WTW: Rest in Peace Peter Snell, Zofia Dudek vs Katelyn Tuohy, Mary Cain vs Her Younger Self

The Week That Was in Running, December 9 – 15, 2019

By Robert Johnson
December 17, 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.

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The Great Peter Snell Has Died

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One of our sport’s greatest champions died last week as Kiwi Peter Snell died peacefully in Dallas, Texas, where he had worked as the head of the Human Performance Laboratory at UT Southwestern Medical Center, at age 80. Snell is the only man to win the 800m and 1500m at the same Olympics in the last 99 years (the feat was fairly common when the modern Olympic first began; it was accomplished at four of the first six Olympics between 1896 and 1920). In total, he won three Olympic golds and set world records at 800 (1:44.3 on a grass track), 1k (2:16.6) and the mile (3:54.4 and later 3:54.1).

Snell was the most famous of “Arthur’s Boys” and his accomplishments, coupled with Arthur Lydiard‘s training, forever changed the sport. While Snell rose to fame as an 800 star, Snell and Lydiard were both known for running a lot of miles. Snell ran more than 100 miles in a week on occasion in his base phase and regularly did 70-80. That type of training was pretty revolutionary in the ’50s and ’60s and Lydiard figured it out mainly by trial and error as it wasn’t until the mid-1970s that scientists really discovered why long runs were beneficial to training.

As Jim Ferstle wrote in Runner’s World in 2012, in 1976 Phil Gollnick (who ended up mentoring Snell to his own PhD in exercise physiology) and colleagues “published a study that was one of a series of groundbreaking research papers on the adaptation of muscle fibers to training. In simple terms, what Gollnick’s study showed was that long runs were beneficial because they caused the adaptation (training) of both slow-and fast-twitch fibers. By measuring the glycogen content of the various muscle fibers at intervals of 30 minutes up to two hours of cycling done at a moderate level (60 percent of VO2 max), the researchers discovered that it wasn’t until one hour of exercise that fast-twitch fibers—those normally recruited during high-speed running—began to have their energy stores of glycogen depleted, which indicated that they were being activated. Though the pace didn’t change, the recruitment of fibers did.

While Snell spent much of his professional life trying to scientifically understand why his training worked, he ended up summarizing his training pretty succinctly, which brings us to our Weekly Free Training Advice.

On training:

“It’s a relatively simple formula. Develop endurance as early as possible. Developing endurance is difficult and time-consuming. Developing speed is a relatively short process with a fairly strong genetic component,” said Snell to Runner’s World in 2012.

On tactics:

“I don’t think tactics count too much above simple common sense. Conditioning is the main factor, and determination makes you get in good physical condition,” said Snell to The New York Times in 1965, his last year on the international racing circuit.

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One thing we fully believe about Snell: if the 1960s version of Snell was competing in the year 2019, he’d be relevant and in the Olympic final contending for a medal. 1:44 on a grass track would certainly still play today.

Snell, with his endurance-focused 800 training, would be even more relevant today if the Olympic 800 featured the same format it did in 1960. Back in 1960, there were four rounds and the first two rounds and the last two rounds (semifinal and final) were all run on the same day.

More: MB: Peter Snell Has Died
*RIP: Running Legend, Three-Time Olympic Champion And Former World Record Holder Peter Snell Has Died At 80 Years Old
*Peter Snell’s Wife Miki Pays Tribute To Husband: “Nothing But Good Memories” She said, “It was a wonderful life we had, I am grateful for having a life with him, I wish it could have gone on forever.”
*World Athletics Tribute To Peter Snell
*RR From 2012: RW:  Peter Snell: Gentleman, Athlete, Scholar

More Vaporfly Stats

Inspired by a column on ToniReavis.com, where he noticed that the number of sub-2:10 marathons are way up over the last few years since the commercial introduction of the Nike Vaporfly shoes in June 2017, we decided to run the numbers ourselves for the entire last decade. The results are striking. According to the results database Tilastopaja, prior to the introduction of the Vaporfly shoes, which other companies are now trying to mimic, the most sub-2:10 marathons in a year was 221 in 2012. So far this year, that number is 294 (33.0% increase). For the women, the most number of sub-2:30 marathons before 2017 was 208 from 2015. This year, the 2:30 barrier has been broken a staggering 324 times (up 55.8%).

Yr  # Sub-2:10 Men
# Sub-2:30 Women
2019 217/294 242/324
2018 160/210 174/239
2017 149/189 162/224
2016 115/152 132/177
2015 141/178 143/208
2014 151/195 119/174
2013 152/192 119/162
2012 171/221 141/206
2011 145/179 133/194
2010 121 / 155  103/ 137

Ok, what does it look like for the very best? Below you will see the number of sub-2:05 marathons for the men and sub-2:20s for the women achieved over the last decade.

Yr  # Sub-2:05 Men
# Sub-2:20 Women
2019 16/17 12/13
2018 14/17 11/11
2017 4/4 3/4
2016 7/7 1/1
2015 2/3 2/2
2014 8/8 1/1
2013 9/9 1/1
2012 11/11 6/6
2011 7/7 2/2
2010 3/3  0/0

Prior to the introduction of the Vaporflys in 2017, the most sub-2:20 marathons ever achieved by women in a year was six in 2012. This year, that number has more than doubled to 13 (up 116.7%). Similarly, for the men, the most number of sub-2:05s before the Vaporflys was 11 in 2012. That number has skyrocketed to 17 in each of the last two years (up 54.5%).

Related: MB: NYT: Vaporfly gives “bigger advantage than we thought”
*MB: Guy wearing New Balance’s prototype – not Next% or Vaporflys – smashes British 40+ marathon record
*ToniReavis.com: SUB 2:10 BONANZA IN 2019


Speaking of fast marathon times, last week, Kenneth Mungara set an age-46 world record of 2:14:54 to win more than $25,000 at the Taipei Marathon. He is already the world record-holder for age 45 and used to hold the overall master’s mark  (40+) thanks to the 2:08:38 he ran at age 42, but that record now belongs to Mark Kiptoo at 2:07:50.

Zofia Dudek Wins Foot Locker With a 169 Speed Rating

The biggest race in the US last week was the 2019 Foot Locker Cross Country Championships — the individual championships for US high schoolers. If you missed our analysis of the meet after it happened, catch up now.

LRC Josh Methner Dominates, Poland’s Zofia Dudek (16:45) Wins Thrilling Battle With Marlee Starliper To Claim 2019 Foot Locker Titles

Zofia Dudek  wins Foot Lockers 2019

After we wrote that piece, Bill Meylan published his speed ratings for Foot Locker and they were interesting as he gave girls’ winner Zofia Dudek of Poland (Stanford signee) and Ann Arbor, Mich., a 169 rating — six points higher than the 163 that Katelyn Tuohy earned in 3-peating at NXN the week before. Does that mean that Dudek would have easily beaten Tuohy if they had raced head to head (each point on the Tully speed rating represents three seconds in a HS XC race)?

No, it does it not. The reality is we’ll never know who would have won.

The transitive property says it’s up in the air.

At NXN, Tuohy beat runner-up Taylor Ewert by just 0.7 of a second, and at Foot Locker, Ewert was 31.4 seconds back of Dudek. Edge: Dudek.

At NXN, Tuohy but Marlee Starliper by 17.5 seconds, and at Foot Locker, Starliper was just 1.8 seconds back of Dudek. Edge: Tuohy.

And if we are going to go by speed ratings, Tuohy had already earned a 170 speed rating from earlier in the year and is undefeated over the last three years in high school XC (170 is a mark Tuohy broke five times in 2018 and many say she was purposely holding back during much of the regular season this year). Because Tuohy did not run out of her mind at NXN, it’s possible she could have been beaten by Dudek, but if they raced head to head in XC, Tuohy would deserve to be considered a slight favorite.

(See the next section for more on Tuohy).

Josh Methner wins Foot Lockers

As for the boys, Josh Methner (Notre Dame signee) got a convincing win at Foot Locker to cap a near-perfect senior campaign that saw him break Craig Virgin‘s legendary 47-year-old Detweiller Park course record at the Illinois state meet, finish second at NXN and win Foot Lockers. But since Nico Young concincingly beat Methner at NXN and generated a 205 speed rating versus the 200 that Methner got at Foot Lockers, there is no doubt who deserves the mythical title of “Best US Boys HS XC Runner of 2019” — Young.

Katelyn Tuohy Gets 2nd at USATF Club Nationals — What Does That Mean?

Speaking of Tuohy, the most popular messageboard thread over the weekend was Tuohy finishes second in pro 6k race!!, which  focused on Tuohy getting second at the US Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh. While second place as a high schooler is a FANTASTIC accomplishment, the title of the thread makes it sound a little bit more impressive than it really is as many of the pros in the field aren’t full-time pros and those that are generally aren’t among the top pros in the US.

What does Tuohy’s finish mean for her future? Was it a big step forward for her, which would be nice given the fact that she seems to have stagnated a bit as her margin of victory at NXN has gone from 40 to 17 to 0.7 seconds in recent years?

Well, below you can see the recent accomplishments of the top five women at US Club Nats.

1. Aisling Cuffe, Saucony, 20:07 – Ran 15:55 at the USATF 5k champs in Central Park in early November. Also ran 15:55 on track in June. 15:11 pb dates to 2014.
2. Katelyn Tuohy, Unattached, 20:11 – Won 3rd straight NXN title week before. 15:37 pb from January 2018.
3. Cally Macumber, Nomad Track Club, 20:15 – Ran 15:30 pb in July. Ran 72:35 half marathon November 9, which McMillan equates to a 15:41 5000.
4. Natosha Rogers, Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, 20:17 – Ran just 16:40 in NYC in November. Has 15:07 pb from 2017.
5. Dani Shanahan, HOKA ONE ONE NAZ Elite, 20:18 – Ran 16:22 in NYC in November. Ran 15:38 on track in June. 15:37 pb is from 2018.

Based on those stats, Tuohy’s performance was a good result but very much in-line with what she’s done in the past and by no means a big step forward. Tuohy, a woman with a 15:37 5000 pb, lost to a woman who last month ran a 15:55 road 5k in Central Park, but beat a woman with a 15:30 pb who ran the equivalent of 15:41 in a half marathon last month.

If we had to give a range for Tuohy’s current 5000 fitness, we’d say 15:35-15:50.

One enterprising messageboard poster tried to create a Tully speed rating for Tuohy at Club Nats. Bill Meylan said he didn’t want to do it as he didn’t have previous speed rating data on the other athletes in the field. But by using the crossover in runners between the Mayor’s Cup and Club Nats, “THOUGHTSLEADERcreated a speed rating for Club Nats and he had Tuohy at 170.

Which seems just about perfect for us. It’s equivalent to what she’s run earlier in the year and just ahead of what Dudek ran at Foot Locker.

Mary Cain Gets 33rd at Club Nats – What Does That Mean?

Former NY teen phenom Mary Cain also ran Club Nats last week. She finished 33rd in 21:11 — exactly one minute behind Tuohy. And once again, it seems like a lot of messageboard posters want to act like it was a big breakthrough for Cain when the stats don’t reveal that to be the case.

Cain finished one second behind Claire Green, who ran 16:53 for 5k this year. So based on that, one might think Cain is in something close to 16:50 shape. Well guess what? In May, in Central Park, Cain ran a 4-mile road race in 21:50, and according to the McMillan calculator, a 21:50 4-miler equates to 16:48 for 5000. So by that measure she’s in the same shape she was in May. She was decently fit then and decently fit now.

Cain is likely in better shape now as she went out hard at Club Nats and faded indicating that she could run faster in an even paced race.

French National Marathon Record Stripped From The Books

You may remember that back in April, French marathoner Clemence Calvin got a court order to lift a drug ban before the Paris Marathon. She said she didn’t deserve the ban for evading a test in Morocco because the drug testers acted like police officers, threatened her, and never identified themselves as drug testers. With the ban temporarily lifted, she ran a national record of 2:23:41.

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Well that mark no longer is the French record as her ban was re-instated last Wednesday (the record reverts to Christelle Daunay, who ran 2:24:22 in Paris in 2010). Calvin is going to appeal, but she’s also facing bigger problems as a criminal investigation has begun. Le Monde reports that authorities found a blank prescription signed by a doctor in her house as well as intravenous injection equipment and large quantities of iron but no illegal PEDs. She also faces civil lawsuits as she is being sued for defamation by Damien Ressiot and the French Anti-Doping Agency as she filled a complaint against Ressiot in Morocco that said he threatened her with violence when trying to get her to submit to a test.

More: Dopage : une information judiciaire ouverte contre la marathonienne Clémence Calvin

Stat of the Week

97 – number of track and field athletes and coaches that are currently suspended from competition in Russia according to the Russian News Agency

27 – number of US track and field athletes and coaches currently suspended by USADA (including five lifetime bans).

More: Russian news agency admits 88 track athletes and 9 coaches are currently banned for doping That’s very high since roughly only 500 are in the testing pool.
*List of USADA suspensions

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

#1 The Irish Times names the Vaporfly the Global Sports Star of 2019

“Not everyone can throw a punch like Katie Taylor or hole putts like Shane Lowry. But everyone can run, or at least think they can, and [whether you are judging by] medals or times, places or records, personal bests or age-group barriers, no man or woman, team or country, had a year in history to rival the now properly global running shoe phenomenon known as the Nike Vaporfly.”

Ian O’Riordan writing in the Irish Times.

More: The super global sports star of 2019: the Nike Vaporfly

#2 Struggling With Addiction? Be Inspired By Olympic Champ Wilfred Bungei

“I don’t celebrate my birthday but I celebrate the day I stopped drinking. It makes me feel proud of myself. It makes me feel I have control over my life.”

– 2008 Olympic 800 champ Wilfred Bungei, 39, talking to BBC Sport Africa.

Bungei hit rock bottom seven years ago when instead of watching the birth of his third child, he ended up near death in a ditch.

Bungei says that he was planning on watching the birth, but to give himself “the courage” to see what was happening in the delivery room, he decided to drink “a shot of vodka but I ended up drinking over one liter in a short span of time. I don’t know what happened, but I do know I ended up in a ditch. People actually thought I had died.”

Bungei also admits that his other kids were often scared of him as they had been in the car at times when he was driving drunk. Thankfully, he sought treatment and after a six-week stay he says he hasn’t had a drink in seven years.

More: 2008 Olympic 800 champ Wilfred Bungei talks about his battle with alcoholism and hopes he will inspire others

#3 Yohan Blake Was Damn Good In His Prime

“If you take Bolt away from the picture, I [would] be the fastest man in the world. I was born at the wrong time.”

Yohan Blake talking to the press in India. Blake’s 19.26 200-meter time (#2 all-time) is nothing to sneeze about. Nor is his 9.69 100 (tied for #2 all-time).

Recommended Reads

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.

Note: The article was initially published without the paragraph mentioning John Kellogg in it but it was added for clarification.

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