PRAKEL, MASTER OF THE ROAD MILE, IS EXCITED TO COMPETE FOR WORLD TITLE IN RIGA
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2023 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved – Used with permission.
RIGA (29-Sep) — When Sam Prakel won his second USATF road mile title last April at the Grand Blue Mile in Des Moines he had no idea he had set a world record. In fact, he wouldn’t find that out for more than four months until World Athletics ratified his mark of 4:01.21 as the inaugural world record. The global governing body for athletics had set a benchmark of 3:50.00, but since no athlete had hit that standard by September 1, Prakel got the record because he set one of the few quality road mile marks which met the stringent standards for course certification and configuration, timing precision, and drug testing.
Prakel, 28, is equal parts proud and humble.
“It sounds pretty good,” Prakel told reporters here at a press conference in advance of Sunday’s inaugural World Athletics Road Running Championships which will feature a road mile, 5-K and half-marathon. “It’s an honor to hold the inaugural record for an event that means so much to me. The mile has been something that I’ve raced from a very young age. Everyone knows it’s not the fastest record out there, but I think it’s a testament to my consistency and always showing up to almost every race I’ve had an opportunity at and performing well.”
That’s an understatement.
Prakel, who has a mile track best of 3:50.94 (set indoors), has found his calling in the road mile where he has compiled an enviable record. In 17 starts since 2018 Prakel has recorded six wins (including two national titles), and 13 podium finishes. He’s run the famous New Balance Fifth Avenue in New York five times and has made the podium twice, in 2019 and 2022. His personal best is a sizzling 3:47.64, a mark he achieved at the Guardian Mile in Cleveland which actually has a 32-meter climb in the first half before going downhill to the finish.
When asked about his success on the road, Prakel took a moment to think about the question.
“That’s a good question,” Prakel began slowly. “I feel like… the strategy is a little bit different in a road mile, mentally. I have built a lot of experience in that event. I feel like I’m pretty good at gauging my effort at a race. On the track it’s really easy; you have markers and a clock to look at every 100 or 200 meters. In a road mile you’re kind of having to go on feel. As an athlete in training…