This is NOT a Worlds preview ⏱

Sponsored by New Balance

Lap 156: Sponsored by New Balance

New Balance Nationals Indoor returns to Boston from March 7 – March 10, bringing the best high school athletes to the TRACK at New Balance and the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center for some incredible competition. Among the sports rising stars slated to compete is Adaejah Hodge of Montverde Academy, who will be returning to defend her 200m title.

We are just over a week away from New Balance Nationals. How is training going in the lead up? And do you know what events you’ll be competing in yet? How did you decide on those events?

Training has been going great so far! To see the final touches of what we have been working on start to add up has been great. I’ve decided to run the 200m and the 60m. I chose the 200m because it has always been my favorite event and I chose the 60m because I wanted to see if I could do something special.

At last year’s event, you broke the high school national 200m record, running 22.33. How big of a surprise was that time when you first crossed the finish line?

It was a huge surprise because my first time ever running 22 seconds was literally the day before, so it was crazy that I was able to do it again and get an even better time.

How was your experience competing at the World Championships for the British Virgin Islands as a high schooler? What lessons did you learn from your time in Budapest?

My experience competing at the World Championships was amazing, just being in my lane and hearing the roaring of the crowd was very emotional for me because it has been a dream of mine since I was five years old. I learned that if you want to play with the big dawgs you gotta let go of all your excuses and bring your A-game both mentally and physically.

How do you balance your goals during the regular season and your long-term goals for the Olympics later this summer?

My goal is to run to the best of my ability every time I step on the track. I am fortunate enough to have a coach who understands my goals and can guide me and help me balance those goals.

In the fall you announced that you’ll be attending the University of Georgia next year. What attracted you most to their program?

I chose the University of Georgia not only because the state of Georgia is my second home but because they really showed me that they are a family and very close knit team.

Final question: What did you think of the 2024 NBN backpack?

I actually love the bag. I wasn’t a huge fan of the white ones last year but they definitely redeemed themselves with the black backpacks.

Happy Three Year Anniversary! 🎉

If my math is correct, then this being Lap 156 of the newsletter means I have been writing this thing for three straight years now. There are over 16,000 of you subscribed to read my words every Wednesday morning and I sincerely appreciate you forcing me to start off each week with a couple of sleepless nights.

While this certainly isn’t hard-hitting Journalism, it is a therapeutic medium by which I can share my personal thoughts about everything happening in track and field each week. Hopefully in doing that I have helped keep you in the loop, provided some laughs, and given you something to talk about on runs with friends. It is my best effort to remain relevant!

If you enjoy The Lap Count or any Citius Mag coverage and have the financial means or desire to support our work, then it seems like an opportune time to link to our Patreon. And as much as I want to say you are the reason we do it, my biggest motivator is the dude who wakes up at 5AM each week to hate reads my emails and rate it one shoe. I’ll win you over one day, pal!

The Cameron Crazies 🇦🇺

Photo: Jacob Gower | @jacob_gower

In my experience, life is good as a 17-year-old with modest personal bests. 

The jeers from classmates about my short-shorts had tempered down because they now served a higher purpose. My posting on Dyestat had never been better received, regardless of how stupid my jokes became. And well before the early decision letters had been sent out, I was already suffering from a serious case of senioritis, showing up to school late with McDonalds breakfast in hand. 

It’s hard to imagine what Cameron Myers’s daily first period McDonald’s order might be… or would it be Hungry Jack’s? He probably doesn’t have one, because the Australian phenom is a serious athlete whose personal bests of 3:33.26 for 1500m and 3:52.44 for the mile indicate potential beyond state championships this spring.

This past weekend at a low-key meet full of talent in New South Wales, the high school senior took down 2022 World Champion Jake Wightman, 3:49 mile training partner Jye Edwards, former UNC stand out Jesse Hunt, and an impressive field of professionals as he led eight men under 3:37. 

While Myers’s 3:33.30 winning time was just shy of his personal best and he already had the Olympic standard, there is a significant difference in his races this season compared to last summer. Now he is winning! Last July in the Chorzow Diamond League, the kid was dragged to an 11th place finish and it is the unofficial policy of The Lap Count that if you don’t finish in the top eight in a track race that it actually doesn’t count. And we aren’t willing to make exceptions just because this rule suddenly impacts a minor!

But this time around, with 300m to go in the race, sensing the pace was too slow, Myers took the lead and held off the field. It might be four one-hundredths slower, but this is a significantly better run. Combine that result with his season opener of 1:47.11 for 800m and he is fairly in the conversation to make a loaded Australian Olympic squad. 

However with an athlete this year in his career, it’s important to also take the long view. If all goes well, he’ll be running well beyond Paris. Thankfully, Myers seems to be in good hands.

As of last year, he was tapping out around 95km/week – an extremely normal amount for a 4:30 miler to run, let alone someone of world class abilities. And despite a steep upward trajectory, the decision was made to forgo the World Championships last summer. 

But really what it comes down to is staying healthy and in love with the sport. Fans love to cheer on young talent and invest heavily in early success. Inevitably there will be bumps along the way so when the first one inevitably comes for Cam – hopefully a long time from now – can we all just agree to cool it? 

Let the kids play and let’s stop eating our young. Personally, I am buckling up to enjoy the progress of patient zero: the first elite athlete whose entire career will be in super shoes.

Williams: Is this a world record? ✍️

If you hate the distinction between “world best” and “world record,” then you are going to love the newest phrase meant to say “nobody has ever run this fast before.” Introducing…  the “fastest indoor 400m ever!” That’s the undisputed title for what Georgia sophomore Christopher Morales Williams accomplished this past weekend at the SEC meet when he ran 44.49 for 400m.

Entering the meet, his outright personal best was 45.39, set two weeks earlier. Last year as a freshman he did not make the NCAA final, though he did win the Canadian championships. So while a big jump, this wasn’t completely out of left field. The 19-year-old is making swift improvement, and although it’s an exciting result and World Athletics is making graphics celebrating the feat, it may not be ratified. And that’s not the social media manager’s fault, who is presumably being notified of this time from the penthouse of their luxury complex in Monaco!

For the same reason that Michael Norman’s time of 44.52 from the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships is not the official world record, this one likely won’t count either. While an athlete would need to pass an anti-doping control test immediately after the race, the more limiting factor in this case is the starting blocks that are used must be World Athletics certified to capture reaction times. Unfortunately, the blocks used at SECs were just normal ass blocks, like the cavemen used.

But if it’s any consolation, Norman won indoor and outdoor NCAAs, getting down to 43.61 in the process, so Christopher has that to look forward to!

Noah: Catching that paper 💰

Photo: Johnny Zhang | @jzsnapz

Now we know why Noah Lyles was so excited about that triple gold in Budapest! It was announced on Monday that Lyles’ new contract with Adidas is reportedly the most lucrative in track and field since Usain Bolt’s Puma partnership, and will run through the 2028 Olympics. 

First things first: Noah deserves this. Not only for his accolades – of which there are many and include the American record over 200 meters – but for his approach to marketing himself, the sport, and his associated sponsors. If there’s one critique of Lyles it would be that he is too available, always willing to give an interview, answer questions, and share his learnings as an athlete and pass it onto the next generation. Even his showmanship, which can be polarizing, is good for the sport, because it’s… well, polarizing! Whether you love him or hate him, you are watching to see what he’ll do next. And there aren’t many competitors who can drive continuous conversation in the way that he does because no one else at his level speaks so much and races so often. 

And he is bringing Adidas with him along the way. When the German shoe giant first signed Lyles and his brother Josephus they were investing in his career long term. And now despite the swoosh on his (ripped) jerseys at global championships, every track fan associates Lyles with Adidas. 

Now the interesting aspect of the press release was the proclamation that this contract is now the richest since Usain Bolt. A helluva headline to grab the attention of fans… although it is simultaneously disappointing because there’s no number attached. Obviously the first thought of every track fan is to ask for specifics. Nothing is public so who can confirm or deny? For all we know Isai Rodriguez just signed with Puma for one billion dollars, but is keeping it to himself. (Note to self: write a blog about how I would change the sport if I had one billion dollars)

Bolt reportedly was making $10M/yr, which is good by most professional athlete standards. The next highest figure that’s ever been shared comes from 2015 when Andre De Grasse’s Puma deal was worth $11.25M over an undisclosed amount of time. With those figures in mind, and the fact that we know Noah is going through the LA Olympics, some back of the napkin math says it’s less than $10M, but over $2.3M/year. That must be nice! Although, I’d personally rather have dinner with Jay-Z. 

As big of an unlock contract transparency would be, it’s not happening anytime soon. Why would Adidas want that? If Erriyon Knighton beats Noah in Tokyo then he can turn around and demand to be paid the same or more. And this already happens to some degree as many training partners and friends might share details. But the biggest benefactors to keeping athletes in the dark for their negotiations are the agents. Because if the next world beater goes to his or her agent and says, “I want $X because Adidas paid so and so $Y and I am better,” and they can’t get it… guess who's getting killed? The messenger. 

This is Noah Lyles we are talking about here. If there is ever a guy who wants to lift up the curtains and let fans know what’s going on it’s him. I feel confident that he tried many times to get permission to reveal this and the “most lucrative since Bolt” became the compromise. But remember, an NDA says nothing about liking the tweets that get closest to the actual number!

In partnership with Armory Camp 🤝

The Armory Camp returns to the “Fastest Track in the World” on Saturday, March 23rd in New York City with a morning session and an afternoon session. The one-day event connects high school track & field athletes with the finest professional athletes & best coaching minds in the sport — and then me! I’m excited to be returning to camp this year to share my experience as a mid-distance/distance athlete alongside the 2024 USATF Indoor National Champion Allie Wilson, who will be competing at the World Championships next week.

Session offerings for this year’s Armory Camp include Sprints, Mid-Distance, Hurdles, Long/Triple Jump, High Jump, Throws, and Pole Vault.

British Athletics: Selection Woes Part VIII 🇬🇧

Let’s take a moment to appreciate one thing about USATF: they’ll fill out the squad! And if I am exhausted writing about how asinine the British Athletics selection procedure is surrounding global championships then imagine how the athletes must feel.

The latest victim is Guy Learmonth, the Scottish 800m runner. Yea, that Scotland. The one where the World Championships are next weekend! Despite a small squad made up of just 20 individual athletes and a 4 x 400m relay, the federation has opted to not take one of its own qualified athletes. There will be 16 members of the support staff.

Despite being selected via his world ranking, Learmonth did not meet the harder standards set by British Athletics, which completely undermines the efforts of World Athletics to legitimize the methodology of filling 50% of the fields this way. But according to the individual selection policy, to represent Great Britain & Northern Ireland in this way:

“Athletes must have a performance level that, in the sole discretion of The Panel, meets the state’s aims of the policy - to contribute to medal success or finish in the Top 8.”

In other words, it’s subjective. Learmonth ran 1:46.80 to win a race in Germany earlier this month before finishing second at the British Championships. The winner of the race, Jack Higgins, does not have a qualifier and will not be selected. The hosts of the World Championships have decided it’s better to have no one entered in the men’s 800m. It’s not embarrassing for an athlete to finish in 9th place, but it is embarrassing to run your organization this way. This is such an egregious omission that fellow athletes, who are themselves competing, are not afraid to speak out and lend their support.

What’s the worst thing that could happen if Guy Learmonth runs? A young Scottish kid is inspired by seeing an athlete from their country compete on the international stage. Instead, this sends a different message: play soccer or switch your allegiance.

The aim for every British athlete therefore is to hit the ridiculously difficult qualifying standards outright so that there could be no debate. For Guy Learmonth, that target for the Olympics will be 1:44.70. Last summer, he ran 1:44.80 – something tells me that won’t be good enough.

Michael Johnson’s new professional T&F league 🏆

“Help us MJ-Wan Kenobi. You’re our only hope!” 

The 12-time gold medalist has never been shy about criticizing the trials and tribulations of track and field, and Michael Johnson is ready to do more than just tweet about it. In an announcement on Tuesday, ambiguous plans about a seven-figure investment in partnership with Winners Alliance to create a new fan-focused track league coming in 2025.

Winners Alliance has worked largely in the tennis space and has recently dipped its toes into cricket, which is the second most watched sport in the world and is desperately working to globalize. The CEO, Ahmad Nassar, is the former President of the NFL Players Inc. and specializes in marketing, licensing, and getting athletes paid. And notably the Chairman of the Board is billionaire Bill Ackman, who you may know from X, and whose net worth is a reported $4.2B. To every billionaire trying to immortalize themselves by buying professional sports franchises — you are thinking too small! You can buy an entire sport. 

With Johnson on the roster, that team has the knowledge and resources to change the game overnight. Admittedly, the press release does not say much about how that will be done nor if I will be asked to help! But it does identify the main problem being that despite the interest of a few billion people to see more of the sport outside the Olympics, the distribution, events, and marketing are lagging well behind.

With few details shared, it’s not a total mystery where Johnson may seek some inspiration from. He’s been an ambassador and met with leaders of the Professional Triathlon Organization within the past two years. In Sept. 2022, he tweeted: “Met with PTO leaders about taking a niche sport to the mainstream. PTO is solving for similar issues facing track with: 1) Big prize money 2) Head 2 head competition 3) Storytelling over numbers 4) Partnering with athletes to create stars. Former F1 Rugby 7s UFC staffers helps!” Sounds like what he may be looking to start within track.

An interesting note is that Johnson does not view this new initiative as a Diamond League competitor, which is what you HAVE to say. Because if World Athletics wanted to play hardball, they could make life difficult by not sanctioning the events and therefore not accepting performances for championships. But with 15 Diamond League meets spread across the outdoor season, there isn’t that much room for new blood. 

However, that’s only an issue if the template is to replicate that format. And if being a billionaire can buy your kid walking hand-in-hand with Messi onto the field, then it can certainly buy creativity and passion. I will be by my phone.

Rapid Fire Highlights 🔥

  • Mondo [Duplantis] cleared 6.02m but was unbelievably close to breaking his world record as he got his body over 6.24m. Has he reached Cher levels of notoriety so that we can stop using his last name? There aren’t any other Mondo’s clearing six meters.

  • These are the fields for the NYC Half Marathon on March 17th: Men | Women. And speaking of half marathons in New York, the NYRR is suing NYCRuns for trademark infringement for the confusion caused by their event, the RBC Brooklyn Half. If I was hosting a half marathon in Brooklyn, then I’d probably call it something like the, “Another 13.1? Fuhgeddaboudit! Half Marathon”

  • Germany’s Max Dehning became the youngest man to ever throw the javelin over 90m (90.20m) eclipsing his previous personal best by over 10 meters. Do I need to clarify that this wasn’t indoors?

  • University of Washington Results: Nia Akins (1:58.27), Susan Ejore (14:55.35), Henry Wynne (3:52.62), Kieran Lumb (1:46.34)

  • Empire Elite’s Ben Allen ran 2:16.67 in Staten Island for the third fastest 1000m in US history. The unsponsored Allen, who ran 3:53 for the mile a week earlier, was a 3:45 1500m guy when he graduated from DII Concordia-St. Paul in 2021.

  • Jamaica’s Lamara Distin broke the NCAA high jump record of 2.00m while competing for Texas A&M at the SEC championships. You know someone is a special talent when their WA profile goes all the way back to when they were 13 years old!

  • The Osaka Marathon was won by 21 year old Kiyoto Hirabayashi in 2:06:18 to become Japan’s fastest debutant ever beating Uganda’s Stephen Kissa by four seconds. Waganesh Nekasha won the women’s race in 2:24:20. And also of note, Mongolia’s Ser-Od Bat-Ochir ran 2:10:10 to improve his world ranking and to make his SIXTH Olympic Marathon a likely prospect. Does it have to be noted that no one has ever done that?

  • World Indoor Madrid Highlights: Narve Nordas (7:41.28r), Catalin Tecuceanu (1:45.00 WL), Davynne Charlton (7.68)

  • Is this a DQ? Columbia’s Talha Syed was disqualified for drifting into lane four on the homestretch to hold off the eventual winner Nicholas Bendtsen of Princeton in the Heps 5000m. I can’t take off my light blue colored glasses to have a fair opinion on this one, but I wish there were penalties in this sport rather than such black-and-white decisions.

  • Loyal newsletter reader Rory Linkletter is NOT happy that I did not mention his 2:08:01 in the Seville Marathon last weekend! Well, I will not be bullied into including it this week either. Listen to his interview on the Citius Mag Podcast.

  • 22-year-old Augusta University nursing student Laken Hope Riley was found dead on the University of Georgia campus after leaving her home for a run. A suspect has been arrested and charged with “malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call and concealing the death of another.” 

  • WATCH: The Tokyo Marathon - Saturday, 6:30pm ET on Flotrack. It feels like this race is being entirely overshadowed by World Indoors. Eliud Kipchoge vs. 10 men who have run under 2:05 including Benson Kipruto. And then the women’s match-up is Siffan Hassan vs. Amane Beriso vs. Rosemary Wanjiru. This is going to be so good!

  • WATCH: World Indoors - Friday to Sunday on Peacock/CNBC - Fulll Schedule. The Citius Mag newsletter will have a full preview this week, but I am pumped to see Josh Kerr, Cole Hocker, Yared Nuguse, Noah Lyles, Elle St. Pierre, Nikki Hiltz, Femke Bol, and Tara Davis. Mainly though, I think Glasgow is going to be an amazing venue and the crowd will be loud!

Thank you to New Balance for sponsoring this week’s newsletter! I have an update as my once fresh pair of SuperComp Elite v4 are now well broken in and I really love them. So much so that I just ran my highest mileage week in four months and spontaneously did a workout. The proof is in the pudding!

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