In recent years, Jakob Ingebrigtsen has collected a small collection of tattoos on his arms and legs. Crescent near the right biceps. Compass on his left forearm. Palm and dog face over his right knee. A snake on his left thigh. Tattoos are a source of fascination for fans of track and field.
Despite this, Ingebrigtsen rarely spoke about it publicly.
“Everyone asks about them, but I usually don’t say anything about meaning,” he said last month in an interview while training with his older brother Henrik in Flagstaff, Arizona. The fan is like a Ferrari fan. They are fundamentalists. They want the sport to be what it used to be: white singles, split shorts and moustache.”
Want everyone to look like Steve Prefontaine?
“Basically,” said Jacob Ingbrigtsen. “They don’t want to see any changes: no new shoes, no lights, no new tracks.”
He continued, “Have you heard of Ferrari owners? If they modify their cars, the company removes them from their lists. Because they don’t want anything to do with modifying their cars. They are not allowed to buy another car from them. That is the case with athletics.”
So, tattoos are a way to rebel?
“In some ways,” he said. “It’s also a way of expressing ourselves and saying, ‘We don’t look at runners in the ’80s and ’90s as our heroes. We don’t want to be like them. They are fast and have the most records. But we want to beat records. “
Ingbrigtsen, 21, has always been doing things his way, and it was like that at the World Championships in Eugene, OR, where he told people what he thought – diplomacy is damned – and did what he wanted.
On Sunday, in the 5000m final, he clearly wanted to win. Dressed in his Norwegian speed suit and half of the track drenched in the early evening sun, Ingebrigtsen pulled away from his first world championship, winning in 13:9.24.
“My race plan?” He said before stopping to think about the question. “I just wanted to win. And I wanted to win as much as I could. I didn’t want to finish the sprint, because then some people would say it was a coincidence or a tactical race. But today it wasn’t a tactical race. I just won it. I was the best sprinter.”
Ingebrigtsen was excited after finishing second in the 1500 race last week. Immediately after that race, he said he was “frustrated” and “embarrassed” with his result.
In the 5000, he went out for redemption against a decorated field featuring Jacob Krupp of Kenya, who finished second, and Oscar Chelimo of Uganda, who was third. Grant Fisher of the United States finished sixth, and Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda, the world record holder in the event, slipped to ninth.
Ingebrigtsen seemed so confident of himself that he did something unconventional: he swung twice on his back to try and get water at the refreshment station. Inhaled on his first try, he had more success on the next lap.
“I realized in the heat that it was very dry,” he said. “And if I feel good enough and the speed isn’t too bad, then I thought, ‘Why not? “”
He imposed his will before the remaining two cycles, increasing his pace to the point that everyone was having trouble waking him up. He shook his index finger as he finished alone.
“I didn’t want anyone to doubt who was the best runner tonight,” he said. “And if you can make racing boring, that’s a fine achievement.”
Their range is something to consider. Last month, he impressed the masses in Oslo with a 3:46.46 run of the mile, the fastest anyone has run in a mile in nearly 21 years.
Now, he is the world champion at 5000. How is that possible? Last month, Henrik described their training as a series of cups with small holes on the bottom.
The first cup is the base cup, which they fill with miles to form the foundation. When that cup is full, they move to the endurance cup, mileage at a threshold pace—about a half marathon pace. But they still need to pay attention to the first cup that leaks. (Stay with us.) When the first two cups are full, they move on to a third cup, with faster 5,000m training exercises. Then a fourth cup for 1500. Here’s the thing: the four cups should be maintained over the course of a training session.
“It’s a lot more fun to fill the last cup because these sessions are speed and speed,” Henrik said. “But I think Jacob is more consistent than many of his competitors because the first cup is always full. The second cup is always full.”
In the final stages of his 5,000 qualifiers on Thursday, Jacob used his arms to get the crowd to show some enthusiasm as he neared the finish. Later, he was asked about the expected hot weather for Sunday’s final match. He seemed to be smiling under his mask.
“Hot weather is just happy weather!” Jacob said.
Doubt it at your own risk. He knew what was coming.