Monaco Diamond League 2019 Overview

The second half of the Diamond League 2019 season continued at Monaco recently. Conditions were warm and windless in the city-state on the French Riviera. The glamour of the area was matched with some astonishing results.

Give Your Best Only When You Need to 

As focused as athletes should be on the start line of any race, it’s vital to stay tuned to the environment. This was demonstrated perfectly in the 400m men’s race. After a false start three athletes ignored the gun signalling the race had stopped. Before halfway, one athlete realised. But two continued running hard, unaware of the lack of competitors around them. 

Jonathan Jones of Barbados ran a personal best only for it not to be officially registered. Neither him nor Anthony José Zambrano of Columbia retarted the race. No wonder – their exertion had effectively rendered another competitive effort impossible.

Another Woman to Contend Sprints

Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas put a strong case forward for contention at the World Championships later in the year. Despite not leading for the first half of the race the Commonwealth 200m champion showed her strong stature as she powered along the final straight. In the process she beat Dafne Schippers and Elaine Thompson.

Miller-Uibo is the seventh woman to win either the 100m or 200m Diamond League race* this season. These performances show the depth of quality of female sprinters. But as it stands the World Championships schedule only allows athletes to compete in one of the two sprints. Decisions will need to be made. More importantly, top form must be reached in order to secure a medal.

World Records are Always Possible

Nijel Amos of Botswana showed once again how powerful he can be in the 800m, leading from the start. Although his form started to waver on the final straight, his time of 1:41.89 is less than a second away from the world record. His brave performance was his third Diamond League win of the season, establishing a new meeting record and world leading time.

As preparation for more to come, Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands broke the 23-year old 1- mile world record. After a relatively slow first half Hassan began to show her class. Whilst gritting her teeth and flailing her arms, her legs were metronomic. She recorded her final two laps in 61.93 seconds and 62.20 seconds to smash the field by over 5 seconds. Such is her form and confidence, Hassan even predicted a greater margin pre-race. It proves that even splits do not always get the best out of athletes, and that world records are always possible if athletes believe enough. It was an especially fitting performance in honour of Gabriele Grunewald

* Excluding non-scoring Diamond League races.

4 Reasons for the New 2018 World Half Marathon Record

When the date for the 28th Valencia Half Marathon finally arrived in late October, there should’ve been no doubt that the world half marathon record was under threat.

Kenya’s Abraham Kiptum lowered the eight-and-a-half-year mark by five seconds, recording 58:18. But it wasn’t just the flat course that ensured a spectacular result in Spain’s third largest city.

#1 Special Conditions

The course is perfect for running fast not only due to the absence of hills, but also the relatively few changes in direction, beautiful weather and remarkable history of the event. Since 2017 Valencia has been home to the women’s world record for the half marathon, both in a mixed gender race and women-only race.

Not only does Valencia name itself ‘The Running City’, hosting over fifty running events in 2018 alone, the half marathon is recognised by the IAAF as gold label. The strict conditions of this highest honour include international elite athletes, anti-doping testing and broadcasting of the event.

The lesson for all runners is to make the most of excellently organised and well supported running races, as they can empower better performances.

#2 Competitors Slowing

As runners passed 10km the lead pack suddenly lost the impetus to push on. But Kiptum knew that if he was to win this was the time to strike. His surge proved how strong the Kenyan felt, knowing instinctively that he could maintain sub fourteen minute 5km splits over the second half of the race.

Refusing to lead for the first 10km would certainly have eased him into the race, conserving slightly more energy than his rivals.

The lesson for all runners is to use the first half of a race to measure feeling. If strong, then increase the pace gradually to the end.

#3 Efficient Stride

Kiptum’s running form was particularly prominent throughout his world record performance. His bouncy, long stride and high knee lift suggested a rhythm that was efficient and relatively comfortable. His hips stayed high, which revealed his impressive core strength. His arm swings were driven and his eyes fixed on the road ahead.

Despite his serene movements, Kiptum demonstrated intense concentration and bravery to tackle the feat.

The lesson for all runners is to focus on developing and maintaining a solid foundation of core strength and stability. This will aid the body to deal with the relatively high impact of running lots of miles.

#4 Excellent Recent Performances

Kiptum’s 2018 had included a marathon win in Daegu back in April, and a second place finish in Copenhagen’s half marathon in mid September. The breakthrough year would’ve built the Kenyan’s confidence, so winning would have certainly been at the forefront of his mind. As long as he ran steadily, his training would’ve given him the knowledge that anything was possible.

With nine other Africans finishing in under an hour, if Kiptum had faltered others would’ve pounced.

The lesson for all runners is to use any positive training runs or races as inspiration whilst performing.