WTW: Molly Seidel and Erin Finn Are Both MIA, Devin Dixon Arrives, Mark Wetmore Produces an 800 Champ, And A Simple Rule Change Guaranteed to Make Track & Field More Popular

The Week That Was In Running – May 8 – 14, 2017

by LetsRun.com
May 17, 2017

After a one-week vacation, the Week That Was is back. If you missed our coverage of Nike’s Sub-2 attempt, the Doha DL, the Shanghai DL, or the Payton Jordan meet, you can catch up now.

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

NCAA Stars Molly Seidel and Erin Finn Both Don’t Run at Their Conference Meets

Last week a ton of NCAA conference action took place. We already recapped top performances at those meets on Monday: LRC Top 10 Greatest Performers From NCAA Conference Weekend: Christian Coleman, Fred Kerley, Deajah Stevens, Grant Fisher, Dani Jones And More Shine.

However, some of the biggest stories coming out of the conference weekend were the non-performances by two female stars.

Notre Dame’s Molly Seidel, the four-time NCAA champ, didn’t compete last week at the ACC Championships. However, Seidel could still compete at NCAAs as she did run one outdoor track race this year – she won the slow heat of the Stanford 10,000 in 33:19 on March 31 (Update: Seidel is entered in the 10k for NCAAs). In Seidel’s absence, her teammate Anna Rohrer starred at ACCs and won both the 10,000 (33:22) and 5000 (16:00).

Seidel at NCAA indoors in 2016. Photo Gallery Here http://www.letsrun.com/photos/2016/ncaa-indoor-track-day1/index.php Seidel at NCAA indoors in 2016. Photo Gallery Here.

Michigan’s Erin Finn, the four-time NCAA runner-up (once in XC, three times on the track), didn’t compete at the Big 10 meet. That means Finn, who was second at NCAA cross in the fall and second in the 5000 indoors, won’t be competing at NCAAs in Eugene as she has no outdoor times this year and hence no qualifying marks. Michigan coach Mike McGuire told Race Results Weekly that Finn is on the comeback from injury: “Erin had a leg injury in early outdoor that precluded her from competition. She has resumed training; just thought we would be pushing things by racing at Big Ten.”

In Finn’s absence, her teammate Gina Sereno starred and won both the 10,000 (33:53) and 5000 (16:23).

Seidel is out of eligibility after this season while Finn has one year of indoor and outdoor track remaining (but not XC).

Stat of the Week I

19 years, 135 days – age of Kipyegon Bett, who ran 1:44.70 to win the Shanghai Diamond League last week over David Rudisha, who ran 1:45.36.
19 years, 237 days – age of Texas A&M freshman Devin Dixon, who ran 1:45.71 to win the SEC 800 last week.

Stat of The Week II

28 – number of years since the men of Colorado had a conference champion in the 800 meters until junior Nick Harris won the Pac-12 800 in 1:48.77. This is coach Mark Wetmore‘s 24th year at CU but his first conference champ in the men’s 800.

The Buffaloes enjoyed their best-ever Pac-12 finish in track on both the men’s and women’s sides as the men were 4th and women 3rd. The men did it by scoring a lot of points in events in which Colorado doesn’t typically excel. Only 33 of their 73 points (45.2%) came in the distance races (1500, 5k, 10k and steeple) while the Buffs racked up a lot of points in the hurdles (18) and decathlon (9). On the women’s side, 64 of their 78 points (82.1%) came in the distances.

Stat of the Week III

2.74 seconds – margin of victory for Raevyn Rogers at the Pac-12 meet, which she won in 2:02.93. That’s a ton.

Stat of the week IV

.01 of a second – amount of time that prevented a tie for the title between Virginia Tech and Virginia at the ACC championships. In the 4 x 400, Virginia Tech edged Pitt for third by .01. If they’d finished fourth, the two rivals would have finished tied for 1st. Watch the end of the 4 x 400 below (click here to have it cued to the 4 x 400 finish.

College Coaches, Please Make This Rule Change Now – All Meets 100% Should End With The 4 x 400

Watching that finish above reminds us of two rules we think need to be implemented for track and field immediately.

1) There should never be a tie for the team title. Other sports don’t have ties, why should track? In the event that two teams tie with the same number of points, the team that finishes ahead in the  4 x 400 should win the meet.

2) The 4 x 400 always, 100% of the time, needs to end a s cored track meet.

Track and field meets need to end in exciting fashion where it’s easy to immediately tell what team won and lost the meet. We’ve been to far too many track meets over the years where the field events are running behind and the 4  x 400 ends and no one knows who won the meet. A track meet is the only sporting event we’ve ever been too where we’ve seen fans leave the stands not knowing who won (once it was even at NCAAs). NCAA coaches, please institute this rule change immediately. Delay the start of the 4 x 400 until after all field events have been completed and scores tabulated so the fans and athletes clearly know what is at stake in the 4 x 400 before it is run. Have the announcer announce the scores before the race and let the fans know exactly what it means for the 4 x 400.

Two of the most exciting finishes to a meet we’ve ever seen were the 2014 and 2017 NCAA indoor championships. In both cases, the team title came down to the final event of the meet with the two teams battling for the title going 1-2 in the 4 x 400. Track and field needs more of those moments.

More: Banner day for Hokies, as Tech women and men claim ACC outdoor titles

Nigeria Is The Place To Be If You Want Win $15,000 For Running 29:28

Every year the Okpekpe Road Race in Nigeria is one of the most lucrative in the world. However, hot conditions and a difficult path that is run “over hills and sandy paths,” according to Race Results Weekly, make the winning times slow. The biggest $$$ winner this year was men’s champ Leul Gebresilasie of Ethiopia. The 23-year-old, who ran 13:13 and 27:19 last year and was 6th at the Ethiopian Olympic Trials in Hengelo, won $15,000 for winning in 29:28. The women’s champ – Gabru Azemra of Ethiopia, who has a 14:58 pb – saw her prize reduced by $5,000 as her 33:59 winning time was slower than 33:40 (men’s prize is reduced if it’s above 29:40).

Top 3 Men’s Results
1. Leul Gebresilasie, ETH      29:28 USD 15,000
2. Dawit Fikadu Admasu, ETH    29:34     10,000
3. Jemeli Bekele, ETH          29:38      7,500

Top 3 Women’s Results
1. Gabru Azemra, ETH           33:59 USD 10,000#
2. Veronica Maina, KEN         34:20      7,500#
3. Alice Timbilili, KEN        34:39      5,000#


While some random races are still throwing out huge prize money, not all was good on the prize money front. Berlin’s BIG 25 – the site of the world record for 25k for both men (1:11:18 by Dennis Kimetto in 2012) and women (1:19:53 by Mary Keitany in 2010; Keitany actually split faster for 25K during April’s London Marathon, but it hasn’t been ratified yet) – dropped its elite prize money this year and the winning times skyrocketed as a result to 1:23:14 on the men’s side (Mustapha El Ouartassy) and 1:28:48 on the women’s side (Lona Chemtai Korlima set a new Israeli 25k record).

Dathan Ritzenhein Returns To Action and The Winner’s Circle

Speaking of 25k races, last week, 34-year-old American Dathan Ritzenhein returned to the action last week at the Fifth Third River Bank Run 25-K in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which doubled as the US 25k champs. In his first race since DNFing at the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon, Ritzenhein, who was racing in a non-Nike singlet for the first time in his pro career (Ritz wore a local running shop’s singlet as he is no longer with Nike), showed he’s still got something in the tank as he won by 24 seconds over Christo Landry in 1:14:27.

25k is an odd distance, so we know many are wondering what type of shape Ritz is in. Well, Ritz hit the half-marathon in 62:30 and the McMillan calculator converts his 25k time to a 61:58 half-marathon.

On the women’s side, Aliphine Tuliamuk won in 1:24:35 over Neely Gracey after going through halfway in 1:11:12. McMillan converts her time to 70:24 for the half.

More: Dathan Ritzenhein Finishes Strong To Win Hometown Race At USATF 25K Champs
*MB: Ritz Is Back! Wins USATF 25K Champs At Fifth Third River Bank Run
*MB: Breaking: I’ve figure out what singlet Dathan Ritzenhein was wearing over the weekend and who his new sponsor is

A Tough Way To Run 2:21:57

At the Volkswagen Prague Marathon on May 7, Kenya’s Valary Aiyabei broke the course record of 2:22:34 by running 2:21:57 to pick up €55,000. A 2:21 marathon is certainly impressive but this wasn’t your average 2:21 as she went out in 68:24 and came home in 73:33. That’s what we call some very aggressive running for someone who came in with a 2:24:48 pb.

The men’s race was won by Gebretsadik Abraha of Ethiopia in 2:08:47. Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi ran 2:10:13 but a fall in the 32nd km might have cost him a chance for his 12th career sub-2:10.

More: Valary Aiyabei smashes Volkswagen Prague Marathon event record

Guy Whom Race Director Doesn’t Know Wins Lilac Bloomsday

That same weekend at the Lilac Bloomsday 12km in Spokane, Washington, the top finisher in the 38,748-person race was Tanzania’s Gabriel Geay. The race director had no idea who the 20-year-old Geay was, but we do – he’s starting to make a name for himself. Geay, who was 22nd at World XC this year, first made headlines by winning Peachtree last summer. Making his win all the more impressive was the fact that less than 48 hours earlier, Geay took down Edward Cheserek in the Payton Jordan 5k, where Geay was third in 13:20 and Cheserek fourth in 13:24.

More: Gabriel Geay wins Bloomsday elite men’s title 2 days after racing in California
*Buze Diriba edges fellow Ethiopian Mamitu Daska in women’s elite Bloomsday race

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

Since we didn’t produce a Week That Was last week, a few of the quotes are from the week before as we wanted to share a few of our favorite sub-2 related quotes. If you didn’t read our articles on sub-2, catch up now.

#1 We Agree – The Sub-2 Broadcast Did End Up Being Brilliantly Riveting

“Let’s not ignore that apparel companies are attention-seeking disrupters themselves, whether it’s seeding amateur leagues with sponsorships, or dressing college teams like Marvel characters. Didn’t Nike just spend the other night trying to shatter the 2-hour barrier in marathon running with a brand-tastic spectacle featuring an automoblie test track, pace rabbits, and, of course, new show tech, a stunt that shook up the distance running establishment—and, by the way, turned out to be brilliantly riveting? “

Jason Gay writing in the Wall Street Journal.

#2 This May Be True, But Being Paid A Lot Also Certainly Helped

“(The rabbits have) delivered and over-delivered. The system needed to be perfected and that’s why the test run taught people a lot about how to make it run. The fact that these runners disrupted their racing calendars to come here and be a part of this effort speaks to how the running community and elite runners feel about the importance of this effort – who’s to say that one of the runners in the pacing group might one day be chasing the two-hour barrier themselves.”

Craig Masback talking in the middle of the sub-2 broadcast about the great job the pacemakers did in the attempt. The rabbitting was exceptional but he should be honest and admit that Nike paid them to be there (and can require its athletes to do a set number of events per year).

 #3 Not Everyone Is Opposed To Re-Writing The Record Books

“I will sacrifice whatever it takes to save the sport and give its credibility back.

“I’ve thought about it, put myself in their shoes of losing a record and yes, I’ve lost medals and you kind of go, ‘OK it’s for the greater good’. You have to accept it and move on.

“Records are there to be broken and some of those records can’t be broken unless you’re taking drugs.”

-former British sprinter Darren Campbell, holder of the European 4 x 100 record, talking to BBC Radio 5 Live as reported by The Independent.

Recommended Reads

To see our favorite reads from other weeks, go here.

Article continues below player.

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.

Want More? Join The Supporters Club Today
Support independent journalism and get:
  • Exclusive Access to VIP Supporters Club Content
  • Bonus Podcasts Every Friday
  • Free LetsRun.com Shirt (Annual Subscribers)
  • Exclusive Discounts
  • Enhanced Message Boards