England's got a new queen ⏱

Lap 83: Sponsored by Tracksmith

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Falling in love with the London Marathon 🇬🇧

Just as we were shaking off our post-Berlin Marathon cobwebs, the World Marathon Major back-to-back-to-back tour continued with the fall rendition of the London Marathon. Though out-of-season, the event clearly had no issues filling the fields as six women broke the 2:20 barrier and seven men dipped below 2:08.

During the build up to London, the dominant storyline was billed as a battle between defending champion, Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei and Ethiopia’s rising star Yalemzerf Yehualaw. And come race day, as the pack came through halfway in 68:46, the plot was unfolding just about as well as the race organizers’ PR team could have hoped — Jepkosgei and Yehualaw both looked poised to run away with it.

There was a pack of women still together at mile 20 when apparent disaster struck. Yehualaw took what appeared to be an unimpeded spill and fell to the ground. Fortunately, she took to the pavement well and bounced back with vengeance and patience.

Waiting until mile 24, Yehualaw then made a steady surge to blow open the race. When the broadcast booth was informed of her 4:43 mile split, the announcers rightfully exploded in disbelief and amazement. For perspective, her final time of 2:17:25 averages out to be about 5:14 pace — dropping more than thirty seconds below that after two hours of running is absurd, bordering on unbelievable.

According to a LetsRun report, that’s because it ended up not being true. Running a 4:59 and following it up with a 5:02 like Yehualaw actually did, is still incredible. But it’s also more plausible, given that her purported 4:43 mile would have been faster than her 5000m PB pace — 14:53, which she ran in 2021. It should be noted that 2:17 is significantly better than that mark, and indicates that she’s not only improved drastically, but has found her event. To all the redshirt college freshman boys reading this who may have snuck under the 15-minute barrier last outdoor season, don’t worry, you wouldn’t have beaten Yehualaw over 26.2.

How an event like the London Marathon doesn’t have a more accurate system of reporting mile splits is a bit shocking. If one mile is fast, that means the next or previous one is slow, and think about how rattling it would be to be under the impression that your pace has oscillated by 30+ seconds per mile that deep into the race. As I think about my own approaching marathon it makes me wonder, should I trust clocks on the course or my own watch?

(You know how some GPS watches today can recognize if you’re on the track and will clock your path more accurately around its curves? Or how you can download preset routes to run? It’d be cool if your watch was able to recognize that you’re currently running a famous marathon so it could sync up with the mile markings on the course.)

Anyway, after running the fastest debut ever (2:17:23) in Hamburg earlier this year, and now having dethroned Jepkosgei, it’s clear that Yehualaw is pretty good at this marathon thing. But the way the event works, it takes a few years to have a long enough resume to provide some perspective as to HOW good she is at her job. At only 23-years-old, Yalemzerf has plenty of time to fluff up her LinkedIn.

If you were picking the winner of the men’s race out of a hat, in all likelihood he wouldn’t have been Kenyan — Amos Kipruto was without a countryman in the elite field. But this isn’t the WWE and that’s not how things are done.

Kipruto is far from new to the scene. He won the 2016 Rome Marathon, 2017 Seoul Marathon, has multiple podium finishes and sub-2:06 performances to his name — including a bronze medal at the 2019 World Championships. However, running 2:04:39 to win the London Marathon this past weekend is certainly the standout performance of his career and how he will be introduced in the near future.

But what if it weren’t for that other guy named Eliud Kipchoge? In March, Kipruto ran 2:03:13 to finish second at the Tokyo Marathon behind the greatest to ever do it. Meanwhile, Kipchoge went on to demolish the course record by over a minute, going 2:02:40. Like any friend group that has one disproportionally hot person in it, Kipchoge steals all the glances of every room he walks into. Typically the salutatorian, Kipruto is probably used to going unnoticed despite being really good at his craft. But not this weekend.

Theoretically, would you rather have run Berlin and been 33 seconds behind Kipchoge’s world record or run a few minutes slower, but win London? A pointless thought experiment.

Despite the timing issues in the women’s race, Kipruto’s insane 25th-mile split of 4:21 is apparently legitimate (As a refresher, Kipchoge’s pace for the whole thing is 4:34). That’s how he broke away from the likes of Leul Gebresilase and Bashir Abdi.

A few places back in fifth place, the legend Kenenisa Bekele ran 2:05:53 to set a masters world record — which hardly means a thing to the man who at one point held multiple outright records. Given how competitive marathoners continue to be late into their careers, it seems like 40-year-olds don’t necessarily need separate denominations. On the track, it makes sense. But consider this my proposal to recategorize masters running on the roads as 45+, or 40+ if you’ve mistakenly posted something embarrassing and with weird capitalization to your nephew’s Facebook wall, thinking it was a direct message.

USATF 10 Mile Championships

How much money does it take to incentivize going out really hard in a 10-mile race? That’s the question athletes had to answer at the USATF 10 Mile Championships in Minneapolis on Sunday as a $10,000 equalizer bonus was on the line. Considering that the US title itself was worth an additional $12,000, that meant roughly 50 minutes of quality running could be worth the equivalent of a small shoe contract.

The women were given a 5-minute and 57-second head start, and they took full advantage of it, going out in 25:44 for the first half, thanks primarily to Fionna O’Keefe and Emily Durgin. Compared to the women, who would ultimately wind up running a small positive split, the men began more conservatively, coming through five miles in 23:15. Biya Simbassa — coming off his win at Cow Harbor a couple weeks back — led the charge.

As the women slowly came into sight and the men gradually pressed down on the gas, Hillary Bor, who continued to throw in surges even late in the game, stormed to the win — sans equalizer bonus — in 46:06. Once Bor decides he’s had enough of the steeplechase, then it looks like he’s well poised for a successful career on the roads.

Fiona O’Keefe has had a huge year, dropping her 5000m best by 26 seconds to 15:05, running a 67:42 half marathon for the fastest ever American debut, and now, earning her first US title. The Puma Elite star’s final time of 51:42 broke the course record and ensured she was able to hold off the charge by a comfortable 21 seconds.

But now let’s look back at that $10,000 question: do we even like the equalizer bonus? On one hand, it’s always nice for athletes to get paid and if it’s enough money to care about, then it is motivation to keep things honest.

However, from a fan’s perspective, is it interesting? There are a few factors worth considering beyond caring if the men or women run faster. It’s not like as a dude I am rooting hard for the men’s team to edge past the women, but maybe I’m just a feminist.

Then there’s the logistics of it all. Having the right amount of time as the differential is of course important and far from being a perfect science. While the respective American Records used to be the method by which standards were set, they are now calculated using an average of past winning times.

Perhaps most importantly, is any of this worth it if the broadcast doesn’t tell the story properly? With the right graphic, this could be a fun sub-plot to follow, but now knowing the London Marathon can’t even get its mile splits right, it feels like my perception of reality and what is possible is suddenly skewed.

RIP John Dye

There are certain people in the background of the sport, that will never do a victory lap or enjoy adoring fans chanting their name, but the ripple of whose influence and work will extend generations. One of those men is John Dye, founder of the iconic running website, Dyestat, who passed away this week at 86 years old.

During the beginning of the Internet age, he revolutionized how the sport was covered through accessibility to results, interviews, and conversations that pushed thousands of high schoolers to dream bigger. On a personal note, I largely attribute the development of my passion for running to the community that was found on the message boards. I spent countless hours in my formative years connecting with like-minded individuals, talking about running and mindless nonsense. But at the heart of it was the inspiration to one day accomplish big enough to make the front page.

NYC Marathon Training - Vol. 6

The pure hubris of me to jokingly refer to a week in Ireland as a training trip!

This was my fourteenth trip to the Emerald Isle, and while I don’t have an ounce of Irish blood in me, it feels like I’ve at least earned some unofficial athletics ambassador role. The running community there has always been super welcoming and I have risked my life on multiple occasions, by learning to drive a manual transmission car on the opposite side of the road so I could explore different trails.

But the truth is that my fitness has never thrived while there. There are a number of reasons for this: Mammy’s cooking, weather, Guinness, black pudding, jet lag, biscuit cake, etc. During my career, I eventually stopped trying to replicate my normal schedule and conceded to myself that at best I’d get in as many miles as possible with an odd fartlek or hill session to bridge the gap.

My intentions were to find a way to sneak in 90 miles this week and I fell well short of that, totaling just 71. Granted, I had to take Sunday off following flight delays, but still, the nerve of me to believe that I’d suddenly be void of all responsibilities just because I left the Tri-State area.

Things started off great with an up-tempo 16-mile run on the Blueway, which is an idyllic bike path that runs along a river in the countryside through fields and past castles, cows, and ruins (watch this relevant Bandit Running ad featuring a horse). But it’s much harder to convince yourself and others that running should supersede other priorities when it’s not your job. Of course, I hope to run well in New York, but at what cost? Certainly not at the expense of a late-night enjoying a wedding. Fortunately, I planned ahead and was committed to getting one quality day in mid-week.

I chugged my morning cup of Barry’s tea (heavy pour of milk, no sugar) and headed down to Dungarvan in County Waterford to meet my ol’ friend and former Providence College stud, David McCarthy. There are few people who can make a run fly by quicker than he can and his enthusiasm to be hopping in to help out was infectious. We were joined by another friend on the bike to conquer a long run that included 4 x 3 mile in the middle. My goal was to run 5:15-5:20 pace, which immediately felt significantly harder than I intended, perhaps due to a coastal breeze or I am just not as good at running as I hoped.

Although the miles weren’t coming effortlessly, they were passing by. But as we were closing out the second rep, we entered a section of the bike path where it makes a sharp turn to run parallel to the road and our anonymous cyclist spit out wide and got hit by a car. Hearing the screech and bang behind us, I somehow instinctively stopped my watch in the process of turning around and sprinted over to check on the laid-up lad.

Luckily, he was largely okay — even if the bike wasn’t. His lip and chin got cut real good, but he would only walk away with some stitches and a good scare. It felt weird to watch a friend get hit by a car and then not know what else to do. But after ten minutes of standing around assessing the situation, there was no real need for me to also go to the doctor for moral support so I started back up.

I was admittedly shaken and my rhythm broken, but I did my best to finish it off alone. The run ended up as 22+ miles at 5:51 pace with 12 miles of work at 5:21 pace which felt pretty bad, though probably not as bad as getting smashed into by a 3,500 pound vehicle.

Now nine weeks in, having averaged a very mediocre 66 miles a week, there are still moments when I believe in my ability to pull something out of my ass — I just hope it’s not shit.

Catching up with Conner Mantz

The Chicago Marathon is on Sunday! In addition to the return of defending champions, Ruth Chepngetich and Seifu Tura, there is a strong American group to defend home soil led by Emily Sisson. But on the men’s side the lead story is the highly anticipated debut by the former BYU multiple-time NCAA Champion, Conner Mantz. With an engine that has always found more success the farther it goes, the marathon seems like an appropriate next step for the 25-year-old.

Last month, Mantz won the USATF 20K Champs in New Haven, which alongside his 2021 USATF Half Marathon Championship (1:00:55) provides some positive indications that his “bold” goals are not unwarranted. I spoke to him last month, but this week he joined Chris Chavez on the CITIUS MAG Podcast for a conversation ahead of the debut.

Last month, you told Kyle that on a good day sub-2:08 would be the goal in Chicago and a stretch goal would be sub-2:07. How do you feel about that statement now?

If you would’ve asked me last week, I would’ve said I want to go for it and go for the sub-2:07 and see what happens. Now, I’m feeling like my mouth is getting a little too fast. I feel like sub 2:08 is really the goal. I would love to go out in 63:30 and see what happens but I know the marathon is a whole different beast in those last six miles. I feel good about sub-2:08 in being a part of the goal and plan. I think coach Eyestone does too.For the longest time, I thought sub-2:08 was 4:50/mile pace just because that’s what coach Eyestone said one day but he mistyped it in his text message. It’s 4:53 pace, which actually makes me feel a lot more confident in sub-2:08 because this whole time I’ve been thinking sub-4:50 per mile not even thinking that I should check his math out on my own. I think sub-2:08 is reasonable. I know my strengths are and I know where I’m good.

You've seen success on the roads, track and will likely be good at the marathon. How do you think you'll prioritize what races you want to focus on in the future?

I definitely think I’ll be running on the track, running cross country and probably running another marathon come next year. That’s the plan as of right now…Coach Eyestone, when he was professional, would be able to do World Cross, the World Championships in the 10,000m and then maybe he’d run a marathon in the same year. Why limit yourself to one event only? That’s how I see it in my mind. Why would I limit myself to being only a track guy when the marathon might be my best event right now?”

So, World Cross after this?

World Cross is something I’ve wanted to do…Every year that it was supposed to happen since 2019, I’ve been wanting to do it. In 2019, I was asking coach Eyestone, ‘Can I also do U.S. Cross?’ And he said, ‘No, not this year.’ Then it just kept getting put off. World Cross is definitely a thing I want to do. That gets me excited. I feel like I did well in the NCAA and I did well against the American talent and some of the foreign talent that was here but I want to see how good I am across the world and compete against the best of the best. I’m better at cross country than I am on the track. Plus, I have more fun with cross country. It’s on the schedule. I would also be excited to run the Houston Half but those are within a week between U.S. cross and Houston. So I don’t think that’s happening. World Cross? I’m excited for that. That’s the next big thing after the marathon.

Listen to the full conversation with Conner on The CITIUS MAG Podcast. Now available to stream, download and listen on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Rapid Fire Highlights 🔥

  • Nikki Hiltz put on another installment of their annual Pride 5k, but this year was the first-time the race ever featured an in-person event in Flagstaff. The fundraiser, which raised $37,000 for the Trevor Project, also featured $2,000 of prize money for the men’s, women’s and non-binary category which was won respectively by Yemene Haileselassie (14:22), Danielle Shanahan (16:52), and Breanna Cornell (21:36).

  • Toni Reavis wrote a scathing critique of the World Marathon Majors reduction in prize money. The idea of creating a six-race series around an event that most athletes only run twice a year seems like a major stretch.

  • At the Great Scottish Run, Eilish McColgan set a new British 10k record (30:18).

  • At 65 years old, 1984 Olympic champion Joan Benoit Samuelson just ran a 3:20:20 at the London Marathon.

  • Former Michigan State star, Morgan Beadlescomb of the Very Nice Track Club, has shared that he has signed with Adidas.

  • An absolutely shocking and appalling story from Huntington University in Indiana was reported by David Wood and published by the IndyStar, which involves sexual abuse, forced injections, and other terrifying tactics by coach Nick Johnson. (Subscription is $1)

  • The Twin Cities Marathon was won by Japan’s Yuya Yoshida (2:11:28) and the US’s Jessica Watychowicz (2:33:09). According to FastWomen, there are now 49 women who have qualified for the 2024 Olympic Trials.

  • At the Wineglass Marathon, Spencer Friske won by eight minutes in his marathon debut, running 2:17:57 to qualify for the Olympic Trials. The former Swarthmore athlete graduated college in 2016 with a 14:50 5000m personal best.

  • Jim Redmond, father of Derek Redmond and famous for one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking moments in Olympic history, has passed away at 81 years old.

  • 2021 NCAA 800m champion, Michaela Meyer, has joined the Union Athletics Club.

  • Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola ran 59:49 to win the Trento Half Marathon, although he was originally signed up to run London and pulled out in August due to issues in training.

  • NC State’s Katelyn Tuohy ran 15:50 to win the Joe Piane Invitational by 12 seconds over Mercy Chelangat, the 2020 NCAA XC champion.

NC State’s women and Stanford’s men topped the Wood Report’s NCAA DI cross country rankings.

Thank you so much to Tracksmith for supporting this week’s newsletter! I have my Eliot Runner ordered and can’t wait for it to get here — if the quality of shoe is anything near the standard of the clothing, then it is sure to be top notch.