Sunday, August 12, 2018

Mondo Mania

Armand Duplantis Wins
Pole Vault Competition for the Ages

copyright 2018, Mark Cullen/, all rights reserved

In a virtuosic display of pole vaulting tonight in Berlin, 18-year-old Mondo Duplantis (SWE) set his personal best three times and topped the deepest field in the history of the European Championships. 

His 6.05 (19-10¼) winner ties him for #2 all-time outdoors in history.

In a game of “Can You Top This?” the answer was always an emphatic YES.

“I did feel like I could have made higher,” said the freshly minted gold medalist. “I just hope I wake up tomorrow and it’s still real.”

The statistics of this competition are staggering.

With five jumpers left in the competition, three had cleared 5.90 (19-4¼) and two had passed to 5.95 (19-6¼), the next higher height.

That’s 5 jumping at 5.95 (19-6¼); 17 jumps were taken at 5.95 (19-6¼) or above.

Duplantis and Renaud Lavillenie (FRA) cleared 5.95 (19-6¼), while Russia’s Timur Morgunov then shocked the field with his 6.00m (19-8¼) personal best, the last height he would clear. He won a totally unexpected silver.

Lavillenie missed his first attempt at 6.00 (19-8¼) and passed to 6.05 (19-10¼), where he missed twice and was done for the night, the bronze medal winner.  

Meanwhile, Duplantis etched himself into the track and field history books as well as the memories of the tens of thousands of rapt spectators with his magical 6.05 (19-10¼) winner. 

The compelling ease of it was remarkable as he floated over the bar.

Morgunov’s 6.00 (19-8¼) for second and Lavillenie’s 5.95 (19-6¼) for 3rd equal the highest marks ever for those places.

Poland’s Piotr Lisek was hot early and finished 4th at 5.90. Imagine jumping 19-4¼ and not medaling.

“It was great,” Mondo said of the enthusiastic crowd. “They were really into the competition and it was probably the best pole vault competition I’ve ever been a part of.

“It was a great place to jump and the atmosphere…” he said as his voice trailed off and he shook his head in wonder, still trying to absorb the magnitude of what he had just achieved. “I just hope we can have another championship here because I like to jump high like that.”

Friend and rival – and mentor – indoor world record holder, Renaud Lavillenie, walked on the runway with Duplantis when Duplantis called it a night.  

“He did say on the straightaway,” Duplantis said, ‘Enjoy this moment because not many moments will be like this sweet dream ever. Enjoy this moment because you don’t get these every day.’”

One of those he is now tied with at #2 outdoors is Lavillenie.

Duplantis is becoming comfortable with the fame bestowed on him by his rapid international success.

“I’m not trying to fill his shoes or anything,” he said of Lavillenie. “If people (want to) treat me like Renaud then I guess they can. If people are interested in pole vault and I’m one of the biggest names in track and field, that’s great! That’s great publicity for pole vault.”

A Swedish journalist said, “You look up to Renaud and now there are a lot of little kids looking up to Mondo.”

Mondo replied, “I hope to inspire people. I love pole vaulting so much. It’s such a unique event – such an awesome event and I love winning.”

He hopes to build his event through his success. He hopes it brings the pole vault some publicity, “and if people are watching, they can see how remarkable it is and how different it is from everything else. I want everybody to jump.”

After winning the competition at 6.05 (19-10¼), Duplantis elected not to pursue even high heights. It was simple, he said. 

“I was tired. I was really tired and I had already PRed 3 times.”

He described celebrating with his mother in the stands.

“I don’t think it was much words – I think it was just our faces so close to each other that we could feel each other’s tears down each other’s faces… I don’t think we could come up with words at that time.”

Duplantis revealed a strong sense of the occasion when he said, “It’s going to be one of my greatest track and field moments ever no matter what happens. Olympic gold, world record – this is one of the ones that will have stood out.”

 The Magic Moment
Note how far Duplantis is over the bar.

Photo copyright Jeff Cohen
Thanks to invaluable online statistical resources on Twitter:
K Ken Nakamura @KKenNakamura
John Mulkeen @Statman_John

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Crazy Good

Teen Sensation Jakob Ingebrigtsen Wins the 5000
Completes the 1500/5000 Double

by Mark Cullen

copyright 2018, Mark Cullen/, all rights reserved

Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen did the impossible again tonight.

The 17 year old distance running phenomenon won the European 5,000m title in decisive fashion in much the same way he won the 1500m the night before – with a sustained searing surge followed by a kick which left veterans far older and more experienced in his wake.

Brother Henrik took silver in 13:18.75, while Jakob’s winning time of 13:17.06 is a personal and European U-20 record. France’s Morhad Amdouni won bronze in 13:19.14.

Ingebrigsten ran in the middle of the pack until he took the lead with 1200m to go. At this point it could be reasonably asked if he was repeating last night’s successful strategy or if he was setting himself up to be outkicked while running on tired legs. The answer came quickly.

He continued to lead with two laps left, and as he put down the pedal, the chase group bunched behind him at 600m, but no one would pass. Jakob and brother Henrik surged away from the pack as they rounded the top of the curve with 350m to go and as a family team, they were never headed. The only issue was who would win, and that issue was not in doubt for long.

They gave each other an enormous embrace after crossing the finish line.

“He is crazy good,” said brother Henrik over the stadium public address system.

“You’re always nervous – if you’re not nervous, you’ll do a bad race. That’s just how it is,” said the track and field sensation of the year.

“You need to have the nerves because that way you’ll concentrate and focus on what you have ahead of you. I felt really confident going into today’s race and also yesterday. I know what I’m capable of and I know what shape I’m in, so yes, I was looking forward to racing here in Berlin and it worked out pretty good.”

When asked by an Austrian journalist what his readers should know about him, the supremely confident Ingebrigsten turned out to be more comfortable speaking about his running than speaking about himself, and he masterfully moved the discussion back to running. He answered:

“I’ve lived as a professional runner since I was five years old. Everything I’ve done I’ve prepared for being one of the best runners in the world. Not many people have believed (he laughs) in me and my family’s thoughts but that has been the main goal to be one of the best runners. Now I’m 17 and European champion and this is one step in the right direction to become one of the best runners in the world.”

“I’d like to ask you about history, please,” I said.

“History?” He seemed surprised.

“Context for what you have done. It was already true last night that the defining performance of this meet (was your 1500m win)... Now you have the double... Where do you think this fits?”

“I’m not that old," he said with a laugh, "so I don’t have that much experience when it comes to history and athletics but I know all the big names. I know all the world records and all the huge accomplishments for other athletes. I know what it means to be a European Champion and to be a runner in the 1500m at a high level. I know what it takes. I know that me and Henrik and Filip has put down a lot – a lot – a lot of work. I know that we have earned these medals.”


“Thank you so much.”

Two-time European Champion
Seventeen year old Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway

photo courtesy of Getty Images via Berlin

History question edited and clarified 12:45pm, 8/12/2018

Riff on a Friday Night Track Meet in Berlin

A Good Night for the Home Team
and a 
Prodigy from Finland

copyright 2018, Mark Cullen/, all rights reserved

Have you noticed a lot of Germans walking around with their arms in the air?

They're smiling and laughing and crying and jumping up and down. They’re clasping their hands to their faces in stunned disbelief. They're lying on the track waiting for a mascot to help them up. They're holding black, red, and yellow flags across their backs and they’re jogging, ever so slowly, around the track.

You wouldn't want this moment to end, would you?

Friday, August 10, 2018


Germany Dominates Men's Javelin

copyright 2018, Mark Cullen/, all rights reserved

It's rare in a regional championship that the top 3 in the world in one event come together to decide who is best.

It's rarer still that all three should be from the same country.

Rarer than that?

That the championship is held in their home country.

The hoped-for German men's javelin sweep did not materialize at Berlin's Olympic Stadium Thursday night, but their national team finished a still remarkable 1-2-5.

The places were decided early. On a hot and humid night replete with swirling wind and heavy air, the expected 90m+ fest did not materialize.

Thomas Rohler, 2016 Olympic Champion, the most consistent of the German trio, came closest to 90m and won with his 89.47 (293-6) 3rd round heave.

Andreas Hofmann's 87.60 (287-5) second round toss led until Rohler flew by him one round later.

Estonia's Kirt Magnus broke up the sweep with his first round 85.96 (282-0), which kept him entrenched in the 3rd podium position, while Poland's Marcin Krukowski picked a good time to record a season's best as his 3rd round 84.55 (277-4) stood up for fourth.

The top four were decided in the first three rounds as throwing conditions deteriorated. 2017 World Champ Johannes Vetter (Ger) mustered 83.27 (273-2) in the 5th and simply could not get unwound.

Rohler was the only one who had a successful strategy for handling the wind. In separate individual interviews with Trackerati, Rohler and Hofmann revealed the subtle difference between gold and silver.

"The wind was difficult," said Rohler, "but we expected that - or I expected that - and I had a game plan for today: just throw precise, no power, nothing. Just do what you can do as precise as you can. All the throws showed it was possible, but it was really tough to make them sail."

As he said "precise", Rohler pinched his thumb and forefinger together, raised his arm, and pointed to the sky to exactly the point he was aiming for.

The changing nature of the wind was a factor, too.

"The wind was level, I guess, because people from tribunes told me it was a headwind, we just felt a strong tailwind - I think we just felt it at different levels."

Runnerup Hofmann, who had taken the lead in the 2nd round at 87.60 (287-5) said, "Sometimes it was from the back and sometimes from the side and after the second throw I don't know. I hit the point - I hit the javelin very good the first few meters, but then when the javelin got its height it came down very, very early - too early.

"But it was not a technical thing - the throw was very good but I don't know what happened in the air. Some dealed with it better than me. It was a struggle, and you see it was two meters further," he said ruefully of Rohler's winner.

When asked if he has a favorite stadium to throw in, Hofmann laughed and said, "This year in Offenburg again I threw my personal best of 92 (.06) meters - last year it was 88.79. The conditions were perfect in that moment. It was easier to throw with a tailwind."

When asked if it would be helpful to have a directional wind gauge for the javelin, Hofmann said that one on the ground would only be a beginning.

"You throw 30, 40 meters higher - you have to have a wind gauge there or flags or something like that. Sometimes you see it (wind) in the stadium," said the always shrewd Hofmann. "On the roof you see some flags and then you can deal with it - how the wind goes 10-12 meters faster."

How to use this information? 

"Before the competition you can deal with the struggle of how you want to throw."

As if to put a fine point on it, as soon as the last event ended, a torrential rainfall began that was reminiscent of the one that brought competition to a halt in the 2005 Helsinki World Championships.

In a remarkably precocious field, five throwers came in with bests over 89.02 (292-1), with the German trio at a remarkable 91.78 (301-1) and above. It would not be fair to say that the wind won; everyone encountered unique conditions due to the weather.

It was Rohler who figured out best how to handle the wind, and his precision won the day.

Thomas Rohler
Andreas Hoffmann
Gold and Silver Medalists
2018 European Championships

photos courtesy of European Championships - thank you

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Farewell and Welcome - Berlin Night #2

I wrote this as a narrative during the course of evening #2, in real time as much as possible.

copyright 2018, Mark Cullen/, all rights reserved

The much-anticipated men's discus competition is about to begin. Germany's three-time World and 2012 Olympic discus champion Robert Harting was just introduced and the crowd responded predictably. On the track for his 200m semi-final is Spain's Bruno Hortelano, a medical student who is recovering from a grievous hand injury suffered in a car accident.

Harting is closing his major-meet career here tonight and will have his final competition in the ISTAF Meet on September 2, fittingly also here at Olympic Stadium.

It’s the scene of his greatest success and of one of my five most memorable moments in track and field. Berlin native Harting came to his final throw of the 2009 World Championships in silver medal position and unleashed a personal best to win. I was privileged to be in the stadium as a spectator that night and have rarely experienced such joyful, thunderous, prolonged celebration.

A rising star coming into the meet, Harting was the world’s best for almost a decade.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Mr. Inadvertent is Looking for a Job

It's midnight in Berlin where I've just arrived after an arduous 23-hour journey from Seattle. The Frankfurt Airport was closed Tuesday due to a security breach and my flight to Berlin - among many others - was cancelled.

It was truly a chaotic scene at the airport where thousands were evacuated. Little information was made available and the pitiful lone megaphone was helpful to perhaps 25 of the thousands of stranded passengers.

The airlines and airport were woefully understaffed and unprepared to handle this situation. To make matters far worse, if there was air conditioning, it wasn't evident on a sweltering day.

The breach occurred when a family was inadvertently allowed through a checkpoint by a security officer when they had not yet been fully cleared.

Mr. Inadvertent is looking for a job.

Meanwhile, that bag I checked? On July 28 a similar event happened in the Munich airport. Nine days later 20,000 (not a typo) bags have yet to be reunited with their owners.

I'll be shopping in the morning.

Frankfurt Frenzy
photo by Mark Cullen

Special thanks to Mr. Sven Gogoll at Motel One-Upper West in Berlin for holding my room for me in a week when there is such heavy demand in Berlin. 

Upon my arrival he said that I got here the way almost all of their customers from Frankfurt did today: by train.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Chasing Steeples Was Never Like This

Beatrice Chepkoech Shatters the 3000m Steeplechase World Record

In one race, on July 25, 1952, Horace Ashenfelter won the United States’ only Olympic steeplechase gold medal, set the world record, and defeated the then-current world record holder Vladimir Kazantsev – of the Soviet Union, no less, at the height of the Cold War.

His time? 8:45.4.

Five days short of 66 years later, Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech shattered-demolished-obliterated-crushed-decimated the existing women’s world record of 8:52.78 with her spectacular romp in Monaco on Friday.

Her time? 8:44.32

She ran over these barriers as if there were no barriers.

Behind her, Courtney Frerichs set the US record in 9:00.85, breaking Emma Coburn’s 9:02.59 from the epic London World Championships race which saw Coburn and Frerichs finish 1-2.

Ironically, on this same day, Ruth Jebet, the previous world record holder, was named publicly by the Athletics Integrity Unit as being under investigation for a failed drug test for EPO.

Take Jebet’s tainted time out of the equation and the next best time ever is Celliphine Chespol’s 8:58.78, which she ran in winning the 2017 Prefontaine Classic at age 18. 

That makes Chepkoech’s time an improvement over the previous world best by 14.46, or almost exactly two seconds per lap.

Beatrice Chepkoech
photo credit: IAAF/Getty Images
Meanwhile, stat fans revel in this:’s terrific piece called 10 Crazy Stats from Absolutely Bonkers Monaco Diamond League Meet

So, Beatrice Chepkoech is faster than Horace Ashenfelter.
I am now officially old.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Des Moines Day 4 - Apres Sandi, Le Deluge

2018 US National T+F Championships
Sunday, June 24

A deluge it was as events of the final day of the US Outdoor National Track and Field Championships were postponed by almost three hours Sunday afternoon and evening. The meet was suspended at 4:06 pm and competition resumed at 7:00pm CT.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Des Moines - Day 3 - It's All About DeAnna!

2018 US National T+F Championships
Saturday, June 23

copyright 2018, Mark Cullen/, all rights reserved

On a busy day at the USATF Outdoor Track and Field Nationals, the women’s hammer throw took center stage.

DeAnna Price spun an American record 78.12/256-3 on her fifth throw. This vaulted her to the #4 position on the all-time performers list worldwide, and to the top of the yearly world performance list as well.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Des Moines - Day 2

2018 US National T+F Championships
Friday, June 22

We keep saying that Noah Lyles is the sprint star of the future.

Noah Lyles is the sprint star of today.

Let there be no doubt of this after Friday’s spectacular men’s 100m final. After a less than stellar start, Lyles ran down Ronnie Baker with mere meters to go in a new world leading time of 9.88.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Scene of the Hammertime Crime

An errant hammer flew over the protective netting during the men's hammer competition at the US National Championships today.

The hammer landed on the street with a thud and then bounced into the side of a parked car.

The 'thud' of the hammer landing was audible to all in the throwing corner of the Drake University track and field complex.

Asteroid landing spot?
4th of July fireworks damage?
Hammer throw?
You be the judge.
When you hear 'hammer throw damage' do you think of this?

Said one television cameraman, 

"I was hoping for a hammer hanging out of the side of a car."
Sean Donnelly's foul flew over this netting.
Note landing spot in the pavement.

Note origin of throw - ring next to tent - that was a looong foul!

No one was hurt by the errant hammer.
No one was hurt in the writing of this story.


Des Moines - Day 1

2018 US National T+F Championships
Thursday, June 21

With little at stake in the realm of World or Olympics qualifying, this first day of the US National Track and Field Championships was not quite the day at the office many expected it to be.

Emma Coburn got things started with an easy win in her steeple heat, a reminder of the greatness she achieved as 2017 World Champion. Winning the second heat was none other than Courtney Frerichs, silver medalist to Coburn’s gold. This sets up a terrific rematch in Saturday’s final.

Stanford’s Valarie Allman capped an unusual sequence: 2nd at Pac-12, 3rd in NCAA, and 1st here as she captured the national title in 208-6/63.55, a comfortable margin of 8-2/2.42 over recent Arizona State graduate Maggie Ewen. Iowa graduate Laulaga Tausaga-Collins threw a personal best on her final throw to win the third spot on the podium and earn excited cheers from the hometown fans.

The women’s 800m qualifying rounds offered no surprises as Ce’Aira Brown led all qualifiers in 2:01.38. The men’s 800m, however, brought the biggest surprise of the day when Drew Windle failed to show for the start of the race. Suffering from fatigue (and not an injury), as he was not 100% today, he decided to focus on his European tour this summer instead.

Erik Sowinski ran a particularly impressive wire-to-wire race to win in 1:46.37, while Clayton Murphy announced his return to form with a strong finish to win his heat. Alas, Boris Berian found the way back to be a cruel one as the 2016 World Indoor Champion had the fastest non-qualifying time.

Bershawn “Batman” Jackson showed he just can’t stay away. His attempts to retire were furthered derailed with his heat win in 50.07. This always deep US event is sorely missing recent NCAA champion Rai Benjamin, whose spectacular 47.02 at the former Hayward Field is tied for #2 all-time with none other than Edwin Moses.

It’s never a surprise when Jenny Simpson dominates a race, and she led all 1500m qualifiers in 4:07.67. Prefontaine Classic winner Shelby Houlihan won her heat to set up what will be one of the most anticipated finals of this meet. Having her say will be Brenda Martinez, who won her heat in 4:10.51.

The men’s 1500m qualifying casualties would make up a strong heat of their own. Hassan Mead and Robby Andrews both failed to advance; Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano, David Ribich, and Blake Haney will join them on the sidelines this weekend. Matt Centrowitz looked like the Centrowitz of old – well, that would be the Centrowitz of two years ago when he struck gold in Rio – as he led wire to wire in a slowish 3:46.05. A heat win slower than the other heat winners by over 6 seconds could translate, in terms of rest, into a substantial advantage in Saturday’s final.

Vancouver, Washington’s Kara Winger won her 8th national javelin championship. On a rainy and blustery day, Winger led out of the gate and was never headed. However, for good measure, she nailed her final throw at 206’3”/62.88 to turn what would have been a modest margin of victory – just over a meter – into an overwhelming one of 20-9/6.34.

Kara Winger
photo credit: USATF and Errol Anderson
The women’s triple jump final looks, on paper, like the expected duel between Kenturah Orji and Tori Franklin took place; each has set the American record this year. However, it was more tepid than that. Orji, the former record holder prevailed. With only three fair jumps, her 3rd round 47-10.5/14.59 barely withstood Franklin’s final round 47 ¾-14.52.

Courtney Okolo led all 400m qualifiers in 51.39, and veteran Jessica Beard ran a strong 51.97 behind her in the last heat. An intriguing race is in the works in a field peppered by young talent. Don’t be surprised if you don’t recognize the names of several of the finalists, but we need to get there first; semis are early Friday evening. Similarly, the men’s 400m has notable newcomers: Division 2 Ashland University strikes again on the national scene as Myles Pringle was 4th fastest qualifier in 45.82.

Ashleigh Henderson, Aleia Hobbs, Dezerea Bryant, and Jenna Prandini all broke 11.00 in 100m qualifying. Mike Rodgers tied the field record of 9.89 in the men’s heats, and Noah Lyles, Isiah Young, and Cameron Burrell joined him under 10 flat. World leader Ronnie Baker advanced in 10.00.

An unusual set of splits for Molly Huddle in the women’s 10k: how often do you see a 10K splits with “1” next to each and every lap? That’s right, she led every lap of 25 from start to finish. Marielle Hall ran a gutsy race in second but could not withstand Huddle’s remarkable close of 64.52.

Lopez Lamong returned to the top of the podium for the first time since 2010. What’s notable about this? Eight years ago it was for winning the 1500m; tonight it was for winning a race 8500m longer. It will be interesting to compare his 54.16 close to the last lap of the 1500m final on Saturday.

The night finished with an on-the-track men’s 20k racewalk won by Nick Christie in 1:24:53.57. Not to be outdone by Molly Huddle, Christie led every single lap 50 laps in a row.

Nick Christie
photo credit: USATF and Errol Anderson

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

IAAF Drew Windle Feature

I'm delighted to report that IAAF has published my feature story about US 800m runner Drew Windle in their lead-in coverage to US Nationals. 

The championships begin Thursday, 6/21, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Heartfelt thanks to Bob Ramsak and Jon Mulkeen at IAAF.

Drew Windle and Family
London Olympic Stadium
2017 World Athletics Championships

photo credit: Karen Farley Windle

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 - I look forward to reporting to you from track stadiums around the world!

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: