WTW: The Kenyan Are Really Good At the Half-Marathon, The Paralympics Come to an End, Drama at the World Triathlon Champs, Slow Times at the Philly Half, and Usain Bolt Gives Up On The 200?
This week we try to figure out why Kenyans are way better at the half marathon than the marathon, learn that it’s better (from a performance perspective) to be a double amputee than single amputee in the Paralympics, and wonder if fast times will ever return to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon.
The Week That Was In Running – September 12 – September 18, 2016
September 19, 2016
Last week the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon fields were released, we caught up with Abbey D’Agostino and Molly Huddle, two Americans won the world juniors in the triathlon, and Karl Meltzer broke Scott Jurek’s Appalachian Trail record. We talk about other things below so read those links if you missed any of that during the week.
The Kenyans Are Utterly Dominant At The Half Marathon
At the Copenhagen Half-Marathon last week, seven men broke 60:00 led by 22-year-old Kenyan James Mwangi Wangari‘s win in 59:07. In case you are wondering, that’s not the all-time record for most sub-60s in a single race. The record is 9 – achieved at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in 2014.
All seven men that broke 60 in Copenhagen were Kenyan. That’s not an anomaly. So far this year, 21 men have broken 60 in the half-marathon and 18 of them are from Kenya. The depth of Kenyan distance running consistently dwarfs what you find in Ethiopia, even though Kenya has less than half the population of Ethiopia (44 million versus 94 million). What’s interesting is it might be most pronounced at the half-marathon distance.
# of Sub-60 Half Marathoners By Country, 2016
Kenya – 18
Ethiopia – 2
GBR – 1
# of Sub-60 Half Marathoners by Country, 2015
Kenya – 21
Eritrea – 2
Ethiopia – 2
Bahrain – 1*
Great Britain – 1
New Zealand – 1
Uganda – 1
# of Sub 60-Half Marathoners By Country, 2014
Kenya – 22
Ethiopia – 5
Eritrea – 3
Morocco – 1
A similar list for the marathon is much more even.
# of Sub-2:07:30 Marathoners by Country, 2016
(Ethiopia actually has more sub-2:07s this year than Kenya)
# of Sub-2:07:30 Marathoners by Country, 2015
# of Sub-2:07:30 Marathoners by Country, 2014
We’re not exactly sure why Kenya dominates the 13.1 distance even more than 26.2 distance. Our theory is that there are so many more Kenyan runners than any other country that they need to try to make a name for themselves at the 13.1 distance to get noticed and get invited to a prominent marathon. The Ethiopians don’t need to do that as there aren’t as many of them. Plus the Ethiopian coaching may be better and more organized.
If you’ve got a theory, email us.
In terms of women, the Kenyan women are utterly dominant at the half as well.
# of Sub-68 Half Marathoners By Country, 2016
But not so much at the marathon.
# of Sub-2:24 Marathoners By Country, 2016
More: 22-year-old Kenyan James Mwangi Wangari runs #2 half marathon time of year – 59:07 – to win in Copenhagen Ethiopia’s Hiwot Gebrekidan Gebremaryam, a 21-year-old who ran a 2:34 marathon debut in Dubai this year, won the women’s race in 68:00.
*Czech Half: Barselius Kipyego rocks 59:15 half-marathon in Czech Republic. Peres Jepchirchir (whalf champ) wins women’s race in 67:24
Drama at World Triathlon Grand Final as Alistair Brownlee Gives Up Shot at Gold to Help His Collapsing Brother Across Finish
Olympic silver medallist Jonny Brownlee was clear of the field over the final half mile in Cozumel and on his way to victory until he started with the infamous wobble you see occasionally at the end of marathons and triathlons. The question soon was would he even make it to the finish. Behind Jonny, his brother Alistair (the two-time Olympic champ) was running side by side with Henri Schoeman battling for silver and bronze.
As Jonny rounded the final turn he wobbled near the side of the road and it was clear he wasn’t making it to the finish anytime soon on his own. He was barely moving. Just before he fell to the ground a man stepped out and he put his arm around his neck. At the same time, Alistair and Henri were running by, battling for what would now be the gold medal. Alistair saw his brother and immediately ran to him and put his arm around him and helped/dragged him to the finish where he fell on his face. Very dramatic stuff and worth a watch.
And in case you are wondering, Jonny got the silver (his brother threw him across the line first) and Alistair the bronze with no DQs for assistance. Assistance is allowed from competitors on the course.
Stat of the Week I
13:43 – time that the first 5k of the Copenhagen Half Marathon was run in on Sunday.
13:57 – winning time of the US road 5k championships last week in Providence which were held as part of the CVS Downtown 5k.
The winners in Providence were Ryan Hill with a late kick and Aliphine Tuliamuk who destroyed everyone in the women’s field by 20 seconds thanks to dropping a 4:43 first mile.
Stat of the Week II
63:25 – winning men’s time at the American Association for Cancer Research Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon on Sunday, which was won by Augustine Choge. That’s the slowest winning time in 36 years.
Stephen Sambu, who will be making his marathon debut in
New York Chicago this fall, ran with Choge for 10k, and then got dizzy and finished in 72:12. It was easy running for Choge after that.
The women’s winning time in Philadelphia was 71:49 (Buze Diriba). That’s the slowest winning time in 21 years. Not a good day for the for-profit Competitor Group, which puts on the Rock ‘n’ Roll Races. Humid conditions may have contributed to slower times, but they’ve got the resources to put on a better race with a deeper field.
In 2011, the race featured two men under 59:00, but the Competitor Group purchased the race in 2012 and we’ve got concerns on what direction they are going with the race. The race did have 2 sub 1:00 in 2013 and 2014, but has really tailed off the last two years on the men’s side. Participation is down as well. In 2011, the race had 16,476 finishers. This year, it had just 12,206.
We Couldn’t Have Said It Better Ourselves
Sunday, the 2016 Paralympics came to close. In the T13 1500 men’s race, the top three times were faster than the Olympic 1500 and some in the media acted like the Paralympians could have medalled in the Olympics, which is an absurd statement to make as it totally ignores the fact that the Olympic 1500 was extremely tactical. Kudos to Canadian Paralympian Guillaume Ouellet, who was 9th in the race, for calling out the media for its sloppy journalism. Ouellet told the CBC:
“They try to say that we are at the same level as Olympians and that’s not okay. I don’t think that’s the way we should promote Paralympic sport…
“There are tremendous stories out there. Give attention to those stories to draw more interest to the Paralympic Games and Paralympic sports in general.”
It’s a mistake for the media to try to compare the Paralympics to able-bodied athletics because on an absolute level, the able-bodied athletes are ahead. Focus on the competition and the inspirational stories – not comparisons in performance.
More Paralympic News: *MB: Blind paralympic athletes run faster than Centro
*LRC USA’s Mikey Brannigan Dominates 1500m at Paralympic Games
*Iranian cyclist’s death “casts a dark shadow” over Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, admits IPC President
Tatyana McFadden is Human and Even Gets DQ’d in 4×400
Tatyana McFadden’s Paralympics ended Sunday as well with a silver medal in her most famous event, the women’s marathon, as she was edged out by China’s Zou Lihong in a sprint finish (video below). McFadden had been trying to win 7 golds in Rio (100, 400, 800, 1,500, 5k, marathon, 4×400). She got gold in all her individual events except the shortest (silver in the 100) and longest (marathon). She actually was closer to gold in the marathon than the 100 (video of 100 here).
In the 4×400 her team was DQ’d and we haven’t been able to figure out why. Anyone know? That’s the one event the US Olympians normally manage not to get DQ’d in.
Quotes of the Week (that weren’t quote of the day)
# 1 It’s Tough To Medal If You Are Paralyzed
“I was throwing the 10 lb. hammer over 73 meters, which is heavier. But, two days before competition, my face swelled up. The left side of my face went paralyzed. My lips looked like a bad Lindsay Lohan, bad Botox going on there.
“(I got some medication for it and) I ended up sleeping for over 15 hours the next day, which is not a good thing. Usually with being a thrower, you need to manipulate your CNS, which is your Central Nervous System, so it’s firing on all cylinders. But, with taking Benadryl and Prednisone, it kind of knocks you down and you’re not able to activate your muscles like they need to to perform.”
-US hammer throw Olympian Deanna Price talking to WSIU.org about her Olympic experience and why she was unable to achieve her goal of medalling. The article states that Price “was able to receive an emergency treatment exemption to relieve the paralysis and swelling.”
# 2 It’s Actually Easier to Medal in the 400 if You’re a Double Amputee
“Oh, to be bilateral”
– US paralympic sprinter David Prince, as he watched his friend and training partner Greek runner Michail Seitis run the Rio Paralympic 400m final. Seitis set a world record for his division with a time of 49.66, but only finished sixth as the five who finished ahead of him were double amputees.
News.com.au has more on the technological advances for Paralympians.
#3 Valerie Adams Wants To Be A Mom
“I am getting a little bit on the clucky side … I’m Tongan, what Tongans don’t have children?”
– Valerie Adams talking to the Sunday Star Times about how she wants to start a family.
#4 Putin on the Fancy Bears Hack
“It seems as if healthy athletes are taking drugs legally that are prohibited for others.”
-Russian president Vladimir Putin quoted by Reuters about what has been learned after Russian hackers got into the TUE WADA database. We disagree with most of Putin’s take. Everyone is allowed to take the drugs under certain circumstances (see Deanna Price above). It’s not that much different than the normal person being not allowed to take certain drugs unless they have a prescription.
#5 This Guy Is Extremely Motivated To Run Fast
“Truly speaking, it is poverty that drives me to succeed. I am unemployed and I have a family to feed. Athletics is my source of income. So I have no choice but to be really disciplined when I train and race.”
–David Manja, talking to SuperSport after winning the South African cross country championships.
#6 What? We Thought The 200 Was His Favorite Event
“(Glen Mills) still wants me to do the double, but I’ve told him I would really like to just do the 100m, so at the start of the season we’ll decide exactly what (to focus on), but that’s what’s on my mind.”
–Usain Bolt talking to Reuters last week about his plans for 2017. In terms of going out with a world record, Bolt admitted that “it’s all beyond me now.”
- Nick Willis Gives Life Advice To His Twitter Followers
- Feyisa Lilesa Talks About The Internal Conflict He Faced When Deciding To Make His Protest In Rio And Speaking To His Family Since
- Feyisa Lilesa Writes Powerful Op-Ed In Washington Post
- Danny Mackey Blogs: “4 Rules For Coaching Your Spouse”
- Fascinating Scientific Study: How Much Do Heavy Shoes Slow You Down?
- Hear! Hear! Canadian Paralympic Runner Guillaume Ouellet Calls Out Media For Out Of Context Headlines Which Made It Sound Like The 1500 Paralympians Were Better Than The Olympians
- The Telegraph: “Hackers Have Raised Questions Of Morality Over Therapeutic Drug Use”
- Opinion Piece By InsideTheGames’ Nick Butler: “Control Or Independence? A Vital Crossroads In The Fight Against Doping”
- Wall Street Journal: “Mikey Brannigan’s Ready For The Long Run”
- “Mikey Brannigan Wasn’t Allowed to Compete in College. Now, He’s Going for Gold in Rio”
To read our favorite reads from previous weeks, go 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.