The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

Farah Sharp at “Hi Performance” Meet

May 21st, 2012
12:56 pm PST

Mo Farah The year’s best gathering of middle/long distance runners took place this past weekend in Southern California at the “Oxy Hi Performance” meet. But after all the races were run and the results came in, I’m still in the dark as to how things look for American distance running – and we’re only a month out from the Trials!

Don’t get me wrong, there were some solid performances. Best of the bunch was Mo Farah (GBR) who turned in a 3:34.66 / 13:12.87 double with less than an hours rest between the two events – and won both! Farah starts off his season in fine shape – and I have to think at this point should be at least a co-favorite in the 5000 for London. His speed is sharp, and he continues to race very well. He is going to be tough for anyone to handle. And that includes WR holder Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) who opened up his season with an uncharacteristic 5th place finish in Doha.

The other outstanding performance was an 8:18.14 steeple win for collegian Donn Cabral (USA) – setting an “American” collegiate record in the process. A great run and win for Cabral as he beat Dan Huling (8:20.81) and Kyle Alcorn (8:20.86) – the first and second place finishers at last year’s National Championships. So the rest sets Cabral up nicely heading into next month’s Trials.

I’m not sure that anyone else did themselves as well in this meet, however, as most marks were good, but not good enough to really separate anyone from the “crowd”. For example no woman ran under 2:00 in the half – though Geena Gall (2:00.44) and Alice Schmidt (2:00.77) ran well. Shannon Rowbury ran what was a WL 4:05.92 – until it was blown out of the water by Genzebe Dibaba’s 3:57.77 hours later, and the trail of finishers behind her.

But the best 1500’s were turned in by a 5000/10000 meter runner (Farah); a 10000 runner (Galen Rupp, 3:34.75 PR); and a half miler (Robbie Andrews, 3:34.78 PR). And although Dathan Ritzenhein, was able to ride along with Farah (who was supposed to be the rabbit!) for a 13:14.72 (4th place), I was hoping for something closer to 13:00/13:05 – to be in line with the big dogs of the world. But it does look like “Ritz” is putting himself in position to make the team, as he was certainly happy with the performance.

I’m not sure how I feel about a few others, however. Alan Webb ran yet again, and after his 3:37.26, I just don’t see a trip to London in the cards. Same for Will Leer, who only ran 3:39.31 and finished 10th in his heat. Nick Symmonds did run a PR 3:36.04 – so we know his strength and endurance are up. On the flip side, Andrew Wheating “only” ran 1:46.83 in the 800 – good but I’m not sure it tells me anything about where he’s at. Though of course just to be competing right now is a good thing for Wheating. I’m just not sure if he’s ready for a top three finish in four weeks.

Then on the women’s side more mixed results. Molly Beckwith won her heat of the 800, but her 2:01.24 was well off her AL 1:59.51. Shannon Rowbury’s win came against Anna Pierce (4:06.11) and Brenda Martinez (4:06.96 PR). Perhaps a bit of a psychological advantage for Rowbury? Though well off the PR’s of both Rowbury and Pierce. Then in the next heat we get Morgan Uceny’s SB (4:06.52) just losing to Gabreiele Anderson’s PR (4:06.46)!

So what does it all mean? I’m not sure that after all those races it meant anything. While the sprinters and hurdlers have been “showing off” a bit, this meet reminded me that this year there are only two meets that matter – the Trials and the Games. And while I have a fairly good idea of what to expect from several field performers and certainly the sprinters and hurdlers of the world, I suspect that we’re not going to have a clue about who’s going to London in the middle/long distances until the last minute, when the gun goes off at the Trials.

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