My old Runner’s World friend and long-time chronicler of the sport Peter Gambaccini wrote on my FB page in response to “WHAT A WORLD!” (RECORD) about the first sub-two hour marathon this past weekend in Vienna: “I am much more impressed by the 2:01s Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele ran in “real” marathons (in Berlin 2018 and 2019) than I am by what transpired in Vienna (INEOS 1:59 Challenge).

“Marathon racing is supposed to involve decisions, and Kipchoge had very few to make last weekend. I was glad to see Kipchoge finish hard on his own, and I suppose we should be grateful that elite running got more coverage from the general interest media than it had since the days of Bolt.  But there’s no point in any more extravaganzas like Vienna, is there?”

I thought Peter’s question was worth sharing and answering. So here goes. Continue reading


Kenya’s Mary Keitany is all smiles at London Marathon 2017

This is a strange game, isn’t it?  Here we see the great Mary Keitany winning her third Virgin Money London Marathon in 2:17:01, and for the rest of the morning we try to figure out where her performance stands in the list of best-ever women’s marathons.

Now, forgetting all this mixed-gender, women’s-only, point-to-point, downhill  or loop course qualifiers, Mary’s 2:17:01 is the second fastest women’s finishing time ever posted behind Paula Radcliffe’s 2:15:25, London 2003.  But on the coverage shown in the USA by NBCSN her time was referred to as the fastest time ever in a women’s-only race, bettering Paula’s 2:17:42 from London 2005.  But even that 2005 London time ranks behind Paula’s 2:17:18 from Chicago 2002. Confused?

When reading through the chattering class on LetsRun.com, and referring to my own 2002 journal when I covered the women’s race for NBC5 in Chicago, we remember LetsRun co-founder Weldon Johnson served  as Paula’s “escort”, if not rabbit per se.  But when Paula smashed that Chicago mark in London the following spring with her magical 2:15:25, she was also “escorted” by two Kenyan guys the entire way. Continue reading



Meb and family celebrate his 4th OIympic berth

Meb & family celebrate his 4th OIympic berth

After his impressive win at Saturday’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials Marathon in Los Angeles (in his debut at the distance) who knows how far Oregon’s Galen Rupp can take his career in the years to come — or if he will even have a sport left to build a career upon, given all the rot coming out of the IAAF Eyes Wide Shut hall of mirrors in Monaco these days. But let’s say the sport survives its current suicide attempt, just for argument’s sake.

Though the Oregon-based 2012 Olympic 10,000m silver medalist and American record holder is well on his way to a historic CV, and is now talking a probable 10K-marathon double in the Rio Games this August, Galen still has a way to go to match the career resume of his Trial’s runner up Meb Keflezighi.  With Meb’s second-place finish behind Galen at the Trials last Saturday, earning his fourth Olympic berth, you have to say once and for all — though it’s a close call — that Meb has finally climbed to the very top of the U.S. distance running mountain as the best we have ever seen.  Continue reading


Meb Boston 2014


Through clamorous towns at a headlong pace,

You raced this day into Copley Place,

Where with arm thrust high,

And church bells pealing,

You wear a wreath of glory,

Though head still reeling.


The distance you ushered,

The pain you endured,

Your flag now flutters,

Must all seem a blur.


But honor’s all yours,

This Patriot’s Day,

In this oldest of marathons,

As men shout, “Hooray!”


And though crusted with salt,

Legs seized with fatigue,

The scene’s one to savor,

As you recall the intrigue. Continue reading


Competition is an examining tool, a measuring stick.  It is an auger to uncover the known from the proposed.  Unfortunately, in the world of distance running the answers are no longer in question; which is one reason why the public has lost interest in the outcome of the sport’s competitions.  What’s to uncover, which anonymous individual from East Africa will be today’s champion?  We already know who is going to win before the starter’s pistol is ever fired.  Which is why if running ever hopes to reengage the public at large, it must find a way to reframe its competitions.

While the U.S. senior men’s team won a hard-earned silver medal at yesterday’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland behind Ethiopia’s gold and in front of Kenya’s bronze, given that the Kenyan team was “the weakest in 20 years” according to BBC commentators, the results only underscored their dominance.

World Cross Champion Japhet Korir

World Cross Champion Japhet Korir

Not only did unknown Japhet Korir become the youngest man ever to take the individual men’s gold medal for Kenya, even as the top five places all went to fellow East Africans, the fact that the Kenyan squads — junior and senior, men and women — still won the majority of the day’s other medals over a course which was decidedly not African friendly, testified to the lack of competition offered by the rest of the world.

In fact, many of the old-world cross country powers no longer even sent teams to compete. Germany, Norway, Russia, and France all remained at home rather than make the short trip to neighboring Poland.  When its own member federations lose interest, how exactly does the IAAF propose to woo sponsors and attract sports fans? Continue reading


Ryan Hall, 65:38, 2nd place

The Olympic countdown clock is ticking. For some, like today’s Rock `n` Roll San Diego Half Marathon winner Meb Keflizighi, the Olympic Games are right on schedule, 10 weeks out with all his tickets punched, ready for the final big training push toward the medal stand in London.  For others, like second place finisher Ryan Hall, August 12th is approaching like a runaway freight train as he finds himself still lashed to the rails of injury wriggling to get free in time.

“I felt good out front,” said Hall after his 65:38 time put him 2:26 behind Meb’s 63:12 win.  “I was faster through 10K than at Healthy Kidney (the 10K in New York City in May.) But I was a little flat in the second half.”

In what was their final race before the August 12th Olympic Marathon in London, hometown hero Meb Keflizighi and 2008 Olympic Marathon 10th place finisher Ryan Hall established themselves early with a 4:40 opening mile on an overcast day with the temperature holding at 61 degrees Fahrenheit.  But by two miles(9:14) Meb had already opened an eleven second advantage that did nothing but grow through the next 11+ miles.

Coming on the heels of Ryan’s 30:15, 15th place performance at New York’s Healthy Kidney 10k, where Meb ran 29:08 for seventh place, today’s half marathon result begged for an explanation. While the sweet-natured Hall generally holds his inner thoughts to himself, begging off any rivalry with Meb, or caring much about his times at events other than in the marathon, a man with 4:46 per mile pedigree over the 26.2 mile marathon distance built atop a 3:42 1500 meter high school chassis can’t average 4:50 per mile over 10K and 5:00 pace in the half marathon without raising some red flags.  And today Ryan copped to the issue at hand, or should I say foot?

“I’m not going to lie. When I was first looking at doing this race, right after starting back training after the trials, I was thinking about trying to come here and run 61 minutes or something good. But as things progressed, my body didn’t quite come around like I was hoping.  I’m still battling this plantar fasciitis.  It’s really lingering, and giving me some problems. I need to get rid of that.   I’ve run 65 minutes the month before a marathon before (Boston in 2011 after the NY Half), so I look at that and know these races are always tough for me.  So just go back to training, get back in shape, and get things figured out with my foot.”

However, it’s one thing to be flat due to high mileage a month out from a major marathon, and quite another to deal with a nagging injury that won’t go away with one of the two or three biggest races of your life coming on fast.

“It (left foot plantar problem) cropped up in November,” explained the tousled-haired bleach blond with the boy-next-door demeanor. “I took three weeks off, and I thought doing therapy on it it would be gone, but it’s worse than before.  It’s one of those things where your foot is bothering you, and you’re favoring one leg. Now my right hamstring is bothering me.  So it’s one thing leads to another.  But I have great people around me, and I believe it’s going to get better before the Games.” Continue reading