WTW: Shelby Houlihan Is an 800 Runner (Again), Anna-Emilie Møller Breaks 41 Year Old Record, + Is Muktar Edris Getting into Shape?

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The Week That Was in Running, July 8 – 14, 2019

By Robert Johnson
July 16, 2019

Past editions of the Week That Was can be found here. Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us or post in our forum.

If you missed our coverage of the Monaco Diamond League or Sunset Tour meet, catch up now:

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Breakout Surprise Of 2019 World XC Meet Continues Her Dream Season

The European U23 champs were held last week in Gävle, Sweden. We didn’t give the competition much publicity on the front page as the meet is much lower in quality than, say, an NCAA championships, but there is one performer to whom I want to give some props.

Denmark’s Anna-Emilie Møller, 21, picked up two golds. She started things off by successfully defending her crown in the women’s steeplechase on Saturday, winning by more than 24 seconds in 9:27.31. She came back a day later in the 5,000 and picked up a win and Danish record, running 15:07.70 to break the 15:08.8h mark of Loa Olafsson, which had survived since May 30, 1978.

Embed from Getty Images

In case you weren’t counting, that’s 15,020 days, or 41 years, 1 month, and 14 days.

Olafsson, now living in Texas, was full of praise for Møller, writing to politiken.dk (via Bing and Google Translate):

“From my side a huge congratulations to Anna Emilie with the achievements of the last few days and especially her 5k! So, so nice. I know it’s something she and my old running mate, coach Kersti (Jakobsen, ed.), have worked hard and purposefully on, so it is beautiful and nice when it succeeds. Anna Emilie is clearly a worthy new record holder.”

If you aren’t from Denmark and the name Anna Emilie Møller means something to you, there’s a reason for it. Møller is the woman who turned major heads at World Cross Country in March, where she finished as the top non-African runner in 15th in front of the home crowd.

Coming into the year, Møller had pbs of 4:11.08, 9:31.66, and 15:44.95. Now they are 4:09.12, 15:07.70, and 9:24.21. LetsRun.com is thrilled to see someone who supports our favorite running event — World Cross Country — doing so well on the track.

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Monaco Lives Up To The Hype

We covered Monaco in great depth last week, but it’s worth pointing out just how deep the distance races were at that meet.

In the men’s 800, the top nine runners all ran a seasonal or personal best (7 sbs, 2 pbs). In the men’s steeplechase, nine of the top 10 ran a seasonal best or personal best (2 sbs, 7 pbs) and the one who didn’t, American Hillary Bor, was in contention for the win with 200 meters left. Two national records fell in that race. In the men’s 1500, four of the top eight ran a pb, including one national record.

In the women’s 800, the top five women all ran an sb or pb (4 sbs, 1 pb). In the mile, all 12 women in the race ran a seasonal best or personal best, with 9 of the 12 running a PB. Included in those PBs were one world record and four national records.

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Muktar Edris Slowly Getting Into Shape?

Last week in this column, I wondered if Ethiopia should leave defending champ Muktar Edris off of its 2019 World Championship team in the 5,000 meters in favor of whoever wins the 2019 Diamond League title. I guess it’s only fair to point out that he does appear to be improving his fitness. At the Gyulai Istvan Memorial in Hungary last week, he lowered his 3,000 seasonal best from 7:45.35 to 7:39.52. That’s the good news. The bad news is he lost to 19-year-old Kenyan Michael Kibet by more than a second (7:38.43). Kibet, who has 3:36 pb, was one of the rabbits in the Monaco 1500 three days later.

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Tweet of the Week

US 5,000 record holder Shelby Houlihan began her collegiate career as an 800 runner. While she now runs mainly the 1500/5000, she has always claimed she will never change her Twitter handle of @shelbo0800, a nod to her origins in the sport. Last week, she had some fun with her handle after she broke 2:00 for the first time:

While researching Houlihan, I looked up her collegiate results on TFRRS.org and was reminded she didn’t win an NCAA title her senior year, finishing second in both the mile and 1500.

Who the heck beat her?

The indoor mile champ was Leah O’Connor, who set a meet record of 4:27.18 (at the time, the #2 collegiate time ever) in the process. O’Connor hasn’t raced at all outdoors this year. The outdoor 1500 champ was Rhianwedd Price, who hasn’t raced at all since finishing up her NCAA career last year for Mississippi State.

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Boilermaker Gets Off To A Sadly Delayed Start

The 42nd Boilermaker 15K was held on Sunday in Utica, NY. The start was delayed 20 minutes after a social media star was tragically murdered nearby, with images of her dead body sadly going online. Once the race got underway, Tanzania’s Gabriel Geay (43:36) and Kenya’s Caroline Rotich (49:08) were the winners of the $7,000 first-place prize. It was the second straight win for Geay and the first for Rotich, the 2015 Boston Marathon champ.

Geay, 22, is having quite a busy and successful year of road racing as he also won Bloomsday (34:50 for 12k) and Bay to Breakers (35:01 for 12k), while finishing 4th at Peachtree (27:58) and the Houston Half (60:26) and 5th at Bolder Boulder (29:13), Healthy Kidney (28:43), Crescent City (28:41), and the BAA 5K (13:53). Those are pretty good results for someone who was just 88th at World XC this year (although that result was disappointing for him as he was 22nd in 2017).

The top Americans were Belainesh Zemedkun Gebre (6th, 51:03) and Haron Lagat (5th, 44:21).

If you are looking for a wild-card/long shot pick for the 2020 US Olympic Marathon team, then Gebre is your woman. Competing at the time for Ethiopian, Gebre, 31, finished 3rd at the Chicago Marathon way back in 2011 and ran 2:26:17. However, she doesn’t appear to be a huge contender as she hasn’t run faster than 2:35 since and is regularly finishing minutes back of the leader at US road champs races.

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The other lucrative road race in the US last week was the men’s race (women’s race has no prize money) at the Crazy 8’s 8K in Kingsport, TN, where Kenya’s Raymond Magut, 21, picked up $5,000 for running 22:52.

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

#1 Some of the biggest dopers in history may have gotten away with it

“We will not be able to publish the names of those athletes because the eight-year statute of limitation passed on this case in 2014.”

-A WADA spokesperson talking to Inside the Games about how they won’t reveal the names of the athletes involved in the Operation Puerta doping case, which has been going on since May 2006. WADA has “nearly finished DNA analysis work and comparing blood bags with samples from suspected athletes” and will know which athletes doped — inclucing many believed to be in top revenue-producing sports like tennis and soccer — but will sadly not release them.

We understand why a statute of limitations exist for penalties but don’t understand why they don’t release the names as a matter of historical fact. It’s too late to make Thomas Jefferson pay child support for the child/children he likely had with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings, but it was still reported. I sure hope the list of names eventually gets leaked to the press.

More: Insidethegames: Athletes implicated in Operation Puerto saga will not be named when identification process concludes

#2 Geoffrey Kamworor is dreaming of World 10,000 gold

“All has been well in training. I am good to go. This race is important. I want to use it to gauge my form and to see if I’m ripe for the World Championships trials.”

-Three-time World Half gold medallist and 2015 world 10,000m silver medallist Geoffrey Kamworor talking to The Nation before last week’s Kenya’s Police Service Champs. Kamworor won the 10k by nearly 50 seconds, running 27:50.65 at altitude in Nairobi in a race where second place, Josphat Bett, a 12:57/26:48 guy, ran 28:40.58.

Now that previous sentence is misleading. Running 27:50 at altitude and beating Bett by 50 seconds isn’t a monumental feat as Bett hasn’t run really fast in years; Edwin Soi beat him by 36 seconds in a 10,000 in Kenya on June 22 and last year Bett was more than 90 seconds back of Joshua Cheptegei at the Commonwealth Games. Plus Kamworor has run much faster in Nairobi before as he ran 27:11.89 there in 2015.

Regardless, after the race, Kamworor sounded upbeat about Worlds, telling Citizen Digital, “I have been longing for a gold medal in the World Championships and when I won silver in 2015 I am still motivated to go a step further and win gold.”

#3 You better brings guns to a gun fight

“I knew there were going to be knives at this fight, not just fists. I knew there would be knives. I had knives, and then one day, people start showing up with guns. That’s when you say, ‘Do I either fly back to Plano, Texas, and not know what you’re going to do? Or do you walk over to the gun store?’

“I walked to the gun store. I didn’t want to go home.”

Lance Armstrong justifying to NBC why he doped during his career.

More: Cylcist.co.uk: ‘I’d have been Tour de France champion even without doping’ says Armstrong

#4 Scott Fauble isn’t doing a fall marathon

“We didn’t want to go back to back to back. We wanted to take one segment, one season if you will, to stay away from the marathon and work on some other things. The marathon is always in the back of our minds, and we are always doing really long, steady work. But this fall, not adding a marathon will allow us to add in some work that maybe we have not done in a while, some stuff toward the shorter side of things.”

-NAZ Elite coach Ben Rosario explaining to the Arizona Daily Sun why 2:09 marathoner Scott Fauble won’t be running a marathon this fall.

Speaking of fall marathons, last week the American elite field for 2019 Chicago Marathon was released. That inspired us to try to compile a list of where all of the top American marathoners are running this fall (or if they are skipping the fall to get ready for the Olympic Trials): MB: A look at the fall marathon plans for the top US Olympic contenders.

More: LRC Chicago Marathon Announces Deep American Fields For 2019 Race: Cragg, Derrick, & Ritz Join Rupp & Hasay We break down what it all means as we get closer to the 2020 US Trials. Plus, why we think Berlin might be a better option.
*MB: 2019 Chicago Marathon US field is out: Cragg, Derrick, Ritz Join Rupp & Hasay

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Stat of the Week

20 – number of races won in a row by NCAA indoor and outdoor 800 champ Bryce Hoppel of Kansas, who defeated Craig Engels to win the Sunset Tour 800 last week in 1:44.48.

More: LRC Bryce Hoppel Wins 20th (!) Race In A Row, Donavan Brazier Runs 3:37, & Shelby Houlihan Finally Breaks 2:00 But Loses To Kate Grace A lot of PRs as Americans chased qualifying standards. We give you the event-by-event highlights. *Discussion Thread

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Japanese 1500 Madness

Recently on our running podcast, we talked about how the Japanese women’s 1500 national record is just 4:07.86.

Well this week I became aware, thanks to Japan Running News, that the Japanese men’s national record is equally mediocre — 3:37.42. So women’s national record is 1.36 off the IAAF standard for the 2019 Worlds and the men’s record is 1.42 seconds off.

That Japanese men’s record could go down soon, however, as three men have run within a second of that NR this year. Two of those runs came last week.

Japanese Top 3 at 1500 for 2019 (Name / DOB/ Meet Name / Date)
1 3:37.90 Masaki Toda 21 Jun 93 1 Hokuren Fukagawa 9 Jul
2 3:38.12 Hiroki Matsueda  20 May 93 175/57 1 Yokohama 1 Jun
3 3:38.18 Nanami Arai 26 Dec 94 5rB Sunset Tour Azusa CA 9 Jul

Those three men finished 1-2-3 in the same order at the Japanese champs earlier this year.

Toda might be the national record holder if he could get to the US/Europe to race. Last week, Arai flew to the US to race in the Sunset Tour meet and hopefully get dragged to a fast time. While he was actually in the slower of the two elite heats in California, he ran a big PB as he went from 3:41.57 to 3:38.18.

Meanwhile, Toda was racing and crushing everyone in Japan. He ran 3:37.90 in a race where second place was more than two seconds back and afterwards said, according to Brett Larner, “I was optimistic about how close I could get. I guess this is just the limit of my ability right now.”

I disagree. If he gets in a race with faster people where he could draft in a pack, he could run faster. At the Japanese nationals, Toda beat Arai by more than two seconds.

More: Toda Misses 1500 m NR by 0.48 at Hokuren Distance Challenge Fukagawa Meet

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Recommended Reads

LRC Exclusive Evan Jager Will Attempt To Win His 8th Straight US Title After Just 40 Days of Running 

LRC LetsRun.com Previews The 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials Course — Where Cross Country Meets The Marathon Ju

LRC Q&A  44-Year Old Bernard Lagat Explains How He Broke The US Masters Record In Men’s Marathon And Went From Marathon Afterthought To Olympic Team Contender

Good Read: World And Olympic 110H Champ Omar McLeod Writes About How He Had To Do “Some Soul Searching” Last Year And Regain The “Fearlessness” He Had When He Was Younger

This 70+ Star Is The Real Deal NYT: Meet The World’s Fastest (Old) Man Charles Allie, 71, ran a 400 in 57 seconds last year. Soon he’s likely to hold WRs at 100, 200 and 400.


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