I have all the answers!⏱

Lap 102: Sponsored by OLIPOP

Not to toot my own horn here, but I still occasionally get invited to parties. And social custom dictates that when you show up to a social gathering that you have to bring something. For me, that something has become a case of OLIPOP.

When I show up, I don’t necessarily announce that every can contains 9 grams of prebiotic fiber from chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, and cassava root, because if I did, my friends would probably say "Kyle, stop talking like a commercial." But even then I'd still get invited back over because now I'm the OLIPOP guy, and once you try the runner’s soda you’ll be preaching the good word as well.

Why Millrose Matters 🗣

Real Millrose Heads know that the first iteration of the meet took place in 1908 on the roof of the Wanamaker department store warehouse. Then, starting in 1926 until moving uptown to the Armory, the Millrose Games were always held at Madison Square Garden. If you’re of a certain generation, you probably yearn for Millrose to head back down to the Garden. But before “Glory Days” starts playing in your head, let me poke some holes in your nostalgia.

Sure, at its peak, the world’s most famous arena would sell out to 18,000 track & field fans, but in its final years there, the stadium felt empty – fewer than 10,000 people were showing up. Comparatively, the roughly 5,000+ spectators who showed up at Fort Washington this past weekend made for an electric atmosphere in the far more intimate venue, one that hopefully gave those at home a healthy dose of FOMO.

(And one more knock against a return to MSG: today’s distance runner isn’t “wasting” one of their two or three annual indoor races on a wonky 146m track. Things were different back when Bernard Lagat would race six times each season!)

On the topic of FOMO, it was interesting to hear how much some friends had to pay to even get into the building. The dynamics of supply and demand were in full effect at the Armory… for a track meet! What a world – for tri-state area track nuts, this might as well have been a Taylor Swift concert, complete with an exorbitantly priced resale market.

While unfortunate news for would-be-spectators on a budget, it’s an important development for the sport as a whole, because it signals to sponsors and fringe fans that running is cool and popular. Alternatively, my constant exhortation to “bring a friend to the meet and help pique their interest!” becomes irrelevant because a fringe fan would never spend a couple of hundred bucks to attend. But that’s why we have television and our parent’s cable logins!

Ultimately the amount of money from additional sponsorships will greatly outweigh what ticket sales might bring in. The NFL made $66.5M from ticket sales from this year’s Super Bowl. A 30-second ad spot during the game cost $6-$7M. It’s shortsighted for meets to try and squeeze as much as possible out of ticket sales today, when they should be more focused on sponsorship dollars tomorrow.

Take the new USATF Journey to Gold meet out in Los Angeles this spring: would it be better to bring in an extra ~$100K in ticket sales? Or should the goal be to pack out the stadium and sell in an additional $400K in sponsorship deals the following year once there’s proof that 21,000 fans will show?

After Millrose, as I was walking home from the train station at 2:30 AM this Sunday, I wondered both why we can’t replicate the Millrose Games and why I moved my family so far north from the city (THE SCHOOLS BETTER BE WORTH IT!). The meet’s history is difficult to recreate and the brand name of the historic meets carries a weight that transcends beyond this bubble of newsletter readers. So how do we turn similarly historic meets like the Penn or Drake Relays into spectacles that every track fan in the country has to tune in for, if not schedule a trip to attend?? (I’ll beat the drum of these two meets needing to be different weekends until the day it happens.)

But even more so, how do we get every elite athlete to show up and decide that these meets matter? The Millrose Games is a big deal and everyone knows it. Part of that is that we have universally decided that it’s worth caring about – I still get stress dreams where I’m coming down the home stretch of the Wanamaker Mile and my legs turn to jelly!

Unlike other meets, if you win this one, then you win the US indoor season. There aren’t any asterisks because everyone shows up on one day and battles it out head-to-head. And while it’s nice to see records broken, simply beating the field is a cause of celebration. To paraphrase my grandmother’s teenage crush, ‘if you can make it at Millrose, you can make it anywhere.’

Wanamaker Mile Madness 🤯

We probably should have seen this one coming! When Yared Nuguse ran 7:28 for 3000m to set the American record in his off-event, then the writing was on the wall.

First off, without doing any research, this has to have been the deepest indoor mile race in history. Seventh place ran 3:52.49. That’s the 35th fastest time ever! That only happens with world class pace-making, so kudos to Erik Sowinski. He was asked to run 1:53.00 through 809m and pulled the field past the line in 1:52.99. An effective pacer can run smoothly enough to set the tempo not only for the first guy but all those behind him.

But it’s unlikely that its depth is the reason this men’s Wanamaker Mile will be etched into our memories for a long time. Yes, it was won in the second fastest time ever, behind only Yamif Kejelcha’s world record of 3:47.01. But the way it was run with a blistering final 200 meters is most remarkable. Closing in 25.9 is generally the sort of split reserved for a race that’s won in 3:55.

When Kejelcha ran the world record, his 1500m split was 3:31.25. Yared’s – which was also an American record – was 3:33.28. This was hardly a tactical race, but still, his last 109m is the fastest in recorded history. (The previous title holder may surprise you!) If it weren’t for the 300m lag (a 44.14 split) in the middle from 900 to 1200, then Nuguse may have very well broken Alan Webb’s outright record of 3:46.91. In his post-race interview, Yared said he was unaware of that mark coming in, but he certainly knows it now.

The next race on his calendar will be the 1500m Madrid on February 22nd and the time to watch is 3:30.60 by Jakob Ingebrigtsen – the final boss. Speaking of, if enough Americans slide into Ingebrigtsen’s DMs assuring him that New York is a great place to get a new tattoo, then maybe he’ll finally come next year.

Winning in the city is something Laura Muir is now accustomed to, as she builds on September’s record-setting 5th Avenue Mile performance with a memorable victory uptown. On paper, she was certainly the favorite coming in – a 3:54 1500m best will do that – but after a tough last lap (though she did hold on to win the 3000m) at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in 36.1, she appeared at least a little vulnerable.

Approaching 1200m, a formidable adversary appeared in the form of Colorado/New Jersey’s Josette Andrews, who took control with a fighting Lucia Stafford latching on. Yet Muir’s grit was on full display as she stayed attached until the last turn, at which point she turned on the jets and took it home in 4:20.15, silencing all newsletter writers who ever questioned her.

Record Breaking 3000m 🇺🇸

The Millrose Games 3000m ought to be renamed in Alicia Monson’s honor. Now a three-time champion, she has mastered the art of grinding even high-quality fields to a pulp. Monson’s strength as an athlete seems to be that she is exceptionally good at not getting tired when others do. Certainly, her childhood friends would corroborate that she was always the last to fall asleep at sleepovers

For perspective, I always find it helpful to understand just how good 3000m times are in the context of splits. For example, it’s quite impressive that Josh Kerrclosed in 3:59 on his way to winning the men’s race in 7:33.47, especially given the size of the lad. At this point, I don’t believe anyone agrees with 4:00 and 4:30 being analogous – well, Monson’s last 1600 was 4:27 flat!

Elite Athlete ➡️ Coach

There comes a time during every elite athlete’s career when they’ll be asked what they’ll do when their knees give out, and the topic of getting into coaching comes up. It seems like an easy enough transition for someone who probably wishes they had majored in something other than philosophy and has a half-decade gap in their resume that ostensibly just reads: “exercised often.” But the truth is that many aspects of being a coach directly contradict the things that make an athlete successful.

First off, it needs to be understood that most elite athletes are supremely talented. While having some understanding of physiology is a prerequisite for the role, the things Eliud Kipchoge is capable of are hardly transferable over to another athlete, even a really good one! Pulling from your own experiences as an Olympic-caliber athlete when writing workouts isn’t always a good thing. Saying, ‘this is what worked for me’ doesn’t work for someone else if you’re God’s gift to paved roads and your athlete’s got a case of the bird bones.

Oddly enough, throughout my career, I ran well under a soccer coach, a former decent sprinter, and an old football player. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to become an elite coach.

And while adjacently related, the bigger inhibitor that makes the jump from competitor to mentor difficult is the Venn diagram between being excruciatingly fast and being a tremendous narcissist is almost a perfect circle. Coaching requires empathy and caring about other people more than you care about yourself – something that temporarily gets placed on the back burner in this extremely selfish sport.

After Millrose had ended, I approached coach Dathan Ritzenhein and asked him if he’d be keen to do an interview. After all, his team had just broken seven national records, and look, we pay attention – Ritz interviews do numbers. Of the 45 interviews from this weekend posted on the CITIUS YouTube channel, his has the most views. Ritz is a bit of a celebri-coach.

And you know what he told me when I initially asked? No! Ritz said, ‘this isn’t about me – interview the athletes.’ Only after I told him that we had already spoken with Yared, Ollie, Sage, Mario, Alicia, and Josette did he agree. If you want to know what separates Ritz as a coach from countless others who weren’t even close to as quick as him in his prime, that’s it right there. He’s coaching for his athletes, and the fact that he’s quickly cementing himself as perhaps a better coach than he was runner (which is really saying something) doesn’t appear to even register as a motivating factor.

Being an elite athlete is definitely an elevator to the top of the coaching ring, but it’s not the only way there. Since I am sure a lot of fans aren’t actually aware of the athletic background of a lot of top coaches, I thought it’d be interesting to list off the range of accolades of what America’s professional coaches did before they held the stopwatch.

Dathan Ritzenhein (OAC) - 3x Olympian, Former 5000m American Record holder 12:56

Jerry Schumacher (Bowerman) - 3x NCAA All-American, USATF 1500m 5th Place, 3:39 1500m

Pete Julian (Union) - 2x World XC Qualifier, PBs of 5000m 13:33 and 10,000m 28:05

Alan Culpepper (NAZ Elite) - 2x Olympian PBs of 10,000m 27:33 and Marathon 2:09:41

Danny Mackey (Beasts) - Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier

Mike Smith (MSE) - NCAA All-American, Marathon PB 2:19:43

Amy Cragg (Puma Elite) - 2x Olympian, World Championship Bronze, Marathon PB 2:21:42

Mark Coogan (NB Boston) - Olympian, Marathon PB 2:13:05

Diljeet Taylor (TME) - NCAA DII 800m indoor runner-up, ran for Gags on the Nike Farm Team

Andy Powell (Untitled) - 4:02 high school miler; member of Stanford cross country team that placed 4th in 2000 at NCAAs

Tommy Nohilly (Empire Elite) - 8:16 steeplechaser, World Champ Qualifier

Joan Hunter (TME) - Masters national champion over 400m and 800m

Stephen Haas (UA Dark Sky) - 13:33 5,000m, 28:21 10,000m

Joe Bosshard (Boss Babes) - 13:34 5,000m, 28:41 10,000m

Amy Yoder Begley (Atlanta TC) - Olympian, 2x NCAA champ, 15x NCAA All-American

Sub 4️⃣ Mania

If 52 guys break four minutes in the mile at a single meet, then how hard could it be? Well, it’s not necessarily about the difficulty – it’s becoming more of an issue of whether we should still care when this barrier gets broken. Union’s Amos Bartelsmeyer had the fastest time of the day, running 3:50.45 for a German national record, and second place finisher Anass Essayi of the University of South Carolina (and Morocco) had probably the most overlooked performance of the weekend with an NCAA number two all-time mark of 3:50.46.

There was some controversy ahead of this meet in regard to the seeding as every coach in the NCAA lied advocated for their athletes. But hey, maybe some of those coaches had a premonition about their athletes’ heightened capabilities! It wasn’t until heat eight that the winning time of the men’s mile was north of four minutes. And this rising tide wasn’t just sweeping up pros or blue chip studs from top-tier D1 programs. In winning heat six, MIT’s Ryan Wilson, who set a Division III record of 3:55.29, absolutely dunked on the ghost of Roger Bannister. That shouldn’t be too big of a surprise – I’d imagine Giannis Antetokounmpo, or even Joe Ingles, would throw down quite the stat line playing against Neil Johnston (I Googled who the best basketball player was in the 1950s).

While my colleague expressed an opinion apparently felt by many that it’s time to retire the prestige of the sub-four-minute mile, I disagree. When Track & Field News announced that they were no longer going to keep the American list active, the patriarchy revolted and peer-pressured them to continue. I don’t think the problem is the men’s mile – it’s that other similar milestones haven’t been agreed upon and heralded as worthy of celebration. I’m only half-joking when I suggest we start celebrating other personal victories in a similar way: there should be 60 seconds after every event or heat for rushing the track to gas up teammates following personal bests or major breakthroughs.

I am not going to sit here and pretend that running a sub-four-minute mile is what it used to be. The stats don’t lie. There are 89 dudes in the NCAA who have broken the barrier already this season and there are still a few weeks left. In 2011, there were only 22. If you are 30 years or older and have a personal best of 4:00 to 4:05 in the mile, then you would probably be a modern-day sub-four minute miler – throw it on your resume!

The commentator at Boston University was incredible and the crowd was going wild for seven heats as athletes ran three-fifty-something. I don’t think we should try to suck the air out of that room, but let’s start getting equally excited about other achievements. Running a sub-four-minute mile is like being able to shotgun a can of Four Loko. It’s not a valid excuse to stop applying for actual jobs, but that doesn’t make it less cool.

It “runs” in the family! 🇪🇹

It was a good day to be related to the 2022 Marathon World Champion, Tamirat Tola! At the Dubai Marathon his younger brother Abdisa Tola made his debut and despite temporarily going off course with less than two miles left, still managed to win in 2:05:42. Then just minutes later, Tamirat’s wife Dera Dida ran a big personal best of 2:21:11 to win. Everyone involved took home $80,000 – well, except Tamirat. Maybe he’ll get a nice dinner or two out of this.

Rapid Fire Highlights 🔥

  • Is this the year Dani Jones reminds the world how good she is? It’s been a few years since she dominated the NCAA, but her strong indoor season continues with what would be considered the best race of her professional career. Jones beat Heather MacLean at BU over 1000m, running 2:34.64 to 2:35.03.

  • Trayvon Bromell responds! After narrowly losing to Noah Lyles at NBIGP, the 2016 World Champion at 60m ran a new personal best of 6.42 at Clemson.

  • Abby Steiner ran an American record for 300m at the Millrose Games in 35.54 after being a few steps behind Brittany Brown after one lap.

  • Cam Levins set a new Canadian half marathon record of 1:00:18 in Vancouver – no word yet on how long the ensuring cool down was.

  • It was a great weekend for collegiate 800m running as the all-time #2, #3, and #4 marks were set by Roisin Willis (1:59.95), Michaela Rose (2:00.18), and Juliette Whittaker (2:00.32).

  • Katelyn Tuohy finished third at Millrose to set a new collegiate 3000m record of 8:35.20 – her last mile would have beaten her previous PB up until two weeks ago.

  • Australian 800m record holder Peter Bol’s B sample has come back as an “atypical finding” which is neither positive nor negative, but it is confusing! His provisional ban has been lifted, though there is still an investigation.

  • Femke Bol ran a double Dutch record of 49.96 for 400m and 22.87 in the 200m. (Did anyone else come up with that pun or was I first?)

  • Jimmy Gressier broke the European 5k record in Monaco running 13:12 and as he’s always one for celebrations, he brought his own sign.

  • In Torun, Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay ran 4:16.16 for the second fastest indoor mile of all-time. And Britain’s Olympic silver medalist, Keely Hodgkinson won the 800m in 1:57.87 — the world lead and meet record, however, she wanted more.

  • Team NB Boston’s Emily Mackay is having a great freshman campaign, following up her mile personal best a week ago with another PB and a 3000m win in 8:40.75 at BU.

  • Canada’s Will Paulson used his 3:33 1500m personal best to land a Puma contract. At this point, I am shocked that I don’t also have a Puma contract.

  • Speaking of, in her first race as a Puma Elite athlete, Natosha Rogers won the 5000m at BU in a new personal best of 14:52, as teammates Sarah Inglis (14:59) and Fiona O’Keefe (15:01) followed her with PBs of their own.

  • Shawnti Jackson broke her own high school national record for 60m, going 7.16 and beating a handful of professionals. “Take that blog boy!” scream the people who didn’t fully comprehend last week’s argument.

  • Oregon’s Jorinde Van Klinken of the Netherlands set the new collegiate shot put record of 19.57m, previously held by Raven Saunders — good company!

  • Drew Hunter shared that he and his wife are expecting a baby in April. How will he balance parenthood and finishing high school?


LIEVEN MEETING - Wednesday (TODAY!) - 3 to 5pm ET - Flotrack - Info - This is like the Millrose Games of Europe with many records under threat as fields include: Ingebrigtsen, Fisher, Jacobs, Holloway, Bol, Duplantis, Girma, Krop, etc.

USATF INDOOR - Thursday to Sunday - Albuquerque, NM - Schedule and Entries - This will be an opportunity for a lot of athletes to grab their first national title, but some notable names include: Lyles, Hobbs, Bassitt, Hall, Hoppel, Harris, Hocker, Thompson, Hiltz, Hurta-Klecker, Noble, Morgan, Ealey, etc.

WORLD CROSS COUNTRY - Friday 11:30pm EST (That’s Saturday afternoon in Australia) - Peacock - Schedule - Previews - After a two-year delay, it is finally happening! African countries are expected to dominate but who will it be amongst greats such as: Gidey, Daniel, Chebet, Niyonsaba, Chesang, Kurgat, Kelati, Cheptegei, Kiplimo, Kamworor, Kwizera, Aregawi, Barega, etc.

Do Some Market Research 👨‍🔬

While there are still plenty of reasons to be excited about the World Cross Country Championships and the USATF Indoor Meet, it’s hard not to see that there are some glaring omissions from the start lists. There was a pretty clear misunderstanding from those who read the titles of my newsletter last week without reading any of the words inside of it. The goal of that modest proposal is not to bar high schoolers from competing because their presence takes away from the event – it’s because I want to eat them!

But seriously, it’s because the schedule lacks parameters to encourage athletes to act beyond their own best interests, and shoring up a professional circuit where the big names all opt in is crucial to the growth of the sport. A few days ago fans were counting down the days until Noah Lyles, Trayvon Bromell, and Christian Coleman squared off in New Mexico. And then a couple scratches later and it’s suddenly just Noah. From USATF’s standpoint, they need to figure out why this happened – have the conversation.

The $6,000 of prize money isn’t enough incentive. The value of that match-up is worth significantly more in appearance fees later this year. Maybe people are missing because the top sprinters train in Florida and they don’t want to travel to New Mexico. Or perhaps it’s that distance races at altitude deal a major disadvantage to those who train at sea level. Then there’s also the fact that this would be the third straight weekend of competition for a lot of athletes.

(I am aware that there is a lack of bidding and that scheduling conflicts with conference meets. That could also be a conversation!)

Similarly, why did so many athletes pass up the opportunity to represent the United States at World Cross Country? Knowing what went wrong this year could be valuable in the next cycle.

World Athletics is facing a similar issue as USATF. European nations have largely decided to pass on sending full teams to Australia – thank you Spain for stepping up! (That likely won’t stop them from saying the course isn’t proper cross country!) Is it because of the travel? The 94 degree weather forecast? The placement during the indoor season? Is it because the qualifying standards are now 13:07/14:57 for 5000m, and 27:10/30:40 for 10,000m? I bet it doesn’t help!

It’s a difficult problem to solve. The only thing that should be more important than winning national titles is representing your country in international competition. And it starts with asking athletes and coaches what motivated them to choose the path they have. That….and those damn high schoolers!