Each week, two of our contributors or special guests face off in The XC's Top 5 Running Show, dissecting five stories from the week in the world of distance running and track and field. They offer their best and hottest takes to the host, Michael Doyle, who rewards them in points.

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The panelist with the deepest knowledge and hottest takes will emerge from this five-lap sprint of ideas the victor. The prize? We give them the mic atop the podium to tell us something important or exciting they want to share with you. And seven days of bragging rights, of course.

We’ll be pushing this show out both as a podcast on The XC’s feed each Monday, and as a video on our YouTube and IGTV channels, at around 7 p.m. ET. So be sure to  follow us @thexcorg and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

This week:

This third episode of the Top 5 Running Show pits two of The XC's regulars against each other: Alex Cyr and Andrew Cruickshank.

In this episode, they debate:

Can the 2021 Olympics happen in a safe way... or at all?

Late last week, the Times of London reported that an unnamed government source said that the Japan was trying to figure out a way to get out of hosting the Games this summer. The IOC, the Tokyo organizing committee and the Japanese ruling government are denying this, saying that there “is no plan B” and the Games will happen. But the high number of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo and the detection of new variants of the virus around the world both beg the question: will it be possible to host a safe Olympics?

Was Jim Walmsley's Hoka Heartbreak the most intense ever?

Hoka One One hosted the 100K world record attempt in the Arizona desert on Saturday to hype its new shoe, the Carbon X 2. It featured American ultra trail rock star Jim Walmsley attempting to break the 100K world record of 6:09:14. Walmsley faded badly in the final 5K, and missed the record by just 11 seconds. Was this the most heartbreaking close call in the history of running?

The London Marathon is going big in October

The 2021 London Marathon, which has already preemptively moved from April to October, is planning on coming back in a big way, by going from its smallest ever field in 2020 (47 runners) to its biggest: 50,000 runners. Is this a chance to display excellence in pandemic-era hosting? Or is it a silly (and perhaps dangerous) pipedream?

Track is Back - Who has impressed you most?

A slew of recent track races took place across several continents, making it feel like an almost-normal mid-January in the running world. Notably, an NCAA athlete challenged the two-minute barrier in an indoor 800m, and a top Ethiopian runner clocked a fast 10,000m at 7,700 feet (below). What performance has been the most impressive so far in this young year?

Nick Willis has now broken 4 mins for the mile a record 19 years in a row

The New-Zealander, three-time Olympian and two-time Olympic medalist ran a 3:58.05 mile at the Orange Winter Classic Meet in Clermont, Florida on January 21. Willis has now broken the four-minute barrier at least once per year since 2003 (what were you doing in 2003?)  Is this the greatest statistic in all of distance running?

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