WTW: Athing Mu & Jye Edwards Impress, Is Eliud Kipchoge Back or Vulnerable?

By LetsRun.com
April 19, 2021

Below we try to make sense of some of the major events of the last week.

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.

****
Athing Mu Runs 1:57.73 / Jye Edwards Runs 3:33.99

Article continues below player

If you missed Athing Mu‘s 1:57.73 collegiate 800m record from over the weekend, you really need to watch it now as it’s a thing of beauty. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth a million right?

Considering Mu ran 1:58.40 indoors, the fact that she ran 1:57 outdoors isn’t a shock (and it’s always good to see teenage women continuing to PR), but the video turns the performance into a work of art. It’s hard to believe that the runner-up in the race — Aaliyah Miller of Baylor — is the NCAA indoor champ. And it’s not as if Miller ran badly — she clocked 2:00.87, putting her just outside the NCAA all-time top 10 (10th is Laura Roesler at 2:00.54).

The other race we loved watching last week was Jye Edwards‘ upset win over Australian record holder Stewart McSweyn in the 1500 at the Australian Champs.

Heading into the Australian spring/summer, Edwards, who turned 23 in March, owned a pb of 3:41.69. He just beat the 3:30.51 national record holder by running 3:33.99 to make the Olympic team. Wow.

Now, context is everything. Edwards ran that 3:41 as an 18-year-old in 2017 but had struggled with injuries since (he had Achilles surgery in 2017); Tilastopaja lists just one result for him between March 2017 and March 2020. But Edwards has been healthy this season, and his results have been phenomenal. He opened up with a 7:56 3000 pb in Sydney in November, then ran a 3:57 mile pb in December. By the time of last week’s Australian champs, he was on fire: three wins from three races in 2021, lowering his pb to 3:35.46 in the process.

In the Australian 1500 final in Sydney, McSweyn took things out hard (55 seconds for the first 400) and Edwards instantly had a decision to make — go with it or run with the pack like everyone else. Edwards showed no fear. He went with the pace and ultimately got the win — and the Olympic standard of 3:35.00.

Wow.

If you like that, then you really need to go back and watch Edwards’ breakout 3:57 mile win over Olli Hoare from December. The race is exciting and the announcer nails it. Go to the 6:07 mark and watch the final 200.

For a great Q&A with Edwards, check out this piece from Runner’s Tribe, who caught up with Edwards after his win over Hoare in December.

A New Thoroughbred from Dick Telford’s Stable: Jye Edwards Interview.

****
Putting Des Linden’s 50K World’s Best In Perspective

6:14.4 – pace per mile averaged by Janis Klecker (mother of Joe) when she set the previous American 50K record of 3:13:51 in 1983.
6:01.8- pace per mile averaged by Great Britain’s Aly Dixon when she set the previous world best of 3:07:20 in 2019.
5:47.4 – pace per mile averaged by Des Linden during her women’s world’s best run of 2:59:54 last week.
5:13.8 – pace per mile averaged by CJ Albertson during his men’s American and world’s best run of 2:42:30 last year (on the track).

****
Eliud Kipchoge Returns To His Winning Ways – Is All Well Or Is There a Crack In the Armor?

Losing a marathon is nothing to be ashamed of for all marathoners on the planet not named Eliud Kipchoge. However, Kipchoge losing in London last fall was a shock as Kipchoge almost never loses a marathon.

Kipchoge Wins Again
Kipchoge Wins Again (Courtesy NN Running Team)

Kipchoge returned to the victory stand over the weekend by winning the NN Mission Marathon in the Netherlands with a 2:04:30 clocking. Kipchoge has now started 16 races over the 26.2-mile distance (counting his two sub-2 attempts) and has finished first in an incredible 14 of them.

So Kipchoge winning wasn’t really a shock since he almost always wins and since his PB was more than 3.5 minutes better than anyone else in the field.

Does this mean Kipchoge is back? He certainly should be the Olympic favorite, but if you are looking for a crack in the armor, consider this: on Sunday, Kipchoge ran his first half in 61:43 and his second half in 62:47.

Kipchoge slowing down during the second half isn’t uncommon as he’s run the second half slower than the first half in nine of his 16 marathons. However, a 62:47 second half isn’t good by Kipchoge standards. Kipchoge has run his second half slower than 62:30 just five times. Yes, he was pulling away on Sunday when he ran that, but the facts are Kipchoge has now run his slowest 2nd half (63:55 in London) and 4th slowest second half (62:47) in back-to-back races.

Below, we have compiled the first and second halves of Kipchoge’s marathon career.

Kipchoge’s 1st and 2nd Half Marathon Splits
Race 1st Half 2nd Half  Total
Hamburg 2013 63:12  62:18 2:05:30
Berlin 2013 61:32 62:33 2:04:05
Rotterdam 2014 62:40 62:20 2:05:00
Chicago 2014 62:12 61:59 2:04:11
London 2015 62:20 62:22 2:04:42
Berlin 2015 61:53 62:07 2:04:00
London 2016 61:24 61:41 2:03:05
Rio 2016 65:55 62:51 2:08:46
Breaking2 2017 59:57 60:28 2:00:25
Berlin 2017 61:29 62:03 2:03:32
London 2018 61:00 63:17 2:04:17
Berlin 2018 61:06 60:33 2:01:39 
London 2019 61:37 61:00 2:02:37 
INEOS 2019 59:54 59:46 1:59:40
London 2020 62:54 63:55 2:06:49
NN Mission 2021 61:43 62:47 2:04:30

****
Tweets of the Week

In January, the NCAA track & field and XC committee announced that, due to COVID-19, they’d be reducing the field sizes for NCAA DI regionals from 48 to 32 for this one year only.

Some NCAA coaches aren’t happy about that as for many athletes, regionals is their biggest goal of the season.

When it came out last week that the championship fields were being expanded at the DIII ranks, it was impossible for Eastern Michigan director Sue Parks or Oral Roberts assistant Justin Herbert not to notice that the logic is hard to follow — reduce field sizes for one division, expanded for another.

While Herbert says he can’t find a rationale for reducing the field size at regionals, the NCAA committee clearly can and did and they have publicly stated that reason. COVID-19 concerns is just one. Cost is the other.

Seeing the powerhouse schools that blow millions on football every year complain about the cost of regionals has always irked us (a Power 5 AD once asked us to write an editorial calling for abolition of regionals as it is too expensive). We can see why it could be a real concern in a pandemic year when NCAA sport revenues have taken a hit, although we totally understand if you think they are just using the pandemic as an excuse.

Regardless, we do want to give a thumbs up to the committee for admitting cost was was a factor when they announced the DI reductions in January. While we believe NCAA sports should be about providing a great experience for all student-athletes and have always liked the regional concept, we love transparency even more. We don’t have to agree with the decision but applaud them for clearly stating the reasons for the move in a public report in January:

Rationale. The committee noted that the preliminary championship rounds are an important and integral part of the championship format. They believe this adjustment helps address COVID-19 concerns that are associated with large number of participants while also being more fiscally responsible both to the NCAA and participating institutions, and overall protecting the integrity of the championships and providing student-athlete opportunities. Additionally, the smaller field sizes would allow the meet operations to be conducted in a much more manageable way to ensure physical distancing throughout the course of competition while also allowing greater flexibility within the development of the schedule of events to aid in this effort.

The sad about the new format will mean people who historically have made it to the finals won’t even make it to regionals as shown below.

###

Speaking of the NCAA, at the DII and DIII ranks, two results caught our eye last week. Props to James Young of Great Britain and the Academy of Art University in San Francisco for remaining undefeated on the year in running 3:37.72 — the #2 1500 time in DII history — to win the Bryan Clay Invite. In the DIII ranks, Johns Hopkins’ Jared Pangallozzi lowered his pb from 30:14.02 to 29:20.29 to take the DIII lead and set a Centennial conference record.

****
Big PRs in the Steeple

Kimeli wins indoors

NCAA indoor 5,000 champion Joyce Kimeli of Auburn returned to the steeplechase for the first time in 21 months last week. She was much improved. In 2019, Kimeli ended her season with a 10:04.71 clocking in the prelims of NCAAs in early June (her pb was 9:52.48). This weekend she ran 9:37.98. She’s the 2021 NCAA leader and the 8th-fastest steepler in NCAA history (the NCAA record belongs to Courtney Frerichs at 9:24.41)

Kimeli wasn’t the only person to run a big PR in the steeple last week. Unsponsored American Craig Nowak lowered his pb from 8:35.14 to 8:21.49 to win the Rick Erdmann Twilight in Richmond, Ky. In the process, he picked up the Olympic standard of 8:22.00 — just the fourth American to do so. The second placer in the race also had a big pb as Eastern Kentucky’s Ahmed Jaziri (Tunisia) lowered his pb from 8:35.16 to 8:23.14 to take the NCAA lead with American Brian Barraza third in 8:25.96.

UPDATE: On Monday, Nowak posted on Instagram that the start line of the steeple at the Rick Erdmann Twilight was placed in the wrong spot and that all marks from that race will be invalidated.

MB: CRAIG MF NOWAK RUNS 8:21 3K STEEPLE 

The Fastest US Steeplers Since 2019

1. 8:08.41 Hillary Bor 2019
2. 8:11.15  Stanley Kebenei 2019
3. 8:12.47 Andy Bayer 2019
4. 8:21.49 Craig Nowak 2021
5. 8:25.96 Brian Barraza 2021

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Craig Nowak (@cnowakrun)

####

Speaking of the steeplechase, we noticed that last year zero American broke 9:00 in the event. If you know the last time this happened, please let us know:

MB:  Zero Americans broke 9:00 in the steeple last year – when is the last time that happened?

****
Furman’s Beth Donnelly Kicked Ass and Ran Both the Leadoff and Anchor Legs at the Tennessee Relays

We didn’t write a Week That Was last week so we’ve been sitting on this story for a week, but we loved it. At the Tennessee Relays on April 10, as the ladies of Furman were warming up for the 4×1500 relay, one of their runners had her Achilles flare up. No worries. Freshman Beth Donnelly stepped up and told coach Rita Gary she’d run two legs.

And she did that as she led the team to victory by running 4:37 on the leadoff and 4:53 on the anchor.

The only bad news was Furman was eventually DQ’d as it’s against the rules to have a runner run two legs on the same relay. Considering one of our secret dreams in life is to see a total stud run the leadoff and anchor legs of a collegiate DMR, we don’t like this rule and it reminds us to state that we’ve long felt the collegiate relay rules should be reworked.

If an athlete is good enough to run two legs on a single relay, they should be allowed to do it, just like they are allowed to run more than one event in a meet. Similarly, if a team is good enough to have two relay teams score in an event, they should be allowed to enter two relay teams in the same event. It makes no sense that a school like Houston can’t enter two 4x100s in a meet.

But back to Furman for a minute. We love how they are having fun while running fast. Winning the 4×1500 was far from a shock as the average seasonal bests of their top four 1500 runners this year is an impressive 4:20. What’s crazy is that’s only 9th-best in the NCAA.

*Women’s 1500 Rankings *USTFCCCA Ranking Hub

***
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.

success