BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, March 03—The pressure was on for Yomif Kejelcha after coach Alberto Salazar promised he would make a simultaneous brave attempt on the 1500 and mile World Records on the Boston University track. There was motivation aplenty for the 21-year-old Ethiopian, who had finished a tantalizing 0.01 short of tieing the mile WR at the Millrose Games 3 weeks ago and then 7 days later placed 2nd to Samuel Tefera’s 1500 WR at the Birmingham WIT meet.
This time Kejelcha came close to one of his targets and demolished the other in a stunning display of milesmanship that resulted in a 3:47.01 World Record, crushing Hicham El Guerrouj’s 3:48.45 standard from 22 years ago.
Three rabbits led the way in a carefully choreographed race organizers called the Bruce Lehane Memorial Mile, run after the conclusion of the IC4A/ECAC championships. Erik Sowinski did the initial pacesetting, with Christian Harrison running alongside Kejelcha, reportedly to keep him from drifting too far from the curb and on a tight line in the early going. At 440y, Kejelcha was 56.4.
Harun Abda took over the tempo after the halfway mark (1:53.7). Sensing that he was too slow, Kejelcha vetoed the race plan and moved into the lead on the backstretch before 900m. He hit 1000m in 2:21.5 and continued to accelerate, passing 1320y at 2:50.5. The Ethiopian blitzed past the 1500 post in 3:31.25, 0.21 short of Tefera’s record, and hit the finish in 3:47.01. “Finally! I can’t imagine a better way to complete this indoor season,” Kejelcha declared via Instagram. “Thank you to the BU staff, supporters, and Nike for making this opportunity possible. I’m happy with the ‘.01’ result this time!”
Just as stunning were the performances in Kejelcha’s wake, as Johnny Gregorek hit 3:49.98 to miss Bernard Lagat’s 14-year-old AR by just 0.09. “Still in shock! 3:49 for the GREGOREK FAMILY RECORD!,” tweeted the Asics miler. (Father John ran 3:51.34 outdoors in ’82.) “Infinite thanks to everyone in my corner. I guess now I’ll try to break 3:40??” Gregorek’s fellow Oregon alum Sam Prakel ran 3:50.94 to edge Henry Wynne (3:51.26) for 3rd as PRs abounded up and down the line.
The difference in preparation for Kejelcha this time, according to Nike Oregon Project mastermind Salazar, was a matter of more pointedly focusing on the record attempt. “We’ve been a few weeks since he ran in England,” Salazar told runnerspace.com, “and that’s not really time to do a bunch of different workouts or try and get any fitter. Maybe a little more sharp but at that point over the last two weeks it’s been really just stressing it more than we have stressed it before for the other races. For those races he was probably running 70 miles a week or so, he doesn’t do a lot, but for this race we really cut back, so he’s probably only run 30 or 40 miles this week, really rested him up.
“So that was the goal: don’t get too cute and try and overthink it, do some fancy workouts. Just don’t tire him out, rest him and I think he ran too fast before Millrose, a couple of days before. So this time we talked before the workout and he was fine with doing 8 times a 200 at race pace. It felt much easier for him and it was good for today.”
Kejelcha, winner of the last two World Indoor 3000 crowns, will now return to training in Oregon, with outdoor world titles in the 5000 and/or 10,000 in his sights for Doha in the fall.
LEHANE MILE RESULTS
Boston, Massachusetts, March 03 (200 banked)—
1. Yomif Kejelcha (Eth) 3:47.01 WR (old WR 3:48.45 Hicham El Guerrouj [Mor] ’97) (in/out: 9, 18 W (3:31.25 PR [3, 3 W]);
2. Johnny Gregorek (Asics) 3:49.98 PR (AL) (6, 7 W; 2, 2 A; in/out: 7, x A (3:35.21 PR [AL] [3, 3 A]); 3. Sam Prakel (adi) 3:50.94 PR (=10, =13 W; 5, 5 A;) (3:35.64 PR [5, 8 A]); 4. Henry Wynne (BB) 3:51.26 PR (7, 7 A) (3:36.09 PR [8, 11 A); 5. Craig Engels (NikOP) 3:53.89 PR (3:35.79 PR [6, 9 A]);
6. Rob Napolitano (HokaNJ*NY) 3:54.28 PR (3:37.14 PR); 7. Jeremy Hernandez (HokaNJ*NY) 3:55.66 PR (3:37.90 PR); 8. Travis Mahoney (HokaNJ*NY) 3:57.86 PR (3:41.66 PR); 9. Kyle Merber (HokaNJ*NY) 3:57.92 (3:41.74);… rabbits—Erik Sowinski (Nik), Christian Harrison (BAA), Harun Abda (OTC).
LEHANE WOMEN’S RESULTS
1. Ce’Aira Brown (HokaNJ*NY) 4:28.12 PR; 2. Heather MacLean (NBalB) 4:29.74 PR; 3. Helen Schlachtenhaufen (FreeTC) 4:31.78 PR; 4. Danielle Aragon (HokaNJ*NY) 4:31.79 PR; 5. Katrina Coogan (NBalB) 4:32.95 PR; 6. Megan Mansy (HokaNJ*NY) 4:33.90 PR; 7. Stephanie Schappert (HokaNJ*NY) 4:33.90 PR; 8. Jamie Morrisey (HokaNJ*NY) 4:40.63 PR. □