WTW: Noah Lyles is better than ever but so is Letsile Tebogo, Josh Kerr & Yared Nuguse are ready, & BYU alums and Aussie teens impress

The Week That Was in Running, February 12-18, 2024

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 tribute to Henry Rono or our extensive coverage of the 2024 USA Indoor champs or Friday’s distance meet at Boston University, catch up now.

By the way, earlier today we published an EXCELLENT guest column  by Andy Hardt on what track fans are going to miss due to Kelvin Kiptum‘s sad death. Check it out here: LRC The Unfinished Marathon: What We Have Lost With Kelvin Kiptum’s Tragic Death.

Are you in need of a new shoe? Check out our shoe review site – BetterRunningShoes.com.

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Noah Lyles is a supreme talent and he’s in great shape at the start of the Olympic year…but the same is also true of Letsile Tebogo

This section was written by Robert Johnson.

One of the bigger storylines of the US indoor champs last weekend was that Noah Lyles took down world record holder Christian Coleman to win the 60m in a world-leading 6.43.

If I told you a few years ago that Noah Lyles would one day be the world leader in the 60m, you wouldn’t have believed me.

In the last Olympic year, 2021, Lyles was the 250th-fastest man in the world in the 60. Before last year, he’d never put up even one of the 10 fastest 60m times in the world in a given year.

Year 60m sb World Rank
2017 6.63 61
2018 6.57 24
2019 DNC N/A
2020 DNC N/A
2021 6.76 250
2022 6.55 19
2023 6.51 8
2024 6.43A 1

Now he’s #1 in the 60, and if any online sports books were taking early bets (I haven’t found any that are), he’d definitely be the favorite for the 100m and 200m golds in Paris this summer.

But the favorites don’t always win gold, do they? 

Go back in time three years and tell me how many people were predicting at the end of February that Marcell Jacobs and Andre De Grasse would be your Olympic 100m and 200m champions.

When I said a few years ago that Noah Lyles would never win an Olympic gold, I didn’t say that because I thought he wasn’t talented. It just seemed to me that he was likely past his peak and that there were two supreme younger talents lying in wait in Letsile Tebogo and Erriyon Knighton — both of whom had lanky body types that reminded me of Usain Bolt.

In hindsight, it’s clear that Lyles was not past his peak — he was simply off his game in 2021 either due to the anti-depressant medication he was taking that year or lack of fans in the stands in Tokyo. But the two lanky supreme talents are still lying in wait.

Tebogo, the world U20 champion in the 100 in 2021 and 2022, is the only human being I’ve ever seen gain ground on Noah Lyles at the end of a 200m. That happened last year in London (video below).

And what did Tebogo do on Saturday? Well he flashed fine form by running a world record in the 300m in South Africa, running 30.69 (the video below says 30.71 but his time was eventually corrected down). 

Admittedly, the 300m isn’t an event that is run very often, and Tebogo’s race came in Pretoria, which benefits from some elevation (4,400 feet). But only three other men in history had broken 31 in the event before Tebogo, and they are three of the greatest names in sprinting history, men who all won Olympic gold and set world records: Wayde van Niekerk, Michael Johnson, and Usain Bolt.

The 4 Fastest Men in 300m History
1. Letsile Tebogo  – 30.69a –  February 17, 2024
2. Wayde van Niekerk – 30.81 – June 28, 2017
3. Michael Johnson – 30.85a – March 24, 2000
4. Usain Bolt – 30.97 – May 27, 2010

When Michael Johnson appeared on our Track Talk podcast last year, he was shocked to learn about my Lyles prediction. But Johnson was super impressed by Tebogo’s run over the weekend and believes big-time in his talent. (By the way — Johnson’s 30.85 pb, which stood as the WR for 17 years, was run in Pretoria, just like Tebogo’s 30.69).

I don’t know what will happen in Paris in the 100m and 200m but I’m pretty darn confident that Lyles and Tebogo won’t be sharing any gold medals (although it’s possible they could each win one) and that’s what is going to make the Olympics so special.

Let’s hope we get the equivalent of Powell-Lewis from 1991 Tokyo  or Gebrselassie-Tergat in 2000.

More Lyles/Tebogo talk on the messageboard
MB: Letsile Tebogo breaks the 300m world record
*MB: It’s over right?! Noah Lyles 2024 Olympic 100m Champion
*MB: Can we talk about Noah Lyles?
*MB: Rojo gets ROASTED by World Champ Noah Lyles in the press conference 

Josh Kerr is doing World Indoors and the men’s 3000m is now must-watch TV

One of the biggest questions of the winter finally has an answer: yes, reigning 1500m world champion Josh Kerr will run the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow, and he will do so in the 3000m. It’s a win for the sport, particularly the Scottish fans. Frankly, it would have been ridiculous if there was a World Championship in Scotland and both of the Scots to win world titles recently (Kerr and 2022 world 1500 champ Jake Wightman) failed to show up. Wightman, still racing his way back into shape after missing the 2023 season due to a foot injury, was already out but Kerr, after running an 8:00.67 2-mile world record at Millrose on February 11, has decided to give it a go.

Kerr’s coach Danny Mackey had expressed reservations about adding a bunch of extra races to his schedule and adding extra physical and emotional stress during an Olympic year. But with British Athletics changing its selection policy to allow Kerr to skip the trials and with the 3000m being a straight final at World Indoors, Kerr will only need to run one race. As for the stress, Kerr, an Edinburgh native, will undoubtedly be one of the faces of the meet, but he revealed at Millrose that he has hired “four or five” people to help him deal with off-the-track stuff now that he is a world champion.

Embed from Getty Images

The end result is that Kerr will be at Worlds, and he’ll be facing one of the most competitive fields of the meet in the men’s 3000. Kerr’s rival Jakob Ingebrigtsen will not be there as he recovers from an Achilles injury, but US champ Yared Nuguse, who beat Kerr in a terrific 1500 duel in Zurich last year, is running and enters in tremendous form after winning his second straight Wanamaker Mile in 3:47. Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega, the reigning champ and 2021 Olympic 10k champ who has run 7:25 this season, is another massive name on the entry list, and Barega’s countryman Getnet Wale (7:24 pb, #4 all-time indoors) is also running. But world indoor record holder Lamecha Girma will not be in Glasgow. Girma has been racing indoors – he ran 7:29 in Boston on February 4 and then 4:51 for 2000m in Lievin on February 10 – but his agent Hussein Makke told LetsRun.com that Girma is focused on outdoors given that it is an Olympic year.

And while Wightman is sitting out, it could still be a very big meet for Scottish athletes in Glasgow. Kerr will be among the favorites in the 3000, Laura Muir will be in the medal mix in the 3000, and Jemma Reekie announced herself as a gold-medal contender after winning the 800 at the British champs on Sunday in 1:58.24.

Some were disappointed this week by the size of the British squad for Glasgow, particularly on the men’s side, where only six athletes were named to the team. British Athletics drew criticism last summer for its harsh selection policy for the 2023 Worlds in Budapest where they were focused on only picking athletes who could target a top-8 finish.

But this time around, it’s hard to pin the blame on British Athletics. For one, the full team has yet to be named – British Athletics said it would be naming more athletes once World Athletics issues invitations following the finalization of the Road to Glasgow list this week. The Brits also have a bunch of qualified athletes who, for various reasons, have elected to skip World Indoors: Wightman, Neil Gourley, Dina Asher-Smith, Keely Hodgkinson, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Zharnel Hughes.

MB: UK Athletics continues to be a joke

World Athletics needs to extend its quota allocation system to all national championships, not just the marathon

We’ve long held the belief that track & field doesn’t need more meets — it just needs more meets that matter. Meets where winning and losing means something — think high school state meets, NCAA championships or conference meets, national championships, Worlds, Olympics, etc. — generally are pretty popular.

Along those lines, we really wish World Athletics would extend its “quota reallocation system” beyond the marathon so that it applies to all events.

At the British champs last week, Piers Copeland won a thrilling men’s 1500 but he won’t be going to Worlds as he doesn’t have the standard while the 2nd and 3rd placers do.

It was really quite the race. Copeland had the guts to wait for the inside to open up and still had time to put his finger up to his mouth to silence the crowd.

If a national governing body is calling it a “famous win,” then shouldn’t it be worthy of a spot at Worlds? It’s not as if Copeland would be taking the spot of an athlete from another country — Great Britain is sending two men in the 1500 either way.

If the quota allocation system had existed for USA Indoors, then it’s possible we would have gotten to see a Yared Nuguse vs Cole Hocker showdown in the 3k. Instead, Hocker opted for the 1500 only as he didn’t have the 3k standard (Side note: It’s also crazy that World Athletics does not take converted 2-mile times for the 3000 standard.)

Leonard Korir
moves down to #70* on Road to Paris list after Seville Marathon

Even though he did not race, last weekend was a big one for US Olympic Marathon Trials third placer Leonard Korir. That’s because the Seville Marathon was held on Sunday, and it is one of the deepest marathons in the world. Forty-one guys broke 2:10 and the top 17 finishers all ran under the 2:08:10 Olympic standard.

Of course, many of those men came from countries who already had three qualified athletes for Paris. Here are the ones who weren’t already qualified:

Suldan Hassan, Sweden: 2:07:36
Rory Linkletter, Canada: 2:08:01
Phil Sesemann, Great Britain: 2:08:04
Carlos Diaz, Chile: 2:08:04

Korir entered the weekend ranked #68 on the Road to Paris list and now he’s down to #70*. Remember, the top 80 as of May 5 qualify for the Olympics.

*Update: LetsRun.com reader Carole Fuchs points out that, as of February 20, the Road to Paris list only includes two Ethiopians even though three are qualified. Once that is remedied, Korir will move down to #71.

Korir moved down a couple spots on the Road to Paris list last weekend (Kevin Morris photo)

Korir has to survive another 10 weeks before the Road to Paris list is finalized, and he may need to be a few spots higher than #80 once World Athletics accounts for universality places (countries with zero qualified athletes in any event can enter their best-ranked athlete in the 100, 800, or marathon, but that may be offset if not everyone in the top 80 enters the race). But Korir also has the ability to improve his ranking, either by running a half marathon or by trying to get the standard at a spring marathon. Previously, USATF had said athletes could not chase the standard but Korir’s coach Scott Simmons says USATF has told him Korir can chase the standard if he decides it is necessary.

We are curious to see if American marathoners change their approach ahead of the 2028 Olympics, particularly since the auto standard is likely to get even quicker for the next cycle. Right now, most American pros race some combination of Boston/Chicago/New York. Of those, only Chicago is a flat course, and the weather does not always cooperate. Compare that to Seville and Valencia, where dozens of men have run sub-2:08:10 in recent years.

Number of men sub-2:08:10, 2020-24

Year Seville Valencia Chicago
2020 14 17 Not held (COVID)
2021 Not held (COVID) 16 3
2022 9 19 6
2023 17 28 7
2024 17 N/A N/A

We have no doubt that if everyone who raced at the 2024 US Olympic Trials had lined up in Seville instead, at least three Americans would have broken 2:08:10. Come the next Olympic cycle, will Americans flock to Seville and Valencia in an attempt to hit the standard? Or will they remain stateside, where their chances of getting the standard are far smaller but where the appearance fees are much bigger?


Speaking of Seville, we received an interesting note from BYU coach Ed Eyestone after the race. He sent us the following photo from the 2019 NCAA outdoor championships in Austin, when BYU qualified six men in the 10,000.

After Seville, the top three men in the pyramid are now almost certainly going to the 2024 Olympics. Conner Mantz (top) and Clayton Young (middle right) went 1-2 at the US Olympic Trials and Rory Linkletter (middle left) will be going for Canada unless two Canadians run faster than 2:08:01 before May 5. Connor McMillan (bottom left, 2:12:07 at 2019 NYC) and Connor Weaver (bottom right, 2:13:56 for 13th at the ‘24 Olympic Trials) also turned into pretty solid marathoners.

If you’re curious about that 2019 NCAA outdoor meet, it went very well for BYU as the Cougars went 1-3-4 with Young, McMillan, and Mantz. But BYU was only 2nd at the NCAA XC champs the previous fall, finishing behind Northern Arizona, which had a deep and talented team of its own (future Worlds 5k 4th placer Luis Grijalva was NAU’s #3 man while future Worlds steeple 5th placer Geordie Beamish was NAU’s #6). BYU would go on to win the NCAA XC in the fall of 2019, but Mantz was the only member of that group of six to score for that squad.

One other note on Linkletter. After the race, his former BYU teammate Marcus Dickson sent the following tweet:

Quite a story, right? Linkletter confirmed to LetsRun.com that he did indeed finish last in their fantasy league last year, and the punishment was to run a marathon. The one detail Dickson left out is that Linkletter had already been planning on running Seville no matter where he finished in the fantasy league.

Speaking of NCAAs and BYU, the 2024 NCAA Indoor championships will be at The TRACK at New Balance in Boston from March 8-9. And it’s going to take some crazy fast times to qualify. 

4:30.87 is currently the #16 time in the women’s mile. 3:54.62 is currently #16 in the men’s mile. Can you imagine running 4:30 or 3:54 and not making it to NCAAs, even on a relay?

It’s hard to fathom but BYU’s Lucas Bons, who ran 3:54.82 at BU at the end of January, currently needs help to get in as he’s #17 on the mile list for NCAAs (16 make it) and the BYU DMR team didn’t run fast enough at BU on Friday night to get in there either. 

The BYU DMR team “only” ran 9:25.79 at BU. That puts them at #15 in the NCAA and 12 make it. I put “only” in parenthesis as I just wanted to remind everyone that 9:25.97 was the NCAA DMR record from 2008 until 2020. Now it doesn’t even get you into the meet.

What explains it?

Some people don’t want to admit that new shoe technology — the spikes are faster and the new super road shoes let people run tempos faster and recover faster — has played a big role. But a top NCAA coach who has had a team win an NCAA DMR title disagrees with the shoe skeptics. He told LetsRun.com he thinks that shoe tech is worth 7-8 seconds and even broke it down by leg for us:

1200: 2 seconds
400: .5 second
800: 1.5 seconds
1600: 3 seconds

“The primary factor is you can run harder, longer and with less effort so athletes have become much more aggressive in their racing,” wrote the coach.

Guess what the longest-standing NCAA indoor distance record is?

It’s Cooper Teare‘s 3:50.39 mile from all the way back in…2021. Every other NCAA distance record — the mile, 3000, 5000, and DMR, men’s and women’s — has been broken since the start of 2023. That includes the women’s DMR (Washington, 10:43.39), women’s 5000 (Parker Valby, Florida, 14:56.11) and men’s 5000 this season. The latter record was actually broken twice — first by Harvard’s Graham Blanks (13:03.78), then again by NAU’s Nico Young (12:57.14).

Aussie Teens Impress

Not all of the track action last week was indoors as some people were racing outdoors in Australia, including 18-year-old Claudia Hollingsworth. Hollingsworth, who is coached by Craig Mottram and ran 2:01.60 at age 15 in March 2021, dipped under the 2:00 barrier for the first time on Thursday. She ran 1:59.81 to win the Maurie Plant Meet 800 title in Melbourne, setting an Australian U20 record in the process and defeating 2023 Worlds team members Abbey Caldwell and Catriona Bisset plus Aussie 1500 record holder Linden Hall.

Embed from Getty Images

Five days before that at the Chemist Warehouse Adelaide Invitational, Hollingsworth picked up the U20 1500 record by running 4:04.45. At that same meet, another 18-year-old Aussie, Peyton Craig, broke the men’s Aussie U20 record by running 1:45.41 for the win. 

According to Race Results Weekly, Craig is now running well enough to give up on the triathlon.

“I made the decision to put the triathlon career on the burners and focus on track, and I think I have found a good distance here,” Craig explained.  “I’m in career-best form but I think I can get the (Paris 2024) qualifier [1:44.70]; that’s definitely the goal.”

And of course, neither Craig nor Hollingsworth is even the most accomplished Australian teen trackster. That title belongs to 17-year-old Cameron Myers. Myers, who ran 3:33.26 last year, is in good form so far this year as he ran 3:34.55 for the 1500 win in Adelaide before running 3:52.44 for third in the mile in Melbourne behind Stewy McSweyn and Jake Wightman.


Femke Bol breaks the 400m world record (again)

While her 400m hurdle rival Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone has been on a book tour this winter, Dutch star Femke Bol has been doing what she always does this time of year: race. On Sunday, she ran 49.24 to break the world record in the indoor 400 meters at the Dutch championships.

You could be forgiven for thinking you had seen this race before — Bol broke the same record on the same track at the same meet last year. Her splits were near-identical as well: 23.63-25.63 in 2023 vs 23.64-25.60 in 2024. Next up for Bol is World Indoors in Glasgow, where she will be favored to win the 400 after taking silver behind Shaunae Miller-Uibo two years ago in Belgrade.

Last Week’s Home Pages

Past editions of our Week That Was weekly recap can be found here. You should come to LetsRun each and every day for the latest news but if you miss a day, you can always go to our archive page. If you like our written weekly recap, you’ll love our weekly Track Talk Podcast as well. Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us, or post in our forum.


Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us or post in our forum.

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