Kellyn Taylor PRs, Ruth Chepngetich Makes History, Edward Cheserek is Baack, An Impressive Run in Japan and Will Someone Die in Tokyo?

The Week That Was in Running – November 5 – November 11, 2018

November 13, 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.

If you missed our coverage of the 2018 NCAA XC Regionals, catch up now:

Ruth Chepngetich Makes History in Istanbul

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The performance of the week last week came at the Istanbul Marathon, where 24-year-old Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya blasted a 2:18:35 to repeat as champion, moving into a tie for #7 on the list of all-time fastest marathoners.

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Heading into Istanbul, Chepngetich wasn’t exactly a household name but she did have some credentials. She ran 66:19 for the half in Istanbul in April 2017, making her the world’s 24th fastest woman for 13.1, and then she showed she could handle the 26.2-mile distance by running 2:22 in her first two career marathons (2:22:36 for the win in Istanbul last year and 2:22:59 for 2nd in Paris in April where she lost a sprint finish to Betsy Saina — nice video of that here).

In Istanbul, Chepngetich made a little history. Her margin of victory was a massive 6:29, the largest margin of victory ever recorded in a sub-2:19 women’s marathon. Chepngetich was also just the second woman to break 2:19 at a non-major.

Margins of Victory for the 13 Women’s Marathons That Have Been Won Under 2:19
1 2:15:25 Paula Radcliffe GBR 2003 London – 4:30
2 2:17:01 Mary Keitany KEN 2017 London – 0:55
3 2:17:18 Paula Radcliffe GBR 2002 Chicago – 5:08
4 2:17:42 Paula Radcliffe GBR 2005 London – 5:08
5 2:18:11 Gladys Cherono KEN 2018 Berlin – 0:23
6 2:18:31 Tirunesh Dibaba ETH 2017 Chicago – 1:51
6 2:18:31 Vivian Cheruiyot KEN 2018 London – 1:42
8 2:18:35 Brigid Kosgei KEN 2018 Chicago – 2:43
8 2:18:35 Ruth Chepngetich KEN 2018 Istanbul – 6:29 
10 2:18:37 Mary Keitany KEN 2012 London – 1:13
11 2:18:47 Catherine N’dereba KEN 2001 Chicago – 6:07
12 2:18:56 Paula Radcliffe GBR 2002 London – 3:35
13 2:18:58 Tiki Gelana ETH 2012 Rotterdam – 4:46

More: An unknown Kenyan woman just ran 2:18 at Istanbul Marathon…. And her agent is……..Federico Rosa

After 4+ Years of A Retirement, A Japanese Star Is As Good As Ever

The most inspiring race of the week came in Japan, where Hitomi Niiya was sensational on the 10k anchor leg of the East Japan Women’s Ekiden.

Hitomi Niiya was sensational last week

Hitomi Niiya was sensational last week

Coming into the race, Niiya talked a big game as she said as long as she got the sash within two minutes of the lead she’d deliver her Tokyo team to victory.

Then she lived up to the hype.

Starting 1:35 behind, she went out in 15:22 and didn’t let up much over the second half as she ended up winning by 23 seconds thanks to a 31:08 stage-record leg.

What makes the story all the more remarkable is that Niiya, who is best known for leading most of the 2013 World Championship 10,000 until getting her doors blown off in the final 500 (finishing 5th in 30:56), totally quit the sport shortly after 2013 Worlds and didn’t start competing at all until over four years later. Niiya got an office job and didn’t race at all in 2014, 2015, 2016, or 2017 before the pull of Tokyo 2020 brought her back this year.

A month ago (October 14) she ran 15:24 on the track and now the 2012 Olympian at 5000 is splitting 15:22 in a 10k. Very impressive.

We also loved what she had to say after her epic ekiden leg, according to Brett Larner: “People say that this race is where the next generation learns to fly. I’m someone who already folded my wings and put them away once, but I want to try to spread them one more time.”

Niiya is yet another example of the adage that “talent doesn’t go away.” We credit that phrase to Nick Willis as we think he told it to us a long time ago.

You can watch Niiya’s epic leg on YouTube below.

More: Japan Running News: Go Ahead and Call It a Comeback – Niiya Breaks Shibui’s Course Record in Return to Road Racing

Kellyn Taylor PRs at 13.1

With fall marathon season nearly over, one thing that really hasn’t been talked about is that the two fastest US’s marathoners on the year — Amy Cragg (2:21:42 in Tokyo) and Kellyn Taylor (2:24:29 at Grandma’s) — didn’t run a fall marathon. Cragg pulled out of Chicago with an injury while Taylor never signed up for a fall marathon.

After dropping out of Boston, Taylor contractually wasn’t allowed to do a marathon for 60 days but on day 61 she PR’d and won Grandma’s in 2:24:29 on June 16. Tired from that, she and Hoka NAZ coach Ben Rosario decided not to push the envelope on a fall marathon with a limited buildup. Instead, she’ll run a winter 2019 marathon (reading the tea leaves, that could be Tokyo in March as that’s the biggest winter marathon).

Taylor did end up running a bunch of US road races in the late summer/fall. The best result for her came on Sunday in Las Vegas, where she lowered her half-marathon pb from 71:01 to 70:16, winning the Toyota Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon in the process. Taylor wasn’t even scheduled to run the Vegas race. She only flew to Vegas the morning of the race as she was in California, planning on competing at the Monterey Bay Half Marathon, which was cancelled due to the wildfires.

Stat of the Week I / Edward Cheserek Returns To Action

5 months, 17 days – amount of time (170 days if you are counting) that Edward Cheserek was out of action until last Sunday, when he returned to both action and the winner’s circle with a 4:02 mile at the first Brooks Beasts Desert Throwdown One Mile Invitational, which was run on the Vegas Strip.

After winning every race that he ran indoors, including a 3:49 mile, Cheserek only raced once outdoors this year and it was a disaster — an 8:31 15th-place showing in the Pre Classic 2 mile that was the result of him struggling with a calf injury.

After seeing Cheserek back in action, we reached out to Cheserek’s coach/agent, Stephen Haas of Total Sports Management, for an update. We asked Haas what exactly caused Cheserek to pull the plug on his second straight outdoor season (remember, last year he called it a season after Pac-12s due to a “minor” back injury) and what the plan was moving forward. We also asked if there was any update on Cheserek’s US citizenship application. Here is his response:

Ches had a calf strain that actually cause[d] a stress reaction in the lower leg most likely caused from altering his stride. It happened around Pre and by the time he had taken time off and had a follow up MRI, the majority of the season had past. Rather than rush into anything in the summer we spent a long time building back up and let him just enjoy his summer in Flagstaff with his girl friend. 

We are planning to do 3 races this fall with the focus being Manchester on Thanksgiving day. Will head back to Hawaii for the road mile again this year, Dec 8th. After that we will change gears and start to get ready for indoors, where we have confirmed Camel City so far but nothing else yet. The big indoor season came as a bit of a surprise last year and we just tried to take advantage of the shape he was in. We will see about this year but we have talked about a big goal of trying to run well outdoor on the Diamond League circuit over 3k and 5k. 
No news on Citizenship yet.

In the women’s race in Vegas, Emily Lipari won the title in 4:38.

More: MB: King Cheserek is back…. Edward Cheserek won a $5,000 road mile over the weekend over Josh Kerr in 4:02 

Stat of the Week II

52,812 – number of official finishers at the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon, a world record (30,669 men and 22,143 women, or 58.1% male, 41.9% female).

No One Broke 27:00 in 2018

Last week, there was a world leader put up on the track. Yes, that’s right: a world leader in track in November.

At the Nittai University Time Trials in Japan, Kenya’s Stanley Waithaka, the 18-year-old who earned world junior 5000 silver this summer and has a 13:10.14 pb, won by more than 15 seconds in a world-leading 27:13.01. Assuming that 27:13 holds up as the world leader, it will be the first time since 2001 that there hasn’t been a sub-27 men’s 10,000 recorded in a calendar year.

10,000 World Leaders Since 2000
2018: 27:13.01 – Stanley Waithaka
26:49.51 – Mo Farah
2016: 26:51.11 – Yigrem Demelash
2015: 26:50.97 – Mo Farah
2014: 26:44.36 – Galen Rupp
2013: 26:51.02 – Dejen Gebremeskel
2012: 26:51.16 – Emmanuel Bett
2011: 26:43.16 – Kenenisa Bekele

2010: 26:56.74 – Josphat Menjo
2009: 26:43.31 – Kenenisa Bekele
2008: 26:25.97 – Kenenisa Bekele
2007: 26:46.19 – Kenenisa Bekele
2006: 26:35.63 – Micah Kogo
2005: 26:17.53 – Kenenisa Bekele
2004: 26:20.31 – Kenenisa Bekele
2003: 26:29.22 – Haile Gebrselassie
2002: 26:49.38 – Sammy Kipketer
2001: 27:04.20 – Abraham Chebii
2000: 27:03.87 – Paul Tergat

Might Someone Die In The Olympic Marathon In 2020?

“We wouldn’t have visited the organizing committee if we’d thought it was only slightly worrying. We fear the current plan could lead to deaths.” 

-Haruo Ozaki, the president of the Tokyo Medical Association (TMA), talking to The Guardian about why his group has called for the 2020 Olympic marathons to be moved to 5:30 a.m. starts. The races have already been moved from 7:30 to 7:00, but the medical experts say that does little to avoid the real possibility of heat stroke.

We 100% agree. Well, that’s not quite true. We’d like to see the races run in another city conducive to running a marathon in early August — and have even contemplated starting a petition drive — but we doubt the IOC will do that. To be honest, we’d have no problem with stars skipping out on the race entirely as it’s currently scheduled.

Scientists led by Professor Takaaki Matsumoto at Chukyo University have determined that if the race starts at 7:00, most of the race will be run at a “severe warning” level of 82-88F (28-31C), but would drop to a “warning” level of 77-82 (25-28C) if the event started at 5:30.

More: Call for Tokyo Olympic marathon to start at 5.30am to avoid deaths

Feyisa Lelisa Returns Home / Quote of the Last Month (that wasn’t quote of the day)

Editor’s Note: The following story actually dates from October 21 but it didn’t get the publicity it deserved — not even appearing on our homepage that week (we have no idea how we missed it since we helped break the story to the world in 2016) — so we want to hype it now.

“I knew this day was coming because I know the blood spilled by all these people was not going be in vain.”

-2016 Olympic marathon silver medallist Feyisa Lelisa talking after to Reuters after he returned from exile to Ethiopia on October 21.

More: Exiled Ethiopian Olympic runner who protested against government returns home
From the LRC Archives: 2016: The Bravest Olympian in Rio — Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lilesa Risks Death But Speaks Out About Killings of Oromo Protesters in Ethiopia After Earning Olympic Silver in Marathon

Recommended Reads / Listens

LRC 1-Hour New York City Marathon Recap Podcast: How Great Was Keitany? What About The American Women? American Men? Is Huddle The Favorite For The Olympic Trials? LRC co-founders Weldon and Robert Johnson and LRC staff writer Jonathan Gault got together to give the final word on the 2018 NYC Marathon, rate the Americans’ performances, and take an early look at the 2020 Olympic Trials. Click above, listen in the player below via Soundcloud, listen here via iTunes, or listen to it on Stitcher.


Extensive Q&A With 1968 Olympic 5,000m Champion Mohammed Gammoudi Even if you’d get an “F” in track history, if you ran in high school then you probably remember Gammoudi from watching the Steve Prefontaine movies (Gammoudi was 2nd at the 1972 Munich Games).

To see our favorite reads from other weeks, go here.

Quotes Of The Day And Last Week’s Home Pages

To see the 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.