Off-Distances Have Athletes Moving Up, Moving Down At U.S. Indoors

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (21-Feb) -- For the third time at the Toyota USA Track & Field Indoor Championships, athletes will run "off-distances" of 300m, 600m, 1000m, one mile and two miles instead of the international standard distances of 400m, 800m, 1500m and 3000m.  Back in 2015, the national governing body decided to implement an off-distance program because athletes did not have to qualify for team spots for the IAAF World World Indoor Championships which are only held in even years.  The practice has stuck, and has given athletes the freedom to move up, or down, in distance when this year's three-day championships open tomorrow at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex here.


For 2016 Olympic 800m bronze medalist Clayton Murphy, who is equally gifted in both the largely anaerobic 800m and the much more aerobic 1500m, it presents the chance to run what might be for him the perfect distance: 1000m. Murphy, who turns 24 next Tuesday, won the national indoor title at that distance in Albuquerque in 2017, and is excited to run it again.

"I've always kind of enjoyed the thousand," Murphy told reporters at a press conference here today. "It's a good opportunity to kind of put the speed and the strength I've been working on this winter together."

Murphy has raced actively across his spectrum of distances this winter with excellent success. He's run sub-1:46 for 800m twice, including a personal best 1:45.92 on a flat track in North Carolina. He's run 2:18.64 for 1000m on an over-sized track, and at the NYRR Wanamaker Mile at the NYRR Millrose Games he set indoor personal bests for both 1500m (3:37.40) and mile (3:53.30). He said he enjoyed running fast, but he's excited to switch gears to championships mode which will better test is skills as a racer.

"I'm excited to get back into that championship setting," he said. "There's been a lot of time-chasing this winter and running for records, and whatever you want to call it. This is about winning a national title for me. I think for me it's a whole different mindset."

Murphy's Nike Oregon Project teammate Donavan Brazier will be stepping down in distance to the 600m. Brazier, who ran a USA indoor 800m record of 1:44.41 at the NYRR Millrose Games on February 9, currently owns the #2 time globally time at 600m for the 2019 indoor season: 1:15.46. Known for his low-mileage training when he competed at Texas A&M during his NCAA career, he said that stepping down in distance felt natural to him.

"I didn't think too much into it, I think," Brazier quipped when asked about how different it was to run 600m compared to 800m. He continued: "I mean, hopefully it's good. I just thought of it as a shorter 800. I didn't dig too deep into it."

At these championships in 2017, the last time the 600m distance was contested, Brazier won his heat, but finished sixth --and last-- in the final. When the standard 800m distance was run at last year's championships, Brazier came out on top.

For Raevyn Rogers, an 800m specialist like Brazier, stepping down to the 600m gives her a chance to run in her sprint spikes and work on her technique.  She won the 600m at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston on January 26, then was fourth at the NYRR Millrose Games in the 800m. 


"I say aerobically it still feels the same," she explained. "I think it hurts all the same. But, I definitely can use more speed or more technique in sprints. You know, put on my sprint spikes if I wanted to for the six, as opposed to running in sprint spikes for the eight."

She's anticipating a tough race.

"Yeah, I say it's the same ugly hurt," she said.

Murphy and Brazier raced each other in the 800m at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. In that race, they reversed their usual roles with Murphy, a kicker, taking the lead while Brazier followed, kicking past his teammate to get the win. They don't mind racing each other, they said, but at these championships they can support each other, instead.

"I don't mind racing each other," Brazier said, smiling at Murphy. "The week after next, or next weekend, we might get another opportunity to race each other at this Boston meet. But, I think it's kind of nice from each other to just get a break from the eight, because I think right now we are the top two Americans in the 800."

Murphy agreed. "We train with each other every day, so I think it's fun to race off-distances," Murphy responded. "Obviously, with no 800, you've got to pick. Don is more of a four/eight and I'm more of an eight/fifteen, so it kind of fits us. We'll race our off-distances and both chase our own titles."

Yulimar Rojas Sets Indoor Triple Jump World Record In Madrid

Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas set the women’s indoor triple jump world record on Friday in Madrid with a 15.43m leap. With it, the 24-year-old eclipsed Tatyana Lebedeva’s 15.36m mark that had stood since 2004.

Ababel Yeshaneh, Not Brigid Kosgei, Sets Half Marathon World Record

What was expected to be a coronation of marathon world record holder Brigid Kosgei as the half marathon queen instead turned into an introduction of a worthy counterpart as Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh stunned the Kenyan on Friday morning (Thursday night in the U.S.) at the Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Half Marathon by setting a 64:31 world record.

The 10 Best Performances From The Weekend

Between more Mondo Duplantis' theatrics in Glasgow, a ridiculous road 5k world record in Monaco and plenty of excitement stateside, there was a lot to get excited about this past weekend in track and field.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Don't Look Now... The NAU Lumberjacks Could Win NCAA Indoors

With just two weeks left to qualify for NCAAs a majority of the top-16 fields are coming into form on the distance side. The NAU men are currently slated to qualify ten entries across three distance events.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Joshua Cheptegei Smashes Road 5k World Record In 12:51

A little over a month after Rhonex Kipruto took down Joshua Cheptegei’s road 10k world record, the Ugandan has answered back in a big way by running 12:51 on Sunday in Monaco to smash Kipruto’s 5k world record. Cheptegei cut a whopping 27 seconds off the 13:18 that the Kenyan ran on Jan. 12, a run that came en route to Kipruto’s 26:24 10k record.

Mondo Does It Again, Breaks Pole Vault World Record

null

Mondo Duplantis is ushering in a new era of the pole vault, one centimeter at a time. Just a week removed from his world record clearance of 6.17m, the 20-year-old vaulted 6.18m at the Muller Indoor Grand Prix in Glasgow.

U.S. Indoor Women's Preview: Can Purrier Chase Down Houlihan?

The most interesting match-up of the indoor season materialized quickly. Last Saturday evening at the Millrose Games, Elinor Purrier dropped a stunning 4:16.85 mile to break the American record and dispatch a stacked field in a race that turned into a festival of personal bests and national records. It was a career-defining race for Purrier. A run fast enough to legitimately raise the question if she could beat America’s best mid-distance runner, Shelby Houlihan. This weekend at the US Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, Purrier will have two chances (the 3000m on Friday and the 1500m on Saturday) to pull it off. 

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

2020 High School Track & Field State Championships Central

2020 High School Indoor Track & Field State Championships:

Weekend Watch Guide: Simpson, Jones Chase Fast 5k At BU

One of the busiest weekends of the 2020 indoor track season is upon us, and FloTrack has you covered with several live events across the country. Boston will once again host some of the top professional and collegiate distance runners in the U.S., including Jenny Simpson, Dani Jones and Tyler Day.

U.S. Indoor Men's Preview: Coleman Debuts, Engels Battles Thompson, Murphy

The stakes for the 2020 USATF Indoor Championships were dramatically reduced in the wake of World Indoors being postponed due to the coronavirus. But prize money and bragging rights are incentive enough for the world’s fastest man and several top domestic distance runners this weekend in Albuquerque.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In