Good Morning From London: 4×4 Finals, Media Race

August 13, 2017

LONDON – Reader, we both knew this day would come. It is our last blog entry together, as the IAAF World Championships come to a close this evening (afternoon for those of you in the United States). FloridaGators.com writer Zach Dirlam will be back in the U.S. come Monday night, completing his 12-day adventure in London.
Enough with the sentimental stuff, though. It is time for the most exciting event in track and field, the one traditionally saved until meet’s end: the 4×400 relay.
The men’s final should feature Tony McQuay (2010-12) running for Team USA.
The Americans have won the last six world titles, with McQuay running for the last two, as well as the gold medal-winning team at the 2016 Olympics.

42337 McQuay ran an impressive sub-45-second split as the anchor for Team USA Saturday afternoon. (Photo: Errol Anderson)

McQuay and the Americans are once again the favorites after their world-leading time in Saturday’s (Aug. 12) preliminaries.
The women’s final should see six-time medalist Novlene Williams-Mills (2003-04) running for Jamaica, the defending champions, in what will be the final World Championships race of her incredible career. (More on that shortly.)

Be sure to stick around until the end of today’s blog, as our final author’s entry takes you onto the London Stadium track for all the hilarious moments from the annual World Championships media race. We promise it’ll be well worth your time.
Last Hurrah for Williams-Mills

42307 Williams-Mills before the 400 meters semifinals earlier this week. (Photo: Jeff Cohen)

Barring a dropped baton or a stunning collapse, Novlene Williams-Mills will earn her seventh World Championships medal tonight, moving her into some elite company. A seventh medal would tie her for the ninth-highest total by any female in World Championships history. It would also give her six in the 4×400 relay, a total only achieved by two other women in history.
Tonight’s race will also be the last time Williams-Mills, 35, dons a Jamaica uniform. Earlier this week, she confirmed this will be her final World Championships.

???? team captain @williams_mills is headed to the 400 semis!

And, yes, this is her final World Championships ??#GatorsAlways #London2017 pic.twitter.com/lTvMsaaaDQ

— Gators T & F and XC (@GatorsTF) August 6, 2017

In various mixed zone interviews this week, her Jamaican teammates described her as a warrior, an inspiration, and someone deeply loved in her home country. For those reasons, none of them were surprised Williams-Mills made her sixth open 400 meters final (no one else can claim more than five), becoming the oldest woman in history to do so.
Anyone unfamiliar with Williams-Mills’ achievements should give this ESPN The Magazine story—which she wrote herself—a read prior to the race.

‘My battle scars are my cancer scars’ https://t.co/YntcC3PAco
Beautiful story @williams_mills So much love for you girl. X

— Christine Ohuruogu (@chrissyohuruogu) July 8, 2017

There is also a video recap of the story:

.@williams_mills ???? relives running with cancer!@JamaicaOlympics @iaaforg pic.twitter.com/mOei5Q6M59

— Olympic Channel (@olympicchannel) July 5, 2017

That’s not what Jamaica will remember her for, though. They will forever remember Williams-Mills for anchoring Jamaica’s relay team to the 2015 world title, just their second gold medal in an event dominated by the United States since the mid-2000s.
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Be sure to check FloridaGators.com Monday for a follow-up story on Williams-Mills’ final race for her country.

Who / How to Watch Sunday Night

Author’s Entry: Media Race
Upon learning of a “media race” at the World Championships, I signed up without hesitation, despite knowing next to nothing about it. (E-mails about the race only mentioned the date and time, not the distance or any other pertinent information.) I did not care.
A chance to run the Olympic Stadium track? No way I could pass that up.
The next couple of days I gathered information from colleagues and the kind folks at the media services counter. The race was 800 meters and entrants were randomly sorted into heats, basically like a real track meet. Not quite the fun run I assumed it would be.
Eight hundred meters, though? That’s not long. Two laps around the track. I will be fine, I told myself.
I’m by no means in shape, and those following the blog know my diet in London has been less than ideal for an athletic endeavor, but I used to be a six-minute miler. Breaking three minutes seemed respectable and realistic.
The men’s 800 meters final was Tuesday night, roughly 36 hours before the media race. I watched from the press tribune in absolute horror. These world-class athletes crossed the finish line and collapsed, panting desperately for air and lying motionless on the track as if their spirits were broken.
I needed some advice. Gators half-miler Ryan Schnulle served as my advisor, though his answer to my inquiry exacerbated my fears.
“Definitely sit behind some people and kick at the end. And if you can’t really feel your legs in the last 50 meters or so, just lean forward slightly and let your weight and gravity get you through the line.”
Check-in for the race was quite official. All of us received a numbered bib. The public address announcer introduced everyone as if they were in the actual World Championships.
And there were several fit people. Some wore track spikes. Others donned singlets. One man boldly wore a speed suit. Several of them went through personal warmup and stretching routines. I had no such routine, figuring a couple 50-meter jogs would suffice.
I watched a couple men break two minutes and several others duck under two and a half minutes. Much to my delight, though, there were others nowhere near as serious. One man ran his entire 800 recording with a selfie-stick. Several jogged the entire way, completely carefree about their times.
I felt at ease, but my personal goal was to break three minutes. I had to go for it.

Media Race today (800m) at the IAAF World Championships.

Don’t worry, @SpeedyArroyo and @ryschnulle, your records are safe ????#WeChomp pic.twitter.com/9OLmtiyL5y

Zach Dirlam (@ZachDirlam) August 10, 2017

I covered the first 200 meters in 34 seconds, putting me in fourth place. Turns out, this was way too fast. Schnulle’s warning I wouldn’t feel my legs the last 50 meters? I could not feel them coming through the start-finish line—and I still had a whole lap left. This is brutal, I said to myself.
My second lap was nearly two minutes, mainly because I was afraid my body would revolt and shut down entirely if I did not slow down. I made one last push down the homestretch, crossing in 3:05.96. I’m not sure if the lightheadedness I felt afterwards was runner’s high or my brain nearing a complete shutdown. How do track athletes answer questions on live television after this? I genuinely had no idea. I could not process my own thoughts, let alone string together a meaningful sentence.

Before and after photos from the World Championships media race ?? pic.twitter.com/uMZYebI2Ff

Zach Dirlam (@ZachDirlam) August 13, 2017

In one respect, I failed. But I did not finish last and I did not pass out mid-race, so all in all it was a success.
Next time, I might just run with the selfie-stick.
Previous “Good Morning From London” Entries

“We were put in thus position to push each other to break the ?? record.”@WilliamClaye, @Taylored2jump drawing ????https://t.co/thpAl20PEQ

— Gators T & F and XC (@GatorsTF) August 12, 2017

.@Taylored2jump, @WilliamClaye meet as ?? No. 1 & 2 (again).

Will CT get the ?? record?

Tune in to NBCSN at 3:20 PMhttps://t.co/AG111wtaf7

— Gators T & F and XC (@GatorsTF) August 10, 2017

Why medal races for Kerron, @TjHolmes_400H, @williams_mills are MUST-WATCH ??

Plus – a hilarious post-win interviewhttps://t.co/GY7P8owmMd

— Gators T & F and XC (@GatorsTF) August 9, 2017

Kerron Clement, @TjHolmes_400H run Wednesday’s World Championships final.

We caught up with them and @EricUF_Futchhttps://t.co/UuAaJKiqhS

— Gators T & F and XC (@GatorsTF) August 8, 2017

World Junior Champion kickboxer ?? All-America javelin thrower ?? World Champs shot put medalist

Stipe’s story ????https://t.co/bklARXi62D

— Gators T & F and XC (@GatorsTF) August 7, 2017

A look back at our morning, how to watch @LovettOrLeave4, Stipe tonight, and an insider’s look at an iconic night:https://t.co/SQms2HfJnu

— Gators T & F and XC (@GatorsTF) August 6, 2017

? Morning Recap

? Evening Preview

? Stadium food tour

It’s edition No. 2 of our daily live blog at ????https://t.co/kts1KEKyPw

— Gators T & F and XC (@GatorsTF) August 5, 2017

We’ll be bringing you on-site updates from #London2017 for all 10 days!

Here’s our first blog — media day rewindhttps://t.co/vhZyl4CJhX

— Gators T & F and XC (@GatorsTF) August 3, 2017

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