This afternoon, we’re in for something special: a unique event that feels like it could only happen during these strange Pandemic times: “NN World Record Day.”
You may be familiar with NN Running because of Eliud Kipchoge, who is the de facto team captain of this elite group of distance runners. But NN also features a roster of top track runners, including Joshua Cheptegei, who is putting together one of the greatest track seasons of all time.
NN World Record Day isn’t a typical track meet. It’s being held in Valencia, Spain, and was organized specifically to give two of the team’s top track stars, Cheptegei and Letesenbet Giday, an opportunity to take down a pair of the longest-standing and most challenging world records in the sport:
The women’s 5,000m and men’s 10,000m.
Here’s a breakdown of how you can watch the races, what time they start, what the fields look like, and what to look out for mid-race.
Of course, we’ll be live tweeting along with all the fun, so be sure to follow us @TheXCorg
Here is a cheat sheet so you can easily follow along. It’s just two main events back-to-back, so it’ll be a wild ride this afternoon.
Oh, and keep an eye out for our instant reaction podcast later this afternoon as well. Here are the links to a few spots for you to listen and subscribe 😉 :
Alright, let’s get into it!
Current world record: 14:11.15 (Tirunesh Dibaba)
June 6, 2008 (12 years)
Pace: 4:33/mile (2:50/km)
Avg. lap pace: 68 seconds
In the first of two events, Ethiopian Letesenbet Giday will attempt to break Tirunesh Dibaba‘s 5,000m world record of 14:11.15 from back in 2008. The 22-year-old Giday enters the race with a personal best of 14:23.17.
It’d more than a 12-second leap for Giday if she’s to break Dibaba’s longstanding record, which mean she’d have to run just about a second faster per lap.
Dibaba’s 2008 WR splits:
Dibaba’s last 200m split was 32.7
The field of six runners and two pacers also includes Uganda’s 1,500m record holder Winnie Nanyondo, who is making her 5,000m debut.
What to watch out for:
Dibaba ran her world record by increasingly picking up the pace with each kilometre split, accelerating through the second half. For Giday to be successful, she’ll no doubt have to run a much more evenly paced effort. Expect to see a very controlled first 2,000m.
Letesenbet Giday at the 2019 World Athletics Championships, where she was the silver medalist in the 10,000m
Here’s the official start list, including the pacers:
Current world record: 26:17.53 (Kenenisa Bekele)
Aug. 26, 2005 (15 years)
Pace: 4:14/mile (2:38/km)
Avg. lap pace: 63 seconds
Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei is the second race’s headliner, and it feels very much like this entire event was designed to give him a shot at becoming perhaps the most dominant track runner in the world right now.
The 24-year-old will attempt to break Kenenisa Bekele’s 10,000m world record of 26:17.53. In August, Cheptegei broke Bekele’s 5,000m world record of 12:37.35 by barely two seconds. His current 10,000m personal best sits at 26:48.36. Over 30 seconds seems like an impossible amount to overcome, but keep in mind that Cheptegei has made a huge jump this year, and it sounds like he’s quite confident he’ll take down this record.
Excellent pacing was a key aspect of Bekele’s world record run back in 2005, and it will surely play just as big a role today. Kenya’s Nicholas Kipkorir is slated to take Cheptegei through 5K in 13:05. Also in the field is Shadrack Kipchirchir, who will try to become only the third American to break 27:00.
Notable splits from Bekele’s 2005 world record:
Last lap: 57 seconds
What to watch out for:
Cheptegei’s 5,000m world record showed that he’s a) extremely fit and capable to challenge this record, and b) that he’s a master at even pacing. Fully expect that he’ll split the opening 5,000m at whatever his world record goal actually is. He hinted at the press conference this week that he’s in shape to blow the record apart, and that he feels he can become the greatest runner of all time. Crushing this record would be a big step in actualizing both of his goals. Expect an even second half, even if he’s running all alone.
Cheptegei after setting a new 5,000m WR in Monaco on August 14
The men’s start list:
Both races will be streamed live for free around the world via the NN Running Team YouTube channel for free! You can watch by clicking the feed below:
3:34 p.m. ET (9:34 p.m. CET) - Women’s 5,000m
3:55 p.m. ET (9:55 CET) - Men’s 10,000m
The XC Race Coverage
Follow us on Twitter @thexcorg for live updates of both races. And keep your eyes peeled for a post-race podcast episode. Michael Doyle and Alex Cyr will break down what just happened on the track, immediately after the event.
Buckle up, we’re in for a fast afternoon.