It’s been a strange year by all accounts and running is certainly no exception. Races big and small have been cancelled or postponed in recent months, despite that fact, national and world records have fallen, new stars have emerged, Kilian Jornet raced a road 10K, and Eliud Kipchoge finished eighth in a marathon. And just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder, this past weekend we had professionals racing outdoor track in December to chase Olympic standards, Kenyan Kibiwott Kandie took 29 seconds off the half-marathon world record, becoming the first man in history to break 58 minutes while leading three other men under that mark, Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba, the world-record holder for 1500m, blitzed a 1:05:18 in her half-marathon debut, Emily Sisson ran 1:07:26 to miss the American record by a second, and to top it all off, Aliphine Tuliamuk, who won the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in late February, announced on Sunday that she was pregnant and expecting her first child next month. I think that covers most of the recent major headlines, a couple of which I’ll comment further on here:
+ Fast times have been popping off in Valencia with regularity the past few years but the men’s half-marathon in particular this past weekend was just silly. Can you imagine running 57:49 in your debut and finishing third? Or breaking the previous world-record and cross the line in fourth? That Kandie took 29 seconds off Kenyan Geoffrey Kamworor’s record shouldn’t actually come as a huge surprise, shocking as it appears to look in a headline. When Eliud Kipchoge ran 2:01:39 to break the marathon world record in Berlin he took 1:18 off the previous mark. Brigid Kosgei took 82 seconds off Paula Radcliffe’s record when she ran 2:14:04. Ababel Yeshaneh took 20 seconds off Joyciline Jepkosgei women’s mark earlier this year and quite frankly it was only a matter of time before the men’s half-marathon record suffered the same fate. Sure, the competition was stiff, and the course is fast, but so are the racing shoes these days and if you don’t think that (and/or lack of drug testing during the pandemic) is making a big difference in the results you’ve seen recently then you need to get out from under the rock you call home. That’s not to accuse anyone in particular of any wrongdoing but c’mon man, this is crazy town. Call me crotchety but it’s getting harder and harder to wrap my head around some of the results we’re seeing these days and I’m afraid it’s only going to get more out of control, particularly on the shoe side of things. World Athletics, which just announced they’ll allow compliant prototypes in competition, doesn’t have any incentive to tighten the rules beyond where they set them earlier this year and further advancements in technology will only lead to performances that just weren’t possible even five years ago. The genie is out of the bottle and unlike when FINA banned high-tech swimsuits ten years ago, there’s no way the super shoes are getting stuffed back in at this point.
+ Quite a few articles have come out about Tuliamuk’s pregnancy announcement but I enjoyed this Women’s Running profile by Erin Strout the most. The Olympic Trials champion is going to be up against it in preparing for next summer’s Olympic Games after giving birth in late January but I think being a new mom will fuel her sense of purpose even further and honestly, there probably isn’t a better environment than the one she has at Northern Arizona Elite for navigating this new stage of her life. “If I want to have the best Olympic experience, my daughter has to be there, too,” Tuliamuk told Strout. “She’s going to inspire me to bring my A-game to every race that I can. I want to inspire my daughter and other little girls. I’ve always wanted to inspire kids and now that I’m going to have one of my own, I think it’s definitely going to propel me into new heights.”