10,000 Legends Kenenisa Bekele and Mo Farah To Clash At 2013 Pre Classic on Friday

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Press release from Pre Classic
May 27, 2013

Eugene, Oregon – Distance fans will once again thrive at the Prefontaine Classic’s “Distance Night in Eugene” on Friday, May 31st.  The men’s 10k revives a duel between the reigning Olympic gold medalist and the current world record holder.

The 39th Pre Classic, a member of the IAAF Diamond League of world-class meets, will be held on May 31 and June 1 at historic Hayward Field.  The men’s 10k is the climax of Friday’s program, which begins at 6:00 p.m.

Mo Farah, the 5k and 10k London Olympic gold medalist, tops a loaded international field. Farah, who trains in nearby Portland under the tutelage of Oregon legend Alberto Salazar, became Great Britain’s first to win Olympic golds in the 5k and 10k and is now a regular attraction at the Pre Classic.  He won last year’s 5k in the fastest time ever in the U.S., 12:56.98.  His 10k best of 26:46.57 was set in winning the 2011 Pre Classic that saw an amazing 9 runners dip below 27 minutes (no other race in the U.S. has had more than one).

Nobody could match Mo Farah at 10,000 last year. More 2012 Olympic photos.

Kenenisa Bekele has run even faster at Hayward Field.  The Ethiopian legend set the U.S. all-comers best of 26:25.17 at the 2008 Pre Classic.  He is the world record holder at 26:17.53 and has 3 Olympic gold medals, plus an amazing 11 world cross country titles.

Bekele and Farah, both 30, first raced against each other as 17-year-olds in 1999 at the inaugural World Youth Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.  The distance was only 3k, and Bekele earned the silver while Farah finished 6th.  At the 10k distance, they’ve only met twice, with Farah besting Bekele both times. Brilliant kicking, even off the stiffest of paces, is the hallmark of these two superstars.

While the Pre Classic 10k was originally destined to be Ethiopia’s World Championships trials, the Ethiopian Athletic Federation has decided to go in a different direction.  Still, Ethiopia’s best 10k runners are confirmed as part of a stellar field that includes 7 of the 10 best in the world as rated by All-Athletics.com, which combines 2012 accomplishments with 2013 performances, including cross-country achievements.

No. 2 on that list is Ethiopia’s Tariku Bekele, Kenenisa’s younger brother.  Tariku earned the bronze in London, just a second ahead of Kenenisa in his first year of running the 10k.  Prior to 2012, Tariku’s main target was the 5k, and he was ranked among the world’s top 10 by Track & Field News 7 times since 2005, with a best of No. 2 in 2010.  Tariku won the 2010 Pre Classic 5k in 12:58.93, the first-ever sub-13 time in the western hemisphere.  It was the Pre Classic record until Farah broke it last year.  At the 10k, Tariku and Kenenisa are 1-1 head-to-head.  Since 2008, Tariku owns a 3-1 edge at all distances.

Three of the top Kenyans remember last year’s electric Pre Classic race, which saw 15 of that nation’s best race 25 memorable laps at Hayward Field for a chance to run again in London.  Bidan Karoki, now 22, was 3rd, running a PR 27:05.50 to make the team.  He ended up as Kenya’s highest finisher at London in 5th place and was ranked No. 5 in the world last year by T&FN.

Emmanuel Bett remembers last year’s Pre Classic for a different reason.  He finished in the agonizing 4th place, but later in the summer lowered his PR to 26:51.15, fastest in the world, and was ranked No. 6 by T&FN.  So deep is Kenya’s talent thatVincent Chepkok didn’t even make last year’s Olympic Trials race.  The 2011 World Cross-Country bronze medalist ended up proving he belonged, running 26:51.68 last summer, 2012’s second-fastest.

The East African talent base continues.  Eritrea’s Teklemariam Medhin, 23, finished 7th in London and is No. 7 in the All-Athletics.com ratings.  That’s just ahead of a pair of impressive Ethiopians.  Imane Merga, 24, won the 2011 World Cross-Country gold and was runner-up to Farah in the fantastic 2011 Pre Classic 10k race.  Yigrem Demelash is Ethiopia’s fastest Junior-aged runner of all time at 26:57.56.  He is still just 19 years old and will certainly threaten the World Junior Record of 26:41.75.

Men’s 10,000 MetersPersonal Best
Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia)26:17.53
Sileshi Sihine (Ethiopia)26:39.69
Mo Farah (Great Britain)26:46.57
Imane Merga (Ethiopia)26:48.35
Paul Tanui (Kenya)26:50.63
Emmanuel Bett (Kenya)26:51.15
Vincent Chepkok (Kenya)26:51.68
Yigrem Demelash (Ethiopia)26:57.56
Tariku Bekele (Ethiopia)27:03.24
Bidan Karoki (Kenya)27:05.50
Kidane Tadesse (Eritrea)27:06.16
Teklemariam Medhin (Ethiopia)27:16.69
Abera Kuma (Ethiopia)27:18.39
Leonard Korir (Kenya)27:29.40
Bouabdellah Tahri (France)27:31.46
Daniele Meucci (Italy)27:32.86
Mohammed Ahmed (Canada)27:34.64
Arne Gabius (Germany)none(13:13.43 5k)
Birhan Tesfaye (Ethiopia)none(13:21.39 5k)
Goitom Kifle (Eritrea)none(13:22.92 5k)
Timothy Toroitich (Uganda)none(5th ’13 WC XC)
Atsedu Tsegay (Ethiopia)none(58:47 Half-Marathon)

Fans can follow the event lineups as all announced fields are posted atPreClassic.com.  The direct link to current start/entry lists is HERE and includes updates to previously announced fields.

Tickets for the 39th annual edition of the Prefontaine Classic, to be held May 31-June 1 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., are available now from PreClassic.com and from 1-800-WEBFOOT.  Sponsored by NIKE continuously since 1984, the Prefontaine Classic will be shown live to an international audience and by NBC Sports from 1:30 till 3:00 p.m. PT on June 1st.

The Prefontaine Classic is the longest-running outdoor invitational track and field meet in America and is part of the elite IAAF Diamond League of meets held worldwide annually.  Last year’s Pre Classic presented the most 2012 Olympic gold medalists (20) of any invitational meet in the world.

Steve Prefontaine is a legend in the sport of track & field and is perhaps the most inspirational distance runner in American history.  Many call him the greatest ever.  He set a national high school 2-mile record (8:41.5) while at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay, Oregon, that is the fastest ever in a National Federation-sanctioned race.  While competing for the University of Oregon, he won national cross country championships (3) and outdoor track 3-Mile/5000-meter championships (4) every time he competed.  As a collegiate junior, he made the 1972 U.S. Olympic Team and nearly won an Olympic medal, finishing 4th in the 5K at the 1972 Munich Olympics, at age 22.  After finishing college in 1973 and preparing for a return to the Olympics in 1976, he continued to improve, setting many American records.  His life ended tragically on May 30, 1975, the result of an auto accident, at age 24.  The Pre Classic began soon after and has been held every year since.


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