Running News: Gold for Atlanta, Marathon projects, beautiful data, excellent podcasts

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It’s baking hot here in London at the moment and by that I mean above 25c, which means the whole of the city wilts and all the newspapers start writing headlines like ‘roads to melt and Britons threaten to move to africa for cooler weather’ Yes, really. Anyway heat-hype aside it’s certainly not the weather for long distance running, unless of course you’re trying to acclimatise for Doha in which case GET OUT THERE or indeed if you’re looking for an alternative to altitude training, according to Roberta Groner (see podcast info below). So actually, yeah get out and run (but do it responsibly, kids). 

Given that there’s not much happening on the marathon/half marathon road running front I’m going to bring you all the interesting bits and pieces I’ve been reading, writing and listening to this week.


The big news in marathoning is that the IAAF have just announced that the 2020 Atlanta Olympic Trials marathon has been granted Gold status. This changes things big time for american Olympic hopefuls. Up until now you could have finished top three at the trials but unless you had the IAAF standard of  2:29:30 you still weren’t technically allowed to go to the Olympics. That tough qualifying time was imposed by the IAAF after the Atlanta course had been selected, a course which has been much commented on for it’s rolling nature. In the past it was top-three go to the Olympics and that was all that mattered - that was what got be interested in this race in the first place. After all, it’s not my Olympic team I’m watching. I just loved the sheer all-or-nothing-ness of it. I’m glad it’s back to that status now but it does beg the question, what impact will it have had on people’s training and on the autumn marathon scene. Until this week those who had the Trials time but still lacked the IAAF qualifying time would have been targetting autumn marathons to secure that 2:29:30. Now that they don’t need to do that, will they pull out of those Autumn races or risk the tight turnaround of Autumn marathon, trials, Olympics. Whilst I am glad in the long run that this decision has been made, I was kinda looking forward to some jeopardy making the Autumn season a little bit tasty! Nine women already had the Olympic standard: Emily Sisson (2:23:08), Kellyn Taylor (2:26:27), Molly Huddle (2:26:33), Aliphine Tuliamuk (2:26:50), Jordan Hasay (2:25:20/3rd place at Boston), Des Linden (2:27:00/5th place at Boston), Nell Rojas (2:28:06), Roberta Groner (2:29:09), and Lindsay Flanagan (2:30:07/9th place at Boston). 


One athlete who won’t be ditching her Autumn plans is Kellyn Taylor. She was talking to Matt Chittim in series from The Rambling Runner called  Road to the Olympic Trials and explained her absolute love of racing and always wanting to go harder. She also gives a little review of the Olympic Trials course and talks about her plan to run at the USA Track and Field championships, which is happening this weekend. Oh, and she thinks 10ks are horrid! It’s a great listen. In the series he’s following 4 men and 4 women in the run up to the Olympic trials. So far I’ve listened to Kellyn and to Roberta Groner’s interview where she talks about the challenges of deciding whether she can go away for a training camp before the trials and leave her kids and also how she even got into competitive running.I’m looking forward to the rest of the series. It was also nice to hear Matt talk to Linsey Hein on I’ll Have Another about why he is making this series (albeit a little bit meta!!)

Handsup - I’ve been moonlighting for  - a brilliant outlet covering racing in the UK and by UK athletes of all genders over all distances and all terrains. You can find my weekend roundup for them here . In the process of this week’s research I learned about Cottage training group. It is a club-agnostic group coached by Mark Lloyd which meets in Battersea Park each week (the park that was initially rumoured to be the venue for the 1:59 attempt). It was initially founded by Phil O’Dell who had a small group meeting at his house in Bedford. They, nicknamed the house the cottage after Lauriston Cottage which was a famous distance running destination in London. Some of the athletes and therefore the group relocated to London in 2016 at which point Mark took over the majority of the training duties. There’s a host of quality marathon runners in the squad and while there are many less women, they have the likes of Tracy Barlow, triathlete Natalie Seymour and others training with them. You can hear a little from Mark when he spoke to Let’sGetRunning here though it all seems quite on-the-DL in general!


I have Fast Women to thank for this IAAF article talking about Faith Kipyegon. While 1500m and track athletics is a foreign country to me, I will always be delighted, impressed and intrigued to read about a lady in top flight athletics who took a conscious decision to step back and have a child. It’s really interesting to hear how a top athlete copes with pregnancy and the emotional and physical aspects of the return to racing.  Faith talks about how she took a complete break from running during pregnancy because ‘it was my resting time’. For all those (and I say this to myself) who have come back to running after pregnancy - take heart in this comment ‘“The first session back was 20 minutes with two minutes of running, followed by one minute walking…  “It was painful, but that is life. I had to start again”. Faith won the 1500m at the Diamond League in Stanford last month.

I’m letting a gent sneak into the newsletter because I found this partner piece from Spikes mag a fascinating at a different approach the runners parenting. Olympic 5,000m silver medalist Paul Chelimo talks about his respect for Kipyegon and how the arrival of his daughter has affected his training. He looks after his child most of the time while his wife studies and then completes his training when she gets home. However, he has had to deal with child-inflicted injuries and with making the tough call to go away for a training block when things weren’t where they needed to be with his speed. 

But what about ultras?

But what about ultras?

I missed this report on the State of running from and IAAF when it came out on the 16th. There are lots of interesting stats to pore over. but I was surprised at findings that ‘event participation has declined by 13% since 2016, when it peaked with 9.1 million runners crossing the finish line.’ Now, presumably it doesn't include park run so I think it’s a bit false to say running participation has gone down. That make me question the data to some extent, but it was interesting to read that for the first time in history, there are more female than male runners. In 2018, 50.24% of runners were female. Also, it doesn't include ultras which as Adharanand Finn’s excellent book Rise Of The Ultrarunners, which I have recently read, so excellently documents, is on the up.  

While we’re on the subject of good reads, I’m excited to have been able to preorder Performing under Pressure by Dr Josephine Perry. She’s a sport psychologist and athlete herself. I first hear her talk at an event at London’s Science Museum and subsequently chatted to her ahead of my first 50miler. She takes the airy-fairy-ness out of psychology (she’s fully qualified) and I certainly found her approach beneficial, as I came third and achieved all my mental and physical goals! Also, she’s recently been in a nasty bike crash and is sharing her journey through injury from a psychologist approach. You can see her plan here.

Back to the stats though, check out this visualisation of the Night of the 10,000m PB’s race.

race.JPG I love it! You can see how some went out too hard and bonked, some paced it perfectly, some climbed the ranks… it’s a great way to look at pro-pacing (and non-pro too as she covers all the evening’s races)

Scotland Athletics are starting a new Marathon Project and Steph Davis of Clapham Chasers, who we reported on back in April. Steph made her marathon debut in 218 at Berlin with a 2:41 and went on to run 2:32 in London 2019, sowith gains like that there’s a nice bit of talent to work with there!   The Scottish Team have a good track record too with the likes of Laura Muir on their books.


The British Milers Club ‘exists to improve the world standing of UK Middle Distance Running’ and it will have support from Saucony until 2022, reports FastRunning. Saucony have clearly decided to support that club-running scene in the UK as this build on their support of the National XC champs and XC Relays. 


And finally, a hat tip to Cynthia Arnold who ran a (verification pending) world record with three person pushchair/stroller when she finished the Missoula Marathon in 3:11 and those are not small kids. Runners world spoke to her here.


Media Maratón de Bogotá IAAF Gold Label R 28 JUL 2019

Liupanshui Summer International Marathon IAAF Bronze Label 28 JUL 2019