Hobbs Kessler wins the mile in Riga (© Adam Nurkiewicz)
The men’s mile lived up to its status as the most wide-open event of the World Athletics Road Running Championships Riga 23 as USA’s 20-year-old Hobbs Kessler took a surprising victory in a world record of 3:56.13*.
In a close and frantic finish with the first nine men placing within two seconds of one another, Britain’s Callum Elson took an equally surprising silver in a PB of 3:56.41, finishing just 0.02 ahead of former world record-holder Sam Prakel, who took bronze.
Kenya’s world U20 mile record-holder Reynold Kipkorir Cheruiyot led during the early stages and reached the first turn before anyone else, but the teenager was soon caught by the rest of the field.
South Africa’s Ryan Mphahlele and Kenya’s Kyumbe Munguti then edged into the lead and passed the 1km marker in 2:29, but there were still about 20 runners in close contact, including Kessler, Elson and Prakel.
Mphahlele was first to reach the final turn and he continued to lead as the clock ticked over to 3:00, but more than a dozen men were still packed close behind, ready to strike. The South African eventually dropped into the pack as Kessler made a move on the side of the pack.
With about 20 seconds of running left, Munguti, Elson, Canada’s Kieren Lumb and Eritrea’s Yobiel Weldrufael were level with Kessler. But with the finish in sight, Kessler proved to have the better sprint finish as he broke the tape in 3:56.13.
Elson and Prakel, on either side of the lead pack, tried their best to catch the former high school phenomenon, but had to make do with silver (3:56.41) and bronze (3:56.43) respectively.
"It's been a a really up and down year and I luckily got in really good shape at the end of the season," said Kessler. "The road mile is a very American event and we're quite experienced in them. I'm very proud of myself.
"Nick Willis texted me before it and said, 'draft as long as you can,' there was a big headwind in the last 800 metres, and about 150 metres out I struck for home, but immediately regretted it as I got hit with a big blast of wind. I didn't realise how close it was. I was waiting for them to run me down.
"I just bought a house two weeks ago so now I have some money for furniture, I guess."
Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure
|MEN'S MILE MEDALLISTS|
|🥇||Hobbs Kessler 🇺🇸 USA||3:56.13 WR|
|🥈||Callum Elson 🇬🇧 GBR||3:56.41 PB|
|🥉||Sam Prakel 🇺🇸 USA||3:56.43 PB|