Nick Symmonds: Search for a fast Kilometer
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
The world indoor record for the 1,000 meters - one kilometer, "the K" - is heading into its 14th year.
It's 2:14.96 and has been the property of Denmark's Wilson Kipketer since the 20th of February 2000. He ran it in Birmingham, England.
Only four other men have ever broken 2:16 - Morocco's Noureddine Morceli (2:15.26 in 1992), Kenya's Kennedy Kimwetich (2:15.50 in 2000), Burundi's Venuste Niyongabo
(2:15.62 in 1995) and Sudan's Abubaker Kaki (2:15.77 in 2008.)
Fastest ever "K" man from the Western Hemisphere is Brazil's Joaquim Cruz (2:16.99 in 1989.)
Fastest ever "K" man from the USA is David Krummenacker (with his 2:17.86 in 2002.) David K. ran that "K" at Boston's Reggie Lewis Center, so it's also the fastest ever run in
North America. New Jerseyan Robby Andrews nearly nudged Krummencacker off the U.S. record list with his 2:17.90 at New York's Armory Track Center nearly a year ago, Feb. 1, 2013 to be precise.
All these stats are front and center in Nick Symmonds' thought processes these days. The celebrated Oregonian, 800-meter silver medalist at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, is preparing himself for some sensational stuff this 2014 indoor season and a run at the all-time Indoor "K" charts is high on his list.
He'll get his big chance at the 107th NYRR Millrose Games at the Armory Track Center on Saturday, Feb. 15th (a meet that will also feature Bernard Lagat's run at a world-record
2000-meter performance, and two-event appearances of decathlon superstars Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee, and heptathlon World silver medalist Brianne Theisen, who is Mrs. Eaton.)
"Things are going phenomenally," said Symmonds, who celebrated his 30th birthday on December 30th, checking in to a telephonic press conference earlier today (Jan. 15) from his current training base in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
It's 6,000 meters high and a perfect site for the gut-busting, lung-testing base work he's confident will pay huge dividends all along the way in 2014.
"I'm blasting out my 150's," said Symmonds. It's all part of the fine-tuning process.
His perfect scenario for the Millrose "K" would see him reach the 800-meter mark (four laps) in the 1:49 range, and then "just kicking it in off that pace" for lap five.
The prospect of notching a performance in the high "two-teen" range "is really exciting for me," he said.
He (and U.S. Olympic teammate Duane Solomon) were the feature entries in the Mel Sheppard 600 at the 2013 Millrose Games, but saw unsung Iowan Eric Sowinski kick past both of them for the big upset win.
The 600 wasn't really his "cup of tea" to begin with. He's definitely more of an 800-1500 guy than a 400-800 man.
"The 'K' is much better for my skill-set," he said.Symmonds - a self-styled track and field nomad - will continue training in
Mexico for about two more weeks, then head north to open his competitive season.
He'll run the 800 in Winston-Salem, N.C. on Feb. 1 and is considering - but is not yet definitely committed to - the New Balance Grand Prix at Boston's Reggie Lewis Center, a week later.
And then it would be on to Millrose.
Always a crowd pleaser, Symmonds is assured of great support at the Armory.
As Armory Track Foundation executive director Dr. Norbert Sander said, "ticket sales have been really brisk, we certainly will have a sellout."
Symmonds has always been outspoken about a number of causes - ranging from animal testing abuses, to athletes' rights to garner maximum commercial opportunities, to a
revamping of the world track and field schedule.
Looking at tennis - a sport that keeps raising the financial bar at all its biggest events - Symmonds would like to see track and field develop an annual international calendar of "majors," too.
Maybe one "major" in four corners of the planet, he suggested, "maybe one in Eugene, one in London, one in Melbourne, and one somewhere in Asia."
Then again, no one really expects anything along these lines to happen anytime soon.
In the meantime, there's "the great indoors," in North America and Europe.
Symmonds' next target after Millrose Games will be the USA Indoor National Championships, Feb. 22-23 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The Nationals will also serve as Final Trials for the U.S. team bound for the IAAFWorld Indoor Championships, March 7-8-9 in Sopot, Poland.
With no World Outdoor Championships in the cards until Beijing in 2015, this will be the lone opportunity for Symmonds - and the rest of the global elite - to be declared kings of the planet this year.
Symmonds' celebrated switch from Nike sponsorship to Brooks sponsorship will be a sub-plot to all this.
He calls his new Brooks gear "a very phenomenal product."
Which prompted the "quarterback" of the press conference - famed track announcer Ian Brooks - to say "Nick, I am a Brooks, too, and now you're my pal for life."