Politically incorrect or not, the truth is both indisputable and self-evident: The utter domination of distance running by athletes from East Africa, a continuing trend which has seemed to peak in 2011, has now begun to shrink the sport itself. The atrophy is as evident as the hollows beneath Demi Moore’s cheekbones.
More evidence was on display again today at the NCAA D1 Men’s Cross Country Championship in Terre Haute, Indiana in the person of Arizona freshman Lawi Lalang of Kenya. A wholly inexperienced distance runner who showed up on the Arizona campus last fall “with no competitive running experience whatsoever” according to his Wildcat bio sheet, Lalang was, nevertheless, an easy runaway winner in today’s national championship over his more seasoned competitors.
This stark difference in talent was a contributing factor which led to the recent departure of sub-4:00 high school mile star Lukas Verzbicas from the track program at the University of Oregon to train full-time for triathlon at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs – VERZBICAS CHOOSES TRIATHLON OVER RUNNING. That was a particularly troubling loss, since it represented another strand of running’s DNA being torn away. But young Lukas was quite straight forward about his decision. After winning the ITU World Junior Triathlon Championship this year, he looked at what lie ahead, and didn’t see himself being able to run what he considered world-level times against the Kenyan and Ethiopian runners. So off he swam /biked to triathlon where no such (dominant) competition awaited. But the Lukas loss is just another example in an increasing trend that has diminished a once robust sport. (more…)