Saturday, June 4, 2011

Day One of Pre Sees Solid Flanagan, Frustrated Solinsky

On Day One of the Prefontaine Classic, Shalane Flanagan turned in the best performance of any KIMbia athlete, logging a 14:49.68 to place 6th in an absolutely stellar field. At the bell, it looked like Flanagan had a very real shot at the American Record of 14:44.76, but she fought home with a tough 69-point final lap — a circuit featuring what she called “the worst rigging ever.” However, her performance was still good for a World Championships and Olympic “A” standard and the fifth-fastest American clocking ever… and she owns three of the other four. Afterwards, she spoke with and admitted that she was a little disappointed that the early pace was slower than expected and, thanks to the altitude training phase the team is currently in, that she had “limited speed” to bring into the furious finish she knew the slow start had ensured. Meanwhile, Lineth Chepkurui ran 15:15.15 — a numerical anomaly, for sure, but also an agonizing point-one-five outside of the “A” standard in the 5000m. In all likelihood, this race will conclude Lineth’s 2011 campaign, a season that saw impressive wins at Bolder Boulder and Bay to Breakers, and also a return to the track to prepare for a bid to London in 2012. Standout Vivian Cheruiyot won the race.

In the Men’s 10,000m, the Hayward Field crowd was treated to the best 10,000m field ever assembled in the United States… and, it turns out, arguably in the whole of history. The fastest-ever performances for 4th- through 19th-place finishes mark the race as the deepest of all time. Mo Farah won with an impressive 26:46.57 to set a World Leader and European Record, and defeat names like Imane Merga, Zersenay Tadesse, Sileshi Sihine, and Leonard Komon. John Kemboi Cheruiyot ran 27:22.09 for 13th — a PB, and the fastest performance in history for that position in a 10,000m. Chris Solinsky had high hopes coming in, but retired from the race around 3k, with soreness in his hamstring.

According to the American Record holder, accelerating in response to surges in the pace was causing some discomfort, and he elected to step off the track rather than take on almost nineteen more laps and risk serious injury. Since his 13:10 performance in Melbourne, Solinsky explained, he has been battling a lingering issue with his hip flexor and hamstring; he and his coach believed it had mended enough to race, but the Wisconsin-native said that it became evident that his body was still a week away from being truly ready. His high level of frustration was palpable, and he admitted that of the three “Did Not Finish” outcomes in his career, this made him most upset: he felt his fitness was good enough to be competitive, and this rare, world-class 10,000 was, as he put it, “in his own backyard.”

However, with the US Championships set to kick off in nineteen days, the Solinsky camp seemed in agreement that being judicious — rather than risking his shot at the World Championships this summer — was the more prudent decision. Teammates Matt Tegenkamp, Andrew Bumbalough and Evan Jager compete tomorrow — along with fellow KIMbia stud Haron Keitany — before the American contingent homes in on a return to Hayward Field for “USA’s.”

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