Qualify for the Olympics? Check.
Compete in the World Athletics Championships? Check.
Become the American mile record holder? Check.
On Sept. 16, 2023, Irish alumnus Yared Nuguse made history by shattering the previous American mile record by nearly three seconds, setting a new time of 3 minutes and 43.97 seconds at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon.
The race was a neck-and-neck match between Nuguse and Jakob Ingebrigtsen, a renowned Norwegian distance runner and the reigning 1500 meter Olympic gold medalist. Nuguse closely tailed Ingebrigtsen and finished just 24 hundredths of a second behind him.
“That was the closest I had finished to Ingebrigtsen all season and coming into that race that was my main goal, to be competitive with the best the world had to offer,” Nuguse said.
Nuguse started running in high school when he joined the track team after his physical education coach noticed his competitive edge in the mile run in class. “I’d always be kinda competitive and just run really hard (also so I could get to the McDonald’s before everyone else),” said Nuguse.
Following his graduation in 2017, he joined the Fighting Irish, where he ran cross country and track and field throughout both his undergraduate and graduate careers. He received his Bachelor of Science, majoring in biochemistry, in 2021 and his Master of Science in management in 2022.
Several major achievements marked Nuguse’s time at Notre Dame, including placing first in the distance medley run in the 2019 Indoor NCAA Track and Field Championships.
“It was my first national championship and being able to do it on a relay with three of my closest teammates meant the most to me,” Nuguse said of the relay. “That race will always hold a special place in my heart.”
During his collegiate career, he received several other national titles and qualified for the 1500 meter in the 2020 Olympics. Due to an injury, he was unable to compete, but his career was far from over.
Going into the Pre-Classic in Oregon, Nuguse was aiming for a 3:46 mile. Never did he anticipate coming within moments of the world record, let alone breaking the American record.
“To come away with a 3:43 was just mind blowing and still is,” Nuguse said.
This race closed out an outstanding season for Nuguse, who achieved several other milestones this year, including breaking the North American 3000 meter indoor record.
Looking ahead, he will be focusing on fall training and preparing for the indoor season. While the next season may seem distant, there is little doubt that we haven’t seen the last of Nuguse: “I’m ready to tackle the very long season to come.”