WTW: NAU Is Really Good, Colorado’s Not Bad Either, and What’s Up with Almaz Ayana, Tori Bowie, Justin Gatlin and More

The Week That Was in Running – September 24 – 30, 2018

by LetsRun.com
October 2, 2018

Last week was a very light one in terms of action but there were still a number of things that caught our attention. 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.

If you missed our coverage of the 2018 Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational, catch up now.

Eliud Kipchoge Reacts To Setting the Marathon World Record Just Like You’d Think He Would

On Saturday, Xinhua caught up with Eliud Kipchoge in Kenya. One of the reasons why Kipchoge is so popular in the running community, in addition to his otherwordly exploits, is the fact he is a pro athlete at the very, very top of his profession who truly loves what he is doing. Many runners love the fame and money that comes with being great, but that can derail them (e.g. Sammy Wanjiru). Kipchoge is just the opposite. Check out this excerpt from the Xinhua article:

Article continues below player.

“I will handle the pressure and remain normal. I want to get back to my life and train normally,” Kipchoge told Xinhua on Saturday. “It was first a dream but now after doing it, I believe. It is now a reality that I broke the world record.”

Eliud Kipchoge and the fans Eliud Kipchoge and the fans (2018 Berlin Photo Gallery here)

The 33-year-old, who has only lost one out of the 11 races back in 2013, says he abhors celebrity lifestyle and he is contended to leave the way he likes.

“I don’t like to gloat and live large. I believe the record was set in Berlin and all the 45 million Kenyans and other fans saw it. I prefer to remain silent because it was a record that Kenya will be proud of and own it for some time. It was my work to go for it, now Kenyans can be happy for it,” he added.

More: Eliud Kipchoge Says He Just Wants “To Get Back To My Life And Train Normally” After Breaking The World Record In Berlin

The NAU Men Destroy The Field in Wisconsin

Last week was a VERY light week in terms of professional action so we’ll lead off with some US college cross country talk. The meet of the week was in Wisconsin — the site of this year’s NCAA XC Championships — and the story of the meet was how the #1-ranked and two-time defending champion Northern Arizona Lumberjacks destroyed the men’s field, winning the race, which featured 18 ranked teams, by 89 points. They scored 46 by putting four in the top eight as Wisconsin was second with 135.

Will NAU be celebrating again? Will NAU be celebrating again?

In our preview of the NCAA season, we noted that when NCAAs roll around, NAU will be the first team in 15 years to return three runners from the top 10 from the year before (barring injury). The last time that happened, the 2003 Stanford team put on a clinic. Stanford was so good that if the 2003 NCAA meet had been scored as Stanford vs. the rest of the field, Stanford actually would have beaten all of the other teams easily, 24 to 31.

NAU wasn’t quite that good at Wisco but that’s mainly because they didn’t run 2017 NCAA runner-up Matthew Baxter. Let’s say Baxter had run and he finished with Tyler Day, which is what he did at last year’s NCAA champs. Then if you score the meet as NAU vs. everyone else, the score would have been as follows.

NAU: 30 (3-4-6-8-9)
Rest of the Field: 25 (1-2-5-7-10)

If one is looking for a weak spot for NAU, it’s hard to find one. Normally it’s hard to guarantee an NCAA title as if a big name has a bad day that often dooms a team’s chances. But NAU has some nice insurance even if one of their top guys bombs as they had the best #2, #3, #4, and #5 men in the race. Of course, neither of the teams that we view as their biggest competitors for the #1 spot, BYU and Stanford, were at Wisco.

#2 BYU, which has four sub-13:40 guys on its roster, put on a clinic at Notre Dame, winning with just 23 points as they went 1-2-5-6-9 (and 11 and 17 for good measure). #4 Stanford has yet to show its full set of cards this year.

Random factoid of the week: Did you know that NAU coach Mike Smith and Stanford coach Chris Miltenberg were college roommates at Georgetown?


The women’s race at Wisco didn’t go according to form as #1 New Mexico finished third with 130 points, well behind #2 Colorado (80) and #5 Boise State (91). While the Wisco meet included seven of the top nine teams in the women’s national rankings, #3 Stanford and #4 Oregon were both absent.

While it’s still early, the good news for Colorado is right now they have more depth than Boise State or New Mexico and thus a little room for error. Colorado’s sixth finisher, Val Constien, who scored on the track at NCAAs outdoors (5th in the steeple), was 40th, and finished ahead of both Boise State’s and New Mexico’s fifth.

More: 2018 Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational Coverage

Tweet of the Week / Many World Champs Go AWOL

One of our pet peeves at LetsRun.com is when stars of the sport go AWOL. In a sport where stars make a significant percentage of their income from sponsorship dollars, you’d think sponsors would require athletes to update their fans on their status.

Thus we were pleased when women’s 10,000 world record holder Almaz Ayana, who hasn’t raced all year, decided to issue a statement last week to let the world know where she’s been.

MB: Almaz Ayana speaks!

Ayana was hardly the only 2017 world champ who didn’t compete in 2018. On the women’s side of the ledger, more than a quarter (6/21) of the individual world champs from 2017 either didn’t compete at all this year or had a very limited schedule. For the men, 2/21 had a limited or non-existent schedule for 2018.

Here is an update on all of the other 2017 world champs who had a limited 2018 campaign.


Tori Bowie – The 100 world champ had to be helped off the track after pulling up in her first DL race at the Pre Classic on May 26 and did not race again at all after that.

Faith Kipyegon – The 1500 world champ picked a great year to get pregnant. She didn’t race all year.

Sally Pearson – The 32-year-old 100 hurdles champ didn’t race individually after World Indoors in March as she had to miss the Commonwealth Games and the rest of the season with an Achilles issue.

Brittney Reese – The LJ world champ bagged the season on June 8 to focus on 2019.

Barbora Špotáková – The javelin world champ missed the entire season as she gave birth to her second child, Darek, in July. In researching that, we learned that Špotáková is a big fan of the rock band Tři Sestry (Three Sisters). According to Wikipedia, “before the Olympic Games in 2008, the band’s head Lou Fanánek Hagen announced that if she won the gold medal, the band would record a song in her honor. The lived up to their promise. Here is “Čtvrtá sestra” (The fourth sister), which celebrates her triumph.


Justin Gatlin – The 100 champ hardly raced at all in 2017, never past July 18 and only once on the DL circuit. We assume mainly because of age (36).

Wayde van Niekerk – The 400 world champ blew out his knee in a rugby match in October 2017 and didn’t race all year.

For the love of it…

It’s not every day that you see an American run a road 10k in 28:16, win by more than three minutes (3:13, as 2nd was 31:29) and win zero prize money, but that’s what happened last week at the Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race 10K last week. Former Duquesne star Jim Spisak, 27, got the win in a road pb of 28:16 on the severely downhill course (122m elevation loss).

Spisak is also a coach at Point Park University

How much did the 122m (400 foot) drop help Spisak?

Quite a lot. It’s 12 times the allowable limit for record purposes (to be record eligible, a course cannot drop more than 1m per kilometer). According to LetsRun.com stat guru John Kellogg‘s formula of every 10 feet in elevation loss being worth 1.8 seconds, a 400-foot elevation drop is worth a staggering 72 seconds.

Lemi Berhanu Returns To The Winner’s Circle

Former Dubai (2015) and Boston (2016) Marathon champ Lemi Berhanu returned to the winner’s circle with a 2:08:51 win at the Hengshui Lake International Marathon in China that netted him in $40,000. It was the first win at the 26.2 distance for the 24-year-old Berhanu, who has been a DNF in Boston in each of the last two years, since January 2017, when he racked up another 2:08 win in China (2:08:27 in Xiamen). 26-year-old Ethiopian Waganesh Mekasha lowered her pb from 2:29:18 to 2:25:57 to win the women’s race.

More: Ethiopia’s Lemi Berhanu Comes Through As The Favorite To Win Hengshui Lake Marathon In China With 2:08:51

Recommended Reads

Grant Fisher at NCAAs Last year Grant Fisher at NCAAs last year

LRC All Grown Up: “This Is A Different Grant Fisher Than We’ve Ever Seen Before” Stanford coach Chris Miltenberg challenged Fisher to get the most out of himself after a disappointing start to his junior campaign. Fisher responded and now he’s looking to become the first American man to win NCAA XC since Galen Rupp 10 years ago.

A Look Inside Gwen Jorgensen’s Journey From The Triathlon To The Marathon

Jenn Suhr Talks About How She Got Her Start In Pole Vaulting When Her Now Coach And Husband Rick Recruited Her From BasketballSuhr also talks about her early career when Rick had remortgaged his house and she had to work at a gas station making pizzas and cleaning toilets to make ends meet.

To see our favorite reads from other weeks, go here. If you missed our top 10 NCAA XC countdown, catch up now as we’ve got some good insight from many of the top coaches in the land.

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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