WTW: A WET & Wild British Champs, New Stars Emerge In Kenya, A Competitor Hops In A Vehicle And Wins Badwater & Oregon’s Future Looks Bright?

The Week That Was in Running, July 3 – 9, 2023

It was a busy week last week as many countries including the UK and Kenya held their national championships. Below, I try to put it all in perspective for you, but I don’t really talk about the US champs — just the US U20 champs. If you missed our extensive on-site coverage from Eugene, where the three sub-13:00 Amerian 5000 runners all failed to make the team, catch up now.

Past editions of our Week That Was weekly recap can be found here. You should come to LetsRun each and every day for the latest news but if you miss a day, you can always go to our archive page. If you like our written weekly recap, you’ll love our weekly Track Talk Podcast as well. Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us, or post in our forum.  

It Was WET At The British Trials / Videos of The Week

Two weeks after Zharnel Hughes set a British 100m record of 9.83 in New York, his impressive form continued at the British trials over the weekend as he won the 100 in 10.03 (0.0 wind) in a rainstorm and then came back and took the 200 in 19.77 (+2.3).

The 100 footage has to be seen to properly be appreciated.


Mid-d wise, Laura Muir lost to a Brit for the second straight race as after losing to Melissa Courtney Bryant in Stockholm, she was upset by Katie Snowden in the 1500, 4:09.86 to 4:10.24. But the race of the week came in the men’s 800. I don’t want to spoil it for you so if you haven’t watched it or seen the results, watch it now.

Article continues below player.

After going out in 49.74, 21-year-old Max Burgin, who ran 1:45 at 17, 1:44 at 18, and 1:43 at 20, got caught late but luckily collapsed over the finish line and not just short of it in an epic race.

1. Daniel Rowden, GBR, 09.09.1997, 1:45.13
2. Ben Pattison, GBR, 15.12.2001, 1:45.15
3. Max Burgin, GBR, 20.05.2002, 1:45.16
4. Ethan Hussey, GBR, 05.03.2003, 1:45.72
5. Josh Kerr, GBR, 08.10.1997, 1:46.35
6. Yusuf Bizimana, GBR, 06.09.2000, 1:46.43
7. Thomas Randolph, GBR, 07.02.1999, 1:46.54
8. Archie Davis, GBR, 16.10.1998, 1:46.76

More: British Trials Results
*Katie Snowden Gets Shock 1500m Win Over Laura Muir At UK Champs 
*Zharnel Hughes Completes UK Champs Sprint Double With A Wind-Aided 19.77 (2.3m/sec) Victory In The 200m 
*Zharnel Hughes Reveals He Pushed Himself So Hard In A Workout Earlier This Year That He Had To Go To The Hospital 

Youngsters Impress at Kenyan Trials

The Kenyan World Championship trials were held last week in Nairobi and a few things caught my eye.

The Kenyan (and US trials) provided the perfect example of the flaws in the World Athletics qualifying system for Worlds. Repeat after me: if a country is going to send three athletes anyway, it should be allowed to send the top three from its trials whether they have the standard or not. Track & field needs more meets that matter. I say that because the third placer in the women’s 10,000 at the Kenyan trials, 21-year-old Catherine Relin, doesn’t have the standard. So even though she’s run 31:57.79 and 31:54.59 at altitude in the last two weeks (and 65:39 in the half marathon earlier this year), she’s not going to Worlds? That’s crazy.

A lot of other young names turned heads the Kenyan Trials. 

  • 19-year-old Peninah Muthoni Mutisya is someone you need to be paying attention to in the women’s 800. Two weeks ago, she had a 2:03.54 pb from the African Junior Champs in May, which she won. She’s now run four PRs since then including 1:59.55 to win the Kenyan Trials.
  • Nelly Chepchirchir, who just turned 20 on June 4 and was fourth at the world juniors last year in the 800, dominated the women’s 1500 by running 3:59.77 — the fastest time ever recorded at altitude. Chepchirchir began the year with a 4:11 pb but has already PR’d three times this year including a 3:58.96 in Hengelo.
  • There may have been a changing of the guard in the men’s steeplechase. 2021 world junior bronze medallist Simon Koech, who turned 20 on June 10, remained undefeated on the year, winning in dominant fashion by nearly four seconds in 8:22.55. Koech also doesn’t have the standard but his world ranking is high enough (barely) to get him into the field. The lack of any sort of altitude adjustment for up-and-coming Kenyans who haven’t had time to hit the pro circuit is another example of why World Athletics’ qualifying still needs improvement.

Five-time steeple medallist Conseslus Kipruto, the two-time world champ, was a DNF in the men’s steeple after hitting his knee on a barrier. He was not named to the team (Kenya normally takes top two and sometimes selects the third spot).

64:37 half marathoner Irene Kimais made her first Worlds team in style at age 24 by winning the 10,000 in 31:52.20.

Not every event win in Kenya went to a youngster. World record holder Beatrice Chepkoech was sensational in the women’s steeple. Chepkoech, who prior to this year had never run faster than 9:22.32 at altitude (but ran 9:13.51 in Nairobi in May) ran what has to be an attitude world record of 9:09.43 to win the women’s steeple by 5+ seconds. Jackline Chepkoech, the world junior champ in 2021 who was second in Florence this year, was second in 9:14.56.

Can the, “It’s so hard to run the 10,000/5,000 double at USAs” excuse not be said for a few years? I say that because at the Kenyan trials, Daniel Ebenyo, the 5000 world championship finalist from last year who hasn’t raced on the European circuit yet in 2023, ran 27:30.5 and 13:16.05 on back to back days to place second in the 10,000 and 5,000.

Lastly, 2019 world champ Timothy Cheruiyot got the job done in the men’s 1500, winning in 3:34.01. It’s worth noting that 2017 world champ Elijah Manangoi was just 8th in 3:39.99. Manangoi, 30, was one of the top 1500 runners in the world before he served a two-year whereabouts violation suspension from 2019 to 2021. While Manangoi’s pb is 3:28.80, he hasn’t broken 3:36.79 since coming back.

It’s also worth noting that Elijah’s younger brother George, who was the 2017 World Youth and 2018 World Junior champ, didn’t do well either. He was just 11th in 3:42.74. Prior to Elijah’s whereabouts suspension, George had run 3:31.49 for the 1500. He hasn’t broken 3:35.86 since.

*Full Kenyan trials results
*WA Recap of Trials
*Kenya’s WC squad released

Getting Eliminated In The First Round Isn’t Always Bad / Oregon’s Got A Lot of Young Guns Coming In Next Year

Speaking of youngsters, US high school star Simeon Birnbaum had a busy week. Most people reading this column likely know he impressed by leading much of his 1500 prelim at USAs before ultimately finishing 6th and not advancing on Thursday night. What many likely don’t know is he came back and ran the 800 in the U20 meet the next two days. He won his prelim in 1:50.54 on Friday before finishing second in the final in 1:47.96 on Saturday — a huge improvement over his 1:50.37 pb.


Birnbaum broke 4:00 in the mile as a junior last June

Birnbaum wasn’t the only future Oregon Duck to do well as US U20s this week. Many people behind the scenes have been pointing out to me that the Oregon men weren’t very good this year. And the US meet wasn’t a good one for the Bowerman Track Club, headed by Oregon coach Jerry Schumacher. A buddy recently texted me something along the lines of, “Jerry’s going through the motions. Does he even care anymore?”

I’m not privy to any inside knowledge but I laughed at that assertion. If Schumacher wasn’t motivated, there is no reason why he’d take on the extra headache of being a college coach when he had a very cushy gig as the BTC coach. Other than Phil Knight mandating it, I can’t think of a reason.

Moreover, did you see who won the US U20 1500 and U20 steeplechase crowns? It was two freshmen from Oregon who redshirted the entire year in Rheinhardt Harrison and Benjamin Balazs.

Schumacher likely knew Oregon was going to be down this year and that it often takes a while for people to adjust to his training, so he focused on the long term and got ready for 2023-24. He’ll start the fall with the following guys as freshman eligibility-wise: Simeon Birnbaum (3:37 pb, 8:34 2-mile), Rheinhardt Harrison (3:38 pb), Connor Burns (3:58/13:37), and Balazs (8:49.64 steeple).

MB: Oregon men gaining momentum? Or is Jerry going through the motions? 

Aussies Rock It In France

With the Australian champs already having been held months ago, many Aussies were competing in Europe last week with the most notable results coming at the Meeting National à Thème de l’Est Lyonnais in France on Saturday. Joseph Deng ran 1:43.99 to win the 800 and beat the 1:44.00 Australian record of his training partner Peter Bol by the slimmest of margins. Bol, who was 4th at the Olympics and recently was vindicated in an EPO false-positive doping case, may soon be a 1:43 guy himself as he ran a nice 1500 pb in the same meet of 3:34.52 (previous pb of 3:35.86) to place second. Bol has already run 1:44.29 this year for 800.

The winner and third-place finisher in the 1500 were names many of you know. Olympian Anass Essayi of Morocco/South Carolina ran a big pb of 3:32.87 (previous pb of 3:34.58) to get the win after finishing 4th at NCAAs this year. Australian Cam Myers, who turned 17 on June 9, ran an Aussie U20 record of 3:35.01 for third.

Watch the finish below.


Ashley Paulson Does It Again at Badwater; Hops In Motorized Vehicle & Wins

Last year at the Badwater 135, Ashley Paulson won the women’s race in a course record time of 24:09:34. Paulson’s time and super quick splits at the end of the race, coupled with her dubious past caused many, including Marathon Investigation’s Derek Murphy and ultramarathon star Camille Herron, to wonder if the performance was legitimate. In 2016, Paulson was suspended for a tainted supplement and she once cut a half marathon course where she PR’d short, claiming it was the result of her being”too into my music I guess.” There is a messageboard thread about the race with almost 1,000 posts on it.

In the end, Paulson handed over some GPS data which Murphy thought looked legitimate.

Well, this year’s Badwater was held last week and Paulson was even better – she won the race outright in 21:44:35, the second-fastest time in race history, male or female. Does this definitely mean last year’s race was legitimate? I am not asking that rhetorically. I seriously don’t know, so if you are an expert in the ultra world please post your thoughts on the messageboard.

It doesn’t appear that anyone is questioning if she actually ran it this year as she ran in a pack for some of the race. But I do know one thing. Paulson definitely hopped in a motorized vehicle mid-race — all of the competitors did. Race Results Weekly reports, “This year’s race times are not comparable with prior years and should be disregarded. Because of road closures, competitors had to be driven 18.6 miles from one part of the course to another and then their times were adjusted for the drive. Ashley Paulson, the 2022 women’s champion and course record holder, was declared the overall winner this year under the run/drive format.”

More: MB: Ashely Paulson won the Badwater 135 outright in 2023, does this definitely mean the cheating questions last year were false?
2023:  MB: Ashley Paulson is about to win the Badwater 135!!! Overall (Men and Women)!!!!
2022: MB: Half marathon course cutter Ashley Paulson, who served 6 month contamination suspension, wins coveted Badwater 135.
*Derek Murphy on Paulson
*Kevin Beck on Paulson

Course Records Fall at Boilermaker

Former Ethiopian half marathon record holder Jemal Yimer (58:33 pb from 2018) had a great run at the Boilermaker 15K in Utica, N.Y., on Sunday as he set a US all-comers record of 42:06 to win for the second straight year. The course record also went down in the women’s race as Kenya’s Jesca Chelangat, who ran 30:01 for 10K on the roads in Valencia earlier this year and was second at Peachtree just five days earlier, won in 47:33. Reid Buchanan (7th, 43:44) and Aliphine Tuliamuk (5th, 49:15) took top American honors.

Sam Chelanga did double duty as three days after finishing 9th in the 10,000 at USAs, he was 11th at Boilermaker in 44:14. Buchanan was also doing double duty as he ran the Fleet Feet Liberty Mile on Friday in Pittsburgh where he was fourth in 4:02.

*Boilermaker 15K: Ideal conditions lead to record-breaking performances for men and women

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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