Athletics News

THE TEN: A chance to run the Olympic standard

THE TEN: A chance to run the Olympic standard

THE TEN: A chance to run the Olympic standard

I love the 25-lapper, the 10,000-meter race, of the many races I watch at the World Championships and Olympics. I love field events, sprints, and middle distances, but the 10,000m holds a special place in my heart. I ran my first 10,000m as a senior in high school in 1976, with the high school division won by Danny Grimes, the second was Bob Lucas, and I was third. I ran my last 10,000m on the track in 1985. I enjoyed the race and loved the camaraderie. I appreciate the speed of the great athletes, men and women. My club running allowed me to respect the focused work of the elite athletes.

I memorized the commentaries in Track & Field News on the Olympic 10,000m in 1972 and 1976. Some have comfort food, and I have comfort reads. The Bible of Sport wrote many beautiful descriptions of all World Champs and Olympic races. I read them over and over.

I recall the 10,000m in 1972, as Lasse Viren fell, got up, and Mohammed Gammoudi, the 1968 Olympic gold medalist at 5,000m, stayed on the track. Viren went on to win and set an Olympic record.

Lasse Viren, down and up, Mohammed Gammoudi down, Munich 10,000m, photo by IOC/Munich 1972

I recall Haile Gebrselassie, in 2001, having had Achilles issues and just a few races prior to Edmonton, holding off the field until, with 200m to go, Charles Kamathi, looking at Haile and knowing he had nothing left, took off.

I recall, in 2003, the brutality of the battle between Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebreslassie. They ran a near 4-minute mile, 800 meters down at 1:53 level, and still 400 meters under 53 seconds. The battle was raw and riveting.

In a treasured interview that I did with Haile Gebreslassie at the RNR Arizona event, put together by the late, great Mike Long. After 3 hours of back-and-forth chatting, Haile told me that racing the 10,000mm was very hard. “People do not think that Gebreslassie is human,” Haile smiled, thinking about some of the absolute energy-zapping 25 lappers he had run in his career.

The rush to the finish!
Gidey vs. Obiri,
World Athletics Championships
Eugene, Oregon, USA
July 15-26, 2022, photo by Kevin Morris

I recall the final lap of the women’s 10,000m in Eugene. On the final push, Letensebet Gidey held Helen Obiri to silver, and Sifan Hassan, who looked to be the winner, just missed, finishing in fourth. The finish in the 10,000m in Eugene was very physical as athletes battled with their last bit of energy. In Budapest in 2023, Sifan Hassan collapsed…

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