The outdoor track season is coming into full form as there have just been too many meets in the last week for two people to provide full coverage of. But, that's why we have posts like these to fill you in on things in the running world that our coverage missed.
Emma Coburn set an American Record of 9:10.73 in steeplechase, besting both the previous American Record held by Jenny Simpson and her own personal best time of 9:11.42 from last year. You may recall that, following that 9:11 performance, Coburn failed to take a drug test--absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence--so the time did not hold up to be officially ratified as the American record in the event.
In the sprints, Kendra Harrison set a new record of 12.24 seconds in the 100m hurdles, breaking Brianna Rollins' previous mark of 12.26. The performance puts her second on the all-time list in the 100m hurdles behind only Yordanka Donkova.
Track and field always seems to be looking for the gimmicky play to attract viewers, and, as far as those sorts of things go, this seems to be a good move. On Sunday, Gatlin will go to Rio to race on a 100m strip of track erected over a "lake" that appears to be more a basin for rainwater runoff. Either way, this seems fun and marketable without in any way compromising or changing the nature of the sport.
They did a much better job with this than Athletics Kenya. On the women's side, it's World Champion Mare Dibaba, current world-leader Tirfi Tsegaye, and Tigist Tufa, who is coming off of two consecutive top-two finishes in London. For the men, the Ethiopians will be represented by Tesfaye Abera (Dubai winner), Lemi Berhanu (Boston winner), and Feyisa Lelisa (Tokyo winner). Lelisa Desisa (two-time Boston winner and 2013 World Silver medalist) is the alternate. What is curious is the absence of Kenenisa Bekele, who is coming off an encouraging third place finish in London. He clearly has the talent to take down anyone in the marathon, and, if I were Ethiopia, I would roll the dice with him over Lelisa.
This shouldn't be all that surprising. Heavier runners, in general, generate more impact with each stride. Therefore, they are likely to benefit more from some extra cushioning or impact absorption than a lighter runner. As the industry continues to adjust from the minimalist boom of the last decade or so, this is yet another piece of evidence that a) minimalism isn't for everyone and b) transitioning to minimalist footwear is a decision that requires careful consideration to avoid injury.