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February 11, 2019

Lane 9: MILLROSE GAMES WAS WILD

It’s opinions you didn’t know that you wanted to have from CITIUS MAG co-founders Chris Chavez and Scott Olberding. It’s been a while but Chris and I decided to give some thoughts about the biggest performances in running.

Have thoughts or questions about our thoughts and questions? Shoot us a tweet: @isthatsol &@ChrisChavez

This week. we’re breaking down the performances from the 2019 Millrose Games in New York City. I watched from home but Chris was trackside so he’ll bring us a couple notes from his day at the big meet. 

MILE MANIA

Chris: HOW ABOUT THOSE MILES, SCOTTY?

Scott: Pretty exciting stuff, Chris!

Chris: So for our readers who maybe weren’t able to keep up with the news. Yomif Kejelcha, the Ethiopian stud, just missed the record of 3:48.45 set by Hicham El Guerrouj in 1997 in Ghent, Belgium. Kejelcha ran 3:48.46. Soooooo close. Going into the race…Did you think Kejelcha would come that close or break the world record? You had seen him run in Seattle earlier this season.

Scott: I think it was certainly possible. People get blown away by his times this indoor season, which are very good, but he has also run 12:46 for 5,000 meters last outdoor season. That’s outrageously fast. If he went again in two weeks, I firmly believe that he could run 3:47.

Chris: Exactly. I don’t think we should totally be shocked by these times. He doesn’t run the mile/1,500 meters often so I guess it’s very easy to overlook his potential there. He actually mentioned that in his post-race press conference. He wanted to make the most of these opportunities because he’s usually billed as a 5,000 guy.

Scott: Yes. I think it also underscores how many great east african runners that are out there that don’t really compete indoors.

Chris: Someone who was standing by next to me at the meet turned to me and said the same thing. It’s a little funny to think how good Americans are at indoor track because it’s fairly popular here and then the Oregon Project comes to the Armory with Germany and Ethiopian stars that just trounce on our field of very good runners. Back to the race…according to Kejelcha, Alberto Salazar and him floated around the idea of the world record at the end of last year. There will be one more shot in Boston and I think the key there will certainly be the pacing duties. While there was a ton of pressure on Rob Napolitano – and I think he did a fair job – it wasn’t quite what Kejelcha wanted. He thought the first 400 was too fast and then he felt Napolitano was starting to slow after the 800 meters. Ideally…on the next attempt, I think you use the guys on your own team. What better pacer through 800 or 1,200 than Clayton Murphy?

Scott: Agreed. He’ll likely need someone in NOP to pace.

Chris: Ultimately, that could be the difference or he spends two weeks practicing how to lean at the finish line.

Scott: Have you ever leaned at the line, Chris?

Chris: In a recent 400-meter repeat workout, I leaned at the finish line to beat our very own Jeanne Mack.

Scott: Love that. Gotta keep her hungry.

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Chris: You know who is faster than Jeanne? Konstanze Klosterhalfen. (What a transition!)

Scott: BRISK RACE. Excellent to see so many women run fast. Klosterhalfen ran a world-leading time and set a a German-record of 4:19.98 in her first trip in New York. If you had to recommend to her one thing to do in New York, what would it be?

Chris: Go see Hamilton. If running a sub-4:20 mile doesn’t get you tickets, I don’t know what will. After the race, KoKo (I think that’s what I saw the Oregon Project Twitter account was referring to her as) had the worst case of indoor cough. The air in the Armory is awful.

Scott: I think that’s typical of a lot of indoor facilities. The ol’ track-hack! Konstanze is very good. Seems like she has a nose for the finish line and loves to race from the front. Her range is outrageous from 1:59 in the 800 to 14:51 in the 5,000 meters. C’mon!

Chris: She dismantled Jenny Simpson (albeit, she doesn’t run very many indoor races anymore) in Boston and then just crushed a very stacked field in New York. The craziest part of the results is what’s next to eight of the top 10 women…PB. Nine women under 4:30 and one under 4:20.

Scott: I think Shelby Houlihan wins that race, if she is in it, but not by much. Shelby has slightly better times and is untouchable over the last 100 meters. Which american had the best race, in your opinion? Doesn’t have to be the fastest, obviously. Maybe the “best for them.”

Chris: Well that makes it a very interesting question because as the defending champion, you’d expect Colleen Quigley to have a great race and she pretty much held steady as the leader of the chase pack from 1,200 to the finish. Kate Grace went with her and just fell shy of a PR. I was surprised to see Shannon Osika right up there with them. She’s really established herself as one of our stronger 1,500 women. She was in 4th place for the entire race.

Scott: I don’t hate the Osika take! Is she now more relevant for the 1,500-meter U.S. team in Doha?

Chris: Absolutely. She had a great summer in 2018. I think in the past, we’ve talked about how the third spot for the 1,500 (usually behind Jenny and Shannon but now it’s Shelby and Jenny) has been a revolving door for years. She could be the one to get it. It’s very early to say. With a focus on indoor season, I wouldn’t be totally stunned to see her around that podium position at USAs.

Scott: And so it is written.

UPSET OF THE WEEK

Scott: I think the upset of the weekend was surely Alicia Monson of Wisconsin winning the 3K. Fun fact! Her 3,000m PB (8:45) is now a faster pace than her 1,500m PB (4:25). That’s called a GOOD race.

Chris: Mick Byrne’s magic is working. Morgan McDonald also had a strong showing with his second place finish to Grant Fisher in the men’s 3,000 meters, which was crazy for more important reasons. We’ll get to that in a second. I think the women’s 3,000 meters had one of the best finishes of the day. The women came through about four-wide with 50 meters to go. My money would’ve been on Aisha Praught to repeat or Rachael Schneider to win. They both looked very strong.

Scott: That’s one thing about being a pro…gotta be OK losing to college kids occasionally. The pro season is so long.

Chris: In that same race, Jessica O’Connell came away with the Canadian National record. Not sure how many Canadian readers we have but the middle distance indoor records have totally been re-written this year with strong running from her and Gabriella Stafford.

TENSE MOMENT AT THE TRACK

Scott: So just to recap real quickly…Jamaica’s Kemoy Campbell collapsed while leading after 1,000 meters in the 3,000. He was treated by emergency services personnel on the track for about 20 minutes and then was taken to a medical facility across the street. That night, you reported he had a pulse and was on assisted breathing while undergoing a CAT scan. That’s the latest.

Chris: Sounds about right to me. I’ve been keeping some close tabs on the situation. I’ve never been to a meet where something like that has happened. I was standing by the finish line and my focus was primarily on the action on the track until the race ended. I overheard people behind me calling for a medic and then eventually saw the urgency. Jeanne actually texted me because she was in the stands and said that it didn’t look good. Pat Price also texted me and said they showed Campbell fall on the broadcast and that’s when I noticed everyone’s attention was on that corner of the track. My coach was directly in front of everything so I was collecting some information from him. They stopped letting people by into that section but I went to the upper portion to see what was going on from the top. You could see the shot putters all huddled together and hoping for the best. It was crazy to me that they almost kept the shot put competition going until the crowd basically had to stop it from going. I think another update on his status could come within the next day or so.

Scott: Makes you realize there always isn’t protocol at events like this for emergencies.

Chris: What I also realized is how time really slows down in moments like that. It felt like it took a while for emergency medical services to be dispatched and tend to him but it really wasn’t more than maybe three to four minutes after he fell on the inside of the track.

Scott: There are a ton of people pulling for him; it’s clear the running community is hoping for his full recovery.

800 METER AMERICAN RECORDS FALL

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Scott: Kenya’s Michael Saruni won the 800 in 1:43.98 and then Donavan Brazier finished second in an American-record 1:44.41. In the women’s race, it was all Ajee Wilson, who won in 1:58.60 for her own respective American record. Tremendous.

Chris: They’re fantastic times but my jaw wasn’t hitting the ground with either one.

Scott: WOW.

Chris: Wilson has proven to be a world championship medalist and I feel like her having the indoor and outdoor American record is expected. She’s just been that good in recent years. Actually, I was surprised that she already didn’t have the indoor American record before Saturday.

Scott: That’s the right take. It is well-balanced. She’s to the point now where people expect medals and that sounds greedy of American fans but she’s just that good and you want to see the most of a dominant athlete like that. And considering a lot of people aren’t super tuned-up for indoors, the records are softer.

Chris: And on the men’s side, I feel like even Brazier was a tiny bit disappointed that he did so much of the work in that race and then gets passed in the final 50 meters by Saruni. 1:44:41 is a very, very good time but I feel like it’s gotta bite him just a little that someone was able to run 1:43.98. Again to the point, Americans are very good at indoor track but if some of these other countries also ran indoors, we’d see some of these crazy times.

Scott: Yes, it felt like a bit of an error on his behalf. Sometimes you gotta be the big dog though and make the race go fast enough.

Chris: His splits…24.60/25.30/26.31/28.20. That translates to me as just “Get out and hold on.”

Scott: Oh my lord! That sounds painful. The pacer went through 400 meters in 49.69. I feel like that’s pretty dang close to what it needed to be in the 800.

Chris: After something like that….I can’t wait and I hope we get Brazier vs. Murphy head-to-head during the outdoor season. The Oregon Project seems to have a camera crew with them for these meets…if they’re smart, they give us what we all want to see. An HBO 24/7 style documentary with multiple episodes leading up to that race.

Scott: That would be nice. I think they could push each other a lot. It would be fun to see a race billed as an American record attempt. It’s also been nice watching some of Engle’s video stuff.

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