Here’s a video of CRR Sam Parsons displaying his speed on the track, stepping down to the 1500m distance at a professional race in Germany and setting a new personal-best time by about a second. The USA runner in the race, Craig Engels, was Parsons’ roommate during his freshman year at N.C. State. Parsons has had quite a successful year on the track (see related stories below the photo). Click on the photo below to launch the video.
Though he’s only half German, CRR Sam Parsons, son of CRR George Parsons and CRR Christina Parsons of Newark, was Germany’s gem in the 5000m race at the European Championships in Münich on August 16.
Finishing 6th out of the 25 competitors from all over Europe, Parsons, who clocked in at 13:30:38, bested his last month’s World Championship finishing time by 15 seconds. Unfortunately, as in the 5000m at the Worlds in Eugene, Ore., he couldn’t hang late with Jakob Ingebrigsten of Norway, who took the European title as well.
In the stands and cheering on his son during the evening’s race was German-born and -raised Christina, a good local runner in her own right.
This race capped a successful running season for Parsons, who trains professionally with Boulder, Colo.–based Tinman Elite. In high school he had run for The Tatnall School in Wilmington prior to a stellar collegiate running career at North Carolina State.
> Check out the video of the race with Parsons sightings as indicated below (times approximate). 5:00 – Sam looking around mid-race, taking it all in, enjoying himself 9:58 – more Sam 12:40 – Sam moving up on the outside 12:55-13:01 – Sam and Jakob Ingebrigsten running together 15:20 – Sam hitting the bell lap in 6th place 16:17 – Sam finishing 18:09 – Christina cheering
CRR Sam Parsons, the Newark native who ran for The Tatnall School and North Carolina State, recently competed for Germany (his mother’s home country) in the final of the 5000m at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon. He is the son of CRR George Parsons and CRR Christina Parsons.
Leading up to the Worlds, Parsons’s training had been good. While in California in May, he had run a 5K personal best of 13:21.17. And just two weeks prior to his trip to Eugene, he had broken his own mile best by running a 3:55.81. Back in April, Parsons thrilled hundreds of local track enthusiasts at The Tatnall School track by becoming the first ever to run a sub-4 mile on Delaware soil (see Parsons conquers Mile Challenge).
So, it seemed Parsons was ready. In past Olympic trials and at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar, he had come close to being in a final, but this was a special opportunity for him.
Fast forward to the 5000m semifinal #2. Parsons was competing for a spot in the final with the likes of the always-prominent Kenyan, Ethiopian, and Ugandan runners, as well as Norway phenom Jakob Ingebrigsten, who had just placed second in the 1,500m final. Another local runner in that same race was Charter School of Wilmington and Harvard standout Kieran Tuntivate.
Parsons ran a smart race, staying with the lead pack through most of the race. Though he lost a bit of ground in the final laps, he placed 9th in the semi with a finishing time of 13:24.5, which was good enough to qualify for the final. As he crossed the finish line, a big smile appeared on his face, as he knew instantly that he had made it.
“I’m the happiest guy in Hayward right now,” Parsons said. “Not too happy I won’t be able to go to the Wild Duck the next two nights after that; I certainly was banking on that. But final on Sunday, I think that’s a little bit better.”
Besides his parents, at least one other Creek Road Runner, CRR Dave Schultz, and his son Ben were at Hayward Field to cheer for Parsons in person.
That was Thursday night, July 2nd. Just three days to rest and prepare for Sunday night’s final.
Unfortunately, the final did not go according to plan for Parsons. He and British runner Marc Scott stayed in contact with the lead pack, but, as the race sped up in the final couple laps, both runners were seriously gapped. Parsons ended up finishing last in the final in, what was for him a disappointing, 13:45.9. Last in the final in this case, though, represents 15th best in the world!
CRR Mark Deshon recently had the opportunity to interview Parsons about his experience, and here’s what he had to say.
How would you assess your effort in the final? You looked in good shape until late in the race, when the pack pulled away from you and the Brit.
“[It was] definitely one of the hardest races I’ve ever run. Basically, with 800m to go, I just bottomed out, completely just wiped. Definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.”
How difficult was it to gear up for a bigger race just 72 hours after having run a 13:24?
“[This was my] first time ever running two 5Ks in such a short timespan under so much stress and tension…in an arena like that. There’s nothing more motivating than getting your ass kicked at a higher level to want to figure out how to run…and be successful at that level.”
Did you and Kieran Tuntivate discuss anything before your qualifying semi? It seems he wasn’t able to keep the fast pace.
“I did see Kieran. We texted back and forth a little bit before the prelim. He was still optimistic going into the prelim. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a great day…. We talked about the field, what the race was probably going to be like, and talked tactics a little bit.”
Give us your impression of having been on the world stage in Steve Prefontaine’s signature race on his hallowed ground.
“Steve Prefontaine was my hero…. He really made running cool for me. It definitely was a full-circle moment for me. To have been watching Without Limits [the classic movie about the 1970s Oregon Olympian] before essentially every big high school race to then running on Hayward Field, where half those races in the movie were, was definitely surreal for me, and I cherished every moment there, without a doubt.”
What was the atmosphere like in that stadium?
“The atmosphere was crazy. I’d never quite run in a stadium with 50,000 people like that,…sold out, just yelling and screaming…. There was so much love. I heard ‘Sam, Sam, Sam’ so many times as I was going around the track. So, that was really special to have kind of like a pseudo–home field advantage there.”
What interesting off-track stuff did you do while in Eugene?
“I got to know [reigning Olympic 5000m champion] Joshua Cheptegei [the Ugandan who finished 9th in the final]. He lived in the same hall [as I did], and we got to drink tea together before the race…. He was very proud of me for making the 5K final…. It was really special to talk to, quite possibility, the greatest distance runner of my generation like that. That was really special, and he’s a kind, kind soul. I actually got his race bib also after the 5K final, so that will be a great memory I’ll always get to have and cherish.”
U.S. runner Grant Fisher ran well in the final, placing 6th in a time of 13:11.65, less than three seconds behind Norway’s Jacob Ingebrigsten, who took the gold medal in 13:09.24.
Parsons, who typically trains in Boulder, Colo., with professional club Tinman Elite, is now in St. Moritz, Switzerland, prepping for the European finals, to be held on August 16. He admitted, “It’s not quite like the White Clay Creek trails, but this’ll do just fine for the next month.”
The Delaware Mile Challenge was a unique event, to be sure, on the recently renovated track at The Tatnall School. On Saturday evening, April 9, runners of all ages took to the track to challenge the mile distance. Well after dark, the excitement had built to a crescendo, as the elite men and women took to the oval to compete.
“Homefield” advantage theoretically should have meant nothing, as among the field of 13 elite men there were four runners who had already broken the 4-minute-mile barrier at least once. One of those competitors, however, was CRR Sam Parsons (son of CRR George Parsons and CRR Christina Parsons), who grew up in Newark and ran track and cross country for Tatnall during his high school years.
It appeared early on in the men’s elite feature race that Parsons, who trains with Colorado-based Tinman Elite, was ready for the challenge. Through the initial lap, he was in good position in fourth. Moving up, he took over third during the second lap, staying close to a 60-seconds-per-lap pace while battling with three professional runners from Baltimore’s Under Armour club—two in front of him and one right behind him.
By the back stretch of the final lap, Parsons had moved up and positioned himself right behind the race leader, Casey Comber. With just a half lap to go, both were right around 3:30, setting up what would be a frenetic sprint finish.
With the volume increasing to a roar from the hundreds who lined the track to cheer him on, Parsons out-sprinted Comber on the final straightaway and, in doing so, eclipsed the 4-minute mark—the first time this had been done on Delaware soil. Parsons clocked in at 3:58.17; Comber finished just 0.27 seconds behind, also going sub-4. The previous best mile run in Delaware had been run 50 years ago, indoors, at 4:01.1.
While not taking a victory lap, Parsons did take the mic to thank the crowd for helping to make The Delaware Mile Challenge such an energy-filled and memorable event. He also thanked his high school coach, Pat Castagno, who is Tatnall’s track-and-field and cross-country coach and whose own coach while at the University of Delaware was Delaware’s legendary CRR Jim Fischer, who presented the master’s mile race during the event.
By winning the elite race, Parsons bagged $2,500 in prize money. By breaking the 4-minute mark, he also walked (or maybe ran?) away with a $500 bonus, making it a very satisfying (and profitable) trip home!
The elite women’s winner, Molly Sughroue, of the Colorado Springs Track Club, ran away with the race, a new in-Delaware women’s record, and the same prize money.
Collectively, Creek Road Runners congratulate one of our own. Way to go, Sam!
Of local note is the fact that CRR Jim Bray, a Newark High School alum, once held the Delaware high school mile record for 28 years before it was broken in 1999.
The world record in the mile is still a mind-boggling 3:43.13, set by Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj in 1999.
On the evening of Saturday, April 9, elite milers will gather along with others who like the challenge of an open track mile for a set of races at the Tatnall School track. The four-minute mile barrier has never been broken in Delaware, though there have been at least two young Delawarean men who have achieved that feat recently, although not on First State soil. The fastest mile ever clocked in Delaware was a 4:01.1, way back in 1972.
First and foremost, CRR Sam Parsons, the Newark native and Tatnall alum who has eclipsed the mark a couple times within the past few years, will be ready to give it a go. Since his successful collegiate career at NC State, Parsons has been training professionally with Tinman Elite out of Boulder, Colo., and has had some success at middle distances representing Germany (his mother, CRR Christina Parsons, is German-born) internationally. His fastest (non-track) mile is 3:55.00.
Then there’s Kieran Tuntivate, a Charter School of Wilmington grad who recently completed his college running at Harvard, who will join Parsons to try to smash through the barrier in his home state. Tuntivate has recently been running internationally for Thailand, from where his father hails. His fastest outdoor mile is 3:57.87. Former Harvard runner and CRR Bruce Weber calls Tuntivate “the best Harvard distance runner ever.”
There will be a few other entrants who’ve also broken four minutes in the mile.
The event, which is open to all, is being organized by University of Delaware running alum Pat Castagno, who is Tatnall’s track and field coach.
The schedule will be as follows:
5:00 p.m. – middle school boys and girls 5:15 p.m – community mile for kids 11-and-under, who may be accompanied by parents 5:30 p.m – high school girls mile 6:15 p.m – high school boys mile 7:00 p.m. – open mile, for those 18 to 39 or others not on high school team rosters 7:20 p.m. – women 40-and-over 7:40 p.m. – men 40-and-over 8:20 p.m. – elite women 8:40 p.m. – elite men