WTW: Canada and Cam Levins Celebrate Their 1st Sub-2:10, Kenya Outshines the World and Amsterdam and Young Ethiopians Deliver

The Week That Was in Running – October 15 – 21, 2018

by LetsRun.com
October 23, 2018

Past editions of the Week That Was can be found here. Questions, comments, or a tip? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us, or post on our forum.

Last week was the 50th anniversary of Bob Beamon‘s legendary long jump in Mexico City. If you missed our 5,000-word feature on the event, catch up now: LRC Feature A Leap For The Ages: Bob Beamon’s 29-Foot Long Jump Turns 50

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Stat of the Week I – Jerome Drayton’s Record Lasted A Long Time

Embed from Getty Images

Jerome Drayton relaxing in an airport after his 2:10:09 win in Fukuoka.

49 years, 2 days (that’s 17,899 days if you are counting) – amount of time that Jerome Drayton held the Canadian marathon record. He broke the record by running 2:12:00 at the 1969 Motor City Marathon and lowered it two subsequent times, with his 2:10:09 to win the Fukuoka Marathon in December 1975 standing as the Canadian record for almost 43 years. On Sunday, Drayton’s record finally went down: Cam Levins is now the Canadian record holder thanks to the 2:09:25 he ran to finish 4th at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in a race won by Kenya’s Benson Kipruto in 2:07:24.

Levins, 29, got the record with a very even-paced run as he went 64:34 for the first half and 64:51 for the second. Here were his splits:

5K: 15:35 (3:07/km)
10K: 30:45 (15:10 – 3:02/km)
15K: 45:56 (15:11 – 3:02/km)
20K: 1:01:11 (15:15 -3:03/km)
Half marathon: 1:04:34
25K: 1:16:43 (3:06/km)
30K: 1:32:21 (15:38 – 3:08/km)
35K: 1:47:21  (15:00 – 3:00/km)
40K: 2:02:35 (15:14 – 3:03/km)
Finish: 2:09:25

Canadian Reid Coolsaet, 39, who three times in his career ran under 2:11 but never got the record, took the high road and was full of praise for Levins after the race, as was Eric Gillis, 38, who has run 2:11 four times.

From the LRC archives: Can Reid Coolsaet Break the 40-Year-Old Canadian Marathon Record (2:10:09) in Rotterdam? Back in 2015, we wrote about Drayton’s Canadian record, then on the verge of its 40th anniversary, and why it had proven so hard to break.

Stat of the Week II / Comparing Canada to Ethiopia, Japan, Kenya, Great Britain, and the US

Cam Levins in Toronto (via @RunnerSpace_com) Cam Levins in Toronto (via @RunnerSpace_com)

1 – number of sub-2:10 marathons run by a Canadian

1,384 – number of sub-2:10 marathons run by Kenyans according to Alltime-Athletics.com (the site lists 1,373 as of October 15; we added in the 11 that were run last weekend)

It may be hard to believe, but a Kenyan didn’t break 2:10 until 1983 when former Wyoming runner Joseph Nzau ran 2:09:45 to win Chicago. Up until 1990, only five Kenyans had ever broken 2:10.

For fun, we thought it would be neat to compile a chart of sub-2:10 marathon performances for Ethiopia, Kenya, Japan, the US, and Great Britain. Here are the sub-2:10 performances by decade for those countries.

# sub-2:10s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s Total
Ethiopia 0 12 10 85 444 551
Great Britain 2 15 5 2 4 28
Japan 1 21 24 67 70 183
Kenya 0 4 84 430 866 1384
USA 2 10 3 16 16 47

Stat of the Week III / Let’s Go Crazy With Sub-2:10 Stats

We had fun compiling the stats for the previous section so we decided to go crazy and compile the number of sub-2:10s for every single country in the world. All together, athletes from 46 countries have accomplished the feat. Here they are.

Country # Sub-2:10s
Kenya 1384
Ethiopia 551
Japan 183
Morocco 65
 Spain 50
USA 47
South Africa 42
Italy 38
Eritrea 32
Tanzania 31
South Korea 29
Great Britain 28
Portugal 27
Brazil 24
Mexico 20
France 19
Australia 18
Uganda 14
Germany* 11
Poland 10
Russia 9
Ukraine 9
Qatar 8
Belgium 6
Djibouti 6
Netherlands 6
Switzerland 5
Bahrain 4
China 3
Congo 3
Estonia 3
Namibia 3
New Zealand 3
Ireland 2
Turkey 2
Algeria 1
Argentina 1
Canada 1
Denmark 1
Ecuador 1
Moldova 1
Mongolia 1
Norway 1
Rwanda 1
Slovakia 1
Zimbabwe 1

*Note: Germany includes both East and West Germany. The numbers come from Alltime-Athletics.com. We only added in this week’s total to their list and corrected for one error we noticed (they were missing Jake Robertson‘s New Zealand national record). We’d be shocked if the list is totally accurate but it’s still pretty amazing.

What is striking about the list is if you scored it Kenya vs. the rest of the world combined, Kenya comes out on top: Kenya 1384, Rest of the World 1322. Kenya has produced 7.56 times as many sub-2:10s as third-place Japan.

Lawrence Cherono’s Hot Streak Continues: He Delivers A Course Record In Amsterdam

Levins’ Canadian record in Toronto was a nice story but the performance of the weekend came at the 2018 TCS Amsterdam Marathon, where Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono repeated with a course record win of 2:04:06 as three men broke 2:05 on the day. Cherono has now won four of his last seven marathons, setting a course record in three of his last four.

Lawrence Cherono’s Last 7 Marathons
December 2016 – 1st place Honolulu 2:09:39
April 2017 – 2nd place Rotterdam 2:06:21
October 2017 – 1st place Amsterdam 2:05:09 CR
December 2017 – 1st place Honolulu 2:08:27 CR
April 2018 – 7th place London 2:09:25
October 2018 – 1st place Amsterdam 2:04:06 CR

When looking at that list, one thing jumps out at us besides Cherono’s excellence: London is an amazing race.

Overall, the men’s race in Amsterdam this year was amazing. For only the third time in history, eight men broke 2:07 in the same race (it also happened in Amsterdam in 2016 and in Dubai in 2012 where 10 guys did it). The TV coverage of the men’s race in Amsterdam was also incredible. We’ll admit we didn’t watch the whole thing as it began at 3:30 a.m. Eastern Time, but they appeared to have a camera on the leaders, a camera on Kenenisa Bekele once he dropped out, and a third camera on the top Dutch athletes. And at one point there was a fourth camera for the second and third placers. Even a helicopter. No breaks were missed on this one.

Now the women’s TV coverage was virtually nonexistent, but that proves a point we’ve been making for years: the major marathons should not attempt to cover two major sporting events at once. It’s distracting as hell. Let us repeat: if you are going to have separate men’s and women’s races and want to cover them properly, one race should finish when the other is nearing halfway.

And the Abbott World Marathon Majors don’t just ruin their TV product year after year by covering two events simultaneously — they double down on stupidity and try to cover four at once as they give the wheelchair races a lot more coverage than there is interest.

We have no idea why the likes of Boston and New York consistently put out a horrible television product. We hope the people in charge of their TV coverage watch the Amsterdam replay to see how much more enjoyable it is to see a single race from start to finish.

Jos Hermens Is Frustrated With Bekele, Who On A Bad Day Is Still Better Than Virtually Every American

Kenenisa Bekele didn’t have a good day in Amsterdam. He was leading the race in the 30th kilometer but lost contact with the leaders before 31k and ended up just walking off the course in the final mile rather than jog it in for a 10th-place showing.

After the race, Bekele’s agent Jos Hermens expressed his frustration with Bekele’s lack of proper preparation. We’ve translated the interview he did with Dutch running website Hardloopnieuws.nl and encourage you to read it: LRC Jos Hermens Rips (And Praises) Kenenisa Bekele After Amsterdam Marathon Disappointment.

Jos Hermens talking to Hardloopnieuws.nl Jos Hermens talking to Hardloopnieuws.nl

Here is one of our favorite quotes from Hermens:

Yes, of course, it’s extremely frustrating, extremely frustrating…but there’s so many aspects of training that don’t work properly with him, from training, preparation, work…too much work! While Eliud [Kipchoge] lies in bed resting KB is going around in his car doing work…in all areas of his life it’s chaotic, and that’s what makes it so hard. You can fix a few things, but then something else crops up. 

While we understand why Hermens is frustrated with Bekele and understand that 10th in Amsterdam isn’t good for the greatest runner in history, we also think people should be reminded of the fact that he was still running fairly fast for just about anyone who isn’t an all-time great.

At 35k (1:44:11), Bekele was still on 2:05:36 pace. At 40k (2:00:37), Bekele was still on 2:07:14 pace. If he just kept running at the same pace that he ran between 35k and 40k (5:17 mile pace) from 40k to the finish, he would have finished in 2:07:50, a time just three Americans in history have bettered.

Bekele’s career accomplishments are so good he sees no reason to finish a marathon even though he might have broken 2:08.

For everyone who says that Bekele is done, we will remind you that just two years ago, he was our #2 ranked marathoner in the world after he finished third in London (2:06:36) and first in Berlin (2:03:03).

More: LRC Jos Hermens Rips (And Praises) Kenenisa Bekele After Amsterdam Marathon Disappointment.

World Champs Meseret Defar and Linet Masai Made Their Marathon Debuts in Amsterdam

In terms of the women’s action, the winners in both Amsterdam and Toronto ran big positive splits to win as Ethiopia’s Tadelech Bekele went 70:16-72:58 to win Amsterdam in 2:23:14 and Bahrain’s Mimi Belete ran 70:35/71:54 to win Toronto in a course record of 2:22:29.

Amsterdam was also significant as two big names made their marathon debuts: 2009 world 10,000 champ Linet Masai, who is still just 28, and double Olympic (2004 and 2012) and double world (2007 and 2013) 5000 champ Meseret Defar.

Masai went in with less publicity but had the better day as she finished fifth in 2:23:46, holding up incredibly well in her debut at the distance. She ran a negative split, going out in 72:00 and coming home in 71:46. Defar, 34, was eighth in 2:27:25 after going out in 71:23 (76:02 second half). Defar was actually still ahead of Masai by six seconds at 35k.

Tsehay Gemechu Debuts Spectacularly At Delhi Half As Senbere Teferi Totally Blows Up

The top women’s performance of last week came in Delhi where Ethiopia’s Tsehay Gemechu, 20, had a smashing debut at the half marathon distance, running 66:50. Gemechu took down half marathon world record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei as well as the Delhi course record to pick up a cool $37,000 at the AirTel Delhi Half Marathon, the world’s richest half marathon. Not a bad showing at all for someone who doesn’t even have an IAAF profile and whose entire racing resume on the results database Tilastopaja.org consisted of just five road 10ks.

Ethiopia's Tsehay Gemechu winning the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2018, with ADHM ambassador Sanya Richards-Ross Ethiopia’s Tsehay Gemechu winning the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2018, with ADHM ambassador Sanya Richards-Ross

Prior to Delhi, Gemechu’s best result came in her last race a 10k in on September 2 in the Netherlands (Tilburg), where Gemechu ran 31:07 but got trounced in the process, losing by 17 seconds to 2015 world cross country champion Agnes Tirop.

Considering how much cash Gemechu won in Delhi, we’re wondering if Tirop is regretting not making her half debut in Delhi as well. Of course, victory would not have been guaranteed for Tirop. Senbere Teferi, the woman who finished one spot and one second ahead of Tirop at the Rabat Diamond League 5,000 this summer (Teferi was 4th in 14:23, Tirop 5th in 14:24), appeared to be on to her way to a very lucrative victory in Delhi. She led by 12 seconds 19 kilometers into the 21.1-km race and would hold that lead until roughly 700 meters to go when her body totally gave out. Teferi slowed to a near-walk and ended up as a DNF.


Youth was also served on the men’s side in Delhi as where a pair of 19-year-old Ethiopians went 1-2. Andamlak Belihu, who was 10th in the 10,000 at the London World Champs (27:08) and second in the Delhi Half last year (59:51), got the win in 59:18, four seconds ahead of Amdework Walelegn, who was 4th in the 10,000 at World Juniors in 2016 and came in with a 59:50 pb. More proof that the top talents are now heading to the roads right at the start of their professional careers.

American Leonard Korir didn’t break 60:00 for the second straight year, but he did run 60:12 for sixth. We’re stunned he hasn’t moved up to the marathon yet. With Meb Keflezighi and Ryan Hall retired, it would be easy pickings and very lucrative for him to be top American in virtually any race that doesn’t have Galen Rupp in it.

Videos of the Week / High Drama in Japan

While Senbere Teferi had a tough time of things at the end of the Delhi Half, there were two Japanese runners that had it even tougher.

Here is the first one:


What you are are seeing there is Rei Iida, running for team Iwatani Sangyo in the Japanese corporate Princess Ekiden, crawl the final 200 meters of her leg despite a leg injury. However, Iida’s pure proved to be for naught as her team didn’t finish in the top 14, which it needed to do in order to qualify for the national champs. It’s possible that Iida had an inkling things might not go well as she was late to the start line and the previous runner on her team had to wait for several seconds for her to show up.

Later in the race, another Japanese runner, Harumi Okamoto (who had run 15:32 and 32:08 on the track this year), became so disoriented that she turned around well before the turnaround cone and ended up running the wrong way down the road before collapsing on the side of the road even though the temperatures were just 68 F (20 C).

For more on the crazy women’s ekiden in Japan see Brett Larner‘s Japan Running News.

MB: Bekele dropped out at 41K, meanwhile in Japan, a 19-year-old girl kept going despite a stress fracture. 

Messageboard Post Of the Week

GBohannon’s message board post speaks for itself.

When I first starting frequenting Letsrun, I was a hobbyjogger who knew very little about training. I had recently run my first marathon and had finished in 3:21:57. This was 11:57 shy of my BQ goal (back when the BQ was 3:10:00). 

I stumbled across the website when searching for marathon plans to help me reach the elusive BQ. I found Wejo’s “Why I sucked in college” article and it changed my life. I achieved my BQ in with a 3:00:27 in 2012 thanks to increasing my mileage to about 50 per week. 

I have been slowly upping the ante ever since. I am now around 100-110 mpw. I often come to the boards for advice and always find what I am looking for. Today, I won my first ever marathon with a 2:25:17. While I understand that this is “small potatoes”, I am on top of the world. Next to my marriage and my son’s birth, it’s the happiest I’ve ever felt. 

I am going to keep training by the LRC code (high mileage and very slow easy days… often 8:00 pace) and am going to keep turning my dreams into reality. It may not happen for 2020, but I will get the OTQ someday. 

Thanks, Wejo. Thanks, Rojo. Thanks, LRC.

GBohannon is Griffin Bohannon, and last week he won the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon in 2:25.

More: MB: Thanks, Brojos. Thanks, LRC members. LetsRun helped me make my dreams a reality.

Tweet Of The Week

MB: Cam Levins asks if it’s safe for him to go back on LetsRun.com again…

Free Coaching Advice / More Proof That Strength = Speed

It can be frustrating to be a fan of American distance running in the fall and winter. Yes, there are the fall marathons, but so many US pros do next to nothing once the outdoor track season is over — limited or no cross country and limited or no indoor track for many of them.

Contrast that to the Ingebrigtsens. Even though the family is known for its mile/1500 prowess, they do not just go into hibernation once the outdoor track season is over. No, they work on their base. Case in point, both Henrik and Filip made their 10k road debuts last week at the Hytteplanmila 10K in Hole, Norway, with Henrik getting the win in 28:40 to Filip’s 28:47. Last year, Henrik and the third brother, Jakob, ran European cross country (Henrik finished 11th in the senior race while Jakob won the junior race for the second year in a row).


Speaking of cross country, the Youth Olympics were held in Buenos Aires last week. There, the organizers basically forced everyone to run cross country as the medals in the 1500m, 2000m steeplechase, and 3000m were handed out based on runners performed in a combination of their track discipline as well as a 4k cross country race.

Recommended Reads

LRC Feature A Leap For The Ages: Bob Beamon’s 29-Foot Long Jump Turns 50 A half century later, there’s still only one way to describe the men’s long jump at the 1968 Olympics: Beamonesque. We take an in-depth look at one of the greatest singular accomplishments in sports history. Beamon improved the WR by 6.59% – that’s the equivalent of someone in 2018 lowering the marathon WR to 1:53:28 or the 100-meter record to 8.95.

When Your Heroes Overstay Their Welcome – Is It Time For Kenenisa Bekele To Retire? An interesting look at the difficult question of how do you know it’s time to hang ’em up and the contrast between going out on top or staying around long past your prime.

MB: Cam Levins asks if it’s safe for him to go back on LetsRun.com again…

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.

Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us or post in our forum.

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