In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, author Malcolm Gladwell helped to popularize the idea that it takes up to 10,000 hours of practice to truly master a discipline. He must be getting close to hitting that number himself when it comes to running; last month, he completed a 5:15 mile at the age of 57.
The exhibition mile, the final event in Citius Mag’s Trials of Miles series, took place on Friday May 21, at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island in Manhattan. But Gladwell, who has been running with the New York Harriers for years (and even previously crushed a sub-5 mile back in 2014 ), wasn’t just participating for the joy of it. He was also engaging in a little bit of friendly competition with another writer: sports journalist, podcaster and Citius Mag founder Chris Chavez.
Despite the race being billed specifically around Chavez and Gladwell’s competition, the two men spent much of the run in “no man’s land” before Gladwell eventually overtook Chavez around the 4:20 mark, with 300 yards left to go on the track.
While pro runner Izzy Seidel came first, Gladwell did succeed in beating Chavez—while being 30 years his senior, proving in this instance at least that experience trumps youth. He completed the mile in 5:15:38, and Chavez finished with a time of 5:23:36. “I went out way too hard,” said Chavez after the race. “My plan was to try and stick to 76s the first couple of laps, and at the bell I was ahead of you, but not for very long, and so yeah, from there he had an extra gear and I didn’t. But I’d like to exercise my rematch clause at some point!”
Gladwell, meanwhile, revealed that he had “no plan” at all. “I was going to hang on, see what I had left,” he said. “I wasn’t going to go out with the lead group, that was all I knew. I’m way too old. I just decided to tuck in and see if I can catch Chris… As I’ve stated all along, I’m old enough to be his grandfather, I deserve every break I get.”
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