Week That Was: Do We Have a New High School XC Legend? – Plus We Love the Fukuoka Marathon, A Trail Running Update and Yes, Ryan Hall Returns to Racing

The Week That Was In Running – November 28 – December 4, 2016

by LetsRun.com
December 6, 2016

Last week saw high school stars Casey Clinger and Brie Oakley crowned national champions at Nike Cross Nationals in Portland (full LRC coverage here), while the Fayetteville-Manlius girls were victorious in the team race for the 10th time in 11 years (Montana’s Bozeman High School was the upset winner on the boys’ side). There were also a pair of big marathons in Sacramento and Fukuoka. We break all of that down (plus a Ryan Hall sighting) below.

Vin Lananna Campaign Pins Vin Lananna Campaign Pins

At the USATF Convention, Vin Lannana become the new President as Jackie Joyner-Kersee withdrew her candidacy. We’ll have a separate article on the convention.

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

Three Thoughts About The 2016 Nike Cross Nationals (NXN)

The first of the two US high school national cross country championships was held last week in Portland, Oregon. In case you were busy last weekend, you can relive our coverage here. Below we offer a few observations.

1) Girls champ Brie Oakley was very good – but not historically all-time amazing – and that may be a good thing.

Considering Colorado’s Brie Oakley only gave up soccer last year and is now dominating the NXN meet less than a year and a half later, it’s clear to us that Oakley is a major talent. Casual fans may see that Oakley, who will attend Cal next year, won by 28.1 seconds and think, “That’s got to be one of the greatest runs in high school history, right?”

Brie Oakley wins the 2016 Nike Cross Nationals Brie Oakley wins the 2016 Nike Cross Nationals

Nope. At least not according to Bill Meylan of TullyRunners.com, who has created a speed rating to compare performances in cross country races where each point is worth three seconds in a race. Tully rated Oakley’s win as a 165. A 165 Tully speed rating is nothing to be ashamed of – it would have won every NXN meet in history except for 2013 (Alexa Efraimson scored a 165.30 in that race; Meylan had Oakley at 164.63 on Saturday) and it would have won every Foot Locker meet since 2010 when Aisling Cuffe earned a 170.

That being said, according to Meylan, altogether there have been 23 performances of 165 or better at Foot Lockers over the years led by Amber Trotter‘s incredible 180 from 2001 (Can a Girl Really Run a 180 Speed Rating??). Think about what a 180 means. It means that Trotter would have defeated Oakley by 45 seconds. It also means Trotter would have beaten four boys at 2001 Foot Lockers (she ran faster than two of them on the day).

That seems crazy until you take a look back at the 2001 Foot Locker race. In that race, Trotter hit the mile in 5:03, where she led by an incredible 23 seconds and two miles in 10:21. For comparison’s sake, the splits at NXN this year were 5:20 and 10:52. In the process, Trotter won by 40 seconds and destroyed Molly Huddle, who was a star in HS (and would break the national 2-mile record that spring with a 10:01) and finished 4th in that race, 55 seconds behind Trotter.

You can take a look at the 10 fastest Tully speed ratings in Foot Locker history here. There are plenty of big names on the women’s side, and most of them at least had some good college success. But only one of them (Cathy Schiro) has ever made the Olympics and only two others won an NCAA title (Melody Fairchild / Jordan Hasay).

Contrast that to the boys’ side of the ledger, where a top-10 ranking virtually guarantees you a ton of future success. On the boys’ side, 8 of the 10 top XC runners in FL history have either made the Olympics (Dathan Ritzenhein, Adam Goucher, Marc Davis, and Ian Dobson) and/or won an NCAA title (Chris Solinsky, Don Sage, Edward Cheserek and Josh Rohatinsky). The other two on the list are Michael Fout (NCAA All-American) and Futsum Zienasellassie (3-time top 10 NCAA XC).

If you are under the age of 30 and unfamiliar with Trotter, she was open about her struggles with anorexia and never even ran D1 in college – she went to D3 Middlebury. A good article can be found on her here: Catching up, finally, with Amber Trotter.

More: Can a Girl Really Run a 180 Speed Rating?
MB: Remember Amber Trotter..

2) Casey Clinger may have been the first boy to repeat at NXN but Tully Runners was far from impressed.

Clinger Clinger

In winning the race, Utah’s Clinger earned a 200 speed rating. Tully Runners only lists complete speed ratings at Foot Locker through 1997 but the lowest winning mark since 1997 is a 203.

Now that doesn’t mean that Clinger isn’t a talent (he does have pbs of 1:52 for 800, 4:05 for the mile, and 8:51 for the 2-mile after all) or that the quality of NXN is bad (many pundits think that this is the first year that NXN is stronger than Foot Lockers on the boys’ side individually). It’s possible the smaller field size leads to higher speed ratings at Foot Locker than NXN. As Bill Meylan has explained in the past:

The [Foot Locker] ratings looked high to me as well in my initial research, BUT I also realized the race is unique … A small elite-only field of runners competing in a championship race with good weather and good course conditions plus media and sponsor attention … This encourages runners to run fast … The best runners will be challenged and will need to run their best to win … The high quality of the runners encourages runners to get “pulled-along” to their fastest performances ever … and that’s precisely what I was seeing in the results … Not that much different from elite runners competing in track races … The top runners finish very fast while the middle and back runners have more “normal” performances (or maybe a bit slow at the end) … And that’s how I profile Footlocker Finals.

More:  A Look at Some Footlocker & NXN Speed Ratings 2012
Footlocker Finals – Speed Rating History- Best since 1982

3) The Fayetteville-Manlius show rolls on

Bill Aris and FM win again Bill Aris and FM win again

The FM girls from upstate New York won their 10th team title in 11 years. That’s mind-boggling. Their dominance has led to two interesting discussions on our high school forum.

  1. Is their coach Bill Aris a genius? MB: What F-M coach Bill Aris knows that no one else knows…
  2. Besides great coaching, does FM benefit significantly from the fact that in New York state, middle schoolers can work out and race with the high school team if they are good enough? This year, three of FM’s top four were freshmen. MB: Doug Soles calls out NY/FM

Our answers to those two questions? Yes and yes.

The 2016 Fukuoka Marathon Was Fantastic on A Lot of Different Levels

The 2016 Fukuoka Marathon – the 70th edition of the historic race – was held on Sunday in Japan and it proved to be an exciting one on a bunch of different levels.

1) It featured a tight finish between two marathon studs

In the end, 2015 World Championship silver medallist Yemane Tsegay got the best of former world record holder Patrick Makau by running 2:08:48 [1:04:25/1:04:23] to Makau’s 2:08:57.

2 ) It featured a brave run by the people’s hero – Yuki Kawauchi – who was third in 2:09:11.

When he committed to the race, Kawauchi had said that Fukuoka would represent his last attempt to make a Japanese national team. However, in the buildup, Kawauchi injured his right calf three weeks ago after “training too hard too soon after his runner-up finish at the Nov. 6 Porto Marathon” and then he sprained his left ankle on a shakeout the day before the race.

Article continues below player.

However, Kawauchi refused to DNS or DNF and put forth a run that reminded so many why we fell in love with him in the first place. Here’s how Japan Running News’ Brett Larner described Kawauchi’s run.

“With everyone having pressured him to sit Fukuoka out and reset his London attempt to Tokyo or Lake Biwa, Kawauchi gave it everything he had on the uphill and last lap to take 3rd in 2:09:11.  With injuries to both legs it was a race of pure determination that showed the absolute best of what he is about.  This was his attempt, he had been invited to run, he had committed himself, and he considered it a moral obligation to see it through and live up to his word no matter what the personal cost.  Nothing was going to stop him, not even his own body.  With his final dream at stake Kawauchi delivered the miracle, tears streaming down his face and speechless.  He wasn’t the only one…

“But it was all about Kawauchi in the end, regardless of what the JAAF thinks of his performance in regard to London selection.  I’ve been lucky to travel around the world with him and to see many of his best races.  This was something else.  The pure essence of everything he has meant as a person and as a concept.  Transcendence of even the idea of conventional wisdom.  Count me among the people who tried to talk him out of doing it.  I don’t know how he did.  But sometimes in life you are lucky enough to witness something that elevates us all as human beings.”

3. The race featured a strong Canadian record attempt by 37-year-old Reid Coolsaet.

In the end, Jerome Drayton‘s 2:10:09 record, which was set in Fukuoka in 1975, survived, but not after being given a scare. Coolsaet, who didn’t think he was ready for a pb coming into the race, hit halfway in 1:05:03 and at 35k was still on 2:10:07 pace but he faded over the final 7.2 km. In the end, Coolsaet had to settle for his third career sub-2:11 (2:10:55).


The only thing not great about Fukuoka this year was our coverage of it. We give ourselves a thumbs down as we forgot to find a link to a live stream and start an official thread about the race. It would have been an easy watch for our US visitors – most Japanese races are given the time difference – as it started at 10 p.m. ET time on Saturday night in the US.

Fukuoka is a “dream watch” for distance fans. Why? Well, the race is only one gender, it’s not a mass participation race (the race only had 372 finishers) and there are no wheelchair races. Thus there are no TV distractions. You don’t have to miss the big break in the race because they are interviewing the other gender’s winner or showing you highlights from the wheelchair races or doing a fluff piece on some amateur runner. It’s a singular sporting event that happens to be a marathon.


We also should probably mention that the race served as the second marathon for Tariku Bekele, but it ended up with the same result – a DNF – as his first (2015 Tokyo). Bekele made it 30k with the leaders but then slowed about 20 seconds a mile between 30k and 35k (16:14) before barely making it to 40k (2:09:01 after a 21:27 5k).

Americans Run Well – For Americans – at Cal International

From an American perspective, the marathon to pay attention to last week was the California International Marathon, which runs from the Folsom Dam to Sacramento. There, spurred on by a $5,000 bonus for any time that placed an American in the top 10 on the US list for the year or a $2,000 bonus for any time that placed an American in the top 25 on the US list, three men broke 2:15.

The Americans were led by 30-year-old Daniel Tapia of the Asics Mammoth Track Club. Tapia didn’t break 10:00 in high school but nearly averaged 5:00/mile for the whole marathon as he lowered his pb from 2:14:30 to 2:12:28 (5:03.1 pace) to place third (#7 on the U.S. list for 2016).

Finishing fourth was former Arkansas runner Eric Fernandez, who ran 2:14:09 in his debut for the Hoka One One NAZ Elite team (#9 on U.S. list), just ahead of his former Arkansas teammate Scott MacPherson (Skechers), who ran a big pb 2:14:17 (#11 on U.S. list; previous pb of 2:18:39). It’s a good thing a marathon is only 26.2 miles as Fernandez had a little trouble after crossing the finish line.

Despite his post-race hiccup, Fernandez clearly enjoyed the race as he has written a blog post about his race entitled, “MY MARATHON DEBUT. WHAT A F***ING RIDE!”

On the women’s side of things, NAZ Elite’s Stephanie Bruce was second in 2:32:37 (#10 in U.S. this year) in her first post-pregnancy marathon (her pb is 2:29:35). 26-year-old Lauren Jimison was third in 2:33:22 (#12 in U.S.).

With other major marathons remaining this year, we think it’s safe to say there will be no U.S. man under 2:10 in 2016, which also was the case in 2015. Here’s how the top U.S. male and female runners stacked up on the world stage in terms of time. The # in the parentheses is their world rank coming into the weekend.

The US’s 13 Sub-2:15 Marathoners For 2016
1.   (115) 2:10:05 Galen Rupp Río de Janeiro 21-Aug
2.   (183) 2:11:20 Bobby Curtis Frankfurt 30-Oct
3.   (187) 2:11:23 Abdi Abdirahman New York NY 6-Nov
4.   (196) 2:11:30 Jared Ward Río de Janeiro 21-Aug
5.   (235) 2:12:01 Shadrack Biwott New York NY 6-Nov
6.   (255) 2:12:20 Meb Keflezighi Los Angeles CA 13-Feb
7.   (???) 2:12:28 Daniel Tapia  Sacramento CA 4-Dec
8.   (361) 2:13:56 Diego Estrada Chicago IL 9-Oct
9.   (???) 2:14:09 Eric Fernandez Sacramento CA 4-Dec
10.  (388) 2:14:12 Luke Puskedra Los Angeles CA 13-Feb
11.   (???) 2:14:17 Scott MacPherson Sacramento CA 4-Dec
12.   (437) 2:14:52 Fernando Cabada Amsterdam 16-Oct
13.   (451) 2:14:57 Tyler Pennel Los Angeles CA 13-Feb

The 17 US Women Who Broke 2:35 This Year
1   (45) 2:25:26 Shalane Flanagan Río de Janeiro
2   (55) 2:26:08 Desiree Linden Río de Janeiro
3   (86) 2:28:13 Molly Huddle New York NY
4   (87) 2:28:20 Amy Cragg Los Angeles CA
5   (115) 2:29:28 Lindsay Flanagan Frankfurt
6   (132) 2:30:06 Sara Hall London
7   (139) 2:30:24 Kara Goucher Los Angeles CA
8   (146) 2:30:40 Serena Burla Chicago IL
9   (163) 2:31:14 Janet Bawcom Los Angeles CA
10  (N/A) 2:32.37 Stephanie Bruce Cal International
11   (226) 2:32:50 Kellyn Taylor Los Angeles CA
12   (???)  2:33:22 Lauren Jimison Cal International
13   (247) 2:33:28 Maegan Krifchin Los Angeles CA
14   (251) 2:33:48 Sarah Crouch Chicago IL
15   (260) 2:34:00 Alia Gray Chicago IL
16   (292) 2:34:55 Clara Santucci Duluth MN
17   (292) 2:34:55 Neely Spence Gracey New York NY

More: MB: Daniel Tapia 2:12:28! CIM!
Kenya’s Nelson Oyugi (2:11:40) And Sarah Kiptoo (2:31:19) Win California International Marathon

Ryan Hall Returns To Action / Ryan And Sara Hall’s Kids Make Their Debuts / Ida Nilsson Returns To The Winner’s Circle

On the trail/ultra front, there were a few races of note last week.

At the 9th Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run World Championship Half-Marathon in Hawaii, the men’s winner — in dominant fashion — was former Oklahoma State standout Joseph Gray, who took down marathoner Nick Arciniaga by six full minutes, 1:17:15 to 1:23:15 (Arciniaga is staying in Hawaii this week and will race the Honolulu Marathon this upcoming weekend) to take home the title and $2,000. Gray now has two world titles in 2016 as he also claimed the World Mountain Running title in September. The margin of victory wouldn’t have been nearly as big in Hawaii as three-time champ Patrick Smyth was pretty close to Gray but he took two wrong turns and ended up being DQ’d. 2006 Foot Locker champion Chad Hall was third in 1:24:51.

Smyth wasn’t the only male to run off-course. Chad Hall’s older brother, Ryan, who just happens to be the fastest marathoner in American history, got lost and ran an extra mile before finishing 17th in 1:43.39. Even without getting lost, Ryan wouldn’t have been a factor as he’s retired from serious competitive running and now looks like this:

The Hall brothers weren’t the only Halls enjoying themselves in Hawaii as two of Ryan’s four adopted daughters from Ethiopia ran in the accompanying 5k. Hana was the first of the 155 women in the race (4th overall) in 23:02 and obviously also the first in the 15-19 category as well. Younger sister Mia (10-14 age group) was the 4th woman in 24:48.

In the women’s division of the XTERRA Trail Running World Championship, tennis player-turned-runner Polina Carlson was even more dominant than Gray as she won by 7:20 in 1:38:06.

Polina Carlson (photo via polinacarlson.com) Polina Carlson (photo via polinacarlson.com)

More: *MB: Did RYAN HALL win the Xterra trail World Championship today?
*XTERRA Trail Run World Championship won by Joe Gray and Polina Carlson
*5k Results

A trip to Hawaii is nice, but the big winner financially on the trail/endurance scene last week was 2004 NCAA steeple and 2005 NCAA indoor 5000 champ Ida Nilsson. The 35-year-old former NAU runner from Sweden won the 2016 North Face Endurance Challenge presented by Gore-Tex and $10,000 by covering the 50-mile course in Marin County, California, which features 11,175 feet of vertical gain (as well as 11,175 feet elevation loss), in 6:59:49 (8:23.8 pace). Finishing 2nd was 2008 Olympic marathoner Magdalena Lewy Boulet, now 43, who was the winner of the Western States 100 last year. The men’s race was won by Zach Miller in 5:56:03 (7:07.3 pace).

*MB: Zach Miller Ultra Runner – Possible Doper or Proof of Development Possibilities??

Let’s Get That NCAA Qualifier Out of The Way / Photo of The Week

2016 NCAA cross country champ Karissa Schweizer must not have taken much, if any, time off after NCAAs as she lowered her 5000 pb from 15:58.09 to 15:37.40 last week at Boston University. That time will definitely get her into NCAAs and it proves her coach Marc Burns knows what he’s talking about, as he said after NCAAs that he was saying all fall she could run 15:30.

To be honest, the NCAA XC champ running 15:37 for 5000 isn’t a surprise at all. We just wanted to mention Schweizer’s name so we could show you this photo.

Who said distance running isn’t exciting for the fans? The Missouri fans at the NCAA championships happened to be positioned perfectly – right at the exact spot where Schweizer moved into the lead.

*Full 2016 NCAA Cross Country Coverage

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

#1 Brie Oakley’s Talent Manifested Itself Immediately

“That first week of practice, she was up with all of our boys. So we knew she was going to be our top runner last year.”

-Grandview HS cross country coach Allyson Robbins talking in a John Meyer profile of Brie Oakley in the Denver Post from September about how it was obvious that Oakley was going to be a star when she joined the team in 11th grade after 12 years of soccer.

Despite Oakley’s talent, Robbins made Oakley run the open race at the prestigious Liberty Bell Invite as she didn’t think it would be right to let Oakley run for the varsity as she’d only been to a few practices. That resulted in chaos. As Robbins explained, “A lot of the other coaches weren’t happy with us because the lead biker got so far in front of everybody, the other girls didn’t know where they were going.”

Oakley said in the profile that she much prefers cross country to soccer. “In soccer, you could work hard but if your team was not working hard, it didn’t really pay off. In running I felt so much more confident, and my hard work was paying off. I’d come to practice and work hard, then I’d go to a race and it’s all about me. I don’t have to rely on other people.”

More: Brie Oakley of Grandview is the latest of exceptional young female runners in Colorado

#2 Running 5:55 Pace for 40k Doesn’t Wipe Out An Elite Male Marathoner For 12 Weeks

“Someone thinking that running 40 kilometers with my wife almost three months before Olympics affected my race then they know nothing about marathon training and running. I did many 40km long run at faster pace than what I did with my wife as directed by coaches.”

Wesley Korir talking to the Daily Nation last week, responding to a post-Rio Kenyan report that blamed his Olympic marathon DNF on him pacing his wife to a 2:35 marathon some 12 weeks before his marathon in Rio. Korir added, “The problem is people, who don’t understand marathon have now become masters of the game.”

Recommended Reads

To read our favorite reads from previous weeks, go here.

37-Year-Old Reid Coolsaet Running Out Of Opportunities To Get The Canadian NR, But He’ll Take Another Shot In Fukuoka

AP: Clean Athletes Wait Years For Stolen Prize Money That Never Comes

Dennis Young: “Everyone Says That They Want To Avoid A Repeat Of The 2016 Marathon Trials” From lack of water, poor medical support and a late start time in hot conditions, a lot went wrong at the 2016 Trials and Young concludes “it was probably the local organizing committee’s fault.”

Former Inmate Writes About Becoming A Runner While In Prison And “Running Boston” On A Treadmill Prison logistics, shoes without shoelaces and a treadmill that wouldn’t stay on for longer than an hour at a time were just a few of the obstacles Keith Giroux had to overcome.
*MB: RunnersWorld Celebrates Sex Offender Running on a Treadmill

GB’s Young Sprint Star Dina Asher-Smith Is Hoping To “Get Some Muscle” On Her “Little Chicken Wings” To Get To The Next Level In 2017 Asher-Smith won 4×100 bronze in Rio, but was 5th in the 200 and knows it’s going to be a challenge to get on the individual podium in London.*Short BBC Video Interview With Asher-Smith

Overweight High Schooler Was Motivated To Start Running By Bullies Who Called Him “Pillsbury Doughboy”; Now He’s A Sectional Champion Running changed David Czerwonky‘s life as he went from being bullied and overweight to 30 pounds lighter, a confident and decent high school runner and the school Homecoming King.

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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