Friday, July 04, 2008

Barker Seeks to Clarify McGregor's Race Strategy

Team USA Minnesota coach Dennis Barker recently emailed DtB regarding Katie McGregor’s strategy in the Olympic Trials 10,000 meters, which took place on Friday, June 27. According to Barker, there are some, “incorrect assumptions out there regarding Katie's race”, particularly among anonymous message board posters. Barker contacted DtB in an attempt to clarify what happened, “for the benefit of Katie's supporters who couldn't be at the race.”

According to Barker, “Katie did not just let the top three go and was not just racing Molly Huddle (the other A standard qualifier). Shalane (Flanagan) dropped the pace to 71 seconds at 2.75 miles into the race – not even halfway. Shalane, Kara (Goucher) and Amy (Begley) covered the next 1600 meters in 4:53. Katie dropped down to 5:01, still close but under control.” Barker noted that it was 78 degrees on the track that night. “It was a reasonable expectation that the top three would not keep up that pace, which they didn't, and that Katie would have a shot at them if she kept a more even pace.”

Barker pointed out that almost no one could have foreseen how the race would unfold. “At 4 miles Katie was just 13 seconds back of the top three, well within striking distance should anyone falter. It was also a reasonable expectation that Amy would be the one to falter, given that there were still 2 miles left and she was running faster than her PR on a warm night and had run two previous 10,000s this season in cool conditions in 32:07 and 31:59. That is where Katie's focus was, not behind her to Molly. No one except possibly Amy's coach, Alberto Salazar, could have predicted that not only would Amy not falter, she would get a lot faster. She ran her second 5k in 15:32, a time she had only bettered once in her life in a 5k race three years before. Her best 5k of 2008 was 15:46.”

In closing, Barker noted that McGregor continued to chase hard throughout the race. “Katie made a strong final push and ran a 5:02 for her last 1600, including a 70 second last lap. But Amy, who has a mile PR of 4:40, ran a 4:47, including a 67 second last lap. Katie was totally focused on the top three the entire way but Amy ran an amazing race. Amy was the only one in the race to PR (except possibly Desiree Davila, who may have just snuck under hers). Most of the field were well off their PRs, which you would expect on a warm night. There was nothing Katie could have done to change the outcome of the race. Her strategy was good and she put everything into it. Her training had been good and she was confident coming into the race. Someone else just did something extraordinary.”

Photo of Katie McGregor and Blake Russell courtesy of

1 comment:

Eric said...

Thanks for the explanation, Coach Barker. This makes a lot more sense than anything the LetsRun crowd can cook up. Funny how they know so much about what the athletes should be doing, but that they consistently know nothing about what the athletes have done.