DK Metcalf Dabbling in Track As Mt. SAC Meet is Loaded in Talent

What to expect at the USATF Golden Games, Fun in Kansas, Ethiopian Marathon Selection Drama and more news from the track and field world.

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:

By now you’ve heard Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf will be running the men’s 100 meters at the USATF Golden Games at Mt. SAC on Sunday afternoon. It’s made for a fun discussion on ESPN, Bleacher Report and mainstream sports outlets but let’s be real about what to expect.

What this will be: It will be a fun exhibition race to see what one of the fastest NFL players can do against professional runners. Metcalf went viral when he was clocked at 22.64 miles per hour while stopping an interception return by Budda Baker during Sunday Night Football last October. This led to USATF floating the idea of having him go for an Olympic Trials mark to which he responded, “See you there.” No matter what the result of the race is, track and field should get some coverage on SportsCenter at night when he’s dusted by professionals.

What this won’t be: An display that NFL speed > track speed. The OTQ mark to qualify for the Olympic Trials is 10.05 and there’s no chance that Metcalf gets it. (Eight American men have run under the mark in 2021. I believe 20 men have run 10.05 or faster since the qualifying window opened – this does not include world champion Christian Coleman, who is serving a suspension but includes some athletes like Rai Benjamin, who will opt for other events) and  USATF will fill the field with the next-fastest runners until there are 32 total entries for the Trials, which in 2016 meant that a 10.16 runner qualified. Metcalf’s track background has come up in conversation ahead of this race. He ran 14.89 for the 110m hurdles, 40.11 for the 300m hurdles and 46’5” for the triple jump, according to his Milesplit page. There’s no 100m personal best listed on there.

NBC Sports’ Ato Bolton told LetsRun that he thinks Metcalf could run 10.5ish if he has a good race.

There’s a chance that those tuning into the NBC broadcast at 4:30 p.m. ET won’t see Metcalf run live since there are 18 men entered so there are preliminary rounds.

Metcalf likely won’t make it out of the heats with a performance like that. Worst case scenario? A false start gets him DQ’ed and he doesn’t get to run. You’d think the official lets this one slip and he can run under protest but you can’t put that possibility past someone who is making his return to the sport for the first time in a long time.

The Seahawks are just hoping he doesn’t get hurt.

Don’t just tune in for the 100, there are some other quality matchups to watch for at Mt. SAC this weekend:

– American record holder Evan Jager is set to run his first steeplechase race since the Diamond League final in Zurich on Aug. 30, 2018. He finished that race with a stress fracture, which later became an impact fracture in the talus bone of his ankle. At the Prickly Pear Invitational back in February, he ran 7:42.51 in the 3,000m. In 2020, he did run 13:12 for the 5,000m during one of the Bowerman Track Club intrasquad meets so if he’s anywhere near that shape, he should be fine come the Olympic Trials and looking to add an eighth national title. The real intrigue for this race is we’ll get to see his teammate Sean McGorty make his debut over water barriers. The former Stanford star owns a 3:36.61 personal best for 1,500m and 13:06 personal best for 5,000m. He certainly has the height for the event and under the guidance of coach Pascal Dobert could be a sleeper pick for the Olympic team, if this experiment works.

Allyson Felix and Shaunae Miller-Uibo will go head-to-head over 200m for the first time since the 2017 Prefontaine Classic. This is their first duel since the 2017 world championships in London, where Felix narrowly beat her for the bronze medal in the 400 meters by .41 seconds.

Donavan Brazier will run his first outdoor 800m of 2021. Bryce Hoppel solo’ed a 1:45.43 season best in Lawrence, Kansas last weekend. 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy is also in the mix. Did a quick search out of curiosity and Brazier is 6–0 against Murphy when they’ve gone head-to-head. Brazier is 4–0 against Hoppel. Brazier has not lost an 800m race since finishing second in the first round of the 2019 U.S. Championships (July 25). The last final he lost was a third place showing in Doha on May 3, 2019.

– The men’s 1,500m is stacked with Moh Ahmed, Craig Engels, Johnny Gregorek, Ollie Hoare, Justyn Knight, George Beamish and Eric Avila among the entries.

Sha’carri Richardson is in the women’s 100m. 2016 Olympian English Gardner will open her season. 

– The women’s 800 meters is headlined by Raevyn Rogers, Laura Muir, Jemma Reekie and Sinclaire Johnson. We’ll get to see 2016 Olympian Brenda Martinez in action for the first time since Aug. 2020. 

– A sister showdown could happen in the women’s 1,500 if Canada’s Gabriela and Lucia Stafford face off in the same heat? This will be Elle Purrier’s first 1,500m since she ran a 4:00.77 in Wellesley, Mass. last summer. Other popular stars in the race include Aisha Leer-Praught, Weini Kelati, Kim Conley and Nikki Hiltz.

A full start list can be found here. The meet will be broadcast live on NBC starting at 4:30 p.m. ET.  The earlier races will be on USATF.TV and Peacock.

And...If you want some track and field action on Friday night, Hayward Field will host the Oregon Twilight Meet on Friday night. Lots of Oregon, BYU, Adams State, Utah and Portland athletes entered. Notre Dame is making the trip over from South Bend. 2019 NCAA champion Yared Nuguse is on the entry list for the 1,500m, which includes NCAA indoor mile champion Cole Hocker, Olympian Hassan Mead and 3:50 miler Cooper Teare

Trials of Miles Kansas City Qualifier Wrap-Up

I truly had a blast reuniting with Kyle Merber in the booth for the Trials of Miles Kansas City Qualifier on Saturday. One of my favorite races to watch was the men’s 800 meters, where Mexico’s Tonatui Lopez lowered his national record and notched the Olympic standard with his 1:44.40. Empire Elite’s Eric Holt delivered one of the most passionate post-race speeches after his 1,500m win. (He’ll be a guest on the podcast next week) Ayla Granados pulled off a 4:12.00 to beat some professional runners and afterward said, “I’m gonna remember this forever.” The 5,o00m saw a fun duel between Sam Chelanga and Oklahoma City’s Zouhair Talbi, who is now two-for-two in his Trials of Miles appearances with a 13:28.97 victory. On the women’s side, Mexico’s Laura Galvan just missed the 15:10.00 Olympic standard with a 15:11.35 finish. The marquee steeplechase races were won by Ahmed Jaziri in 8:32.92 and Marisa Howard in 9:32.75. Howard is now the third-fastest American of 2021.

Watch the full replay of the meet on our YouTube channel. Subscribe!

Many thanks to Joshua and Aaron Potts for joining us as the play-by-play guys for the undercard and rocking the sideline interviews.

We’re back with one more meet in the Trials of Miles Qualifier series in New York City on May 21.

More Results From The Past Week

– A false world record again! Norweigian Olympian Karoline Grøvdal clocked a 14:39 for 5K in a small race in Jessheim. That’s faster than Beatrice Chepkoech’s world record of 14:43 and quicker than Beth Potter’s 14:41 that also didn’t count toward a record. However, the course was short by 12.5 meters since the original race was set to be held in a different location and was moved due to COVID-19, it was not approved by The Association of International Marathons and Distance Races. Without the world record, Grøvdal has some strong credentials with personal bests of 4:26 for the mile, 9:13 for the steeplechase and 30:32 for the road 10K. She was 7th in the 5,000 meters at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. She has three European championship medals in cross country including a silver in 2019. Kudos to her. 

Last week, I joined the Beer Mile Podcast guys in Kansas City for a pre-show ahead of The Kansas City Qualifier and one of the funny moments came when steeplechaser Craig Nowak talked about making an Instagram post about hitting the Olympic standard at a race at Eastern Kentucky, getting a flurry of congrats and then learning the race was short. Similarly, Grøvdal has an Instagram photo up right now but no follow-up post yet to tell people about the mishap.

– According to Citizen TV in Kenya, Eliud Kipchoge, Geoffrey Kamworor and Faith Kipyegon are among a few stars who got the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccine. Need to know whether it’s the Pfizer Pfam, Moderna Mob or AstraZeneca Army that gets to claim Kipchoge on their team.

– The Ethiopian Athletics Federation held its marathon trials, which ended up being less than a marathon in distance, was contested over the weekend. The 35K race at 7,000+ ft of altitude was won by 2020 London Marathon champion Shura Kitata in 1:45:55 with reigning world championship marathon gold medalist Lelisa Desisa in second and Sisay Lemma taking third. On the women’s side, Tigust Girma took the win with Birhane Dibaba and Roza Dereje Bekele rounding out the podium.

The most notable absence was three-time Olympic gold medalist Kenenisa Bekele, who said that he was in good health but opted not to run since he believed the gap between the selection race at the Olympics was too close together. We are less than 14 weeks away from the marathon being contested in Sapporo on Aug. 8. Bekele is the second-fastest man of all-time for the marathon with his 2:01:41 personal best from the 2019 Berlin Marathon.

"I have nothing against the athletes who participated on Saturday but I think we should select Bekele over Lemma who finished almost two minutes behind him in Berlin in 2019,” agent Jos Hermens told the AFP over the weekend.

The Ethiopian Olympic Committee seems to agree as a report on May 3 said they assured Bekele would be part of the team for Tokyo but that decision ultimately rests in the hands of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation.

– Merber and I talked about the state of the United States women’s steeplechase during the Kansas City Qualifier broadcast because earlier that day BYU’s Courtney Wayment set a U.S.-leading 9:31.37 for the 3,000m steeplechase at the West Coast Relays. That puts her at No. 5 on the NCAA all-time list behind Courtney Frerichs, Jenny Simpson, Emma Coburn and Colleen Quigley. Coburn, Frerichs and Quigley have had their stronghold in the event since they’ve represented the United States at every global championship since 2016. (Allie Ostrander is the only other Team USA runner since then because the U.S. got an extra spot in 2019 thanks to Coburn’s 2017 world championship gold medal). Wayment joins the likes of Leah Falland and Marissa Howard, who ran 9:32.75 at the Kansas City Qualifier, as the top three contenders trying to break the Big Three’s streak. If you want to learn more about Wayment, I recommend you listen to her episode of “More Than Running with Dana Giordano.”

– Canadian record holder Melissa Bishop-Nriagu ran a 1:59.04 for 800 meters in a low-key race in Chula Vista that was paced by Nikki Hiltz at 1:27 through the 600m. As she noted on Instagram after the race, it marked the first time Bishop-Nriagu broke two minutes for the 800 since giving birth to her daughter Corinne. Athletics Canada is set to hold their Olympic Trials in Montreal from June 24 to 27 but an announcement is set to come the week of May 17 on whether that will be possible. There’s a mandatory two-week quarantine requirement and a lot of their top athletes are based in the United States. Could we see a Canadian Olympic Trials on U.S. soil? 

– Brooks Running made an announcement that they were unable to bring their latest spike offerings to market before the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials so their athletes will be allowed to compete in competitor footwear. I asked if this was effective immediately and a spokesperson said yes. You might see some Brooks athletes using competitor spikes to try and notch OTQs or Tokyo qualifying marks. 

More Notable News

Registration has opened for Nikki Hiltz’s Pride 5K. Proceeds from the virtual run will go toward The Trevor Project, which provides crisis support services for LGBTQ youth in need. Last year, the run raised more than $30,000. This year, about 2,000 people have signed up and it hasn’t even been opened for a week. You can sign up here.

– The Boston Marathon sent out its acceptance emails this week for the October race and runners who were at least 7 minutes and 47 seconds their qualifying time were accepted. The BAA reported 23,824 applicants and 14,609 acceptances. For context, my qualifying time for the men’s 18-34 group is 3:00:00 and I would’ve needed to run a 2:52:13. Uff da! My heart goes out to the people who ran well under the standard and thought their time would’ve got them a spot under normal circumstances but due to the demand for the postponed race, they got left out. My friend Andrew Leibowitz ran a 2:52 at the 2019 Chicago Marathon after narrowly missing the cutoff in the previous year. This time around, his performance got him 13 seconds shy of a spot.

– The NCAA has decided to reinstate the preliminary round format to have 48 competitors per gender per site in individual events at the East and West Preliminary Meets. Kudos to all of the coaches including Justin Herbert of Oral Roberts for never backing down on applying pressure and getting the word out on Twitter.

– Laird Superfood has acquired Lauren Fleshman’s and Stephanie Bruce’s Picky Bar company for $12 million. 

– Oiselle has signed on as a founding sponsor of &Mother, which was co-founded by Alysia Montaño

– A few people have asked me ‘Where can I find a list of people who have qualified for the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials?’ Well, Brian Tabb has you covered. He’s put together a site called Tracktimes.Run that has all that information outlined for you.

– Asics is getting behind Johnny Gregorek’s 4:06 Blue Jeans Mile world record by sharing his story and looking to raise money for the National Alliance on Mental Illness during Mental Health Awareness Month by asking people to go out and run their own Blue Jean Mile.

A personal training update: As I’ve mentioned in the newsletter before, I will be racing an exhibition mile race against New York Times best-selling author and Revisionist History podcast host Malcolm Gladwell at the Trials of Miles New York City Qualifier on May 21. Scott Fauble has been setting odds on the race. Right now he’s got it at: 

  • Money Line | Chavez +115; Gladwell -112

  • Spread: Gladwell by 1 second

  • Winning time under: 5:05 (-225); 5:02 (-145); 5:00 (-110); 4:58 (+115); 4:55 (+165); 4:50 (+400)

Gladwell has already started throwing out excuses on Twitter. We worked out together on Tuesday for a 6x600m and 6x200m workout. He was stronger than me in the 600s and I led each of the 200s. We’ll see where things go with two weeks to go.

Final Call to Apply

Last week, I put out a call on Twitter for all the young track and field storytellers and content creators because I am super thrilled to launch The Magic Boost as a mentorship program for the next generation of writers, photographers, videographers, graphic designers and podcasters in the sport. The selected participants for the inaugural class will be accepted into a virtual 8-session training program that culminates in an all-expense paid, in-person trip to put their skills to practice at the Nike Prefontaine Classic, August 18-22. I’ve assembled an all-star cast of speakers for each session that includes Ali Feller from the Ali on the Run Show, NBC Sports’ Lewis Johnson, documentary filmmaker Billy Yang, the Morning Shakeout’s Mario Fraioli, Fast Women’s Alison Wade and much more.

If you’re passionate about track & field and are sharing this love with new fans in new ways, we want to hear from you to apply!

The deadline to apply is Friday, May 7.

On The CITIUS MAG Podcast Network

“You're able to make a living if you're at some of these meets and they'll pay you. The discipline is to not spend all of that money all at the same time. I've really been really blessed with the knowledge to understand investments and savings and things like that to be able to live off a certain amount and be able to do all the things that need to get done. That's truly been my saving grace. Last year was a huge blow."

Jarret Eaton is a world championship silver medalist in the 60m hurdles. He’s a two-time national champion in the event. At this weekend’s Trials of Miles Kansas City Qualifier, he finished second in the men’s 110 hurdles. In this episode, he takes us through what it’s been like for him to push himself in this event since 2012 through some ups and downs, why he goes after it unsponsored, how to size up the 110 hurdles at the Olympics Trials and much more.

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

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:

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