LAST LAP — January

Here’s this month’s collection of generally off-track activities that have gone a long way towards shaping the way the sport is headed:

Matthew Centrowitz will still be running under Nike colors, but has changed coaching groups. (MARK SHEARMAN)

Centrowitz To Be Coached By Schumacher

In this space in the November issue, we noted Alberto Salazar’s confirmation that he would no longer be coaching Matthew Centrowitz. At that time there was no announcement of who would take over the training of the Olympic 1500 gold medalist, but in mid-January Centro took to Instagram to confirm what many had suspected:

“As some of you may heard, I have joined the Bowerman Track Club and will be coached by Jerry Schumacher. I’m looking forward to creating more memories like the one in the photo with the BTC. I hope you all will continue to follow and support me as I embark down this new path.
At this time I would like to thank Alberto and the Nike Oregon Project for everything they have done for me over the past 6 years that enabled me to win the 2016 Olympic Games, 2016 World Indoor Championships, silver at the 2013 World Championships and six USA titles. I please ask you all to be respectful to me and both groups with my decision at this time. Thank you.”


Rono Desperate To Return To Kenya

The Nairobi Daily Nation received a simple plea: “I wants a ticket back home, please.” The author of the request was Kenyan legend Henry Rono, now 66. His missive to the paper continued, “Yes, I would like the government to help me get back home by getting me a ticket… I can’t afford living in the USA. I’m getting old… Also, being away from home for over 32 years is too long.”

The Washington State alum, whose multi-WR ’78 season was one of the sport’s greatest ever, has been working in security at the Albuquerque airport after earlier working in teaching and coaching. His wife and two children live in Nairobi.

Kenyan federation head Jack Tuwei said his association would be ready to aid Rono: “He did a lot for this country and we can’t fail to get help for him.” The next day, another legend, Kip Keino stepped up, saying, “I’m ready to buy Rono his ticket. It is me who got him into competition in the U.S. and I will make sure he comes back home. We need him to come home and see his family.”



IAAF Invents 2 New Events For World Relays

Speaking of the IAAF’s tweakage of meets, edition No. 4 of the World Relays (Yokohama, May 11–12) will see the dropping of the 4×8 and the addition of 2 mixed relays. You can be forgiven if you’ve never seen/heard of either, because they are unique.

One will be a shuttle hurdles race, with the men running the 110s one way and the women the 100s the other. To make up for the difference in distance, the women will run an extra 10m after the last hurdle. “This is super great news,” says U.S. star Sharika Nelvis. “I’ve always wanted to be in a shuttle hurdles relay. Hopefully this opens the door to it being in the Olympics one day in the future, but it being at the World Relays is a great start. And it should be fun!”

Replacing the 4×8 will be an event inspired by Nordic skiing’s biathlon: a mixed 2x2x400. That means that each team is combined of 1 man and 1 woman and they alternate legs. It’s left to each team’s discretion as which sex goes first. A big question we’ll be interested to hear the answer to is whether or not a 400 runner or an 800 runner will be best suited for running a second lap after a brief respite. Sounds like a good interval workout, if nothing else.


The IAAF Clears 42 Russians For ’19

Although WADA seems to be moving full-speed ahead to allow Russia back into the athletic fold (see sidebar), the IAAF is moving at a much more considered pace. The Russian federation (RusAF) remains on suspension, and its athletes must be cleared by the IAAF’s Doping Review Board before they’re allowed in international competition, and at that, without national uniforms or flags when they do appear. Last year 73 Russians were declared eligible, while 68 applications were denied and 6 had their “neutral” status revoked. New clearances are required each year. In early January RusAF said it had received 133 applications for this year. In the middle of the month the IAAF announced that 42 had been cleared so far, but did not comment on whether or not there had been any rejections.

At the end of the month the Russian news agency TASS said that RusAF had withdrawn an appeal it had filed with CAS last September. The appeal was against the IAAF decision to continue the federation’s suspension. Explained federation president Dmitriy Shlyakhtin, “A part of the required criteria for the RusAF’s membership reinstatement with the IAAF has been already implemented therefore there is no more need of appealing against them. I strongly believe that at the moment we need to consolidate our efforts on negotiations with IAAF regarding RusAF’s reinstatement, instead of wasting our time and strength on court hearings.” One biggie that remains is the $2.76M the IAAF says RusADA owes the international federation for costs incurred in prosecuting the whole case. Russia has asked for a payment plan rather than a lump-sum settlement.


Kipchoge Still Talking 2-Hour Barrier

In early January, Aussie marathon legend Derek Clayton, who in ’67 became the first 26-miler to break 2:10, reiterated his believe that the 2:00 barrier is still some way off, saying, “I have been forecasting the year 2030 for the past 20 years and so far it seems I’m still on course.”

WR holder Eliud Kipchoge reacted by telling the Nairobi Daily Nation, “It’s possible for a human being to run under 2 hours. With the right training, the right environment and the right people, and with the right thinking, then all is possible.

“But what sums it all is the belief. If someone wants to run this unthinkable time, and he has no belief in his mind, then he cannot do anything. But if your belief is in the mind and in the blood, beyond the skin and into the bone marrow, then it’s possible.”

Kipchoge said Nike’s Monza experiment, where he ran a non-ratifiable 2:00:25 with every aid imaginable offered him great hope going into his successful WR attempt in Berlin, where he ran his 2:01:39. “It gave me the confidence that I can run faster than any normal World Record,” he explained. “I gained huge confidence and this helped me get the record.”


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