Friday, August 31, 2018

Epic Men's 5,000m

Updated with mind-boggling 400m splits and split analysis from the epic Brussels 5,000m race in which 18-year-old Selemon Barega ran the 4th fastest time in history: 12:43.02. 

Special thanks to Track and Field News for making these available to Trackerati. 

Please scroll down for the original post. 

Here are the lap-by-lap 400m splits with the closing 200m; highlighting is mine:

1. 59.4
2. 62.6
3. 62.0
4. 63.4
5. 64.9
6. 61.2
7. 60.7
8. 60.6
9. 60.7
10. 60.5
11. 60.8
12. 58.5
                                                 Last 200m - 27.7

kilometer (1000m) splits

1600m splits
1st 1600m - 4:07.0
2nd 1600m - 4:07.4
3rd 1600m - 4:00.5

Zurich Diamond League

 Commentary and Results

One of the slowest major championship men’s steeplechases was clearly also one of the best. Kenya’s Conselsus Kipruto lost his shoe on the first lap and was quickly adopted as favorite by the crowd.

Shoelessness deterred him none.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Zurich Diamond League is About to Begin

The Diamond League: What's It All About?

copyright 2018, Mark Cullen/, all rights reserved

Well, this took almost half a century.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Jumping Trains

Bringing Track and Field from the Stadium to the Station

copyright 2018, Mark Cullen/, all rights reserved

Imagine arriving at Zurich's Central Station.

You don’t know that a pole vault competition is taking place inside this cavernous structure.

You hear loud music and rhythmic clapping.

Then – a huge roar from a crowd you cannot yet see.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Zurich Diamond League Invests in the Future

"Training Mit Den Stars"

copyright 2018, Mark Cullen/, all rights reserved

Today track and field invests in its future.

All across Switzerland this early evening, young people will train with 40 stars of the Diamond League. 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Legacy: Harting and Bolt - In Their Own Words

copyright 2018, Mark Cullen/, all rights reserved

In the last two seasons I’ve had the privilege of asking two giants of our sport the same question at the end of their luminous careers: 

What do you hope your legacy is?

Robert Harting
Photo Credit: Bundeswehr Karriere
My opportunity to ask Usain Bolt came at the 2017 London World Championships in his last press conference as a track and field athlete. I posted his reply here that same evening, and it is posted below.

When I asked German discus great, Robert Harting, the same question at the 2018 European Championships, I was struck by the similarities in their answers.

Monday, August 20, 2018

My New Work Station

copyright 2018, Mark Cullen/, all rights reserved
photo by Yujia Dou

Olympic Stadium, Berlin
Monday, August 13, 2018
12:30 am
Today is the first time in 41 years that school will start without me. That’s a milestone by any measure, and I am grateful for my long run in teaching, coaching, and athletics administration.

I am grateful, too, to have such a clear vision of what’s next, as 'next' was already well underway when I retired from education in June.

Unbeknownst to me, this photo was taken at the European Championships in Berlin around 12:30 am Monday (8/13) morning by my friend and colleague Yujia Dou, who runs the biggest independent track and field website in China. 

I am deeply grateful for it as it captures my new life. Here, I am working on my article "Crazy Good" about teenage running sensation Jakob Ingebrigtsen; it soared to #3 all-time in readership on my website. 

That I now have a whole new group of friends from around the world was evident every day at the Championships. Before I leave the tour, I’ll see them again in Zurich, Brussels, Berlin, and Ostrava – a rich new life indeed. 

"Now the seats are all empty, let the roadies take the stage..." 
This Jackson Browne lyric is for my brother, Matthew, a lifelong musician, who could teach me a thing or two about living on the road. 

I'm just beginning to figure this out; for him, it's an artform. 

I stand in admiration.

Sitting in vast, almost empty stadiums late at night with the only sounds the rhythmic harmony of keyboards being tapped - this, now, is magic for me.

I miss my friends, colleagues, and rug rats at Seattle’s University Prep more than they know, and it is certainly with mixed feelings that I’ve approached this day.

However, I’m thriving in my new life. Yesterday my readership reached 50% more than in any month ever – and that’s with two weeks left to go in the counting period.

Two days ago, my friends and colleagues at IAAF’s Spikes magazine sent out a tweet highlighting a piece I wrote about Armand Duplantis called “Mondo Mania.” It went viral in the track and field world, has been responded to by almost 400 individuals, and has reached between 500,000 and 600,000 people on Twitter. Want to see what viral looks like? @trackerati. 

So, my Seattle teaching friends, have a terrific start to your new year. Rest assured I'm having a terrific start to mine.

With my friend and colleague, Yujia Dou @tiyubao

Photo taken by a journalist from France.
Three continents are reflected in the making of this picture.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Birmingham Diamond League

copyright 2018, Mark Cullen/, all rights reserved

I set out to watch the Birmingham Diamond League Meet from my hotel in Berlin.

If only.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

5th Anniversary of Trackerati: Teardrop of Sunlight

It's not often we have the opportunity to recognize a single defining moment when our life has changed irrevocably for the better.

In the five year history of this website - started on August 2, 2013 - no single day has been more meaningful or important than one two weeks later when Sieg Lindstrom, Managing Editor of Track and Field News, highlighted "Teardrop of Sunlight" on the T+F News website on Friday of the last weekend of the Moscow World Championships.

I had no press pass then - just a ticket, a blog site, and color coded index cards. Of all unlikely things, it was the shape of the sunlight moving through Luzhniki Stadium that captured my attention that cool summer morning.

I am grateful to Sieg to this day, as his prominent placement of this piece introduced Trackerati to a broad international audience. Profound thanks to my many loyal readers and to those generous souls who publish and link to my writing.

In the meantime, I hope you'll enjoy this first of my anniversary posts: 

Teardrop of Sunlight

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.

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.

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.