BEIJING, CHINA - For much of the race the men’s 10K final at the IAAF World Championships looked like a dual meet: Kenya vs. Portland.
Nike Oregon Project athletes Mo Farah and Galen Rupp were the only two who could stay with the quick pace of the three Kenyan runners, who clearly were trying to take the finishing kick out of Farah’s legs. Trading the lead among themselves, the Kenyans clicked off 65-second laps one after another, and dropped the rest of the field, including the Ethiopian runners.
But, in the end, the incomparable Farah, running for Great Britain, had enough left to run a 54.1 second last lap and hold off Geoffrey Kamworor to win in 27:01.13. Kamworor, the world cross country champion, crossed the line in second in 27:01.76 and countryman Paul Tanui was third in 27:02.83.
Galen Rupp looked good throughout the race, stirring memories of the 2012 10K Olympic race when he finished behind Farah to win silver. But Rupp didn’t have his best finishing speed on this night, and dropped back to fifth behind Farah and all three Kenyans.
Despite running a strong race – a season best 27:08.91 – in near-80 degree temperatures, Rupp was visibly dejected after the race.
“I was disappointed not to finish in the top three,” Rupp said in a barely audible voice. “But that’s just the way it goes sometimes.
“I was just tired. They pushed the whole way so they made it tough.”
Farah, on the other hand, was jubilant after the race. His victory gave him an unprecedented six straight “world major” 10,000 and 5,000 titles. He has not lost a World Championship or Olympic distance race since the 2011 World Championship 10,000 meters. No other distance runner in history has had such a dominant winning streak.
“It was close, it wasn’t easy,” Farah admitted. “I love what I do and for me it is great to win here tonight. It hasn’t been easy to stay on top year after year.”
In the morning session, the United States team got off to a rousing start. American record holder and medal favorite Evan Jager of Bowerman Track Club led all three U.S. steeplers into Monday’s final, the first time that has ever happened at these championships. Running in the fastest heat, Jager’s BTC teammate Dan Huling had the quickest time, 8:25.34, of the American trio.
The U.S. women continued the momentum in the first round of the 1500 meters, as all four moved on to the semifinals tomorrow. Lauren Johnson of OTC Elite was part of a tightly-packed group of nine runners at the finish, and placed seventh in 4:05.79. Johnson was the fastest of the six time qualifiers, and 11 th fastest overall. Just ahead of her was Nike Oregon’s Shannon Rowbury in 4:05.66. Jenny Simpson qualified easily in 4:10.91 in a different heat.
Johnson, who had a best time of 4:10.67 when this season began, put herself in position to make the U.S. team with a fourth-place finish at nationals, but she still needed a qualifying time. That quest took her to Europe, where she cut six seconds off her 1500 time, giving her the time she needed in one of the her last chances to get it before the cut-off date.
She is in her third year training under Mark Rowland in Eugene, and said her big break-through this year was due to a combination of factors.
“Consistent training and then being healthy – I’ve had a lot of injuries in the past,” Johnson said. “That’s probably the biggest thing. I do a lot better now with mental preparation for races.”
Results were nearly as good for the U.S. in the men’s 800 qualifying, as Clayton Murphy and Erik Sowinski made it through. Cas Loxsom, however, faltered down the stretch and ended up sixth in his heat. OTC Elite’s Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia won his heat in 1:47.87 to move into the semis.
Murphy is an undergraduate at the University of Akron who made the U.S. team when Nick Symmonds refused to sign USATF’s “statement of conditions” and was dropped from the world squad. Boxed in with 50 meters to go in his heat, Murphy cut sharply to the outside and sprinted to the line, finishing third in 1:48.07 and squeaking into the semifinal round by just .07 seconds.
Oregon alum Brianne Theisen-Eaton, competing for her native Canada, had an up-and-down day in the heptathlon. She got off to a great start with a personal best of 12.98 in the 100 meter hurdles – the third-fastest time of the day – as husband Ashton Eaton cheered her on. In the high jump, however, Theisen-Eaton could only manage 5-10¾, well short of her best of 6-1½, and was in fifth place, 87 points behind Jessica Ennis-Hill of Great Britain, going into the shot put.
Shot put was a push, with Ennis-Hill and Theisen-Eaton separated by just an inch, and Theisen-Eaton remained in fifth overall, now 89 points out of first. Ennis-Hill then got more separation in the 200 meters with a season best of 23.42, a half-second better than Theisen-Eaton. At the end of day one, Theisen-Eaton was fourth with 3,865 points, and trailed Ennis-Hill by 140 points, a gap that may be impossible to close unless Ennis-Hill falters. Katarina Johnson-Thompson of Great Britain was in second and Nadine Visser of the Netherlands third, six points ahead of Theisen-Eaton.
The much-anticipated Justin Gatlin – Usain Bolt 100 meter got underway on Saturday evening with first round action. Gatlin won his heat in impressive fashion in 19.83, while Bolt ran in the following heat,winning in 9.96. Trayvon Bromell of the U.S. had the second-fastest time of the evening, 9.91.