WTW: The 2022 Summer Champs Come To A Close, Falmouth & More
The Week That Was in Running, August 15-21, 2022
An unprecedented summer of championships is in the books. What began in Eugene on July 15 concluded in Munich on Sunday, with the World Championships and European Championships sandwiching the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. We put a bow on World Championship season, recap the Falmouth Road Race and NACAC Championships, and explain why star high school miler Addy Wiley is turning down Colorado to run at an NAIA school.
Each week, we 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.
Stat of the Week / Europeans and CGs By The Numbers / It’s Hard To Repeat
We often say track and field needs more meets that matter. In other sports, exhibition events that aren’t much more than glorified practices aren’t very popular – and when you get down to it, that’s what a lot of professional track meets are.
But what matters in track? The more we think about it, it’s a combination of: a) How many stars show up; B) What type of form they are in; and C) How much they care about winning.
We weren’t sure how holding the Commonwealth Games and Europeans Champs right after Worlds was going to work but it ended up being great. Enough stars showed up, they clearly were in form as Worlds just took place, and who doesn’t like a medal? If the champs had been at any other point in the calendar, the meets wouldn’t have been nearly as good.
We very much enjoyed watching Commonwealths and Euros over the last few weeks and can admit that hasn’t always been the case.
Anyways, we decided to break down the results with some stats.
0 – number of athletes who won 2022 World Championship gold, Commonwealth gold, and European gold. Ok, this stat was a bit misleading as Jake Wightman was the only world champ that also was from a European country in the Commonwealth.
0 – number of 2022 European world champs who didn’t compete at the 2022 European Champs (There were 10 European world champs in 2022. 8 for the men, 2 for the women).
2 – number of athletes who won a 2022 World Championship gold and 2022 Commonwealth Gold (Tobi Amusan of Nigeria won both in the 100 hurdles and Kelsey-Lee Barber of Australia won both in the javelin).
4 – number of 2022 World Champs who competed at 2022 Commonwealth Games who didn’t also win gold (Jake Wightman was third in the men’s 1500, Anderson Peters was 2nd in the men’s javelin, Eleanor Patterson was 2nd in the women’s HJ, and Emmanuel Korir was DQ’d from the Commonwealth Games 400 for a lane infringement).
4 – number of athletes who won a World Championship gold and then a European gold (Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam won two heptathlon golds, Portugal’s Pedro Pablo Pichardo won two triple jump golds, Sweden’s Mondo Duplantis won two pole vault golds, Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen won the 5000 at Worlds and the 1500 and 5000 at Euros).
4 – number of athletes who medalled at Worlds, Commonwealths, and Europeans in an individual event. (Matthew Hudson-Smith took bronze at Worlds, silver at Commonwealths, and gold at Euros in the 400; Jake Wightman took gold at Worlds and bronze at Commonwealths in the 1500 and silver at Euros in the 800; Keely Hodgkinson took silver at Worlds, silver at Commonwealths, and gold at Euros in the 800; Laura Muir took bronze at Worlds, gold at Commonwealths, and gold at Euros in the 1500 as well as bronze at Commonwealths in the 800).
6 – number of world champs who were eligible for the Commonwealth Games but didn’t compete there (Canadian men’s 4 x 100, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Shericka Jackson, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Faith Kipyegon, Joshua Cheptegei).
6 – number of European world champs who failed to win gold at European champs (Kristjan Čeh was 2nd in the men’s discus, Pawel Fajdek was 4th in the men’s hammer, Kevin Mayer was a DNF in the decathlon, Malaika Mihambo was 2nd in the women’s long jump, and in off events Jake Wightman was 2nd in the men’s 800 and Massimo Stano was 8th in the men’s 20k race walk).
Sportsmanship Act of the Week
We loved this clip of the gold and silver medalists in the European 800m final, Mariano Garcia of Spain and Jake Wightman of Great Britain, trading bibs.
Wightman’s parting words to Garcia: “Enjoy tonight.”
We hope Wightman enjoyed Sunday night as well as he had plenty to celebrate. After a grueling five weeks that included medals at Worlds, Commonwealths, and Euros, Wightman told the British press his plan was to drink some beers and surf on Munich’s famed Eisbach River – yes, surf.
“I have not drunk for so long that it won’t take many beers,” Wightman told The Telegraph. “I want to go down the river. …I’m going to try to get down the river tonight and hopefully be sober enough to enjoy it and not risk injury.”
The race itself was very exciting as well. You can watch it in its entirety here.
Olympic Champs Jacobs & Warholm Return to Top of Podium at Euros; What Might Have Been in a Normal Year?
After watching Olympic champions Marcell Jacobs and Karsten Warholm cruise to European titles in the 100 meters and 400-meter hurdles last week, we couldn’t help but wonder whether things might have been different if Worlds hadn’t had its earliest start date ever this year. Both Jacobs, who ran 9.95 to win the 100 (his first time sub-10 since Tokyo), and Warholm, who ran 47.12 to break the 40-year-old championship record in the 400H, ran at Worlds but had missed most of the spring due to injuries and clearly weren’t 100% in Eugene. Both men looked a whole lot better a month later in Munich.
Worlds usually take place in August – this time next year, we’ll be smack in the middle of the 2023 Worlds in Budapest (August 19-27). But because of COVID, the 2021 Worlds in Eugene got bumped to 2022 and were given their earliest start date ever (July 15) so as to allow athletes to also compete at Commonwealths and Europeans. We’d say that was the right decision but in the specific cases of Jacobs and Warholm, it didn’t give them enough time to get over their injuries. Meanwhile the man who won the 100 in Jacobs’ absence, Fred Kerley, is now injured himself.
Of course Jacobs also benefited from COVID wreaking havoc with the track & field calendar. If the Tokyo Olympics were held as scheduled in 2020, Jacobs – whose season’s best in 15 100m races that year was 10.10 – probably wouldn’t have even made the final, let alone won gold.
I Run Clean
If you’ve watched a European Championship in recent years, you will have noticed the words “I RUN CLEAN” printed on the bibs of every athlete. A nice sentiment, but sometimes it can be made to look a bit ridiculous.
Consider the case of 800-meter runner Ekaterina Guliyeva. In 2015, the WADA independent commission that issued a 325-page report on Russian doping recommended Guliyeva (then known as Ekaterina Poistogova) receive a lifetime ban. Instead, Guliyeva was only banned for two years and actually had her 2012 Olympic bronze upgraded to silver after winner Mariya Savinova, also of Russia, was stripped of the title.
Guliyeva returned to competition in 2018, winning the Russian 800m title but was unable to compete internationally because of World Athletics’ ban on Russian athletes. The next year, however, Guliyeva married 2017 world 200m champion Ramil Guliyev and began the process of changing her nationality to Turkey. She began competing for her new nation this year, winning gold at the Mediterranean Games in July before making it to the semifinals at Euros.
So now we have the absurd scenario where Russian athletes are still banned from competing internationally but Guliyeva – one of the athletes whose success led to the blanket ban on Russians – is running at Euros with “I RUN CLEAN” across her chest.
Falmouth 2022: Break Up North America?
The Falmouth Road Race was held over the weekend on the famous oceanfront course from Woods Hole to Falmouth Heights, and for the first time since 1985, North American athletes swept the victories. On the men’s side, Canadian Ben Flanagan of the Very Nice Track Club/On repeated as Falmouth champion, while Keira D’Amato got the win in the women’s race less than five weeks after finishing 8th at Worlds in the marathon. D’Amato is the first American woman to win Falmouth since Magdalena Lewy-Boulet in 2011. Next up for D’Amato: an American record attempt at the Berlin Marathon on September 25.
Flanagan’s win was his third in the last four editions (the 2020 race was cancelled) and made him fifth the man to win three or more Falmouths, joining Bill Rodgers (3), John Korir (3), Gilbert Okari (3), and Stephen Sambu (4).
It’s a somewhat surprising run of success. When Flanagan won his first Falmouth in 2018, it brought an end to 27 straight years of African champions on the men’s side (22 of them Kenyan). Since then, the men’s winners have hailed from Canada, USA (Leonard Korir, though he was born in Kenya), Canada, and Canada.
So what’s happening?
It’s not that hard to see. Flanagan’s winning time of 32:25 for the 7-mile course on Sunday was the slowest at Falmouth since 2001. In fact, if you look at the last 20 editions, Flanagan’s winning times of 32:25, 32:21, and 32:16 rank as the slowest, second-slowest, and fourth-slowest of that span, which is crazy as he’s running in super shoes. Compare that to the 2012 race, when Kumatai Kiplimo ran 32:21 – and finished 4th. Kenyans swept the top six places that year.
There was only one Kenyan in the top 10 in 2018 and none in 2021, but it’s not as if Falmouth has stopped inviting them (though more of the invited athletes are US-based these days). Kenyans went 2-3-5 in 2019 and 3-5-9 on Sunday (and in 2021, due to COVID, it was way harder for an international athlete to get into the US than it is now). Rather, it’s that the men’s fields in general just aren’t as strong as they were a decade ago.
Why are there fewer elite Africans coming over? We aren’t entirely sure. As we saw at Worlds this year, getting a visa to the US isn’t the easiest thing to do as there is a big backlog after Covid but this phenomenon predates Covid. It may be that it’s just not as lucrative as it used to be as some road races have dropped elite prize money and the competition for the dollars is tougher as North Americans racing on the roads are running better than 15 years ago so it’s less of a guarantee that an African will win big if they do come over to the US. If you have a theory, email us or post it in the thread below.
NACACs happened over the weekend (we think)
Americans swept all 10 distance events at the 2022 NACAC (North American, Central American, and Caribbean) Championships last weekend in the Bahamas – perhaps unsurprisingly as there isn’t a ton of competition in the region and the US fielded fairly strong squads. On the men’s side, Jonah Koech (800), Eric Holt (1500), Woody Kincaid (5,000), Sean McGorty (10,000), and Evan Jager (steeple) got the wins while the women’s titles went to Ajee’ Wilson (800), Heather MacLean (1500), Natosha Rogers (5,000), Stephanie Bruce (10,000), and Gabrielle Jennings (steeple).
The race of the weekend was the women’s 800 as Ajee’ Wilson outleaned Allie Wilson to take the win, 1:58.47 to 1:58.48. MacLean, who ran 3:58 in Monaco two weeks ago, also continued to impress as she won the 1500 in 4:04.53 thanks to a 59.72 last lap. Not all the times were quite that fast, though. McGorty won the 10,000 in 29:23 – somehow, a championship record – while Kincaid won the 5,000 in 14:48.
Because NACACs is an area championships (the equivalent of Europeans), in previous years the winner would be granted an auto standard for the next World Championships. But that is no longer the case after World Athletics changed the rule for 2023. We guess the winners will have to be okay with $2,000 in prize money and a free trip to the Bahamas.
If you didn’t realize NACACs was happening over the weekend, you’re not alone. Despite sending a full squad to the Bahamas, USATF didn’t tweet about the meet once or provide any information about how to watch it (though it did provide daily recaps on its website). USATF’s only tweet last weekend was of Devon Allen catching a touchdown pass in an NFL preseason game.
Their tweet didn’t even show his hurdle-related end zone celebration.
Devon Allen’s touchdown celebration 💯 pic.twitter.com/iqkzW8QUSg— Travis Miller (@travismillerx13) August 21, 2022
Just as was the case at Worlds when USATF scheduled a press conference while the meet was going on, this is another example of USATF subtly sending the message that track and field isn’t worth watching.
Full NACAC results can be found here.
- LRC What to Watch For During the 2022 Fall Marathon Season – Gidey Debuts, Farah Returns, Kipchoge Chases the WR (Again)
- Cathal Dennehy: “Silver For Ireland! Cieara Mageean Produces Brilliant Run To Claim Second In 1500 Final”
For recommended reads from other weeks, go here.
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Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us or post in our forum.