- The Lap Count
- Deep in the weeds⏱
Deep in the weeds⏱
In partnership with On
Lap 116: In Partnership With On
What happens when you mix the world's fastest athletes and a festival atmosphere? On Track Nights. Loud, rowdy, and full of energy, these are track meets for the entire running community. With everything from world-class athletes and musical entertainment to fireworks and food trucks, these are not your standard running events. Launching in 2023, there will be On Track Nights events happening throughout May and June in Paris, Vienna and London. Don't miss out. Learn more at www.ontracknights.com
USA goes to Bermuda 🏝
Photo: Puma Running | American Track League
This is the second year of the event, but I’m still trying to figure out why USATF is putting on a meet in Bermuda. Not to get all Olivia Benson in a Law & Order: SVU episode where she is getting into a dispute with an FBI agent, but THIS IS NOT YOUR JURISDICTION. And that’s before I even get started on the wind!
As you’d expect from a gold-label race, there were some great fields put together. Though, respectfully, the program could probably do without the 1500, which saw five men jog around the track looking for refuge from the conditions.
With gusts of +3.5 m/s behind her, Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn ran 12.17 seconds over the 100m hurdles, good for the third-fastest all-conditions time ever. Somehow Steven Gardiner managed to open up in 44.42 around the oval to extend his 400m win streak that dates back to 2018.
The two most anticipated match-ups of the meet lived up to the hype. First was the long jump battle between Tara Davis-Woodhall and Quanesha Burks, which did end up being a 1 vs. 1 showdown… if you shut your eyes when the other six athletes competed. It all came down to the sixth jump. Davis-Woodhall was sitting in second just one centimeter behind Burks, but launched herself 7.11m (+2.1) to edge past and take the win.
Despite the drama, Burks did make an interesting point via Twitter about the order of operations: The top-ranked competitor isn’t given the advantage of going last in the final round, as the rules instead call for a made-up, backyard version of last-licks.
In contrast to that, in the men’s 100 meter all of the athletes go off at the same time. You might not have known this if you tuned in 25 meters into the race because Christian Coleman started like he was attached to a slingshot. Despite a sizable lead, Noah Lyles somehow found a way to eat up enough ground that it was a close call at the finish. With a few more steps he would have had it, but since the fellas did in fact finish at the agreed upon 100m mark, he ended up just behind Coleman, who won 9.78 to 9.80 (+4.4).
The wind was certainly assisting the times, but this was still Coleman’s fastest time since he ran 9.76 to win Worlds in 2019. Wind or not, not bad for an opener. And for Lyles, this performance was his fastest time ever, and a tenth of a second faster than he ran a month ago in similar wind. To win a medal, let alone gold, his start does need to keep developing, but it’s coming.
The stadium in Budapest was designed to take advantage of the north-south winds. And I am convinced Noah will do that, at least in the 200.
Down with the small q! ☠️
I will never forget when I started hating the “little q.” It was the 2014 USATF Championships. The 1500m was supposed to have two heats, with the top five from each getting an automatic bid into the final, plus two time qualifiers. Minutes before the race, while in the paddock area, the word was passed down to us that advancement was now going off of 4-4-4, as in top four from each heat, then four time qualifiers.
Mustering up my best effort after a spring dealing with a knee injury, I found myself running 3:45.26 and finishing in fifth place – less than two-tenths from an automatic spot. As I stood there watching the second heat run an honest first lap it was immediately obvious to me that my championship was done. The final had eight guys from that second heat, and just four from mine.
On Monday morning, the World Athletics Council announced that starting at this year’s World Championships in Budapest, the 1500m, steeplechase, and 5000m will no longer have time qualifiers – better known as “little qs.”
This news came nine years too late to have any real impact on my life, and it’s still not clear if national championships will follow a similar procedure, but this change is universally endorsed by people whose opinion I respect. (If you disagree with this decision then you have self-identified yourself as someone whose judgment on all things running-related no longer holds any weight!)
This is good for a variety of reasons, but the first one should be fairly obvious: this system encourages racing. Who cares about times in a championship? Records are not being broken in the prelims and with the high stakes of advancement on the line, even in a sit-and-kick race there is no shortage of drama. And it will still be advantageous for certain athletes to be the ones up front pushing the pace. Look at the times that won the finals at last year’s World Championships – races with no extra incentive to run fast:
1500m — 3:29.23 and 3:52.96
Steeplechase — 8:25.13 and 8:53.02
5000m — 13:09.24 and 14:46.29
Okay, admittedly the men’s steeple and 5000m don’t really support my argument, but it was hot in Eugene! That 13:09 was run in 87-degree weather. At the Olympics, the times were 8:08 and 12:58.
Now perhaps the most important argument for this being a good thing is that it makes the qualification process significantly easier to understand. Many of the fans who watch global championships might not have insight into what a little q is. And if you are cheering on your countryman only to watch them finish in purgatory, then that is more anti-climatic than seeing a draw in soccer. Track and field has a knack for making the simplest sport unnecessarily complicated. This is one minor fix with positive implications.
And finally, there is no longer an advantage to being in the last heat and knowing exactly how fast one needs to run to qualify. You know who definitely won’t be complaining about this rule adjustment in Budapest? The lucky son of a gun who is the 16th qualifier in the 5000m.
How Americans Qualify for the Olympic Marathon
2020 Olympic Trials | Photo: Kevin Morris
Are you hoping to qualify for the Olympics in the marathon? Well, good luck. It’s hard! Challenges include bumping up your mileage north of 120 each week, staying healthy enough while doing so to crush some eye-popping road sessions, then you’re also faced with the daunting task of figuring out exactly what the rules and regulations are. Many Olympic hopefuls, their agents, and their coaches, are likely just beginning to understand the process thanks in part to this Twitter thread shared by coach James McKirdy.
For American women, who are better at running, it is now quite simple. For American men… like I said earlier, good luck! Here are the basics of how to qualify according to World Athletics:
Countries can send up to three athletes
The target field size is 80
The Olympic standards are 2:08:10 and 2:26:50
Achieving a top 5 finish at a platinum race will also be considered qualified
Athletes ranked in the top 65 (filtered to max 3 per country) will be considered qualified
Spots can be reallocated by a federation to athletes who have achieved 2:11:30/2:29:30
The federation has the final say of which qualified athletes will be selected. Because the United States will utilize the reallocation of spots, what that means is that if we have three spots “unlocked” then all an athlete has to do is be one of the first three across the finish line at the Olympic Trials who have run under 2:11:30 or 2:29:30.
On the women’s side, there are more than three who have done their duty for the good of Americans everywhere. The men have no one. That means that if a few souls do not fall on the sword and commit to running a fast marathon this fall, we risk sending no dudes to the Olympic marathon starting line. United we stand, divided we fall!
As much as I enjoy slagging the American marathon men for not doing whatever Japan is doing, there are definitely at least three men capable of finishing in the top 20 in the world. The issue is that the appearance fees and ease of travel to run New York and Boston have routinely skewed the majority of our top athletes’ schedules toward these domestic events. A top-five finish in either is obviously difficult, as is running fast over the course’s hills. And not that anyone has run under 2:08:10 at either race recently, but Boston and the California International Marathon – the site of the USATF Champs, ironically enough – are not eligible for standards anyway.
Is part of the issue doping? All the standards have been lowered, but it is possible that 2:08:10 becoming commonplace globally is just the product of rampant cheating. If you’re only racing twice a year with the majority of your time in between spent off the radar in the mountains, then it is relatively easy to evade testing.
This is a prisoner’s dilemma if there has ever been one, which is often how I feel about being a fan of this sport. The majority of serious male American contenders have not made an Olympics before, so the first goal should be to simply qualify. But working backward from the beginning of February, there isn’t much time.
Here is where the United States men stand:
0 US men have run under 2:08:10
0 US men have finished top 5 in platinum races
49 of the 80 spots are currently filled by other countries
6 US men have run under 2:11:30 (Korir, Zeinasellassie, Simbassa, Kibet, Mekonen, Colley… remember, Boston doesn’t count for time here, just place)
If filtering for a maximum of three per country, then Fauble sits in 39th, Mantz is 45th, and McDonald is 60th. The problem is that none of those guys have a second mark worth enough points.
An easy solution is for World Athletics needs to create its Road to Paris tool/web page immediately so athletes have an idea of where they currently stand. Right now, everyone is shooting in the dark.
That makes it a matter of controlling what you can control. If I am one of the athletes who has not run under 2:11:30, then I would certainly aim to do that. The no-brainers there are Fauble, Mantz, and McDonald because if they go do that, then they’ll likely have a high enough ranking to unlock a slot.
Another strategy is to run races that have a high potential for big-point bonuses. If you are a US man with the potential to run Worlds, for instance, then you should 100% do it. The right of first refusal for those three spots goes: Mantz, Fauble, Kibet, and then Panning, Korir, Rupp if someone passes.
But why would you pass? You get to represent the USA!!! But maybe more importantly if the goal is to make the Olympics, the course is very flat. The race is being run at 7 AM, and in Budapest the average temperature on August 27th at that time is 60 degrees with low humidity. And it is a OW-level race (it stands for “Olympics/Worlds” and it’s the highest category of competition) with generous points being dished out going 20 places deep.
If you are Mantz or Fauble, then not only is this an opportunity to knock out 2:08:10 as an A-goal, but also to secure a 2:11:30 as a consolation prize, in case a top three finish at the Trials requires riding someone else’s coattails. Just sticking your nose in it comes with a very high likelihood of improving your ranking to where it needs to be.
For similar reasons, another great opportunity that American men should consider: The World Road Running Championships Half in Riga. Four men go and once again, it’s a quick course and a good chance to get that ranking up.
They never said it would be easy. And I guess they also probably never said it would be simple… If you are confused, that’s okay.
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Night of the 10,000 Beers 🍻
The second stop of the On Track Nights was in London for the Night of the 10,000m PB’s, an event that showed that with enough beer and food, people can be convinced to attend even meets centered on 25-lap races. The genius of this festival is that it leverages the 10,000m being a traditionally more boring race to watch to create an environment that is no longer dependent on watching the races.
Imagine a Night of the 100m PB’s. Fans can’t get up to grab a beer or take a piss to get rid of all the previous beers without missing six heats. In this case, the disadvantage becomes the advantage. With 10,000ms… long line? Doesn’t matter! You have 25 minutes before things start to get good.
Spectators are not necessarily there because of the track meet. They’re there for all of the entertainment points, the community, the food, and there also just so happens to be a track meet going on.
The key here is that there is a low barrier to entry: it’s free to attend or watch online. As someone who occasionally dabbles in acquisition marketing campaigns I can speak to the importance of establishing an attainable threshold with a high perceived value. Even though Paul Chelimo is a 2x Olympic medalist capable of ripping a 27:12 10,000m under the lights to win by 19 seconds, there were droves who showed up having no idea who he was. But they left knowing who he is.
The women’s side saw an even more dominant victory for Ethiopia’s Mizan Alem, as she won by 65(!) seconds in 29:59.03 – the 11th woman ever under a standard sitcom-length TV slot. Two years ago, Alem won the World U20 championships at 5000m, and although she has run 14:46, this performance indicates she’s taken her game to a whole new level.
An important takeaway here is the organic way in which the Highgate Harriers club spent the last decade growing this festival to where it is today. Supporting grassroots community events that already have a committed following is the way to go. If you want to build a treehouse, then you can plant a tree today and wait. Or you can just pick out the sturdiest 100-year-old tree in your backyard and start from there. And would could be better than hanging out in a tree house with Paul Chelimo?
Thank you for your service, Eric Jenkins ✌️
Photo: Kevin Morris
After eight years of running professionally, Eric Jenkins has retired. The announcement was made on the latest episode of The CITIUS MAG Podcast. The Portsmouth, New Hampshire, native finished his career with personal bests of 3:35.94 for 1500m; 3:53.23 for the mile, 13:05.85 for 5000m and 27:22.06 for 10,000m.
He broke out as a junior at Northeastern when he ran 7:46.21 to finish second in the 3,000m at the NCAA Indoor Championships (the ninth-fastest performance in NCAA history at the time) only to be DQ’d controversially. He went on to transfer to Oregon and finished second at the 2014 NCAA Cross Country Championships before winning two individual indoor titles at 3000m and 5000m.
Jenkins graduated and signed with Nike and spent time working under Alberto Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project, Pete Julian and the Union Athletics Club, then Andy Powell. While many people within the track and field community may think of him for his reputation as a fun off-season guy or his hilarious Instagram videos, many don’t realize just how intense he was as an athlete. It showed when he finished fourth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, qualified for the 2017 World Championships and managed to win the Millrose Games’ Wanamaker Mile and 5th Avenue Mile.
Listen to the full conversation on The CITIUS MAG Podcast for more stories by Jenkins including being a punk in high school, deciding to take the sport seriously/breaking out at Northeastern, #FreeJenkins, landing at Oregon and winning two titles, his time at the Nike Oregon Project and what he considers his best race ever. Plus, why you may not be done hearing from him.
CITIUS MAG PODCAST: Closing the book on your professional career, how do we feel about it?
ERIC JENKINS: Oh, man. We’ll be here all night. Overall, it’s all still so fresh. I really gave it everything. It just felt like the right time. My body hasn’t held up to the training necessary to compete. There’s nothing I can really do about it. I’m so thankful for the career that I had. It’s led me to some of the best connections and relationships in my life. I couldn’t imagine I would’ve got this far when I started. The competitor in me believes there are things I could’ve done that I didn’t but that’s how it goes in this sport. You’re never going to be truly satisfied. Eliud Kipchoge could retire today and he’s gonna be like, ‘I could’ve done something different.’ I’m so thankful for my career and more than anything, I’m very proud of it. That’s where I’m at right now. It’s tough because it’s not a spur-of-the-moment decision. It’s been a work in progress for months and months. There were times when I wasn’t sure about it but I feel really good.
CITIUS MAG PODCAST: How did you get to that point? You had some plans to race this year. What changed?
ERIC JENKINS: I don’t think I felt 100% for a little bit. The amount of training, intensity and volume that it takes to compete at this level is just not something that my body was able to hold up. When you’re doing that every day and trying to get it up for training when you’re not feeling good – it just weighs on you and it’s exhausting. Between January and now, my heart wasn’t in it fully. I didn’t have the same fire that I had years ago.
CITIUS MAG PODCAST: When’s the last hard run that you went on? I guess they’re getting tougher each day.
ERIC JENKINS: I was gonna say ‘Last week.’ I haven’t worked out in a long time. I love running but it will probably be a while until I do a workout. I can’t quite wrap my head around that right now.
CITIUS MAG PODCAST: There are fans out there who are left wondering how good you would’ve been in the half marathon or marathon. Do you have those question marks in your head too?
ERIC JENKINS: A little bit. I just didn’t necessarily feel the desire. The half and the marathon are a whole other beast. It would be another thing to try and get myself 100% for a marathon – I don’t like the sound of that. Quite frankly, I don’t want to do the training required to do that. Just because I ran quite well in the 5000m and 10,000m doesn’t always translate to the marathon. It doesn’t necessarily mean I would be a great marathoner. You saw Kyle’s marathon. I think I could probably smash that. Right now, I don’t want to do a marathon build.
For more listen to the interview on the CITIUS MAG Podcast feed. Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other major podcast publishers. Show notes and notable quotes will also be available on CITIUSMAG.com
My Brooklyn Half Debacle 👮♀️
Photo: Johnny Zhang | @jzsnapz
This is going to be a difficult race recap for me to write. [Editor’s note: It will be a fun recap for me to edit!]
Coming into the Brooklyn Half my hope was to run under 68 minutes, which shouldn’t be heroic for a guy who – during a particularly strength-focused training block while a professional miler – was yelled at by an entire text group for claiming that he could run under 63 minutes anytime he wished.
Fast forward to now, and my mileage has been regularly below 40 each week, but I’ve been good about getting in at least a weekly workout thanks to the company of my friend, Mark, who was one of the friends yelling at me in the aforementioned text group. It’s been enjoyable getting back into decent shape, and having heard so many great things about this race, I thought it’d be a good opportunity.
The problem started Friday night at Icahn Stadium. The guys from Trials of Miles asked if I would hop on the broadcast to commentate some races. Although they gave me every opportunity to bail outright or at least bail earlier in the evening, I guilt-trapped myself into being there much later than expected. Since the meet is broadcast on the CITIUS MAG YouTube channel it felt important to lend my voice to the show. And I do not regret this!
But it did mean that when I arrived at my buddy’s air mattress set up in Brooklyn, it was pretty late and there was still the buzz of adrenaline running through my body. Still awake after midnight, I made the poor decision to shift my alarm back to try and squeeze in some extra rest.
When I woke up I downed some calories and caffeine and jogged two miles to Prospect Park, ready to race. This is where I’ll start to take some responsibility for being irresponsible. All of the participant emails said to be there between 5:30 and 6 am. I did not do that! I arrived at around 6:10 for the 7 am start. The crowd was insane. (Again, I knew there was likely to be a crowd… an insane one… those same participant emails kept crowing about this being the largest half marathon in the U.S.)
The thought of being the asshole who cuts through every other frustrated person crossed my mind, but I was wearing my CITIUS/Bandit singlet and did not want to be that guy. At about 6:40 it became quite apparent that I fucked up and that there was no way in hell that I would be getting to the front of the race in the next twenty minutes.
Security line at 6:23am
While a tad frustrated, I didn’t care too much. Racing is just a fun thing I like to do sometimes and there will be more races in the future. I eventually made it through security with a few minutes to spare, and luckily found an empty porta-potty. But there were a few thousand people between myself and the front and while I am skinny, I am not THAT skinny.
The gun went off and three and a half minutes later I crossed the starting line. When I was walking up, Ali Feller recognized me in the depths of the pack and asked “what are you doing back here?” I just laughed and said, “tight security!”
For the first four miles it was just about impossible to move and any aggressive attempts to weave in and out or throw in some surges anywhere close to my goal pace would have been dangerous. I came through four miles north of 24 minutes before things opened up enough that I could run wide and get a tempo effort in.
The straightaway on Ocean Parkway proved a nice runway and I averaged 8 miles at 5:22 pace. I haven’t had a 15+ mile day since February so this was a big win.
I had fun! Loved the volunteers. The cheers were great. And if there was a real security threat on the day, it was my rapidly swelling ego, brought on by passing so many people. Ultimately I ended up running 1:13:23 with a nice negative split while carrying my iPhone 13 (which I used to FaceTime my family twice).
Okay. Lesson learned. Responsibility accepted. Fun times had.
But can we talk about how insane it is to require 26,000 people to funnel themselves through just 10 metal detectors? Like again, I should have been there earlier – fully acknowledging that. But that ratio would mean 21.6 runners need to pass through security every minute for two hours straight. And we all know and can agree this is just posturing, right? This isn’t actually making the race any safer.
Half the field was standing on top of itself waiting to get through security. And then once the race starts there are 13 miles of public roads – did the spectators go through metal detectors?
And if you are thinking, “was it really bad or did you just experience a mass participation race like any normal person?” then don’t worry – that text group already said it for you. I think what I learned here is that just because race organizers enjoy touting how many people line up, that doesn’t automatically equate to the most seamless experience. It may be worth supporting some smaller, more grass roots races until I mature a little.
Anyway, now my attention turns to the most important race of the spring, the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge! Next week my legs will be a bit fresher without having a race in them and the stakes will be much higher since my boss’s boss’s boss will be there. And the best part is that it takes place in the evening, so I probably won’t sleep in.
Rapid Fire Highlights 🔥
Fred Kerley delivered the goods while racing in front of the bosses! The World Champion ran 9.88 (+1.5) and 9.91 (+0.4) to win the Seiko Golden Grand Prix in Japan.
The most exciting prospect in track and field right now is Jamaica’s Jaydon Hibbert, who has broken the NCAA triple jump records both indoors and outdoors. He is 18 years old, only started the event three years ago, and is in the middle of such an aggressive growth spurt that he employs a short 12-step approach to protect his body.
World Athletics received such praise for getting rid of the little q in distance events that they were feeling cocky enough to rebrand indoor track as “short track.” I don’t think that’s going to change the game too much, but it is positioning us for more make-shift tracks, specifically via street meets – big for countries without indoor tracks who still want to qualify athletes for World Indoor Championships, like Australia!
A week after news came that Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone would not be running the 400m at the LA Grand Prix, it was announced that she would be doing the flat lap at the Paris Diamond League on June 9th. Marileidy Paulino will be there to keep things honest!
Coach Bobby Kersee has indicated that Sydney will run the open 400m at the US Championships and that Athing Mu will be in the 1500. Kersee went as far as suggesting that Mu could aim for the double Olympic gold in the 800 and 1500 at the Paris Olympics. Now there is no question that Athing is a talent, and Kersee a great coach, but let’s wait to see how the pair does in the 800 together first before going any farther.
Big throws from the US! Chase Ealey launched the shot put 20.06m for a new world lead. And Rudy Winkler (80.88m) and Brooke Andersen (80.17m) both eclipsed 80m in the hammer throw, though they weren’t competing against one another. The difference of weight between the men’s and women’s implements (almost double) makes the marks quite comparable. If you like that fact, did you know the women’s discus world record is farther than the men’s? 76.80m to 74.08m.
The Rabat Diamond League is this Sunday at 2pm ET and the most hyped match-up will be the showdown between Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Yared Nuguse in the 1500m.
Friday is the LA Distance Classic at 5pm ET on RunnerSpace. And Saturday is the LA Grand Prix at 4:30pm ET. (Results + Start Lists)
It turns out that Val Constien tore her ACL during that fall in the Doha steeplechase. I had a bad feeling about that even watching on TV… here’s hoping for a speedy return.
In a true battle of recovery, one month after winning the Boston Marathon, Hellen Obiri (31:14) took down Peres Jepchirchir (31:59), who was third in London at the Great Manchester Run 10K. Italy’s Eyob Faniel won the men’s race in 28:27.
The legendary Rick Hoyt passed away at the age of 61. His father, Dick Hoyt, died two years ago. This video always makes me cry.
Thank you to On and for supporting this week’s newsletter! Did y’all enjoy the work put out by our new European correspondents from London? They’ll be in Paris, Vienna and making stops and Diamond Leagues all summer long. It takes a village to cover this damn sport!