WTW: Thank you Alberto and NOP, Grant Fisher Is the Best, Ritz’s Fountain of Youth, Alicia Monson Breaks Through

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The Week That Was in Running, February 4 – 10, 2019

By LetsRun.com
February 11, 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.

If you missed any of our extensive on-site coverage of the 2019 NYRR Millrose Games, which included two American records and a near world record in the men’s mile, you can read it all below.

LRC So Close – Yomif Kejelcha Misses Breaking Mile World Record By .01 Of A Second At 2019 Millrose Games 
LRC Michael Saruni (1:43.98) Becomes 2nd Man To Break 1:44 Barrier Indoors, Donavan Brazier (1:44:41) Breaks American Record In Millrose 800 
LRC Ajee’ Wilson Gets Her American Record Back* By Running 1:58.60 To Win Millrose 800
LRC Rest Of Millrose: Fisher Vs. McDonald Lives Up To The Hype, KoKo Crushes Mile Field, Why Does Emma Coburn Keep Falling? English Gardner Is Back

*Complete LRC coverage of the 2019 NYRR Millrose Games

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Thank You, Alberto Salazar, Yomif Kejelcha, and the Nike Oregon Project

We wanted to begin the Week That Was by sending a thank-you message to Alberto Salazar, Yomif Kejelcha, and NOP. Not for the 3:48.46 mile that Kejelcha ran at Millrose, but for announcing his intention to challenge the world record a full eight days in advance.

Of course the race itself was exciting, but it didn’t even last four minutes. But by making it clear that Kejelcha was targeting the WR — and by offering an inside peek into some of his training before the attempt — NOP created a lot more excitement for the race.

Plus they chose to try and break the race on the biggest stage- a national television audience on NBC.

Our sport is struggling for national exposure and it got some this past Saturday.

They even released two pre-race hype videos:

Obviously we’re a little biased here. We’re in the business of talking about the sport, and Millrose was a lot easier to talk about once the best runner in the entire meet announced he was trying to break the world record in the meet’s marquee event. And while too much hype can be a bad thing — storylines are blown out of proportion on a daily basis in the NBA and NFL — the right amount of hype is necessary for a sport to thrive.

Thank you Alberto and NOP!

NOP’s announcement provided the right kind of hype. It allowed fans a week to debate what would happen in the race, whether Kejelcha would get the record, and how it would affect the other runners (something we spent a lot of time writing about on Thursday). Too often in our sport, fans are left in the dark about when and where their favorite runners are racing. Be honest: how many of you knew the Bowerman Track Club men were running a 5k at Boston University on Friday night before it happened? So kudos to NOP for injecting some much-needed excitement into the sport. And make sure to let us know when Kejelcha is taking his next shot at the record.

We’d love to see a special exhibition held at USA Indoors, but that may be too much to ask.

Some of you may be surprised to see us praising the NOP as many, including probably Alberto Salazar himself, think we don’t like the group. In reality, we pride ourselves on calling a spade a spade and letting fans be fans.

When it comes to doping we have been very open that we allow fans to discuss — and even speculate — about this issue freely on the forums because we believe it leads to a cleaner sport. If people want to debate on our forums whether there was drug usage in Athletics West in the 1980s, the NOP in the 2010s, or Kenya now, we’re not going to stop them. History has shown that there is ample reason to question performances.

Salazar doesn’t agree. He’s called such talk “slander and libel” and even once emailed us, “I don’t think we are ever going to be in agreement about the merits of allowing slander and libel on your site because it’s helping fight the drug problem. I think your website has hurt American distance running more than it has helped it. How? By giving weak-minded coaches and athletes the excuse that Americans are getting their butts kicked because everyone else is cheating.”

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Breakthrough Performance of the Week and Year: Alicia Monson

Alicia Monson Beats the Pros (Photo by Phil Bond)

The winner of the women’s 3000 at Millrose wasn’t a pro like steeplechase world champ Emma Coburn (admittedly she fell, but we doubt she would have won had she not) but rather a collegian, Wisconsin junior Alicia Monson.

Monson lowered her 3000 pb by nearly 30 seconds — 28.29 to be exact — from 9:14.26 to 8:45.97 to get the win and move to #3 all-time on the NCAA indoor list. In the process, she may have booked her ticket to a future Olympic Games. Check out the names near her on the all-time NCAA 3000 list.

All-Time NCAA 3000 List According to TFN
8:41.60 Karissa Schweizer (Missouri) 2/03/18
8:42.03 Jenny Simpson (Colorado) 3/14/09
8:45.97 Alicia Monson (Wisconsin) 2/09/19
8:48.77 Sally Kipyego (Texas Tech) 2/07/09
8:49.18 Kim Smith (Providence) 3/13/04
8:51.91 Abbey D’Agostino (Dartmouth) 2/15/14

Of those six women, all but Schweizer and Monson are Olympians, with Simpson and Kipyego both Olympic medalists. And Schweizer, who is two years older than Monson, looks like a good bet to make the 2020 US Olympic team in the 5,000.

Coming into the 2018-19 school year, Monson was simply a good collegiate runner. Her pbs were 4:25, 9:14, and 15:38, she had never won a Big 10 title (she was the 5k runner-up in 2018), never come close to scoring at NCAAs (18th and 13th in her two appearances last year in the 5000) and never finished higher than 96th at NCAAs in cross country (96th as a freshman, 118th as a sophomore).

Now she looks like a future NCAA champ and Olympian. After winning Big 10 XC in the fall, she went on to finish 4th at NCAAs and she’s now proving in track more good things are going to come.

More: LRC Fisher Vs. McDonald Lives Up To The Hype, KoKo Crushes Mile Field, Why Does Emma Coburn Keep Falling? English Gardner Is Back
Monson Wisconsin Bio

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Grant Fisher Breaks Galen Rupp’s (And Ryan Hill’s) American Collegiate Record

The men’s 3000 at the Millrose Games was also won by a collegian. Stanford’s Grant Fisher outkicked NCAA XC champ Morgan McDonald to win in 7:42.62 to McDonald’s 7:42.76. We can’t wait to see the rematch at NCAAs.

We failed to mention in our recap of the race that in the process, Fisher broke Galen Rupp‘s American collegiate record in the 3k. Ten years and two days after Rupp ran 7:44.70 to place second at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games, the record now belongs to Fisher. Depending on how you view performances on oversized tracks, you could also argue that Ryan Hill was the American collegiate record holder as he ran 7:43.08 in Seattle in 2012. The distinction is irrelevant now because Fisher’s time on Saturday was faster than both Rupp’s and Hill’s.

Fisher is now the third-fastest collegian ever indoors at 3000. Alistair Cragg has the record at 7:38.59 with Edward Cheserek second at 7:40.51.

More: LRC Fisher Vs. McDonald Lives Up To The Hype, KoKo Crushes Mile Field, Why Does Emma Coburn Keep Falling? English Gardner Is Back

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World Record, Here We Come?

In non-distance action, the performance of the week came at the Clemson Tiger Paw Invitational in South Carolina, where the Houston 4×400 team of Amere Lattin, Obi Igbokwe, Jermaine Holt, and Kahmari Montgomery ran the world’s fourth fastest time in history — 3:01.51. The only faster times were the top three times recorded at last year’s NCAA indoors.

The Cougars are by no means a lock for the NCAA title as Texas A&M was just behind them at 3:01.57. In fact, if we were betting men (which we have known to be, from time to time), Texas A&M might be the team to beat. Texas A&M’s Devin Dixon, who shattered the American collegiate record at 800 earlier this year with his 1:45.27, nearly got them the win and probably would have had he not run up into Montgomery on the final turn and lost his momentum. Pretty impressive for an 800 guy, especially when you remember Montgomery is the reigning US champion at 400 meters.

Dixon ended up with a pretty nice consolation prize — the fastest indoor split in world history. Dixon split 44.24, which according to Texas A&M “bettered the world’s best split of 44.35 by USC’s Rai Benjamin from the 2018 NCAA final.”

We wonder if Dixon is impressed with his time. Last year outdoors after finishing a disappointing fifth at NCAAs, a showing which he called “trash,” he went out split 43.96 and 43.99 in the 4 x 400 semis and finals.

Watch the race for yourself below:

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The Young Guys Are Moving To The Roads En Masse

If you missed our extensive same-day coverage of the 2019 RAK Half, you can read our post-race recap here.

One big thing that struck us since then: it’s really remarkable how young the men’s racers were. The entire top 10 in the men’s race was 25 or under (officially), and nine of them have never run a marathon.

NAME / TIME / PRIZE MONEY / AGE / MARATHON PB
1. Stephen Kiprop, KEN              58:42 AED 50,000 (=USD 13,610) – 19 – Never run a marathon
2. Abadi Hadis, ETH                 58:44  35,000 – 21 – Never run a marathon
3. Fikadu Haftu, ETH                59:08 PB 25,000 – 24 – Never run a marathon
4. Julien Wanders, SUI              59:13 PB/ER 18,000 – 22 – Never run a marathon
5. Morris Gachaga, KEN              59:22 PB 15,000 – 23 – Never run a marathon
6. Mule Wasihun, ETH                59:34 PB 10,000 – 25  – 2:04:37 PB
7. Daniel Kipchumba, KEN            59:36 7,500 – 21 – Never run a marathon
8. Amedework Walelegn, ETH          59:39  5,500 – 19 – Never run a marathon
9. Abel Kipchumba, KEN              59:40 3,500 – 25 – Never run a marathon
10. Shadrack Kiminning, KEN          59:42 PB 2,000 – 22 (he turned 23 on Sunday) – Never run a marathon
11. Kaan Kigen Ozbilen, TUR          59:48 PB/NR – No prize money – 33 – 2:06:10 PB

(All results and prize money figures came from our Race Results Weekly subscription, which is invaluable to us each and every week. Subscribe here.)

We put 11th placer Kaan Kigen Ozbilen in the list above as he made history — never before in a race had 11 men broken 60:00. For his feat, he earned zero prize money but did get a nice consolation prize — a new Turkish national record.

What about the women, you say? Five of the top 10 were 25 or younger, but seven of them have already raced a marathon.

WOMEN 
1. Senbere Teferi, ETH            1:05:45 NR   AED 50,000 (=USD 13,610)  – 23 – 2:24:11 PB
2. Netsanet Gudeta, ETH           1:05:45 PB 35,000 – 27 – 2:29:15 PB
3. Zeineba Yimer, ETH             1:05:46 PB 25,000 – 20 – Never run a marathon
4. Degitu Azmeraw, ETH            1:06:07 PB 18,000 – 20 – Never run a marathon
5. Valary Jemeli Aiyabei, KEN     1:06:14 PB 15,000 – 27 – 2:20:53 PB
6. Peres Jepchirchir, KEN         1:07:36 10,000 – 25 – 2:46:15 PB
7. Paskalia Kipkoech, KEN         1:07:38 7,500 – 30 – 2:33:34
8. Naomi Jebet, KEN                1:08:19 PB  5,500 – 25 -Never run a marathon
9. Gerda Steyn, RSA               1:12:35 PB  3,500 – 28 – 2:31:04 PB
10. Anne-Mari Hyrylainen, 40, FIN  1:13:40 2,000 – 40 – 2:28:53 PB

That RAK Half wasn’t the only quick half for the women last week. The 4th fastest time of the week came in Barcelona, where Roza Dereje ran 66:01 after wanting to set the WR.

More: LRC Julien Wanders (59:13) Shatters European Record; Stephen Kiprop (58:42) And Senbere Teferi (65:45) Win 2019 RAK Half
*Ethiopia’s Roza Dereje (66:01) And Kenya’s Eric Kiptanui (61:04) Get The Wins At The Barcelona Half

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Dathan Ritzenhein Finds The Fountain of Youth?

The last few years certainly haven’t been great for Dathan Ritzenhein, 36. The three-time Olympian and fourth-fastest marathoner in US history (2:07:47 pb) hasn’t broken 2:10 in the marathon since 2013 and hasn’t even finished a marathon since 2015 (2:11:20 for 7th in Boston).

Recent history from Meb Keflezighi, however, has shown that it’s foolish to write off big-time talent prematurely. Meb, like Ritz, failed to make an Olympic team at the age of 33 (2008 for Meb, 2016 for Ritz), but then accomplished an awful lot after that disappointment. Here’s what Meb did after that:

  • Won the New York City Marathon at age 34
  • Made two Olympic teams (including a 4th place finish at the 2012 Games)
  • Broke 2:10 six times, including his lifetime PB (2:08:37)
  • Won the Boston Marathon at age 38

We certainly don’t expect Ritz to equal Meb’s feats moving forward — one big difference between Meb and Ritz is that Meb was significantly more durable during his career. But last week Ritz showed that even if you aren’t a historian of the sport, you should be very careful before you write him off — particularly as a player on the domestic scene. Last week at the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon, Ritzenhein ran his fastest half since 2016 as he clocked 61:24 for the win.

Does that necessarily mean Ritz is going to rock April’s Boston Marathon? No. Ritz historically has been a better half marathoner than marathoner — it certainly could be argued the half marathon is his best distance. It’s the distance where he won World bronze in 2009 (60:00) and a distance where he used to break 62:00 all the time. Ritz went sub-62:00 in seven of his first eight career half marathons, but he had only done it once in his previous six half marathons before Sunday.

61:24 equates to 2:09-2:10 in the marathon (2:10:34 according to John Kellogg’s conversion chart and 2:09:13 according to McMillan, but with someone like Ritz, we think Kellogg’s conversion is better). That type of fitness would certainly put him in the hunt for the 2020 Olympic team, particularly if many of the Kenyan-born Americans don’t move up to the 26.2-mile distance. Last year, only four Americans ran faster than 61:24 in the entire year — Galen Rupp (59:47), Leonard Korir (60:12), Sam Chelanga (60:37), and Haron Lagat (61:01). Chelanga is retired and Korir and Lagat have never run a marathon.

MB: Ritz – 1:01:27.

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For The Record, Her Nickname is KoKo, Not KoKlo

Konstanze Klosterhalfen Wins Millrose Mile (Photo by Phil Bond)

Last week at the NYRR Millrose Games, one of the stars of the show was Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen, who now trains with the Nike Oregon Project, as the 21-year-old German destroyed the field to win the women’s mile in 4:19.98.

In the process, those listening to the national television broadcast in the US learned from Craig Masback that her nickname is KoKo. Given the fact that her last name has an L in it — Klosterhalfen — we wanted to make sure her nickname is KoKo, not KoKlo.

It’s most definitely KoKo without an L, as an astute LRC messageboard poster pointed out that Klo in German means loo (that’s another word for bathroom).

Anyways, we’re glad that we have a new official nickname for her, because calling her “Germany’s Mary Cain” — like we did three years ago — is no longer accurate. Along those lines, we thought it would be fun to update the chart we made three years ago comparing Klostherhalfen’s PBs to those of some of America’s most recent teen stars.

In the chart, below you’ll see all of the runner’s personal bests before they turned age 20 and then after. The fastest marks are listed in bold.

PRs Achieved at Age 19 or Younger/PRs After Age 20
Alexa Efraimson
(21)
Konstanze Klosterhalfen
(21)
Allie Ostrander
(22)
Mary
Cain
(22)
Jordan
Hasay
(27)
8002:01.11/2:00.952:01.55/1:59.652:11.30/NA1:59.51/2:08.502:09.64/2:08:32
15004:03.39/4:04.754:07.26/3:58.924:26.5/4:15.064:04.62/4:10.844:10.28/4:07.70
30009:00.16/8:52.538:46.74/8:29.898:54.27/8:54.358:58.48/NA9:05.42/8:46.89
5k/
10k
16:08/NA15:16/14:5115:21.85/15:16.3815:54/16:32NA/31:39

More: What is the proper way to spell Konstanze Klosterhalfen’s nickname? 
From the 2016 Archives:
WTW: Meet Germany’s Teen Phenom, How Not To Run A Marathon, The End Of The Diamond League In New York, And Praise For Doper Maria Sharapova

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Email Of The Week / Janet Bawcom is Having Lots Of Fun Racing All Over The Globe

Janet Bawcom at 2013 NYC Half Marathon

In late December, we published a section in the WTW about how Janet Bawcom, the 2012 US Olympian who turned 40 in August, had run 4 marathons in the span of 3 months for very limited prize money ($4,500 is all we saw and we were hoping she was getting appearance money).

Bawcom saw the blurb and provided some insight. She sent her email on December 24 so we forgot about it during our Christmas break.

Hey, guys – thanks for the shout out on my recent marathons.  Just wanted to let you know that you don’t have to worry – I’m not out pounding the roads trying to make ends meet. I work full-time as an RN at Grand Canyon National Park – the running is just for fun and to see new places. 

Since July I’ve managed to visit every continent but Antarctica and completely circled the globe – all while holding down a full time job. 

In addition to the marathons I also managed to snag a top 5 finish at the US 20k champs and did my first Rim-to-Rim at the canyon – gotta mix things up to keep it fun.

Wish you all a Merry Christmas! 

Janet Bawcom

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Quotes of the Week (that weren’t quote of the day)

#1 Oh, the irony

“I’m so disappointed with the presentation of this. You’d easily miss that trials is happening. No clue what the qualifying marks are, not a clue what they’re trying to qualify for, no idea who’s there, who’s not, head-to-heads.

“Then they blame empty seats on athletes not coming to trials (which is an issue of course)… but also don’t make a smart and targeted effort to engage fans and people who want to watch. Earlier I had to scroll so far down their twitter feed to find out if/where it was streamed.”

-Britain’s leading sprinter Dina Asher-Smith complaining on Twitter last week according to The Telegraph about how poorly UK Athletics promoted he 2019 British indoor champs, which she skipped. Her complaints may have some validity, but we’ll say it until we are hoarse: it’s hard to promote most track meets when so many pros treat them as exhibitions or skip them entirely.

More: Article from The Telegraph

#2 Training for track and field can feel like a chore — until you aren’t doing it anymore and then you miss it

“It’s great to be back. It’s a buzz to come and compete. I’ve missed it being out of the sport for two years.

“The funny thing about this is I didn’t recognize any of the faces. It was intimidating with the crowd and the lights, having been away for so long. Even the gun sounds weird, the blocks have changed, the environment’s changed.

“So I feel like a fossil that’s been resurrected by coming back into the sport again.”

-40-year-old sprinter Dwain Chambers, who came out of an 18-month retirement to try to make the GBR team for European Indoors, talking to The Telegraph.

After running 6.78 in the first round of the 60 meters, he was DQ’d for a false start in round two. Chambers’ dream of representing GBR one more time may not be officially over, however, as none of the top finishers at the meet have met UK Athletics’ stricter time standard of 6.60 (Chambers ran 6.70 at a meet in December).

More: Dwain Chambers return dashed by false start at British Indoor Championships 

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Field Event Performances of Note

Tori Franklin Breaks The American TJ Record With 14.57m In Madrid

Olympic Shot Put Champ Ryan Crouser Climbs The World All-Time List Crouser opened his 2019 with 22.33m at Millrose, the best indoor throw in 11 years, moving Crouser from 18th to 4th on the world indoor all-time list.

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Recommended Reads

LRC Did Usain Bolt Really Run A 4.22 40-Yard Dash At The Super Bowl? Our Stopwatch Says He Didn’t Come Close While the rest of the world’s media produces fake news, we uncover it. Out stopwatch shows that Usain Bolt ran nowhere near the NFL record of 4.22 seconds for the 40-yard dash at the Super Bowl.

Nebraska Freshman George Kusche Breaks School Record With 3:59.61 Mile Kusche is the first from Nebraska to go sub-4, breaking the previous record from 1986.

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

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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.