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Top Ten Stories of the Week

These are the top ten stories based on views over the last week. 

Index to Daily Posts


90-year-old Bob Emmerson finishes his 500th parkrun

A 90-year-old British runner celebrated a milestone 11 years in the making when he crossed the finish line of his 500th parkrun last Saturday.

Bob Emmerson of Northampton in central England was cheered on by hundreds of supporters—including his wife of nearly 70 years—in the final stretch of his run at the Northampton Racecourse, where the nonagenerian has notched most of his 500 runs since taking part in his first parkrun in 2012.

Launched in the U.K. in 2004, parkruns are free, weekly community events, now with more than 2,000 hosted in more than 20 countries including Canada. All parkruns are 5K events held Saturday mornings in parks and open spaces.

Emmerson credits the weekly events with helping him stay fit and active as he strides strongly into his 90s. In a congratulatory post on X, formerly known as Twitter, parkrun organizers quoted Emmerson as saying “my enthusiasm for life is down to parkrun and it has kept me mentally and physically stronger than living a life in (my) armchair.”

Although Emmerson first heard of parkrun a little more than a decade ago, he has been running since age 15. He told the BBC News he was a “proper, serious ultra-runner” when he was younger. He has completed ultramarathons and 24-hour races, and boasts a marathon personal best of 2:40:25.

Due to restrictions that forced parkruns to be put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, Emmerson’s 500-event milestone ended up taking a little longer than he had originally hoped. “I would have liked to have reached 500 by 90 years old,” he told the Northampton Chronicle and Echo. “I said that when I got to 500 I’d stop, but I changed my mind. I’ve made too many friends and couldn’t bear to lie in bed on a Saturday morning and think of everyone running.”

Emmerson, who these days finishes the Northampton parkrun course in around 50 minutes, added any future parkrun milestones are too far down the road to think about. “I’m not going to do 600, but who can tell?” he said. “You never know. Never say never. As long as I live, I shall be doing a bit of exercise.”

(09/08/23) Views: 199
Paul Baswick

Ngetich breaks women-only world 10km record in Brasov

Kenya’s Agnes Ngetich broke the women-only world 10km record* at the Trunsylvania 10km, clocking 29:24 at the World Athletics Elite Label road race held on Sunday (10) as part of the Brasov Running Festival in Romania.

In an impressive solo running display, the 22-year-old showed her intent from the start and covered the first 5km in 14:25 – four seconds faster than the women-only world record for that distance.

She had a lead of 10 seconds over her compatriot Catherine Reline at that point.

Racing on the loop course, Ngetich went on to pass 6.5km in 18:54 and 8.5km in 24:56 before crossing the finish line in 29:24 to record the fastest ever 10km in a women-only race, improving on the 30:01 set by the late Agnes Tirop in Herzogenaurach in 2021.

As well as being the fastest women-only 10km, Ngetich’s time is the third-quickest by a woman in history, behind only the 29:14 run by Ethiopia’s Yalemzerf Yehualaw in a mixed race in Castellon last year and the 29:19 Yehualaw clocked in Valencia earlier this year.

“The world record is a surprise to me,” said Ngetich, who started the 2022 race in Brasov as the pacemaker but went on to finish second in 30:30. “I didn’t expect to get the world record. I just wanted a PB, low 30 minutes to break the course record, but a world record is really a surprise.”

The race started at a fast pace right from the gun with Ngetich, Reline and Uganda’s Joy Cheptoyek leaving the pacemaker – who had been asked to lead the runners through 5km in 15:00 – quickly behind.

The trio sped through 1500m in 4:12 and Cheptoyek started to lose contact with the Kenyan pair a kilometre later. Ngetich and Reline went through 3km in 8:32 but it was only a few hundred metres down the road in the Coresi district on the outskirts of the Transylvanian city that the latter started to drift back. From then on, Ngetich was out on her own.

Ngetich, who claimed bronze at the World Athletics Cross Country Championships in Bathurst in February and then finished sixth in the 10,000m final at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 last month, set a women-only world 5km record with her split of 14:25, improving on the 14:29 achieved by Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi in Herzogenaurach on the same day that Tirop set her 10km mark.

By 7km, Ngetich had built up an 18-second lead over Reline and the gap just kept on widening.

As Ngetich passed the 8.5km checkpoint in 24:56, Reline was second in 25:29, and the leader continued to fly over the final section of the three-lap course before gaining her second world record of the morning.

“I started the year with the World Cross, which was perfect, so I wanted to close the season with a good result,” explained Ngetich, who achieved that aim in sensational style.

Reline held on to finish second in 30:14, while Cheptoyek placed third in 30:34.

The men's race was won by Weldon Langat, who completed a Kenyan double in 27:05.

A group of seven athletes went through 5km in 13:30, with another four just two seconds further back at the halfway point.

Surges in the sixth kilometre by Kenya’s Amos Kurgat and Dennis Kibet saw the pair pull away, with Langat being towed along comfortably in their wake.

Kibet continued to regularly push the pace over the course of the next three kilometres but with just over one kilometre to go, he started to pay for his service at the front.

As Kurgat and Langat embarked on the final kilometre, the latter used that as a signal to change gears and made a decisive move that took him to victory just over two-and-a-half minutes later.

Kurgat took second place in 27:12, while the 2018 world U20 5000m champion Edward Zakayo Pingua came through strongly over the final kilometre, firstly overtaking the tiring Kibet and then almost catching Kurgat to complete an all-Kenyan podium in third place with 27:14.

Mile wins for Van Riel and Mechaal

The Trunsylvania 10km took place on the second day of the Brasov Running Festival, with Saturday (9) offering elite mile races.

Robin van Riel of the Netherlands and Turkiye’s Emine Hatun Mechaal claimed victories in the European Road Mile, winning in national records of 4:05.5 and 4:41.7, respectively.

Mechaal was the first across the line as dusk started to fall over the Coresi district, after a well calculated run that saw the 2014 European U20 cross country champion pull away from her nearest rivals over the final 100 metres.

Romania’s Cristina Balan finished second in 4:43.0, while Greek 1500m champion Melissa Anastasakis was third in 4:44.0, both women also setting national records.

In the men’s race, runners in the leading pack were reluctant to go with pacemaker Stephen Masindet and they passed 1km in an unofficial 2:40.0, which made the anticipated sub-four-minute time and a world record highly unlikely.

In the end, Van Riel was able to outsprint his younger compatriot Stefan Nillessen in a thrilling duel as the finish line approached.

Van Riel clocked 4:05.5 to Nillessen’s 4:05.8, with Italy’s Giovanni Filippi third in 4:07.2.

Further elite mile action will be on offer in Riga next month as the World Athletics Road Running Championships hosts mile, 5km and half marathon races.

(09/10/23) Views: 106

Bill Cooksey, 102-year-old becomes oldest person to finish half-marathon at Great North Run

A 102-year-old veteran of World War II has become the oldest man to complete a half marathon after finishing the Great North Run.

Bill Cooksey, who served in the RAF between 1941 and 1951, covered the 13.1 mile course from Newcastle to South Shields with the aid of walking companion Gavin Iceton in five hours and 41 minutes.

The centenarian had previously completed 10 miles a day for 10 days for his 100th birthday and cycled 1,000 miles for his 101st birthday, and took on the challenge to support the County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust.

“I’ve always wanted to do it,” MR Cooksey told ITV ahead of the event. “I’ve been up here 30 years and always walked, and when I heard about the Great North Run I thought ‘I’ll be able to do that surely,’ because there’s the additional impetus of the NHS.

“Actually I don’t think I would have done it if it wasn’t of benefit to the NHS.”

The Great North run was hit by torrential downpours after a week of heat in the United Kingdom.

Some runners were forced to walk home after flash flooding hit roads and the Tyne and Wear Metro system.

Mr Cooksey, though, managed to survive the conditions to complete his challenge and raise more money for the NHS. “I am glad I have done it,” he said to the Daily Mail. “I wish we didn’t have to go through all that rain - but we did it.”

Pat Chambers, charity development manager at the trust, added: “What a hero Bill Cooksey is.

“He continued walking through a thunderstorm to become a record breaker completing it in just over five hours 40 minutes. We are so proud of him.”

(09/11/23) Views: 106

Kenyan athlete Agness Barsosio has been handed a five-year doping ban

Kenyan athlete Agness Jeruto Barsosio has been handed a five-year ban by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for violating the World Anti-doping rules.

The 40-year-old star athlete was found guilty of the use of a Prohibited Substance/Method – specifically an ABP case.

Disturbingly, Barsosio's doping violation follows closely on the heels of her sister Stella Barsosio's own doping ban. 

Stella was banned earlier in February this year for a two-year period by the Anti-doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) for the presence of the prohibited substance, trimetazidine.

In a turn that has shocked fans and raised eyebrows in the sports community, Agness Barsosio went on to defy her provisional suspension, which was imposed on August 11, 2023. 

Even with the suspension looming over her, she audaciously participated in the 18th edition of the Brazzaville International Half-Marathon on September 13, 2023, in Brazzaville, Congo. 

The race was eventually won by fellow Kenyan Lilian Jelagat, who clocked an impressive 1:09.55. She was closely followed by Ethiopia’s Emebet Niguse Mamo with a time of 1:14.26. 

Barsosio, despite her participation under a cloud of suspicion, managed to clinch the third spot, finishing the race in 1:18.55.

To make matters even more intricate, Agness Barsosio is married to Thorsten Steffen, who is known for organizing races for athletes through his entity, Afro Athletics Promotion. 

Interestingly, Steffen is not registered as an athlete representative by World Athletics or Athletics Kenya, which might raise further questions on the influence and involvement he might have had in this controversy.

(09/11/23) Views: 103
Festus Chuma

Jepchirchir and Tola win Great North Run half marathon

Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir won the women’s race in 1:06:45, while Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola claimed the men’s title in 59:58 at the Great North Run half marathon on Sunday (10).

Britain’s record-breaking warm weather continued as the elite career of one of its greatest athletes ended at the 42nd edition of the half marathon that takes participants from Newcastle to South Shields.

Mohamed Farah placed a respectable and emotional fourth in 1:03:28. He would have loved to have been on the podium in his final race, but he was no match for the Olympic and world-medal winning trio ahead.

Tola made some amends for his failure to retain his world marathon title 14 days earlier. Alongside Farah, the smooth-running Ethiopian led a group of seven athletes at 5km (14:11), then pressed on as the group climbed to the highest point of the course at five miles.

Then, on the downhill dual carriageway stretch, he showed the form which deserted him in the closing stages of the Budapest marathon. His 4:27 mile to seven broke all but Bashir Abdi, then he cranked it up to 4:20 and was 10 seconds up on the Belgian, who himself was 30 seconds ahead of Muktar Edris.

Tola’s pace slowed as the course climbed, but he still pulled away to dip under one hour. No-one else got under 61 minutes. Abdi was second in 1:01:20, while Edris was third in 1:01:54.

In the women’s race, Jepchirchir went one better than her runner-up finish in 2022.

Following a snappy 5:03 opening mile, her fellow New York Marathon winner Sharon Lokedi was her only company, but just for four miles. In the 24°C heat, Jepchirchir ran quicker than she had in kinder running conditions a year earlier. This is a woman who won the Olympic marathon when it was 31°C with 78% humidity, so heat doesn’t bother her.

Behind Jepchirchir and Lokedi, who finished second in 1:07:43, was Britain’s Charlotte Purdue, who repeated her 2021 third place finish to tune up nicely for her Berlin Marathon bid.

“I decided to run by myself,” Jepchirchir told the BBC. Both she and Lokedi are also in marathon preparations as they get ready to return to the New York City Marathon on 5 November.

As with so many mass races of this kind, there were countless human interest stories and races within races amid the 43,768 starters. One unique record was established by blind British runner Jim Roberts, who completed the distance untethered in 2:08:25.

The last word goes to Farah. “All I know is running,” declared the 10-time global track gold medallist in his post-race interview that was broadcast to the sunbaked spectators on the seafront. “That’s what made me happy for so many years.”

(09/10/23) Views: 99

Molly Bookmyer who overcame cancer now challenges TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Marathoners endure much suffering in order to excel in their sport but few have struggled with brain cancer.

American Molly Bookmyer underwent two surgeries eight years ago following a diagnosis of a brain tumor while finishing up her degree at Ohio State University.

With that awful period behind her now, as an elite marathoner, her path has led her to the 2023 TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon where she, and a growing number of American elites, will attempt to qualify for the 2024 US Olympic Trials, to be run in Orlando, Florida on February 3. 

Her current best is 2:31:39 and she sees Toronto Waterfront – her first international race – as an opportunity to knock off a significant chunk of time.

“I want to run 2:27,” she reveals. “I feel I haven’t had a breakthrough in my marathon I have had some good races at shorter distances. I ran a 1:10:51 half marathon last fall. So I have had some success at the shorter distances and I haven’t quite figured out the full marathon distance yet.

“My first goal is to get the world championship standard and the second goal is to get the Olympic standard.”

Bookmyer graduated from Ohio State in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Management and Operations. While she was a member of the Buckeyes’ cross-country and track teams she was not a scholarship athlete. Now she has a better understanding as to why she was limited.

“I was a walk-on at OSU. I got better but I wasn’t a star in college,“ she explains. “When I look back at it, it was probably because I was sick at the time. I didn’t know I had a brain tumor. I competed on the team but my times weren’t spectacular. I lettered in cross country and track but I wasn’t All American and I didn’t make it to the NCAA’s.”

A series of stress fractures also held her back and it was by a stroke of luck that the tumor was discovered.

“In different blood tests to try to find why I got stress fractures they found one of my hormones prolactin was high,” Bookmyer says.  “This (hormone) is associated with tumors near your pituitary gland. They did a scan and they found the tumor in my ventricle. It was kind of luck. I probably had symptoms but thought it was normal.”

Following the diagnosis she underwent a spinal tap to determine if the cancer cells were in her spinal column. Fortunately, it came back negative. But the surgery to remove the growing tumor was vital.

Originally from Cleveland, she moved to Columbus to study at OSU and remained there ever since. That’s also where she met her husband, Eric. 

Immediately after graduation she worked for the Abercrombie & Fitch company. Then, having dealt with her own serious illness, Eric was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Running was helpful in both relieving the stress of being a full-time caregiver to him as well as helping in her own recovery.

“I am healthy now,” she says through a smile. “I get a brain scan every year. It used to be every six months. After the first surgery I had complications from the surgery. The tumor has not come back.

“Eric just had his 5-year checkup, He had a couple of surgeries and ‘chemo’ so now he is healthy as well, I guess we are lucky we went through a lot and came out the other side healthy.”

Two years ago she was recruited by one of her former contacts at Abercrombie & Fitch to work for Hawthorne Gardening Company which is involved in the hydroponics industry selling lights, pots, containers, benches and other gardening equipment in both the cannabis and general botany industry.  Most importantly, the job allows her to work remotely, something that helps while training full time.

Down time is limited but she says she enjoys spending time with Eric and her dog Cooper. Listening to music is another relaxing pastime with Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty remaining a favorite. With the Toronto Waterfront Marathon rapidly approaching she is confident she will perform at her best on the big occasion.

“Training is going really well,” Bookmyer declares. “I had a little setback in the spring. I tore my plantar fascistic but that’s fully healed. My mileage has gone to 115 to 120 miles (185km – 193km) a week which is higher than I have been before; paces are good, I am feeling strong. I am excited for what that means.”

(09/08/23) Views: 98
Paul Gains

Tough Mudder Race in California Gets Even Tougher After Illness Spreads

More than 300 California runners have become sick with an unidentified virus following a mud run.

While Tough Mudder races are known to be grueling affairs that can take a toll on one’s body, an illness outbreak is affecting a large portion of California runners days after the race’s conclusion.

More than 300 participants in a recent Tough Mudder race in Sonoma County, California, have complained of rash, fever, muscle pain, nausea, and vomiting after the weekend event at Sonoma Raceway.

Matt Brown, a spokesman for Sonoma County, says that the 300 cases is just a “conservative estimate.”

“The Tough Mudder race involved extensive skin exposure to mud. Most affected persons have a pustular rash, fever, myalgias, and headache. These symptoms could be indicative of a minor illness called Swimmers’ Itch, but they can also indicate a Staph infection or other more serious bacterial infection such as Aeromonas,” the county said in an advisory.

Brown said on Wednesday that Sonoma County is asking healthcare providers to obtain cultures from patients exhibiting symptoms and report back the results, but says that the cause of most of the infections is likely Aeromonas.

Aeromonas bacteria, commonly found in water, mud, and some types of food, can lead to gastrointestinal issues and other health issues such as kidney disease, meningitis, and skin and wound infections.

Charlie Bernard, a spokesman for Tough Mudder, said the company is working with county officials to investigate the event. Bernard says that Tough Mudder reached out to all participants and is sharing with them the health advisory. The organization urges people exhibiting unresolved or worsening rash, flu-like symptoms, fever, lethargy, and nerve pain to seek medical care.

“All necessary protocols were followed in preparation for, and during, the event,” Bernard wrote in an email to participants. “Our thoughts are with those affected, and we are actively investigating to understand exactly what occurred.”

In 2015, more than 1,500 runners in France experienced a norovirus after partaking in a mud run. In 2014, the CDC released a study of a mud run in Nevada two years prior that saw 22 runners fall ill afterward, also due to norovirus.

(09/10/23) Views: 93

Reynold Cheruiyot eyeing more glory at Prefontaine Classic after estelar ML performance in Brussels

World Under-20 1,500m champion Reynold Cheruiyot is not resting on his laurels as he eyes more success at the final Diamond League Meeting, Prefontaine Classic, scheduled for September 16 and 17.

Cheruiyot was in action during Friday night’s Diamond League Meeting in Brussels, Belgium and he managed to finish second in the men’s 2,000m.

The 19-year-old clocked a Personal Best and national record time of 4:48.14 as Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen broke the world record, clocking 4:43.13 to cross the line.

After his victory in Brussels, Cheruiyot wants to extend the hot streak to his final race of the season in Eugene, USA.

In a post-race interview, he said: “It was a tough race and I tried to follow the best. The race was not ideal for me but I was still able to follow and to run a personal record."

"The stadium was very good, the crowd was loud so that really helped. I only have one race left, the final in Eugene. I'm already looking forward to it and hope to run close to this time again.”

The youngster has had an amazing season thus far, making his debut in the senior category at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary where he reached the final of the event.

He has also competed with the seniors in a couple of races including the Kip Keino Classic where he won and the USATF Los Angeles Grand Prix where he finished second behind Timothy Cheruiyot.

(09/09/23) Views: 91
Abigael Wuafula

World class athletes Legese and Azimeraw at the TCS Amsterdam Marathon

The TCS Amsterdam Marathon will welcome a strong elite field on Sunday, October 15. Ethiopian Birhanu Legese, who has run the fourth fastest time of all time with 2:02.48, will take a shot at the course record of 2:03.39. Bernard Koech (2:04.09) and Lemi Berhanu (2:04.33) also choose Amsterdam for their fall marathon. Among the women, Degitu Azimeraw is aiming for a second victory as well as a course record. Former winner Azimeraw will face competition from, among others, Tiruye Mesfin.

The 28-year-old Birhanu Legese is an all-time marathon runner behind three absolute legends: Eliud Kipchoge, Kelvin Kiptum and Kenenisa Bekele. The Ethiopian won the Tokyo Marathon in 2019 and 2020. At the 2019 Berlin Marathon, he finished second in 2:02.48 behind Bekele. Amsterdam will be the fifth Platinum Label marathon at which Legese will start.

Besides Legese, there are more candidates for the win. For example, Bernard Koech has been on the podium in Amsterdam before, when he finished second behind Tamirat Tola (the current course record holder) in 2021. Koech recorded the fourth fastest time this year in Hamburg last April: 2:04.09.

Koech will also take his training partner Kennedy Kimutai to Amsterdam, from whom an interesting debut is expected. With a personal best of 58.28, he already ran a very strong half marathon once (Valencia, 2021).

With Lemi Berhanu (2:04.33), Asrar Hiryden (2:04.43), Cybrian Kotut (2:04.47), Barselius Kipyego (2:04.48) and Abdisa Tola (2:05.42), the younger brother of Tamirat Tola, also at the start, it promises to be an exciting race.

For three editions in a row now, the women's course record has been broken. Since last year, the current course record of 2:17.20 is held by the Ethiopian Almaz Ayana. Degitu Azimeraw has fond memories of her debut marathon in Amsterdam: she raced to 2:19.26 in 2019. A time she tightened to 2:17.58 at the TCS London Marathon in 2021. Next month, the 24-year-old runner will return to the race circuit after her pregnancy.

With her best time, Tiruye Mesfin is not much inferior to her compatriot. The Ethiopian ran a strong debut of 2:18.47 in Valencia last year and so could also be the first woman to enter the Olympic Stadium on Sunday, October 15.

The TCS Amsterdam Marathon is holder of the Platinum Label of the World Athletics, which makes the marathon attractive for the fastest long distance athletes in the world. The Platinum Label guarantees a fast course, with a good and tightly organized race. Legese, Azimeraw and Koech, among others, also have the Platinum Label status themselves. Their participation not only ensures an attractive race, but also further sustainability of the event.

Strong Dutch field

Organizer Le Champion previously announced that Nienke Brinkman, Khalid Choukoud, Richard Douma, Roy Hoornweg, Stan Niesten, Luuk Maas, Anne Luijten and Jill Holterman will be at the start. Lucas Nieuwenboer (second Dutchman in Amsterdam last year) and Roel Wijmenga have been added to the list. A strong group is being built around these top athletes so that they can aim for fast times and Olympic limits.

(09/08/23) Views: 90
Runners Web

This year's Bank of America Chicago Marathon could be the largest ever

The 2023 Bank of American Chicago Marathon is shaping up to be the race's largest ever.

With more than 47,000 participants expected to run in this year's race, organizers said it could be "the largest finisher field to date."

The previous record was set in 2019, with 45,932 finishers crossing the finish line.

That's not the only thing making this year's race particularly special, as another major milestone will be reached come Oct. 8.

According to organizers, the Chicago Marathon will see its millionth finisher in this year's race.

Since the event began in 1977, more than 960,000 participants have crossed the finish line.

"On Sunday, October 8, we will welcome the millionth finisher across the line in Grant Park," a letter to participants from Carey Pinkowski, executive race director read. "While being the millionth finisher is a unique honor, it took 999,999 finishes to reach that milestone: finishes made up of world records, American records and personal records, of smiles, tears and disbelief, of pride, pain and awe."

"Whether you’ve contributed to that number by running a past Chicago Marathon or will contribute to that number this fall, you are a significant part of the race’s story," the letter continued.

Earlier this year, the marathon's 2023 elite field was announced, a lineup of athletes organizers are calling "one of the deepest, most-decorated assemblies of athletes in race history."

This year's race will see all four of its defending champions return to city streets on Oct. 8, with a number of records at risk.

“Chicago has been home to world-records, historic debuts and has served as an introduction to runners who became legends of the sport,” Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski said in a statement. “As we prepare to celebrate a landmark year in the race’s history, we anticipate historic performances that we will talk about for years to come.”

(09/09/23) Views: 90

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