WTW: Could Jacob Kiplimo one day surpass Eliud Kipchoge? Are Galen Rupp and Molly Huddle done?

The Week That Was in Running, March 14 – 20, 2023

By Robert Johnson
March 21, 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. Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us, or post in our forum.

Jacob Kiplimo crushes Cheptegei in NYC

After watching Jacob Kiplimo DESTROY Joshua Cheptegei and everyone else, putting 30+ seconds on everyone in the final 5k thanks to a 4:19 12th mile, at the United Airlines NYC Half on Sunday, I had a thought (Yes, some might call it blasphemy).

Is it possible that Kiplimo ends up being better than Eliud Kipchoge at the marathon?

Of course, being better than near perfection is hard to accomplish, but similarities between Kipchoge and Kiplimo exist.

Both won world junior xc titles.

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Both went to the track and were incredibly fast (7:26/12:48/26:33 for Kiplimo; 7:27/12:46/26:49 pre-super shoes for Kipchoge) but never won Olympic gold.

Once they started racing on the roads, they were virtually unbeatable – you’d seriously better run a world record if you want to beat them.

Of Kipchoge’s first 12 marathons, he only lost one and it took a world record to beat him. Of Kiplimo’s first 7 half marathons, he has only lost one and it took a world record to beat him.

Now, Kiplimo has never run a marathon but when you watch him run a half, he just looks like he’s made for the marathon as there is no up and down to his stride at all.

Some messageboard posters love the way Kiplimo looks on the roads as well. Discuss here.

So just remember this thought I’m putting out there.

No one could imagine there could ever be anyone as good as Roger Federer at tennis until suddenly there were two guys basically just as good, if not better.

What’s crazy is Kiplimo is only officially 22. He could still end up being utterly dominant on the track. He could win Olympic gold in 2024 and 2028 and then move to the roads and he would still be younger than Mo Farah was when Farah won his first world title on the track.

Lastly, while Kiplimo has never lost to Cheptegei on the roads (2-0), it should also be pointed out that he’s never beaten him on the track (0 for 6).

We discussed this topic on this week’s Track Talk Podcast. 

Video highlights below

*Jacob Kiplimo dispatches Joshua Cheptegei (again), Hellen Obiri sets course record at NYC Half

Discount Galen Rupp at your own peril

Two-time Olympic medallist Galen Rupp did not have a good race in New York, as he ran 1:04:57 and was 17th. Some on the messageboard immediately seemed to start dancing on his grave and writing the 36-year-old off.

Not me. Before the race, on the Friday 15 bonus podcast for our Supporter’s Club members, we discussed who had a higher chance of making the 2024 US Olympic team – Galen Rupp or Donavan Brazier. We both felt like it was Rupp as he’s at least running right now, but we liked Brazier’s chances for a medal.

Have people forgotten a) how good Rupp is and b) what happened four years ago?

Rupp’s a two-time Olympic medallist – something most Americans can’t even realistically dream of. Less than 2 years ago, he was 8th in the Olympics and 2nd in Chicago (2:06:35). Last year, in what was a bad year for him, he ran 2:09:36 at Worlds – a time only a few Americans can hit.

And let me remind you what happened in 2019. A year before the 2020 US Olympic Trials, Rupp also was struggling. He didn’t run a spring marathon as he was still recovering from Achilles surgery. He dropped out of Chicago that fall as his leg still wasn’t better. But at the Trials in February 2020, he dominated.

Yes, doing that at 37 is harder than 33, but given the fact that Rupp appears motivated, I’m not writing him off.

If Meb Keflezighi made an Olympic team at 40 (and Abdi Abdirahman at 43), Rupp can make it at 37.

(If you don’t already listen to our free regular weekly podcast to stay abreast of all things running you’re missing out)

Will Galen Rupp make the 2024 US Olympic marathon team?

Your vote has been counted. Thank you!

What about Molly Huddle?

Molly Huddle is 38. And on the comeback trail after becoming a mom. She was 7th in NY in 1:12:27. Can she make the 2024 Olympic team? It’s going to be tough. Remember, she didn’t make it in 2020. Now that doesn’t mean she can’t make it on a less hilly course in 2024. Abdi Abdirahman didn’t make it in 2016 and he made it in 2020.

The problem for Huddle is she’s never seemed like a true marathoner and she’s said she’s not a super responder to the super shoes. Yes, she’s run 2:26 in the marathon a couple of times including in New York (and that was pre super shoes). But 5 US women have broken 2:24 since the start of 2022.

The 5 Fastest US Marathoners Since 2022

  1. Emily Sisson 2:18:29 – 2022
  2. Keira D’Amato 2:19:12 – 2022
  3. Betsy Saina 2:21:40 – 2023
  4. Sara Hall 2:22:10 – 2022
  5. Emma Bates 2:23:18 – 2023

And guess who is not on that list? 2020 Trials champion Aliphine Tuliamuk, who appears to be rounding into form after her own maternity break, and 2020 Olympic bronze medallist Molly Seidel, who is constantly struggling with injury. It also doesn’t include 39-year-old Des Linden who beat Huddle in New York by running 72:21 for 5th.

Huddle could make the team but it seems unlikely. Is trying to run sub-30:40 for 10,000 a totally crazy idea?

Will Molly Huddle make the 2024 US Olympic marathon team?

Your vote has been counted. Thank you!

Congratulations, you’re a national champion

What does it mean to be a “national champion”? Not much sometimes.

At the Canadian Indoor Championships last week, Regan Yee won the 800 (2:18:11), 1500 (4:33.40), and 3000 (9:38.33) titles. She was the only finisher in all three events.

At the third US high school nationals, the Adidas Track Nationals, the boys’ winning time for the 5000 — where there was just one competitor — was 17:15.01. The girls winning time, which had four competitors, was 16:39.08.

MB: Adidas Nationals is a FAILURE

Guy who never was top 100 at NCAA XC runs 2:07:16 in marathon

Former NCAA runner Iliass Aouani of Italy by way of Morocco was never a star while in college. During his four years in the NCAA (1 year at Lamar, 3 years at Syracuse), he never finished in the top 125 at NCAA cross country.

Iliass Aouani’s NCAA XC finishes
2015 – 185th (running for Lamar)
2016 – 128th
2017 – 234th
2018 – DNC (101st at NE region)

On the track, he only made NCAAs as a senior when he was 20th in the 10,000 in 2019.

But now he’s the Italian record holder in the marathon as over the weekend at the Zurich Marató de Barcelona, he lowered his pb from 2:08:34 to 2:07:16 to place 9th and break Eyob Ghebrehiwet Faniel‘s 2:07:19 national record.

Now Aouani did flash some big-time talent at Syracuse. As a senior, he ran a 28:25.36 school and ACC record at Stanford and then won the ACCs in the 5000 (14:00.38) and 10,000 (29:01.13, championships record) before his disappointing 20th-place showing at NCAAs.

But there was a good excuse for the 20th place showing at NCAAs. It came in the midst of Ramadan and he was fasting from sunrise to sundown. Syracuse coach Brien Bell and Aouani would often work out on Sweet Road at 1 a.m. as he’d eat around 8:30 or 9, take a nap, and then meet up with Bell for an after-midnight workout.

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Aouani also did quite well in school as he was the ACC Scholar-Athlete of the year in 2019 and he earned both a bachelor’s in Civil Engineering and a masters degree in Structural Engineering.

What If The NAU Dynasty Never Started?

One more interesting thing about Aouani. In cross country, he’d often get a bit worked up and struggled the last few minutes of races. The most prominent of these struggles came in his first fall at Syracuse at the 2016 NCAAs, where Syracuse was going for a second-straight little. At 8k, they lead NAU 108-123 and Aouani was the third man in 51st. He ended up fading to 128th. Had he maintained his place, Syracuse would have repeated as champions and NAU wouldn’t have won their first NCAA title.

Might the NAU dynasty not even be a thing?

Syracuse = Marathon U?

Coach Bell said he’s not surprised by Aouani’s marathon success as he called him a “great talent” and “a great dude with a great work rate” who was known to rock some long runs in college, including a 20 miler at 5:08 pace.

And marathon success seems to come naturally for Syracuse grads. Should we start calling them Marathon U? They’ve produced way more sub-2:10 guys than any other college in recent memory, right?

Syracuse’s Sub-2:10 Guys Of Late
Iliass Aouani – 2:07:16
Martin Hehir – 2:08:59
Colin Bennie – 2:09:38

Hell Jonathan Aziz, who only ran 15:15/30:57 at Syracuse, has run 2:15:31. What’s in the water in upstate NY?

On the women’s side, just look at what the Syracuse women have done in since December. Paige Stoner won the US marathon champs in 2:26:06, while Maegan Krifchin ran 2:30:16 in Houston in January and Sarah Pagano ran 2:32:05 in Nagoya on March 12.

MB: What if the NAU dynasty never got started? Should we re-name Syracuse as Marathon U? 

*Bahrain’s Marius Kimutai (2:05:06) And Ethiopia’s Zeineba Yimer Worku (2:19:44) Win Barcelona Marathon

Two runners break Chinese men’s marathon record

Iliass’s national record wasn’t the only one last week. In China, Ren Longyun‘s national record of 2:08:15 had stood since 2007, but at the Wuxi Marathon, which doubled at the Chinese Marathon Champs, two men broke that time. 24-year-old Xe Hi had a huge day as he lowered his pb from 2:11:18 to 2:07:30 to place second and Yang Shaohui ran 2:07:49 for third (previous pb of 2:08:56) as Kenya’s Enock Onchari won in 2:07:19.

*He Jie renews Chinese men’s marathon national record

Less than 5 years after setting Ethiopian record, Jemal Yimer is racing for $6,000 in LA

While it took 2:05 to win marathons in both Barcelona (2:19 women’s winning time) and Seoul last week (no elite women’s race), the race win that caught my eye was in LA. The LA Marathon reminded me how pro running can be a tough way to make a living, particularly if you don’t have a big shoe deal.

In LA, Jemal Yimer, who is still just 26, got the $6,000 win in 2:13:15 by ripping miles 23-24-25 in 4:46, 4:34, and 4:26.

Jemal Yimer celebrates his win at the Los Angeles Marathon presented by ASICS
Los Angeles, California March 19, 2022
photo © Kevin Morris

Yimer is a guy who in 2018 set the Ethiopian record in the half in Valencia (2018). He’s twice finished fourth in the world, once on the track in the 10,000 (2017) and once in the half (2018). He’s also been top 10 in the Boston Marathon (3rd in 2021 and 8th in 2022) and now he’s reduced to racing for $6,000 in LA?

Well actually, he was racing for $16,000 as in addition to the first-place purse of $6,000, there was a $10,000 Morgan & Morgan Marathon Chase title on the line for the winner of the battle of the sexes. But that went to Kenya’s Stacy Ndiwa by 32 seconds as her 2:31:02 gave her the battle of the sexes win as well as she got an 18:19 head start.

Considering the women’s WR in the marathon is only 12:55 slower than the men’s, that was quite a generous head start.

For the record, LA is an Asics race and Yimer runs for Asics so we imagine he made much more than $6,000.

And for the record it’s crazy that LA, America’s 2nd largest city, has a marathon where the top prize is only $6,000.

More: Toni Reavis’ musings on LA Marathon    

Yomif Kejelcha just misses 5k world record

In the 5k at the Semi-Marathon de Lille Métropole in France, there were a lot of big names in the men’s race, but one stood out at the finish line. Mile indoor world record holder Yomif Kejelcha just missed the 12:49 road WR as he won in 12:50, well ahead of Kenya’s  Reynold Kipkorir (13:04),  who continues to impress at age 18. Kipkorir run world juniors in the 1500 last summer, then was second in the U20 race at World XC. Oslo Diamond League winner Telahun Haile was 3rd in 13:07 as world 5000 silver medallist Jacob Krop was fourth in 13:13.

Other News of Note

Recommended Reads

To see our favorite reads from other weeks, go here.

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. Talk about this article on our world famous fan forum/ messageboard.


Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us or post in our forum.

Editor’s note: The article was initially published without the polls and without some of the Syracuse marathon information. We also at one point incorrectly called Jacob Kiplimo as Eliud Kipchoge.

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