Wednesday, October 5, 2022

O’Keeffe Claims US 10-Mile Title


Fiona O’Keeffe
produced a superb performance to claim victory at the USATF 10 Mile Road Championships over the weekend in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.

O’Keeffe, who runs professionally for Puma and who’s coached by Alistair Cragg, also claimed a $10,000 gender equalizer bonus as the first athlete, woman or man, to cross the finish line, with the women given a 5:57 head start on the men.

Taking advantage of the cool weather and the opportunity of the extra bonus money, the women’s race got off to a quick start with O’Keeffe and Emily Durgin quickly heading to the front and pushing the pace through the first half of the race. By mile five, the pack was down to just six athletes with O’Keeffe, Durgin being joined by Aliphine Tuliamuk, Ednah Kurgat, Annie Frisbie and Lauren Goss hitting the timing mats in 25:44.

O’Keeffe would continue to push the pace, putting nearly 20 seconds on Annie Frisbie by mile 8 before pulling into the finish line 28 seconds of Frisbie. Her winning time of 51:42 bested Molly Huddle’s course record of 51:44 (2015).

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Thursday, September 15, 2022

“This was a dream year” – Grant Fisher on his breakthrough season


It’s been quite the year for Grant Fisher. The 25-year-old has made giant strides across a range of distances, clocking an American indoor 5000m record in Boston in February of 12:53.73. He followed that with an American record over 10,0000m in March, clocking 26:33.84 in San Juan Capistrano. The progress continued in the summer, with Fisher lowering his 1500m PB to 3:35.53 before going close to medals over two distances at the World Championships in Oregon – finishing sixth in the 5000m and fourth in the 10,000m. Fisher returned to action in Monaco in August, breaking the American 3000m record by running 7:28.48 to finish third. At the Brussels Diamond League in early September, he smashed the American 5000m record by running 12:46.96 to finish second. He rounded out his season with a third-place finish at the Diamond League final in Zurich, clocking 13:00.56 on the oversized track in the city center.

In the below Q&A, he looks back at a special year and at what lies ahead.

When you look back at your year, how well did it match up to or exceed your goals?

It exceeded everything. From the beginning of the year, my main goal was to try and get a medal, so I did come up short of that so that goal will carry over to next year, but as a whole, with times and placing and being competitive on a global level, I made some really big steps this year. I certainly exceeded my overall expectations. This was a dream year. For an American, things don’t often go too much better than this so it’s going quite well.

Had you set specific times or records you hoped to hit at the start of the season?

Not any specific time goals. I thought I could run pretty quick, I wanted to break 13 minutes at some point in my career but I hadn’t done it until this year, so I managed to get pretty well under the barrier. That was a very historic number to try get under so that’d be the only one. I was hoping to hit a few Diamond League races and compete, try to be at the front and try to win those races. I had three Diamond League races and was third, second and third in them, so that went pretty well.

When you look back at the World Championships, was there anything you would do differently in those races?

Yeah, right after World Championships I was pretty frustrated and in the weeks after I started to realize that fourth and sixth is quite good still, and I did a lot of things right. I was focusing on a lot of the negatives but there were a lot of positives to take out. I’ll still think about the 5K, about the last 150 meters and positioning, wanting to be in a better spot, maybe being on the outside shoulder and not the inside shoulder when you have 150 to go and there’s traffic. I have things to learn and some of those lessons are needed at the highest stage, they sink in a bit better, and hopefully I can take that into next year.

Was it clear from your training in the spring that you were ascending to a new level in terms of workouts you were hitting?

Yeah, completely. I’ve been hitting workouts I’ve never been able to hit before and I knew I was in PR shape but sometimes it’s hard to project exactly what those times would be just based on workouts. I knew I’d been training really well, I’d been hanging with guys like Mo (Ahmed), who have proven themselves on a global stage so when you have that, it boosts the confidence a lot.

In terms of volume, what’s normal for you in training?

I guess another aspect of training is that I had the most mileage of my life this year. I was running 100 miles a week pretty consistently. That helped, as long as you can stay healthy and not overcook it too much. I’m feeling stronger now, I can hit good workouts and have good volume, not beat myself into a hole like I might have done earlier in my career, so those are all good feelings and good indicators you’re getting strong.

Looking back to Brussels and that 12:46 5000m, what was your hope going into that race?

My hope was to get the American record, that was my main goal. The 12:53 stood for quite a long time. Bernard (Lagat) has a lot of very strong records and that wasn’t one I was going to take lightly. I knew a lot of things had to go right but I thought on an absolute perfect day I could run low 12:50s, maybe just under the record, but no way I could have predicted 12:46. So many things had to go right for something like that to happen whether it’s temperature, pacing, someone pushing the race once the rabbits drop out, no big surges – a lot has to go right and it did that night. So that exceeded my expectations, 100%.

And then to Zurich, and that strange course for the Diamond League final: how do you reflect on that third-place finish?

I was pretty proud of that one. That race was five days after Brussels so I was carrying fatigue into the race. I felt really bad from the gun. I did my best to rally and reel those guys back in at the end. It kind of felt like we were on a roller derby, a little bit of a rollercoaster, but it was a new experience. Everything was unfamiliar, from the track to the strange weather. Lightning was striking as we were running. It was certainly an untraditional track race but it was enjoyable. I got to race guys I want to beat going forward so it’s always good experience to be out there with them.

How much time will you take off running for your break?

I’ll be away from formal workouts for about a month, maybe a month and a half. I like to sprinkle runs into the break and not take massive chunks of time with zero runs, but I’ll probably run two or three times a week, maybe 20 minutes, for the next two or three weeks and then get back into it. I like to really shut the mind off and not think about running for a while so by the end of the break, you’re begging to get back into training. That’s the way I like to start out the season.

Given Jerry Schumacher’s appointment at the University of Oregon, do you know how it will work and how much you’ll see him through the fall and winter?

That’s to be determined. There’s a lot of things that will have to be adjusted and this will be a transition because Jerry hasn’t done this before, where he has a full-on pro club as well as being director of a university team. I’m hopeful everything will work out and we’ll have the best of Jerry and U of O will have the best of Jerry as well.

As you look to 2023, is it all about trying to win a world medal?

I wouldn’t say it’s medals or bust but the goal is to medal – 100%. I’ve run some quick times now, I think I’m at the fitness level to compete with the best in the world but until you do it on the day and get a medal, they’re just times, they’re just numbers. So much of this sport is championship-based and that’s a piece that I’m missing right now so that’s the goal: get some medals.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2022

“I’m here to race with the best in the world” – Sam Tanner reflects on his year

Samuel Tanner has enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2022. The University of Washington graduate has made a big impression in his first full year as a professional, narrowly missing the world 1500m final in Oregon and finishing sixth in the Commonwealth Games 1500m final in Birmingham, clocking a huge personal best of 3:31.34. In the below Q&A, he talks to Kimbia Athletics about the year it was and what he hopes to achieve in 2023.

So, with the track season finished, are you taking some time off?

I took about six days off, then I had an easy week last week getting back into it and this week, I’m getting my mileage up, but still keeping it pretty easy.

Going into 2022, what were your goals?

I had some really big goals. I wanted to make the world final and the Commonwealth Games final. I was one spot off the world final and came sixth at Commies so, overall, I’m pretty stoked with how things turned out. My goal in racing tactics was to race more aggressively, put myself in there and show the world that I’m here, I mean business and I’m here to race with the best in the world, throw some arms. It’s been really fun and I’ve really enjoyed it.

What did you learn from the Tokyo experience last year?

So much. Racing the best in the world in Tokyo was such eye-opening experience. You have to want it. You can’t just be in the race. You have to race like you want to win, like you’re going to win. Those are the guys who make it through the rounds and to the final. That’s how I approached every race this season. I may not be the favourite in these races, but I went into them thinking, ‘I can win this race if I play my cards right.’

Going into Worlds, you never know what’s going to happen. I knew I wasn’t in 3:29 shape and if it came down to it, needing to run 3:29, I wasn’t going to win on that day, but it could be a day where I could PB. But yeah, just laying the cards out aggressively and being more aggressive than Tokyo, where I was a little bit passive, accepting I was there and I was an Olympian, which I was pretty stoked with.

How was the World Championships in Oregon? Looking back, is there anything you’d do differently in that 1500m semi-final?

In retrospect, what I learned from Worlds and what I put into practice at Commies was that I’m quite a reactive runner and if I can stay relaxed, then I’m going to have my kick at the end. You watch my 1500m at Comm Games and it’s like, ‘there it is, my kick.’ That’s the kick I sometimes use too early, reacting to a move mid-race, and in that world semi-final where Stewy (McSweyn) hit the front and there was that trip right in front of me, I probably reacted a little bit quickly and maybe staying relaxed is what I learned and what I would change if I ran that race again.

Running 3:31 to finish sixth in that Commonwealth final. Did that exceed your expectations?

Definitely. I thought I was ready to run 3:32 on a really good day (but) to run 3:31.3, you can see in the photos after I was jumping around like a little kid. I was so stoked to see that time up on the screen, I was like, ‘What just happened?’ It was a pretty special moment, for sure.

What’s your current setup like and your typical approach in training?

I train so low most of the year. I have a training partner who’s an absolute legend, Hayden Wilde. He’s a triathlete and he got silver at Comm Games this year and bronze in Tokyo last year. He’s an incredible triathlete and a really, really good runner. When I’m home, he does all my strength work with me and some of the speed work as well. He’ll take off a second or two before me in 200m rep and I’ll chase him down which is always fun. So it’s mostly just us two, and my coach, Craig Kirkwood. He’s the connection with (manager) Tom (Ratcliffe), and I’ve really enjoyed working with Tom this year.

In terms of training, the load hasn’t been crazy. I think next year I’m going to step up in volume by a little bit and that’ll probably get me that bit closer to 3:30, and maybe sub-3:30. This year I was probably doing 100K a week, 60-70 miles a week in the winter or base phase. During the season it’d dip under that, and hopefully this year will be a bit higher.

Is there any particular area you can target for improvement in the years ahead?

I think just strength. Obviously, strength and speed, but I think my speed is pretty natural. If I can complement my speed with more and more strength then I’ll be able to use my speed more and more. Watching athletes like Jake Wightman this year: obviously he’s a speed guy, but this year he’s got so strong and you just watch the way he races. To be able to use your speed off a fast pace, or off any pace, is really important, so that’s the direction we’re hoping to go in.

As you look to 2023, have you laid out what the year will look like?

Not yet. I know the worlds is in Hungary so that’ll definitely be the peak target but in the next few days or weeks I’ll sit down with Craig and Tom and discuss what’s on the schedule and then we’ll see which ones I want to hit hard and which ones I want to take as a training race.

Leaving that NCAA bubble and transitioning to the pro ranks last year, how much of a shock to the system was it?

It was good, but I think Tokyo helped make it easier. I had experienced a huge shock, racing Tokyo, but then I had a whole winter to prepare myself for the pro season. I realised these guys are really, really good and then went, ‘I gotta rally for next year.’ So we prepped through the winter time, got ready, then raced aggressively and it’s been really fun.

Are you juggling anything on the side at the moment or is it a full-time focus on running?

It’s full-time training. I’m in the gym three times a week as well so that adds a couple more hours to the training load, but I’ll go for a surf as well.

So you’re one of those who’s very comfortable living the full-time life?

I’m a big-time musician and fun dude so I always have stuff to do. My wife and I live on the basement storey of my parents’ house so there’s always stuff to help them with. I always find time to do stuff. I’ve only been doing this for two weeks fully so we’ll see how bored I get, but at the moment I’m pretty happy.

What are your goals for 2023?

I want to break John Walker’s New Zealand record in the mile, the 3:49. That was something I wanted to do this year but I didn’t get the chance. I didn’t run a mile at all except for running 3:55 when pacing the Monaco 3K. Maybe if I get in the right race, obviously 3:29 (for 1500m) is the next record I’d like to get, but probably that and make a world final and, if I’m looking fit throughout the season, gunning for a medal.

Image: Cortney White

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Saturday, September 3, 2022

Fisher flies to American 5000m record in Brussels


Grant Fisher produced an astonishing run at the Brussels Diamond League on Friday night, finishing second in a 12:46.96 to smash the American record, previously held by Bernard Lagat at 12:53.60. 

Fisher came home behind Kenya’s Jacob Krop, the World Championship silver medallist, who clocked a world-leading 12:45.71.

“I had the legs today which is a good feeling,” said Fisher. “I did not have the legs towards the end so I couldn’t keep up but it´s very tough to find another gear when you’re going that fast. I think I picked enough points to make it to Zurich so one more big race and then I get to enjoy some vacation.”

Elise Cranny was also in action, the Bowerman Track Club athlete dipping under four minutes when clocking 3:59.61 to finish sixth. Courtney Frerichs was in action in the 3000m steeplechase, clocking 9:20.93 to finish 10th.

 

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Wednesday, August 31, 2022

McGorty and Jager strike gold at NACAC Championships

It was a busy few weeks for the Kimbia crew at various continental championships, with two gold medals won at the NACAC Championships in the Bahamas. Sean McGorty won gold in the men’s 10,000m, clocking 29:23.77, while Evan Jager claimed gold in the 3000m steeplechase in 8:22.55, coming home with eight seconds to spare over the runner-up. 

Fiona O’Keeffe finished second in the women’s 5000m, clocking 15:15.13 behind Natosha Rogers (15:11.68). Josh Thompson was in action over 1500m and he turned in another strong championship showing, winning silver in 3:37.88, with Eric Holt winning gold just ahead in 3:37.62.

Elsewhere, at the European Championships in Munich, Marc Scott was 12th in the 10,000m in 28:07.72, while a week later, he clocked a 1:02:58 half marathon in Larne, Northern Ireland. Patrick Dever was 21st in the 5,000m in Munich in 13:45.89.

At the Lausanne Diamond League, Elise Cranny clocked a 3000m PB of 8:29.95 to finish sixth. Evan Jager was back in action at the 3000m steeplechase, clocking 8:16.99 to finish eighth.

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