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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Road running: El Guerrouj 10km race

Sports news part 3

Imagine you're lining up in a local 10km race and a couple of athletes to your right stands one of the finest middle distance runners in history! And imagine your surprise, when, after about 7 km, you see that same vest coming back towards you as you catch up to him, pass him and then beat him to the line in a 10km race! OK, you probably, in your moment of reality check, should realise that he's not racing you and is out for a fun run, but, hey, at least you'd be able to tell someone that you beat the great Hicham el Guerrouj in a 10km race!

That's what happened this past weekend in Nice, France, where the great Moroccan ran perhaps his first race since retiring from the sport after his double gold in Athens in 2004. According to reports, el Guerrouj took to the start line with about 4500 runners, stayed with the leaders for a short while, but then dropped back, giving plenty of runners a chance to pass a world record holder, Olympic champion and a man who has run 12:50 for 5km!

el Guerrouj, for his part, seems to be enjoying the fun run approach, saying "People were overtaking me and I could see they were pleased, surprised. I could hear some of them say ‘well, I can say I have beaten Hicham at least once!".

On the note of el Guerrouj, it's interesting to note and observe the trends in the 1500m event since his retirement after the last Olympic Games. In my lifetime, the 1500m event has always been dominated by stars, and usually, they hunt in pairs. We had Coe and Ovett, and later Cram joined the fray. Then Aouita, followed by Noureddine Morceli, and then el Guerrouj. But at the moment, no huge name stands out. Last year was the first year in many, many seasons where 3:30 was not broken and the event certainly could be won by anyone - the euphemism for this is that the 1500m event has "great depth", which, translated, OFTEN means no stand out performer. Ok, that's a little harsh, because current world champ Bernard Lagat is a double world champ and big name, but not the sort of presence of an el Guerrouj, Morceli or Coe/Ovett/Cram.

So we have a vacant throne - any takers come Beijing, perhaps?


Anonymous said...

In 1980, I ran a 5K with Grete Waitz, but she won by a comfortable margin. But not too long ago, I beat Charly Gaul, Tour de France champion, in a cycling race.