4 May

Running's Leicester Moments

VardyLeicester’s incredible triumph in the English Premier League is widely labelled as sport’s biggest shock ever. The 5000-1 shots at the start of the season quickly became everyone’s second favourite team outside of the East Midlands city.

It is the type of unique occurrance that makes sport so appealing. You never know what the outcome will be, you just never ever know. Running has had its fair share of shocks and surprises. In no particular order, here are runABC’s five of the best…
One of the Blue Riband events of the international circuit, the Norwegian capital’s annual staging of the classic distance has a rich heritage of great champions and world-record breaking times. In 1981 a typically stellar field was assembled including Olympic gold medalists Steve Ovett (GB) and John Walker (New Zealand), Steve Cram and US champion Steve Scott. But in a remarkable turn of events, the race pacemaker the unknown American Tom Byers pulled away with the leading names embroiled in a tactical battle well behind. On the final lap, the world class field left their surge too late and Byers held on for an unlikely victory. The American never matched such the heights again.
Always an event that was dominated by the USA quartet, 2004 was expected to be no different. Particularly as the US boasted the gold, bronze and fourth-placed athletes from the individual event. Great Britain’s Jason Gardener, Darren Campbell, Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francis had all failed to reach the finals in their respective 100m and 200m disciplines. Yet, they pulled off an unlikely victory by a mere 0.01 secs as Lewis-Francis held off Maurice Greene on the final leg.
Another event in which the USA dominated. Their line up included the individual gold and bronze medallists Antonio Pettigrew and Danny Everett. In an unusual tactical switch, GB put their best runner – individual silver medallist Roger Black – on the first leg rather than the anchor leg. The logic being that it would give them the best chance of being in contention on the final leg. The tactic paid off, Black gave GB the lead and with great legs from John Regis and Derek Redmond, hurdler Kriss Akabusi was left on Pettigrew’s shoulder for the last lap. Amazingly he edged past the shocked American in the closing strides for a barely believable win. Cue endless British whooping.
Already the winner of the 5000m and 10,000m gold medals, Emil Zatopek decided to make his marathon debut on the biggest stage of all in the morning of the race. The Czech’s seemingly foolhardy decision would be unimaginable today. But he set off with the world’s greatest exponents of the 26.2 mile distance. Midway, he asked GB’s world record holder Jim Peters if the pace was fast enough. When he was told it wasn’t by the mind-playing Brit, he upped the pace further and left his opponents gasping. He won in 2:23:04 and is still the only man to have won the 5000m, 10000m and marathon at the same Olympics.
Billed as a head-to-head between two of the sport’s greats, the 5000m final brought together Morroco’s Hicham El Guerrouj, the 1500m champion and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, the 10,000m champion in a classic ‘catch-weight’ contest. The two athletes went toe-to-toe, but hadn’t reckoned on Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge. The 18-year-old upset the two favourites with a searing final straight sprint, leaving the two greats to pick up silver and bronze. Eleven years on and Kipchoge is still causing sensations, now as a marathon runner, winning in London recently in a time just seven seconds shy of the world record.