Week That Was: 80,000 People Tried to go to a Youth Track Meet and There Were Only 60,000 Seats; Drew Hunter, Nick Willis Updates

The Week That Was In Running – July 10 – July 16, 2017

by LetsRun.com
July 19, 2017

Past editions of the Week That Was can be found here. Got a tip, question or comment? Please email us or post in our forum. If you missed our in-depth review of the Rabat Diamond League meet, catch up now: Recap: Nijel Amos, Andre De Grasse, Elaine Thompson, Ryan Crouser Keep Rolling, Conseslus Kipruto Goes Out Injured, and The Moroccans Impress.

Before we get started on this week’s recap, we want to make a few comments related to points we made in last week’s recap. Last week, we mentioned how the Japanese had zero men’s distance qualifiers for the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London. Well, that changed as Hironori Tsuetaki ran 8:29.05 in the steeple last week at the Hokuren Distance Challenge – Abashiri Meet. In the same meet, Nike Oregon Project team member Suguru Osako just missed the 10,000 standard of 27:45.00 when he ran 27:45.64. That means he won’t be going to Worlds as you have to have run 27:45.00 to go to the Worlds as there is no descending order list in the event.


Last week, we also praised American Tim Ritchie for becoming the first American male to finish in the top 5 at the Utica Boilermaker in at least 15 years. Along those lines, we need to praise Purdue alum and current Zap Fitness athlete Matt McClintock as this week he finished fifth at the Crazy 8’s 8k in Kingsport, Tennessee – annually the world’s best 8k road race. McClintock is the first American male in the top 5 at the race since Kevin Odiorne in 2003.

The winner of the race in 22:41 was Ethiopia’s Teshome Mekonen. A much-deserved victory for Mekonen as last year he was declared the second place finisher in a sprint finish on the day of the race only for it to be overturned the next day (with Mekonen bumped down to third) as the finish was so tight.

Check out this link for a photo of last year’s crazy finish.

2017: No close calls for Mekonen at Crazy 8s
2016: Check that: Second-, third-place Crazy 8’s finishers swap places

Stat of the Week

2.01 seconds – margin of victory achieved by 17-year-old Selemon Barega at the World U18 Championships in Kenya where he clocked 7:47.16 in the boys’ 3000.

That type of dominance could be expected when a sub-13 5000 teen races in an any age-group competition, let alone U18 competition. Think about it, if Barega’s birthdate is accurate and he were in America, he’d be going into his senior year of high school. His PR for 5000 is 12:55.58. That means he’s run 3.1 miles at an average of 4:09.45 pace – or two miles in 8:18.90 and kept that up for another 1.1 miles. Pretty amazing considering the US high school record for 2 miles is Lukas Verzbicas’ 8:29.46.

It’s worth pointing out that earlier this year Barega didn’t even win a medal in the U20 race at World XC in Uganda where he was fifth. How is that possible you say? Well the four guys who beat him are pretty good. Here are their credentials.

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1. Jacob Kiplimo – 22:40 – Uganda – 16-year-old has PRs of 13:13/27:26
2. Amdework Walelegn – 22:43 – Ethiopia – 18-year-old ran 13:14 on June 29th
3. Richard Yator – 22:52 – Kenya – 19-year-old has been dominant in Japan – 13:28 pb
4. Betesfa Getahun – 22:58 – Ethiopia – 18-year-old ran 13:24 on June 15th.

Barega wasn’t the only stud competing in age-group competition last week. At the European U23 champs, the Olympic javelin champ showed up, Sara Kolak of Croatia. She actually had to fight very hard for gold as Latvia’s Anete Kocina took the lead on her sixth throw with a 64.47m heave. Kolak responded with a 65.12 throw of her own to get the win.

An interview with Barega appears below:

MB: Ethiopia finally found the successor to Kenenisa & Haile – His name Selemon Barega

Kenya Magnificently Hosted The World U18 Championships

Speaking of the World U18 Championships, they went off without a hitch even though the US, UK, Japan and many others skipped out. One of the reasons given for the U.S.’s absence was concerns over terrorism, but the Kenyans promised a safe meet and delivered. The only explosions in the stadium came from the massive crowds on the weekend. The President of Kenya made tickets free and the people responded as on the final day there were 60,000 people in the stadium and another 20,000 outside wanting to get in.

Do you think a 16-year-old American would have enjoyed running in front of this?

That’s an experience one remembers for a lifetime.

So thumbs up to Kenya for putting on an amazing championship. It’s a shame so many countries missed out on it.

It’s worth noting that the home crowd didn’t result in Kenya destroying Ethiopia in the medal race. In looking at the mid-d and distance running events, both countries won 12 medals and four golds. The only difference was Kenya won 5 silvers and 3 bronzes whereas Ethiopia won 3 silvers and 5 bronzes (Kenya also picked up silvers in the 400, 400h and a bronze in the 10k race walk).

Related: World Juniors Was Great But A Kenyan Journalist Remembers The Greatest Meet Ever Held In Kenya – The Jomo Kenyatta Memorial Pro Meet

A Talented Sibling / Did A Premature Celebration Cost A Top Kenyan Gold?

The winner of the boys’ 1500 at World U18 Champs was George Manangoi – the younger brother of Elijah Manangoi, the 2015 World Championship 1500 silver medallist. Manangoi destroyed everyone in the boys’ 1500 final as he won by 1.12 seconds in 3:47.53 to win Kenya’s first gold of the competition.

Manangoi wasn’t even expected to win the title as he lost the Kenyan Trials to Dominic Kipkemboi. Kipkemboi crushed everyone in the prelim at the U18 champs but then was a DNS in the final.

Guess why he was a DNS? Well the Daily Nation of Kenya reported that Kipkemboi got injured in the prelims while doing a premature celebration:

After gaining a huge lead, Kipkemboi started waving to the cheering crowd and in the process hit the wall on the inside lane before limping across the finishing line. “We learn from mistakes and that won’t happen in the final,” said Kipkemboi.

Reading that, we went back and watched the replay of the prelim race on the IAAF’s YouTube page. What we saw didn’t match up with what was reported. We urge you to watch it for yourself below as it’s a bizarre race. Watching high schoolers is so much more fun than pros as it’s totally unpredictable. You’d have to wonder if anyone was coaching them.

Guess what Kipkemboi went out in for the first 400 of his 1500 prelim?

Come on, go ahead and guess.


He went 55.69, 1:55.74, and 2:58.12 for the first 1200. As a result, he had a massive lead, and he did start celebrating early coming off the final turn. However, we never saw him hit the rail (if you see him hit the rail on the race replay, email us). We just see him limp off the track. He was pretty heavily taped up going into the race so maybe he re-aggravated whatever was bothering him heading into the race.

We hadn’t seen a race that crazy since the 2013 World Youth championships when Alfred Kipketer took the 800 final out in 48.32.

Embedding of the 1500 youtube video has been disabled but you can watch it here.

MB: 16-year old Kenyan goes out in 48.32 for 800, holds on and (barely) wins World Youth Gold


Tweet of the Week

26 athletes for a 1500 may sound like a lot and remind people of cross country but when they are spread out between 4:05 and 4:23 it’s not too many.

MB: Efraimson provided a workmanlike SB 4:06 today finishing 2nd to Muir in Padova

Drew Hunter Battles For A Win and PRs in Europe / Did You Know That Nick Willis Doesn’t Have The 1500 Standard?

In the men’s 1500 race in Padua, Italy, over the weekend, the winner in 3:36.56 was 2014 world junior champ Jonathan Sawe of Kenya but the big story was the names and times of the 3rd and 4th place finishers.

Finishing third in 3:36.77, a new pb by 1.62 seconds, was 19-year-old American Drew Hunter, who went pro out of high school after winning the Foot Locker XC crown and running 3:57.15 in the mile.

Watch the race at the 2:24:30 mark here.

If we convert that 3:36.77 1500 time to a mile using the standard 1.0802 conversion, it equates to 3:54.15, meaning Hunter has improved by exactly three seconds over the last year.

Since Hunter turns 20 in September, his mark isn’t eligible for the US junior list but he’s just the third American to break 3:37.00 before his 20th birthday (Alan Webb‘s mile equivalent is obviously better as well).

America’s Sub-3:37 1500 Runners As Teenagers
3:36.1h Jim Ryun
3:36.77 Drew Hunter
3:36.92 Matthew Centrowitz

Hunter was pleased to have PR’d but in a post-race interview done by his agent Ray Flynn, he seemed most pleased to have been contending for the win.

That to us is the biggest aspect of going pro early that is often overlooked. When people go pro out of high school, it’s often hard psychologically as they go from contending for the win/dominating at the high school level to almost never contending for the win at the pro level.

MB: Andrew Hunter 3:36.77 in Padova 
MB: So Andrew Hunter (3:36) at 19 is equal to Alan Webb at 18 (3:53)


The fourth placer in Padua in 3:36.95 was two-time Olympic medallist Nick Willis. Willis, who took a long break over the winter, only ran his first 1500 of the year a week earlier when he ran and won in Brussels in 3:37.69.

Astute observers may be thinking to themselves, “Wait a minute. Both of those times are over the IAAF standard of 3:36.00, does Willis have the World Championship standard?”

Answer: No, he does not.

And the deadline for qualifying is this Sunday, July 23. Now there is no reason for Willis to panic for the following two reasons.

  1. The fastest 1500 of the year also happens to take place this Friday in Monaco (Willis is entered).
  2. Even if Willis doesn’t run any faster, he still may get into Worlds. When you look at the 2017 IAAF descending order list for 2017 and limit it to three entrants per country (and let Kenya have four as they have four spots at Worlds) and add in area champions, Willis is currently the 43rd man in the world for 2017 and the IAAF is planning on accepting 45 people in the 1500. If you want to see the full list for the 1500 — or any event — check out this site, which has done all the hard work of sifting through this year’s times.

Still, Willis’ quest for the standard will be an interesting subplot to watch in Monaco. The idea that an Olympic medallist has to achieve the standard a year after he medalled is absurd.


Domanic after winning in Ireland Domanic after winning in Ireland

Someone Get Alexa Efraimson and Robert Domanic In A Faster Race So They Can Get Dragged To A Fast Time

As shown in our Tweet of the Week, Laura Muir dominated the women’s race in Padua in 4:05.01, as American Alexa Efraimson was second in 4:06.12. Earlier in the week, Efraimson won the Morton Games in Ireland in 4:06.73.

That now means since USAs Efraimson has run four 1500s and in all of them she’s run 4:06. Considering she’s been near the lead in all four of the races (none of them have been won in under 4:05), it seems that Efraimson is ready to run faster if she can get in a better race where she might be dragged to a PB.


Speaking of people whom we’d like to see in a faster race, the winner of the men’s race at the Morton Games was Ole Miss redshirt Robert Domanic, who won in 3:55.71 (Drew Hunter was 6th, more than a second back). The 22-year-old Domanic, who ran a 3:54.73 mile at the Adrian Martinez Classic earlier this year, has finished first or second in all of his outdoor 1500/miles this year save one – the first round of USAs. At USAs, he was fourth in his tactical heat but just .27 from heat winner Ben Blankenship.

Later in the week, on July 15th, Domanic won the Le Chéile International 1500 in Ireland in 3:42.11.

A Tough Way To Win A 100-Mile Race

Running and winning a 100-miler that takes more than 24 hours to complete isn’t easy to begin with. Imagine doing it if you dislocated your shoulder in the 13th mile and had to run much of the race with your arm in a brace. That’s exactly what Kilian Jornet did last week at the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run.

More: Kilian Jornet dislocated his shoulder 13 miles into the Hardrock 100. Then, he won the race.
He took nearly 48 hours to finish the Hardrock 100. The race’s winner was waiting for him

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

#1 Cam Levins Says Alberto Salazar Has High Morals

I would say [the doping allegations against Alberto Salazar] had more of an effect initially and unfortunately, it became part of being part of the Oregon Project, having a shadow of doubt around the room. But it has nothing to do with why I left the group. I have the utmost faith in Alberto and my former teammates that they’re clean and have high morals.”

Cam Levins talking to the CBC in a fascinating Q&A with the CBC about his time as a member of the Nike Oregon Project.

Levins has left the group (and is currently unsponsored) and gone back to the coaching of Southern Utah’s Eric Houle.

He may be moving up the marathon soon. Considering Levins has a 27:07 10,000 pb, if he can stay healthy, we feel that Jerome Drayton‘s 2:10:09 Canadian record, which has somehow survived since 1975, may soon be broken.

More: Cam Levins Opens Up About Doping Allegations, His Decision To Leave NOP And His Relationship With Alberto Salazar

#2 Training Is A Science, Racing Is An Art

“Training, she knew, was primarily a science, but racing an art, so the only way to master that craft was to serve her apprenticeship with the best.”

-our favorite line from a piece by Cathal Dennehy in Ireland’s Independent on Síofra Cléirigh-Buttner. Buttner, who starred for Villanova at Penn Relays this year, finished 7th in the European U23 final last week.

More: Cléirigh-Buttner ready for next step on journey

#3 We Doubt Usain Bolt Will Be Doing This In A Few Years

“I love track and field. It’s a part of me. This is just something I always want to be a part of. This is here for people who love track and field. At 31 years old, why would I not run this race?”

– Two-time Olympic medalist Walter Dix, who has PRs of 9.88 and 19.51, talking to TheAdvocate.com about why he ran the USATF Masters Championships in the 30-34 age category last week.

For the record, Dix, who made the finals of USAs in the 200 this year, dominated both the prelims and the final of the 100, where he won in 10.28 (2nd place was 10.68)

More: Walter Dix So Loves Track And Field He’s Now Competing For Free At USATF Masters Champs

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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