WTW: Fast Times By Japanese Collegians, Chad Hall Debuts, and Molly Seidel and Faith Kipyegon Open Up
The Week That Was in Running, January 30 – February 5, 2023
By Robert Johnson
February 6, 2023
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. If you like podcasts, be sure to listen to our weekly Track Talk podcast.
It was quite a week for Japanese collegians, who set records in the mile, half marathon, and marathon. Plus an NAIA runner broke 4:30 in the women’s mile, a Paralympian ran a 66:41 half in Spain, Faith Kipyegon and Molly Seidel opened up their 2023 campaigns, and Chad Hall debuted in the marathon.
I don’t re-analyze the fantastic 2023 London Marathon fields or the sold-out New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston. If you missed our coverage of those two things, catch up now:
- Five Thoughts on the Incredible 2023 London Marathon Fields
- 2023 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix coverage
The Djibouti National and Japanese Collegiate Marathon Records Fall
At the 71st Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, Ibrahim Hassan of Djibouti won with in a national and course record time of 2:06:43 after almost forgetting to turn into the stadium at the finish. The old course record was 2:07:47 and the Djibouti national record of 2:07:07 (Ahmed Salah) had stood since 1998.
Wrong turn! pic.twitter.com/A5l1bc1ltn— Japan Running News (@JRNHeadlines) February 5, 2023
Kenya’s Daniel Kipchumba was second in 2:06:48 but one of the biggest stories of the race was what happened behind them.
Shungo Yokota, 22, was one of five Japanese men to run 2:08:00 or faster and his 2:07:47 was a Japanese collegiate record, breaking the 2:08:12 run way back in 2003 at Lake Biwa by Masakazu Fujiwara. That race was Fujiwara’s debut and he never ran faster.
The Japanese-born collegiate record for the half marathon also fell over the weekend at the Marugame Half where Kotaro Shinohara (Komazawa University) ran 1:00:11 to finish 5th in a race won by Kenya’s Alexander Mutiso in a Japanese all-comers record of 59:17 (Sammy Wanjiru had the previous all-comers record of 59:43 from 2005).
In the women’s race, Kenya’s Pauline Kamulu set a course record of 67:22. Australia’s Sinead Diver, who turns 46 on February 17, showed she’s recovered quite nicely from her remarkable 2:21:34 national record in Valencia in December as she ran 69:29 for 4th.
According to Race Results Weekly, Diver set age-45 world bests “at 5K (16:09), 10K (32:29), 15K (49:07), 20K (1:05:28), half-marathon (1:09:00), 25K (1:23:46), 30K (1:40:34), and the marathon (2:21:34)” last year.
There was one other wild story to come out of Japan. Brett Larner reports that Sherry Drury, who recently got a lot of attention after splitting 9:02 for 3k and passing 17 runners on her leg at the All-Japan Inter-Prefectural Women’s Ekiden, withdrew from Sunday’s Biwako cross country race and had a lawyer issue the following statement for her.
Marla Runyan 2.0? / Hagos Gebrhiwet Runs Massive PB
Over 20 years ago, American Marla Runyan made a name for herself as the legally blind runner went from winning Paralympic gold in the 100 (1992), 200 (1992), 400 (1992), long jump (1992), and pentathlon (1996) to finishing 8th at the 2000 Olympics in the women’s 1500 and then 5th in the 2002 New York City Marathon in 2:27:10.
In 2023, we have another crossover athlete. At the 2020 Paralympics, Ethiopia’s Tigist Gezahegn Mengistu made history as she dominated the women’s 1500m in the T-13 visually impaired category, winning Ethiopia’s first-ever Paralympic gold. Now, she is running and excelling in able-bodied races.
On Sunday in Spain at the Mitja Marató Internacional de Granollers, Mengistu made her half marathon debut and did incredibly well, winning in 66:41 despite falling on a speed bump in the race. Unlike Runyan, she runs with a guide due to her severe visual impairment.
For reference, Mengistu’s time is 11 seconds faster than the American record Emily Sisson set in Houston last month.
In the men’s race in Granollers, former 5000 ace Hagos Gebrhiwet (2013 WC silver, 2015 WC & 2016 Olympic bronze), who is officially still only 28 years of age, ran a massive pb of 58:55 to win in a race where second place was just 61:16. Gebrhiwet’s pb coming into the race was 61:46.
Gebrhiwet, who ran 12:49 and 26:57 in 2021 but didn’t make the Ethiopian Olympic team and didn’t compete at all in 2022, ran a big negative split as he went out in 28:08 for the first 10k before running his second 10k in 27:41. In the process, he broke Sammy Wanjiru’s course record of 59:26 that had stood since 2008.
2006 Foot Locker Champ Chad Hall Runs 2:12 In His Marathon Debut
At the Mesa Marathon over the weekend, there was an interesting result as Chad Hall, who won the high school national cross country champs in 2006 and is Ryan Hall‘s younger brother, ran 2:12:48 for the win in his marathon debut at age 34.
Now before you start putting Hall on your outside list of contenders for the 2024 US Olympic Marathon Trials, please realize that the Mesa Marathon is a downhill course that doesn’t count for Trials qualifying due to its 866-foot elevation loss (6.26m/km elevation loss).
Over 80% of the downhill occurs in the first half of the course, which Hall covered in 65:02. He held up pretty well in the second half, which he ran in 67:45.
Chad Hall wasn’t the only ‘name’ in Mesa. Olympic marathon bronze medallist Molly Seidel ran the half marathon (157.8 foot elevation loss) and ran 71:45 to finish 2nd. That type of elevation drop would help you roughly 28 seconds in the half (the 866-foot elevation drop helped Hall by over two minutes in full marathon).
Seidel will be racing the Nagoya Marathon on March 11th.
Strength = Speed / Faith Kiypegon DOMINATES XC Race in Kenya
There was a World Athletics Cross Country Tour Gold meet in Kenya over the weekend as the Sirikwa Cross Country Classic was held in Eldoret. The race served as the 2023 season opener for Faith Kipyegon and she summed things up perfectly afterward when she said, “It was really quite good.”
Good indeed as Kipyegon DESTROYED the field, beating world junior and Commonwealth Games steeple champ Jackline Chepkoech (9:02.43 steeple pb at age 19) by more than a minute in the 10k race, 33:54.6 to 34:56.4. Of course, Kipyegon excelling at XC shouldn’t come as a shock.
Many people — including me — forget that Kipyegon won two world junior individual titles, one in 2011 in Spain (barefoot) and one in 2013 in Poland.
When she won that second world junior title, World Athletics wrote:
The 19-year-old became only the third woman in the history of the event to defend her title after her compatriot Viola Kibiwot won in 2001 and 2002 and Ethiopia’s 2012 World indoor 1500m champion, Genzebe Dibaba enjoyed back-to-back victories in 2008 and 2009 before embarking on a fine senior career.
However, with the Championships now embarking on a two-yearly cycle, it may be a long time before anyone equals Kipyegon’s specific feat of winning twice in three calendar years.
They weren’t entirely correct about that as someone won the next two world junior XC titles back to back even though they were two years apart. She too is a very special athlete — Letesenbet Gidey.
As a senior, Kipyegon has only run World XC once, finishing 6th in 2017. But she did win the Kenyan Trials in 2015, defeating the late Agnes Tirop, who would go on to the world title.
I haven’t heard anything about Kipyegon running World XC next weekend in Australia but imagine she’d do incredibly well if she did show up.
The BU Track’s Reputation Is World-Famous
A week ago, a slew of national records were set at the Boston University track. That continued this past weekend as Kazuto Iizawa flew all the way over from Japan to race on the BU oval. Iizawa dominated the mile at the Bruce Lehane Scarlet & White Invitational, winning in 3:56.01 — the fastest time ever by a Japanese athlete, indoors or out — as Harvard’s Graham Blanks, who was 6th at NCAA XC (13:18 5000 pb), was second in an Ivy League record of 3:56.63 (one of three Harvard runners that went sub-4 in the race).
No one should be shocked that Iizawa flew to Boston to set the record. After all, friend of LetsRun.com Geoff Burns has written nearly 5,000 words explaining why the BU track, which is built on plywood and features a “steep 18°, asymmetrical banking to facilitate faster racing,” is so fast and “faster than any outdoor track.” Plus the record that Iizawa broke — Ryoji Tatezawa‘s 3:57.43 — was set on the very same track in 2018.
Across town, the Japanese women’s mile record also fell as Nozomi Tanaka, who was 8th in the 2021 Olympic 1500 final, ran 4:28.94 at BU. Tanaka was virtual lock to break the record as Japanese women rarely run the mile. The previous Japanese indoor record was just 4:43.70. The outdoor record is 4:34.81 by Ikuko Tamura from 2002.
Iizawa’s run wasn’t the only result that caught my eye from BU last weekend.
32-year-old Susanna Sullivan, who lowered her marathon pb from 2:33:22 to 2:25:14 last year, isn’t wallowing in misery after coming up short in her quest to make the US’s World XC team (she was 8th at USA XC). She won the B heat of the mile at BU in a pb of 4:42.11 and won the 3000 in a pb of 9:06.79. Not bad for someone who a decade ago only ran 4:44 for 1500 and 10:10 for 3000 while in college at Notre Dame.
Also at BU, the University of Washington women set an NCAA DMR record by running 10:46.62. Their splits were as follows:
1200: Sophie O’Sullivan, 3:16.24
400: Marlena Preigh, 54.21
800: Carley Thomas, 2:01.93
1600: Anna Gibson, 4:34.26
The time broke the previous record of 10:48.77 set by an Oregon squad featuring Raevyn Rogers on the 800 leg. Maurica Powell coached both teams.
Big Money At Camel City
Banked tracks on plywood may be the fastest, but the biggest prize money payouts in the world last week came on a flat track at the Camel City Elite meet at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem, N.C., where massive amounts of prize money were on the line.
Check out what times won the most money in each of the pro races (Camel City pays six deep but if a collegian finishes in a prize money position, that money is not awarded):
Women’s 800: 1. Brenna Detra, Unattached, 2:04.33 ($6000)
Women’s Mile: 3. Anna Camp-Bennett, adidas, 4:37.13 ($2000)
Women’s 3000: 1. Hannah Steelman, On Running, 8:58.41 ($7000)
Men’s 800: 1. Derek Holdsworth, Bell Lap Elite, 1:49.03 ($6000)
Men’s Mile: 1. Robert Heppenstall, Reebok Boston TC, 4:00.47 ($6000)
Men’s 3000: 1. Athanas Kioko, Unattached, 7:46.52 PB ($7000)
Meet organizers saved some money in the women’s mile as the top two places went to collegians. NAIA star Addy Wiley, who set a US prep 1600m record of 4:26.16 last year, ran 4:32.15 to win her collegiate mile debut, which converts to 4:29.49 on a banked track. Wiley had committed to run at Colorado this year but controversially reneging on her commitment to enroll at hometown Huntington (Ind.) University, which has been rocked by a sex and possible PED scandal. Amina Maatoug of the Netherlands and Duke University was second in 4:32.54.
- LRC Breaking Records and Breaking Free: Woody Kincaid Opens Up About Leaving Bowerman Track Club Woody Kincaid is charting his own path in the running world for the first time as a professional. He opens up why he left Bowerman, his desire for American records, and a lot more including Shelby Houlihan.
- LRC Colorado Alums Rally to Defense of Mark Wetmore and Heather Burroughs
LRC Mile World Record Holder Sifan Hassan To Make Marathon Debut In London “I just want to be with the best and see how I run,” Hassan said. “…I’m just a curious person.”
LRC Five Thoughts on the Incredible 2023 London Marathon Fields Jonathan Gault analyzes the historically deep fields, Sifan Hassan‘s debut, Emily Sisson vs. Keira D’Amato, & Mo Farah‘s farewell?
LRC After AR, Yared Nuguse Discusses His Dream of Olympic Gold, Training with OAC, and…. Racing to McDonald’s and Dental School? Yared Nuguse surprised the world by getting one American record last weekend. By the time, the winter is over, he may have 3. Nuguse joined the LRC podcast to talk about his dreams, goals, training with the OAC, and his unorthodox start in the sport.
- DyeStat: Indiana Coach Ron Helmer Making Most Of Bell Lap To Complete Storied CareerHelmer will be retiring this year after more than 50-years of coaching. He gets praise from star runners like Andy Bayer as well as NAU coach Mike Smith who says Helmer was a “big influence” on him going into coaching.
For recommended reads from other weeks, go here.
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