The cult of Craig Mottram reached its absolute peak in 2007, when the Aussie smoked a 8:03.50 two-mile against a loaded field at the Pre Classic that included the likes of Alan Webb, Tariku Bekele, Matt Tegenkamp and Dathan Ritzenhein.
Mottram’s mark is still the third-fastest two-mile ever run, but it was less his race and more his post-race interview that captured the imagination of distance running nerds around the world.
When posed the question, “Does it just come down to guts?” Mottram answered with the timeless response, “It comes down to the size of your balls, really.”
The stuff of legends.
Webb had come in to the race with considerable hype after out-kicking Bernard Lagat to win the Reebok Grand Prix mile a week earlier (check out the race video here with Gus Johnson on the call for CBS). Webb ended up having an off-day and dropped off the pace with over a half-mile to run.
Instead, it was Matt Tegenkamp was who earned the glory as the top U.S. runner, finishing third in an American record time of 8:07.07.
This race unfortunately marked the tail-end of Mottram’s time at the pinnacle of the sport. He was only able to finish 13th at the Osaka World Championships later that summer, and never again reached an Olympic or outdoor world championship final.
Despite the way his career ended, thank goodness there’s YouTube so we can relive the most glorious moments of “The Big Mazungo.”