The Week That Was In Running – March 13 – 19, 2017
March 21, 2017
Most of the LRC crew is headed to Kenya and then Uganda to cover the world’s greatest footrace – the World Cross Country Championships. The rest of the world may increasingly view World XC as optional but not us, as it represents the sport at its very essence. Everyone line up and race. There is no watering down of the event into various events – some people in the 1500, others run the 5k, etc. There are no pacemakers – there is no artificially groomed surface, wind tunnels, or hand-picked date when the weather is optimal. It’s a single race for all the glory.
World XC is as authentic as it gets.
We’ve got a shorter and compact Week That Was this week.
The Big Race was the United Airlines NYC Half
RRW Full Recap Molly Huddle (68:19) And Feyisa Lelisa (60:04) Win 2017 NYC Half In Sprint Finishes As Emily Sisson (68:21) And Chris Derrick (61:12) Move Into US Top 10 All-Time (Updated) Sisson’s debut was great as she’s one of the 5 fastest US women ever now and she’s only run it once.
Talk about the WTW on our fan forum / messageboard: MB: WTW 3/21/2017 – Noah Droddy and Emily Sisson Rock NYC, The Slow Twins Rise Up, Ed Whitlock Dies & More.
RIP Ed Whitlock
Last Monday, Canadian Ed Whitlock died after a brief battle with prostate cancer. The 86-year-old was a legendary figure in masters circles as he’s the only human to break 3:00:00 in the marathon after turning 70 – his best post-70 marathon being a 2:54:48 that he ran at age 73.
Whitlock inspired tens of thousands. Even though he was 86, his passing came as a shock to most as Whitlock ran a marathon as recently as last October (3:56:34 at age 85). We even got one call (call us anytime at 844-LETSRUN) from a website visitor who said that while he knew Whitlock was 86, he couldn’t believe he’d died and said he’d have been less shocked to hear that one of LRC staffers had died than Whitlock.
Tributes for Whitlock have been published all over, from Canada’s National Post to The New York Times to LetsRun.com, but an excerpt from Pat Butcher‘s blog really interested us. Do you remember how last week we had a link to a story about the guy who realized he had a heart attack because his track workout went so badly? Well after reading Butcher’s blog, we’re wondering if Whitlock himself ultimately realized he had cancer in similar fashion as shown from this excerpt from Butcher’s blog:
Any other 85-year old would have been ecstatic to run sub-four hours for a marathon, as Ed did at the Toronto Waterfront race last October. But when I met him in London in December, he expressed disappointment and bewilderment in equal measures at what he saw was an appallingly slow time for a man who had run 2.54.48 on the same course at the age of 74….
Ed said that he had a complaint for which he was seeing his doctor, but implied it was relatively unimportant. His demeanour suggested the same. And the fact that he was willing to spend time with me, and then go on to visit some changing London landmarks (doubtless much altered in the sixty plus years since his emigration) underlined that. Yet he did muse aloud as to why, in the last year, he had lost seven pounds (over three and a half kilos) from an already body featherweight 112lbs (51kg). More news will develop in the coming days; but that London visit may well have been an impromptu one, to see his younger sister for the last time.
The fact that Whitlock died without a protracted medical battle and without telling the press of his cancer diagnosis meant he was authentic to the very end as he told the New York Times in December, “To some extent, I believe if anything is wrong, the body will cure itself. I don’t want to be a burden on the system.”
It Was A Good Weekend For The Slower Twins
Over the years, there have been some great twin distance runners. The most prominent twins in the sport these days are the Robertsons – Jake and Zane of New Zealand – and the Murayamas – Kenta and Kota of Japan.
In each set, there generally is one twin that is a little better than the other. For the 27-year-old Robertsons, Zane is the fastest as he’s the Kiwi national record holder in the 10,000 (27:33) and the half-marathon (59:47). For the 24-year-old Murayamas, Kota is faster as he’s the Japanese national record holder at 10,000 (27:29). But that doesn’t mean the ‘slower twin’ is chopped liver. Case in point, last week both of the slower twins ran fantastic half-marathons.
In Lisbon, Jake Robertson won the EDP Lisbon Half Marathon with a 60:01. Had he not started celebrating before the line, he very well may have broken 60:00.
— Zane Robertson (@runninelvis) March 19, 2017
In New York, at the United Airlines NYC Half, Kenta Murayama finished fifth (ahead of all of the Americans) in 60:57. So three cheers for Jake and Kenta. Imagine being a sub-61 half-marathoner and only being the second fastest person in your family.
In the tables below, we compare the twins’ PRs.
|Athlete||1500 PB||5k PB||10k PB||Half PB|
*converted from 4:01.8 mile.
We then thought it would be fun to add each set of twins’ PRs together so we could compare their PRs as a duo. The Robertsons have the edge in the 1,500 and 5000 while the Murayamas lead in the 10,000.
|Twins PBs Combined||1500||5k||10k||Half|
Proof Positive That Kicks Don’t Come Down To Who Is The Fastest – Mare Dibaba Outkicks Olympic 5000 Champ Vivian Cheruiyot
For years, when watching half marathons or marathons on TV, we’ve nearly pulled our hair out when commentators make the mistake of assuming that the person with the best track PBs automatically has an advantage in a sprint at the end of a distance race.
Case in point, at Sunday’s EDP Liston Half Marathon, the totally loaded women’s race came down to a sprint finish between two established stars. 400 meters from the finish line, four women were still battling for the win, but in the end, it came down to a sprint between 2015 marathon world champion and 2016 Olympic marathon bronze medallist Mare Dibaba and 2016 Olympic 5000 champ Vivian Cheruiyot. Cheruiyot, who has won 5 global titles on the track, has way better track credentials, but guess who won?
Dibaba. And she’s never even broken 15 for 5000.
Watch the last minute of the race below.
New York and Lisbon may have received the most press but the fastest half marathon on the women’s side last weekend came at the Stramilano Half-Marathon in Italy. There 23-year-old Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya continued her breakout 2017 by winning in a new course record of 67:42.
Coming into the year, Chepngetich had never raced outside of Africa. Last year appears to have been her first as a pro and she sported a pb of just 74:13 (run at altitude). This year, she’s run three half-marathons and won them all.
January 8th – 69:06 win in Adana, Turkey
March 5th – 68:08 win in Paris
March 19th – 67:42 win and course record in Italy
She’s definitely a name you want to remember.
The United Airlines NYC Half Wasn’t Great For America’s Top Boston Entrants
We’ve long said you don’t need to – and perhaps don’t want to – run a PR in a half marathon in the midst of your marathon buildup. Well the US Olympians committed to the Boston Marathon that were running in New York over the weekend took that motto to the extreme as none of them ran fast at all. Here are how the four US Olympians who are all going to run the Boston Marathon next month ran in New York (Amy Cragg ran 69:38 in NY but she’s not doing Boston).
Athlete / Time in New York / PB at 13.1
Abdi Abdirahman – 63:22 / 60:29
Jared Ward – 63:22 / 61:42
Meb Keflezighi – 64:55 / 61:00
Desi Linden 71:05 / 70:34
With the exception of Linden, those times pale in comparison to what the athletes ran prior to their PRs in the marathon.
Desi: Ran 70:34 (her pb) in January before her 2:22 in Boston in 2011.
Meb: Ran 61:23 in January before his 2:08 Boston win in 2014.
Abdi: Ran 61:06 in September before his 2:08 in Chicago in 2006.
Ward: Didn’t run a half before PR in Rio.
Now admittedly, running a half-marathon in January when your marathon is in April is a lot different than running a half-marathon 4 weeks out from the race (Boston is in 4 weeks) but none of those times make us think, “Wow, we really think Person X is going to contend for the win in Boston.” Desi Linden is the one athlete above who gets a pass; her half PR is not that good and New York wasn’t far off from it.
When Will Noah Droddy, Emily Sisson and Chris Derrick They Make Their 26.2 Debuts?
The two Americans with the biggest breakout performances in New York were two runners who have never run a full marathon – Noah Droddy (or should we say Noah MF Droddy?) and Emily Sisson.
The 26-year-old Droddy, who up until this point in his career was best known for two things – his mustache and for being the pro most public about admitting he’s addicted to LetsRun.com (he told Runner’s World last year, “I am the guy on ) – may start being known for his running as he ran a massive pb. every night.”
Coming into the year, Droddy, who has run 28:22 for 10,000, had a half-marathon pb of 64:08. He improved that to 63:22 in humid conditions in Houston in January and then took it to another level in New York by running 61:48.
In New York, he ran the first 10k, which was run in hilly Central Park, in 29:28 – very impressive for a guy who only ran 29:42 for DIII DePauw University (graduated in 2013). But he was only getting started as he picked it up over the second half. 61:48 for 13.1 miles averages out to be 29:17 10,000 pace. With the wind at his back, he crushed the second 10k of the 21.1 km race in 29:03.
On the messageboard, someone (hey, maybe it was Droddy himself ;)) posted Droddy’s half marathon progression over the last few years and it reads like a piece of fiction:
July 2014 – 1:08:32
Nov 2015 – 1:06:19
Jan 2016 – 1:04:17
Apr 2016 – 1:04:08
Nov 2016 – 1:04:28
Jan 2017 – 1:03:22
Mar 2017 – 1:01:48
Droddy’s big run was certainly a surprise but Emily Sisson’s was not. The Kenyans and Ethiopians often are ‘made for the marathon’ whereas most Americans are often ‘made for any event but the marathon.’ So when famed women’s coach Ray Treacy told us two years ago that Emily Sisson was made for the marathon, we’ve been eagerly waiting for her to move up in distance.
Her first foray at the half-marathon distance on Sunday was a smashing success as her 68:21 makes her the fifth fastest American half-marathoner on any course. With no world championships in 2018, we certainly hope the 25-year-old Sisson (who is 21 days younger than Jordan Hasay — 68:40 pb — who is making her marathon debut in Boston) makes her marathon debut before the end of 2018.
The fastest American in New York on Sunday was Chris Derrick, another guy who hasn’t run a marathon, who ran 61:12. That times makes the 26-year-old Derrick the 7th fastest American ever on a record-eligible course but his time was far from a shock given his 27:31 10,000 pb and recent 13:19 5000.
What About The Sport? Here’s a Suggestion For The NYRR
Speaking of the NYC Half.
One of the biggest problems our sport faces is there really is no one in charge. In the most popular team sports, the leagues pay the athletes and thus can control what they do (although not so much in the NBA these days). In track and field, much of the money comes from the shoe companies. The IAAF and IOC are in charge of Worlds and the Olympics (and we don’t think it’s a coincidence that those are the only two true must-watch events on the calendar — everyone is forced to go) but virtually everywhere else no one really is in charge. And the #1 problem our sport faces is all other events – except for a few countries’ national champs – are somewhat optional.
When Doug Logan took over USATF in 2008, we remember chuckling when we heard him say he was going to have a big US – Jamaica meet. We thought, “You’re not going to be able to put it on as you don’t control the athletes. They basically are independent contractors who do whatever they want. So unless you get a boatload of cash, good luck.” And we were right as the meet never came to fruition.
In a similar vein, athletes aren’t the only ones operating in their own self-interest — the various events also normally just operate in their own self-interest. For example, when the New York Diamond League event existed – the adidas Grand Prix – it always drove us nuts that it was almost always held on the same weekend as the NCAA meet.
If the sport is going to grow, events – particularly the non-profit ones – need to start worrying about ‘the sport’ and not just themselves. Here’s a suggestion for the non-profit NYRR in terms of its United Airlines NYC Half Marathon, which was held last weekend.
How about working with the IAAF to make sure your event is held the week after World XC? Offer a $50,000 or $100,000 bonus to the World XC champions if they win both World XC and the NYC Half on back to back weeks.
While we are at it, we have another suggestion for the NYRR. If you are going to spend millions of dollars putting on a great event that runs through Times Square (Times Square apparently is only shut down twice a year – for the NYC Half and for New Year’s) and put it on live television, make that TV coverage is top-notch. The television coverage of the United Airlines NYC Half on ABC7 in New York and Watch ESPN was truly atrocious. It was so bad, we got the following email (slightly edited) from an industry insider within minutes of the race being over:
“Those races needed someone doing play by play who knows distance running. …Both races reached fabulous conclusions over the last few minutes, but apart from the last 600m or so of the women, and less of the men, so much was missed.
Callum Hawkins did so much work to try and break Desisa in the last 2-3 miles, but we got little sense of how deep they were digging…It was a great effort from both runners but a fabulous opportunity to showcase distance running royalty battling it out in great style, was lost.
I could not BELIEVE the length of the ad breaks, the timing of the wheelchair interviews, the shots of joggers in Times Square as we knew both elite races were coming to a conclusion, then aerial shots of NY, the statue of liberty, etc, etc……but SO little of the racing up front. Then when the women’s race was over, we saw shots of the first few women over the line, just strolling around….as we knew ¾ of a mile away, the top two men were involved in a fabulous battle. I imagine they can’t get a signal in the tunnel, but otherwise, they can. Unbelievable.”
To be honest, we were a little surprised to get the email as we are used to watching bad TV coverage – even of bigger events. We are convinced most event organizers never watch the broadcasts themselves. They are at the events working them and don’t realize that much of what the public is seeing is barely worth watching.
Stat of the Week
5 – number of Kenyan men that broken 2:06:30 at the 2017 Seoul Marathon last week as three-time champ (and EPO cheat) Wilson Loyanae Erupe was fifth in 2:06:27.
2 – number of Americans that have ever broken 2:06:30 in a marathon – actually it’s the number of Americans that have ever broken 2:07:47 as Dathan Ritzenhein is #3 all-time for the US at 2:07:47.
Quotes of the Week (that weren’t quote of the day)
#1 We Put Up With A Lot of Awfulness So We Can Enjoy A Few Great Moments
“In athletics, there are moments you wonder why you bother – a sport seemingly locked in an endless tango with corruption and cheating can cause the enthusiasm to drain away and eventually run dry. Sometimes, however, an event comes along to remind you of all that is still right with the sport.”
-opening lines of an article on a high school race in Ireland’s Independent by Cathal Dennehy.
#2 In Long Distance Races, Aren’t We All Pretty Much Racing Ourselves?
“I never race against individuals in an ultra race. As far as I am concerned, everyone who lines up alongside me can win on a good day as they must have done the similar sort of hard training as I have done and I expect them to be as hungry as I am to win. And remember ultraracing can be very unpredictable.”
-South African ultramarathoner Ludwick Mamabolo talking to SuperSport before the Old Mutual Om die Dam 50k last week. Mamabolo finished 2nd.
#3 Free coaching advice from Christine Ohuruogu – Remember, The Lane At A Big Race Is The Same Size As The One Your Train On
“I would say, stay calm and try not to be overwhelmed by the experience and the occasion.
“It’s a skill that I have adopted since my first major senior championship – the 2004 Athens Olympics. I remember I was a bit scared, but someone told me to imagine that the lane I was running in was just the same that I trained in every day. That helped, and it is a thought I’ve taken with me throughout my career.”
-Ohuruogu talking to Spikes.
#4 Somehow This Idiot Compared The Call For Russia To Be Banned From Sport To Being Similar To Hitler Calling For The Extermination Of The Jewish Race
“We are here to protect the clean athletes not to punish them.
“I am strictly opposed [to any blanket ban], but that is my personal idea.
“I’m just against bans or sanctioning of innocent people.
“Like Mr Hitler did – all Jews were to be killed, independently of what they did or did not do.
“We call this sippenhaft in Germany – where the place you come from makes you guilty.
“I believe it will never work, it just can’t.”
-International Ski Federation (FIS) President Gian-Franco Kasper, 73, talking about why he’s not for a blanket ban of Russia from sport, as reported by insidethegames.biz. The idea that Kasper would somehow compare the Russians to the Jews of Germany is disgraceful. Kasper quickly apologized for “an inappropriate and insensitive comment”.
Q&A With Desiree Linden Who Says She’s Going For The Win In Boston“At a certain point, there’s a handful of us who have been saying that for years and it’s like, ‘Either deliver or shut up about it.’ … I’m going to be able to be more aggressive than ever before, so I might as well put it out there and take all the pressure or excitement that goes with it.”
To see our favorite reads from other 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.
Talk about the WTW on our fan forum / messageboard: MB: WTW 3/21/2017 – Noah Droddy and Emily Sisson Rock NYC, The Slow Twins Rise Up, Ed Whitlock Dies & More.