WTW: Simeon Birnbaum Debuts, Cam Myers PRs, 4×100 Mania In Texas, & A Woman Finishes Barkley

The Week That Was In Running, March 18-24, 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. 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.

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Some of Jerry Schumacher’s Stars Raced Over The Weekend

To say that the men of Oregon’s results during Jerry Schumacher’s first 1.5 years in charge have been unimpressive would be accurate, if not an understatement. But Schumacher wasn’t put in charge at the University of Oregon to lead the Ducks to a 15th or 11th place showing in cross country. He was put in charge to lead them to NCAA XC glory and to have a track team contend for titles with distance guys leading the way.

Since Schumacher is notorious for sparingly racing his athletes, it’s far from shocking that he has redshirted many of his top guys (considering he was hired in July 2022, this year’s freshman class is his first recruiting class), although we don’t know if that was by design or due to injury. One can argue that there is some logic behind that — it is very hard to contribute in XC as a true freshman. At this year’s NCAA cross country championships, the top male American freshman from the high school class of 2023 was Stanford’s Lex Young, who finished 74th place.

But even if Schumacher’s first year was spent dealing with the old regime’s athletes and much of this year is a redshirt year, at some point, a program needs some momentum. So it was good to see redshirt junior Elliott Cook and star freshman Simeon Birnbaum race the Oregon Preview in Eugene on Saturday. It was the first race in an Oregon singlet for Birnbaum, the top distance recruit in the nation last year.

Cook, the 2022 Pac-12 800 champ who has a 3:55 mile pb, won the 1500 easily in 3:42.85, then doubled back and came from behind to win the 800 as well in 1:50.49. Birnbaum, who ran 3:37.93 last spring (#2 on the high school all-time list behind Hobbs Kessler), was second in the 1500 in 3:45.27.

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More significant than the results was what the athletes told the Eugene Register-Guard’s Chris Hansen after the race. Hansen reported that Cook had to convince Schumacher to let him race. “The experience you get in races you can’t get in training,” Cook said. “That’s why I think it was ultimately important. That’s why I felt like I could double today.”

As for Birnbaum, who was battling an injury during indoors, he admitted he also thrives on racing.

“I’ve been looking forward to racing for the Ducks. I’ve been away from it longer than I’d like to be,” Birnbaum told Hansen. “I thought I could run faster today. Sometimes at the beginning of the year I just suck. It’s as simple as that. I’m not very good…I think I race into shape really well. The more I race the better shape I can get in.”

One of LetsRun.com coaching guru John Kellogg‘s favorite sayings is, “The best workout is a race.” It’s clear that Oregon’s top talents agree. Let’s hope they stay healthy enough and that Schumacher lets them do that the rest of the season. (Birnbaum said he will run the 800 or 1500 at Stanford this weekend).

If Birnbaum ends up being as good as people expect him to be, it’s highly unlikely he’d be running for the Ducks in his fifth year of 2028 anyway unless NIL money gets stupidly high. So there would be little reason to redshirt him this spring, barring injury.

Let’s hope he stays healthy and gets to have some more impressive performances at Hayward Field later on this year — although he has already put up one of the most impressive January performance in Hayward Field history.


While the Oregon men didn’t even make NCAA XC this year, it’s not impossible to see them being on the podium in the near future. If you put five people in the top 100 at NCAAs with a few low sticks, you are normally a podium team. In fact, every men’s and women’s team that put five people in the top 100 this year ended up on the podium.

With little fanfare, Oregon had five freshmen this winter run 8:03 or faster for 3000 and none of them were named Connor Burns or Simeon Birnbaum.

Smith, Aiden FR-1 7:56.11
Balazs, Benjamin FR-1 7:59.92
Del Barrio, Sergio FR-1 8:01.00
Steury, Izaiah FR-1 8:01.06
Edwards, Josh FR-1 8:02.58

Considering the 100th-best time in the NCAA in the 3000 this winter was 7:58, those guys should all be hoping to be in the top 100 if they make NCAAs in XC next year. But considering the fact that Oregon had zero guys in the top 100 this year (Cook was the only one to race and he was 114th) and 200 guys broke 8:04 this year indoors, it’s far from a guarantee.

Also many of Oregon’s top guys seem to be more track-oriented than XC-oriented so getting a few low sticks may be an issue. Despite their success on the track last spring, Birnbaum’s best finish at NXN was 6th while Burns’ was 32nd.

More: *MB: Jerry Schumacher deserves to be fired
*MB: Simeon Birnbaum pathetic 3:45
*MB: Finally…Birnbaum and Harrison on the track
*MB: Eugene Register-Guard: “It appears Schumacher is ready to unleash some his men’s team’s top running talent”
*Register-Guard: Oregon’s Elliott Cook and Jaida Ross shine, Simeon Birnbaum debuts at Oregon Preview meet

Cam Myers Runs 7:46 For 3000, Wins Australian Senior Title

One of the world’s top teen talents raced again in Australia over the weekend and ran yet another pb. 17-year-old Cam Myers, who has a 3:33.26 pb for 1500, lowered his 3000 pb from 7:52.06 to 7:46.38 to get the win at the Chemist Warehouse Sydney Track Classic — a race that doubled as the Australian 3000 champs.

Myers’ Progression Age 14-17 (Per MB Poster Mtxxx56)
Age 14: 1:55.61, 3:54.33
Age 15: 1:50.82, 3:46.30, 4:07.04y
Age 16: 1:50.82, 3:38.02, 3:55.44y, 7:52.06
Age 17: 1:47.11, 3:33.26, 3:52.44y, 7:46.38

Here is how Myers, who turns 18 on June 9, stacks up against two of the greatest mile talents we’ve seen in recent years.

PRs before age 18 Jakob Ingebrigtsen Niels Laros Cam Myers
800m 1:49.40 1:46.3h 1:47.11
1500m 3:31.12 3:39.46 3:33.26
3,000m 7:56.74 7:48.25 7:46.38
5,000m 13:17.06 13:57.78 14:32

Of course, the key is to continue to get better. Here is how Ingebrigtsen and Laros did at age 18.

PRs before age 19 J. Ingebrigtsen Laros Myers
800m 1:49.40 1:44.78 ??
1500m 3:30.16 3:31.25 ??
3,000m 7:51.20 7:48.25 ??
5,000m 13:02.03 13:23.01 ??

Race of the Week

Entering last weekend, the high school boys’ 4 x 100 record had stood untouched for more than 25 years at 39.76 — the time run by the Fort Worth Wyatt team of Milton Wesley, Michael Franklin, Montie Clopton, and DeMario Wesley at the Texas state meet in 1998.

That record is no more. Last weekend, two teams broke the record at the Victor Lopez Classic at Rice University.

The Atascocita (Tex.) team of Tory Blaylock, Landon Fontenot, Jordan Parker and Jelani Watkins led the way, DESTROYING the record by running 38.92.

Watkins anchored and he’s a real stud. The LSU commit is one of the top wide receiver prospects in the country (as high as #5 on some lists). He’s also very good at track. Last year, he won the 200 at the Texas state meet (his pb is 20.54, -0.6 and has a windy 20.39) and this year he won the high school race at Millrose in 6.68 and has already run 10.22 for 100m (+1.6).

Duncanville’s team of Ayson Theus, Da’Korien Moore, Brayden Williams, and Caden Durham ran 39.65. Their anchor Durham is also an LSU commit and a big-time football player (#8 running back). He’s run 10.39 for 100m this year (+0.9).

Like Atascocita, Duncanville is in Texas. Incredibly, the top 11 schools on the all-time list in the boys’ 4 x 100 all hail from Texas, according to Track & Field News.

Quote of the Week

“The race is too hard for women. They are simply not tough enough to do it. And I get to say that for as long as it goes that no one proves me wrong.”

Gary “Laz” Cantrell, talking in 2016, about how a woman had never finished his 100-mile Barkley Marathons. He can no longer talk like that as Jasmin Paris became the first female finisher on Friday. Paris beat the 60-hour cutoff by just 99 seconds in 59:58:21.

The idea that a woman wasn’t “tough enough” to finish was clearly from another (sexist) era. It’s also not scientifically sound.

Considering the men’s record for the roughly 100-mile course is 52:03:08 (Brett Maune, 2012), it makes sense that a woman would be able to finish Barkleys as most women’s track distance records are close to 10% slower than the men’s WR. Barkleys has a 60-hour cutoff and 60 hours is 15.27% longer than 52:03.08. Paris’ time is 15.22% slower than the men’s record.

Men’s  Women’s % Slower
5000 12:35.36 14:00.21 11.12
10,000 26:11.00 29:01.03 10.82
Marathon 2:00:35 2:11:53 9.37%
Barkleys 52:03:08 59:58:21 15.22%

MB: Official 2024 Barkley Marathons live discussion thread

Photo of The Week

Photo via @buzi2011 on x.com

That was the start of the women’s 10,000 at the African Games in Ghana. If someone can explain to us why they are starting a five-person 10,000 out in lanes 3-4-5, please let us know on the forum.

MB: So do we have an explanation yet as to why the All-African Games 10,000 started competitors in lanes 3-4-5

The race was won in 33:37 by the lone Kenyan in the race, Janeth Chepngetich, who recently ran 29:55 on the roads in Valencia.

Here is who won the other women’s distance events at the African Games:

  • 800: World indoor champ Tsige Duguma of Ethiopia dominated as she dipped into the 1:57s for the first time with her 1:57.73 win. 2019 world champ Halimah Nakaayi of Uganda was second in 1:58.59.
  • 1500: Ethiopia’s Hirut Meshesha, who ran 3:56 indoors this year, set a championship record of 4:05.71 as Hawi Abera, who just turned 17 in December, ran a 4:06.09 pb.
  • Steeple: World record holder Beatrice Chepkoech of Kenya edged 2021 Olympic champ Peruth Chemutai of Uganda by .46 to win in 9:15.61.
  • 5000: 19-year-old Medina Eisa, who ran 14:16.54 last year and was 6th at Worlds, won by a full second in 15:04.32.
  • Half marathon: Atalena Napule (incorrectly entered under the name of Loliha Atalena) made history as she was the first South Sudanese athlete to ever win African Games gold in 74:36. She beat 67:25 half marathoner Zewdituo Aderaw of Ethiopia by four seconds.

In the men’s events:

  • 800: 25-year-old Aaron Kemei of Kenya (1:44:24 pb earlier this year) won by .01 in 1:45.72.
  • 1500: 25-year-old Kenyan Brian Komen, who ran 3:33.84 last year, won in 3:39.19 as Abel Kipsang, the 4th placer in the 2021 Olympics and 2023 Worlds, was third in 3:39.45.
  • Steeple: World junior silver medallist and Diamond League final runner-up Samuel Firewu, the 19-year-old who ran 8:15 for 2 miles at Millrose earlier this year, won for Ethiopia in 8:24.30 (8:10.57 pb).
  • 5000: Hagos Gebrhiwet, who ran 12:42 last year, won by more than half a second in 13:38.12 one week after running 13:19 on the roads.
  • 10,000: 59:06 half marathoner Nibret Melak (12:52 5000 pb) won in 29:45.37.
  • Half marathon: Reigning Abu Dhabi Marathon champ Samson Amare of Eritrea (60:08/2:07:10) won in 65:04. NCAA Division II cross country champ William Amponsah of Ghana was second in 65:13 just two weeks after finishing sixth in the NCAA DII indoor 3000 and 5000s for West Texas A&M.

Odds & Ends: China’s NR in The Marathon Falls, Botswana Leads the World In The 800 Once Again

Botswana has another 800m man. Nijel Amos may be banned but Botswana’s uunheralded Kethobogile Haingura is your early 2024 world leader.  Check this out, the 25-year-old had a pb of  1:47.16 (from 2022) prior to this year and he only 1:48.47 last year, but he has run 1:45.35, 1:45.14 and now 1:43.94 in his last 3 races over the span of 16 days in March. Only 13 guys in the world broke 1:44 all of last year.


Speaking of the 800, 2023 world 800m champ Marco Arop made his outdoor debut last week at the lowkey Alumni Bulldog Relays in Starkville, MS – home of Mississippi State. He won the second section of the 400 on Friday in 46.61 (Lee Eppe was the only guy to run faster in section 1 – 46.02) and then came back on Saturday in the 1500 where he was beaten by Jamaica’s Navasky Anderson, the guy who crossed the finish line first in the 2023 NCAA Indoor meet before getting DQd. Anderson ran 3:48.92 to Arop’s 3:49.27. If you are wondering what Arop’s PBs for 400 and 800 are, his 400 pb is 46.10 from 2022 and he ran 3:38.36 last year at the end of March.


At the Keyth Talley Invitational at LSU, LSU’s Michaela Rose ran the fastest outdoor 600m time by an NCAA athlete (1:25.75), but Arkansas’ Britton Wison holds the outright mark, having run 1:25.16 run indoors in 2023.


China has a new national record in the marathon. He Jie, who only has track pbs of 14:24 and 29:45, became the first Chinese man to break 2:07:00 as he ran 2:06:57 to place 4th at the Wuxi Marathon in Wuxi, China. Last year for about nine months Jie was the Chinese record holder at 2:07:30 but that was broken by Yang Shaohui‘s 2:07:09 in December at Fukuoka.


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