Kieran Lumb 5th in elite men's mile, top Canadian at 1st world road running championships

Vancouver's Kieran Lumb was fifth in a field of 35 in the elite men's mile (1,609 metres) on Sunday at the inaugural World Athletics Road Running Championships in Riga, Latvia. Ten other Canadians competed across the mile, 5K and half marathon, with five setting personal-best times.

Performance less than a second off national mark and 1 of 6 PBs by 11-member team

Men's runners jockey for position at start line of one-mile race at the World Athletics Road Running Championships.
Vancouver’s Kieran Lumb, middle, prepares to race the elite men’s mile against training partner Sam Prakel, right, of the U.S. at the inaugural World Athletics Road Running Championships on Sunday in Riga, Latvia. Lumb placed fifth in a field of 35 behind Great Britain's Callum Elson, left, who was second, and Prakel (third). American Hobbs Kessler won in a 3:56.13 world record. (X/@WARiga23)

Kieran Lumb nearly set a fourth Canadian record in a month on a day he didn't feel he ran his best race.

The Vancouver native was fifth in a field of 35 in the elite men's mile (1,609 metres) at the first World Athletics Road Running Championships on Sunday in Riga, Latvia.

In the second road mile of his career, Lumb reached the finish in a personal-best three minutes 56.98 seconds, less than one second behind the Canadian record of 3:56 by Graham Hood from Dec. 13, 1997. Hood ran the Olympic 1,500m on the track in 1992 (Barcelona) and 1996 (Atlanta) and is a former national record holder in the distance.

"It was solid, not an A-plus performance. I came in thinking there was a good chance if I had a good race, I'd be able to medal," Lumb, who focused on the 1,500 for much of this season, told CBC Sports. "Maybe I could have been a little more clever, tactically, with this race."

According to World Athletics, athletes can achieve the automatic entry standard for the Paris Olympics in the 1,500 in the equivalent road running distance. To qualify, Lumb needed to run 3:50.40 on Sunday after going 3.53.83 outdoors on the track in January at the University of Washington in Seattle, his alma mater.

Lumb praised Sunday's race winner, Hobbs Kessler of the United States, for positioning himself behind two people and shielding the wind before pulling away from the pack in the final metres to seal the victory in a world record 3:56.13 on a wide, flat course.

"The last 100 metres are where the medals are being decided. It's tough to set aside emotion and fully relax, but I don't know if that's where the mistakes I made were," Lumb explained. "I did a fairly good job with that. If I was a bit more clever earlier in the race, I would have had an extra gear [to try to catch Kessler].

'Everything happens so quickly'

"There was a big headwind the last 800 metres and I found myself in a position of not being in the lead but [near the] front and taking a lot of the wind. In hindsight, I should have tucked in behind someone.

"But in the mile everything happens so quickly," continued Lumb, "you have to react, make those tactical decisions second nature and [for me] they're not quite second nature. I think they will be eventually."

Callum Ellson of Great Britain (3:56.41) and Sam Prakel, Lumb's training partner, rounded out the medal podium. Prakel stopped the clock in 3:56.43.

After a less-than-desired start Sunday, Lumb said he was "caught a little bit on my back foot" for the opening 200 to 300 metres. He also would have preferred being further to the outside on the second of two 90-degree turns around halfway mark but was boxed in before slowly making his way to the front of the pack.

The 25-year-old Lumb, who turned professional in April and signed with Swiss running brand On, set three PBs during his final indoor season with the UW Huskies, including 3:52.62 in the mile.

At his debut World Athletics Championships in August, Lumb ran 3:36.66 for eighth in his 1,500 heat but didn't qualify for the semifinals in Budapest, Hungary.

But he shook off any disappointment, delivering a 3:34.55 PB two weeks later in Padova, Italy. He then lowered his best in the 3,000 twice in four days to 7:36.46 in Zagreb, Croatia.

WATCH | Lumb shines in Croatia in another Canadian record effort:

Vancouver's Kieran Lumb breaks own Canadian 3,000m record

3 months ago
Duration 9:46
Featured VideoThe Vancouver native finished sixth at the World Athletics Continental Tour stop in Zagreb with a time of 7:36.46.

Each of Lumb's results this season are encouraging, he said, and will serve as motivation and excitement for next season.

"I've been happy with my consistency this year, that I'm enjoying the sport and I'm so excited and motivated to keep getting better," he added.

Kessler shaved five seconds off the previous record of 4:01.21, set by Prakel in April.

"I am fit, I wanted nothing but the win, so I went for it," Kessler told reporters.

"I would say the road mile is a very American event — Sam [Prakel] and I are very experienced in the event, possibly running the mile maybe 10 times this year, and I am very proud of Sam and very proud of myself."

The road mile was made an official world record discipline on Sept. 1.

Hamilton's Robert Heppenstall was the other Canadian in the men's mile. He placed 33rd in 4:27.96, a PB for the 26-year-old.  

Flanagan falls short of Canadian 5K mark

Nine other elite runners from Canada competed at the event, which also included the women's mile, along with the 5K and half marathon for men and women.

Ben Flanagan, who hails from Kitchener, Ont., but lives in Ann Arbor, Mich., was 12th of 41 finishers in the men's 5K. He clocked 13:34, eight seconds shy of his Canadian record and 14 seconds off the North American mark by Ben True from 2017.

Flanagan, 28, opened his outdoor track campaign in the 5,000 with a 13:13.97 PB. He didn't get out of the heats at his first worlds, running 13:38.69 in Budapest, Hungary. In January, he'll target the 13:05 automatic entry standard for the Paris Olympics next summer.

Four other Canadians set PBs on Sunday: Glynis Sim, women's mile (4;36.81, 12th of 29 finishers); Regan Yee, women's mile (4:48.31, 22nd); Jessy Lacourse, women's 5K (16:15); and Thomas Fafard, men's 5K (14:08, 32nd).

Other Canadian results:

  • Julie-Anne Staehli, women's 5K (15:55, 17th of 34 finishers)
  • Sasha Gollish, women's half marathon (1:19:25, 61st of 70 finishers)
  • Phil Parrot-Migas, men's half marathon (1:07:59, 78th of 90 finishers)
  • Justin Kent, men's half marathon (did not finish)

Welteji sets women's world mark in mile

Another road world record tumbled when Ethiopia's Diribe Welteji beat Faith Kipyegon in the women's race.

She reeled in Kenyan two-time Olympic gold medallist Kipyegon, finishing in 4:20.98.

The previous world record of 4:27.97 was held by Nikki Hiltz of the United States.

"I came here to win, to write the history and to motivate the new generations of our athletes," said Welteji, who won silver in the 1,500 at the recent world championships.

"When I approached the last stretch of the course and saw the finish line, that was the time when I decided to challenge Kipyegon's leading position. ... I had the feeling that Kipyegon would be a bit tired, so I believed it was possible to beat her today."

The outright men's record for the mile is 3:43.13, set by Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj in 1999. The women's mark of 4:07.64 was set by Kipyegon earlier this year.


Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc

With files from Reuters

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