WTW: Olli Hoare & Mary Moraa Win Big, Abbey Caldwell Gets Bronze, & Ethiopia Is Loaded For The Future

The Week That Was in Running, August 1-7, 2022

By Robert Johnson
August 8, 2022

I guess I’m not immune after all. I finally got COVID last week so the family has gone on vacation without me as I’m still quarantining. My loss is your gain as I was actually able to do what I’ve always wanted to do but never been able to as a dad — write this column largely on a Sunday.

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After a brief lull after Worlds, track & field came back in a big way last week as very well-attended Commonwealth Games were held in Birmingham and the Diamond League returned with its first-ever meet in Poland. Domestically, the Beach to Beach 10K returned after a two-year hiatus plus the great Sir Walter Miler was held in North Carolina. I talk about all that and more below.

Each week, I try to make the sport more fun to follow by putting the prior week’s action in perspective for you. Past editions of our Week That Was weekly recap 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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Olli Hoare Finds Redemption In The Commonwealth Games 1500 / Runner A, Runner B, or Runner C

The men’s 1500 final at the Commonwealth Games was thrilling. The stadium was packed. The field was full of talent (in addition to featuring the last two world champs, when the race was over it would show 8 of the fastest 12 men in the world in 2022 were on the start line) and anticipation was high. The crowd had the rare chance to root for a potential win by a British man, since no British man had won a running event at Commonwealths (though two British women won — Eilish McColgan and Laura Muir). In the end, Aussie Olli Hoare spoiled the party and got a ton of redemption for flaming out of Worlds in the semifinal round as he edged past 2019 world champ Timothy Cheruiyot just before the line to get the win in 3:30.12 to Cheruiyot’s 3:30.21. 2022 world champ Jake Wightman settled for the bronze in 3:30.53 as the top six men all broke Filbert Bayi‘s CG record of 3:32.16 which had stood since 1974 (and stood as the WR for five years).

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I know what many of you were thinking.

How did Jake Wightman win the 2022 world title but only finish third at Commonwealths? Would Olli Hoare have won Worlds had he been in the final and run the way he did in the thrilling 1500 final?

Let’s play one of my favorite games as fan is short for fanatic and often we let emotions get in the way.

Please rank Runner A, Runner B, and Runner C from most impressive to least impressive.

  Runner A* Runner B Runner C
400 55.3 55.75 55.4
800 57.1 (1:52.4) 56.66 (1:52.41) 57.2 (1:52.6)
1200 57.0 (2:49.4)  56.06 (2:48.47) 56.7 (2:49.3)
1500 40.72 (3:30.12) 40.76 (3:29.23) 41.3 (3:30.53)

Based on the splits, you should have ranked it like this:

  1. Runner B
  2. Runner A
  3. Runner C

And guess what? Runner B was Jake Wightman at Worlds, Runner A was Olli Hoare at the Commonwealth Games, and Runner C was Jake Wightman at the Commonwealth Games.

Wightman won Worlds because he ran a much better race there than he did at Commonwealths. No, Hoare wouldn’t have won Worlds if he’d produced the same race as he did at Commonwealths. The opening splits were almost the same and the final 300s in both races were nearly identical but Wightman ran almost a full second faster in Eugene.

And I don’t want to hear some talk about how times aren’t everything as track surfaces are different, weather is different, etc. Weather wasn’t a factor.

*I hand-timed those splits as I think the official splits are off, particularly for Hoare’s last 300.

M1500 CG Video:

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Don’t Teach This To Your Kids At Home – Mary Moraa Goes From 1st To Last To 1st To Win Commonwealth Games 800 Title

Kenya’s Mary Moraa made history on Saturday night in Birmingham in the Commonwealth Games women’s 800 final, which she won in 1:57.07 to Keely Hodgkinson‘s 1:57.40.

Never before in an elite 800 race has anyone gone from first to last to first (email us if we are wrong). And that’s exactly what Moraa did as she was first for the first 365 meters or so, then faded to last at 500 before rallying for the win. First to last to first? Yes, it really happened.

How so? Well she went out super fast — I’d say stupidly fast — for the first 200 (26.2). Then she really slowed down, particularly between 300 and 500, before speeding up again and kicking it home.

Her splits were something like 41-low for the first 300, 47-low for the next 300, then 28.7*. Afterwards, Moraa said she didn’t do it on purpose. She just felt she went out too hard so she backed off before feeling good again and kicking it in.

When the race ended, it did make some at LetsRun wonder if this might be a sign that Moraa is a supreme talent who can one day challenge Athing Mu at 800 if Moraa learns to run more traditionally. 

Time will tell but I’ll remind you that while going from first to last to first is unprecedented, Athing Mu herself recently blasted a fast 300, then cruised for 300 before kicking it in for 200.

In the second heat of the semifinals of USAs this year, Mu went out aggressively for 300 (27.0 at 200, 41.57 at 300) before backing off over the next 300 (46.09, 600 in 1:27.66) before accelerating again and closing in 29.90, running 1:57.55. 

Full CG 800 

MB: Mary Moraa Goes from 1st to Last to 1st in Commonwealth 800 – Has this ever happened before in an elite 800?

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This isn’t the first time Mary Moraa has come back from the dead to stun announcers who have written her off. In the mixed 4×400 at the 2017 World U18 Championships in Nairobi, she gave up the lead to Brazil’s Alison dos Santos — yes, that Alison dos Santos — but came back on him.

The announcer couldn’t believe it. It’s amazing video. Watch it below.

I hope you enjoyed it. But the video is a little misleading. The announcer didn’t realize that dos Santos let her win. It was a preliminary round where the top 3 were auto qualifiers to the final (dos Santos wound up anchoring Brazil to gold).

*I think the official splits of 40.7 – 47.1 – 29.3 are off. 

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Sweet Vindication For Abbey Caldwell

I must admit I took great enjoyment in seeing 21-year-old Abbey Caldwell take home the bronze medal for Australia in the women’s 1500 at the Commonwealth Games. In case you haven’t been following her situation closely, Caldwell won the Aussie 1500 championships in April. She then flew over to the US and hit the Worlds 1500 standard a few weeks later, but was left off the Australian team.

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Every Aussie champ who had the standard at the time of the Trials or hit the standard at the Trials was guaranteed a spot on the team. You’d think that Caldwell hitting the standard after the Trials would be even better as it indicates fitness closer to Worlds, but the Aussie selectors realized they technically didn’t have to take her so they left her off the team. Australia has four really good 1500 runners and one was going to be devastated and they decided it would be the one who won their national championship (and beat two of the others in that race).

Along the way, Caldwell reportedly turned down a Puma contract offered to her by Aussie super agent Nic Bideau. One of Bideau’s other clients, Georgia Griffith, did sign with Puma and ended up on the team. And Bideau is believed by many to have been involved in the selection process. Oh and I think I forgot to mention that at one point after the Aussie champs, Bideau sent Caldwell’s coach Gavin Burren an email that read:

“Hi Gav,
Congratulations on the national title with Abbey in the 1500m. I trust you have a plan in place to allow Abbey to qualify to confirm her automatic selection once she runs the time.
If by some chance you don’t have it organised and need help, let us know and we will try to put something in place.
Regards,
Nic Bideau”

You can’t make this up.

Now don’t misunderstand me.

I’m not saying Griffith shouldn’t have been on the team.  Or that Bideau did something wrong.

Griffith was the Aussie runner-up and ended up 9th at Worlds this year. But there are two other super deserving people as well. Jessica Hull, who ran and won the 5000 at the Aussie champs, is the national record holder and ended up 7th at Worlds this year, while Linden Hall, who was 3rd at the Aussie champs, has run 3:59.01, was the winner in Stockholm this year and was 6th in the Olympics last year.

A very deserving runner was going to go home devastated. But it shouldn’t have been the national champ.

The sport needs more meets that matter. The Aussies should 100% send their national champ with the standard. It makes that meet matter more. End of story.

As for picking the final two, here’s a novel idea: you could have had all three race each other. Again, the sport needs more meets that matter. 

Hall and Linden both raced on June 30 in Stockholm. Hull raced July 2 in Portland. This doesn’t have to be that complicated. When there are huge conflicts of interest that are hard to get around, take the emotion out of it. Let a race result decide it.

More: MB: Abby Caldwell makes the Aussie selectors look like fools – Bronze in 1500 at CGs!! 
*MB: Aussie 1500m champ w/qualifying time left off WC team

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The Wanda Diamond League Goes to Poland

With China paying the consequences of somehow thinking it could keep COVID at zero forever, there was an opening for a new Diamond League host this year. The Polish government stepped up and hosted the first-ever DL in Poland on Saturday in Silesia.

Nine Eugene world champs showed up and seven of them got wins (Shericka Jackson, Alison dos Santos, Chase Ealey, Emmanuel Korir, Mondo Duplantis), with two of them putting up better marks in Poland than in Eugene (Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce 10.66 and Michael Norman 44.11). The only world champs to lose in Poland were triple jumper Pedro Pichardo (2nd in 17.29 as Andy Diaz Hernandez of Cuba jumped 17.53) and 400 world champ Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who was crushed by Jackson in the 200, 21.84 to 22.35. We hope beatdowns like that convince Miller-Uibo not to give up the 400 for the 200 down the line like she’s claimed she’s going to do.

American Ajee Wilson didn’t win anything in Eugene – she was last there – but did get the win in Poland.

More: Poland DL Results *WA Recap of Poland DL

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Femke Bol Does Something Sydney McLaughlin Has Never Done

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One of the happiest winners in Poland was Femke Bol, who was visibly excited to join the sub-50 club in the open 400 by clocking a pb of 49.75 (previous pb of 50.37).

Bol’s 49.75 now gives her a little bragging rights over her American rivals Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad as neither of them has ever broken 50.00.

So does this give us any insight into what Sydney McLaughlin might be able to do for the flat 400?

Below you will see a chart comparing the flat 400 pbs and 400 hurdle pbs of the six fastest 400 hurdling men and women in history. 

Comparison of 400h PBs vs 400 PBs Women
  400h pb 400 pb Diff. % Diff
Sydney McLaughlin 50.68 50.07 0.61 1.22%
Dalilah Muhammad 51.58 50.60 0.98 1.94%
Femke Bol 52.03 49.75 2.28 4.58%
Yuliya Pechonkina 52.34 51.00 1.34 2.63%
Shamier Little 52.39 49.91 2.48 4.97%
Melaine Walker 52.42 51.61 0.81 1.57%
    Avg 1.42 2.82%

 

Comparison of 400h PBs vs 400 PBs Men
Athlete 400h pb 400 pb Diff. % Diff
Karsten Warholm 45.94 44.87 1.07 2.38%
Rai Benjamin 46.17 44.31 1.86 4.20%
Alison dos Santos 46.29 44.54 1.75 3.93%
Kevin Young 46.78 45.11 1.67 3.70%
Abderrahmane Samba 46.98 44.60 2.38 5.34%
Edwin Moses 47.02 45.60 1.42 3.11%
    Avg 1.69 3.78%

Hopefully that chart will convince you that talk of McLaughlin breaking 47.60 in the open 400 is foolish for the time being. The biggest gap between the flat 400 and 400h pb of any of the 12 fastest 400 hurdlers in history — 6 men and 6 women — is 2.48 seconds. McLaughlin’s 400h pb is 3.08 seconds off the official 47.60 women’s 400h WR.

If McLaughlin were to run 47.60, then the gap between her 400 and 400h times would be 6.47%.

  400h pb 400 WR Diff. % Diff
Sydney McLaughlin 50.68 47.60 3.08 6.47%

If you take 2.28 seconds off McLaughlin’s 400h time to give her the same gap as Bol, that would make McLaughlin a 48.40 performer, which would put her in contention for fastest clean runner 400 ever.

You tell me which of the six women in history who have run under 48.40 were clean.

1. 47.60 Marita Koch GER – 6 Oct 1985 
2. 47.99 Jarmila Kratochvílová CZE – 10 Aug 1983
3. 48.14 Salwa Eid Naser BRN – 3 Oct 2019 
4. 48.25 Marie-José Pérec FRA – 29 Jul 1996
5. 48.27 Olga Bryzgina UKR – 6 Oct 1985
6. 48.36 NR Shaunae Miller-Uibo BAH – 6 Aug 2021

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Diribe Welteji Remains Undefeated in the 1500, Might She Be Ethiopia’s Next 1500 Star? And If Not, Who Will Be?

Distance-wise in Poland, reigning Olympic and world champ Emmanuel Korir showed up on the starting line wearing Puma, revealing he’s no longer unsponsored, and then came from behind to win the 800 in 1:45.72 as Bryce Hoppel (6th, 1:46.35), Clayton Murphy (8th, 1:46.79), and Erik Sowinski (9th, 1:47.30) showed why no Americans got out of the first round in Eugene. In the women’s 3000, Sifan Hassan proved she’s going to be hard to beat moving forward as she dispatched 5000 world leader Ejgayehu Taye 8:39.27 to 8:40.14 as American Alicia Monson was fourth in 8:41.61.

In the women’s 1500, 5000 world champ Gudaf Tsegay took a crack at the world record and ended up losing the race as after going out in 60.0 and 2:03.1, she was spent and could only manage a 32.3 final 200. As a result, she was blasted in the final 100 by 20-year-old compatriot Diribe Welteji, who went out a little more cautiously (60.5, 2:04.7) and was just waiting to pounce until she hit the homestretch and ran a 14.5 final to clock a 3:56.91 pb (previous pb 3:58.93) to Tsegay’s 3:58.18.

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Welteji, the 2018 world junior champ in the 800 who was 4th in Eugene in the Worlds 800 a few weeks ago, may have quite a future in the event. She’s undefeated in the 1500 on the year but didn’t get to run the 1500 (which she ran at the Olympics but went out in the first round) at Worlds as before Saturday her sb was 3:59.19.

If Welteji doesn’t end up being a star, it seems likely the next big women’s 1500 star will be one of her young compatriots. Check out Ethiopia’s young talent in the 1500 right now. They have six women age 20-21 who have run 4:00 or faster this year.

Diribe Welteji –  3:56.91 – featured in this piece, just turned 20 in June.
Hirut Meshesha – 3:57.30 – World indoor bronze, winner in Rabat and Rome this year, only 12th at Worlds. Turned 21 in January.
Freweyni Hailu – 3:58.18 – Snakebit, 4th in Tokyo and 4th in Eugene. Turned 21 in February.
Ayal Dagnachew – 3:59.87 – Won 800 world junior gold last year, but ran the 3000 in Poland (8:47.10 for 12th). 3rd in African champs this year in 1500. Turned 20 in January.
Lemlem Hailu – 4:00.32 – World indoor 3000 champ turned 21 in May. Only ran 4:09 in Poland. 
Netsanet Desta – 4:00.84 – 21-year-old won silver in 800 at African champs earlier this year (1:59 pb), 7th in Poland.

If that’s not enough, reinforcements were on the way. Ethiopia has four women age 16-17 who have run 4:04 this year including Birke Haile, who won world juniors in Colombia last week.

Birke Haile – 4:02.25 – 16-year-old won world junior title in Colombia last week in 4:04.27 CR.
Mebriht Mekonen – 4:03.29 – 17-year-old was 4th in World Juniors.
Kassie Wubrist – 4:03.86 – 17-year-old was 4th in World Athletics Nairobi meet earlier this year.
Wezam Tesfay – 4:04.12 – Just 17.
Hiwot Mehari – 4:04.86 – 19-year-old was 4th at World juniors last year.

And it’s not like Gudaf Tsegay is old. She’s 25.

It will be interesting to see how many Ethiopians run in the Monaco Diamond League on Wednesday, which has a women’s 1500 (no men’s this year).

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US Results of Note / Nikki Hiltz Runs 4:21 and Beach To Beacon Returns

Six weeks ago, when the US champs ended, things weren’t looking good for Nikki Hiltz. The 2019 world championship team member, who sports a 4:01.52 pb from 2019, hadn’t broken 4:07 on the year and was only 10th at USAs. Rather than wallow in self-pity Hiltz ran 4:04.12 to win at the Sound Running Sunset Tour meet in Los Angeles. Then at the Sir Walter Miler on Friday night, Hiltz won in 4:21.89, which is equivalent to 4:02.45 in the 1500. Nice work. Yared Nuguse was easily the class of the men’s field at Sir Walter Miler, winning in 3:53.34. *Results

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After a two-year hiatus, the Beach to Beach 10K returned to Maine for the first time in 1,099 days on Saturday. In super humid conditions, 58:43 half marathon man Mathew Kimeli, 24, got the win on the men’s side in 28:39 while Ethiopia’s Fentyea Belayneh, the 21-year-old African silver medallist in the 5000 this year, won her US road race debut in 32:07.

The local newspaper’s article on the race by Glenn Jordan was great. He revealed that both the men’s and women’s runners-up had travel nightmares getting to the race. As anyone who has been on a plane recently knows, flying these days is not fun as if there is a cancellation the airplanes are so full and airlines so understaffed you likely aren’t getting to where you need to go anytime soon.

13:13 man Athanas Kioko, formerly of Campbell, overcame two flight cancellations and an overnight stay in a motel before getting picked up by some friends at 4:30 a.m. for a near two-hour drive to the race. He bought his own bib, put it on, and then finished second in 28:59.

Maine native Emily Durgin almost made history as the American led much of the race and no American woman has ever won Beach to Beacon. Her connecting flight was cancelled so she and her boyfriend drove nearly seven hours from Philadelphia on Friday. That didn’t stop her from running 32:16.

More: Mathew Kimeli (28:38) And Fentyea Belayneh (32:06) Win Beach To Beacon 10k Biya Simbassa (3rd, 29:01) and Emily Durgin (2nd, 32:16) were the top Americans. *Results

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Stat of the Week 

$734,040 – amount in total compensation that Florida track coach Mike Holloway received last year from Florida. Gatorsports.com wrote that “this past season, Holloway made a base salary of $321,200, with bonuses that increased his total compensation to $734,040. By 2024, Holloway’s longevity and equipment bonuses, currently at $80,000 and $100,000, will increase to $125,000 and $145,000.”

$450,000 – Jerry Schumacher’s base salary at the University of Oregon. Before you think, “Wow I can’t believe the Florida coach makes that much more than the Oregon coach,” remember, Schumacher also gets paid by Nike to coach the Bowerman Track Club.

More:

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RIP Bill Russell

Bill Russell died last week and he’ll forever be known as an all-time basketball great. But did you also know he was pretty damn good at the high jump? In 1956, Russell was ranked #7 in the world by Track & Field News and his University of San Francisco school record of 2.06m has stood for 66 years and counting.

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More: MB: Bill Russell is dead but his 66-year old high jump record at Univ of San Fran lives on and may never be broken

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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.

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