The NYC recap I don't want to write⏱
Lap 88: Sponsored by Bandit Running
Bandit is a running apparel brand founded by members of the NYC Running Community in 2020. What started as socks and running accessories has grown into a full fledged running and lifestyle apparel assortment. Check out everything they have to offer here, and stay tuned for more product releases via the IG.
The New York City Marathon 🗽
With unseasonably warm conditions and loaded fields, the 51st running of the New York City Marathon was bound to feature some plot twists. Ahead of the race, if you were a gambling person, there were a few proven favorites to throw your money behind in the women’s field, like:
Gotytom Gebreslase (2:18:11), World Champion
Lonah Salpeter (2:17:45), World Bronze
Edna Kiplagat (2:19:50), 2x World, 2x Boston, 1x New York Champion
And that’s not even including the X-factor of multiple-time World Champion on the track and in cross country, Hellen Obiri, who many thought of as just as big a threat to challenge for the win as any more seasoned marathoner. But it turned out there was another marathon debutant in the field that was being overlooked – NCAA Champion and 10x All-American while at the University of Kansas, Sharon Lokedi.
As the lead pack came through the half in 72:18 and then proceeded up First Avenue, things were unfolding more or less as we would have expected. After letting the lead pack go through the tunnel of screaming fans in Manhattan, Lokedi found a way to close the gap in the Bronx and as the course veered back down south it was now a four-women race.
Flying parallel to Central Park with less than a mile to go, it became apparent Sharon’s mid-race patience had begun to pay off – she took to the front and started inching away. As the former Jayhawk ran through the finish line completely unbothered by the 73-degree temperatures, the clock read 2:23:23, less than a minute off the course record.
In addition to this being a tremendous win for Lokedi, this is by far the biggest performance ever in an Under Armour shoe. The brand, which is worth $3.4 billion, made a huge investment in running a few years ago, at a difficult moment to do so: right around when the space race between shoe companies really took off, thanks to new foams and plates. Do you know the last time an athlete won a World Marathon Major in a pair of non-Nike or non-Adidas shoes?
Take a second to think about it.
It was the 2018 Boston Marathon. Des Linden won in Brooks and Yuki Kawauchi won in Asics.
A more level playing field in terms of shoe tech is good for everyone. It creates more competition in bidding wars for athletes and drives up contract values. (Plus for the lay-person, it means more variety of racing shoes to choose from – not everyone’s foot is perfectly suited to a Nike last, after all.)
How many athletes likely settled for a smaller paycheck over the past four years so they could compete in the "best” shoes? According to Lokedi’s agent and the coach of Under Armour Dark Sky Distance, Stephen Haas, her shoes only received approval from World Athletics last week. But this right here is why sponsors pay good money for athletes – to validate their products.
Expect to see UA shoes toward the front of your local turkey trot this year.
Do you know how fast a 2:04 guy has to go out at the start of a race for the field to not try and cover the move? Well, according to a little experiment conducted by Daniel Do Nascimento this weekend, we found out.
After coming through 10k in 28:42 – world record pace – the Brazilian pressed on through halfway in a remarkable 1:01:22. For perspective, when course record holder Geoffrey Mutai ran 2:05:06 in 2011, he passed by that same split in 1:03:18… in near perfect weather and with company.
Do Nascimento’s lead of over two minutes held up surprisingly well despite a quick pit-stop in the porta-potty around mile 18. But following a short walk on the side of the course shortly after, he soon stopped and collapsed 21 miles in, just before he was about to get caught.
While there are some people who just go out hard and die because they don’t know their own abilities (guilty?), I sort of feel like Daniel is going to get it right one day soon. The 24-year-old is clearly loaded with talent and potential – he is the fastest non-African-born marathoner in history. At the very least, the attempt to run away with this thing has given him notoriety.
But the only thing better than the prospect of success in the future is celebrating success today. Although it would have made for a nice viral TikTok video had Evans Chebet stopped to help Do Nascimento and carry him for 5 miles, there was $100,000 on the line!
It wasn’t quite as effortless of a drive home as it was in Boston, as Shura Kitata never quit the chase, but Chebet would hold on to take victory by 13 seconds in 2:08:41. In doing so, Chebet became the first person since Geoffrey Mutai in 2011 to join the exclusive club of athletes who have won both New York and Boston in the same year. That short list includes Bill Rodgers (‘78 and ‘79), Alberto Salazar (‘82), Joseph Chebet (‘99) and Rodgers Rop (‘02) – but as far as I know, only Rop named one of his sons Boston.
So whose season would you rather have: Chebet winning the two most prestigious marathons in the world or Eliud Kipchoge breaking his own world record in Berlin and also producing the fifth fastest time ever in Tokyo? If you say Kipchoge that’s fine, just as long as you also promise to never say that “times don’t matter in cross-country.”
The top American man Scott Fauble signed with Nike just before coming in 9th place with a time of 2:13:35. In her strongest race since winning the 2020 Olympic Trials, HOKA NAZ Elite’s Aliphine Tuliamuk was the top American woman finishing 7th in 2:26:18.
The Texas Bandit 🦸♂️
For those unfamiliar, – the term “bandit” refers to when you jump into a race without registering for it. This is heavily frowned upon for many reasons within the running community and those caught are sometimes publicly shamed. Considering the extreme lengths to fill fields off qualifying times, lotteries, fundraising efforts, and expensive registration fees, it’s unfair that someone could just throw a fake number on and insert themselves into the field. That’s at least the sentiment at World Marathon Majors, but what about for high school state championships?
This wasn’t some Uncle Drew stunt (boo Kyrie Irving!). Sub-four minute miler Brendan Hebert, formerly of the University of Texas, must have been reminiscing about the good ol’ days and feeling nostalgic when the idea came to him to revisit the old stomping grounds in Round Rock, Texas. Despite graduating from high school in 2018, Hebert decided to lace up for the UIL Class 6A State Cross Country Championships to race a group of children.
Obviously, this is a peculiar move, and not easily explained by his excuse of just doing it for fun. However, if you told me he did it for a YouTube prank video then it would become infinitely more understandable. Of course, it would still be morally wrong and still very socially unacceptable, but it would at least demonstrate there was a reason, however unjustified.
Without a doubt, the funniest part is that he lost.
This does bring up a much more important concept, which is that of open and alumni races. If there is one thing this sport needs more of it is piggybacking off of already popular events. Oh, a lot of people like the New York City Marathon? Put the USATF 5K Champs on the day before!
Every high school and college championship meet should be held with a race open to those who competed in prior years. It’d be a great way to entice former athletes to stay connected with the event they once participated in. Also, it’s a healthy alternative for adults who want to relive the glory days without having blogs like this written about them.
In partnership with On
Hi readers — Olivier Bernhard here, Co-Founder of On. When I teamed up with my two friends to make the first On shoe, we had one goal: to revolutionize the sensation of running. A decade and dozens of dreams later, we’re on a mission to ignite the human spirit through movement; because we know we wouldn’t be where we are today without it.
We believe that running invented every big idea ever.
Ok maybe you disagree, but I am sure we could find a common ground in that running can help you find your flow state, that magical place where clarity of thought can maybe, just maybe spark some incredible ideas.
We’re just a bunch of runners over here at On, and we attribute our greatest innovations to ideas that sparked from the running flow state, aka runner’s high. As a reader of The Lap Count, I’m sure you know the feeling well.
Read more about the research that backs us up on this. And look out for a CITIUS MAG Podcast interview in the next week about our story.
The Olympic Trials have a home! 🍊
Was that a gust of wind or the collective sigh of relief from the American distance running community? It was finally announced that the Olympic Trials will be held on February 3rd, 2024 in Orlando, Florida. There was deserved frustration that it took until now to lock down the details of an event that will take place in less than 15 months. Especially as there had been reports a few months ago that the final contenders would be Orlando and Chattanooga — both would have been fine options in my opinion.
The mid-sized city benefits the most from the estimated infusion of $10 to $15 million in the local economy, but having a capable airport and accommodation options to match is often the challenge. Thanks to our man Walt, this isn’t a problem in Orlando.
Granted, Orlando is quite warm, even in the winter with average temperatures between 54 and 70 degrees on the expected date. But that’s still about 10 degrees cooler than Paris in August. Remember, the goal is to pick a team that will represent the United States well! Orlando isn’t a complete pancake, but it might be hard to design a loop that will replicate the 1,400+ foot elevation gain found on the Olympic course. Does anyone know how steep Space Mountain is?
USATF 5K Championships
Some friends of mine recently suggested that a group of us all race a marathon together, but the rule is that no one is allowed to run more than 40 miles per week to train for it. The USATF 5K Championships is very similar, except rather than working with a mileage cap, everyone lining up has likely been training for about six weeks, since taking some down time after track season… oh, and they’re all a lot better at running than most of the people on my group chat. They might as well rebrand this race as the couch-to-5K Championships.
Running talent comes in many different forms. Some athletes run five-minute miles in middle school and others can recover from impossibly difficult workouts after a single night of sleep, but then there is Weini Kelati. She is the special breed who just never seems to be out of shape. After the race, she shared that it only takes her ten days to get to about 80% fitness. That’s why she rarely misses and is a threat year-round.
In the lead-up to this race, Kelati spent a few weeks in Uganda reconnecting with her mother who she had not seen in eight years since leaving her home country of Eritrea. Happy runners make fast runners and Kelati ran with the intent to punish the field from her first steps on Saturday and no one dared to try matching the pace. Her final time of 15:16 broke the course record (which she set last year) by two seconds.
In the men’s race, Hillary Bor was the aggressor from the opening, ready to hurdle any potholes that might have been in his way. As a reminder, Bor is more than just a steeplechaser now as he added the USATF 10 Mile Championship victory to his resume last month in Minnesota.
But no matter how hard Bor pushed, Abdihamad Nur was stuck on him. Through the dip and subsequent rise of Central Park in the final half mile of the race, Nur was able to pull away and seemed to have the clear victory in the bag. But this was Nur’s first time in New York and maybe he didn’t do his course recon quite as extensively as he should have because he almost missed the finish line. While following the lead car, he took a sharp left turn just a few meters before the tape and almost found himself sitting down to a very expensive brunch at the Tavern On the Green.
This was also Abdi’s first run in his Nike kit since turning professional at the World Championships and his winning time of 13:24 knocked a whopping 21 seconds off of Paul Chelimo’s former course record.
Athing on the Mu-ve!
I am not going to pretend to know anything about how Bobby Kersee trains 800 meter runners, but on the surface, this is a great move for Athing Mu. After two wildly successful years under the guidance of Milton Mallard at Texas A&M, the Olympic and World Champion is moving to Los Angeles to be coached by one of the most decorated American coaches of all time. The move that will also be a huge benefit to her new training partner, Sydney McLaughlin.
Although Athing may still be of college age, her aspirations are now a bit bigger than an NCAA championship. She will be surrounded by a team that shares those same goals. Staying in College Station for a year was likely a good situation that kept things familiar for a first-year pro. But 2023 is about as close to an off-year as athletes will get, so if there is a time to transition into a new system, it is now.
However, this is bigger than performance. As Mu and McLaughlin chase two of the longest-standing – and most questionable records – on the books, two of the biggest track stars in the world are now training together and based at the site of the 2028 Olympics. This is where super agent Wes Felix is likely working his magic. If there is not a major Netflix or HBO show lined up to follow the journey of this pair, then I’ll be damned. Or maybe Athing just wants to learn how to hurdle?
Also, lost in the headlines is that Brandon Miller will be making the move as well. The NCAA 800m champion who qualified for the World Championships a day before his 19th birthday is one of the most promising young talents in the country. He better be a main character in the reality show!
My NYC Marathon Race Recap 🍎
2:38:28 – This is not the time I wanted, but it's still a time.
Everything hurts right now. My stomach is still knotted up. My back is destroyed. Stairs are mountains. My hip flexors are locked. My daughter is currently gnawing on my finisher’s medal.
There may be a long list of regrets I’m tabulating in my brain, yet the pain and sheepishness I’m feeling are almost canceled out by the bit of pride I take in toughing it out.
When the race started, I thought I was being smart because I didn’t go out as fast as some people. As I ran through the streets of Brooklyn with a small pack of guys, things felt comfortable but I still tried to keep my pace in check while visualizing just how much of the race was left. Clearly, my adjustments weren’t drastic enough!
Pacing aside, I think my biggest error was over-fueling: I took three gels and a bottle in the first 11 miles. I went from cruising with confidence to cramping at mile 12. After coming through the half in 1:11:39 – a time that would have maybe been more reasonable if it was 30 degrees cooler out – I made the conscious decision to slow down. If I had any prayer of finishing strong, then I needed these cramps to go away. So I dialed it back significantly until I crossed over the Queensboro. It worked. Temporarily.
Getting into Manhattan and energized by the crowd, I was able to put together a couple of decent miles before the cramps returned with vengeance. By mile 18, any goal time had gone out the window and the focus shifted to survival.
The support in Brooklyn was incredible. Even other athletes commented on the fact that so many people were cheering my name. Apparently, I did a good job getting the word out that I’d be running, but boy did I start regretting that while running down 5th Avenue and until Central Park.
As I crawled 7:30 miles in perhaps the darkest place I have ever been mid-race, the last thing I wanted was to be recognized. This was not the version of myself that I wanted on display and the only thing I wanted more than to be at the finish line was to be invisible. But when I was hobbling down Central Park South, I heard a familiar voice – my wife, Patricia’s. At this point, time was irrelevant so I ran over for a quick hello and a kiss for my daughter. That got me to the finish line.
The only thing worse than seeing Grant Fisher cheer me on in Harlem was Jake Wightman being the one to put the medal around my neck! And like any good friend, Chris Chavez was standing there not concerned for my health or asking how I was, but having a great big laugh at my expense. Admittedly, I was already laughing at myself too.
I didn’t have the most fun in the world out there. Though I think my tour of New York gives further validation to every hyperbolic description of how special the running community is in the greatest city in the world. How could I not find a way to the finish line with so many people encouraging me along?
It’s confusing receiving congratulations for an accomplishment you are not fully proud of. Finishing a marathon, especially that quickly, is something a very small percentage of the world can do. But the standard I set for myself at the beginning was higher and because of that, I think it’s okay to be disappointed.
My body hurts today, but somehow my ego is still intact. Admittedly, for my next marathon, whenever that is, I probably won’t hype it up as much. It probably would have been much easier for me to dial things back in the beginning if I didn’t make such a big deal out of this debut. But that doesn’t mean I regret it!
Apparently, a lot of people really enjoyed these weekly updates. I’d strongly encourage some professionals to consider doing something similar. It was a great short-term partnership with Bandit and is a sponsorship model that can and should be replicated.
I am walking away with an increased appreciation for the distance and those who succeed in it. One day, I hope that will be me. If there is one thing I am grateful for through this experience, it’s that I fell in love with the process again. Running is a gift, and although our relationship may be complicated at times, it consistently gives more than it asks for in return.
Rapid Fire Highlights 🔥
Elaina Tabb (55:49) and Dylan Gearinger (49:02) won the EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler.
At the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon top honors went to Jacob Heslington (2:18:56) and Jessica Pope (2:37:22) — unfortunately tough conditions meant they both fell just short of the OTQ. Tom Anderson won the men’s half marathon in 1:03:34 and Lauren Hurley continued her hot streak by winning the women’s race in 1:09:49.
Alexa Eframison is retiring from professional running at the age of 25 following an eight-year-long career as a Nike athlete, which started following her breaking the high school national 1600m record.
Robert Kipkemboi got some redemption after losing last year’s Istanbul Marathon by five seconds as he took the 2022 title in 2:10:18 — the exact same winning time from 2021! Ethiopia’s Sechale Dalasa won the women’s race in 2:25:54.
You may remember when Burundi’s Thierry Ndikumwenayo shocked the world to win the Monaco 3000m in 7:25. Well now he is cleaning up in Spain as well. He won in Soria for his second Gold Tour victory this season. He finished 9th at World XC in 2019 — is he the early favorite this year? Kenya’s Lucy Mawia Muli dominated the women’s race, winning by over a minute.
This was a great article on Abdi Abdirahman, who has signed with Asics during the twilight of his professional marathon career.
Under Armour Mission Run has signed 800m specialist Charlene Lipsey.
Lucia Stafford ran 15:20 for 5K in Hamilton, just narrowly missing the Canadian record.
Thanks so much to Bandit for supporting my New York City Marathon efforts. While I ran slower than anticipated, the uniform looked fantastic.