Track Shorts 2017: Lap 9

Johnny Greogrek at the 2017 World Championships in London. PC: @picsport_japan on Instagram

Another season of track and field is just about in the books. But there is still plenty of running to go.  We’ll swing back around to look at the World Championship results and check out the wind up of Diamond League activities.  Then let’s take a look at some of the summer road action and review the upcoming calendar.

World Championships Redux

Great TV coverage.  Well at least on the track.  I liked that camera-on-a-golf-cart they used on the back stretch.  For field events, producers just seem stuck in that mode of showing us the winning effort, or maybe the top two or three efforts.  If you’ve seen field events live, you know there’s way more drama and TV needs to find a way to capture that.

Several ABers came home with medals.  Tori Bowie got two of the three golds we mentioned in our preview.  We’ll never know if she could have gotten the third as she sat out the 200.  Her gold medal performance in the 100 was just about as flawless a race as a person could run.  The anchor leg for the 4 x 100 was no walk in the park as Great Britain and Jamaica were close at the exchange but Tori was up to the challenge and brought the US home for gold.

My second favorite moment of the championships was Kori Carter’s kick ass performance in the 400H.  Kori had shown she would be competitive with a sub 53 at the US championships, so the gold was not out of left field. More impressive is that she did it out of lane 8. For the record, as an ex-steepler, Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs going 1-2 was my favorite moment.

The fourth AB medal came from Sandi Morris, who continued her budding rivalry with Katerina Stefanidi. Sandi was second this time but at ages 25 (Morris) and 27(Stefanidi), we can expect there will be plenty more opportunities for these two to face off.  This is a good thing.

Some Days You Eat the Bear

And some days the bear gives you an intestinal virus.  Many athletes were felled by a bug that sped through the athletes’ quarters.  One of those, unfortunately, was Ryan Hill, who had raced himself into the finals of the 5,000; alas, we’ll never know how that would have worked out.

Other ABers who did get to compete in the finals acquitted themselves well.  Christina Manning was in fine form as her 12.74 was good for 5th in the 100 hurdles.  Charlene Lipsey ran fast (1:58.73) in placing 7th in perhaps the deepest women’s 800 final ever.  Johnny Gregorek put together a solid string of races and got 10th in the 1500.  Possibly unnoticed in the wake of Carter’s gold was Cassandra Tate’s good week which saw her take 7th in the 400H.

And though she didn’t make the final, the joy in Sara Vaughn’s face after realizing another PR (4:04.56) was going to get her to the semi-finals was another great moment for our favorite mom-real estate agent.

The saddest moment for me was watching the women’s HT qualifying.  The camera caught the worry in Gwen Berry’s face after her third throw and you didn’t need to know the specifics to understand that she was in real danger of not making the final.  The sport can be like that.

The Rest of Europe

The track and field season carried on for a few more weeks after the World Championships, although it did seem that the sport was suffering a bit of a hangover after perhaps the most surprising/exciting meet in years.  Also, the Diamond League changed its format so that the finals were invitation-only and a winner-take all affair instead of total points for the season.  One report said that over 100 athletes declined a spot in the DL finals.

One person not affected was Christina Manning.  Besides taking 3rd in the DL final, she also had wins in Berlin and Zagreb; her sequence of times was 12:54, 12:66 and 12:67. Consistency pays off and congrats to Christina for a breakthrough 2017.

Remember the Stefanidi-Morris rivalry?  They continued it in the DL final.  Second for Morris here but has to go in the books as another solid season for Sandi.

Other DL finalists included Charlene Lipsey (1:57.99 for 5th), Jasmin Stowers (7th), Dani Bunch (5th), Brittany Smith (8th), Mary Saxer (10th), Whitney Ashley (6th), and Kara Winger (7th).  As we noted earlier, the finals were invitation only based on DL standings for the season so just getting to Zurich or Brussels was a major accomplishment.

Racing in the Street

(Musical accompaniment courtesy Bruce Springsteen)

Paraphrasing The Boss “summer’s gone and the time is right for racing in the streets.”  Actually, it already started.  At the Sentinel Half Marathon, Matt Liano and Sarah Pease were the top American finishers; Pease continues to show that steeplechasing might be the best first career for a road racer.  Jessica Tonn (6th) and Neely Gracey (7th) showed well at Falmouth.  At the USATF 20K Championships Sara Hall took 3rd in 1:07.53 with Jessica Tonn 7th.  Earlier in the summer, Jessica had placed third in the Lodi Mile on the track so with top finishes at 1 mile, 7 miles and 20K, she is diversifying her portfolio very nicely.  We’re not sure whether Lauren Paquette’s cross-country win in Memphis was a 2017 summer season closer or fall season opener; her note to us made it sound like it might have been a workout that got out of control.

Of course, there are those for whom even the roads are too pedestrian.  So there’s Joseph Gray winning the Pikes Peak Ascent again.  Devon Yanko was a star at the always-epic Leadville 100 mile run taking first.

Order Has Been Restored

Like a disturbance in The Force, it has been troubling to read road mile race results this year and not see Heather Kampf’s name.  But she’s back from injury now and ready to roll.  Heather took first at the Minnesota Mile and followed that up with a 7th in the tight, very fast Fifth Avenue Mile in NYC.  All is right with the world.

ABers are all over these road mile results.  In Minnesota, Rachel Schneider was 3rd and Riley Masters took third in the men’s race.  At the Fifth Avenue event, Johnny Gregorek was 8th, with Ryan Hill 10th and Kyle Merber 14th.  In the women’s race, Brenda Martinez was a 4th, with Sara Vaughn 11th and Lauren Johnson 18th.

Not a road mile but deserving of attention is the Hoka One One Long Island Mile.  ABer Kyle Merber as meet director teamed up with Hoka and a local running store to host a meet of just miles.  This year’s edition had a somber tone, as defending men’s champ, David Torrence had passed away days before the race.  The men’s race now carries his name and the athletes’ bibs all had the initials “DT.”

Merber is a sort of gracious host and kept himself to 5th in the men’s elite race.  Fellow ABers Johnny Gregorek and Garrett Heath were 3rd and 8th respectively.  In the women’s elite race, Brenda Martinez was second (thanks to a monster kick from Emily Lipari) and Lauren Johnson was 11th.

The Calendar

Lots of big races to look forward to in the next month.  Big marathons in Berlin and Chicago.  There’s the USATF 10 mile Championships.  And closest to my heart – the Philly Half Marathon.  Lace ‘em up everybody.

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