Hitting the bell lap⏱

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Lap 164: Sponsored by On

On takes Penn Relays to World Athletics Silver Status

Penn Relays is back. Join us on April 25–27 for the 128th edition of the oldest track meet in the United States. With some help from Swiss sportswear brand On, the meet has been elevated to World Athletics Silver Status in 12 events – providing athletes with an additional opportunity to compete and another chance to qualify for the world's biggest stage. More fans. Faster times. Higher stakes. See you on the track.

You sound like you’re from London [Marathon]! 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

Photo: TCS London Marathon

Who needs an Olympic Trials Marathon when selectors can try their best to compare efforts on different courses months apart from another? Well, that’s the tall task faced by the Kenyan and Ethiopian federations, and the London Marathon was a big one with major implications. That’s of course because of the extreme depth of the two African powerhouses and that making the Olympic team might be considered harder than actually winning a medal there.

The women’s race was loaded with talent, featuring multiple previous winners, global medalists, and World Marathon Major champions. The pack came through halfway in 67:04 and it was evident that the women’s-only world record would go down. I appreciate London’s use of female pacers and that they pull off after the half – that’s how they ought to be used in all marathons, if they must be used at all. Let them keep it honest and then step off before the real racing starts.

The four that would eventually breakaway were defending Olympic champion Peres Chepchirchir, the not-yet ratified world record holder Tigist Assefa, former New York and London champion Joyciline Jepkosgei, and last year’s runner up and 2:17:09 athlete Megertu Alemu. And this super pack was still running four abreast until there was a quarter mile left! That’s when Chepchirchir made a sorta crazy move out, almost tripping Assefa in the process, to sprint away for the win in 2:16:16, just 18 seconds ahead of fourth.

With this, Chepchirchir locks her spot for the Kenyan Olympic team along with Hellen Obiri. That third spot will likely come down to politics Sharon Lokedi or Rosemary Wanjiru, as both placed second at this year’s Boston and Tokyo respectively. Wanjiru has run 2:16 on two occasions, but Lokedi has been nothing if not consistent and well-proven on hilly courses that will be more similar to Paris. I think it should be Lokedi, but expect Wanjiru.

Photo: TCS London Marathon

The way middle-aged men root for Kenenisa Bekele sort of makes him like running’s Tiger Woods (minus all the controversial stuff). In recent years, it’s been impossible to know what to expect from the 41-year-old legend who has either hit home runs or struck out whenever he toes the line. That is, until now. This sort of feels like he hit a stand-up triple as he pushed Alexander Mutiso Munyao, who is 14 years his junior, until the final couple of miles.

Coming through the half in a massive pack at 61:29, there were a lot of men who were about to enter the Twilight Zone. Munyao obviously held on, winning the biggest race of his career in 2:04:01. Bekele’s 2:04:15 broke his own Masters record. But there was carnage left behind them as Great Britain’s Emile Cairess was in 11th place at 30K and 2:20 behind third, and yet he would ultimately end up on the podium in 2:06:46.

You may not have known who Munyao was entering London, despite his 2:03:11 personal best, but this should be enough to solidify his spot on the Kenyan Olympic team alongside Eliud Kipchoge and Benson Kipruto. It pains me to leave Evans Chebet on the sideline…

From the Ethiopian perspective, Sisay Lemma is a no-brainer following Valencia and Boston victories. And I think you have to give the nod to Bekele now, not only because of his whole body of work, but because he was bothered that he lost this race and that’s the sort of dog mentality we need. I am salivating all over my keyboard thinking about the possibility of Bekele and Kipchoge butting heads 25 miles in, come Paris. And finally, if Tamirat Tola has a good excuse for what happened that caused him to drop out at 25K, then he deserves the benefit of doubt after dominating in New York.

Happy Opening Day, Running Fans ⚾️


With the outdoor season in full swing, it may feel close but the Olympic 200m final is still 104 days away – that’s practically a lifetime! For perspective, 104 days out from the Xiamen Diamond League, it was January 6th and we were still pretending to keep our resolutions. This is the earliest a Diamond League has ever started, and I am so happy to see quality track and field back on my television. 7 AM on Saturday morning is not prime time for most, but it is perfect for a coffee-drinking family man like myself.

Now the thing about season openers is I won’t be writing anyone off based on a performance in mid-April. There’s only something to be gained at this point. Generally these gains are marginal, but in the case of Torrie Lewis, it was a whole lot. The 19-year-old Australian had the breakthrough race of her life, winning the 200m 22.95 (-0.4). This came after Lewis set the Australian record over 100M in January and followed that up winning the 200M at the Australian championships. Despite all of that – and beating Sha’Carri Richardson at Xiamen – Lewis still has not hit the Olympic standard. She will, but it’s still interesting!

In other news, I saw some Online People getting upset over a headline suggesting that Lewis beat Richardson. But that’s what happened? I hope that it’s still okay to point that out in a professional sport… As a red-blooded American who loves the energy that our world champion brings to the sport, I am rooting for her to crush this season and continue to transcend beyond the oval. It’s an Olympic year, and there will be pressure, but if she isn’t worried then neither should we! Remember: it’s mid-April!


In case you forgot to tune in to Peacock because you didn’t actually read the Flotrack press release before sounding off in the comment section, let me catch you up on the rest of the action:

  • Mondo Duplantis broke the world record AGAIN! This time he cleared 6.24m, once again raising the bar by a mere centimeter. For those who’ve lost count, this is his eighth time breaking history and he did it with a perfect card, clearing everything on first attempts.

  • Gudaf Tsegay already has the 5000m world record, but for a moment it looked like she was about to unexpectedly swipe Faith Kipyegon’s 1500m, too! Following an opening 800m of 2:02.5, Tsegay held on to run a three-second PB of 3:50.30, which is the third fastest of all-time.

  • Lamecha Girma, the 3000m steeplechase world record holder, finished the first 5000m of his career running away in 12:58.96 in hot and humid conditions. How bad was it? Ask Sam Parsons.

  • Shelby McEwen followed up his silver medal at the World Indoor Championships with force, as he cleared 2.27m to beat Mutaz Essa Barshim and Hamish Kerr. The US hasn’t won an outdoor global gold in the men’s high jump since 2012, and that’s too long for the first country to land on the moon. On May 9th, Barshim is hosting a new high jump meet in Doha called the ‘What Gravity Challenge’ that looks sick – 12 of the best in the world will be there, except for McEwen.

  • Christian Coleman won the 100m. I don’t care about the time! The times will come! If you are beating the likes of Fred Kerley and Ackeem Blake then 10.13 (-0.6) means nothing to me. (Full Results)

9.93… That’s It! That’s the Headline! 💨

In March of 2007 at a poorly surfaced track on the far east side of San Antonio, my editor tells me he witnessed the coolest sporting moment he’s ever been even loosely a part of. I’ve regrettably let him share it here:

Rynell Parson – a then-sophomore who was a local sprint phenom – was set to run an early season 100m at a low-key invitational. He’d been running fast enough that even the track ambivalent local press had taken notice, and there was a lot of buzz around him. 

On that overcast morning, the wind howled at the sprinters’ backs and the official tasked with hand-timing Parson’s lane must have had an itchy trigger finger, because he was clocked at 9.99. The atmosphere was electric leading up to the start, frenzied as he put nearly half a second on the field, and borderline rapturous when his time was announced. (You can try to make out the scene from what might be the first YouTube video ever posted here.)

Even though the time was definitely not legitimate, I still think about that race semi-regularly, 17 years later. You just don’t forget seeing someone run really, really fast.

This is all to say that I hope the crowd assembled at last week’s Pure Athletics Spring Invitational in Clermont, Florida appreciated what they were treated to when 17-year-old Christian Miller ran a 9.93 (+1.6). (Everything was above board, wind- and timing-wise, and video technology has improved considerably since 2007 so enjoy the race here.)

Miller is the reigning USATF U20 100 and 200 champ, he won the 200 at last year’s New Balance Nationals, and now holds the US U20 and world under-18 record. And as of now, he’s got the outright world lead in the 100. With those credentials it’s reasonable to have Olympic aspirations, but whatever happens in the near and long term, let’s just appreciate that right now he is running really, really, really fast, and that races are no longer filmed on potatoes.

THIS is why racing matters and NOT time! 🏆

Hop in the DeLorean and try to put yourself in the mental space of two weeks ago when the times at the Miramar Invitational made you question if they started on the right line. It was there that Courtney Lindsey opened his season in 10.28 (-2.4) to win the 100m – not exactly a sexy number to see on the clock. But it was a huge victory! He out leaned Ackeem Blake, who was fresh off a bronze medal from the World Indoor Championships!

We knew Lindsey could be a world beater when the Texas Tech star ran 9.89 (+1.8) to win the NCAA Championships in 2023, before running 19.85 (-0.1) to finish third at the US Championships in the 200m. After a long year balancing college classes and training, he was knocked out in the semi-finals in Budapest – and so the world was never properly introduced.

Following a win in Miramar, he won again in 19.88 (+1.6) at Tom Jones, making it clear that he’s been on a different level this spring. That was made even more apparent at the Kip Keino Classic in Kenya, which was supposed to be all about Letsile Tebogo. Africa’s best sprinter showed superb early form and was about to take advantage of some friendly altitude air.

Well, Lindsey played disruptor there, too, when he narrowly beat out Tebogo as they both ran 19.71 (-1.5). And such was the case a newsletter section ago, you can’t run yourself out of contention in April, but you can insert yourself into the conversation. And now we should be talking about Courtney Lindsey!

  • Kenny Bednarek ripped a 9.91 (+2.2) to win the 100m. Do you realize that without a Noah Lyles bye like we get at Worlds, that means one of Lyles, Bednarek, Lindsey, and Knighton will be left off the Olympic 200m team?

  • Emmanuel Wanyonyi must’ve heard that Marco Arop set a new world lead in the 800m because an hour later he took it himself to set a new one with a 1:43.57 performance.

  • Mary Moraa just needed to remind everyone really quickly that SHE is the World Champion, as she controlled the 800m for 1:57.96. (Results)

Beasts Break The DMR World Record 📈

Photo: Carlos Celio | @projectcelio |

Records are made to be broken, which is the main reason why I am having regrets that I did not win more Olympic gold medals! When I heard the Brooks Beasts were going for the distance medley relay world record in Eugene this past weekend, I immediately updated my resume to include the word “former.”

The team of Brannon Kidder (2:49.60), Brandon Miller (46.60), Isaiah Harris (1:45.75), and Henry Wynne (3:52.64) ran 9:14.58 to break the previous mark of 9:15.50 set by Ben Blankenship, Brandon Johnson, Brycen Spratling, and Kyle “Me” Merber back at the World Relays in 2015.

On the surface, this is probably not quite as hard of a record to get as Bolt’s 9.58, but it’s a World Athletics-recognized event – they send a plaque and everything! Things sort of aligned for this record to stand for a while despite some seconds to give on the 1200 leg. First, the Penn Relays stopped having a USA vs. The World DMR in 2013. And then the World Relays only hosted the event in 2015, before completely eliminating all distance events in 2017 when it cut the 4×800.

You probably didn’t even realize that the World Relays still exist and are next weekend in the Bahamas. Look at how bare this schedule is, even with the repechage rounds. Why not include the DMR or 4×800 in there to engage the distance-loving audience? (Trying to track down our race video, I found this interview I did after that race, and listen to the crowd! Why would you change anything about this meet?)

The DMR is a race of controlled chaos, with baked-in surges and constant lead changes. Fortunately, we still have the NCAA indoor meet to keep the event alive, and with multiple college teams having now run 9:16, it may not be long until this record goes down again.

The Beasts did this one the hard way: after Kidder handed it off to Miller, they broke it open and were all by themselves. And with no one there to crowd the lane, Harris displayed his veteran savvy by taking the handoff as deep into the mixed zone as possible. Wynne was not distracted by the strobe lights and made sure to stay in front of the more important but perhaps less zany pacing ones and got it done.

Kudos to the Beasts for doing something fun to get the season started. Like Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone in the 4×100 at Mt. SAC, running a relay is such a good way to open up. It’s a low-pressure situation and the perfect opportunity to get the feet wet.

Catching up with Henry Wynne ✍️

Photo: @kevmofoto | Kevin morris

I was interested to hear more about the Beasts record run so I briefly caught up with Henry Wynne to get his insight into how it all went down. Aside from now being a world record holder, the Connecticut native was an NCAA champion while competing for UVA and has personal bests of 3:34.08 for 1500m and 3:51.26 in the mile.

This isn’t an event that is run very often on the pro side anymore, so why did The Beasts decide to put together a DMR?

It was honestly a very last-minute thing. Danny [Mackey| texted it into our group chat and Brandon Miller responded with the eyes emoji. And he came to practice the next day pumped like, “We could get this world record, let's do this!” And at first, we're all just like, “oh, okay… maybe!”

And throughout the last few weeks, we've been talking about it more and started getting excited about it. And it was a fun way to open up the season as an opportunity to do something you don’t get to do very often. So we just did it for fun.

Where does this fit into the season? I think this was the first time most of you raced so far outdoors.

We wanted to get the world record, but it was also a bit more of a low-key, not as stressful – like you're not doing your main event – way of opening up. If it goes well, then we're super happy. And if it hadn't gone well, it’s okay because it’s the first race of the season and we're just kind of shaking off the rust. It was a good stimulus to prepare ourselves for when things get more serious down the road.

When you guys added up the possible splits beforehand, what was the best-case scenario? I would say the 1200 leg was probably the place where you could easily improve upon the record, which in my defense… it was tactical! But what was the potential of this team?

Look, I'm a big fan of the last record’s 1200m runner, but that was where we could make up the most time. We knew Brannon could buy us some wiggle room because he should be one of the best 1200m runners in the world. If it was an Olympic event then he’d be all over it. The other splits were very, very fast, so we knew it would be close and so honestly this was close to the best case scenario.

When Brannon went out in like, 29, I was thinking, “What are you doing?You're throwing it away!” But it worked out. Did you guys invite any other teams or did you know it was going to be solo?

We thought there was a possibility that the UW guys were going to come. We knew some of the guys that train with Powell like Sam Prakel and [Sam] Ellis were going to be there so at least Brannon would have someone. In the last few weeks of practice we’ve been yelling at each other at practice to think about this relay and we were envisioning doing it solo.

How much tougher is it to solo the 1600 versus being in an open race? Were you running scared or did you know that you had it? You had the lights, but it's still easy to get lost out there.

It was definitely tough. I went out a bit too hard and then backed off too much. In an open 1500, you obviously have people around you to keep you accountable and awake. It was nerve-wracking not knowing exactly what my splits were but Danny, [assistant coach] Julian [Florez], and Josh [Kerr] were yelling at me. I was just running hard and I didn’t see the light so I was like, “I must be doing alright!”

How much trash talk was there from Josh about how a theoretical Team GB DMR could take this record down?

He's always trash-talking, but we are willing to take on Team GB. They have an amazing squad. And the good thing about having Josh on the team is you can't run poorly or you're going to hear about it for the next couple of months – that adds a little bit of positive pressure!

Rapid Fire Highlights 🔥

  • In his first race since winning the World Indoor Championship 3000m, Josh Kerr flexed his range to win the 800m at the Oregon Relays in 1:45.96 after an opening 400 of 52.5. On paper, it’s like… yea, of course he could do that. But watching it, it’s more like… damn! (Video)

  • Pray the weather is good and that the seasonal allergies aren’t a factor because Ollie Hoare and Yared Nuguse have been added to the Penn Relays mile field. The meet record of 3:53.2 has stood since 1974!

  • It was inevitable! But Sadie Engelhardt set the high school girls outdoor mile record at Mt. SAC, running 4:31.72 and she did it the old fashioned way (running with high schoolers).

  • At the Virginia Challenge, Under Armour’s Matthew Wilkinson won the steeplechase in 8:18.53, but in third was my dear friend Travis Mahoney in 8:20.91. He has now qualified for his FOURTH Olympic Trials in the event.

  • Adidas shared the uniforms that Team GB will be wearing and for millennials who are fans of minimalism, then these clean cut kits will definitely hit.

  • New Zealand has announced the first 15 individuals named to their Olympic team, and it includes George Beamish and a lot of other people who can now sleep well at night.

  • With a little help from his friends (i.e., three pacers), Cole Hocker set a small personal best of 13:08.25 at the Wake Forest Invitational as the lone finisher in Olympic Development heat. Parker Wolfe won the invite section in 13:27.57 with a solo final 1200m in 3:00 and Graham Blanks is back healthy and racing. And Doris Lemngole (9:22.31) won the steeplechase over defending NCAA champion Olivia Markezich. (Results)

  • Rai Benjamin won the Mt SAC Relays 400m in 44.42, which is great because he is healthy! But even more fun because it was another opportunity to continue his lifetime war against bib numbers.

  • Gabby Thomas is partnering with Reddit co-founder – and Serena Williams’ life doubles partner – Alexis Ohanian to create a women’s track invitational this September that will award first-place payouts of $60,000. Can you guess which one of them ran 50.37 at LSU this weekend? (Article)

  • Michael Johnson’s new track league has secured over $30M in funding with plans to launch the name and more details in June. (Article)

  • You never know when there might be a USATF Road National Championship on the line and this Tuesday evening proved that! Rachel McArthur followed up a big 1500m PB last week winning in 4:32 and Vincent Ciattei led from the gun running 3:57 to repeat his 2022 win.


  • Payton Jordan is April 26th starting at 7pm ET on Flotrack (Results)

  • Adidas Adizero Road to Records is on the Adidas YouTube channel on April 27th at 3 AM ET with 800s, Miles, 5Ks, and 10Ks.

  • USATF Bermuda Grand Prix is on Sunday, April 28th, will air on NBC from 5 to 7 p.m. ET, and will feature the likes of Noah Lyles, Abby Steiner, and Elaine Thompson-Herah. (Schedule)

  • The 128th Penn Relays will be on from April 25th to 27th and streamed on FloTrack. (Schedule)

  • Shanghai Diamond League, Saturday 7AM ET on Peacock (Program)

  • The 117th Drake Relays will be on from April 24th to 27th on RunnerSpace+/USATF.tv. (Results)

Thank you so much to On for sponsoring this week’s newsletter! We need to support the big meets in this sport and there are fewer more historic and name recognizable events out there than the Penn Relays. AND THESE FIELDS!!!

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