WTW: Ultramarathoning’s greatest world record gets broken as does the women’s half marathon record and what’s next for Centro?

The Week That Was in Running – August 23 – August 29, 2021

By Robert Johnson
August 31, 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 on our forum.

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Stat of the Week I

63:44 – new women’s half marathon world record run by 22-year-old Yalemzerf Yehualaw of Ethiopia at the Antrim Coast Half Marathon in Northern Ireland on Sunday.

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2:13:21 – equivalent time in the marathon, according to the World Athletics scoring tables.

2:14:04 – women’s marathon WR.

The 22-year-old Yehualaw, who won bronze at the World Half in 2020, has never run a marathon. She’s also barely run on the track. Up to this point, she’s largely been a half marathon specialist. She made her European debut in the 10,000 on the track this year at the Ethiopian Olympic trials in Hengelo, where she narrowly missed out on making the Olympic team after finishing 4th in 30:20. In that race, she was lapped by world record holder Letesenbet Gidey, who ran a world record of 29:01. Four days later, Yehualaw ran (and won) her first 5000 on the track in Nice in 14:53.

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Aleksandr Sorokin Breaks Yiannis Kouros’ Legendary 24-Hour Record

A few years ago, when we did a month-long deep dive into the ultramarathon world, we called Yiannis Kouros‘ men’s 24-hour world record of 303.306 km (188.68 miles) the greatest record in ultrarunning: LRC GOAT: Yiannis Kouros’ 24-Hour Record of 303.306 KM (188.68 Miles) From 1997 Is The Greatest Ultramarathon World Record.

After all, the event markets itself — How far can you run in a day? — and Kouros’ mark had never come close to being touched. Kouros held the top nine marks in history and no other human had come within 13 miles (21 km) of his record.

When Kouros set the mark, he was thrilled to have broken the 300 km mark and declared, “I will run no more 24-hour races. This record will stand for centuries.”

That didn’t prove to be the case as the record is no more.

Over the weekend at the UltraPark Weekend in Wolnosci Park, Pabianice, Poland, 100-mile world record holder Aleksandr Sorokin of Lithuania ran 309.4 kilometers (192.25 miles) on a paved loop course to break Kouros’ mark while Andriy Tkachuk of the Ukraine ran the #3 mark ever of 295.36 kms.

Sorokin’s record run came as a shock. Ultramarathoner and friend of LRC Paul Kentor said most pundits expected the record to last generations since no one had come close to it.

It’s really mind-blowing to try to put the new record in perspective. Sorokin ran almost 200 miles in a single day. Sorokin averaged 7:29.4 miles for an entire day, or as David Monti put it, he “ran 7.3 marathons in a row averaging [3:16:22] for each marathon.”

While Sorokin’s run was fantastic, if it wasn’t for super shoes, it’s unlikely he’d be the record holder.

Yes, he improved Kouros’ mark by 2.0%, which is a greater percentage increase than what we’ve seen in the men’s marathon in the super shoe era — 1.1% (from 2:02:57 to 2:01:39). But if you think super shoes help in a marathon, imagine what they do in terms of a day-long race. One of the key benefits is not only are they super light, they also help you not trash your legs.

Plus back in the day, Kouros ran his record on a 400m track. A track is softer than a road, so it helps save your legs. But a road is faster because it’s harder. To be able to run on a road is a big advantage.

Speaking of Kouros, back in 2019, we reached out to him for an interview over email. His amazing replies got misplaced in my email inbox and we’ve been waiting for the perfect time to publish the interview. Now is the time. If you are a fan of ultrarunning or just mental toughness, it’s a must-read. Some of his answers will blow your mind — like how one of ultramarathoning’s greatest runners tells you how he doesn’t believe in long runs or even running year-round in training.

Read it here: LRC Q&A With Legendary Ultramarathoner Yiannis Kouros: “I don’t believe in long runs and I am against doing them.

*MB: Aleksandr Sorokin (100 miles world record holder) is running close to Kouros pace in a 24 hour race!!!

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In other ultra news, the fabled UTMB was held for the first time since 2019 and history was made in both the women’s and men’s races. American Courtney Dauwalter successfully defended her 2019 title and set a women’s course record of 22:30:54, running more than two hours faster than she did in 2019 for the 170 km course. Before this year, the fastest women’s time for a 170km UTMB was Dauwalter’s 24:34:26 from 2019, though American Rory Bosio ran 22:37:26 on a 167 km course in 2014.

In the men’s race, François D’Haene of France became the first man to win a fourth title (he also won in 2012, 2014 and 2017; Xavier Thevenard and Kilian Jornet have won three) just five weeks after setting a course record in the Hardrock 100.

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Speaking of ultras, marathon GOAT Eliud Kipchoge may give ultra fans the thrill of a lifetime and eventually run them. Fans have always wanted to see what an elite marathoner could do in an ultra and we may get to see that with Kipchoge down the road. Check this quote out from Kipchoge from last week, “After leaving the marathon, I want to run the ultramarathons just to feel how it is. Running for more than four or five days or even run at once for 70 kilometers. I really want to feel the pain of running for a long time.”

More: France’s François D’Haene And USA’s Courtney Dauwalter Win UTMB Ultra It was D’haene’s fourth win and a CR for Dauwalter. Jim Walmsley was a DNF.
*MBAmerican men suck at UTMB
*Aleksandr Sorokin Runs New 24-Hour World Record He ran 192.252 miles (309.400 kilometers). That’s 7:29 pace for 24-hours.
*MBAleksandr Sorokin (100 miles world record holder) is running close to Kouros pace in a 24 hour race!!!
*LRC GOAT: Yiannis Kouros’ 24-Hour Record of 303.306 KM (188.68 Miles) From 1997 Is The Greatest Ultramarathon World Record
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How Quickly Matthew Centrowitz’s Dreams and Form Have Declined

Just over a month ago, American Matthew Centrowitz thought he was in the form of his life and hoping to break Alan Webb‘s 3:46.91 American mile record before heading off to Tokyo where he was dreaming of repeating as Olympic champion. Centrowitz came up well short of the AR (but did PR in 3:49.26) then didn’t even make the Olympic final, where he ran the equivalent of 3:50.82 in the mile (3:33.69 1500) before running 3:53.32 in the mile at Pre.

Last week, the disappointing results continued as he ran in the lucrative Downtown Yakima Mile, where he was dead last in 3:57. In each of his last four races (not counting his first round prelim in Tokyo), Matthew Centrowitz has run slower than in his previous race and finished in the same or a lower position.

Centrowitz’s declining form over the last 5 weeks

3:49.26 – mile time in AR attempt on July 24
3:50.82 – equivalent mile time for Centrowitz in semifinals of the Tokyo Olympics, where he ran 3:33.69 for 1500 for 9th on August 5
3:53.32 – mile time at Pre Classic on August 21, where he was 9th
3:57 – time he ran in road mile to finish 10th on August 28

The question now is what does the future hold for Matthew Centrowitz, who turns 32 in October?

Does he still want to run? If so, what event? Some will want him to move to the 5000 where the good news he has a 13:00 pb but the bad news is that only the 4th best PB on the BTC team.

And if he does continue to run, does he stick with the BTC? If his contract is up for renewal, we imagine Nike would want to reduce it like they have in the past with stars whom they viewed as being on the backside of their careers whether it was Leo Manzano, Kara Goucher, Meb Keflezighi or Allyson Felix. Might he possibly jump ship for another brand / training group?

Tell us what you think on our messageboard: What’s next for Centro?.

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America’s most decorated female miler, Jenny Simpson, has seemingly given up on the 1500/mile entirely — at least for this year. It was announced last week that Simpson, who has not raced since the Olympic Trials on June 21, will make her long distance road racing debut at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile on September 12 in Washington, D.C.

“My earliest memories and my introduction to the running world was through a community road race,” Simpson said in a statement provided by race organizers. “As I pursued a professional career on the track, I’ve had the incredible joy of experiencing road racing as a spectator through my husband’s marathoning. When I found myself this summer with the freedom to train for anything I wanted, my memory of the challenge and the fun of racing the roads tugged at my heart. I’m excited to take on the challenge of racing the Cherry Blossom 10 mile run. After years of battling within the oval track, I’m anxious to find out what I’m capable of on the roads of our nation’s capital.”

We believe the race will be the longest race of Simpson’s life. She hasn’t run anything longer than a 5000 since collapsing and finishing 163rd at the 2009 NCAA XC meet (6k), where she was 163rd.

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If We Ran The Olympic 800 Final Four Times, Would Anyone Win More Than Once?

It caught my eye that eight of the nine Tokyo men’s 800 finalists have all continued to race a lot after the Olympics. Everyone in the Olympic final save for Nijel Amos has run at least two 800s on the Diamond League circuit since Tokyo. Thus I thought it would be fun to compile their results.

DL Men’s 800 Results Since Tokyo
Tokyo Pre* Lausanne Paris
Emmanuel Korir 1:45.06 (1st) 1:45.05 (3rd) 1:44.62 (2nd) N/A
Ferguson Rotich 2nd (1:45.23) 2nd (1:45.02)  3rd (1:45.48) 2nd (1:45.45)
Patryk Dobek   3rd (1:45.39)  N/A 10th (1:50.60) 10th (1:48.37)
Peter Bol 4th (1:45.92) N/A 9th (1:47.49) 4th (1:44.88)
Adrian Ben 5th (1:45.96) N/A 8th (1:46.75) 8th (1:45.40)
Amel Tuka  6th (1:45.98) N/A 6th (1:45.98) 7th (1:45.37)
Gabriel Tual 7th (1:46.03) N/A 4th (1:45.70) 6th (1:45.05)
Clayton Murphy 9th (1:46.53) 5th (1:45.97) 5th (1:45.77) 9th (1:45.60)
Marco Arop N/A (Semis 1:44.90) 1st (1:44.51) 1st (1:44.50) 3rd (1:44.74)

What you see in the table above is that for the most part, people’s results have stayed fairly consistent.

Emmanuel Korir and Ferguson Rotich of Kenya were very worthy medallists and have continued to finish near the top of the pack on the DL circuit. The mid-packers have continued to finish mid-pack. The only noticeable big change is that Marco Arop has gone from being not in the Tokyo final to the top man in the DL while bronze medallist Patryk Dobek has lost his form.

It’s interesting to note that all three DL 800’s since the Olympics have been won by someone not in the Tokyo final. Arop won Pre and Lausanne while Wycliffe Kinyamal won Paris.

Clayton Murphy’s middling post-Tokyo results have been extra disappointing as barring some scratches he’s now missed out on qualifying for the DL final. Here are the top 10 in the DL standings.

1 Ferguson Cheruiyot ROTICH KEN 5 33.00
2 Marco AROP CAN 4 27.00
3 Wyclife KINYAMAL KEN 3 23.00
4 Elliot GILES GBR 3 14.00
4 Amel TUKA BIH 6 14.00
4 Emmanuel Kipkurui KORIR KEN 2 14.00
7 Isaiah HARRIS USA 2 12.00
8 Adrián BEN ESP 4 11.00
8 Peter BOL AUS 3 11.00
10 Clayton MURPHY USA 4 9.00

Here are the women’s DL points standings. American Josette Norris has qualified for the women’s 1500 final.

*The men’s 800 at Pre wasn’t technically a DL event.

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Francine Niyonsaba Continues To Impress

After intersex athlete Francine Niyonsaba‘s fantastic 8:19.08 (#5 all-time) 3000 in Paris, a friend asked me, “My god she’s great at the long distance stuff. Was she in the wrong event all these years when she was running the 800?”

I replied, “No. I don’t think so. It may just seem that way to you as in the 800, the top people race a little more often so she was more likely to encounter Semenya.”

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And in terms of head-to-head matchups, Niyonsaba beat Caster Semenya the very first time they raced in Monaco in 2012 and then lost to her 19 straight times.

The reality is, the World Athletics scoring tables convert her 8:19.08 pb to 1:55.37 for 800 and her pb is 1:55.47. It also equates it to 3:54.94 for 1500, 14:17. 69 for 5000, and 30:01.13 for 10,000. Those times are good enough to win on the DL circuit but not good enough to win if the very best person in the world shows up.

In the 800, stars race a little more often so Niyonsaba was likely to encounter Semenya more often than she may be to catch a Gudaf Tsegay or Sifan Hassan in a 3000, but when Semenya was absent, Niyonsaba won. Niyonsaba won two official DL races in 2016, 2017, and 2018 whereas this year she’s won one. In the 800, while Niyonsaba had almost zero chance for gold, she was basically guaranteed a silver medal. In a longer distance events, if everyone shows up, a medal isn’t guaranteed as she left without one in Tokyo.

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Speaking of Niyonsaba, if you haven’t read what I wrote about her in Tokyo, please do so now as what happened to her was simply wrong: LRC The Disgraceful Disqualification of Francine Niyonsaba. She never got to battle for a 5000 medal.

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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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