The Goose or the Goat? – Yared Nuguse Shatters American Mile Record

Courtesy of Courier Journal

How far can you run in three minutes and 43 seconds? Most people should be able to cover a quarter mile (one lap around a 400-meter track) in under four minutes, and someone of exceptional aerobic fitness might be able to run half a mile in that time. 

World class athletes, such as Yared Nuguse, are able to complete a mile in that amount of time, as seen at the Diamond League Prefontaine Classic at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field last week. 

The Classic was a riveting continuation of the World Championships in Budapest earlier this year, and Nuguse’s effort of 3:43.97 smashed the previous American mile record of 3:46.91 set by Alan Webb in 2007.

Though Nuguse’s near-three-second improvement of the American mile record is unquestionably impressive, one of the most surprising aspects of his race was that he was not the victor.

Norwegian track phenom Jakob Ingebrigtsen came away with the gold, edging Nuguse out with a time of 3:43.73 and recording the third fastest mile of all time, a mere .6 seconds off Hicham El Guerrouj’s 3:43.13 world record performance.

What an exciting time for middle-distance running. Perhaps we’ll soon witness a new mile world record.

Prior to the race, Nuguse was asked if he foresaw any possibility of breaking the American record. The University of Notre Dame distance star reasoned that there certainly was a chance, considering he clocked a 3:47 mile during the indoor season, and his training has only improved since then. Ingebrigtsen assured Nuguse, with an air of confidence, that if the American stuck with him for as long as possible, Nuguse could lay claim to a new United States best in the mile. 

Lo and behold, Ingebrigtsen was correct. Around half a mile into the race, it was just Nuguse, Ingebrigtsen, and the pace setter in the lead. The pair then completed two consecutive 56-second laps to earn their respective 3:43.x marks. 

That wasn’t the only American record that went down at the Prefontaine Classic. Young middle-distance star and Olympic gold medalist Athing Mu lowered her American record from 1:55.04 to 1:54.97 in the 800 meter at the Diamond League event. 

Mu’s performance, though stellar, was a bit of a shock to the track and field world, as she had only raced a mere two times this season. Additionally, according to Mu’s coach,  Mu wanted to discard the remainder of this year’s outdoor track season to focus on the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris next summer. 

Thankfully, the 21 year-old Texas A&M alumna wasn’t quite ready to throw in the towel, giving a top-10 all-time performance in the 800 meter and furthering her American record.

In addition to all the excitement surrounding USA bests, a new 5-kilometer world record was set by Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia. Tsegay lowered Faith Kipyegon’s former world record mark set in June of this year by nearly five seconds, posting 14:00.21 to Kipyegon’s 14:05.2. 

Perhaps the elusive sub-fourteen minute barrier will soon be a thing of the past, with massive bouts of progress in the women’s 5000 meter race.

Unsurprisingly, Swedish pole vault legend Armand “Mondo” Duplantis extended his world record by .02 meter with a 6.23 meter vault at Hayward Field, marking his seventh time breaking the pole vault record. The sky’s the limit for this young, soaring track & field star.

Though the closure of this year’s summer track season is bittersweet, there’s certainly much excitement for the indoor track season and the 2024 Paris Olympic games. 

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