Cheserek Ready for Fast-Paced NYRR Wanamaker Mile

Edward Cheserek estimates that he's run at least a thousand laps around the track at the New Balance Track & Field Center at the Armory in northern Manhattan, but on Saturday he may be in for the fastest eight of his career. The 25-year-old University of Oregon grad is returning to the Big Apple to run in the featured event of the iconic Millrose Games, the concluding Wanamaker Mile.

Ethiopia's Yomif Kejelcha threw down the proverbial gauntlet last week by announcing that he'll be coming to New York to take aim at the venerable world indoor record of 3:48.45 set by Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj way back in 1997. Coming off a string of impressive early season indoor races, Kejelcha's ambition would appear to predict a blazing fast time. The rabbit, Columbia grad Rob Napolitano of the Hoka New Jersey-New York Track Club, has been tasked with an opening half mile in 1:53.

Cheserek, of course, is no stranger to quick times. A year ago in Boston he clocked 3:49.44, the second-fastest indoor time in history. Is he in shape to keep up with that pace? 

"I'm OK with being in the race with him tomorrow to see what we're going to get," Cheserek told Race Results Weekly on Friday. "I just want to get into a rhythm and try to push. It'll be fun." The meet record of 3:50.63 was set by American Matthew Centrowitz in 2016 and is history's sixth-fastest indoor clocking.

Kejelcha, the two-time defending IAAF world indoor champion in the 3000 meters, is in his second season training under Alberto Salazar with the Nike Oregon Project in Portland, Oregon. He won the mile at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston on January 26, in a national indoor record 3:51.70, a sign that his world record goal is more than just bluster.

In addition to Kejelcha and Cheserek, the field also includes two-time Olympic medalist Nick Willis of New Zealand, American Clayton Murphy, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist in the 800, and Josh Kerr of Scotland, who finished second at Millrose last year before winning the NCAA Indoor title for the University of New Mexico. (Defending champ Chris O'Hare is not in the race this year because the British Indoor Championships are the same weekend).

"I'm excited that it is going to be blazing fast," says Willis, three times a runner-up in the Wanamaker. "This track has really tight turns but it's really steep banks so you can handle those tight turns really well and there's a nice long straightaway. So if you get into a rhythm the laps tick off so much faster here and the crowd goes nuts."

Cheserek's familiarity with the banked 200-meter oval will definitely be an asset. In high school at St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, N.J., he raced there frequently, including the 2012 and 2013 Millrose Games, where he set national high school records in the 5000 meters and 2-miles, respectively, while competing in the professional races. "I love the environment, the crowd, everything," he says. "I'm excited to just run with the guys."

He built an impressive resume at Oregon, winning a record 17 individual NCAA titles in cross county and indoor and outdoor track before graduating in 2017. He's current coached by Stephen Haas in Flagstaff, Arizona, often training with other athletes who've flocked to the high-altitude haven, including Americans Pat Casey and Hassan Mead and Andy Butchart of Scotland. He does a fair amount of his training solo, however. "Sometimes I like it, sometimes I hate it, because if you're out there grinding on the road or the track and it's cold, you feel like you need someone," Cheserek says, adding that he misses the team dynamic he enjoyed as part of the Ducks' collegiate program.

Following a bout with plantar fasciitis last fall, Cheserek has shown signs of his 2018 form, winning the mile at the Camel City Invitational in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, last week, clocking 3:55.74 in a solo effort. "I know that last year I ran much faster [in Boston]," he says, "but I think that's a good opening for the mile."

A Kenyan native, he declined to discuss the details of his pursuit of U.S. citizenship and the potential to eventually switch his allegiance competitively. (A story in Friday's New York Times reported that Cheserek is currently facing challenges in his case with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.)

Regardless of what country he may race for, he plans to do it at a variety of distances. Following Millrose, Cheserek hinted that he might try an 800-meter race for the first time since high school at some point during the remainder of the indoor season. He'll then switch gears to focus on the 10,000 meters for the outdoor campaign. "It's February, we're just trying to see where we are right now with the training," he says. "And we have to go back up [to Flagstaff] to work because this is going to be a long year for me."

How To Watch The 2019 Indoor Conference Championships Live


FloTrack has you covered with the most comprehensive coverage of conference week. Five conference championships are streaming live on FloTrack, and Saturday's FloZone broadcast will keep you updated with all the latest news from every single conference around the country!

Big 12 Preview: Oduduru vs. Hudson, Lokedi Seeks Double-Double


Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloSports!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

The brand new Sports Performance Center at Texas Tech will host the Big 12 Indoor Championship for the first time this Friday and Saturday, and it will provide the setting for what should be a fabulous weekend of track and field competition. The hometown Red Raiders (No. 3 in FloTrack’s NCAA rankings) will look to defend their team title on the men’s side, while the Texas women will do the same under first year head coach Edrick Floreal.

New Mexico, Boise Mix It Up Again | MWC Preview


Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloSports!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

A loaded women’s distance field and a dynamite sprinting duo will be on display in Albuquerque at the Mountain West Conference Indoor Championships. 

Weekend Watch Guide: Conference Championships

It's conference championship weekend! FloTrack is your home for five NCAA conference meets on Friday and Saturday plus the BU Last Chance Invite in Boston on Sunday. Check below to see when your favorite events/athletes compete.

Nine Of The Biggest Questions For Big Ten Indoors


Conference championship weekend is upon us with NCAA teams across the nation racing for team titles and pursuing qualifying times that will ensure their place at March’s NCAA Indoor Championships. 

Down Goes Tefera: Jakob Ingebrigtsen Sprints Past WR Holder

The world record honeymoon is over for Samuel Tefera, and his fellow wunderkind Jakob Ingebrigtsen has ended it as the 18-year-old Norwegian defeated the new 1,500m world record holder on Wednesday in Düsseldorf, Germany, 3:36.02 to 3:36.34.

Comprehensive Field Event Coverage At 2019 Big Ten Championships

The 2019 Big Ten Indoor Championships will offer track and field fans the opportunity to customize their viewing experience of this weekend’s meet at the University of Michigan. 

House Of Run: USATF Indoor Preview, Tefera's WR, UK Selection Screw-Up

Jason and Kevin discuss Samuel Tefera stealing Yomif Kejelcha’s thunder and running the 1500m world record, Laura Muir’s 4:18 mile, Great Britain committing another self-inflicted selection wound, the confusing IAAF world records in the 5K and this weekend’s USATF Indoor Championships.

FloSports To Live Stream 2019 Big 12 Indoor And Outdoor Championships

Deal includes live and on-demand coverage of Swimming and Diving, Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field, Wrestling, and Softball

Weekend Recap: Tefera Crashes Kejelcha's World Record Party

In recent weeks I have been referring to the 2019 indoor season as the winter of Kejelcha, as the Ethiopian’s string of fast performances have made him arguably the top attraction in the sport so far this year.