November 2, 2017
NEW YORK — The USATF 5k Championships take place Saturday morning as part of the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K which is part of New York City Marathon weekend.
Olympic silver medallist Paul Chelimo and former American record holder in the 5000 Molly Huddle headline the fields. We spoke to them and Ben True, Brenda Martinez, Hassan Mead, Leonard Korir, and Des Linden. We present to you our main takeaways from each athlete including the news that Brenda Martinez is done with the 800.
Paul Chelimo wants World Indoor gold, American 5000m record in 2018, credits the Army mentality for his success
Paul Chelimo has an Olympic silver at 5000 and a Worlds bronze at 5000. Chelimo now knows with Mo Farah leaving the track for the roads, the opportunity is there to win a global 5000m title. That is Chelimo’s long-term goal, but with no global championship in the 5000m in 2018, Chellmo’s immediate goals are to win the World Indoor title in Birmingham at 3000 and then outdoors to break the American record at 5000 (12:53.60). But before Chelimo gets the American record, his more immediate goal is to go sub-13:00 as his PR is his modest 13:03.90 from the Olympic final.
We also asked Chelimo about getting DQ’d in the Diamond League final in Zurich. That DQ cost him $20,000. Chelimo said that DQ hurt. Being in the US Army World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) Chelimo cannot accept endorsements, so Chelimo is more reliant on prize money than most US runners. That may be a drawback of being in the US Army, but Chelimo credited the mentality instilled in him by the Army for helping him become one of the world’s best.
“The Army has always been there for me. Without the Army I wouldn’t be this successful… The big thing is the mentality. The Army always teaches you to be physically and mentally tough. It’s just that mentality,” said Chelimo.
The marathon is Molly Huddle’s focus starting in 2018
Huddle was going to be in New York this weekend anyway live-tweeting the marathon for NYRR, but decided to hop in the 5k at the last minute.
“I thought if I had a glimmer of fitness, then I would do it,” Huddle said. “I have a glimmer.”
It’s logical to ask why Huddle, who was third here last year and said she is focused on the marathon from here on out, isn’t running the longer race on Sunday, but she said that she wanted to run a full track season in 2017 and didn’t want to think about cutting it short or rushing into a fall marathon buildup.
Right now, Huddle’s focus is on the Houston Half Marathon in January, where she said she’d like to break 67:00 if conditions are good. That would be a new American record (Huddle’s PR is 67:41; Deena Kastor has the record at 67:34 while Kara Goucher ran 66:57 on an aided course at the Great North Run) but Huddle said that Houston will be the fastest course she’s raced on so far.
“New York (where Huddle ran her PR) is pretty fast, but Houston’s really fast,” Huddle said.
Huddle also usually races just one half marathon a year, so the more attempts she gets, the more chances she has to run fast.
“I think the half is just getting to be a more often run distance [globally] and some really talented women are sticking only to the roads now and not even doing the track. So I think that time is going to go down. Same with the U.S. women, just running it more often.”
We also asked Huddle to make a prediction for Sunday’s marathon. She picked Mary Keitany on the women’s side (surprise, surprise) and on the men’s side…
“You never count Meb out, so I’m just gonna say Meb,” Huddle said. “Every time someone doubts him, he comes out with a win. If it was any other 42-year-old, I wouldn’t say it. But it’s Meb.”
Ben True has a new coach — Ray Treacy
True, who turns 32 next month, has gone through a few coaches as a pro, beginning with a brief stint in Eugene with Mark Rowland’s Oregon Track Club before heading back to New England where he’s worked with Mark Coogan and Tim Broe. This year, True was self-coached, but he decided that he wanted to go back to having someone write his training programs and, on Coogan’s recommendation, sought out Treacy, the coach of Molly Huddle and Emily Sisson as well as Providence College. True will remain based out of Hanover, N.H.
True likes Treacy’s strength-based program and thinks that Treacy will help him from pushing too hard in training, which he thinks has been an issue in recent years.
“He’s somebody that really emphasizes recovery and not doing too many workouts in a period of time,” True said. “And I’ve felt that I’ve been running myself a little ragged the last few years and I think having that little extra bit of recovery will probably help me.”
True is entered in the 5k on Saturday but he’s only been running again for four weeks at this point so he’s not expecting much. Still, he is the American record holder for 5k on the roads (13:20) and always seems to be in the mix in these kind of races. We’re certainly not counting him out. But True is also here as a guest of the NYRR (he’ll be on the lead vehicle for the marathon) and said that he definitely has some marathons in his future, though he wants to stay on the track for at least two more years.
Brenda Martinez is most known for her silver medal in the 800 at the 2013 World Championships, but now at the age of 30, she said it’s time for her to give up the 800 in championships and focus on the 1500 and possibly 5000.
“I think I’m just going to leave the 800 alone at championships and just move up and see what I can do with my strength in the 15 and maybe the 5k,” said Martinez, who was a 2016 Olympian at 1500 meters.
“There’s a bit of drama in the 800, and that’s completely out of my control. It’s just time for me to move up.”
Martinez is using the 5000m here to test the waters at the longer distances. She ran a very respectable 15:24 at the Carlsbad 5000m in 2014 and said the plan on Saturday is to run with the leaders.
“The races changes now that Molly Huddle (US 5k road record holder) is in it… Now I’m going to go out with whoever is leading it. I think I’m fit to do a pretty strong 2 mile, the last mile is going to be all heart.”
After the 5th Avenue Mile in September, Martinez had platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) for her Achilles tendinosis. She said she hasn’t felt any Achilles pain since then, which is a good thing as it had bothered her for two years. She also said her training partner, Boris Berian, the 2016 World Indoor champion at 800, had two PRP treatments this year and should be back in form in 2018.
Hassan Mead and Leonard Korir ready to get to Paul Chelimo’s level
Hassan Mead of the Oregon Track Club and Leonard Korir of WCAP both ran the 10,000m at the World Champs. Korir was 13th and Mead 15th, not quite at the level of Chelimo, but that didn’t stop Mead from saying he thinks Korir is the favorite in Saturday’s race, due to Korir having raced the most this fall.
Mead also noted that he has a faster 5k PR (13:02.80) than Chelimo. Chelimo has put it together when it matters most, and both Mead and Korir both want to get to that level.
Time for a change for Desi Linden
Linden was 7th at the Olympics and 4th in Boston this spring — good results, but still short of Linden’s ultimate goal. Linden could have come out and run another marathon this fall, but she felt that in order to improve as a marathoner, she would be better served changing things up rather than continuing on the same path.
“I feel like I’ve kind of hit a plateau,” Linden said. “Speed just needs to be touched on…If I went out and did a track segment, I would be a 33-low, maybe 32:50 [10k runner] and I think I need to push that down.”
She’s had some fun mixing it up at shorter distances this fall (she ran the 5k Mayor’s Cup XC race in Boston two weeks ago). In particular, she’s looking forward to mixing it up against some athletes that she doesn’t normally get to race. Linden, a 2:22 marathoner, battling Brenda Martinez, a 1:57 800 runner, over 5k should be interesting.
“I’m finishing up my workouts hard, I’m like, I want Brenda Martinez to go out too hard, she’s gonna be in the hills late and then I want to sprint by her in the finish. So I think visually that would be amazing. Then she’d probably still outkick me. But in my mind…”