US distance runner Grant Fisher (© Getty Images)
Double Olympic finalist Grant Fisher smashed the North American indoor 5000m record and even put the world record under threat, winning with 12:53.73 at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational in Boston on Saturday (12).
Canada's Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, meanwhile, also took down the North American indoor record in the women's 5000m, winning in 14:31.38.
The men's event was one of the fastest and deepest indoor 5000m races of all time, with three men finishing inside 13 minutes for the first time ever. Olympic silver medallist Moh Ahmed was second in a Canadian record of 12:56.87 while Britain’s Marc Scott broke the European record with 12:57.08 for third place. In both of the two fastest heats, 11 men finished inside 13:25 – a level of depth that had never been achieved before in a single race.
Fisher and his international training partners set out with the clear intent to run a fast time. They passed through the first kilometre just outside 2:36 and went through 2000m just inside 5:15, which was some way outside the pace required for a sub-13-minute finish.
After reaching 3000m in 7:53.51 with Britain’s Sam Atkin leading the pack, the pace started to increase; the 32-second laps became 31-second laps, then progressed to 30 and even quicker. With the fourth kilometre covered in 2:31.76, Atkin drifted off the pace, leaving Fisher, Ahmed, Emmanuel Bor and Scott at the front of the lead group.
The final kilometre was even quicker. Fisher, now dictating the race, started to open up a gap on Ahmed with four laps to go. Finishing with a 28.96 last lap – his fastest of the race – and a 2:28.21 final kilometre, Fisher crossed the line in 12:53.73, smashing Galen Rupp’s North American indoor record of 13:01.26 set back in 2014.
Fisher now sits at fifth on the world indoor all-time list, just four seconds shy of Kenenisa Bekele’s world record (12:49.60), and one place ahead of Eliud Kipchoge. Ahmed (12:56.87) and Scott (12:57.08), meanwhile, move to seventh and eighth respectively on the world indoor all-time list.
Behind the top three, Emmanuel Bor narrowly missed out on breaking 13 minutes, clocking 13:00.48. Atkin held on for fifth place with 13:03.64 and Jonas Raess set a Swiss record of 13:07.95 in sixth – tantalisingly close to breaking the outright Swiss record of 13:07.54 set by Markus Ryffel back in 1984.
Six days after opening her season with a Canadian record over 3000m, DeBues-Stafford set her first continental record when winning the women's 5000m in Boston.
The world and Olympic 1500m finalist metronomically churned out 36-second laps for the opening kilometres, taking turns to share the lead with USA’s Elise Cranny as the duo passed through 3000m in about 8:41. The training partners then increased their pace, throwing in some sub-34-second laps, as Cranny started to open a gap with four laps remaining.
Just as she did last weekend in Staten Island, though, DeBues-Stafford found an extra gear in the closing stages and covered the final lap in 30.81 seconds to reach the finish line in 14:31.38. Cranny was close behind in 14:33.17, breaking the US record.
Stafford and Cranny now move to fifth and sixth respectively on the world indoor all-time list. Steeplechase specialist Courtney Frerichs was third in 14:48.75.
Earlier in the meeting, Stafford’s sister Lucia had won the mile in 4:24.42, moving her to second on the Canadian indoor all-time list behind DeBues-Stafford.
US teenager Roisin Willis smashed her PB to win the 800m in 2:00.06. 16-year-old Sophia Gorriaran was second in a world U18 best of 2:00.58. Up until last January, their times would have broken the world U20 indoor record. They now sit at third and fourth respectively on the world U20 all-time list behind Olympic gold and silver medallists Athing Mu and Keely Hodgkinson.
Elsewhere in Boston, World finalist Neil Gourley won the men's 1500m in a world-leading 3:35.32, an outright PB, and Yared Nuguse won the men's 3000m in a US collegiate record of 7:38.13, winning by nine seconds from Australia's Cameron Griffith (7:47.18).
World leads for Steiner, Williams and Ross
NCAA indoor champion Abby Steiner sped to a world-leading 22.37 over 200m at the Tiger Paw Invitational in Clemson on Saturday (12).
The 22-year-old trimmed 0.01 from the collegiate record she set when winning the NCAA indoor title last year. The improvement means she moves to fifth on the world all-time list, and her run is the fastest indoor 200m clocking since 1996. Rhasidat Adeleke, still just 19 years of age, was second in 22.87.
One day earlier, Steiner had produced the fastest 60m clocking of the day with her 7.12 PB run in the semifinals.
Jamaica’s Danielle Williams continued her unbeaten run this year in the 60m hurdles, speeding to a world-leading 7.75 on Friday on the first day of action at the Tiger Paw Invitational.
The 2015 world 100m hurdles champion had won her heat in 7.86, then went even quicker in the final to take 0.08 off the PB she had set at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Staten Island last weekend. Paula Salmon finished second in 7.83, having clocked 7.93 in the heats.
It’s Williams’ fourth victorious competition in a row, having opened her season in Clemson with 7.92 before going on to win in Karlsruhe (7.84) and Staten Island (7.83). She now sits at equal 12th on the world indoor all-time list and is just 0.01 shy of the long-standing Jamaican record set by Michelle Freeman in 1998.
Another world-leading mark came in the men’s 400m in Clemson. US Olympian Randolph Ross ran a well-controlled race, passing through 200m in 20.91 before overtaking Elija Godwin on the backstraight to eventually win in 44.83. Godwin was second in 45.38 and Dwight St Hillaire of Trinidad & Tobago third in 45.90.
Teenager Leonard Mustari won the men’s 60m hurdles in 7.55, equalling the fastest ever mark achieved by an U20 athlete over the senior height barriers. Legendary Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang is the co-holder of that mark.
Devon Brooks was second in the 60m hurdles, just 0.01 behind Mustari.
Former heptathlete Akela Inatta-Jones of Barbados, now focusing on the long jump, equalled her own national indoor record of 6.80m to win comfortably from Chanice Porter (6.55m).
World silver medallist Danniel Thomas-Dodd of Jamaica won the shot put with 18.80m, her best indoor throw since taking world indoor silver in 2018. Adelaide Aquilla was second with 18.69m.
Elsewhere, Kimberly Williams won the triple jump with 14.32m, and Alexis Holmes won the 400m in 51.27 from Kennedy Simon (51.60) and Stacey Ann Williams (51.78).
World best for US distance medley quartet
A US quartet comprising Ella Donaghu, Raevyn Rogers, Sinclaire Johnson and Shannon Osika set a world indoor best for the distance medley relay at the Lilac Grand Prix in Spokane.
The discipline, which is rarely run outside of the US at the elite level, comprises legs of 1200m, 400m, 800m and 1600m. In what was essentially a solo effort by the foursome, Donaghu opened proceedings with a 3:16.02 split for the first leg. Rogers, the world 800m silver medallist, produced a 52.69 effort for the 400m section, keeping them on track for a world best.
Johnson then took up the running and covered four laps in 2:02.90 before handing over to anchor runner Osika, who ran 4:28.33 for her leg, crossing the line in 10:39.91 to trim 0.4 from the previous world best time.
At the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Trey Cunningham’s momentum continued in the 60m hurdles as he sped to victory in 7.42. He had earlier won his heat in 7.54.
There were fast times in the women’s event too, as Alia Armstrong smashed her PB to win with 7.81 from Grace Stark (8.00). Stark had produced the fastest time in the heats with 7.86.
Were it not for Ewa Swoboda’s 7.00 clocking in Lodz just hours earlier, Marybeth Sant-Price’s 7.04 run in Fayetteville would have stood as a world-leading mark. Nevertheless, the 26-year-old was more than satisfied with her fifth and sixth PBs of the year, having clocked 7.06 in the heats before improving by 0.02 in the final. She now moves to 10th on the US indoor all-time list.
Olympic bronze medallist Shericka Jackson, contesting the first indoor race of her career, ran 7.28 in the heats and improved to 7.12 in the final.
Olympic finalist Tara Davis sailed out to a season’s best of 6.84m to win the women’s long jump. Laquarn Nairn of The Bahamas won the men’s event with 8.11m, just five centimetres shy of his own national indoor record.
Other track highlights came in the 400m with Jenoah McKiver winning the men’s race in 45.39 from Ryan Willie (45.83) and Champion Allison (45.92), while hurdles specialist Shamier Little won the women’s event in 51.91.
At the Windy City Invitational in Chicago, Cooper Teare and Cole Hocker set out to break the North American indoor mile record of 3:49.98. They came up just short, but had the consolation of a slight improvement on their respective PBs with Teare winning in a world-leading 3:50.17 and Hocker taking second place in 3:50.35.