Analyzing Jakob Ingebrigtsen And Yared Nuguse’s 3:43 Mile

By Kyle Merber

September 20, 2023

It’s the same follow-up question every time a runner is asked what their mile time is and the response is under six minutes – “then what’s the world record?”

Well, it’s still 3:43.13, and it has been for 24 years. But for 3 minutes and 43 point 76 seconds it seemed like there was a chance we were going to have to revise our answers. While 3:26.00 still feels a bit away for the Norwegian aerobic monster, this one feels like it is within reach.

The race between Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Yared Nuguse was foretold in the press conference when the King gave the American upstart (who is actually older than Jakob) a piece of advice: “Just stick with me as long as you can and you’ll get yourself 3:46.” This wasn’t trash talk, it was genuine instruction on how to break Alan Webb’s American Record of 3:46.91.

Just like Noah Ngney chased Hicham El Guerrouj around the track on his way to running 3:43.40, Nuguse stuck to Jakob like glue. It was a remarkably different race than Webb’s time trial in Belgium 16 years ago. It was also quite a bit faster. Yared took off a nearly full three seconds. Also, realizing it’s been that long since 2007 just gave me an existential crisis – shoutout to any readers who weren’t even born yet!

In reflecting on Nuguse’s race, the thing I keep coming back to is not that he ran as fast as he did – I mean, 3:43.97! It’s that it was done during the third week of September when nine months ago he ran 7:28.24 to break the American Record in the 3000m indoors. And at no point in between did he miss.

And because Yared has accomplished so much this year it’s easy to forget that this was his rookie campaign. Remember, last season he was a senior at Notre Dame, winning zero NCAA titles for the year. (He won one in 2019.) That’s not me dunking on him, either. I can’t imagine I’m alone in thinking that if Noureddine Morceli ran for an American college the year prior to him running 3:44 he’d have won four NCAA championships.

Nuguse’s trajectory is angled upward towards outer space. We saw glimpses of Yared’s talent in ACC prelim heats of years past. Now we’re seeing it actualized. The gap between him and the best in the world is narrowing rapidly. And whereas consistency may have been a weakness at points, it is now one of his greatest strengths.

Like many of us, Yared also owes a thank you to Ingebrigtsen who has fallen on enough swords this season to build himself The Iron Throne. There’s a reason that we are all completely infatuated with Jakob like he’s our unanimous first middle school crush. He might not win the MVP award this year strictly on individual performances (that’s reserved for Faith Kipyegon), but there isn’t another athlete who had more air-time spent talking about him on group runs.

And of course, Jakob came back the next day to win the 3000m in 7:23.63.

The rest of the Pre Classic

As badly as I wanted to return to Eugene for one last track meet this season, I only have so much PTO in a given year. Still, I carved out a quiet weekend at home to sit down on the couch and enjoy five hours of riveting television. Minus the commercials for races that last over eight minutes, I think the at-home experience of watching track continues to improve.

There isn’t a great solution to being able to watch all the field event attempts except for alternate streams or qualifying even fewer athletes to the finals. Therefore the only immediately reconcilable issue continues to be that Peacock has not yet recognized that the only reason I ever log in is to watch the Diamond League. (Stop trying to foist Boss Baby on me! Don’t you guys have some nerd programming suggestion algorithms?)

With 32 finals squeezed into the two days of competition and with great weather on hand, it was everything that I track should be when there is no national pride on the line. While I am once again beating the drum that the World Championships do not need to be nine days long, the even louder drum I’m more vigorously pounding is the need for a restructuring of the season to include majors. To create a sports league with teams is a distant pipe dream that would require armed revolution to implement at this point. But replicating the Diamond League final a few more times throughout the spring/summer season is attainable.

Anyway, that’s all just to say that this was a fantastic track meet. Here are some more highlights:

  • Rai Benjamin ran 46.39 to beat Karsten Warhlolm – that’s the fastest time of the year. And for being two of the best in the world, it is rare for them to actually race. Outside of Worlds and the Olympics, this only the second time ever the two have faced off with the last being in 2019.
  • It has been three and a half years since Mondo Duplantis first broke the pole vault world record when he cleared 6.17m and he keeps raising the bar one centimeter at a time. For the first time this outdoor season he did it again as he made it over 6.23m and although he hit the bar it wasn’t enough to knock it off. Still counts!
  • Winfred Yavi ran 8:50.66 to win the 3000m steeplechase for the second fastest time ever and beat the WR holder in the process.
  • Faith Kipyegon dominated the 1500m, going 3:50.72, her third fastest time ever. Linden Hall set a new Australian record in 5th (3:56.92).
  • Christian Coleman ran 9.83 to win the 100m to take down the world champion Noah Lyles.
  • Chase Ealey won the shot put in 20.76m breaking Michelle Carter’s 2016 American record. That only makes her the 40th-best thrower of all time, although it’s probably closer to third if you remove everyone who has failed a drug test or was closely linked to state-sponsored doping… It’s probably the most upsetting list in all of track and field.
  • Shericka Jackson pulled off the Diamond League double winning the 100m/200m in 10.70 and 21.57.
  • Australia’s Matthew Denny had a HUGE upset in the discus, tossing that thing 68.43m. No one beats Kristjan Ceh or Daniel Stahl except the other one, until now!
  • Grant Fisher’s 7:25.47 third place finish in the 3000m was good for a new American record. I don’t know what the hell he did in terms of cross training while injured this summer, but he should write a book on it.
  • Hansle Parchment finishes off the year with a 12.93 110H to beat Grant Holloway and finish things up with the world lead.
  • Despite finishing second in a new British record of 1:55.19, Keely Hodgkinson was named the Diamond League final champion. Athing Mu was not technically eligible because she qualified on a wildcard since she did not actually race any of the series this year.
  • Andre de Grasse timed his peak just a bit too late this year, but the defending Olympic champion sent a message saying, “I’ll be back” winning the 200m in 19.76.
  • Is this a déjà vu? Joe Kovas beats Ryan Crouser in the final competition of the year once again to be crowned the king of the Diamond League.

Kyle Merber

After hanging up his spikes – but never his running shoes – Kyle pivoted to the media side of things, where he shares his enthusiasm, insights, and experiences with subscribers of The Lap Count newsletter, as well as viewers of CITIUS MAG live shows.