The end of an era — farewell Sir Mo Farah!🙆♂️
Photo: Justin Britton | @justinbritton
I’d like to apologize to the podium finishers at the Great North Run. You all did great, but we should probably dedicate the entirety of this section to fourth-place finisher – and now former professional runner – Sir Mo Farah.
Between 2011 and 2017, the British knight won 12 global championship medals, which included four Olympic golds. His range of personal bests covers eight national records, and there aren’t many Chicago Marathon winners who also ran 3:28.81 for 1500m. (That 1500 is maybe the most impressive performance on the list!)
The success did not also come with the occasional controversy, largely in part to his relationship with Alberto Salazar, but few athletes were more exciting to watch during their prime. Despite knowing exactly how Farah would try to win the race, there was rarely anything other athletes could do to stop him. Sport is supposed to be entertainment – and Sir Mo Farah certainly provided that, both on and off the track.
New Mile WR? New Mile WR! 🌍
Photo: Jan Figuero | @janfiguero07
Not all world records are created equal, but don’t tell the bottom of my CV that.
Did the entire field in New York, including Nikki Hiltz and Sam Prakel, run significantly faster than 4:27.97 and 4:01.21? Yes, but 5th Ave’s point course and roughly 30 feet of elevation loss make it about as ineligible as me at my boy’s bachelor party.
In order to officially count, the distance between the start and finish needs to be within a half mile of each other, and the pavement can’t drop more than about five feet. This puts the horseshoe flat course of the USATF 1 Mile Road Championships in Des Moines in distinguished company. With the inclusion of the mile in the inaugural World Road Running Championships in Riga, the event was only just added to the officially recognized list of world records rather than the ambiguous purgatory-like label of “world best.”
This got me thinking about who today would have the best shot at breaking this “record.” Boit was an Olympic bronze medalist at the 800 with PBs of 1:43/3:33/3:49. To run back-to-back 1:43s you need to be crazy quick, no matter how high of a cliff you are falling from. My first round draft pick: Marco Arop’s quads.
Going out on top at the 5th Ave Mile 🍎
Photo: Johnny Zhang | @jzsnapz
The two biggest ways to finish up a season are: with a head full of confidence and momentum heading into an Olympic year; or breaking your tennis racket and threatening to fire your coach. For the 1500m world champion Josh Kerr, the first option sounded a bit nicer. Kerr decided that a dominant 3:47.9 mile run down the 20 blocks at the 5th Ave. Mile was the perfect cherry on top of his stellar year. And that high note doesn’t even factor in New York’s nightlife in comparison to a Wild Duck-less Eugene’s!
This time around on the tarmac, Kerr did not slip off the line and with 100 meters to go, he was looking over his shoulder with a smile – he knew that the race was wrapped up. Despite wet conditions, the Scotsman narrowly missed out on breaking Sydney Maree’s 42-year-old course record of 3:47.52. You couldn’t just run all the way through the line, Josh? That mark was set in the first-ever edition of the race on a slightly different, but arguably more favorable course.
Maybe if things got going a bit sooner he could have nabbed it. The net-downhill course is actually slightly net-uphill for the first half, but still, a 1:59 opening 809m led by Amon Kemboi wasn’t cooking hot enough. The economy has changed a bit since the halfway bonus of $1,000 was introduced in 2010 and maybe this is a sign that the prime could benefit from a pay bump. Remember how hard Will Leer and Lawi Lalang sprinted in 2014? Back then that was basically enough rent money to cover half a share of a studio on the UWS.
As discussed in last week’s edition of The Lap Count, I fully understand any athlete, especially a world champion’s, hesitation to continue racing after Budapest. Doubling down on that… what’s there to gain? It is not a surprise that Kerr is not heading to the Diamond League final. As is, he and coach Danny Mackey have always been super intentional about his racing schedule and it would be a rarity for him to get after it four times within a one-month period.
While this race might be viewed as a one-way ticket to a fun after-party for some athletes, there was no question that Kerr lined up on a mission. In fact, he was so determined to get to New York that when his layover flight in Boston was canceled twice, he walked out of the airport frustrated and hailed himself an extremely expensive Uber to Midtown Manhattan. (Seriously! He actually did this!)
Photo: Johnny Zhang | @jzsnapz
When the dust settled the rain stopped, no American men or women stood atop the podium. Maybe it’s time we stop inviting Scotland! This was the third year in a row the Scots have swept the wins, with Jemma Reekie now taking her second title. Following an opening half of 2:12 by Kaela Edwards, which is so much comparatively quicker than the men, Reekie moved towards the front and shared the lead. But the more you run this race, the better able you are to distinguish where the finish line is and Reekie timed it perfectly in 4:19.4.
Since parting ways with her coach of 12 years this spring, Reekie has been working with Jon Bigg in Brighton. Her season has steadily been trending upwards ever since. And she’ll be heading to Eugene to take part in the Diamond League final to finish it off.
Stealing some of the spotlight in this race was the incredible effort by Elle St. Pierre who ran 4:23.3 to finish in 7th place just six months after giving birth to her son, Ivan. Although I have never been through labor myself, I watched it once and I can’t wrap my mind around how impressive this is. Pray for anyone else trying to make the US Olympic 1500 team!
Now personally, I did not see any of these races in the flesh. We drove into the city earlier in the morning to cheer on friends in the community and media miles, but the downpour got the best of us. (The editor of this newsletter, Paul, ran 4:33 despite his decade-long focus on pickup basketball.) After seeking refuge in a subway station and then a Starbucks, the difficult decision to put the comfort of my soaking wet one-year-old daughter over my desire to ask everyone who just flew back from Europe “how shitty do your legs feel?” was made.
Also, please do not email me saying that these times get rounded up to the second – I don’t like that rule. It’s 2023, we use clocks, not sundials! (Full results)
Asking for a friend… Is this a good 2000m? 💁♂️
Photo: James Rhodes | @jrhodesathletics
Okay, Jakob was sick! But he’s certainly not anymore. The 2000m is not a regularly run event, but maybe that’s partly because 24 years ago Hicham El Guerrouj ran an incredible 4:44.79 that has been out of reach for any recent mortal. In Brussels last week, Ingebrigtsen ran a 3:48 1600m and then closed in 55.0 seconds to run 4:43.13 – is this foreshadowing the fall of the 3:43.13 mile WR?
Although we definitely need fewer events in track and field, the 2000m is really ideal for those strong milers out there who hate their 800m personal bests. Take out the mixed gender 4×400 or breakdancing and add it to the Olympics! In addition to Norway, there were six other national records that fell and agents everywhere are still scrambling to read the fine print of each contract.
While this result undoubtedly benefited from modern technology (pacing lights, THOSE NEWFANGLED SUPER SHOES, etc.), it shouldn’t be ignored that according to the World Athletics scoring tables, this is the highest-scoring performance of all-time between 800m and the half marathon. And though the fancy number line may not be a perfect science, don’t discount the incredible five-second margin of victory that Jakob had on others who had the same spikes and lights available, alongside the world’s best rabbit up front – the new world record holder in the event.
Okay, maybe we don’t need THIS 2000m…
Changed my mind pretty quickly here! Don’t get me wrong, Beatrice Chepkoech is a stud, and 5:47.42 is faster than anyone else has ever done it – except maybe herself. The 2018 world champion and 2023 silver medalist is the world record holder in the more traditional 3000m steeplechase. But her time of 8:44.32 is pretty damn close to being the same pace.
The revenge of George Mills 😎
The British Championships are not like the US version where the top three in each event with the standard or ranking qualify for Worlds. This year George Mills was a painful third place behind Neil Gourley and Elliot Giles, and with a discretionary pick going to Josh Kerr (can’t blame them!), that meant the 2020 champion was left to watch at home.
While the United States may be deeper looking down the list, Team GB is stacked up top with 5 men at 3:31.3 or faster. And since the disappointment of not making the team, Mills, who runs for OAC Europe, has been on a tear that includes: running 3:30.95 in Zurich – a huge improvement over the 3:35.30 he entered the season with; a win at the ISATF Berlin meet in 3:34.51, a 3:49.64 mile in Pfungstadt, and a second place Fifth Ave.
He capped that all off with a badass quote that will likely be coming to a high school cross country team t-shirt near you:
“I didn’t get it right. You can only say you got it right if you won.”
Diamond League Final — The Pre Classic 💎
Photo: Johnny Zhang | @jzsnapz
If you thought track season was over, then you weren’t accounting for Vin Diesel showing up at your house this weekend with a six-pack of Coronas and peer pressuring you into one last ride. The two-part series known as the Pre Classic is on tap this Saturday and Sunday in Eugene and it’s the Diamond League Final. If after all that you’re still struggling to get hyped for one more meet then check out some of these match-ups! (Schedule/Start Lists)
M 400mH: Everyone you could ask for is in it!
W 1500m: Faith Kipyegon in her first rabbited 1500 since the WR
M 100m: Noah Lyles will set out to prove Budapest was not a one-off
W 100m: Sha’Carri vs. Shericka vs. Elaine Thompson-Herah
M Mile: Jakob vs. 3:43.13, plus the battle for the American Record
M 3000m: The battle of Jakob (yup, him again)and Cheptegei we didn’t see at Worlds
W 800m — The “Big 3” will duke it out again
I am fired up to watch this meet. There was that whole “I am burnt out from not sleeping for nine days at Worlds” narrative – that’s behind us now. Do you want to know how excited I am? It doesn’t even bother me that much that even there are very specific rules about how to qualify for the final, there are also enough little loopholes in the fine print so that at the end of the day we can just put in whoever anyway based on country and sponsor.
Does that kind of undermine the importance and relevance of the previous 13 meets in the series? A little. But let’s worry about that problem in future editions of The Lap Count because this weekend there is some damn good track on the television!
Thank you so much to HOKA for supporting this week’s newsletter! As a high schooler, making Footlocker was always my dream. And while that would have been great, not making it also taught me a valuable lesson about overcoming adversity. It’s cool to see HOKA keeping high school running traditions alive!