Collegiate Record? American Record? Canadian Record? This Weekend Is Going to Be FAST
By Jonathan Gault
February 10, 2022
This weekend is going to be a busy one if you’re a track fan. And the good news is that all the action will be done by Sunday evening before that big football game kicks off in Los Angeles.
On Friday night, there will be high-quality distance races at three different meets in three different time zones. Just consider the following stretch:
8:30 p.m. ET: Cole Hocker and Cooper Teare attempt to break the American indoor record at the mile in Chicago.
9:05 p.m. ET: The Bowerman Track Club’s Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, Elise Cranny, and Courtney Frerichs chase the North American indoor 5,000m record in Boston.
10:07 p.m. ET: World indoor record holder Donavan Brazier races Isaiah Harris over 600m in Spokane.
Not bad for a Friday night in February.
The meets in Chicago (which, in the grand track tradition of entities such as the Charlottesville-based Reebok Boston Track Club, is being “hosted” by the University of Wisconsin and is known as the Badgers Windy City Invite) and Boston (the Boston University David Hemery Valentine Invite) are all about speed. The meet in Spokane, organized by Tracklandia and Pete Julian‘s Union Athletics Club and Track, should have its share of fast times as well, but Julian wants the focus to be on head-to-head competition as well. He says there will be no bib numbers or gaudy finish line tapes.
“Our hope is to be able to pack the house and have 90 minutes of high-end track and field entertainment without any of this other gimmicky stuff,” Julian says. “We’ve got great competition and great athletes and that’s all you need.”
Since the meets are all happening on the same night and will be streamed on three different platforms, I figured I’d try to bring some order to the chaos. Here’s your chronological guide to this weekend’s action.
UPDATE: Beer Mile Media has announced they will no longer be streaming the race live. We have streaming info here: Official American mile record attempt – Official discussion thread and live stream.
Boston University David Hemery Valentine Invite
When: February 11-12
Where: Boston University Track & Tennis Center, Boston, Mass.
How to watch: Live on FloTrack
*Schedule *Results *Women’s entries *Men’s entries
Lilac Grand Prix
When: Friday, February 11 (pro events begin at 9:39 p.m. ET)
Where: The Podium, Spokane, Wash.
How to watch: Live on pay-per-view ($7.99); high school athletes can watch for free by their coach applying here
American Track League Eastern Indoors
When: Saturday, February 12
Where: Norton Healthcare Sports & Learning Center, Louisville, Ky.
How to watch: Live on ESPN2, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET (also on Watch ESPN)
The distance events aren’t quite as good in this meet (though pros like Michael Saruni and Heather MacLean are still entered) but there will be some notable sprinters including Devon Allen, Quanera Hayes, and Olympic 100 hurdles champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, plus Sandi Morris in the pole vault and Vashti Cunningham in the high jump.
Friday viewing guide
Hocker & Teare chase Lagat’s American mile record in Chicago (8:30 p.m. ET)
One year ago this weekend, Oregon teammates Cole Hocker and Cooper Teare took a stab at a fast mile in Arkansas and wound up obliterating the NCAA record books, running the fastest (Teare, 3:50.39) and second-fastest (Hocker, 3:50.55) miles ever by collegians. They also moved up to #3 and #4 on the all-time US indoor list, with only Bernard Lagat (3:49.89) and Johnny Gregorek (3:49.98) sitting above them. So when Hocker and Teare decided they wanted to run another fast mile in 2022, Lagat’s American record became the natural target.
This sort of assault on the American mile record, indoors, has not happened for generations. Consider: though Gregorek came within .09 of Lagat’s record in 2019, it was not billed as an AR attempt, but rather a byproduct of Yomif Kejelcha‘s (successful) assault on the world record. When Lagat set the current record in 2005, no one knew he was a US citizen yet as he was still representing Kenya. Prior to Lagat, the American record had belonged to Steve Scott, who ran 3:51.8 way back in 1981 in San Diego. Which means it has been 41 years since American distance fans have had the chance to celebrate an American indoor mile record as it happens.
Unfortunately, that drought might stretch even longer, because right now, Hocker and Teare’s race, which is being billed as “the Magnificent Mile,” is not being streamed. Heck, even when Alan Webb set the American outdoor record in some random Belgian town in 2007, there was still a camera crew on hand. Last year, when we heard the American record attempts in the men’s 5000 didn’t have a stream, we went out and bought a bunch of equipment and streamed it live. We still have the equipment and have volunteered to step up and stream this thing ourselves, but as of publication, it’s unclear whether that is going to happen.
UPDATE: Beer Mile Media initially said they would be streaming the race live but they announced on Friday afternoon that is no longer the case. It is possible someone else in the building may still stream the race. Check back on LetsRun.com for updates.
Regardless of whether the race will be streamed, Teare and Hocker have a genuine chance to break the record — assuming that the banked, hydraulic track at Gately Park, an indoor facility that just opened this year, is fast enough (it’s the same place where Will Sumner smashed the high school 600m record with his 1:15.58 in January).
The signs are promising. Both men are coming off 3k pbs at Millrose (7:39.61 for Teare, 7:39.83 for Hocker) and Teare said after that race he believes they are “head and shoulders above where we were last year.” Hocker agrees.
“Based off where we were last year at this point, we’re ahead of that,” Hocker says. “And last year, we were able to run 3:50. Of course, you need all the right pacing, all the right elements, but I think we’re in the right position to do that.”
Former Ducks Matt Wisner (1:48 800 pb) and James West (3:34 1500 pb) are slated to handle pacing duties. Traffic shouldn’t be an issue as the field is small and Hocker and Teare are the only guys going for the record.
One of Hocker and Teare should get the record. It won’t be easy. But they’re both fit, and a 3:49 ain’t what it used to be. If Johnny Gregorek (3:34 1500 pb) can run 3:49 without supershoes, surely it’s not beyond the capabilities of Cole Hocker (3:31 1500 pb)? (Granted, Gregorek did have the advantage of running at Boston University, perhaps the world’s fastest indoor track).
The prediction here is that both men run under the record but Teare wins the race. He beat Hocker at Millrose, and in the time trial-style mile/1500s they raced against each other last year, Teare was 2-0 (Tyson Invite & Oregon Twilight). Overall, he is 3-0 vs. Hocker in 1500/mile races.
GDS leads North American record assault in Boston (9:05 p.m. ET)
The North American record in the women’s indoor 5,000m has stood at 14:47.62 for 13 years. Initially, that was because the time was really fast — when Shalane Flanagan ran it in 2009, the NA outdoor record was just three seconds faster. Since 2009, however, seven North Americans have run faster than 14:47 outdoors, with the record standing at 14:23 by the now-banned Shelby Houlihan in 2020 (Karissa Schweizer ran 14:26 in the same race).
The point: there are multiple women competing right now capable of breaking 14:47. But because hardly anyone runs the 5,000 indoors, the record has endured.
That will change on Friday as Gabriela DeBues-Stafford (14:44 outdoor pb) and US champ Elise Cranny (14:48 outdoor pb) will lead a fast women’s 5,000 field at BU (that’s the reason why I keep saying “North American” — GDS is the best athlete in the race, and she’s Canadian). Olympic steeple silver medalist Courtney Frerichs, NCAA outdoor champion Elly Henes, and NCAA indoor champion Joyce Kimeli of Auburn are also running (Weini Kelati is on the entry list but is a scratch due to illness per her agent Stephen Haas).
Bowerman TC is famously selective with their races, and coach Jerry Schumacher isn’t going to take his athletes down from altitude and fly them across the country if they’re not ready to go. The last time his crew came to Boston, in February 2020, they left with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fastest times ever by Americans in the 3,000. And last week, after her 8:33 3,000 win at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, GDS said she would be targeting Flanagan’s North American record in Boston.
Assuming the pacing is good, GDS and Cranny should both have a good shot at Flanagan’s record, particularly GDS, whom we know is fit — her 8:33 last week is worth 14:44 per World Athletics scoring tables. Remember, two years ago the Bowerman TC’s Vanessa Fraser almost broke Flanagan’s record by running 14:48 in Boston. GDS and Cranny are both much better runners than Fraser (though, to be fair, that race in February 2020 is the last time Fraser was fully healthy). Frerichs, who has run 14:50 herself, should also be near the front, but GDS and Cranny have the greater potential. Expect the record to fall — potentially by a fair amount, depending on exactly how fit GDS and Cranny are right now.
Lilac GP, men’s 600 (10:07 p.m. ET)
Whenever Donavan Brazier races, it’s a big deal. He’s entered here in the 600 meters, an event in which he owns the indoor world best (1:13.77) against new Brooks Beast Isaiah Harris. Brazier has won four of his five career races at this distance, is coming off a 400 pb (46.55 at Millrose), and no American has ever come within a second of his pb in this event. So he’s definitely the favorite and could well lower his own world best. But Harris, whose 1:14.96 pb is #3 all-time among Americans, is one of the few US athletes who might at least be able to challenge Brazier.
Lilac GP, women’s 1500 (10:12 p.m. ET)
Last week, Americans Cory McGee and Dani Jones were among those who got outsprinted by Spaniard Esther Guerrero in a tactical women’s 1500 at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. This week they’re back for more but the favorite here will be Union Athletics Club’s Jessica Hull, who set an Australian record of 4:24 her last time out in the Wanamaker Mile.
Lilac GP, men’s 800 (10:41 p.m. ET)
This race has some serious star power in Craig Engels and Josh Kerr. Engels (1:44.68) has a faster 800 pb than Kerr (1:45.35) and while both are milers by trade, Engels comes at it from the 800/1500 perspective while Kerr is more 1500/5000. That should give Engels the edge…except for the fact that Kerr wrecked Engels in the Wanamaker Mile two weeks ago (Kerr was second in 3:52.27, Engels faded to 10th in 4:01.30 after going out in 1:54). Given that result, I’ll take Kerr.
Lilac GP, women’s distance medley relay (11:00 p.m. ET)
Pete Julian was hoping to use this race as a world record attempt for his Union Athletics Club squad, but some non-COVID illness on his team means the final lineup has yet to be determined as of Thursday afternoon. The current world indoor best (the indoor DMR is not an official world record event) is 10:40.31, set by the US team of Emma Coburn, Sydney McLaughlin, Brenda Martinez, and Jenny Simpson at the 2017 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. Their splits:
1200: 3:18.40 (Coburn)
400: 52.32 (McLaughlin)
800: 2:01.94 (Martinez)
1600: 4:27.66 (Simpson)
That’s a formidable team on paper, but the record is not out of reach. 1200 is a ways off Coburn’s best distance, and McLaughlin was only a (very good) high schooler at the time. Between Shannon Osika (4:00 1500), Sinclaire Johnson (1:59/4:03), Alexa Efraimson (2:00/4:03), and Raevyn Rogers (52/1:56), UAC has the mix of talent to field a competitive team, but the record would be no slam dunk (remember, for it to be a world best, the athletes must be from the same country).
Rogers is one of the best 800 runners in the world but would likely have to run the 400 leg as no one else on the team runs the 400. Osika ran 4:24 for the full mile at Millrose and should be able to handle anchor duties, which would leave Johnson and Efraimson (or perhaps 4:09 1500 runner Ella Donaghu) to split the 1200/800 legs. Assuming Rogers gives up some ground to the ghost of McLaughlin, it would fall to Johnson/Efraimson/Donaghu to keep it close to Coburn and Martinez’ splits with the hope Osika could run a few seconds faster than Simpson’s 4:27. Doable, but tough, especially considering the team may not be at full strength (if Rogers is the one who is sick, they may as well scratch the record attempt though — she’s irreplaceable).
Update: Julian has informed us the lineup will be Donaghu-Rogers-Johnson-Osika.
Saturday viewing guide
Big-time cross country in Kenya (1:00 am ET, 06:00 AM GMT, 9:00 am Kenya)
One of the best races of the weekend will not be held in America: the Agnes Tirop Cross Country Classic, set for Eldoret, Kenya, on Saturday. In an event that will pay tribute to the 2015 World XC champion, who was tragically murdered last year, some top runners will be showing out, including world champs silver medalist Margaret Kipkemboi, marathon world champ Ruth Chepngetich, and Kenyan XC champ Joyce Jepkemoi in the women’s race and Geoffrey Kamworor, Paul Chelimo, and Nicholas Kimeli on the men’s side (Edward Cheserek is also entered). There should be some fantastic racing.
The meet is being broadcast live by NTV tv in Kenya which also broadcasts live on youtube (see below). We’re not 100% confident of the time but think it’s at 09:00 GMT (1:00 am ET).
Nuguse targets NCAA men’s 3000 record in Boston (7:15 p.m. ET)
While the NCAA indoor mile record has changed hands five times in the past decade, the NCAA 3,000 record has been frozen since 2004 when Arkansas’ Alistair Cragg ran 7:38.59 (this is a reminder that Cragg was a monster in college). Eighteen years later, Cragg remains the only collegian under 7:40, with Edward Cheserek’s 7:40.16 at 2016 Millrose the closest anyone has come.
On Saturday, however, 2019 NCAA 1500 champion and 2021 US Olympian Yared Nuguse of Notre Dame is going to take his shot. Nuguse is definitely fit — he ran a 3:54 mile three weeks ago with a 1:59/1:54 negative split, and we know from his collegiate record outdoors that he can push the pace by himself when necessary. Put a major talent like Nuguse on a fast track like BU, and magic can happen.
The plan, according to Notre Dame coach Sean Carlson, is for Nuguse to go out on record pace and assess how he’s feeling at the mile mark. If Nuguse isn’t feeling up to it at that point, Carlson says, he will urge his charge to back off and focus on getting an NCAA-qualifying mark, around 7:47. Nuguse will be shouldering a potentially heavy workload at the NCAA indoor championships in March and Carlson wants to be sure that if Nuguse is going to the well, he’s doing it for a reason.
“We’re definitely going to go out on pace for it, and if he’s not feeling right, ease up,” Carlson says. “…If we can get through on pace through a mile, we’ll probably look to keep pressing. But he’s gotta feel good too.”
Could we see a sub-13:00 5k in Boston? (8:35 p.m. ET)
The final event of the BU David Hemery Valentine Invite will feature one of the deepest domestic 5k fields of the year, led by Olympic silver medalist Moh Ahmed and US Olympians Woody Kincaid and Grant Fisher. Only six men in history have broken 13:00 indoors, and it has been exactly 10 years — February 10, 2012 — since the last time it happened, Thomas Longosiwa‘s 12:58 in Dusseldorf. But it would not be a shock to see the barrier broken this weekend in Boston. WCAP/American Distance Project coach Scott Simmons has already predicted that American record will fall.
How deep is this field? Conner Mantz, the reigning NCAA XC champ and a 7:41/13:24 guy, is the 30th seed. Maybe it’s a case of Mantz underseeding himself (or others overseeding themselves), but with Ahmed, Kincaid, Fisher, Marc Scott (13:05 pb), Sean McGorty (13:06), Shadrack Kipchirchir (13:08), Evan Jager (13:02), Lopez Lomong (12:58), Emmanuel Bor (13:05), and more are in the field, it’s probably going to be fast.
Galen Rupp‘s 13:01.26 North American record dates to 2014, but if he’s in shape, you would expect Ahmed, who ran 13:04 (in non-supershoes) at BU in 2017 and 12:47 outdoors in 2020 to take that down, assuming the early pace doesn’t lag. And if Ahmed is committed to leading, we could see all sorts of fast times behind him — remember, he’s the guy who led 4600m of the race in 2019 when Kincaid ran 12:58 and Lomong and Matthew Centrowitz ran 13:00.
Ahmed is six months removed from an Olympic silver medal, so he should win, but good luck sorting out the order behind him (though it looks like it will be a battle between BTC and ADP). Based on 2021 performance, Fisher would be the best bet for second, but Kincaid and Scott were also in great shape and Bor ran 13:05 a year ago indoors. Kipchirchir turns 33 in a couple of weeks but just won USA XC and looks to be recovered from the calf injury that kept him out of last year’s Olympic Trials. Stay tuned.
We broke down this weekend in a video show as well: