Racing With Strangers
By: James McLean
Citius Mag founder and running personality Chris Chavez is brewing up a Mile race for the ages. In what feels like a running junky fever dream, Chavez has built out a heat sheet of trailblazers in the running community. Allison Lynch of Whoop, Richard Issa Bockari of Issa Run Crew, Jess Movold of Runner's World are of notable running community fame alongside Erin Osgood, Izzy Seidel, Ryan Welsh, Cara Enright, and Michael Cosentino.
After a photo of Chavez, Gladwell and Bachelorette darling Zac Clark surfaced back in March, speculation began to stir. The three were found together while Chavez and Clark were training for the David Goggins Challenge (4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours = 48 miles). While Chavez planned for the Challenge to be done with Clark in April, he flirted the possibility of a mile matchup between himself and the prolific writer, Gladwell. Connections to Park through Clark made it easy to expand the racing field, and now we have ourselves a celebrity mile fit for any podcast fanatic.
While this race has competitors from all corners of the running universe, our sights are set on three athletes in particular: Chavez, Gladwell, and Park who was ROBBED in season 16 of the Bachelorette with a week 7 departure.
So, the question is: Who do we got taking the W?
Ageists will quickly stamp out Gladwell as a possible contender, but ageism is a horrible trend, and we prefer to be on the right side of history.
Gladwell has a storied past with racing, achieving marks that would be respected by any mid-distance runner (3:55 in the 1500 meter, albeit this was during the 1970s). Recently, Gladwell has been clocked with some impressive times, and was seen running a 5:11 mile at a New York event in 2017.
Chavez has a 5:09 mile under his belt from late 2020, and he's taking this as an opportunity to break the sub-5-minute mark.
Joe Park is the real wild card. In my half-assed research, I found very little about Park from a running perspective. He's for sure in shape, peep the dude's insta-- the guy is cut, but I have no idea if brawn translates to anything close to a 5-minute mile.
So, given the celebrity status of the three, and doing this for all 11 runners would be a bit too much runner fan-fiction, we have simulated a lap-by-lap breakdown of Park, Gladwell and Chavez.
Gladwell is taking the conservative approach, drafting off Chavez who took out the first 200 in a excited 37 seconds but has calmed down and rounded the 400 meter mark at a comfortable 1:16. Park is behind both, startling the 400 meter mark at 1:30, a respectful 6 minute pace for the practicing physician.
Chavez is maintaining a solid pace through lap two and has created about 3 meters of separation between himself and Gladwell. Along the homestretch both runners appear to be asleep at the wheel and clock in at the 800-meter mark behind both of their PR paces. 2 laps to go, 2:35 for Chavez, 2:40 for Gladwell. Park is in over his head, his early speed has diminished, and a wide gap has formed, he is crossing the 800 at 3:10.
Gladwell sees the gap between himself and Chavez and pulls some earlier heroics as they round toward the first straight away. This pushes the pace as Chavez feels Gladwell's footsteps behind him. A feisty effort allows Gladwell to briefly take the lead as they round the second corner of the track, a classic slingshot by Gladwell, retro-but always effective. Before they reach the bell, Chavez uses his arms to push him forward regaining the lead at the bell. Because of the jockeying, a rare negative split in the third lap brings Chavez in at 3:44, Gladwell 3:50 and change. Park has maintained his pace, but at this point, he's doing crowd work and showing some true showmanship as Gladwell and Chavez are decimating the field.
The runners see their PRs within reach, so this is a pure guts and glory final lap. Chavez has put a lot of pressure on himself at the end of lap 3, and as they reach the straightaway, Chavez's form begins to stiffen. Gladwell, always composed and cool, seems unphased. The two round the final corner, with Park just beginning his final lap. The third lap heroism is biting them in the ass as they approach the home stretch. Chavez is clearly locking up, but like all coaches would advise, maintaining form is essential. Gladwell, channeling his best Eric Liddell impression, throws his head back and begins what could only be described as the ultimate JV-kick. The kick is too little too early, Gladwell takes the final 30 meters to move into lane 2 but is losing steam and the added distance is to his disadvantage. The gap widens, Chavez crosses the finish line-- the victor.
Chavez 4:59 (W)