Week That Was: Why Do the Kenyan Men Suck at 5,000? Kenny B Runs 19.49 and 44.83, Rachel Schneider Impresses

The Week That Was in Running, May 13-19, 2019

by LetsRun.com
May 21, 2019

What a week. Game of Thrones may have disappointed, but the Shanghai Diamond League most certainly did not. If you missed our extensive Shanghai coverage, catch up now:

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.

In Case You Still Haven’t Seen It

You can read everything about the Diamond League meet in Shanghai here. But if you still haven’t seen the men’s 100 between Noah Lyles and Christian Coleman we have it for you below. Definitely worth a watch. And then Coleman stirred it up on twitter afterwards.

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5 Random Thoughts To Get Started

Embed from Getty Images

1. Can someone tell us why the 7th-fastest women’s steeplechaser in history, Courtney Frerichs, was running the B heat of the 1500 at the USATF Distance Classic? Yes, we know everyone in heat #1 has a faster 1500 pb (Frerichs is only at 4:14.62) and yes, we know it’s not really important that Frerichs runs fast in the 1500, whereas many in the top heat need standards, but it just seems wrong. Steeple fans who claim that, at the top level, the elite steeplechasers are great runners certainly took one on the chin on that one (though, to Frerichs’ credit, she looked good in winning the B heat in 4:15.96 with a 63.07 last lap).

2. Hard to believe that up until last week, no man had ever run a marathon under 2:10 and no woman had run a marathon under 2:30 in Denmark. That changed as Jackson Limo ran 2:09:54 and Etalemahu Hapteworld ran 2:29:29 to win the 40th Telenor Copenhagen Marathon (previous all-comers records were 2:10:37 and 2:30:51).

3. Who needs a break? 2019 London Marathon champ Brigid Kosgei returned to action and returned to her winning ways just 21 days after the marathon by winning the EDP Lisboa a Mulher e a Vida 5k in Portugal last week in 15:13 in a race where second place was just 16:46.

4. We saw last week that the Abbott World Marathon Majors are considering adding a marathon we’ve never heard of — the Chengdu Marathon, which only came into existence in 2017 — to major status. That got us to thinking, how many majors can you possibly have? Six seems like plenty; any more than that, and pretty soon it will just seem like a total marketing ploy/money grab.

What’s supposed to make a major special is they are hard to win. If you dilute the talent pools enough so that they aren’t that hard to win, then they aren’t really majors anymore. But if the WMM really wants expansion, we’ve got a creative/crazy idea for them. You can go up to eight, but each race only features one elite pro field. That way there can be four men’s majors and four women’s majors each year — the same amount of majors that you find in tennis and golf. Plus, it would make the viewing experience better for fans — no struggling to cover the men’s race and women’s race at the same time.

While we’re throwing out creative marathon marketing ideas, we really think the majors should have rabbits one year, then no rabbits the next. The ultimate badge of honor wouldn’t be to just win the same major twice, it would be to win the rabbitted and unrabbitted versions of the race, much like how in ultrarunning it’s extra special to be a Comrades “up” and “down” champion.

5. After seeing the 33:55 winning time for 2015 World XC champ Senbere Teferi at the 2019 TCS World 10K in Bengaluru last week, one thought popped into our head:  Is $26,000 for a 33:55 10,000 the most paid out for someone running that slow? 

More: Craziness In India: Five Women Let $26,000 Come Down To A Sprint Finish On The Track, Kenya’s Agnes Tirop Defends Her Title In 33:55 At The 2019 TCS World 10K Bengaluru The 2015 World XC champ got the win as Senbere Teferi, who had won the RAK Half and Healthy Kidney this year, settled for 2nd as the top 3 all were credited with the same time.
*Ethiopia’s Andamlak Belihu Wins Huge Race Yet Again In India, Captures $26,000 Win In 27:56 At The 2019 TCS World 10K Bengaluru Unheralded Mande Bushendich of Uganda was second as Tokyo marathon champ Birhanu Legese was third.

Juco Star Kenny Bednarek Dazzles

Kenny Bednarek, a 20-year-old freshman at Indian Hills (Iowa) Community College, had quite the weekend at the National Junior College D1 Outdoor Championships in Hobbs, New Mexico.

On Saturday, he became the second human in history to break 20.00 for 200 and 45.00 for 400 on the same day. Bednarek won the 200 in 19.82 (-.8 m/s) and the 400 in 44.83. That came one day after he ran 19.49 for 200 (and 45.90 for 400). Yes, 19.49 was his actual time, but there was a big 6.1 m/s wind.

Kenny Bednarek via @IHCCAthletics

If you use Jonas Mureika’s calculator to adjust for altitude (the track in Hobbs is at 3,671 feet of elevation, or 1,118.8 meters), wind, and lane (he was in lane 8 in the prelims and lane 5 in the final), the two 200 times are almost dead even to each other.

The 19.49 converts to 19.86 in still conditions at sea level.
The 19.82 converts to 19.87 in still conditions at sea level.

So the guy is a stud.

Where did he come from? Well Bednarek was a superstar at Rice Lake High School in Wisconsin. Last year, he set state D2 records in the 100 (10.42), 200 (20.43, all state record), and 400 (46.68, all state record). This year, he ran 20.30 200 indoors before destroying everyone –including several Olympians — at Drake Relays in the 200 (20.12w, 20.29 wind-legal in final).

The only negative about his season is it looks like he’s ready to soon call it a season. We read an article where his coach talked about him maybe doing USAs but USAs and Worlds are a LONG way off this year.

Video of Windy 19.49

More: MB: Juco sprinter Kenny Bednarek, 20, runs amazing 19.82/44.83 double – 1 day after running windy 19.49!!
*Wisconsin state HS Records

What Has Happened To The Kenyan 5000-Meter Men?

In Shanghai, the first five men across the line in the 5000 were all born in Ethiopia. In 2018, the top five men in the world in the 5000 were all Ethiopian. That inspired us to keep looking at the yearly lists of top 5000 times to see when was the last time a Kenyan ran super fast at 5000. You have to go all the way back to 2014 to find the last time a Kenyan man ran faster than 12:58, and back to 2013 to find a year where a Kenyan man broke 12:55 (22 Kenyan men have broken 12:55 in history). In 2014, Paul Tanui was #2 in the world at 12:56.16, and in 2013, Edwin Soi led the world list at 12:51.34.

No Kenyan man has won gold outdoors globally in the 5000 since 2005 (Benjamin Limo). The Kenyans used to be very good at 5000. From 1991 to 2005, a Kenyan man won seven of the eight World Championship 5000s, and in 2007, it was the Kenyan-born American Bernard Lagat who won 5000 gold at Worlds. But nothing since.

If you have a theory, email us or post on our messageboard. Yes, we know a lot of money has gone to to the roads but Ethiopia is still producing 5000 talents.

MB: Why do the Kenyan men now “suck” at the 5000?

Rachel Schneider Get The Olympic Standard

“[The pacemaking] was perfect, I can’t miss out on this opportunity. So, every 5k I’ve run up to this point was super conservative, so I wanted to do the opposite, go out aggressive. If I blow up, I blow up. It was really great that they paced it so smooth and so even, exactly what they said. I figured I could kick off of that and try to get the Olympic standard.”

-American Rachel Schneider of Under Armour talking to Race Results Weekly after hitting the Olympic 5000 standard of 15:10 by running 15:06.71 to win the 2019 USATF Distance Classic last week in LA. Since Schneider already had the 2019 World standard, she went for it and was rewarded with a big pb (previous pb of 15:15.88).

Not bad for someone who had a college 5000 pb of 16:23.97 at Georgetown, never finished higher than 69th at NCAA cross country, and never scored at NCAAs in track.

Now, that last sentence is a little misleading and purposely written to play up her “rags to riches” storyline. Everything we wrote about Schneider is true, but Schneider was a pretty good runner in college. She managed to make NCAAs all eight seasons in track (running the DMR all four years indoors in addition to finishing 9th in the mile once), and the 1500 all four years outdoors (three prelim eliminations and one 9th-place showing) and ran 4:10.53, although that came when she was redshirting. The fastest she ever ran during a collegiate season was 4:16.15.

Regardless, she had to make ends meet her first year out with a combination of tutoring, working at a running store, dog-sitting, and babysitting. She still trains under Michael Smith (her former coach at Georgetown, now at NAU), but instead of being based in DC, they are in Flagstaff as part of Team Run Flagstaff.


Finishing one spot behind Schneider at Oxy was her fellow Under Armour-sponsored athlete Aisha Praught-Leer, who ran a Jamaican national record of 15:07.50 in her first 5000 on the track debut as a pro (she ran two 5000s in college, but both were over 17 minutes).

If you are wondering who the previous Jamaican record holder was, we have you covered. Her name is Yvonne Mai-Graham, and she’s got an interesting story. Born in East Germany as Yvonne Grabner, she picked up the Mai part of her name as she married Volker Mai, who to this day still holds the world junior mark in the triple jump (17.50m). Competing as Yvonne Mai, she won world indoor 1500 bronze in 1989 in Budapest. She divorced Mai and soon started competing for Jamaican after marrying Winthrop Graham, a three-time Olympian most famous for earning Olympic 400 hurdles silver in 1992. As a Jamaican, she ran 1:58.32, 4:01.84 and 15:07.91 — the previous Jamaican record, which stood for over 23 years until Praught-Leer broke it on Thursday.

Embed from Getty Images

Mai-Graham (l), Suzy Favor Hamilton (c)
and Malgorzata Rydz at 1995 Worlds

One more interesting thing, everyone mentioned here lives in the US. Volker Mai is a professor at the University of Florida, while Winthrop Graham and Yvonne Mai-Graham both live in Austin, Texas. One of the things they do there is operate a store called TFN Nutrition. We like the name.

More: 2017: Citius Q&A with Schneider from 2017

Stat of the Week

34 – age of the new WADA head, former 400 runner Witold Bańka of Poland, who will take over from Craig Reedie on January 1.

More: MB: New WADA chairman Witold Bańka is just 34 years old
*Polish Sports Minister And Former Mid-D Runner Witold Banka Chosen To Succeed Craig Reedie As Next WADA President
*Column: It Would Be A Mistake To Underestimate WADA’s New Head Man Witold Bańka

Quote of the Week (that wasn’t quote of the day)

“Why don’t we take maybe men with low testosterone and categorize them as women?”

Margaret Wambui talking to the AFP in an article about how she’s reacting to the IAAF’s hyperandrogenism rules now being enforced. We feel for Wambui as she’s the sole breadwinner for her family and unlike Semenya, she hasn’t become a worldwide famous figure with lots of endorsements (would some sort of financial assistance for the impacted XY women be too costly to implement?) and seems unlikely to have any chance at succeeding at the 5000 as Kenya is loaded in that event, but wish the IAAF would take her up on her offer. What Wambui doesn’t seem to understand is that the man with the lowest testosterone level will still be way higher than any healthy XX woman in the world.

More: Kenyan runner fears testosterone rules will end career

Bureaucratic Snafus of The Week

Recommended Reads

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.

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