But those more familiar with the oval know him for running the second-fastest indoor mile ever by an American, a 4:49.98 joyous runner-up finish in which the only man in front of him set a world record for the distance. It’s a time he calls “definitely shocking in the moment.”
“You train so hard and you put so much physical and mental energy into this [sport] that any time you have a goal in mind and exceed it beyond your wildest imagination, it kind of totally resets the way you think about yourself,” said the 30-year-old Gregorek. “It gives you more confidence and is really just another tool you have in your belt to compete at a high level and have a lot of confidence doing it.”
Competing in his second World Athletics Championships, Gregorek ran a smart race in his heat to qualify for the semifinal, where he ran a time of 3:37.35, tumbling over the finish line with his effort, to barely miss making the final.
Gregorek’s breakthrough indoor mile in 2019 came before a friendly crowd in Boston, about 45 miles northeast of his native Seekonk, Massachusetts. Among the spectators were his whole family, including father, John Sr., a two-time Olympian who competed in the 1987 World Athletics Championships at 5000 meters and now works in ASICS sports marketing.
A 2014 graduate of Columbia University who then ran for the University of Oregon as a graduate student, Gregorek was valedictorian at Seekonk High School, Class of 2009. So, it should come as no shock at all that he’s just completed his first part-time year at Suffolk Law School in Boston.
During the school year, he would sometimes run twice during the day before attending classes from 6-9 p.m. three nights a week. Weekends, he said, were largely spent doing homework.
“It’s a great rhythm,” he said. “There’s no free time, but I enjoy it.”
Gregorek said his lead-up to these World Athletics Championships was great. The most challenging aspect, he said, was making it through the U.S. Championships at all.
“It’s so competitive,” he said. “Representing Team USA is such an honor, and it’s one of the hardest teams to make really, so while that’s the biggest challenge, coming through and being able to represent ASICS and Team USA is obviously the reward of all rewards, so I’m thrilled to be here.”
As for the immediate future, other than starting his second year of law school in late August: “Continue racing, continue having fun with it, win races, run fast times.”