Is this running journalism? ⏱
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THE Bowerman 👑
If the prestige of an award is measured by how much it weighs then The Bowerman is worth 35 pounds of bragging rights. The honor has only been around since 2009, which doesn’t give it quite the same historical heft as, say, the Heisman Trophy, but they’re handing out two B-mans a year to make up for lost time.
It’s good to have things like this to debate and argue about during the off-season, although I’d imagine Athing Mu winning was a unanimous decision. Although she was “only” runner-up at NCAA Indoors in the 400, she split 49.5 to anchor a winning 4x400 team and set collegiate records in the 600 and 800. Then outdoors she set NCAA records in the 400 and 800 and won the NCAA title at 400. Although performances outside of the NCAA season do not count toward Bowerman consideration, it’s hard to imagine voters were unmoved by her eventual Olympic gold medal.
On the men’s side there was probably more of a discussion, but ultimately LSU’s JuVaughn Harrison won the award. Let me just say: not a bad choice! He captured four NCAA titles this year in the high and long jump and always made for electric entertainment. When you consider how competitive and deep the college ranks were last year, his dominance really stands out. It was a long season by the time the Olympics came around, but with the focus of a professional’s schedule there should be some more hardware coming his way in the near future.
Surely there are a few people out there who would have voted for Cole Hocker, given his performances in 2021. He won both the mile and 3000 indoors, and then outdoors, he captured the 1500 crown. With less than two hours to recover, he finished 4th in the 5000 in 13:18. It’s very hard for a distance runner to win the Bowerman without the inclusion of cross country and the meet schedule doesn’t lend any favors. Sure, it’s been done a few times (Galen Rupp, Cam Levins, and Jenny Simpson, back when she was Jenny Barringer), but even Ed Cheserek — the winningest athlete in NCAA history with 17 titles — didn’t get his due. Maybe the prestige of this award ain’t all it’s cracked up to be!
That’s a little better! 💎
Last year’s experiment narrowed the field down to three athletes in the 6th round of the event and wiped the board clean, which, in my opinion, stunk. What resulted from this ‘final three’ format was that the best performance of the day was not always rewarded with victory because that sort of thing doesn’t always come in the last round. Unlike the steeplechase, there is good reason to give athletes multiple attempts to post their best mark, and this rule failed to recognize that.
Hearts were in the right place, but the execution was poor. The idea was to create a more captivating story for fans by mounting pressure and attention on these final jumps/throws. All eyes and cameras were on these moments, but it came at much too great of a cost. As a result of the vocal displeasure from fans and athletes alike, a revolutionary idea has been put forth: whoever jumps or throws the furthest will win. Groundbreaking!
The difference now is that only the top three athletes in the field will get a 6th round, which according to some highly qualified individuals, doesn’t really make that much sense. And why are the best people jumping first? That seems less entertaining and punishes those who are winning. There’s still room for improvement when it comes to finding a balance between making Diamond League meets fair to athletes while creating plot lines that are easier to follow with so many events happening at once. And with that in mind…
Here’s a potentially bad idea from a distance runner that shouldn’t be replicated at any sort of legitimate championship, but seems like it’d be compelling:
All eight athletes get three jumps/throws
The bottom two get eliminated after the 3rd, 4th and 5th round
Only two athletes get a 6th jump, but best of the whole competition wins
Introducing the Union Athletics Club ⚽️
Just don’t try Googling the new group, because you’ll mostly just get search results back about Union College’s athletic department. And if you type UnionAthleticClub.com into your browser, you’ll get confused and think the team is building a new sports facility in North Carolina (although it looks like they’re going to have a nice indoor 300m track).
There hasn’t been any announcements behind the meaning of the team’s name, but it probably performed well in a focus group with individuals who were asked what shirt they’d most likely buy off the rack at a Nike outlet store. They’ll always be the Dragons to me!
With that said, the club has made some really strong additions to its roster over the past couple years (I’m particularly excited about the most recent that is the inclusion of Charlie Hunter, who will make a great training partner for Donavan Brazier) and has seemingly reestablished itself entirely apart from its more shadowy past. At this point, Pete Julian’s team is comprised of international and super likable talent who have actively chosen they want to run for him — and I’ll probably buy some merchandise.
Do you have an interested in supporting elite athletes? Subscribe to our Friday morning premium newsletter! This week we speak with Minnesota Distance Elite’s Dakotah Lindwurm who won the 2021 Grandma’s Marathon in 2:29:04 PB. This initiative has now raised over $15,300 with all proceeds going towards the athletes whose stories we share — come join us!
Interviewing Seb Coe 🎙
When I got the late night text from Chris that World Athletics reached out to join the Citius Mag Podcast, my only question was “can I be on it?” With the build-up to Eugene 2022 fully underway, the sport’s president sees the opportunity that exists in the United States leading into LA 2028. What better way to continue the PR tour than a stop talking to us? Although he understandably didn’t know who we were, I appreciate his communications team for making the suggestion and vouching for us. As the interview continued, he noticeably relaxed and the answers to questions gradually became less canned.
So what do you ask one of the greatest middle distance runners of all time and the most powerful figure in T&F? We went with stuff like:
Can you explain the ranking system?
Can we get XC and the DMR in the Olympics?
How fast could you have run in super shoes?
Are people happy with Eugene for a World Championships?
How do we better promote athletes?
Can we make it easier for new fans to watch the sport?
Overall, it seems like World Athletics has an idea of where the sport needs to go and that’s encouraging. But getting there is much more difficult. It seems like we won him over enough to get a second interview eventually, so assuming the hope is to eventually get a third interview — what would you ask?
Moving on from NAZ Elite ⛰
The circle of life continues! This time of year it’s not uncommon for news to break weekly about professional athletes changing groups, coaches and sponsors. Following the announcement of Scott Smith’s retirement last week came word that three more men would be leaving HOKA NAZ Elite: Sid Vaughn Jr, Scott Fauble and Rory Linkletter.
With rumors swirling around these departures, Coach Ben Rosario practiced what he preaches regarding transparency, and penned a thoughtful letter about the team’s roster update — it’s worth considering the impact if other groups acted similarly.
I reached out to Rory and Scott to learn more about their decision and future plans. Enjoy the short Q&As:
(Canadian Rory Linkletter was a 6x All-American at BYU and holds personal bests of 28:12/1:01:44/2:12:52. He joined the team in 2019.)
You went to NAZ Elite right after graduating, so your tenure has been relatively short. Why did you initially make that decision and how has your mindset shifted since? From an outsider's perspective it seemed like you were happy with the training environment.
Rory: I was always extremely happy and grateful to be a member of NAZ Elite. The people on the team are incredible and I will forever cherish my time with them. I was happy in every aspect aside from my own personal performance.
I joined NAZ Elite because I view them as the premier marathon group in the country. I knew I wanted to be a marathoner right away, and this seemed like an obvious destination given their success, specifically the recent (at the time) success of Scott Fauble in 2019 at the Boston Marathon. I felt over time that I got away from what made me successful in the past. I'm a big believer that an athlete knows their body best, and that's harder to stick to in a team environment such as NAZ.
After an understandably disappointing performance in Boston, you rallied back less than two months later to run a personal best at the California International Marathon? Did anything change during that time period which resulted in a more positive outcome?
Rory: I didn't train like a marathoner in the traditional NAZ way, I started doing faster workouts that were more geared toward 10k and Half Marathon pace. I felt like I responded really well to that, that's the stuff I enjoy most. I'm sure a lot of the residual strength from the Boston segment helped, but I really feel like it affirmed my belief in what was best for my body. I had total confidence in my fitness and abilities stepping to the line at CIM; something I hadn't had in a while.
Will you be remaining in Flagstaff in the near future or have you started to work with a new coach or sponsor?
Rory: I have fallen in love with Flagstaff, my wife and I bought a home earlier this year, so ideally I will stay here for the remainder of my career, barring the perfect opportunity of course. I have no sponsor at the moment, but I trust that if I perform how I know I can that won't last forever. As for coaching, I've decided to work with Ryan Hall. He doesn't have a formal group or sponsors backing his athletes but I believe in his philosophy and think he will suit my personality and talents quite well.
The decision to walk away from my contract is entirely to do with my desire to see how good I can be and nothing to do with anyone else’s actions, or any company’s actions. Ben, NAZ, and HOKA were incredibly supportive of me my entire time with them.
What lessons did you learn during your time on NAZ Elite that you are hoping to take with you moving forward into your career?
Rory: I learned that faith is everything. The reason why Steph Bruce, Kellyn Taylor, or Scott Smith have been so good for so long has been their ability to believe in themselves and the training. I found myself losing that a bit over the course of time and it took some really bad results for me to wake up and realize something had to change. That's not to say I never ran well while at NAZ. I have some races I'm extremely proud of while I was with the team. I just wasn't being true to the athlete I believe I am. I'm excited to get that piece back.
(Scott Fauble graduated from the University of Portland in 2015. He finished 4th at the 2016 Olympic Trials in the 10,000m and 12th at the 2020 Marathon Trials. Fauble’s best marathon came at Boston in 2019 when he ran 2:09:09 to finish 7th.)
It's been six years since you graduated from Portland and joined NAZ Elite. When was the first time you thought it might be time to consider exploring a new situation?
Scott: The first time I considered leaving NAZ Elite was after the most recent Boston. I felt like I had a good training block and then on race day I just didn't have the tools I needed to compete in the way I wanted to. And after talking to numerous people and really considering next steps I felt like, despite all the success that Ben and I had before, what I needed was a big change as opposed to tweaks in training.
As you explore new options for coaches and training groups, what sort of factors are you weighing most heavily? Is staying in Flagstaff a non-negotiable?
Scott: Due to some personal circumstances that aren't at all dramatic or interesting, I am going to stay in Flagstaff for the time being. That being said, I have started working with Joe Bosshard. We are currently working remotely but I plan on spending time in Colorado leading into big races in order to work more closely with Joe and soak up the team environment they have created there.
The NAZ Elite ethos is rooted in transparency and it seems like you’ve always been happy to participate in that. Will you continue to share the way you’ve always done, like writing Inside a Marathon, or will you go into the shadows?
Scott: I certainly do not plan on fading back into the shadows, only appearing at races. I will continue to post on social media and have an outward facing personality. I do see value in that and I do enjoy it to a point. I kind of doubt that there will be a formal project like another book anytime soon, but I still plan on being a person on the internet.
How do you view being 30 years old in this sport? Is the experience an advantage or do you miss the blissful ignorance of marathons past?
Scott: I think that there is an advantage to having experience and there is a maturity that can be helpful, particularly in terms of knowing how to be a professional. But there's also an advantage to being young and dumb and reckless and arrogant. I am trying to strike a balance between the two. I certainly think that in the last few years I might have lost a little bit of that sort of reckless "nothing matters — I am going to rip everyone's heads off" mentality and I am looking to re-cultivate that.
In your professional opinion, what can the United States do better to increase its depth at the sub-2:10 level?
Scott: If you're only interested in seeing more Americans with a 2:09 next to their name I think the answer is pretty simple — people should go to faster marathons. Most Americans run Boston, NYC, and Chicago because those races mean more to Americans, they make sense logistically and because they give Americans appearance fees. But, all of those races are slower, for a number of reasons, than your Berlins, Amsterdams, Rotterdams, Londons, Tokyos, etc. In Boston this year one guy in the whole race broke 2:10 because it was tactical and there was a headwind. Chicago had horrible weather. NYC was tactical and only 4 people broke 2:10. Look at The Marathon Project last year, 7 guys broke 2:10 because it was a good weather time-trial like what you find in Europe.
However, if you're interested in how Americans get better at the marathon, one mistake I think people make in their careers is to stay with the track too long. I think people often turn to the marathon when they can't run track anymore, and by that time it's too late. People should run their best events when they're in their prime. Take someone like Bumbalough who ran pretty good in the marathon — obviously there was potential there — but he didn't start running the marathon until his time on the track was pretty much over. If he had turned to the marathon earlier maybe he's a 2:09 guy, maybe he's a 2:08 guy. He spent his talent and finite amount of time on shorter stuff. Which is fine — anyone should be super proud to have a career like his — but younger kids should try to really be honest with themselves about what their best event is.
Rapid Fire Highlights 🔥
Here is a really cool behind-the-scenes look at Molly Seidel from the NYC Marathon. When we think about gaining access to athletes in things like a potential “Drive to Survive” type documentary, this shows the potential. (Watch and subscribe)
High schooler and Olympic Trials qualifier, Sophia Gorriaran displayed her range this weekend with a 3000/400 double going 9:55/55.4
The World Athletics Cross Country Tour continued in Venta de Baños, Spain, this weekend with Kenya’s Edinah Jebitok and Burundi’s Rodrigue Kwizera grabbing victories. This was a flat course, but they found a way to spice it up with some obstacles. (Video)
Only 12 elite athletes competed in the Taipei Marathon because of pandemic restrictions. Ethiopia’s Demeke Kasaw Biksegn (2:11:42) and Alemtsehay Asefa Kasegn (2:30:44) won the race.
Ryan Hall talked to CNN about his transformation from marathoner to weight lifter. (Article)
The Diamond League has added a stop in Shenzhen, China. (Article)
38 years after setting his lifetime best of 1:45.6, Scotland’s Paul Forbes broke the Men’s 65 indoor 800m record going 2:15.3.
As the rules surrounding DSD athletes continue to evolve, it’s important to remember that the individuals being discussed are real people and deserve to be treated with respect. Regardless of your stance, there is a way to have the conversation without dehumanizing athletes. I really enjoyed this article on Namibia’s Christine Mboma and hope it can serve as a reminder of that.
The Millrose Men’s 3000m field is absolutely loaded. (Field)
Unfortunately Tracksmith had to announce the cancellation of the Midnight Mile due to rising COVID cases in New York. Nick Willis will still attempt his 20th year of sub-4 minute miles, but without spectators. The event was planned in support of the Tracksmith Foundation — which is an important cause working to create opportunities across the sport. Thank you again to Tracksmith for sponsoring this week’s newsletter — stay safe out there readers!