What a Week: Kipchoge Goes Sub 2 in Marathon, Paula Radcliffe’s World Record Gets Destroyed by Brigid Kosgei, 10 Americans Go Sub 2:12?

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The Week That Was in Running, October 7 – 13, 2019

By LetsRun.com
October 15, 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.

We’ve got plenty of analysis of last weekend’s two big running events — the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon — below, but if you missed our race-day recaps and analysis, check out the links below.

LRC Full INEOS 1:59 Challenge coverage
LRC Full 2019 Chicago Marathon coverage

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Chicago and INEOS 1:59 Challenge By The Numbers

0 Words spoken to the press (or even released to reporters via a statement) from Mo Farah after he ran 2:09:58 at the Chicago Marathon. The fact that Chicago would allow Farah, to whom they paid a large appearance fee, to skip out on explaining what went wrong after the race is embarrassing. Many journalists had flown over from Britain to cover the race.

“Don’t athletes who do poorly at track meets blow off the media all the time?” Yes, they do. But a marathon is much different as a sponsor has paid them a large sum of cash to headline and participate. It’s disappointing that here we are, two days after the marathon, and we still have no idea what went wrong with the defending champion who seemingly had a great buildup based off of his 59:07 half marathon win at the Great North Run and whose training partner, Bashir Abdi, set a Belgian record (2:06:14) in the race.

Mo Farah did post on Instagram

1.26 number of miles left for Chicago runner-up Ababel Yeshaneh when Brigid Kosgei crossed the finish line with her 2:14:04 world record (assuming Yeshaneh ran even-paced).

2.05 – number of miles left for top American Emma Bates, who ran 2:25:27 for 4th in Chicago, when Kosgei crossed the finish line (assuming Bates ran even-paced).

3:28 – amount of time that top American Jake Riley (2:10:36) finished ahead of the top woman in Chicago.

4:51 amount of time that Riley finished behind the top man in Chicago.

9 – number of times an American had broken 2:12 in Chicago in the last 12 years.

10 – number of Americans that broke 2:12 in Chicago on Sunday.

Year Sub-2:12s by
Americans in Chicago
2019 10
2018 1
2017 1
2016 0
2015 2
2014 1
2013 1
2012 1
2011 1
2010 1
2009 0
2008 0
2007 0
2006 2

20 – number of years that have passed since Khalid Khannouchi became the first man in history to break 2:06 when he ran 2:05:42 for the world record in Chicago. This year, the top four men in Chicago all broke 2:06 and they did it all by running a huge positive split (the winner went 62:15-63:30).

1:59:41 – The time that Eliud Kipchoge should be considered to have run in Vienna on Saturday. Kipchoge’s time was recorded at 1:59:40.2, and you round up all road times to the next second.

$19 million (£15 million/€17 million) – reported budget for the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, according to Mike Rowbottom.

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Sub-2 and Sub-2:15:25 on the Same Weekend

When the marathon gets the attention of President Barack Obama, you know something cool has happened.

The fact that a human being managed to run 26.2 miles at an average of 4:33.9 mile pace (or 14:10.9 5000 pace) is remarkable. Same thing for a woman covering 26.2 miles at 5:06.8 pace (15:53.2 5k pace).

That being said, the fact that both marks were set on back-t0-back days is far from a coincidence and takes away from the significance of each accomplishment.

The reality is Nike shoe technology has changed things massively in the marathon. When athletes are openly describing the Nike Vaporfly shoes as feeling like “trampolines,” you know that something is up and the stats prove it.

Better pacing formations and drafting for an entire race versus just 30k doesn’t take the fastest marathon time ever recorded from 2:02:57 to 1:59:41 in the span of just three years. From 1988 to 2016, a span of 28 years, the fastest marathon time ever recorded only came down 3:53, from 2:06:50 to 2:02:57. Now it’s come by 3:16 in the last three years.

That’s crazy.

The reality is Kipchoge is the greatest marathoner the world has ever seen, but he is also running in shoes that are way better than anything ever seen before.

We loved what sports scientist Ross Tucker had to say about the INEOS 1:59 Challenge before and after it took place.

Before the race, he said this on his Science of Sport podcast.

“I want to see it in a legitimate race when it actually represents something like a human advance rather than a technological sidestep.”

After the race, he said this to The Guardian:

“The integrity of performances is impossible to evaluate because the exact performance advantage [of the shoes] is unknowable. All we know is that lab studies show it to be massive and universal.”

If you want to see how big of an impact the new shoes are making, just take a look at the US men in Chicago. More Americans broke 2:12 in one race than in the entire preceding decade in Chicago. According to Race Results Weekly, the top 18 American men across the line all ran a personal best. Of the 10 men who broke 2:12, eight of them were either wearing the Vaporflys or a secret unreleased shoe from another company (presumably their attempted copy of a Vaporfly).

Eliud Kipchoge ran 2:04:00 in Berlin in 2015 with his shoe flap out for most of the race. What’s the conversion factor for that one?

A few weeks ago in Berlin, in her 10th career marathon finish at the age of 36, Sara Hall PR’d by more than four minutes, running 2:22:16. Admittedly, Hall has been crushing it at a score of distances in her mid-30s, but were unreleased ASICS shoes a big part of her PR?

Who knows? Hall told us she “ran in a prototype of a new ASICS marathon shoe. It does not have a carbon fiber plate so I do not attribute my PR to the shoe.” But she did say that the shoe had more cushioning than her previous marathon shoe and she found that be a help in the marathon. “I’ve been helping test different options for them and I don’t think this is the one they are going to produce,” added Hall. “I don’t know what their plans are really but I’m sure whatever will be good!”

And yes, there is a small psychological benefit to seeing someone like Kipchoge running fast and knowing you can run fast, but that’s not a significant reason why everyone else is running faster. The myth is that once Roger Bannister broke 4:00, it led to a slew of ever-increasing mile times because he had smashed an unbreakable barrier and opened the world’s eyes to what was truly possible. That’s junk science. The reality is, all of the world records came down a ton in the mid-1950s — 800, 1500/mile, and 5k. The records stagnated for quite some time during World War II but once the world recovered from the war and had time to focus on athletics, things took off amazingly well.

Check out this article by Steve Magness on that topic in 2017: The Roger Bannister Effect: The Myth of the Psychological Breakthrough

More: MB: What shoe were the Americans wearing in Chicago? 
MB: Enough already! It’s not the shoes! Maybe drugs, but not shoes!
MB: Does anyone seriously want vaporflys banned? – 
MB: Vaporfly placebo 
From July, LRC: Track and field’s shoe rule needs to be rewritten

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Is Brigid Kosgei’s WR Superior To Eliud Kipchoge’s? Did She Just Break The Equivalent of 2:00?

We thought it would be fun to compare Brigid Kosgei’s WR to Eliud Kipchoge’s official 2:01:39 WR.

It appears to us that Kosgei’s WR is the superior mark. Take a look at this chart that compares the men’s and women’s world records from 800 through the marathon. At 10.21% slower, Kosgei’s world record is by far the closest to the men’s marks as all the others women’s distance world records are 11-12% slower.

Event Women Men Difference W/M Difference M/W
800 1:53.28 1:40.91 89.08% 112.26%
1500 3:50.07 3:26.00 89.54% 111.68%
5000 14:11.15 12:37.35 88.98% 112.39%
10,000 29:17.45 26:17.53 89.76% 111.41%
Half 64:51 58:01 89.46% 111.78%
Marathon 2:14:04 2:01:39 90.74% 110.21%

That table makes sense to us. Think of it this way. Only one other time in history has a woman run within 2:57 of Kosgei’s time (Paula Radcliffe is #2 at 2:15:25 and Mary Keitany third at 2:17:01). On the men’s side, 51 performances have been run that are within 2:57 of Kipchoge (Lemi Berhanu‘s 2:04:33 is the 52nd best men’s marathon mark in history).

Some have argued that Kosgei’s WR is equivalent to a sub-2 hour marathon for men. In fact, a scientific paper was published in 2015 claiming that Radcliffe’s 2:15:25 was equivalent to sub-2.

We certainly don’t think Radcliffe’s 2:15:25 was equivalent to a sub-2. But Kosgei’s 2:14:04? Maybe.

If you look at the percentage difference between the men’s WR at 800, 1500, 5000, 10,000, and the half marathon, the average men’s world record is 89.36% of the women’s. If you multiply 2:14:04 by .8936, you get 1:59:48.

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10 Americans Broke 2:12 in Chicago But None Of Them Were Named Galen Rupp; Is Rupp Vulnerable?

In Chicago, the big American men’s storyline was how well the athletes not named Galen Rupp ran. Ten Americans broke 2:12, which was quite good considering just two Americans did that in all of 2017 and 2018 (Rupp and Tim Ritchie) and considering it had happened just nine times in the last 12 Chicagos before Sunday. All told, 14 Americans have broken 2:12 this year.

Rupp prior to Chicago

So does that mean Rupp is vulnerable at the upcoming Olympic Trials?

Far from it. The reality is that Rupp, even in Chicago, was in another league compared to the other Americans.

At halfway (62:57), Rupp led Jake Riley — the eventual top American in 2:10:36 — by 2:27. At 30k, Rupp’s lead expanded to 3:12, even though Rupp had slowed down to 2:07:25 pace. Rupp slowed much more significantly between 30 and 35k (16:11), but the reality is he still had a 1:59 lead over Riley at 35k (1:46:45) and was still on 2:08:42 pace. Had Rupp continued running that same 16:11 5k pace all the way to the finish (his first three 5km segments were all under 15:00), he would have run 2:10:04.

Now Rupp had slowed a lot and was hurting, and a key part of the marathon is not blowing up before all 26.2 miles are run, so maybe if Rupp hadn’t dropped out, he would have lost to Riley. But that doesn’t mean much to us. The reality is still that if Rupp is healthy he’s going to make the 2020 US Olympic marathon team. Rupp admitted before Chicago that his comeback from Achilles surgery was far from smooth and that his buildup was far from ideal. With another 138 days to get the post-surgery kinks out, one would think Rupp would be fine when the Trials gun is fired on February 29, 2020.

Riley, in fact, is evidence of that point. Riley had Achilles surgery on May 5, 2018, to correct the same condition that bothered Rupp — Haglund’s deformity. Riley said that it took him almost a year to get back to feeling like himself, and even then his races weren’t going that well — he was just 15th at the US 20k champs on September 2.

“In terms of myself, you could almost say [Chicago] is the first race where I actually felt like the old me beforehand,” Riley said. “Or actually, a better me, because I have two good Achilles now.”

Chicago was 526 days after Riley’s surgery. Rupp had his surgery on October 19, 2018, which was 498 days before the Trials.

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How Much Did Eliud Kipchoge Pick It Up?

At 40k (1:53:36), Kipchoge was on 1:59:51 pace, yet he ended up running 1:59:41. So how much did he pick it up? Well, he covered the final 2.195k in 6:05, which comes out to be 4:27.6 mile pace. He ran the first 40km at an average of 4:34.2 pace.

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

 “In a garden, there are flowers and there are weeds. In Vienna we are talking about the flowers.”

-Kipchoge when asked about the Alberto Salazar doping scandal before the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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Recommended Reads

To see our favorite reads from other weeks, go here.

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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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