Tuesday, 13 March 2012

NCAA Indoor Championships

Not only were the world's best on display this weekend, but so were the best collegiate runners in  NCAA indoor track and field championships in Idaho.

The main reason why USA produces such high quality runners is... well.. their high quality collegiate athletics system. I absolutely love the NCAA system for many reasons. First of all, NCAA athletes can race all year round if they so choose. In the fall, XC season is underway from August to November. From December to March is indoor track and field and from April to June there is outdoor track and field. This constant racing with the best of the best keeps athletes in consistent competition and at their best. Secondly, it is totally a team event: from the 60m sprinters to the pole vaulters everyone plays a part.
2010, 2011, & 2012 Male Champions - Florida State Gators

Finally, before you can even make the championship weekend of races you have to run as fast, or faster, than the qualifying time which are:

               Women    Men
400m         52.60     46.00
800m        2:04.5   1:47.3
1 mile       4:37      3:57.9
3000m      9:10      7:52.3
5000m    15:57     13:44.6


I want to share two stories from this weekend for you - two of which are some serious Canadian content:

Story #1) Rudy... Rudy... Rudy...

My 'Rudy' chant should immediately give away which school I'm about to discuss: the famous Notre Dame (and their 'Fightin' Irish'). In particular lets focus on the DMR which stands for Distance Medley Relay. This is a relay race where each person runs a different distance (1200m, 400m, 800m, 1 mile). It's a phenomenal event to watch and is usually the last event on the schedule as so many people and teams are involved.

This year the winners of the men's DMR was none other than Notre Dame. Now why bring this up? I mean someone has to win right? well it's because the anchor (or mile) leg was run by one of the fastest Canadian milers: Jeremy Rae.

Jeremy Rae
Rae is a 21-year old lightning bolt from Fort Erie, Ontario. In the weekend before NCAA championships, he ran sub 4:00 for the mile to qualify his DMR team.
*When I was running at Trent University in Ontario, I remember hearing a LOT of talk about him because he was trying to break 4:00 in high school which has only been done by a handful of people. I believe, if memory serves me correct, that he came pretty darn close!

Congratulations Mr. Rae, you are a national champion.

Story #2) Chris Derrick vs. Lawi Lalang

The most antipated race(s) of the weekend were by far the men's 3,000m and 5,000m. Why? well because the fastest 5,000m collegian EVER Arizona State's Lawi Lalang (from Kenya) was racing against the America's #3 fastest indoor 5,000m runner ever, Stanford challenger Chris Derrick.

Lawi Lalang
Chris Derrick
Lalang PBs:

3,000m: 7:44 (4:10/m 2:35/km)
5,000m: 13:08 (4:14/m 2:38/km)

Derrick PBs:

3,000m: 7:46 (4:10/m 2:35/km)
5,0000m: 13:19 (4:17/m 2:40/km)

Advantage: Lalang.

But would Derrick make it interesting?

Quick note: In both of the events it was a two horse race but we had another worthy competitor, a guy you've never heard of...Canadian Cam Levins. ha! He's only been on the front page of this blog in the last 3 posts. But he ran two incredible races but was simply outmatched by the class of the field in Derrick and Lalang.
First, the 5,000m... It was never really a question who was going to be 1st and 2nd (although Lalang's teammate Stephen Sambu was a close 3rd with Cam Levins in 4th). But who would pull it off?

They were neck and neck until 800m when Derrick decided that he needed to up the ante and he took the lead. Which Lalang battled back for the lead, and with one last push at 300m Derrick made one final surge opening a slight gap between the two. However, with 200m (one lap) to go Lalang pulled away for the win thanks to a 28 second final lap. Winning by 0.23s in a time of 13:25 (4:19/mile or 2:41/km). An absolutely incredible effort from Derrick.

Soooo.... close. Even Lalang didn't know he got him.

In the 3,000m, it was a similar story Derrick, Lalang, and Levins. The lead pack were still together with 600m to go until Lalang and Derrick surged created a gap between the eventual third place finisher Cam Levins (7:49). With 400m to go, Derrick and Lalang exchanged the lead and were neck and neck at the bell (1 lap to go). On the final turn, Derrick went wide to pass Lalang but just couldn't close the game. Lalang was victorious again... by 0.17s in a time of 7:46.64 to 7:46.81 (4:10/mile and 2:35/km).

This is probably how you feel after reading this... much like Derrick did after the two events. Incredibly performances by both athletes.

What do I have to do to beat this guy?

Up next is my two cents on: workout recovery and smart training.

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