In episode 9, we interview our fastest subject yet: 2:09 marathon man Alan Culpepper. Culpepper offers a 360 degree view of the sport from the perspective of elite runner turned race organizer and coach. Alan recounts his 2007 cross-country nationals win at Boulder, offers pithy training tips, and aids us in our quest to shed light on the business of track and field and road racing. Elsewhere in the episode, Gregg discusses the sub 2:10 Americans and finds in the mailbox an inspiring letter from a listener with a success story. Brenn takes out Matt Fitzgerald’s “The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition” from the library and gets on the soapbox to discuss the Nike Oregon Project silver and black singlets. And as we kick off our own marathon training cycle, we offer listeners a quicker workout alternative to the Yasso 800s – the Cloud259 1000.
Jenny Simpson‘s 3rd place finish at Rome in the 1500 yesterday netted her $4,000. She had a much bigger payday on the track in late April when she picked up $25,000 for winning the Hy-Vee Drake Relays 1500. Kate Grace picked up $10,000 in the Drake 1500 as well, for finishing third. Here is a tally of the money that U.S. distance runners have made from the Drake and Diamond League meets in 2013:
Clearly, Simpson has made the most of her two appearances. If you break the money down by sponsor, New Balance has carried the day.
The data do not include appearance fees. Note also that Cain won’t actually receive her money, as it would muddle her college eligibility. We’ll expand the list as we get data from more meets.
Here are some charts on Diamond League points and earnings by country for distance events, updated to reflect the results from the meet in Rome yesterday.
And this list shows earnings on the track by Americans at Diamond League distance events:
The premier track and field league, the Diamond League, allots points to the first, second, and third place finishers in the diamond events, and the “winners” at the end of the season are those with the highest cumulative scores in those events. Those individual results are the trees. We want a view of the forest, too.
The most obvious “teams” that can be formed from these individual Diamond League results are by nation. We’ll limit the current post to distance events: the 800, 1500/mile, 3000/5000, and steeple. We’ve tabulated the points for the first four Diamond League meets — the fifth meet is taking place in Rome today. The U.S. points are entirely the work of one runner, Brenda Martinez, with her 2nd place at the 800 in Eugene and her 3rd at the 1500 in NYC.
The closest that American men have gotten to the scoreboard was Ben True‘s 4th at the 5000 in NYC and Evan Jager‘s 4th in the steeple at Eugene. Duane Solomon will be running the 800 in Rome.
The prize money leaderboard through the four meets offers a more expansive view, as prize money is allotted through eighth place in each race, rather than solely the top 3 for the points.
* Note that the US prize money for women includes the $2,500 that Mary Cain would have won had she accepted it. The money was not in fact distributed to her, as it would muddle her potential college eligibility.
When the women’s 400m runners knelt into their blocks at the adidas Grand Prix Diamond League meet on Saturday, there was a vacancy in lane 4 where Sanya Richards-Ross, a late scratch, was supposed to be. It seemed cruelly unfair that the fans who were shivering in the wind and rain were denied this attraction, at a meet already handicapped by a number of absences. In the 5,000m, Americans Galen Rupp and Bernard Lagat and Olympic bronze medalist Thomas Longosiwa from Kenya, along with a flotilla of other Nike athletes, were keeping their powder dry for next week’s Prefontaine Classic. Even a specially placed pole-vault runway beside the final straightaway was unused due to the wind and rain. But if the inclement weather and thin fields precluded Olympian high drama, the meet did offer glimpses of the fastest men and women on earth, including a 19-year old who could already be the world’s best current long distance track runner: Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhiwet.
At last year’s Diamond League meet in NYC, David Rudisha ran the fastest 800m ever in the U.S. with a 1:41.74. The time was less astonishing than the gap of nearly three seconds he had on the field. Rudisha again won handily on Saturday, even if by half the margin, but it was Gebrhiwet who made the statement of the meet.
Gebrhiwet clobbered the field in the 5,000m, winning with a world-leading time of 13:10 as top contender Dejen Gebremeskel (6th, 13:31) faded badly. The 5,000m is often decided by a sprint kick, but Gebrhiwet broke the field early and the drama was actually in the race for third, as American Ben True, who had steadily moved up through the field as Gebremeskel dropped back, dueled with Ethiopia’s Ibrahim Jeilan. Though True (13:16) could not reel Jelian in, he bolstered his credentials with the strong race in tough conditions, and he’s clearly the top American threat to the U.S. Nike-sponsored runners in the 5000m and 10,000m (True is sponsored by Saucony). True will likely run the 10,000 at US Nationals.
The women’s 1500 featured a huge field of 19 runners, including pace setters, jostling for position.
Predictably, as Kate Grace (8th, 4:08.92) noted about her first Diamond League race, there was a lot of pushing and shoving. It was no surprise that Brenda Martinez (3rd, 4:06.25) was the top American runner, finishing strong after hanging back at the start. Morgan Uceny (7th, 4:08.49) sliced 9 seconds off her Drake performance. She said after the race that unlike at Drake, she “felt like herself” and that she stayed off the rail to stay out of trouble. After falls in the Olympics and World Champs over the past two years, Uceny is fated to always be cognizant of this issue. The winner of the race was Sweden’s Abeba Aregawi, who like Gebrhiwet, has a commanding early season lead in the “Diamond Race” standings with two wins in two competitions (the Diamond Race is the cumulative result of 7 competitions over the course of the season).
Elsewhere in the meet, Amantle Montsho ran an impressive 400, 49.91 in far worse conditions than her 49.88 from Doha. Youth was on display with a pair of stellar dream mile races, and the return of Blanka Vlasic to the high jump brought the shutterbugs to their feet. The high jumpers were a sight: impossibly tall and thin, they approached the bar in their warmups like a basketball team completing a layup drill in slow motion. Vlasic was particularly vocal, like a team captain, though she seemed often to be barking at herself.
The one race for which the sun shined uninterrupted was the master’s men’s 75+ 100m dash, won by William Bittner in 14.69. Bittner scored one for the elders, outpacing the Fastest Kids for the boys (Xavier Donaldson, 15.42) and girls (Adaria Reaves, 15.32).
Shore A.C. teammates Alexander Johnson and Michael McDonnell head to the press tent
The first half of the Diamond League’s U.S. doubleheader hits a new blue track at Icahn Stadium in NYC tomorrow. The track is reportedly fast, but wind and showers will likely keep the times in check.
The marquee distance race is the men’s 5,000, as Olympic silver medalist Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia lines up against his shorter, stouter compatriot Hagos Gebrhiwet in the 5000m. Since Gebrhiwet won the 3,000m in Doha, a win in NYC would give him a strong early season lead in the 3,000/5,000m “Diamond Race” (this is the 2nd of 7 meets that count toward the final standings in the 3000/5000m). Gebrhiwet beat Gebremeskel and Galen Rupp indoors in Boston this year, but Gebremeskel has run impressively since, winning the BAA 5k and Carlsbad 5k road races.
For fans of American runners, what may be most interesting about this weekend’s events is not who wins but how some of those who don’t win compete. Ben True, who has had a breakout 2013, will race the 5,000m. Will he clip his 13:14 PR? In the 800m, will Robbie Andrews, Eric Sowinski, and Leo Manzano finish within three seconds of David Rudisha, who doesn’t run his best in the rain? In the women’s 1500m, Sweden’s (via Ethiopia) Abeba Aregawi is the heavy favorite, but will Kate Grace challenge a red-hot Brenda Martinez and achieve the world qualifying standard of 4:05.50? How many seconds will Morgan Uceny slice from her season opening 4:17?
Jamaican fans of track and field are always well represented at the Icahn meet, and the crowd is generally loudest during the sprints. No Bolt, but Jamaicans Nesta Carter, Nickel Ashmeade, and Veronica Campbell-Brown, among others, will bring fans to their seats (as will Tyson Gay in the 100). Jamaican-born USA gold-medalist Sanya Richards-Ross competes in the 400 against Botswana’s Amantle Montsho, among others.
Richards-Ross is coming off a toe injury and has set her goal at 50-point something, which would put her shy of Montsho’s time of 49.88 at Doha (Allyson Felix ran 50.19). At a press conference yesterday, Richards-Ross responded to a question about the popularity of the sport by stating that people don’t always get to know the personalities. She then plugged her own upcoming reality show “Sanya’s Glam and Gold,” Nick Symmonds as the Bachelor, and Lolo Jones on the bobsled.
Notably absent from the meet tomorrow are Mo Farah and Americans Galen Rupp and Bernard Lagat. Farah will be running the Bupa 10K road race in London on Monday. Farah, Rupp, and Lagat will compete next weekend as the Diamond League swoops, or swooshes, to the Nike Prefontaine Classic. The Pre meet will have more distance events and a much deeper field of American and international distance runners. Though the Pre Classic is a Diamond League meet, the 5,000m there does not count towards the final season “Diamond Race” standings (the Bowerman mile will count in the 1500m/mile “Diamond Race”).
Cloud259 will be at the NYC meet this weekend, so look for our tweets and updates!
It is said that birds of a feather flock together, and so it was in podcast episode 8. Oiselle runners Lauren Fleshman and Kate Grace are joined by the company’s founder and CEO Sally Bergesen in a wide ranging interview that covers Fleshman’s best races, Grace’s taking flight on the track and roads, and Bergesen’s attempt to turn the running industry on its head. Elsewhere in the episode Brenn does an inventory of shoe contracts and reads viewer feedback from the mailbox, while Gregg takes Bill Rogers’ “Marathon Man” off the shelf of the library and climbs on the soapbox to rant about new baggage policies at races.
With apologies to Mo Farah, the signature race of the 2012 track and field season was David Rudisha‘s victory in the 800m finals on Aug. 9 at the Olympics in a world record time of 1:40.91. Rudisha’s stunning display of front-running was made all the more impressive by a game field, as second place finisher Nijel Amos of Botswana tied the prior world record of 1:41.73 and the last place runner finished in 1:43.77.
Fewer were paying attention at the end of August when Mohammed Aman, who finished 6th in the Olympic finals in 1:43.20, ran down Rudisha in the final straightaway of a wet track in the Diamond League meet at Zurich to claim a victory in the series. It was a smaller scale, but riveting nonetheless. It wasn’t as if Rudisha didn’t want to win that one, also.
The haphazard state of professional running is the subject of much hand-wringing in the running media and among the runners themselves. There’s far less money in track and field than in the NFL, NBA, or the individual and international pro sports golf and tennis, and there are no “majors” akin to the Masters, Wimbledon, etc., but what there is, even in a non-Olympic year, isn’t all bad.
Today, the fourth season of the global Diamond League series gets underway, with a meet in Doha that includes an 800m race with Rudisha, Aman, and Olympic bronze medalist Timothy Kitum. Allyson Felix will be racing in the 400m. The world’s best runners are not at all of the Diamond League events – Galen Rupp and Mo Farah aren’t racing today, neither is Usain Bolt for that matter – but make no mistake, these are not JV races. By the end of the season, all of the best runners show up.
Since we have a vested interest in increasing interest in the sport, we’d like to explain in a nutshell exactly how the Diamond League works, to enable fans to understand it and follow it as they would, say, an MLB or NFL season.
There are 14 track meets, spanning from today until the final two in Zurich (Aug. 29) and Brussels (Sept. 6), which are counted twice in terms of year-end scoring. These occur in stadiums large and small around the world (the two smallest stadiums are those in the U.S., the May 25 meet at Ichan Stadium in NYC and the June 1 meet at Hayward Field in Eugene, OR). There are 16 distinct Diamond League events for men and 16 for women. Nine of these are on the track, ranging from 100m to 5,000m and including hurdles and steeplechase, and seven are field events. Each of the fourteen meets features half of the events, and at the end of the season whoever does best cumulatively in the seven scored races (in each of the 32 total events) wins a $40,000 prize. In addition, the athlete takes home, according to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), a “spectacular diamond trophy,” and “the unchallenged honour of being the World Number 1.” There is also prize money awarded at each individual meet, from $10,000 for first place in an event through $1,000 for 8th.
Got it? There are other details, but that’s the gist. The USATF Outdoor Championships from June 20-23 in Des Moines, Iowa and the World Championships in Moscow from Aug. 10-18 are the other obvious highlights of the track season.