Land Of 10,000 Takes ⏱️

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This Week In Track Meets: A Viewer ReView

After what seemed like months of local exhibitions, NCAA home meets, and training videos posted from altitude camp, the pro racing season is finally getting underway in a BIG way. “Not enough pro track regular season racing” is a take so recycled it feels like we bring it up every week, but not this one! 

We have multiple major elite competitions all over the world, often happening at the same time. No one meet is ever perfect, but hey – they all featured pro athletes showing up and doing their thing outside of one week in Paris. Hello! Let’s celebrate that.

The other benefit of having the LA Grand Prix, the Marrakech Diamond League, the Atlanta City Games, and the Night of 10K PBs all happening over the same few days is that we can compare and contrast. And highlight the best and worst of each event to offer our unsolicited feedback to meet organizers and race broadcasters in hopes of one day turning on our TVs and seeing that one perfect track meet, the one that will turn every single casual sports fan into a diehard track and field stan.

We could write a couple hundred words on each one of these events, but there’s a limit to how far our pro-bono event consulting goes before we have to start charging. So without further ado, here’s a short and dirty best and worst of this weekend in pro track and field.

LA Grand Prix 🌴

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone was dominant on her home track.
(Photo by Justin Britton)

Best: Almost everybody showed up.

When was the last time you watched a meet where Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, Michael Norman, Grant Fisher, and Elle St. Pierre all competed that wasn’t a U.S. or global championship? The best of the best across virtually every discipline made the trip to LA (almost like hosting events in major cities near large international airports is a good idea!) and gave it their all. Even with the American-centric tilt of a USATF-hosted event, we also saw Olympic and World champions from all around the world like Marileidy Paulino, Selemon Barega, and Jasmine Camacho-Quinn competing in their primary events. The last-minute withdrawal of Athing Mu from the 400m was a slight letdown, but on the whole, it was great to see a regular-season meet outside the Diamond League circuit that drew some seriously big names.

Worst: Long distance gets the short end of the stick.

While the two-day competition allowed for a stacked card of competitors, it was still disappointing to see two of the best races of the whole weekend held in the middle of the night (on the East Coast) and hidden behind a paywall. If 11 men break 13 minutes in the 5000m and no one is online to watch it, did the race really happen? The men’s 5000m was as stacked as an Olympic final and Elle St. Pierre is one of the most exciting athletes in the country to watch these days – they deserved a spot in the main program.

Atlanta City Games 🅰️

Grant Holloway with a heck of a celebration after his 100m hurdles win.
(Photo by Kevin Morris)

Best: Easy to watch for fans online.

The 2024 Atlanta City Games, a “street meet” style competition primarily designed as an Adidas showcase, only featured short sprints and a few select jumping events, but in order to bring in more eyeballs the meet streamed for free on both the Adidas and Noah Lyles YouTube channels. Free, accessible streams aren’t going to be the right choice for every track and field event, but if you have corporate dollars aplenty and the event is a glorified commercial for your star athletes, why not make it as easy as possible for everyone to watch?

Worst: A quiet in-person affair.

It was a bit hard to tell from the stream, but whether it was lack of interest, the physical setup of the track, or Atlantans just all had something better to do with their Saturday afternoon, the Games didn’t appear to draw much of an in-person crowd. With no bleacher-style seating and half the 200-meter straightaway blocked off, the gathering seemed a bit sparse and the atmosphere felt somewhat subdued. Street meets are a promising, unorthodox model but you need to work hard to recreate the feeling of being surrounded on all sides by screaming fans to bring the magic of professional sports to life on TV.

Night of 10k PBs 🇬🇧

Fans in London were treated to a battle to the finish between Megan Keith and U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials champion Fiona O’Keeffe. (Photos by David Hicks)

Best: Getting marathoners back on track.

For domestic fans, the thrill of the U.K.-based Night of 10k PBs came from putting the British 10,000m titles and Olympic spots on the line in a one-event showcase, complete with pyrotechnics and trackside beers. But the main draw for Americans to tune in was that many big names from the Olympic Marathon Trials headed across the pond to compete, including Keira D’Amato and Trials champ Fiona O’Keeffe on the women’s side and Zach Panning and Sam Chelanga on the men’s.

Worst: Nine LONG heats of 10,000ms.

There’s no polite way to say this: 25 laps of racing is always going to be a hard sell. With the right fields, atmosphere, stakes, and narrative-building, a 10,000m on the track can be an enjoyable – dare we say thrilling? – half hour of television. But a one-trick pony event with nine full heats of 10,000ms is always going to cater to the tastes of only the most diehard fans.

Rabat/Marrakech Diamond League

Best: The spotlight shines on new faces.

The meet featured rising stars aplenty, with the likes of Angelica Moser (pole vault), Azeddine Habz (1500m), Alexander Doom (400m), Emmanuel Eseme (100m), and Prudence Sekgodiso (800m) claiming the first DLs of their careers. The wide-open fields gave athletes from countries like Switzerland and Cameroon the chance to shine on an international stage. And it gave potential medal threats like Sekgodiso, the 22-year-old who set a new world lead of 1:57.26, and Doom, the World Indoor Champ, to pick up a few new fans before they head to Paris later this summer.

Worst: Most of the biggest stars skip the trip.

Maybe it was the overlap with LA, and maybe many in Nike’s large stable of champions are locked in for this weekend’s Pre Classic, but for a Diamond League meet, several of the events felt… decidedly light on heavy hitters. Shericka Jackson opened up her season in the 200m with a fairly unremarkable 22.82 victory and Moroccan hero Soufiane El Bakkali closed out the event with a win in the steeplechase, but part of the reason there were so many first-time winners is, frankly, because the usual suspects were elsewhere.

Why The Women’s 10,000m At The Trials Could Get Wacky 🤪

Weini Kelati is in a very good spot heading into the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials.
(Photo by Kevin Morris)

Hoping the situation would become clearer, we waited until the dust had settled from the Night of the 10K PBs and Sound Running Track Fest to parse through the 10,000m scenarios for the Olympic Trials on the women’s side. It did not, in fact, become clearer! No one snagged the Olympic standard at either event and no American likely will at this weekend’s Pre Classic. If you thought the men’s Olympic marathon puzzle was fun, buckle up for World Rankings hoopla, cross country chatter, and more.

Let’s start with the basics of… 

“Who has the standard?” This is easy. Unless an American jumps into the Gudaf Tsegay World Record Attempt Athletics Kenya Olympic Trials 10,000m at The Nike Prefontaine Classic Race For The Cure and runs under 30:40, only Alicia Monson (30:03.82 from March 2023) and Weini Kelati (30:33.82 from March 2024) will have it by the Trials. However, Monson recently underwent season-ending knee surgery so the only woman lining up in Eugene with the standard will be Kelati. She just needs to finish in the top three and she’s good for Paris. We’ll come back to Monson though.

“Is anyone else qualified?” Remember all those cross country races Katie Izzo raced in the fall? It paid off and got her one of the eight spots allocated from World Ranking for Cross Country, which counts toward the 10,000m (as we World Athletics implemented last year). However, (are you tired of these “howevers,” yet?) Izzo doesn’t have the U.S. Olympic Trials standard and is currently the 31st-fastest U.S. woman in the qualifying window. They’ll fill the field with 24 people. But Izzo’ll be hoping USATF allows her into the Trials because she’s qualified for the Games and there’s a chance the U.S. can’t send three women without her in it. It’s also good because holding the XC spot would block another country from taking that spot.

“Is there anyone else in the World Rankings quota?” Yes! U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials champion Fiona O’Keeffe. With her 31:03.46 in London on Saturday, she proved she’s in great form and battled to the line against Great Britain’s Megan Keith, who ran 30:36.84 back in March and assured her spot in Paris by winning the British championship title. O’Keefe could cash in with a top three finish or by winning another national title.

“What happened to last year’s team?” U.S. champion Elise Cranny (7th American, 34th overall in the World Rankings) has not raced a 10,000m this year and is working her way back from a coaching switch and symptoms of REDs. Karissa Schweizer (9th American, 43rd overall in the World Rankings) ran 31:04.80 in March. Natosha Rogers (6th American, 23rd in the World Rankings) has not raced since her marathon debut at the U.S. Olympic Trials, where she finished 28th in 2:34:51. These three are talented enough that if they show up to the Trials and if there are cool temps by some miracle, they can maybe try to chase the standard at the Trials. It’s certainly not easy, and would basically require a coordinated effort – you aren’t running 30:39 solo.

Can anyone else get in via their World Ranking?” Elly Henes (5th American, 19th overall in the World Rankings) and Keira D’Amato (8th American, 37th overall in the World Rankings) will also be praying for cool temperatures, minimal wind, and low pollen counts. 

Where’s Parker Valby fit in all this?” We’ll throw Parker Valby’s name into the mix too because she’s run 30:50.43 – but doesn’t factor into the current World Rankings because it came at a category-E meet and she won’t have another 10,000m result on her record until she runs at the NCAA East Regional this weekend. (Sidenote: Her 10,000m debut at Bryan Clay was scored a 1206. Henes’ 31:07:23 was scored a 1186 despite the run being at The Ten, which was a category-B meet.) Valby’s known to run from the gun and won’t let the pace lag so if she finishes in the top three with a decent time, she could make it on the team. But think about the toll of three (Bryan Clay, NCAA Regionals, NCAA Championships) 10,000m races before going all-out at the Trials. Valby’s best bet could be to attack the 5000m, where there’s similar uncertainty and she’s proven to be able to solo a 14:52.

“So how many people can compete at the Olympics?” The Olympic field size will be 27 – with 8 spots already spoken for from XC allocation, so it’s more like 19. 

Of those 19: 

  • Ethiopia will take 3 since they have 13 women with the standard

  • Kenya will take 3 since they have 17 women with the standard.

  • Australia’s Lauren Ryan took one spot with her 30:35.66 at the Ten.

  • Team Great Britain has Eilish McColgan and Megan Keith qualified. (McColgan hasn’t raced since last April but appears to be coming off a training block in Colorado so she’ll maybe just have to prove fitness to British Athletics selectors at their Trials next month.)

  • Uganda has Joy Cheptoyek and Sarah Chelangat qualified via a road race in Valencia.

  • The Netherlands takes two spots because of Sifan Hassan’s 29:37.80 in Hengelo last summer and Diane Van Es’ 30:29 from a February road race.

So we’re down to just four spots being granted to the rankings – three to Japan’s Ririka Hironaka, Rino Goshima, and Haruka Kokai and one to Great Britain’s Jessica Warner-Judd (she’s also under British Athletics’ dumb selection policy standard for their athletes. For 10,000 their standard is 31:10.00 and she ran 31:09.28 back in March 2023 so it counts. She was also eighth at the World Championships last year).

This is where we should have taken some cues from the Japanese, who smartly scheduled their national championships in December 2023 and May 2024. That’s two races where big points were awarded since national championships are considered category-B meets. To avoid this in the future, USATF should decide to host the 10,000 selection race later at night or at a different meet entirely.

At the moment, the 10,000m final at the Trials is scheduled for Saturday, June 29th at 6:09 p.m. PT. Last year, it was 91°F at that time. The year before, it was 79°F.  Americans probably missed an opportunity for points and we should’ve had a fast 10,000m race in December. Forget the television window and hosting it at the Trials! They cut to commercials for most of it anyway!

Now Americans are in a position where we await a variety of factors that could lead to going down the World Rankings to fill the field. Will Hassan even run the 10,000m as part of whatever double or triple she concocts for Paris? Is McColgan healthy enough to race? (My guess is yes.) Will Team GB take Warner-Judd? (My guess is yes.) Will Eritrea, Burundi, Italy, Sweden, Uganda, the Netherlands and France all use their cross country spots?

If the Trials are hot and slow, Monson could technically show up on crutches, walk it in 90 minutes and still qualify for the Olympics. What a sight that would be!

When we wrote about the men’s marathoning conundrum, some said we were hitting the panic button too early. In hindsight, we probably weren’t panicking enough! This is just where we stand with a month to go until the Trials – it’s appropriate to start nervous sweating.

The Future of the 10k: Outsourcing it?

“A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, who will make up ⅔ of the Kenyan 10,000m squad at the upcoming Paris Olympic Games.” - Steve Prefontaine

Odds are really good for a Kenyan sweep at this weekend’s Pre Classic 10,000m.

If you’re schlepping to Eugene this weekend to watch some track and are a real sicko for 25-lap races, we’ve got good news: the Kenyan men’s and women’s 10,000m Olympic selection races will now be baked into the programming for this weekend’s Prefontaine Classic.

This is not the first time Athletics Kenya has severed the 10K from the rest of its national championship proceedings and held it in conjunction with an invitational in another country entirely. AK also used Pre to select its 2012 men’s 10,000m contingent for the London Games. The reason being that when you host your own country’s trials at nearly 6,000 feet, even for medal contenders, it’s tough to breach the Olympic standards of 27:00 and 30:40. (The outsourced 10,000m is also a time-tested practice employed by the Ethiopian Athletics Federation, to skirt around the country’s elevation as well.) 

Travel aside, this is undoubtedly a positive move for the athletes, who aren’t forced to waste a hard race effort and recovery period on what’s guaranteed to be a slow time. From a federation’s standpoint it’s a home run, as well. You pick your team at roughly sea level – same as the Olympics – and avoid spoiler outcomes due to what exercise scientists call “altitude weirdness.” (The selection process AK uses takes the top two finishers from each Trials final, then rounds things out with a discretionary pick, when available – and they’d hate to burn one auto slot on some untested kid who’s an altitude freak and has the race of their life on the right day – you saw how political things got with the marathon team selection.) And let’s be frank: it’s probably also a great deal for the fans turning out for what’ll already be a long weekend of track in Nairobi.

This isn’t to say the 10,000m can’t be exhilarating for spectators. But it’s not an innately thrilling race from start to finish. That first 23 laps have a tendency to be redundant…

UNLESS the race is an all-timer with a hot early pace and a memorable finish between the last few athletes standing, or it has significant novelty appeal. All the pace lights and prize money in the world can’t guarantee you the former, but the latter, friends, is easy to come by. Imagine the following scenario, for instance:

American track fans making the pilgrimage to Hayward Field are treated to a slate of action featuring the usual suspects: a who’s-who of American track & field talent, and a sprinkling of international superstars to round out the fields. But wait, there’s more. These fans also get the distinct pleasure of watching one hour of Olympic Trials for a country that’s basically synonymous with elite distance running. 

It’s been a long-held belief by this newsletter – meaning Kyle before, and now the collective brain trust that cranks out takes each week – that there is often too much track when track takes place. Meet schedules are too long and races get too diluted by stars picking one event over another to dodge the competition. 

Well, you can shave an hour off of a meet’s run time by packing up and shipping out your 10ks. There are plenty of options: Send them to a foreign country where people are starved for distance races in which the entire field could realistically win a global medal. Hold them on a different weekend, locally, as part of a mass participation event. Put up a temporary track in the parking lot of a casino the same weekend a Sublime cover band is in town.

Separating out the 10,000ms from the rest of the Trials also allows distance runners to go all-in on both the 5,000m and its longer cousin, instead of having your top stars skip one event for another or turn the first race in the program into a jogfest.

Just get creative, because on a long enough timeline we risk losing the 10,000m entirely. Do you think the same governing body that gave us the mixed gender 4 x 400m and repechage rounds won’t attempt a little addition by subtraction at some point?

Rapid Fire Highlights

– We’re three episodes into our “Beasts: Unleashed” series with Brooks. The most recent episode features 1500m world champion Josh Kerr. A new episode featuring Nia Akins will be released on Thursday. Catch up on the series here.

– It’s a tough time to be a perennial medal-contending steeplechaser from the U.S. –  Courtney Frerichs shared she will miss the 2024 outdoor season after tearing her ACL in practice. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery.

– We appreciated Gabby Thomas’s transparency after an off day at the LA Grand Prix. She shared on Twitter: “Obviously didn’t look like myself today, it happens every season when I compete in the middle of this training block, but I committed to the meet long ago, and I just can’t pull out when fans look forward to seeing us compete. I’m okay, everything is going according to plan.” Track fans don’t ask for much – okay… we do ask for a lot, and constantly – but that small gesture went a long way when the standard protocol surrounding an off-performance is to never publicly acknowledge it.

– Buried within the LA Grand Prix results, NCAA Indoor mile champion Maia Ramsden broke the New Zealand national record in 4:02.58, which moved her to No. 2 on the all-time NCAA list. In the interest of working smarter, not harder, we didn’t look it up but we are also going to assume she broke the Harvard school record. (Post-race interview)

– Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs may be rounding into form as he clocked a 10.07s in Rome. His race against Fred Kerley at the Oslo Diamond League on May 30th may not happen after Fred withdrew from the Stockholm Diamond League on June 2 due to injury.

– European Athletics dropped an 18-minute video titled Keeping Up With The Ingebrigtsens, which shares more of Jakob Ingebrigtsen’s romantic side. His first date with his wife Elisabeth was sushi and a movie. Take notes, young casanovas, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel: double threshold workouts and dinner and a movie are classics for a reason.

– As astutely noted by our resident Big Throws Guy Paul Hof-Mahoney (follow him on Twitter!): Canadian 17-year-old Julia Tunks threw the discus 62.80m, which moved her to No. 2 on the Canadian all-time list. Hof-Mahoney makes a good point that if she was American, that would’ve been a high school national record by five feet. Tunks is headed to UCLA next year.

– Tara Davis-Woodhall jumped 7.17m leap at the Atlanta City Games. That’s back-to-back personal bests to open up the outdoor season for the World Indoor champion. She had a funny interaction with an official following a foul where she went to check his glasses but later clarified they were cool. (She broke it down the jump for us.)

Nearly 6,000 people have signed a petition that calls for World Athletics to expand the Olympic marathon field to allow for the likes of Leonard Korir and 10 other athletes displaced by the addition of universality athletes into the World Rankings quota. We aren’t holding out much hope for this strategy, but will note that one woman’s letter writing campaign in the late 1960s saved Star Trek from cancellation after its second season. (It was instead canceled after its third.)


The Prefontaine Classic will be televised from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on NBC. Any races scheduled before that will be available to be streamed on USATF.TV with a subscription. You can tune into the CITIUS MAG Live At Pre Show on Friday night at 9 p.m. ET on our YouTube channel as we preview the races and bring on some special guests for interviews before Saturday’s jam-packed action.

ESPN+ will carry all of the NCAA Regional action (May 22-25) taking place in Lexington, Kentucky and Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Thanks to Bandit for sponsoring this week’s newsletter and their continued support of track and field athletes aspiring to compete at the national an global championship stage. As a thanks for reading this far down into the newsletter, they’re also offering up 15% off your next order at by using code CITIUS15 at checkout.

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