Cheptegei 5000 m WR in Monaco!

Joshua Cheptegei from Uganda broke Kenenisa Bekele’s 16 year old world record in the 5000 m by 2 seconds after he ran 12:35.36 today in Monaco. That is an astonishing pace of 4:03 per mile for 3.1 miles. Here is the full video of the race

A new feature of the Diamond League races is the guided “light streak” that runs along the inner rail of the track based on a prescribed pace which the lead athletes have requested. While there are athlete pacers, the lights provide a steady feedback to the runners and prevent them from going out too hard and fading at the end which has been far too common in the recent past. The guided lights will likely lead to more controlled/stable pacing in record attempts in the future!

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Do you think the lights detract a little from the value of the record. These records are already done with pacers and it seems like managing pace well is an important aspect of the attempt.

Aren’t there rules preventing coaches from providing information (like splits and position) to their runners from the infield during a track race? (I don’t have time to hunt through the rulebooks right now.) Perhaps that’s banned because not everyone benefits in the same way, whereas this light is an informational resource of theoretically equal value to everyone.

I do feel a vague uneasiness about the light too. I’m sure it helps, but it feels like it removes some level of human fallibility that is (or should be) an integral part of setting or failing to set a record.

When I watched Gebreslassie run 26:20 in Hengelo he did the last 4k completely on his own, churning out 62s laps like clockwork. No rabbit, no lights. A real runner.

I wonder how many of today’s records were set without rabbits.

I could watch Hicham El Guerrouj set the world record in the mile every day thanks to the way Noah Ngeny makes it a race up to the very end, with both men breaking the previous world record.


I’m also curious as to how much feedback the runner can get from the lights. I wonder how visible the lights are when you are running, or maybe how far behind the leading light you have to be before it is easily visible. Do you have to look down to get a good idea of where the lights are, akin to looking at a watch (which many pros usually avoid in a race anyway)?

Cheptegei was ahead of the lights for at least the entire last mile, so in some sense was getting no feedback from them beyond that he was ahead of the record. He could have been 10 meters or three inches beyond the record, and I imagine both would look the same.


Yeah, after finally watching the whole thing, I agree. I don’t think it makes much difference if you can’t see them. It would be another matter if they were color coded in some way such that you could always see some lights, and the color would tell you where you were in comparison to the set pace.

I think the lights are more useful for the pacers than for the athlete attempting the record. Far too often, we see pacers go out too fast and the athletes trust this pacing only to fade in the last quarter of the race. In fact in the men’s 1500 meter at the same meet, the pacers went out in 52 seconds even with the lights to guide them when they were asked for 54.5! That is a massive error and certainly contributed to Tim Cheruiyot “only” running 3:28 (which is still blazing fast). If he had been taken through 400 in 54-55, he had a legitimate shot at going after El Guerroj’s 3:26.

I also concur that Cheptegei didn’t really benefit from the lights in the final 2K since he was ahead of them throughout and wasn’t really looking at them. In fact, he seemed to be looking at his watch at times which I found rather comical. He did have smart pacers who didn’t go out too hard and that definitely helped him.

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Yeah, I know the lights were helpful on the road for Kipchoge’s Nike marathons, so maybe they were modelling off that. But the track is a different beast, and I wouldn’t find a light helpful since you have enough opportunities to check your splits (with the big clock, not your watch). Maybe the light is fun for the spectators though.
About the pacers, I can’t believe that’s such a problem at the highest level! I’ve had pacers go out way too fast at university races (and I can actually thank them for a bronze medal I wouldn’t have gotten). I guess no one can fight the adrenaline rush at the start!

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