WTW: Emily Sisson, Y Squared & Ky Robinson Stay Hot, Oh So Close For Hitomi Niiya & Tirunesh Dibaba Returns
The Week That Was in Running, January 9-15, 2023
By Robert Johnson
January 18, 2023
I present my weekly recap in a different format this week. Those of you that are numbers people will hopefully enjoy it. If you are an audio person, check out the LetsRun.com Track Talk Podcast.
Last Week By The Numbers
3 – number of American records that Emily Sisson has set in the last year. Last May in Indy, she ran 67:11 for her first AR in the half marathon, then in October ran a 2:18:29 marathon AR in Chicago. On Sunday, she broke her American half record by running 66:52 in Houston.
4 – number of Stanford runners that broke 3:59 in the mile at the UW Indoor Preview, led by Aussie Ky Robinson‘s 3:55.87.
1. Ky Robinson, 3:55.87
2. Cole Sprout, 3:56.53
3. Thomas Boyden, 3:57.06
6. John Lester, 3:58.88
Since finishing 10th at NCAA cross, Robinson has had two incredible track races, first running 13:11.53 at BU (#3 all-time by a collegian indoors) and now this. Robinson, who sports a 27:44 10,000 pb, had never run a race shorter than 3000 meters while at Stanford and came into the race with just a 3:52 1500 pb.
Seeing those times makes one thing clear. We need to see the first sub-16 collegiate time in the 4 x mile this year. It makes perfect sense to do this at Penn Relays, but last year I was told they wouldn’t consider having the collegians race the pros. Ok, then get another studly college team to commit now or set it up somewhere else.
5 – number of seconds by which Ethiopia’s Yalemzerf Yehualaw missed her own 10k road world record in Valencia over the weekend, when she ran 29:19 (she ran 29:14 in Castellón in February 2022). The 23-year-old Yehaulaw has had an amazing last 12 months. In addition to running 29:14 and 29:19, she’s also run and won two marathons, setting a then-Ethiopian record of 2:17:23 in Hamburg in April (hard to believe that was the Ethiopian record as it’s now 2:14:58) and winning London in 2:17:26 in October.
Yehualaw, who won World Half bronze in 2020, ran 29:19 with a big negative split: 14:47-14:32. She has to be the greatest runner to have never competed at a Worlds on the track. In 2021, she was 4th in the Ethiopian Trials (30:20) and last year she was just 8th (30:54).
7 – number of men that picked up the World Championship standard in 10,000 (27:10) on the road in race in Valencia on Sunday, led by Kenya’s Weldon Langat, who got the win in 26:55.
1. Weldon Kipkirui Langat, KEN, 26:55 WL/=PB
2. Charles Kipkurui Langat, KEN, 26:57 PB
3. Daniel Tumaka Kosen, KEN, 27:01 PB
4. Rodrigue Kwizera, BDI, 27:04
5. Jacob Krop, KEN, 27:04 PB
6. Rogers Kibet, UGA, 27:07 PB
7. Domnic Lokinyomo Lobalu, SSD, 27:09 PB
12:45 5000 man Jacob Krop, who got the silver in 5000 at Worlds, now has the 10,000 standard for the first time which is interesting. The guy that finished behind him, Rogers Kibet of Uganda ,was 5th at World Juniors last summer in the 5,000 and owns a 13:14 pb in that event.
And has anyone in the world recorded a bigger breakthrough in the last 12 months than 7th placer Domnic Lobalu? A year ago, the 24-year-old South Sudanese athlete, who used to compete for the Athlete Refugee Team, had pbs of 7:49, 13:34, and 28:32. Now his pbs are 7:29.48 (DL win), 12:52.15, and 27:09.
With runners now able to get qualifiers on the road and with eight spots going to athletes in the World Cross Country Rankings, it may end up being dicey as to whether three Americans make it to the Budapest World Champs this summer in the 10,000. As it stands now, America would only be sending two men. Grant Fisher is the only American with the standard and Sean McGorty would be the second-to-last guy in based on his world ranking. Joe Klecker is currently the first man out.
12 – number of seconds short of the Japanese marathon record of 2:19:12 (Mizuki Noguchi) that Hitomi Niiya came within in Houston. Niiya went out in 69:09 and was on record pace at 40k (2:11:56 which is 2:19:10 pace) but couldn’t quite hang on, settling for a win and new pb of 2:19:24. The 34-year-old Niiya, who had a 4.5-year retirement between 2014-2018, already is the Japanese record holder at 10,000 (30:20.44 in 2020) and the half marathon (66:38), with the latter time coming in Houston in 2020.
So many people wonder why the sport isn’t more popular but one of the biggest impediments is all runners are free agents. No one in charge has the power to make athletes cater to what’s in the fans’ interest, rather than the athletes’ interest. In what other sport would stars go for an all-time record in a faraway land? Wouldn’t it be much better in Niiya did it on live TV at home in Japan? And I’m not trying to pick on Niiya — Keira D’Amato went for the AR in Berlin last year, and in 2007, Alan Webb broke the American mile record in front of a few hundred in Brasschaat, Belgium.
53.65 – time recorded in her collegiate debut for 400 last week by Stanford’s Roisin Willis. Willis ran that time in a race in which second place was 56.06. That was an indoor pb for the world junior 800 champ (previous indoor pb of 53.87). Her outdoor pb is 52.64.
84.65 – That’s one minute, 24.65 seconds and was the time recorded in a 600-meter race by 400-hurdler Shamier Little at the Arkansas Invitational. 1:24.65 puts Little #7 on the world all-time list at 600 indoors. With a 52.39 400 hurdle pb, Little is the 5th-fastest woman in history but she only has one global medal in her career (silver 2015). She had a sub-par Worlds in 2017, didn’t make the team in 2019 or 2021, and now the event is loaded with the likes of Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, Dalilah Muhammad, and Femke Bol, resulting in Little finishing 4th in 2022.
85.16 – That’s one minute, 25.16 seconds and is the new collegiate record in the 600 set by Britton Wilson in Arkansas, which earned her second place behind Little. Wilson, the 2022 NCAA 400 hurdles champ for Arkansas and 5th placer at Worlds, broke the previous record of 1:25.80 set by Athing Mu during her lone year at Texas A&M in 2021. But it’s worth noting that Mu ran 1:23.57 as a high school junior to win the US title in 2019: LRC A Star Is Born: 16-Year-Old Athing Mu Breaks American Record, Just Misses WR to Win 600 at 2019 USA Indoors in 1:23.57.
122.48 – 2:02.48 was the time recorded by Juliette Whittaker, who set the US high school 800 record of 1:59.04 last summer, in her collegiate debut for Stanford in a race at UW which she won on Saturday.
1:03:39 – New half-marathon record set by the LetsRun.com singlet in Houston thanks to LetsRun fan Dan Michalski, the 4th placer at the 2021 US Olympic steeplechase trials. The LRC singlet had qualified for the World Half Champs back in the day on the back of LetsRun.com co-founder Weldon Johnson but had never run that fast before for 13.1. If you want to set a new LRC singlet pb, email us.
1,051 – number of days that passed between indoor races for 2016 Olympic 1500 champion Matthew Centrowitz, who returned to the indoor oval on Saturday for first time in 2 years, 10 months, and 17 days. In Centrowitz’s first indoor race since running 3:57.93 for the mile in Boston on Feburary 28, 2020, he ran 2:22.68 for 1000, finishing 5th at the UW Preview in Seattle. He later came back and ran the first 2:45 of the mile in the back of the pack as a workout. The results themselves are almost meaningless; the more important news is that he’s healthy enough to be racing in January. The best year of Centrowitz’s career was one in which he ran a full indoor season (2016, when he was world indoor and Olympic champ).
The 1k was won by former Princeton runner Sam Ellis, who beat NCAA 1500 champ Joe Waskom of UW, 2:18.48 to 2:18.77. Ellis doesn’t have indoor eligibility for UW but will be running outdoors, meaning UW has the #1 (Waskom), #3 (Ellis), #5 (Luke Houser) and #7 (Nathan Green) finishers from last year’s NCAA 1500 on the team. If someone does try to organize the 4 x mile record attempt mentioned above, please make sure UW is included in the field along with Stanford.
1,476 – number of days that passed between races for Tirunesh Dibaba, arguably the greatest women’s distance runner in history, who returned to action on Sunday for the first time in 4 years and 15 days by running 71:35 at the Houston Half Marathon. During that time off, the three-time Olympic and four-time World XC champion plus five-time world track champ gave birth to two more children (she now has three).
Recommended Reads /Listen
- LRC Emily Sisson Podcast – Her New American Record, The Two Big Goals Left in Her Career
- LRC From the Marching Band, to Walmart, to the Olympics? Meet the Guy (Dan Michalski) Who Wore the LetsRun.com Singlet Last Weekend
- LRC Marc Scott Leaving Bowerman Track Club, Plans To Train With Eliud Kipchoge & Patrick Sang In Kenya Scott, who is in Kenya now and hoping to work with coach Patrick Sang, reveals why he left BTC and reflects on his five years with the group that produced a 12:57 European indoor record and a World Indoor medal.
- LRC Emily Sisson Breaks the American Record Plus 5 Thoughts on the 2023 Houston Half Marathon Sisson ran 66:52 to take 18 seconds off her own record but finished 2nd to Ethiopia’s Hiwot Gebremaryam. Tirunesh Dibaba was never a factor in her return and was 16th in 71:35. In the full marathon, Hitomi Niiya (2:19:24) nearly broke the Japanese record
- LRC Jenny Simpson Puts Her Most Challenging Year Behind Her as She Turns to the Roads in 2023
- Famed coach Bobby Kersee is pumped to be coaching Sydney M and Athing Mu and many other stars: “I’ve not had a group like this since 1984, to be honest.”
For recommended reads from other weeks, go here.
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