Weekly Recap: Geoffrey Kamworor Gets His World Record (and Emotional), Woody Kincaid, USA vs Kenya vs Ethiopia
The Week That Was in Running, September 9 – 15, 2019
September 16, 2019
Our weekly recap is back after an end-of-summer break.
The first Japanese Olympic marathon trials — known as the Marathon Grand Championship — were held last week and they did not disappoint. Held on the same course that will host the 2020 Olympic marathon, the crowd turnout was amazing and the men’s race was riveting from start to finish. If you missed our recap, please read it here: LRC Shogo Nakamura Wins WILD And THRILLING Japanese Olympic Marathon Trials As Honami Maeda Crushes Women’s Field.
We sure hope the world — and particularly the IAAF — was watching, as nothing beats the drama of a single race for all the glory, whether it’s Olympic trials or the Olympics themselves. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: if a country is going to be sending three to the Olympics anyway, the IAAF should just let the country send its top three finishers from its trials, whether they have the standard or not. Use the world rankings to pick the number of spots each country gets, but then let the trials speak for themselves.
Fortunately, in the case of both the Japanese and American Olympic marathon trials, the IAAF did this, granting each race Gold Label status. But it could still be an issue at next summer’s US track trials.
Putting Geoffrey Kamworor’s 58:01 Half Marathon World Record in Perspective
4:25.5 – pace per mile for Kamworor during his 58:01 world record in Copenhagen.
27:29.96 – pace per 10k for Kamworor during his 58:01 world record in Copenhagen.
Only 13 Americans have broken 27:30 for 10,000 meters on the track. Kamworor can run 2.1 10,000s in a row at that pace.
Our favorite part about the race was how Kamworor celebrated — he fell to the ground, got back up, pumped his fists repeatedly, and then seemed to break down in tears. He was clearly overcome with emotion and it meant a lot to him to have the record. Watch for yourself.
Woody Kincaid Breaks 13:00
Five years ago, if we asked you who the next American-born athlete to break 13:00 for 5000 would be, we doubt anyone would have predicted Woody Kincaid. But last week, Kincaid, 26, did exactly that, running 12:58.10 in perfect conditions on the Michael Johnson Track at the Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., in a race in which he had the huge benefit of a sub-13:00 man, Moh Ahmed, rabbitting him through almost 4600 meters.
Kincaid never won an NCAA title while in college at the University of Portland (his best finish was 5th). That said, Kincaid may seem like more of a rags-to-riches story than he really is. Kincaid’s college PR was 13:27.32 (he ran it in a Portland singlet two weeks after his final NCAAs in 2016), so his 12:58.10 last week represented an improvement of 29.22 seconds. While that is the second-biggest of anyone on the US-born sub-13 list, it’s not that much bigger than Matt Tegenkamp (26.8 seconds) or Bob Kennedy (23.96 seconds).
|Improvement of US Fastest’s 5000 Men Since College
|Name||Current PB||College PB||Difference|
|Lopez Lomong||13:00.13||NA ^||NA|
*Time came from the summer after athlete’s senior year
^Lomong never ran a serious 5,000 in college (Tilastopaja lists his only mark as a 15:07.06 at altitude at the 2007 Big Sky champs)
Kincaid wasn’t exactly a slouch in high school either. While far from a legend, he finished 11th at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships as a senior in 2010.
There is no beating around the bush that one has to be very talented to break 13:00, but it’s nice to see someone who wasn’t a huge star at either the HS or college levels do it. It was an amazing run and to top it off Kincaid said he didn’t feel that good heading into it and tried to talk coach Jerry Schumacher letting him DNS. A reminder to everyone to trust your fitness when you race.
More: LRC Recap Woody Kincaid Burns Up Nike’s Famed Wooded Track With 12:58 PR For 5,000 13:00 for Lopez, 13:01 for Centro. What a run by the Bowerman crew.
*MB: Woody Kincaid 12:58, Lopez Lomong 13:00, Matthew Centrowitz 13:00 at Nike Track in Beaverton
*MB: The next American sub-13:00 5k runner is……..Woody Kincaid???
The Monaco Rabbit Wins the Kenyan 5000 Trials
The last few years haven’t been good for the Kenyan men in the 5000. At the 2017 worlds, only one Kenyan man (Cyrus Rutto) made the final, and he finished 13th. At the 2016 Olympics, no Kenyan men made the final. And, as we pointed out in this column in May, 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).
It doesn’t look like Kenya will be doing major damage in the 5000 this year either.
The winner of the 5,000 at last week’s Kenyan World Championship trials was unheralded 20-year-old Michael Kibet, who has never represented Kenya in any competition at any level before. His pb is 13:11.08, set in a race he won on August 22. His claim to fame before the trials was serving as the rabbit for the 1500 at the Monaco Diamond League in July (he stayed in the race and ran 3:41).
The runner-up at the Kenyan trials, 24-year-old Daniel Simiyu, has never run for Kenya before either and has a pb of 13:15.92 (although that was run at altitude in Nairobi on August 22).
And the crazy thing is, neither of them may get to represent Kenya at the World Championships. Earlier this year, a new IAAF rule came into effect categorizing all national federations based on their susceptibility to doping. Kenya, with its spate of recent high-profile doping cases, was placed into Category A — the category for countries most at risk of doping — along with Bahrain, Belarus, Ethiopia, and Ukraine. The IAAF’s new rule states that any athlete from a Category A federation who wishes to compete at Worlds or the Olympics must have undergone at least three no-notice out-of-competition tests in the 10 months prior to the competition. Kibet and Simiyu, evidently, have not done that.
We’re all for better drug testing, but think these two should be allowed to go to Worlds as they both are young. It would sort of be the equivalent of an American collegian making the Worlds team without being in the out-of-competition testing pool.
Regardless of whether or not Kibet and Simiyu are in Doha, we’re not totally writing the Kenyans off. The third placer at the Kenyan Trials was Nicholas Kimeli, the only Kenyan in the world that has broken 13:00 this year. Kimeli was third at the Diamond League final. If he was good enough to get third at the DL final, he could medal at Worlds, and the Kibet and Simiyu still managed to beat him last week.
Edward Zakayo, the world junior champ who has reportedly been battling pneumonia, finished just 9th at the Kenyan trials in 14:02.44, over 30 seconds behind the winner.
Kenya Normally Dominates Ethiopia and the US (at Worlds)
When we heard who won the Kenyan 5000 trials, one thought popped into our head, “Might this be the worst year in recent memory for the Kenyan men at Worlds?” We wondered that because so many of their stars have been hurt this year, whether it’s Emmanuel Korir in the 800, Elijah Manangoi in the 1500 (who announced on Monday that he won’t be running at Worlds), or Conseslus Kipruto in the steeple. And remember that one of Kenya’s 2017 medalists, 800 man Kipyegon Bett, was popped for EPO last year and handed a four-year ban.
That led us to compiling the number of medals won by Kenya at every global championship for the last 10 years. Once we got started on the Kenyan men, we decided to also do it for the Ethiopians and Americans and to do the women as well.
Here are the results (the number in parentheses is the number of marathon medals, but that number is also included in the first figure).
|Number of Men’s Medals Won, 800 – Marathon
|2017||6 (1)||2 (1)||2 (0)|
|2016||4 (1)||3 (1)||5 (1)|
|2015||9 (0)||2 (1)||0|
|2013||5 (0)||5 (2)||2 (0)|
|2012||7 (2)||2 (0)||2 (0)|
|2011||7 (2)||4 (1)||2 (0)|
|2009||6 (2)||4 (1)||2 (0)|
|Total||44 (8)||22 (7)||15 (1)|
|Avg.||6.3 (1.1)||3.1 (1.0)||2.1 (0.3)|
|Number of Women’s Medals Won, 800 – Marathon
|2017||5 (1)||3 (0)||5 (1)|
|2016||7 (1)||5 (1)||2 (0)|
|2015||5 (1)||6 (1)||1 (0)|
|2013||7 (1)||5 (0)||3 (0)|
|2012||6 (1)||6 (1)||0|
|2011||11 (3)||1 (0)||2 (0)|
|2009||5 (0)||4 (1)||1 (0)|
|Total||46 (8)||30 (4)||14 (1)|
|Avg.||6.6 (1.1)||4.3 (.6)||2.0 (0.1)|
What’s a normal Worlds for Kenya, Ethiopia, and the US in the mid-d and distance events?
Well for each gender, it’s basically 6-7 medals for Kenya, 3-4 for Ethiopia, and 2 for the US.
What’s most interesting about those figures is the number of medals won have an inverse relationship to the populations of the countries: in 2017, Kenya’s population was estimated to be 49.7 million, Ethiopia’s 105 million, and for the US it was 325.6 million.
So that means on a per-capita basis, Kenya averages one medal per global championship for every 3.9 million people, Ethiopia one for every 14.1 million, and the US one for every 78.6 million.
But back to our initial question of whether it will be a record bad year for the Kenyan men. The answer is no. They should win at least four medals, which is how many they won at the 2016 Olympics. Expecting at least one medal in 800, 1500, steeple, 10,000, and marathon is far from crazy and that would get them to be five. Even if they miss out in one event, they’ll still equal the four they got in 2016.
In the 800, Kenya has the 2nd, 4th, and 5th fastest men in the world this year; in the 1500, they have the 1st, 8th, and 9th; in the steeple they have the 2nd, 5th, and 9th; in the 5000 they have the 7th; and in the 10,000 they have the 4th. Throw in the fact that their marathon team, led by reigning champ Geoffrey Kirui, looks strong and they’ll get at least four medals. Of course, it doesn’t help that Manangoi, who has medalled at the last two Worlds, is now out.
There is one problem about the list in the previous paragraph. While Kenya has the 2nd, 4th and 5th fastest men in the world in the 800 this year, the #4 and #5 men won’t be running the event for Kenya at Worlds. 2019 world #4 Timothy Cheruiyot (1:43.11) is running just the 1500 and 2019 world #5 Wycliffe Kinyamal (1:43.48) was one of the biggest casualties of the Kenyan trials, where he failed to make the final. Kinyamal ran 1:43 in back-to-back races in July (winning Lausanne and finishing 2nd in London), but his lack of qualification wasn’t a total shock given the fact he only ran 1:47 for 8th in the DL final.
The winner of the men’s 800 at the Kenyan trials was 19-year old Ngeno Kipngetich, who has never run a Diamond League event in his life. He isn’t an unknown, however, as he won world U20 silver last year. The winner of the women’s 800 also was a 19-year-old who has never run on the DL circuit, Jackline Wambui, the 2017 World U18 champ, who impressed with a 1:58.79 win — her first career sub-2:00.
While Wambui is a neophyte in terms of professional races, we doubt she’ll be overcome by the moment. Take a look at this video of her winning her World U18 gold in front of a raucous Nairobi crowd.
Like Usain Bolt, who got used to big pressure by winning world junior gold in front of the hometown fans in Jamaica in 2002, Wambui has run under pressure before.
Elise Cranny “Only” PRs by 3.31 Seconds This Year
Last week in Minsk, Elise Cranny ran a 1500 PB of 4:05.83 in “The Match” — a new Europe vs. USA scored meet — to place 4th (she also won the 3000 the day before in 9:00.70). That spurred us to figure out what her collegiate PB was — 4:09.49 — and looking up that result reminded us of how many of the top NCAA 1500 runners from 2018 have run big PBs this year.
The top 3 from the 2018 NCAA 1500 have all improved a lot this year, as has 7th placer Elle Purrier.
1) Jessica Hull – 4:08.75 last year, 4:02.62 this year. 6.13-second improvement.
2) Nikki Hiltz – 4:09.14 last year, 4:03.55 this year. 5.59-second improvement.
3) Elise Cranny – 4:09.49 last year, 4:05.83 this year. 3.31-second improvement.
7) Elle Purrier – 4:07.79 last year, 4:02.34 this year. 5.45-second improvement.
It’s interesting to note that while Cranny has had a pretty good year and lowered her PB by 3.31 seconds, she improved the least of any of the four women on that list. The average improvement by the four is 5.12 seconds.
Now that doesn’t mean that all elite collegiate 1500 runners can expect to PB five seconds per year. Only 3 of the other 8 finalists at the 2018 NCAA meet PR’d at all in 2019, and they did so by much smaller margins — 6th placer Taryn Rawlings of Portland lowered her PB from 4:11.37 to 4:10.20, 9th placer Grace Barnett of Clemson improved from 4:11.07 to 4:11.04, and Michigan State’s Dillon McClintock (10th place) improved from 4:13.82 to 4:12.46.
More: 2018 NCAA 1500 Results
Shannon Osika PRs/Cracks the World Top 20
Speaking of 1500 pbs, on Saturday 26-year-old American Shannon Osika took 2.42 seconds off her 1500 pb, going from 4:04.22 to 4:01.80 to win the LOTTO Skolimowska Memorial meet in Poland.
Osika, the 6th placer at USAs this year (and 4th placer at NCAAs in 2016), started the year with a 4:06.17 pb but now finds herself as the 3rd fastest American on the year and 19th fastest woman in the world.
What makes the 4:01 all the more impressive is the fact that 2nd place in the race was just 4:10.75.
MB: Shannon MF Osika
USATF’s Flawed World Championship Selection Rules Exposed At The Match
One other interesting thing to note about the mid-d results at “The Match” was that it showed how USATF botched it 2019 World Championship team selection. For some reason, USATF foolishly said it would name the top 3 finishers at USAs with the IAAF standard to the team instead of trying to honor the order of finish and let any top-3 finisher chase the standard after USAs. This despite the fact that there were two months between USAs and Worlds.
That’s just stupid.
As a result, in the men’s 800, USAs 6th placer Brannon Kidder will be going to Worlds over 4th placer Isaiah Harris, and in the men’s 1500, 4th placer Ben Blankenship will be going over 3rd placer Josh Thompson. The Match showed that’s a bad outcome for Team USA as once again, Thompson beat Blankenship and Harris beat Kidder. In the 1500 at The Match, Thompson won in 3:38.88 while Blankenship was third in 3:39.63. In the 800, Harris was 3rd in 1:46.94 compared to Kidder’s 5th in 1:47.20.
And The Match also showed that the Brits — who have the right to subjectively select their third team member — got their arbitrary selection right in the men’s 1500 by simply doing what USATF should have done: honoring the result of the trials.
After the British trials, the big debate was who should get the third spot in the men’s 1500: Charlie Grice, who has run 3:30.62 this year but was 4th at the trials, or 3rd placer Jake Wightman, who has only run 3:34.40 this year? In the end, the Brits honored the order of finish and went with Wightman, and The Match showed that was the correct call as Wightman finished 2nd in 3:38.90 versus Grice’s 4th in 3:39.95.
The LetsRun.com rule on national team selection is very simple. Every national federation should hold their trials as late as possible and then get out of the way and let the trials results speak for themselves.
PS. We guess if we are going to be intellectually honest, we have to point out that at The Match that Ce’Aira Brown, who is going to Worlds even though she didn’t make the final at USAs, did beat the 4th placer at USAs in Olivia Baker (who isn’t going to Worlds), 2:05.38 to 2:05.82. So USATF’s flawed system actually helps the US in this case, but that’s only because USAs were so long ago there was enough time for someone who was injured earlier in the year like Brown to get in better shape.
Jordan Hasay Runs a 72:35 Half Marathon, But We’re Not Writing Her Off For Chicago
At Sunday’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, American marathoner Jordan Hasay placed third in 72:35.
Back in April, when Hasay announced she was running the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 13, she said she would target Deena Kastor‘s 2:19:36 American record. You don’t need to be a math whiz to deduce that 72:35 is a lot slower than 2:19:36 marathon pace.
But before you totally write her off for Chicago, which is less than four weeks away, please realize two things.
- Hasay said she was happy with the performance and was supposedly seen by a messageboard poster doing a workout an hour after the race, so it’s likely she wasn’t going all-out in the race. After the race, she wrote on Instagram, “Thanks @runrocknroll Philly half for a fun day! Finished 3rd in 1:12:35. Really excited about the effort coming off some heavy miles during marathon training in prep for @chimarathon in one month! 🏃♀️😊 congrats to all who raced today! @nikerunning @oregonproject #rocknrollphilly 📷 credit @twinsruninourfamily“
- In 2017 Hasay only ran 70:42 in Philadelphia before running 2:20:57 in Chicago three weeks later. In March of this year, she ran a 15k at 2:25 marathon pace and then ran a full marathon in Boston in 2:25 less than a month later.
Speaking of Hasay, we loved this video produced by Sword Performance in 2017 that we recently came across where she talks about how she got into the sport and how she loves to put on a “beautiful performance” when she races.
Stat of the Week
3:34.75 – seasonal best achieved by Nick Willis when he was 34 in 2017.
3:35.25 – seasonal best achieved by Nick Willis when he was 35 in 2018.
3:36.99 – seasonal best achieved by Nick Willis when he was 36 in 2019.
This season has been a great teacher of perspective for me. After letting disappointment and complacency run out their course, and taking a few steps back, I'm actually pretty proud. 3.36 at 36, goes nicely with 3.35 at 35, and 3.34 at 34. My beloved #5thAveMile in 3 days!
— Nick Willis (@nickwillis) September 5, 2019
A National Title That Doesn’t Impress Us
2:24:55/2:52:44 – winning men’s and women’s times at the Australian Marathon Championships last weekend, which were held as part of the Blackmores Sydney Marathon.
The race was open to international athletes as well, and the overall men’s and women’s winning times were 2:09:49 and 2:24:33.
By far our favorite read in recent weeks was a profile on Timothy Cheruiyot by Jon Mulkeen of the IAAF. In it, you learn Cheruiyot’s favorite workout, which animals he fears the most when he’s training in Nairobi National Park, and a whole lot more.
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.