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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bekele vs Tadese X-Country

Sports news part 4

But speaking of exercise in the cold, good news for Cross-Country lovers is that Kenenisa Bekele, five-times world champion (but deposed by Zersenay Tadese last year in the heat in Mombasa) will run in this year's World X-Country Champs in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 30 March this year.

The relevance of the reference to the cold is of course that Bekele came unstuck in incredibly hot and humid conditions in Kenya last year. In fact, in a news article about his decision to run in the World Champs in Edinburgh, he said:

"Winning for a sixth time means very much to me and I feel the conditions in Edinburgh will suit me much more than they did last year."
So a rematch of the race in Mombasa is on the cards, where Tadese became Eritrea's first ever world champion. I'm a fan of Tadese's, so I look forward to this clash.

But the even better news for Cross-country lovers is that we won't even have to wait until the end of March to see these two clash - they are actually racing one another this weekend, in the BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country run. Conditions will be even colder now than in March later this year, and so Bekele will certainly have nothing to fear - from the weather, anyway!

What is interesting, however, is that in this Olympic year, with all the talk about the heat and humidity in Beijing, Bekele is clearly not enamoured of running in the heat. He didn't enjoy Osaka last year, and obviously didn't enjoy Mombasa. Beijing threatens to be worse than Osaka, and so his preparations, and possibly his approach to the race are going to have to be more positive than what seems to the case. Obviously, he'll know this and should prepare accordingly, but I have seen quotes from Tadese where he says he is happy in the heat - the above quote from Bekele suggests he is not. He may yet find enjoyment in Beijing, but it will be a great race. As will the two previews we'll get over the country earlier this year...we'll bring you that result on the weekend!


Chris said...

I'm running a 5k mass participation run in Edinburgh as part of the races this Saturday. It is not just the cold at the moment - it is the sleet, snow and gusting winds! The joy of a Scottish winter!

I watched these guys in the same event last year. It is amazing to see top athletes like this and the ease with which they move. Inspiring.

Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas said...

Hello Chris and Outdoor Enthusiast

Ah, yes, the joys of the northern hemisphere winters! I have never personally experienced anything like that, but on Wednesday next week, I head off to London and then Chicago and so I have a feeling I'll be able to relate very soon! Good luck with the race and enjoy the elite guys racing - we'll post a results roundup on the blog on Sat/Sun, so if you have any pics or insights, feel free to send them in and we'll get it up!

And then to Outdoor Enthusiast, thanks for the suggestion. We kind of touched on VO2max when we did our series on Running Economy (check the post from the first week of December). But we didn't really go into too much detail and so it is a subject I think we'll tackle over the coming weeks (maybe months - there's so much good stuff to write!).

Just to answer your question about swimming: Swimming is so much about efficiency through the water. I know a research who has studied swimming extensively and his opinion is that before you can even think about swimming competitively, you have to "swim like a fish", were his words. So two athletes with similar physiology might be completely mismatched in the pool because one is a fish, the other is not!

Seriously, though, it has a lot to do with movement through the water, and if you ever watch an elite swimmer compared to an average, club level one, you see the difference instantly.

And then lastly, on the VO2max, there's a ceiling to how much you can improve your VO2max, but to say that it's 10% or 20% would be a little hazardous. It depends on the person, their history of training, the training they do etc. But the initial responses to training will be increases in VO2 max as well as economy of running. But then there are specific things you might do later on in the training cycle, like the interval sessions, speed work that will help your running, mostly as a function of neuromuscular and metabolic adaptations.

I actually think the series that would capture this very nicely would be one on "The response of the human to training - metabolic, cardiovascular, respiratory, neuromuscular". That would encompass VO2max, metabolism and lactate, carbohydrate, fluid regulation and dehydration, running economy, everything....

In fact, one could write a book about that, and it'd be the book of "everything"!

But your suggestion is noted, we'll get to it in time!

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...


The Globe and Mail in Canada did a piece on -30 degree ultra marathon training last week.

N.N said...

Bekele - Tadese = 1-0 Guess the party is going to be here tonight ;-)! Still, Beijing is going to be a complete different story , but i'm still hoping for three straight wins for Bekele !
@ Outdoor enthausiast: You can have a great Vo2max but still be a poor runner. the problem with Vo2max is that it doesn't tell a lot and does a poor job at predicting results, it's just not specific enough , (running) economy and lactate threshold are much better indicators ....

Chris said...

So today in Edinburgh was a beautiful day. Cold and frosty but clear and crisp with no wind or rain. Conditions were fantastic.

I did the 5k in just over 30 minutes which was Ok for me - it sounds slow but there is a huge hill in there and the last time I ran a 5K was a year ago in this race (I usually do lots of sprints / circuits and weights)

The X countries were fantastic to watch. Hard to believe how fast these guys run. And their support was amazing.

The scenery was amazing too - the sun just peaking over the small mountain of Arthur's Seat and the grass all white with the winter frost.

Great victories for Bekele, Burka and Baddely.

There are a few photos here, including one of the 5k course / fun run that I did.

Rounded the day off nicely by watching Edinburgh best Leicester in the Heineken Cup in the rugby. Fantastic!