It’s been a rare feat when an American leads the world list over 10,000 meters at any point in the season, and until yesterday no American had run the event faster than 27:13.98. Well, Chris Solinski changed all those things as he ran a stunning 26:59.60 in Palo Alto to destroy the American Record and take the world lead while becoming the first American under the 27 minute barrier in the event – and he did it in his debut over the distance! Known as a 5000 meter runner (13:12.24) he upstaged what was supposed to be an attempt on the American Record by Galen Rupp, who along with Dathan Ritzenhein have been on my radar as potentially getting in position to challenge the Africans over this distance. Rupp did indeed run faster than the previous record, taking 4th in 27:10.74, but it was Solinski who beat him to the 27:00 barrier and earns co billing this weekend with Bolt from me – that’s how good this performance is.
It was an outstanding day for distance runners in Palo Alto yesterday as Shannon Rowbury – best known as a 1500 runner – took the world lead in the 5000 meters with a PR 15:00.51. While last year’s 1500 revelation Jenny Barringer took over the world lead in that event in 4:08.11. I’ve been waiting a while this season for our distance runners to heat up, and that they did yesterday! It looks like last year’s improvement was just the beginning and that we are starting to get in a position to be truly competitive against the rest of the world at races involving more than one lap.
Of course the sprinters have been at it for a few weeks already, getting in a lot of early relay action. So it was no surprise when things went to the next stage yesterday in Jamaica lead by Usain Bolt’s world leading 19.56 in the 200. I said earlier in the week that the comparisons between Bolt and Gay – headed for certain showdowns later in the season – would start in Kingston. Bolt’s 19.56 certainly starts that comparison for me. The time was the #4 time ever in the event – only behind 3 races that were each WR’s at the time. It is also the fastest seasonal debut ever, just edging out Tyson Gay’s 19.58 debut last year in New York – at the time the #3 time ever.
Gay was not in yesterday’s race, running the 400 instead as he continued his “over distance” work. Gay again looked solid as he put up a 45.05 win against a veteran group of quarter milers that included Jamaican Olympian Jermaine Gonzales (45.22) and Trinidadian World bronze medalist Renny Quow (45.64). Gay’s strong showings over 400 (44.89 previously) plus Bolt’s outstanding anchor leg at Penn and yesterday’s deuce are setting up some serious fireworks when the two get together later in the year! With Bolt the double WR holder (9.58/19.19) and Gay #2 & #3 in each (9.69/19.58) their match ups this season could become the stuff of legends when these two titans meet up.
Their last head to head over 100 was the 9.58 to 9.71 barn burner at last year’s World Championships as Bolt set the WR and Gay the then AR. As hard as it may be to believe, the two have not met over 200 since the ‘07 World Championships in Osaka where Gay was victorious 19.76 to 19.91. Since then various injuries have kept Gay off the track in this event at the past two world majors, while Bolt has set two WR’s in his absence. Gay appears to be healthy and with improved speed endurance now as his 45.05 and 44.89 400 clockings indicate. Bolt also appears fit as he demonstrated with yesterday’s 19.56. Somewhere soon we should get the match up between the “irresistible force” and the “immoveable object” – and the all time list in some event is going to take a beating when they do!
We don’t have to wait to see Carmelita Jeter and Kerron Stewart go head to head, as both women hit the track yesterday over 100 meters. Their first matchup of the year did not disappoint as only .02 sec separated them at the line with Jeter the victor in a world leading 10.94 – the season’s first sub 11 clocking. This time, the powerful finishing Stewart closing on Jeter at the end – usually Jeter’s forte. And though the meet is typically a sprinter’s meet world leads were also set in the women’s 800 (Kenia Sinclair, 1:58.62) and women’s high jump (Chaunte Howard, 2.00m).
The season is now truly under way, with Osaka on 5/8 and the debut of the Diamond League with the Doha meet on 5/14. If this weekend was any indication this season is gonna be some ride!
Chris Solinski 26:59.60 AR video.
Usain Bolt 19.56 video.
Tyson Gay 45.05 video.