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.

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