Josh Kerr (3:45.34) Delivers Again to Defeat Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Win 2024 Bowerman Mile

Kerr took down Steve Cram's 39-year-old British record and maintained his perfect start to 2024

EUGENE, Ore. — As Josh Kerr slid by Jakob Ingebrigtsen into the lead with 600 meters remaining in today’s Bowerman Mile at Hayward Field, one thought was running through his mind: this is dumb.

The book on Ingebrigtsen is that he loves to lead, and if you are going to beat him, you should wait until the final 200 meters. That is where Kerr moved to win last year’s World Championship final in Budapest, and where Jake Wightman moved in the world final in 2022. Those are the only two 1500/mile races Ingebrigtsen has lost in the last 24 months.

“I knew if I thought it was a dumb decision, then it probably was,” Kerr said. “And that was going to scare myself and everyone else around me [in the race]…I don’t really listen to other people when it comes to race strategy. I’m going to go with my instinct.”

Those instincts have served Kerr well throughout his career. He went into last year’s world final telling himself he would not replicate Wightman’s move with 200m to go, but sensed weakness in the moment and did exactly that. He was rewarded with a gold medal.

Nine months after their race in Budapest, the outcome was the same betwen Kerr and Ingebrigtsen (Kevin Morris photo)

Kerr’s instincts paid off again on Saturday, as he ripped a 53.2 final 400 to hold off Ingebrigtsen and the rest of a loaded field to win in 3:45.34 to Ingebrigtsen’s 3:45.60. Kerr’s time was a three-second personal best and moved him to #6 on the world all-time list. It also broke Steve Cram‘s British record of 3:46.32, which had stood since 1985.

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Kerr was pleased with the record, but knows that those are the type of performances that are required if he is to remain the best in the world this year after global titles in the outdoor 1500 and indoor 3000 over the last nine months.

“We’re heading into the golden era of 1500-meter running in the UK and in Europe,” Kerr said. “…Today it was how can I win this race? And if I’m going to win this race, it’s probably going to be under 3:46.”

Not that Kerr is resting on his laurels. This was a race worth of an Olympic final, and while 3:45 was good enough to win today, Kerr knows he will have to be even fitter if he is to win gold in Paris on August 6.

“The training that I’ve done is not anywhere near my peak right now,” Kerr said. “…I’ve had injuries past years coming into these events and I was able to be injury-free coming into this one. So these are the results that are going to come when I’m building toward something special. 3:45 right now is good enough, but we’ve got to make some progress from here.”‘

Everyone Chasing Kerr

(Need a VPN to watch the video? Click here)

Kerr cannot relent because he knows the quality of the men who are chasing him. Kerr may have bested Ingebrigtsen today, but the 23-year-old Norwegian battled all the way to the line and finished just .26 behind Kerr despite missing a chunk of training due to an Achilles injury this winter. American Yared Nuguse was 3rd in 3:46.22 — a far superior performance to the 3:33.02 1500m he ran in his Diamond League opener in Rabat on the same weekend last year (using the 1.08 converstion, a 3:46.22 mile is worth 3:29.46 for 1500).

Wightman was 5th in this race in 3:47.83, and while he was disappointed to lose to four men (and two fellow Scots), the time was a personal best by more than two seconds. He drew some solace from the fact that, during his World Championship year of 2022, Wightman ran 3:50.30 behind Ingebrigtsen’s 3:46.46 in Oslo a month before turning the tables and winning Worlds. This year, the gap from Kerr to Wightman is smaller, and he has more time to narrow it.

Wightman believes it is only getting harder to win in the men’s 1500, but said that is what makes it so compelling for athletes and fans alike.

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“Part of it’s the training, part of it’s the spikes, part of it, I’ll take some responsibility,” Wightman said. “When someone like Jakob gets beaten by myself , when he gets beaten by Josh, then everybody believes they have to operate at that level to be alongside him.”

One of those trying to reach that level is Wightman’s fellow Scot Neil Gourley, who surprised himself and everyone else by finishing 4th 3:47.72 in his first race since August. Gourley, the British champ indoors and out last year, missed most of the fall with a stress reaction in his pubic bone and most of the winter with a stress reaction in his sacrum. Gourley said he has only been running since April and could not even walk as recently as March. He said he stayed in shape by knocking out threshold sessions on the exercise bike, sometimes twice a day.

“I was jumping on Zwift and racing 50-year-old guys and trying to stay strong,” Gourley said. “I trusted that all those hours on the bike were going to pay off and I was still going to be strong from it. Looks like that’s the case.”

In an Olympic year, it is rare for so many athletes to feel so positively after an Olympic final preview that only one of them could win. But every man in today’s field knows how much can change in 10 weeks, not least the reigning Olympic champion.

Ingebrigtsen optimistic after his return to racing

One of the big questions entering today’s race was whether Ingebrigtsen’s injuries and high-profile losses to Wightman and Kerr would cause him to change his tactics. And he did, slightly. Rather than heading to the front at the end of the first lap as usual, he was content to sit on Kenya’s Abel Kipsang as the second racer as pacer Abraham Alvarado towed the field through 800 in 1:52.74. When Kerr passed Kipsang to take the lead, Ingebrigtsen followed into second but chose to sit behind Kerr and was unable to get around him in the home straight. When is the last time Jakob Ingebrigtsen has not led a single step of a distance race? It happened today.

Ingebrigtsen came into today riding an 11-race win streak in rabbitted 1500/mile races. It had been 989 days since his last defeat — September 9, 2021, in Zurich, to Timothy Cheruiyot — yet Ingebrigtsen came away from his runner-up finish in high spirits. Given his injury-delayed start to the 2024 season, Ingebrigtsen was very pleased to have run 3:45.60, a time only five other men in history have ever bettered.

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“For me, today was more of a time trial,” Ingebrigtsen said. “Of course we’re racing, but it’s definitely some differences in terms of approach into this race. For some people this is their final test, even before the Olympics in Paris. But this is not my final test. So it’s definitely a big difference the way that we all see this race. But it was a good fight.”

A time trial? From the man who implores his competitors to race head-to-head more frequently on the circuit? A defense mechanism, perhaps. But if this was a fitness test for Ingebrigtsen, he felt that he has passed.

“It’s a very good start,” Ingebrigtsen said.

As for the man who beat him today, Ingebrigtsen would not discuss Kerr by name during his post-race interview in the mixed zone, but he referenced him indirectly on multiple occasions. It did not escape Ingebrigtsen that this was the first time Kerr had run the Bowerman Mile, despite being based in nearby Seattle for his entire professional career.

“The last couple of years, I have been the only one racing for many of the races,” Ingebrigtsen said. “So when someone all of a sudden decides to participate other than just following, it’s something different.”

When I told Ingebrigtsen that Kerr had run two Diamond Leagues against Ingebrigtsen last year before Worlds, he smiled, then countered.

“What about the last time we were here?” Ingebrigtsen said.

That would be last year’s Diamond League final in September, a race Kerr skipped.

“Some of my competitors have clearly taken a step in the right direction, but not big enough a step that maybe is needed to be the favorite in Paris,” Ingebrigtsen said. “If anything, this is going to be an exciting summer.”

No arguments on that last point, Jakob.

Rank Name Country Time Notes
1 Josh Kerr GBR 3:45.34 NR WL PB
2 Jakob Ingebrigtsen NOR 3:45.60 SB
3 Yared Nuguse USA 3:46.22 SB
4 Neil Gourley GBR 3:47.74 PB
5 Jake Wightman GBR 3:47.83 PB
6 Reynold Kipkorir Cheruiyot KEN 3:48.59 SB
7 Cole Hocker USA 3:48.95 SB
8 Geordie Beamish NZL 3:49.09 PB
9 Oliver Hoare AUS 3:49.11 SB
10 Mario García ESP 3:50.14 SB
11 Cameron Myers AUS 3:50.15 PB
12 Abel Kipsang KEN 3:51.82 SB
13 Lamecha Girma ETH 3:53.82 SB
14 Cooper Teare USA 3:53.92
DNF Abraham Alvarado USA 3:55.46
DNF Hobbs Kessler USA 3:48.66


Post-race interviews with Kerr & Ingebrigtsen

Four quick thoughts on the Americans

There were a million storylines in this one and there is not enough time to get to every single one of them in one article — though congratulations are in order for 17-year-old Aussie Cam Myers, who ran 3:50.15 today for 11th, two seconds faster than a 17-year-old Ingebrigtsen ran in this race in 2018.

With that in mind, four thoughts on the four American milers in today’s race.

Yared Nuguse (3rd, 3:46.22)

This was what we have come to expect from Nuguse: consistent excellence. He has still yet to beat Ingebrigtsen in his career (he’s now 0-5), but 3:46.22 in May is a great result, and Nuguse said he feels aerobically stronger than in previous years.

“I definitely feel a lot stronger and more comfortable being closer to the front and whatnot than I did back in Rabat [in my 2023 DL opener],” Nuguse said.

Cole Hocker (7th, 3:48.95)

The good news for Hocker is he has been very consistent. He was 7th in the world final in August in 3:30.70, 6th in the DL final in 3:48.08 in September, and 7th today in 3:48.95. All good results, but it will take great result to win a medal outdoors. Hocker ran well to take silver at World Indoors in a race where many of the big dogs of the event were missing, but he is still looking for that breakthrough race outdoors to vault into medal contention.

Cooper Teare (14th, 3:53.92)

Teare said afterwards that he was not discouraged by today’s race, but he should be, at least when it comes to his Olympic 1500 chances (his chances in the 5,000 are still quite good). Among Americans, Nuguse and Hocker are clearly on a different level than Teare right now in the 1500, and Hobbs Kessler (who ran 3:48 indoors but DNF’d today) is as well based on recent race results. Only three men make the Olympic team, which means Teare only has a month to up his game before the Trials.

Hobbs Kessler (DNF)

Kessler briefly lost his balance after tangling with Hocker on the back straight of the second lap and wound up getting bumped onto the infield. Though Kessler did not fall and could have stepped back on the track (he was not seriously hurt), he stopped racing then and there. It was a bad reaction to adversity — hesitate for a moment at this level of racing and you’re done — but the good news for Kessler is that it came today rather than at the Olympic Trials or Olympics.

1500m Discussion: Josh MF Kerr 3:45.34!!
*Jakob post-race: “I think I’m going to win both [1500m and 5000m] in Paris, BUT I really need a flawless next 2 months” 246 views

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