Original post, August 11, 2018
Repost, January 1, 2019
Stuart Weir covered the world for RunBlogRun in 2018. During the daily coverage of the European Championships, we had just over 100,000 readers a day, thanks to Stuart’s tireless efforts. This is my favorite post of August 2018.
The men’s 1,500 meters in Berlin was an absolutely amazing race. Stuart Weir has captured it below. Stuart called it an epic race, and as he uses the term “epic” much less than I do, then, I suggest that we believe him! Watch it on You Tube when you can! Stuart Weir also asked me if I liked the piece, and I must say, it is my favorite of the week.
An epic 1500m
Sometimes I think we get too caught up with winners and losers and miss the brilliance of sport. The 2018 European Championship men’s 1500m was a brilliant race. It is amazing that a 17year-old won, it but it would still have been a brilliant race if he hadn’t.
The legendary Irish Rugby captain, Willie John McBride, perhaps got it right when he said: “It is terribly important who is going to win and very unimportant who has won”. I think the fiercely competitive McBride was saying: “give 100% to win but when it is over, just be thankful to have been in the competition”.
Didn’t Baron Pierre de Coubertin say: “The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well“. Major city marathons may have got in right when they give medals to everyone who finishes., The Dodo bird in Alice in Wonderland would certainly think so, when after the caucus race, it pronounced: “Everyone has won, and all must have prizes.”
The men’s 1500m was the race of the evening and perhaps the race of the championship. It was wonderfully set up. Three Norwegians v three Brits. That the three Norwegians were brothers added to the intrigue. There were also two Germans in the field of 13 to keep the home crowd engaged.
Chris O’Hare said afterwards that he could have medalled – adding quickly that seven or eight runners could have won medals. Jake Wightman said: “if you ran that race 100 times there would be 100 different outcomes”. I am sure he is right – and wouldn’t it be fun to try.
It was lovely to see a real race with runners making moves and others covering them, a race which the best tactician on the night would win – in contrast to these artificial time-trial, pace-maker led Diamond League races, when the first 8 eight run SB or PBs. It is fascinating what runners say about this kind of race:
Chris O’Hare: “It’s about doing everything right, but there were just a few things that were wrong. I just kind of covered moves (when) I should have let go and been patient”.
Charlie Da’Vall Grice: “I got myself in the right position and really gave it my best shot – the last 20 metres I just tied up a little bit – you just shouldn’t give anyone an inch”.
Jake Wighman: “You have no idea what’s going to happen and the way people have been running up to this point meant that it was a pretty exciting race for people to watch and it was a pretty amazing experience going into the final 100m. There have been occasions, especially Europeans last time around , when I made the wrong move and compromised my whole race. I made sure I was patient today and left it until the home straight which is why it was so intense in the home straight”.
Marcin Lewandowski: “The key was the first 800m today. I managed it.” An intriguing comment, I wish he had said more. Why was the first 800m key – I should have thought the first 100m was key. Perhaps the big thing for him about first 800m was to remember that there were still 700 to go, as he is more used to stopping at 800!
I am still learning – or trying to work out – how to watch these races. Do you concentrate on the leader and miss the late run? Do you watch your favorite and miss everyone else? Watching from high up in the stadium gives you a great overview but makes it hard to see the detail – or recognize anyone! Still working on it.
— Mark Shearman MBE (@AthleticsImages) August 10, 2018
I have seen Jake Wightman a lot this year. I always appreciate his willingness to talk after a good performance or a bad one. I loved his self-effacing: “If someone had told me I’d finish 2018 with two championship medals I definitely wouldn’t have believed them, so feeling very grateful”.
ðŸ¥‰ A thrilling men’s 1500m at the @EuroAthletics Championships saw @JakeSWightman claim bronze under the Olympiastadion lights last night and he spoke exclusively to @BritAthletics about the race.#REPRESENT pic.twitter.com/qc9oD8XLmG
— British Athletics (@BritAthletics) August 11, 2018
It has been a tough year for Chris O’Hare, who started the year in great form, got injured and has been playing catch-up since. Earlier this year I asked him for an interview. He said he’d prefer to do it by email. I wondered if I’d get very short answers to my questions. He wrote 500 words back to me. Sheer class.
Alfonz Juck picks the quote of the day. My nomination for Friday would be from Chris O’Hare: “I’m massively disappointed but I am happy for Jake”. Sheer class to bury your own disappointment and think of an opponent.
I am indebted to Letsrun for a deep and meaningful comment on the race. He said: “I can’t believe it” and the ran off.
Willie John Bride may think it is unimportant who has won. I suspect Jacob Ingebrigtsen may not agree. He will remember 10 August 2018 for a long time. And we will not forget him.