Week that Was: Scott Simmons Keeps Developing Talent, 12,000 People Went to an Indoor Track Meet You’ve Never Heard Of

The Week That Was in Running, January 28 – February 3, 2019

by LetsRun.com
Febuary 5, 2019

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, the biggest action was at the 2019 US XC ChampionshipsShelby Houlihan and the Bowerman women dominated, while the Scott Simmons American Distance Project men dominated with Shadrack Kipchirchir getting the win. If you missed our coverage during the week of the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships, catch up now.

Also at the Camel City Elite Meet, Clayton Murphy (1:45.92) and Ajee Wilson (1:59:26) ran the fastest times every for the 800 on a non-banked indoor track.

We go into more depth of the some of the goings on this last week below.

Scott Simmons Recruits Develops Kenyan-Born Stars

Scott Simmons (l) as an “up and coming” coach at the 2007 LetsRun.com party

After athletes coached by Scott Simmons went 1-5 at the 2019 USA XC champs, some tried to totally belittle the accomplishment. One LRC visitor responded to a comment made on the USATF.TV broadcast along the lines of “Scott Simmons must be doing something right!” with the following derisive comment:

“Yes, recruiting from East Africa. That takes some serious coaching genius right there. Big secret that those runners are on average more talented than native-born Americans.”

We’re not sure what statements like that accomplish, other than to show their ignorance. We’ve never understood why when a coach recruits an American stud and helps them improve they get credit for developing that runner, but if they recruit an international runner and help them improve, they are accused of taking a shortcut?

Article continues below player

Does the poster not realize that all coaches recruit? And that the average woman on the Jerry Schumacher-coached Bowerman Track Club — which placed five women on the US team for World XC — is also much “more talented” than the average American pro runner, let alone the average American?

The reality is that all of the Kenyan-born athletes Simmons coached to the top 5 sweep are better now than before he started working with them. For example, Emmanuel Bor, 30, never scored a single point at NCAAs, never finished better than 25th at NCAA XC, and never ran faster than 13:45 in college, and yet he’s now the US cross country runner-up with a 13:20 pb.

Scott Simmons Coached the Entire Top 5 at US Cross

The Post-Collegiate Improvement By The Top 5 Men At USA XC
1. Shadrack Kipchirchir
– Best finish of 18th at NCAA XC in college. Ran 27:36 and finished 2nd at NCAAs in 10,000 in 2014. PB is now 27:07.
2. Emmanuel Bor – Never scored a point at NCAAs in college. Never finished better than 25th in XC. College PB was 13:43 in 5000 from 2009. Now he’s run 13:20.
3. Leonard Korir – NCAA indoor 5,000/outdoor 10,000 champ in 2011. Ran 27:27 in college. PB is now 27:20.
4. Hillary Bor – While he was 2nd in NCAAs in the steeple 2009, he was only 12th at NCAAs in his senior year in 2011. He had an 8:35 college PB but now has run 8:11.
5. Stanley Kebenei – Two-time NCAA steeple runner-up. Ran 8:23 in college. PB is now 8:08.

Not every East African-born runner improves like that. Anthony Rotich ran 8:21 in the steeple was a four-time NCAA champ in college but hasn’t done much as a pro. Bernard Lagat‘s brother Robert Cheseret ran 13:13 for 5000 in college and won two NCAA titles but never ran faster than 13:29 as a pro.

As for World XC, which will be held in Denmark on March 30, Simmons told Flotrack that “the goal is to try to get a team medal” and that the 10k guys (Kipchirchir and Korir) will be trying to finish in the top 15 as anyone who finishes in the top 15 gets the 10k standard for the 2019 World Championships on the track.

For more on Simmons, listen to our podcast where he was the featured guest: LRC Scott Simmons / NYRR Millrose Games Preview Podcast.

Did the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships feature the greatest collection of female talent of any race in US history?

Quite a collection of talent on the women’s side

Prior to the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships, LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson wondered if the women’s race was the “greatest” American-only women’s distance race in history. He knew it was the first time that a race would take place with three sub-14:50 women in it, as the last three American 5,000 record holders were all racing in Shelby Houlihan, Shannon Rowbury, and Molly Huddle.

He also wondered if it was the first race with six US Olympians in it. From the best we can tell, it is indeed the first distance race with six American Olympians in it. If you know of another race that had six or more American female Olympians in it, please email us.

An LRC visitor posting under the name “Bring Back the Mile” did mention that the 2002 USA XC meet featured five Olympians plus two other women who would go on to the Olympics.

So we thought it would be fun to compare the credentials of the top 10 finishers in each race.

2002 USA Cross Country Championships (8K)
1. Deena Drossin (Kastor), 29, ASICS, 26:31, Olympian. PBs at the time of 14:51 and 31:51. Went on to run 30:50 and 2:19:36. Earned individual silver at World XC in ’02.
2. Colleen De Reuck, 37, Nike, 26:46, Olympian. PBs at the time of 15:24, 68:38, and 2:26:36. Earned individual bronze at World XC in ’02.
3. Elva Dryer, 30, Nike, 26:51, Olympian. PB of 15:03 at the time. Would go on to run 31:21, 71:40, and 2:31:48.
4. Jen Rhines, 27, adidas, 27:04, Olympian. PBs of 15:13 and 31:58 at time. Would go on to run 14:54, 31:17, 71:14, and 2:29:32.
5. Milena Glusac, 26, adidas, 27:12. PBs of 15:51, 32:40, 71:34, and 2:34:46 at the time. Would lower 10,000 pb to 32:15 and marathon to 2:31:14.
6. Amy Rudolph, 28, adidas, 27:18, Olympian. PBs of 4:06 and 14:56 at the time. Would go on to run a 31:18 10,000.
7. Sarah Toland, 23, Unattached, 27:52. PB of 15:59 at the time. Would go on to run 15:45 and 33:09.
8. Liz Wilson, 33, Unattached, 28:02. PBs of 74:23 and 2:37:20.
9. Amy Yoder-Begley, 24, ASICS, 28:03, future Olympian. PBs of 15:49 and 33:06 at the time. Would go on to run 14:56 and 31:13.
10. Sara Wells, 22, Unattached, 28:05. PBs of 16:25 and 33:46 at the time. Would lower 5000 pb to 16:22 and run 2:33 marathon.

Note: The second future Olympian was 11th placer Magdalena Lewy Boulet, who made the marathon team in 2008.

Shelby Houlihan Wins 2019 USA XC

2019 USA Cross Country Championships (10K)
1. Shelby Houlihan, 25, NIKE BTC, 32:47, Olympian. PBs of 3:57, 14:34.
2. Molly Huddle, 34, Saucony, 32:56, Olympian. PBs of 14:42, 30;13, 67:25, and 2:26:44.
3. Marielle Hall, 27, NIKE BTC, 32:57, Olympian. PBs of 15:06 and 31:37.
4. Aliphine Tuliamuk, 29, HOKA ONE ONE NAZ Elite, 33:04. PBs of 15:18, 31:54, 69:16, and 2:33:18.
5. Amy Cragg, 35, NIKE BTC, 33:18, Olympian. PBs of 15:09, 31:10, 68:27, and 2:21:42.
6. Courtney Frerichs, 26, NIKE BTC, 33:25, Olympian. PBs of 15:31 and 9:00.85 steeple.
7. Karissa Schweizer, 22, NIKE BTC, 33:29. PBs of 15:02 and 32:00.
8. Stephanie Bruce, 35, Flagstaff, AZ, HOKA ONE ONE NAZ Elite, 33:30. PBs of 15:44, 31:59, 70:53, and 2:29:35.
9. Anne-Marie Blaney, 25, Hansons-Brooks ODP, 33:35. PBs of 15:43, 32:57, and 74:13.
10. Sarah Pagano, 27, Ringwood, NJ, 33:44. PBs of 15:11, 31:56, 72:27.

Note: The sixth Olympian was 22nd placer Shannon Rowbury.

Embed from Getty Images

If we compare the top six from each race, #1 vs. #1, #2 vs. #2, etc. it’s INCREDIBLY tight. In fact, we scored it as a tie at each of the four scoring positions (we’re using World XC rules, where six make the team and four score).

#1: Tie. One is a legendary American and one soon will be.
#2: Tie. Huddle’s track times are WAY better, but XC is not her best surface and De Reuck got individual bronze in 2002 at World XC. Actually, maybe it should be edge 2002.
#3: Tie. Three seconds separate them at 5000, but Dryer ended up a non-scorer at World XC in 2002 as #5 Glusac scored instead.
#4: Tie. Rhines leads the 5000 pbs by five seconds but Tuliamuk leads the 10,000 by four seconds. Rhines got 12th in 2002 at Worlds, Tuliamuk was 15th in 2017.
#5: Edge: 2019. Cragg has a world championship medal on her resume.
#6: Edge: 2019. A 9:00 steeple is significantly better than a 14:56, even at the women’s height. John Kellogg says it’s worth something close to 14:40 as with the guys it’s equivalent to something in the high 14:20s.

We know one thing: we’d love to see the 2019 USA XC team race the 2002 USA XC team. Led by an individual silver by Deena Drossin and individual bronze by Colleen De Reuck, the 2002 US team earned team silver behind Ethiopia.

MB:  Would it be wrong to say the 2019 USA XC women’s race is the greatest women’s distance race in American history? 

Stat of the Week/Nicole Clermont of Boston College Wins The Most Improved Award

107th – finishing place of Boston College’s Nicole Clermont at the ACC XC Championships in October. She was the 32nd freshman in the race.
1st – Clermont’s finishing place in the U20 race at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships.

Nicole Clermont via BCeagles.com

Making the feat all the more impressive is Clermont’s teammate, fellow freshman Kayla Smith, who was 111th at ACCs, finished second at USAs.

And it’s not like either was a big-time recruit. According to MileSplit, Clermont had high school PBs of just 2:15, 5:09, and 11:16 for the 800, mile and two-mile. She was just 53rd in the Massachusetts DI state XC meet as a senior in 2017. According to Athletic.net, Smith had PBs of 2:14, 4:33, and 10:11 for 800, 1500 and 3k.

The third placer in the race, Rilee Rigdon of Oklahoma State, wasn’t a huge star either as she ran 2:11, 5:02, and 11:14 in HS for 800, 1600 and 3200.


The winner in the men’s U20 race was Wisconsin’s Shuaib Aljabaly, who was 27th at Foot Lockers in 2017 (and Wisco’s 5th man this year at NCAAs).

Sinead Diver Breaks Masters World Record at Marugame Half Marathon 

Last week, the super deep Marugame Half Marathon was held in Japan. Abdi Nageeye set a Dutch national record to win the men’s race in 60:24, while Betsy Saina defended her title in the women’s race with a 67:49 pb. But there were three things that caught our eye farther down the standings.

  1. Sinead Diver remains on fire. The 41-year-old Irish-born runner who switched to representing Australia in 2015 set her second masters (40+) half marathon world record in six months by running 68:55. The masters WR belonged to Deena Kastor at 69:37 before Diver ran 69:20 in Australia in August to break Kastor’s record for the first time. She followed that up with a 6+ minute pb in the full marathon to win Melbourne in October in 2:25:19 before setting lifetime pbs on the track at 5000 (15:23.65) and 10,000 (31:50.98) in December. So since she turned 41 on February 17, 2018, Diver has PR’d at 5000, 10,000, 13.1, and 26.2.
    Embed from Getty Images
  2. Jack Rayner is really good at the half marathon. In Japan, Rayner, a 23-year-old Australian with track pbs of 13:41 and 28:12, did something he’d never done before in his life at the half marathon distance: he lost. Coming into the race, Rayner was undefeated at the 13.1 distance for his life (three for three). In Japan, he was third but he still managed to run 61:31. His lifetime PB for the distance is 61:01, which he ran in October to win the Commonwealth title.
  3. Japan’s depth showed itself once again. In Marugame, seven Japanese men broke 62:00; only five Americans did that in all of 2018. In the women’s race, Japanese track Olympian Ayuko Suzuki had a nice half marathon debut of 67:55 to grab second.

ISTAF Berlin Does It Again

12,100 – attendance at the ISATF Berlin indoor meeting last Friday, according to the IAAF. This figure will 100% be the biggest crowd at an indoor track meet this year.

Embed from Getty Images

The meet organizers in Berlin are amazing. How in the world they got 12,100 people to show up for an indoor track meet that featured very few events and very few stars is AMAZING. On the professional side, the meet only featured men’s and women’s 60s and 60 hurdles (the women’s 60 hurdles was won in a world-leading 7.89 by Germany’s Pamela Dutkiewicz), a women’s long jump (won in a world-leading 6.99 by Germany’s Malaika Mihambo), a men’s pole vault (won in a world-leading by 5.86 by the USA’s Sam Kendricks) and a mixed-gender indoor discus throw.

We’d love to interview someone from the meet to see how they get such large crowds — their outdoor meet track attracted a crowd of 45,500 last year — so if you are affiliated with the meet, please email us.

Berlin goes all-out as they even had a 50-meter mascot race (sadly, the legendary Berlino was not in it). The winner was Hertha BSC’s Herthinho (also a bear, so maybe he’s related to Berlino?), who clocked 19.30.

Embed from Getty Images

*2019 ISTAF Indoor Results *ISTAF Recap

Usain Bolt Runs Fast in Casual Sneakers

The Week That Was is designed to go a little more in depth on stories from the last week not re-present them, but we do make exceptions, just in case you were gone over the weekend. In case you missed Usain Bolt running a time equal to the fastest NFL 40 time ever, it is below. (We’re still waiting for someone on the forums to analyze the timing of his run in depth)


MB: Usain Bolt runs 4.22 to tie the fastest NFL 40…in sweats and sneakers
MB: During the halftime show tomorrow Bolt should put on spikes and wear real running gear and beat the NFL record

Drug Test Them Now

In perusing our copy of Race Results Weekly, we found a couple of results from the Russian Winter meeting in Moscow on Sunday that caught our attention. 26-year-old Vladimir Nikitin ran a national record of 3:54.77 to win the men’s mile by nearly four seconds. In January, Nikitin ran a 7:46.45 3000. In the women’s 800, 24-year-old Aleksandra Gulyayeva ran 1:59.37 for the win.

Oh did we mention that both Nikitin and Gulyayeva have previously served doping bans? Nikitin served a two-year doping ban as he tested positive for Bromantan in 2012 while Gulyayeva also missed two years after testing positive for Prasterone in 2013.

Pick Up A Nice Paycheck For Not Running Fast

With most of America’s best distance runners at USA XC, there were some easy paychecks to pick up for Americans at the All-America City 10K in Edinburg, Texas, last week. In the overall race, Kenyans Julius Kogo and Mary Munanu won $4,500, running 28:37 and 32:29 respectively. But the race also offered a $2,000 prize for the top Americans, which went to Colin Leak on the men’s side for running 30:23. Sarah Sellers, the 2018 Boston Marathon runner-up, took home the $2k in the women’s race by running 34:19.


If you can run well in extreme heat and humidity, then you could have won big with a modest time last weekend at the Access Big Lagos City Marathon as Ethiopians Sintayehu Legese and Dinke Meseret won $50,000 each by running 2:17:28 and 2:48:02.

Quote of the Week

“They told me that I looked like a candidate for a hip replacement. I started crying. I have friends whose moms have hip replacements, and they’re in their 60s. I’m not even 30!”

Hopefully this memory picks Emily up as she rehabs

Emily Infeld, 2015 world championship bronze medallist at 10,000, talking to Runner’s World about the injury that doctors discovered after a full leg MRI. Infeld, who had been given “tough love” by coach Jerry Schumacher and was trying to run through the injury, found out she had a “severely torn labrum as well as a buildup of bone on her hip socket and femur head.”

Infeld didn’t end up needing a hip replacement but she did have surgery on New Year’s Eve.

More: Emily Infeld Opens Up About Her Recent Hip Surgery

Recommended Reads

If you are looking for a training book, we liked this one: LRC Book Review Inside A Marathon Is The Ultimate Book For Marathon Junkies.

LRC Shelby Houlihan Talks About Her Breakout 2018 Season, Making America Great At 5,000 Again, And Jerry Schumacher If you’re not a podcast person, we’ve got a transcript of our interview with Houlihan right here.

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.