The allure of the 10,000 meters: recollections of Day 1, by Larry Eder

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Molly Huddle, Shalane Flanagan, photo by PhotoRun.net


The conditions were warm, and humid. Not the kind of weather one would order when one is racing 25 laps of a 400 meter Beynon track. 

Yet, the fans stayed, and they cheered, and they screamed and they worshiped their heroes. 

And for sixty minutes, the world was a good place.....
I love the 10,000 meters. It is a chess match on the track. Tactics are king, especially in championship events, and the requirements of endurance, speed, and cool ness of head are what I find attractive. 

I remember sharing a taxi with Molly Huddle and Ray Flynn right after her 5000 meter AR in Monaco last summer. We chatted about her future and I implored her to hold off on the marathon a bit, because I wanted to see her race 10,000 meters. Her coach, Ray Treacy and her agent, Ray Flynn had been advising her the same for a bit. 

Most importantly, Molly Huddle wanted to see what she can do on the track. 

The 10,000 meter womens champs was between Molly Huddle, Shalane Flanagan and Emily Infeld. A pack of six was together through nearly 8k, when Molly Huddle took over. 

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Shanlane Flanagan, photo by PhotoRun.net

Shalane Flanagan had been relentless early on. 75-76 second laps strung out the field. Then, Shalane, tired of leading, pulled the Ian Stewart move. Ian Stewart made it famous when he stopped in the 5000m in the 1969 European Champs, made others lead and won. 

For Shalane, moving back to the 10,000m after several years in the marathon world had to be nerve-wracking, but she was impressive. Emily Infeld, who we had been hearing things about all year, was a great find, as Amy Cragg, Alexi Pappas and Emily Sisson made their bids. 

In all honesty, as Amy Cragg and Emily Sisson could attest, as they train with her, Molly Huddle is the doe eyed assassin. Ms. Huddle is a tough as they come and her finish is swift and damaging. 

Molly Huddle's 5k times, 10k and half marathon road racing suggest that, in excellent conditions, she is capable of 30:30. Molly Huddle took off and opened some serious real estate in her final lap, winning in 31:39. Emily Infeld took off, but gained a new respect for marathoner Shalane Flanagan, who closed mightily and took second in the US 10,000m champs. 

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Emily Infeld, Molly Huddle, Shalane Flanagan, photo by PhotoRun.net

The 10,000 meters is a tough race. I recall being as worn out mentally as physically. The ability to stay on pace, stay with a pack and make one's move near the closing stages of a race are all key. 

In the conditions that our elite athletes endured on Thursday night, one has to be pretty darn confident that we are sending a fantastic team on both men and women's side. 

The men's race was different than the women's. Galen Rupp had won six straight titles. He also had endured three weeks of constant media scrutiny of his coach, his training partner and himself. The BBC Panorama show (which I have seen) and the Pro Publica writings (which I have read in their entirety) had to take a toll. 

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Galen Rupp, photo by PhotoRun.net

For Galen, the good thing is that he cares little about social media. The bad thing is seeing his coach, Alberto Salazar take the gauntlet. This is a no win situation. 

After having seen Mo Farah, a day after a press conference in Birmingham,UK, pull out of a major race, I half expected to see Galen do the same. 

Rupp not only showed up, he took on all comers and battled with Hassan Mead and Ben True until the very last 600 meters. 

Hassan Mead is a University of Minnesota grad, coached by Steve Plascencia, a man who knows a thing or two about racing over 25 laps. Hassan ran 13:02 with Ben True in 2014 at the Payton Jordan Invite. 

Ben True is one of those immensely talented athletes who just needed the right support. When his former coach left to work at New Balance, Ben True began working once again with Tim Broe. Broe, one of America's finest steepler/5000 meter runners, gets racing and coached Ben True to a brilliant win over 5000 meters at the adidas GP on June 13. In that victory, Ben True became the first American male to win a DL 5000m race. 

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Ben True, photo by PhotoRun.net

The weather was horrific and the pace was slow, but the long, long drive home took its toll. 

Galen Rupp was leading in the second half, with Ben True, Hassan Mead in tow. 

And then, it was Rupp and True. 

Galen Rupp used a long, long drive over the last 3 laps, with increases in pace over the last 800 meters to break Ben True and Hassan Mead. 

Ben True is not fond of the 10,000 meters. But, as his coach Tim Broe so ably pointed out to me, who is really fond of the 10,000 meters?

Rupp's long drive took its toll and gave Galen Rupp his seventh straight title in 28:11. Ben True was second in 28:14, and Hassan in 28:16. 

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Hassan Mead, photo by PhotoRun.net

Twenty five laps on a very warm track is not the way most elite runners want to spend an evening. And rough conditions are not what most runners want to waste a year of training on. But, that is the nature of our sport, and Beijing will be even worse. 

Galen Rupp won his seventh title. In his post race conference, Galen stayed on task. He noted how difficult it was over the past few weeks and how all he wanted to do was to be able to train and race at this time. 

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Galen Rupp, Ben True, photo by PhotoRun.net

He got his wish, for 28 minutes and eleven seconds. 

After the race, the fans applauded and cheered for a race well run. And Galen Rupp went over and hugged his coach, Alberto Salazar, as they have endured, what writer John Parker phrased so well, "the Trials of Miles and Miles of Trials." 





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