As fall advances, and I read about all the cross-country races going on locally, I find myself reminiscing about running 10k’s on the track. Here’s the connection: back in the ‘80’s I was among other things (like a college French teacher) a NCAA Div III cross-country coach. Early every Saturday morning, I’d be with the team getting them to breakfast before the normal 10am start of the week’s race. I was also at the height of my so-called “running prowess”. My French class schedule allowed me to do my daily workout right before the team would arrive at the fieldhouse for their workouts, which I would do with them. It was an ideal double-workout. After a few years of getting the team ready for the week’s race, I was always wishing I could be out there running the race with them. That would look bad! So, there I was, having no ability to do a weekly race. Solution: I could get up super-early, and do my own race….before getting the team up and out to breakfast. The result was using whatever school-we-were-at track and do a timed 10k. I could put all the workout finesse I had honed through the week to work. This only happened the last season I was the cross-country coach. As a result, I started bringing down my PR from doing 10k’s out on the roads. I finally broke the 34 minute barrier, and ran a 33:24:40. I put it all on the line, not daring think of what would probably happen while I was running around the course 4 hours later urging on my runners. Yes, I was beat to the bone, but could never show it. And the last meet of the season, everything was set for another try for a new PR. The weather was ideal (no wind and cool), and the workouts had gone perfectly. I knew the spits I had to reach to end up with a new PR. I looked at my watch as I crossed the “finish line” and saw to my amazement, 33:24:23. Victorious, but a little empty since it was only by 17 100ths of a second. And….I’ve never been anywhere even close to that ever since.
And speaking of 10ks, I had to go online and find out what the wide world of running has accomplished since I last looked (so many years ago). I was shocked. The women’s 10k world record times went down below 31:00 (the last time I looked). But as of today, Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey ran a 29:01.03 at the Ethiopian Olympic Trials in Hengelo, Netherlands (June 8, 2021). Her last lap was a 60:03. She traded off world records with Sitan Hassan who ran a 29:06.32 just 2 days before on the same track. So, I googled her to find out a little more….she is 5’5” and is listed at 110 pounds. Of course, she grew up on an Ethiopian farm, and when 13, refused to run as part of her local school’s PE program, which got her expelled from school. She was allowed back into school when she agreed to be part of the school PE program! Little did they know! We can’t leave Letesenbet without mentioning she broke 2 other WR in 2021: the 5000m in Valencia, Spain on October 7 in 14:06.62, and then again in Valencia, Spain on October 24th she ran a WR in the 1⁄2 marathon (road) in 62:52. Frankly, those times used to be WR times for men! Paavo Nurmi ran a WR 14:24 (5000m) in 1924 in Stockholm. And Emil Zátopek ran a 29:24 (10,000m) in 1949 in the Czech Republic.
Letesenbet Gidey Triumphant at 5,000m via tvmax-9.com.
And now on to the current men’s records run by Joshua Cheptegei, from Uganda – 26 years old (5’6” and 115 lbs). Notice the similarity of Joshua’s specs with Letesenbet’s? Joshua is 1 inch taller, and 5 pounds heavier. (Looks like most of humanity is nowhere close to breaking long distance world records!) That track in Valencia, Spain also saw Joshua break his 10,000m record on the same day as Letesenbet’s (26:11:00). Wow. And his 5,000m WR came in Monaco on Aug 14, 2020 with a 12:35:36.
Joshua’s 10k record elmercurlo.com.
…and the 5,000m record via triamax.com.
I’m just bringing you up-to-date on the fast people to put my once-thought-to-be glorious DR (David’s Record) of 33:24:23 in proper perspective 🙂 Happy doing your thing this fall – happy dreaming of what you can do, or have done, or will do!!