WTW: Crouser Gets His WR, Walmsley Just Misses; Patrick Mahomes Gets His Super Shoes and Michigan Gets Cancelled

The Week That Was in Running, January 18 – 24, 2021

by Jonathan Gault and Robert Johnson
January 25, 2021

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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Jim Walmsley misses the 100k WR by 12 seconds / Putting Jim Walmsley’s time in perspective

2:35:53 – marathon pace averaged by Jim Walmsley during his 100k world record attempt on Saturday at the HOKA Project Carbon X 2. Running one 2:35 marathon isn’t easy. Running two back-to-back plus another 9.7 miles (15.61 km) is incredibly impressive, even more so when you’ve got blood pouring out of your left shoulder for the second half of the race (Walmsley got caught on some fencing as he passed a female runner around halfway).

Walmsley bloodied shoulder didn’t help

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That being said, in running 6:09:26, Walmsley came up agonizingly short of Nao Kazami’s 100k world record of 6:09:14 as he slowed over the final 15k. If not for a bathroom break early in the race, Walmsley almost certainly would have broken the record.

Walmsley ran very even — 3:04:15 for his first 50k and 3:05:11 for his second. That means he ran 5:55.83 per mile for the first half and 5:57.63 for the second. Overall, he averaged 5:56.73 per mile when he needed to run 5:56.54 to get the record.

The record averages out to be 18:27.7 per 5k. Through 85k, Walmsley was very consistent — between 18:04 and 18:33 for every 5k except the one during which he took his bathroom break (19:01) and the next one when he caught back up (17:50). But during the 5k segment between 85k and 90k, Walmsley faded to a 19:10 — meaning he was in big trouble as he needed 37:58 for the final 10k to get the record.  

Just as some view the 20-mile mark as the halfway mark of a marathon in terms of effort, ultramarathon expert Paul Kentor (aka “Steeltown Runner”) views the halfway mark of a 100k race to be 50 miles (Walmsley said the same during his appearance on the LetsRun Track Talk podcast last week). In a 24-hour race, runners are running slow enough that they can hit a bad patch and pick it back up. But a 100k is short enough it’s more like a marathon: once you start to slow down, it’s next to impossible to pick it back up.

According to the online splits, Walmsley did pick it up to (18:39) from 90k to 95k, but that split appears to be incorrect. On the broadcast, Walmsley passed the 95k mark at 5:50:19, meaning he went 19:10-19:13-19:07 for his final three 5k segments.

It was confusing for viewers to know what Walmsley needed and we’ve heard it was confusing for Walmsley as well. Walmsley is an American and he is more used to seeing mile splits. Having markers at two miles and one mile to go would have been very helpful and something HOKA said they will consider doing if they do another event. That being said, at each 5km split, the total time for world record pace was listed. At 95k, cumulative time for WR pace was 5:50:46 meaning Walmsley was 27 seconds ahead.

While Walsmely didn’t get the official world record, he did put forth the greatest 100k performance in history, according to Kentor. 

“This in my mind is the honest 100k world record,” said Kentor.

Walmsley was spent afterwards

Kentor says that because Kazami’s world record was set at Lake Saroma in Japan, which is normally a wind-aided course. Many statisticians think a 47% percent start-finish separation, which is the case at Lake Saroma, is too much and that it should be 30%, but the rules were retroactively changed to allow a previous record run at Lake Saroma, as explained here. So Kazami was helped in large portions of his race by a diagonal crosswind and he was also wearing the Vaporflys.

That said, Kazami is no slouch. He ran a 2:13:13 marathon in Tokyo last year. 

It’s also worth pointing out that the event was actually planned to be much bigger as a slew of African runners were prevented from coming due to COVID-19 visa problems.

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Ryan Crouser hasn’t even started speed work yet

Crouser celebrates his WR

It’s a distance running cliche. Someone will drop a fast time in January, and then, at the end of the interview, explain how excited they are because “they haven’t even started speed work yet.”

On Sunday, we learned the same thing applies to shot putters — even after you break the world record. Here’s what Ryan Crouser said to ESPN after throwing 22.82 meters at the American Track League meet in Fayetteville to break the 32-year-old indoor WR of 22.66 previously held by doper Randy Barnes.

“We’re in heavy training right now in the weight room,” Crouser said. “We really haven’t backed off at all. So I’m excited to see when we start to do more speed work, start to taper down and decrease the volume in the weight room. And I’ve just been throwing heavier shots and only limited with the amount of light ball work I’ve been doing. So that’s kind of the key to getting that speed up, is throwing light shots in training to simulate meet intensity.”

We got a chuckle out of that.

But the reality is, Crouser is capable of throwing farther this summer. He didn’t seem particularly surprised to have broken the record on Sunday, considering he came just 6 cm shy last year at USAs and then missed it by 8 cm in his season opener at Kansas State in December.

Crouser’s outdoor pb of 22.91 is still 21 cm short of Barnes’ outdoor WR of 23.12 — a not insignificant amount. But what sets Crouser apart is his consistency. Barnes owns the two longest throws in history, but outdoors, his five best throws all came in the span of a week, split between two competitions in California in May 1990.

Crouser, meanwhile, dwarfs not only Barnes, but every other thrower in history when it comes to throws over 22.50 meters (combined indoors and outdoors). Just check this out:

Athlete Country # 22.50m+ throws
Ryan Crouser USA 29
Ulf Timmermann East Germany 7
Randy Barnes USA 5
Alessandro Andrei Italy 4
Tom Walsh New Zealand 4

How good is 22.50? Well American legends Adam Nelson and John Godina — who combined for four golds, five silvers, and a bronze at the Olympics/Worlds — combined for one lifetime throw beyond 22.50 (Nelson’s pb was 22.51; Godina 22.20).

It’s not uncommon for shot putters to throw farther in practice — where they have way more attempts — than they do in competition. Given how consistently Crouser has gone beyond 22.50, it seems likely that at some point he’ll uncork a monster to challenge Barnes’ record.

MB: Ryan Crouser SHATTERS indoor shot put world record on 1st throw at American Track League meet

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How not to broadcast an American record

Kudos to agent Paul Doyle for doing something USATF seemingly refuses to do — put on elite competitions during the pandemic. The first of the four-meet American Track League series was broadcast nationally in the US on ESPN on Sunday and in addition to Crouser’s world record, it featured an American record and a slew of world-leading performances.

However, you’d never have known about the American record as it wasn’t mentioned on the broadcast when the race took place. Here is how they broadcast Grant Holloway’s 7.35 in the 60 hurdles — the 6th-fastest time ever run — on ESPN (Holloway actually tied his own record, which he set in 2019).

Repeat after us: if you want to have a good broadcast, hire a real play-by-play guy. Lewis Johnson and Dwight Stones are color commentators/sideline reporters but people keep hiring them for play-by-play. Now there aren’t that many play-by-play men that are good in track, and our American favorite was unavailable. So if you are going to have a sideline guy do play-by-play, you have to have some stats people or a color commentator who is going to do A TON of research. Sandi Morris was fantastic during the pole vault, but saying “Holloway all the way” isn’t going to cut it when an American record was set.

The crazy thing is, the TV broadcast then went to a sideline interview of Holloway, and even then the American record wasn’t mentioned. So presumably, neither the in-house stadium announcer nor any of the three TV commentators nor the production crew recognized it was an American record.

Several big names — including Michael Johnson and Noah Lyles — also criticized the broadcast on Twitter (in particular, the audio levels were a significant problem). Morris acknowledged the broadcast needs a lot of work, but also pointed out the real issue: money. Doyle and the folks at ATL are putting on an elite competition series from scratch with little, if any, sponsor support. That is a Herculean undertaking, and if you don’t have the money to hire a top play-by-play person and production crew and don’t do a ton of pre-meet research, the broadcast is inevitably going to suffer.

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Carbon plates come to the NFL

Do we need to put an asterisk on the Kansas City Chiefs’ AFC Championship?

Right before kickoff of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, CBS’s Tracy Wolfson reported that Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes would be wearing a special carbon plate insert in his cleat to help combat a turf toe injury.

Okay, so an asterisk might be a little harsh. Clearly Mahomes’ plate wasn’t as effective as the plates in the Next% — he only rushed for five yards on five carries.

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Michigan will miss Big 10 XC — and maybe NCAAs

On Saturday night, the University of Michigan announced that it will be pausing all athletic activities in all sports, effective immediately and for a period of up to 14 days, due to several individuals linked to the athletic department testing positive for the more contagious B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus.

That means Michigan will miss the Big 10 XC Championships — scheduled for Saturday in Shelbyville, Ind. It could well mean Michigan will miss the NCAA championships as well. With no regional meets this year, there will be a selection committee in place to pick the field for NCAA. And according to the NCAA, the #1 criteria for selection this year will be conference championship performance. Michigan doesn’t have another meet on their schedule at this point. But without a conference meet to evaluate, it’s going to be very hard for Michigan to make it to NCAAs even if their athletic department does clear them to compete again.

It’s a bummer for the Wolverines, who have one of the top combined distance programs in the NCAA. The men were 7th at NCAA XC last year, with only one senior in their top six. The women were ranked 6th in the most recent USTFCCCA poll and have an 18-year streak of qualifying for NCAAs.

MB: Michigan pauses all athletic activity for 14 days – Michigan won’t compete at Big 10 xc meet next weekend

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20-year-old Sam Tanner impresses in NZ; when will he return to the NCAA?

One of the most talented runners in the NCAA attends the University of Washington. The only problem is that right now, he’s 7,000 miles from the UW campus in Seattle.

The runner is Sam Tanner, 20, who followed up his 3:36 1500 pb on New Year’s Day by winning the New Zealand 3000m title on Saturday in impressive fashion. Tanner clocked 7:54 — we clocked his last lap at 54.2 and his last 200 at 26.3 — to beat a solid field featuring former NAU stars Geordie Beamish (2019 NCAA mile champ) and Matt Baxter. The way Tanner is running, he’d be in the mix for the NCAA title on the track and could be a big help to the Huskies in their XC campaign.

When he returns to Seattle is anyone’s guess, however (Washington coach Andy Powell told us things are still up in the air due to COVID). Tanner stayed in NZ — where COVID is virtually nonexistent — last fall taking classes online, and he’s slated to race a mile there next week.

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A DII guy just ran 13:37 indoors — meet Christian Noble

Need something to pump you up? Just watch the video below, which features members of the Lee (Tenn.) University track team watching their teammate Christian Noble break the NCAA DII indoor record at 5,000 meters.

Noble ran 13:37.39 at the Magic City Elite meet in Birmingham, Ala., winning by over 30 seconds to break the 17-year old DII record of 13:41.08 held by Abilene Christian’s Nicodemus Naimadu.

What’s interesting about Noble is that he clearly had the talent to run DI. As a high schooler in Indiana, he was a Foot Locker finalist and ran 9:04 for 3200m. 

“That’s why I train so hard and work so hard to try to prove that I can be just as good as someone who goes to a large Division I school,” Noble told the Greenfield Daily Reporter in March. “If I get beat by a large DI guy, then that was expected. But, if I beat a large DI guy, everybody is like, ‘whoa, you just got beat by a Division II runner.’ I don’t lose anything when I lose to someone, but they lose a lot if they lose to me.”

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A collegiate record but…

The good news is 18-year-old freshman Athing Mu of Texas A&M set an indoor 600m collegiate record of 1:25.80 last weekend. The bad news is that’s more than two seconds off the PB she set nearly two years ago when she ran 1:23.57 to win USAs.

The previous best by a collegian was Raevyn Rogers’ 1:26.34 for Oregon in 2016.

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Other News of Note

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Recommended Reads

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

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Quote of the Week that wasn’t Quote Of The Day

A 45 Minute Pb Isn’t Bad

“Definitely feels like one of the more special runs I’ve had. Really felt like I got everything out of myself today, dug real deep, and fought all the way to the line. I don’t feel like I gave up, but it was tough to see the seconds tick by. It’s a little bittersweet, but definitely awarded with an American record today, and those don’t come very often. I don’t get to do things like this in my home state very often, so it’s extremely positive. A 45-minute PR. It was a pretty amazing day.”

Jim Walmsley talking after setting the American record in the 100k according to Runner’s World.

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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.

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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