Racing Into Spring

3.6.24 – A note from HOKA NAZ Elite coach Jack Mullaney:

Hello Pronghorn Fans!

I’m sitting here at Berry Divine Acai Bowls in Scottsdale, fighting off the jet lag from a three day whirlwind trip to Glasgow.  There’s nothing like the sugar rush of soft-serve acai to provide a jolt of energy, just as there’s nothing like the rush of an athlete racing themselves into contention at a global championship.  For those who didn’t watch the 3000m final at the World Indoor Championships last night, Olin made a strong move down the backstretch with 350m to go to get to the front.  Ultimately, he finished 5th, which is an outstanding debut at a global indoor championships.  It’s also a tremendous source of pride for us as he’s the first NAZ Elite athlete to race at that meet as a member of the team.

I use the word “race” deliberately, because too often, I think we can lose sight of the fact that racing is what makes our work entertaining.  As a child, my first love in sports was auto racing.  What drew me in was the drama.  I was captivated by different fueling strategies, drivers attacking at different times, and ultimately trying to outmaneuver, outthink, and outperform the competition to be in first place when they crossed the finish line.  

In our sport, we seem to be stuck between two approaches: racing the competition and racing the clock.  There’s certainly an argument for the latter.  For example, if you’re looking to make the United States Olympic Team in the 10,000m this summer, it’s very advantageous to take a crack at the standard of 27:00 (for men) or 30:40 (for women).  Only three men and five women in this country have ever run that fast, so surely, you’d greatly enhance your chances of going to Paris by doing it.

Here at NAZ Elite, we’ve taken part in some of those races against the clock.  The Terrier Classic at Boston University was an example of that in January.  Next week, four of our athletes will line up to race The Ten, another race designed to have a go at the Olympic Standard.

But our intention will never be to run strictly for time.  I can’t tell you the winning time of last year’s Kentucky Derby horse race, nor can I tell you the time it took Max Verstappen to win Formula 1’s opening race at Bahrain last weekend.  There’s a reason for that.  Fans are not entertained by a fitness test.  They’re entertained by a race.

When Adrian ran 12:56.76 to win the Terrier Classic in January, his goal was not to run 12:56.  His goal, and the strategy he executed, was with the intent to win.  To race the competition, and come out on top.

As I reflect on our last eight weeks – a stretch of time when we competed in 10 different races in eight different cities on three different continents – it’s easy to point to the team records we set, or the team members who updated their World Athletics profile with new personal bests.  But just as I didn’t get too invested in what my favorite race car driver’s (1996 CART Champion Jimmy Vasser, if we’re dropping names) overall Grand Prix time was, I’d like to shine a light on our racing highlights from the past two months:

  • 4 race wins (Matt Baxter – Taranaki Off Road Half Marathon, Adrian Wildschutt – BU Terrier Classic 5000m, Ahmed Muhumed – BU Valentine Invitational 5000m, Alice Wright – Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon)
  • Second consecutive 2nd place finish at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon (Wesley Kiptoo)
  • 2 selections to Team USA for the World Cross Country Championships by way of Top 6 finishes at the USA Cross Country Championships (Abby Nichols and Ahmed Muhumed)
  • 2 podium finishes at the USA Indoor Championships (Olin Hacker – 2nd in Men’s 3000m, Katie Wasserman – 3rd in Women’s 3000m)
  • 1 selection to Team USA for the World Indoor Championships, our first in team history (Olin Hacker – 3000m)
  • A 5th place finish at the World Indoor Championships 3000m in Glasgow (Olin Hacker)

If there’s a commitment I can give you as fans of our team, it’s that we are here to race.  Our preparation, our strategy, and our execution will be formulated with the intent to finish as high up the leaderboard as possible.  Racing fearlessly has been a maxim of the team since its inception ten years ago, and it will be a major part of our future.

Because that’s what’s entertaining and what inspires, and we know it’s probably what drove you to start following our team in the first place.

We are grateful for your support, and hope to see you at a race sometime soon.

– Jack Mullaney  


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