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Top Ten Stories of the Week
1/18/2020

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

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Rhonex Kipruto breaks world 10km road record in Valencia

Rhonex Kipruto smashed the world record at the 10k Valencia Ibercaja on Sunday (12), clocking 26:24 to win the World Athletics Gold Label road race.

Sheila Chepkirui, meanwhile, ran 29:46 to win the women’s race. Her time was initially reported as 29:42, which would have been a one-second improvement on the world record, but her official time was later confirmed as 29:46, consolidating her position as the second fastest woman of all time.

Kipruto’s half-way split of 13:18 was also an improvement on the 5km world record. His second half of 13:06 was even faster, although would not be eligible for ratification.

The world 10,000m bronze medallist, still aged just 20, took 14 seconds off the yet-to-be-ratified mark set just six weeks ago by Joshua Cheptegei in the same city, albeit on a different course.

Held in the Spanish coastal city that played host to the World Half Marathon Championships in 2018, the standard of performances surpassed all expectations.

The men’s race kicked off at a brisk pace of 2:38 for the opening kilometre with a five-man group led by the main favourites: Kipruto and Benard Kimeli, Ethiopia’s Chala Ketema Regasa and Switzerland’s Julien Wanders perfectly paced by Shadrack Kosgei and Jacob Kiprop.

The 3km point was reached in 7:59 and only Kipruto, Kimeli and Wanders remained close to the pacemakers. By the fourth kilometre the pacemakers had already dropped out of the race and Kipruto was running solo as Kimeli could not live with his pace and was soon caught by Wanders.

Kipruto, the world 10,000m bronze medallist, reached the halfway point in 13:18, bettering the official 5km world record, with Kimeli and Wanders seven seconds in arrears, the Swiss breaking his own European record.

Despite running on his own for the entire second half, Kipruto increased his pace and clocked 2:37 for the sixth kilometre. After a slightly slower seventh kilometre of 2:40, the world U20 10,000m champion ramped up his speed again for the eighth kilometre, which he covered in 2:36. By then, having passed 8km in 20:11, it became clear that, barring disaster, Kipruto was going to improve Cheptegei’s world record.

Closing kilometres of 2:38 and 2:35 secured the world record for the 20-year-old Kenyan who covered the two halves in 13:18 and an impressive 13:06.

Well behind Kipruto, Kimeli and Wanders fought fiercely for the runner-up spot, the Kenyan finally prevailing, 27:12 to 27:13. Wanders’ time is a European record, improving his own mark by 12 seconds.

Only the legendary Ethiopian duo Kenenisa Bekele (26:17.53) and Haile Gebrselassie (26:22.75) have recorded faster times on the track, while Paul Tergat holds the Kenyan 10,000m record at 26:27:85.

“I’m over the moon,” said an ecstatic Kipruto, who is coached by Colm O’Connell. “When I clocked 26:46 in Prague in 2018, I set myself the target of breaking the world 10km record and today my dream came true. I’m very thankful to the organisers for relying on me to set the record and to the city and the people of Valencia for treating me so well and for their support throughout the race.”

Chepkirui leads Kenyan sub-30-minute sweep

Held at the same time as the men’s race, the women’s contest was a thrilling battle between the Kenyan trio of Rosemary Wanjiru, Norah Jeruto and Chepkirui. These three, alongside Israel’s Lonah Salpeter, travelled at a steady 2:58/2:59-per-kilometre pace to reach halfway in 14:51, perfectly on schedule to challenge Joyciline Jepkosgei’s world record of 29:43.

Shortly afterwards Salpeter lost ground and the race became a three-woman Kenyan battle with the added interest of a world record threat. It was inside the final kilometre that Chepkirui proved to be the strongest and during the long home-straight it seemed as though the 29-year-old would join Kipruto as a world record-holder, but ultimately she had to be content with a lifetime best of 29:46.

Wanjiru, who finished fourth in the 10,000m at the recent World Championships, obliterated her career best to 29:51 while Jeruto also bettered 30 minutes for the first time with 29:51. Their performances move them to equal third on the world all-time 10km list.

(01/12/20) Views: 425
Emeterio Valiente for World Athletics
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Dublin Marathon will expand capacity to 25,000 for this year’s event

The KBC-sponsored Marathon was run with a capacity of 22,500 entrants last year after demand shot up by 30% between 2015 and 2016.

Organizers sparked concern among runners last year when they announced plans to switch to a lottery system of entry rather than a first-come-first-served basis. However, previous participants have been given first preference on returning to the start line on 25 October. 

The lottery system, the organizer said in a statement: “has revealed that there are over 35,000 interested in participating in the 2020 event.

“16,200 entries have been received from runners who had participated in any of the 2017, 2018 & 2019 editions of the event, who were guaranteed a place in the 2020 KBC Dublin Marathon.

“1,000 entries are allocated to sponsors and tour operators, with a further 1,300 allocated to ‘Good for Age’ Athletics Ireland members.”

16,100 applications were made for the remaining 6,500 places available through the lottery. Today, the successful applicants will be informed and they have until 31 January to claim their place.

Any places left unclaimed at the end of this month will be allocated to lottery entrants from 7 February. A third round of allocations will take place on 1 August, accounting for spaces vacated by runners who have withdrawn and taken a partial refund at that point.

Unsuccessful lottery entrants can claim their €15 refund after 14 February.

“A key objective from the outset,” says race director Jim Aughney, ”was to promote marathon running in Ireland and it is great to see such strong interest in this year’s event.”

(01/10/20) Views: 275
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Switzerland’s Julien Wanders smashed his European 10km record again at the 10K Valencia Ibercaja on Sunday

Behind Rhonex Kipruto’s magnificent world record of 26:24 which shaved 14 seconds off the mark set only last month on a different course in Valencia, Wanders continued his wholesale revision of the European record books by finishing third in 27:13.

Julien Wanders’ time improved his previous mark by 12 seconds which means he has ownership of the three fastest ever times in European distance running history: 27:13 in Valencia, 27:25 in Houilles and 27:32 in Cape Town. He also holds the European records at 5km (13:29) and the half marathon (59:13).

Wanders kept pace with Kipruto until just before the four kilometer mark when the Kenyan cut loose from the leading pack, covering the second half in an audacious 13:01 which brought him comfortably inside Joshua Cheptegei's previous record. 

Wanders was also operating on sub-27 minute pace in the early stages as he reached the five kilometer checkpoint in 13:29 to match his European record but he still maintained good pace in the second half. Wanders had the close company of Kenya’s Benard Kimeli in the latter stages with Kimeli narrowly prevailing in a sprint finish for the runner-up spot - 27:12 to 27:13.

"If you don't take risks, you don't get results," he told Swiss athletics website athle.ch after the race. "I am happy to have tried but it was too fast for me today." The limitless Wanders added that his goal in today's race was to break the 27 minute-barrier "but the next time, I will do it. It's certain." 

There were fast times en mass with the top eight finishers all breaking the 28 minute-barrier and 29 runners breaking the 29 minute-barrier. France’s world 3000m steeplechase finalist Djilali Bedrani was seventh in a 27:50 PB and world marathon fourth-placer Callum Hawkins placed 11th in 28:02, also a lifetime best.

Former European marathon champion Daniele Meucci set an Italian record of 28:08 in 13th and Juan Antonio Perez was the leading Spanish finisher in 15th in 28:09.

European 10,000m champion Lonah Chemtai Salpeter from Israel was the leading European finisher in the women’s race, finishing fifth in 31:09. For the first time in history, three women broke the 30 minute-barrier in the same race with Kenya’s Sheila Chepkirui winning in 29:46 from teammates Rosemary Wanjiru (29:50) and Norah Jeruto (29:51).

(01/13/20) Views: 173
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Jamaica's 17-year-old Briana Williams will face Allyson Felix at Millrose Games

Jamaica's 17-year-old sprint sensation Briana Williams is listed to compete in the women's 60m at the 113th NYRR Millrose Games, scheduled for Saturday, February 8 at the Armory Track & Field Center in New York.

Williams, who is based in Florida, will take on a strong field with five Olympians led by  American Allyson Felix, arguably the most accomplished athlete in track and field. Felix is a six-time Olympic gold medalist and 13-time world champion.

After giving birth to her daughter in November 2018, Felix returned to competition this past season, winning a gold medal on the mixed 4x400m relay at the Doha World Championships to surpass Usain Bolt as the most decorated athlete in the history of the sport.

The Millrose Games will be the third meet that Williams is confirmed for since being found of 'no-fault' from the Independent Anti-Doping Panel in September following a positive drug test.

She took an over-the-counter flu remedy at the Jamaican trial in June which had the banned diuretic Hydrochlorothiazide in its components. The young sprinter then decided in September to withdraw from the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, a competition she had qualified for at the Jamaican trials.

At the trials, Williams had the best race of her young career, finishing third at 100m in a wind-legal time of 10.94 (+0.6) seconds, which broke the national junior record -- though World Athletics did not ratify the effort, nullifying a potential World U18 record. Still, she became just the second high school athlete to ever break the elusive 11-second mark. 

Williams will also face Teahna Daniels, the 2019 USA champion in the 100 m. Daniels had a breakout season in 2019, dipping under the 11-second barrier with a personal best of 10.99, before making the final in Doha where she finished seventh. Also joining the field is Morolake Akinosun, a former four-time NCAA champion. Akinosun also won an Olympic gold medal on the Rio 4x100m relay, competing alongside Felix for Team USA.

Defending Millrose champion English Gardner and Deajah Stevens, a former NCAA champion who competed in the 200m at the Rio Olympics are also in the field.

Williams will open her season on January 11 in South Carolina, USA followed by the Queen's School/Grace Jackson Invitational in Kingston, Jamaica on January 25, both also over 60m.

(01/14/20) Views: 154
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World record holder Brigid Kosgei will defend her title at the Virgin Money London Marathon

The 25-year-old Kenyan broke Paula Radcliffe’s 16-year-old marathon world record at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon last October clocking an incredible time of 2:14:04. The record-breaking run came six months after Kosgei won the London Marathon for the first time.

“I am very much looking forward to returning to the Virgin Money London Marathon," Kosgei said. "Last year was an incredible year for me and it started by winning in London. Coming back will be very special and I hope it can be the start of another memorable year.”

Brigid Kosgei is joined in the elite women’s field by a stellar list of rivals, four of whom have also run sub-2:19 marathons.

The list includes 2018 London Marathon winner Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya, three-time BMW Berlin Marathon champion Gladys Cherono of Kenya, 2019 Valencia Marathon champion Roza Dereje of Ethiopia and the reigning world champion Ruth Chepngetich, also from Kenya.

Also on the start line will be the world half marathon record holder and 2019 TCS New York City Marathon champion Joyciline Jepkosgei who is joint top of the Abbott World Marathon Majors (AWMM) Series XIII leaderboard alongside Kosgei and Chepngetich.

The London elite men's field will be announced on Tuesday 14 January and the complete fields announced on Friday 17 January.

(01/13/20) Views: 117
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Mike Smith is the new coach for Galen Rupp

Two-time Olympic medalist Galen Rupp has a new coach.

Rupp, whose previous coach, Alberto Salazar, is serving a four-year ban from track due to anti-doping violations, is now entrusting his training to Mike Smith, the head coach of the Northern Arizona University cross-country and track teams.

Smith confirmed the coaching relationship in an email to Runner’s World, writing that he was surprised to get a phone call from Rupp last fall and took a long time to consider whether to coach him.

The move marks a major change for Rupp, 33, who had been under Salazar’s guidance since Salazar spotted him playing soccer when he was a 14-year-old high school student in Portland, Oregon. Rupp went to college nearby at the University of Oregon and after graduating in 2009, he joined the Salazar-led Nike Oregon Project (NOP).

While still in college, Rupp made the 2008 U.S. Olympic team in the 10,000 meters, finishing 13th. At the 2012 Games in London, he won silver in the 10,000 meters behind his then-NOP teammate Mo Farah of Great Britain. In 2016, Rupp was the Olympic bronze medalist in the marathon. He also won the 2017 Chicago Marathon and the 2018 Prague Marathon, where he set his personal best of 2:06:07, second on the U.S. all-time list.

But Rupp was plagued by Achilles problems and Haglund’s deformity in his left foot, and he underwent major surgery in October 2018.

Last October, as Rupp was preparing to race Chicago again, his first race since the surgery, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced news of Salazar’s ban. Salazar is appealing the decision, but in the meantime, he is not allowed to coach, and athletes who are in contact with him are subject to sanction. Nike executives shut down the Oregon Project a few days after the ban. Rupp made it to about 23 miles of the Chicago Marathon in 2019, before dropping out with a calf strain.

Rupp has never failed a drug test, and he is one of the most frequently tested American athletes.

He is also very private, staying off of social media and eschewing media interviews except around major marathons. Other athletes who had been training under Salazar had announced moves to new coaches, but Rupp had not, fueling speculation about his training and preparations for the Olympic Marathon Trials next month in Atlanta.

His move to Smith, who is based in Flagstaff, Arizona, is a radical shift away from the insular culture Salazar created at the NOP in Beaverton, Oregon.

Smith, 39, is a well-respected collegiate coach, having led the NAU men’s cross-country team to NCAA team titles in 2017 and 2018, and a runner-up finish in 2019. The women were 14th in 2019. Before NAU, he coached at Georgetown, his alma mater. In college, he earned All-American honors in cross country, and he later qualified for the Olympic marathon trials in 2007 (for the 2008 Games). He got his start in coaching working under legendary distance coach Jack Daniels.

(01/10/20) Views: 99
Sarah Lorge Butler
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Sir Mo Farah says he can make history in Tokyo by winning 10,000m at the age of 37

Tuning into the 10,000 meters final at the World Championships was when the 36-year-old first realized he had unfinished business with the track, despite his four Olympic gold medals and six world titles.

“Watching Doha, I was nervous and agitated,” he recalled. “I felt like I was there. My heart was pounding and I was looking at that race thinking, ‘I know I could do it, I want to do it’, and the Olympics is just round the corner. I knew from that point that I’d love to go back and race that.

“As an athlete it’s important if you’re still hungry and you want it, you train for it, you push yourself to get it. If you’re not hungry, you don’t want it as much, then it’s impossible to get it. And right now I have a great hunger for the track.”

So adamant was Farah about the switch that his coach, Gary Lough, who is continuing to oversee his track ambitions, did not even attempt to talk him round. As Farah puts it: “Gary knew from that point that nothing else mattered.”

So accustomed was Farah to winning on the track that his stab at the marathon has been frustrating. There have been notable highs — winning in Chicago in 2018 and breaking the European record — but too often he has been found wanting to his East African rivals and admitted to struggling to rectify wrongs on the road, such are the rigors of the event.

“If a track race goes wrong, you know what went wrong, whether it’s your endurance or speed or whatever, you can work it out and then focus on it in training,” he said. “Then you race again in two weeks’ time and you do something about it. With the marathon, it’s sixth months. Take Chicago. I got injured beforehand, had a little niggle and the race was a disaster really. Having run so many track races in the past and with Tokyo around the corner, you go for what you knew best.”

It helps that the 10,000m has not moved on monstrously in his absence, Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei winning the world title in a time just a second quicker than Farah’s track swansong of the same distance at the preceding championships in 2017.

“There’s no one out there that has you saying ‘Oh, my God’ but in the marathon it’s different,” he said with a nod not just to the distance’s dominant force in Eliud Kipchoge but his wider rivals. “My understanding is I can’t finish in the top three in Tokyo with 2:05.”

But Farah will be the oldest man in history to run in a 10,000m final at the Olympics, let alone have aspirations to win a fifth Olympic gold. But, for him, it is the only target in his eyes. “It’s gold or nothing,” he said. “No one’s ever done that — someone that old — and that’s history. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it and work hard. I’m confident, otherwise I wouldn’t enter, but I know I’ve a lot of work to do. I can’t sit here saying, ‘It’s January and all’s good’. It’s going to be really hard. People will be saying, ‘Mo’ll win it’ but it doesn’t work like that.”

(01/14/20) Views: 80
Matt Majendie
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Logan Thomas, 18, became only the second male Special Olympic athlete ever to qualify for the Boston Marathon

The oldest of Darek and Elaine Thomas’s four children, Logan is on the autism spectrum. Diagnosed at the age of one, Logan’s biggest delay is communication. He is verbal, but putting thoughts into words is a challenge. As his father explains, the difficulty lies with “output, not input.”

While his output is limited, Logan’s ability to absorb “input” is greater than most of us will achieve in a lifetime. He’s particularly drawn to languages– when he discovered language tutorials on YouTube, he taught himself to read and write 25 of them, including Chinese. 

Logan attends the nonpublic, special education St. Elizabeth School in Baltimore, Md., whose slogan is “Helping Students with Special Needs Go the Distance.” In Logan’s case, the phrase takes on a literal meaning.

While St. Elizabeth has no traditional sports teams, students are encouraged to participate in athletics and club sports as much as possible. Logan was especially drawn to the running club. While in the club, his parents noticed how running had a calming effect on their son. Also, he was really good at it. At just 16-years-old, Logan ran the Baltimore Half Marathon with his dad and won his age group with a 1:27. He also ran two full marathons prior to the Richmond Marathon, with a 3:14 personal best at the York Marathon in York, Pa. last May. 

For Logan’s father, his accomplishments are about more than showcasing his running talent. Darek feels that Logan can help shift the perception towards kids with special needs.

“There are some kids with real ability! I don’t like labeling kids as having a disability. We need to get past that,” said Darek. To him, Logan shouldn’t necessarily be labeled as a Special Olympic athlete. He’s just an athlete– “a really good athlete.”

That much is obvious from his past performances, and yet his physical limits are hard to predict: he lacks the communication to give feedback about his race efforts. However, he just keeps getting faster. 

That’s what prompted Logan’s father to set a goal for Logan to break three hours in the marathon and qualify for Boston.

The race plan would go like this: Logan’s dad, Darek, would be on a bike, checking in periodically. Chris would try to bring Logan through 26.2 miles in under three hours, the Boston qualifying time for their age group. But they’d likely need 2:57 to give Logan a good chance of being accepted into the increasingly-competitive Boston Marathon. 

So, Chris planned to pace Logan at 2:57—dangerously close to his own PR. Jon, an experienced pacer, had only ever paced groups 30-40 minutes slower than his own race time—a considerably safer margin. Chris and Jon both admitted they were worried the night before the race. Aside from their own pacing abilities, there were some unknowns about handling the later miles, especially in terms of endurance. After all, Logan’s training was unconventional to say the least– he never ran farther than 12 miles on a long run.

Nevertheless, come race morning, Logan faced the start line without nerves or fear creeping in. Chris says he looked content and calm as he waited at the start line.

“Logan doesn’t get nervous the way we do… it’s a really nice thing,” explains Darek.

(01/11/20) Views: 75
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World Half Marathon record holder Geoffrey Kamworor is now eyeing an Olympic medal

Last November, the 26-year-old won the men’s New York City Marathon for the second time in three years after clocking 2:08:13.

“My plan this year is to go to the Tokyo Olympics Games because the only medal lacking in my cabinet is an Olympic medal,” Kamworor said.

The athlete, who trains at the Global Sports Communication camp in Kaptagat, Elgeyo-Marakwet County alongside his mentor and World Marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge, said he has stepped up preparations.

Under the guidance of their coach Patrick Sang, Kamworor and Kipchoge have become two of the best marathoners in the world. Kamworor has been on the medal podium for each of the four New York City marathons he has run.

“I am working hard this time round to make sure that I go to the Olympics because I am focused on getting a medal,” the athlete said.

Kamworor was speaking to the press on Thursday at Kipsinende Primary School in Uasin Gishu County where he led fellow athletes in awarding the best 2019 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) performers in the school.

He was accompanied by Laban Korir (2014 Toronto Waterfront Marathon), Philemon Rono (2018 Toronto Waterfront Marathon winner), Sally Chepyego (former World Half Marathon champion), Hyvin Kiyeng (former world 3,000m steeplechase champion) and Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Kipyegon.

(01/10/20) Views: 69
Dennis Lubanga
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Kenenisa Bekele and Eliud Kipchoge will face off at the London Marathon

Kenenisa Bekele has agreed to race Eliud Kipchoge in a London Marathon in April – and said he is not surprised Mo Farah is swerving the race in favour of returning to the track.

Bekele, a three-time Olympic gold medallist who has won 17 world titles over cross-country, track and road, roared with laughter when asked what he thought of Farah’s decision to leave the marathon and then added: “I am not surprised. Of course if you see Mo Farah’s races in marathons, he’s struggling – it’s not easy to get good results over a marathon. You need experience. It’s a different course, a different racing mentality.

“But it is really hard for all of us. You need to learn how to run it and also the training is different. I think it’s harder, not only for Mo, but for all of us – even I struggled.”

However the Ethiopian, who ran the second fastest marathon time in history in Berlin in September, two seconds shy of Kipchoge’s official world record of 2hr 01min 39sec, said Farah is still good enough to win a medal in the 10,000m at the Tokyo Olympics.

“I’m sure we’ll see Mo doing better things on the track. If he focuses and concentrates like before I’m sure he will be in the medals in the 10,000. I’ve no doubt about that.”

Bekele still holds the 5,000m and 10,000m world records, which were set in 2004 and 2005 respectively, and insisted he was capable of claiming Kipchoge’s marathon best even at the age of 37.

“My training is going well and I feel well,” he said.“Before last year I was struggling with injury. Everyone knows I’m a strong athlete from 15 years on the track. When we came to the marathon I’ve struggled maybe to achieve good results but of course this is because of injury, not a lack of training or my personality. I was a bit behind but my health came back and now I’m doing a lot better in the marathon.”

Bekele also admitted the sight of his great Kenyan rival running a sub-two-hour marathonin Vienna in October, albeit in an event that was not recognised by World Athletics, has spurred him on.

“When he ran under two hours, and of course it is not recognised, but it made me very motivated,” he said. “If someone like me also gets this big chance we will do a similar thing or do better. I believe in myself – you need the opportunity of course but some athletes will do a similar thing.”

The pair have met four times over 26.2 miles, with Kipchoge winning all four races. However Bekele has the better head-to-head record across all distances and surfaces.

“I am looking forward to racing Eliud once again,” added Bekele. “We have had many great battles over the years on the track, roads and cross-country. My big dream is to break the world record and an amazing performance will happen at the London Marathon.”

(01/16/20) Views: 68
Sean Ingle
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