Davenport, Ia. — So there was this little dustup between miles four and five at the BIX 7 Road Race yesterday in Davenport, Iowa. Teshome Mekonen of Ethiopia was clipping the heels of race leader Silas Kipruto, and two-time champion Kipruto became a tad tired of it. Anyone who’s been in a pack has had that situation happen to them. At first it’s frustrating, but soon, if it keeps happening, it has a tendency to piss you off.
Silas Kipruto lashes out at Teshome Mekonen (19 in yellow) as #11 Isaac Mwangi considers his options
So after a couple of head turns and stern glares from Kipruto, and a corresponding ‘go eff yourself’ from Mr. Mekonen, the 6’4″ Kipruto took a MMA backhand swipe at the much smaller Ethiopian, which backed him off, and caused all kinds of panic in the pack, which by that time was made up of two Kenyans and two Ethiopians, the Yankees-Red Sox of distance running rivalries.
As it so happens, all four of the guys in that lead pack had been racing against one another on the tour, and so were well aware of one another.
On July 10 at the Utica Boilermaker 15K it was Ethiopian Mekonen who took the win, with countryman Belay Tilahun in 5th, followed Kenyans Isaac Mwangi and Silas Kipruto.
Then last week in Santa Cruz, California at the Wharf to Wharf 6 Miler it was Isaac Mwangi outkicking Silas for the win with Mekonen in third. So these guys were not strangers.
Kipruto pulls away from Tilahun for the win
Yesterday at Bix Kipruto pulled away with Belay Tilahun in tow as Mwangi and Mekonen succumbed on the infamous Kirkwood Boulevard hills in Mike 5. New father Kipruto finally went on to win the race in a last 800m sprint to notch his third BIX victory.
But Mekonen then filed a protest saying he had been interfered with. But it’s not like it all happened in a vacuum. Mekonen was causing the problem by clipping the heels of Kipruto in the first place. But in any case, this is exactly what we need in the sport. At least in America.
Every sport in America that is successful has a modicum of violence. The most popular sport, football, is predicated on violence. If you want to find an audience better find a way to incorporate some version of it. So here’s a proposal. In every 5 km of a race there ought to be at least 100 meters designated as a full contact zone. Let’s let them go at it MMA style and let the chips (and teeth) fall where they may.
Meb Keflezighi came into yesterday’s race wanting to get out of his comfort zone as he heads toward the Rio Olympic Marathon in three weeks time. And he did the early race leading with U.S. Army WCAP runner Elkahan Kibet. But there is nothing that will get you out of your comfort zone quicker than a shot of adrenaline from a well thrown punch.
Oh, Mekonen’s protest was disallowed.
“Are you ready to rumbbbllle!!??”
Let’s get it on?
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