Apparently, clock DOES lie?⏱

Lap 76: Sponsored by HOKA Summer Mile Club

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The Monaco 💎 Recap

The Monaco Diamond League should be on every track fan’s bucket list, if not for the chance to take in one of the best non-global championship meets on the planet, then at least because of the high probability of getting invited onto a yacht. Although this year’s meet was smushed between the Commonwealth Games and the European championships, the performances still lived up to the hype. TBD on the yacht scene.

In the men’s 3000m, we were properly introduced to Burundi’s Thierry Ndikumwenyao, who ran 12:59 for 5000m earlier this year in Rome, but missed the World Championships due to a hamstring injury. Before this year, Ndikumwenyao had remained relatively stagnant in his performances since 2015, when he first ran 13:27 at 18 years old. Well, the hamstring looks fixed!

Ethiopia’s Berihu Aregawi came out hot and chasing history as he strung out the field coming through the 2000m split in 4:54 — within striking distance of world record pace. But on the final straightaway, it was clear that the ghost of Daniel Komen took too much out of him and Ndikumwenyao’s more conservative approach won out in 7:25.93.

The world record of 7:20.67 continues to live on as one of the most impressive marks in the books. It is right on par in terms of a point value with the surrounding distances according to the World Athletics scoring tables, but take how infrequently it is contested compared to a 1500 or 5000m into consideration.

Meanwhile, I am burying the lede for all my AMERICA FIRST readers. Grant Fisher finished third with a time of 7:28.48 to break Bernard Lagat’s record of 7:29.00. That’s his third American record this year!

There isn’t much more Faith Kipyegon can realistically add to her resume. She’s won both the Olympic and World Champion 1500m, twice, and taken down essentially every potential challenger to the throne in the process. But there is one thing she’s likely still got on her to-do list. Lower the world record. 

The all-time 1500m list is riddled with questionable performances by athletes who have either been banned for doping at one point in their career or who were closely connected with groups or coaches who were.

(Go down the list and Google each athlete’s name — you’ll understand why Faith Kipyegon is universally being cheered on by so many and considered the undisputed GOAT. The only event that might have a more seedy depth chart is the women’s shot put.)

If the 1500 is historically so dirty, and with how close she is to being the fastest ever, then why do we have faith in Faith? Basically, because the progression makes sense. She was a world junior champion and ran 3:56 when she was 19 years old and we’ve watched her as she’s steadily improved since.

In Monaco, the people’s — and Olympic, world, and world junior — champ gave herself a fighting chance with an opening 800m of 2:02. However, 600 meters of solo running ultimately ended up being too much distance to cover with just the help of pace lights. Kipyegon’s final time of 3:50.37 was a painful, yet incredible three-tenths of a second short of the world record.

In the race between everyone else, the Americans fared incredibly well — something that I did not realize until the results popped up on the screen. Heather MacLean, who had a nice battle with Covid earlier in the season, became the 8th fastest American ever, running 3:58.89 for second. And just behind her was Elise Cranny, who you may remember running 30:14 for 10,000m earlier in the season. Bowerman Track Club’s very own Swiss Army Knife ran 3:59.06!

Other fun Monaco Results: (The 1000m is fun, right?) Jake Wightman won it in 2:13.88. Shelly-Anne Fraser-Pryce took the 100m in 10.62. Noah Lyles went 19.46. Natoya Goule ran her 42nd career sub-two, winning in 1:56.98. And with two World Championships a piece, Grant Holloway (12.99) and Kelsey-Lee Barber (64.50m) each won their first ever Diamond League.

European Championships 🇩🇪

I hope all you Americans that I failed to convince to watch the Commonwealth Games haven’t made the same mistake again when it comes to the European Championships. First off, it’s MUCH easier to watch — it’s free, on multiple channels, has a clearly listed schedule, and even includes replays. Plus the coverage is really good!

Think you’d have a hard time getting worked up over the results? Think again. You just might have to reach for reasons, either a little, or a lot. For instance, without an obvious rooting interest, here’s the hierarchy of support I’ve fallen into:

  1. Ireland — Because my wife grew up there and my daughter, Laoise, will likely be the national record holder in the 5000m one day.

  2. Spain — Because my grandparents grew up there and if I could have spoken the language even conversationally then I would have tried to run for them in the Olympics. (Editor’s note: Kyle isn’t being modest — the man is chronically unable to learn a language other than Modern Long Island English.)

  3. The Netherlands — I like their uniforms.

Regardless of if your family came to Ellis Island from one of the nations competing, you really don’t need to have a horse in any of these races to find them intriguing. There are extremely talented athletes lining up for the pride of their country who will apparently maim themselves to hear their national anthem from the medal stand — more on that in a second.

The event is being held in Munich at the Olympiastadion, home of the 1972 Olympics, and the German fans just about filled the 69,250 capacity stadium to capacity on Tuesday night for the 100m finals. I’ve heard from friends who are there that the atmosphere is deafening and the support of the crowd has certainly helped the home team.

Although she may have spiked herself in the process of falling across the line — here’s hoping she is okay; if you’re squeamish don’t look too closely at the above photo… — Gina Lückenkemper had one of the most miraculous finishes imaginable, running 10.99 to beat Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji by a margin of .005 seconds! In the Decathlon, Niklas Kaul ran a five-second personal best (4:10.04) to win the 1500m to surpass the points leaders. And in the marathon, Richard Ringer kicked from behind to win by two seconds in 2:10:21 over Israel’s Maru Teferi.

Now if you’ve ever looked at a globe before, you’re probably wondering what Israel is doing at Europeans — is their country not part of Asia? Since 1990 World Athletics has included Israel in the European Athletic Association after they were excluded from the Asian Games “due to political reasons as they were thought to be a security risk due to conflict with other Arab nations represented at the Olympic Council of Asia.

Other notable performances from the European Championships include Jakob Ingebrigtsen winning the 5000m in 13:21 with a 3:57 last 1600, and Lamont Marcell Jacobs rebounding from his World Championship injury to win the 100m in 9.95.

And this being a major meet, of course there was something bizarre that happened that might confuse fans and call into question the validity of other performances. In the long jump, Greece’s Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou launched an incredible 8.52m, but the controversy was over second place. Initially, Britain’s Jacob Fincham-Dukes won the silver medal in a personal best of 8.06m — the laser technology gave him the white flag. But after celebrating a victory lap, the protest from France was somehow successful and that approved jump was then determined to be a foul. What is the statute of limitations on these rulings? It wasn’t even his last jump! He already got handed a flag and did his lap — now he’s 5th!

What does this say about the trustworthiness of the cameras/lasers or whatever? Do we need Devon Allen to lead a class action lawsuit against the accuracy of track and field’s technology!? 

Can we not even trust clocks now? ⏱

The 2021 Islamic Solidarity Games had a rough start when they got moved to 2022, but the event, which is colloquially known as Konya 2021, made up for lost time. 

Most notably, thanks to the performance of Ivory Coast’s Arthur Cissé, who entered the weekend with a personal best of 9.93. In windy conditions in the first round, Cissé ran 9.78 (+4.0) — likely erasing much of the disappointment from an early exit at the World Championships.

Then in the semi-final, Cissé proved it was not a fluke, posting a new personal best of 9.91 (+0.1). And later that day, the sprint gods blessed the athletes with a wind-legal +1.7, and he solidified another new lifetime best — this time 9.89!

That is until this notice came out… The results were invalidated due to a technical issue that could not confirm the accuracy of the times. Maybe it didn’t come as a complete shock. There were a lot of personal bests run during those first three days of competition. But it’s impossible to not feel incredibly sad for all the impacted athletes who undoubtedly celebrated long-awaited breakthroughs.

After the 100m hurdles at the World Championships, which included a world record, many national records, and endless personal bests, there were plenty of accusations that the timing system was broken. Stuff like this does occasionally happen. There was a fast 1500m race (won in 3:32) in Marseille seven years ago that was invalidated because the athletes started at the wrong line.

But I don’t think this snafu should further call into question the validity of those performances, at Worlds. It’s been weeks now, and nobody’s produced any proof that something went haywire with the timing — let’s save the track-based conspiracy theories for something more fun, like… I don’t know… the track at Swarthmore isn’t short. 

Also of note from the Solidarity Games is that Turkey’s Yasemin Can won the 5000m in 16:23, four days before winning the European Championships 10,000m in a significantly faster 30:32. In third place was Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet, the 2016 Olympic champion and former world record holder in the steeplechase. She was suspended for four years in 2018 by the Athlete’s Integrity Unit for EPO.

Diving to the finish? 🐬

WATCH THIS FIRST: When Joao Vitor De Oliviera quite literally dove into the 110m hurdle semifinals by 0.002 seconds at the European Championships, Twitter did what Twitter does: devolve into a brawl about whether this was the coolest thing ever or if he should be handcuffed and sent to jail.

I am split here. Logistically, if you have to dive to make the semi-final, then it’s probably not worth it. The risk of breaking a collarbone while qualifying on a dive, and thus being unable to line up for the next round is much too high — and it’s not even for the finals. Diving for a medal makes sense. There are no more races to run, and you can momentarily cope with the discomfort a medal may place on a snapped clavicle.

But assuming it is the most efficient way to cross the finish-line, which would require a physicist to answer, is this what we want to encourage? Cycling banned the supertuck despite its aerodynamic benefits because it was extremely dangerous, not just for the professionals, but for the kids. 

In fairness, there wasn’t a huge uptick of high schoolers purposefully diving at dual meets because it worked for Shaunae Miller-Uibo. And we are yet to see rampant abuse of EPO amongst teens. (Editor’s addendum: crapping yourself is allowed in the marathon and may get you to the finish faster than if you took a proper bathroom break, but this time-saving hack hasn’t become widely embraced.)

You could argue that the goal is to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible and how you decide to do that is at your own free will – except there is already a very lengthy rule book describing all the things you can and can’t do along the way. Makes for a good viral tweet though!

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CITIUS to Falmouth 🔜

The main reason the CITIUS MAG team is heading to Cape Cod this weekend is that it’s almost the end of summer and my vitamin D levels are much too low after spending so much time in our well-shaded interview tent in Eugene. But the second is that it’s the 50th running of the iconic Falmouth Road Race and I want to celebrate by dressing up in pastels and cosplaying as a Kennedy.

The story begins in 1972 when a local bartender named Tommy Leonard was watching Frank Shorter win the Olympic marathon and fantasizing about how cool it’d be to get him to come to Falmouth. Inspired by that momentous victory, the American culture surrounding road racing would change dramatically, and the inaugural race in 1973 played an integral part in that new wave.

Finally, in 1975, the plan worked. Frank Shorter actually showed up to the race and beat a famous local, Bill Rodgers — mission accomplished, Tommy, you absolute legend! And despite Frank Shorter eventually retiring from racing, the Falmouth Road Race lived on.

This year, defending champion and international idol Edna Kiplagat will return, but it won’t be easy to win again. Keira D’Amato is fresh off an 8th-place finish at the World Championships. If there are any doubts as to whether or not she is recovered, a 23-mile long run last week has your answer. Bruktayit Eshetu Degefa has won much of the “short course” American road race circuit this season. But if you’re a bettor, then check the odds on Fentyea Belayneh, who is coming off a win at Beach 2 Beacon.

On the men’s side, two-time champ Ben Flanagan returns to the home of his future in-laws in hopes of running well enough to receive a final blessing before tying the knot. Flanagan met his now fiancée at the 2018 race — her father is the President of the event. But you don’t win a historic road race through nepotism — Benny’s a hell of a fighter of seven miles. He’ll face a loaded field that includes 2019 champion Leonard Korir and last year’s runner-up, Biya Simbassa. Wesley Kiptoo has adjusted well to the professional scene as demonstrated by his 1:01 victory at the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, but so has former Campbell University standout, Athanas Kioko — who was second at Beach 2 Beacon.

Sadly not included in the race preview is that I am running… again! But this time I won’t be in Saturday’s mile, which I won twice. (It’s not cocky to brag about things that happened a lifetime ago, especially if you are only bringing it up because your relevance is waning.)

Something Falmouth does an excellent job of is weaving together elite athletes and the community. While it is unique to our sport that anyone can “play” alongside the best in the world, someone running 7-minute pace won’t be able to watch any of the professionals, even from a distance after the first mile.

That’s why I am publicly calling for the unification of road races and track events! The general participants of a road race are built-in spectators whose knowledge and appreciation of the elite end of the sport can grow immensely from watching athletes run a 3:52 mile on the track. It’s up close and personal, driving home that speed in a way that losing by 12 minutes in a 7-mile race can’t.

Watch the Falmouth Mile on the CITIUS MAG YouTube channel for FREE on Saturday starting at 4:00 PM. The elite races will begin shortly after 5:00 PM.

The Falmouth Road Race is Sunday starting at 8:40 AM and streamed via NBC Boston 10. Post-race at about 10:00 AM, the CITIUS team will be hosting the After The Final Lap recap show with race winners, pro athletes, and legends of the sport.

Catching up with Eric Jenkins

Also heading to Falmouth this weekend is local-elite, Eric Jenkins, who is bringing with him a small overnight bag and an impressive list of personal bests (3:53/13:05/27:22). While better known for his track performances, Jenkins has previously won the historic Manchester Road Race and he’ll be looking to join the short list of individuals who have done the double. I caught up with him ahead of Sunday:

This is your first time ever running Falmouth. What took you so long? Is this the transition from track to road happening in real-time?

I've done the mile, but never the road race. I had a tough spring. I just wasn't able to stay healthy and had to take five weeks off in April. It wasn’t the build-up I wanted going into USAs for the 5000m and 10000m. This is just something a bit different — I still do think those are my better events. I'm not going to the marathon yet. I might do a half, but this isn’t an official move.

How’s everything been feeling recently heading into this 7-miler?

It's been tough with the recent heat wave here on the East Coast to get good quality training in the past couple of weeks, but I'm feeling good about it and am excited.

I haven’t seen you publicly talk much about being back in New Hampshire full-time training under Andy Powell again. How’d that decision play out?

With the way that Pete and the Union group was headed — becoming more of a shorter middle-distance group — I wasn't matching up with anybody over there. I love Craig and Donavan, but I was the lone 5k/10k guy. I had been with Pete for a long time and I was just looking to switch it up. I know Andy really well and it made sense at this point in my career.

I know you go to Boston regularly to meet up with Johnny (Gregorek) for workouts. But are you experiencing any unexpected advantages in this new setup?

Right now Ed Cheserek is being coached by Andy, as well. When I was out in Flagstaff I was training with him before I went to Seattle with Johnny in the spring. And it's been nice, now that I am 30 years old, to not be in altitude camps eight months a year. I have more flexibility in how I want to approach things and Andy understands that.

Johnny and I were talking last week about how there are certain people who are built for the structure of college. And then it’s a different personality type that thrives as an early professional. But then there’s this other phase in life once you’re 30ish that requires a whole new shift in your mindset.

It's a different type of drive. When you're first out of college you're so hungry and you're willing to do whatever. I’m still motivated now, but I want to set up my life a bit differently, versus training being over absolutely everything, at all times.

It's like, how do you keep it going? There might be times when you’re not hungry and that’s fine. For example, there were times when Craig had a hard time staying motivated, day in and day out. And I’d say to him ‘that’s natural, just keep going for the runs and you’ll find that motivation again.’

I've always thought you’d make a great coach one day if you decide to go that route. You have a good training concept and have an idea of what you want and what you need. How does that work now?

I think in the past I've wanted to know why I'm doing certain workouts. I am curious about it and I want to know stuff. But then I think when you do that too much it leads to overthinking. This year I'm trying to take my mind off it and just do what I’m being told to do.

Would you say it’s a problem that you're too smart?

No one else will say it, but I think that might be it. Thank you for speaking up.

Looking to this weekend, do you feel some level of pride on the Cape? You're kind of the hometown guy. Did your family have a picture of John F. Kennedy next to Jesus on the mantel growing up?

I am two hours away. I can drive in the morning of and roll right up the start line — no warm-up. And Jesus was there, but I don't know if Jack made the cut.

What will you consider a successful race this weekend?

Going out and competing. Being willing and prepared to hurt those last few miles. I'm sure being the top American will be tough, but you never know.

Rapid Fire Highlights 🔥

  • Empire Elite’s Eric Holt won the West Chester Mile in a new personal best of 3:54.93. (Read his Victory Lap interview.)

  • Maggie Montoya, who ran 2:29 in the marathon this year, has signed a shoe deal with Salomon.

  • The Chicago Marathon announced the 2022 fields, highlighted by defending champions, Ruth Chepngeitch and Seifu Tura, Boston winner Benson Kipruto, Emily Sisson, and debuts by Pat Tiernan, and Conner Mantz.

  • The New York City Marathon announced its women’s field which includes: Peres Jepchirchir, Sara Hall, Emma Bates, Gotytom Gebreslase, a debut by Hellen Obiri, and like two dozen other impressive athletes that will be worth tuning in to cheer for.

  • Charles Philibert-Thiboutot ran 4:56.88 to break the Canadian 2000m record. I know it’s a constant trope of mine to talk about how we need fewer events in track and field, but this is a cool distance that is rarely run anymore. The WR is 4:44.79 from Hicham El Guerrouj, which blows my mind.

  • BAA added Michigan State’s Jenna Magness (15:26/32:59), and the Minnesota sister duo of Bethany Hasz (2nd NCAA 5000m) and Megan Hasz (Big Ten XC Champ).

  • Emily Sisson won the Bobby Doyle 5 miler in 25:08.

  • The NACAC Championships are this weekend in the Bahamas and Team USA is set up to do quite well! (Info)

  • The NCAA D1 Track and XC committee denied the motion to increase the women’s distance in the fall was denied because in ‘the 6k race distance for women and 10k race distance for men, similar amounts of competition time are spent running per gender.’ This is interesting considering in 2021 Whittni Orton won in 19:25 and Conner Mantz won the men’s race in 28:33.

  • Malcolm Gladwell penned a response to my response about his Pied Piper idea.

Thank you to HOKA for supporting this week’s newsletter! I just got myself a fresh pair of Clifton 8 and Mach 5’s as my feet missed that sweet sweet cushion.