The Week That Was In Running – April 4 – April 10, 2016
April 13, 2016
Stat of the Week I
50% – Percentage of 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 U.S. relays teams coached by Dennis Mitchell that have not recorded a finish in their race since 2014. Here are the results.
4×100 Men (2/3 DQs, 1 gold): DQ World Relays 2014, gold World Relays 2015, DQ World Champs 2015
4×100 Women (0 DQs or DNFs, 2 silver, 1 gold): gold 2014 World Relays, silver 2015 World Relays, silver 2015 World Champs
4×200 Men (2/2 DQs): DQ 2014 and 2015 World Relays
4×200 Women (1 DNF, 1 gold): gold 2014 World Relays, DNF 2015 World Relays
Last week, USATF announced that Michell would stay on as national relays coach as they won’t be implementing a rule that a coach of a potential athlete on the team can’t be the national relay coach until after the Olympics.
A few thoughts.
1) Mitchell shouldn’t be the U.S. team coach. Coaching the U.S. team is an honor, not a right. Yes, Mitchell is a past doper. But that’s not what most bothers us about Mitchell. When Mitchell first tested positive for testosterone, he offered the famous “five bottles of beer and sex with his wife at least four times . . . it was her birthday, the lady deserved a treat” excuse which was accepted by USATF (but not by WADA). But when the Feds took over the BALCO case, Mitchell admitted he was a doper. As the NY Times wrote:
Mitchell testified in 2008 in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative steroids case that his coach, Trevor Graham, had set him up with banned drugs and that Graham had injected him with human growth hormone. Under oath, Mitchell said that when he was an adviser to Marion Jones in 1997, they had sought Graham’s counsel about performance-enhancing-drug use.
If Mitchell was way better than anyone in the U.S. at coaching the 4 x 100, we could understand hiring him. But his track record clearly shows that he’s not. By hiring a mediocre relay coach with a doping past who has not publicly come clean about it, USATF creates unnecessary controversy that harms it with fans and sponsors. The answer is simple: hire another relay coach.
One more thing on doping bans. While we’re fine with lifetime bans going forward (hopefully they are a huge deterrent), we’re not for retroactive extra punishment. Our sport needs to have an honest conversation about its past and it’s not going to get that if we prevent all past dopers coaching anywhere (do you think a college coach who doped in the 1970s or 1980s will come clean if he thinks he’ll lose his job?) or having roles in the sport.
USATF (and the NCAA Coaches Association and others) should come out and say “We are not going to employ anyone who commits a doping offense (that results in more than a six-month suspension) after April 13, 2016. For people in the past, the rule should be different: “We will not employ anyone who doped in the past until they publicly discuss their doping and express remorse.”
That has never happened with Dennis Mitchell. USATF lets him avoid discussing his doping past with the press. As a result he still is unfit to be the national team coach and from the stats above not a very good relay coach.
2) It’s not hard to train people to do a 4 x 100. We’d suggest using a college coach. They run relays all the time. Why not just pick the coach of the NCAA champions from the year before the Olympics and let them do it?
3) While we feel Mitchell shouldn’t be the coach, we think the new U.S. rule is stupid. Yes, there’s a conflict of interest when the relay coach is also the coach of an individual athlete on the team, but there are also advantages to having someone who knows an athlete on the team very well, particularly when it’s the best athlete (as in this case). The conflict could be avoided if a separate panel picks who actually runs on the team.
If you agree with us that Mitchell shouldn’t be the coach, then we imagine you’ll enjoy this 2014 NY Times article by Juliet Macur: Of All the Track Coaches to Bring Aboard.
We always thought that Dennis Mitchell’s excuse of that he drank “five bottles of beer and had sex with my wife at least four times” was incredibly clever. What are the chances that one would get tested the day after such an epic night?
Well, some other dopers have come up with much more creative explanations – we guess they have to in the year 2016 as explaining away abnormalities in the biological passport is much harder to do than a single test. Last week on the messageboard, we learned from “clerk” the excuses offered by former European champion Alemitu Bekele (who once was the 5th fastest woman in world history at 14:46.44 and ultimately ran 14:36.79).
Here it is.
She explained her irregular tests found in her biological passport over the years as being the result of the following acts. She truly must be the unluckiest woman in the world to have experienced all of these things in the span of 2+ years.
- vaginal bleeding following the abortion of twins on 21 May 2009
- food poisoning and gastrointestinal infection from 2 to 11 September 2009
- lung pathology resulting from underwater training with pure oxygen from 8 March 2010 to 25 September 2010;
- hyperthyroidism on 16 April 2010;
- severe malaria from 21 May 2011 to 10 November 2011.
More: *MB: D. Mitchell must be proud: Cyclist says he failed test as was recovering from bottle of wine, 6 double gins and sex w gf
*MB: Most memorable PED-bust excuses
*Scientists & doctors please chime in – Is EPO a prescription given to malaria patients as a 2:05 marathoner claims? (linked to Bekele post)
*MB: Why does USATF insist on hiring Dennis Mitchell (who is a convicted doper and on the surface not good at his job) as relays coach?
*Larry Eder Questions USATF’s Decision To Keep Dennis Mitchell On As Relay Coach Despite His Doping Past And Current Rule Changes “It makes USATF look like they will do anything to win a medal. It also makes USATF seem like they are above any rules, unless those rules work for them.”
BYU’s Shaquille Walker Breaks 1:45.00
Once again, there were a number of new NCAA leaders put up last week. Before we get to them, we want to make a correction from last week. Last week, we listed that Aaron Nelson as the NCAA leader in the 10,000 thanks to the 28:53.70 he ran at Stanford. A few emailers pointed out that was only partially true. Nelson is the NCAA D-I leader but D-III stud Ian LaMere is the outright NCAA leader thanks to his D-III record of 28:38.63. Speaking of LaMere, the coaches association did a nice profile of him last week.
Last week, there were 10 new collegiate leaders at the D-I level. In terms of mid-d and distance action, the only new mark was the 1:44.99 put up by BYU’s Shaquille Walker in his outdoor opener. Walker, who was third at NCAA indoors (and 5th outdoors last year and 6th at USAs) is now just the ninth American to break 1:45:00 during his collegiate career.
The 9 Americans Who Have Broken 1:45 in College
- 1:44.3+ Jim Ryun (Kansas) 06/10/66
- 1:44.70 Mark Everett (Florida) 06/01/90
- 1:44.71 Cory Primm (UCLA) 05/21/11
- 1:44.71 Robby Andrews (Virginia) 06/10/11
- 1:44.75 Charles Jock (UC Irvine) 06/10/11
- 1:44.77 Ryan Martin (UCSB) 05/12/12
- 1:44.86 Jonathan Johnson (Texas Tech) 05/15/05
- 1:44.94 Kevin Hicks (Florida A&M) 06/11/05
- 1:44.99 Shaquille Walker (BYU) 04/09/16
Walker was thrilled to break 1:45.00 as he told DeseretNews.com, “We’ve been preparing for this for quite some time now. I’ve been having dreams of what was going to happen in this race. It feels amazing to come out and perform well. It’s been an unreal night and I’m really grateful.”
Leading NCAA D-I Marks Set Last Week
100 hurdles: Nnenya Hailey, SR-4, Arizona, 12.96
400 hurdles: Sage Watson, JR-3, Arizona, 55.45
Pole Vault: Alysha Newman, SR-4, Miami, 15′ 1″ (4.60m)
Hammer Throw: DeAnna Price, SR-4, Southern Illinois, 237′ 9″ (72.48m)
400: Fred Kerley, Jr-3, Texas A&M, 45.10
800: Shaquille Walker, JR-3, BYU, 1:44.99
4 x 100: Texas A&M, 39.02
LJ: Braxton Drummond, SR-4, Charleston Southern, 26′ 7″ (8.10m)
Shot Put: JC Murasky, SR-4, Ohio State, 65′ 8.25″ (20.02m)
Decathlon: Karl Saluri, SO-2, Georgia, 8108
More: *Meet NCAA DIII 10,000 Record Holder Ian LaMere, Who Is On Fire In 2015-16
*MB: Shaquille Walker 1:44.99
*MB: Ian LaMere New DIII 10k Record
*MB: Where does D3 champ Ian LaMere finish in the D1 race?
Oregon’s Two Biggest Men’s Distance Stars Struggle
Not everyone ran great last week. As you likely already know, Edward Cheserek suffered a rare loss in a college race: Surprise of the Weekend: Edward Cheserek Outkicked by Washington’s Colby Gilbert in 5000m at Pepsi Team Invite in Eugene. What was lost in the focus on Cheserek’s loss was the fact that Oregon’s 1500-meter ace Blake Haney also struggled. Haney, who was 3rd at NCAAs in the 1500 as a frosh and was 2nd in the indoor mile in March, finished just 5th in the 1500 for the Ducks.
Top 5 Results – Men’s 1500 at 2016 Pepsi Challenge
1. Yorks, Izaic SR-4 Washington 3:41.56 9
2. Creese, Robby SR-4 Penn State 3:42.29 7
3. Prakel, Sam SO-2 Oregon 3:42.57 6
4. Nelson, Blake SR-4 Washington 3:43.19 5
5. Haney, Blake SO-2 Oregon 3 :46.08 4
Those results remind us that every runner is human and that they shouldn’t quite yet inscribe Oregon onto the 2016 NCAA outdoor track trophy. When everything is going well, the very best seem totally unbeatable but things can change. Remember, in 2013, Lawi Lalang was viewed as Chserek is now – basically unbeatable. And for good reason, as he ended up running 13:00 that year. But in 2014, he slipped to 13:03 and in 2015 slipped even more to 13:16.
One person who didn’t struggle last week was Haney’s 1500 rival, NCAA indoor mile champ Henry Wynne of UVA. The first 5000 of Wynne’s track career went well as he won it in 13:49.35.
Wynne’s UVA teammate had the most lucrative weekend, however, as Silas Frantz won $2500 by claiming the Collegiate Running Association 10-k Championships (Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10-K) in 30:46 (yes, in some situations you can make money on the roads and not lose your collegiate eligibility).
Fast HS Sprinting At Arcadia / Meet The Lyles Brothers
For the last few weeks, we’ve been giving you the collegiate leaders that were set during the week. We may have to start doing it with selected high school results as there are some ridiculous high schoolers this year. At Arcadia, the boys’ 400 clash between California’s Michael Norman, the 2015 CA state champ who ran 20.24/45.19 last year and Josephus Lyles, the HS indoor 60m champ this year (and World Youth 400 silver medallist) who ran 20.74/45.46 last year, was won by Norman in 45.51 as Lyles ran 45.94.
Perhaps Norman’s win was a little payback to the Lyles family as last year at USA juniors, Noah Lyles – Josephus’ older brother – beat Norman in the 200, 20.18 to 20.24. At Arcadia, Noah Lyles, who ran 10.14 for 100 last year (10.07 windy), ran and won the 100 in 10.17.
In distance action at Arcadia, 11 boys broke 9:00 in the 3200 but considering 18 did it in 2013 and 20 did it in 2014, that’s nothing to go ga-ga over.
Meet Nick Symmonds 2.0?
Mid-d and distance wise, the HS performance from last week that caught our attention was the solo 1:48.70 put up at the Pulse Invitational in Idaho by Michael Slagowski, the indoor national champ at the New Balance Nationals (1:50.29). Slagowski, who ran 1:51.85 (800m), 4:08.28 (mile), and 9:14.59 (3200m) last year, won by nearly six seconds. See the destruction for yourself.
Slagowski has already run as fast as Nick Symmonds (another Idaho superstar) did until Symmonds was a senior in college (Symmonds’ junior year pb in college was 1:48.82).
If you are worried about how Penn State is going to carry on its mid-d tradition when the graduate the likes of Robby Creese and Brannon Kidder, realize that Slagowski is going to Penn State next year. He and indoor Big 10 champ Isaiah Harris (a current freshman) should keep the Nittany Lions competitive for the next few years.
More: MB: Michael Slagowski- 1:48.70 SOLO
*MB: Hey, how fast was Nick Symmonds in high school? Thanks
Performance of the Week
Former University of Kentucky hurdler Keni Harrison, the 2015 NCAA indoor and outdoor champion in the short hurdles, was sensational last week. Last week, Harrison more than made amends for a disappointing World Indoors, where she clipped the first hurdle and was last in the final, as she ran a ridiculous 12.36 (1.4 m/s wind) in her outdoor season opener. 12.36 represents a .14 pb for Harrison and moves her to #9 all-time in world history.
The 10 Fastest Women’s Hurdlers In History (Via alltime-athletics.com)
1 12.21 +0.7 Yordanka Donkova BUL 28.09.61 1 Stara Zagora 20.08.1988 2 12.25 +1.4 Ginka Zagorcheva BUL 12.04.58 1 Dráma 08.08.1987 3 12.26 +1.7 Ludmila Engquist RUS 21.04.64 1r1 Sevilla 06.06.1992 3 12.26 +1.2 Brianna Rollins USA 18.08.91 1 Des Moines 22.06.2013 5 12.28 +1.1 Sally Pearson AUS 19.09.86 1 Daegu 03.09.2011 6 12.33 -0.3 Gail Devers USA 19.11.66 1 Sacramento 23.07.2000 8 12.34 +1.9 Sharika Nelvis USA 10.05.90 1h3 Eugene 26.06.2015 9 12.36 +1.9 Grazyna Rabsztyn POL 20.09.52 1 Warszawa 13.06.1980 9 12.36 +1.4 Keni Harrison USA 18.09.92 1rA Athens 08.04.2016
If she knocks another .14 off of her pb, she’ll be just behind the 12.21 WR – whatever happened to all of the great Bulgarian hurdlers? 😉
Raw Video: Spec Towns 100H-
Keni Harrison No. 5 time in U.S. history: 12.36
Jasmine Quinn NCAA-leading 12.97 pic.twitter.com/iHURM64KRg
— UK Track & Field (@KentuckyTrack) April 9, 2016
The runner-up in that race was Kentucky freshman Jasmine Quinn, who ran the #2 time in the NCAA (12.97).
Harrison wasn’t the only pro to run fast last week as shown by the links below.
- Keni Harrison Opens Season With A Stellar 12.36 100H To Put Herself 9th On The World All-Time List Her time was also a record for the fastest-ever season opener. *Discuss
- Grenada’s Bralon Taplin Runs World-Leading 44.41 At Sun Angel Classic Teas A&M’s Fred Kerley came in 2nd in an NCAA-leading 45.10.
*Grenada Sports Article On Taplin
- AW Weekly Round-Up: Walter Dix Runs 10.03/20.25 Sprint Double In Florida
- Jeshua Anderson Sets World 400H Lead Again With 48.92 At Sun Angel Classic
Indoor Marathon World Records Fall
The inaugural Armory NYC Indoor Marathon was held last week and two world records fell in the 211-lap race as Malcolm Richards ran 2:21:56 in the men’s race and Allie Kieffer ran 2:44:44 in the woman’s race.
We must admit we really enjoyed Ken Belson‘s recap of the race in the New York Times: Three Post Record Times in a Race Rarely Run: The Indoor Marathon.
In that article, Richards had the following to say after his world record, “It’s one of those stupid, ridiculous things you see, so I threw my hat in the ring and thought, ‘There aren’t too many other guys dumb enough to do this,’ so I thought I have a shot.” Belson’s opening three paragraphs were even better than that quote.
On a memorable night in 1908, New York was the center of the running universe as Dorando Pietri faced off against Johnny Hayes in front of a capacity crowd at the old Madison Square Garden, an indoor rematch of their epic marathon race at the London Olympics that year.
The New York Times called it “the most spectacular foot race that New York ever has witnessed,” with supporters waving Irish and Italian flags as Pietri won by 43 seconds, in 2 hours 44 minutes 20 seconds.
On Saturday afternoon, some of that old magic — minus the marching bands, the tobacco smoke and a large crowd — was recreated at the Armory in Upper Manhattan as six men and one woman aimed to shatter the world indoor marathon records. Three succeeded.
More: NYT: Three Post Record Times in a Race Rarely Run: The Indoor Marathon.
*LRC Men’s (2:21:56) And Women’s (2:44:44) World Records Set During Inaugural Armory NYC Indoor Marathon Malcolm Richards and Allie Kieffer are the record holders. *Discuss
(Note: The Armory advertised the Indoor Marathon and Relay on LetsRun.com. The above is not part of any advertising package. If we’re looking at the results right, we think Malcolm beat the time of the fastest relay team of the weekend. We’d like to see this be an annual event and a relay team go sub 2:00:00).
Stat of the Week II
1 – number of women entered in the individual race in the Armory NYC Indoor Marathon (there also were relay teams). Hence, when we wrote “Kieffer ran 2:44:44 in the woman’s race” and not “women’s race” we did so on purpose. It wasn’t a typo. Indoor marathons may be less intimidating next year thanks to Kieffer as her 2:44:44 was more than a 9 minute lifetime PR.
Weekly Free Coaching Advice – Don’t Surge – At All
Last week, Runner’s World caught up with 2016 US Olympic marathoner Jared Ward: Jared Ward and a Mind Made for the Marathon. In the piece, Ward talked about why he didn’t go with Tyler Pennel‘s mid-race surge.
Part of a large pack that hung together through the first 13.1 miles, Ward dropped to fourth when Tyler Pennel surged at 16 miles. “I didn’t know if anyone else could hold Tyler’s pace, but I knew I couldn’t sustain it,” he said. “I also knew that a marathon isn’t like a track race where you have to cover every move. I switched to a plan of managing the fastest pace I could maintain to the finish.”
We 100% agree with Ward’s statement. In a marathon, finding the “fastest pace” you can maintain to the finish is the way to go. But we’d go a step further and say that’s basically the way to do it in any distance race.
If you are in a 5k and running 70-second laps for the first 3200 and a guy throws in a 62 on the 9th lap, don’t run a 62 yourself unless you can run 62s to the finish. If you can bang out four 65s, then do that.
Over the years, we think distance runners are getting smarter and smarter. More and more runners are realizing that a mid-race surge is a bit of waste of energy. Just figure out how to get to the finish line the fastest and you’ll end up with the highest place possible. That strategy of “don’t surge” nearly resulted in Ryan Hill winning the gold medal at World Indoors.
While our “never surge” philosophy is getting more and more popular (Mo Farah has repeatedly won races this way – he even set the European half marathon record this way last year, winning the race after getting dropped), it does make racing boring for the fans. One of the reasons why the HS miles at the old Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden used to be our favorite races to watch was because the competitors would battle each other in the middle of the race like their lives depended on it. In college and the pros, where the racers are more experienced, people pretty much chill out for 800, get in position for 400 and then race for 400.
Ward also offered some good hydration advice to Runner’s World. “Staying hydrated is one of those things you have to learn to manage in a hot marathon, I think it’s a big deal to take on as much as you can. In Los Angeles, I was drinking right to the edge of a sloshy stomach,” said Ward.
The Olympic Marathon Dreams End For Abshero, Kebede, Kisorio and Geoffrey Mutai
The 2016 Olympic aspirations for a number of prominent runners including Ayele Abshero (2:12:18), Tsegaye Kebede (2:10:56) and Matthew Kisorio (DNF) all came to an end last week as they didn’t run fast enough in Rotterdam last week. Plus Geofffrey Mutai‘s 2016 Olympic dreams came to an end as well as he pulled out of the 2016 Boston Marathon due to a lack of fitness.
That being said, Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia, who has won three Abbott World Marathon Majors and the 2008 Olympic bronze medal, did pick up the 20th sub-2:11 of his career. That’s the most in history. Here’s how the sub-2:11’s break down for Kebede, who has a 2:04:38 pb.
Quotes of the Week (that weren’t Quote of the Day)
#1 Russian investigation reveals not “a single legally supported fact” in Russian doping scandal
“The general prosecutor’s office carefully examined the report in question and did not find a single legally supported fact to open any kind of case.”
-the Russian sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, talking to sports portal Sportfakt last week according to the AP about why no criminal charges will be filed as a result of the Russian doping scandal.
#2 The best people are just different
“Genius is always different. Whether you go in industry or politics or military or what have you, people who have unique skills, abilities and vision who sometimes get labelled genius are sometimes very, very unique. So in my experience, in my coaching, conformists don’t always get to the top.”
-super coach Dan Pfaff (who we’ve labeled a genius) talking last week to Athletics Weekly. Read the article for yourself but it seems like he’s talking about Greg Rutherford when the quote comes out.
More: Master coach Dan Pfaff
#3 The most shocking thing about the Russian doping scandal is that they actually got exposed
“Scandals, drugs, corruption – it’s gone on since time immemorial so none of this stuff is very shocking to me, maybe a bit surprised that key people and key topics are being exposed finally.
“Part of being an Olympic finalist or being a medallist or a coach of said person is staying focused on the task. Marshalling your energies towards the greater purpose.”
-Pfaff talking again last week to Athletics Weekly, this time giving his thoughts on the doping scandal. Pfaff did add that while he doesn’t know everything about the scandal, he did think the following, “I do think track and field is probably a little bit too big to fail in the IOC and WADA’s eyes so I think it is a complex puzzle and it is probably way above my pay grade to evaluate how to sort this out.”
More: Master coach Dan Pfaff
#4 Devon Allen Is Feeling Like Good – Almost Edward Cheserek Good