Lap 135: Sponsored by Bandit Running
Bandit Running is a performance and lifestyle running apparel brand founded by members of the NYC Running Community in 2020. What started with socks and accessories has grown into a full-fledged apparel line. And this year for the race in Chicago, Bandit is partnering with CITIUS MAG to show up in a major way (I may be biased here, but hey, it’s gonna be sweet). RSVP for their weekend of events here: shake out with your boy on Saturday, and swing by their pop-up at 333 N Michigan Ave starting on Thursday, October 5th.
The start of something new on the roads 🌍
Photo: Justin Britton | @justinbritton
The inaugural edition of the World Road Running Championships is in the books and it seemed like it was a success. No logistical snafus, good races, and no protesters… although maybe that just means the event lacked enough prestige to get on any organizers’ radars?.
From my perspective (hiding under the covers at 5 AM watching on a phone without any volume) it seemed like a fun enough festival of races that we ought to try and convert into a tradition. That’s good because it’s coming to San Diego in 2025!
The one-day event featured a mile, 5K, and half marathon, with 347 elite athletes representing 56 countries. The times were good, however, given the blitz of fast marks that we have been treated to recently, it takes a bit more to impress me these days. But this is a championship and that’s why we got – good, hard racing! More on that in a second…
Latvia doesn’t feature in too many conversations when it comes to modern-day international running, so it was really cool to see and hear the enthusiasm of the Baltic country on display. People were stoked to be hosting an event of this stature in their own backyard. There were over 13,000 entrants in the mass-start races! How many first-time road races can put up those types of numbers right out of the gates? Hell, the New York Marathon only saw 55 entrants its rookie season – look at it go now!
I have full confidence that the organizing committee in San Diego is going to knock it out of the park as well, even if they basically have to put the thing together from a near blank slate, logistically. The real challenge this event is going to face as it strives to cement itself as must-contest for top athletes is easy to identify but tougher to solve: the prize money for winning the half marathon at this year’s championships was $30,000 – the same as it was 20 years ago at the IAAF Half Marathon Championships in Portugal.
Options have value and that’s the challenge with road running right now. Ask someone to name the best 100m runner in the world, and they’ll – assuming they’re a reader of this newsletter or higher in the track nerd-dom continuum – tell you who won Worlds. But if we try to argue who the best female marathoner in the world is right now, then we’ll be debating seven different athletes who passed by each other like ships in the night because there’s no need to overlap.
It’s in the best interest of World Athletics to find a way to compete with the top road races across the globe, not only for consolidation of talent but for storytelling and profits. The World Marathon Majors should be looked at as a competitor. Any entity that is able to pull Eliud Kipchoge away from competing at your championship is not a friend.
Rather than outsourcing the content, the TV contracts, the additional sponsorships, and the entry fees, World Athletics could own the entire property itself.
Do the math… over 47,000 people run the New York City Marathon, and it costs between $255 and $358 to enter. If World Athletics hosted its own “New York City Marathon” then that’s an additional ~$14M of revenue for NYRR off registration fees alone. Someone is going to email me the real math, but the point remains that there is a ton of money in mass participation road racing that World Athletics should tap into more aggressively. (In 2020, NYRR had $105M in revenue in comparison to WA’s 2022 revenue of $54.9M.)
With the reduction of prize money at the World Marathon Majors, this smells like a major opportunity for an elite-focused event to start enticing the very best in the World to all race on the same day once a year, rather than once every four.
And since I know Seb Coe definitely only skims this newsletter and prefers to read what follows bolded text, let me state clearly what he should do next: move the marathon from the World Athletics Championships to the World Road Running Championships, host the event every year in the same flat, fast, and beautiful major city, then use the funding from the 30,000+ person event to pay elite athletes better than any other race so that it actually crowns the true world champion.
The World Road Running Championships 🌍
Photo: Justin Britton | @justinbritton
Even if I make you care about the World Road Running Championships on the Wednesday after they already took place, you won’t remember this feeling two years from now when they’re in San Diego. We’ll get hyped up for that in due time, but for now, let’s break down why each race was special for the athletes. (Results + Race Video)
Women’s 5K - Entering the year as the 2022 World Championship 5000m silver medalist, Beatrice Chebet had already introduced herself on the international stage, but in 2023 she truly established herself there. Despite Chebet’s U20 World Cross Country title in 2019, there were definite undertones in February that perhaps Letesenbet Gidey lost this year’s race in Bathurst as much as Chebet had won it. But then a stellar track season that included another World Championship medal in the 5000m and taking 29 seconds off her personal best to run 14:05.92 showed that she was not a flash in the pan. Now, with another title to bookmark the season, Chebet has proven herself on every surface. She’s our Serena.
Men’s 5K - If you had four guys run under 12:43 for 5000m in a year then you’d hope at least one of them would grab a medal in Budapest. THINK AGAIN. And speaking of thinking, Ethiopia will think twice about allowing future championship races to go tactical like that again. Seeking redemption in Riga, Hagos Gebrhiwet (12:59) and Yomif Kejelecha (13:02) showed up having learned from their mistakes. They put the thing out of reach and even put the bronze medal finisher about 100 meters in their rearview. After dabbling in the half this year and now entering his fourth Olympic cycle, it would seem the roads are beginning to call Hagos’ name.
Women’s Mile - Faith Kipyegon is human after all. And this is big news for Diribe Welteji, who now has a reason to believe that the gap between the two next year may not be as insurmountable as it was once thought to be. Running 4:20.98 in a road mile to beat an athlete who quite clearly was not on top of her game does not make this a rivalry just yet. But we may not be appreciating Welteji’s season quite as much as we should, only because Kipyegon kept beating her. Not this time though!
Men’s Mile - There were 35 guys on the line for the mile, but it was not easy for every federation to find the bodies who were eager to continue their track season into October. Most athletes would be running on fumes and fried neuromuscular systems at this point in the year, except for Hobbs Kessler, who has the youthful exuberance necessary to keep things going on pure vibes. That and he was hungry to finish off the year with some hardware. Although the 20-year-old ran significant personal bests of 1:45.80/3:32.61/7:39.00, the one race that mattered most – the US Championships – finished in a disappointing 6th. Still, only in the third “real” season of his career, Kessler is learning to harness his superpower in races. And the $60,000 prize ($10K for the win + $50K for the WR) he took home has many milers wishing they’d have pushed their beach vacation back a couple of weeks.
Women’s Half Marathon - This was the third World Half Marathon title for Peres Jepchirchir, who just patiently waited behind teammate Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi until the very end. Her winning time of 67:25 led a Kenyan sweep, and continued her hot streak in championship racing. Having won New York, Boston, and the Olympics, there is a strong argument to be made that Jepchirchir is the strongest road runner in the world. But in the blink of an eye, her 2:17:16 personal best from winning Valencia in 2020 is suddenly only the 10th fastest of all time. With New York on the horizon and a focus on the Olympics, there won’t be any time trials in her future – let’s not hold that against her.
Men’s Half Marathon - In trying to figure out why this was a special race for SabastianKimaruSawe, the first obvious answer is that it’s his first global medal of any variety. But also, is it time for him to try new things? Now I don’t want to be that guy who is pushing everyone up to the marathon, but if you’re not going to race on the track then I don’t see much purpose in limiting one’s earning potential to what you can get from 10Ks and half marathons. He has run under an hour in all six of his halves and won five of them. Go get paid! You deserve it!
Running the canceled Twin Cities Marathon/10 Mile 💁♂️
Over 20,000 runners were likely already up early and eating microwavable oatmeal when they received an email that the Twin Cities Marathon and 10 Mile were canceled due to heat. Although the temperatures were going to be more reasonable that morning at 74 degrees, it was slated to get up to 92 degrees later in the day. The race was “black flagged” out of concern for runner safety.
I don’t envy having to make that decision, and I am not super confident in the average person’s ability to understand when they are at risk of heat stroke. But the fact that huge swarms of runners and fans still took to the course to do it anyway, seems like it was maybe not the best compromise when dealing with the notoriously stubborn emotions of runners. Would it have been better to pivot to a 5-mile and a half marathon instead? (That’s a genuine question, don’t send me angry emails!)
Olli Hoare Discusses Mental Health Struggles ☕️
Do you remember how the occasional episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that would unexpectedly hit you over the head with some real-life shit? I came to watch Will chase girls, but occasionally, 10-year-old-me stayed to learn about the realities of being Black in America.
Well, a podcast that started a couple of years ago mostly to assign silly nicknames to their competitors had a real one this past week. For those who are not regular listeners, the COFFEECLUB podcast is essentially a recorded version of the sort of conversations you might have with teammates on a run. Sometimes that means transparently talking about how we all really feel about what’s happening in track and field, and other times it’s cheerleading for your friends after a tough race.
This week Olli Hoare opened up in a monologue about his journey from discovering his passion to becoming a 3:47 miler and Commonwealth Games champion. It’s his story to tell, and I encourage you to listen, but as a warning to sensitive listeners, it details his experiences with being bullied, suicidal thoughts, depression, and other heavy topics that are rarely articulated by world class male athletes during the peak of their career.
Being bullied is an unfortunate commonality among many distance runners. While there is a range to it, a lot of us who grew up in the sport were mocked at one point for wearing short-shorts or for not playing a “real” sport. But for any readers who didn’t grow up when the internet was a constant presence in life, the nature of bullying has changed.
A lot of the bullying has shifted from the occasional in-person put-down to a steady deluge of unwanted online commentary or harassment. When running is your everything, and the sport and its “fans” have seemingly turned on you, having non-runners in your life to support you and remind you there’s more out there is crucial.
Seriously… seeing some of the comments from high school kids on the public side of the internet today should give a hint to the type of mistreatment that is happening behind closed doors. This isn’t 2006 when kids might not have didn’t realized that your digital footprint would follow you forever and could have severely negative real-world implications. These kids know that now!
Over the past few years we’ve made a big push toward transparency. It’s not as taboo to discuss the difficult realities that many athletes face. Hearing that a professional athlete was so unhappy during the best season of his life that he was quietly contemplating retirement will resonate with so many. Even ten years ago, when I was suffering in silence with insomnia that turned out to stem from anxiety around my “job,” it would have made a world of difference to hear a story like Olli’s, and probably would have led to me addressing my issues sooner.
No More Off Years — Seb’s 2026 Spectacle
Photo: Johnny Zhang | @jzsnapz
Why is this letter from Seb Coe not getting significantly more attention?
“2026 is important for us because, from this point, it’s the first year where we don't have a World Championships or an Olympic Games, so we're going to create a three-night athletics spectacle. It will be a television product. We'll take a limited number of the very best athletes per event, and there will be a big prize pot.”
This is huge. The rumors are true.
8 Things To Convince You To Care About Chicago 🌭
Photo: @kevmofoto | Kevin Morris
I’d imagine most of you were going to tune in to watch the Chicago Marathon no matter what reason I can concoct below. But for the subpopulation of you who read a weekly newsletter about running, and don’t actually care about what happens, first off, please explain yourself. Secondly, here are some of the most interesting plot lines expected for this Saturday that can possibly entice you to watch.
📺 NBC 5 Chicago, Telemundo Chicago will provide complete live TV coverage and live streaming from 7 – 11 a.m. CST and the live stream will be available at nbcchicago.com. For your viewing pleasure, the CITIUS MAG team will be hosting a race companion/alternative commentary stream from our YouTube.
American Record Watch: In 2022, Emily Sisson ran 2:18:29 in Chicago to break Keira D’Amato’s previous mark, and to hold onto it this year she may need to be the top American. Emma Bates is coming in as the queen of consistency and a 5th place finish in Boston. If the company she kept there is any indication of her abilities on a quicker day, then she is capable of scaring that time. Regardless of hills or weather, AR pace is still 8+ seconds faster per mile than her tempo from spring. But Bates has run well in Chicago before –, she was 2nd here in 2021.
The Return of Molly: My rooting interest almost always lies in what’s best for the sport, and I unequivocally believe Molly Seidel running well is that. It has been a rocky two years for the Olympic bronze medalist, but she has pieced together a solid block here in advance of this one. After a 9th place finish at the US 20K Champs she put together a couple back-to-back 135 mile weeks. Seidel doesn’t need to hit a home run here… just get on base with the target of the Trials.
Mr 2:01 goes again: Kelvin Kiptum has a rule and it’s that he only runs sub-2:02 marathons. His Valencia win in 2022 put him on the map with far and away the best debut ever. Then in London, he ran his second half in 59:45, gave the WR a scare by running 2:01:25, and has left Kipchoge-heads everywhere questioning their allegiance to marathoning’s philosopher king. The question now becomes “can he find 16 more seconds?”
Welcome back Benson: The defending champion Benson Kipruto will be there to pick up any crumbs in the second half of the race if Kiptum goes out with too much intent. He wasn’t scared of Kipchoge in pre-race conversations in Boston, but how will he do without his best bud Evans Chebet by his side?
Be patient Ruth!: Remember the scene last year when Ruth Chepngetich was out with the elite men? Her first 5K was 15:11 and she came through the half in 65:44, yet somehow managed to still finish in 2:14:18, just shy of the previous WR. If she is in similar form and does NOT THAT again, then Tigst Assefa’s 2:11:53 might not be such an outlier much longer.
This is why Sifan trained through Worlds: Everything Sifan Hassan competes in now is must-watch television. She is like abox of chocolates – you never know what you’ll get: stopping to stretch a bit in the middle, falling right before the finish line, or sitting way off the pace. But one thing that is consistent is that Sifan shows up to run fast and make things interesting! Despite her six races in Budapest, the two-time Olympic champion found time to do workouts between them. She will stick to Chepngetich.
The quest to break 2:08:10: At this point, all of the US Olympic-hopeful men will be cheering on the likes of Conner Mantz, Galen Rupp, Matt McDonald, and anyone else with a shot of getting under the Olympic Standard. That will unlock a guaranteed spot for the entire country (well, for those who are already below the 2:11:30 qualifier) without having to rely on the rankings or descending order list. If you are confused…
Temps look good!: It’ll be about 47 degrees at the start. And sure,the Midwest can be completely unpredictable in the beginning of October. But we can work with this! It’s still a number of days out and it seems like it could be a little windy at 14 mph, but my more experienced friends that I texted about this aren’t overly worried right now about that keeping things from being “wicked fast!” (Sorry, I don’t know Chicagoland slang for “really.”).