1500m World Record Alert: Yomif Kejelcha Could Take Down El Guerrouj’s Record in Birmingham

By LetsRun.com
February 15, 2019

Nike Oregon Project runner Yomif Kejelcha missed the world record in the mile by .01 of a second last Saturday at the NYRR Millrose Games. He won’t have to wait long to target another world record as he may go after Hicham El Guerrouj’s 1500m world record of 3:31.18 from 1997 tomorrow at the Muller Indoor Grand Prix Birmingham.

The race is at 3:33 p.m. in the UK (10:33 a.m. in the US) and will be on live on national television in the UK on BBC One (you can stream it in the US with an NBC Gold subscription).

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Irish journalist Cathal Dennehy tells us that former Villanova star and Aussie Jordan Williamsz will be rabbiting with a goal pace of 2:20 for the 1000m (3:30 1500m pace).

Kejelcha nears the finish at Millrose (Photo by Phil Bond)

While Kejelcha faced sub-3:50 miler Edward Cheserek at Millrose, Cheserek stayed off the hot pace. That could be different in Birmingham as 2018 World Indoor champion Samuel Tefera is in the field. Tefera is undefeated this year indoors with a 3:35.57 win in Torun (winning by nearly a second over Marcin Lewandowski) and a 3:36.71 win in Lievin (winning by three seconds).

Running 3:35.57 and running sub-3:31.18 are two vastly different things, but in 2018 Tefera was in his best shape in the winter (when he won World Indoors on the same track in Birmingham as an 18-year-old) and the early part of the outdoor season, when he ran his 1500m pr of 3:31.63 on May 12 in Shanghai. By the end of the outdoor season, Tefera wasn’t even a medallist at the World Junior Champs and finished just 10th at the African Championships.

It’s a huge ask for Tefera to run an absolute PR indoors, but he was talented enough to win Worlds in his first season of indoor racing and knows how to run fast early in the year, so he may attempt to stay with world record pace.

Kejelcha’s Chances

If you convert El Guerrouj’s 1500m world record to a mile using the 1.08 conversion factor, it comes to 3:48.07 which is slightly faster than the 3:48.46 Kejelcha ran last week. And all else being equal, breaking the mile record might be slightly easier than the 1500m record considering Kejelcha is a 3000/5000 runner since it is a slightly longer race. For the record, Kejelcha’s 1500 split at Millrose was 3:33.17; of course he still had to kick and run another 109 meters after that.

Thoughts: Ken Goe of the Oregonian has an article up where he talks to Kejelcha’s coach Alberto Salazar and Salazar said if Kejelcha was going to go for the world record in the mile later this year in Boston, people would know about it (Kejelcha is racing at Boston University on March 3, but the distance is still TBD). There is no mention of him going for the 1500 world record in Birmingham on Saturday. Salazar also said Kejelcha will likely race in Dusseldorf on Wednesday, though he did not say at which distance.

But if the rabbit goes out in 2:20 for the first kilometer as being reported, you’d better be watching. It’s clear Kejelcha is in mile world record shape. He’s just got to get everything right to get the record.

*Discuss Kejelcha’s chances for the record in this thread

More: Alberto on Kejelcha’s mile at Millrose: “He didn’t use his arms at the end. We’re trying to get him to drive with his arms. And I think I ran him too hard in a workout two days before. …”