What would you do for gold?⏱

Sponsored by New Balance

Lap 131: Sponsored by New Balance

Track season must almost be over because it’s time for the best milers in the world to race down New York’s most iconic strip at the New Balance 5th Ave. Mile. There will be no shortage of talent on the tarmac with top NB pros in the fields, such as Charles Philibert-Thiboutot, Melissa Courtney-Bryant, Dani Jones, Emily Mackay, Vera Hoffman, Nozomi Tanaka, and Elle Purrier-St. Pierre, who will be returning to racing following the birth of her son, Ivan.

Tune in to watch a star-studded field from 12-1pm ET this Sunday on NBC.

The Price of a World Championship Gold 🌍

Photo: Johnny Zhang

What do Gianmarco Tamberi, Josh Kerr, Grant Holloway, Neeraj Chopra, Karsten Warholm, Marco Arop, Hugues Fabrice Zango, Laulauga Tausaga, Daniel Stahl, and Katie Moon* all have in common in addition to being 2023 World Champions? They all lost the next week.

  • Tamberi finished 4th in both Zurich (2.28m) and Bellinoza (2.24m)

  • Kerr was passed on the inside by Yared Nuguse, who won by .02 seconds

  • Holloway placed third in Xiamen in 13.12

  • Chopra lost by 15 cm to Vadlejch

  • Warholm (47.30) could not hold off silver medalist Kyron McMaster

  • Arop was out leaned at the finish by Emmanuel Wanyonyi in a 1:43.20 WL

  • Zango (17.22m) took second to Andy Díaz, who was not eligible to compete at Worlds due to an allegiance change

  • Laulauga (64.31m) was third, with three scratches in China

  • Stahl was beaten by Čeh in Tallinn, but got him back five days later

  • Moon was out-jumped by co-gold medalist Nina Kennedy at a train station in Zurich but odds were someone would get beat this time

I don’t normally like pointing out who lost as we try to keep things POSITIVE over here at The Lap Count but that seems like a significant number of champions who went from the top of the world to right back into the fray in a short period of time. It’s a testament to a couple of things:

  1. These world champions (hopefully!) celebrated their asses off and were feeling a bit heavy-legged from staying up late and dancing in the streets of Budapest. Even if they lived monastically once the gold was secured, the emotional comedown from the experience has got to be taxing on its own.

  2. The margin between winning and losing a world title is so slim, that it’s really just about being at your best on one single day, which involves some luck. If the finals were held ten different times, depending on the event, there might be three to six different champions crowned.

This is why I’ll defend athletes who want to call it a season and go out on a high if they had a successful World Champs.

The American Sweep — UTMB 🏔🇺🇸

Photo: Justin Britton

This might primarily be a track and field newsletter, but that doesn’t mean it can’t appreciate other great feats in running. There is no race bigger in the world of trail than UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc) and with the 171 km race climbing over 10,000m of highly technical elevation, few are more grueling.

If you think your kids will have a lot to share this week about what they did over the summer, then imagine how long Courtney Dewaulter’s report would be. It might take just under 24 hours to share. While there were no doubts about the former two-time champion’s endurance coming in, there were some legitimate questions about how much gas was left in the tank. Having already won the Hardrock 100 and Western States 100, which were less than a month apart, our long-short-wearing heroine completed an epic triple crown by adding a third UTMB title to her resume. She’s probably had the most impressive year of racing of any ultra runner, ever.

My awareness and growing appreciation for trail running began with an “easy” hour trail run with Jim Walmsley in 2015 when – between my ankles and lack of courage – I legitimately could not keep up with his pace. No American man had ever won UTMB, and the weight of the pressure on Walmsley’s shoulders was more than just the altitude factoring in. With two previous top-five finishes, but also two DNFs, Walmsley moved away from his long-term home in Flagstaff and relocated to France so that he could train on the course and fully commit to the goal.

We all have a friend whose life was never the same after studying abroad – Jim Walmsley is him.

World Road Running Championships Medal Reveal 🥇

Coming Soon: October 1 - Riga, Latvia

So what do we think? Hopefully they’re heavy.

USATF 20K Championships 🚦

There are few American traditions that signal the end of the summer like having to Google what “wet bulb temperature” means before racing through the soupiness of New Haven humidity on Labor Day. The USATF 20K Championships may be just an awkward distance short of a half marathon, but it is perfectly situated on the calendar for a tune-up before the fall majors, and ultimately, isn’t that why we run?

With the Chicago Marathon set for October 8th, this was a nice “down” week for Emily Sisson and Conner Mantz to get the wheels spinning. While Sisson won in 1:06:09, after opening a comfortable 30-second gap over second-place finisher Ednah Kurgat, it appears that Mantz and training partner Clayton Young tried their best to tie coming across the finish – ultimately the crown was awarded to Young.

Find My Friends: Track Edition 🌍

Photo: Matthew Quine for Diamond League AG

While some athletes might already be getting set to return from their few week break, there are others who took advantage of September airfare pricing to get in one last trip to Europe. Pre-internet it would have been nice to train hop around the Italian countryside eating gelato without having to worry about race results since no one would see them anyway. But now with sleuths like myself to link you the results, there is no hiding!

  • Zurich DL - Yomif Kejelcha dominated the 5000m to run 12:46.91. Hindsight is 20/20 but the Ethiopians are likely kicking themselves for letting both long track races go slow at Worlds.

  • Xiamen DL - Christian Coleman was the best in a rarely seen 10 man 100m field as he went 9.83 to tie the WL.

  • Padova - Sinclaire Johnson ran a new 800m PB to earn the victory in 1:59.76.

  • Bellinzona - Natoya Goule-Toppin (1:57.53) won the 800m over Addy Wiley (1:57.64), who ran the second fastest time ever by a collegiate.

  • ISATF Berlin - Letsenbet Gidey ran 14:08.79 for 5000m, but the announcer did not realize she was only three seconds from breaking the WR.

The Diamond League Final — To run, or not to run? 💎

Photo: Johnny Zhang | @jzsnapz

Since the beginning of the season, Noah Lyles has been dreaming of World Championship gold medals and on August 26th he earned his third – mission accomplished. Anything that happened after that was secondary, like the Diamond League final three weeks later.

Much to the disappointment of many fans and commenters who have not raced almost thirty times since January, it highlights a major issue in the outline of the season schedule. Maybe there would be fewer opinions if the finals were not being hosted in Eugene at the Prefontaine Classic for the first time ever. If you could draw it up, then ideally the biggest star from Budapest would be competing on home soil, although that’s not an uncommon sight.

This is unlike other conversations about athletes or coaches who race sparingly, that’s definitely not a Lyles issue. So let’s not blame him for having minimal interest in extending a wonderfully successful season an additional three weeks with little or nothing to gain from it. Listen to him speak in any interview or YouTube video and this is a dude who is fully in tune with his body. Trust that if he felt like there was a 19.18 still in his legs then he’d be out there racing. Besides, most of us would have been getting a charley horse on the dance floor of Szimpla Kert the next few nights had we won the 100m. Maybe it’s time to let him celebrate.

Whether it’s the need for a big rest prior to the build-up to Paris or a neuromuscular system running on fumes, what’s there to gain? $30,000 of prize money might be motivation for some professional runners…

Of course, the underlying issue is that the biggest meet of the year is not the finale. The Denver Nuggets weren’t playing more games after they won the NBA title. They went on a yacht to tell everyone that they won the world championship!

In fact, the complicated relationship between World Athletics and the Diamond League is a fundamental issue that makes it difficult to streamline many aspects of the sport. There are different sponsors, broadcasting partners, organizing committees, meet directors, and therefore 14 different ways of doing things. The positive is that this is not completely unlike Formula 1 – though Liberty Media has recognized the benefit of actually owning the property it’s promoting and invested $500M in the creation of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

What does that have to do with Noah Lyles? Well, I am sure Seb Coe wishes the Diamond League final was not well into the new school year. (It’s cross country season dammit!) The best part of track and field – aside from the nine days I’m forced to spend away from my family… PSYCHE! – is all the speculation during the build-up to a global championship. Worlds not being the end of the season sort of makes it like reading the plot on Wikipedia before going to see the movie.

And I am not saying that I don’t care who wins in the races after Worlds because that’s NOT what I am saying… but I am saying I do care less! And I don’t think that waning enthusiasm is a unique human experience. The events immediately following Budapest are best used as a barometer to gauge who had the most fun after the closing ceremonies.

Perhaps unrelated, but the same day Christian Coleman tied his (and Zharnel Hughes’s world lead) Noah tweeted that he might have another 100m in him this year. With only a win in Paris, he technically sits outside of qualifying for the Diamond League final. But with an injured Trayvon Bromell not running and a nine-lane track, there is theoretically room for two of the four men tied at eight points in the standings. The World Champion in the event, who did not earn any points for the effort, seems like a good pick to let in.

All this hand-wringing might be for naught then! (Editor’s Note: It turns it was. It was all for naught! Lyles is confirmed to run the 100 at the Pre Classic.) Yet it all speaks to what gets athletes excited, which might give a little insight into what would in turn reignite the fans’ enthusiasm. We have seen everyone compete all season long in their best event. How many times can we really watch Ryan Crouser throw 23-plus meters in a year? But I haven’t seen him throw a discus in years! (He did finish 5th at NCAAs in 2015 and there are rumors of an eventual return.)

With the ongoing banter in press conferences between Karsten Warholm and Mondo Duplantis about potentially racing a 100m or Fred Kerely and Lindon Victor squaring off in a 1500, what if every season finished off with an all-star challenge meet? Rather than expecting athletes to get excited about doing the same thing once again, there is a Pro Bowl-like event as a sole postseason competition to create some buzz. The NFL can keep Hawaii because this one is in Ibiza.

Enough of the think-pieces about whether or not Noah Lyles should run the 200 at the Diamond League final! Instead fans could spend three weeks arguing if he could beat Josh Kerr in a 500.

Rapid Fire Highlights 🔥

Photo: Johnny Zhang

  • Actually watching many of the Diamond League press conferences this season made meet day more fun and is a really great way to get to know the sport’s main characters outside of the usual avenues: television and social media. This conversation from Zurich with Warholm, Mondo, and Noah was super interesting if you want a taste.

  • The NCAA cross country season has started – that’s weird, right? The men’s preseason rankings have the same podium, but the ladies’ features a couple of shake ups. Outside of NC State returning, the coaches are predicting the rise of NAU and are selling their Alabama and New Mexico shares, following coaching change. It’s sort of like everyone is redrafting their teams at the start of the season with all the transfers.

  • Jack Rowe won The Big Half in 1:01:08 PB, as Mo Farah finished in fourth for the final race of his career in London. I say this with all due respect to a legendary career, but it seems like it’s been a long farewell tour. (I swear I wrote a blurb about Farah’s last race 131 issues ago!) The four-time Olympic champion’s actual, for real last race will be this week at the Great North Run, but I am not buying it. The dude clearly loves running and will be back for Masters records – I feel it!

  • Vincent Ciattei (3:52.56) and Eric Holt battled to the line at the Monmouth Mile (video).

  • The number of men who have dipped below 3:35.00 in 2023? 74. The previous record was 57 in 2021. The number of women who have dipped below 4:05.00? 64. This ties the previous high from last year.

  • The next stop in the Diamond League is in Brussels on Friday, September 8th. Action starts on Peacock at 2pm ET.

Thanks so much to New Balance for sponsoring this week’s newsletter! One of the few things that I love more than the versatility of the FuelCell SuperComp Trainer v2 is my wife, who asked if I could get her a pair after I was raving to a friend about the shoes earlier this week.