We Have A Movie Coming Out!

Learn more about "A Time and A Place" – a documentary by Stephen Kersh and Ryan Sterner following NAZ Elite's road to the U.S. Olympic Trials

This is the CITIUS MAG Newsletter, a weekly round-up of the biggest stories in the running and track & field community with analysis and commentary by me, Chris Chavez. If you’ve been forwarded this email or stumbled upon a link online, you can sign up and subscribe here:

CITIUS MAG has a film coming out next week!

Ryan Sterner and Stephen Kersh, two of the founding contributors to the site who have gone on to start Rabbitwolf Creative, have put together a fantastic film that followed Northern Arizona Elite’s stars and their preparation for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Many of us know how the story ends and if you don’t then major spoiler: Aliphine Tuliamuk ends up making the U.S. team for the Tokyo Olympics. But what you don’t know is what the road to get to Atlanta looked like. Over the past 12 months, maybe you’ve caught interviews with the athletes about the preparation and some of the workouts but this film packages it all together and really helps paint the picture of what this pursuit ultimately means for each of the athletes. I highly recommend you check out the film. You can watch the trailer below.

We are having a one-day virtual world premiere on Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. and will be accessible until 6:59 p.m. ET on Feb. 14. As a single fella, I don’t have any plans for Valentine’s day so I’ll be watching the movie at home solo with a pint of Half Baked Ben and Jerry’s and trying not to cry again in my fifth viewing. But, this also makes for great Valentine’s Day plans to stay in and enjoy a nice bottle of wine while watching the film. Get your tickets here.

(BONUS: Your ticket will also include a post-movie discussion where I host a conversation with Scott Fauble and Aliphine Tuliamuk on their impressions of the film. It’s like how they have that Tiger King extra episode with Joel McHale but better than that.)

Here’s a bit more on the film with directors Stephen Kersh and Ryan Sterner…

Chris: Where did the idea for this film come about?

Ryan: We work pretty closely with Ben and a handful of athletes from NAZ Elite on other video projects, so this just felt like something we had been talking about for months before it became real. We knew that NAZ was going to be in a unique position at the Trials by having six athletes who all had a shot at the team running together--a few of them are a bit older so we also knew this had the potential to be the last run at an Olympic team.

Chris: When did the filming start to take place?

Ryan: We started dipping our toes into filming in October 2019 before the New York City Marathon. The idea was to capture all the athletes in their final races before the trials segment started because we thought it would serve as a good barometer for how they'd do in Atlanta.

Chris: What was it about NAZ Elite that made you interested in following their journey to the U.S. Olympic Trials?

Stephen: Without NAZ Elite and the support, the willingness and the access they’ve provided us for years, I don’t know if Rabbitwolf would be in the same place. They have always let us in behind the curtain, so following them on this journey was a no-brainer in my opinion. No one else was going to get access like us or, more importantly, be able to have the intimate conversations that would set this film apart.

Chris: When a team is so open and transparent about their training, racing and personalities, (Heck, they have a New York Times article about this) what challenges present themselves in trying to present a new angle and story for the viewer?

Ryan: The team's transparency is really what makes the movie. We talked every day of shooting about how to show these people as more than just athletes. We knew the running portions of the film would take care of themselves. But the heart of the movie is really a testament to NAZ's openness to answer all of our questions, running-related or not.

Chris: So how do you make this so that a non-runner enjoys it and gets a feel for this team?

Stephen: Our goal very early on was to create a film that resonated with humans. The humanity of running is what makes the sport so beautiful and so universal. Everyone deals with struggles. Everyone knows what it feels like to succeed. Our task was to just create a portrait of those very human emotions in a way that struck a chord with not only the people that understand Kellyn Taylor is incredibly fast but also people that understand Kellyn Taylor as a mother.

Chris: What do you hope viewers take away from watching this film?

Ryan: Every once in a while, we'd be at a workout and Ben Rosario would look over at us in the middle of it and say, "That's world-class right there.” It was a nice reminder because we'd forget for a minute. It'd be like, "Oh that's just Aliphine putting herself through the meat grinder." No! That's a world-class athlete! They’re doing something only a handful of people in the world can do! So I guess what I'm trying to say, is I'd like viewers to watch this film and care about the person on screen before the [world-class] athlete.

Stephen: Our experiences are wide-ranging and this film is not some sort of monolithic emotional experience. I hope people just get something from it that connects to them somewhere that hadn’t been spoken to in a while. It’s a story of resilience and triumph, but also a story of heartbreak. I think all of those are good things to tap into once in a while and I hope it evokes something from everyone.

Read the full Q&A with Ryan and Stephen over at CITIUSMAG.com


MORE HYPE FOR THE TEXAS QUALIFIER

The Trials of Miles Texas Qualifier keeps getting better. This week, we teased just some of the stars that you may expect to see in the men’s 1,500 meter field. As of right now, Evan Jager, Matt Centrowitz, Nick Willis and Donavan Brazier are entered in the race. That means we’re getting the 2016 Olympic champion in the 1,500 meters going up against the 2019 world champion in the 800 meters. These four guys have 10 Olympic and world championship medals between each other. And we’re going to announce other big names in that race at a later date.

We also teased the women’s 10,000 meter field that will compete in Saturday’s race aimed at the Tokyo Olympic qualifying time of 31:25. Sara Hall and Keira D’Amato will drop down to the track after their 1-2 finish at the Marathon Project. 2016 Olympians Kim Conley and Emily Sisson are also entered in the race at this time.

Stay up to date on the fields by following Trials of Miles Racing on Instagram. If you’re a sponsor, brand or possible donor with an interest in getting involved with the meet, please feel free to contact me: chris@citiusmag.com. We’re working on putting on this race for FREE on the CITIUS MAG Youtube channel so don’t forget to subscribe.


THANK YOU MOMENTOUS

Before we get to some fast performances, I wanted to take a quick moment to thank MOMENTOUS for sponsoring the CITIUS MAG Podcast and newsletter. Over the past couple of weeks, I've been able to try Momentous' ArcFire Strength Recovery Protein as one of the newest additions to my training regimen. I'm someone who initially felt like they could get lost in what's proper fueling or how much protein I should be dialing into my everyday routine. Momentous has made it easy for me. They outline all of their ingredients on their site and their comprehensive blog has expert advice as well as first-hand accounts from pro athletes like Emma Coburn and Ben True.

Try it for yourself. CITIUS MAG Podcast listeners will generously receive 20% off their first order of Momentous by using the promo code CITIUS at checkout on LiveMomentous.com. That’s 20% off your first order of plant protein, whey protein, sleep formula and everything in their store.


NEWS AND RESULTS 

– We learned of yet another change within the Bowerman Track Club with Colleen Squigley announcing that she will no longer be training with the team. She joined the team six years ago and has made every U.S. world championship and Olympic team since 2015. Under the training of Jerry Schumacher and Pascal Dobert, she’s become the third-fastest American steeplechaser ever with a 9:10.27 personal best. Only Courtney Frerichs and Emma Coburn, who have made every team with Quigley since 2016, are faster in American history. She has also run 4:03.02 for 1,500 meters and 4:20 for the mile.

– The Ras Khaimah Half Marathon that was supposed to feature Brigid Kosgei, Geoffrey Kamworor, Jacob Kiplimo and Hellen Obiri was canceled.

– Just hours after firing off last week’s newsletter, the Oregon men team broke their own NCAA record in the distance medley relay by about five seconds at the Arkansas Invitational in 9:19.42. Cole Hocker led things off with a 2:49.89 split for 1,200 meters before handing off to sprinter Luis Peralta for a 47.29 for 400 meters. Charlie Hunter went third and ran 1:47.65 for 800 before Cooper Teare closed it off with a 3:54.61 split for 1,600 meters. 

– Mondo Duplantis picked off where he left off in 2020 by clearing 6.01 meters for a world lead in the pole vault at a meet in Dusseldorf. That lead lasted just a short time because 2012 Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie cleared 6.02 in Tourcoing. This was a big moment for him because it signals that he may be fully healthy again and recaptured his old form. Before this, the last time he cleared 6.0 meters in any competition was when he won gold at the 2016 world indoor track and field championships in Portland, Ore. Duplantis and Lavillenie will clash again for the first time in 2021 in Rouen, France on Saturday.

– A few results to note from the second American Track League meet in Fayetteville but first...kudos to USA Track and Field for stepping in and vastly improving the broadcast and viewership experience. The broadcast on ESPN was day and night from the previous meet. The always reliable Paul Swangard, Ato Boldon and Lewis Johnson handled the commentary and inters. Graphics and replays were in place when needed. It goes to show some of the positive impact USATF can have in investing in the competitions.

– In the Ben Blankenship women’s mile (2016 U.S. Olympian Ben Blankenship stepped up to sponsor the race so major props to him), Heather MacLean pulled away from Dani Jones with a 30.72 final lap to win the race in 4:27.54. Jones ended up running 4:30.56 in her New Balance debut. I continue to say that MacLean is one of the rising stars in U.S. middle distance running so keep your eyes on her in 2021. If you want to learn more about her, catch her on one of the best episodes of “More Than Running with Dana Giordano.”

– Bryce Hoppel won the men’s 800 meters in 1:44.37 to become the second-fastest American of all-time in the event. Only Donavan Brazier has run faster so when Johnson interviewed him after the race and brought up the stat, Hoppel said, “We’re going for No. 1.” The 800 was the deepest race of the day with Charlie Grice (1:45.62), Erik Sowinski (1:45.69) and Craig Engels (1:46.10) setting personal bests behind Hoppel. 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy opened his season and finished last in 1:48.40. He had a lot of KT tape on his leg and I believe on Instagram he said he tweaked something the day before the race that led to some discomfort. Hoppel will be on the CITIUS MAG Podcast next week!

– In her first indoor 200 meter race since 2013, Shaunae Miller-Uibo set a Bahamian national record with her win over Shamier Little in 22.40.

– Recommended read: CITIUS MAG contributor Ammar Moussa hasn’t been involved in the running scene much lately but that’s because he’s been busy flipping two seats in the senate and working on a presidential campaign. DyeStat’s Dan Devine has the story about how the former Colorado Buffalo All-American and national champion got involved in politics to make a major impact.

– One more: The Wall Street Journal profiled Roaring Kitty, who was one of the leaders behind the GameStop short squeeze last week. It details some of Keith Gill’s history as a runner at Stonehill College.


ON THE CITIUS MAG PODCAST NETWORK

Matthew Luke Meyer and I catch up to discuss some of the best performances of January 2021. It's a weird time in the sport where there's indoor and outdoor track going on at the same time as cross country and select road races. We touch on all the best moments from Jim Walmsley’s near-world record at the Hoka One One Project Carbon X2 event to Ryan Crouser’s world record at the American Track League and what it could mean for the outdoor season.

You can catch the latest episode of the podcast on iTunes so subscribe and leave a five-star review. We are also on Stitcher, Google Play and Spotify!

LISTEN NOW

I also published an interview with Lee University’s Christian Noble. In the past two weeks, he has run 7:51 for 3,000 meters and 13:37 for 5,000 meters to set new NCAA Division II records. He has a sixth year in his back pocket that he plans on taking. He told me, “If I come back next year, we’re going to target all the D2 records.”

– In case you missed that episode of Runners of NYC, you can listen to it here.

– The American Track League is not the first big logistical undertaking to put on high-caliber track meets in the United States. Jesse Squire shares a short history lesson on the early 70s International Track Association on the Track and Field History podcast.

– Scott Fauble and David Melly left no stone unturned in their deep discussion of Casino Royale for the grand return of “Showrunners,”

On the latest episode of Social Sport, Aliya Tyus-Barnwell, the founder of Ride Up Grades, speaks with Emma Zimmerman on redefining the word “cyclist” and breaking down barriers to entry in biking.


That’s it from me in the latest edition of the CITIUS MAG Newsletter. Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, learned something new or have any questions or commentary on anything featured in this issue, feel free to hit my inbox: chris@citiusmag.com

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