I hope you're happy⏱
Lap 99: Sponsored by New Balance
The New Balance Indoor Grand Prix will be held on February 4, 2023 at the TRACK at New Balance, the brand new, state-of-the-art indoor track and field complex located across the street from New Balance's world headquarters in Brighton, Mass.
The meet will be shown live on NBC from 4pm to 6pm EST and will feature stars like Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, Jake Wightman, Trayvon Bromell, Gabby Thomas, Ciara Mageean, and more. And of course, CITIUS MAG will be there covering the event, including a LIVE post-meet show of After The Final Lap. We’ll be testing fans on how well they know their pace and giving away free pairs of FuelCell SC Elite v3 to those who do.
It’s time to really kick off the indoor season — see you at the TRACK!
USA Cross Country Championships 🇺🇸
The Team USA uniforms heading to the World Cross Country Championships finally have some bodies assigned to them. On Saturday at Pole Green Park in Virginia, six men and six women were rewarded for their valiant 10k efforts with a flight that will be long enough to make them all at least momentarily regret their qualification. The countdown to race day in Bathurst, Australia, on February 18th has begun and that should hopefully be enough time to sharpen up with some speed work and download the entirety of the Fast & Furious franchise to their smartphones.
First, let’s do the obligatory race breakdowns:
Winning in 28:44, Emmanuel Bor ran away from the field after two miles and while the pack closed down the gap, they couldn’t catch up to him.
Ednah Kurgat sat quietly in the front group until just before 8k, when she decisively broke things open and won by 17 seconds.
Now since that part is out of the way, I’d like to provide a bit more analysis and context as to why it is exciting for each of these individuals to have qualified for the team. With a lack of Bowerman and OAC participation, this was an opportunity for some fresh faces to step up and don Uncle Sam’s uniform at the most prestigious all-surface race in the world.
Here is why I am happy for each athlete to qualify for the World Cross Country Championships
Katie Izzo - The fact that three Golden Coast Track Club athletes made the team will make for a cohesive training group in the lead-up. But on a Katie-specific level, everything she accomplishes in her career will be a testament to her perseverance after her fibula and tibia snapped in the middle of the regionals cross country race in 2016. How do you not root for someone who after two years off has found a way to be better than ever before, with a metal rod in her leg?
Weini Kelati - Since making the decision not to get back on the plane to Eritrea after the 2014 World Junior Championships, she has consistently been one of the top runners in the US. Twice an NCAA Champion, Kelati became a citizen in 2021 but has narrowly missed out on making multiple teams since. Following her dominant USATF 5k title and Manchester Road Race victories in November, she would have been the favorite coming in. But in her post-race interview, Weini shared that she was dealing with an injury and hadn’t run all week. Although she finished fifth at the US Champs, it is fair to expect that Kelati will be towards the front of the pack her first time wearing the US uniform.
Emily Lipari - When an athlete has a great kick and wins NCAAs in the mile, they’ll likely be thought of as a middle-distance runner for the rest of their careers. But Emily was twice an NCAA XC All-American at Villanova, and has proven herself to be both resilient and adaptable. Seven months after undergoing surgery on her meniscus, Emily hit the Olympic standard in the 10,000m, running 31:24 last year. Now living in Hawaii – her husband in the Navy – she has found her way onto the first US team of her career. Hopefully Tim can borrow a submarine to go watch Emily in Australia.
Emily Durgin - During her time at UConn Emily only ever made the NCAA XC Championships once, finishing in 115th. Since then she has steadily improved to run 31:33 for 10,000m and 67:54 for the half marathon. But her debut in the marathon did not go as planned in New York and she made the difficult decision to drop out at 30k. I am sure there were many moments of doubt since the fall, but, there is nothing that shuts those voices up like a great redemptive race and a US team berth.
Makena Morley - We love to see high school standouts continue to improve through college and into their professional years! Growing up in Montana, Morley qualified for Footlocker all four years and won the U20 Great Edinburgh XC race. Although never a conference champion or the number one runner while on the team at Colorado, she was an 8x All-American, contributed to a team title, and graduated with the school record in the 10,000m. Now back in Montana, she is a prime example that if you just keep getting a little better every year that the field will narrow.
Ednah Kurgat - Originally from Kenya, the 2017 NCAA XC Champion joined the Army as part of the WCAP program following graduation and has had a consistent professional career since. As fast as her times are, personal bests of 15:14 and 31:21 aren’t quite enough to contend for global championship spots on the track these days. But since a fourth-place finish at the Falmouth Road Race, Kurgat has enjoyed an upwards trajectory, most notably finishing third at a competitive Cross Champs in Austin behind only Alicia Monson and Emily Infeld. Ednah was patient for much of this race and waited until the spot was secure before blasting things open with a 3:02 final 1k. She is very good, and feels the most at home on grass.
Dillon Maggard - He is back with the Brooks Beasts where his career started and what a wonderful new beginning it is. Dillon represented the US at the World Indoor Championships and told The Lap Count then, ‘this is why I continued training post-collegiately, you know? The goal is to make teams and compete at the highest level. And if I’m not doing that – at least in my opinion – I’m just wasting my time.’ I know this isn’t a political election or anything, but that’s the type of guy you’d want representing us.
Sam Chelanga - Somehow I have blinked and now the back-to-back NCAA XC Champion from Liberty University will be 38 years old next month. With a team that is made up of half US Soldiers, then they’ll appreciate the value of having veteran leadership heading to Bathurst. Sam was the top US finisher in Uganda back in 2017 when he placed 11th. And if the theme of this blog is why you should be happy for someone, spend just five minutes talking to Sam and you’ll have a friend forever.
Leonard Korir - We won’t be rooting for Lenny at Worlds as he is passing up his spot, but I appreciate his decision to run. While we’d love to have the 2:07 marathoner who has twice run this race (and finished 20th in 2017) on the team, a February race in Australia may not fit in with spring marathon plans. Better to have more top athletes showing up to contend for a US title than not.
Anthony Rotich - A four-time NCAA track champion at UTEP, Anthony won this race in 2020 during an off-year for global championships. There was a lull in his results for a few years after college as he worked towards his masters degree in engineering. But since gaining his citizenship in 2019, he won the USATF 5k Championships that same year and then was fifth in the steeplechase at this year’s USATF Champs. A few years ago, coach Scott Simmons claimed Rotich was talented enough to win medals on the world stage – is this his year?
Andrew Colley - No one has been through hell and back like this man. Scroll down below to read my interview with him this week to understand why.
Emmanuel Bor - If you watched the race then you should be excited because Emmanuel did not race conservatively to qualify – he was there to make a statement. Last indoor season he was in the fitness of his life, first running 13:00 at Boston University and then qualifying for the World Indoor Championships. But unfortunately, due to security concerns, the Army did not grant him leave to compete in Belgrade. Now Emmanuel is heading to Australia for another shot on the world stage and look how excited his daughter is about it!
*** 7. Reid Buchanan - With a pack of six men barreling along together with a quarter mile to go and only five spots up for grabs, every empath feels for the first one out. Fortunately, after being the first one off the team in 2019, Reid will finally get his shot following Korir withdrawal. Back in 2018 when I was getting my adductors surgically repaired, Reid was on the table next to me having basically the same thing done to him. And while I was never able to get back to the same level afterward, he was somehow able to do so and more. Sometimes I like to think he’s running for both of us!
U20 USA Cross Country Championships 📚✏️
It’s typically not easy for high schoolers to be competitive at the U20 USATF Cross Country Championships. Not only are they moving up in distance, they have to race the same athletes whose dorm room floors they’re sleeping on during their official visits. But apparently nobody gave NXN National Champion Irene Riggs, or the other four high schoolers who qualified, that memo. Making matters even more impressive, it’s been an awkwardly long time since the traditional prep XC season has ended. Here’s hoping the week long trip to Australia will be a much needed reprise from AP Chemistry.
We didn’t get to see a match-up at the conventional end of the season between Riggs and the Champs Sports winner Karrie Baloga, or runner-up Ellie Shea, and we sort of got that this past weekend, but nevertheless, they’ll all be teammates now! The US junior women have never medaled at World Cross Country – is it finally time? The only individual podium finish was a bronze for Melody Fairchild in 1991.
Following a disappointing finish at NXN, Leo Young bounced back in a big way to beat everyone with or without a high school diploma. He executed a strong late push after remaining super patient for most of the race. Afterwards he cited how nice it was not to have the expectation and pressure to be the one up front pushing. Lex Young was excited to finish 12th as he had been dealing with an injury and hadn’t run up until a week before.
If there was any question about whether or not the pair could make an immediate impact at Stanford next year, then this should answer it. Leo won the 8k race in 23:47, and if that extra three kilometers didn’t bother him then there is another ten months to add two more. Third place finisher Marco Langon was seven seconds back, and earlier this year placed 13th at the Big East Champs and 4th at the Mid-Atlantic Regional.
Unlike the women, the junior men won and placed a number of times in the 70s and 80s, but have been in a drought since 1982 – but part of that disparity is because women weren’t allowed to participate then. The last junior boy to medal was…
Working out with the OAC ☕️
…Dathan Ritzenhein, who even while mic’d up, is still looking fit!
I’ll say it from the start — Alicia Monson’s 4:26 is quicker than the men’s 3:57, and they all know that. It’s 12 seconds faster than she has run previously, but with a 3000m best of 8:26 it’s safe to say she’s been capable of this for a while.
That said, watching a line of men break four minutes in practice is a statement.
When Mac texted me the times from the workout he witnessed, I was impressed, but the competitor in me thought about when I ran 3:59 to help a teammate run a 5:00 2000m one day during practice, or the time I opened up a workout with a 2:50 1200m. I was trying to convince myself that I too could have ridden that train to a 3:57, back in my prime. But then it hit me – this squad is in Boulder, above 5,000 feet! Considering it’s a 1600 with the running start and an altitude conversion these efforts are worth roughly 4:23 and 3:54.
I love when athletes share their training – it’s fantastic content and fun to feel like you are on the journey with them. Professional runners are trying to perform at the highest level, but they’re also entertainers. With that said, I still regret making my running log public during my career. Once I began sharing every day, I never ran another personal best. But maybe I should have shared videos of a workout here and there… namely the two I mentioned in the previous paragraph…
When things aren’t going well, it often felt like there was this invisible and theoretical pressure to perform or make excuses, when the right thing to do is generally to back off. On the opposite end of the spectrum, though, when things are going well, you can put the fear of God into your competitors through this level of transparency.
OAC just did that.
Catching up with Andrew Colley
Ask anyone who has spent some time training with him, and they’ll tell you that Andrew Colley is a supreme talent. It’s impossible to spend a moment with anyone from North Carolina State or ZAP Endurance without them singing his praises. I had the opportunity to witness it first hand bumming around races together in Europe, and our teams often overlapped during training camps in Tallahassee. Through all the injuries, he’s remained consistent with one thing – he always bounces back. Most recently Colley proved himself once again, this time at the USA Cross Country Championships when he finished 2nd. Eight years later, with many bumps along the way, he’ll return to the world stage again
Well, I said in our preview that you were my dark horse to win, but taking second was pretty close! What was the goal coming into this weekend?
First off, thank you for still believing in me! The expectations were to compete for the win. I went into this weekend with the mindset that this is my team to make. I was very confident I could make it. Coach Pete [Rea] told me I wasn't allowed to take the lead or anything until the last kilometer and that was the rule. I was sitting in that pack fuming a bit because I really wanted to take off and try and catch Emmanuel [Bor], but I didn't. I haven't listened to Pete a few times this year and got in trouble each time so I decided to listen that day. I thought the pack would reel him in, but we waited way too long.
It's been a while since you made a team, but in 2015 you made the World XC team in China. Something I keep saying is you want to root for those who have been there before because it’s such a unique race. What is it about your experience that will serve you well going into 2023?
I think being on the team before, you get the nerves and all that stuff knocked out of the way. And so going into this I am thinking, ‘how can we as Team USA place as high as possible and knock off one of those favorite teams?’ So like, I guess it’s the change of mindset: instead of being like, ‘oh my gosh, I have to impress at this world event,’ instead it’s ‘how can we work together as a team so we can all do better?’ At the end of the day, that's what cross-country is about.
Was the decision to do cross country an easy one? It's a long trip and is potentially interrupting a marathon training cycle for the spring. Were you hesitant or was it circled on the calendar?
It was a tough decision at first because I was going back and forth between whether I was going to do the Houston Half or US XC. What it really came down to was the fact that my family is right down the road and I couldn't pass up an opportunity to be able to race in front of all of them. So as silly as that sounds, that was the key factor in choosing to do this one. And Pete said ‘if you make the team that we're going to do Worlds, but that as soon as you're on it, you're in a marathon build.’
Do you have a marathon planned right now?
As of now I am doing Rotterdam in April.
In your Instagram post afterwards, you highlighted that there were some dark times previously, but the light is shining a little brighter than normal right now. What was it like being with your family at such a high peak?
It was awesome. I grew up in Williamsburg, Virginia, which is like a 50 minute drive away from the course so my grandmother was able to come watch, and she hasn't seen me race since college. That was special. She used to come to all my cross country meets when I was growing up and was the kind of lady who knew everyone on the team's name and still does.My high school coach showed up and was one of the first people I saw. My cousin, best friends from childhood and others were there. I must have had like 25 to 30 people there from home. This woman who is like a second mom to me, who was my babysitter growing up was there. I like to entertain and I feel like they haven't gotten to see that side of me in a long time. And I like putting on a good show and they got to see how cool some of these running events actually are.
Where do we even begin in discussing your personal injury history? This could be a long conversation. Take me back to 2019 after you ran 2:12 at Grandmas. What's been going on since then?
That was the start of the most recent injury cycle. I actually trained through the rest of that year for the Trials. I may have tweaked something that fall, but it wasn't anything crazy. But at the Trials, I tore my post tib. So immediately after that there was six months of nothing. That was at the start of the pandemic and I was on crutches not doing anything. When I was able to get back into it I kept having this nagging hip pain in 2021 and it was on-and-off for about a year.
In the spring of 2022 I had to drop out of Boston because of a heart issue that was maybe from bad fueling. There were a couple of weeks where we were figuring out what was going on with my heart and once we got an okay from a doctor, I went for a 24-miler because the thought was since I didn’t run all of Boston we should go to Grandmas and see what happens. That’s when I tore my labrum.
I met with a bunch of PTs like George Alex, John Ball, Abby Douek at Run Raleigh. We started from the ground floor again. The plan was to fully rebuild me and that was a great plan as it led me into this fall and early winter.
Is there an underlying issue that has caused everything these last 10+ years or have you just been extremely unlucky and caught in the injury cycle?
I don't think it's me being unlucky – maybe there's a little of that in there? But the biggest thing I learned is that my ego was getting in the way and there would be days when my body felt terrible and I was stubborn and thought that I needed to be working harder than everyone else.
And that's what kept getting me hurt. For me – and it sounds backwards – working hard is easy. So it was about letting go of that ego and accepting that I had to start backing off… basically sandbagging.
The alternative was getting hurt. And that's how Coach and I approached this fall – we're going out there to hit singles every day. And we're not above bunting if that’s what gets us on. I haven't done any workouts that would impress anyone, but we are making sure that I'm staying healthy to take my base. I don’t have to prove to myself that I'm working harder than everyone else anymore
I guess that’s the benefit of competing in your thirties. You have some wisdom now.
You kind of have to. I hear other stories about athletes who were the hardest workers, but could just never stay healthy. And yeah, but if you're the hardest worker and working hard is easy for you, then you're not actually working that hard. Because if working easy is hard to do, that would actually be working hard. Does that make sense?
I understand. But I don't know if teenagers or football coaches reading this would.
It's tough. But you have to just trust that it is worth sacrificing knocking it out of the park on any given day for being ready to achieve the end goal.
You had a great first race of this cycle at the US 10 Mile Champs!
That was coming off of base training.
So if you're hitting singles in base training and you've been injured for the previous two years, how do you come out and run 46 minutes for 10 miles? Like, how dare you think it's a good idea to go out and run 4:30s with the lead back! Where does that confidence come from?
I don't know what it is, but I have always believed that I can compete with anyone and it's really fun to do so. I've been forced to hold myself back every day and feel like a caged dog, but come race day, the door's open. Like, I'm just thrashing at the door, waiting for you to open it, you know?
And so when the gun goes off that is how I get – I am just going to go. I was able to hold on for a while, but it was a learning experience because obviously I didn't stay with those guys. They they ran like 40 seconds faster than me, but I feel like I stayed with them for a good amount of time compared to others. I feel like Peter Pan sometimes – there's the young kid with a dream and I don't know what reality is so I just go for it.
What about in those down times? You're Peter Pan when you're racing, but what about when you're injured for six months and you don't know when you're going to be able to run again? How do you mentally handle that and for those in a similar situation how should they handle it?
Those two are different. How I handled it and how I should handle it are completely different, but it's getting closer. To be honest, I'm so miserable when I'm hurt – it's tough. You think that to be the best in the world then you always have to be 100% all-in on that one thing you're doing. But having something else to do that’s not running helps.
And what’s that for you?
It's kind of weird, but since I'm in the mountains and we're in a temperate rainforest I got into foraging. I just started cooking and making things, like I didn't buy mushrooms for a full year because I foraged 15 pounds of them. Just going out in the woods and enjoying myself or hanging with friends.
I got involved with a youth running program in town with Abbey Cooper that I helped coach. And being around second graders who don't care about your running helps. They're just out there running through the woods for fun. There are some tough feelings and it's different for everyone, but there's no easy way through. It's just keeping the faith and knowing there's a light at the end of the tunnel and distracting yourself mentally until you get there.
What about having your partner on the same team? Tristin (Van Ord) just ran incredibly well in Houston with that 2:27 – I am sure she has seen those low points.
That has been nice, just being part of her journey. I get to celebrate her successes and watch it unfold – it really does help. She is really, really positive, and always joking around. So it's impossible for us to not be hysterically laughing at some point most days. So that makes it a lot easier to be hurt when you're still having a good time together. She really did help me a lot through those years. And Tristin’s success is a testament to listening to her body and so I learn from what she does. That and always having a positive attitude are two important elements to being able to realize your potential.
Do you feel like if you just had two years healthy that you’d be running 2:05 or something?
I seriously do. I have not had more than a year yet. In my first marathon I averaged 66 miles a week and ran 2:15. And then I finally got some miles in for Grandma's – before super shoes were a thing – and ran 2:12. And I fueled with sweet tea, which is the most bush league move possible! I like sweet tea! A very North Carolina thing, but I was dying the last two miles and won’t be doing that again. If I can put together a year of good training and stay healthy then I have no idea what I could do because I haven't seen it yet. And that's one of the most exciting things for me. I feel like I'm still in my freshman pro year because I haven't figured anything out until recently.
I love it. What are your personal goals for World Cross Country and then Rotterdam?
I really want to mix it up with the guys up front and throw down with some of the Kenyans and Ethiopians up there and just see what happens. I want to run with some of the best people in the world and see how I fare – obviously without dying and being a huge detriment to my team. I want to see what I am worth. I'd say my goal is to be in the top 25, though it’s hard to say until you know the whole field.
And then for Rotterdam, I want to run sub-2:09 and see how far under I can be. And from what Pete has been saying, it sounds like 2:07 to 2:09 might be a C+ effort.
It's probably beneficial having the same coach for so long who knows you so well at this point. It must be eight years by now?
It's definitely been a crazy ride. And the fact that he has stuck by me when I was completely useless to the club and couldn’t get to the starting line means a lot. Most people would have been dropped in my situation. I owe a lot to them and it speaks to their character – they’re just great people. He understands me and has sacrificed his ego as well to ask what we were doing wrong and how we could be better.
Are you officially no longer with On?
Our contract was over at the end of the year. It was kind of up in the air if we’d be renewed so we entered the meet under that affiliation and we tried to change it, but USATF didn’t let us.
So you and ZAP Endurance are without a shoe sponsor at the moment?
I'm not with any sponsor. It should be on my Instagram: just like “Sponsor?” and maybe link to that meme –
“Investors? Possibly you!”
Ha! Or Cuba Gooding Jr. saying, ‘Show me the money!’
Rapid Fire Highlights 🔥
Long-time announcer, IAAF Senior Vice President, USATF board member, and former Columbia Lion, Bob Hersh passed away at 82 years old.
Molly Seidel shared during an episode of Ali on the Run that her next full will be the Nagoya Marathon in Japan. Personally, I love this move for her as she’ll be able to race with significantly less pressure and hype vs. her last time out in Boston.
Nikki Hiltz ran an impressive 4:32 mile in Flagstaff, which with the altitude conversion is worth about 4:22 at sea level.
Innes FitzGerald, the very talented 16-year-old from the UK, has declined the opportunity to race at the Junior World Cross Country Championships because of the environmental impact of flying to Australia. She notably took the train from her home in Exeter to Turin, Italy, to compete at the European Championships. Running as a mode of transportation may be carbon neutral, but planes are not, unfortunately.
Speaking of planes, Sha’Carri Richardson was removed from an American Airlines flight following a disagreement with a flight attendant regarding her phone being on airplane mode. She shared the saga on her Instagram.
Tibo De Smet ran the world leading 800m mark of 1:45.04 to set the Belgian national record. He is getting faster very quickly!
Belarus’ head coach Yury Maisevich was charged by the Athletics Integrity Unit following the controversy from the 2022 World Championships, where he forced Krystsina Tsimanouskaya out of the Olympics.
Janeah Stewart tied Gwen Berry’s 25.60m world record toss in the weight throw.
Amos Bartelsmeyer has announced that he is no longer with the Bowerman Track Club. No official word of where he is heading yet.
Australian 800m runner, Peter Bol, who finished fourth at the Olympics, has tested positive for synthetic EPO in an out-of-competition test from October.
Following an open letter from Fiona English, the BAA has updated their policy regarding deferrals for pregnant and postpartum women. Now Chicago is making similar revisions.
Cameron Myers ran 3:40.6 to set a new U18 Australian record as a 16 year old, running a six second personal best and beating Ryan Gregson’s previous mark by three seconds. To make it even more impressive, he won the race comfortably.
Jackson Heidesh of Missouri ran 8:42.60 for the fourth fastest indoor 2-mile in high school history. He’ll be at Duke next fall.
Nyckoles Harbour’s highlight reel continues to get longer as he clocked a HS US#1 6.66 for 60m. Still no word where he’ll be doing the track/football double next year.
Texas’ Julien Alfred broke her own NCAA 60m record, going 7.02.
Masai Russell of Kentucky set a new NCAA 60mH record of 7.75.
The American Track League’s Hawkeye Classic was highlighted by a tight 1000 won by Clayton Murphy in 2:20.7, a new 60mH PB of 7.84 for Alaysha Johnson, and an impressive 400mH of 48.88 by CJ Allen to set a new American record.
Ruth Chepngetich won a rare double cross country victory at the Kenyan Prison meet, winning the 10k event and then coming back soon after to win the mixed relay.
Eritrea’s Rahel Daniel won another World Tour Gold meet, this time in Belgium at the Cross Cup in Belgium. France’s Yann Schrub, who was 7th at European XC, won the men’s race.
Former many time All-American at Michigan turned medical student Erin Finn started Out of the RED-S as a resource for runners. I highly recommend any young athletes, coaches, or parents of athletes check it out.
It was a crazy tight finish as Meseret Belete came back to win in 2:20:46 by just one second at the Doha Marathon. Mohcin Outalha won the men’s race in 2:06:49.
Someone from World Athletics asked me to share their new content creator program which I am happy to as I am about to apply for my official credential for Budapest. Maybe I’ll do this instead?
Checkout another thoughtful blog from CITIUS MAG’s Gary Martin about his first collegiate track race.
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK 📺
Lilac Grand Prix - 6pm PT, 1/27 - Free Stream - Ft. Cole Hocker, Sinclaire Johnson, Clayton Murphy, Eleanor Fulton, Isaiah Harris
Dr Sander Invitational - 1/27 to 1/28 (Schedule) - Streaming on RunnerSpace - Ft. Sage Hurta-Klecker, Katelyn Tuohy, Alicia Monson, Drew Hunter, Eric Holt
BU Terrier Classic - 1/27 to 1/28 (Schedule) - Streaming on Flotrack - Ft. OAC, Very Nice Track Club, Luis Grijalva, Annie Rodenfels,
Razorback Invitational - 1/27 to 1/28 (Schedule) - SEC Network+ - Ft. Fast DMRs, Britton Wilson (800), Stanford, Oklahoma State
Thank you to New Balance for sponsoring this week’s newsletter! If you have not been to the TRACK yet, then the time is now. If you have ever told someone where you live by using Boston as the reference point then you should be there.