The Monday Morning Run: Half marathon world record, Centrowitz rolls and Eaton flies
Kevin Sully | On 16, Feb 2015
The Millrose Games in New York, a world record on the roads and Ashton Eaton’s unintentional athletic exploits highlight the week in professional track and field. For a quick look at the action, check out Jesse’s Scoreboard, which posts every Sunday.
The top three performances of the week
Gold: Florence Kiplagat
After the Millrose Games, it took a historic performance to grab top honors of the week. Kiplagat trimmed three seconds off her own half marathon world record, running 1:05:09 in Barcelona on Sunday. Before Kiplagat broke the record, fellow KenyanMary Keitany seemed to own the weekend on the roads. Keitany ran 1:06:02 at the RAK half marathon in Saudi Arabia.
Kiplagat wins the weekend, but Keitany is still the favorite when the two line up against each other at the London Marathon in April. Despite the fast half marathon times, Kiplagat’s only major wins come from the Berlin Marathon and she has yet to deliver a performance equivalent to her 65 minute half marathons.
Silver: Matthew Centrowitz
Are we sure Centrowitz consumes and processes oxygen like the rest of the human race? Or even the other elites for that matter? When others tighten up, like they did during the last two laps of the Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games, Centrowitz gets looser. I think his speed is inversely proportional to the size of the grimace on his face. He never shows any outward signs of fatigue, just a quickening turnover as he approaches the tape.
The pace was fast on Saturday and it broke apart the deep mile field much earlier than anticipated. Centrowitz was left with only Pat Casey and Nick Willis near him as final laps ticked away. Casey slowed, but Willis stayed in contention, pushing Centrowitz all the way to the line. It was the most thrilling race of the night and one that Willis receives partial credit for helping create. Centrowitz ran the last 200 in 26.84 to finish in 3:51.35, while Willis closed in 26.64 and ran 3:51.46.
The indoor season has gone perfectly for Centrowitz. Three great races in three different distances. He’ll continue his indoor season overseas:
Next up: Birmingham, UK. 1500 meters on Feb 21st. Forecast: Fast with a good chance of a PR
— Matthew Centrowitz (@MattCentrowitz) February 15, 2015
Bronze: Shannon Rowbury
Rowbury ran 4:24.32 in the women’s mile at the Millrose Games. She was the clear winner and, like Centrowitz, has now strung together three meets of great running. After Rowbury ran 4:22 on a flat track two weeks ago, breaking the American record of 4:20 was in reach at Millrose. The pacing was too slow during the fourth lap and by midway, it was clear the record was out the window. Rowbury soldiered on in the front and had a healthy lead back to second place. She tied up in the final straightaway and began to slow. If the race was 20 meters longers she would have been in trouble, but she still finished more than three seconds clear of Treniere Moser.
On the opposite coast from the Millrose Games, Ryan Bailey ran 6.50 in the 60 meters at the Dempsey Indoor in Seattle. That is Bailey’s personal best at the distance and the third fastest mark of the year. There are a lot reasons to like Bailey as a medal contender this season. He turns 26 this year, but he already has Olympic experience. He’s run 9.88 for the 100 in two different seasons. And he’s competing in an event that doesn’t look as difficult as it did three years ago. With the slowing at the top of the men’s sprint ranks, 9.88 is certainly worth more than it was in 2012. Over the past two seasons, only Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin, Richard Thompson, Nesta Carter and Asafa Powell have run 9.88 or faster. If Bailey can even get back into the low 9.9s he’s going to make the American team for Beijing and could be in the mix in the finals.
Another indoor 800, another race executed flawlessly. Wilson ran 2:01.58 for the win in New York City. Copy, cut, paste. She is so composed and her consistency from meet to meet is matched by her steadiness within the race itself. On Saturday, Wilson ran essentially even splits across the four laps. Her fastest 200 was in 30.02 and her slowest was 30.69.
Spratling is always good indoors and he proved it again on Saturday, setting a world record of 1:00.06 in the 500 meters. He did come up short in his attempt to be the Roger Bannister of the 500 and become the first man to break 60 seconds. The bad news is he will have to wait another 364 days until the next meaningful 500 meter race.
The men’s 5,000 turned tactical when the pack threw in some 67 and 68 second laps in the latter stages of the race. Sam Chelanga surged to the front and shook up the pack, but only held the lead for a short time before Lomong took control. From there, he held his position the final three laps and punched the tape with panache, winning in 13:27.60.
Like she did in college, Phyllis Francis came from behind to win the 53.14. Unlike in college, she had to go past gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross, who finished second in 53.17.
The 2011 world champion hasn’t won a major competition in a very long time, but Williams was victorious in New York, jumping 7’7 (2.31). That won’t be high enough to compete with Mutaz Essa Barshim and Bohdan Bondarenko, but it does put him on the right track toward once again becoming the best jumper in the United States.
His 60-meter hurdle victory was overshadowed by Ashton Eaton jumping over the padded wall after the race (more on that below). Harris ran 7.50, the fastest time in the world this year and enough to best David Oliver and Eaton. Just what the United States needed, another high hurdler.
Cain’s bad race on Saturday is only noteworthy because she has been so consistent up to this point in her career. Other than early season races, she invariably exceeds expectations each time she runs. She was just eighth in the mile at the Armory and slowed considerably over the final two laps. With 400 meters remaining, she didn’t look like she could compete with Shannon Rowbury (not many could this indoor season), but she was a well-positioned third behind Jordan Hasay. Then, she ran a 35-second 200 meter split and got caught by Treniere Moser. Four more women passed her in the final lap and she crossed the line in 4:31.3.
The indoor season is so fickle. Two weeks ago Levins earned top billing in the Monday Morning Run after his double at the Armory Track Invitational. On Saturday, he finished sixth in the 5,000, more than five seconds back of the winner, Lopez Lomong. The slower than expected time, and even the place, are a function of the lethargic pace. I think the Levins we saw two weeks ago is a better representation of the type of runner he is than what we saw on Saturday.
His anticipated debut did not materialize after he scratched from the Camperdown Classic in Jamaica. Instead, the major Bolt news of last week was his commitment to the Paris Diamond League meet, which takes place in July. Who’s ready for some delayed gratification?
The American record attempts in the men’s 1,000 and the women’s mile as well as the Canadian record in the 5,000 were never seriously threatened despite the pre-race predictions. All was not lost though, the men’s 1,000 and 5,000 were still entertaining races regardless of the time.
Winners Who Didn’t Win
No surprise, Lagat broke the master’s mile record by more than three seconds in the Wanamaker Mile. He finished fourth in 3:54.91, well off the times of Matt Centrowitz and Nick Willis, but still very fast for someone who is a 5,000 runner. Lagat will continue to set age group records at whatever distance he chooses. He’s a World Championships medal contender, who also happens to be 40-years-old.
She looked a bit like Rowbury down the stretch, tiring over the final meters and losing control of her body as she approached the finish line. Indoors was not her focus this year and Saturday’s race was a good sign that she is healthy and ready for 2015. No shame in coming up short against Francis, I think many of the top women in the world will be surprised by her this season.
All of the focus in the men’s 1,000 was on Duane Solomon. He wasn’t a factor and instead the race turned into a duel between Erik Sowinski and Robby Andrews. Sowinski held off a fast finishing Andrews to win 2:21.18 to 2:21.23. Sowinski excels indoors, so that was no surprise. Andrews has had tumultuous career as a pro and will take away plenty of positives from the 1,000 even though he didn’t have enough track to catch Sowinski.
By now, you’ve seen the video of Ashton Eaton jumping the padded wall after his race in the 60-meter hurdles. Still, many questions persist about how he managed to escape unscathed.
-What normally happens in races like this?
The padding is in place to soften the blow as the sprinters/hurdlers decelerate. If you barrell straight into the wall you will be an idiot with a broken shoulder. Normally, an athlete jumps a bit to soften the blow. It makes a cool smacking sound and then they all run back down the banked track.
-What did Eaton do wrong?
Mostly he is just too athletic for his own well being. They might need to start Eaton-proofing tracks all across the world. More padding, higher fences, fewer things to jump off of. What’s to stop him from throwing a discus while pole vaulting? Also, even when he does something that is ripe for a fail video, he does it in the most spectacularly athletic way possible.
-You’ve watched the video 450 times, what’s the best part?
Other than Eaton launching himself from lane five, it has to be the other hurdlers looking over the wall like they were searching for a lost ball in a backyard. David Oliver even starts trying to climb up the padding once he realizes what happened.
-Did he get hurt?
This is where he fell…..
— AliFenwick (@AliFenwick) February 14, 2015
and yet he still made it back for the post-race interview and then started competing in the long jump.
-And you’re sure he’s ok?