Confirmed: Joshua Cheptegei Will Take A Crack at Daniel Komen’s Legendary 3000-Meter World Record on Wednesday

Cheptegei’s 3000m World Record Attempt on Wednesday in Ostrava Will Be Toughest Yet

By Jonathan Gault
May 17, 2021

Last year, Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei set world records in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters as part of an unforgettable 2020 season. On Wednesday at the Golden Spike meet in Ostrava, he will try to go one better and become just the third man to hold the 3,000, 5,000, and 10,000 records simultaneously. Yes, that’s right. Cheptegei will attempt to break Daniel Komen‘s legendary 7:20.67 3,000-meter world record which has stood for nearly 25 years — since September 1, 1996.

Cheptegei’s camp is under no illusions as to the difficulty of the feat.

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“It’s a big ask for Joshua to break [the 3,000-meter world record], we have to be realistic about that,” Cheptegei’s agent Jurrie van der Velden told LetsRun.com. “But we believe it’s possible with the training he’s done. It will be the toughest attempt for him thus far.”

There are several reasons why. First is the 3,000-meter record itself is one of the longest-standing men’s world records and has scarcely been challenged since. Only Hicham El Guerrouj, who ran 7:23.09 in 1999, has come within four seconds of the mark. Even the great Kenenisa Bekele, previous holder of the 5,000 and 10,000 records, never ran faster than 7:25.79.

Second is Cheptegei’s skillset. While the World Athletics scoring tables say 7:20 is equivalent to 12:36 and 26:15 for 5,000 and 10,000 — both marks Cheptegei has bettered — it will be tougher for Cheptegei who, as a distance specialist, is more suited to the longer events. He will need a lot of speed to break 7:20.67 — it’s 3:56 mile pace for seven-and-a-half laps — and Cheptegei, whose 3,000 pb is 7:33.26, has yet to demonstrate the raw 1500 speed of Komen, who had a personal best of 3:29.46.

In Cheptegei’s defense, he has barely raced the 1500. His Tilastopaja profile lists just three races at the distance, the most recent of which was a pb of 3:37.36 on April 24 in Kampala (elevation: 3,937 feet). He will have to run close to that pace for twice the distance to break Komen’s record.

Can Cheptegei add the 3,000 WR to his collection? (Photo courtesy NN Running Team)

In any world record attempt, weather is important. The big question mark on that front appears to be the wind as according to Dark Sky the expected temperature (54F/12.2C) and dew point (46F/7.8C) appear ideal for the world record attempt, which will go off at 7:45 p.m. local time (1:45 p.m. ET). The projected wind of 7 mph is pretty good although gusts up to 20 mph would be a problem.

Cheptegei does have a few things working in his favor, however. He has an ace pacemaker in Australia’s Stewart McSweyn, who ran 3:30 and 7:28 last year, and will also benefit from the pacing light system that aided Cheptegei in his world records in Monaco and Valencia last year. The pace is scheduled for 2:26-2:27 per kilometer, with Dutchman Richard Douma serving as the first pacer through 1200 meters before giving way to McSweyn, who will attempt to go through 2000.

Cheptegei also has Nike’s superspikes, which have made Komen’s once-untouchable record seem more attainable. For eight years — from 2012 through 2019 — no man broke 7:28 for 3,000. In the last eight months, five men have done it, all in Nike spikes. And the fastest of them all, Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale, who ran 7:24.98 indoors in February, is known best as a steeplechaser (8:05 pb) with relatively modest pbs at other distances (3:35/13:13, though he hasn’t raced much internationally outside of the steeple).

Should Cheptegei succeed, he would join Finland’s Paavo Nurmi and Kenya’s Henry Rono as the only men to hold the 3,000, 5,000, and 10,000 world records simultaneously. Nurmi first unified the records in 1922 and held all three concurrently from 1922-24 and again from 1924-25 and from 1926-32. Rono famously broke all three records (and the 3,000-meter steeplechase WR) in the span of 81 days in 1978 and held them all until Dave Moorcroft broke his 5,000 record in July 1982.

Talk about the record attempt on our world famous messageboard/fan forum.

MB: Confirmed: Joshua Cheptegei WILL go for Komen’s legendary 7:20.67 on Wednesday!!
2014: MB:
Henry Rono’s incredible 1978 season by the numbers
2007: MB: Was Henry Rono the greatest distance talent ever???

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