Tuesday, 19 July 2016

State of the women's 800m and thoughts on the Tely 10.

Hey friends, how goes it? We certainly didn't get much of a down week after the trials as we were treated to the Monaco meet as well as some other smaller meets taking place in Europe like the one in Heusden where we saw Souleiman run a super strong 3:31 and Hill running a 3:35. We also saw the final selections made from the Ethiopian Federation naming their squads from the 800 and up. The only big surprise to me was leaving Keljelcha off the team over 5000, to me that's a big mistake as it's going to be a kickers race and he has the best wheels of anyone they could draw from with the exception of Mukar Edris, but hey, maybe they know something I don't. Regardless they have a fantastic squad going to Rio. Anyway, I'll talk briefly about our local Tely 10 which is coming up this Sunday and then look at the craziness that's going down in the women's 800m.

Tely 10 thoughts and who's looking good.

Here in Newfoundland there is no bigger race then the Tely 10 mile road race. This is the 89th year of it's running. A lot of people try to make observations and predictions but unless you are actually competing against the competition you really have no idea where people are and it's just making guesses based on other races. You don't really know if the athletes were using said races as workouts or all out efforts, then you've got the fact that 10 miles is a pretty awkward distance and favors strong half marathon runners or strength based 10k guys/girls.

On the men's side this year there's one guy who should be considered the heavy favorite but I suspect I'm the only one who thinks this as he's known as a steepler. That guy goes by the name of Ryan Brockerville. He's run 30:30 for 10k on the roads, an 8:34 steeple and a 3:52 1500, (He's likely in 3:43/44 shape though, that was a slow race from the gun, he's run 1:50 for 800 and 3:44 for 15 before). I mean, if you think anyone else on that start line has those credentials then you clearly aren't following the sport closely. He's in his prime and is ready to run. I'd obviously have picked last years Tely champ, Matt Loiselle if he was training like he was last year or in 2012 when he ran 48:08 but I don't think he's going to be starting the race as he's had some injury struggles, but if he does I'm sure he will run well. I don't know what kind of shape Graydon Snider is in as he's raced infrequently in 2016 and seems to be taking up joggling. He ran a 17 low 5k while doing so and according to his blog can run mile repeats in 5:10 without any drops. If he's on at 100% he's in the mix as well and will do well if the pace is hot early, using his strength to grind people away. Then you have Colin Fewer, who's one of the best runners to ever come out of Newfoundland, the guy has competed at world cross running against Bekele so you best believe he has some tricks up his sleeve. He's also won 8 Tely 10s and owns a PB of 49:43.

The race could go many different ways depending on who wants to lead and how fast it goes from the gun, but one things for sure it's going to be an exciting race.

On the women's side it's pretty cut and dry. My Saucony teammate Kate Bazeley is a class above the rest and should win by about 3 minutes if she has a good day. Behind her you have lots of great athletes like Anne Johnson who's run 35 high for 10k this year, Caroline Mcilroy who's gone well under 60 minutes before and races everything from 400m to 100km. Chasing her down will be another strong pack with the likes of Karen Stacy and Katie Wadden among others. It won't be as close as the men's race but it should be exciting non the less.

Understanding what's happening in the women's 800m.

So before I even get into this let me be clear. I firmly believe that both Caster Semenya and Francine Niyonsaba aren't doing anything wrong. They were both born this way and are simply competing in a sport they both love and excel at. I personally believe they have a right to compete naturally, without being forced to take anything such as testosterone blockers or any other substance that some might think would level the playing field. My thoughts stem from the fact that I don't feel like it's fair for these two athletes to compete against other women who don't have the same hormonal advantages that both Semenya and Niyonsaba have being intersex athletes. One poster on letsrun.com who writes for www.sportsscientists.com said it best "the presence of the Y-chromosome is THE single greatest genetic “advantage” a person can have". 

I'm going to post a link below to the article/blog entry on sportsscientist.com below, it's incredibly well written and you'll glean far more from that then anything I'll say here. I do want to just talk about the fact that we need a fair playing field, if not why are we even bothering to hold a race? We don't know how fast Caster can really run, my hunch is she can certainly go under the current world record, (Which is very suspect at 1:53). How she looks closing out the last 120m of an 800 is like nothing I've ever seen before.

We can all agree that the best/most effective way to run an 800m to achieve the best time one's fitness will alloy is a slight positive split with a gradual deceleration each 200m. I once heard Canova talk about the scientific formula, some of what he said is escaping me now, but he suggested running the first 400 at 93% of your open 400m ability then come back at 89% of your open 400m ability on the second lap. 

Well, if any of you saw Semenya's 1:55 last week in Monaco her last 100m was just ridiculous, she's accelerating and finding another gear the last strait. She's not moving until about 200m to go and this is with the very best girls in the world in the race running in the 1:56's up front. This tells me if she went out maybe 3 seconds quicker at 400 and accounted for a slight deceleration and just ran on the edge the whole time she would be WAY under 1:55, I'd venture to say 1:51 high to 1:52 could be a very real possibility given how relaxed she looked running 1:55.

Competing against this type of athlete makes it very difficult for someone who has a ceiling of say 1:56 which is likely where the girls ranked 3rd to 6th are in terms of genetic potential. It doesn't really seam fair does it.

I really don't know what I'm getting at here or if I'm addressing anything at all. I'm just rambling on but it's something that we need to take a good look at before Rio, because if things stand as they are now, if 8 girls are in the final, 6 will realistically be competing for a Bronze Medal, and to me that doesn't seem right, they train just as hard and sacrifice just as much as anyone else and those girls deserve to toe the line knowing that they aren't limited based on their hormonal profile, but based on the fitness they are carrying into the race itself.

Before I clue this up, I want to reiterate what I said before, I 100% support Caster Semenya, she seems like a great person and is only trying to do what she loves. She deserves our respect in each and every debate we have over this issue. She's actually making the other athletes better, knowing they have to raise their game just to be in races with her.

If any of you guys/girls have any thoughts or comments about this leave them below, or if I've made any mistakes in what I've written please let me know. It's a touchy issue and needs to be addressed correctly. Here is the link the the article I spoke of above. http://sportsscientists.com/2016/07/caster-semenya-debate/

That's all for me, I'll get back to writing up my training next week after the Tely 10, Coach and I will begin to plan out the fall and I'm sure he will have me rolling some big sessions as I get ready for Yorkville, STWM 1/2 and National Cross.

Last point before I get out of here, Shoutout to Ryan Noel-Hodge who celebrated a big birthday there last week, I hear he's cutting some hay today on his family farm and squeezing in runs when possible. And to another one of coach John's athletes, Francois Jarry who rolled a 30:08 10000m in Quebec last weekend, stellar running!

Until next time, keep that chin tucked!

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