The Week That Was In Running – January 30 – February 5, 2017
February 7, 2017
Last week, there was a ton of action with the Nitro Athletics meet in Australia, two IAAF Indoor Tour events in Germany, the Marugame Half Marathon in Japan and the Camel City Elite meet, Armory Track Invite and US Cross Country Championships in the US.
A huge thumbs up to Max King and everyone in Bend, Oregon, for getting the course ready for the 2017 USA Cross Country Championships even though a snowstorm rolled through town just two days before the race. The day before the race, King said it best, when he said “cross country nationals in Bend, Oregon, will be awesome as it’s going to be ‘real cross country.'”
Speaking of US Cross country. Paul Roberts, who attends DII CSU-Pueblo, won the US junior boys titles and proved that you don’t have to go to a famous program to be a great runner. Roberts, the only male four-time state cross country champion in Colorado history, was 5th at Foot Lockers in HS last year. Oklahoma State’s Michelle Magnani won the girls race. For both Roberts and Magnani, their results on Saturday were much better than what they achieved at the NCAA level last fall. Roberts was just 47th at the NCAA DII champs and Magnani was just 188th at the D1 NCAA champs.
In the senior races, the U.S. Army’s Leonard Korir continued his fantastic 2017 by winning the men’s 10k race in 30:12 while former Wichita State star Aliphine Tuliamuk destroyed the field in the women’s 10k race, crossing the line in 34:24, 48 seconds ahead of runner-up Laura Thweatt. We’ve posted the top 10 results below. We’ve bolded the athletes who we believe will be running at World XC in Uganda on March 26 (the U.S. sends six athletes per gender). We updated this piece on February 8 after hearing that Ferlic is declining his spot.
1. Leonard Korir, 30:12
2. Stanley Kebenei, 30:15
3. Shadrack Kipchirchir, 30:19
4. Sam Chelanga, 30:23 5. Chris Derrick, 30:28 — not running World XC (as explained here)
6. Trevor Dunbar, 30:34 7. Mason Ferlic, 30:38 — not running World XC (focusing on track)
8. Scott Fauble, 30:56
9. Joseph Gray, 31:02
10. Augustus Maiyo, 31:04
1. Aliphine Tuliamuk, 34:24
2. Laura Thweatt, 35:12 — not running World XC (London Marathon)
3. Kellyn Taylor, 35:37 — not running World XC (London Marathon)
4. Courtney Frerichs, 35:40 — not running World XC (focusing on track)
5. Sarah Pagano, 35:44
6. Elaina Balouris, 36:19
7. Stephanie Bruce, 36:21
8. Liz Costello, 36:36 — not running World XC (Boston Marathon) 9. Emily Pritt, 36:47
10. Natosha Rogers, 36:50
And in Kenya, it appears that they are finally listening to us. Athletics Kenya has gotten rid of any and all wild-cards for World Cross Country. If you’re not first six across the line at the trials, you’re not going to Worlds. We’ve always said there is no reason for Athletics Kenya to even hold training camps. Let everyone train on their own and then hold the trials at the last possible date allowed and you’ll have an unbeatable team.
An issue that’s been generating a lot of headlines recently has been the ability of countries such as Bahrain, Qatar and Turkey to effectively “buy” top East African runners, who then win medals for their adopted countries despite spending little-to-no time in the country. Several running personalities have been outspoken about the ease with which athletes can change nationalities, including Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack, who missed out on a medal at last year’s European XC Champs after Kenyan-born Turks went 1-2.
“I don’t think it’s right that people can just swap countries and change names whenever they feel like it,” she told RTE in December. “I don’t think those decisions should be allowed. I think it’s from the top that a change needs to be made. A lot of the problems in our sport come from the top down.”
In the past, IAAF president Seb Coe had spoken about how he wanted to look into the nationality-switching process and on Monday the IAAF announced that it would be freezing the transfer of allegiance process. This means that any athlete who has represented one country in international competition cannot switch to another country as long as the freeze is in place (it does not affect the 15 transfer applications currently being processed). It will also affect athletes who have gained new citizenship (even if they’ve never represented their original country internationally), but we don’t know how far back this policy applies. Is it only for athletes who have gained citizenship since the IAAF announced the freeze? What about athletes who acquired new citizenship in 2016? Or 2006? We’ve reached out to the IAAF for comment and will update this piece if/when we hear back.
Athletics commentator Tim Hutchings has long been critical of the old policy and was happy to see a change.
Agree 100% transfer of allegiance sit'n has reached farcical proportions. Wish it were retrospective; we've a problem for yrs ahead already. https://t.co/vzjSBwTN35
It’s been said that the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. On Sunday, we got the reverse of that as just days after learning that his 60:24 Scottish half marathon record from October’s Great Scottish Run would be invalidated as the course was found to be 150 meters short, Callum Hawkins set a new record of 60:00, which he ran to win Japan’s Marugame Half-Marathon.
Hawkins’ stupendous run at age 24 reminded us of the amazing run that Ryan Hall put up at age 24 at the 2007 Houston Half Marathon, where he ran his American record of 59:43. Random fact: running super fast half marathons at age 24 isn’t the only thing Hawkins and Hall share. They both also finished 26th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Hawkins’ 26th-place finish came at the end of his sophomore season at Butler in 2011 at age 19, whereas Hall’s came during his senior campaign in 2004 after having finished 2nd the year before.
The biggest difference between Hall and Hawkins is where they are coming from. At age 24, Hall was moving up to the half, having already run 3:42 for 1500 in high school and 13:16 for 5000 while at Stanford at age 22 whereas Hawkins is already an established marathoner at age 24, having placed 8th in London last spring (2:10:52) and 9th in the Olympics (2:11:52).
Hawkins is clearly in tremendous shape – we just wish he’d use that shape to test himself at the 2017 World Cross Country Championships in Uganda as he’s a good XC runner (2nd at Great Edinburgh XC this year). Instead, Hawkins has said he wants to get ready for the marathon at the London World Championships in August. We totally get why someone as young as Hawkins wouldn’t want to do two marathons in quick succession once again this spring/summer like he did last year, so skipping the Virgin Money London Marathon to focus on Worlds makes sense. But there is plenty of time to recover from World XC (March 26) to do a full marathon buildup for Worlds (August 6).
Now just because Hawkins has run 60:00, that doesn’t mean he’ll start being a worldwide star. 60:00 or faster is very fast for a non-African-born runner (6th-best all-time) but 149 runners in history have run that fast (the same amount that have run 3:33.18 or 13:04.46). Lst year, 26 runners accomplished the feat (all African-born), including 20 from Kenya alone.
Remember at the Marugame Half two years ago, Kiwi Zane Robertson, who already had pbs of 3:34 and 13:13, ran 59:47. At the Olympics this year, he was just 12th in the 10,000 (in a New Zealand national record of 27:33.67) although he did go on to run 27:28 on the roads in Berlin later in the year.
The 6 Fastest Non-African-Born Half Marathoners in History 1. 59:33a Marilson dos Santos BRA
2. 59:43 António Pinto POR
2. 59:43 Ryan Hall USA
4. 59:47 Zane Robertson NZL
5. 59:52 Fabián Roncero ESP
6. 60:00 Callum Hawkins GBR
6. 60:00 Dathan Ritzenhein USA
Hawkins wasn’t the only person impressing at Marugame.
Joel Mwaura – a Kenyan who attends HS in Japan – ran 60:59. That’s an incredibly impressive feat for a high schooler. For the track, Tilastopaja.org reports that he’s run 3:50 for 1500, where he was 9th at the Japanese HS champs and 8:46 for the steeple, where he was the Japanese champ last summer.
In the women’s race, Olympic marathon silver medalist Eunice Kirwa got the win in 68:07 as American Amy Cragg chopped more than a minute off of her pb by running 68:27 (previous PR was 69:50) to move into the top 5 all-time for the US and ahead of Jordan Hasay (68:40) for the fastest American in 2017.It wasn’t all good news, however, coming out of Japan. Cragg’s training partner, Shalane Flanagan, was a DNS in Japan, as she was in 2015.
$0 –official prize money offered at the 2017 Armory Track Invitational, part of USATF’s indoor series, which was broadcast on NBCSN. $25,000 – prize money last week offered by USATF in the men’s and women’s championship races at the US Cross Country Championships. $28,800 –prize money offered last week at the privately-organized All-America City 10K held in Edinburgh, TX (in the Rio Grande Valley near the Mexico border in south Texas). $44,500 –prize money offered at the privately-organized Camel City Elite races held at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Despite the paltry USATF prize money numbers from above, somehow USATF CEO Max Siegel has been described as a marketing ‘genius’ (by Allyson Felix none the less). Our sport has to do better. At they very least, we’d like to see Camel City on TV one year.
**** Stat of the Week II / Someone Get Her In An 800
2:00.01 –Ajee Wilson‘s indoor 800m pb. 1:59.11 – equivalent time for 800 for the 1:24.48 600m Athat Ajee Wilson ran at the Armory Tack Invite last weekend. 1:58.71 –Nicole Teter’s American record in the indoor 800.
Wilson wasn’t the only 800m US pro to PR last week as 2016 World Indoor bronze medallist Erik Sowinski had a great week as well. Coming into last week, Sowinski has broken 1:47.00 just two times in his life indoors. Last week, he did it twice in Germany in the span of four days. First, on Wednesday he ran 1:46.96 for third in Düsseldorf. Then he ran a 1:46.80 pb (previous pb of 1:46.84) to win the IAAF World Indoor Tour meet in Karlsruhe.
**** Stat of the Week III
11th –finishing place at the European Club Cross Country championships for former 2012 Olympic 1500 champ Asli Cakir Alptekin of Turkey (her gold medal was stripped for doping), in her return to competition after a four-year doping ban (the second doping ban of her career). She was beaten by 1:06.
It’s a joke that lifetime bans don’t exist. To people who think a lifetime ban is too harsh, please realize the prison analogy isn’t the correct one to use. No one is being incarcerated. We’re simply saying if you purposely cheat to steal an Olympic gold medal you should be banned for life. It’s no different than a big-time Wall Street fraud being banned from the securities industry for life.
In Alptekin’s case, however, we are fine with her competing after four years out as she got her ban reduced in return for cooperating in her investigation. There needs to be some incentive for people to assist the investigations.
**** Someone Break Up The Colorado Milers??? / Christian Coleman Ezxcels Yet Again
The 2017 NCAA indoor track and field champs will be here before you know it (March 10-11 in College Station, TX) so it’s time to start paying attention to the collegians. UTEP’s freshman sensationEmmanuel Korir, the guy who set a temporary 600m world’s best of 1:14.97 earlier this winter, improved upon his NCAA-leading time of 1:46.50 by running 1:46.75 at altitude as the NCAA converts the latter time to 1:46.15. Korir’s fellow Kenyan UTEP freshman Michael Saruni sits at #2 in the NCAA now as he was just .15 back of Korir in the race.
The fastest collegian at 800 in an absolute sense is Indiana junior Daniel Kuhn, who ran a 1:46.42 on the oversized track at Notre Dame.
Korir wasn’t the only collegian to be taking advantage of NCAA conversions. The Buffaloes of Colorado are primarily known as 5,000 and 10,000 runners (although the school did produce Olympic 1500 medallist Jenny Simpson) but the Buffs are now taking spots #1-3 on the NCAA mile list as they picked up nearly six seconds in altitude conversions for running 4:01-4:02 in the mile at altitude (Saarel ran 4:01.49).
Coach Mark Wetmore was thrilled with the results for his guys, who were hoping to be the first to ever break 4:00 in Colorado. “Ben, Joe and Zach exceeded my most optimistic expectations. Those are really good times,” said Wetmore to Mike Sandrock of Boulder’s Daily Cameraabout his guys’ first races since NCAA cross country. In the women’s race, Colorado’s Dani Jones ran 4:39.50, which converts to an NCAA-leading 4:32.68.
CU’s got a nice new indoor facility (via CUBuffs.com)
One reason why Colorado may be doing so well at the mile is they finally have an indoor facility worthy of a top program. Last year, they unveiled the 300-meter Sklar Family Track around CU Indoor Practice Facility and this was the first year they’ve hosted a meet there.
“[Athletic director] Rick George had a shovel in the ground a year-and-a-half after he got here. He’s solely responsible for this. If it wasn’t for him, we’d be back up in Balch (Fieldhouse) running 4:20 (for the mile),” said Wetmore.
On the sprint side of the things, Tennesee junior Christian Coleman, the 2016 NCAA Indoor 200 champ, is having a great 2017 campaign. This weekend, he ran a world-leading 6.51 60m – and that came a week after he ran a world-leading 20.49 200m.
In Australia, the first of the three Nitro Athletics meets featuring team scoring, innovative events (target javelin throw, mixed-gender relays, elimination mile, three-minute challenge — one man & one woman on each team run as far as they can in three minutes and you add up each team’s total distance to determine a winner) and Usain Bolt was held on Saturday. The event proved to a success as Bolt had fun and the crowd was decent (7,039 spectators in a stadium with capacity of just under 8,700).
We give the organizers a thumbs up for trying something new but we’ll go back to what we’ve been saying for a long time about our beloved sport. About a decade ago, we came to the conclusion that the mantra of “If only track and field were marketed better, it would be wildly popular” simply isn’t true. The problem with marketing track and field meets – virtually every event but the Worlds or the Olympics – is that virtually every event is the equivalent of an exhibition game in any other sport. You can create artificial teams and have team scoring but the fact of the matter is the results really don’t mean anything. In America, football is the most popular sport, but every year there is a slew of NFL games that nobody pays attention to. It’s called the pre-season. There are teams and a score but it doesn’t mean anything and thus it’s not popular.
Because everything but the Worlds/Olympics is an exhibition is what makes the Worlds/Olympics so great. It means everything at the Worlds/Olympics is must-see drama.
We just wish there were a few other events besides Worlds/Olympics that meant a lot. If people didn’t skip World Indoors, then the sport could have a second major. The problem with indoors is many events are missing. Who is going to get excited about an event that Usain Bolt isn’t good at? The easy solution for distance running would be to have two majors each year – track Worlds and World Cross Country. World XC used to be a big-time major but then distance runners like Mo Farah and Haile Gebrselassie started skipping it as they couldn’t win it (and even those that could win it like Kenenisa Bekele started doing something else).
Tennis has the Australian Open. Track and field needs the equivalent of that – not some made-up team competition.
Since we can’t come up with anything to solve this problem (apart from somehow getting all the top athletes to run World XC), we’ll continue to appreciate the drama of Worlds and the Olympics and really promote the Diamond League. And we’ll advise track and field meet promoters that they need to make their meets entertaining.
Speaking of drama, we did come up with one idea that would make the 2017 Worlds absolutely mesmerizing. The final event of the 2017 World Championships really needs to be Wayde van Niekerk versus Usain Bolt at 200. How epic would that be? Van Niekerk wants to get the Worlds schedule changed so he can run the 200 and 400 but it appears that Bolt wants no part of it – even though the 200 is supposedly his favorite event. Bolt vs. van Niekerk at 200m needs to happen even if it’s a one-off, made-for-TV drama like the Michael Johnson vs. Donovan Bailey $1 million race at 150m. We just wish Bolt wasn’t chicken to face a huge challenge in his final year on the circuit.
Kudos to the Aussies for trying something new. Below is a video of the elimination mile – where the last-place runner on each lap was eliminated. If you have a video of the target javelin or three-minute challenge, email us. The second and third Nitro meets will be held on February 9 and February 11.
**** Tweet of the Week
Last week, in addition to it being Super Bowl week, was also national signing day for the US colleges that play American football. Historically, most coaches have sat by the fax machine and waited for the commitments to come in. Colorado didn’t want to use such antiquated technology. Instead, they relied on the speedy Jenny Simpson to deliver the news.
**** Quote of the Week (that wasn’t quote of the day)
“I’ve got the medal at home. Let them try to take it.”
-2008 Russian Olympic 4 x 400 runner Maxim Dyldin talking last week about how he hasn’t returned his bronze medal which was stripped for doping. He’s not alone – none of the Russians have returned them.