WTW: Eliud Kipchoge Is Fast & So Is Natalie Cook of Ok. State

The Week That Was in Running, September 19 – 25, 2022

By Jonathan Gault and Robert Johnson
September 26, 2022

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.  

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Only one American in history would have been able to keep up with Eliud Kipchoge through halfway at the 2022 Berlin Marathon

Even though we’ve watched Eliud Kipchoge run 17 marathons, it was still remarkable to see the splits he was putting up at the Berlin Marathon on Sunday. Almost a decade into his marathon career – and two decades into his career as an elite athlete – Kipchoge was running splits we’ve never seen from him or anyone else, and that includes his two sub-2:00 attempts in 2017 and 2019.

Kipchoge hit 10k in Berlin in 28:23 (1:59:45 marathon pace), 15k in 42:33 (1:59:41 pace), and halfway in 59:51 (1:59:42 pace). Ultimately that pace proved unsustainable, but the fact that Kipchoge could still run his second half in 61:18 after such a fast opening half reaffirmed why he is not like any other marathoner to have walked the Earth.

It also made us wonder how long America’s best distance runners could keep up with Kipchoge.

Lots of American pros can run 28:23 for 10k. But add another 5k and the list goes down a ton, add another 5k to that and the numbers are virtually non-existent. Here is the number of Americans who have run 28:23 for 10k, 42:33 for 15k, and 59:51 for the half marathon on the roads.

Distance Kipchoge split # of Americans who have run that fast American record
10k 28:23 12 27:48 (Mark Nenow/Bernard Lagat)
15k 42:33 1 42:22 (Todd Williams)
Half marathon 59:51 1 59:43 (Ryan Hall)

Ok, ok, ok – the table above is a little misleading. Americans run the 10,000 on the track way more than on the roads (230 Americans have run 28:23 or faster on the track). And Americans rarely race the 15k. 

But the half marathon stat isn’t made up. Most elite American long-distance pros race a half marathon at some point in their career and Ryan Hall (59:43) is the only American to have run 59:51 or faster on a record-eligible course. Yes, many of them run a half during their marathon buildup but Kipchoge ran 59:51 as part of a marathon.

Only two other Americans have run under 60:00. Galen Rupp ran 59:47 in Rome in 2018 but that is point-to-point (Kipchoge’s half split in Berlin was record-eligible). Leonard Korir ran 59:52 in 2017 in New Delhi. Next up on the US list is Dathan Ritzenhein who ran 60:00 in his best year, 2009. 

Ritzenhein and the handful of Americans who broke 61:00 in the pre-super shoe era would have a good shot at 59:51 if they had super shoes. Still, it’s crazy to think that Kipchoge is so good that the best distance runners in American history would need to be having a good day to keep up with him for half of the race.

All-Time US 61:00 Half Marathoners on Record-Eligible Courses Per TFN
59:43 Ryan Hall (Asics) 1/14/07*
59:52 Leonard Korir (US Army) 11/19/17
60:00 Dathan Ritzenhein (Nike) 10/11/09*
60:23 Galen Rupp (Nike) 10/30/20
60:37 Sam Chelanga (Nike) 1/14/18
60:44 Kirubel Erassa (Hoka) 1/16/22
60:51 Diego Estrada (Asics) 1/18/15*
60:55 Mark Curp (New Balance) 9/15/85*
60:55 Conner Mantz (Nike) 12/05/21
61:00 Meb Keflezighi (Nike) 10/04/09*
61:00 Frank Lara (Roots Running Project) 10/24/21

*Not run in super shoes.

If you add those running on aided courses, the list would also include Todd Williams (60:11, 1993), Abdi Abdirahman (60:29, 2007), and doper Mo Trafeh (60:39, 2010).

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Keira D’Amato Ran The 10th-Fastest Time By An American Woman And Yet Was More Than A Mile Behind The Winner

While one 37-year-old stud (Eliud Kipchoge) had the race he wanted in Berlin, there was another 37-year-old stud that didn’t. American record holder Keira D’Amato came up short in her quest to break her own American record of 2:19:12 and win her first World Marathon Major as she finished sixth in 2:21:48.

Still, 2:21:48 is far from awful. In fact, it’s the 10th-fastest marathon by an American woman in any marathon, including point-to-point races like Boston. That’s the good news. The bad news is she finished more than a mile behind the winner in Berlin, Tigist Asssefa, who shocked the world by running 2:15:37. If D’Amato ran the whole thing even-paced, she would have been at 25.07 miles when Assefa finished.

D’Amato and the US ladies shouldn’t feel too bad. The top times in the women’s marathon are crazy fast. The 10th-fastest time by an American man is 2:07:47, which Dathan Ritzenhein ran in Chicago 10 years ago. That too would put Ritzenhein more than a mile behind Kipchoge on Sunday (If Ritzenhein ran 2:07:47 at an even pace, he’d be 24.9 miles into the race at the 2:01:09 mark. If he had had super shoes in Chicago, he might have been within a mile).

That got us thinking. How far would the 10th-fastest marathoners in history be behind the world record holders if they were running even-paced in the same race? 

On the men’s side, the 9th-, 10th-, and 11th-fastest men in history have all run 2:03:13 (Emmanuel Mutai, Wilson Kipsang, Amos Kipruto). That means if they were even paced they’d be at the 25.78 miles 2:01:09 into the race, so 0.44 of a mile behind Kipchoge. No one else in history would be within a half mile of him as no no one else in history has broken 2:03:30 and that’s basically what you need to run to be within a half mile of Kipchoge at the finish.

If an American man even-split a 2:05:38 American record, they’d be nearly a mile behind Kipchoge (0.935 of a mile behind) as they’d be at 25.28 miles when he finished.

The 10th-fastest woman in history is Israel’s Lonah Chemtai Salpeter at 2:17:45. If she ran it even-paced, she’d be 7/10ths of a mile behind Brigid Kosgei in her 2:14:04 WR run.

The Marathon World Records are Crazy Fast
  Mile mark when WR holder finishes Distance Behind WR
10th fastest man (2:03:13) 25.78 0.44
AR holder K. Khannouchi (2:05:38) 25.28 0.94
10th fastest woman (2:17:45) 25.52 0.70
AR holder Keira D’Amato (2:19:12) 25.25 0.97

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The Canadian marathon record is broken again

On Sunday in Berlin, 40-year-old Natasha Wodak ran 2:23:12 to take 1:38 off the previous Canadian women’s marathon record of 2:24:50 set by Malindi Elmore at the 2020 Houston Marathon. It will be interesting to see how long Wodak’s record lasts as Elmore is running the Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 16. 

It was the second Canadian marathon record to fall this year as Cam Levins took 2:16 off his men’s Canadian record by running 2:07:09 at the World Championships in Eugene in July.

The Canadian records have come down a lot in recent years. As recently as 2019, the women’s record was 2:28:00. And before Levins set his first Canadian record in 2018, the previous record of 2:10:09 by Jerome Drayton had stood almost 43 years.

Canada is hardly alone. On the men’s side, almost every major country’s marathon record has been significantly improved since the advent of supershoes in 2017. 

Country Record on 9/1/17 Record on 9/26/22
Kenya 2:02:57 (Dennis Kimetto, 2014) 2:01:09 (Eliud Kipchoge, 2022)
Ethiopia 2:03:03 (Kenenisa Bekele, 2016) 2:01:41 (Kenenisa Bekele, 2019)
Morocco 2:05:27 (Jaouad Gharib, 2009) 2:05:26 (El Mahjoub Dazza, 2018)
USA 2:05:38 (Khalid Khannouchi, 2002) 2:05:38 (Khalid Khannouchi, 2002)
Brazil 2:06:05 (Ronaldo da Costa, 1998) 2:04:51 (Daniel Do Nascimento, 2022)
Japan 2:06:16 (Toshinori Takaoka, 2002) 2:04:56 (Kengo Suzuki, 2021)
Uganda 2:06:33 (Stephen Kiprotich, 2015) 2:04:48 (Stephen Kissa, 2022)
Eritrea 2:07:27 (Yared Asmerom, 2011) 2:04:35 (Hiskel Tewelde, 2021)
Great Britain 2:07:13 (Steve Jones, 1985) 2:05:11 (Mo Farah, 2018)
Canada 2:10:09 (Jerome Drayton, 1975) 2:07:09 (Cam Levins, 2022)

The big exception there, of course, is the USA. Galen Rupp has run 2:06 three times, but Khalid Khannouchi’s American record is now 20 years old and still going strong.

On the women’s side, the trend isn’t quite the same. Times as a whole have improved markedly, and in countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, and Canada, the national record has tumbled precipitously. But the American record is only 24 seconds faster than it was in 2006, and some countries like Japan and Great Britain haven’t improved their NRs at all, even with supershoes as the outliers on the women’s side tend to be bigger outliers than on the men’s.

Country Record on 9/1/17 Record on 9/26/22
Kenya 2:17:01 (Mary Keitany, 2017) 2:14:04 (Brigid Kosgei, 2019)
Ethiopia 2:17:56 (Tirunesh Dibaba, 2017 2:15:37 (Tigist Assefa, 2022)
Germany 2:19:19 (Irina Mikitenko, 2008) 2:19:19 (Irina Mikitenko, 2008)
USA 2:19:36 (Deena Kastor, 2006) 2:19:12 (Keira D’Amato, 2022)
Japan 2:19:12 (Mizuki Noguchi (2005) 2:19:12 (Mizuki Noguchi, 2005)
Great Britain 2:15:25 (Paula Radcliffe, 2003) 2:15:25 (Paula Radcliffe, 2003)
Canada 2:28:00 (Lanni Marchant, 2013) 2:23:12 (Natasha Wodak, 2022)

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We don’t think Eliud Kipchoge will ever run faster than 2:01:09

We’ll repeat here something that we mentioned in our Berlin recap as we did a lot of research to come up with supporting evidence for our assertion that Eliud Kipchoge will die with a 2:01:09 pb.

We believe that because Kipchoge just ran the fastest marathon of his life at age 37. He turns 38 in November. Guess how many of the fastest 100 marathoners in history have run their pbs at age 38 or later?

For the men, the answer is zero.

For the women, the answer is one. Namibia’s Helalia Johannes ran 2:19:52 at age 40 in Valencia in 2020.

Now as shown by both Johannes as well as Canada’s Natasha Wodak, it’s not impossible to PR after the age of 37, but it’s certainly not easy. If anyone could do it, it’s probably Kipchoge. His monastic dedication is legendary and on Sunday he set a new world record of sorts. Of the 100 fastest men in history, he’s older than all of the other men were when they set their pbs. At 37 years, 324 days old, he is 216 days older than when Kenenisa Bekele set his 2:01:41 pb in Berlin in 2019.

There’s another reason why we don’t think Kipchoge will ever PR again. If he’s serious about erasing the one hole on his marathon CV — the fact that he’s never raced on a hilly course like Boston or New York – then he should look to run Boston in the spring and New York next fall. If he won both, he’d prove there are no holes in his marathoning and he’d make history as the first person to win all six majors plus the Olympics. 

And if he does that, the earliest he could take a crack at another world record, since he only runs two marathons a year, would be the spring of 2024 when he’d be 39.

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Instagram Post Of The Week

We loved this post that Keira D’Amato put up on Instagram, showing her pacer Calum Neff wearing our 1:59:40* t-shirt. Apparently, Eliud Kipchoge is a fan.

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Natalie Cook impresses in her collegiate debut

American Natalie Cook (DOB 5/14/03) put together one of the most impressive campaigns in prep distance running history in 2021-22. She won the RunningLane and Eastbay cross country nationals, then ran 9:44 for 2 miles on the track (#2 all-time) and set the national high school record by running 15:25 for 5,000 meters.

Taylor Roe hoists Natalie Cook up after her win. Photo via @run4okstate

As a result, her collegiate debut for Oklahoma State was heavily-anticipated, and Cook did not disappoint as she defeated her teammate Taylor Roe – the 2020 NCAA XC runner-up and 2022 NCAA indoor 3k champ – running 20:17.1 for 6k to win the Cowboy Jamboree on Saturday on the same OK State course that will host nationals on November 19.

For Cook to step in and immediately defeat one of the top runners in the NCAA was incredibly impressive. Of course, her 5k pb of 15:25 is only four seconds slower than Roe’s 15:21, so it did not come as a total shock.

In case you’re wondering, a freshman woman hasn’t won NCAA XC since 1985. But OK State coach Dave Smith, while acknowledging that Cook is a monster talent, told us before the meet that he doesn’t want to put any unreasonable expectations on his precocious first-year.

“She’s a freshman and we’re talking about November and this is September,” Smith says. “So who knows what she’s going to look like in November.”

With Cook and Roe going 1-2, #3 OK State won the team title, 69-88, over #7 BYU.

More: *MB: Natalie Cook 16:03! 
*MB: Natalie Cook Form
*MB: OK State vs NC State

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BYU wins men’s race at Cowboy Jamboree, but NAU, Stanford, & OK State didn’t show their cards

The men’s race at the Cowboy Jamboree was one of the most loaded NCAA cross country meets ever staged in the month of September as the top eight teams in LetsRun’s preseason rankings all made the trip to Stillwater. Somewhat surprisingly, it was BYU – ranked #4 by LetsRun and in the coaches’ poll – who won comfortably thanks to some impressive depth. BYU scored 75 points to defeat Stanford (101), Northern Arizona (110), and Oklahoma State (118), putting four men in the top 20. BYU had seven men across the finish line before Stanford’s fifth man.

Of course, NCAA cross country isn’t like NCAA football, where an early-season defeat could spell doom for your season. The best teams often hold out a key athlete or two for various reasons (injury, long track season, etc.). So it’s worth noting that NAU, Stanford, and OK State – the three teams we ranked ahead of BYU in the preseason – all held out at least one key athlete.

Northern Arizona didn’t run Brodey Hasty, their 5th man at NCAAs last year (39th), or Theo Quax, who won at the Coaching Tree Invitational a week earlier. Top recruit Colin Sahlman also didn’t run, but that did not come as a surprise as coach Mike Smith has said he may not race all fall. If there’s a reason to be concerned for NAU, it was the performance of George Kusche. The Lumberjacks’ top two, Nico Young and Drew Bosley, did their jobs, finishing 5th and 9th overall, but Kusche, who was 37th at NCAAs last year, was their #6 on Saturday, all the way back in 86th place.

Stanford held out Ky Robinson (13:20 pb, 4th NCAA 5k), perhaps because his track season only ended last month (he ran a pb of 27:44 to finish 6th in the 10,000 at the Commonwealth Games for Australia). And OK State didn’t run either Isai Rodriguez (22nd at ‘21 NCAA XC) or Shea Foster (27th at ‘21 NCAA XC).

Add all the missing pieces to Saturday’s results and the standings probably become 1. Stanford 2. OK State 3. BYU 4. NAU but that’s based on past performances. This is a new season. If someone isn’t healthy at NCAAs or has an off day, you don’t get to sub in a past version of them.

That’s one of the reasons why what BYU did on Saturday stood out. It wasn’t just that the Cougars won, but that they did so even with one of their top athletes on paper, Brandon Garnica (13:26 5k pb), having an off day (he was their eighth man in 80th place). BYU coach Ed Eyestone has to be pumped that Joey Noakes (10th) was able to finish just six seconds behind their #1 Casey Clinger and that the Thompson brothers, Davin and Creed were able to step up as their fourth and fifth scorers. Things will only get tougher as NAU, Stanford, and OK State add pieces back, but if Garnica can return to his old form, BYU will belong in the national title conversation as well.

Individually, there was a bit of a surprise as OK State’s Alex Maier took the win in 23:16.9, pulling away to victory on the final downhill straightaway. Stanford’s Charles Hicks was second in 23:20.0, just ahead of OK State’s Victor Shitsama (23:20.5) and Stanford’s Cole Sprout (23:20.8), while Nico Young of NAU was 5th in 23:24.4.

We say a bit of a surprise because Maier was 2nd at NCAAs in the 10k last spring – clearly he’s legit. But his best finish at NCAA XC is 17th from 2020 (he was sick leading into the meet last year and finished 147th). Pre-race, we would have picked either Young (4th and 11th at the last two NCAAs) or Hicks (14th and 4th) to win. So it’s possible the individual and team battles will both be closer in 2022 than we anticipated at the start of the season.

More from the MB: 

*BYU takes down #1 NAU, wins Cowboy Jamboree. Stanford also beats NAU. 
*MB: Is UVA a TOP 10 team???? 7 under 24 min today in Boston

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Recommended Reads

For recommended reads from other weeks, go here.

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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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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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