Track is my field: Mark Cullen's international track and field website featuring storytelling, commentary, and predictions and event analyses for the Olympics and World Championships. I'll be writing from the 2018 European Championships in Berlin in August. I'm active on Facebook and Twitter: @trackerati.

Thursday, June 14, 2018


I have been privileged to have a 41-year career as teacher, coach, and athletic director.

Friday I retire!

As one big part of my life concludes, it's wonderful that, simultaneously, the new one takes full flight. My thanks to the extraordinary people I've worked with over the years, many of whom I count as my family.

With gratitude and appreciation from Mark Cullen

photo credit: Steve Ritchie
Bird's Nest - Beijing - 2015 World Championships

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Meet in a Tweet

Jakob Ingebrigtsen's Historic Mile

by Mark Cullen

Twitter - 4:00pm, Saturday, May, 26:
4th place doesn't always get the attention it should.
Sometimes, it gets all the attention in the world.
Norway's Jakob Ingebrigtsen was 4th in the @nikepreclassic culminating event, the Bowerman mile.
His time: 3:52.28.
His age: 17.
His age: 17.
Just checking.
Yup, still 17.

History was made in Saturday’s Prefontaine Classic when Norway’s 17-year-old phenom Jakob Ingebrigtsen ran the mile in 3:52.28, a previously unthinkable performance.

“I wasn’t quite expecting the race to be that fast,” said Norway’s prodigy. “”Of course, the pace was a bit quick the first couple of laps. I had a lot more to give the last lap and it felt really good coming into the homestretch.”

“My goal was to take Alan Webb’s record. I knew, of course, that was going to be tough. I had a PB in mind but today I felt really good and I am really happy with how it turned out.”

Alan Webb ran 3:53.43 on Hayward Field’s venerable track to set the US national high school record in 2001. Ingebrigtsen’s 3:52.28 now stands as the world U-18 and European U-20 records.    

“I was hoping the other guys would run fast from the beginning and they did, so I just tried to keep up with the guys the first laps and then we’ll see how it goes. I had a really good last lap, so it felt good.”

A last lap of 55.42 always feels good, but when it’s the 4th of 4, you’re 17, and you’ve averaged 59 seconds per lap for the first three?


“Before the race there was a lot of nerves because it’s crazy running here in Hayward Field and the crowd is amazing, of course, and I was really looking forward to racing.

“I felt good today,” said Ingebrigtsen, “and decided to give everything when there was 800m left.”

Ingebrigtsen’s next goals include the World Junior Championships in Tampere, Finland, in July, and the European Championships in Berlin in August.

“I am really looking forward to that,” he said of World Juniors with a smile that was an unsuccessful attempt at a poker face.

Watch out, world youth records.

When asked if he had seen Alan Webb, who was in attendance at the meet, Ingebrigtsen smiled and replied, “No, I haven’t seen him – I did get his record so I’m real happy.”

“I was thinking it was going to be tough to beat Webb’s record,” he said, nodding towards the scoreboard, “but I’ve seen the results when I was finished and it was just amazing.”

Ingebrigtsen has an unusual training advantage.

“I usually train with two of the best 1500m runners in the world – my two brothers, so I’m kind of used to it, but I’ve always stayed a couple of meters behind Henrik (27) and Filip (25),” whose mile PBs are 3:50.72 and 3:53.23, respectively.

“Now I’m taking a new step to the big guys. It feels really good racing them today and beating a couple of them as well.”

In the second half of the race he moved from 14th to 4th in a field of 15 of the world’s best milers.

Left in his wake were Olympic 1500m gold medalist Matthew Centrowitz and Olympic 800m bronze medalist, Clayton Murphy, not to mention Prefontaine Classic meet record holder Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti, whose 3:47.42 from 2014 has withstood all comers ever-since.  

As Ingebrigtsen sped down the homestretch, he realized that Kenya’s 2017 World Champion Elijah Manangoi was just ahead of him.

“When I saw it was Manangoi I was just like ‘WOW!’”

So were we.

He finished one-tenth of a second behind the World Champion.

“It’s a dream come true to be racing against the best guys in the world.”


The text I led with is a tweet I sent out on Twitter at the end of the meet. An indication of the Norwegian’s popularity - as well as the importance of his performance - is that within 24 hours this message had been retweeted 53 times and ‘liked’ another 254.

It was interesting to follow the pattern of the response, as Ingebrigsten ran his remarkable time just before midnight in Norway, and I woke up in Eugene Sunday morning to many responses from that part of the globe.

photo credit:

Ingebrigtsen's time as a 17-year-old is over two seconds faster
than Steve Prefontaine's 3:54.6,
with the understanding that the mile was not the focus of Pre's training program.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Javelin Clinic

The weather forecast for Eugene is perfect - for Sunday, when it will be 75F/24C and sunny. 

But the Prefontaine Classic is today (Sat), and it has dawned cool and chilly in Eugene - 43/6. It's partly cloudy with some drizzle forecast for this morning, but it should be clear and 65/18 by the time the broadcast goes international at 1:00pm Pacific time. The all-important wind forecast is for a gentle 5mph, but who knows how that will be translated in the funnel that is sometimes Hayward Field.

Last night's opening session of the Prefontaine Classic, once billed as Distance Night in Eugene, featured distance alright - it's just that distance was in the men's javelin, not the much anticipated and ballyhooed men's two-mile.

As expected, the German trio who are currently dominating the world scene in the greatest display of creditable throwing ever by a nation went 1-2-3.

2016 Olympic champion Thomas Rohler's 4th round (89.88/294-10) won over 2017 World champion Johannes Vetter (89.34/293-1), while countryman Andreas Hoffman completed the national sweep in third (86.45/283-7). The top four, including Czech Republic's Jakub Vadlejch at 85.40/280-2, all exceeded Julius Yego's (Kenya) 2016 meet record of 84.68/280-2.

As for the men's two-mile, there is always danger in advertising a record attempt when anything less - even a great performance - becomes a disappointment. 18 year old World Indoor silver medalist Selemon Barega topped a deep field by outsprinting Paul Chelimo to win in 8:20.01. Had Chelimo not advertised an attempt on Matt Tegenkamp's US record of 8:07.07, the post-race focus might well have been where it should have been: on a savvy run by a teenage sensation who left some of the current greats in his dust.

The meet resumes today at 12:40 with the women's pole vault; distance events begin with the International Mile at 12:48. I predict upwards of 9 sub-4:00 miles in this race.

Or as we like to call it in Eugene, the JV race.

The traditional finish to the meet is the Bowerman mile at 2:52. That's the starting time, not the 1200m split.

While the 400m is always of interest, it just doesn't rank as high to me as 400m when you're jumping over things. Nonetheless, the women's 400m is intriguing today.

World Champion and Oregon graduate Phyllis Francis -  wait a minute! This is Eugene, so that would be: Oregon graduate and World Champion Phyllis Francis - has a terrific opportunity to cement her position in the top ranks of this event, while Bahamas' Shaunae Miller-Uibo just might want to unravel that storyline. Adding to the intrigue is that it's the first outdoor 400m for each this season.

See here one of Trackerati's greatest highlights of the London World Championships:

One of these Oregon Ducks just won 
the 400m World Championship!

Friday, May 25, 2018


Many have tried to pick the best field of the stunningly deep events at tonight and tomorrow's Prefontaine Classic. You might do better to try to find the least loaded field, but even that is a challenge.

My pick for the event with greatest depth is indeed a field event - the men's javelin, which will feature Germany's trio of throwers over 91 meters: Johannes Vetter, Thomas Rohler, and Andreas Hoffman. Rohler won Olympic gold in Rio while Vetter upset Rohler for World gold in London in 2017. Will the javelins even stay within the competition area? Officials will be well advised to stay clear the of landing area.

Hoffman's personal best stands at 91.07/298-9; perhaps he'll join his compatriots over 300' tonight. All will rest on Hayward Field's notoriously pesky wind. If it's in the throwers' faces the competition will be terrific but the distances less so. Here's hoping for a calm wind.

Trackerati will be on site of the 2018 Prefontaine Classic tonight and tomorrow, 5/25+26. Please check here as well as @trackerati on Twitter for reports and updates.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Shoe Magic during TrackTown Tuesday Social Hour in Eugene - May 1

My shoes and I will be at the Tuesday, May 1, TrackTown Tuesday held at the Downtown Athletic Club in Eugene.

I'll have on display during the social hour several pairs of shoes which demonstrate the transition from Blue Ribbon Sports to Nike.

The social hour is from 6:00-7:00 pm.

The program begins at 7:00 and will feature Burundi's Francine Niyonsaba, 2-time Indoor 800m World Champion and silver medalist in the Rio Olympics and London World Championships.

The shoes on display will be:

Bowerman Waffle Iron Shoes

Blue Ribbon Sports Onitsuka Tiger with Waffle Sole

Waffle Trainer Prototypes - handmade by Dennis Vixie

Prototype LDS Special - made by Dennis Vixie

The Pre-Montreal

Tiger "Lawsuit" Shoes

The Sting

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Hall of Fame Week in New York City

An honor and a privilege this week to attend the induction of the inaugural class of the National High School Track and Field Hall of Fame at the New York Athletic Club at Linda Prefontaine's invitation.

Here Linda is giving the induction speech for her brother, Steve:

Gonzaga's legendary coach Pat Tyson spoke (via video) on behalf of Pre as well as several additional lucky inductees:

I asked inductees, as well as athletes at the New Balance National High School Indoor Championships, what they think it took or takes to become a member of this Hall of Fame.

I think their answers will interest and delight you, and I'll be posting this article soon.

Linda and I saw some of the sights, especially in Central Park. It snowed upon arrival and Linda was stuck in Denver while two flights were cancelled and a third brought her to New York  almost a full day late. Many thanks to Linda for hanging in there and being so focused on getting to the NYAC for her brother's induction.

I'd like to conclude with sending my heartfelt thanks to Linda Prefontaine for her wholly unexpected invitation which made this thrilling experience possible. 

I mean, I spoke with Jesse Owens' granddaughter!

Pinch me.

Steve Prefontaine in a high school race.
Marshfield High School
Coos Bay, Oregon

Thursday, March 8, 2018

High School T+F Hall of Fame Broadcast Tonight

The NSAF - National Scholastic Athletics Foundation - will induct 30 members into its  inaugural class of their National High School Track and Field Hall of Fame tonight at the New York Athletic Club in New York City.

NSAF is a non-profit foundation known for sponsoring the national indoor and outdoor high school championships; the indoor championships get underway tomorrow at The Armory in New York City.

Tonight's event begins at 6:00 and will be live-streamed on USATF.TV starting at at 7:40 Eastern:

The inaugural class of 30 includes Jesse Owens, Jim Ryun, Willye White, Steve Prefontaine, Kim Gallagher, Milt Campbell, Lynn Bjorklund, Bob Matthias, Kathy McMillan, and Allyson Felix. Here's a link to the complete list:

Many of the inductees are expected to be in attendance, as well as family members of inductees who are no longer with us.

Trackerati is in attendance and a full report will be posted here this weekend. One of the more unexpected phone calls of my life came when Linda Prefontaine, Steve's sister - and about whom I had written an article last summer - invited me to be her guest tonight.

photo credit:

Steve Prefontaine and Coach Bill Bowerman
the day Pre ran his first sub-4:00 
minute mile.

Here a link to the article about Linda Prefontaine:

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Roger Bannister

Royalty of a Different Kind

Roger Bannister, icon of track and field, runner of the first sub-4:00 minute mile, and noted scientist and researcher of neurological conditions, passed away quietly in his sleep on Saturday at his home in Oxford, England. His family announced his passing this morning.

I never had the privilege of meeting this legend, but I did see him at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, when he was announced as the presenter of the medals in the 1500m. 

The crowd gasped at this unexpected privilege. Prince Andrew was in attendance and had been expected to do the honors. 

Instead, we got royalty of a different kind.

One note: so much was and is made of the first sub-4:00 minute mile that we rarely see it referred to as the world record it was. 

Bannister's 3:59.4 broke Gunder Hagg's (Swe) 4:01.4 by an astonishing 2 full seconds.

copyright Vanguard News

copyright BBC

Numerous tributes are available on the web.

From England, here are posts from the BBC, The Guardian and Athletics Weekly:

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Day #2 Madness from spikesmag

The IAAF Spikes Magazine's delightfully demented crew has outdone itself with its Day #2 report. Even Polonius - the only man in Great Britain not to have been DQed on Friday - gets a nod. Then ITO (International Technical Official) Hamlet shows up and delivers the ultimate DQ.

Huh? Exactly. This is as close to a must-read as you'll find this year.

And it's only March.


The magic may be found here:

Must note that the excitement in Seattle is palpable as Brooks Beast Drew Windle qualified for the men's 800m final on Saturday with a personal best 1:45.52. He has drawn lane 3 with favorite Adam Kzsczot (Pol) to his inside in Lane 1 - a perfect setup for a medal-winning performance.

Will Windle become the 2nd Beast to bring home a World Championships 800m medal?
Nick Symmonds was the first (outdoors) in Moscow in 2013 when he won silver.

It looks good for Windle from here.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Two Favorites and an Upset

The IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, England, got underway today with three finals: both high jumps and the women's 3,000m.

The men's high jump featured a big upset when Russia's 20 year old Danil Lysenko upet Qatar's heavily favored 2017 outdoor World Champion Mutaz Essa Barshim. Germany's Mateusz Przybylko took bronze, his first major meet medal.

World Indoor Champion Danil Lysenko, Russia
copyright gettyimages for IAAF

The competition went according to form in the women's high jump as Russia's two-time outdoor World Champion Mariya Lasitskene continued her dominance of this event with an 8cm win. Defending champion Vashti Cunningham (US) won silver while Italy's Alessia Trost, a recent entry to the field, surprised with bronze.

Lasitskene clearing the high jump bar; the logo covers the landing pads.
copyright gettyimages for IAAF
Ethiopia's Genzebe Dibaba, returning from an uncharacteristically challenging 2017, won the women's 3,000. Sifan Hassan (NL) won silver while Great Britain's Laura Muir won a surprise bronze after a harrowing trip from Glasgow to Birmingham in the snow.

Genzebe Dibaba wins the 3,000m with Sifan Hassan 2nd and home crowd favorite Laura Muir 3rd.
copyright gettyimages for IAAF

Kudos to IAAF for their creative presentation of the high jump competition. The event took center stage with the respective men's and women's pits placed in the center of the arena, back-to-back, with the two competitions taking place simultaneously.

(post written in Seattle)