Is Yared Nuguse eyeing Alan Webb’s American Mile Record?

Photo of Yared Nuguse

While the press conference had the energy of a boxing match, Yared Nuguse and Jakob Ingebrigtsen conveyed substantial ambitions during their Friday discussion.

Yared Nuguse was merely an eight-year-old schoolboy enjoying his summer break when Alan Webb set the enduring American mile record of 3:46.91 at a small event in Brasschaat, Belgium. However, since that time, Nuguse, who established the USA indoor mile record of 3:47.38 at the Millrose Games last February, has often contemplated Webb’s record, initially as a distant dream but now as a reachable goal.

At the upcoming Bowerman Mile in Eugene, Oregon, which doubles as this year’s Wanda Diamond League Final, Nuguse finds himself in an ideal position to challenge Webb’s record. He will be up against a formidable field, including three other sub-3:50 milers – Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway, Stewart McSweyn of Australia, and George Mills of Great Britain.

Nuguse will also enjoy the advantage of having qualified pacemakers and a boisterous Hayward Field crowd cheering him on. The prospect of experiencing “Hayward Magic” awaits the former Notre Dame star as he approaches the final race of his season, a season during which he has already set three American records.

Nuguse expressed his excitement, stating, “I’ve always believed in giving your absolute best in your last performance.” Returning to America and Eugene fills him with joy, and he is determined to enhance his personal mile record. He emphasized that the mile discipline feels more natural to him than the 1500m.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen, the reigning World Athletics 5,000m champion, is taking part in both the mile on Saturday and the 3,000m on Sunday. Nevertheless, he regards the mile as his primary focus. Although he did not disclose a specific time goal, it is clear that he has his sights set on a rapid performance in Eugene. The fastest mile time in 2023 (outdoors) was a relatively modest 3:52.24 clocked by Australia’s Ollie Hoare in Melbourne in February.

Ingebrigtsen emphasized his determination to excel in the mile, stating, “First mile of the season, obviously the Diamond League Final, so hoping to bring (home) another trophy and hopefully a good time in the mile event.”

Hayward Field has a storied history of witnessing fast mile races in the USA, with the 3:50 barrier being broken 27 times at the venue, including two record-breaking runs by Ingebrigtsen – 3:47.24 in 2021 (a meeting record) and 3:49.76 in 2022.

Nuguse, with his 3:29.02 personal best in the 1,500m, translates to a 3:45.74 mile time, making him a strong contender. Having Ingebrigtsen as a pacer could provide a significant advantage in his quest for the record.

Nonetheless, Ingebrigtsen cautioned that achieving a fast time at Hayward Field is far from guaranteed.

“I believe it all hinges on the conditions,” Ingebrigtsen commented, choosing not to disclose the pacemaker’s requested pace. “We’re well aware that Hayward Field can pose challenges for fast running, especially in distance events. There’s typically a headwind with 300 meters to go, which can be a bit tricky. Our success will depend on whether we are fortunate with the conditions during a few laps.”

Nuguse, recognized for his modest aspirations, listened attentively to Ingebrigtsen. When asked about the potential to break Webb’s record, Nuguse responded cautiously, “Yes, I think it’s possible. If the race starts as fast as other Diamond League races, I believe it’s achievable.”

Ingebrigtsen, never one to shy away from banter with fellow competitors, playfully countered, “What do you mean by ‘the race?'”

Both athletes shared a laugh, and Nuguse clarified, “A lot depends on the competition, pacemakers, and various factors. Nevertheless, it’s shaping up to be a very fast race, likely around 3:46 or so. I’m excited to give it my all and see what I can accomplish.

Having run 3:47 indoors, I’m quite confident that I can push the boundaries further. They often say outdoor races are faster, so… “Ingebrigtsen quickly chimed in, jesting, “Stay with me as long as you can, and we’ll aim for sub-3:46. “Nuguse responded, “We’ll see, we’ll see. I might surprise you.”

Fan opinions are split on the outcome. In a recent Twitter poll conducted by Race Results Weekly, featuring 407 participants, 46.2 percent believed that Nuguse would break the record, while 53.8 percent thought he wouldn’t.

What appears nearly certain is that Nuguse will surpass his personal best of 3:53.34, a time he humorously referred to as “relatively slow outdoors” today. On Friday, Alan Webb’s wife, Julia, shared a video on Facebook depicting Alan running on a treadmill at their residence.

Webb, now 40 and serving as the head coach at Ave Maria University in Florida, did not provide any comments regarding the potential loss of his record. Julia Webb appended the following message:
“Does @yaredthegoose have what it takes to beat my 3:46.91?”

Ingebrigtsen playfully remarked, “Stick with me for as long as you can, and we’ll target a time faster than 3:46,” prompting laughter from both Nuguse and the audience.


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