WTW: High School Phenoms, College Phenoms, and Crawling Across The Finish Line To Break 9:00

The Week That Was in Running, March 22 – 28, 2021

By Robert Johnson
March 29, 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.

Comparing The 1980 and 2021 British Olympic Marathon Trials

Last weekend, for the first time since 1980, Great Britain held a standalone Olympic Marathon trials. I thought it would be fun to compare the two races on the men’s side (there was no women’s race in 1980 as the women’s marathon was first run in the Olympics in 1984). One thing that struck me was how, in terms of personal bests, the 1980 race featured faster marathoners than this year.

A Comparison of the 1980 and 2021 Men’s British Olympic Marathon Trials
# of Entrants 1980 2021
Sub-2:10 2 1
Sub-2:13 7 3
Sub-2:14 12 5
1st place 2:14:00 2:10:52
2nd place 2:14:28 2:12:06
3rd place 2:15:18 2:12:20

More: AW: The last real British Olympic marathon trial
*RRW Chris Thompson (2:10:52) and Stephanie Davis (2:27:16) Win British Olympic Marathon Trials

Stat of the Week I

2:01.60 – time recorded by 15-year-old Australian Claudia Hollingsworth last week at the Queensland Track Classic.
2:01.46 – world record time for a 15-year-old woman according to Age-records.125mb.com.

It’s interesting to look at the top age group performers in the women’s 800. Take a look here at the list.

11 2:13.12               Raevyn Rogers              USA  7 Sep 96 Omaha NE                   26 Jul 08
12 2:06.90               Raevyn Rogers              USA  7 Sep 96 Ypsilanti MI                4 Jul 09
13 2:06.5                Rachel Hughes              GBR 19 Sep 68 Aldershot                  19 Jul 82
14 2:02.43               Mary Decker                USA  4 Aug 58 Munich                     12 Jul 73
15 2:01.46               Keely Small                AUS	 9 Jun 01 Canberra                   11 Mar 17
16 1:59.65               Marion Hübner              GDR 29 Sep 62 Chemnitz                   11 Aug 79
17 1:59.17               Birte Bruhns               GDR  4 Nov 70 Berlin                     20 Jul 88
18 1:55.45               Caster Semenya             RSA  7 Jan 91 Berlin                     19 Aug 09

Three of those women went on to be big-time players on the international circuit. Rogers (5 NCAA 800 titles, World Championship silver in 2019), Decker (two world titles in 1983), and Semenya (multiple world/Olympic titles) all won global medals. Info on Rachel Hughes is hard to come by but it looks like she may have never run faster than her 2:06.50 at age 13 (let us know if you know more). Keely Small is still just 19 and her pb is now 2:00.81. The East German Marion Hübner went on to run 1:58.18, while her countrywoman Birte Bruhns never improved upon her 1:59.17 pb from age 17.

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Linden Hall Gets a Big 800 PB

Embed from Getty Images

Linden Hall continues to improve. Three years ago in this column, we highlighted the vast post-collegiate improvement for the Australian when she ran 4:00.86 to break the Aussie 1500 record. In college at Florida State, she scored just seven points at the conference level in the 1500 and had pbs of 2:06.49 and 4:15.51.

Heading into last weekend, her 800 pb was 2:01.27 but now it’s 1:59.22 as she dropped more than two seconds off her pb in the same 800 mentioned above at the Queensland Track Classic where Catriona Bisset won in 1:59.12.

Stat of the Week II

13,017 – number of finishers last week at the Buriram Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K in Thailand last week — the most for any racing festival so far in 2021 according to Race Results Weekly

That’s What We Call A Quick Turnaround

The Raleigh Relays were held last week and surprisingly quite a few of top NCAA XC performers ran in the meet, which started just 10 days after the NCAA XC champs. With the NCAA reducing field sizes at its outdoor regional meets from 48 to 32 athletes per event, some coaches feel like they need to get the qualifiers out of the way.

Women’s NCAA XC champ Mercy Chelangat of Alabama ran and won the 10,000 in 32:31.43.

Virtually the entire Notre Dame men’s team, which was second at NCAA XC, raced as well. One of the more impressive things about Notre Dame at NCAAs was their depth as their top six were all All-American. At the Raleigh Relays, they had two guys who didn’t even run NCAA XC (only one of them had eligibility) run 13:44 and 13:45 and another non-NCAA XC guy run 29:14. That’s Japanese-type collegiate depth when your ninth guy is a 29:14 guy.

Athlete XC YR NCAA XC XC Time Raleigh Relays
Danny Kilrea JR-3 10th 30:11.5 28:34.36
Dylan Jacobs SO-2 20th 30:25.6 DNC
Andrew Alexander SR-4 21st 30:26.4 13:54.94
Jake Renfree FR-1 22nd 30:26.6 DNF 5000
Yared Nuguse SR-4 23rd 30:26.6 13:40.62
Joshua Methner FR-1 36th 30:43.5 14:05.60
Kevin Salvano SR-4 228th 33:57.9 29:15.37
Matthew Carmody SO-2 DNC DNC 13:44.55
Kenny Vasbinder None DNC DNC 13:45.95
Brendan Fraser SR-4 DNC DNC 29:14.65

One other top-5 finisher from NCAA XC raced in Raleigh: Hannah Steelman of NC State was a DNF in the 10,000.

No men from the top 5 at NCAA XC raced on the track last weekend, but 8th placer Isai Rodriguez of Oklahoma State did and he blitzed the 10,000m field at the Texas Relays, winning by more than 40 seconds in 28:08.70.

Tara Davis DESTROYS the Collegiate LJ Record

At the Texas Relays, Texas’ Tara Davis  broke DESTROYED Jackie Joyner-Kersee‘s collegiate record in the long jump. Davis became the first collegian to break the 23-foot and 7-meter barriers as she jumped 7.14m (23-5¼). Joyner-Kersee’s record was 6.99m (22-11¼), set when she was competing for UCLA way back in 1985.

Davis, who won NCAA indoors two weeks ago, now owns the collegiate records both indoors (6.93m/22-9) and out and is #5 on the all-time US list outdoors.

If you are unfamiliar with Davis’ story, please read this TFN feature on her by Brett BloomquistA Long Journey Pays Off For Tara Davis. She was a superstar in high school, struggled for a long while, and is now better than ever.

Super Fast HS Action: Effortless vs Effortful

Last week, Hobbs Kessler, the US 3:57 high school miler, won the 2-mile at the NSAF USA Meet of Champions in 8:39.04. When a 3:57 miler breaks 8:40, it’s far from a shock (JK’s conversion chart put 8:39 at about 4:01 for the mile), but watching Kessler close in 54.99 for his last lap is pretty fun to watch. Like Nick Willis (Kessler’s occasional workout partner) and Matthew Centrowitz, his stride looks effortless.

You definitely should watch Kessler’s final 200 below. Then let the video keep playing because what comes next is almost as cool. Big props to Gavin Sherry, who literally crawled across the line to a sub-9 clocking (8:57.67) after collapsing just short of the finish line.

Sherry had to work for his sub-9

Fast 200s

Hobbs Kessler wasn’t the only high schooler running fast last weekend. Jaylen Slade, who bettered Noah Lyles’ US high school 200m record indoors this year by running 20.62 in Arkansas, beat Travyon Bromell in a 200 in Florida as he ran a windy 20.27 (+2.5) to Bromell’s 20.29.

Stepping up a level to the college ranks, at the Texas Relays in the 200, LSU’s Travis Laird, the NCAA indoor runner-up, showed he’s an Olympic medal contender as he ran 19.81, putting him #3 on the all-time NCAA list.

RIP Fukuoka

Last week, it came out unofficially that this year’s Fukuoka Marathon — the 75th edition — will be the last. What a loss for the sport. Fukuoka used to be the unofficial world championship and in the pre-professional era, it and Boston were the premier marathons in the world. Two world records were set in Fukuoka — Derek Clayton‘s 2:09:37 in 1967 and Rob de Castella‘s 2:08:18 in 1981 — and the list of past winners is amazing to scroll down as it includes the likes of Bill Rodgers, Toshihiko Seko, Belayneh Dinsamo, Lee Bong-Ju, Gezahegne Abera, Haile Gebrselassie, Samuel Wanjiru, Tsegaye Kebede, and Patrick Makau.

What this means for the elite side of the sport is also kind of scary. Even in marathon-crazy Japan, an elite-only race apparently doesn’t make much financial sense anymore: the TV revenue alone isn’t enough to make Fukuoka profitable. You need the mass entries. And there aren’t that many people able to run a sub-2:35 marathon (the qualifying standard to run Fukuoka, which is a men’s-only race).

More: Brett Larner On Fukuoka: “Of all the races that have gone under since I started JRN this one makes me the saddest.”
Larner gives a lot more insight into the history of Fukuoka which, like Boston, required amateur runners to hit a qualifying time.

Recommended Read

The article below wasn’t actually published last week but I only came across it last week. It’s pretty fascinating.

Letting Go of Preconceived Ideas – Australian Melissa Duncan Writes About Her Time On A Japanese Corporate Team “High mileage at a slower pace was now expected of me, and if I dared smile or talk during training I would get a growling at by one of the coaches. Having hobbies or socializing is also not encouraged as it means your focus isn’t 100% on your training.”
*MB: Wow! Aussie writes about training on Japanese team – Long runs were “run single-file, strictly no talking or smiling of course”

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.

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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