WTW: Sydney McLaughlin’s 51.61 Won’t Count, Crazy Fast High School Mile & 800 Times, Two World Record Holders Don’t Make Ethiopian 10k Team, Sub-8 x3, and $21,000 for a 15:16 5000

The Week That Was in Running, May 30 – June 5, 2022

By Robert Johnson
June 6, 2022

Each week, we try to make the sport more fun to follow by putting the prior week’s action in perspective for you. Past editions of our Week That Was weekly recap can be found here. Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us, or post in our forum.  

If you missed our extensive breakdown of Sunday’s Rabat Diamond League, catch up now as we don’t repeat ourselves: LRC 2022 Rabat DL: Soufiane El Bakkali Wins Steeple Thriller, Karsten Warholm Pulls Up Injured.

Sydney McLaughlin Runs 51.61 – Are Women’s Hurdle Heights Too Low?

In terms of world all-time lists, the performance of the week came at the 20th Music City Track Carnival held at Vanderbilt where Olympic champion and world record holder Sydney McLaughlin opened up her season at 51.61 — a time that would be the #3 time in history but it won’t count as hurdle five was put in the wrong spot.

One big takeaway is that Sydney may already be in world record shape — one would think having the hurdles in the wrong spot would slow you down significantly as it would mess up your rhythm. The other possibility is this shows the women’s hurdles heights should be higher if the goal is to make the event different from the 400m.

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The men’s hurdles are six inches taller than the women’s 400m hurdles, yet the average man worldwide is just 4.5 inches taller (67.5 inches (5′ 7.5″) vs 63 inches (5’3″)) than the average woman.

  Men Women
Avg Height (inches) 67.5 63
Hurdle Height 36 30
Hurdle/Height % 53.3% 47.6%

Not that the women and men have to have every event exactly the same, but to get the ratios even, you either need to lower than men’s height to 32.1 inches or raise the women’s up to 33.1. Since all hurdles have a notch at 33 inches, it seems like raising the women’s hurdles up a peg is the way to go.

LRC’s Wejo adds: What if the athletes didn’t know exactly where the hurdles would be each race? Sounds crazy, but track and field needs a little more variability. However, Sydney’s form was so good, she’d probably win wherever the hurdles are set up.

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MB: Does Sydney’s 51.61 show the women’s hurdle heights need to be raised 3 inches? 

Sub-8 X 3

Steeple fans had been waiting for a sub-8 clocking for a long time. Until last Monday, it had been nearly four years since the world had seen a sub-8 clocking as no one had broken 8 in the steeple since July 20, 2018, when Soufiane El Bakkali ran 7:58.15 in Monaco.

But last Tuesday in Ostrava, Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma ran 7:58.68 — the first sub-8 in 3 years, 10 months, and 11 days (1,411 days). Since Moses Kiptanui first broke 8:00 in 1995, the world had never waited that long between sub-8s. The previous long was 3 years and 16 days (1,112 days) — the amount of time that passed between Jairus Birech‘s 7:58.83 in Paris on July 4, 2015, and El Bakkali’s 7:58 in Monaco.

Taken together, up until last Tuesday, the world had seen just one sub-8 steeple in the span of 6 years, 10 months and 26 day (2522 days). Now we’ve seen three in the span of less than a week as yesterday in Rabat, El Bakkali got the win in 7:58.28 with Girma second in 7:59.24. With any luck, 2022 can set a record for most sub-8s in a single year as the record is 4 from 2005.

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An American Won $21,000 Last Week for Running a 15:16 5000

Last week, former triathlete Lauren Hurley won $21,000 by winning the 5000 at the Night At The Island Summer Track Invitational in Pittsburgh in 15:16.33.

How in the hell is a 15:16 worth more dollars than two Diamond League wins, you ask? Well, we’ll let Race Results Weekly explain:

The Pittsburgh Track Club offered $1000 for each of the four winners of the pro races (two miles and two 5-K’s), plus a whopping $20,000 bonus if those race winners 1) Beat the best-ever marks set on Pennsylvania soil, 2) Came into the meet with personal best times inferior to those best-ever marks, and 3) Are USA citizens. 

The PA soil 5000 record for women was Laura Mykytok‘s 15:17.11 set at the Penn Relays in 1995 and with a little help from teammate Molly Grabill pushing the pace, Hurley, who didn’t have a track 5000 pb, got the job done by running 15:16.33 (Grabill finished 2nd in 15:56).

For fun, she came back and won another $1,000 in the mile in 4:45.43. The men’s mile and 5000s were won in 4:04.85 (Nathan Sloan) and 14:17.09 (Robby Creese).

In case you are wondering what the $20,000 marks were for the men’s 5000 and men’s and women’s miles – the PA soil records are 13:16.47, 3:52.26, and 4:23.49.

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Selemon Barega and Eilish McColgan Win The Ethiopian 10,000 Trials As Almaz Ayana Returns To The Track

The Ethiopian 10,000 Trials were held on Sunday and Monday in Hengelo. Olympic champ Selemon Barega, who lost to two Ethiopians in the 5000 at Prefontaine Classic a week ago, showed that a 10,000 isn’t quite the same as a 5,000 as he got the win in the men’s race in 26:44.73, as Berihu Aregawi who ran 12:50 at Pre was third in 26:46.13. The biggest news coming out of the Trials, however, was who didn’t make the team. 2019 world championship silver medallist Yomif Kejelcha ran 26:49.39 but that only placed him 4th in the men’s race. 

Top 5 Men

 1. Selemon BAREGA, ETH, 20 JAN 2000, 26:44.73 PB
 2. Tadese WORKU, ETH, 20 JAN 2002, 26:45.91 PB
 3. Berihu AREGAWI, ETH, 28 FEB 2001, 26:46.13 PB
 4. Yomif KEJELCHA, ETH, 1 AUG 1997, 26:49.39 SB
 5. Milkesa MENGESHA, ETH, 16 APR 2000, 27:00.24 PB

Since there is no Diamond League 10,000 champ, would it be too much of World Athletics to let the reigning Olympic champ have a wild-card into Worlds, that way Ethiopian could send all four?

For the women, it was great to see former world record holder and 2016 Olympic champ Almaz Ayana back on the track for the first time since the 2019 Pre Classic and in only her second track race since 2017 Worlds. However, she wasn’t quite fit enough as she was the 5th Ethiopian across the line. We say fifth Ethiopian across the line as the race was won by Brith Eilish McColgan in a huge pb of 30:19.02 (previous pb of 30:58.94).

We’ve always said one of the reason’s why track struggles for popularity is literally most meets that you are watching are little more than practice and the women’s 10,000 proved it as the Ethiopians only cared about beating themselves and let McColgan go early. World record holder Letesenbet Gidey was content to outkick the other Ethiopians.

Another world record holder who didn’t make the team is Yalemzerf Yehualaw, the road 10km record holder, who only finished 8th, as she tried to run the 10,000m Trials 43 days after her 2:17:23 marathon debut. Considering Yehualaw and Ayana won’t be at Worlds, the rest of the world may have dodged a bullet, but they’ll still have their hands full with Gidey.

Eilish McColgan celebrates

Top 7 Women

1. Eilish MCCOLGAN GBR 30:19.02
2. Letesenbet GIDEY ETH 30:44.27
3. Ejgayehu TAYE ETH 30:44.68
4. Margaret Chelimo KIPKEMBOI KEN 30:45.00
5. Bosena MULATE ETH 30:47.55
6.Girmawit GEBRZIHAIR ETH 30:47.72
7. Almaz AYANA ETH 30:48.48
8 Yalemzerf YEHUALAW  ETH    30:54.28

Ethiopia Is Rocking The Women’s 1500 Right Now

If you’ve been paying attention to the women’s 1500 over the last week plus, one trend has been hard to miss – a slew of Ethiopian women are running fast. 

In the span of 8 days starting at the Pre Classic, six different Ethiopian women broke 4:00 in the 1500, some of them more than once. Considering only seven countries have produced six or more sub-4:00 female 1500 runners in history, that’s a ton for a single country to produce in a single year, let alone a single week plus. In its history, Kenya has only produced six sub-4:00 women and yet six Ethiopians did it in eight days. In case you are wondering, six different runners from a single country breaking 4:00 is not the most in a given year. Back in 1997, 12 different Chinese women broke 4:00.

The 6 Ethiopian Sub-4:00 Women in 2022

1 3:54.21 Gudaf Tsegay ETH 2nd Pre Eugene OR 28 May
2 3:57.30 Hirut Meshesha ETH 1st  Rabat 5 Jun
3 3:58.18 Freweyni Hailu ETH 2nd Rabat 5 Jun, also 3:59.97 Freweyni Hailu 7th Pre Eugene OR 28 May
4 3:58.80 Axumawit Embaye ETH 3rd Rabat 5 Jun
5 3:59.19 Diribe Welteji ETH 1st GSpike Ostrava 31 May, also 3:59.48 Diribe Welteji 1st Montreuil 2 Jun
6 3:59.87 Ayal Dagnachew ETH 2nd GSpike Ostrava 31 May

Most Different # of Women To Break 4:00 In A Single Year

China 12 1997
China 7 1993
Ethiopia 6 2022
Russia 5 1992


# of Different Sub-4:00 Women (Outdoors)
Russia 20
China  18
Ethiopia 12
USA 10
Romania 8
German  6
Kenya 6
Great Britain 5
Belarus 4
Ukraine 4
Poland  3
Algeria  2
Australia 2
Bulgaria 2
Morocco  2
Netherlands 2
Switzerland 2
Turkey 2
Uzbekistan 2

*Lots of countries have 1.

The Ethiopian women’s 1500 team isn’t going to be an easy one to make as they won’t get 4 spots with a bye as Sifan Hassan is the defending champ and Faith Kipyegon was the DL champ in 2022.

2022 Continues to be a Superfast Year for High Schoolers / Sub-4 Mile Madness

For the first time last week, two US hs boys went sub-4 in the same race, as at the Hoka Festival of Miles in St. Louis Gary Martin did it for the second time this year (3:57.89) and 17-year old high school junior Connor Burns of Missouri (3:58.83) joined Jim Ryun as the only juniors to ever go sub 4 in high school.

A day later Rheinhardt Harrison, who has also run 1:48.05 this year for 800, did it in a high school only race in Florida, running 3:59.33, meaning a record four US school boys have broken 4:00 this year when the previous record was two in a given year.

US High School Milers That Have Broken 4:00 More Than Once In HS
Jim Ryun 5
Alan Webb 2
Drew Hunter 2
Colin Sahlman 2
Gary Martin 2

In the 800, there are multiple people within shouting distance of the US HS national records.

Last week, running alone at her state meet in Wisconsin, Rosin Willis ran 2:00.03 – the fastest time ever recorded by a high school girl in a high school only race. Willis has now twice almost broken 2:00 as she ran 2:00.06 indoors. Can Willis or Juliette Whittaker (1:59.80) or even 11th grader Sophia Gorriaran (2:00.65) end up breaking Mary Cain‘s 1:59.51 high school record which has stood since 2013?

On the boy’s side, Michael Granville‘s 1:46.45 has stood since 1996. Cade Flatt nearly broke it a couple weeks ago when he ran 1:46.51 and last week Will Sumner came oh so close as he ran 1:46.53 in the C heat at Music City. Unless he asked to be in the C heat, can someone tell me who thought it was a good idea to put Sumner in the C heat which he won by 1.28 seconds?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll get to see Sumner race Flatt at 800 this year as Sumner, who sports a 45.78 pb, is running the 400 at Brooks PR and Flatt the 800 at New Balance Nationals.

It looks like we’re going to end the year with Colin Sahlman and Gary Martin not racing in the mile nor Flatt and Sumner in the 800. 

The beauty of the old Foot Locker Cross Country Championships (pre NXN) was its simplicity. You knew everyone would be at Foot Locker (or Eastbay or whatever you want to call it). In track, people can run different events and at the high school level there are so many different nationals nowadays it’s become a bit of a joke. Indoors, adidas, New Balance and Nike all had their own nationals. Outdoors, there are even more as USATF has a meet, Brooks has a meet, as do Nike, adidas and New Balance.


At Music City, Syndey McLaughlin and the high schoolers weren’t the only ones running fast. Brian Barraza ( adidas/Tinman Elite) and Travis Mahoney (Empire Elite) both broke 8:20 in the steeple as Barraa ran an 8:19.16 PB and Mahoney an  8:19.18 PB.

Recommended Reads

For our favorite reads from previous weeks, go here.

Quotes Of The Day And Last Week’s Home Pages

To see the quotes of the day from last week or last week’s home page or any home page, go to our archive page.

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