By Jonathan Gault
October 11, 2019
CHICAGO — The running news cycle has been running nonstop for the last two weeks. The World Championships came and went, Kenenisa Bekele is back, Alberto Salazar has been banned for four years, and the Nike Oregon Project is no more. Upon arriving in the Midwest for this weekend’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon, I ran into Runner’s World’s Sarah Lorge Butler, who said that this must be how it feels to cover Donald Trump. I couldn’t think of a better comparison.
Things should die down after Chicago, but there’s plenty of stuff to talk about before then. Galen Rupp spoke publicly today for the first time since the Salazar suspension and also discussed his return to racing after a 12-month layoff following Achilles surgery. A separate article on that can be found here: LRC Questions & (Some) Answers: Galen Rupp Meets the Press Ahead of 2019 Chicago Marathon. The article includes some harsh words from HOKA NAZ Elite coach Ben Rosario: MB: Ben Rosario: ” I just don’t think that you’re making some kind of giant leap to believe that Galen Rupp was involved”.
Below, there’s much more from Chicago media day, including responses to the Salazar ban from former NOP members Mo Farah and Jordan Hasay and updates from Americans Stephanie Bruce, Parker Stinson, and Emma Bates.
Mo Farah emphasizes that he has done nothing wrong — the allegations were against Salazar, not him
Farah drew the biggest crowd today, by far, as the British press were out in full force — there was even a security detail on hand to maintain order. I wound up joining the interview late after talking to Rupp, by which point it was impossible to film, but I did secure a transcript of Farah’s interview from the British press.
Farah’s biggest message: the charges filed by USADA were against Salazar, not Farah — who trained under Salazar from 2011-17 (during which time he won all 10 of his global titles). Farah also reminded everyone that Salazar promised him in 2015 that the allegations first aired by BBC/ProPublica were false.
“At the time, as I said, there was no allegation against me, there was allegations against Alberto Salazar,” Farah said, when asked if he regretted not leaving Salazar when the allegations against him first surfaced in the BBC/ProPublica report in 2015. “I flew to Portland to get some answers with Alberto, talked to him face to face, he assured me at the time these are just allegations, this is not true, there’s no allegation against you Mo, and he promised me. And that hasn’t been true.”
Farah said he hadn’t heard that Salazar had been charged by USADA until the news of his ban broke two weeks ago. He has been based in London since the end of 2017, and maintained that he has done nothing wrong.
“I’m one of the most tested athletes in the world,” Farah said. “I get tested all the time, I’m happy to be tested any time anywhere.”
Mostly, it was a day of frustration for Farah, who feels that he has been unfairly maligned in the British press. Any time there is a development about Salazar, Farah’s name inevitably comes up — even if he has never been accused of wrongdoing.
“I feel let down by you guys (the media) to be honest,” Farah said. “There is no allegation against me. You read a paragraph, it talks about X coach … and then it says there is no allegations of wrongdoing.”
He even went as far as to suggest there was a racial angle to the media coverage.
“I am reading this story all the time, as much as I am nice to you, there is a clear agenda to this,” Farah said. “I have seen this many times. I have seen it with [soccer player] Raheem Sterling, with [Formula 1 driver] Lewis Hamilton. I cannot win whatever I do.”
But here’s the thing: Salazar is the coach under whom Farah transformed from also-ran at the global level to unstoppable winning machine. He is Britain’s most decorated track & field athlete. When your coach is the subject of a USADA investigation and you stand by that coach, and he is ultimately found guilty, you are going to be (rightly) scrutinized. That’s not the press’s fault — it’s Salazar’s (and Farah’s for sticking with him).
Jordan Hasay has coached herself since Salazar’s ban, says she hasn’t had contact with him, plans on going out in 70:00
In regards to Salazar, Hasay mostly deferred to her previous comments to Runner’s World, reiterating that she hasn’t had contact with Salazar since his ban was announced. While that hasn’t been tough for her from a training standpoint, it has from a personal one.
“Just in the sense of having that mentorship there and that friendship and those last moments of advice and excitement before the race, that’s definitely been tough,” Hasay said. “I really miss that.”
Does she support Salazar’s appeal?
“That’s something that is up to them,” Hasay said. “So I’ll just let the process unfold.”
As for Sunday’s race, Hasay said that she is definitely not planning on going with reigning champion Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, who is targeting Paula Radcliffe’s 2:17:18 course record. Instead, she’s spoken with Betsy Saina, a former NCAA rival turned friend, and the two are planning on going out on 70:00 pace. From there, she just wants to race the competition, which could help her take down Deena Kastor’s 2:19:36 American record.
“I’m happy that I think we will have that group trying to go around 70:00 and then that’ll just be something where I’m competing with them and then hopefully it will take care of itself,” Hasay said. “And if it’s a special day, good conditions, I think training-wise, the buildup has gone well. I think [the American record] is very doable.”
Emma Bates shooting for big PR
Bates turned some heads by running 2:28 to win her debut marathon at CIM in December, but it was hardly a smooth journey. She battled sickness and injury during her buildup, and during the race itself, she vomited multiple times, which caused her to slow over the second half.
Now she says her buildup has gone far smoother, she has changed drinks to cure the vomiting issue, and is shooting for a sizeable PR.
“2:24 would definitely be something that is in my realm of capabilities right now,” Bates said.
Stephanie Bruce also looking for marathon breakthrough
Bruce has run PRs at almost every distance over the last few years, and though that includes the marathon (she ran 2:29:20 at CIM last year), she hasn’t gone as fast as she wants to over 26.2 miles.
“I’ve had a lot of breakthroughs, and that’s been amazing, but truthfully I haven’t been able to put together the marathon, essentially post-kids, the way I felt like I could,” Bruce said.
She believes the root cause is a stomach disorder that bothered her in London (10th, 2:32) and New York (11th, 2:30) last year.
“It was almost like whatever I was taking in was just bypassing my stomach and I wasn’t digesting it, so I just ran out of fuel,” Bruce said.
Bruce said that she’s tried to address the issue, in part by taking more iron, but admits that sometimes it is up to the luck of the draw. If she can get lucky on Sunday, her results and workouts suggest a big PR could be in the offing.
Parker Stinson again trying to break 2:11
Stinson came into Chicago last year with a big goal — break 2:11 — and though he went out in 65:12, he couldn’t hold it and ran 2:14:29 after a 69:27 second half.
Sub-2:11 is again the goal for Stinson, who broke the US 25k record in May, and he believes that having a group of Americans going after it and two NAZ Elite guys (Matt Baxter and Sid Vaughn) pacing a group in the 65:00-66:00 range makes it more feasible.
He also defended his coach Dathan Ritzenhein — who was a member of the NOP during the time of Salazar’s L-carnitine violation.
“I’m proud of the stuff that I saw from my coach in [the Salazar decision],” Stinson said. “I think he stood up for what he believed in, I think he cooperated with the case…I wasn’t there, I don’t know his past. From what I’ve seen, I think he’s a stand-up guy in those findings…I’m happy that he’s my coach and I love the guy. He’s done so much for me and it’s all been above-board.”
Talk about Chicago on our fan forum / messageboard.
- Official 2019 Chicago Marathon Discussion Thread
- I don’t know how you can watch this interview and remain a fan of Galen Rupp
- Ben Rosario: “I just don’t think that you’re making some kind of giant leap to believe that Galen Rupp was involved”
- Ben Rosario is an idiot
- Galen Told Us He Will Not Finish Chicago
- “If Alberto had crossed the line, I would be out the door” says the guy who went out the door
- Mo is going to get into a cat fight with Rupp on Sunday
- Does Rupp toe the line on Sunday?
- OFFICIAL Chicago Marathon Weather Thread
- Neil Black to leave as UK Athletics performance director at month’s end, after fulfilling support of Sir Mo Farah in Chicago