Rhonex Kipruto (26:50) Crushes Everyone in Stockholm 10,000 As Paul Chelimo Misses Worlds Standard

By LetsRun.com
May 30, 2019

The cream still rose to the top.

Mother Nature did not cooperate with the biggest 10,000-meter race of the year outside of the World Championships. The stacked men’s field was forced to run on a cool (temps in the 50s) and a windy (15+ mph winds) day. The result: times slower than expected and far few qualifiers for the World Championships than expected as only four men ran under the 27:40 standard (and two of those men already had the standard).

However, up front Kenyan Rhonex Kipruto and Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet were the class of the field, and Kipruto put on an impressive display the final three laps to get the win and a sub-27:00 clocking in 26:50.16. Gebrhiwet was second in 27:01.02 in his 10,000 debut, likely locking up a place on the Ethiopian Worlds team, as Eritrea’s Aron Kifle was a distant third in 27:27.68. American Paul Chelimo was a game 5th, outkicking Switzerland’s Julien Wanders to run 27:43.89 to Wanders’ 27:44.36 (a Swiss national record), but as things stand, neither of those men will be able to run the 10,000 at Worlds this year as neither ran under the IAAF standards. Instead fellow American Shadrack Kipchirchir, who was 14th today in 28:21.26, will likely get to go to Worlds as he already has the standard from last year.

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The race

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After an opening 2k in 5:29.18 (27:25 pace), Gebrhiwet began pushing the pace and soon only Kipruto was left with him. Just after 4k, Gebrhiwet gestured to Kipruto to take over the lead. Kipruto, the world U20 10,000m champ, did just that, and he would never give it up. They hit 5k in 13:28.65 and would maintain roughly that tempo until the final mile, when Kipruto would begin pushing with three laps to go and separate from Gebrhiwet to pull away for a comfortable win. Kipruto’s final three laps were 63:50, 62.23, and 60.12. Gebrhiwet just missed going sub-27 and then behind him it was a scramble to see who could go sub-27:40, but the group of guys who had been through 5k at roughly 13:45 all missed running the 27:40 standard. Chelimo and Wanders both had an outside shot at breaking 27:40 at the bell with a fast last lap, but neither could summon the kick required as Chelimo closed in 61.7 and Wanders in 62.0. It was not a night to run fast.

Results (Lap-by-lap splits here)

Rank Name Nat Date of Birth Order Result
1 KIPRUTO Rhonex KEN 12 OCT 1999 14 26:50.16 WL MR PB
2 GEBRHIWET Hagos ETH 11 MAY 1994 8 27:01.02
3 KIFLE Aron ERI 20 FEB 1998 9 27:27.68
4 TUEMAY Mogos ETH 24 MAY 1997 16 27:34.36 PB
5 CHELIMO Paul USA 27 OCT 1990 1 27:43.89 PB
6 WANDERS Julien SUI 18 MAR 1996 3 27:44.36 NR PB
7 KURGAT Amos KEN 7 MAR 1992 15 27:48.15
8 ERASSA Kirubel USA 17 JUN 1993 21 27:52.75 PB
9 KAYA Ali TUR 20 APR 1994 17 27:53.39
10 TOROITICH Timothy UGA 10 OCT 1991 13 28:06.87
11 HABTE Awet ERI 29 SEP 1997 10 28:11.12
12 MUNERIA Charles KEN 10 FEB 1996 20 28:13.91
13 BOUCHIKHI Soufiane BEL 22 MAR 1990 4 28:20.97
14 KIPCHIRCHIR Shadrack USA 22 FEB 1989 6 28:21.26
15 KORIR Leonard USA 10 DEC 1986 18 28:23.00
16 PÉREZ Juan Antonio ESP 6 NOV 1988 11 28:27.14
17 KIPROTICH Peter (PM) KEN 20 DEC 1998 26 28:32.78 PB
18 PETROS Amanal GER 17 MAY 1995 19 28:42.59
19 KAYA Aras TUR 4 APR 1994 12 28:49.21
20 RONO Vincent KEN 11 DEC 1990 5 29:01.82
21 FSIHA Robel SWE 7 MAR 1996 23 29:15.45 PB
22 BARRIOS Juan Luis MEX 24 JUN 1983 22 29:26.99
KERICH Gevin (PM) KEN 2 FEB 1995 24 DNF
KIPSANG Isaac (PM) KEN 20 FEB 1999 25 DNF
KIPTUM Kelvin (PM) KEN 2 DEC 1999 27 DNF
MEKONNEN Jemal Yimer ETH 11 SEP 1996 2 DNF
SOLOMON Napoleon SWE 14 FEB 1994 7 DNF

Quick Take: An incredible performance from Rhonex Kipruto

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Running 26:50.16 or faster in any conditions is hard enough — only 26 men have ever done it, and only five men (counting Kipruto tonight) have done it since the start of 2012. So to do it in cold, windy conditions while leading over half the race, as Rhonex Kipruto did tonight, is outstanding. It reminded us of Kenenisa Bekele grinding out a 26:25 in the morning at the 2008 Pre Classic in a race he won by 48 seconds. 2008 Bekele was the greatest distance runner of all-time, and we’re not saying Kipruto is in that category. But with better conditions and better pacemaking (a tough ask in a 10,000 when you’re trying to run under 27:00), Kipruto could have run even faster today.

But one of the things that makes Kipruto great is that he doesn’t require pacers to run fast. Last year, he ran 27:21 to break the championship record at the World U20 champs, and went on to run 26:46 for 10k on the roads, missing the WR by just two seconds.

Quick Take: The World Championship 10,000 this year is going to be very interesting

Mo Farah, who has won the last five global 10,000 titles, will not be defending his crown in Doha in October, which means we’ll have a new champion. Kipruto is clearly one of the candidates, but one thing he’s yet to show he possesses is a big-time kick. During his brief career, Kipruto hasn’t raced much on the track — Tilastopaja doesn’t even list a 5,000m pb for him (he told organizers after the race he may try to run a DL 5000 this summer). Breaking everyone in the 10,000 in Doha will be tougher than it was tonight, particularly since he’ll have to face Joshua Cheptegei — who was second at the 2017 Worlds in 26:49 and smoked Kipruto at World XC in March. But that may be Kipruto’s best strategy to medal as it’s not clear yet if he has the kick to prevail in a slow race.

Quick Take: A strong debut from Hagos Gebrhiwet, who likely punched his ticket to Worlds

Ethiopian will hold a 10,000-meter trial race for Worlds in July, but the Ethiopian federation still hasn’t said exactly how many athletes from that race will earn auto spots to Worlds. If history is an indicator, it’s likely that only the top two will go automatically, with the third spot going to whichever Ethiopian runs fastest during the qualification window. And right now, the fastest Ethiopian during the qualification window is Gebrhiwet, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist at 5,000 who ran 27:01 in his 10,000 debut tonight. Expect to see him on the start line in the 10k in Doha.

Quick Take: A disastrous night for the Americans (except Kirubel Erassa)

There were four Americans entered in this race, all from Scott Simmons‘ American Distance Project/WCAP group: Paul Chelimo, Shadrack KipchirchirLeonard Korir, and Kirubel Erassa. All but Erassa will likely be disappointed with their performance tonight.

Chelimo was the top finisher of the group in 5th and, all things considered, he ran pretty well. 27:43 in your first 10,000 in eight years in poor conditions is not bad at all. But Chelimo’s goal was to hit the world standard (27:40), so for him to fly all the way out to Sweden and not hit it has to come as a disappointment. His hopes of running the 5k/10k double at Worlds are now on life support (we’ll explain in a minute).

Kipchirchir (14th in 28:21) and Korir (15th in 28:23) were both lapped and ran over a minute slower than their PRs. There’s no good way to spin those performances.

The silver lining was Erassa, the Oklahoma State alum who shaved almost a minute off his 28:50 pb to run 27:52. He didn’t get the world standard either, but you can’t be unhappy with a 58-second PR.

Quick Take: There may only be one American in the 10,000 at Worlds this year

As things stand, only one American man has achieved the entry standard for Worlds — Kipchirchir, who barely snuck under the 27:40.00 standard with his 27:39.65 at Payton Jordan last year. Lopez Lomong, as the NACAC champion, may also be in position to go as the NACAC champion, but according to the IAAF’s qualification criteria, that is “subject to the approval of the Technical Delegates, based on the athlete’s level.” We’re not exactly sure what level Lomong will have to reach, but right now Lomong is only ranked 105th in IAAF’s 10,000 world rankings, and his PR of 28:21 is over 40 seconds slower than the IAAF standard. Is that enough to justify selection?

If not, Kipchirchir could well be the only American man in the World Championship 10,000 final as the IAAF guidelines say that they won’t fill the field in the 10,000 — “entries are administered by Entry Standard only.” As of now, there will be a maximum of 22 men in the 10,000 field (the IAAF target number is 27), but that’s assuming that Lomong is allowed to compete and every country sends its full quota.

We get that entry standards exist for a reason, but it’s unfortunate that Chelimo, who beat Kipchirchir by 36 seconds tonight, probably won’t get to go to Worlds and Kipchirchir, who ran .35 of a second under the standard in much better conditions at Stanford in a race that took place 17 months before Worlds, probably will.

Chelimo has said that he plans on running the 5k/10k double at Worlds this year, but that was predicated on getting the standard in Stockholm tonight. Now that he doesn’t have it, it’s fair to wonder if he’ll try to hit the standard at USAs (seems impossible in the Des Moines heat) or if he’ll just bail on the 10k entirely and put all his eggs in the 5k (the 10k is on Thursday night at USAs, the 5k on Sunday evening).

We wouldn’t be surprised if he calls it quits on the 10k. We know Chelimo is a gold-medal threat in the 5k, but based on tonight’s performance, he’s not close to that in the 10k — Kipruto beat him by 53 seconds tonight, and Gebrhiwet beat him by 42. In 2015, it took 27:01 to medal in the 10k. In 2016, it took 27:06, and in 2017, it took 26:50. If Chelimo can’t get to that level of fitness in the 10,000, there’s not much point in running it at Worlds.

Discuss this topic on our messageboard: MB Paul Chelimo MISSES worlds qualifying standard, CAN NOT go to Worlds without it

Quick Take: Alberto Salazar would not have let this happen

Say what you want about Alberto Salazar, but he never would have let what happened to Chelimo tonight happen to Galen Rupp. Chelimo flew to Sweden for one reason: to hit the World Championship standard. Yet the race was run in poor conditions and pacemaking fell apart quickly. Chelimo leaves with a big pb, but ultimately the race was a waste of time.

If Rupp was trying to hit the standard, Salazar would have made sure there was a rabbit going 27:40 pace. There’s also a good chance Salazar wouldn’t have even had Rupp start this race at all and tried to set up a race somewhere where he could have more control — remember in 2010 when Salazar/Rupp switched their AR attempt from Eugene to Stanford at the last minute. It helps that Salazar has the resources of Nike behind him — when Rupp set the AR at Pre in 2014, he had a race built around him and an absolute stud in Stephen Sambu to rabbit past 8k — but Chelimo is a Nike athlete as well. We’re sure the swoosh could have helped out here. Crazy these guys had to fly to Sweden to find a 10,000.

But this also showed the issue for anyone trying to make Worlds in the 10,000. There are so few top-quality 10,000s on the schedule, that when one comes along like this, you pretty much have to run it. And unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate tonight. In events, that aren’t contested that often like the 10,000m we can see why the IAAF wants to go to a world ranking system rather than an absolute time system for qualifying for Worlds.

Quick Take: Tonight’s race was not a good sign for the future of the 10,000

The 10,000 is on life support right now, and tonight’s race didn’t help matters. It was run after 10:00 p.m. on a weeknight, and even though it was held immediately after a Diamond League meet, the stands were close to empty as most of the fans left at the conclusion of the DL program. Add in the fact that most of the world could not see this race (the NBC Sports Gold feed cut off at the end of the DL program) and it was hardly an atmosphere befitting what was likely the best 10,000 of the year outside of Worlds.

On the one hand, we understand why the fans left for this one. The weather was damp, chilly, and windy, and you have to be a true diehard to sit around in those conditions to watch a 25-lap race. The IAAF will likely use this race as evidence for the continued decline of the 10,000.

But on the other hand, we love the 10,000, and feel strongly that it needs to remain on the championship program at Worlds and the Olympics. Almost all of the legends of Olympic distance running — Zatopek, Viren, Gebrselassie, Bekele, Farah — ran the 10,000, and the event is responsible for some of the most memorable races in Olympic history, such as Geb’s win over Paul Tergat in 2000 or Farah’s win on home soil in London in 2012. It needs to stay.


The IAAF also needs to think about having an over the top (OTT) pay per view system it controls for broadcasting its meets apart from TV. If there is going to be a PPV system to watch meets, then ALL the major events should be broadcast on it. And we don’t see the need for a 3rd party to be involved. As it now stands, the IAAF/Diamond League sells its broadcast rights to NBC in the US. NBC then broadcasts most of the meets on TV (NBCSN and Olympic Channel) but also has a PPV package to watch the meets. There is no reason the direct to consumer PPV package could be separate from the NBC deal. NBC could pay to broadcast the meets, but separately the IAAF could control the PPV package (and broadcast the 10,000). As currently operated NBC brings no value add with the PPV package. Or at the very least, the IAAF could demand that the PPV feed include all events at a Diamond League meet. Hard core fans pay to watch track, but tonight couldn’t even watch what they wanted (unless they knew how to watch via a Swedish VPN).

The rest of our Stockholm meet recap is here.

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