The chase is underway ⏱

Sponsored by New Balance

Lap 124: Sponsored by New Balance

It should be noted that New Balance did not ask that I exploit my daughter’s cuteness to help sell pairs of their FuelCell SuperComp Train v2’s — that was a personal decision! But these bad boys have been my go-to trainer for the past month and I have loved them. I liked the first version and wore them quite a bit for recovery runs because they were kind to the legs. But this update feels a bit more versatile and I have not hesitated to take them out for a long run that might get progressing a bit faster than just an “easy” run. And it does not hurt that I like the way they look.

Sean McGorty secures the 5000m spot🔒

Photo: @kookysnapz

If a standard falls in a forest in Belgium and no one is able to watch it, does it make a sound? Fortunately for Sean McGorty, his fourth-place finish in 13:02.13 at the Heusden 5000m was loud enough to register in the eyes of World Athletics, and he’ll finally be sleeping easy.

Despite McGorty’s third-place finishes in the 5000m and 10,000m at USAs, there were still contingencies being drawn up about the World team since he lacked the standard in both. But now McGorty can confidently tell his family to book their flights to Budapest. However, it still remains unclear which days’ tickets to the meet they should purchase.

McGorty still sits on the bubble of the 10,000m, and the question remains if he will run both. His decision – should his bubble status be enough – is likely dependent on how Grant Fisher’s femur is feeling. The next man up would be Conner Mantz, who’s only one spot behind McGorty in the global descending order list. Mantz would theoretically be deep in fall marathon prep by the time, so no telling if he would even accept the position should it fall to him.

Rather than getting frustrated by staring into the unknowable black box that is the rankings system (or the lack of a live stream showing a race with such championship implications), we should just take a moment to laugh at ourselves every now and then. Like… THIS is the sport I have dedicated my life to? Part of my Saturday afternoon was spent repeatedly refreshing a Belgian race results website. There is no footage, splits, interviews, or context anywhere. Fortunately, a CITIUS follower sent us a picture to confirm that Sean was definitely there.

Joe Waskom moves up the charts 📊

Photo: @joe.waskom

If your job’s primary responsibilities are email-based and you were enjoying a classic summer Friday, then hopefully you caught the live stream of Joe Waskom squeezing onto the starting line of a 20-person 1500m field in Lignano, Italy, then winning the damn thing in a shiny new PR of 3:34.64.

For those who missed out, it was not a smooth ride. Despite being a race presumably thrown together for the intent of producing fast times, this was a physical one, which for the young American, is an apt introduction to the European circuit where elbows are a bit sharper and room to run is harder to come by than an ice cube. And realistically, a little exposure to truly physical racing was the main benefit of this outing for Joe. Coming in, Waskom sat in the 53rd of 56 spots slated for Budapest, and was already a very likely candidate to be named to the World field. This near miss of the Worlds standard will propel him deep into safe territory rank-wise.

In years like 2023 when the US Championships are not at the end of the qualification window, it is certainly preferable that athletes are allowed to chase times. But it just still seems so unnecessary. Obviously, Waskom is good enough to compete well at Worlds. He finished second in a national meet up against four guys who had the standard and eight more that were within the rankings quota. If the system has determined that Cole Hocker, Hobbs Kessler, and Cooper Teare are fast enough to have earned their spot, then why would the guy who beat them not be?

This is just once again my plea that we give qualifying spots to the federation rather than to individuals. Enough with the sporting world’s most confusing song and dance! It seems like 98% of the time that an athlete needs to chase a time in order to officially make a team, they do it. Spare everyone the airfare to Europe! (Here come the emails about 2004!)

Binghamton strikes back! 💥

Photo: @quentinfelden

This isn’t the sort of newsletter that would highlight all of the dumpster fire performances that some athletes produced immediately following disappointing outcomes at USAs, but trust me – they exist. And they’re justified! USAs was an emotionally taxing weekend – in Eugene, no less – and it’s perfectly understandable that some athletes would have a bit of a comedown following the ups and downs of such a high-stakes qualifying meet.

An entire year’s schedule is built around being at your very best for one race. Every meticulously researched race traveled to, each training session muscled through, all those nights in watching Netflix and all those vegetables that you don’t really like eaten… it’s all done in the hope that you’ll be your absolute, possible most-competitive in one moment. And if the payoff isn’t there and things don't work out as visualized, journaled out, or prayed for, there are a couple of ways to respond when your agent has a flight booked to the Morton Games two days later.

Option one is self-preservation via total disengagement from the sport. It’s hard for this not to come across as cartoonish – either holing up in your hotel room with the blinds drawn and a middling sitcom providing background noise, or bending the ol’ elbow at enough local watering holes that you might require Tommy John surgery. You then show up for the European circuit looking totally shell shocked.

New Balance Boston’s Emily Mackay clearly chose option two! She channeled the disappointment of an eighth-place finish at USAs to win the 1500m at the Morton Games the following Friday. Then three days after that, in Marseille, Mackay became just the 14th US woman to break the four-minute barrier and the first this year, as she leaned across the line in 3:59.99.

There must be something in the water in New York’s Southern Tier, because Mackay’s Binghamton Bearcat compatriot Eric Holt of Empire Elite also embarked on a successful revenge tour last week. “Holtmania,” after finishing last in the final at USAs, headed north of the border to Victoria to win the Harry Jerome Classic 1500m in 3:37.87, and then took a second off his 800m PB, winning the Victoria Classic in 1:46.44. Needless to say, he was fired up.

Once nationals is over it becomes a full-time job trying to keep up with the global dispersal of your 150 favorite professional athletes. So sit back and relax as The Lap Count will try to navigate French athletics websites using only a limited understanding of elementary Spanish — so you don’t have to!

Kipchoge returns to Berlin, again 🇩🇪

At this point, Eliud Kipchoge may have spent enough time in Berlin to have a legitimate claim to German residency. This will be his sixth time lining up at the Brandenburg Gate and when asked if it was the electronic nightclub scene, the greatest marathoner of all time reportedly said, “Is there a lot of that there?” before making an exaggerated winky face.

Globally renowned party and art scenes aside, it makes sense to return for a few reasons, mainly because the last eight world records were set there, with the two most belonging to Kipchoge himself. Could anyone blame someone for running 2:01:09 and wanting to return to the scene of the crime?

After his Boston Marathon hiccup which ended in disaster (oh, how I wish a 2:09:08 was my disaster), this is sensible from the perspective of potential Olympic qualification. It would be quite the political chess move by Athletics Kenya to not select the two-time defending champion, but still, it’s probably best not to let it even be a conversation by going and knocking out another casual 2:01. Despite my tri-state area homerism, I get his move to forego NYC. There are big bridges in New York and they are hard!

Also announced to run Berlin is defending women’s champion Tigist Assefa,who set the course record last year in 2:15:37. The Ethiopian is the fifth-fastest marathoner of all time. She withdrew from London this spring due to injury. As a refresher, Assefa ran 1:59.24 for 800m in 2016 then made her 26.2 mile debut in 2022 before her historic 19-minute personal best.

In partnership with the Guardian Mile

The Guardian Mile returns to the Hope Memorial Bridge in Cleveland, Ohio, on Saturday, July 29th with a community of runners joined by elite professionals. This USATF-sanctioned race, which began in 2018, is now officially a part of the World Athletics calendar (which means it counts for rankings!) and it is fast as demonstrated by the course records of 3:46.67 by Johnny Gregorek and 4:19.66 by Josette Andrews. If you are in the greater Ohio area, then come grab a new mile personal best and stick around to cheer on the pros before joining them for the post-race party.

Breaking: Jakob is still fast 💨

Photo: Ed Hall for Diamond League AG

How disappointed are the 1500 guys that opted to run in Monaco rather than Silesia, assuming that they’d be able to ride Jakob “The Fourth Pacemaker” Ingebrigtsen to a new personal best? At least nine men who made the correct-in-hindsight choice to head to Poland owe Jakob a Zywiec after the stunt (running 3:27.14) he pulled, including Andrew Coscoran who set a new Irish national record. (I’m not sure if the 17-year-old Australian Cameron Myers is old enough to buy Jakob a beer, but an OLIPOP will have to do after that 3:33.26.)

Ingebrigtsen’s eight-tenths of a second improvement since Oslo may partly be due to fitness improvements, but it’s impossible to ignore how helpful it is to have someone of Stewy McSweyn’s caliber in front for a full three laps. That extra 200 meters of towing looked to make all the difference during the final solo 300. Comparing splits between Oslo and Silesia, it’s almost eerie how identical they are up until that point – Jakob was 1:23.8 at 600 and 2:46.9 at 1200 both times. But the difference of closing in 40.2 vs. 41.0 propelled him two spots to number four on the all-time 1500m list.

So while the comment section might be mocking this interview question, asking if Jakob would ever ask the Diamond League to not have rabbits sometime, running behind versus ahead of someone is certainly not the same thing. Because of this, Jake Wightman gave a lot of guys a little bit of hope.

The 100m match-ups do not stop 😤

Do not ever say the top lady sprinters are afraid to line up!

I have loudly been beating the “Sha’Carri Richardson is good for the sport” drum for a while now, though admittedly that stance was mostly centered around the attention she brought to the sport (and obviously also her being very fast). But now with 16 races under her belt since opening up the season in April, we should officially add another reason to that list.

The showdown in Silesia between Sha’Carri Richardson and Shericka Jackson was sure to attract a lot of eyeballs after their respective national championship performances of 10.71 and 10.65. And the matchup delivered: both strong finishers, they provided fans with a great battle. But ultimately the American came out on top in 10.76 (+0.2) to move the 100m scoreboard to an even 3-3 lifetime.

They both went again in Székesfehérvár on Tuesday, which is a city in Hungary whose name I obviously copied and pasted to get the spelling correct, except this time, Shericka ran the 200m – which she won in 22.02 (+1.0).

That meant that lining up in the 100m were two undefeated athletes: Sha’Carri and Julien Alfred. Only one could walk away still undefeated because this ain’t soccer!

If I am going to praise Sha’Carri for her racing schedule then I’d be remiss not to mention that with Julien’s full NCAA Bowerman-winning-worthy season she is already at an INSANE 42 races. That’s worth a race every four days.

Now if you are at all confused about why Sha’Carri raced eight times in 13 days while battling a nine-hour time difference, then you are either an experienced sprinter or the writer of this newsletter. Since I was curious, I asked a couple of global medalists who know how to do block starts to explain why.

Essentially, there is enough time between USAs and Worlds to get in two heavy/longer workload cycles of about three weeks each. That can be achieved at home in workouts or through racing a bunch. The legs are heavy because they are supposed to be – the athlete knows this lining up and ideally, if things don’t feel fantastic, it doesn’t rock their confidence. Once it’s time to deload and allow the nervous system to reset a bit, then the legs will be exploding out of the blocks.

It seems like a good time to mention Sha’Carri, Shericka, and also Marie-Joseé Ta Lou will go at it again in London on Sunday.

Who is the 400m favorite now? 🇿🇦 🇧🇸

Photo: Ed Hall for Diamond League AG

It’s a core memory for all track fans above a certain age, that moment when Wayde Van Niekerk closed down the 2016 Olympics from lane nine to break the 400m world record. After winning the World Championships in 2017, Van Niekerk’s all but inevitable reign of dominance was cut short thanks to injury. But Wayde Heads who have remained patient have witnessed a steady climb by the world record holder back to his previous form – he’s looking very close to it now. In Silesia, the South African star ran 44.08 seconds for his fastest time in six years.

In the CITIUS post-meet recap, there was a quick lapse of memory in which we were ready to dub him the heavy favorite… we’d somehow forgotten about Steven Gardiner. The more recent Olympic champion must be a listener because he turned the volume up running 43.74 to win in Hungary and establish a new world lead. The last time the Bahamian lost a 400m was to Wayde in 2017. Somehow the pair has only managed to race each other on three occasions in eight years of parallel competition.

Who wins the Men's 400m at Worlds?

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Rapid Fire Highlights 🔥

  • NCAA 400m champion and Irish record holder Rhasidat Adeleke has signed with Nike, and will forgo the remainder of her eligibility at Texas. She’ll make her pro 400m debut in an incredibly deep field in Monaco on Friday, which includes Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone.

  • If it still feels like your body is in shambles a few weeks after running a marathon, then it might be difficult to hear just how much better Courtney Dauwalter is at recovering than you. Three short weeks after decimating the record at Western States, our long-shorts-wearing heroine crushed it again at another century race, this time the Hardrock 100, which she took in 26 hours and 14 minutes – that’s over an hour faster than the old fastest mark.

  • The 2026 Commonwealth Games were supposed to be held in Victoria, Australia… that was until Monday. The absurd new estimated cost of $7B to host a 12-day competition, after a still-wild initial projected budget of $2.6B, became too much to bear. The Olympics should take note and start repurposing previous host cities. The Tokyo bill of $13B was double what was forecasted when the Japanese megacity was first awarded the Games in 2013. Imagine if there was prize money!

  • Ednah Kurgat got right back into the swing of things after running the 5,000m/10000m double at USAs, winning her second US title at the USATF 6K Championships in Canton, Ohio. She went 18:31 to come in two seconds ahead of Nell Rojas.

  • Fun Fact: The USATF 8K Championships were this past weekend in Kingsport, Tennessee. In his first race since the Chicago Marathon, Clayton Young took home top honors in 22:45 by four seconds over Andrew Colley.

  • Simone Plourde has found a new home with the Union Athletic Club after finishing up at the University of Utah. The Canadian won the Harry Jerome Invitational in a brand spanking new PB in 4:06.47 wearing the best looking uniform of 2023.

  • The European U23 meet was in Finland (Jakob chose not to run) and GB & NI and France had the best meets, team-wise, but the best race for the fans was the women’s 4×400 – I won’t spoil the anchor leg.

  • You hate to hear it! Tobi Amusan of Nigeria, the 100m hurdles world record holder, has shared that the AIU has charged her for three missed tests in a 12-month window. Amusan just ran 12.34 to win in Silesia and 12.35 to win in Székesfehérvár.

Do you ❤️ track and field?

If you’ve been watching or listening to our shows in recent years, you know that we’ve adopted “I love track and field” as our mantra. It goes into everything we do at CITIUS MAG. Recently, you may have seen us wearing our own “I ❤️ track and field hats” because we’re unapologetic track and field fanatics. Now, you can make a statement wherever you go and we’ve decided to do a limited drop. The Lap Count subscribers get first dibs. Don’t wait – grab your’s now. Show the world your love for track and field. Shop here.

Thanks so much to New Balance and the Guardian Mile for supporting this week’s newsletter! Pick up yourself a new pair of shoes and get ready to run across Cleveland’s most iconic bridge shouting about how much you enjoy The Lap Count.