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

New Balance Indoor GP Preview

Feb 2nd, 2012
5:37 pm PDT

FHS Track Photos 025

The indoor season really got rocking last weekend, and looks to pick up stream with the World Indoor Championships just a tad over a month away (Mar 9-11). One of the next steps towards Istanbul is this weekend’s New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston.

This year’s meet is focusing on the middle and long distance events, and there is no shortage of solid matchups. As a matter of fact, having odd distances sometimes leads to matchups that you wouldn’t normally get in an outdoor meet as athletes move up and down in distance and sometimes meet in the middle of their specialties. Keeping that in mind following are five events I’m really looking forward to.

 

 

Men’s 400 meters

One of the shorter events in this meet, the 400 features a classic matchup of hurdlers Bershawn Jackson (USA) & Johnny Dutch (USA) against flat sprinters Kirani James (GRN) and Tabarie Henry (ISV). All have solid credentials as both hurdlers have PR’s under 48.00, and both sprinters PR’s under 45.00. Kirani James is the reigning outdoor World Champion in the 400 meters, while Bershawn Jackson was World Champion in the hurdles back in 2005. Typically the hurdlers tend to be stronger at the end while the sprinters are fast early. In this case Jackson is also built well for the smaller indoor tracks. All that said, James has the potential to some day run under 44.00 outdoors. He’s also somewhat seasoned o indoor running having run collegiately for Alabama. This should be a very exciting race, with everyone trying to get that first 200 break to the inside. I think the track favors Jackson, but my gut says James.

 

Women’s 1000 meters

This race features 1500 meter talents Anna Pierce and Morgan Uceny against 800 meter specialist Phoebe Wright at a distance that is right in the middle. Pierce and Morgan have a slight advantage in that they are true doublers who are both under 1:59 outdoors in the 800 – as is Wright. What should make this race exciting is Wright’s tendency to lead the race, which I expect her to do hear. The question is: will the extra 200 meters of real estate make it a tad more difficult to hold off the rush of Pierce and Uceny? Both women have very strong kicks and Uceny proved to be able to outkick the best in the world at the end of the 1500 meters last year. On that note I give her the advantage in this race. But Pierce and Wright are two of our most competitive female middle distance runners, which means that Uceny will have to earn her victory in Boston – and I think she will. Expect a close and gut wrenching final 50 from this gutsy trio.

 

Men’s 3000 meters

American miler Mathew Centrowitz will get a stiff early season test as miler Silas Kiplagat (KEN) and 5K man Dejen Gebremeskel (ETH) will make for a tough pairing in the 3000. Centro’s outdoor best of 8:20.09 is well off the PRs of Kiplagat (7:39.94) and Gebremeskel (7:51.02). So I’ll be looking for two things in this race. First I’ll be looking to see how well Centrowitz covers the 3000 meters. A solid time would indicate that training is going well earlier in the year. The other thing I’ll be looking at is the competition between Kiplagat and Gebremeskel, because both are competitive (not to mention the Ethiopia/Kenya rivalry) and I would think that the miler would like to show a bit better against the “long distance” runner.

 

Women’s 3000 meters

This should be very interesting with milers Shannon Rowbury (USA) and Jenny Simpson (USA) taking on 5K queen Meseret Defar (ETH). Simpson & Rowbury should have a pretty good of where their training is after this race as Defar seldom steps on a track without being ready to put down a solid performance. And while the Americans are “milers”, Defars‘s 1500 PR of 4:02.00 is right there! Look for a fast time from Defar as I’m sure Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN) is somewhere on her mind. I’m hoping to see the competitiveness of Simpson & Rowbury keep them close and bring them through with a pair of nice early season times.

 

Men’s 1500 meters

This is perhaps the deepest field of the meet with 5k/10K runners Galen Rupp (USA) & Mo Farah (GBR) taking on true milers Russell Brown (USA), Daniel Kipchirchir Komen (KEN), and Haron Keitany (KEN). That said Farah just won a 1500 last weekend in 3:39.03 against Augustine Choge, so his speed is indeed sharp. Last season saw Russell Brown emerge among the elite as he led the world indoors in the mile at 3:54.81. Perhaps the smaller oval will once again be kind to him. Komen (3:33.08) & Rupp’s (3:43.96) indoor bests put them at opposite ends of the spectrum in this race, with Komen entering as the favorite IMHO and Rupp needing a huge PR to be in contention. And that’s really what I’m looking at here – the competitiveness and speed of Rupp, as he’s going to need a bit of both to be in the mix with the big boys outdoors. He’s going to have to develop Farah type speed to truly be competitive in London, so his finish behind what should be a Komen win will be one to watch.

 

The Reggie Lewis Center is known for producing great marks, which makes the anticipation for this meet that much greater. And of course there should be a lot of other marks to talk about before the weekend is out with several other meets across the globe.

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