Yared Nuguse: Indoor Mile World Record ‘Feels Like A Very Real Possibility’ At 2024 Millrose Games

By Chris Chavez

December 18, 2023

U.S. outdoor mile record holder Yared Nuguse will return to the Armory Track and Field Center in New York City for the 116th Millrose Games as he looks to defend his men’s Wanamaker Mile title.

Here’s what you need to know:

– The Wanamaker Mile has been contested at the Millrose Games since 1926.

– Last year, Nuguse made his Millrose Games debut and won and set a U.S. indoor mile record of 3:47.38. He barely missed the world record of 3:47.01 set by Yomif Kejelcha in 2019.

– Nuguse put together a career year in 2023 with: a 7:28.23 for 3000m indoors (American record); a personal best of 3:29.02 for 1500m (the fastest performance by an American-born runner); 3:43.97 outdoor mile (an American record and the fourth-fastest performance in history; a victory at the London Diamond League 1500m and a fifth place finish in the 1500m final at the World Championships. Most recently, he ran 3:56.58 at the Merrie Mile in Honolulu to come just .45 seconds shy of breaking the road mile world record.

– Nuguse was the first American to win since Eric Jenkins’ 2017 victory. Nuguse will look to become the first man to win back-to-back Wanamaker Mile titles since Matthew Centrowitz’s 2016 and 2015 victories.

The Millrose Games is the sixth stop on the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold calendar.

Livestream and television broadcast details will be announced in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more Millrose Games athlete announcements as the pro fields come together.

Tickets to the 116th Millrose Games can be purchased online at millrosegames.org. For more information on all Armory Track events, visit armorytrack.com.

Yared Nuguse - Millrose GamesYared Nuguse - Millrose Games

Kevin Morris / @KevMoFoto

The following interview has been edited lightly for clarity and space. You can listen to the full interview with Yared Nuguse on the CITIUS MAG Podcast – available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your shows. You can also watch it on The CITIUS MAG YouTube channel.

CITIUS MAG: You're coming back to defend your title. What drew you back to the Millrose games to try and go two-for-two?

Yared Nuguse: “Millrose was the highlight of my indoor season. I only had three (indoor) races last year, but that race just felt like the most-hyped race I had been to of those three indoor races – just the general excitement around it and hearing the crowd go nuts. I never (raced at) Millrose before because I always had a bad feeling about it, like something bad would happen if I went… I was like, ‘I'm not ready for Millrose. I'll get there when I get there.’ And I finally did and came out with a big bang. Now I’ve just gotta keep that up. It’s up there for the excitement factor, especially since it’s indoors in the middle of February.

CITIUS MAG: At the last Millrose Games, you weren't that far off Yomif Kejelcha’s indoor mile world record, which is 3:47.01. You ran 3:47.38. Outdoors, you ran 3:43. What do you think of that world record when your PB is so close?

Yared Nuguse: It felt really real for me, especially right after the race. I was like, ‘I ran really hard, but that was only .3 seconds off – almost nothing.’ So it feels like a goal that’s within my grasp of achieving. Not only am I stronger and smarter than I was last year, but I feel like I've come a long way and will be able to attack this race with a lot more confidence to chase the world record. When I went (to Millrose) for the first time, I was just chasing the American record. So I feel like changing that mindset, just seeing how far I've come, it feels like a very real possibility at this point.

Yared Nuguse - Millrose GamesYared Nuguse - Millrose Games

Johnny Zhang / @jzsnapz

CITIUS MAG: Does that blow your mind a little bit? Just the talk about world records being within your grasp?

Yared Nuguse: I'm sure I'd be pretty shocked to know I’ve come this far. I mean even when I got collegiate records back in college, I was like, ‘Whoa, that's crazy! I ran the fastest someone’s ever run in college. That's nuts.’ And then I was knocking down American records this past year. Now, I’m going for world records. These are such crazy jumps to me in my head and they've all happened in the course of two or three years. Even though I wouldn’t have expected that, based on the trajectory I have now, I feel like I'm at a point where I'm capable of doing anything that I truly set my mind to. I’ve kept setting my goals higher and higher. Now here we are talking about world records.

CITIUS MAG: A year ago, you probably would have said that Millrose and the Pre Classic were executed perfectly. What have you learned from those races that can help you be a little bit faster this time around?

Yared Nuguse: A big part of those two races specifically was not having to deal with too many other people. At Pre, it was pretty much just me and Jakob (Ingebrigtsen) the entire time so I made a point to just get out hard and stay where I wanted to be. Millrose was pretty similar – it was just me, Mario (Garcia Romo) and Olli (Hoare) for most of the race. I can't imagine there being a ton of people trying to run 3:47 (this year) so I feel like I should be ahead of that mess…

I think a big part of it is going to be being able to keep grinding when I'm out front, which I probably will be once the pacer drops off. It’s also just making sure I'm able to not lose focus during the middle two laps before I get to the last lap and start cranking. It’s a really important part of any race and is a little easier when I'm behind someone like Jakob versus me going out there by myself and continuing to hammer on my own.

It's going to be a challenge but I think it's what I'm capable of since I didn’t lead a ton last year at Millrose and was still able to get up there at 400 or 500 (meters) to go. If I can just carry that energy as soon as the pacer drops off and continue to push a little more than I think I need to, I think that will be really helpful – just getting to where I want to be with a lap to go.

Yared Nuguse - Millrose GamesYared Nuguse - Millrose Games

Kevin Morris / @KevMoFoto

CITIUS MAG: I remember how vicious your move was at the end of the Wanamaker Mile. You dropped the hammer on some of the best milers in the world. What happens internally when you hear the bell?

Yared Nuguse: Usually there’s a bit of racing amnesia with about 200 to go. I notice when I look back at some races that my expression changes. The way I run changes. Everything just locks into place. It looks like I'm angry – I’m not angry – but I'm feeling like, ‘This is what running is all about. It’s that competitive, visceral urge to keep it going and go as fast as you can.’ It's just something that really kicks in once I hear the bell. At that point, I don't know what I'm thinking about or if I'm thinking about anything at all. But the last lap or last 200m at least, has always just figured itself out for me no matter what. I've always had a strong kick.

At Millrose especially, I go back and watch that race and it’s amazing how quick that reaction is versus more of a slow build. I think it was more exciting to just pop off and get things going a lot faster. Hopefully, I’ll still have enough energy like that at the end of trying to run basically 3:46.

Yared Nuguse - Millrose GamesYared Nuguse - Millrose Games

Johnny Zhang / @jzsnapz

CITIUS MAG: Is there a part of you that wishes that someone like Jakob was in the race? So that it’s not just you alone once the pacer drops off?

Yared Nuguse: It would definitely make for a more interesting race. It would be really interesting to battle either Josh (Kerr) or Jakob at this point to see where we're at in February. But at the same time, I think I would feel a little better about going out and doing it myself – instead of having people be like, ‘So-and-so carried you through the race.’ If I go out and run the mile like that, it doesn't really give me the credit that I feel like I need. (This way), it feels a little more like, ‘I did this completely by myself and just went out there and hammered it.’ But of course, I'm always excited to race those guys and I'm sure I will at some point in the season. It would make for a more exciting race, but I think it's a little better for me if I just hammer it out.

CITIUS MAG: We're chatting in mid-December. Last year at this time you were in your first fall/winter of training with the OAC. Now that you’ve had a full year under Dathan Ritzenhein’s guidance, are you feeling stronger than you were a year ago at this time?

Yared Nuguse: Yeah, 100%. I feel like a lot of it was me adjusting to altitude and having harder training. I did a great job of managing it where I didn’t go too hard and bury myself. I feel a lot stronger than I did last fall, being able to come into this (year) with more expectations on how it goes and having a lot more strength than I did last year. A lot of running in general is very mental, so being able to do these workouts that I struggled with last year… makes me think I can still get better at racing.

In the past, I got a little better every year, so I hope that still continues. Last year will be pretty hard to top but I think as long as I stay with the training and really keep it up, I should be able to replicate it or hopefully even improve a little bit.

CITIUS MAG: How do you go about thinking about the upcoming Olympic year? For the people who may have forgotten because of all your success, you qualified for the 2020 Olympics but didn't get the chance to race because you got hurt. Is a tiny degree of it redemption to get back to the Olympics and have the opportunity to race?

Yared Nuguse: When I wasn't able to race at the Olympics, I was pretty bummed out. I wasn’t going to let it completely destroy me, but I still really wished I could have fought it out a little more. So to come into this year with an amazing year prior in my back pocket just makes it feel like I can really do something special and not come out and get injured – fingers crossed…

It’s exciting because the buzz around running gets much more exciting around the Olympics and everyone just cares a little more. So I’m excited to go back now that I have some experience and know what to expect. First I need to make it on the team and then see what I can do at the Olympics. I’m pretty chill, so part of me just feels like it’s Worlds all over again. But part of me is like, ‘This is it. This is everything. You're only going to get one more of these if things go as planned. So you really need to chill out now and do everything you can.’

CITIUS MAG: You can't rest on your laurels even though you had a fantastic 2023. You still have to get through three rounds at the U.S. Trials. There's no bye for you to get to the final. That's the toughest part about being an American miler.

Yared Nuguse: When I first was at the Olympic Trials it was absolutely crazy. I was like, ‘There's three? How am I going to run three of those?’ Now I know that the first round isn’t that crazy and then it's basically just two rounds after that… You have to be ready for anyone to show up on the day. You have to focus on one thing at a time. You can’t get to the Olympics before you get through the Trials. I’m excited to go back to Eugene and see what I can do at the Trials, and see what everyone else does too, because I know it’s going to be so exciting.

CITIUS MAG: Do the 2020 Olympics feel like yesterday or does it feel like much longer ago?

Yared Nuguse: It feels like forever ago. I've grown so much since then and it's only been three years. I was just a really scared college kid. I was like, ‘Man, wouldn't it be crazy if I went to the Olympics?’ and then I did and was like, ‘Oh, God, what's happening?’ It wasn’t one of my more even-keel moments, but I think I've improved on that. So hopefully that helps.

Listen to the full interview here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Previously announced Millrose Games stars: Josh Kerr to run the men’s two-mile | Yaroslava Mahuchikh to high jump

Chris Chavez

Chris Chavez launched CITIUS MAG in 2016 as a passion project while working full-time for Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and grew his humble blog into a multi-pronged media company. He completed all six World Marathon Majors and is an aspiring sub-five-minute miler.