WTW: 2023 Is the Yr. of the 5000, American Records Galore + the Brits Impress Us With Their Depth

The Week That Was in Running, July 17-23, 2023

Last week was a busy one with with Diamond League meets both in Monaco and London. If you missed our in-depth coverage of those events, catch up now but we add more analysis below.

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The 5,000m record books have been rewritten in 2023

On Sunday afternoon in London, Alicia Monson ran 14:19.45 for 5,000 meters to break Shelby Houlihan’s American record. As recently as three years ago, that time would have put Monson in elite company: on July 23, 2020, only five women in history had broken 14:20, and all five were Olympic and/or world champions. But times have changed. On Sunday, Monson was the fifth person in that race to break 14:20.

We saw something similar in the men’s 5,000 in Monaco on Friday. In that race, Telahun Bekele finished 3rd in 12:42.70. Just three years ago, only three men – all legends of the sport – had ever broken 12:43: Kenenisa Bekele, Haile Gebrselassie, and Daniel Komen. Telahun Bekele has never won a single global medal.

Kevin Morris photo
Wanda Diamond League
London Athletics Meet
July 23, 2023, London, England, U.K.

Of course, Monaco was only the latest chapter of what has been a historically fast year in the men’s 5,000 meters. After Friday, there have now been 13 sub-12:43 performances in history: 7 in 2023, and 6 in the rest of recorded history combined. Telahun Bekele’s 12:42.70 would have ranked him #5 all-time at the start of the year; now it might not even be enough to get him to Worlds as he’s only the fourth-fastest Ethiopian of 2023.

On the women’s side, half of the 12 fastest performances in history have come in 2023, led by Faith Kipyegon’s 14:05.20 world record in Paris. It feels a little different on the women’s side, however, when you look at who is running the times. Kipyegon, Gidey, and Hassan could all fairly be described as generational talents, likely to go down as among the greatest of all time when their careers are over. You could say that about Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo on the men’s side, but no one else in the men’s top six on the 2023 list has won a global outdoor title.









Berihu Aregawi


WXC silver; 4th ’21 Oly 10k

Faith Kipyegon


1500 GOAT (4-time global champ, 1500/mile WRs)


Joshua Cheptegei


Oly 5k champ, 2-time 10k world champ, ’19 WXC champ; 5k/10k WR holder

Letesenbet Gidey


10k world champ, 10k/HM WR holder


Yomif Kejelcha


’19 WC 10k silver, 2-time world indoor 3k champ; indoor mile WR holder

Gudaf Tsegay


5k world champ, indoor 1500 WR holder


Jacob Kiplimo


WXC champ, HM WR holder, world/Oly 10k bronze

Beatrice Chebet


WXC champ, ’22 WC 5k silver


Hagos Gebrhiwet


3-time 5k medalist (no golds)

Ejgayehu Taye


’22 world indoor 3k bronze; 5th ’21 Oly 5k


Telahun Bekele


4th ’19 WC 5k

Sifan Hassan


Oly 5k/10k champ, 2-time world champ, London Marathon champ


We used to have to wait years between super fast races like the 2012 Paris 5k or 2018 Brussels 5k. This year, they’ve been a weekly occurrence on the Diamond League circuit. So what has changed? There are a few things at play.

Running fast in the 5k does not happen by accident. You can’t just hammer the last mile and hope for a fast time. But in 2023, it’s easier than ever to ensure you’re on the right pace as most major meets use Wavelight. In the women’s 5k in Paris, the lights were set to 14:10 and Kipyegon ran 14:05 by kicking at the end. In London, the lights were set to 14:20 and Tsegay ran 14:12 by kicking at the end.

But pacing lights are worthless if the leader chooses not to follow them. Many of these super fast races have featured athletes not known for their kick trying to drop their rivals – Gidey trying to drop Kipyegon in Paris, Hassan (coming off a spring marathon) trying to drop Tsegay/Chebet in London, Aregawi trying to drop everyone in Lausanne. Having a total stud willing to keep the pace hot after the pacer drops can make a huge difference.

And then, of course, you have super shoes, which offer a double benefit: you can race faster in super spikes and train faster/recover better in practice in super spikes/shoes. You can debate how much they help at the very top level – some experts believe athletes with great running form/foot strikes don’t benefit as much – but it’s clear the shoes make a difference, especially when you look at how much faster the NCAA has become since their introduction.


Speaking of generational talents, will the 4th placer in London, Medina Eisa, who ran a world junior record of 14:16.54 in London (previous record 14:30.88, Tirunesh Dibaba, 2004) eventually be viewed as one? She started the year with a 14:59.53 pb that dated to 2021 – when she was just 16. She’s now PR’d in all three of her 5000s in 2023 as she ran 14:46.60 for the win on June 10 in France, 14:40.02 for third in Stockholm on July 2, and 14:16.54 in London on July 23.

Eisa also was the runner-up in the World XC junior race earlier this year. The winner of World XC juniors was also in the London 5,000. Senayet Getachew, just 17, ran 14:46.25 for 10th.

US 5,000/10,000 champ runs faster than American record in the mile

In Monaco, Nikki Hiltz and Elise Cranny both broke Mary Slaney’s US female mile record of 4:16.71 that had stood since 1985. Hiltz ran 4:16.35 to Cranny’s 4:16.47 to give Hiltz the American record in the mile.

It’s worth noting that 1500 meters into the race, Cranny was ahead of Hiltz, 3:58.88 to 3:59.61, and that the 3:59.61 split was Hiltz’s first time ever under 4:00.

If you convert Hiltz’s mile time to the 1500 equivalent using the World Athletics scoring tables, it’s equal to a 3:58.26, which would place Hiltz 8th on the all-time US list. Using the 1.0802 conversion that LetsRun.com stat guru John Kellogg prefers, it’s equal to a 3:57.32, which would place Hiltz #5. Here is how Hiltz & Cranny stack up if we are most generous to them with the conversions.

1 3:54.99 Shelby Houlihan Doha 5-Oct-19
2 3:56.29 Shannon Rowbury Monaco 17-Jul-15
3 3:57.12 Mary Slaney Stockholm 26-Jul-83
4 3:57.22 Jenny Simpson Saint-Denis 5-Jul-14
5 3:57.32 Nikki Hiltz Monaco 21-Jul-23
6 3:57.40 Suzy Favor Hamilton Oslo 28-Jul-00
7 3:57.42 Elise Cranny Monaco 21-Jul-23
8 3:58.03 Elle St. Pierre Eugene 21-Jun-21
9 3:58.76 Heather MacLean Bruxelles 2-Sep-22
10 3:58.85 Sinclaire Johnson Eugene           28-May-22


Hiltz has had a resurgent 2023 season, running PRs at 800, 1500, and the mile, and winning the US title in the 1500 both indoor and out, but Cranny’s performance is arguably more impressive. The fact that the US 10,000 and 5,000 champ almost beat the US 1500 champ in a mile is wild and shows incredible range.

Could Cranny possibly medal in Budapest?

In her only two other times on the global stage, Cranny was 13th in the 5000 in Tokyo and 9th in Eugene, but at USAs this year she blew Alicia Monson’s doors off in both the 5000 and 10,000, winning by 2.44 and 5.21 seconds, respectively. And Monson just ran 14:19 on Sunday.

The bad news for Cranny is that Monson was 6.03 seconds behind third-placer Sifan Hassan in London. And that race didn’t include the favorite for gold in the 5,000, Faith Kipyegon.


Hiltz wasn’t the only American to break 4:00 for the first time last week. On Monday at the Meeting International d’Athletisme de Marseille, Emily Mackay of Team New Balance Boston rebounded from a disappointing 8th-place showing at USAs and ran 3:59.99 to win by 3+ seconds. She’s now chopped nearly 9 seconds off her pb in 2023 as she started the year with a 4:08.97 pb.

Impressive British depth at London DL

While American Yared Nuguse earned the headlines by winning the men’s 1500 at the London Diamond League (the US’s 1st men’s 1500 DL win in 12 years), the host nation had quite a day itself as three Brits ran under 3:32 – and none of them were reigning world champion Jake Wightman or Olympic bronze medalist Josh Kerr. Between Neil Gourley (3:30.60), Elliot Giles (3:30.92), and Matthew Stonier (3:31.30), Great Britain had as many guys sub-3:32 in one race on Sunday as the US has had in the last nine years combined. Since the start of 2015, Nuguse (3:29.02), Matthew Centrowitz (3:30.40), and Cole Hocker (3:31.40) are the only American men under 3:32. Great Britain has five in all in 2023 – again, not including the injured Wightman.

The men’s 800 was similarly deep in London. Because the race was not a DL points event, it was held before the international TV window and consisted of an entirely British field, but the times were still super fast. Max Burgin won the race in 1:43.85 and the top six – all Brits – broke 1:45. By comparison, only four Americans have broken 1:45 all year; in fact, in the last decade, there has only been one year (2021) in which six Americans broke 1:45.

The Six Brits Under 1:45 in London





Previous pb


Max Burgin





Ben Pattison





Alex Botterill





Guy Learmonth





Thomas Randolph





Ethan Hussey




Burgin is a huge talent but has raced very sparingly over the last three years due to injury. In 2021, he ran 1:44.14 to win in Ostrava the day before his 19th birthday but did not race again all year. Last year, at age 20, he raced three times, including 1:43.52 pb in Turku and a win at the British champs, but he withdrew from Worlds with a calf injury and did not race at all the rest of the season. In 2023, he did not open up until the British champs on July 8 – his first race in more than a year – but finished 3rd in 1:45.16 after leading the whole way.

“The British Champs a few weeks ago was the first race of the season, I didn’t get the standard and I came third so I was wondering how much two weeks could really do fitness wise,” Burgin told meet organizers after his win in London. “…I feel like I’ve got a lot more to come training wise so to be within a few tenths of my PB is a massive confidence booster.”

Staying healthy over the next month will be easier said than done given Burgin’s history, but he could be a medal threat if he can make it through three rounds in Budapest. It would be a significant one as GB hasn’t had a men’s 800 medalist at Worlds/Olympics since Peter Elliott in 1987 and hasn’t even had a finalist since Kyle Langford in 2017. You could argue Langford really should be a medalist, however, considering he finished 4th and the bronze medalist Kipyegon Bett was popped for EPO a year later.


The British depth wasn’t the only thing from the UK that impressed us. Props to UK Athletics getting a reported 50,000 people to attend Sunday’s meet. The fact that UK Athletics is barely surviving financially while USATF is overpaying its CEO annually by millions of dollars a year is yet another example of how life isn’t always fair.

Zharnel Hughes can predict the future

Back in June when Zharnel Hughes ran a British record of 9.83 to win the 100 at the USATF NYC Grand Prix, it came as a shock to most of the running world. But Hughes himself had predicted he would run that exact time earlier that morning, writing “I’m going to run 9.83” in his diary. Hughes did hedge a little, adding, “slowest 9.89-9.91” underneath to give himself some wiggle room.

Well on Sunday in London, Hughes ran another British record, this time in the 200, and this time he wrote down only one time in his diary before the race: 19.73, which is exactly what he ran.

What time will Hughes write/run at Worlds in Budapest? It may have to be very fast if he is to win gold. Hughes ran a brilliant race on Sunday but only finished 3rd – granted, it was the fastest 3rd-place time in history. That’s because he was beaten by the current king of the 200, Noah Lyles (19.47), and one of the sport’s biggest young talents, Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo (19.50). Remember, Tebogo is the youngest man in history to break 10 seconds in the 100 (18 years, 327 days) and has won the last two world U20 titles in the 100 – the latter in a world U20 record of 9.91 despite showboating the last 15m. Now he’s shown he can run the 200 too.

The 200-meter final in Budapest should be incredible. Between Lyles, Tebogo, and Erriyon Knighton (19.49 pb), it could feature three of the six fastest men in history. And the event could be even better next year. Knighton is still only 19 years old while Tebogo just turned 20 in June.

Will Sumner struggles at NACAC U23 champs

At the NACAC under-23 champs last week in Costa Rica, in some events like the men’s steeple and 5000, everyone medalled as there were only three competitors in each event. So how did NCAA star Will Sumner, who ran 1:44.26 to win NCAAs and was 5th at USAs, do? Not well. He was only 7th in 1:52.79.

NACAC U23 Men’s 800 Results 

  1. Handal ROBAN, VIN, 05-Sep-2002, 1:47.43 Gold
  2. Sean DOLAN, USA, 19-Mar-2001, 1:47.54 Silver
  3. Dennick LUKE, DMA, 28-Jan-2001, 1:47.62 Bronze
  4. Abdullahi HASSAN, CAN, 28-Jul-2002, 1:47.63
  5. Leroy RUSSELL, CAN, 31-Jul-2001, 1:52.18
  6. Genesis JOSEPH, TTO, 17-Apr-2001, 1:52.69
  7. Will SUMNER, USA, 22-Oct-2003, 1:52.79
  8. Jahleel ARMSTRONG, BAR, 24-Nov-2003, 1:54.05

Addy Wiley (4:05.84) and Cole Sprout (14:11.78) were the only Americans to win gold in the mid-d or distances.

Molly Seidel races for a long time

It’s been a rough year and a half for Molly Seidel. Since shocking the world and winning Olympic bronze and then finishing 4th in the NYC Marathon in 2021, Seidel hasn’t finished a marathon. If she wasn’t a 2020 Olympian, she wouldn’t even have a qualifier for the 2024 US Trials (all 2020 US Olympians are auto qualifiers).

Last week, she did run for a long time – over three hours, in fact. But it wasn’t a marathon. It was a 28k trail race – the Speedgoat Mountain Race in Snowbird, Utah, where Seidel placed second in 3:48:58, well behind winner Hannah Rowe (3:35:53).

Seidel, who entered under the pseudonym Molly Shapiro (her boyfriend’s name is Matt Shapiro), had a good time, writing after it was over on Instagram:

 “As a pro road runner I think the trick to preventing burnout is to do something a little bonkers I’donce in a while….It’s days like this that make me remember how much I freaking love this sport, and give me a lot more appreciation for the trail runners out there; Y’all are f***ing nuts 😂 Heart is full, quads are trashed, and mind is ready to hit the roads again hard. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming, and race announcement coming soon 🤫”

As for the race announcement, it’s believed Seidel will run a fall marathon.


Tigist Ketema & Diego Estrada win at Wharf to Wharf

The 49th Wharf to Wharf 6-mile race was held on Sunday in California and Ethiopia’s Tigist Ketema was the big winner as the 2016 World U20 800m bronze medalist stepped up and won in a course record of 29:51 in just the second race of her life above 5,000m. US XC champ Ednah Kurgat was the top American in 4th in 30:38, one spot ahead of Kenyan NCAA 10,000 champ Everlyn Kemboi of Utah Valley (31:09).

The third-placer in the women’s race should be a familiar name: Werkuha Getachew of Ethiopia. At age 25, Getachew burst onto the scene in 2021 by running an Ethiopian record of 1:56.67 to win the 800 at the Ethiopian Olympic trials but didn’t race in Tokyo, prompting us to wonder if she was impacted by the DSD regulations which at the time barred DSD athletes from events between 400 and the mile.

Last year, she moved up to the steeple and took silver at Worlds in 8:54, #4 on the all-time list. She raced a few times indoors early this winter but not at all since World Athletics barred DSD athletes from all women’s events in March, making us even more convinced she was impacted by the DSD regulations (even though she said last year she could have run the 800 if she wanted). So it was interesting to see her name in the results at Wharf to Wharf, but it makes sense as the race isn’t USATF-sanctioned.

On the men’s side, American Diego Estrada won comfortably, clocking 27:14 to runner-up Josphat Kipchirchir’s 27:48.


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