Running News Round-Up: 18th February 2016

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News from around the world of running…


Kenyan Athletics: Missed Deadlines, Corruption Allegations, and Chief Exec Steps Down

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Kenyan Athletics faces serious problems ahead of Rio.

Kenya has been placed on probation by WADA and referred to its independent compliance process, following a missed deadline for demonstrating its efforts to control doping.

Criticised in last year’s WADA Independent Commission report on doping, and with a large number of athletes already suspended for doping offences, Kenya has been under mounting pressure to take action.

By way of response, Kenya announced last November that it had launched a new national anti-doping agency, but gave little detail on the practicalities or financing. Since then, WADA has been pressuring the Kenyan government to provide the £3.5m needed to finance and staff the new agency, known as the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK). But little has been forthcoming, and WADA has now placed Kenya on probation.

Meanwhile, the new anti-doping agency ADAK has this week said it is investigating claims of bribery by a senior official of Athletics Kenya.

This results from the claims of two Kenyan athletes, Joy Sakari and Francisca Koki Manunga, who failed drugs tests at the Beijing world championships last summer. They have accused Isaac Mwangi, the chief executive of Athletics Kenya, of asking them to pay $24,000 each in exchange for a reduction of their suspensions.

Mwangi has denied any wrong doing but has now temporarily stepped down while the IAAF investigates the claims.

Read our news editorial for more on this story.

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US Olympic Marathon Trials: Heroics and Heartbreaks

For Americans, the trials for the Olympic marathon probably attract much more hype and media attention than the actual main Olympic event itself. (If you were to be totally cynical about it, you might think it’s because there are guaranteed American victors!) Simply qualifying for the trials race is a challenge many elite runners focus on, and the trials are a highlight in the US domestic athletics calendar.

In this year’s race, held in Los Angeles on Saturday 13th February, the top three athletes secured their tickets to Rio. With humid temperatures of 22°C by the end of the race, many athletes struggled with the heat, and times were comparatively slow.

Check out these quite cool infographics from Runner’s World on how the race was won.

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Meb on his way to a new US veterans record and his fourth Olympics. Photo credit: Rev Dills

Men’s race
In the men’s race, Galen Rupp took first place in 2:11:12 (earning a tidy $80,000 for his trouble), with crowd favourite Meb Keflezighi second in 2:12:20, and Jared Ward third in 2:13:00.

Rupp, new to the marathon distance, will attempt to compete in both the 10,000m and the marathon in Rio.

There was evidently some jostling and a minor altercation between Rupp and Keflezighi early in the race, which Meb discussed in his matter-of-fact style in the post-race press conference. Rupp had been running too close to Meb, who asked him to give him some space. The major respect for Meb held by other members of the team were underlined in no uncertain terms on the same stage.

There was disappointment for Dathan Ritzenheim who dropped out at mile 20.

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Shalane Flanagan gutsed it out for a third place and collapsed at the finish line. Photo credit: Rev Dills

Women’s race
Among the women, the Olympic places were secured by Amy Cragg (nee Hastings), Desiree Linden and Shalane Flanagan. Cragg ran strongly for a 2:28:20 finish, with Linden not far behind in 2:28:54. Cragg had slowed in the last two miles to support her team-mate Shalane Flanagan.

Flanagan suffered dehydration in the later stages of the race, struggling in the heat, and she collapsed at the finish line. She recovered with immediate medical treatment and an IV drip. Flanagan finished tenth in the 2012 Olympic marathon, and was the bronze medallist in the 2008 Olympic 10,000m in Beijing. Her gutsy determination was certainly on show to hold on for this third spot.

But it was not to be for American darlings of distance running Kara Goucher or Deena Kastor. Goucher finished a heart-breaking fourth in 2:30:24, and was inconsolable at the finish, while Kastor withdrew before the race with a glute strain.

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Genzebe Dibaba Smashes Indoor Mile WR, with 4:13:31

Genzebe Dibaba set another world record in Stockholm, running 4:13:31 to shatter the previous indoor mile record by almost four seconds.

The existing world record of 4:14:14 had been set in 1990 by Romania’s Doina Melinte, before 25-year-old Dibaba was born.

The Ethiopian now holds five world records, including three set on this same track in Stockholm at the Ericsson Global Arena. She set the 3,000m indoor world record (8:16:60) there in 2014, and the 5,000m indoor world record (14:18:86) there last year. She also hold the indoor and outdoor 1,500m world records.

Dibaba ran solo after the pacemaker dropped out half way through, and finished a cool 11 seconds ahead of her Ethiopian teammate Gudaf Tsegay who ran 2:24:98 in second.

Genzebe is a class act, with one of the most graceful track running styles around. Watch her latest record here.

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London Marathon Co-Founder John Disley Dies at 87

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Watch Disley in the 1952 Olympic steeplechase final.

John Disley, British steeplechaser, Olympic medallist, and co-founder of the original London Marathon, died last week at the age of 87.

Disley set up the first London Marathon event in 1981, along with his friend and fellow steeplechaser Chris Brasher.

From Corris in North Wales, Disley attended Oswestry Boys School before studying at Loughborough. It was only at Loughborough that he first took up athletics training more seriously, under tutor and coach Geoffrey Dyson. He quickly demonstrated a prodigious talent, and began a career which saw him break the British 3,000m steeplechase record five times during the 1950s.

A contender for the gold medal at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Disley finished third behind American Horace Ashenfelter and Vladimir Kazantsev of the USSR. At the following Olympics, in Melbourne, Disley’s friend Chris Brasher came away with the gold, with Disley disappointed again in sixth.

Disley and Brasher together ran the New York City Marathon in 1979, and were so inspired by the experience that they became determined to organise a marathon in London. With a great deal of effort, they persuaded the authorities, and Disley designed the first route. The race took place in March 1981, with 7,474 runners.

Disley remained involved with the London Marathon for the rest of his life, including as president of the London Marathon Charitable Trust after the death of Chris Brasher in 2003. He was also vice chairman of the UK Sports Council for eight years, and was inducted into the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. He was also a keen participant and advocate for mountain sports, and was president of the Snowdonia Society.

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Lynsey Sharp Sets New Scottish 800m Indoor Record

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Lynsey Sharp now holds both the indoor and outdoor 800m Scottish records. Photo credit: EdinburghAC

Lynsey Sharp is setting herself up well in Olympic year. She set a new Scottish indoor 800m record of 2:00:30 at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational in Boston, USA.

This improved on Laura Muir’s previous record of 2:00:94, and Sharp now moves up to fifth on the British indoor all-time list. Her outdoor best is a swift 1:57:71 set in Berlin last year, so she now holds both the indoor and outdoor Scottish records.

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Barcelona Half Marathon: No ‘Third Time Lucky’ for Kiplagat

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Barcelona Half enjoys a sell-out race of 16,500 runners each year. Photo credit: OK Apartment

Florence Kiplagat once more stole the show at the Barcelona Half Marathon on Sunday 14th February, with an emphatic victory in 1:09:19. However, this was over four minutes slower than both of the consecutive world records she set in the same race in 2015 and 2014.

Her world record of 1:05:09 set in 2015, was just three seconds quicker than her 1:05:12 world record of the previous year.

After an interrupted training period over the past few months, Kiplagat had forewarned the expectant audience that she was not in the same form as in the previous two years. Her pacemaker, Marc Roig, set a steady pace that was well below world record pace from the off.

Nevertheless, she was comfortably clear of the two Europeans who were fighting it out for second, with Isabellah Andersson of Sweden taking second in 1:10:50 and Portugal’s Jessica Augusto third in 1:10:58.

The men’s race was won by Vincent Kipruto of Kenya in 1:02:54, after sprinting for the line ahead of European marathon champion Daniele Meucci of Italy who was just one second behind him, and Abdi Fufa of Ethiopia who took third spot in 1:02:57.

Barcelona is a popular half marathon with elites and masses alike for its flat, fast route and moderate temperatures in the early season. 16,500 participants enter the race each year.

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