Ben True won the B.A.A. 5k today, in a new AR of 13:20. Ben has come to own this race, and the race has come to be his early spring test of fitness. True hit the first mile around 4:20, and by two miles, hit in 8:42, he was off. Observing True in full flight is a treat for track & field fans.
Ben True’s victory in the B.A.A. 5k today was a performance that suggests Ben True is on his way to bigger things in 2017.
Don’t believe me? Ask his coach.
Ben True is a nice guy, but don’t let that hide that the guy is a true physical freak of nature. His heart and lungs make him the equal of any distance runner in the world. This guy was both cross country skier and cross country runner. His ability to suck in oxygen and train on the trails and tracks of New Hampshire make him one of the few American distance runners who can truly race with the big guys.
Ben True has a coach/advisor, his name is Tim Broe. Tim Broe was a steeplechaser who moved to the 5000 meters. He also had the AR at the 3000 meters indoor, but his body broke down before his heart and desire did. Broe was also an Olympian. Tim Broe gets it. Tim Broe loves to coach, hell, he needs to coach. He has a lovely and amazing supportive wife, Rebekah Broe, a fine footwear product manager in her own right. I have to admit that I admire them both, as they support each other and with that, both can do what they do best. Broe needs to coach as much as he needs to breathe.
Tim Broe loves to coach, and he loves the outdoors. The guy hunts and fishes. He learns alot from that time outdoors. I think it makes him a better coach. Hunting and fishing are time for introspection. Broe considers his athletes with nearly every breath.
I spent an afternoon watching Tim Broe coach high school athletes last January. He manages, simultaneously, different athletes at different paces. Broe provides support for all of his athletes. Watching him walk around the school, one could see the admiration of their coach in the athlete’s eyes. They realize, a bit, how lucky that they are to have a coach who understands the sport an appreciates their effort. One can also see that Tim Broe thrives on the interaction.
Broe coaches high school runners as well as a group of Saucony supported athletes. Among those athletes is Ben True. Tim knows coaching is both art and science. He has an athlete, in Ben True, that may come once in a lifetime. True works out with reckless abandon, and can bring himself into great shape. True is one of those people who can take a huge load, build into fitness, but, where does it go from there? Tim Broe knows that each athlete is unique, and their journey is fraught with danger. Broe had a fine coach, in Ron Warhurst, who taught him well. Tim relies, as do all good coaches, on that experience and his common sense. Problem is, common sense, in this day and age, is just not that common anymore.
This is where Tim Broe comes in. This past winter, Tim Broe suggested, in one of their talks, that Ben True do some indoor racing. Now understand, this is another way Ben True resembles Kenyan distance runners. He has not raced much. Really, the guy loved cross country skiing so much, he pursued that first, and then, turned from doing both cross country skiing and track & field.
On January 28, Ben True ran a PB in the mile at the New Balance Indoor GP of 3:57.6. I interviewed Ben afterwards, and Ben was happy with his race, and had some fun. This was Coach Broe’s idea. Tim Broe realizes that his athlete, the aforementioned Mr. True needs to race to a) build race form and b) build confidence.
On February 11, Ben True ran what may have been one of his finest EVER races. In a brutal 2 mile, where the first mile was run in 4:10 and the second in just over 4 minuts, Ben True took on Ryan Hill, World Indoor Champ bronze medalist at 3000 meters, and a master kicker, and caught him just before the finish of the Paavo Nurmi 2 Mile. The Millrose Games Paavo Nurmi 2 Mile was one of the deepest races in Millrose history. Ben True went from running a 3:57 mile to an 8:11 2 mile! Two weeks later, on February 26, Ben True finished third in a fast indoor 5000 meters, to Mo Ahmed’s Canadian record of 13:04.50. Eric Jenkins was second in 13:05.85, Ben was third, in 13:06.74.
In less than five weeks, Coach Tim Broe had let Ben True learn how important racing can be to his training. An important lesson. In this day and age, elite runners tend to race sparingly, sometimes, too sparingly for this writers’ taste, and perhaps, for their effectiveness.
In the 2016 Olympic Trials, Ben True had a nightmere experience. In difficult heat, his performance was compromised, and instead of challenging Galen Rupp, he finished way back in the 10,000 meters. That performance took alot out of him, and he was just out of qualifying for the Olympic team in the 5000 meters.
Tim Broe was in great training shape for the Olympic Trials. He might not have been in great racing shape.
In April 2017, Ben True is training well, racing well and focused on racing over 5000 meters. His race on April 15 showed great early season fitness. His racing is best when he breaks the field and runs with abandon. But, indoors, Ben True showed varoius racing styles. His 2 mile at Millrose showed an elite runner who can negative split and time his kick perfectly, so that he could fly by the competition.
What will we see in track season with Ben True in 2017?
That’s up to Ben True and his coach, Tim Broe.
To this writer, Ben True is made for 12.5 laps on the track. His ability to run nearly 4 minutes per mile pace, run an 8:11 two mile suggest that sub 13 minutes is within his grasp. Add a 25-26 second last 200 meters, and you have a racer who can get into the mix and race the best in the world.
In my mind, Ben True is one of the few American athletes (and there are a few), who can battle for a World and Olympic medal over 5000 meters. So many things go into an athlete winning at the very top levels of our sport. Why? How? Racing in global athletics is a true test of an elite athlete and their training system.
Watch Ben True as he continues to build to his finest racing.