WTW: Jemima Sumgong Tests Positive, Donavan Brazier Runs 1:44, Sub-9 Madness at Arcadia and More

The Week That Was In Running, April 3 – 9, 2017

by LetsRun.com
April 12, 2017

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.

Stat of the Week I 

2:28:32 – fastest marathon recorded by Jemima Sumgong during her first 7 career marathon finishes through age 27. At age 28 in 2013, she became a 2:20 marathoner. Last week, it was revealed that Sumgong, who won both the Olympic and London marathons in 2016, has had an ‘A’ sample test positive for EPO.

Sumgong and her husband Talam (photo from IAAF Day in the Life) Sumgong and her husband Talam (photo from IAAF Day in the Life)

In the coming weeks and months, we’ll certainly be following the Sumgong case very closely. Two years ago, when Sumgong’s training partner, Rita Jeptoo, tested positive, the world was told by the Court of Arbitration for Sport that it was a one-off affair and that Jeptoo hid her doping from her coach and agent. It will be interesting to see if that argument still holds water when the Sumgong case is finished.

We certainly are going to be looking very closely at the results of all runners with ties to Sumgong considering her coach, Noah Talam, is her husband and Talam’s sister is Sarah Chepchirchir, who won Tokyo this year in 2:19:47.

Famed coach Renato Canova is urging people not to make the assumption that all top Kenyan runners must be doping. Last week, after the news of the Sumgong positive came out, Canova put up a few fascinating posts on the LetsRun.com messageboard. In the posts, Canova called for more drug tests in Kenya and harsher penalties (he, like us, thinks all results from an athlete’s career should be wiped out after an EPO positive) but he also stuck to his assertion that he believes EPO doesn’t truly help the very best Kenyans and urged people not to assume that just because Sumgong very well may have been a doper that people faster than her also have to be dopers.

Here in an excerpt from one of Canova’s posts.

Article continues below player.

The positivity of Jemima produces big shadows on the full situation of Kenyan runners, because the most part of people have emotional reactions, using their belly and not their brain. The fact that, if the number 27 all time is doped, also all the athletes in front of her must be doped, is not rational, and not supported by any real evidence, apart the sense of doubt that we unconsciously create in our mind (for example, for association now it’s easy to think Sarah Chepchirchir, sister of Talam, husband and coach of Jemima, can be doped, looking at her result and at her link with the group).

Sometimes our suspicions can be confirmed, but the most part of times are only rumors without any foundation.

Anyway, I’m not only for banning all the athletes clearly doped for long periods (4 years is already a long life for an athlete), but also for cancelling ALL THEIR PREVIOUS RESULTS, also if were clean (for example, one Youth title of 15 years before).

And I bless all the OOC tests, hoping their number can increase, because tough and numerous tests are the only defense for clean athletes against the raise of skepticism about top results, especially from people not knowing anything about the athletic history (for who thinks the “clean” limit is 2:10 : do you know that in 1985 not an African, but Steve Jones from Wales, ran 2:07:13 without rabbits, with a crazy split at HM of 61:53, having as doping 5 beers every day, and that Carlos Lopes, already 37, ran 2:07:12 without any idea about what to eat and without any supplement ?).

As for Canova’s assertion that EPO doesn’t help the very best Kenyans, assuming Sumgong was doping, clearly someone in her camp thought it would help her. Canova acknowledges as much saying, “they take EPO BECAUSE THEY THINK IT CAN WORK.”

It would very hard to have some sort of double blind study to see whether/how much EPO helps people born at altitude. But even if it helps just a little, say .5%, that’s a lot. Canova’s main point is one that we agree with: not all the top Kenyans are doping.

We also agree with Canova on the need for harsher penalties and more testing in Kenya.

More: Canova Post #1 From Last Week
Canova Post #2 From Last Week (Posts #1 and #2 are definitely worth a read).
Canova Post #3 From Last Week
Canova Post #4 From Last Week
Canova Post #5 From Last Week

2016 Olympic Marathon Champ Jemima Sumgong Tests Positive For EPO The Olympic and London champ was caught in an out-of-competition test in Kenya as part of the enhanced testing program supported by the Abbott World Marathon Majors. *Discuss
*MB: The emperor has no clothes: Jemima Sumgong has tested positive for EPO!!!

Stat of the Week II

1:45.93 – 2016 seasonal best time of Donavan Brazier prior to last June’s NCAA outdoor championship when he ran a collegiate record of 1:43.55.

1:44.63 – seasonal best time put up Donavan Brazier last week at the Sun Angel Track Classic. Brazier spoke to Track & Field News after the race on what it means for him. Unfortunately, US fans won’t see Brazier at World Relays as he wasn’t selected for the US team.

MB: Brazier 1:44.63 

Stat of the Week III

27 – number of boys that broke 9:00 for 3200 at the 2017 Arcadia Invitational, as shown below. Remember, from 1989 to 1998, when America sucked at distance running, a grand total of 11 high schoolers did it in a 10-year period.

2017 Arcadia Results Boys 3200 – Top Heat
1. Cooper Teare              12 St. Joseph-Nd          8:41.46
2. Austin Hindman            12 Lafayette          8:43.40
3. Casey Clinger             12 American Fork          8:44.70
4. Callum Bolger             12 San Luis Obispo        8:45.10
5. Luis Grijalva             12 Armijo                 8:45.58
6. Connor Lane               12 Cardinal Gibbons       8:47.00
7. Finn Gessner              12 Madison LaFollette     8:47.57
8. Talon Hull                12 Weber                  8:48.44
9. Mathew Watkins            12 Jackson – WA           8:48.84
10. Gabe Fendel               11 Hamilton Sou           8:50.56
11. Michael Vernau            12 Davis                  8:50.69
12. Ian Shanklin              12 Page                   8:50.79
13. Garrett Barton            12 Ogden                  8:51.21
14. McKay Johns               12 American Fork          8:51.81
15. Caleb Pottorff            12 Lincoln Park           8:52.67
16. Evert Silva               12 Fresno                 8:53.02
17. Travis Feeny              12 Ogden                  8:54.20
18. James Mwaura              11 Lincoln- Tac           8:54.53
19. Justin Hazell             11 El Camino Real         8:54.78
20. Tibs Proctor              12 The Northwes           8:55.93
21. Cameron Ponder            11 Mount Tabor            8:56.49
22. Dalton Hengst             11 McDonogh               8:56.96
23. Owen Bishop               12 Claremont              8:57.44
24. Chase Equall              12 Bozeman                8:57.62
25. Seth Hirsch               12 Millard West           8:57.81

Second Heat
1. Ryan Raff                 11 Lehi                   8:58.76
2. Anthony Ocegueda          12 Reed                   8:59.55


Stat of the Week IV

63:55 –  time put up by 59-year-old Joan Benoit Samuelson (1984 Olympic marathon champ) to win the women’s 55-59 age group at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile on April 2.
64:48 – time put up by 40-year-old Carrie Tollefson to win the women’s 40-44 age group at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile on April 2.

Speaking of Masters runners, on April 8, 45-year-old Kevin Castille dominated the 5000 at LSU’s Battle on the Bayou as he won in 14:22.55 – a new age-group American record, winning by more than a minute. Castille just missed the age-45 world record (14:21.77).

Stat of The Week V

7,150 – number of points scored last week by Olympic high jump gold medallist Derek Drouin in the decathlon, during which he set a new world record for highest high jump ever recorded in a 7,000+ decathlon (7’5.75″).

Before the competition, Drouin told the CBC he was very excited to get back to being a multi-athlete:

“It’s to get back to what I was doing in college, which was really when I was most confident competing, I kind of felt my strongest, felt like I was in my best physical shape, and I just have a whole lot of fun doing that. It’s something I really haven’t done in a while, but I’m very excited to get back into that.”

More: Olympic high jump champ Derek Drouin adding decathlon to repertoire
*Canada’s Derek Drouin Officially Sets World Mark in Decathlon High Jump


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

#1 Meb Says 2014 Boston Wasn’t The Year He Was Most Fit

“(In 2014), I did what I could to be there healthy. If you look at any of the years, 2010, 2006, or 2014, which one was the fittest I’d ever been, it was 2006. That was probably the year I should have won, in terms of fitness. But in terms of internal drive that you want to do greater than yourself, 2014. You can want it, you can desire it, but there was a higher power. I’m a believer, God had a plan for me to be able to do that.”

Meb Keflezighi talking to Chris Lotsbom about his 2014 (1st), 2010 (3rd), 2006 (3rd) Boston Marathons.

More: RRW: Boston By Meb – In His Own Words

#2 Being A Mom Isn’t Easy

“Before [I gave birth to] Piper, my day was eat, run, eat, massage, nap, eat, run, eat, sleep,” she says. “It was simple, focused, and a bit mundane, but it allowed all my physical and mental energy to hammer 140-mile weeks while the remainder of the time was focused on recovery.

“[Now] I am only running 50 miles a week and I’m exhausted, more so than when I was running over a hundred miles per week. I went from years of a rigid training schedule to learning to be uber-flexible.”

-American marathon record holder Deena Kastor talking to ESPN about how her life has changed since she became a mom.

More: A day in the life: Runner Deena Kastor’s balancing act

#3 A World Record Holder Says Studying Is More Important Than Running Fast

“I told (my siblings) them to stop running, and study. Everyone who is an athlete in Kenya runs to escape poverty.”

-steeplechase world record holder Saif Saaeed Shaheen talking to Doug Gillon of Scotland’s The Herald. The article says two of Shaheen’s siblings attended college in the US.

More: Doug Gillon: Miguel Francis’ arrival sparks the ‘plastic Brit’ debate once again
MB: Article says 2 of Shaheen’s siblings attended college in US – anyone know where they went and if they ran?

#4 Most Kids Are Self-Absorbed

“Everybody in the world knew I was a two-time Olympian except my own son.” 

Matt Centrowitz talking at a TrackTown gathering in Eugene after his son, 2016 Olympic 1500 gold medallist Matthew Centrowtiz, revealed he didn’t know his dad was a two-time Olympian until Matthew read it a profile on himself (Matthew) in high school. Ken Goe’s article on the meeting is here.

#5 Even The Olympians Break It Down Lap By Lap

“I remember telling myself, ‘You need to run under 3-flat in your last 1,200 to get a medal.’ At 800, I said, ‘You need to run a last 1:53.’ With a lap to I was like, ‘OK, you need to run 53 seconds to get medal.’ I found myself in position in the last 300.”

-Nike Bowerman Track club member Mo Ahmed talking to Ken Goe about his mindset over the final 3 laps of the 2016 Olympic 5000 where he finished 4th.

More: Portland-based distance runner Mohammed Ahmed has the soul of poet and the heart of a champion

#6 She’s Got Some Great Qualities

“She is fearless, but not reckless; she is brave, but not arrogant. She has dreams and hopes, as she truly loves the sport and running. We believe this will take her far. And, for her, there is time for everything.”

Davor Savija, the agent of half marathon world record Joyciline Jepkosgei, talking to the IAAF about Jekpkosgei.


Odds and Ends

The fact that steeplechase ace Paul Kipsiele Koech, the most prolific sub-8 steepler in history (9 times), only ran 2:12:02 in his marathon debut (63:10 first half, 68:52 2nd half) in Rotterdam didn’t surprise us. We figure if he showed a great ability for long distances in practice then he’d have moved up to the marathon well before the age of 35.

Rotterdam was won on the men’s side by Kenya’s Marius Kimutai (2:06:04) and Ethiopia’s Meskerem Assefa (2:24:18) on the women’s side. Kimutai has now run two very solid marathons in a row as he was third in Amsterdam in the fall in 2:05:45.

The other big marathon last weekend was in Paris where the husband-wife combo of Paul Lonyangata (2:06:10) and Purity Rionoripo (2:20:55) got the wins. 2:20:55 was both a new pb for Rionoripo (previous 2:24:47 from 2016 Chicago) and also a new course record (previous CR 2:21:06, by Boru Feyse Tadese of Ethiopia 2013).

The fact that Lonyangata and Rionoripo are married is what the popular press focused on – but not us. We’re most interested in pointing out that Purity Rionoripo trains in Jemima Sumgong’s group. Big performances and big PRs by anyone in the group is going to be met with extreme suspicion, whether Renato Canova likes it or not. Of course, Rionoripo’s improvement from 2:24 to 2:20 at age 23 is less surprising than what another member of their group did earlier in the year in Tokyo. In Tokyo, 32-year-old Sarah Chepchirchir lowered her pb from 2:24 to 2:19 and destroyed the course record in the process. Even if EPO helps a pro very little, 1% is a huge edge.


Thumbs up to the IAAF for putting the Diamond League in 2017, ’18 and ’19 on the NBC Sports family of channels in the United States – that’s a huge upgrade from BeIn Sports last year.

More: BC And IAAF Reach Long-Term Deal For Broadcast Rights To Diamond League Through 2019


Chelanga Wins Healthy Kidney 10k Chelanga Wins Healthy Kidney 10k

Sam Chelanga‘s resurgence continued last week. Two weeks after finishing 11th at the World Cross Country Championships, he won the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K and $10,000 in NYC.

Sam Chelanga Just Edges Out Former Olympic Bronze Medalist Thomas Longosiwa To Win UAE Healthy Kidney 10K Chelanga and Longosiwa finished with identical times of 28:21 while Stephen Sambu was 10 seconds back in 3rd. Mamitu Daska won the women’s race in 31:37 over Magdalyne Masai (31:44).

Recommended Reads

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.

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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