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Edward Cheserek is looking to ride his hot hand this indoor season all the way into the history books.
After running a pair of impressive miles in consecutive weeks, the 24-year-old now will attempt to become the fourth person ever to run faster than 3:50 in the mile indoors. On Friday night at the BU David Hemery Valentine Invitational, Cheserek will run in a special section of the mile with the goal of dipping under 3:50. If he does it, Cheserek will join Hicham El Guerrouj, Eamonn Coghlan, and Bernard Lagat as the only people to crack into the 3:40s indoors.
If the beginning of his season is any indication, Cheserek has a chance at doing it. He's posted two fast times, running to uncontested victories in both. Cheserek kicked off his indoor campaign at the end of January with a 3:54.73 in Albuquerque. This past weekend, he followed that up with a 3:53.85 at the Camel City Invitational — the fastest mile in the world this year. Both times are incredibly quick. Both times are even faster when you account for conversions.
Using the NCAA conversion from TFRRS, Cheserek’s time of 3:54.73 in Albuquerque adjusts to a 3:49.62 at sea level. The race at the Camel City Invitational — run on a flat 200m track — equates to a 3:50.91 on a banked 200m track.
Friday’s race will put both of those conversions to the test. The venue is known to produce quick times. Three of the top 25 marks of all time in the indoor men's mile have taken place on the banked track at BU. In 2013, Galen Rupp ran 3:50.92 and came up just short in his quest for a sub-3:50 clocking. BU also hosted Cheserek’s personal best in the event, a 3:52.01 from last February. That time was a collegiate and a Kenyan national record indoors.
On Friday night, Cheserek will be helped along the way by a pair of pacers. Brannon Kidder is scheduled to take Cheserek through 800 meters in 1:54 and Hamish Carson is planning on rabbiting Cheserek to 1100 or 1200 meters. The target at 1200 meters is 2:52.
That would mean Cheserek would have to run the final 400 meters in under 58 seconds to break 3:50. Cheserek is comfortable with an ambitious early pace. At the Camel City Invitational he ran an opening 800m of 1:55 and didn't lose too much time in the second half of the race despite his big lead.
If he can go under 3:50, he isn't too away from El-Guerrouj's world record of 3:48.45. Is that a reach? Definitely. But Cheserek's early season results — combined with the ambitious pacing and a venue suited for fast running — almost guarantee something quick is in the cards for Boston on Friday night.