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Author: Scott Olberding

Full-time accountant, amateur marathoner and statistics editor for Citius Mag. Focused on creating arithmetic visualization and writing narrative for data-centric athletic ideas. Founding member of the JBAC and University of Portland Alumnus. Hosted Paul Snyder on his recruiting trip to UP, taking him to an Astronomy class. Although Paul did not commit, they have since become great friends.

January 26, 2020

One Quick Thing: Nick Willis Has Been Running Sub-4 For 18 Years

Nick Willis has run 18 consecutive years with a sub-four mile. That’s longer than many of our readers have been alive.

December 30, 2019

One Quick Thing: U.S. Marathoning Decade Review

A quick look at some stats shows sub-elites are getting quicker in the United States.

February 24, 2019

Four quick things: volume II

Alrighty, I’ll jump right in here with my four quick things from today’s final competition at the 2019 USATF Indoor National Championships.

  • Donavan Brazier threw down
    • The Nike Oregon Project athlete absolutely crushed in the men’s 600 meters competition, running an all-time world’s best time of 1:13.77. There were six men in this final heat and five get paid, which is good work if you can get it.
  • Athing Mu is a world-beater
    • The 16 years-old athlete not only set a 2nd best ever world indoor time in the women’s 600m, she also crushed the existing indoor American record and walked down Raevyn Rogers, who has a 1:58 PB and has finished 2nd twice at US Championships.
  • Shelby Houlihan got her revenge race in
    • After finishing second in the previous night’s mile race, Shelby barnstormed the last mile of this evening’s two mile, slowly dropping the field. She appeared to be on a mission, and given that the slow heat was won in ~9:50, she was not going to leave much up to chance when it came down to getting the W.
  • Craig Engels does Craig-Engels-Things
    • After looking incredibly calm at the start line, Craig did the thing that he always seems to do, which is find himself in excellent position with 600 meters to go and slowly dismantle the rest of the field. His last 400m were run in ~54.X, his last 800m in ~1:52.X and finished in 3:59.69. The man fought off Henry Wynne and Johnny Gregorek for this title.
February 23, 2019

Four quick things

Without further ado, here are a couple of thoughts from the racing today at the USATF Indoor Track & Field Championships on Staten Island:

 

  • Clayton Murphy has the 1,000m in the palm of his hand
    • The NOP stand-out controlled his heat with a win, ran the fastest time in prelims and even had enough of a buffer to walk it in the last few steps. He’ll have to fight off the likes of Brannon Kidder, who had an excellent prelim as well, and Robbie Andrews, who despite having a bit of rocky start to the season got a little q for the final and can never be counted out.

 

  • Ajee Wilson is not here to relax
    • This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as she has won a US title indoors every meeting since 2013, but Ajee Wilson come out of prelims with the fastest mark, while also setting meet record in the 1,000m distance (2:37.96). She will be your favorite heading into the final.

 

  • The men’s 2 mile final was weird as hell (and I loved it)
    • So here’s the skinny: Drew Hunter, an arguable contender for the two mile title, entered the race without a seed time. This usually means, if there are multiple heats, you are in the slow one. Drew, along with his Tinman Elite teammates, proceeded to time trial the race and propel Drew to a meet record and world leading time of 8:25.29. The second heat then proceeded to take the first mile out in 4:25ish, all bur securing the victory for drew, as he watched from the sidelines. That’s Drew’s first US Title and one hell of a story.

 

  • Colleen Quigley out-Shelby’d Shelby Houlihan
    • It’s pretty wild that we got to the point where Shelby is the favorite after 1) not racing any indoor this season and 2) just winning the 10K Cross Country Championships on February 2nd. Shelby has been so dominant that despite these two aforementioned items, we all pretty much expected her to walk to another indoor title. After unsponsored Eleanor Fulton won the “B” heat in 4:33.47, the standard was set for the fast heat, which after going through 800m in ~2:19 or so, wound-up pretty quickly with a 2:10 last 800m. This is Colleen’s first track US Title, which is wild, considering she has been 8th at the Olympic Games in the steeplechase.

 

Follow us at @citiusmag on Twitter and Instagram for more good-ass content.

February 17, 2019

Lane 9: The 5K World Records Smashed In Monaco

Julien Wanders and Siffan Hassan absolutely smashed the road 5K world records in Monaco.

February 11, 2019

Lane 9: MILLROSE GAMES WAS WILD

From Yomif Kejelcha’s near world record to Ajee Wilson’s American record…Breaking down the best moments from the 2019 Millrose Games in New York City.

January 21, 2019

LANE 9: HOUSTON, WE’RE BACK

Breaking down all the top results and storylines from the 2019 Houston Marathon and Half Marathon.

December 28, 2018

CITIUS MAG Athlete of the Year – The Case For…Eliud Kipchoge

Eliud Kipchoge’s 2:01:39 world record in the marathon is still outrageous.

September 15, 2018

JBAC in Berlin

Travel, etc.:

Nick, Eleanor and I arrived in Berlin mid-day on Wednesday the 12th, 4-ish days before the Berlin Marathon. Despite drinking water at seemingly every opportunity on the flights from Portland to Amsterdam to Berlin, we felt dehydrated and road-weary upon our arrival. We waited for our baggage to arrive and from across luggage carousel Nick and I recognized Valentijn Trouw, Eliud Kipchoge’s manager. As an avid Kipchoge fan, it took a lot of energy to not walk up to him and say “You’re Valentijn Trouw, Eliud Kipchoge’s manager” and stare blankly at him until he slowly walks away. We arrive in Berlin city center at two in the afternoon and wait in a cafe below the apartment we rented until the “landlord’s friend” finishes cleaning the unit. We check in, pretend to stretch some, and hit the streets for a 30 minute shakeout. We jokingly hedge that we can run at 9 minute mile pace based on how loopy we are and surprisingly slip into 7:30 pace around Berlin’s historic Tiergarten.

We wander around for dinner after and find some very tasty Indonesian food; Berlin surprises in its diversity and consequently its delicious foodstuffs.

 

Race ready:

The following day, I wander to the Olympic stadium west of the city, as I am to meet a physical therapist there to take a look at my Achilles. This PT is a friend of a friend of a colleague and I’m hoping they can straighten out my body after the flight. I’ve been dealing with some Tenosynovitis on the left side for the past few weeks and despite the effort of everyone in my support system to tell me  I haven’t lost much fitness, I am a little bummed that I am coming into the race without crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s. There is a bit of comfort for me in knowing that I am in my best shape before racing and this time I don’t have that luxury. I am just going to have to deal with it. Also, I wouldn’t be able to even think about starting the race without the help from Karl at Rose City Physical Therapy, who saw me every-other-day for two weeks leading up to the travel.

The rest of the pre-race includes walking around the city while trying to keep my feet up a respectable amount, making coffee, and jogging in the park. In a certain way, the international trip forces us to relax more than say traveling down from Portland to Sacramento, where you can work on a Friday and race on Sunday. We’re on vacation and despite my best efforts to add stress to the equation, we are going to have some fun, damn it.

Humans and other oddities:

We visit the expo wade through the sea of humanity, some of which are there exclusively to pick up their bibs, while others are buying jogging hats, trying all assortment of gels and ointments, and even indulging in a mid-day beer. I tend to identify with the prior group. We take the U-bahn back to our rental and start planning our  Maurten bottle strategy, gel situation, and ensure that we didn’t leave any race gear in Portland. Nick has sights on the Olympic Trials Qualifier time of 2:19, but mostly to see where his fitness will lead him. I’m in a similar boat, using mantras of “let the pace find you” and “measure your energy in the second half,” which is very fine advice, although I prefer the more concrete directives of “run 5:35s, you’re fit enough.

In a strange way, maybe this experience will be good for me. At CIM in 2016, I checked all the boxes before the race and knew I was ready for a big PB. I ran a time of 2:26:47 but came off the race knowing I had more in the tank for the next one. Berlin 2018 will be my fourth marathon and I’m learning to deal with the cards I have in my hand and being grateful for the opportunity to work hard. I’ve jokingly told inquirers of my time goal, “I’m just here for the transcendence.” But with any self-defeating joke-deflection, there’s usually a bit of truth involved. I love to turn myself inside-out on asphalt and if that means running 2:25 or 2:35 or 2:45, yeah, I’m just here for the transcendence.

June 21, 2018

The Blog Boys Hit The Road to Des Moines

Ryan Sterner and Scott Olberding make their way to Des Moines for the 2018 U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships with a quick stop in Minnesota.

May 26, 2018

Prefontaine’s short-form Friday program excites

As many have noted, this will be the final Prefontaine Classic at the current Hayward Field facility, before renovations begin for the 2021 World Championships. Announced ahead of the meet at the press conference, meet director Tom Jordan noted that the 2019 meeting will be held June 28-29 and that meet management hopes to keep it “in the region.” They will announce the location when the contract is finalized with the venue. Does “region” imply pacific northwest? Or perhaps just the west coast? There aren’t a ton of facilities in the immediate area that can host ~15,000+ fans, so it is possible that they will get creative with an existing large facility (e.g. Seattle’s Safeco Field or Portland’s Providence Park). Who knows. I’m wildly speculating here.

The men’s javelin was poppin’. The German trio of Thomas Rohler, Johannes Vetter, and Andres Hoffman really got the crowd going with some big throws as they went 1-2-3. Rohler and Vetter traded off the facility record and that was pretty cool. They both also made World top-10 throws. Big bucks. This picture was also taken, which was a real treat. Absolute units:

In the men’s pole vault, we had some very nice athletes in American Sam Perkins, Swedish young buck Armond Duplantis, Olympic Champion Thiago Braz (Brazil) and current world record holder Renaud Lavillenie. Guess what?! Braz no-heighted, Lavillenie had an off-day at 5.56m for 5th place and Perkins/Duplantis came in 1-2.

Women’s 800! This was the national field – the Diamond League field tomorrow (Saturday) is absolutely outrageous. Regardless, we got some exciting action. Natoya Goule of Jamaica got the W in 2:00.84. Stephanie Brown was right behind in 2:01.84.

The women’s 1,500 was flush with American women. They went through 800m in around 2:12.xx and bunched up a bit after the pacer dropped off. There was a bit of a tussle with 400m to go and Emily Lipari hit the mondo. Dani Jones sailed to victory in a new PB of 4:07.74. Here is a photo that Ryan Sterner took:

On to the men’s 800m. We had one American in the field with Erik Sowinski, with fellow American Harun Abda on pacing duty. Abda came through in 49.8 and the next fastest through 400m was Emmanual Korir in 51.9. Korir would go on to win, with Nigel Amos in 2nd (1:45.51). He trains in Eugene. Hometown boy. Nice.

Lastly, we’ve got the men’s 2-mile. Also, lots of great Americans in this field. Chelimo, Jenkins, Hill, True, Bor, Mead, Kipchirchir. You get the picture. Again, we had a bit of a disconnect with the pacing as Lopez Lomong was through one mile in around 4:11, with the pack 4 seconds back. The crew was bunched up with 800m to go and we had ourselves a dang foot race:

 Selemon Barega goes on to close over the last 400m in 54.x, with Paul Chelimo in 2nd.

We look forward to seeing you all online tomorrow.

May 7, 2018

LANE 9: What To Make of Galen Rupp’s 2:06 Win In Prague

20 days after dropping out of the Boston Marathon, Galen Rupp won the Prague Marathon in 2:06:07. Our analysts process the performance.

April 13, 2018

Lane 9: Fast Thoughts Ahead Of The Boston Marathon

Chris Chavez and Scott Olberding connect for a special edition of Lane 9 as they try to imagine how the 2018 Boston Marathon plays out.

April 9, 2018

LANE 9 – Remember His Name: Erick Kiptanui Runs 5th-Fastest Half Marathon Of All Time In Berlin

Chris and Scott break down all the weekend’s best and worst action. This weekend, Erick Kiptanui became the 5th fastest half marathoner ever.

April 2, 2018

Lane 9: Sydney McLaughlin Had Quite The Excellent Weekend

Chris and Scott recap all of the weekend’s track and field action including Sydney McLaughlin’s 22.39 200m, 50.07 400m and 49.45 4×4 split.

March 19, 2018

How you treat your water bottles and what it says about you

People treat their respective water bottles to varying degrees of care and compassion to downright abuse. We break it down.

February 18, 2018

Talking shop with the Citius bloggers ahead of day 3 at the 2018 USATF Indoor Championships

Previewing all the second day’s action at the USATF Indoor Championships with CITIUS MAG bloggers Stephen Kersh, Scott Olberding and Ryan Sterner.

February 18, 2018

Katie Mackey Makes Her First U.S. national team for Worlds

Katie Mackey has qualified for the IAAF World Championships for the first time in her career with a second place finish in the women’s 3,000 meters.

February 6, 2018

Life Lessons Learned From Eliud Kipchoge’s Speech At Oxford

Self discipline, teamwork, consistency, planning and preparation are just some of the keys to success according to Eliud Kipchoge.

January 30, 2018

501 American Sub-Four Minute Milers: Where They Ran

Data nerd Scott Olberding created a map that shows where all 501 of the U.S. sub-four minute milers ran their first sub-4.

January 26, 2018

Dubai Marathon Had Seven Men Go Under 2:05: The Money Breakdown

Imagine running a 2:04:02 marathon and taking home $80,000 but if you ran two or three seconds faster you would’ve won $200,000. Welcome to Dubai!

December 3, 2017

Tim Ritchie Wins First National Title in Thrilling Fashion

Tim Ritchie ran a patient race and ultimately blasted past early leader Parker Stinson to win his first national title in Sacramento.

November 30, 2017

USATF Marathon Championships: The Men’s Preview

Greetings, Scott Olberding here, and the time has come to do the dang thing. Tapers have been deployed and athletes are scrambling to find enough water bottles for each fuel table along the course.

That’s right — it’s marathon time, baby.

Ahead of the USATF Men’s Marathon Championships, here are some names to keep in mind:

Nick Arciniaga (2:11:30): A notorious Star Wars fan, Mr. Arciniaga comes into the race with the fastest personal best, which he ran at Houston in 2011. Later that year, Nick represented the U.S. in the World Championships. A long-time resident of Flagstaff, Ariz. (before it was cool), Mr. Arciniaga now resides in Salt Lake City, Utah. His Wikipedia page lists him at 5 feet, 11 inches tall. Look for Nick to utilize his experience to thwart the hopes and dreams of his fellow competitors.

Fernando Cabada (2:11:36): One specific memory that I have of Fernando is him absolutely decimating the field at the 2014 U.S. Half Marathon Championships. He ran 62:00 that day. Also, a fun fact — Fernando has run six marathons under 2:16 and finished 14 in total. It’s safe to say that he is well-acquainted with the distance.

Danny Tapia (2:12:28): If you are looking to project a winner based on a triangulation of recent races, then Mr. Tapia is your man. With a 2:12:28 from last year’s CIM and a recent win and PR at the Monterey Bay Half Marathon, Danny seems to have a hot hand recently, on top of already qualifying for a World Championships marathon team. He now trains in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., which I’m led to believe by multiple sources is at a high elevation. Certain people think that this may be an advantage.

Craig Leon (2:13:52): Leon brings a resume of strong performances at U.S. major marathons. He finished 13th at the 2013 Chicago Marathon (2:13:52), 12th at the 2014 Boston Marathon (2:14:28) and eighth at the 2015 New York City Marathon (2:15:16). By my count, he has run 17 marathons. Craig now trains in Eugene, Ore. with Team Run Eugene.  

Tim Young (2:14:40): Tim may be considered by some as a fringe contender, but with a personal best south of 2:15, I suspect he can hang with the lead crew for the majority of the race. And with high school PR’s of just 4:25/9:50/16:30, it’s hard not to want the underdog to stick his neck in it.

Tim Ritchie (2:14:50): Ritchie enters CIM with a personal best from the 2013 Twin Cities Marathon, which was won by…Nick Arciniaga. He won the 2015 Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon with a scintillating 1:01:23, which is likely his most recognizable result. Based on what I gather, Ritchie is a New England legend and certified Junkyard Dog after racing and graduating from Boston College and now training for the Saucony Freedom Track Club under the tutelage of Tim Broe.

George-Byron Alex (62:54 half marathon): Kicking off some possible contenders who are making their marathon debut, we start with George-Byron Alex. Aside from having two first names, which is objectively cool, he brings an impressive track pedigree: 13:29 in the 5,000 meters and 28:28 in the 10,000 meters. Mr. Alex also ran well at the Houston Half, breaking 63 minutes. He also won the Rock n Roll San Jose Half Marathon this year, so look for G.B.A. to get out there and assert himself against some of the more experienced dudes.

Parker Stinson (63:17 half marathon): Parker, at 25 years of age, is the youngest athlete featured herein. He comes from the University of Oregon where he had a decorated track and field career. He broke 28 minutes in the 10,000 meters in 2015, a top-10 time in the U.S. that year, and minted his 63:17 half marathon best just this past spring. Stinson has been training in Boulder, Colo. with Hudson Elite, and I suspect that this young fella will be looking to go for the “W” in his debut at the distance.

After all that examination, it’s time to race. It looks like weather conditions on race day will be near-perfect. Marathons are a beautiful thing and these dudes are ready to throw down. We’ll see you at the start line.

November 28, 2017

Where Do People Qualify for the Olympic Trials Marathon?

During the 900 days athletes had to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon, American harriers travelled the world in order to seek agreeable conditions and achieve their respective pre-assigned qualifying times: 2:19 for the men and 2:45 for the women.

[Editor’s note: This qualifying window also included half-marathon times (1:05 for men, 1:15 for women), but for the purposes of this analysis, we will only be looking at full marathon times.]

During that period, 86 men and 198 women qualified. Some ran their times as early as October 6th, 2013 and some as late as January 17th, 2016, the last day to qualify. For some, hitting the qualifying mark was a foregone conclusion and for others it was their moonshot.

Without further ado, let us take a deeper look into where, when and how fast people ran to achieve their dreams.

The following chart shows globally where the men ran under 2:19. A few of the results were secured outside of the United States, for instance in Fukuoka, Berlin, London, Brisbane, and even Valencia.

 

Taking a closer look at the United States, here are where the male qualifiers performed.

The Chicago Marathon, Boston Marathon, Houston Marathon, and California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento were all popular qualifier locations. Also, Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota and the Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis, Minnesota qualified 26 of the athletes. Fun fact: these two races in Minnesota qualified more than than any other combined races in a particular state — feel free to “wow” your friends and family with this factoid.

Looking at the women’s map, it becomes more evident that runners are reaching their times at a broader range of races. In fact, 13 women ran their qualifiers at 11 different races outside of the United States — from Dusseldorf to Shanghai.

 

Here is the map showing exactly where in the U.S. our aspiring female Olympians ran their times. No doubt about it here — the California International Marathon is the “queen of qualifiers.”  Forty-nine women hit qualifying marks at CIM, which comes out to 25% of the total number of qualifiers.

Analyzing the timing and frequency of male qualifiers, we can see a good amount got their times right out of the gate in October 2013 at the U.S. Marathon Championships at the Twin Cities Marathon. We also see some healthy bands of qualifiers each fall, with a really tight grouping of athletes between 2:16 and 2:18 at Grandma’s Marathon in June 2015:

Analyzing the women’s chart, things get pretty wild. In the 64 days between October 5 and December 7 of 2014, 59 women ran the standard, including the 2014 CIM. Twenty separate women achieved the standard at CIM in 2015, with one woman running exactly 2:45:00 to punch her ticket.

As USATF adjusted the half marathon qualifying times for the 2020 Trials, we may see more athletes elect to qualify in the marathon, albeit it being a beautifully brutal race.

November 27, 2017

Eric Finan and His Beautiful, Twisting Journey to Sacramento

We had a chance to catch up with Eric Finan ahead of the USATF Marathon Championships to reflect on his journey to this epic race. A self-described “jack of all trades & master of none,” Eric certainly has some serious accomplishments to his name. Now that he picked up a full-time job as an engineer for a biomedical company and no longer “runs professionally,” he’s looking to run faster than ever.

Scott Olberding: You grew up in Ohio and ran for the University of Cincinnati. Toward the end of your college career, you were able to hit another level and pick up two All-America certificates. Was that a big factor in ultimately running professionally and moving to Minneapolis?

Eric Finan: Yes, definitely. After having success toward the end of my time in college, I thought that by the next Olympic cycle I would definitely be able to hit the Olympic Trials 5,000 meter time. I actually graduated a little banged up and took an engineering job in Cincinnati for about a year and then was fortunate enough to move to Minneapolis to join Team USA Minnesota.

SO: Yeah, I knew that you spent some time there — it’s actually my home state. It seemed like you focused your energy on a bunch of different events, from the mile (won Adrian Martinez Classic in 2014) to cross country to the half marathon. How did all of that play out and why did you end up moving to the marathon?

EF: I’ve always loved racing and have been open to most distances. The goal through 2016 was always to focus on the 5,000 meter distance. I had three goals coming out of college: 1) make an Olympic team, 2) make a World team, and 3) make a U.S. relay or XC team. Looking back, considering I never qualified for the track trials, these goals seem a little far-fetched, but I think that is the attitude you need. If you go in just saying I want to make the trials or make the final, why stop there?

(photo courtesy of Scott Olberding)

SO: I get that. Leading up to the 2016 Trails, it seemed like you were in good shape. How many races were you in that went under the standard?

EF: Hmmm, three races, I believe. And that was sort of the frustrating part. I was getting smoked by college kids in some of these races, like one race I ran 14:05 or something like that. Looking at my goal, it just seemed crazy and I was a bit frustrated. I had all day to train and focus on the right stuff and I was getting all of my work in. My coach, Ian Dobson, obviously has a great 5,000 meter background so hearing him say I could hit a way faster time created a bit of a disconnect for me.

SO: After not making the Trials, was there some big philosophical pivot to the longer distance?

EF: Not really. I took a lot of down time after trying to hit the standard and then while applying for jobs, I started running again simply to see some progress in my life. I had always wanted to run a marathon, so one night over a beer with Ian, I casually brought up racing the California International Marathon in 2016. I asked if it would be possible to run a decent time off of limited training. I remember him saying, “I mean, it’s not the worst idea.” He thought I wouldn’t be able to run my best time but that the eight weeks left before CIM was enough to get a give a good shot at it.

SO: You went CIM 2016 and ran 2:17:51. Were you happy with that performance? Where was your headspace going into that and coming out?

EF: Yeah, I was pretty happy with that, all things considered. My goal was to run under 2:18 so I accomplished that. It was also a great race and I enjoyed the experience so much that I knew I wanted to give another crack at it.

SO: It looks like over the summer you were able to get some awesome adventuring in, whether it was ski mountaineering, backpacking, trail running and driving your motorcycle across Oregon. Was that pre-meditated for the summer?

EF: Yeah. For the first time in a while, I didn’t have a full-time job and I wasn’t hyper-focused on track. It was a great experience and the activities I was getting in didn’t take as much away from my fitness as I had imagined a lot away from my training. I realize that I wasn’t training at an optimal level, but I was having a blast and getting in some decent marathon base. When I took my full-time job, I was feeling refreshed and excited to keep training for the marathon.

(photo courtesy of Jason Suarez)

SO: Your training for 2017 CIM has been going off without a hitch and seems like you are much more fit than the last go-round. I’ve personally been impressed and secretly following how early some of your big workouts are. What’s that like trying to get amped for a 20-miler at 5:30 am?

EF: Yeah, some mornings it feels really early but I’m constantly reminded by a lot of amazing people around me who are getting up just as early or earlier to get after what they have going on in their lives. There’s actually this group that meets twice a week in the mornings on the track. It’s a group of attorneys and teachers and other folks and their workout starts at 5:00 am on the dot. So while I’m having coffee and getting a little food in, they are cranking out 400 meter repeats.

SO: Alright, so you’ve been working full-time, cranking out 130 mile weeks, and still finding time for some adventure. You seem pretty psyched about running and training and soaking up life. Do you have a specific time goal going into the U.S. Marathon Championships in Sacramento, or is the plan to get out front and compete? Or perhaps a little of both?

EF: Definitely a little of both. I’m going into this race with a fresh approach. I don’t want to have the mindset of like, “I’ve run a marathon before and I know what to expect.” I think I can definitely run two or three or so minutes faster than I did last year. With that being said, I am hungry to compete with the lead group. If someone decides they want to run a 66 minute first half, I’ll have to pump the brakes a bit, but I want to be able to compete and make moves and see what I can do in a big field.

October 31, 2017

The Man, The Myth, The Legend: Robert Cosby at 2010 WCC Champs

A very short story behind Robert Crosby’s blue collar run at the 2010 WCC Championships, where he broke San Francisco’s heart.

September 19, 2017

Who is going to win in Berlin? Examining the numbers

We take a look at the marathoning careers of Eliud Kipchoge, Wilson Kipsang and Kenenisa Bekele to see who may be favored for the 2017 Berlin Marathon.

September 15, 2017

The Wood Report: Liability Index – How deep is each NCAA XC team?

We take a look at a few scenarios of how the team race shapes up if the last man scoring struggles, does well or fares as projected.

September 13, 2017

The Wood Report: Heat Check – How deep is each NCAA XC team?

We’ve created a new chart that is able to display how good or bad a team’s depth is. We examined our projected NCAA championship qualifiers.

June 9, 2017

Where the heck do all these Division I NCAA Track and Field Championships qualifiers come from?

We take a deep dive into the hometowns, states, and countries of all the 850 athletes competing in this week’s NCAA Track and Field Championships.

May 12, 2017

Citius Mag sits down with Chris Derrick to discuss Breaking2, Monza, and his summer racing plans

Chris Derrick sits down with his pal and Citius Mag writer Scott Olberding to reflect on his pacing duties with Eliud Kipchoge in Monza, Italy and more.

May 6, 2017

WATCH: Eliud Kipchoge runs a 2:00:25 marathon at Nike’s Breaking2 attempt

Eliud Kipchoge is the world’s greatest marathoner as he clocked a 2:00:25 in Nike’s attempt to break the two hour barrier for the 26.2 mile distance.

May 3, 2017

Breaking2 is important and I think it will happen

A handful of Nike athletes attempt to break 2 hours in a marathon under a non-record eligible circumstances and that’s okay with me.

May 3, 2017

Eliud Kipchoge owns the marathon and Twitter. That makes me love him even more

Eliud Kipchoge’s Twitter is absolutely amazing and has on multiple occasions changed the way I perceive reality on this speck of dirt hurtling through space

March 30, 2017

The sad reality behind this tweet on the dirty women’s 1,500m final in London

The list of women who raced in the 2012 Olympic 1,500 meter final who have never been implicated in a doping scheme is getting pretty short

March 26, 2017

Charting team scoring at the 2017 World Cross Country Championships

With the World Cross Country Championships wrapping up mid-day on Sunday in the U.S., we decided to take a closer look at how the team Senior Men’s and Women’s scoring played out. Okay, here we go!

Starting with the men’s race, it was essentially a battle between five teams: Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Eritrea, and USA.

The following chart outlines each 2K split within the 10K race, by team position:

(mobile link)

 

 

Ethiopia did a wild job of hammering the last 4,000 meters, moving from 3rd place to 1st over the course of that distance. The US was in 3rd at 6K and spent the rest of the race battling with Uganda and Eritrea, ultimately finish 5th in a VERY tight 3rd, 4th, and 5th placing:

(mobile link)

 

 

For the women’s race, it’s hard to understate how hard Kenya rolled. For instance, there was only one split in the entire race where they did now have the top four spots secured. That’s pretty good! The US also did a great job of cutting down the last 2K, picking up about 30 points over the distance. about Here are the women’s team scores by split for the women’s 10K:

(mobile link)

 

To really drive it home, here are the team positions by split. It was a little more spread out, with a lot more of the jockeying action occurring in the middle of the pack. Fun fact – Uganda was in fifth place the whole race!

(mobile link)

 

Some of our overall takeaways: the East African countries fared very well, which was likely helped by the race being held in hot and humid conditions.  The Kenyan Women were dominant. The American teams beat who they should have, coming in at fifth place in both Senior races.

Lastly, for accountability, here are my predictions based on my Power Ranking model, compared against the final results (for the men’s race that had at least four racers finish):

March 24, 2017

A Numerical Guide to the 2017 IAAF World Cross Country Championships

With the 2017 World Cross Country Championships slated to pop off mid-day Sunday (East Africa Time Zone), the Citius Mag Stats Department scoured the internet for the finest publicly available XC figures, data and numbers, in order to prepare the following statistical dossier.

First off, we would like to thank the good folks at the IAAF for sending some excel files our way. The following charts could not have been made without them. Also, many thanks to Isaac Wood of BYU coaching fame for providing a lot of help with data collection. More on Isaac to come.

Let’s jump right in. The first chart we have showcases the average age of each team (with at least four racers) for the Senior Women’s 10,000m contest.  There is a pretty wild range, from twenty-one years-old for the Japanese women’s team, all the way up to thirty-one years-old for the Spanish team.

(mobile link)

 

 

For the Senior Men’s race, we a see a similar spread, although it is slightly more compressed. Burundi comes in as the youngest, with an average age of twenty-one years-old, and Kuwait rounding up the top-end of the range, with an average age of twenty-nine years-old.

(mobile link)

 

 

Interestingly, both American teams are near the older end of the spectrum, with the Women’s team at an average age of twenty-seven, and the Men averaging twenty-eight.

Here is the same data, displayed geographically.

Senior women’s race, average age by country (mobile link):

 

 

Senior men’s race, average age by country (mobile link):

 

 

One interesting trend – it appears that the East Africa countries are younger than average, while the American and European teams appear slightly older.

Now to get into the meat of our analysis. The following two charts involve a lot of tables and aggregation in the background. Along with the help of Isaac and Justin Britton, we identified a 5,000m, 10,000m, half marathon and/or marathon time that they have run recently. From there, we indexed their time to the IAAF scoring tables, which approximate the strength of each performance, making it possible to draw comparisons across different events. Now, you may point out that this may not be the most precise way to calculate the final result. I would agree. But what this approach brings in is a objective approach that is applied evenly to the entire population. Which is better than blindly guessing.

Unsurprisingly, Kenya has the strongest team, based on past performances. They have multiple athletes who have run under 13:00 for 5,000m and under 27:00 for 10,000m. The following chart shows the rest of the field benchmarked against the Kenyan team. So, for example, Kenya’s top 5 athletes average 1,209 points on the IAAF tables.  That is equivalent to 13:00 in the 5,000m, 27:11 in the 10,000m and 2:07:23 in the marathon. Pretty good! By comparison, the U.S. has an average score of 1,138, which is 94% of Kenya’s score. 1,138 points gets you 13:19 in the 5,000m, 27: 56 in the 10,000m and 2:11:21 in the marathon. Also pretty good!

(mobile link)

 

For those asking what the heck is going on with Nigeria, they have several athletes with marathon PBs north of 2:40. It is possible that some of these athletes have run times slightly more commensurate with the rest of the field but I have yet to find anything on the world wide web that would indicate that. It could be a rough day for the Nigerian team.

Here are those same data points, displayed geographically:

(mobile link)

It’s a little tough to discern the differences in Africa, so here is a zoomed view of the region:

(mobile link)

As you can tell, it is going to be pretty tight up front, with 10 teams in the 90%-100% range. It’s sports. Anything could happen. That’s why we are racing.

For posterity, here are Isaac’s selections, based on a blended statistical/judgemental approach:

And here are mine, based on a pure Power Score approach:

March 9, 2017

2017 NCAA Division I Indoor Championships: Projections, predictions and contest

Data, predictions and projections for the 2017 NCAA Division I Indoor Championships, which take place this weekend in College Station, Texas.

March 1, 2017

Why the indoor 1,000-meter race is weird as hell

No one truly knows how to race the 1,000 meters. It’s strange. We also examine 600 meter and two-mile races are run and whether positioning matters.

February 28, 2017

Altitude Works in Mysterious (and Well-Documented) Ways

How does altitude effect a distance runner, sprinter or thrower’s performance? Examining a study Michael John Hamlin, we are able to chart the answer.

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