The Best Race You’ll Watch From This Weekend + Eliud Kipchoge & Athing Mu On Fire

Catch up with all the biggest results and performances from this past weekend including Eliud Kipchoge's return to racing and Athing Mu's collegiate record.

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:

Let’s start the week strong with a stunning race from the Australian Olympic Trials that took place in Sydney over the weekend. The men’s 1,500-meter final had it all.

To set the stage with some context…At the Australian Olympic Trials, the winner of each event secures their spot for the Tokyo Olympics. Other spots are left to be determined at the hands of Athletics Australia. Athletes like Oliver Hoare, who has run 3:32.36 for 1,500m, were given exemptions from competing at the Trials.

Stewart McSweyn was the favorite in this race since he ran 3:30.51 at last year’s Doha Diamond League meet and holds the Australian national record. He has also run 13:05.23 for 5,000m in 2018 and 27:23.80 for 10,000m in 2019.

Watch as McSweyn took it out from the start and 23-year-old Jye Edwards boldly decided to stay on his heels. 

Edwards had a personal best of 3:35.46 from April 1 and was looking for the 3:35.00 Olympic qualifying time. Edwards sat behind McSweyn until the final 50 meters before taking the win in 3:33.99 and securing his Olympic berth. Their final lap was clocked at 57.37 seconds.

“If I had been 10m or so behind him at the bell I doubt I would have been able to run him down,” Edwards said after. “I’d never raced him before but I knew he ran his races from the front and I was surprised I got past him to be honest.”

I’m sure we’ll see more stories like this but Edwards is one of the many athletes who benefitted from the Olympic postponement since it gave him extra time to recover from an Achilles injury.


Athing Mu Stays On Fire

Last week, I returned to the Ali on the Run Show for a special Patreon episode and I was asked toward the end about who I was most excited to see in action at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. The first name off the top of my head was Athing Mu and this weekend, she backed me up. At the Michael Johnson Invitational at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, Mu ran 1:57.73 to break the NCAA record of 1:59.10 set by Oregon’s Raevyn Rogers in 2017. This also broke Ajee’ Wilson’s American junior national record of 1:58.21.

If you want to watch the race, Texas A&M shared the video on Twitter:

During the winter, Mu set the indoor 600m collegiate record in 1:25.80 and then the indoor 800m collegiate record in 1:58.40. However, she did not contest the 800 at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships and instead took second in the 400 meters in 51.03 before bouncing back and splitting 49.54 to help the Aggies win the 4x400.

Baylor junior Aaliyah Miller, who won the NCAA indoor 800m title in Mu’s absence, ran 2:00.87 for second place.

What’s this mean for the U.S. 800m picture ahead of the Olympic Trials? Four years ago, it was the most unpredictable event aside from Wilson being a strong favorite. 2:01.39 was the slowest time to make the finals at the Trials and I’d expect it to be as fast or faster in 2021. Then, anything can happen. In 2016, Alysia Montano and Brenda Martinez got tangled up in the final 200 meters, which cost both of them a spot on the 800m team for Rio and we ended up with a surprise victory by Kate Grace, a runner-up finish by Wilson and a shocking third by Chrishuna Williams.

The U.S. had three women make the 2019 world championship final with Raevyn Rogers and Wilson claiming wilder and bronze medals. In 2021 and with limited outdoor races, Mu, Wilson and Kaela Edwards have run under 2:00.00.

Mu will turn 19 years old on June 8 and she’s shown she can show up at U.S. championships before since she won the U.S. indoor 600m title at 16 years old in 2019. We quickly forget but three rounds at the Trials in Eugene ended up eliminating Donavan Brazier early and kept him from making his first Olympic team and now he’s a world champion giving the world record a scare. Mu’s running fast in April and a clear favorite to win the NCAA championships. Keep in mind the NCAA women’s 800m final is Saturday, June 12 and she’ll have nearly two weeks to rest and prepare for the first round of the Trials scheduled for Thursday, June 24.

The full schedule for the 2021 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships was released last week. The men will compete on June 9/11. The women will compete on June 10/12. The multi-events obviously go back-to-back days of competition.

Photo via @aggietfxc/IG


Eliud Kipchoge Reigns Supreme Again

Olympic champion and world record holder Eliud Kipchoge bounced back from his disappointing 8th place finish at the London Marathon by winning the NN MIssion Marathon in Enschede, the Netherlands in 2:04:30. The race was held on a looped course at Twente Airport and closed to spectators.

Based on the personal bests on the entry lists, Kipchoge was head and shoulders above the rest of the competitors so it was more of a question of how fast he was going to go. Kipchoge patiently stayed with pacers and didn’t make his move until after the 20-mile mark. His compatriot Jonathan Kipleting would be the next man across the finish line in 2:06:40.

There haven’t been too many marathons in 2021 but 2:04:30 puts him atop the annual list. Kengo Suzuki is the next-fastest with his 2:04:56 Japanese national record at the Lake Biwa Marathon on Feb. 28. Aside from his blip in London, this would be Kipchoge’s slowest marathon since he won the Olympic gold medal in Rio in 2:08:44.

I’d still consider Kipchoge as the Olympic gold medal favorite. Back in January, Kipchoge was provisionally named to the Kenyan Olympic team for the marathon. He looks to become the first man since East Germany’s Waldemar Cierpinski (1975/1980) to defend his gold medal. Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila is the only other man to win gold back-to-back.

"This was the real test towards the Tokyo Olympics,” Kipchoge said after the race. “It's a good marathon to happen a few months before the Olympics to test your fitness.”

Other Notable Results at the NN Mission Marathon

– Stephen Kiprotich, the 2012 Olympic champion from Uganda, finished fourth in 2:09:04.

– On the women’s side, Germany’s Katharina Steinrueck took the victory in 2:25:59. Portugal’s Sara Moreira and Germany’s Rabea Schöneborn rounded out the podium in 2:26:42 and 2:27:03, respectively.

Photo by Dan Vernon for the NN Running Team.


More Results From This Weekend

– At the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational in Gainesville, Florida, 39-year-old Justin Gatlin won the men’s 100m in 9.98 (+1.4 m/s wind) ahead of Andre DeGrasse, Kenny Bednarek and Noah Lyles. Florida State’s JoVaughn Martin wasn’t in the race featuring pros but ran 9.94 (+1.6m/s wind), which ties him with Ronnie Baker for the fastest in the world for 2021. The men’s 100m picture in the United States appears to be fairly wide open, especially with the absence of Christian Coleman. More on that shortly.

– At the same meet, Puerto Rican Olympian Jasmine Camacho-Quinn lowered her personal best from 12.40 to 12.32. This ties her with Jamaica’s Danielle Williams for No. 7 on the all-time list. Only Keni Harrison (12.20), Yordanka Donkova (12.21), Ginka Zagorcheva (12.25), Lyudmila Narozhilenko (12.26), Brianna McNeal (12.26), Sally Pearson (12.28) have run faster. Camacho previously trained alongside Sydney McLaughlin, who won the 100m hurdles at the Bryan Clay Invitational in 12.92 and then the 400m in 51.16. 

– If you’re keeping tabs on Sha’Carri Richardson after the stellar 100m in 10.72. She won the 200m in 22.11. 

– Remember when I highlighted that all-comers meet in Lusaka, Zambia last week? It produced more fast times this weekend. 17-year-old Christine Mboma of Namibia clocked a 49.24 for 400m. Again, Lusaka is at 4,200 feet of elevation, which gives the sprints an advantage.

– According to coach Pete Julian’s Instagram page, Suguru Osako did a half marathon time trial on Sunday as a workout “starting at 4:48 pace and working it down. I had his last 10k ~28:45. Total time 1:01:19. We did this on the infamous Sauvie loop (flat and accurate). Now back to altitude.”


Other Notable News

– The Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced 100m world champion Christian Coleman's two-year doping ban for whereabouts failures to 18 months after his appeal. He will still miss the Tokyo Olympics. His suspension started on May 14, 2020 and ends Nov. 2021 so he’ll be back for the 2022 world championships. The ban was reduced since CAS “found the athlete’s degree of negligence to be lower than that established" in the Athletics Integrity Unit’s decision that described Coleman’s "attitude to his obligations can fairly be described as entirely careless, perhaps even reckless."  I unpacked the whole Coleman saga for Sports Illustrated.

– Keep your eyes on Caster Semenya’s race plans. She won the South African 5,000m national title in a personal best of 15:52.28 in Pretoria, which sits at 4,300+ feet above sea level. She needs to get under 15:10:00 to run at the Olympics. The 5,000m is the shortest flat distance race that she can contest in Tokyo that wouldn’t require her to undergo surgery or take medication to lower her testosterone levels. The World Athletics rules state that any intersex athlete who has a disorder of sexual development and has both X and Y chromosomes would need to regulate their testosterone levels to compete in events from 400 meters to the mile. Semenya lost her appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Swiss Supreme Court. She has made an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

– Katie Follett took to Instagram to announce, “Slight intermission in the regularly scheduled spring track season programming...growing a human! So thankful to Brooks Running for the support on this new journey of pursuing both my track goals and becoming a mom.” She moved to Boulder, Colo. after being a member of the Brooks Beasts for most of the past decade. She got remarried and is now training with Elevated Performance. Follett has consistently made U.S. championship finals in the 1,500 or 5,000 meters since 2012 so she’ll be missed at the Trials.

– Emma Bates, who has run 2:25 for the marathon, has joined Team Bosshard’s training group in Boulder. She has not raced on the track since 2017 and there’s just a few weeks left to notch a qualifying time, if she wants to give the Trials a shot. If she elects to focus on a fall marathon, she now has Laura Thweatt as a strong training partner. Thweatt has also run 2:25 for the marathon.

– Nick Willis, Sam Tanner, Tom Walsh and Valeria Adams were among the 15 athletes conditionally named to the Olympic team by the New Zealand Olympic Committee. This will be Adams’ and Willis’ fifth Olympics.

– The 2021 Diamond League is now set to begin on May 23 since the meet in Rabat, Morocco has been moved to May 23 at Gateshead International Stadium in Britain. This will be the first time the Diamond League heads to Gateshead since 2010. The Rome meet was moved to Florence’s Stadio Luigi Ridolfi on June 10. The Oslo Diamond League has been moved from June 10 to July 1 due to Norway’s COVID guidelines. I don’t expect too many Americans to compete at these international meets ahead of the Trials since there are plenty of race opportunities in May and June in the United States that don't require people to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in another country. 

– 2018 Boston Marathon champion and newly-minted 50K record holder Des Linden threw out the first pitch at Sunday’s Red Sox game. They lost 5–1 to the Chicago White Sox.

– Meb Keflezighi is getting into the NFT game with an art piece commemorating his win at the 2014 Boston Marathon. The auction starts today at noon.


THE CITIUS MAG PODCAST NETWORK

Conner Mantz is a junior at BYU and just won the NCAA Cross Country Championships last month. Right from the start of the race, he went with the hot pace established early by Iowa State’s Wesley Kiptoo and eventually pulled away to win by 22 seconds. Mantz is the first American man to win the NCAA individual title since 2008. He was BYU’s first champion since 2006.

Just two weeks or so after that race, he went on to run 13:24.78 for 5,000 meters in the men’s 5000m at the Hayward Premiere – the first meet held at the newly renovated Hayward Field. The time is a school record and a U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier.

Hear more about his development at BYU (and way before that since he ran his first half marathon at 12 years old), his plans for the rest of the season, thoughts on turning pro 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 SpotifyFull show notes available here.

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On Social Sport, Emma Zimmerman speaks with Rosie Cruz about her recent allegations of psychological abuse, disordered eating and physical/emotional harm experienced as a member of the Loyola Marymount cross country and track programs.

– "The Athlete Special” Spencer Brown of the Brooks Beasts returns to Running Things Considered for an update on how his first year as a professional has been going.


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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