Should Kenenisa Bekele Hang Up His Racing Flats?

By Mario Fraioli |
Bekele’s got some thinking to do. Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen | Wikimedia Commons

Kenenisa Bekele, hailed by many as the greatest distance runner of all-time (with good reason), dropped out of the Amsterdam Marathon on Sunday with about 1K to go. He had fallen off the lead pack after 30K but was still on 2:07:14 pace with 2K remaining, according to letsrun.com, when a short while later he just walked off the course. His manager, Jos Hermens, said Bekele had been battling an injury in the weeks leading up to the race and it had worsened after 30K. And while that very well may have been the case, and there’s a clear line between running through pain and running through injury that any seasoned runner knows not to cross, the fact that the Ethiopian legend has dropped out of three of his last five marathons doesn’t leave me feeling optimistic about his competitive future. (more…)

Will Meb Come Out of Retirement?

By Mario Fraioli |
Can Keflezighi make a fifth Olympic team at 44 years old?

Sure, Meb Keflezighi said he retired after last fall’s New York City Marathon, but this piece, written by my good friend and colleague Brian Metzler, suggests he might be having second thoughts at the age of 43.

“I still believe I can run 2:12 or 2:13, and maybe even faster on a great day,” the four-time Olympian told Metzler for Runner’s World. “The question that I have to ask myself is whether or not I want to do the work to get in 2:14 shape. I really don’t know.”  (more…)

The 2020 Boston Marathon: A Little Bit Faster Now

By Mario Fraioli |
The start of the Boston Marathon takes place on a two-lane road in the tiny town center of Hopkinton, 26 miles west of the city. Photo: Boston Athletic Association

I’ve heard and seen quite a few grumbles about qualifying standards for the 2020 Boston Marathon getting 5 minutes faster across the board (after the cutoff for entry into next year’s race was revealed to be 4 minutes and 52 seconds faster than the current qualifying standards) and I’m not sure I completely understand the complaints. The reality is that the Boston Marathon simply cannot allow everyone who hits a qualifying mark into the race. There’s a few good reasons for this, which I’ll try to outline here:  (more…)

State of the Shakeout | 2018

By Mario Fraioli |
Predictably unpredictable: You can count on the morning shakeout showing up in your inbox every Tuesday, even if you’re not quite sure what you’ll find once you open it. Photo: Dan Cruz

Arbitrary a milestone as it may be, I’m proud to share this 150th edition of the morning shakeout with all of you. It’s still crazy to me that this itch I felt the need to scratch almost three years ago is still going, growing, and evolving week in and week out.

This once-every-50-weeks update, which I like to call the State of the Shakeout, is my version of an annual shareholder letter, intended to provide all of you, my loyal readership, with a look back at the past year and a peek at what (hopefully) lies ahead. (more…)

Eliud Kipchoge: Not a Trace of Doubt in My Mind

By Mario Fraioli |

I’m going to come right out and say it: Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya is the greatest male distance runner—not just marathoner—ever to set foot on this planet. His marathon record—11 starts, 10 wins, an Olympic gold medal, and the world-record—combined with his achievements at shorter distances—two Olympic track medals, world titles in other disciplines, and some of the fastest times in history from 3,000m through the marathon—put him in rare company. Sure, you could make an argument for Haile Gebrselassie or Kenenisa Bekele, or maybe Emil Zatopek or Paavo Nurmi, but none of those men have had the range, consistency, or dominance in their primary event quite like Kipchoge has over the past 16 years. And sure, maybe its recency bias or the influence of our current social media generation coming through here, but none of those other men have captured the interest and imagination of runners and non-runners alike quite like “The Boss Man.” (more…)

Rob Krar Climbing Back Up The Mountain

By Mario Fraioli |

Here’s Rob Krar appreciating a fog-filled view from atop Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County, California about five weeks before winning the 2015 Western States Endurance Run. That race, his second-straight States victory, was the last time he completed 100 miles on foot.

That is until three days ago, when Krar, on somewhat of a whim, won the Leadville Trail 100 through the high mountains of Colorado in 15 hours, 51 minutes, and 57 seconds, the second-fastest time in the race’s 35-year history (and Krar’s second victory at the event). Oh yeah, he did that just a week after finishing 14th overall in Leadville’s 100-mile mountain bike contest, which he completed in a stout 7:08:27. It was an epic performance by any and all standards, one the 41-year-old Canadian—who struggled physically and emotionally last fall while sidelined with a knee injury—called his “most fulfilling race yet.” He sat down with podcaster Billy Yang between races and opened up about his most recent bout with depression, explained how he uses mountain biking and ski mountaineering in his training, and talked about how he’d eventually like to return to Western States, amongst other topics. Krar also recapped his Leadville race(s) with Ethan Newberry on last night’s Ginger Runner Live, which you can watch here. (And if you want to nerd out even more, go nuts crunching his ride data and run splits from Leadville on Strava, and then read this Q&A he did with one of his sponsors to learn how he went about recovering between the two races.)  (more…)

2020 Olympic Trials: Eugene’s Gain is Track & Field’s Loss

By Mario Fraioli |
Hayward Field, shown here in 2015, is currently a construction zone. Photo: Mario Fraioli

The 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials are heading (back) to Hayward Field. In a move that should surprise exactly no one, USA Track & Field awarded the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials in track and field to the University of Nike, I mean Oregon, after taking it away from Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California.

“No domestic event is more important to athletes and fans than the Olympic Trials,” said USA Track & Field chairman of the board Steve Miller, a former director of global sports marketing for The Swoosh and former adjunct professor at the University of Oregon Warsaw School of Sports Marketing. “The 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials is even more critical because it will lead off an unprecedented opportunity to elevate track & field in this country.” (more…)

Do Running Shoes Need Regulation?

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: Nike

The New York Times dropped this piece last Wednesday, saying that their comprehensive analysis of self-reported Strava data “suggests that, in a race between two marathoners of the same ability, a runner wearing Vaporflys would have a real advantage over a competitor not wearing them.” Runner’s World followed up with this reaction and Sean Ingle of The Guardian had something to say too. “But now [that] we know how well the shoes work, is it time to power down their afterburners?” Ingle poses at the end of his piece. The IAAF says not so fast.

“We need evidence to say that something is wrong with a shoe,” Yannis Nikolaou, a spokesman for the IAAF, told The Times. “We’ve never had anyone to bring some evidence to convince us.”  (more…)

Hardrock 100: It Didn’t Have To End That Way

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: Xavier Thévenard—Facebook

Xavier Thévenard of France was disqualified from the Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run over the weekend. Here’s the short of it: Thévenard, one of the top mountain runners in the world, takes water and gets some assistance from his crew outside of an official aid station 46.8 miles into the race. This is a violation of the event rules and the incident is documented by a bystander, who, encouraged by his friends, notifies race officials of what he saw. An immediate investigation ensues, including multiple interactions with Thévenard and his crew, the last one at the Mile 91.2 aid station, where Thévenard is disqualified—the first disqualification in race history (there would be another one later)—and given the option to finish the course (without appearing in the results) or drop out of the race. He decides not to continue and the ultrarunning world erupts like a volcano over the whole ordeal, and with good reason: It didn’t have to end that way. No really, it didn’t. Just read the rules. (more…)

Funky Town

By Mario Fraioli |


I didn’t run last Wednesday. It wasn’t a planned rest day, I wasn’t injured, and my calendar wasn’t exactly packed with appointments and phone calls. I just didn’t feel like it, which is rare for me, but the feeling had been building for a couple days, if I’m being honest. (more…)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mario Fraioli
Mario Fraioli is a writer and running coach based in the San Francisco Bay Area.