The Mile of the Century is won by Josh Kerr in an Honest battle over 4 wonderful laps.

When this race was announced several months ago, as the NIKE Pre Classic does, this writer wanted to believe it would happen.

In track and field, the issue is that when the top athletes are all healthy at one time, you are gobsmacked.

We had heard that Jakob Ingebrigtsen was having Achilles challenges and had to take a break for some time this past Winter.

At the press conference on Friday, the tension that seemed to be between Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Josh Kerr had disappeared.

Josh Kerr would have none of it. That is not what he was here for. Josh Kerr and his coach, Danny Mackey, have been working on their master plan for some time now, having worked together since 2018.

Josh Kerr is quietly confident. He has a wonderful support group, and his club, Brooks Beasts TC, encourages each other.

Yared Nuguse, the American record holder in the mile, took the silver medal at the World Indoors this last winter, at 3,000 meters, behind Josh Kerr. Kerr has an Olympic bronze medal at the 1,500m from Tokyo (2021), gold at Budapest (2023), and gold at the 3,000m in Glasgow.

Abe Alvarado leads the Mile of the Century, photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun. 

Yared is coached by Dathan Ritzenhein, of OAC. Yared trains with Joe Klecker, Geordie Beamish (world Indoor gold, 1,500m), and Ollie Hoare (Commonwealth Games 2022 gold, 1,500m), among others. The On Athletic Club encourages each other, and the culture and focus seem to build confidence.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen was trained by his father for many years. Now, he gets some advice from his brothers but is mostly self-coached.

Ingebrigtsen spent much of the winter doing cross-training to allow his Achilles tendons to heal. Jakob knew his fitness was pretty good but not where he needed to be to challenge Kerr and Nuguse.

At the presser, Jakob was magnanimous. He spoke about how the sport needed these rivalries, but he played down the smack talk that had happened during the winter.

Fifteen men lined up to race, with Abe Alvarado, a fine 800m runner, handling the pace-making chores.

Josh Kerr pushes the pace in the Bowerman Mile, photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun.

Alvarado took the lead, and the pack hit the 400m in 55.91, with Ingebrigtsen, Nuguse, and Wightman, followed by Cole Hocker, Geordie Beamish, Neil Gourley, and Hobbs Kessler. Josh Kerr had been as far back as seventh, just before the 800 meters.

Alvarado won the 800m in 1:52.74, bringing the field down to fourteen. Hobbs Kessler was stepped on and had to drop out of the race. We will check on his status.

Around nine hundred meters, the Scottish World Champion took the lead. He later told the media: “With 600 to go, I thought, you know, why not take it on and press and scare myself a bit?”

Josh, with Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Yared Nuguse, Jake Wightman, and Cole Hocker in tow, completed the 1200 meters in 2:50.70.

Josh Kerr had run 55.91, 56.83, and then 57.96. His final lap of 55 seconds looked smooth and confident.

Josh Kerr takes the win in the Bowerman Mile; Jakob Ingebrigtsen is obscured by Josh Kerr, and Yared Nuguse is third, photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun

The truth is, Josh Kerr is using his tremendous strength to run the absolute kick out of his competitors, something that Jakob Ingebrigtsen tried on Kerr in 2023 and Wightman in 2022 with little success.

Fast miles are beautiful, and this race was a beauty. It was also the deepest Mile I can remember in two decades!

Josh Kerr began his long drive home with 400 meters to go, taking the win in 3:45.34. Kerr ran an NR for Britain and Scotland, breaking Steve Cram’s NR. The Scot also ran a PB and World Leader!

Jakob Ingebrigtsen surprised even himself with his second in 3:45.60 SB. He is now off to Europeans for the 1,500m/5,000m double.

Yared Nuguse was a strong third in SB of 3:46.22.

Neil Gourley ran a masterful PB of 3:47.74, moving from sixth to fourth, chasing down Jake Wightman, 2022 WC, in 3:47.83, also a PB. Reynold Kipkorir Cheruiyot finished sixth in 3:48.49 SB, and Cole Hocker, US, was 7th in 3:48.95.

In fact, Mario Garcia, Spain, took 10th place with 3:50.14, and Cooper Teare, US, took 14th with 3:53.92.

Josh Kerr was ecstatic. In the mixed zone, the Scottish World champion, now focused on Paris, made if very clear that he was in Eugene to win.

“I wanted to win, and I knew it would take something like that to achieve that goal.

Yared Nuguse took third in this amazing Bowerman Mile, photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun

I wasn’t focused on the time and trying to find comfort in that first 800. I was able to find that and then press through the field and 600 to go; I thought, you know, what, why not, why not take it on and press and scare myself a little bit.”

Josh Kerr has a philosophy of racing: You have to race to win. He added this in the mixed zone:

“You need to take the lead at some point in the race to win it. So why not take it out early in the season when everyone’s not trusting their instincts quite yet?

If anyone’s going to do it, I will do it.

These guys I’m racing against will improve each month, and I need to do the same to try to stay ahead. I’ve gotten into this position because of hard work, determination, and the right staff around me, and I will continue to do that for the rest of the season.

An extremely high standard occurs within my team and my group of employees and workers. If I want to keep that standard of them, I need to keep that standard for myself.

I’m focused on the present. I will take it race by race, but some great signs for the future.

I think you’ve got to weigh yourself against some of the best, and I think bar maybe one or two, that’s got every single best miler in the world cherry-picked into this situation. So it’s a great position to be in right now.”

Kerr was asked about his best distance, and he chose the 1,500 meters:

“I think it’s the right balance for me between strength and speed, and it keeps everyone entertained. So that’s what I enjoy doing.”

Josh Kerr won today at the NIKE Pre Classic, but he reminded us, in his final comment, that he is focused on Paris in August 2024:

“I want to get that title, and then I’m going to have some real fun with lots of different records, distances, and stuff, but that’s the last one to check off of childhood dreams. And then I can go out and try to entertain the people as much as possible.”

Jakob Ingebrigtsen took second, and he was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

“It’s a very good start, definitely better than I feared.

I’ve been injured and lost a lot of training. So you never know 100% how it’s going. But if one thing is for sure, it’s that if you’re unable to do the work, you’re losing in fitness. But simultaneously, I know I’m gonna be better every day from here.”

Josh Kerr, 2024 NIKE Pre Classic presser, section 3, photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun, May 24, 2024

The funny thing about Jakob and Josh is that they are supremely confident. In Paris, Jakob intends to double at the 1,500m/ 5,000m. Here is what he noted to the media in the mixed zone:

“I think I’m going to win both in Paris. But if that is to happen, I need to have a flawless next two months, which I believe I can do.

With this race, I think I can definitely reach the same fitness level as last year, if not better.”

Jakob added some thoughts on his solitary training:

“My specific work is sometimes a little bit faster and maybe out of sync and rhythm from the rest of my group.

It’s all about consistency, and especially in my training philosophy, if you lose that consistency, everything kind of breaks down.

I think it’s very important to surround yourself with a group of people who can really help you through it. I’m here and already fighting against the best in the world.

I think it’s a very honest event in athletics. Usually, the strongest runner wins. I was definitely not the strongest, but I’m not far behind. So, I definitely believe in myself and I believe in my work.

Josh Kerr takes the Bowerman Mile, photo by OMEGA Timing 

I think we can have a very exciting summer with many good fighting and competitions. But of course, I believe I can come out on top.”

And finally, Jakob spoke about the pride of being from Norway:

“Even though we’re a small country, we still put a lot of pride in sports and in ourselves, which I think we can, you know, fight at the biggest sports in the world and be at the top level and also succeed quite a lot. I think that’s very cool.”

The Bowerman Mile lived up to expectations—heck, it surpassed them. Josh Kerr wins, with Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Yarod Nuguse focused on changing the outcome in Paris. Do not forget Neil Gourley or Jake Wightman, either.

Josh Kerr said it right. Each miler in this field will bring their A-game all summer, and that hot August night in Paris for the Men’s 1,500 meters should be tremendous.

Men’s Mile – Diamond Discipline
1 Josh KERR GBR 3:45.34 8
2 Jakob INGEBRIGTSEN NOR 3:45.60 7
3 Yared NUGUSE USA 3:46.22 6
4 Neil GOURLEY GBR 3:47.74 5
5 Jake WIGHTMAN GBR 3:47.83 4
6 Reynold Kipkorir CHERUIYOT KEN 3:48.59 3
7 Cole HOCKER USA 3:48.95 2
8 Geordie BEAMISH NZL 3:49.09 1
9 Oliver HOARE AUS 3:49.11
10 Mario GARCÍA ESP 3:50.14
11 Cameron MYERS AUS 3:50.15
12 Abel KIPSANG KEN 3:51.82
13 Lamecha GIRMA ETH 3:53.82
14 Cooper TEARE USA 3:53.92