2013 World Outdoor Track & Field Championships / Moscow Notebook, Distance Gladiators Prepare For 5000 War by Dave Hunter

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The 5,000 meter rounds on Tuesday morning are the focus of this column by Dave Hunter. Bernard Lagat, Ryan Hill, Galen Rupp and our honorary Portlandian, Mo Farah, were the focus on Daves' column. 

The final will be Friday night, and with a stacked field, it should be wondrous! 

mogalen5.jpg
Mo Farah and Galen Rupp, August 13, 2013, 
photo by Pretty Sporty Photos, Cheryl Treworgy


2013 World Outdoor Track & Field Championships / Moscow Notebook

Distance Gladiators Prepare For 5000 War

On a cool, sun-drenched morning in Luzhniki Stadium, the world's top distance runners stepped out onto the blue oval for the qualifying rounds of the 2013 world championship 5000 meter run.  All harbored the same goal:  run efficiently, run comfortably, minimize effort, stay out of trouble, and - most of all - qualify for Friday's final.  They give no medals for these qualifying rounds.  It's all about moving on.

International track racing can sometimes appear to be a full contact sport.  Tactical racing creates cramped conditions where skittish, aggressive athletes can get testy.  A shove here, a heel clip there and -  before you know it - a heated tangle can develop.

The qualifying rounds produced no major casualties.  While a felled Kenyan runner marred the first heat, all of the marquee athletes stayed cool, avoided disaster, and posted qualifying Dave_Hunter_Right_On_Track.pngtimes.  Here's what four of the more visible western athletes had to say in the mixed zone:

Ryan Hill / U.S. qualifier in 13:24.19:

"The competition is just like everything you hear about international races,"  offered the North Carolina State product.  "There was lot of pushing, shoving, guys falling down.  I almost fell down once or twice in that race.  I was fortunate just to get through, really.  It was really aggressive.  That was the thing that stands out in my mind after that race."

What about the Kenyan going down near you with a couple of laps to go?  "That one was really close.  That could have been it for me.  But fortunately I think the guys up front were waiting for that last kick so I was able to regroup with them.  And fortunately I had a kick at the end.  Because that's what it's about in these prelims."

How do you define success for yourself in the final?  "Now that I have the USA jersey on, all you hear about is medals.  That's the only thing that matters.  So I've got myself the chance to get one.  So I'm just going to go for it.  I'm going to attach myself to that group, try not to get dropped, and kick as hard as I can.  Anything less than a medal will be just kind of 'I just made the finals.'"

The best scenario for you in the final?  "That is a good question.  If they could probably make it like a 13:30 beat race - something right in the middle between fast and slow but with a big kick at the end."  And with a smile he adds, "I doubt very much they will consider my views on  this, so I'll just stick in there."

Bernard Lagat / U.S. qualifier in 13:23.59:

Sporting a new beard "to look wiser, the irrepressible Lagat gladly fielded all questions

On skirting racing disasters:  "It is easy to get caught up in that mess in there.  So that is the first thing that I wanted to tell myself, 'Get out of that mess.' Because you can get tripped and then you can fall and all of those things can happen to you.  And so I didn't want to have any trouble.  So I was actually running a little bit on the outside quite a bit today.  The guy from Uganda, I clipped him maybe two times because somebody did that also to me and somebody pushes me.  And so when I finish, I told the Ugandan that I am sorry for that messy mess.  There's a lot of bumping in there.

How did you feel over the final 600 meters?  "Good!  I trained well in Germany, but the only problem is that I developed a little bit of a hip problem. And in Monaco, I did not finish.  But then I have been taking care of myself doing good training in Germany and feeling better every day.  So now I'm fit."

Ideal pace for the final?  Lagat's coy response:  "I think not crazy in the beginning would be a good one.  I would say it would slow in the beginning, but even better toward the finish."

Measure of success in the final?  "Top three.  That's what I want."

Galen Rupp / U.S. qualifier in 13:23.91:

On the goal of qualifying:  "The only thing we wanted to accomplish today was to get through it and make it as easy as possible.  That's all we were thinking about."

Coming back after the 10,000:  "I feel pretty good.  We didn't need to sprint at the end [of today's qualifying heat] so that was nice.  It's kind of rough kicking it in."

Mo Farah / U.K. qualifier in 13:23.93:

How was the prelim?  "It's good to get it out of the way and get ready for the final."

A job well done then?  "Yeah, yeah!"

Anticipation for Friday's final has been growing as speculation of an array of differing pacing and race strategies becomes more rampant.  Will the Africans once again seek to employ a multi-athlete team tactic in an attempt to thwart Mo Farah's attempt to replicate his London distance double?  Can ageless Bernard Lagat rise up for one more international medal?  Can Galen Rupp earn the medal that escaped him in the 10,000 through a run of redemption in the 5000 final?  15 finalists will provide answers to these questions - and others - when the starting gun fires and combat in the 5000 begins in earnest Friday evening.  

~Dave Hunter

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