Great Performances in Doha, Fayetteville, Jacksonville

A big weekend of track and field and running wraps up with impressive an unexpected results.

Written by: Matt Fitzgerald

If any indoor track and field world records were going to be set this weekend, surely they would be set at the IAAF Indoor World Championships in Doha, Qatar, right? Nope. The University of Oregon’s Ashton Eaton set a new world record in the heptathlon Saturday at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. His total of 6,499 points surpassed American Bryan Clay’s previous mark of 6,476 points. It also would have put him well ahead of Clay and another American, Trey Hardee, who captured the gold and silver medals, respectively, in the heptathlon in Doha.

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Eaton’s performance should not overshadow a couple of tremendous runs by Americans in Doha, however. The incomparable Bernard Lagat won the world championships 3000m in 7:37.97, outdueling Spain’s Sergio Sanchez and Kenya’s Sammy Mutahi in a race that started fast and only got faster. The other American in the race, Galen Rupp, also ran well to finish fifth with a personal best time of 7:42.40.

The other distance medal claimed in Qatar Saturday was more surprising. Anna Pierce went into the final of the women’s 800m as a legitimate medal contender, but a withering pace left her just off the podium, in fourth place, despite her running a personal-best time of 2:00.53. Right ahead of her was the surprise: 23-year-old Alysia Johnson, who claimed a bronze medal by running her first sub-2-minute 800 indoors or out- (1:59.60).

This weekend was also the weekend of the Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Fla., which serves as the USA 15 km championship. Morocco-born American Mohamed Trafeh, 24, put in an utterly dominated performance, opening with a 4:22 mile that turned into a 54-second lead by the finish. His winning time of 42:58 was 36 seconds off the course and American records. Way, way behind Trafeh, Tim Nelson and rising star Antonio Vega fought a pitched battle for second place. Nelson came out on top in 43:52 to Vega’s 43:56.

Team Running USA Minnesota star Katie McGregor was nearly as dominating as Trafeh in the women’s race, running 49:51 to win by 36 seconds ahead of three-time Olympian Jen Rhines.

For more on the IAAF World Championships: IAAF Web site

For more on the NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships: NCAAchampionships.com

For more on the Gate River Run: USATF Web site

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