Track Shorts 2017: Lap 2

There was no hibernating for ABers this winter.  In February they continued to pile up results by land, sea and air, by which I mean track, trail, roads and snow (snow?!).  Track Shorts staff could barely keep up with the flood of information.  Plenty to review in advance of this weekend’s US indoor championships.


The old adage about consistency being the hobgoblin of little minds was clearly not coined by an athlete.  What better compliment can one offer a competitor?  Let us point to Exhibits A and B – Erik Sowinski and Christina Manning.  For his part, Sowinski ran in all four European events in the IAAF World Indoor Tour posting times of 1:46.96, 1:46.80 (PR), 1:46.84, and 1:46.85, four quality 800 meter races within .16 of each other.  Astounding.  He got a win, two 3rds and a 4th for his efforts.  Manning’s streak in the 60 hurdles is also impressive.  I’ll admit it, I’ve lost track of how many sub 8.00 performances she’s managed in February; it’s at least seven races between 7.82 and 7.94.  Best one is probably 7.82 for the win in the Athlone International Grand Prix in Ireland for which she took home Standout Performer of the meet. Or was it the 7.83 three days later for the win at the IAAF tour in Birmingham?

I’ll Have What She They Had

AB women were kicking butt on the roads in February.  Neely Gracey followed up her win in Arizona with a scorching 1:11:02 half marathon in New Orleans; her last mile was a smoking 5:09.  At last check, Susanna Sullivan had chocked up five local DC road wins in just two months in 2017.  Polina Carlson took the Phoenix Marathon, Sara Hall notched a big 2:28:26 PR while taking 6th in the Tokyo Marathon and Esther Atkins was second at the Gasparilla (Florida) Half, clocking 1:14:05.66.

There Snow Greater Honor

If there is a surface on which Joseph Gray can’t win, please let me know.  His latest win came at the World Snowshoeing Championships in Saranac Lake.  This comes in the same month he took 9th at the USATF Cross Country Championships.  What’s next, 10k Hot Coal Championship?

Joseph’s not the only ABer excelling off the road and track.  Camille Herron ran with what was described as “off-the-front authority” to easily win the Tarawera (New Zealand) 102k Ultramarathon in 8:56 (That’s 8 HOURS and 56 minutes, folks!).  In Bellingham Washington, David Laney and Maria Dalzot got to run “through fields of sword fern and soak in all the hues of green” at the Fragrance Lake Half Marathon.  While communing with nature they also both managed to win.

Women Milers

Is this AB’s deepest event?  So far this year we have Rachel Schneider’s 4:25.62 at the Hemery Invite (plus a 4:28.03 win at Camel City), Heather Kampf’s 4:28.39 at Millrose (went from 8th to 4th in the final 100 meters), Stephanie Garcia’s 4:32.41, Katie Mackey’s 4:33.5 at Millrose, Stephanie Schappert’s 4:35.39 at BU Last Chance and Lauren Johnson’s 4:36.74 at the Armory.  Once again, looks like women ABers will be a force at the national championships.

Steeplechasing Marathoners

At some point all steeplers realize that they need to move to something easier, like say, the marathon.  Jamie Cheever already did it.  Sarah Pease is the latest.  Nice debut for her with a win at the Mercedes Marathon in 2:41:45.  We hear that Ashley Higginson, with her colleagues saying come on in, the water’s fine, might be debuting before long.

Coming at the 3k from opposite directions, Heather Kampf moved up to the 3,000 and did well with a 8:51.27 win (with pacing help from Higginson) while Samantha Bluske took a break from the roads to put up a 9:33 PR effort on the track.


AB has added new athletes to our roster and they are already putting up some fine performances.  Aside from Christina Manning and Stephanie Schappert, whose exploits were mentioned earlier, Chris Giesting has captured our imagination with his move up from the 400m. He had the fastest leg (1:47.55) in the 4 x800 at the Armory meet on 2/4, then took a solid 4th in the 500 at the Millrose Games.  Cecilia Barowski ran a nifty 1:26.74 600m to finish second to Ajee Wilson at the Armory and then dropped a 2:01.52 800m for 5th at Millrose.  Johnny Gregorek ran 3:56 for 6th at Millrose, then went even faster at the Boston University Last Chance Meet, hitting 3:53.15 for third behind Edward Cheserek and Kyle Merber (3:52.22!).  Shannon Osika has demonstrated range with an 8:56.52 for third in the Millrose 3,000 and a 2:03.67 800m at the Meyo Invite. Raven Clay ran 8.09 in the 60m hurdles at the Lodz meet.

I Smell A Wabbit

Running a race from the front has its advantages – less likely to get jostled and can control the pace.  But it’s generally considered more taxing, both mentally and physically.  So, at many of the invitational meets, you might see a pacesetter (or rabbit) leading for much of the race.  The rabbit is given intermediate split targets and lets the other runners focus on things other than pacing and targets.  Not necessarily an easy job.  Go too fast and the runners burn out (or don’t even follow); too slow and any chance at a fast time is gone.  Worse, what happens if you’re hitting all the intermediate splits spot on but nobody’s with you?  Do you slow down to bring them back in tow or stick to the agreed pace.  It’s an important assignment and an indication of trust and respect from your peers.  So far this season we’ve seen Donnie Cowart, Kendra Chambers and Ashley Higginson take on pacing responsibilities.  Nice work guys.

A Record By Any Another Name

The IAAF doesn’t recognize the indoor 4 x 1 mile as an event so there can’t be a “world record.”  Okay, we’ll call it a “world best.”  Whatever the nomenclature, the mark now belongs to a foursome from the New Jersey ★ New York Track Club.  Two ABers – Donn Cabral and Kyle Merber – teamed with Ford Palmer and Graham Crawford for an assault on the record/best at the Artie O’Connor Invitational at the Armory.  Cabral led off with a 4:05.4 and Merber’s anchor leg of 3:59.3 brought the team home in 16:12.81, nearly four seconds under the old mark.

Hope You Didn’t Miss…

In all the excitement I know there are many notable performances we haven’t spotlighted.  Here’s a few to review:

  • Je’von Hutchinson’s 500 win at the Armory
  • Gwen Berry’s 24.77 weight throw exceeds all other throws in the world by over 3 feet
  • Donald Scott leads the US list with a 16.80 (55-1) triple jump at the Meyo Invite
  • Though he came in 2nd in the Millrose 2 mile, Ryan Hill set a world leading time in the 3,000 en route and added a 13:07.61 5,000 at the BU Last Chance
  • Maria Michta-Coffey and Miranda Melville went 1-2 at Millrose
  • Sandi Morris winning various PV competitions in Europe , including #3 jump in the world at 4.72 in Dusseldorf
  • Kyle Merber – who somehow appears in every thread in this edition of Track Shorts – made a gutsy move in Millrose mile to spice up the race and got 3rd for his effort
  • Jade Barber back in the mix with a 8.10 at the Mondeville meet
  • Meb stilling going strong at 41 with 1:03:29.15 for 3rd at the Gasparilla Half
  • Nitro Athletics revolutionizing the sport, one continent at a time; check out (AB’s Kara Winger and Jarryd Wallace were there to take part) – mixed 4 x 100 relay anyone?

And for every item listed here, there’s probably two or three more we could have cited.  Truly an amazing month.

Michta & Melville - Post Millrose race R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Photo: Ross Dettman

Michta & Melville – Post Millrose race R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
Photo: Ross Dettman

Indoor Champs

Albuquerque New Mexico (elevation 5,312 feet) will be the site of the USTAF Indoor Championships this weekend.  Many ABers will be there.  NBCSN will have TV coverage Saturday from 10:30 pm to 12:30 am ET, and live coverage on Sunday evening 5:30 to 7:30 ET.

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