WTW: Eliud Kipchoge’s ties to doping or lack thereof & Valencia delivers as always

The Week That Was in Running, October 17 – 23, 2022

By Robert Johnson
October 24, 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.  

Valencia Half: 1st in Ethiopia/10th in Kenya, Cam Levins goes for it and isn’t rewarded, Klosterhalfen impresses in debut

Valencia is fast turning into my favorite city for distance running. Instead of distracting itself with wheelchair prize purses (if you are going to equalize wheelchair and able-bodied bonus prize purses, why stop there? Why not also do it for amputees and visually-impaired athletes as well?) and non-binary prize purses, Valencia is consistently focused on putting on amazing road race after amazing road race with good,  predictable weather to boot (this year’s temperature of 62F (17C) was a little warmer than normal).

The Valencia Half Marathon was Sunday and the results were impressive. Former world record holder Kibiwott Kandie ran a negative-split 58:10 to get the win on the men’s side after going out in 27:50 through 10k (58:43 pace). Kandie pulled away from Yomif Kejelcha, who won Valencia in 2019 a few months after he won 10,000 WC silver, as Kejelcha was rewarded with an Ethiopian record of 58:32 in second.

Kibiwott Kandie wins the 2022 Valencia Half Marathon

It’s crazy to think that despite being the Ethiopian record holder, Kejelcha would barely sneak into the Kenyan top 10 list in the half marathon. Yes, that’s right. Nine Kenyan men have run faster than 58:32 as well as one Ugandan and one Eritrean, making Kejelcha the 12th-fastest man in history (record-eligible courses).

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It will be interesting to see what Kejelcha does moving forward. Still only officially 25, he’s never run a marathon. In fact, this year, he actually ran the 1500 at the season-opening Doha Diamond League where he was 4th (3:37.85) and later ran 12:52.10 for 5000 and 26:49.39 for the 10,000. Will he stick to the track through 2024 or perhaps dip his toes in the 26.2 pool to see what happens? Debuting in a winter marathon like Dubai or Tokyo as that would give him more than enough time to get back in shape for the track season.

It’s also worth noting that Tadese Worku, the 2021 World junior champ at 3k who ran the 10,000 at Worlds this year (14th), made his half marathon debut at age 20 and ran 58:47 for 4th.


The men’s Canadian half marathon record fell in Valencia as 2018 NCAA 10,000 champ Ben Flanagan ran 61:00, just ahead of Cam Levins‘ 61:04, as both dipped under Rory Linkletter‘s national record of 61:08 set in Houston earlier this year.

Given how close Flanagan and Levins were to each other as well as Linkletter’s record, we know what many of you are thinking. “Did those two guys just sit on each other and try to run 61-flat in the era of super shoes?”

I’m pleased to report that the answer is no.

Levins, who was running his first race since his superb 2:07:09 4th-place showing at Worlds in the marathon, went out hard and was just behind the leaders at 5k in 14:00 — that’s 59:04 pace. He was ahead of Flanagan by 20 seconds (14:20 is 60:29 pace). Levins still had a big gap on Flanagan at 10k (28:21 vs 28:40) but it narrowed at 15k (42:53 vs 43:04) before they both hit 20k in 57:54, which is 61:05 pace.


In the women’s race, Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen, 25, turned heads by running a very even-paced 65:41 in her half marathon debut. That’s the fastest time ever run by a woman born outside of Africa (record-eligible courses only; Paula Radcliffe ran 65:40 at the 2003 Great North Run).

Klosterhalfen is now tied for the 29th-fastest woman in history at the 13.1 distance. She’s actually higher up on the all-time 5000 list — the event where she won WC bronze in 2019 and European gold in 2022 — as her 14:26.76 pb puts her 19th on the all-time outdoor 5000 list.

The next time Klosterhalfen runs a half she hopes to break Melat Kejeta‘s 65:18 German record.

22-year-old Ethiopian Tsigie Gebreselama, the 2018 world junior bronze medallist at 3k who has track personal bests of 14:43 and 30:06, was second in a 65:46 pb.

More: World Athletics Recap: Kibiwott Kandie (58:09) And Konstanze Klosterhalfen (65:41) Win The Valencia Half-Marathon
*MB: Valencia Half Marathon discussion

Thoughts on Marius Kipserem’s drug bust / Silence from Eliud Kipchoge’s camp about his training partner’s bust

Two-time Rotterdam Marathon winner (2016/2019) and 2018 Abu Dhabi winner Marius Kipserem — who has a personal best 2:04:04 — was banned last week for three years for EPO usage. The normal drug ban is four years but it was reduced to three as he admitted his guilt.

Admitting guilt is good as it reduces expenses for the AIU/WADA as they don’t have to pay to prove the findings in a lengthy appeal. But Jonathan Gault made a great observation on the Friday 15 Supporters Club Podcast last week. One’s ban should only be reduced if they admit guilt and then tell the authorities where and how they got the drugs.

The point of the anti-doping movement isn’t really to catch drug cheats — it’s to eliminate doping from sport (yes, it’s an impossible goal to achieve) and we aren’t going to really dampen doping in the sport unless we learn how the athletes are doping. Kipserem was the fifth Kenyan banned by the AIU in the span of a week. Where are they all getting these drugs from? Let’s hope Kipserem shares what he knows.

One more thing on Kipserem. As noted by The TimesMatt Lawton, Kipserem was the third pacemaker from the INEOS 1:59 Challenge to be suspended for an anti-doping rules violation. By Jonathan Gault’s count, Kipserem is actually the fourth, joining Justus Kimutai (whereabouts), Alex Korio (whereabouts), and Philemon Kacheran (testosterone).

It’s an interesting stat and one I drew attention to on the messageboard (MB: 3rd Kipchoge pacer popped for drugs- 2016/2019 Rotterdam champ – Marius Kipserem (2:04:04 pb) confesses to EPO usage) as the more attention that can be brought to the doping and specifically doping in Kenya, the better, but in the case of Kipserem, his connection to Kipchoge is extremely tenuous. Most of the pacemakers for the 1:59 Challenge — including Kipserem — were not part of Kipchoge’s training group. If a pacemaker for the Monaco 1500 tested positive, would you think that meant anything about the race winner being clean or dirty? If Matthew Centrowitz or Stewart McSweyn tested positive, would that make you to think Kipchoge was also doping? Well, they were both pacers for the 1:59 Challenge.

All these suspensions really are actually an indictment on Nike, not Kipchoge. There were 41 pacers in Vienna. What did they all have in common? They were all sponsored by Nike. For almost 10% of them to have subsequently been suspended is a very bad look.

One of the names on that list does concern me, however. Philemon Kacheran was part of the Global Sports Communication training camp in Kaptagat — that’s where Kipchoge trains — and the 1:59 Challenge website listed Kacheran as “one of the strongest training partners of Kipchoge.” The fact that Kacheran accepted a three-year ban for testosterone and no one on his camp has said a word about it (Kipchoge’s agent Valentijn Trouw and Global Sports head Jos Hermens did not respond to requests for comment from LetsRun) is alarming. The fans deserve more.

MB: 2 weeks ago, Eliud Kipchoge’s training partner was popped for drugs and still nothing from Kipchoge’s camp or Kenya? 
3rd Kipchoge pacer popped for drugs- 2016/2019 Rotterdam champ – Marius Kipserem (2:04:04 pb) confesses to EPO usage

Was the Linz Marathon course short?

I’ve often said, “I don’t necessarily need to have a positive drug test to know who is dirty” and, “I don’t need a course to be measured to realize it’s short.”

Some things in running don’t pass the sniff test.

Anyone remember the 2018 Abu Dhabi Marathon? The moment I saw the sub-14 5k split between 35 and 40k, I said the course was short.

Well, it’s possible we had another short marathon this weekend. While perusing my copy of Race Results Weekly super carefully this week, I noticed that editor David Monti wrote the following about the Oberbank Linz Donau Marathon in Linz, Austria, “RRW saw reports on social media that the race route was modified during the race by event organizers. We are not sure if the certified course was actually followed. If anyone has any firsthand knowledge of this please let us know. To be honest, four men under the previous course record is a little suspicious.” (LRC note: seven men actually broke the course record of 2:07:33).

So I decided to do a little research. I agree with Monti — the results are suspicious. Why? Here are the top 3 results.

 1. Fikre Bekele, ETH, 2:06:16 – previous pb of 2:06:27
 2. Bethwel Chumba, KEN, 2:06:26 – previous pb of 2:09:57
 3. Douglas Chebii, KEN, 2:06:31 – previous pb of 2:08:43

In the super shoe era, it’s not unheard of for lots of people to break course records, particularly when the race director was predicting a course record beforehand. It’s also not uncommon for the top three to all PR. After all, the top finishers are running well. But what’s unusual is the way it was done. The leading halfway split was 63:25, which is 2:06:50 pace. At 30k, the pace hadn’t really changed as the leading split was 1:30:14 (2:06:55 pace) and 12 guys were in the lead pack.

However, the 35.1 k split is suspicious as the leading split was 1:45:13 — which is 2:06:30 pace, but 12 men were still together in the lead pack. That’s a lot of guys holding up super well even though the pace is accelerating.

And the finishing time was even faster still. Unlike Abu Dhabi, I’m not 100% certain this race was short. After all, if 12 guys are in the lead pack with 7.1 k to go, it’s not crazy to think it would take an acceleration to win the race. Plus, the weather was ideal. The temps were in the 40s and the race was run in fog (100% humidity) for parts of it and John Kellogg has always said that moist air is less dense than dry air. So I’m not ruling out it was just a great field with great conditions.

We’ll try to figure out it out and let you know next week. But the negative-split pbs combined with the report of the course being modified mid-race makes me think it likely was a little short, just as it was in 2010.

If you know anything, post on our mesasgeboard our forum or shoot me an email.

Update: We received two emails from people who were watching the race broadcast and saw a man jump out of the lead truck and tell the runners to turn around. It turns out the the person doing it was the race director. One of our sources explained what they saw.

It happened at 25km which is a turn around point https://www.linzmarathon.at/en/interactive-map.html.
The TV showed the race director Günther Weidlinger removing a section of barrier tape as the athletes approached it and indicating for the athletes to run through. 
The incident is from 1:28:50 in this race video:
There is an interview with Günther Weidlinger at 3:03:47. He explains that the turning point had been put in the wrong place. 
“The turning point on our course on Unionstrasse is directly under the Westbrücke (a bridge). That is where it is marked, that’s where it was measured with the EMS. Unfortunately when the course was set up today the turning point was pulled too far down to the point where the cars are meant to turn. The athletes would have run 40m too far in one direction and 40m too far back in the other direction. Therefore I jumped out of the lead car and tore the plastic tape and indicated for the athletes to run through so that we didn’t run too far and endanger the course record. But the tape was definitely broken at the right place, exactly where the turning point is.  It wasn’t about the record, we can prove with the EMS measurement photos where the turning point is and from the TV pictures. The turning point is where the timing mat is”.
The race organisers specifically targeted a course record and recruited athletes capable of this.  I was watching the race to see **** and was expecting him to get a PB as he has been training well since moving to a new training camp.  He and his coach were expecting *** and he got it.
The pacemaker stayed in until 35km and even finished the race in position 7. I tend towards the course record and PBs being a result of good pacing, the right athletes working together and favourable weather conditions. 

I think it’s worth noting that they seem to have sacrificed the women’s elite race to get course record. There were no elite women invited.  

2nd Update: After getting that info, I emailed the race organizers and asked them, “With a few days to think about it, are you confident the course was the right distance?” The race director Günther Weidlinger wrote back the following:

YES, I am very confident that the turning point was on the right place.

As proof I send you some pictures from the TV live coverage and the measurement and statement (facebook) of the AIMS measurer Rainer Soos (sorry, it is in german). He commented already Sunday evening that the turning point was completely on the rights spot.

If you check the picture “Wendepunkt 1” on the very left you can see the yellow mark below the case of mikatiming. You can also compare the facebook pictures of the exact AIMS measurement from 2020 (certificate enclosed) with the pictures “Wendepunkt”. Just keep an eye on the road marks (arrows) and you can see the right turning point.

Hope you are also confident the we turned at the right spot 🙂

For any further question please do not hesitate to contact me.

Download (PDF, 3.99MB)

Download (PDF, 1.18MB)

MB: Was the Linz Marathon course short? 

Recommended Reads

For recommended reads from other weeks, go here.

Quotes Of The Day And Last Week’s Home Pages

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