June 21, 2017
The 2017 USATF Outdoor Championships will be held this week at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento, California, and LetsRun.com will be on-site all week providing coverage as America’s best runners, jumpers and throwers try to book their tickets to this summer’s World Championships in London. Before we arrive on the West Coast, we’ll be rolling out previews of each of the middle-distance/distance events to prepare you for the meet. We begin below with a look at the men’s 5,000 and 10,000 finals.
Remember, unlike last year, if an athlete finishes in the top three at USAs but doesn’t have the World Championships standard, they have until July 23 to chase it. If they still don’t have it by then, their Worlds spot passes to the next-highest placing athlete at USAs with the standard.
Before you read the preview, make sure you enter our prediction contest. It’s free to play and the top three entries win a $100 giftcard plus the New Balance shoe of their choice thanks to our friends at Running Warehouse.
Men’s 10,000 (Thursday, June 22, 10:09 pm Pacific, 1:09 a.m. ET*): Galen Rupp goes for his ninth straight in what could be his final track race on U.S. soil
*Technically this race will begin on Friday if you go by ET, but locally, it’s on Thursday night
World Championship standard: 27:45.00; athletes with standard in bold
|Galen Rupp||Nike / NOP||26:44.36||27:08.92||Has won this race every year since turning pro in 2009|
|Shadrack Kipchirchir||U.S. Army||27:32.18||27:32.18||Has made last 2 US teams at 10k|
|Leonard Korir||U.S. Army||27:29.40||27:35.65||US XC/HM champ was 14th in Rio last year in 10k|
|Chris Derrick||NIKE / BTC||27:31.38||27:38.69||5th at Olympic Trials last year but only 13:33 in Prefontaine 5k|
|Abbabiya Simbassa||American Distance Project||27:45.78||27:45.78||Has knocked 57 secs off PB since joining ADP last fall|
|Diego Estrada||ASICS||27:30.53||27:48.57||Ran 27:48 at Payton Jordan & 13:32 at Portland Track Festival|
|Futsum Ziensellassie||Northern Ariz.||27:52.70||27:52.70||2nd at NCAAs last year for Northern Arizona|
|Samuel Chelanga||NIKE||27:08.39||27:54.57||Strong spring highlighted by 11th-place finish at World XC; only Rupp has faster PR; has standard thanks to World XC finish|
|Benjamin Bruce||HOKA ONE ONE NAZ Elite||28:09.29||28:09.29|
|Alex Monroe||Boulder Track Club||28:17.03||28:17.03|
|Matthew McClintock||ZAP Fitness Reebok||28:27.14||28:27.14|
|George-Byron Alex||Skechers Performance||28:28.63||28:28.63|
|Ian La Mere||28:38.63||28:38.63|
|Daniel Tapia||Mammoth Track Club||28:39.72||28:39.72|
|Ryan Mahalsky||District Track Club||28:39.94||28:39.94|
|Johnny Crain II||ZAP Fitness Reebok||28:26.98||28:40.43|
|Aaron Nelson||ZAP Fitness Reebok||28:44.65||28:53.70|
|Brian Eimstad||Team Run Eugene||29:03.90||29:03.90||Former Cornell runner was an NCAA xc qualifier in 2015.|
|Andrew Colley||ZAP Fitness Reebok||29:11.08||NT|
|Hassan Mead||Nike / NIKE OTCE||27:33.04||27:34.38||Made 10k team in ’15 but could scratch this to focus on 5k|
|Tyler Day||Northern Ariz.||28:46.07||28:46.07|
|Kevin Lewis||Team USA Minnesota||28:56.66||28:56.66|
No modern athlete has dominated an event at the USATF Outdoor Championships like Galen Rupp has dominated the 10,000 meters. Last year marked his eighth straight victory in the event, making him the fifth man to win at least eight straight U.S. titles. The others?
James Mitchel, hammer, 1889-1896
Henry Laskau, 3,000m/2-mile race walk, 1948-1958
Bob Backus, weight throw 1953-1965 (Backus only won eight straight as the event wasn’t held from 1960 to 1964)
Breaux Greer, javelin, 2000-2007
So if you’re scoring at home, that’s a 19th-century weight thrower, two athletes from the 1950s in events that no longer exist and this guy:
We’d say that Rupp is in elite company, but we don’t know if that’s accurate considering we hadn’t heard of half of these guys before sitting down to write this article. More telling is who’s not on the list. The fact that all-time legends such as Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson, Edwin Moses couldn’t win eight straight tells you how impressive Rupp’s achievement is. Should he win #9 on Thursday, he’d join Laskau as the only Americans ever to accomplish that. Quite a feat.
Rupp won’t have it easy in 2017, however, as he battled plantar fasciitis for most of the winter and ran the Boston Marathon just nine weeks ago. He’s been in this position before — he ran the Olympic Trials marathon last year and came back to win the 10,000 at the Olympic Trials on the track — but he had more than twice as much time to recover between the two events in 2016 19 weeks versus 9). Though Rupp’s training for the past two months and for the rest of the summer will be focused on the 10,000, the marathon is his primary event at this point and he may not be able to turn it over quite as well as he could a few years ago.
Rupp will also toe the line less than one month after a hacked USADA report detailing questionable practices by his coach Alberto Salazar and physician Dr. Jeffrey Brown, was published on Flotrack with the report concluding that “it appears highly likely” that Rupp committed an anti-doping rules violation.
Despite all that, Rupp remains the favorite. Yes, it’s tough to go from a marathon in April to a major track race in June, but over the past year, Salazar and Rupp have shown that they can switch back and forth between both distances effectively. And whatever scrutiny Rupp faces for the USADA report (as of now, no violation has been announced and Rupp is free to compete) won’t be as intense as what he faced two years ago regarding the BBC/ProPublica report, and Rupp cruised to the win at USAs in 2015.
We should also point out that Rupp is easily the greatest 10,000 runner in U.S. history — apart from Rupp, no American has placed in the top 5 of an Olympic/World Championship 10,000 since 1972. Rupp has done it in four straight global championships. He may not be in peak 10,000 shape, but he was so far ahead to begin with that even a slightly diminished Rupp is still probably better than everyone else. Plus it’s going to be hot at USAs — around 90 degrees at race time, though the sun will have set — and Rupp runs well in the heat. Remember, last year only two guys could finish within 50 seconds of him at the Olympic Trials 10k as everyone else struggled in the heat.
Rupp’s biggest competition comes from coach Scott Simmons‘ American Distance Project. ADP took 2-3 behind Rupp last year with Shadrack Kipchirchir and Leonard Korir, and both men have been in even better form so far in 2017. Kipchirchir ran a PR of 27:32 at Payton Jordan and looked good in winning the 5k at Oxy in 13:23. Korir has won US titles in XC, 15k and the half marathon and has demonstrated a formidable kick. Their teammates Sam Chelanga (11th at World XC — the top non-African) and Abbabiya Simbassa (who has gone from 28:42 to 27:45 this year) also figure to be in the mix.
We asked Simmons whether he thought any of his guys could beat Rupp, in what could his final track race on U.S. soil.
“I do,” Simmons said. “I think that’s specifically what we prepared to do, win and make teams, and we’re well prepared. We want a race, we want a solid race.”
Two other guys figure to have a shot at the team: Chris Derrick and Hassan Mead. Derrick handled the heat well last year at the Trials to take 5th and with a year of consistent training under his belt, he figures to contend here, though his most recent race, 13:33 for 24th at the Pre Classic (well back of Korir and Mead) wasn’t great. Mead has looked good in all three of his races this spring (3:37 1500, 13:19 5k, 27:34 10k) and has made each of the past two U.S. teams (10k in 2015, 5k in 2016). He may not end up running the 10k (the 5k is only 24 hours later, making it a tough double) but if he winds up starting the 10k, he will be in the thick of things.
LRC prediction: 1. Rupp 2. Kipchirchir 3. Korir
There are several guys who could make the team, but Rupp is still the guy to beat and Kipchirchir and Korir have both improved after going 2-3 in 2016. Even if it’s a little boring, we like the same order of finish as last year.
In case you are wondering the weather forecast is saying it will be 81 degrees at race time.
Men’s 5,000 (Friday, June 23, 9:10 pm Pacific, 12:10 a.m. ET*): Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo is favored
*Technically this race will begin on Saturday if you go by ET, but locally, it’s on Friday night
World Championship standard: 13:22.60; athletes with standard in bold
|Eric Jenkins||Nike / NOP||13:05.85||13:05.85||4th last year, 13:13 at Pre (US #2 for 2017)|
|Benjamin True||Saucony||13:02.74||13:06.74||Ran 13:06 indoors, only 13:28 at Pre. Not doing 10k.|
|Ryan Hill||NIKE / BTC||13:05.69||13:07.61||13:07 indoors, DNF at Pre, has run 3:37 and 3:38 this year|
|Paul Chelimo Sr||U.S. Army||13:03.90||13:10.11||Olympic silver, #1 in US in 2017|
|Lopez Lomong||NIKE / BTC||13:07.00||13:12.27||13:12 indoors, 3:55 mile at Pre|
|Chris Derrick||NIKE / BTC||13:08.04||13:19.35||5th at Olympic Trials 10k last year but only 13:33 in Prefontaine 5k|
|Leonard Korir||U.S. Army||13:15.45||13:22.04||US XC/HM champ was 14th in Rio last year in 10k|
|Kirubel Erassa||Atlanta Track Club||13:23.12||13:23.12||Ran pb on June 11|
|Shadrack Kipchirchir||U.S. Army||13:18.52||13:23.74||Has made last 2 US teams at 10k|
|Abbabiya Simbassa||American Distance Project||13:25.79||13:25.79|
|Thomas Curtin||Saucony Freedom TC||13:26.55||13:26.55|
|Reid Buchanan||Mammoth Track Club||13:27.83||13:27.83|
|Emmanuel Bor||U.S. Army||13:28.79||13:28.79|
|Joe Stilin||ZAP Fitness Reebok||13:32.21||13:34.94|
|Craig Lutz||HOKA ONE ONE NAZ Elite||13:36.03||13:36.03|
|Andrew Trouard||Northern Ariz.||13:36.43||13:36.43|
|Ben Rainero||LetsRun.com||13:57.15||13:57.15||Used a Greyhound bus to help get him to his qualifying race, was with Rupp with 300 meter remaining.|
|Hassan Mead||Nike / NIKE OTCE||13:02.80||13:09.81||2nd last year, 13:19/27:34 this year|
Paul Chelimo earned the U.S.’s first Olympic 5,000 medal in 52 years last summer in Rio, a sentence that would have seemed unfathomable to anyone on January 1, 2016. But after a breakout year that began with a runner-up finish at USA indoors, the Kenyan-born Chelimo is a known quantity and a natural heir to Bernard Lagat as the king of American 5kers. He hasn’t lost to an American on the track all year, a streak that includes a laughably dominant win in the 2-mile at USA indoors and a 7:31 runner-up finish in a stacked Doha Diamond League on May 5. Most recently, Chelimo finished 7th in an even more stacked 5,000 at the Pre Classic, and although he wasn’t happy with the performance, he still ran 13:10 (the second-fastest of his career and tops by an American outdoors in 2017) and finished as the top American. He’s the favorite heading into USAs, and his coach Scott Simmons believes he’s even stronger than at this point last year.
“The level of his training now compared to last year at this time, he was 75% last year, I really think so,” Simmons said. “Now he’s stronger. Not that he’s going to run the 10,000 anytime immediately, but he’s pretty much as strong as our best 10,000 runners. The goal is to medal and win gold in London. To do that, you can’t just be a 5k guy, you have to be strong and be able to close. Last year was just the tip of the iceberg, and now a lot more of the iceberg is coming out of the water.”
As far as the other Americans are concerned, seven of the eight guys with the standard ran at the Pre Classic on May 27, so those results offer a good starting point. The results were as follows (with athletes from other countries removed):
7. Paul Chelimo, 13:10.11
9. Eric Jenkins, 13:13.30
16. Hassan Mead, 13:19.16
19. Leonard Korir, 13:22.04
22. Ben True, 13:28.24
24. Chris Derrick, 13:33.39
DNF Ryan Hill
That’s a fairly accurate look at the picture for USAs as Jenkins has been the other standout runner in 2017. He has the fastest time by an American this year thanks to his 13:05 indoors, and though he’s always had good speed, it’s been at another level since the end of last year. It began with Jenkins’ 3:49 victory at the 5th Avenue Road Mile in September over Olympic champ Matthew Centrowitz and has continued in 2017 with wins at the Wanamaker Mile, Payton Jordan, Oxy and the Portland Track Festival. So whether it’s slow or fast, Jenkins looks prepared for anything at USAs.
So if Chelimo and Jenkins have the first two spots, who’s going to get third? It’s a good question. Mead and Korir were next at Pre, but both men will be doubling back from the 10,000. That’s really tough to do considering the 10k is going to be a war in hot conditions and the 5k starts less than 24 hours later (also in hot conditions). Fresh, they’d have a chance, but there are too many good guys in the 5k for us to count on a guy doubling back.
Note to USATF: in future, in a four-day USATF Championship, the 5,000 and then 10,000 should be as far apart as possible. That was the case in 2013 (when Rupp made both teams) and 2015 (when Rupp and Ben True made both teams). At Worlds, the two events are always far apart — this year, the 10k is on August 4 while the 5k prelims don’t start until August 9. And since many 10k athletes also want to run the 5k and the 10k/5k double is far more common than the 1500/5k, USATF should facilitate that double by putting one of the races on day 1 and the other on day 4, rather than running the 10k on day 1 and the 5k on day 2.
Most likely, the final spot will come down to True, Hill and Lopez Lomong. True looked terrific in setting the US road record for 5k (13:20) in Boston in April but he was sick for Doha (10th in 7:47) and struggled in the midday sun at Pre. Hill was third at USA indoors, but he was awful at Pre before dropping out, though he has run 3:37 and 3:38 for 1500 this spring. Lomong hasn’t raced a 5k since indoors (where True and Hill both beat him) but has run 3:55 for the mile and 3:38 for 1500 in 2017. Though he’s now 32 years old and hasn’t made a US team since 2013, Lomong is a two-time U.S. champ at 1500 and can still kick when needed. Remember, Lagat outkicked everyone last year and he was nine years older than Lomong.
LRC Prediction: 1. Chelimo 2. Jenkins 3. True
We’re very confident about the first two spots and not confident at all about third. Maybe one of the 10k guys (Mead, Korir, Kipchirchir) is able to double back and take it, but we feel better about someone running it fresh. Based on the Prefontaine results, that’s True, and if he’s healthy for this race, we like him for third. Remember, he won a stacked 2-mile at Millrose indoors (outkicking noted kicker Hill) and ran 13:20 on the roads two months ago. He’s fit, and assuming no mishaps, he should be far better in Sacramento than he was in Doha or Eugene.
Talk about the 10ks and 5ks on our fan forum / messaboard. MB: 2017 USA 10k race is tmw night. Will Rupp win his 9th straight? And the 5k is less than 24 hours later