathon – that two women pulled a Gibb and ran the first-ever marathon in Iran even though they were banned from doing so?

More: Female runners take on Iran’s first marathon despite ban
*MB: Running historians – Can you tell me why / how Katherine Switzer became as or more famous than Bobbi Gibb?


A Japanese Legend Retires

Speaking of famous women’s runners, Mizuki Noguchi, the 2004 Olympic marathon gold medallist and Japanese record holder (2:19:12 in 2005) called it a career last week at age 37. In addition to her Olympic win in Athens, Noguchi also won in Nagoya (2002), Osaka (2003), Berlin (2005) and Tokyo (2007) and earned silver at the World Champs in 2003. The 2:19:12 she ran in Berlin is still the course record.

Brett Larner has written a nice tribute to her – Looking Back at Mizuki Noguchi – which we recommend you read as Noguchi isn’t nearly as famous in the U.S. as she should have been, possibly because, from the best we can tell, she never raced in the United States. Update: Larner says she raced in the US once, winning a road 10k in Denver in 2001 in 32:56.

She also was a standout at the 13.1 distance as her 23 sub-1:10 halves is the most in history.

More: Looking Back at Mizuki Noguchi
*Flashback: RRW Flashback: Paula Radcliffe Sets Marathon WR 13 Years Ago From April 13, 2016


Ethiopians Also Sweep Hamburg Marathons

“I think that without the wind I could have run under 2:20 today because it’s a fast course. This was one of the best performances of my career. I hope it will be enough to win Olympic selection.”

Meselech Melkamu talking after winning the 2016 Hamburg Marathon on Sunday in a course-record 2:21:54. backs up Melkamu’s assertion that it was windy as it reports the wind was between 10-15 mph during the race with one gust up to 25 mph.

As for the Olympic team, it will be an interesting decision that will be much clearer after London is run on Sunday. Melkamu, who is the second-fastest women in history at 10,000 (29:53.80), also ran Dubai this year, where she was third overall and the third Ethiopian in the women’s race behind two women who raced in Boston on Monday, Tirfi Tsegaye and Amane Beriso.

Tsegaye followed up her 2:19:41 win in Dubai win with a second-place 2:30:03 showing in Boston. Considering Tsegaye has run faster than Melkamu this year and beat her head to head, there is no way that Ethiopia should select Melkamu over Tsegaye.

It will be interesting to see how the Ethiopians rank Meklamu versus Beriso, who was 13th in Boston in 2:39:38. We think Melkamu should get the nod as a 3rd in Dubai and 1st in Hamburg is better than a 2nd in Dubai and 13th in Boston, but Beriso does have a better seasonal best time (2:20:48 vs 2:21:54) and Ethiopia often selects solely on time.

However, the debate of Melkamu vs. Beriso may end up being a moot point as five of the top seven women in the world in the marathon for 2015 according to will all be racing London on Sunday, including three Ethiopians who won a major in 2015.

#1 Mare Dibaba: 1st Xiamen (2:19:52), 2nd Boston (2:24:59), 1st Worlds (2:27:35) in 2015
#4 Aselefech Mergia: 1st Dubai (2:20:02), 4th London (2:23:53), 2nd NYC (2:25:32) in 2015
#5 Tigist Tufa: 1st London (2:23:22), 6th Worlds (2:29:12), 3rd NYC (2:25:50) in 2015

The men’s winner in Hamburg was Tesfaye Abera in 2:06:58. Considering Abera also won Dubai in a world-leading 2:04:24, it’s going to be basically impossible for the Ethiopians to keep him or Boston winner and Dubai runner-up Lemi Berhanu Hayle off the Olympic team.

Four Ethiopians are racing London this week – Sisay Lemma (2:05:16 pb), Kenenisa Bekele (2:05:04 pb), Tilahun Regassa (2:05:27 pb), Abera Kuma (2:05:56 pb) – but London appears to be likely won by a Kenyan none of the four were ranked in our top 10 for 2015.

Two-time Boston champ and 2016 Boston runner-up Lelisa Desisa should 100% still be in the mix for the Olympics (although he might not be as the Ethiopians in recent years have focused on seasonal best time) as he’s always in the hunt in majors.

Lelisa Desisa’s Last 6 Marathons

2:11:06   2nd New York 2 Nov
2:05:52   2nd Dubai 23 Jan
2:09:17   1st Boston 20 Apr
2:14:54   7th World Champs 22 Aug
2:12:10   3rd New York 1 Nov
2:13:32 2nd Boston 18 Apr

More: Dubai Winner Tesfaye Abera (2:06:58) And African 10,000 Record Holder Meselech Melkamu (2:21:54) Nab Victories Melkamu smashed the CR by more than two minutes to win easily over defending champion Meseret Hailu.*Finish Video

Video of The Week

At, we don’t normally devote a portion of our weekly recap to a collegiate women’s 4 x 400 from Ireland where the winning time was over 4:00. But we believe that there are three parts of our job: 1) to inform 2) to save you time and 3) to entertain.

You’ll certainly be entertained in the clip below with announcers Cathal Dennehy and Ronan Duggan. A dramatic finish always helps (and track always seems to sound better when the announcers have an accent). We’ve got the clip set to start on the dramatic final lap, but we actually enjoyed their chatter on the early laps as well. (Video here if it’s not showing up below correctly).

More: Comeback from the depths of hell in Collegiate 4 x 400m

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

#1 Mike Rossi was a popular man last week

“I did so because I wanted the world to know there is zero chance Mike Rossi ran a 3:11:45 marathon. Zero. By offering the money, I thought that was an easy way for people to understand how convinced of this fact we are.

“People who may not truly understand running might think it’s possible he did it. We wanted to say to them, ‘Our lives are dedicated to understanding this sport. Trust us, he didn’t run that time. We’re so confident we’ll pay him $100,000 if he can replicate it.’” co-founder Robert Johnson talking to the Boston Globe about Mike Rossi.

More: Globe article on race cheaters
* messageboard thread on Mike Rossi

“Our sport is facing a very difficult moment for us even to think about it. I do not think this is a discussion that should be happening right now . . . If someone runs under two hours I think I will say, that’s not true, that’s not possible.”

-Wesley Korir responding to a Boston Globe question last week about whether a sub-two-hour marathon was possible.

More: Is a two-hour marathon time possible?

Recommended Reads

The Guardian’s Sean Ingle: “Caster Semenya’s Comeback Puts Her On Course For Rio Gold – And Controversy” Ingle talks to sports scientists Ross Tucker to explain how CAS’s court decision on hyperandrogenism has ultimately “changed the nature of women’s sport” … and not for the better. Ross Tucker: “The old rule was a workable compromise with a scientific basis. It was an attempt to manage a difficult situation and CAS have effectively removed the management. Now there’s no regulation and ultimately this changes the nature of women’s sport. … CAS were also saying that testosterone you inject is different from testosterone your body produces, which is ridiculous because it’s the same thing.”

Phoebe Wright Blogs About Working Out With Her New 2:01 Ethiopian Training Partner

Greg Rutherford Uses DNA Analysis Which Tells Him To Do Hill Workouts As He Has Good Endurance

Marathon Cheating More Prevalent Than You Think – Investigation Reveals At Least 47 Runners Cheated Their Way Into The 2015 Boston Marathon

Previous Recommended Reads from other weeks can be found here.

Doping News of Note

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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