Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir has been in stellar form over the last two seasons, and will be hoping to wrap up the year on a high at the 50th edition of the New York City Marathon that will be held on Sunday (7) in New York.
The 27 year comes to the TCS New York Marathon off not only winning the Olympic gold in Tokyo but six straight road race wins in her last six races.
“2021 has already been a magical year, and I am excited that it is not yet over,” Jepchirchir said in a New York Road Runners press release. “The excitement in Kenya around my performance in the Olympic Games has been very high, and I know that a victory in New York will mean so much to the people of Kenya.”
She claimed Olympic gold in on the course at the Tokyo games, to add on to her two record World half marathon titles, the last of which she won in 2020. Tegla Loroupe, Paula Radcliffe, and Lornah Kiplagat are the only women to win more than one half marathon world title.
Jepchirchir comes to this race with a personal best of 2:17.16 that she got at the 2020 Valencia Marathon. She is the fastest athlete on paper and she will be joined by Nancy Kiprop also from Kenya who was fourth the last time the race was held in 2019, and Viola Lagat, the younger sister of five-time Olympian Bernard Lagat.
Scotland’s Eilish McColgan ended her season in a perfect style as she smashed almost half a minute off Paula Radcliffe’s United Kingdom National Record for 10 miles at the 30th edition of the Great South Run that was held on Sunday (17) in Portsmouth, United Kingdom.
The British 5,000m record holder went on again to destroy a nineteen year old Course Record of Sonia Sullivan by lowering it down by 17 seconds.
The 30-year-old also took nearly a minute off her personal best of 51:38 setting two new records in a time of 50:43.
Radcliffe’s national record of 51:11 was set in 2008 shortly before she won the New York City Marathon. This is not the first of Radcliffe’s records that McColgan has broken this year either. In August she beat Radcliffe’s UK 5000m mark with 14:28.55 in Oslo.
Jess Piasecki came home in second place in 51:50 while Verity Ockenden closed the first three podium finishes in ateima of 54:07.
Kenya’s Reuben Kipyego and Ruth Chepngetich head the fields for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday (10), with Sara Hall and Galen Rupp leading US hopes at the World Athletics Elite Platinum Label road race.
After action in Berlin and London in recent weeks, Chicago is the next race in a busy period of major marathons and the Boston event follows just one day later. The weather in Chicago looks set to be warm, with temperatures of around 21°C expected for the start of the elite races at 7:30am local time.
The last edition of the Chicago Marathon in 2019 saw a world record fall as Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei clocked 2:14:04 to take 81 seconds from Paula Radcliffe’s 2003 mark. This time her compatriots Chepngetich, who won the 2019 world title, and Vivian Kiplagat are among the athletes in the spotlight.
Chepngetich sits fourth on the women’s marathon all-time list thanks to the 2:17:08 PB she set when winning in Dubai in 2019 and she ran a world half marathon record in Istanbul in April with 1:04:02. The 27-year-old was unable to finish the Olympic marathon in Tokyo but is looking forward to her US debut race in Chicago.
“I have never raced in the States and making my debut in such a great race like the Bank of America Chicago Marathon is more than a dream to me,” she said. “I will give all myself trying to run as fast as possible.”
Hall will be among those looking to challenge her. The US athlete beat Chepngetich at last year’s London Marathon, as the pair finished second and third respectively behind Kosgei, and Hall went on to run a PB of 2:20:32 in Arizona a couple of months later. Now she has her eye on Deena Kastor’s 2:19:36 US record, should the conditions allow.
“When I thought about where I wanted to chase the American record, I thought it would be more exciting to do it at home, in the US, and Chicago is such an epic race,” she said.
The other sub-2:25 women in the field are Kiplagat, the USA’s Keira D’Amato and Ethiopia’s Meseret Belete. Kiplagat, who ran her marathon PB of 2:21:11 in 2019, clocked 2:39:18 in Eldoret in June but showed her current form with a personal best performance in the half marathon of 1:06:07 in Copenhagen last month. Like Hall, D’Amato also ran a PB in Arizona in December, clocking 2:22:56, while 22-year-old Belete – who was sixth at the 2018 World Half Marathon Championships and ran a world U20 best of 1:07:51 later that year – has a marathon PB of 2:24:54 set when finishing fourth in Houston last year.
Among those joining them on the start line will be the USA’s Emma Bates, Diane Nukuri and Lindsay Flanagan.
Kipyego ready to turn up the heat
Kipyego ready to turn up the heat With his PB of 2:03:55 set at the Milan Marathon in May, Kipyego goes into the Chicago race as the second fastest man in 2021. The 25-year-old made his marathon debut in Buenos Aires in 2019, clocking 2:05:18, and later that year he improved to 2:04:40 to win in Abu Dhabi, despite having started the race as a pacemaker. He also seems unfazed by the warmer than expected temperatures, simply replying: ‘No problem’ at the pre-race press conference when asked about the weather.
Ethiopia’s Seifu Tura, meanwhile, explained how he is not as comfortable in the heat but he will go into the race looking to build on the 2:04:29 PB he set when finishing fourth in that same Milan Marathon in May. He also has experience of the Chicago event, having finished sixth in 2019 in 2:08:35.
Rupp leads US hopes as the 2016 Olympic bronze medallist returns to action after his eighth place in the Tokyo Olympic marathon nine weeks ago and third-place finish in the Great North Run half marathon in 1:01:52 last month. Eighth fastest among the entries, his PB of 2:06:07 was set in Prague in 2018 but he will be looking to regain the crown he claimed in 2017.
Kenya’s Dickson Chumba is also a former Chicago winner, having triumphed in 2015, and he set his PB of 2:04:32 in the same city the year before that. The fourth sub-2:05 runner in the field is Kengo Suzuki, who broke the Japanese record with his 2:04:56 to win the Lake Biwa Marathon in February.
Kenya’s Eric Kiptanui is also one to watch. Having helped to pace world record-holder Eliud Kipchoge in the past, the 58:42 half marathon runner made his own marathon debut last year and improved to 2:05:47 to win in Siena in April. “I was so happy to run 2:06 for my first marathon,” he told NN Running Team. “What it proved to me was, yes, I was in good shape but that I had the mentality to perform over the marathon distance.” Looking ahead to Chicago, he added: “I aim to run 2:03/2:04 but my first priority is to win the race.”
Ethiopia’s Chalu Deso and Shifera Tamru have respective bests of 2:04:53 and 2:05:18, while Ian Butler, who is coached by former world record-holder Steve Jones and balances his running with his job as a teacher, is the second-fastest US runner in the field with a PB of 2:09:45 set in Arizona last year.
Tokyo Olympic silver medallist, Brigid Kosgei will attempt to win her third successive women’s title at the London Marathon that will be held on Sunday (3) in the Streets of London.
The 27-year-old, who is recovering from the heat and humidity of Sapporo in Japan in early August, is likely to face considerably cooler and damper conditions in the British capital.
The worry is whether she has recovered and rediscovered sufficient fitness given the short turnaround since the Games, where she finished in second place behind Peres Jepchirchir.
“My body was very tired after the Olympics but I did a lot of preparation to correct this and now I have come to London to do my best,” said Kosgei, who took only a couple of days off after her marathon at the Games before getting back into training.
On claiming a hat-trick of titles in London this weekend, Kosgei added: “I love London so I would really like to do that here. I am ready as I have prepared well as I want to defend my title.”
Mary Keitany, who retired a few days ago, won London three times in recent years – the latter with a women-only world record of 2:17.01. This is a natural target for Kosgei, who holds the outright women’s world record with with a time of 2:14.04 that she got at the 2019 Chicago Marathon.
Paula Radcliffe also won three London Marathon titles, but Katrin Dörre from Germany will be remembered in history books as the only woman who has won the race back to back from 1992 to 1994.
Kosgei won her first London crown two years ago in 2:18.20 but then returned last year during the pandemic to win an elite- only race in 2:18.58.
The World women record-holder was speaking at the pre-event press conferences in a hotel just outside Windsor along with rival runners Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya and Birhane Dibaba of Ethiopia after they had arrived on a charter flight from east Africa.
The East African elite athletes were carried in a special flight which was arranged by the race organizers due to the pandemic.
Jepkosgei is the reigning New York City Marathon champion while Dibaba is a two-time winner in the Tokyo Marathon.
The 2017 World 800m silver medallist Champion Francine Niyonsaba produced the most eye-catching performance of the night when she ran the second fastest time in history over the rarely run two miles distance at the Eugene Diamond League Meet.
The race was billed as a world record attempt by Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey to try and lower the record of Meseret Defar’s of 8:58.58 marks.
But the Burundian stole the show over two miles at the Pre Classic and powered past Gidey into the lead with 650m to go before going on to cut the tape easily in 9:00.75.
The Ethiopian was forced to settle in second place six seconds behind and Olympic 5000m silver medallist Hellen Obiri closed the first podium three finishes in 9:14.55.
Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen and Great Britain’s Amy-Eloise Markovc took fourth and fifth in 9:18.16 and 9:21.98 respectively
Markovc went No.2 on the UK all-time rankings behind Paula Radcliffe’s 9:17.4, which was run during a 14:29.11 5000m race at the European Cup in Bydgoszcz in 2004.
Caroline Chepkpoech Chepkirui from Kenya finished in position eight in 9:40.86.
As an 800m runner Niyonsaba won the world indoor titles in 2016 and 2018 and finished runner-up in the 2016 Olympics and 2017 World Championships behind Caster Semenya.
However she was forced to move up in distance due to the new rules relating to testosterone levels and at the Tokyo Games she placed fifth in the 10,000m final in 30:41.93.
Athletics chiefs are under pressure to outlaw controversial ‘super-shoes’ after the sport’s top scientist admitted the rules governing them need to be revamped.
Olympic records are expected to tumble at Tokyo 2020, with competitors using hi-tech footwear that has led to record books being rewritten at an astonishing rate.
Usain Bolt last week joined the outcry against the governing body for permitting the shoe technology, with the sprint legend describing the situation as ‘laughable’.
Now Stephane Bermon, director of health and science at World Athletics, has admitted that the global ruling body needs to update its rules to keep up with developments.
Bermon suggested that the current regulations, which simply limit the depth of the sole and the number of hi-tech stiff ‘plates’ within it, are not sophisticated enough.
Figures within World Athletics have previously avoided giving any indication as to whether the rules will need to be changed once a moratorium on doing so ends after the Games. ‘After the moratorium we will very likely have new rules governing these shoes,’ said Bermon. ‘In the longer term, we will probably have new rules based on different characteristics other than a simple measurement.
‘It seems what is mediating the highest performance-enhancing effect is likely the stiff plate. Regulating this would mean — and this is something we are likely going to move — just regulating on measuring the shoes and the number of plates is not enough. We should move to a system that is based on energy return.’
Elite road running has been transformed since Nike released its VaporFly shoe four years ago, with athletes producing a slew of remarkable performances.
They included the Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge breaking the fabled two-hour marathon barrier wearing a pair, while his compatriot Brigid Kosgei beat Paula Radcliffe’s 16-year-old marathon world record by 81 seconds a day later.
The introduction of track spikes using similar technology has had a similarly transformative effect and will be widely used in Tokyo. Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei set world records over 5,000m and 10,000m wearing a pair, while in June Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce clocked 10.63 seconds in the 100m, second only to Florence Griffith-Joyner.
Fraser-Pryce last week argued that too much signifance has been assigned to the shoe, saying: ‘You can give the spike to everyone in the world and it doesn’t mean they will run the same time as you or even better. It requires work.’
But Bolt believes they are unfairly enhancing performance, saying: ‘It’s weird and unfair for a lot of athletes because I know that in the past shoe companies actually tried and the governing body said ‘No, you can’t change the spikes’, so to know that now they are actually doing it, it’s laughable.’
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce argued that too much significance has been assigned to the shoe
Scientists are uncertain why the shoes bestow such enormous benefits but it is understood the key technology is the stiff plate, often made of carbon, and the ultra-light, springy foam.
Along with an upper in the road shoe that is more curved than previous designs, it is felt that these qualities significantly reduce the amount of energy the runner expends.
World Athletics has capped the depth of the sole at 40mm to limit the effect of the foam and insisted on a maximum of one plate per shoe. Critics have said those rules do not go far enough. Especially when some athletes find much less benefit from the shoes compared to others and some enjoy no improvement at all. The reasons for that phenomenon has also so far baffled the scientists.
‘The same shoe gives you a massive variability among different athletes — even greater than 10 per cent [improvement in performance] in some cases,’ says Professor Yannis Pitsiladis, who sits on the science and medical commission of the International Olympic Committee.
‘How you respond to the shoe can determine if you’re going to be an Olympian or watch it on TV. You know who is going to win and who can qualify [for the Games]. Athletes have qualified because they had access to a super shoe. And many who were not running in these shoes didn’t qualify.’
Pitsiladis compares the shoes to a form of ‘technological doping’ and wants the regulations to be changed so that the shoes cannot determine the outcome of a race.
‘One solution is to minimise the stack [sole] height, while allowing the shoe companies to innovate in a smaller area, minimising the impact of any performance-enhancing mechanisms such as the carbon-fibre plate,’ he says.
‘Let the best companies come up with half a per cent [improvement in performance], say, or one per cent. But not a situation where you have improvements in running economy of even greater than seven per cent.’
Experts fear that the working group World Athletics has put together to advise the ruling body on the regulations post-Tokyo will not go far enough, especially when representatives of six sports brands are sitting on it.
‘The moratorium was also because we had to discuss with the manufacturers,’ said Bermon. ‘It’s very important that you respect the manufacturers. They have spent a lot of time and money designing these shoes. We have to take decisions that do not put them into difficult economic circumstances.’
The working group also includes representatives from the governing body itself, its athletes commission, the ‘sporting goods industry’ and a scientist. World Athletics said: ‘The group is examining the research around shoe technology in order to set parameters, with the aim of achieving the right balance between innovation, competitive advantage, universality and availability.’
Thomas Baines – National 800m runner – I tried the shoes for size, and flew!
I raced in the Nike Air Zoom Victory spikes for the first time on Saturday and broke my 800metres personal best by more than a second.
I reached 600m and thought ‘Wow, I have a lot left in the tank’. I felt like I saved more energy with each contact with the ground.
They are so springy. I put my foot down and felt a burst of energy, a lovely bounce, when I came up. They really work with you, you get a spring up and it is a lot more efficient, as it absorbs the energy when you go down and pushes you back up, so you fatigue less.
National 800 metre runner Thomas Baines raced in the Nike Air Zoom Victory spikes
You just don’t have to work as hard so it is helping with the basic biomechanics of running. It allows you to get a longer stride without putting any extra effort in. It is not that the spikes make you run quicker, just that you have so much more left at the end. That’s the key.
I finished in 1min 49.6sec at the Loughborough Grand Prix, which is 1.1sec off my previous best. I was second behind a 1500m European junior champion also wearing the spikes.
My aim now is to get to GB under-23 level, to compete at the European Championships. If I can keep improving the spikes will definitely help too. I trained in the Vaporfly trainers on a 10km run last week.
Running at an easy pace I would normally be clocking 4min 40sec pace per kilometre. Putting in the same amount of effort, I got a few kilometres in, glanced at my watch and was ‘Oh my God!’ I’m running 4.20 per kilometre. It felt very easy. The same route took two minutes quicker in the end.
You can see why the professionals are using them. You can see the difference they make in the times. In 2019 there were two runners who ran under 1min 45sec. This season already there are six, with Elliot Giles now No4 on the UK all-time list behind Seb Coe, Steve Cram and Peter Elliott, with Oliver Dustin No6.
We haven’t had these sort of times run before from so many in the same season. It is making a big difference but at the Olympics all the elite athletes will be wearing spikes that use this technology, so it is a fair test.
The reinstatement of Russia’s anti-doping agency undermines the faith clean athletes have in the World Anti-Doping Agency, says marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe.
Wada has ended a three-year suspension which followed a major scandal over alleged state-sponsored doping.
Briton Radcliffe is one of several leading current and former athletes to criticize Thursday’s decision.
“This goes against everything Wada is supposed to stand for,” she said.
“It undermines their credibility and the faith clean athletes have in them.”
‘To bank on the Russians is naive’
The Russian anti-doping agency (Rusada) had been suspended since 2015 over alleged state-backed doping after it was accused of covering up drug abuse – including while the country hosted the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics – in a Wada-commissioned report.
Russia was ordered to meet set criteria before Rusada could be readmitted, which included accepting the findings of the McLaren report into state-sponsored doping and granting access to Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory.
Last week, Wada’s compliance review committee recommended reinstatement after it received assurances from the Russian sports ministry that the country had “sufficiently acknowledged” failures.
Wada president Sir Craig Reedie said the reinstatement, agreed by its executive committee at a meeting in the Seychelles, was “subject to strict conditions”.
However, Radcliffe said she felt Russia has “never accepted the harm they did to clean sport globally” and that the initial criteria set out by Wada “shouldn’t have been up for negotiation”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, she added: “You can’t move the goalposts now without destroying the credibility of Wada.”
On Wednesday, the BBC revealed details of a compromise proposed by Wada director general Olivier Niggli to Russia’s Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov on how to improve the country’s chances of readmission to international sport.
British Olympic track cycling champion Callum Skinner said lifting the ban was “incredibly disappointing” because Wada should be “there to protect clean sport, not there to protect the people they have sanctioned”.
“This is a step backwards in the fight towards making sport cleaner,” he said.
As part of the post-reinstatement conditions, Wada has demanded access to the former Moscow laboratory data and samples by the end of 2018.
Skinner said it was “quite troubling” for Wada to rely on Rusada providing this access when it had not previously under the original conditions of reinstatement.
“To now bank on the Russians to hold up their end of the deal is naive,” he said.
What have other British athletes said?
Goldie Sayers is finally set to receive 2008 Olympic javelin bronze after Russia’s Mariya Abakumova, who initially won silver, was stripped of her medal and failed in her appeal against a doping ban.
Sayers, who retired last year, told BBC Radio 4 Rusada’s reinstatement was a “devastating blow for clean athletes” and that Wada had rushed into the decision.
“Leaders in sports governance forget who they are there to serve. We need governance that is there for the athletes because you do feel very powerless at times,” she said.
“There is a credibility issue in sport and Wada have not helped themselves in that at all. You have to accept that you have a problem before you can change and changing a culture takes years and years, not three years.”
Race walker Tom Bosworth called on Reedie to resign and accused the Wada president of having “let all clean, hard-working athletes down”.
Olympic breaststroke gold medallist Adam Peaty said Wada’s decision was an example of “how to lose the respect of all clean athletes real quick”.
Paralympic powerlifting silver medallist Ali Jawad said: “I’m sorry for every clean athlete around the world let down by Wada. We will keep fighting for our rights to compete clean. I promise we will win the fight one day. We may have lost the battle today but we will win the war.”
Commonwealth 5,000m bronze medallist Laura Weightman said: “Wada should be protecting all the hard-working, clean athletes out there, but they have let us all down.”
‘A slap in the face’ – reaction from anti-doping heads
US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) head Travis Tygart said the decision was a “catastrophic outcome” for clean athletes and sports fans.
“We all want every nation in the Olympics, particularly those that are competitive and powerful and influential like Russia – but not at the expense of the Olympic values,” he told BBC Sport.
“We trusted them, they cheated like never before.
“This is a slap in the face for those who put clean sport and fair play above sport politics and the influence that money and large countries have within the sport promotion arena.”
UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) chief executive Nicole Sapstead said she was “incredibly saddened” by Wada’s move.
“Ukad had hoped the decision to reinstate Russia would be postponed, at least for a few months so that some due consideration could be given to the compromise that seems to have been put on the table,” she told the BBC.
“It’s important an entity like Wada exists – it is there to uphold a set of rules that apply to every country and every athlete. But that sort of organisation has to be beyond reproach, it has to uphold the stands and it has to be held to account when it hasn’t.
“Wada needs to move forward in a constructive way, it needs to repair the damage it has done to the athlete community and to the wider anti-doping community, and it needs to restore the trust we have in it.”
There was also objection within Wada, with two of the 12-strong executive committee voting against Rusada’s reinstatement – New Zealand’s Clayton Cosgrove and Wada vice-president Linda Helleland.
Norwegian politician Helleland, who hopes to replace Briton Reedie as Wada president next year, said the organisation had “failed the clean athletes of the world”.
“This casts a dark shadow over the credibility of the anti-doping movement – it was wrong to welcome Rusada back until they had fully and transparently met the roadmap.”
The reaction from Russia
Russia has repeatedly denied running a state-sponsored doping programme and continued to deny full access to and retained control of its Moscow laboratory.
In a letter to Wada president Reedie last week, Russian sports minister Pavel Kolobkov said: “I am grateful for your acknowledgement of the significant achievements in rebuilding Rusada.”
Russian MP and 2006 Olympic speed skating champion Svetlana Zhurova echoed Kolobkov’s comments, saying “much has been done” to reform Rusada to “get to this stage”.
“We changed our legislation, we’ve travelled a long journey to correct mistakes and act on Wada’s comments,” she told the BBC.
“Russia has recognised and corrected nearly all the points in the McLaren report. Some of the points in that report even the Court of Arbitration of Sport didn’t recognise and some Russian sportsmen had their medals returned.”
She added that “Russia has been punished enough” and the “complaints don’t exist today”.
“If we keep looking back, at when Russia didn’t do this, we won’t make any progress,” she said.
“Of course, if someone in the West doesn’t want our athletes and Paralympians to compete, you will still hear voices saying: ‘Do not reinstate Rusada.’
“If you don’t want to see Russia as a rival in track and field and Paralympics, then I understand this – but this is more politics than common sense.”
The IAAF Athletes’ Commission has today sent a letter to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s executive committee for consideration at its meeting on September 20.
The letter reads:
September 19, 2018
Dear Sir. Craig Reedie and WADA Executive Committee members:
On behalf of the IAAF Athletes’ Commission, and the athletes that we represent, we urge you to vote against the recommendation of the Compliance Review Committee to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) and we ask that the original roadmap for compliance (the Roadmap) be adhered to in its entirety, including the acknowledgement and acceptance of the evidence and facts in the McLaren Report.
The sporting community around the world has spoken and the message is consistent and clear: RUSADA cannot be declared compliant until all outstanding conditions set out in the Roadmap have been satisfied. We believe that any compromises to the Roadmap will tarnish WADA’s reputation and bring global sport into disrepute.
We recognise that Russian sport has taken significant steps forward on the road to compliance; however, given the severity of Russia’s egregious violations to the integrity of sport, the conditions in the Roadmap are appropriate, proportionate and more importantly, grounded on principles of transparency and integrity.
The Roadmap was created and approved by you. Our request is simple: follow the rules that you’ve created the same way we are expected to. You owe it to all clean athletes to be the guardians of clean sport.
Inaki Gomez, Chair
Valerie Adams, Deputy Chair
Mutaz Essa Barshim