WTW: Is Letesenbet Gidey The Second Coming Of Paula Radcliffe / Eliud Kipchoge + Free Career Advice For CJ Albertson and Jim Walmsley

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

By LetsRun.com
October 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.

Letesenbet Gidey Debuts At 62:52 In The Half Marathon

If you missed Jonathan Gault’s analysis of Letesenbet Gidey’s half marathon world record, please read it now: LRC Making Sense of Letesenbet Gidey’s INCREDIBLE 62:52 Half Marathon World Record in Valencia.

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Yes, the super shoes have made world records commonplace on the roads, but this one was special. As Gault pointed out, Gidey is 59 seconds faster than anyone else in history, which is remarkable.

The gap between her and every other woman on the roads is astronomical. She reminds us very much of a modern-day Paula Radcliffe.

  • Both were teen prodigies that won the world junior cross country title (Gidey won it twice).
  • Both competed well on the track but were viewed as someone who didn’t have the speed to win the big one (Radcliffe never won a global medal won silver in 1999 in the 10,000, Gidey won silver in Doha and bronze in Tokyo).
  • Both moved to the roads and pretty much instantly redefined what we thought was possible.

The biggest difference is form. Gidey’s is super smooth and a joy to watch, Radcliffe’s wasn’t.

If you want another comparison, Eliud Kipchoge fits the bell as well. He too was a teen prodigy who won a world junior XC title. He too was really good on the track but hardly dominant (he won one global gold) but has proven to find his true event on the roads where he is largely unbeatable.

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images


Believe it or not, Gidey’s run wasn’t the only incredible thing to happen in Valencia. A record seven men broke 59 minutes in a half marathon for the first time (previous record was six in Valencia last year) and all-time best times for place were set at positions six (Muktar Edris 58:40), seven (Mathew Kimeli 58:43), eight (Kelvin Kiptum 59:02), nine (Rodgers Kwemoi 59:16) and 10 (Felix Kipkoech 59:28).

And can we also give a shoutout to American Frank Lara? Lara, who trains in Boulder with the Roots Running Project and was unsponsored until inking a contract with Altra a couple of weeks ago, ran 61:00 in Valencia. That time only put him 18th overall, but it was a 50-second pb for Lara and the fastest half by an American not named Rupp in over three years.

What we love about Lara is that he did something so few Americans try to do: he sought out a super-fast race loaded with really fast guys, set himself a really aggressive goal (sub-60:00), and followed through. Lara went out with the second group in Valencia, hitting 14:12 at 5k and 28:31 at 10k, and he was still on 60:11 pace at 15k before fading late (he later said he was battling side cramps). Lara is now tied for ninth on the all-time US half marathon list with some guy by the name of Meb Keflezighi.

Stat of the Week I / Putting Gidey’s WR in perspective

29:47.8 – pace per 10,000 meters averaged by Letesenbet Gidey in Valencia.

7 – number of women in world history who have ever run 29:47.8 or faster for 10,000 meters. Gidey’s split between 5k and 15k was 29:29, a time only ever bettered by the last three world record holders of the 10,000 — Almaz Ayana, Sifan Hassan, and Gidey.

Stat of the Week II / Bashir Abdi Breaks The European Record

2:03:36 – the new European record in the men’s marathon. Olympic bronze medallist Bashir Abdi of Belgium ran that time to win Rotterdam over the weekend as two other men broke 2:05, to break Turkey’s Kaan Kigen Ozbilen’s 2:04:16 record.

24 – number of times that 2:05:00 has been broken in 2021, easily the most ever.

Bashir Abdi sets the European marathon record in Rotterdam. Via @marathonrotterdam

If you want to see the impact of the super shoes on the marathon, look below. FYI, 2018 was the first full year that Nike’s were on sale to the public.

Sub-2:05 marathons
2021 24
2020 10*
2019 17
2018 17
2017 4
2016 7
2015 3
2014 8
2013 9
2012 11
2011 7

*limited competitions due to COVID-19.

The crazy thing is, the number could have been even bigger this year. Many spring 2021 marathons were wiped out due to COVID, and as a result, there were eight sub-2:05’s in the first six months of 2021 compared to 16 in the last six months (with two months still to go).

Stat of the Week III / Women’s Marathoning Isn’t Nearly As Deep As Men’s

The women’s winner in Rotterdam was Kenya’s Stella Barsosio, who won in 2:22:08. A 2:22:08 winning time isn’t noteworthy at all in the year 2021 but what was noteworthy was her winning margin — she won by 8:20.

This is yet another example that women’s long distance running at the pro level isn’t nearly as deep as on the men’s side. And it makes sense. The outrage over Agnes Tirop’s murder in Kenya is fueled in part by the fact many are upset by how blatantly sexist Kenya and much of Africa still is in the year 2021.

And that’s reflected in the running results as shown by the following stat.

20 – total number of women that have run within five minutes of the 2021 women’s world lead of 2:17:43.

94 – total number of men that have run within five minutes of the 2021 men’s world lead of 2:02:57.

The Beer Mile GOAT takes the world record below 4:30

The half marathon is not the only event in which the world record books have undergone serious revisions over the past decade. The Beer Mile (run four laps, chugging a 12 oz beer before each one) has been in the midst of a revolution. At the start of 2014, the world record stood at 5:02.5, but in April 2014, American James Nielsen ran 4:57.1 to become the first man under 5:00, and since then, the record has been broken 10 more times.

The last four of those records belong to Canada’s Corey Bellemore, who at this point has to be regarded as the GOAT of the Beer Mile. In 2016, he was the first man under 4:40, and his world record entering last weekend stood at 4:33.6.

On Saturday, at the 2021 Beer Mile World Classic in Manchester, England, Bellemore obliterated his own WR by running 4:28.1. How fast is that? Check out Bellemore’s splits:

Beer 1: 6.6 seconds
Lap 1: 55.8
Beer 2: 7.6
Lap 2: 60.4
Beer 3: 7.2
Lap 3: 62.4
Beer 4: 7.1
Lap 4: 60.6

(If you’re wondering how that adds up to a full mile, there is a nine-meter “chug zone” between the mile start line and the regular start/finish line and athletes are allowed to walk forward through it while chugging.)

If you add up just Bellemore’s running splits, it comes to 3:59.2. That’s not quite a sub-4 mile (walking in the chug zone means the first three laps were all 391 meters) but it’s still insanely fast (4:04 mile pace), especially when Bellemore’s “rest” is chugging a beer.

As you might imagine, anyone who can run that fast for a Beer Mile has to be a pretty fast regular runner, and indeed, Bellemore is a 3:57 miler who has a pro deal with adidas.

Bellemore is now nine seconds faster than anyone else in history for the Beer Mile (American Chris Robertson has run 4:37.4), but it’s possible he could still run faster. In 2018, he ran 4:24 but was DQ’d for having too much beer left in his bottles (the max is 4 oz).

Video of Bellemore’s record run below:

CJ Albertson averages 5:36 pace for 40 miles

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On Sunday, less than two weeks after finishing 10th at the Boston Marathon (after leading the first 20 miles), CJ Albertson was at it again. The 28-year-old, whose Strava account has become famous for his super long, super fast training efforts, posted one of his craziest entries to date, a 40.11-mile long run near his home in Fresno, Calif., which he covered in 3:44:19, a pace of 5:36/mile.

Albertson titled the Strava post “May move up to the 100k so I can say I’m better than Gidey in at least one event,” a nod to the fact that her 62:52 half marathon WR is faster than his 64:17 pb. Gidey’s 29:01 10k WR is also better than Albertson’s 29:37 pb, but he does have the edge at 5k, where he ran 13:50 in college at Arizona State to Gidey’s 14:06 WR.

Moving up to the 100k might be fun for running fans, however, as we could get a battle between Albertson and Jim Walmsley. In 2019, Walmsley ran a world best of 4:50:08 for 50 miles (5:48/mile) and earlier this year narrowly missed the 100k (62.1 miles) world record of 6:09:14 (5:56/mile).

Actually, forget the 100k. How about Albertson and Walmsley race each other at Comrades next year? The last two editions of the famed 90k race were cancelled due to COVID, but the next one, scheduled to be held in August 2022, could be a great opportunity for two of America’s best long distance runners to win the race — something only one American man has done (Alberto Salazar in 1994). After all, Walmsley was already training for Comrades this year before it got cancelled, and the 2022 edition is a “down” year (the course alternates between downhill and uphill each year), which would be great for Albertson, the self-proclaimed “best downhill runner in the world.”

The running world loses another star way, way too soon

On Saturday, 2015 world cross country champion and 2017 & 2019 World Championship 10,000m bronze medalist Agnes Tirop was laid to rest in Nandi County, Kenya, on what would have been her 26th birthday after she was stabbed to death on October 13. Over 4,000 people turned out for the funeral, including Olympic champions David Rudisha, Peruth Chemutai, and Joshua Cheptegei, the latter two traveling from Uganda to honor a Kenyan athlete.

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One day earlier, another tragedy unfolded in the running world as Alex Quinonez, the 2019 World Championship bronze medalist from Ecuador, was shot in his hometown of Guayaquil. The shooting came four days into a 60-day nationwide state of emergency after a recent crime surge.

Quinonez is the greatest sprinter that Ecuador, a nation of 17 million people, ever produced. He held national records in the 100 (10.09), 200 (19.87), and 400 (46.28) and was just the second Ecuadorian to earn a World Championship medal, after race walker Jefferson Perez. Just before this summer’s Olympics, Quinonez had been banned 12 months for whereabouts failures. Quinonez had delegated responsibility for updating his whereabouts to his agent, Alberto Suarez, who assumed full responsibility for the third missed test.

Between the deaths of Quinonez, Tirop, and Kenyan athletes Edith Muthoni and Hosea Macharinyang, it has been a sad month in the sport of running.

Other News of Note

Abbabiya Simbassa (1:14:27) And Makena Morley (1:23:17) Win USATF 25k Championships At The Amway Fiver Bank Run The men’s side was a nail biter as Simbassa finished with the same time as runner-up Futsum Zienasellassie while Sam Chelanga was 1-second back in third. Morley won the women’s race by a good margin over Erika Kemp (1:24:00).

Recommended Reads

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.

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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