Week That Was: Monaco Madness Makes Jager the Worlds Favorite?, Eilish McColgan is Faster Than Her Mom, Sammy Watson, Shalane Flanagan, Morgan McDonald Keep Rolling

The Week That Was In Running – July 17 – July 23, 2017 by LetsRun.com July 26, 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 fantastic Monaco Diamond League meet, catch up now: 2017 Monaco […]

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The Week That Was In Running – July 17 – July 23, 2017

by LetsRun.com
July 26, 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 fantastic Monaco Diamond League meet, catch up now: 2017 Monaco Diamond League coverage, as all the big news last week on the track was at Monaco with 2 American distance runners taking center stage:

Here’s How Everyone Should Bounce Back After They Fail To Make It to NCAAs

21-year-old Wisconsin star Morgan McDonald of Australia failed to qualify for NCAA regionals this year.

After an injury kept him out of NCAAs indoors, he got a late start outdoors. His only individual race (he ran the 4 x 1600 relay at Drake) was the Big 10 5000, which he won in dominating fashion in 14:14.53, but windy conditions prevented him from running fast enough to get the regional qualifier (it took 14:05.06 to make it this year).

Since then, he’s done the following:

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June 1-  Ran a 3:57.52 mile pb in St. Louis (winning the race – previous pb 3:58.83)
June 11 – Ran a 13:23.28 5k pb in Portland (finishing 2nd – previous pb 13:29.79)
July 12 – Ran a 3:55.79 mile pb in Ireland (finishing 2nd)
July 22 – Run a 13:15.83 5k pb in Heusden (finishing 10th).

His next race will be the World Championship 5000. Pretty remarkable.

“In my world, at the NCAA level, 13:15 is very out there, but wow, this is fun,” said Wisconsin coach Mick Byrne. “Back in February when Morgan was injured after winning the 3000 and 5000 meters at the Big Ten indoor meet, he was pretty devastated that he would have to miss the NCAA indoor meet. At the time, we had to reevaluate the year. I felt that it was important to throw out London at this time and Morgan embraced the possibility. In hindsight, the injury actually recharged him. When Mother Nature derailed his NCAA outdoor plans at Big Tens, we had to once again refocus and it seemed like fate just kept pointing to London.”

He’s now the fastest undergrad in Wisconsin history.

The 5 Fastest 5000 Men at Wisconsin
1. 13:12.24 Chris Solinsky 7/28/07 – Run after graduation
2. 13:15.83 Morgan McDonald 7/22/17 – Run in the summer after his junior year at age 21
3. 13:18.88 Mohammed Ahmed 7/27/14 – Run after graduation
4. 13:25.36 Matt Tegenkamp 6/24/05 – Run at USAs after graduation
5. 13:30.40 Maverick Darling 4/28/13 – Run during the season

More: Wisco’s Morgan McDonald Ran 13:15 To Become Fastest Badger Undergrad In History
*MB: Can someone tell me how bad was the weather at Big 10s? Morgan McDonald only ran 14:14 there


Sammy Watson at New Balance Nationals in 2015

Sammy Watson at New Balance Nationals in 2015

This PR Got Very Little Attention

Congrats to 17-year-old Sammy Watson of the US. She lowered her pb last week for the fourth time this year when she ran 2:00.65 for 800 meters in Bellinzona, Switzerland. Watson started the year with a 2:02.91 pb. She lowered that to 2:01.78 indoors and then to 2:01.47 at the Pre Classic and 2:00.78 at the adidas Boost Boston Games.

Watson, who has signed with Texas A&M, is young for her grade. With a November birthday, anything she runs in 2018 will still count for US junior ranks.

The 5 Fastest Performers at 800 in US HS History
1:59.51 *Mary Cain (Bronxville, New York) 2013
2:00.07 Kim Gallagher (Upper Dublin, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania) 1982
2:00.65 Samantha Watson (Rush-Henrietta, Henrietta, New York) 2017
2:00.91 Ajee’ Wilson (Neptune, New Jersey) 2012
2:01.61 Chanelle Price (Easton Area, Easton, Pennsylvania) 2008
The 5 Fastest Performers at 800 in US Jr History
1:58.21 Ajee’ Wilson (adidas) 08/18/13
1:59.51 Mary Cain (New York HS) 06/01/13
1:59.71 Raevyn Rogers (Oregon) 06/13/15
2:00.07 Kim Gallagher (Pennsylvania HS) 07/24/82
2:00.65 Samantha Watson (New York HS) 07/18/17

Both lists come from Track & Field News.

Stat of the Week

80% – percentage of the number of top-5 finishers in the women’s 800 at the Monaco Diamond League that set a national record. The only one who didn’t get a national record was fourth placer Sifan Hassan, who ran 1:56.81. Now we know many of you under the age of 40 may be wondering, “Who from the Netherlands ran faster than 1:56.81?”

Answer: Ellen van Langen ran a huge pb of 1:55.54 (previous pb of 1:56.66) to win Olympic gold in Barcelona in 1992.

Embed from Getty Images

Athlete Country Time Previous NR / Holder / Yr
1. Caster Semenya RSA 1:55.27 1:55.28 – Semenya – 2016 Rio
2. Francine Niyonsaba BDI 1:55.47 1:56.24 – Niyonsaba – 2016 Monaco
3. Ajee’ Wilson USA 1:55.61 1:56.40 – Jearl Miles-Clark – 1999 Zurich
4. Sifan Hassan NED 1:56.81 1:55.43 – Ellen Van Langen – 1992 Barcelona
5. Melissa Bishop CAN 1:57.01 1:57.02 – Bishop – 2016 Rio

If you are asking if that was the deepest 800 in history, then you clearly don’t know the impact performance-enhancing drugs has had on the event historically.

More than 40 years ago, a woman ran 1:55 in the Olympic Games and didn’t even medal!!!

1976 Olympic Women’s 800 Results
1. Tatyana Kazankina Soviet Union 1:54.94 WR
2. Nikolina Shtereva Bulgaria 1:55.42
3. Elfi Zinn East Germany 1:55.60
4. Anita Weiß East Germany 1:55.74
5. Svetlana Styrkina Soviet Union 1:56.44
6. Svetla Zlateva Bulgaria 1:57.21
7. Doris Gluth East Germany 1:58.99
8. Mariana Suman Romania 2:02.21

1980 was equally suspicious.

1980 Olympic Women’s 800 Results
1. Nadezhda Olizarenko Soviet Union 1:53.5 WR
2. Olga Mineyeva Soviet Union 1:54.9
3. Tatyana Providokhina Soviet Union 1:55.5
4. Martina Kämpfert East Germany 1:56.3
5. Hildegard Ullrich East Germany  1:57.2
6. Jolanta Januchta Poland 1:58.3
7. Nikolina Shtereva Bulgaria 1:58.8
8. Gabriella Dorio Italy 1:59.2

Ajee Wilson Battling for Win in Monaco

Ajee Wilson Battling for Win in Monaco

Now, considering that Ajee Wilson pushed both Semenya and Niyonsaba to the line in Monaco, we know some of you are asking yourselves, Hey does this mean that the Court of Arbitration for Sport got it right? Maybe hyperandrogenic athletes should be allowed to compete in the women’s category without treatment?

We will admit we asked that question ourselves, but the answer is still no.

Women’s athletics was created because women can’t compete with men on a level playing field. The primary reason for this is because men have way more testosterone. If a hyperandrogenic woman has that same advantage, she either needs to be in her own category or be on hormone treatment. All three of the Olympic medalists in the women’s 800 are believed to be hyperandrogenic, which is an extremely rare condition.

The argument, “But they were born with that genetic advantage just like Michael Phelps was born with long limbs” doesn’t sway us at all. There are not separate categories in Olympic swimming for athletes with long limbs and athletes with short limbs. There are separate categories for each sex — because of testosterone.

In the year 2017, when gender is, in many parts of the world, determined by how you personally identify, there absolutely needs to be a hormone limit for women’s athletics at all levels. The IAAF requires surgery and an endocrine assessment for male-to-female transitions, but many governing bodies at the lower levels do not. And if that remains the case further down the line, we may have people with penises, or if you prefer transgender women who have not undergone surgery, dominating women’s athletics. We know that seems like a crazy notion but it’s already happened at the high school level – remember a human who had not undergone surgery already won the Connecticut girls’ high school state title in the 100m this year.

Editor’s note:  We at LetsRun had the debate whether the phrase “people with penises” was too crass and unnecessary. One editor thought it was, while the author said it was not meant to be crass, but correct and to discuss this issue properly we should not obfuscate what we are talking about. Penis is the scientific term for the male sex organ, there are much more crass terms that could be used if the point was to be crass. If you have an opinion email us at letsrun@letsrun.com

More: LRC Ajee Wilson Smashes The American 800 Meter Record, Runs 1:55.61 In Monaco 
From the archives: 2010: MB: 

Eilish McColgan Runs Faster Than Her Mom

In the flat 3000 in Monaco, Hellen Obiri got the win in 8:23.14 but came up short of her goal of becoming the first non-Chinese athlete to break 8:20 outdoors (Genzebe Dibaba has done it indoors). Some big names were behind her as 9:00 steepler Beatrice Chepkoech was second in 8:28.66 and Laura Muir in third in 8:30.64.

But the winner of the chase pack, Eilish McColgan, caught our attention with a big PR in 4th. The 26-year-old ran a big pb of 8:31.39 (previous pb of 8:43.02) and now for the first time has a PB that is faster than her mom, Liz McColgan, the 1991 world champion at 10,000.

Liz certainly had it easier than Eilish does as the amount of African competition in the early 1990s isn’t close to what it is now. For example, it needs to be pointed out that no Kenyan or Ethiopian woman broke 15:00 in the 5000 until 1995.

That being said, Eilish still has a ways to go to equal her mom on an absolute scale in the major events, as shown below.

1500 3k 5k 10k
Liz McColgan PBs 4:01.38 8:38.23 14:59.56 30:57.07
Eilish McColgan PBs 4:03.74 8:31.39 15:05.00 32:01 (road)

Shalane Flanagan Breaks 15:00 at Age 36

Props to Shalane Flanagan for breaking 15:00 at age 36 last week in Heusden. By running her fastest 5000 since 2011, Flanagan also became just the third non-Russian to break 15:00 once hitting the age of 35. Flanagan has a ways to go to catch Edith Masai, however. Masai had a remarkable career. She didn’t start competing seriously until she won the Kenyan XC champs at age 32. She first showed up in Europe at age 34. She ended up running her pb at age 39.

The fastest 5000s by women over the age of the 35

  1. Edith Masai 14:33.84 – 2006 Oslo at age 39
  2. Regina Jacobs – 14:45.35 – 2000 Sacramento at age 36
  3. Mariya Konovalova – 14:49.68 – 2010 Saransk at age 35
  4. Shalane Flanagan – 14:58.99 – 2017 Heusden at age 36
  5. Marla Runyan – 14:49.20 – 2004 Boston at age 35
  6. Alla Zhilyaeva -14:59.46 – 2004 Tula at age 35

More: MB: 2017 Heusden Results – Infeld becomes 15th US women to break 15:00, Quigley runs huge 1500 pb, Efraimson just misses, True 13:10 and much more

Emmanuel Korir Is An All-Time Talent & The Favorite For Worlds

Emmanuel Korir was #1 at NCAAs. What about Worlds?

Emmanuel Korir was #1 at NCAAs. What about Worlds?

With his world-leading 1:43.10 win in his Diamond League debut in Monaco last week, we aren’t afraid to call Emmanuel Korir, who starred for UTEP this year as a freshman, the favorite for the World Championships. His talent (44.53 400 pb) is undeniable even if his tactical acumen is far from proven. The race in Monaco was basically a time trial as Brandon McBride acted as a perfect rabbit for the first 625 meters, but Korir’s utter destruction of the field (he won by 1.31 seconds) over the final 175 was incredibly impressive.

Final 150m in Monaco:

Watching Korir go from obscurity to World Championship favorite this year has been a lot of fun and one of the most enjoyable developments of the year. Up until last spring, the former 400-meter man / soccer player thought the 800 was too far to run (read this nice El Paso Times article on him for more background). Now he’s the favorite for Worlds.

That being said, we do think it’s worth pointing out that while he was officially a freshman this year, Korir is the same age as most seniors as he turned 22 on June 15.

He’s actually only 15 months younger than 2012 Olympic silver medallist Nijel Amos. If Korir wins Worlds this year, he’ll match the feat of his coach Paul Ereng, who won the NCAA and Olympic 800 titles in the same year as a freshman at UVA in 1988. Ereng was also old for his grade as he was 21 when he won Olympic gold.

More Bad Luck For Kenya – Yet Another 1500 Star Gets Injured Heading Into Worlds

Kenya is by far the best country in the world at 1500 meters.

Seven of the 10 fastest men in the world in 2017, including the top three, hail from Kenya.

In 2015 and 2016, the four fastest men in the world were all from Kenya.

Kwemoi won at Pre

Kwemoi won at Pre

So Kenya is incredibly good at producing fast guys. Unfortunately, they can’t always stay healthy.

In Monaco, Ronald Kwemoi, who ran a ridiculous 3:30 at altitude to win the Kenyan trials, had to be helped off the track after running 3:32.34 to finish third.

Last year, at the Olympics, Elijah Manangoi – the 2015 World Championship silver medallist was a DNS in the Olympic semis due to injury.

In 2012, Asbel Kiprop was injured and finished only 12th in the Olympics.

We haven’t heard an update on Kwemoi’s status but hope he is back to full strength by London. Remember, last year Kwemoi didn’t get a real crack at a medal in Rio as he fell in the Olympic final.

Would 2017 Evan Jager Have Been the Favorite at the 2016 Olympics?

Superstitious fans that believe in the LetsRun.com jinx had a tough time last week as two days after appearing on a live podcast on LetsRun.comEvan Jager was magnificent in Monaco as he destroyed the field and won his first Diamond League race in 8:01.29.

Considering the fact that reigning Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto has pulled out/dropped out of his last three races (including Monaco), and that six-time World/Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi is 35 and hasn’t broken 8:30 this year, we 100% think Jager has to be considered the favorite for Worlds.

A more interesting question to us would be, “Would Jager still be the favorite if the others weren’t struggling?”

Let’s take a look at the stats by comparing the 2017 Monaco race versus the 2016 Rio Olympic final as the splits were remarkably similar.

2016 Rio 2017 Monaco
1k 2:41.64 2:41.46
2k 5:25.64 5:25.40
Winning Time 8:03:28 8:01.29

If one looks at those splits, it would appear that Jager in Monaco was better than Kipruto was in Rio. After all, the first two km splits were virtually the same in both races and yet Jager’s winning time in Monaco was nearly two seconds faster than what Kipruto ran in Rio.

However, we decided to do a little closer examination by looking at the race videos.

The video evidence reveals that last two laps of the stars were nearly identical.

In Monaco, Jager ran his last two laps in 2:03.4, including a 60.4 final lap.

In Rio, Kipruto ran the last two laps in 2:03.5, including a 60.2 final lap.

If we are really going to geek out though, we need to acknowledge that while both tracks feature an inside water jump, we don’t think every full lap in the steeple in both races was exactly the same distance. It appears that a lap in the steeple in Monaco might be roughly one meter longer than in Rio (we estimated that by timing how long it took them to run from the start to the 200-meter meter mark) so that might mean one could subtract .3 of a second total from Jager’s final two lap splits.

If we do that, it appears that Jager’s last lap in Monaco was basically identical to Kipruto’s in Rio and his last two laps a little bit faster.

That doesn’t mean that Jager’s performance was superior, however. Even though Jager closed a little bit better, we give the edge to Kipruto for the following reasons.

  1. Watch the video. Have you forgotten that Kipruto had destroyed the field with 200 to go and was already pumping his arms in celebration with 100 meters remaining? He practically walked across the finish line.

2. There were no rabbits in Rio and it was hotter in Rio.

That being said, Jager was all alone in Monaco so he might have been able to go faster had he been pressed.

We aren’t the only ones impressed by Jager. So were the bookies. Early last week, we were contemplating hopping on a plane to fly to London to place some bets on Jager, who was being listed at 8/1 odds for gold at paddypower.com. After his win in Monaco, Jager’s odds dropped big time. Paddy Power still lists Kipruto as the favorite but it’s very narrow. He’s at 11/8 and Jager is 6/4.

More: Podcast with Evan Jager
*Monaco Steeple Recap
*Betting Odds for London

Our Favorite Quotes / Listens From The Last Week

#1 Where do the pros go when they absolutely need to get the news?

“Naturally, I woke up and the like first thing that I did was I went to LetsRun just to figure out what exactly was going on.” 

Evan Jager talking about how he reacted when he woke up and found a text message on his phone from his agent saying he’d appeared as “likely doping” in a Fancy Bears doping leak.

More: MB: Q&A: Evan Jager Talks About Being Listed As “Likely Doping” In Fancy Bears Hack, The Steeplechase In Monaco … And Admits To Reading LetsRun.com To Try To Figure Out What Was Going On

#2 A sprinter says he can beat Usain Bolt’s record

“In the next three years I’ll run faster than Usain Bolt over 100m.

“It won’t be done in the Paralympics, and I’ve no intention of ever racing Usain Bolt or able-bodied people, it’s about racing against their time outside of the rules and regulations that limit technology. That’s what I’m focused on at the moment.”

“If you were me and you were bullied as a kid from five to 15, and you had this opportunity to use technology to do something that hasn’t been done before, you’d absolutely want to do it and that’s what I’m doing.”

-double Paralympic champion Liam Malone of New Zealand talking to the BBC about his future plans. We love Malone’s quote. He a) wants to run faster than anyone in history but; b) realizes that we must have different classes of sport for different types of athletes whether it’s high school, college, pro; male, female, intersex; amputee or non-amputee.

More: New Zealand’s Rio 200/400 Paralympic Champ Liam Malone Vows To Run Faster Than Usain Bolt’s WR Within The Next Three Years 

#3 A blind sprinter and his guide talk about what it’s like to run 100m blind

Jerome Avery, who is the guide for American Para-athlete David Brown, talks to the BBC about how he’s helped guide Brown to 100m gold in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

More: USA’s Rio Paralympic Gold Medalist David Brown And His Guide Jerome Avery Explain What Its Like To Run The 100m Blind

#4 Nick Symmonds has the guts to say what many others say off the record – he think Hicham El Guerrouj was dirty

“I don’t think he did it clean.”

Nick Symmonds talking about Hicham El Guerrouj’s 3:26.00 1,500 world record.

We will admit we once asked an Olympic 1500 medallist (off the record) if he thought El Guerrouj was clean. He said he didn’t. We asked him how confident he was in that belief. He said 110%.

Symmonds posts a new vlog every day. You can subscribe here.

#5 A race walker wants us to respect her event

“I wish that people were aware that just because everybody can walk doesn’t mean that anybody can be a race walker. A lot of people can drive a car, but not everybody can jump in and race NASCAR. If people actually asked questions and got to know me, got to know race walking, see the training and mileage, they’d gain some more respect. It’s another discipline of track and field. It’s not a different sport. It’s an event, and it’s one that’s very technical.”

-two-time Olympic race walker Maria Michta-Coffey of the US making a plea to Runner’s World that people respect her event.

Her quote reminded us of a famous Monty Python skit:

We were reminded of that skit earlier in the year when we were on the messsageboard reading in April about how the men’s 50k race walk was likely to be dropped in the future. That’s certainly not happening in 2017 as last week the IAAF announced it would be adding a women’s 50k race walk to Worlds this year.

More: MB: Fantastic news: IAAF likely to remove men’s 50k race walk from Olympics and World Champs
*MB: And the loudest whisper is..
*MB: Want to go to worlds? The IAAF just added a new event – 1 more day to qualify

#6 Elijah Manangoi wants gold in London

“After PB of 3:34.63 in 2015 here (actually, Manangoi ran 3:29.67 in Monaco in 2015) I got silver in Beijing, now I won here so the only goal for London could be gold. I’m going for it, slow or fast, I do not care, I’m in pretty good shape. I trained well and we are team mates in one group with Cheruiyot so I was pretty sure I will beat him in the last 100 m. Monaco is the best track for 1500 m.”

-Manangoi talking to Citizentv.co.ke after winning the 1500 in Monaco in a world-leading 3:28.80.

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.