Monday, May 2, 2011

Distance Runners Come Alive at Stanford

For most of the early season I’ve talked about the speed events and the collegians, because they’ve been the one’s making most of the noise. I’ve been waiting for the distance runners to join the fray – if for no other reason than I feel like we really have a chance to compete against the rest of the world.

That happened yesterday at the Payton Jordan Invitational in Palo Alto. A full invitational with sprints hurdlers and field events, it’s the distances that always seem to feature at this meet. In large part I’m sure because the weather is almost always nearly perfect for distance running.

The two big races were both the men’s and women’s 10,000 meters. On the men’s side Kenyan Bitan Karoki ran a world leading 27:13.67 – an excellent time at this point in the season. Americans followed in 2nd, 5th and 6th as Robert Curtis (27;24.67), Tim Nelson (27;28.19) and Matt Tegenkamp (27:28.22) all notched PR’s – Tegenkamp in his debut at the distance. Confirmation that U.S. distance fortunes are definitely on the upswing.

Further confirmation came in the women’s race as Kenyan Sally Kipyego also ran a world leader at 30:38.35, with American Shalane Flanagan right behind at 30:39.57. With Molly Huddle in 5th (31:28.66) and Jen Rhines in 8th (31:43.00) it’s clear to me that our distance crew is going to be ready to give it a good go come August. We’re becoming deep as well as competitive and that’s always a good thing.

There was also a good sign for our middle distances as Christin Wurth Thomas, better known as a 1500 meter runner, ran the #2 time in the world in the 800 as she won in 2:00.72. Coming on the heels of Phoebe Wright’s strong anchor leg in the sprint medley at Penn (1:59.25) and some earlier races by Jenny Simpson, our middle distance corps is also coming along quite nicely for this time of the year.

Daegu opens up this year’s Diamond League season on Thursday, and certainly things will begin to accelerate. I’ll be taking a look at Daegu’s lineup shortly.

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