Real Milers Of Eugene ⏱️

Sponsored by Bandit Running

Lap 170: Sponsored by Bandit Running

This summer, Bandit Running is proud to bring back the Unsponsored Project for 2024, helping athletes represent themselves at the Track Trials. They're offering unbranded gear, financial support, and a platform to spotlight athletes who are betting on themselves at the highest stage. This past weekend, Unsponsored Rachel McArthur, who recently won the U.S. road mile championships, paced the 10,000m at the Eugene Diamond League. If you’re an unsponsored athlete who has qualified for the Trials or is aiming to qualify in the coming weeks, reach out to [email protected] to learn how you can get involved.

Putting the “Diss” in “Middle-Distance” 😎

The men’s Bowerman Mile had everything we wanted.
(Photo by Johnny Zhang/@jzsnapz)

The Challengers boys worked out their love-hate relationship. Everyone is tired of Kendrick and Drake. And Barbenheimer was so last summer and Hollywood is coming off its worst Memorial Day box office weekend in nearly three decades. 2024’s newest, best rivalry is Joshkob Kerrgebrigtsen

A [less than] 4-minute race received hours – if not days – of coverage leading up to the Pre Classic, in large part because of the seemingly endless back-and-forth between its co-headliners. It’s hard to say when the off-the-track rivalry between the reigning Olympic champ and reigning World champ really began. Sometimes in sport and in life, two dudes just don’t like each other. But the flashpoint appears to have been last summer in Budapest, when Ingebrigtsen’s movie villain antics in the 1500m semifinal and subsequent loss to Kerr (and his movie villain sunglasses) in the final ignited excuses on one side and accusations of insecurity on the other.

The duo then spent much of the next few months chirping at each other in the media, with Jakob spending his winter recovering from an Achilles injury and giving quotes to Norwegian press about how he’s the greatest and Kerr being asked to react. Anyone who’s had to spend time on the bike or in the pool in the middle of someone else’s racing season knows how Ingebrigtsen must feel – even Olympic champs must get a little FOMO from seeing world records get broken and medals get handed out without them.

So by the time they had to sit on the same stage in the days leading up to the Bowerman Mile, these two frenemies (the “friend” part is debatable) had thrown more shade than a California redwood at each other. This made it all the more exciting when the hugely stacked race came down to a two-way battle (with American Yared Nuguse on their heels), with Kerr making a big move from 600 meters out then holding off the Norwegian to break the tape in 3:45.34. It’s only the second time in their careers that Kerr has beaten Ingebrigtsen head-to-head, but it’s also the second time in a row. Ingebrigtsen, to his great credit, ran 3:45.60 in his season opener, and if that’s what a “rust buster” looks like, he’ll be very, very dangerous come August.

Before then, there may more opportunities to match up in a Diamond League or two and plenty of chances to talk shit on one another. The official Lap Count position is that it doesn’t matter who you root for, but having someone to root for – and against – is fun. So in order to help make your summer track viewing as rewarding as possible, we present:

The Unofficial Guide To Deciding Which Miler To Stan 

Important factors to consider when picking up your Scottish flag or Viking hat for your Olympic viewing party:

Jakob is fearless. Few runners are as unambiguous and consistent with the race strategy of “get to the front and make them hurt,” and if you’re looking for a Prefontaine-type front runner with a real shot at gold, he’s your guy.

Josh doesn’t take himself too seriously. One of the big knocks against Jakob from the personality standpoint is that he seems a bit thin-skinned when criticisms are raised, and he doesn’t seem to find the media frenzy around his rivalry with Kerr particularly amusing. While it’s important to remember that the spiciest Ingebrigtsen quotes are either being filtered through a translation or communicated in a second language, it does seem like he struggles with being able to laugh at himself and instead reacts to any questions about his performance with utmost seriousness and a little wounded pride.

Jakob isn’t afraid to race. One knock on Kerr is that he is a bit more sparing with his appearances on the Diamond League circuit than his rival, whereas Ingebrigtsen shows up on the pro circuit as frequently as anyone when he’s healthy. If you like athletes who prioritize regular-season racing as much as championships, Jakob is your guy.

Josh’s social media presence is… interesting. Longtime fans have humorously noted that, ever since Kerr farmed out the bulk of his social media to a marketing team, his Instagram presence has changed. If you’re a fan of professionally-edited thirst traps and SEO-oriented hashtags, look no further. #joshkerr #athletemotivation #runner

Jakob is going to be a dad. If you tune into NBC Olympic coverage for heartwarming interstitials about the human interest behind the results, you’re probably thrilled to learn that we’ll be getting cute Ingebaby pics come June.

Josh is taking CITIUS along for the ride. Okay, we’re biased here but the Brooks Beasts are bringing in the cameras for a 10-part web series we think is pretty darn fun.

Jakob is the underdog now. Or is he? Rooting for underdogs is fun, but that also requires knowing who the underdog is. A year ago, that would’ve inarguably been Kerr, but he now has the fitness and momentum, and Jakob hasn’t won a 1500m title since 2021. If you’re really looking for a dark horse, however, you may want to put all your energy on a slightly longer shot 

– The only thing more fun than another battle royale would be both big dogs falling to the likes of Yared Nuguse or Jake Wightman.

Wherever you land, we can all agree that filling the days and weeks between matchups with debate, discourse, and maybe a little Real Housewives-style drama is fun, harmless, and great for the sport.

A Smart CheBet For Double Gold 🥇🥇

Beatrice Chebet successfully crashed Gudaf Tsegay’s world record attempt to smash the women’s 10,000m world record. (Photo by Johnny Zhang/@jzsnapz)

Beatrice Chebet’s second-ever 10,000m went about as well as you could possibly hope.

The 24-year-old had only raced 25 laps once before, at altitude in Nairobi in March 2020, where she ran 33:29.7. Since then, she’s improved her 5000m personal best from 14:46.12 to 14:05.92, picked up silver and bronze medals at Worlds, and won two World XC titles. So it’s somewhat unsurprising that she was in for a big personal best in her sophomore effort on the track. But what was more surprising was the ease with which Chebet stuck on, then dramatically dropped the World champion in the event, Gudaf Tsegay, who was headlining a much-hyped world record attempt. Tsegay did all the leading once the rabbits stepped off, but with three laps to go it was Chebet (perhaps worried about Tsegay’s 3:50 1500m speed), who took off and left Tsegay in the dust – relatively speaking, given that the Ethiopian still clocked the third fastest time in history. Chebet got a whole bunch of victories: the Pre Classic win, the world record, the first women’s sub-29 ever on the track, a spot on the Kenyan Olympic team, and of course, a 4+ minute personal best.

After the race, Chebet announced her intent to take on the 5000m/10,000m double in Paris. While this would be the Kenyan’s Olympic debut, it’s easy to see why she would seek such an ambitious schedule: she very well might be the favorite right now for double gold. There are at least four women who could stand in her way, but all of them have presented fairly significant reasons to doubt their gold medal chances:

Faith Kipyegon: The 1500m/5000m World champ is about as close to unbeatable as unbeatable gets when healthy, but she pulled out of Pre Classic with injury issues and won’t be competing until Kenyan Trials.

Sifan Hassan: The double champ from Tokyo has perhaps picked up the “Marathoner’s Hex” as she’s struggled to rediscover her track speed this season. Most recently, she finished 7th in the 5000m at Pre behind a whole bunch of runners less credentialed than Chebet. Plus, she might not even contest one or more track events this Olympics if she shows up in the marathon instead.

Gudaf Tsegay: Just because she lost here doesn’t mean she can be counted out, as she won 10,000m gold in Budapest and 5000m gold in Eugene. But Tsegay is beatable, and not just by Chebet and Kipyegon – let’s not forget she was outkicked by Elle St. Pierre in Glasgow just two months ago. (Sidenote: St. Pierre’s own medal chances are looking better than ever for these very same reasons.)

Letesenbet Gidey: The now-former world record holder at 5000m and 10,000m is still very much in the mix for the medals at 26 years old, but Gidey has only raced once this season and it wasn’t particularly impressive – a 14:37.13 third-place finish at the Suzhou Diamond League.

So, there are questions about all the heavy hitters, but there’s no question that Chebet is fit, sharp, and having arguably the best season of her career so far. In our golden age of women’s distance running, it’s likely that no one will complete the double because, quite simply, there are too many good people in the mix. But if we have to make one pick, Prefontaine has us betting big on Chebet.

5 Pre Classic Performances You Shouldn’t Sleep On 🥱

A year and two days after undergoing ACL surgery, 2021 U.S. Olympian Val Constien clocked the fastest steeplechase time of the year by an American woman.
(Photo by Kevin Morris/@KevMoFoto)

There was plenty of hype around the big names stepping up on the track in Eugene, with Sha’Carri Richardson and Christian Coleman shaking off the early-season rust in the 100s and Kenny Bednarek keeping his red-hot spring burning. But at a meet as stacked as Pre, it’s easy to let some truly amazing performances get buried in the pile. So here are a few highlights you shouldn’t let slip by – particularly given their implications for championship racing later in the summer.

– Two breakout stars of the Tokyo Olympics steeplechase are back: reigning gold medalist Peruth Chemutai of Uganda outkicked world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech to get the win, the world lead, and a new lifetime best of 8:55.09 and Valerie Constien finished top American in 4th in a new PB of her own, 9:14.29. While Chemutai has been a fixture on the international scene since her surprise Olympic win in 2021, she’s only finished 7th and 11th in the last two World finals and hadn’t run faster than her 9:01.45 winning time in Tokyo since. And Constien moves up to U.S. #7 all time, beating two of the women ahead of her on that list head-to-head in Eugene: Courtney Wayment and U.S. champ Krissy Gear. (Hear her comeback story on last week’s CITIUS MAG Podcast.)

– French hurdler Cyrena Samba-Mayela may not yet be a household name for American track fans, but don’t count her out for her hometown Olympics. In Eugene, she not only tied her lifetime best and national record with a 12.52 win in the 100m hurdles, but she took down a stacked field that included Olympic champ Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, reigning World champ Danielle Williams, reigning World Indoor champ Devynne Charlton, and reigning U.S. champ Nia Ali. At 23 years old, Samba-Mayela may be entering her prime at just the right time. Could be a national star for France at the Games!

Joe Kovacs hauled his final-round effort in the shot put 23.13 meters down the field to take the win at Pre, the second 23-meter throw of his career and his farthest since September 2022. Kovacs skipped the indoor season and only opened up his year last weekend in Los Angeles, but he’s off to a roaring start, with two commanding wins and series full of consistently far throws. With 2x Olympic champ and American rival Ryan Crouser nowhere to be seen since winning World Indoors, we have to wonder… is this Joe’s year?

– 17-year-old Aussie phenom Cameron Myers only finished 11th in the Bowerman Mile, so why are we putting him in the “highlights” section? Well, because he ran 3:50.15, the #5 junior mile of all time, an Australian junior record, and four seconds under the World U18 record. (Okay, U18 records are measured by your age on December 31 of the competition year, and Myers turns 18 in June, but still…) Deciding the Olympic 1500m team is going to be tough for Australian Athletics with Olli Hoare, Adam Spencer, and Jesse Hunt also in the mix, but Myers is making a compelling case for his selection despite only finishing 5th at their national championship.

– The battle for Olympic spots in the American women’s 800m is shaping up to be a fascinating one, with perennial medal contenders Ajee’ Wilson and Raevyn Rogers struggling early in the season and Olympic champ Athing Mu yet to compete in 2024 with reported hamstring issues. One athlete who has been running well, however, is U.S. champ Nia Akins, who finished 4th in the Pre 800m (top American) in a season’s-best 1:57.98. Akins and Sage Hurta-Klecker, who finished three places back but also in a season best of 1:58.48, are winning the consistency game right now in their highly-variable event.

The NCAA Kids Are Alright 👍

I can’t get enough of everyone holding the mega-sized tickets that say Tickets Punched to the NCAA Track and Field Championships next month in Eugene. It just wouldn’t be the same to have an enormous phone with “Boarding Pass Scanned For TrackTown” emblazoned on the front. If you’re going to use the phrase, you should be forced to take 1920s means of transportation to the meet. I digress!

The fields for the 2024 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships are set after the East and West Regionals took place in Fayetteville, Arkansas and Lexington, Kentucky. You can find all of the results here: East | West

The biggest result from the weekend has to be Oregon’s Jaida Ross breaking her own NCAA record in the shot put with the very first 20-meter throw in collegiate history (20.01m, to be precise). If we can make a big hoopla every time another high school boy breaks four minutes in the mile or a collegiate woman breaks two minutes in the 800m, we should be even more hyped when it’s a nice round number and it’s never been done before. And if you trust the scoring tables, Ross’s performance is worth the equivalent of a 3:32.63 (men’s) or 3:59.75 (women’s) in the 1500m.

Now, for a lot of the kids who qualify, Regionals is their Nationals, if that makes sense. They were scrapping and clawing (being flown to big invites in California) for those extra few seconds in order to find themselves on the right side of the top-48 ranked athletes in their events, on their side of the Mississippi. 

But for the type of kid who gets written about in Wednesday morning track & field newsletters, Regionals are Regionals: an off-site preliminary round for Nationals. And we would expect the smartest and most trophy-worthy athletes to treat these prelims like any other: aiming to expend the bare minimum effort necessary to advance. But looking through the results, you’ll see a number of big names seemingly went for broke and established new meet records.

At this level, anyone who’s a contender for an All-American spot is well aware of who their competition is, so the “statement” race/jump/throw can seem like a waste of energy. If your main goal is an NCAA title, you actually don’t even have to win – you can finish 12th here! The expected winner of an event winning said event at Regionals with an impressive mark doesn’t do much except serve as a muted reminder that they are still the favorite.

So why do it? Why not “Nico Young it” and coast through? If you’re good enough, the option to yawn for 12.5 laps and run 50 seconds off your PB without generating any lactic acid – or whatever the equivalent is for your event – is there. Hell, it might even be smart?

Well, for starters, it might actually make training sense. If you’re trying to ration hard efforts between conference and nationals, and you have to spike up for Regionals anyways, why not get a solid workout in? And for the big dogs, a “solid workout” might mean gapping the field by 10 seconds in the last mile of the 10,000m. Plus, a lot can change in the home stretch of an 800m or 1500m, and the safest way to know you’re not about to get pipped at the line is to put a little daylight behind you.

Whether you blast the final 400m to put some fear in your competitors’ hearts or guard your cards like it’s the World Series of Poker, the grade you get for the semester will depend entirely on how your final exam goes. So if your season didn’t end last weekend, we’re still watching (and judging) – go make us proud.

Euros 2024: A Brexit From Common Sense 🇬🇧

British Athletics named the team for the European Championships in Rome and – stop us if you’ve heard this one before – stirred up a pot of controversy. A generous read is that team selection for Euros was always going to be contentious, with a pre-imposed limit of 70 athletes (compared to the 115 athletes sent in 2022). But a more blunt interpretation is BA has again beefed it. The most bizarre choice includes an apparent decision not to send a women’s 4x400m relay team, an event in which medal success was almost guaranteed.

Yes, we understand the intention to prioritize medal success and top eight finishes. However, when an athlete has the Euro standard and there are no trials, the arbitrary choice to take some qualified athletes and not others is baffling when there would be space on the team to take them absent the arbitrary cap.

There’s a bigger question of athlete development. If every event prioritizes only those who might make finals or get medals, where do up-and-coming athletes go to get championship experience or catch the eyes of sponsors and coaches, which could get them the support to get to the next level? It all seems remarkably short-sighted. And if the limit on team size is based on lack of money, we wish they would just come right out and say it. If that’s the case, why not let athletes on the fringes self-fund their ticket like Australia does? 

For sponsored athletes, undoubtedly their sponsor would pick up the tab, and for others, a GoFundMe fundraiser could help them live their dreams. It’s not a perfect answer (and there are potential issues around central team resources such as coaches and physios) but it means hard-working athletes aren’t denied opportunities that could be the pinnacle of their careers. Unfortunately, it seems like GB’s almost unprecedented success in Budapest has enabled British Athletics to double down on its widely reviled policy of fielding smaller teams focused only on medal success. The particularly poor treatment of field eventers on the cusp has been a theme over the years and undoubtedly discourages potential recruits from taking up the sport.

Amelia Campbell (SP), Nick Percy (Discus), Jade Lally (Discus) and Phil Norman (3000mSC) are among many with the standard who have been left at home. Amy Hunt, rising sprint star, was denied an individual 200m spot as she met the Euro standard but not the British standard which was 0.2s faster. And given that GB’s men’s 1500 contingent is the envy of basically the entire rest of the world, it’s positively nuts they aren’t sending a full team for that event.

On the positive side, a fair few of GB’s superstars have chosen to go to Rome with the likes of Keely Hodgkinson, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Zharnel Hughes, Dina Asher-Smith and Matthew Hudson-Smith competing, and there’s a lot to look forward to at the Stadio Olimpico in a couple of weeks.

Reinventing the Wheel With Kate Grace 🛞

Kate Grace went 969 days between races before she made her return at the LA Grand Prix on May 17th. (Photo by Justin Britton/@justinbritton)

Kate Grace is in the midst of what most mid-30-somethings with a young child could only dream of – a late-career resurgence as a professional athlete. After a 2021 outdoor campaign that saw her go on a sub-two tear across the Diamond League circuit after just missing an Olympic team, Grace’s training and racing was derailed by a bout of injury and long Covid. She then became a mother, giving birth to her son in March of 2023. But now, here we are in May of 2024 and she’s got a fighter’s chance at an Olympic berth in the 800m once again.

Grace joined the CITIUS MAG Podcast to talk about the past three years of her life, the ups, the downs, and her unique take on training at the moment. It’s always fun to hear about an athlete who is taking a different approach to the sport, and it’s even more enjoyable when that athlete is so candid in discussing their experimentations with training.

The following parts have been transcribed from the full interview and have been edited lightly for space and clarity.

You struggled with long COVID in 2022, then had a baby in 2023, and now you’ve worked your way back onto the starting line. What has kept you in the sport throughout all of that? 

Kate Grace: Training right now is this curiosity of always keeping a little bit of a beginner's mindset and just really enjoying, always learning, and – I know this is super cliche – but growing. Even though I'm now 35, I still believe that there's something I can learn or do differently. I think that's what's so fun about training. There's always a place to grow, and I've had that belief now for 12 or 20 years, however long I've been running. So it's kept it new and different for me. Also, I did start a family, so I feel like my life now is very different, in a great and full way. 

CITIUS MAG: You’ve faced a variety of different setbacks that you've had to overcome. How different were all of those challenges and how did you work through them?

Kate Grace: If you think too much about the huge mountain you're about to climb, you won't do it. But if you just think about, ‘what can I do this day?’ For better or worse, I like to reframe things in ways like, ‘what is positive for me? The way I reframed it was that I know my age is going to be at one point a factor. I generally believe that as athletes get older, taking a little bit of time away can actually be very healing and good for racing. 

CITIUS MAG: Long COVID threw things into flux a little bit post-pregnancy, but when did you try to get back to actual training? 

Kate Grace: My comeback started when I was pregnant. I got pregnant in June and was also coming back because I figured I didn’t want to have two years away… I basically started my comeback then and said, let's try to get as much fitness as we can until October. I had this whole theory. You know how Norwegian threshold training is so ‘in’? I was like, this basically is threshold training because the only thing [the doctors] tell you is, ‘don't get your heart rate over 85%.’ So I was like, ‘I'm just the pregnant Jakob.’ I'm glad I kind of tempered it. I didn't actually do double threshold, but we did a lot of threshold work… My theme was like, ‘well, I would never in my career otherwise have two years to do threshold training, so why not now?’

CITIUS MAG: There’s a short timeline between now and the Trials. How are you looking at this season as to what a successful year would be for you? 

Kate Grace: What I've been saying to myself, even for my early races, is basically, ‘You don't have to qualify for the Olympics in May, you just have to qualify for the Olympic Trials’ and ‘You don’t have to win in June, you just have to qualify.’ Every step along the way, I don't need to be at my absolute best. I just need to be good enough to get to the next step. There is time and I can do this. But I mean, it's always a gamble. That's why it's exciting. Every weekend I'm getting better and we're going to see if I run out of time or not.

You can listen to the full interview on The CITIUS MAG Podcast, which you can stream on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Rapid Fire Highlights 🔥

— In his first race since the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, Conner Mantz outkicked Ethiopia’s Yemane Haileselassie to repeat as the Bolder Boulder champion in 29:12 and led Team USA to victory. Grace Loibach Nawowuna won the women’s race in 32:45, as Kenya put three women in the top 10 to claim the women’s team title. (Full results)

– The AIU finally came out with its ruling on Issam Asinga’s case. The 19-year-old has been suspended for four years and stripped of his World U20 100m record after his positive test for a banned substance called GW1516. He claimed it came from consuming Gatorade “recovery gummies” that were given to him after he won Player of The Year honors from the company. The AIU said that his defense did not satisfy the burden of proof that the gummies were the source of the drug in his sample. The whole decision is worth a read. Asinga is planning to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

– The AIU has also banned 2016 Olympic pole vault champion and 2021 Olympic bronze medalist Thiago Braz for 16 months. The Brazilian tested positive for glucuronide.

– Peter Snell’s 1:44:3 New Zealand national record for 800m was finally broken after 62 years - that’s one Snell of a run. James Preston ran 1:44:04 in Pfungstadt, Germany.

Ciara Mageean smashed the Irish 800m record in 1:58.51 as she finished second in her season opener to British 17-year-old Phoebe Gill, who ran 1:58.08 at the British Milers Grand Prix. Three days later, Mageean also won the Ostrava 1500m in 4:01.98, just ahead of fellow Irishwoman Sarah Healy in 4:02.12.

– TrackTown USA reported there were more than 12,000 ticketed spectators in attendance at Hayward Field for the Pre Classic.

– Before Athing Mu pulled out of the Pre Classic due to a sore hamstring, coach Bobby Kersee shared an update to Runner’s World and pointed out the great flaw in our sport that leads many of the top stars to skip out on ‘regular season meets’. He said, “Athletes are taking a high risk right now for minimum gain. If you’re going to take a high risk, there’s only two races left in this year where you got to take a high risk for maximum gain and that’s our Olympic Trials and our Olympic Games.”

– Congratulations to CITIUS MAG’s TikTok correspondent Rob Hooper, who ran 51.88 to just beat out Kiwi photographer Michael Dawson (51.89) in the Pre Classic Media 400m. (Rob’s video recap)

– At this point it’s newsletter policy to ignore sub-four high school boy miles. BUT WE NEVER SAID ANYTHING ABOUT SUB-FOUR 1600M PERFORMANCES. Notre Dame-bound Pennsylvania teen Drew Griffith solo’ed a 3:57.08 to win his state meet, breaking Alan Webb’s 1600m national record in the process.

What To Watch This Week 📺

The Diamond League makes its sixth stop of the year in Oslo. Jakob Ingebrigtsen gets right back to work with his first 1500m of the year. Karsten Warholm clashes against Alison Dos Santos. Shericka Jackson takes her second stab at the 200m this year. We have a full preview here. Stream it on Peacock on Thursday starting at 2 p.m. ET.

At the moment, Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone is slated to make her return to the 400m hurdles at the Edwin Moses Legends Meet at the campus of Morehouse College in Atlanta on Friday night. CITIUS MAG will be streaming the meet for FREE courtesy of the American Track League. Set your reminder and tune in here starting at 5 p.m. ET. 

Not sure where the Jamaica Racers Grand Prix will be streaming but it’s supposed to have a LOADED men’s 100m field with world champion Noah Lyles, 100m world championship bronze medalist Zharnel Hughes, Jamaica’ Oblique Seville and Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala. Keep tabs on the meet website for final entries and possible streaming info.

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. The newsletter getting longer means we’re in the heart of track season!

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