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Lap 154: Sponsored by VELOUS

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The Tragic Loss of Kelvin Kiptum 🕊

On Sunday evening news broke out of Kenya that marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum had tragically passed away in a car accident at the age of 24, alongside his coach, Gervais Hakizimana. In addition to being the most exciting young marathoner since Sammy Wanjiru, Kiptum was a father of two.

During his short-lived marathon career, Kiptum ran three flawless races: 

  • His first, in Valencia, in which he became the fastest marathon debutant in history(2:01:53)

  • His second, which saw him break the London Marathon record (2:01:25)

  • And then the one we now know he’ll be best remembered for – setting a new world record of 2:00:35 in Chicago this past fall. 

He was set to race in Rotterdam this April in an attempt to improve upon that mark and break two hours. After that, Kiptum vs. Kipchoge battling it out in Paris was amongst the most anticipated match-ups of the Olympic Games.

Kelvin Kiptum’s legacy will not only be limited to the times he ran, but the way he ran them, and fascination over how fast he could have run. The world will never know. Rest in peace, and our deepest condolences to Kelvin’s family, friends, and all of those who had the pleasure of being inspired by his performances.

When he can walk the walk after all the talk 🗣

Photo: Johnny Zhang | @jzsnapz

There isn’t a huge incentive to talk much in track and field, and that’s why we don’t get a lot of it. There is no revenue share, and there aren’t contract bonuses for being well-liked. Even having the biggest Instagram following is not a significant value add when it comes to negotiating appearance fees, which is good, right? That’s what we want? This thing is a meritocracy! Running fast is still the most important factor.

So since Josh Kerr announced his plans to break the 2-mile world record at the Millrose Games back in November, my main question was… why? There is already an incredible amount of pressure entering the Olympic year as the reigning world champion. Once you’ve won, if you do it again it’s no longer an upset – it’s the expectation. Why go through the trouble of painting an even bigger, more obvious target on the back of your singlet?

And that’s where my doubt or concern came from regarding this weekend’s record attempt and Kerr’s season at large. This is a new position for him on the world stage, and any pressure he feels aside, the dude seems quite busy. As Jake Wightman can attest, the media attention can be a noisy distraction. 

The question then is how does Kerr handle it all? To help, he has hired 4-5 employees to help manage all aspects of his business and life. As much as I want to make fun of a professional runner needing that big of a team, I am insanely jealous and it makes me think he’ll be okay. Imagine how good this newsletter would be if I didn’t have to go grocery shopping each week!

As Kerr, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, and Wightman have spoken openly about their feelings about one another in the media during the off-season, the biggest beneficiary has been the fans. If you weren’t already invested, you should be now: Jakob claims he’d win 98 out of 100 times against the two Scots… who, if you’re keeping score at home, have won twice between them. 

All this while Jakob has bypassed the indoor season with a sore achilles. Most of us curl up in a little ball and cry ourselves to sleep at night when dealing with an injury, behavior which sits on the opposite end of the confidence spectrum from popping off to any Norwegian journalist willing to sit for an interview while you aqua jog. And that’s why Jakob is special — he not only forces his opponents to raise their game on the track, but to elevate their shit talking off of it.

But back to that track thing. Mo Farah’s previous 2-mile world record of 8:03.40 was a fast time. To put into perspective, it takes running a 7:30 3000m, then continuing on at that pace for another 218 meters. When Kerr won the Millrose 3000m last year, he did so in a time of 7:33.47. Has he become THAT much stronger? Or is he just that good at running downhill on the banks of The Armory track?

Given that Kerr was the one guaranteeing fans a world record performance, you might assume that he would have taken it upon himself to keep the pace honest. Instead, Grant Fisher – who must not listen to the Citius Mag podcast because Kerr was pretty clear about going for it! – was the first one on the rabbits. (Special rabbit shoutouts to Hazem Miawad, who got things started, and AJ Ernst, who towed the field through 2000m in 5:04. Ernst is making a name for himself in the rabbiting world, but also ran a 3:52 mile of his own last week – not bad for an unsponsored athlete working a full-time consulting job, who graduated with a 3:39 1500m PB a couple years back.)

In Fisher’s first race since leaving Bowerman, he kept this thing honest and seemed to have Kerr on the ropes there with a few laps to run. Where else besides the Millrose Games do you get a clash between the best American-based middle-distance and distance runner? Fisher tried his best to run the kick out of Kerr, but couldn’t quite break him. Ultimately, when the 1500 guy could sniff the finish line and the record, he closed his last 400m in 56.9 to run 8:00.67.

Most of our familiarity with the quality of a 2-mile time stems back to high school. All I know is that in my personal experience, if you couldn’t break nine minutes back in 2008, then Stanford doesn’t respond to your emails. But what’s 8:00 worth? Well, according to the World Athletics scoring table, Kerr’s time is faster than Lamecha Girma’s 3000m world record of 7:23.81. The thing it’s not faster than is Jakob Ingebrigtsen’s 7:54.10.

The World Record You Didn’t See Coming 🇧🇸

Photo: Johny Zhang | @jzsnapz

Technically every sprint race is a world record attempt, right? The 60M hurdles wasn’t the main event that was being hyped up as such. But Devynne Charlton set the tone for the meet early as she ran 7.67 to break the previous mark of 7.68, set by Susanna Kallur of Sweden in 2008.

The former Purdue Boilermaker, who finished fourth at last year’s World Championships in the 100H, was third a week earlier at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. The depth in women’s hurdles is crazy at the moment with every race coming down to execution rather than just ability. And if my understanding of the event is correct, that mostly means: don’t fall. Charlton was the silver medalist in Belgrade during the 2022 World Champs, and had knocked her personal best down to 7.75 earlier this season, so her success isn’t completely unexpected.

Devynne Charlton was a household name – if your household follows international hurdling – before she won the Millrose Games. I can’t say the same for Dylan Beard, who won the men’s 60M hurdles. But I’m sure glad we’ve had a chance to get to know him! The unsponsored athlete, who previously competed for Wagner, Hampton, and Howard during his NCAA eligibility, now trains in the Raleigh-Durham area where he balances a job working in the deli at Walmart. No matter how you slice it, this was easily the biggest upset of the meat.

Eisa wins the 2 mile! Oh wait… 🤭

Photo: Johnny Zhang | @jzsnapz

Oh jeez, this is awkward! It was apparent during the process of lining the athletes up that Medina Eisa was confused by the one turn stagger in the 2-mile. As soon as the gun went off, she stepped inside and ran the first turn in lane two – a gaffe that led to her disqualification. In fairness to Eisa, this was only the second indoor race of her life. That’s a shame because it was a great race, even if there wasn’t much on the line that last lap except for mass confusion. And it was apparent to anyone who noticed that it would not count for much – Laura Muir – technical champ – included. As Muir crossed the finish in 9:04.84, she knew who the real winner was… and isn’t that what really counts?

READER POLL: Who will win the Olympic 1500? 📊

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The Wanamaker Mile: It counts for something! 💥

Photo: Johnny Zhang | @jzsnapz

If you think nihilists are a buzzkill then try talking to an athlete who pretends nothing matters except the Olympics. But as much as your quads, hamstrings, and calves are muscles that need to be trained and peaked for that defining moment, so is the mind (technically an organ, but stay with me). And if every race has a built-in excuse about how it’s just a stepping stone, and there’s been no speed work, or it’s just part of the training cycle, then it’s difficult to turn on the juices when you finally need to get them flowing.

Few events on the calendar can trigger the emotions of racing under pressure at a championship better than a different championship. And part of the reason for that is winning doesn’t really matter at the majority of meets beyond some added financial incentive. The Wanamaker Mile is unique in that it is the one regular-season race where crossing the finish line first matters more to the racers than the time.

Yet we still get caught up in the record chase. And I am including myself in this! After the meet, someone asked me if this was the best Millrose I could remember and my initial reaction was, “If only Yared had gotten the world record!” Is this why we can’t have nice things??!!

It’s not like there was even another year of Millrose that I had in mind. I am being transparent with you dear readers: I am disappointed in myself for feeling even the tiniest inkling of disappointment in watching Yared Nuguse win a great race by running a 3:47.83 mile. As much as I try to preach the importance of racing over everything, the bad habits of Father Time will still occasionally try to drag you back in. That’s why I am not even going to make a big deal of four guys running sub-3:50 in an indoor race… THEY ALL LOST. That’s the only thing that matters!

But you know who would never let me down, even when I’m letting myself down? Elle St. Pierre! This was her third Wanamaker victory and her time of 4:16.41 broke her own American record. Following her incredible return to action 11 months following the birth of her son, Elle living on a dairy farm will be the second thing you hear about her when she’s making the race an honest one at the Olympic Trials.

Beyond television talking points, the tables turned in St. Pierre’s rivalry with Jess Hull – this time around it was now the Australian who was charged with controlling the pace. But when St. Pierre launched into a 61.3 final quarter, with all the energy Hull spent up front, it proved to be too much.

In partnership with OLIPOP

It doesn’t matter how many OLIPOP cases the CITIUS MAG team brings to a group run because they always disappear! And there’s a reason for that… only a few grams of sugar means it doesn’t only have to be a special treat for getting your miles in.

Under Armour Had Themselves A Weekend 🌌

Photo: Justin Britton | @justinbritton

When Under Armour committed itself to distance running a couple of years ago the Baltimore-based brand put all its chips on the team approach. With the backing of a $3.4B company, UA split its investment across three different groups that would be linked under the “Mission Run” moniker: one in Flagstaff (Dark Sky Distance) and two in Baltimore (Baltimore Distance and Baltimore 800).

For spectators, the three groups have often blended together – they all wear versions of a similar uniform and 80% of each team’s name is shared with the others. But that’s part of the territory when casting a wide net athlete-wise into a crowded shoe market.

There have been moments in the past years that have forced runners to take notice of the project’s individual athletes, and thus, the product on their feet– most notably Sharon Lokedi winning the New York City Marathon, or Isaac Updike qualifying for the World Championships. But this indoor track season has been a turning point for the brand, starting with Edwin Kurgat’s 12:57.52 5000m a few weeks ago. This last weekend, it seemed like Under Armour’s athletes were everywhere:

  • In the Wanamaker Mile, Adam Fogg (3:49.62) Casey Comber (3:51.92) fared well

  • Susan Ejore sent a new Kenyan national record at Millrose (4:20.61)

  • John Renwiewicki won BU Valentine Mile (3:51.72)

  • Jack Antsey set the Australian 1000m Record (2:16.95)

  • Lauren Ryan won the BU Valentine 3000m (8:42.31)

  • Sabrina Southerland (2:41.62) and Danae Rivers (2:42.72) went 1-2 in the BU 1000m

  • Regan Yee (4:24.95) and Ellie Leather (4:25.23) went 1-2 in the BU Mile

  • Ahmed Jaziri (7:41.05) and Willy Fink (7:42.47) went 2-3 in the BU 3000m

Try hopping in a time machine and going back to the previous Olympic cycle to tell a random American track fan that Under Armour’s pro groups are running better than Nike’s now, and they’ll call you a butthead and suggest that you make like a tree and get out of here!

I’ve said it before and I hope to say it again. If there is one thing that’s good for the sport it’s a diverse portfolio of brands pouring money into it so that we don’t all have to kiss the same ring. And from an athlete development standpoint, the more options that are available then the better chance of finding one that fits. 

(Note: This is not a sponsored post and there are no active conversations with Under Armour happening. Just a fan of what they’re building and I owe coach Cory Leslie a lot of credit for rabbiting 1425m of my 1500m PB.)

Knighton learns the bends 🔁

(Watch that video not only for the race, but the dude almost getting taken out crossing the long jump pit, and then the exhausted interview.)

Erriyon Knighton thought he was signing up for a race on a short track – it’s unclear if he knew it would be indoors. This was the first time the two-time world championship medalist had raced on a bank and although some of those strides may make that obvious, the final time did not.

His 20.21 is the fastest indoor debut in history, which isn’t a surprise. It is also #12 on the all-time list. For some added context, Frank Fredericks is the only man to ever dip below 20 seconds indoors (19.92), and if it weren’t for a career overlapping with Michael Johnson, he’d have two Olympic golds.

It’s hard to believe that Knighton turned 20 just two weeks ago. The assumption was after running 19.49 in April 2022 that he’d break the world record the following week. And somehow a silver at Worlds feels like it went under the radar.

Other notable results from Liévin:

  • Femke Bol, the world record holder in the indoor 400m, improved her season best running 49.63 – her fifth time breaking 50 seconds indoors.

  • Grant Holloway, the world record holder in the 60m hurdles, extended his ten year win streak by one more with a 7.32

  • Gudaf Tsegay, the world record holder at 5000m, posted an 8:17.11 3000m to miss the indoor world record by half a second.

  • Lamecha Girma, the world record holder in the steeplechase, narrowly missed Bekele’s 2000m world indoor record going 4:51.23. This was originally supposed to be set up as a match-up against Mo Katir, but then…

Provisional Suspension for Whereabouts Failure: Mo Katir 🇪🇸

Photo: Kevin Morris | @kevmofoto

The keyword in this headline is provisional because Mohamed Katir of Spain has not officially been convicted of wrongdoing – he’s only being accused of it. Katir is twice a World Championship medalist, and his quick ascension to stardom has previously drawn suspicion. In 2021, Katir dropped his 1500m time from 3:36.59 to 3:28.76, his 3000m improved from 7:44.13 to 7:27.64, and he has since run 12:45.01 for 5000m.

Rapid progressions often throw up red flags in fans’ heads, but at the age of 23, it’s not uncommon to get way faster, relatively quickly. Look at Yared Nuguse, who dropped 10 seconds in his mile last year. You don’t think he’s cheating, do you? That’s because we watched him grow up.

I have no clue if Katir is cheating – I hope he’s not! He is a fearless racer, posts sick videos of him ripping on the treadmill, indulges in great celebrations, and is a wordsmith. All important qualities we look for in our stars.

There isn’t much of a “we got ‘em!” hit of satisfaction when athletes are suspended for whereabouts failures. I’d like some more definitive proof, like a doctor coming out and saying it’s a miracle that a theoretically caught athlete is even alive because it’s IMPOSSIBLE to have THAT much testosterone in their bloodstream.

Instead, we get a weak little excuse from the AIU like, “well, we couldn’t find him…” and that doesn’t quite scratch the itch of my pitchfork. In a perfect world, if someone is missing three tests in 12 months then we can safely assume they are avoiding them. And then we can feel just about labeling them a cheater.

Unfortunately, this system hasn’t instilled 100% confidence in the process. In theory, it should not be that hard to provide a one-hour window each day where you’d likely be sitting on your couch drinking coffee before a run. But filing failures, athletes forgetting to update their travel plans, and a terrible website/app UX, do create some gray areas.

Regardless, the responsibility still falls on the athlete. One might happen… but once there are two strikes on your record! If you are actively fighting with commenters about whether or not you are doping, then it feels like step one is don’t dope, and step two is to update your whereabouts religiously!

(If you are curious how often Americans are being tested by USADA, that’s publicly available here.)

Rapid Fire Highlights🔥

  • Cameron Myers (17) opened up his season in Adelaide with a 3:34.55 1500m, Peyton Craig (18) won the 800m in 1:45.41 PB, and Claudia Hollingsworth (18) ran 4:04.45 PB. Crikey, what are they feeding these kids down there?

  • You all know how invested I am in unlocking India to expand track's fanbase. And I was FIRED UP to see University of Florida freshman Parvej Khan throw down a 3:56.64 mile – a new Indian national record – with a crazy final 200m while munching on his gold chain

  • Kibiwott Kandie won the Barcelona Half in 59:23 and Joyciline Jepkosgei set a new personal best of 1:04:29.

  • Stanford’s Ky Robinson ran an NCAA leading 3000m in 7:36.69 at the Husky Classic.

  • REMEMBER THE NAME! South Carolina’s Jameesia Ford ran a 200/400 double of 22.36/51.66 at Clemson.

  • Brandon Miller, who I should remind you is now on the Brooks Beasts, ran 1:14.03 to win the 600m in Albuquerque. 

  • Michaela Rose (1:59.49) and Maia Ramsden (4:24.83) each moved up to #2 all-time in NCAA history in the 800m and mile respectively. 

  • Colorado State’s Mya Lesnar set a new NCAA lead in the shot put, throwing 19.07m. Yes, her dad is who you think he is.


Maurie Plant Meet (AUS) — 2/15, 3AM (Flotrack): Mile ft. Wightman, Stewy, Tanner, Myers; 800 ft. Caldwell, Hall, Bisset, Barrett, Feldmeier (Entries)

USATF Indoor Championships (NM) — 2/16 to 2/17 (USATF.tv and NBC): 1500 ft. Teare, Hocker, Wynne; Hiltz, St. Pierre, Wiley; 3000 ft. Nuguse, St. Pierre; 60m Lyles vs. Coleman (Results / Entries)

Seville Marathon — 2/18, 2:30AM (YouTube): While I hope everyone has a great race, American running fans don’t want any new countries unlocking a spot with a sub 2:08:10. (Entries)

Terrier DMR Challenge (BU) — 2/16, 7PM (Flotrack): NCAA qualifying DMRs and rumors of a fast pro 5000m

Thanks so much to VELOUS for sponsoring this week’s newsletter! In addition to making a great product, their team has been a huge supporter of CITIUS MAG and they love this freaking sport and that’s a company I can get behind.

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