Millrose 800m Rematch, Chelimo's Bid For Gold: Men's Distance Preview

© Nick Fojud-USA TODAY Sports USATSI_10633859_168383134_lowres.jpg

The professional indoor season hits its apex this weekend at the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships this weekend in Birmingham, England. FloTrack will be on site to provide coverage from the year’s only global track championship. 

Yesterday, Jojo previewed the women’s 800m and women’s 1500m and 3000m. Today, I’ll take a look at the men’s distance races. 

Canadian subscribers can watch the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships LIVE on FloTrack!

Men’s 800m: Will Brazier Keep His Dream Season Going? 

First Round: March 2, 7:13 PM local time

Final: March 3, 7:35 PM local time

Notable Entrants: Emmanuel Korir, Donavan Brazier, Alvaro De Arriba, Drew Windle, Adam Kszczot, Antoine Gakeme

The top two seeds in the men’s 800m have take completely opposite approaches to the indoor season. Donavan Brazier’s winter campaign began in earnest in December when he ran a mile and a leg of a 4x400m in College Station, Texas. When the heart of the indoor season rolled around, Brazier kept racing. Three weekends in a row in February, Brazier raced an 800m — with each performance faster than the next. All of the times were in the 1:45s. His most recent race, a 1:45.10 in Albuquerque at the 2018 U.S. Indoor Championships, was only 0.1 off the American record. 

During these three weeks of personal bests, Brazier only lost once. Emmanuel Korir of Kenya ran 1:44.21 at the Millrose Games to beat Brazier by over a second. That race makes up the entirety of Korir’s indoor season. One appearance, one month ago. His run at Millrose was so dominant that it alone is enough to give him the status of favorite heading into the world indoor championships. But it also raises question about whether Korir will be fresh or rusty by the time he gets to the starting line in Birmingham. 

Questions about freshness can also be applied to Brazier. Racing three weekends in a row at a high level is hard to sustain. Assuming he makes the final at the worlds, Brazier will have run six 800s in five weeks when factoring in rounds.

Both Korir and Brazier have world championships experience, and any issue that Brazier had with rounds earlier in his career seems to be minimized by his overwhelming talent. If Brazier can keep it rolling, a gold medal and an American record is in reach. But if Korir is anywhere near the form he showed in New York, expect a wire-to-wire victory for the Kenyan. 

If the race gets slow, tactical, or quirky, Poland’s Adam Kszczot will make his presence known. The four-time global medalist is undefeated in his six races this year. His season best of 1:46.47 isn’t close to Brazier or Korir’s, but Kszczot is perennially in the mix in championship races. He’s never won a gold medal in his career, but is typically well-positioned to pick up the pieces when something inevitably goes haywire in an elite 800m. 

In that same spirit, it’s important to keep tabs on Drew Windle. He was third behind Korir and Brazier in Millrose and runner-up to Brazier in Albuquerque. This indoor season he’s made it a habit of being in last place and then passing most of the field in the final 400m. Windle ran his personal best indoors of 1:45.53 at Millrose and his conservative early race strategy plays well in the rounds.  

Alvaro De Arriba of Spain ran a personal best of 1:45.53 season best and sits fourth on the yearly list of best marks. His approach to the season has been more like Brazier than Korir — racing seven 800s in 2018. Also entered in the race is Burundi’s Antoine Gakeme. He had the meet of his life at the 2016 World Indoor Championships, taking the silver medal behind Boris Berian and running a lifetime best.  

Men’s 1500m: Can O’Hare and Wightman Wow The Home Crowd?

First Round: March 3, 11:15 AM local time 

Final: March 4, 4:12 PM local time

Notable Entrants: Ayanleh Souleiman, Abdalaati Iguider, Samuel Tefera, Vincent Kibet, Aman Wote, Jake Wighman, Chris O’Hare, Ben Blankenship, Jakub Holusa, Craig Engles

With both Matthew Centrowitz and Nick Willis taking a pass on this meet, the stage is set for two British athletes to take a run at the podium. Chris O’Hare won the Wanamaker Mile at the beginning of February and took the 1500m the next weekend at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. Indoor races are typically a bit more honest than 1500s outdoors, though O’Hare has shown himself to adept at both styles of racing. In the Wanamaker Mile, he was the only runner who followed the rabbit and had to do some solo running to secure the victory. 

His British teammate Jake Wightman looks to be peaking at the right time. He was second to O’Hare at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix and then won the 1500 at the British national championships. He followed that up last weekend by posting a personal best in the 800m in Glasgow, where he finished third in a very competitive field. O’Hare will receive most of the press (and pressure) this weekend, which might help Wightman fly under the radar. He will get the benefit of having the home crowd without all the expectations that accompany it.

Ayanleh Souleiman and Abdalaati Iguider have the two fastest times on the year and are both set to race in Birmingham. Souleiman’s 3:35.39 is close to his personal best. He's has been inconsistent in prior seasons, but if he's at his best the rest of the field is in trouble. He won this race in 2014 from the front and has the highest ceiling of anyone in the race. Samuel Tefera of Ethiopia just beat Iguider in France, setting the world junior record of 3:36.05 in the process. Tefera is only 18 years old, but he has major championship experience from last summer. Vincent Kibet of Kenya has run four solid 1500s this year; the best of group was a 3:36.86 at the beginning of February. 

The Americans are represented by Ben Blankenship and Craig Engels. Blankenship’s savvy tactics and good closing speed secured him a second-place finish at the U.S. indoor championships. Craig Engels finished third behind Blankenship and Paul Chelimo in Albuquerque, but earned his spot when Chelimo decided to only race the 3000m (the 3000m/1500 double is logistically impossible with the world championship schedule). 

This is the first global championship appearance for Engels, so it will be interesting to see how he reacts to competing in a worlds setting. Blankenship is a steady racer and looks like he is good form at the right time of the season. 

Men’s 3000m: Can Paul Chelimo Get Atop The Podium? 

First Round: March 2, 12:50 PM local time

Final: March 4, 3:35 PM local time

Notable Entrants: Paul Chelimo, Selemon Barega, Hagos Gebrhiwet, Yomif Kejelcha, Abdalaati Iguider, Shadrack Kipchirchir, Adel Mechaal, Bethwell Birgen, Davis Kiplangat

Paul Chelimo earned the silver at the 2016 Olympics and bronze at last summer’s world championships. The two people who beat him in those races — Mo Farah and Muktar Edris — won’t be on the start line this weekend in the 3000m. But this is a deep field, so Chelimo will need to be at his best to win the first gold medal of his career. 

Chelimo looked sharp in Albuquerque. He was in command in both the 1500 and 3000, looking equal parts strategically brilliant and physically superior. Last weekend in England, he lost by 0.01 seconds to Justus Soget, but Soget isn’t competing at world indoors. 

Instead, Chelimo’s best competition should come from a trio of Ethiopians. Yomif Kejelcha won the IAAF World Indoor Tour and earned a wild card entry into the meet. He is the defending gold medalist in the event. Kejelcha will be joined in Birmingham by Selemon Barega and Hagos Gebrhiwet. Barega, only 20 years old, was fifth at the world championships last year and is the world leader in the 3000m. His 7:36.64 was a personal best and moved him ahead of his countryman, Gebrhiwet. Gebrhiwet has a wealth of international experience and should be rested having only raced twice this year. Kejelcha has had a more aggressive racing schedule and has posted the third-fastest time in the world. 

Chelimo’s teammate, Shadrack Kipchirchir, is capable of breaking up the Ethiopian squad and, perhaps, working together with Chelimo to control the race. The duo did just that in Albuquerque (with the help of another World Class Athlete Program teammate), but this weekend will be a significant upgrade in competition. Kipchirchir’s 2018 has been nothing short of sensational. He posted lifetime bests in every distance and has developed the finishing speed that is necessary to win medals in championship settings. He was slightly behind Chelimo in Albuquerque, but being a little behind Chelimo might be enough to get a medal on Sunday.  

The Kenyan contingent features Bethwell Birgen and David Kiplangat. Birgen is a legitimate medal threat. He has run 7:32 outdoors and just won the 1500m in Glasgow. Kiplangat ran 7:42.38 to finish fourth in the Glasgow 3000m. The 19-year-old went out in the first round of 2017 World Championships in the 5000m. 

One wild card to watch is Adel Mechaal of Spain. Track viewers might remember him from the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, where he held the lead in the 3000m in a race eventually won by Edward Cheserek. Mechaal has run eight times this year in disciplines ranging from 1500m on the track to an 11 kilometer cross country race. 

Briana Williams Passes Marion Jones' World Age Group Record in 100


Briana Williams just made history. 

After Eight Month Layoff, Costello Returns to Racing at NYC Half

New York Road Runners NYCH_Athletes_PS1_Visit_NYRR_Courtesy.jpg

By Rich Sands, @sands(c) 2018 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

MSU T&F Grad Assistant Resigns In Protest Of Nassar Case Handling

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 1.09.31 PM.png

Michigan State track and field graduate assistant Kassie Powell resigned from her position on Thursday in protest of the university's handling of the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal.

Ritz Gears Up For Boston, Sisson Takes On Tough Field: NYC Half Preview

Kirby Lee/Don Jackson Copy of 1280px × 720px – Untitled Design.png

With the 2018 World Half Marathon Championships scheduled for next weekend and major marathons in Boston and London on tap for April, the spring road racing season is in full swing. 

House Of Run: When A World Record Isn’t A World Record

Kirby Lee USA Today Untitled design.png

On this week’s episode of the House of Run, Jason and Kevin discuss the abundance of records at the NCAA Indoor Championships including Michael Norman’s world record in the 400m, Kendall Ellis and Sydney McLaughlin both running under the 400m American record, Eli Hall’s 60/200m double and the nonsensical tale of why USC’s men’s team won’t hold the 4 x 400m world record.

WATCH: Clarence Munyai Runs 19.69, Smashes South African 200m Record

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 9.53.23 AM.png

Clarence Munyai stunned the track and field world on Friday with a 19.69 clocking in the 200m. The 20-year-old from South African entered with a personal best of 20.10. The mark lopped 0.15 seconds off Wayde Van Niekerk’s South African national record and makes Munyai just the 10th man ever to run under 19.70. 

The Houston Men Might Break 31-Year Power Five Win Streak At NCAA Outdoors

TL2_0798.JPG Workout Wednesday: Inside Houston Sprints' Race Day Routine

The Houston men finished seventh overall in the team standings at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships with 26 total points, 20 of which came from Eli Hall's impressive 60/200 sweep. But don't expect the Cougars to be anywhere near the bottom of the top 10 this outdoor season. In fact, the Houston men are legitimate outdoor team title contenders for three reasons.

The New Mexico XC Team Might Score 50 Points At The 2018 NCAA Outdoors

DQEyoHOV4AArhrM.jpg New Mexico | Reloaded

The New Mexico women have an opportunity to pull off an incredible feat at this year's 2018 Division I NCAA Outdoor Championships. 

Kyron McMaster In The Hurdles, Sang/Goule In The 1500: 49er Classic Preview

Kirby Lee USA Today USATSI_9136548_168383134_lowres.jpg

The indoor season hasn’t been over for an entire week and attention has already turned outdoors. This weekend UNC-Charlotte hosts the 49er Classic, a meet that features collegians and professionals all itching to get an early start on their outdoor season. 

On The Run: A Record Bonanza At NCAA Indoors | Episode 78

Kirby Lee USA Today USATSI_10694421_168383134_lowres.jpg

Jojo, Grant, and Kevin convene to discuss the lightning-quick 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships. The group shares their favorite moment from the meet, the biggest surprise, and the hypothetical scenarios they've wondered the most about.