After opening his season with a pair of quick miles, Edward Cheserek launched an assault on a big barrier
Edward Cheserek would change only one thing about his called-shot sub-3:50 mile at the Hemery Invitational, an attack on the barrier that carried the first-year pro across the line on Boston University’s oval in 3:49.44, the No. 2 performance ever indoors.
Only Hicham El Guerrouj has run faster, 3:48.45 in ’97. Indoor king in the ’80s Eamonn Coghlan and Bernard Lagat are also in the sub-3:50 club.
“I wish there had been some other guys there to race with,” says the Kenyanseeking- U.S.-citizenship who finished his career at Oregon last year with an astounding record haul of NCAA titles in the sport, 17 in all.
Rest assured after this run in which he was accompanied only by a pair of pacers, there will be invitations aplenty for Cheserek to line up and race elite opponents. In fact, Ches accepted one less than 24 hours later at the New Balance GP (see p. 23).
Uninterested in a spot on Kenyan’s team for the World Indoor since that would delay his hopes to represent the U.S. internationally after he completes the naturalization process, Cheserek and his coaches instead set out a tight 15-day indoor schedule to test his fitness at the short end of his range.
Ches passed the exam with the aplomb he once used to roll past collegiate opposition. He unreeled a 3:54.73 mile at the New Mexico Team Invite and then a 3:53.85 runaway from Rio 5000 silver medalist Paul Chelimo to win by 4.74 on the Camel City Invitational’s unbanked 200 track.
“I ran 3:53 at Camel City,” he says, “and [his new Run Flagstaff coach Stephen Haas] said, ‘Why don’t we go for sub-3:50?’ ”
Six days later at 7:00 pm Ches was on the BU start line alongside pacers Brannon Kidder and Drew Piazza before a loud gathering of cheering fans. Running in close single file with Ches at the rear, Kidder worked at the front through 220s for Cheserek of 28.9, 57.8 and 1:55.0 and stepped off.
Piazza now leading for two laps helped Cheserek to a 2:52.6 split, and then, alone, the Kenyan-turned-New-Jersey-prep who wowed as a collegian wowed clamorous spectators again—28.2 for the next 220y (3:20.8). He needed 29.2 for his last furlong; he punched out a 28.7 and went through the 1500 in a world-leading 3:33.76.
“I felt really good the whole race,” he says, “very comfortable.”
Full of run down the last backstretch, he rounded the last turn with arms swinging fast and wide, familiar form, as he drove the last homestretch to nail his target.
“It makes me excited to see what I can do outdoors at longer distances, 5K and 10K,” Ches told T&FN later after joking immediately afterwards this might be his last mile.
“I might try some 1500s and next year indoors if I’m feeling good maybe we’ll see if I can run faster.”
Cheserek, whose 24th birthday fell 8 days earlier, is now sponsored by Skechers and preparing at altitude in Flagstaff guided by Haas, himself a 13:33.59 man in the 5000 in ’08.
“The training has been good, I feel strong” Cheserek says. “It’s about the same [as what he did at Oregon].”
Haas and Duck distance coach Andy Powell are collaborating on Cheserek’s transition to pro racing. “I talk with [Powell] all the time,” Ches says. “My volume is a little higher now. I used to do some 15M [long runs]. Now I do 16–18M.”
During his planned rest week after Hemery, Ches told T&FN, “I’ve been running every day, but just easy runs… My first outdoor race will probably be in April.”