What do we do with the 10K?⏱

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The TEN heard ‘round the world 🌎

To be a distance running fan is to have a complicated relationship with the 10,000m. 

On one end of the spectrum, it is a beautiful symphony whose tempo gradually builds until its crescendo comes crashing down with the sound of the bell. We admire the will of the athletes as they find another gear within the depths of their souls. 

And on the other, it’s a chaotic massacre with a plot more difficult to follow than that weird movie, Tenet

Rest assured this dichotomy of the best and worst of the event was on full display Saturday night at The TEN.

With a hot early pace set well ahead of the American record, the women’s race was blown up early. Within a few kilometers, it became difficult to follow who was who and who was where. Less than halfway through, Alicia Monson had fallen off the pace before dropping out due to stomach issues, leaving Tsigie Gebreselama upfront, pacer-less, to give her best effort in a now solo mission.

And despite all that she did well! Gebreselama still held on and once again knocked out the Olympic Standard of 30:40, winning in 29:48.34. Hopefully, the Ethiopian federation was paying its $30/month subscription to be able to watch, as every effort matters in what will inevitably be a super competitive team to make. 

But behind her, it was a tough night to be a camera operator as the field was spread out for miles – or at least every inch of a full lap.

Chugging along behind Gebreselama were Weini Kelati, Lauren Ryan, and Megan Keith, who all achieved the Olympic Standard. Kelati and Monson are now the only two Americans with the standard, whereas Lauren Ryan is sitting pretty in Australia, and Megan Keith has to pray the British Athletics acts with some level of sanity – hardly a given.

Ryan is continuing an unbelievable progression in her second year as a professional, which now includes another national record. In January she ran the 5000m indoors in 15:15, and now two months later, basically doubled the distance to post a 30:35.66. That’d be like if some 15-year-old kid went from running a 50-second quarter to being faster than David Rudisha. (This is a perfect analogy, please don’t critique!)

Meanwhile, think about how impressed Americans are with Nico Young and that’s the equivalent of how the Brits are feeling about 21-year-old Megan Keith’s 30:36.84.

Only a few women unlocked a standard for themselves, but because this race was all over the place and difficult to follow, it wasn’t until afterward that it became apparent how well others ran. Less than 11 months after giving birth to her daughter, Nova, Rachel Smith ran a 38 second personal best of 31:04. After Haglund’s surgery this fall, Karissa Schweizer stepped up admirably in her first race back, going 31:04. Six weeks after dropping out of the Olympic Trials Marathon, Keira D’Amato went 31:05. And despite lung surgery in October, Ely Henes ran 31:07.

There are only two Americans with the Olympic standard, but their families shouldn’t book their accommodations in Paris just yet. That said, there aren’t many more real opportunities for others to qualify, assuming they’ll need the standard before the Trials. The best is probably the Night of the 10,000m PB’s, unless Hengelo or Prefontaine add something that has not yet been announced. Alternatively, these athletes could link up at Mt. SAC next month to try again, but it’ll take a coordinated effort. You aren’t getting this time alone.

And that’s the issue with the 10,000m — where can you find a good one? Or at least an okay one for a second attempt?

With the road to qualification also possible via the roads or the eight spots reserved from cross country, it seems like World Athletics needs to decide if they’re committing to this thing or not. The discipline as a whole can’t be entirely dependent on Sound Running deciding whether or not they should rent out a high school track once or twice a year.

From the standpoint of pure entertainment, the event should objectively not be included in a Diamond League main program. I like it a reasonable amount, particularly in championships, but even my mild ADHD occasionally kicks in with 17 laps to go.

Simultaneously, the need to go all-in on one singular attempt almost five months before the actual event is sucking the talent out of numerous other major events like World Indoors and XC.

Photo: Kevin Morris | @kevmofoto

For three cycles now, the Olympic standard has been raised (lowered?) considerably:

  • 2024 - 27:00/30:40

  • 2016 - 27:28/31:25

  • 2012 - 28:00/32:15

At this point, there’s basically no room for error in a qualifying attempt, which forces  athletes to sacrifice the remainder of their season to get it right on one day. Is this rewarding the behavior that the sport benefits from, namely racing hard, and often? To quote Grant Fisher’s post-race interview: “I think anyone in this race would rather get 15th place in running 26:59, than win it in 27:01.” And he’s not wrong.

From any federation’s perspective, should the team competing in August be decided in March, or even earlier? There is a reality in which Alicia Monson would not have had to prove fitness since her American record run in March 2023. In this scenario, she could be named to the team – competing 17 months later – over someone who beats her the month before the Olympics.

There are two approaches to team selection:

  1. Individuals must unlock their spots.

  2. Federations collectively unlock spots.

The first, which is customary on the track and does not allow for the reallocation of spots, can be confusing in certain situations. For example, if Karissa Schweizer wins the Olympic Track Trials in 31:00 over Alicia Monson and Weini Kelati, she may not go.

But if the standards set have established that the women Schweizer beats are good enough, and she is better, then is she not good enough? That’s logic 101. In an ideal world, that second methodology is set up so that the top three at the Trials are always going. Except as we theorized a lot before the Olympic Marathon Trials for the men, there are plenty of worlds in which that doesn’t happen.

This sport shouldn’t be about running fast – it should be about running faster than everyone else. And while the standard keeps getting faster, beating others when it counts should be our North Star. Because if being top three at the Trials doesn’t get you to the Olympics, then isn’t the TEN the real Trials?

Not the craziest idea…


Catch a ride on the sub-27:00 train 🚂

Photo: Kevin Morris | @kevmofoto

If there is anything more consistent than Grant Fisher, it’s the ol’ reliable weather of San Juan Capistrano, where the fast times instinctively flock like salmon. If the women’s marquee race was a chaotic implosion playing out over 25 laps, the men’s was a big long train of souls chasing the Olympic standard of 27:00, and they were willing to work together to do it. 

Ultimately, although a few fallen soldiers fell on the sword to help others in their pursuit, eight men walked away with that elusive mark.

Let’s dive into why we should be excited for each of these guys, despite our own feelings of overwhelming dread and pessimism about the world today!

Edwin Kurgat - The move to UA Dark Sky has been a great one for the 2019 NCAA XC Champion, as he now adds a second Olympic standard to his resume following the 12:57.52 from Boston University. The problem is that Kenya has eight guys with the standard, who will all be vying for the three spots at their Trials at a location to be announced soon. But Kurgat now has the fastest seed, and aside from Daniel Ebenyo, who has a World silver from Budapest in the event, is only the second guy to actually get his mark on the track.

Woody Kincaid - The 13:15 5000m in Boston this winter wasn’t the most promising start to the 2024 campaign considering a year earlier Kincaid ran the American record. But this is why you can’t look at a single performance or workout video in a vacuum. A year ago he won this thing, albeit in a time about six seconds too slow. But we wanted Woody to tick this time trial off his list of things to do because if there is an American who could be a potential wildcard on a warm day in Paris, it’s the dude who never says die despite often looking sort of dead.

Adriaan Wildschutt - The HOKA NAZ Elite pro essentially packed his bags for the Olympics and all he’ll need to do now is show his South African passport to the gate agent to get there. He was already well on his way after the 12:56.76 indoors, but now there will be less time to enjoy the Athlete’s Village as he can do the double. I am still thinking about this TikTok I watched after that race where some kid referred to him as a “random nobody” and no insult has ever aged worse than that.

Habtom Samuel - Not bad for a freshman! Samuel arrived to the NCAA from Eritrea with high expectations and his transition has been seamless. A runner up finish at NCAA XC was not a surprise given his previous success at World XC. But his fourth place finish in the 5000m at NCAAs didn’t necessarily indicate all of this. This time was well under the previous collegiate record of 27:08, set by Sam Chelanga in 2010, and yet it will be overlooked. Once Nico is out of the picture, can Habtom Samuel become The Guy? 

Moh Ahmed - It’s simple. We are happy for Moh because we like Moh. He’s been in the front-pack at the bell at seemingly every global 5000m/10000m race for so long that he has squatters’ rights. And now at 33 years old, you have to wonder how much longer that will be the case. Not because he can’t, but because the roads are likely calling his name. He was announced for this winter’s Houston Half Marathon, but he had to withdraw due to injury.

And this is why every team needs its reliable veterans to be an important backstop. This was a critical run for the Bowerman Track Club after a tough winter of departures and a bout of quiet performances. Allow Moh to remind everyone that the formula still works.

Andreas Almgren - Buckle up and get out your globes, Americans, because there is a little place called Sweden I’d like to introduce you to! Maybe we weren’t listening, but the Europeans were telling us before the race, “watch out for Almgren!” That’s because Andreas set the Swedish half marathon record of 59:23 in Barcelona last month to cap off an insane range of personal bests dating back to a 1:45 800m set a decade ago. Yes, he has run 3:32/7:34/13:01, but it’s much funnier to think about a 10,000m guy having official 100m and 200m personal bests.

There was a period of time where his career had stagnated a bit, though the past couple of years things have positively exploded. How? Well, check your globe and you’ll see how close Sweden is to Norway. It was always about double threshold.

Nico Young - I guess it was a good thing coach Mike Smith let Nico run! There are so many angles from which to consider this performance that make it ridiculously impressive and one of the most overlooked is that he beat everyone except Fisher. Another is that this was his debut at the distance. Remember a month ago, for a hot second there it almost looked like Nico was a miler! 

Adding yet another NCAA record to his resume, Young’s hot streak is historic and it’s impossible to imagine that his value could get any higher than where it is currently. The irony is that this performance technically does not qualify Nico for the NCAA West Regional meet, but will he need it? It’s notable that while there was every opportunity to sign a NIL, Young opted not to commit. My unsolicited advice: stay in Flagstaff.

Grant Fisher - Most running fans who don’t live with their nose pages deep in the Road To Paris tracker probably just assumed Fisher was all set with his Olympic standard. But it had been two years since his American record run, and last year’s US Championships 10,000m was predictably not a fast one. We are happy for Grant because we want Grant on that team (unless you are yourself an American 10,000m guy or related to one). He is our best shot at a global medal in the event since Rupp in 2012. 

This was not a classic-Grant race with that turning of the screws from an uncomfortable distance out. Instead, he wasn’t touching the pace until the very end and he seemed to win comfortably. It was remarkable how quickly he went from crossing the finish-line to standing beside Ryan Fenton for an interview. Following an American record 2-mile, a near solo American record 5000m, and now a very good tempo run, the markets haven’t felt this bullish about the “return to your high school coach” stock since Alan Webb.

In partnership with the Bermuda Grand Prix 🇧🇲

If you’re interested in a spring getaway to a warm weather destination and want to also watch some quality track and field + get a chance to meet some of the biggest stars – the Bermuda Grand Prix has put together several packages to bring you that experience from April 26th to 29th. Spectator/Olympic Alumni Packages include round-trip airport pickup and drop-off and hotel accommodation at the Coco Reefs Resort, tickets to the opening and closing events, access to the USATF Bermuda Grand Prix 2024, ground transportation to the National Sports Centre and more. Packages start at $1,335. 

Since hanging up her spikes after an accomplished career that included three Olympic Games, Hazel Clark now serves as the director of global sales and business at the Bermuda Tourism Authority and coupled her love of track with her business acumen to deliver Bermuda’s first elite track and field event. The meet at Flora Duffy Stadium on April 28th starts at 3 p.m. ET and will be televised on NBC from 5 to 7 p.m. ET. You can also find general ticket information here.

Catching up with World Champion Bryce Hoppel ✍️

Photo: Justin Britton | @justinbritton

The kid from Midland, Texas went to the University of Kansas to chase some big dreams and now Bryce Hoppel is a World Indoor Champion. It was won with experience as much as it was with fitness. It happens in the blink of an eye that the rookie becomes the veteran, but now Hoppel is in the prime years of his career. I hadn’t yet given my congratulations to him so I reached out to hear how everything was being digested since Glasgow.

Congratulations on the win! Where in the world are you right now and how are you?

I am in Texas, enjoying some downtime. I’ve just been doing some longer endurance workouts and easy running. 

Do you take, like, legitimate time off after World Indoors or do you approach [all of track] as one big season?

Definitely one big season. I just take a week to kind of decompress after indoors.

Well, congratulations on Worlds! What was the initial impression after coming home and realizing you're world champ?

I was going into that meet expecting nothing less than a medal. Just with how the season and training was going, I was like, “I want to win it!” And so the mindset was more confident than ever and honestly stronger. But once you actually achieve it, it is just a different feeling. It's like, “oh wait, but did I just do that?” It’s a surreal feeling and seeing the excitement that it brings everyone else is special.

When you go back and watch the race – and not to discredit it because you ran 1:44 –  but were you like, “why did those guys run that way?” You were so obviously the smartest runner in the race as they were all over the place

I kind of know how some of those guys like to get rough and do unnecessary things. And so from the gun I was so happy to have lane six because you could let everyone else go do what they are going to do and I'm going to chill out here once it settles down. They were just making it hard for each other and I couldn't have had a smoother trip. 

How do you view the indoor 800m differently than outdoors? Tactically the margin for error in the 800 at large is very slim, but indoors it's even slimmer.

I like the tactical-ness of it… not so much like the physicality because like some people just do some unnecessary things out there. But I do enjoy indoor a lot. If you can figure out those tactics, know how some guys run, or have a sense of how it is going to play out… like it's almost – I don't want to use a word like a “guaranteed” win – but those guys let me do almost the exact same thing all three rounds. It is going to be tough to beat me if you just let me sit behind the leader on the outside and pass you at the end stretch. 

While many 800 guys skip indoors entirely, your multiple medals and indoor titles have proven your ability to do both. How come you can get up for two championships each year while others struggle? 

I don't want to give anyone the idea that I'm going to be a 1500 guy eventually, because I like the 800. But I feel like I'm not peaking. The workouts that I was doing, which was like exclusively with Hobbs [Kessler], and it’s a lot of longer stuff and I am not touching that feeling of lactic or pressing. We were at altitude so I was doing endurance work.

My coach's mindset is definitely to let me run indoors, but to keep training. It still feels like I have to wait forever until the Trials. And so, I just enjoy getting out and racing for championships.

Touching on your time with Hobbs and the Very Nice Track Club – maybe a loaded question, but who is your coach? 

It’s still Michael [Whittlesey]. 

He gives me 99% of all my workouts and the plan. Then Ronnie Warhurst has been supplementing and making some tweaks here and there to get the most out of my training. 

At this point you have been with Michael for how long? 

It's been like seven years. We started in 2016.

Are you actively paying rent still in Kansas or are you bopping around?

I was there for seven months last season and I was reluctant to go back there – it was a last minute thing.

I was going to try to start transitioning to something and didn’t really have anything lined up then. But no, I don't think I'm going to go back to Kansas. I'll go visit, but not fully back there.

We see athletes stick around at their college program for a while. When, in your opinion, is it the right move for athletes to stay in that atmosphere vs. going to see what else is out there? It must be different the first year compared to a few years later.

I never had any problems with the workouts, but for me personally, I think it started to affect my mental and social side to where my relationship with running wasn't really happy.

There was almost a nonexistent excitement for workouts and I was just kind of going through the monotony, but not enjoying it. And so changing it up, when you need excitement to love running again – being with VNTC guys lit that spark for me again. I am getting better at physical training and it's exciting with Hobbs. That guy's amazing and I just needed a new change of scenery.

Was it like you were no longer getting nervous for workouts? I could see the situation where you’re just showing up knowing you could beat those guys.

I'm never really getting nervous, but it was most like I was dreading running. It was like, “I guess I'll go for my run today,” rather than loving what I’m doing that day. I was thinking of it like, “let me get this running out of the way so I can just enjoy the rest of my day.”

Has that evolved in racing in any way as well? Previously you were traveling to meets as a lone wolf and now you have a set group to do pre-meet and go through the motions with.

I don't think the nerves got to me all that much, but it does just set you at ease. And like, I'm comfortable to have those guys around me. You think less and it’s just like you’re hanging out rather than in your own mind.

What was the race that you were most nervous for in your whole life?

Oh man, the Olympic Trials. I've still never felt anything like that. The night before the final, I was just a pool of stress. My stomach made it difficult to sleep. I'm hoping it's not going to feel like that again this year.

You have run 1:43, lots of 1:44s, and you can go 1:45 in your sleep. What do you have to do to run 1:42 this year? That’s the shape those other guys will be in so what’s your path to getting there.

The endurance side is where I have not reached my potential, and I got a taste of that indoors. I was doing what needed to be done to win, but I was coming off those races like, “that's it?” I think last year I was struggling with not having that strength at the end of races. I didn't really have that close at the end and even in like 1:44 high or 1:45 races, I was just stiffening up. Now I ran that 1:44 and it felt like nothing. 

Last year I wrote an article basically calling the men's 800 boring right now. Part of the reason for that was there's so many guys that on any given day that seemed liked they had the opportunity to come in and be the best guy. It seems like the pool of potential medalists has started to thin out a bit more, but would you have disagreed with that? It’s more exciting when you see the same faces, compared to showing up on the line wondering who are these guys.

I agreed with that article. I think a lot of us were doing subpar of what we could actually be doing. As for the 800, it was like one of those events where we're not you're not seeing any world records. You had David Rudisha for a chunk of time where he’d always lead the charge. I think Marco [Arop] is kind of stepping up, and he's been around for as long as I have, but he’s starting to run 1:42 and making it look like… I think seeing his round in Budapest, I was like, “no one’s beating Marco.” It’s moving in the direction where now we have some guys starting to push that and dragging everyone along. With an Olympic year, I think we’ll see some fun stuff.

Marco might be too nice of a guy to start some off track beef with too.

I mean, I love the guy. Like, I could never have any beef with him.

On that topic, it's not just about time as much as a big pool of guys. But I think time is an interesting thing because it feels like the 800 hasn’t become faster at the same pace as every other race. We see that in the NCAA too. Do you have any theory why? Like is it just no Rudisha, do the spikes not help as much, are pacing lights not as effective as in the 10K?

I think the pacing lights are a little irrelevant and don’t really help us. As for spikes, and I don't want to get myself in trouble, but I don't think they've taken any great leaps for the 800 specifically. But I think the thing that draws the most excitement out of a specific event are those stars. Like you have Noah Lyles in the 200, or Grant Holloway dominating the hurdles, but I think the 800 is lacking that right now.

That could be you! You could turn up the celebrations a little bit – enough of the humility.

Yea, that’s true! It's hard, like at Worlds I am thankful to have that moment, but also… should I show off a bit more? 

From an athlete's point of view, what’s it like watching what Noah is doing to put that much personal responsibility on marketing the sport? There's a reason why so few people do it as you're always a moment away from having everything fall apart. Do you see that as a responsibility of athletes to shoulder?

It definitely is partly on us. But if you are not ready for it and can’t handle it then you don’t want it to take away from the competing side. I definitely feel like I am to blame in my own aspect of it – I have to put some personality out there and give the people a reason to watch and follow me specifically. But it’s hard, like I am not an awkward guy, but I am not going to be dancing out there.

Off the track, do you ever watch other guys' workout videos? Like, Marco and Clayton [Murphy] are very active on YouTube. What do you take from that?

I had no idea that Marco posts on YouTube – I'm going to check that out. But I think it’s cool to see. I’ve watched a lot of Clayton’s and we’ve become pretty good buddies competing with each other over time.

Do you ever see a workout and think, “I can do that”?

A little bit… yeah. It's like, “oh, wait, that's all you're doing?”

(This interview was edited for length and clarity.)

Rapid Fire Highlights 🔥

  • Citius Mag intern Gary Martin wrote a recap of his eventful indoor season: “I just made my first NCAA meet as a sophomore after not even coming close as a freshman. Last year I was dead last in the ACC Mile final because I was outmatched, and now I was dead last in the NCAA mile final because of a trip. If I’m going to be last in a race, at least I did it on the right stage.”

  • After finishing third on three occasions, Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal of Norway finally got her NYC Half Marathon win, running 1:09:09. And despite losing his bags on the trip over, Abel Kipchumba was able to pull out the win in 1:00:25. (Results)

  • Your favorite runner Fred Kerley opened his outdoor season running 10.03 (+1.9) to win the Hurricane Invitational (Post-race interview). And Olympic 400m champ Steven Gardiner won the 300m in 31.99.

  • The Podium Festival 5K in Leicester featured deep fields featuring the likes of Nicholas Griggs, Will Barnicoat, and Jake Wightman, but it was Hagos Gebrhiwet who led the way in 13:19. However it was the women’s race that was way more interesting, given Asmarech Anley beat out Caroline Nyaga as they both ran 14:59.

  • World Indoor champion Tsgie Duguma wins the African Champs 800m in a 1:57.73 WL. But the most fun race was the 4×100 prelims, which is a must watch – mind you, it’s in Ghana. But can we get some big time races in Africa ASAP?!

  • Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo got everyone’s attention as he ran a new 400m personal best of 44.29 in South Africa. What happened to being the world champion silver medalist in the 100? He is 20, folks!

  • There was a pack of five men all together with a kilometer to go at the Seoul Marathon. Spoiler Alert: Jemal Yimer won the thing in 2:06:09 and Fikrte Wereta won the women’s race in 2:21:32.

  • Yomif Kejelcha won the Laredo 10K in Spain in 26:37, good for the third fastest time ever. In doing so he beat out Olympic Joshua Cheptegei, who also got his much needed Olympic standard out of the way. Konstanze Klosterhalfen won the women’s race in 31:07.

  • Oblique Seville ran a 200m personal best of 20.17 (+1.9) – that’s .71 seconds faster than ever before! Remember, he was 4th at Worlds in the 100m the past two years.

  • James Preston won the New Zealand Championship 800m in a personal best of 1:44.87, which is great and all, but you have to see how he did it. Solo, in those conditions!

Thank you to VELOUS for sponsoring this week’s newsletter! Now that the weather is getting warm, there is no longer an excuse to be walking around in anything less than optimal recovery slides. Remember, you aren’t taking the day off from work to go to the beach… you are recovering!

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