I have say that I am enjoying Leonard Korir and his style of winning races at the very end. In this piece, I will consider the ferocious finishes of Mr. Korir in Edinburgh and Houston.
The quality of global athletics is such that, in a World Championships final, that you can have a half dozen athletes battling for the medal positions.
I remember Bernard Lagat winning gold medals at the 5000 meters and 1,500 meters in Daegu. I remember being astounded that tenth place in the 1,500 meters ran 53 seconds and first ran just under 51 seconds. For Lagat, he kept his cool, and stayed in position until just about 100 meters to go, and then, pushed for the win with fifty meters.
In Edinburgh, the Great Run Company hosted the Edinburgh Cross Country on January 7. Callun Hawkins, a fine Scottish runner who has run a 2:10:58 for the marathon, and Leonard Korir battled until the final muddy last fifty meters. Somehow, Korir increased his pace on the speed sappying final footsteps and won at the finish, which was caught on the BBC coverage of the race.
The following Sunday, in the humid and windy conditions of Houston, Feyisa Lelisa, Olympic silver medalist and Leonard Korir were two of the four runners who had hit the 5k in 14:17, 10k in 28:53, 15k in 43:48 and 20k in 58:19. Still, at 12.4 miles, there were four runners in the hunt.
When one observes such races, you look for hints on who is ready to sprint, who is up for the chase, and who will be the also ran. Lelisa moved himself to the left and Korir was to the right of the group.
At 13 miles, they were all still together, as Lelisa, who had won in Houston twice before, made his move. I was surprised that Korir was still there. Somehow, with about eighty meters to go, Korir began to roll, and he and Lelisa actually made contact. That contact was unintentional on both parts, just the normal contact that comes when two runners are wildly sprinting for the finish.
Korir kept his cool and waited for his moment. As Lelisa went to full sprint, Korir bumped his once again and lurched ahead, with both Korir and Lelisa finishing in 61:14, with Korir getting the nod.
After the race, Leonard Korir told us that he had gotten into great shape over the winter and was excited about his racing for 2017. His next race will be February 4, and the World Cross Country Trials in Bend, Oregon.
In any case, Korir has perfected his kick and, if he is within striking distance, the young runner from the U.S. Army should be considered in the hunt in any race he runs.