ON YOUR MARKS — February

Veteran miler Nick Willis, a 4-time (and counting) Kiwi Olympian, has set a WR of sorts with his 19th straight year as a sub-4:00 performer. (VICTOR SAILER/PHOTO RUN)

WITH HIS 3:58.63 at a January meet in Florida, 37-year-old Nick Willis has now run a sub-4:00 mile for 19-straight years, breaking the record set by fellow New Zealander John Walker 1973–90…

The NCAA has announced that for ’21 only, it will cut the field size of the track Regionals from 48 to 32 individuals. Relays would remain at 24 teams. Accordingly, this would reduce the overall championship field by more than 1100 athletes…

In a major signing, Puma picked up vault star Sandi Morris after her Nike contract expired. Similarly, the German shoemaker signed road star Molly Seidel, who was formerly with Saucony. Puma also picked up Arkansas alum Taylor Werner, Stanford’s ’19 NCAA steeple champ Steven Fahy and Stanford’s Fiona O’Keeffe, who had originally been looking at a graduate transfer…

French sprinter Jimmy Vicaut is now training in Florida with noted U.S. coach Rana Reider…

Sifan Hassan is back in the Netherlands because of visa/C-19 travel challenges, but hopes to return to the U.S. this spring. For this year, she says, “Right now, I’m thinking of the 5000 and 10,000m. The 1500m remains my favorite, but I don’t see myself running that distance at the moment.”…

Former Wisconsin runner Sarah DiSanza is making a comeback after not having raced in 2 years, and has joined Hanson Brooks ODP…

Alexa Efraimson has hooked up with Pete Julian’s Nike training group…

Olympic 800 finalist Kate Grace has departed Nike Bowerman and signed on with Team Boss in Colorado, coached by Joe Bosshard…

Ryan Hill has also left Nike Bowerman. The 7-time U.S. Ranker at 5000, now 30, will be training and competing with Hoka NAZ Elite…

In January an auction house sold Ivan Pedroso’s ’00 Olympic long jump gold medal for $71,335…

Hurdler Aaron Mallett says he competed in ’20 for the money: “I didn’t have a choice. I needed the money. The loan was starting to run out, and I wanted to put my name out there and show I could compete.”…

Doha 800 bronze medalist Ferguson Cheruiyot of Kenya says that after Tokyo he will concentrate on the 1500, where he has a 3:33.21 PR…

South African Olympian Marius van Heerden, a 1:44.57 performer in ’96, has died of C19 at age 46…

The mystery of the ’11 death of Beijing Olympic marathon Samuel Wanjiru is still not resolved, as a Kenyan court recently heard testimony from two government pathologists who said that his demise was not caused by the reported one-story balcony fall, but rather because he was struck on the back of the head with a blunt object…

When Michigan native Nathan Martin ran his 2:11:05 at December’s Marathon Project, that marked the fastest time ever by a U.S.-born Black runner. The old best was held by Herm Atkins with a 2:11:52 from ’79…

One of the key drivers of the GameStop Reddit mania that is the talk of the financial world is a YouTuber named Keith Gill. Track fans in the Northeast might remember him as a 4:03.43 miler for Div. III Stonehill…

Christian Noble of Lee University ran 13:37.49 for 5000 at the first Magic City Elite meet, but even though the time betters the all-time Div. II record, it may not count for NCAA qualifying because of the use of pacer lights. Technical assistance with pacesetting is banned by NCAA rules. According to meet director Dave Milner, an NCAA official said the case would go before a committee…

NAZ Elite has renewed its partnership with eyewear manufacturer Rudy Project, additional support for the Hoka One One-sponsored club…

Usain Bolt, singer? The Jamaican legend has released a ditty called Living The Dream

Distance great Sonia O’Sullivan has written that Tokyo can and must go ahead by following a system similar to the strict testing/quarantine regimen the Australians are using for tennis’s Australian Open. In short, athletes who test positive would not be let in, she said: “It won’t be fair, and a lot of people will not be happy, but I can’t see how else the Games can go ahead.”…

With 66 WC/OG medalists banned since the AIU was set up in ’17, plus another 130 of lesser accomplishments, track & field was recently heralded as taking the idea of clean competition more seriously than other major sports. Whether the steady drumbeat of drug announcements helps the sport’s image is open for debate…

Not a huge surprise, but a new 10-year study of four of the World Marathon Majors suggests that carbon-plate “super shoes” provide a 1-2% improvement in times, with women benefiting more than men. Math on that upper estimate: 2% in a 2:20 marathon is a not-insignificant 2:48…

The IOC’s Dick Pound warns that with President Trump’s signing of the Olympic Reform Bill, the U.S. is no longer in compliance with the Olympic Charter, and possibly has violated WADA rules. “If the U.S. becomes a rogue state, I think we will start looking at whether the Games in Los Angeles should proceed,” he told Reuters…

Also faced with the threat of IOC sanctions, the Italian government agreed to guarantee the autonomy of the Italian Olympic committee…

A new biography has hit the shelves (or Amazon, rather) on a former NCAA 800 champion for Oregon. Titled Stable Boy: David Mack: A Story of Struggle, Success, Shadows, and Redemption, it covers more than just the track career of the 1:43.35 talent; he also served more than a decade in prison after an armed robbery…

Dave McGillivray, the longtime director of the Boston Marathon, has applied his organizational skills to fighting the pandemic. His DMSE Sports organization is now working with Massachusetts to set up a mass vaccination site…

Many sports organizations have suffered financially in the pandemic, but the NCAA’s losses are a doozy: an estimated $600 million drop in revenue…

The British Indoor Championships have been canceled…

The Asian Championships, set for May 20–23 in Hangzhou, China, have also been taken off the schedule…

At this point the Euro Indoor is still scheduled for Toruń, Poland, March 05–07. The current plan is that all athletes, coaches and officials need to have a negative C19 test. No spectators will be allowed…

The Osaka International Women’s Marathon will go off as scheduled on January 31, but the course has been changed to a small loop with the field restricted to 99 runners…

Glasgow is considering trying to land the ’24 World Indoor

Budapest is reportedly studying the viability of a ’32 Olympic hosting

Meanwhile, Kenya keeps preparing its ’25 World Championships bid. “We are doing everything necessary to bid to host this world event,” says Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei…

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce says that being 34 is not going to be a problem for her in Tokyo: “If I can come back from having my son and be able to stand on the podium, my age is not going to stop me.”…

The west side of Louisville is now host to the Norton Sports Health Athletics & Learning complex, a $35 million production that includes an outdoor track and a 200m banked hydraulic track with a Mondo surface…

An Ypsilanti, Michigan, high school may be the first in the nation with its own 300m indoor track. The Lincoln Athletic Building facility is set to host its first meets in the coming weeks…

How hard can it be? The CFO of the state of Florida wrote a letter to the IOC offering to host the ’21 Olympics should Tokyo not be able to do so. “Unlike other states, when the COVID-19 vaccine comes to Florida it doesn’t just sit on the shelf wrapped in government red tape; it moves fast to protect our communities,” said Jimmy Patronis. Skeptics noted that Florida has one-fifth the population of Japan yet 5 times the COVID fatalities, and is probably lacking in the secure infrastructure that would be needed to host an event the magnitude of the Games…

In a daunting logistical challenge, organizers of the Olympic Torch Relay are reportedly making contingency plans to conduct the 10,000-runner event without using public roads. Instead, they would confine the event to parks and sports arenas to avoid crowds of onlookers…

The Big 10 is allowing Michigan to run in a non-conference cross country meet to try to qualify for Nationals. The conference had limited its teams to the Big 10 race in late January plus Nationals, but Michigan had to miss the Big 10 event because of a 2-week mandated shutdown by state health authorities…

Olympic relay gold medalist Bianca Knight has developed an app called BK Trackstars to help train athletes using predictive algorithms to generate workouts…

The NJCAA has announced that individual qualifying marks from the ’20 season will carry over to the ’21 JUCO Indoor Championships. In addition, all entrants must be COVID-tested…

Correction-department note for print-only subscribers: If you were thrown by the 18-9¼ (5.72) vault attributed to Katie Nageotte in our Podium Rankings in January, please disregard it. That was just a reading challenge, and so far only 57-year subscriber Bob Langenbach passed the test. □

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