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Monday Morning Run: The rise of Tori Bowie, Gatlin's personal best, Bolt's 2014 schedule

Monday Morning Run: The rise of Tori Bowie, Gatlin’s personal best, Bolt’s 2014 schedule

| On 21, Jul 2014

Photo Via TrackTownPhoto

Vacation kept me away from the Monday Morning Run the last two weeks, but it looks like I returned just in time. Last Friday, the Monaco Diamond League meet delivered its normal heaping of extremely fast times. On marks alone, it was the best meet of the year and probably will remain in the top spot for the rest of the season. No surprise, the three best performances of the week came from the Meeting Herculis and that impossibly fast track.

The Medalists

The top three performances of the week….

Gold: Silas Kiplagat
The 1,500 was designed for Asbel Kiprop to take a shot the world record. But in a year when the middle distance depth is at almost an all-time high, it was no surprise that it was actually the guy behind the guy who ended up with the win. That man in Monaco was Kiplagat, who sat behind Kiprop and the rabbit for 1,200 meters and then behind Kiprop until the homestretch, before jetting by him in the final 100 meters. Kiplagat finished in 3:27.64, over 1.5 seconds off the world record of 3:26.00, but still the fastest time in 10 years.

Kiprop was second in 3:28.45. His times early in the season showed he was capable of running a personal best and maybe even dip into the 3:26s. After he posted a 3:29.18 in May in Doha, a personal best looked imminent and the world record wasn’t just speculation.

The record is still in play, if not this year then in ‘15/’16. And it isn’t just Kiprop who has a shot at it. Kiplagat is 24 and the depth in the event seems to increase with each meet. In Monaco, seven runners ran under 3:30. Americans Matt Centrowitz and Leo Manzano were just outside the 3:30 barrier, but earned personal bests.

Silver: Tori Bowie
The meritocracy of track and field is best told through Tori Bowie’s 2014 season. If you knew who she was before May you were either a long jump superfan or a close follower of Southern Mississippi’s track team.

A jumper for most of her career, Bowie entered this year with a modest personal bests in the 100 and 200. Then, a runner withdrew from the Prefontaine Classic and she had her opening. Bowie won the race from the inside lane, shocking me and pretty much everyone else who watched the meet in Eugene that day. In track, if you run fast enough, it becomes very hard to ignore you.  If you run the time, you get your lane. Bowie’s win at the Pre Classic got her into the next Diamond League meet and she hasn’t let up since.

As a result, it was Bowie, not Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce or Allyson Felix who started in lane four in Monaco. Less than two months after she was a lane filler in Eugene, she had relegated the two best sprinters of this era to the outer lanes. And, like Bowie has done all year, she took advantage of the opportunity.

She blasted to a victory in 10.80, an enormous personal best and the fastest time in the world this year. Veronica Campbell-Brown placed second, Felix was fifth and the struggling Fraser-Pryce finish sixth. If you haven’t already, let’s now upgrade Bowie from ‘upstart taking advantage of a non-championship year’ to ‘breakthrough star who is having a historically great season.’

Bronze: Justin Gatlin

Despite getting the speed wobbles and running all over his lane, Gatlin ran the fastest 200 of his life on Friday with a 19.68 clocking Monaco. That mark moves him into a tie for the 8th fastest man of all-time in the event. Before Monaco his personal best was 20.00, although he ran under 20 seconds twice in college, performances that were wiped out after his first doping positive.

Nothing quite taps into the uneasy of track fan’s like someone running a huge personal best at age 32–after they have served a doping ban.

Back to the race, look at how much Gatlin moves from side-to-side in his own lane. He could easily pick up a couple tenths if he can smooth out his race.


-Pascal Martinot-Lagarde

The two months have been one giant surge for Martinot-Lagarde who is on one of those roles we see in hurdling each year. He set a personal best of 12.95 in Monaco and also broke the French national record.  Orlando Ortega and Sergei Shubenkov finished second and third shutting the US out of the top three. When is that last time that has happened in a Diamond League meet? Friday might have been a subtle indication that the US will have trouble dominating the event in the future. The world leader Hansle Parchment of Jamaica just turned 24 and Martinot-Lagarde is only 22.

-Ajee Wilson

At the top of the list of my bad proclamations for the year is my claim a few weeks ago that Eunice Sum was far and away the best 800-meter runner in the world. I’m not sure why I overlooked Wilson. She is tactically sound, has major championship experience, and is running on fresh legs.

Wilson took Sum apart down the the homestretch and notched the biggest win of her career in 1:57.67. I’m feeling another hasty statement coming up…..nobody in the US is beating Wilson in the 800 ‘15/’16.


-Lashawn Merritt

What’s that? Merritt won another 400 in 44 seconds? By my count that is 13 400s this year including eight with finishing times between 44.14 and 44.48.

In Monaco, Merritt ran 44.30 and I stopped paying attention after the first curve because Kirani James wasn’t there.

-Valerie Adams

53 wins in a row in the shot put. Three more wins and she will run out of fingers to display her dominance.

Screen shot 2014-07-20 at 11.13.22 PM


-David Rudisha

He’s actually speeding up since his debut in May, but his grip on the event is slipping.  I’ve gone back and forth several times forecasting Rudisha’s future based on his races this year.  In all likelihood, I’m putting too much weight on his weekly performances.

Last week I was bullish after he won in Glasgow. I thought his time would continue to drop and he would return to the front of the pack. The first part of that statement was true in Monaco. He ran 1:42.98, his first time under 1:43 this season. I completely underestimated his competition though as he slipped to fifth place after leading with 110 meters remaining.

This race makes me wonder if Rudisha is running the wrong style of race. I know it’s not in Rudisha’s DNA to sit back, but when you are doing the brunt of the work up front and then losing by .5 seconds over the last 110 meters, it might be time to rethink the tactics. At the Prefontaine Classic, he clearly wasn’t ready for that level of racing and wasn’t going to win the race regardless of pacing.

But in this race, a more realistic first 400 would have put him in contention. If he is going to continue to run hard from the gun, then he needs a little help from his pacer, Sammy Tangui. The last two races Tangui has gone off too fast in the first 400. Rudisha isn’t getting much benefit from the pacemaking on the first lap and then he is out on an island for the last 400 once Tangui steps off the track.

-Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

Sixth in Monaco. Not much more to add other than she gets some credit for racing through a tough season.

-Tyson Gay

Monaco was Gay’s third race since he returned from a doping ban and his first in the 200. He ran a very aggressive curve and looked like he could challenge Gatlin before his lack of races caught up with him on the homestretch. He dropped back to fourth place and ran 20.22. A solid time, but a bit below expectations after his 9.90 in Lausanne.

-Men’s High Jump

Six men cleared 2.37 in Monaco, but no attempts at the world record this week? What gives guys?

Bohdan Bondarenko won the competition with a first attempt clearance at 2.40 and then had three misses at 2.43.

Winners who didn’t win

-Molly Huddle

Emma Coburn set the American record in the 3,000 steeplechase. Jenny Simpson is on the cusp in the 1,500. Both women are finishing at or near the front of Diamond League races while Molly Huddle was buried back in sixth place in Monaco despite running an American record in the 5,000.

What gives?

Several things, first the American record in the 5,000 isn’t as strong as the times that Coburn and Simpson are running–at least according to the IAAF tables. Huddle’s 14:42.64 is roughly equivalent to a 9:19 for the 3,000 steeplechase and a 4:01 for the 1,500, much slower than the American records in those events. But 9:19 and 4:01 have been good enough to win Diamond League meets in the past, so looking at equivalent times doesn’t give us a full explanation.

Obviously there is less of a leveling effect in the 5,000.  Tactics play less of a role in the longer distance races (as compared to the 1,500) so there is a smaller chance that a “less deserving winner” will win a 5,000 than a 1,500.

Also, the competition is stronger and deeper in the women’s 5,000.  The marathon has diluted the talent pool in the men’s distance races on the track, but as of yet, it hasn’t had nearly the same effect on the women.  The result is tons of top flight talent capable of running 14:30s sticking with the 5,000 and 10,000.

Historically, the United States hasn’t been very good in the 5,000.  In fact, since they introduced the event at global championships in 1995, an American woman has never won a medal in the the 5,000. Right now the best Americans aren’t as good as the best Kenyans or Ethiopians in the women’s 5,000 or 10,000. But it wasn’t long ago that the same was said about the men’s steeplechase, women’s steeplechase, men’s 1,500, men’s 800, men’s 5,000 and so on.

-Pierre-Ambroise Bosse

Overshadowed by both Nijel Amos’s win and David Rudisha’s struggles was Bosse, who finished second and set a French national record of 1:42.53. I’m inclined to think the distance races at the European Championships will be duds, but Bosse, Abeba Aregawi and Sifan Hassan will all be fun to watch.

-Betsy Saina

It was a meet of big personal bests. Manzano, Centrowitz and pretty much everyone else in the 1,500.  Wilson in the 800, Gatlin in the 200, Bowie in the 100 and Martinot-Lagarde in the high hurdles.  In terms of raw time, no personal best was bigger than Betsy Saina in the 5,000.  The Iowa State grad finished fifth in 14:39.49, dropping  about 32 seconds off personal best.

This Week in Bolt

Usain Bolt plans to run 400 meters this season–and not all at once. He announced his racing schedule on Sunday and it features just four races, all 100-meters competitions during the month of August.

August 1 & 2 – Commonwealth Games 4x100m, Glasgow
August 17 – Mano a Mano 100m, Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro
August 23 – LOTTO Kamila Skolimowska’s Memorial 100m, Warsaw
August 28 – Weltklasse 100m, Zurich

-It will be interesting to see how Bolt fares in Zurich. The first three races on his schedule shouldn’t give him any competition, but the Weltklasse meet is always deep.

-The 100 in Zurich is not a Diamond League event so we may not see Bolt vs. Gatlin at all this year. Right now I’d say Gatlin will opt for the 200 in Zurich since he is in contention for the Diamond League title.

-Unless he switches something up, this will be the first season in Bolt’s professional career that he doesn’t run a 200.

-With this news, Gatlin’s path to the Diamond League title (and the wild card entry into the 2015 World Championships) in the 100 is all but guaranteed.

Under the Radar

-Aries Merritt
Back from injury, Merritt jumped into the deep end in the 110 hurdles in Monaco and finished seventh in 13.47.

-Zuzana Hejnova
Coming off an undefeated 2013, I was wondering why we hadn’t see Hejnova yet this year. She returned in Monaco and placed seventh in a race won by Kaliese Spencer.

-Caterine Ibarguen
She posted the ninth best triple jump mark of all-time. Before Friday Ibarguen’s personal best was 14.99 meters. On her final attempt in Monaco she lept out to 15.31 meters, the best mark since 2008.

-Kim Collins
The 38-year-old ran a personal best of 9.96 at the Anniversary Games in London over the weekend. Collins is basically Bernard Lagat except there is a person taking up all the attention in Collins’s event the last six years and his federation won’t let him compete in major championships….

-Ryan Wilson
Three men all finished in 13.24 in the 110 hurdles at the Anniversary Games. Wilson was declared the winner. Then he wrote a poem about it:

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