- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 22, 2002

Rarely does the Washington area see a real, live 4-minute mile.
Yesterday spectators along Pennsylvania Avenue saw four of them.
The international field of world-class middle-distance runners was part of the Pennsylvania Avenue Mile, in its eighth year. In the end, it was John Itati of Kenya defending his 2001 title and Ludmila Vasilyeva of Russia making it two titles in three years. Both ran course-record times and earned $2,000.
Vasilyeva, who set the course record in winning the 2000 race in 4:37.2, ran a tactically brilliant race against Brit Kelly Holmes, the 2000 Olympic 800-meter bronze medalist.
The two broke away from the pack of a dozen women by the turnaround near the Capitol at 800 meters. Holmes was leading slightly at that point, but around the U-turn, the Seattle-based Vasilyeva charged around Holmes on the outside and the race was on.
Vasilyeva showed her distance-runner's flowing stride, while Holmes had the high arm-swing, six-pack abs and straight posture of a track star. But Vasilyeva's strength was too much, and with 400 meters to go, the 32-year-old Russian pulled away and finished in a record 4:32.9.
Holmes, 28, followed quickly in 4:34.4 ($1,000). Carmen Douma of Canada was third in 4:41.4 ($500).
The men's race saw nearly all 10 starters in contention through the first half mile. Then leader Leonard Mucheru of Kenya, who was first in 2000 and fourth last year, began looking back several times and waving his arms, irritated that nobody else was coming forward to push the pace with him.
With 200 meters to go, the mad dash to the finish began. Russian Vyacheslav Shabunin thrust himself from the mid-pack into the lead with 150 meters to go. Everybody responded to the move, including Itati, who ran down the Russian hero in the last 75 meters to win again in 3:58.7.
"I made my move too soon," said Shabunin through an interpreter, although he was happy with his time of 3:59.1 and the $1,000 check. Abdelkader Hachlaf of Morocco was third in 3:59.3 ($500) and American Jason Lunn fourth in 3:59.7 ($300). Mucheru, who set the record of 3:59.6 in 2000, was sixth in 4:03.2.
Fast company
Tim Montgomery smartly passed on the IAAF World Cup competition in Madrid last Friday, choosing instead to rest his aching body.
That must have been tough, but it was a good decision. Montgomery grabbed the world record in the 100 meters in a Paris meet Sept.14 with a dynamite 9.78-second sprint.
"My feet are swollen from striking the ground so hard," said Montgomery, who took away Maurice Greene's 3-year-old record of 9.79, in a teleconference with reporters last Tuesday. "My knees are swollen, my joints are swollen, so we took a lot of ice baths.
"Mentally I feel good, I just have swelling in my knees and feet, and my hamstrings are a little tight," added Montgomery, who by shaving one-hundredth of a second off the world mark earned $100,000.
Our inside source says Montgomery has been concerned all summer about his hamstrings holding up, and with conditions nearly perfect including a maximum allowable tailwind of 2.0 mph and a remarkable reaction time of .104 he was lucky the strings cooperated for 100 meters.
Many were surprised by Montgomery's world mark, but it was not unimaginable. He was the 2001 U.S. 100-meter champion, the 2001 World Championships silver medalist (behind Greene) and the 2002 U.S. runner-up (also behind Greene).
He brought a 9.91 year-best into the meet and had gone as fast as 9.84 last summer in Oslo which was then the third fastest in history.
What truly is baffling in world class sprint circles is that while Montgomery and training partner Marion Jones, both coached by Trevor Graham, are excelling this summer, the sprinters managed by HSI (Hudson Smith International) Greene, Ato Boldon, Inger Miller and Torri Edwards are injured or in the tank.
Old granddad
Although I have never been able to understand the need to run 100-mile or 24-hour races, the feat last weekend at the USA Masters 24-Hour Championship in Sylvania, Ohio, by 75-year-old Ray Piva of South San Francisco, Calif., is worthy of recognition.
In mid-80 temperatures and oppressive humidity, along with some uninvited thunderstorms, Piva set age-group world records of 23:01:56 for 100 miles and 105.02 miles for 24 hours. In other words, this guy could run from Washington to New York City in two days, which is faster than the U.S. Postal Service could deliver a letter.

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