Grant Fisher Shatters American Record in 10,000 Meters

He breaks the mark set by Galen Rupp in 2014.

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For the second time in less than a month, Grant Fisher smashed an American record on the track. In a thrilling homestretch battle against his training partner, Mo Ahmed, Fisher, 24, won the men’s 10,000 meters in 26:33.84 at The Ten on Sunday night.

Under the lights at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, California, Fisher improved on the previous American record of 26:44.36 set by Galen Rupp in May 2014. The Bowerman Track Club runner is now seventh on the all-time list. His previous personal best was 27:11.39.

Ahmed, 31, the Olympic silver medalist in the 5,000 meters, ran a Canadian record of 26:34.14, breaking his own national record. His previous best was 26:59.35.

The race was an exciting end to a meet that’s dedicated to helping runners achieve U.S. and world championship standards, with a brave few Bowerman Track Club runners chasing history in the 10,000 meters. The competition was rescheduled from Saturday to Sunday with the goal of avoiding high winds, and the delay paid off with only slight wind and temperatures in the low 50s.

Just last month in Boston, Fisher broke another national record previously held by Rupp when he won the indoor 5,000 meters at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational in 12:53.73. In the same race, Ahmed’s runner-up finish in 12:56.87 set a new Canadian record.

“This is about as good as it gets,” Fisher told reporters after the race on Sunday. “You start a season and you want to start with some good momentum, and they’ve been two great races for our team, really well set up and well executed.”

Following Wavelight technology, which uses a series of lights along the inside rail to track a set pace for the runners, Olympian and U.S. Trials champion Woody Kincaid kept a metronomic cadence while leading his training partners through about 7,000 meters of the race.

With 3,000 meters remaining, Fisher and Ahmed found themselves a few paces ahead of the Wavelight technology, indicating they were ahead of their target times. The runners worked together through the toughest portion of the race by switching off as the leader until the final lap.

On the backstretch, Ahmed passed Fisher in an attempt to kick past his training partner, but Fisher wasn’t behind for long. To the roaring cheers of fans on the homestretch, the Tokyo Olympic finalist shifted gears to sprint past Ahmed just before reaching the finish line. Fisher split 58.00 seconds and Ahmed split 58.08 seconds for the last 400 meters of the race.

“[Ahmed] brings out the best in me. I can’t even put into words how much I’ve learned from this guy in my first years as a pro,” Fisher said. “Mo has been asking for a 26:30 race since I joined the team, and these opportunities don’t come around, so when they’re here, we wanted to take advantage of it and do our best.”

Ahmed’s performance put him at No. 9 on the all-time list, and showed great promise heading into the rest of the season with the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon this summer.

“ I’m really, really excited,” Ahmed said. “That felt really good, honestly. I feel like there might be a few more seconds there, too. We could definitely find that in the next three to four months leading up to worlds.”

After the race, Fisher credited his growth—highlighted by a fifth-place finish in the 10,000-meters at the Tokyo Games—to the mentorship of Ahmed and their teammate Lopez Lomong, who trained with him in smaller groups during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to be out there competing with the best in the world,” Fisher said. “Mo showed us that we're capable of that. He's been showing us that for the past few years, and it's inspiration for sure and makes me feel like I can be up there too. So, we got some big fish to fry this summer, and I'm excited.”

Including Fisher and Ahmed, eight runners achieved the 27:28 world standard in the men’s 10,000 meters on Sunday.

Another American record was almost broken by Elise Cranny, 25, who won the women’s 10,000 meters in 30:14.33. She narrowly missed Molly Huddle’s record of 30:13.17 from the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Bowerman Track Club runner’s previous best was 30:47.42.

“That’s an incredible record by Molly Huddle, and I’ve looked up to her for a long time, so even to be within a second of it, being among her and her greatest 10K is a huge honor,” Cranny said.

Cranny blazed through the first 5,000 meters in 15:04 while her coach and former 10,000-meter U.S. record-holder Shalane Flanagan cheered from the sidelines.

With four laps remaining, the solo effort was starting to wear on Cranny and her pace dropped slightly from 72-73-second laps to 74 and 75 seconds for each quarter mile, putting the record in jeopardy. But with one last burst of energy, Cranny shifted gears on the last lap—splitting 67 seconds in the final 400 meters—to catch up with the Wavelight technology. It appeared that Cranny broke the record, but the lights were actually set to lead runners to a 30:16 finish. Her winning time of 30:14.33 is now No. 2 on the U.S. all-time list.

“That’s something that I’m really trying to focus on this year is like, being the best you can be and getting the most out of yourself,” Cranny said. “I’m hoping for some more opportunities to run fast and hopefully get that mark.”

In total, nine women achieved the 31:25 world standard, including steeplechase silver medalist Courtney Frerichs (31:23.13), who made her debut in the event.

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