LAST LAP — October

HERE’S THIS MONTH’S collection of short takes on generally off-track activities that have gone/will go a long way towards shaping the way the sport is headed.

With a treasure chest already bulging with OG & WC track medals, Sifan Hassan is thinking of turning to the marathon. (GLADYS CHAI/ASVOM AGENCY)

Plenty Of Wild Cards For The U.S.

In keeping with longtime protocols, nations will be allowed a maximum of 3 entries per event in the World Championships in Budapest next August. A fourth “Wild Card” entry will be allowed for reigning champions or the reigning Diamond League winner, although if a nation has both, it needs to choose which of the two it will use. The U.S. has a policy of choosing the defending champ.

The 12 U.S. holders of Wild Cards for ’23 (world champs unless noted otherwise):

Men: 100 — Fred Kerley (Trayvon Bromell DL backup); 200 — Noah Lyles; 400 — Michael Norman; 110H — Grant Holloway; SP — Ryan Crouser (Joe Kovacs DL backup).

Women: 800 — Athing Mu; 400H —Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone; PV — Katie Nageotte; SP — Chase Ealey; DT — Valarie Allman DL; HT — Brooke Andersen; JT — Kara Winger DL.

Hassan Thinking Of Stepping Up To Marathon

The Tokyo Olympics gave fans an idea of Sifan Hassan’s range. Over the course of 6 days, the Flying Dutchwoman won the 5000, took bronze in the 1500, then captured the 10,000. And don’t forget she also has impressive credentials beyond 10K, namely the hour-run WR and a European best of 1:05:15 in the half marathon.

Now, at 29, she can’t get the idea of 26.2M out of her head. “I’m really planning to run marathon,” she says. “I don’t know when, but I’m thinking about it, I’m thinking about it every night and every day, whenever I run.”

A sub-par ’22 campaign, with no medals in either the 5000 or 10,0000 in Eugene, doesn’t worry her. “In Tokyo I did amazing, but it affected me a lot. This year for me is like a break of a year. I have to have a very big goal and very big challenge to go forward.”

When asked if she might run the marathon at the next Olympics, she laughingly answered, “Why not?”

No Changes In NCAA XC Distance

The NCAA has released its report on actions taken at June’s Track & Field and XC Committee meeting. Most of the significant action was related to cross country.

The NCAA XC Championships will remain at their current distances — 10K for men, 6K for women — despite a well-publicized push by Run Equal 2023 that moved to have both men and women race at the 8K distance. The committee said no after USTFCCCA opposed the proposal, noting that 85% of men’s Div. I coaches and 76% of women opposed a change…

Nationals races will be getting bigger— just a little. The committee has approved an increase from 31 to 32 teams, meaning the field will now feature 262 runners…

The committee shot down a USTFCCCA recommendation to remove the requirement that individual qualifiers for nationals must finish in the top 25 at Regionals…

For indoor track, the committee is still reviewing whether to have men-only and women-only days of competition, as are held outdoors…

No major changes are in the works for outdoor track, other than additional warm-up time for the long throws.

’23 Diamond League Schedule Released

There will undoubtedly be further tweaking after the annual meeting in December, but the preliminary iteration of next year’s Wanda DL has been published.

The top-end invitational series is once again planned to be a 14-meet affair: 13 preliminary gatherings and then a 2-day finale. For the first time, the Final will be on U.S. soil, Eugene’s Pre Classic set to host.

The tentative schedule:
April — 27 Shenzen, China;
May — 06 Shanghai, China; 19 Doha, Qatar; 28 Rabat, Morocco;
June — 02 Rome, Italy; 09 Paris, France; 15 Oslo, Norway; 30 Lausanne, Switzerland;
July — 02 Stockholm, Sweden; 21 Fontvieille, Monaco; 23 London, England;
(July 19–27 is the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary)
August — 31 Zürich, Switzerland;
September — 08 Brussels, Belgium; 16–17 Eugene, Oregon

WA Sets ’23 Indoor Tour Calendar

Before we get to the Diamond League, of course, there’s the indoor season to consider. WA is currently listing a 44-meet schedule. The meets will be in 4 groupings: Gold (7 meets), Silver (15), Bronze (13) & Challenger (9).

There are no U.S. meets in the three lower groups, but a pair appear at the top end. The Gold setup as it currently stands:
January — 27 Karlsruhe, Germany;
February — 04 Boston, Massachusetts (New Balance Indoor); 08 Toruń, Poland; 11 New York City (Millrose); 14 Liévin, France; 22 Madrid, Spain; 25 Birmingham, England.

’23 World Indoor Champs Postponed

If you were hoping to go to Nanjing for the World Indoors next March, scratch that thought. WA has opted to postpone the Chinese edition of the meet until March ’25.
For all intents and purposes, international events in China have been shut down since the beginning of the pandemic and for the foreseeable future, as the Chinese government continues its zero-tolerance policy toward COVID.

The Nanjing event was originally scheduled for 2020, then was postponed to ’21, then to ’23. Like a game of kick the can, the World Indoors (as well as the two Chinese meets on the Diamond League schedule), might never happen, but rather than canceling on China, athletics leaders are opting for perpetual extensions.

Said WA head Seb Coe,“We’re disappointed that we have had to postpone this event again due to circumstances beyond our control, but we have done so to give certainty to athletes and member federations preparing for the 2023 competition season. Unfortunately, the timeframe will prevent us from relocating the 2023 event, but the indoor championships will return in 2024 in Glasgow.

“We have offered Nanjing the 2025 edition because we are mindful of the substantial preparations the LOC has already done to host the event and we want to avoid potential financial losses for all parties.”

Budapest23 Q-Standards Released

Other than tightening the numbers, World Athletics will not be changing its 2-prong qualifying system for the World Championships in Budapest next August. A tight set of performance standards is projected to provide approximately half of the competitors, with the other half coming from the WA world rankings. A variety of Wild Cards will also be available.

The performance standards:

Men — 10.00, 20.16, 45.00, 1:44.70, 3:34.20/3:51.00y, 8:15.00, 13:07.00, 27:10.00, 13.28, 48.70, 2:09:40, 1:20:10, 2:29:40, 2.32, 5.81, 8.25, 17.20, 21.40, 67.00, 78.00, 85.20, 8460.
Women — 11.08, 22.60, 51.00, 1:59.80, 4:03.50/4:22.00y, 9:23.00, 14:57.00, 30:40.00, 12.78, 54.90, 2:28:00, 1:29:20, 2:51:30, 1.97, 4.71, 6.85, 14.52, 18.80, 64.20, 73.60, 63.80, 6480.

Qualifying periods: for Marathon/35K Walk December 01, 2021–May 30, 2023. For 10K, 20K walk and multis, January 31, 2022–July 30, 2023. For all other events, July 31, 2022–July 30, 2023.

Budapest Schedule Doubling-Friendly

The specifics of the ’23 World Champs timetable have been released. The 9-day schedule (August 19–27, a week earlier than had earlier been suggested) is being characterized as very amenable to most “popular” doubles.

Specifically, notes WA, the 100/200, 800/1500, 1500/5000, 5000/10,000 and both walks are combos available to both sexes “without athletes having to contest more than one round in any given session.” Likewise for the women’s 200/400 and LJ/TJ.

Said Seb Coe in announcing the schedule, “Creating the timetable for an outdoor World Championships is a complex balancing act, taking into account the needs of athletes, broadcasters and the host city, as well as our other stakeholders. I’m confident that a return to a 9-day program and evening-only finals in the stadium will be embraced by our athletes and audience in Budapest, and by those watching around the world.”

We’ll publish a more detailed schedule early in ’23. For now, here’s how the finals are laid out:
Men’s Finals — Day 1: 20W, SP (+ mixed 4×4); Day 2: 100, 10,000, HT; Day 3: 110H, DT; Day 4: St, HJ; Day 5: 1500, 400H; Day 6: 400, 35W, LJ; Day 7: 200, TJ; Day 8: 800, 4×1, PV, Dec; Day 9: 5000, Mar, 4×4, JT.
Women’s Finals — Day 1: 10,000 (+ mixed 4×4); Day 2 — 20W, LJ, Hept; Day 3: 100, TJ; Day 4: 1500, DT; Day 5: 400, PV; Day 6: 100H, 400H, 35W, HT; Day 7: 200, JT; Day 8: 5000, Mar, 4×1, SP; Day 9: 800, St, 4×4, HJ.

Coe Says Take Olympics To The Streets

The “city” events we have seen outside of the main stadiums at various Diamond League meetings in recent years are a model for what the Olympics should be doing, says Seb Coe.

The WA head is pushing the Paris ’24 organizers to look hard at bringing some of track’s events out of the stadium. “I think it’s worth it. I know they pose challenges, there are security costs, but actually, it’s very much in keeping with the vision the IOC has for expanding the footprint for sport.”

Outside of the road events, the only notable Olympic track or field event to be held outside of the main stadium was the ’04 shot, held in the ancient Olympia stadium in Greece.

“You are forever trying to figure out how you can get as many people to watch sport as possible,” continued Coe. “If your ambition is to use it as a vehicle to get more young people challenged to join judo clubs, tennis clubs, athletics clubs, then you need to give them as much exposure to that as possible.

“We have to do more to try to democratize sport. It can’t just be about a handful of people, relatively, that can afford tickets or get lucky in a ballot. We need to broaden that base.”

WA’s Budget Looking Strong

After three years of pandemic and a delayed Olympics, one might think World Athletics would face some financial challenges. Perhaps, but the sport’s governing body has emerged in strong financial shape, with cash reserves of more than $53 million.

From only $2.1 million in profit in ’20, the organization cleared $29.8 million in ’21. Half of the overall revenue came from the IOC’s distribution of monies from the ’21 Games—notably not an annual windfall. Otherwise, WA’s revenue sources remained fairly steady.

Where does the money go? The major costs WA faced in ’21: $23.5 million for competition and events, $9.1 million for grants and development, and $8.8 million for AIU.
According to the WA report, the sanctions resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine have had “no material impact” on WA finances.

One related item of note: WA has agreed to loan the Diamond League $2 million over ’23 and ’24, to be paid back in ’25.

Big Bucks For Schumacher At Oregon

What did it take to lure Nike Bowerman coach Jerry Schumacher back into the college ranks to head the Oregon program? Millions, reports the Portland Oregonian.

The paper says that Schumacher’s contract spans 7 years and is worth more than $3.4 million before bonuses. There are scheduled raises each year ($12,500), retention bonuses ($50,000 if he stays through June ’26, $100,000 if he makes it to June ’29).

Then there are the team performance bonuses: $12,500 for a Conference win, $30,000 for an NCAA win. A good academic progress report can get him $5000 a year.

And should he somehow displease the university, his buyout would be $500,000 in ’23, dropping $100K a year, but bouncing back up if certain conditions are met.

Better days indeed for Schumacher, now 51, who reportedly was making an annual base of $89K toward the end of his 10-year tenure in Wisconsin. ◻︎

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