The Road to Halloweekend ⏱

Sponsored by Under Armour

Lap 138: Sponsored by Under Armour

Photo: Justin Britton | @justinbritton

The Citius Mag team is heading to the Big Apple with our NYC Marathon partner - Under Armour.

Under Armour returns to New York City with its largest athlete roster to date; including reigning Marathon Champion, Sharon Lokedi and two-time USATF 5K Champion, Weini Kelati.

To kick-off the marathon weekend, Citius will be hosting a 3-mile shakeout run in Central Park on Saturday, November 4th in partnership with Under Armour and the Release Recovery Foundation. The first 200 runners to RSVP and check-in on-site will receive a commemorative Under Armour Rival Fleece Crewneck. Available while supplies last.

NYC Marathon Shakeout Run

Saturday, November 4th | Central Park - Great Lawn | 9:30 AM | RSVP HERE 

Use code UA-CITIUS-23 for 40% off your online order at Code may be redeemed up to 1,000 times, but only once per customer. This cannot be combined with other promotions/offers. Code may be redeemed in the US or CA valid 10/1/23 – 11/15/23.

The Valencia Half Marathon got real! 🇪🇸

Photo: @mediomaratonvic

I received some heat from Spanish Twitter after I jokingly referred to Valencia as “not a real place” during our Chicago marathon preview show – things got picante! Let’s just say that I am not going to be welcomed back into my family’s homeland anytime soon.

Now if I may defend myself, first off, I’m not some sort of tin-foil-hat-wearing Valencia Truther – I know the place exists and can be found on a map! This quip was made in reference to Kelvin Kiptum bursting onto the scene in Valencia; a city with a reputation for great weather, beautiful architecture, and roads that are seemingly smoothly paved trampolines. It wasn’t until the new world record holder ran away from a deep field with a historic second half in London that we truly appreciated his unique talent.

Running fast and winning is impressive, but it’s more notable when an athlete dominates. It’s one of the reasons I suggest that personal bests should not count if you were not among the top eight finishers – if too many people beat you then you should not be walking away feeling good! It is easy to run fast when everyone else is doing it too. No one is impressed! (This is not a real suggestion, save your hate mail.)

The women’s race at the Valencia Half Marathon on Sunday was quick, but not quite World Record Watch quick. The top three finishers all set personal bests, led by Margart Chelimo Kipkemboi, who won in 1:04:46 over Irene Cheptai and Janeth Chepngetich. One week after scratching the New York City Marathon, the 2022 world champion Gotytom Gebreslase was fourth in Valencia. It’s like Sinatra sang:

Start spreadin' the news

I won’t be runnin’ your race

I don’t want to be a part of it

New York, New York

The men’s race did have world record potential. But the thing is that I’d much prefer that athletes not dominate. It’s more fun to watch an actual race than to fixate on one person and the clock. But clockwatching is exactly what fans got. If there is one thing Kibiwott Kandie is good at, it’s running 13.1 miles extremely quickly. The former world record holder has broken one hour for the distance on 10(!) occasions, and with his win this year, has now gone three-for-three in the seaside Spanish city. (Race video)

Although there were pacers, they didn’t adjust to the desired tempo so Kandie blew by them within the first 5K and came through 10K in 27:15 (under WR pace) with Yomif Kejelcha, Hagos Gebrhiwet, and Selemon Barega alongside with him. The four musketeers traded places and took turns pushing, but it was inevitably the Kandie Man who earned the win in 57:40 with the three others finishing within 10 seconds.

As could be expected, there was significant interest in how Kandie would perform in his marathon debut. The same logic 400-meter runners use before an 800 was applied: “I mean, what’s the worst that can happen… I close in 30?” Well, the answer was that he ran 2:13:43 to finish ninth at the 2021 New York City Marathon. And after two years on the 26.2-sidelines, he’ll be back to go the full distance in a place where the beer flows like wine, where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano – a little place called… Valencia!

The Ingrebrigtsens speaks out on the family feud ✍️

Photo: Johnny Zhang | @jzsnapz

Since many readers of The Lap Count may not consume track and field as closely outside of the confines of the 400m oval, I wanted to share the article penned this week in the Norwegian publication VG by Jakob, Filip, and Henrik Ingebrigtsen.

“We have known the fear of growing up with a father who is aggressive, controlling and violent.”

It’s been almost two years since the three brothers broke away from being coached by their father, Gjert. There has been speculation about what unfolded, but until recently, there had been no explanation given by the sons themselves. Jakob is normally delighted to speak in the mixed zone and willing to give thoughtful answers to almost any question, but anyone with a microphone was forewarned after every race this year not to ask about that aspect of his personal life.

An additional subplot is that Gjert has been working with another Norwegian athlete, Narve Gilje Nordas, who finished one place behind Jakob at the World Championships in third. (As you might expect, the two did not speak on the podium.) The Ingebrigtsen sons understandably would not like their estranged father credentialed under the Norwegian Federation, given the nature of the abuse they allege they endured from him over the years.

Everything that Jakob has accomplished over the past two years is made even more remarkable in light of what we now know he’s been dealing with behind the scenes. The whole situation is obviously sad and unfortunate, and it also serves as a reminder that while great success requires great sacrifice, this is not an enviable trade.

Who is in and who is out? 🇫🇷

Bookmark the Road to Paris 2024 in your internet browser now. In eight months you are inevitably going to be curious whose family should be booking tickets to the Olympics, and this handy little tool will tell you. Most relevant right now, to readers of this newsletter, is likely the men’s marathon – the United States only has two standard slots unlocked (under 2:08:00).

This means that to get that third spot, we’re relying on rankings, which is the sort of caveated and non-instantaneous system I disparage as BAD FOR THE SPORT each week in my FEARLESS, TRUTH-TELLING newsletter. With a maximum field size of 80, there are currently 52 qualified spots via standard, which means the remaining 28 will be filled by points. This happens in two waves. First, on January 30th those ranked in the top 64 lock in their spots and can not be displaced. Then the final 16 spots are finalized on May 5th.

Today there are three American men “tied” for 61st in the ranking (Fauble, Mekonen, and Zienasellasie). For everyone gunning for a spot who has run under 2:11:30, then it doesn’t really matter who gets it as long as someone does. The most fun scenario is if someone who hasn’t run under 2:11:30 finishes top-three at the Trials and is not yet ranked high enough. Then we’re just sitting around waiting until May to find out if they’ll get a spot. And ultimately, isn’t that why people love sports – the drama of a months-long administrative decision-making process?

MAILBAG #4 — Ask a question to be answered in next week’s edition of The Lap Count. Whether it’s hypothetical, predictions, big picture, or advice for your own running… let’s have some fun this off-season!

Costumes for Runners: Fright or Flight 👻

This section was written in collaboration with my dear editor Paul Snyder

It’s almost Halloween, and for normal people, that means things like taking the kids out trick or treating, attending a costume party, or watching a scary movie with some pals.

But for many readers of this newsletter, Halloween is what you do the evening after your college cross country team’s conference meet. Sure, maybe you faded ten places over the final kilometer, costing your team a championship in the process, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a nice time wearing a wig a few hours later. And if you actually ran well, all the more reason to celebrate – by wearing a wig.

So without further ado, here are several great Halloween costume ideas that will surely be a hit at your team party… and won’t break the bank. (If you’ve got an NIL deal with Spirit Halloween, LLC, then by all means, go big and pick up some movie-quality makeup and accessories to bring these ideas to life.)

Joker Pre

Part Prefontaine, part Heath Ledger’s interpretation of the Joker, this costume is sure to make everyone around you groan loudly when you walk into the room. All you need is a white tank top to write “USA” on, some running shorts, green wash-out hair dye, and white, black, and red face paint. Joker Pre Lives!

Your coach or teammate

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so show your training partner or workout administrator some love by dressing and behaving like a crude approximation of them. You don’t need to buy anything at all – except a wig; trust me, you’re gonna want a wig. What you wear truly doesn’t matter – and do an impersonation of one of their more unique mannerisms all night.

Running track in 2023

People love conceptual costumes that take minutes to explain – especially at parties with loud music and dancing. Give the folks what they want by dressing up as the idea of running in the year 2023: super shoes, a heart rate monitor, a speed suit, bandaids on your fingers (lactate testing, duh) pacer lights made of construction paper, and don’t forget to log the entire party on Strava.

Your race from that morning (or the day before)

This one’s a classic. You ran a race the morning of the party. Or even better, you ran a race the day before. Don’t change a thing. The mud caked to your legs? Don’t you dare bathe. The uniform? Keep it on. What sort of message are you sending? Who knows. It’s fine, just go with it. It’s kind of a costume, right?

Regular Pre

All Prefontaine, no Joker, this option is great for fans of Pre who haven’t seen a Batman movie. The twist? There isn’t one.

Grant Fisher says goodbye to Bowerman TC 👋

Photo: Johnny Zhang | @jzsnapz

Where were you when you first heard Grant Fisher was leaving the Bowerman Track Club? While track and field fans don’t tend to have strong team-based allegiances like fans of other sports do, Fisher’s departure last week might have been just as devastating for a handful of Portlanders as having to say goodbye to Damian Lillard was earlier in the month. (Okay, maybe a more apt comparison would be if the Blazers had wordlessly relocated to Eugene, then shipped off a beloved star.)

After 12 All-American certificates at Stanford, Fisher teamed up with Jerry Schumacher four years ago and eventually became the franchise player. With American records at 3000m, 5000m, and 10000m, plus a fourth-place finish at the 2022 World Championships, it would seem that on the surface everything had been going well. However, once the bar was raised to 12:46 and 26:33, then anything less, which includes a femoral stress injury and not making the US team, would be a disappointment.

Fisher hasn’t shared his future group or coaching plans yet – my expectation is he’ll share that exclusive with The Lap Count first when the time comes (please, Grant – I need a win). If I had to speculate though, he’ll spend a lot of time at altitude, and it’ll be with a smaller group of training partners. An Olympic year is not the time to experiment with a new system and therefore I don’t see him joining an already established team – it’s better to stay nimble. There are rumors that others may soon be leaving BTC as well. Who knows if they’ll team up together.

Now, I like this decision. While most athletes wait until a few frustrating years have passed before making any drastic changes, Fisher made moves while still at his peak. A great runner once told me that everyone should change coaches every few years. It prevents the legs from getting stale!

In fact, I’m gonna take things a step further and hop into the Lap Count spin machine… I think losing its top runner is good for all of our Bowerman! It’s better to have a cordial breakup (he got a goodbye Instagram post!) with someone who no longer wants to be there than to have your leader leading while discontent. Like any college coach who has inherited a program knows, the vibes are way better once the team is full of your recruits!

Sure, the new young core of Charles Hicks, Justyn Knight, and Duncan Hamilton is probably disappointed that they won’t have Grant to key off in practice, but that’s a damn good training group in and of itself and that’s not counting all of the Mo Ahmeds, Sean McGortys, and Evan Jagers that are still there. And it’ll only be a few more years until all of Schumacher and Flanagan’s current college athletes are looking for a professional group to join.

Rapid Fire Highlights 🔥

  • The World Cross Country Tour is underway! If you are trying to backdoor your way into the Olympics on a pretty silly technicality, then I hope you like tortilla and croquetas because we are making seven stops in Spain this year! (Only one will be in the United States, and that’s in Austin on November 30th, so you’d better also like the other kind of tortilla)

  • The first XC event took place this past weekend in… Spain! And Likina Amebaw and Célestin Ndikumana earned top honors in Amorebieta, which hosted the 1993 World Cross Country Championships. When is Snickers going to get back in the sponsorship game?

  • Sha’Carri Richardson was on hand at the Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix in Austin to hand out plaques to fellow speedsters, which of course included Max Verstappen. Completing what was already a great weekend for the World Champion, a (running) track in her hometown of Dallas was named in her honor.

  • The Pan American Games are underway in Santiago, Chile, and for those wondering, “why is it in October?” it’s because it’s not just a track meet, but a mini-Olympics across all sports. The men’s marathon was won by Peru’s Christian Pacheco in 2:11:14 and the women’s in 2:27:12 by Citlali Cristian. The only American to hold it down for Team USA was Turner Wiley who finished 9th in 2:20:25 – according to his Strava, he had Covid during the race. Is that a record?

  • Caster Semenya penned an opinion piece in the New York Times this week titled, Running in a Body That’s My Own.It’s the first time I can recall hearing a personal account of a controversial career in her own words, which will obviously be the focus of her memoirthat comes out next week.

  • The OAC Oceania squad added four new athletes to their Craig Mottram-coached roster: Imogen Barrett, Zach Facioni, Jesse Hunt, and Ed Trippas. It’s a formula that has worked well in the United States, so why not replicate it? Just get the squad a podcast.

Thank you so much to Under Armour for sponsoring this week’s newsletter! The CITIUS team has always loved getting to meet our fellow track nerds in person and there’s no better way to do it then while sharing some miles. Plus, I can give you some advice on how NOT to run the New York City Marathon!