This is a very provocative piece. Matt Wisner was the pacemaker in the mile that Cooper Teare and Cole Hocker ran in Chicago, attempting to get the American record on February 12, 2022. The race was hyped and five thousand geeks watched low-quality streaming of two of our finest American distance runners, go head to head and come oh so close to the American record. Matt had the bird’s eye view, taking them to a place where they would have to duke it out for the last six hundred meters.
I interviewed Matt Wisner last weekend. I liked him. He wants to be a writer, and as he focuses now, on seeing just how good of a runner he can be. We, the lucky ones, will, I hope get to enjoy his insights into racing, running, and living.
I really liked some of his comments about dealing with social media.
Nicely done, Matt.
I do want to interview Cooper Teare and Cole Hocker, they seem like guys who get it. Watch for our upcoming interview of Matt Wisner,
Cole Hocker, Cooper Teare, 2021 USATF Oregon Relays, photo by @kevmofoto/Kevin Morris
Cooper Teare & Cole Hocker & Two Years of 3:50
Bennett Coast released a new song, so we listened to it all day, and when the daylight ran out we left our hotel and took a bus to the south side of Chicago, and toed the line for a mile race.
Cooper and Cole were trying to break the American Record: Bernard Lagat’s 3:49.89 from 2004.
On the bus ride there, through sometimes standstill traffic, Cooper tapped his foot like a madman, and Cole sat motionless. I learned after the race that all three of us were still listening to Seeds on loop, even though the song is too slow to match the cadence a fast mile requires.
I was the pacer. The plan was to start the race fairly conservatively and then close hard in the final 600. Some people on the internet seem to think that I messed up my job, but they’re dumb and don’t know shit. Ok, moving on.
Cooper and Cole almost ran perfect splits according to our plan. We were two-tenths of a second slower than what we wanted at the 1000, and we all knew the race would require a fast close, and so they closed fast: Cooper ran 28.2 and then 26.6 for a 54-second final 400, and Cole ran 28.6 and 26.7 for a 55-second final 400.
In the end, Cooper won the race in 3:50.17. Cole finished right behind him in 3:50.35. Both were PRs by a few tenths of a second. Neither was the American Record.
Last year, while still competing for Oregon, the boys both ran 3:50. Cooper set the collegiate record, and Cole was #2 all-time. The main difference between last year and this year is that last year was relatively unplanned.
The day before the meet, our coach, Ben Thomas, handed Cooper and Cole the print-out with instructions for splits, as is routine for our team, and the splits called for a 3:49. In Ben Thomas we trust, so they did what he said, and they each got a 3:50 mile out of it. Nobody knew that was going to happen except for maybe our coach.
This year, everybody knew what they were trying to do. They ran within a second of the record last year, so now every time they step on the line basically has to be a record attempt. They talked about chasing 3:49 in interviews after getting second and third place in the Millrose Games 3,000. It’s a different kind of pressure when everything’s out in the open like that. They either get the record or they don’t. They either fail or succeed.
“Last year, I knew I was fit but didn’t think I could run 3:50,” Cole said. “This year I knew for sure I could run 3:50 if not faster.”
Cooper said his legs “felt like shit” from the gun and Cole said his legs got abnormally heavy around the halfway point. They maintained their focus and still tried to accomplish what they set out to.
Cole said the hardest part about being a very good runner is all the people online paying attention and offering their opinions that nobody asked for. There’s nothing really different about running 3:50 last year and this year; the splits were virtually the same, and both races were basically two-man races, just Cole and Cooper. The only difference is that this year everybody was watching. There were prediction contests. It was a story in the media. Five thousand people watched Oregon Track and Field’s grainy lagging Livestream on Instagram. Hundreds of people came to the track in Chicago to watch. That kind of attention changes things. There’s no way to hide from the pressure.
Cole ran some really high-stakes races last summer. At the U.S. Olympic Trials, he had to stand on the starting line next to the reigning Olympic champion. He won the race. Then he went to his first Olympics where he’d have to run two rounds before getting into the final. He executed to plan, made the final, and then ran faster than the previous Olympic record and faster than any American ever has at the Olympics. He knows how to perform under pressure. But he says the race day dread is still there, regardless of the circumstances. The jittery feeling on the bus ride to the track, the anticipation deep in your stomach right before the warm-up–those sensations will never go away. Maybe very fast running is powered by the same forces that give you sweaty palms and an elevated heart rate laying in bed the night before.
Cooper said there’s a positive element to all that attention though. He thinks it’s good for the sport. “It’s sick to be able to be close enough that every time you step on the line it’s a possibility,” Cooper said. “To be able to hype up a race as an American Record attempt is why all those people showed up right before the race.”
A lot of people seemed to be shocked that Cooper beat Cole. Cole has the more impressive resume because he made the Olympics and did well there, so now he’s expected to beat Cooper every time, I guess that is what some people think.
Every time they race, they run the whole race together. The eight-times they raced in the past year, they always finished within 0.50 seconds of each other. Six of those races had finishes separated by less than three-tenths of a second.
It’s always a toss-up. They train together every day, run every workout together. The only way to distinguish them is by results from races that they run independently of each other. I’m going to give you the insider information on this one: toss a coin next time you predict who’s going to win.
In the end, neither of them got the record. Cooper said he’s not happy and he’s not unhappy, and Cole feels similarly. But this isn’t a failure story. Imagine running 3:50 in the mile and then not celebrating what you’ve done.
Cooper is 22 and Cole is 20 and they’re both newly professional runners and they both just PRed in the mile. They’re the third and fourth fastest American milers ever, and they’re just getting started.
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I totally forgot to mention Morgan Beadlescombe. After the race, he kept saying stuff in passing about his new World Record, and the first few times, still in delirium, I disregarded his comments, but the third time I asked for clarification and he said he’s now the person who ran the furthest under 4-minutes the first time ever beaking 4. He ran 3:52.03 and is now the fastest man in the NCAA this year. He’s a real gritty runner. He’s competitive and loves to race. We didn’t know he’d even be in the race with us (apparently you need five finishers for an American Record to be ratified), but he held on the whole way and even came up on Cole’s shoulder with 250 to go. He also ran 7:43 in the Millrose Games a few weeks ago and was fifth at cross country NCAAs. He’s legit. Don’t forget his name.