The Week That Was In Running – May 2 – May 8, 2016
May 12, 2016
Last week was a fun one as pro track and field’s opening day was held in Doha. If you missed the action, we’ve already analyzed most of it here:
Nike and Adidas Want Everyone To Look The Same
Thumbs down to the designers at Nike and adidas who have once again decided to deck out their distance runners in identical singlets. Runners can’t be promoted as individuals when they are all wearing the same singlet. And the two companies’ singlets have looked remarkably similar the last two years. Last year, everyone was in purple, this year the color of choice is gray/black.
Unless you are a total freak like Asbel Kiprop, you have to wear gray/black in 2016.
Here’s how it looked last year.
Talk about this on our world famous messageboard: MB: Here’s how to end the stupidity of identical singlets in DL/pro races.
Edward Cheserek, The Underdog?
Not since his freshman fall has Oregon superstar Edward Cheserek been viewed as a legitimate underdog, but we think he’s got to be viewed as the underdog right now. Last week, Cheserek lost for the second race in a row – this time losing to an unheralded NAIA runner from Britain with pbs of 7:56 and 13:57 – MB: Down Goes Edward Cheserek (again)… King Ches just lost to a guy from Lewis-Clark State College.
It’s certainly shocking to see Cheserek look average in two straight races, but seeing Cheserek struggle should make us appreciate just how good he’s been and remind us that all of these athletes are human. That being said, two subpar races in a row is cause for concern. Athletes are allowed to have one bad race but when the have more than one, it’s time to get worried that the whole season might be a lost cause as it’s often hard to right the ship.
The fact that Cheserek raced at all last week raises red flags for us. Why would run your star the week before conference unless you were worried about his fitness (entertaining the home crowd is a legitimate answer as well)?
It still remains to be seen, what event (if any) Cheserek will run at NCAAs. He could obviously do anything from the 1500 to the 10,000, but at which event would you consider him a favorite right now?
If Cheserek runs the 1500 at NCAAs (we certainly don’t think he’ll do this), our favorite would be either reigning NCAA indoor champ Henry Wynne or Washington’s Izaic Yorks, who took down the likes of Evan Jager and Henrik Ingebrigtsen at Stanford.
If Cheserek runs the 5000, the favorite has to be Stanford’s Sean McGorty, who has run 13:24.25 this year.
In the 10,000, Cheserek might still be our favorite although NAU’s Futsum Zienasellassie has run under 28:00 outdoors this year.
Rather than analyze what NCAAs will look like to death, why don’t we just wait a few days. We should know a lot after this weekend’s Pac-12 Championships in Seattle. If Cheserek wants to run the 10,000 or 1,500 at NCAAs, he has to run it this week as he doesn’t have a qualifying time in either event.
Speaking of McGorty, his younger brother Brandon, just a junior in HS, took down Drew Hunter in an 800 in Virginia last week as McGorty, Hunter and Alex Lomong (yes, Lopez’s brother) all ran 1:48.
Speaking of college superstars looking average. What the heck is going on with former Arizona star Lawi Lalang? Last week, he failed to break 8:00 for 3000 at the Seiko Golden Grand Prix in Tokyo.
1. Dejene Gonfa, ETH, 7:51.99
2. Ben Blankenship, USA, 7:52.80
3. Ronald Kwemoi, KEN, 7:53.85 PB
4. Jonathan Muia Ndiku, KEN, 7:56.54
5. Stewart McSweyn, AUS, 7:57.34 PB
6. Lawi Lalang, KEN, 8:03.74
7. Malcolm Hicks, NZL, 8:03.97
8. Tetsuya Yoroizaka, JPN, 8:04.87
9. Dominic Chemut Kiptarus, KEN, 8:14.10 PB
That’s certainly not the start to the track season that Lalang wanted as the recent trend for Lalang hasn’t been a positive one. Check out what he’s run for a seasonal best in the 5000 the last three years.
We hope Lawi turns things around but as was the case with Cheserek, this wasn’t his first subpar showing of the year. In April at Carlsbad on the roads, he only ran 13:57 for 5k and he also didn’t have a particularly strong indoor season.
Hampton’s Ce’aira Brown Certainly Gets An A+For Effort
Hampton senior Ce’aira Brown is a stud. 7th at the NCAA indoors in the 800, she’s already run 2:02.82 this year.
Some superstars aren’t team players, but Brown certainly is. At the MEAC Championships last week, she ran six different races. She ran the 800 (prelims and finals), 1500 (straight final), 5000 (straight final), 10,000 (straight final) and the 4 x 400 (straight final) and scored a ridiculous 35 points at the meet.
|05-05-16||MEAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships||Outdoor||1500||F||4:32.08||1st|
|05-05-16||MEAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships||Outdoor||800||F||2:07.80||1st|
|05-05-16||MEAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships||Outdoor||800||P||2:10.45||1st|
|05-05-16||MEAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships||Outdoor||5000||F||18:02.73||4th|
|05-05-16||MEAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships||Outdoor||10,000||F||37:14.19||2nd|
|05-05-16||MEAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships||Outdoor||4×4||F||3:43.65||2nd|
In the end, all of that work wasn’t enough to give Hampton the women’s title as they finished second (139 points) to winner Florida A&M.
We Totally Respect Caster Semenya As A Person And Her Work Ethic, But…..
Last week, before the Doha Diamond League was even held, Ben Bloom of UK’s Tbe Telegraph wrote the following about Caster Semenya: “There is now every chance that Semenya, 25, could storm to at least one Olympic title this summer, attacking world records on her way and potentially turning her into one of the most controversial figures in athletics history.”
Now that Doha has been held and Semenya has made a mockery of the field despite running a tactically atrocious first 600 (See: Was Caster Semenya’s Final 100m in Doha the Fastest Ever Run in a Women’s 800?), it’s clear to us that Semenya’s story is going to be huge all summer long. That’s certainly not a surprise as we feared the worst last year: 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. We didn’t need a medical degree or a study to believe that large amounts of testosterone were going to help people run super fast.
It’s impossible to predict how things will play out for the rest of the year. Will Semenya (or World Indoor champ Francine Niyonsaba) dominate and break the WR? Might there be a protest by the other runners in the field?
While we very much believe that people with internal testes should not be competing in women’s competition without treatment, we do want to make one thing very clear. Semenya, herself, has done nothing wrong. By virtue of her birth, she’s in a very difficult position.
What her coach Jean Verster said about Semenya before Doha very well could be true:
“When she got here (in 2014) on the back of a relatively bad period in terms of performances she was battling with injuries, overweight, and unfit. We worked hard with her in the gym with our sports scientists. Last year was a bit of a learning school together and when we got everything right we focused on her power endurance.
“She works pretty much harder than any athlete I’ve known and that’s why she is where she is at the moment.”
Well, at least partially true. Semenya very well may have an incredible work ethic – one that should be admired by all – but that doesn’t mean she’s also not benefitting from an unfair advantage.
More: *LRC Was Caster Semenya’s Final 100m In Doha The Fastest Ever Run In A Women’s 800?
*MB: Gender and Bathrooms and T&F
*Ben Bloom: Gender Controversy Will Follow Caster Semenya To Doha And Through 2016
U.S. Women’s 800 Medal Hopes Go Down
The resurrection of the careers of Caster Semenya and Francine Niyonsaba isn’t the only tough development for the medal chances of American Ajee Wilson. The rise of Ethiopian women isn’t helping either. An Ethiopian woman hasn’t been one of the 10 fastest women in the world since 2011 (Fantu Magiso) but so far this year there are two Ethiopians in the top eight as 18-year-old Habitam Alemu, who was 6th at World Indoors, ran a national junior record of 1:59.14 for 2nd in Doha and 22-year-old Tigist Assefa ran 2:00.66, her fastest time since 2014, for the win in Tokyo.
The 10 Fastest Women Of 2016 (Outdoors)
1 1:58.26 Caster Semenya RSA
2 1:58.84 Sahily Diago CUB
3 1:59.14 Habitam Alemu ETH
4 1:59.74 Eunice Sum KEN
5 1:59.93 Malika Akkaoui MAR
6 2:00.58 Chrishuna Williams USA
7 2:00.64 Justine Fedronic FRA
8 2:00.66 Tigist Assefa ETH
9 2:00.72 Laura Roesler USA
10 2:00.82 Maggie Vessey USA
Stat of The Week
2:03.74 / 2:08.50 – The first mark is the what Mary Cain split on a 4 x 800 in 2011 as a freshman in high school. 2:08.50 is what she ran open last week (in a 2:05.36 race) in Oregon.
Speaking of Oregon, how about a Thumbs Up to former Oregon runner Carlos Trujillo for qualifying for Guatemala’s Olympic team by running 2:18:54 in Eugene on May 1, just barely under the 2:19:00 Olympic qualifying standard. Trujillo, the 2008 Pac-10 10,000 champ, started his career at Oregon on the club team as he was denied a chance to walk on as a freshman.
We love Trujillo’s story but don’t think it’s a good thing that an athlete can compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials in February and then transfer to Guatemala when that doesn’t work out.
Lolo Jones & Lauryn Williams, You Aren’t The Only Ones Making Both The Winter and Summer Olympics
Kudos need to go out to the Czech Republic’s Eva Vrabcova-Nyvltova, who ran a huge pb of 2:30:10 at the Volkswagen Prague Marathon to place sixth and more importantly likely qualify for the 2016 Sumer Olympics. Nyvltova is already a three-time Winter Olympian in cross country skiing, where her best finish was 5th in the 30k event in 2014.
The overall races in Prague were won by Kenyans Lawrence Cherono (2:07:24 PB [1:03:07 / 1:04:17]) and Lucy Karimi (2:24:46 PB [1:12:34 / 1:12:12]). If you want more info on Vrabcova-Nyvltova, she has her own website at http://www.evavrabcovanyvltova.cz/.
Father Time Gets Knocked Down
We all know that, unfortunately, in both sports and in life, Father Time is undefeated. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t occasionally get knocked down.
We want to give praise to South African Gert Thys. The 44-year-old South African record holder in the marathon (2:06:33 from 2009 Tokyo) won the Safari Half Marathon in Wellington, South Africa, last week in 69:14. Race Results Weekly also reports he won the race way back in 1996.
Quotes of the Week (that weren’t quote of the day)
#1 Nick Symmonds Doesn’t Think Highly Of a Lot of You
“I think they (the LetsRun.com messageboards) are full of some really unhappy people. I don’t read them, but I did when I was in college. Most of the pros that I know don’t read them. Pros are out training and enjoying their lives, not sitting around on their computer whining and bitching.”
–Nick Symmonds responding on Reddit last week when asked what he thought about the LetsRun.com messageboards.
We disagree. The messageboards are full of the most passionate distance fans in the world. The messageboards are our sport’s version of talk radio and a reflection of sports fan(atic)s in general.
But if Nick doesn’t read the boards, how can he say they are full of unhappy people? ?
#2 The Pot Calls The Kettle Black?
“T&F must separate itself from the Olympic cycle the way tennis has. Tennis has the Grand Slam events every year and they are HUGE events. Track needs to have 3-4 major events every year. NOT Diamond League bullshit meets.”
–Nick Symmonds, who skipped World Indoors this year (but did run it in 2014) and the Diamond League last year (we’ll give him a pass on World Outdoors last year), writing on Reddit about how track needs to have several really important meets each year – not just the Olympics every four years.
We are glad to see Nick is running the Shanghai Diamond League meet this weekend! That is what the sport needs. It’s definitely not a bullshit meet.
#3 Aries Merritt’s Thoughts Heading Into And Out Of Kidney Transplant Surgery
Pre-surgery: “With my luck, I might just die.”
Post-surgery: “I was like ‘OK, when can I start back training?’ That was the first thing I thought because Rio was coming up.”
–Aries Merritt, as quoted in a TeamUSA.org article on Merritt.
#4 He’s Got Toys Now
“I never had toys because we were so poor and couldn’t afford toys. I remember using shoes as a kind of toy. I used to get them from guys who no longer had any use for them and I used to try to make them look good.”
-2012 Olympic silver medallist Nijel Amos of Botswana talking to the IAAF about growing up in poverty. When he went to his first international meet, he bought a T-shirt in Rabat to show everyone at home he’d been there but then was hesitant to wear it when he got home as what he’d done was unusual.
Amos has gotten over his fear of showing his toys to others – he now drives a Mercedes.
It should be remembered that the 22-year-old Amos is still quite good on the track. In 2014, he was the fastest man in the world at 1:42.45. Last year, he was our pick to win Worlds as he was 2-0 against David Rudisha heading into Beijing and had finished 1st or 2nd in every 800 on the year, but surprisingly didn’t make the final even though he was just .26 away from Rudisha in the semi.
#5 Do You Think Solinsky Knows That Most NFL Teams Don’t Even Have Backup Punters?
“You can be the best in the world in track and field and you’ll never be as cool as the backup punter.”
–Chris Solinsky talking to Newsweek after he retired about why he’s not a household name.
#6 Let’s Hope The Best Is Yet To Come
“His mileage hasn’t gone above 60 and right now he’s only doing 45 to 50. That gives you room to grow when you get to college.”
–Bob Hays, coach of Michael Slagowski talking to Runner’s World last week about Slagowski’s training after Slagowski broke 4:00 on April 29.
More: Coach Bob Hays Talks About The Training Michael Slagowski Did To Go Sub-4 *Idaho’s Michael Slagowski Becomes The 9th US High Schooler And 4th In Last Two Years To Go Sub-4 In The Mile *Jim Ryun Is the Only High Schooler to Go Sub 4 Without a Rabbit in a High School Race
Weekly Free Coaching Advice – Sometimes It’s Better To Think Less About Running
We greatly enjoyed John Meyer‘s feature in The Denver Post on Sara Slattery‘s comeback at age 34 after a five-year hiatus to give birth to two kids. In it, there was an informative quote from her husband Steve (8:15 steeple pb). Steve thinks the fact that Sara now is a mom of two and also a college coach may help her running as explained below:
“When you run at a high level, it just wears on you mentally. Someone like her, an overachiever, she had a lot on her mind all those years just being a runner. Now the kids come first. Her running definitely takes a back seat to the kids. Then, being responsible for all these kids on the team has given her a different approach.”
The quote reminds us why many runners thrive in the collegiate system. They are so busy with school and college life that they don’t have time to screw things up by overthinking them.
If They Held A Road Race On The Moon With A $10,000 First Prize, Some Stud Would Figure Out A Way To Get There
Last week, the 4th Okpekpe Road Race was held in Okpekpe, Nigeria. The race offers huge prize money – this year it was $15,000 for first (last year it was $25,000). Sure enough, two studs showed up and got paid. The men’s winner of the 10k was Kenyan Simon Cheprot, who earlier this year was 6th at the RAK Half and World Half champs and has a 59:20 pb, as he won in 29:48. The women’s winner Polline Wanjiku, who won the Madrid half and was second in Paris earlier this year, and ran 33:30. RRW reports that Cheprot, however, only was paid $10,000 as there was a stipulation that you had to break 29:40/33:40 to get the full prize money for the race which was held “over hills and sandy paths.”
Previous Recommended Reads from other weeks can be found here.
Other News Of Note
- NBC: Navy SEAL And Former Indiana University Distance Runner Charlie Keating Killed By ISIS In Iraq
- Indy Star: “Navy SEAL Remembered For “Magnetic Personality” As IU Runner Keating had PRs of 3:52 (1,500) and 1:55.
- IU Mourns Passing Of Charles Keating
- MB: Navy Seal, Runner, infamous grandson killed in Iraq
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.