Fast or slow, it's good to have money!⏱
Lap 49: Sponsored by UCAN
When you're trying to beat your personal best, roller coaster blood sugar levels won't cut it. Traditional sports nutrition falls short, delivering a quick burst of energy followed by a crash. Want to learn more about how an Olympian and 2:23 marathoner uses UCAN in her training and racing? We spoke with Emily Sisson to find out — enjoy our brief conversation:
Q: For us non-elite marathoners, how big of a role does nutrition and fueling play in making what you do possible?
It’s so important. When you are running as many miles and putting as much stress on your body as I am, how you fuel and with what really matters — that’s your energy source. There’s a lot of thought that goes into it before a marathon, but also for training and long runs. I used to suffer from stomach issues when I first started trying to take in gels and bottles — it was a struggle.
Q: How are you using UCAN products now?
Before working with UCAN, I said that I wouldn’t recommend something if I am not going to use it myself. Needless to say, in addition to the necessary energy UCAN provides, it really sits well, so now I’m proud to say I’m a loyal ambassador. I don’t just use it while racing and on long run days. It’s equally as important for me to get protein and carbs right away for recovery after workouts. I used to have to force drinks down, but not anymore.
Q: Was learning to fuel properly during a marathon a big adjustment compared to racing shorter distances in college?
That was definitely the hardest part of transitioning to marathon training because I underestimated the importance of it. The longer I went, the more important gels and drinks became, and that’s why when I first started out in the marathon I was having issues. If you don’t fuel well, it catches up to you later in the race and you’ll bonk way harder. It took some time to really learn that you’re taking nutrition in the beginning, in order to help you at the end of the race so you can avoid hitting the wall.
Q: How has training been going and what’s next for you on the schedule?
It has been going well now! I had a big injury going into and coming out of Tokyo and it took a while to get back to normal training. There were over four months where I was limiting runs and not doing any real workouts. The struggle coming back initially was that I lacked the consistency that comes with strength. I actually found the track stuff came back first, things like 1k repeats or 1200s were clicking before the 8 mile tempos did.
I wasn’t planning on ever going back to racing on the track, but when I didn’t make the marathon team my plans changed. I may still hop on the track again this outdoor season — I like how the 10000m has its own event apart from the rest of the championships — but next on the schedule is the Gate River Run 15k then the Cooper River Bridge Run.
Try out UCAN for yourself and save 25% with code LAPCOUNT at checkout!
THE SPAIN PAIN TRAIN 🇪🇸
When international runners brag to their friends about a business trip to New York City for the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, they probably don’t mention that the meet hotel is at the Newark Airport or that the race is on the far side of Staten Island. However, there are skyline views on the ride in, the natural light is great for pictures, and there is a fancy hydraulic banked track. For sure, there was a nice crowd on hand considering the infrastructure limitations of being in a subway desert, but you can’t deny that Millrose is a tough act to follow. This meet — which used to take place in Boston’s Reggie Lewis Center — will be returning to Beantown next year, except inside a new home at New Balance’s the TRACK.
The storyline of the meet was that Team USA did not protect an event group’s portion of home soil, as they walked away zero for six in the distance events. Don’t look now, but Spain is reemerging as a top tier home of middle distance running talent. Compared to the relatively conservative approach of most American-based clubs, the Spaniards race constantly across all distances and surfaces. This is part cultural and part financial — if shoe contracts aren’t as lucrative in comparison to what the American athletes get then prize money becomes a much greater source of motivation.
It all started in the women’s 1500m where the pace lagged early with an opening 800m of 2:21. But with a lap to go, Spain’s Esther Guerrero — who holds a personal best of 4:02 (and lined up in 26 races last year) — took control of the race and closed in 61.1 to win in 4:11.87. While this race was not fast enough to be etched into the history books, it was still a ton of fun watching it unfold — never let time be the determinant of what constitutes good track and field!
Before the 800m, the man to watch was Bryce Hoppel, who had cruised to Millrose victory last weekend. The boy to watch was Will Sumner, who already set high school national records in the 500m and 600m this season. He has a realistic chance of going under 1:47.67 to snag the 800m record, too.
But alas, the race went out in a fair 52-mid with Hoppel trailing off the rabbit, but winding it up after the pacesetter stepped off. Then with 150m to go, three time Spanish champion Mariano García might as well have screamed “move over, Pete Davidson, I’m the king of Staten Island now” (did anybody actually watch that movie?), because he stormed to the front and won in a personal best, world lead, and national record of 1:45.12. Not a bad accolade trifecta!
Just a few seconds behind was Sumner, who finished in 1:48.14, a three-second personal best. In the post-race interview he shared that he approaches the distance as a sprinter and the longest run he’s ever gone on is four miles — must be nice!
There is no better example of fitness being fitness than Adel Mechaal. Since November, the 5th place finisher from the Olympic 1500m final has competed in eight cross country races, a road 10k, and two indoor 3000m races. After an opening 1600 of 4:05 and with no pacer left to help, Mechaal started clicking off sub-30 second laps like clockwork. With his signature gritty running style, it looked like he was tying up, but the splits kept getting faster. He ultimately closed the last 1600 in 3:56 to run 7:30.82. That’s a new European record and he won the race by seven seconds!
After the race Mechaal admitted that the recent explosion by his fellow countryman Mohammed Katir has him as motivated as ever. Add in the likes of Olympic finalists Ignacio Fontes or Adrían Ben and Spain may quietly have the best Distance Medley Relay in the world — @USA @Norway @Kenya.
In non-Spanish news, Ireland’s Andrew Coscoran chased down the aggressively front-running Colby Alexander to take the mile in 3:53.64 PB. The women’s 800 went to Jamaica’s Natoya Goule in 1:59.62, a world leading time! And the women’s 3000m was all Gabriela Debues-Stafford, whose 29 second last 200 propelled her to an 8:33.92 Canadian national record. What does all this say about America’s reign as a global superpower?
Dr Sander Invitational
The magic of the Armory has been on full display once again this indoor season. And after several years of limited action, that magic was sorely missed. But had it not been for the man memorialized in this past weekend’s invitational, Dr. Norbert Sander, the Armory might have held its final meet back in 1985.
The story of one of the most influential men in New York running history began with his victory at the 1974 New York City Marathon, a race in which he overtook the legendary Bill Rodgers in the closing miles. In addition to working a career in sports medicine, Sander took it upon himself to lead the revitalization project of the Armory in 1992. After successfully raising $25 million to breathe new life into the facility that is synonymous with American indoor track & field today, Dr. Sander created the Armory Foundation. The non-profit now hosts 100+ track meets, houses the T&F Hall of Fame, and most crucially, offers a variety of academic programs for under-resourced local kids to aim towards graduation and college preparation.
[Editor’s note: I wrote a short history of the Armory for Citius Mag about five years ago. Even if it’s at times confusingly worded and/or poorly conceived it might give you a decent sense of how dire things were for the Armory — and the city — back in the 1970s and 80s.]
Welcome to the club ♣️
On Saturday at the Dr. Sander Invitational, Newbury Park High School’s Colin Sahlman ran to win against a field of seasoned professionals, and in the process entered the exclusive club of high schoolers who have broken four minutes in the mile. It’s one thing to do it in a time trial or while hanging on from the back of the pack, but if we are going to analyze young talent on a more holistic scale, then the ability to navigate through a field and be competitive is worth infinite style points.
The Northern Arizona University commit ran with maturity, staying engaged, and gradually moving up before unleashing a final lap in 27.7 to pull away from the field. Is anyone still doubting the legitimacy of his 14:03 5k XC race?
But Colin wasn’t the only athlete from Newbury Park with a big performance this weekend, leading their coach, Sean Brosnan, to speculate that he may have three more athletes who are capable as well. That same day in the 3000m, the team had juniors Lex Young and Aaron Sahlman go 7:57 and 8:01 respectively. Missing from the lineup was Leo Young, who was out due to a minor injury.
Critics of powerhouse high school programs love to point to the burnout rate of athletes. And it’s always worth taking a deep breath when analyzing record-breaking prep performances. Running a competitive collegiate time a couple years early may increase the likelihood of future success, but there is no guarantee that it will translate to being the best in the world. Still, if last month’s fracas over Nico Young’s altitude-converted mile time is any indication, it would seem that Newbury Park athletes can at least transition well to college!
After listening to Brosnan speak, there are a lot of parallels you could draw from his experience as an athlete to that of Steve Magness. Whereas Magness learned from his success and mistakes as a high school miler who ran 4:01, but never dipped below, Brosnan was on the precipice of breaking 4:00 all the way up to his years as a Masters runner.
After the Millrose Games I joked with Dathan Ritzenhein about the fact that he is now being introduced for his accomplishments as a coach, rather than as an athlete. But shouldn’t that be the goal of every coach? To help others reach places you’ve personally never been? If only we could all channel our disappointments and redirect them to help guide the next generation then the world would be a better place! Instead we have “fans” criticizing 18-year-old Hobbs Kessler for not running a big enough personal best this weekend. This sport sometimes…
Do you have an interest in supporting elite athletes? Then you have to subscribe to our Friday morning premium newsletter where this week we’ll be speaking with 2:24 marathoner, Emma Bates. Thanks to the support of UCAN, this conversation will be made available for everyone. But please sign up to receive a new athlete interview in your inbox every week to support this initiative which has now raised $17,500 with all proceeds going towards those whose stories we share.
Camel City Elite 🐫
In what is surely one of the last remaining track meets named for a tobacco conglomerate, the Camel City Elite races took place this weekend at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem. At a time when professional athletes have forgotten the meaning and value of good ol’ fashion racing, one force maintains its gravitational pull away from time trialing — money!
Besides, just because a track is flat doesn’t mean you can’t still run fast on it. Facility records include a 1:45 from Clayton Murphy, a 3:53 from Ed Cheserek, a 1:59 from Ajee Wilson, and a 4:22 from Shannon Rowbury. The meet is known for taking great care of athletes, both in terms of the celebrity treatment while there, but even more importantly, with prize money and appearance fees. From a professional’s perspective, it’s even competitive to get into the meet in order to have the right to bid for the purse. With a large number of spots on the line reserved for college athletes, there are only a handful of athletes eligible to win money from the get go.
Team Great Britain had a good day with Sam Atkin (7:46) and Charlie Grice (3:57) winning the 3000m and mile. In the 800 it was Mexico’s Tonatiú López (1:47) and Ajeé Wilson (2:01) securing their bags.
But the big winner this year was the former local college star, Elly Henes, who took home $13,000 by winning the 3000m (8:57.83) and mile (4:38.66) double with less than an hour to spare between. Since this was Henes’s first big career prize money payday, let me put out some unsolicited advice: don’t buy a jet-ski. After agent fees and taxes that’s not even enough for that nice of a jet-ski. Instead, open up a SEP IRA and when you’re 59.5 there will be enough money in there for a fleet of jet-skis.
(Check out the history of the meet to learn more about how the track and facility came about. It’s always encouraging to watch good people change the sport for the better rather than just complaining about it.)
LIVE on PPV - Lilac Grand Prix 🟣
How much is watching one night of top-tier track worth? That’s the big question that the Union Athletics Club and the good folks over at Tracklandia are trying to figure out. On Friday night, many fans and athletes will get their first glimpse of the new indoor facility in Spokane, Washington, that will host the USATF Indoor Championships later this month. This meet is unique in its approach to presenting the sport as it continues the experiment of utilizing the contributions from pay-per-view sign-ups to fund meet overhead and athlete prize money. To give The Lap Count readers a preview of the action, I reached out to coach Pete Julian, who told us a bit more about his team’s decision to host the Lilac Grand Prix.
What’s the origin story of the Lilac Grand Prix and what was the motivation behind starting a new meet like this?
Pete Julian: It actually started during the pandemic races with The Big Friendly when there were no opportunities to race anywhere. I think when we did that in Portland with Jeff Merrill and Tracklandia, it may have been the very first world class type track meet to return. No one even wanted to put on an event at that time. They were knocking on doors looking for a track to host and when we put on an hour long meet and had a ton of fun, we realized that, ‘hey this little pop up thing could be the way to go!’
But we said it can't be manicured time trials because that doesn’t do anything for the sport. People love running fast and seeking out the fastest tracks and shoes to do it, but it doesn’t change anything except now we have more guys breaking four minutes. We really feel that head-to-head competition is worth promoting to reignite things. Fans want to see good racing and even the knowledgeable ones don’t always understand the splits/times/records. But they love to see our best athletes racing for the pride of team or country. They get excited about it! That's why the Olympic Trials and Games are so popular — you don’t even know the times of the winners because they’re racing and place is everything.
Why should fans care about a meet like this that doesn’t have a prestigious history behind it, especially if it’s all about winning?
PJ: You can do both things where Donavan Brazier is going for the 600m world record, but he also has to beat Isaiah Harris in the process. Only one guy will get the record and that’s important for us because we don’t want to set up time trial races. And something like Engels vs. Kerr in an 800 is an easy story to tell.
It’s fun to say, ‘come because you’ll see stars competing, but a world record might even fall too.’ It’s not mutually exclusive. But what happens with the Diamond League is you look at the pace charts and they’re these ridiculous times — we aren’t even racing here! Even in the US meets you’ve got 3:33 1500m guys asking to come through in 1:51 – and it’s simply just ruining the race because meet directors are drinking the kool-aid of just wanting fast times but completely forgetting about the actual race and what makes it exciting. Maybe it’s cool to see once every now and then, but when it’s meet after meet, event after event, and all you see is one athlete out there chasing the clock and failing to meet the mark 99 times out of 100, you have to wonder if this is the way to go. Why even have anyone else out there? I have become passionate about it. I want to see racing against people who aren’t teammates. We want to see someone win vs. good competition and break the record. Place first. Time second.
I have some of the best athletes at Diamond League meets and I see women’s 5K paces set at 8:20 for 3K, but why? So one athlete is way out there and then they die and the race is completely ruined for everyone? You just killed the meet! I don’t think that's what people want to see. And that’s why the stadiums are less full every year, so let’s rethink it. These gimmicks out there like pacing lights are like drinking through a poison chalice. That’s why we love cross country meets like NCAAs, because the time doesn’t matter.
It looks like the Union Athletic Club has really stepped up the content creation game this year. Was that a conscious decision?
PJ: It’s no secret where I came from and the genesis of where our group started. With the Oregon Project we weren’t transparent enough. With Union, we can do a better job with it.
Starting this team now, my athletes aren’t going to share their workouts on Strava. We have pride in what we do and that’s proprietary stuff. But we do want to show who we are, our personalities and that we are real people who have emotions. We cry and laugh and we aren’t just robots out there. I think that helps people care.
The team has a pretty young roster with a lot of fresh faces on it. How do you go about putting a group like this together?
PJ: I am going after fast. The objective of the team is to be the best team in the world and there’s no bones about it. When we walk into the stadium we want people to know UAC is here and there will be fire. We aren’t there yet, but we hope to be. We are going after the best kids though there’s also the chemistry piece. I don’t want an athlete that's only consumed by social. The packaging can’t be better than the candy bar. There needs to be substance to that athlete and their potential to win medals. At the same time we want to inspire other athletes, kids and fans. I wouldn’t want someone who is just super fast and then recluse. Is that really helping the sport or not?
If fans aren’t familiar with the concept, could you explain the pay-per-view model a bit and why you decided to stream it this way?
PJ: The prize money is atrocious everywhere you go, even at the biggest meets. It’s embarrassing and comical. We gotta button it up! The biggest athletes get paid relatively well from their sponsors. And we need to reach out to the up and comers, but we have gotta get the prize purses up to scale. It’s never going to be golf, but it’ll help generate more fan interest and athlete involvement — all boats will rise with bigger prize purses. We have to fix that, but how do we do that?
It starts with us saying we aren’t taking anything. We’ll cover our bottom line and pay for filming it, timing and maybe pizza for the officials, but then every penny goes to the prize purse. When you pay $8 to watch it you should feel good knowing the majority of that is going right into the pocket of the athletes you like to watch.
Winning $800 at a Diamond League for 7th place – it’s like don’t even give the money – it’s embarrassing to list that on your website because you don’t value the athletes. We need the shoe companies to stop funding the whole sport and it can start with this. We don’t agree with Donavan going to run a race and not getting any part of that revenue. And it’s even worse that his mother is paying to watch the race — that’s ridiculous. Why should he even run it now? Why compete in any race where someone else is making money off of it because no other sport would do that. There needs to be some sort of revenue sharing and this is our way of saying the talent gets paid. As a former athlete I think this is an opportunity to change the model.
I know $8 is a lot of money for a high school kid filling up his car, but Hayward Magic is paying up to 4000 kids to watch it for free online. In person it’s $15 to get in or $5 if you’re under 18. At that price you can take the whole family to watch world class track!
And it’s important to note that our team is doing this for free in the beginning because they believe in the model too. They’re investing in this themselves because they want to see it grow. And maybe in a year when we have 50 thousand people watching this thing then we can start doing real appearance fees.
Black History Month: Marilyn Bevans
In 1975, Baltimore’s Marilyn Bevans became the first African American woman to win a marathon, running 3:04:32 to take the win at the George Washington’s Birthday Marathon. Then in 1977, she finished second to be the first African American woman to podium at the Boston Marathon with a time of 2:51:12.
Through her prowess over 26.2, Bevans helped carve a path for Black marathoners to gain foothold in the predominantly white marathon scene. She trained with the Baltimore Road Runners, which at the time was exclusively made up of white men. Bevans competed in more than 25 marathons during her career, and still runs and serves as an ambassador of the sport today, even now at the age of 72.
The Undefeated published an excellent interview with her several years ago that’s absolutely worth reading. It’s incredible the matter-of-factness with which she recounts her personal running triumphs, as well as the hardships she faced and challenges she was forced to overcame due to bigotry.
Rapid Fire Highlights 🔥
Kara Goucher shared on Instagram some tragic news in regards to her health and future relationship with running, as she has been diagnosed with runner's dystonia. A heartbreaking diagnosis for any lifelong runner — our best wishes to her!
Chris Nilsen is following up his Olympic silver medalist with more big jumps this indoor season as he set the American Record in the pole vault this weekend at 6.02m in France. It was his first time joining the 6+ club , which is something only 25 men in history of done — for perspective that makes it harder than running below 9.90 for 100m.
Italy’s Olympic 100m Champion, Lamont Marcell Jacobs, opened up his season with a 60m victory in Berlin with a 6.51.
Raven Saunders has switched coaches and will now work under the guidance of Ashley Kovacs and alongside fellow silver medal shot putter, Joe Kovacs.
Due to health issues Gjert Ingebrigtsen has temporarily stepped away from coaching his three sons. While it’s not normally worth reporting when a 15 year old stops running track, Ingrid has made that decision.
Australia’s distance running power couple, Genevieve and Ryan Gregson announced that they’re expecting their first child.
OAC’s Sage Hurta and Atlanta Track Club’s Shane Streich won the Dr Sander Invitational 800m in 2:02.58 and 1:46.07.
American sprint star Ronnie Baker is taking his 9.83 speed to Adidas.
Poland’s Anna Kielbasinska set a national record and world lead running 51.10 in Ostrava.
Linden Hall, who finished 6th in the 1500m at the Tokyo Olympics, shared that her new sponsorship with Puma.
Continuing that theme, the American Track League has announced a major three year partnership with Puma worth “multiples of seven figures”. The first meet of the series takes place in Louisville on Saturday — it will be shown on ESPN 2 from 10am-12pm.
The BU Valentine Invitational is Friday (women) and Saturday (men) and will be streamed via Flotrack. Word on the street is the evening sections are being setup fast and will include the likes of Bowerman and ADP.
Katie Nageotte opened up about her struggle with motivation following her Olympic gold medal.
On Friday in Chicago, Cole Hocker and Cooper Teare will be attempting to break Bernard Lagat’s indoor American Record in the mile of 3:49.89.
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