CITIUS MAG Newsletter No. 4: Kipchoge vs. Bekele Is Set; On Goes Big In Boulder, Run With Rivs Update
London Marathon organizers provided us with some of the best news in the sport despite canceling their mass participation race.
Eliud Kipchoge vs. Kenenisa Bekele is ON.
This might be the best news that the sport has seen in 2020.
London Marathon race organizers finally decided to cancel the mass participation race but announced that elite races for men, women and wheelchair athletes will be held on an enclosed course within St. James’s Park on Sunday, Oct. 4. Kipchoge and Bekele headline the men’s race. World record holder Brigid Kosgei, who ran 2:14:04 last October in Chicago, is the star of the women’s race. A full list of elites has yet to be announced and I’m sure travel and COVID-19 protocols will play a factor in who will be able to participate.
For starters, how is the pandemic being handled in some of the East African countries? In Kenya, the government has imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew that is reportedly enforced strictly by police. Back in April, former marathon world record holder Wilson Kipsang (now banned by the Athletics Integrity Unit for four years) was arrested for being part of a group that locked themselves in a nightclub to drink past the curfew. As of writing this on Thursday afternoon, Kenya has reported 23,873 cases (4,748 within the last seven days) and 391 deaths. However, those numbers may not be super accurate due to a lack of mass testing. While the United States finds itself with the president calling to reopen schools, Kenya’s education officials decided to cancel the academic year and make students repeat it. The new school year would begin next January.
Ethiopia finds itself in a similar boat with 20,336 reported cases (4,526 within the last seven days) and 356 deaths. Again, those figures may not be truly representative of what’s happening since the country’s population is 115 million and testing isn’t great. The country’s biggest problem appears to be more than 30,000 migrant laborers who have to return home to poor conditions. Some of them were infected with the virus when they came back.
We really don’t know much about how Kipchoge, Bekele or Kosgei’s training has been going for the past five months. In March, Kipchoge’s camp reportedly shut down group running or meetings. It’s been five weeks since he said, “Soon we will be together in camp with renewed energy and happiness.” We don’t know if the situation has improved enough for that to happen. I still wouldn’t doubt that he’s able to train well on his own. Bekele’s fitness is always a major question mark going into races. Just last fall when it was expected he may be out of shape before Berlin, he ends up giving the world record a scare. There’s plenty of time now for him to put the work in and show up ready to duel.
A reminder that Kipchoge remains undefeated against Bekele in the marathon. They first faced off at the 2014 Chicago Marathon. Kipchoge won that race in 2:04:11 and Bekele ran 2:05:51 for fourth place. That’s the closest it’s been.
The first time they raced London was 2016. Kipchoge won in 2:03:05 for a course record. Bekele took third in 2:06:36.
In their next meeting, Kipchoge won his second career Berlin Marathon in 2017 in 2:03:32 while Bekele DNF’ed.
The last time they went head-to-head was a blowout. Kipchoge ran 2:04:17 and Bekele ran 2:08:53.
For the Bekele fans, they can still boast the all-time head-to-head record of 16–9 including all track, cross country and road races.
Although it may be hard at times to think more than a day at a time in 2020, we thankfully now have something to look forward to in October.
Run With Rivs Update
On Tuesday, Tommy Rivs’ wife, Steph, provided an update on Instagram where she noted: “Rivs woke up for a bit today. It was the first time in two weeks that I knew he could hear me-really hear me. It was beautiful and it was tragic. Nothing can prepare you for it; the murky eyes, the sunken cheeks, the recognition, the desperation, the heartache, the beauty.” From speaking with his brother (more on that next week), Tommy remains sedated in the hospital with his oxygen levels improving. The news feels encouraging but keeping in mind that it’s likely going to take a while.
If you’re looking for a dose of inspiration for your day, go and click the #RunWithRivs hashtag on Instagram to see how people are pushing themselves over the course of nine days to try and emulate Tommy’s grit and passion for sport. Agent and coach Stephen Haas is heading to the Grand Canyon to run down to the river and back. Actor Olly Rix is running a marathon a day. There’s just so many taking place.
CITIUS MAG is hoping to raise $1,000 on our own Run with Rivs campaign page. Consider donating. If you want to dedicate your weekly mileage and match it with a dollar donation, that would be greatly appreciated. We’ve raised $748 of our goal.
On Running Pours Some Money Into the Sport
It feels like every four years, we see a major footwear company make some ripples investing in track and field athletes. Four years ago, it was HOKA One One with its support of the New Jersey-New York Track Club and several middle distance runners. Now it appears to be Swiss running shoe brand On. Last fall, they signed Roger Federer but he said he’d continue wearing Nike shoes on the court until they develop a tennis shoe. This week, On announced it has signed former Colorado Buffaloes star Joe Klecker as the first member of its new On Athletics Club, which will be based in Boulder and coached by Dathan Ritzenhein.
The announcement was followed up with a mile race that night, where 2018 NCAA 1,500 meter champion Oliver Hoare (who announced his On sponsorship on Wednesday) and Klecker ran 3:56 and 3:58 for the mile respectively. I received a text about the race and result. No video of it has surfaced yet but many people within Boulder were on hand to witness it.
Now as it the first sub-four minute mile on Colorado soil? Depends on who you ask. Back in January, Klecker ran 4:01.00 at the Colorado Invitational, which was deemed a state record. Nick Willis replied to me on Twitter that 15 years ago, former CU star Jorge Torres ran 3:59. I asked Ed Torres about it. He confirmed it. Ed paced through halfway in 1:59 and his brother completed the all-out mile in 3:59. It was a workout under Steve Jones, which was maybe followed up with some 200s.
Regardless, Klecker and Hoare are in great shape at the moment. I’ll do my best to tape some podcasts with them while I’m in Boulder this month.
Kudos to Noah Lyles for speaking up about mental health
“One thing that I’ve learned is that sometimes you have to just focus on your process and let go of the outcome because we can’t control the outcome at the end of the day. Yeah, we have all these goals and all these dreams but you have to be willing to let go of that outcome and just focus on the actual process to get to that outcome.”
Edose Ibadin a pro runner with the District Track Club in Washington D.C. We decided to get him on The CITIUS MAG Podcast after he went viral over the weekend with these tweets. We wanted to know a little bit more about his story and how he’s gotten to this point, plus what it was like to run at an HBCU. The latest episode is now available to listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.
Support for this episode comes from GOODR SUNGLASSES – I’ve been rocking Goodr sunglasses throughout the past couple of months and they’re the best. No slip. No bounce. No fog. Polarized. Ridiculously affordable starting at $25 a pair. No discounts needed when they’re already the most affordable performance shades on the planet. | Visit GOODR.COM/CITIUS to check out some of my favorite pairs.
– Emma Abrahamson joined the guys at Running Tings Considered to field voicemails and questions from listeners including: “Would you rather win every race and never PR again or PR in every race but never win again?”
– In case you missed it, Heather MacLean made her first-ever podcast appearance with her roommate Dana Giordano on “More Than Running.” This podcast is guaranteed to make you smile as you learn much of her backstory.
Next week’s podcast guest on The CITIUS MAG Podcast will be 2016 Olympian and world indoor champion Trayvon Bromell on his remarkable return after three years of injuries and turmoil.
If you made it this far down into this email, let me know what you thought of this edition of the newsletter. Did you learn something new? Enjoyed an episode of the podcast? Got something you want me to share? Feel free to hit me back: firstname.lastname@example.org or just say hi! Still taking any recommendations that you may have for me in Boulder!
As always, I’m super appreciative if you forward this newsletter to any friend who you think would also enjoy getting to geek out on the sport.