May 30, 2013
Editor’s note: The Pre Classic is so good the meet takes place over 2 days. Day 1 tonight is Friday with a stellar men’s 10,000m featuring Kenenisa Bekele and a top notch 1500 and mile. Tonight’s actions starts at 10 pm eastern with a live internet stream. Saturday’s action is on NBC Tv from 4:30-6pm Eastern. Viewing/streaming info here.
Day 2 of the 2013 Pre Classic is a mid-d and distance running fan’s dream. Truly amazing fields across the board in seven different mid-d and distance events. The men’s 1,500 and men’s steeple are in many ways better than an Olympic final in terms of quality.
The action is so incredible we’ve outdone ourselves and previewed the action for you with 4,500+ words if Microsoft Word can be believed.
We preview the action in the order that it occurs so you can print this out and use it as a program of sorts whether you are watching on TV/Internet or are lucky enough to be at Hayward Field.
12:34PM Pacific: Men’s 5,000m: Mo Farah Vs. Longosiwa, Lagat, Koech And More. Is This Galen Rupp’s Coming Out Party?
Mo Farah running the 10k versus Bekele was too good to be true, but Farah pulling out of the 10 to run the 5k, makes the 5,000m here a must-see event. And thanks to the power of Nike, this one is stacked and it’s not even an official Diamond League event.
The big story line is this is the first true test in 2013 for World and Olympic 5,000m champ Mo Farah. Mo will have his hands full. He faces the bronze medallist in London (Thomas Longosiwa), plus the 4th (Bernard Lagat), 5th (Isaiah Koech), 7th (Galen Rupp) and 9th (Hayle Ibrahimov) place finishers. Longosiwa and Koech are sub-12:50 guys in addition to their Olympic accolades. Throw into the mix sub-12:50 guys Yenew Alamirew (Ethiopia) and John Kipkoech, former World 10,000m champ Ibrahim Jeilan, and the lethal kicker Edwin Soi and you have quite the contest. Just for good measure, further back you should have Cam Levins going for the Jeff Schiebler‘s Canadian record, Chris Derrick trying to get closer to 13:00 and Dathan Ritzenhein keeping it interesting.
First and foremost, this race will show where world beater Mo Farah is in his 2013 preparations. Mo has not lost in 2013, but he has not been tested on the track. A loss here and there will be a lot of intrigue heading into the World Championships in August. A win here will erase any doubt about Mo’s 2013 preparations. Even with a win, there still be intrigue at Worlds as Mo will still have to deal with Hagos Gebrhiwet, the Ethiopian youngster who has crushed the fields at 3,000m and 5,000m in the two Diamond League events so far this year, but is not racing here.
Who can challenge Mo? The names above show this race is stacked with talent. It might be best to start with which of the name guys shouldn’t be expected to challenge.
Isaiah Koech was only 6th in the Doha 3,000m, and Edwin Soi was only 6th at the Healthy Kidney 10k and has no track races in 2013, so we can toss them out as likely contenders if the pace is honest.
That leaves a host of contenders and perhaps its fairest to start with Olympic bronze medallist Thomas Longosiwa. Longosiwa not only has the credentials (Olympic bronze, sub-12:50), but he also showed good form in his only track race of 2013, a 7:32.01 for second place in the Doha 3,000m. Gebrhiwet stomped him there on the last lap, but Longosiwa was better than everyone else. Yenew Alamirew was one spot behind Longosiwa in Doha and has the track credentials as well, so he can’t be ruled out either. The problem with both Alamirew and Longosiwa is they rarely win Diamond League races. Longosiwa has never won one, and Alamirew has only won a 3,000m.
The American Hopes: Lagat And Rupp
That leaves us the two best Americans, Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp.
Lagat has done just about everything in the sport except win an Olympic gold. The American record holder at 12:53.60 will no doubt want to hold onto his American record here. The question for Bernard is when does Father Time catch up to him? 38 years old, this is Lagat’s first real challenge on the track outdoors in 2013 (he did anchor the DMR at Penn). At some point he has to slow down. Asking him to win here versus this field is a lot, especially considering Bernard hasn’t won a lot of Diamond League-caliber 5,000m races. The last one we could find him winning was Crystal Palace in 2006, although he did win Worlds in 2007.
Galen Rupp World Beater?
That brings us to Galen Rupp. It would be foolish to call him the favorite, so we won’t do that. Yet we wouldn’t be surprised if he won. He won the silver at the Olympics last year at 10,000m. Rupp has been on fire in 2013. He had the fastest times in the world at the mile and 3,000m indoors and outdoors he nearly beat all of America’s best milers at the 1,500m at Occidental High Performance Meet. Plus Rupp, whose Achilles heel used to be his kick at the end of races, has somehow become one of the best finishers in track and field.
If Rupp wins this one, we can start the talk in earnest of whether he can win gold in Moscow. One drawback for Rupp is he hasn’t run faster than 12:58.90 and all the other contenders have. The other big drawback for Rupp is he’s never beaten Farah in a race where Farah didn’t fall down (and that includes 14 races from the mile to the half marathon if we’re counting correctly).
The good news for Rupp was his 12:58.90 came last year here at Pre, and he’ll have the hometown crowd going nuts for him. The other good news is the US all-comers record is 12:56.98 set by Farah last year, so it’s unlikely Rupp will have to go much faster to win. It should be a great one to watch.
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1:11PM Pacific: Men’s Steeple: Evan Jager Returns, As Double Olympic Champ Ezekiel Kemboi Tries To Show 18-Year-Old Conseslus Kipruto He’s Still In Charge; All Three London Medallists Clash
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Last year, the future of the steeplechase for the US arrived very quickly when Evan Jager picked up the event. Within 4 races (five if you count heats), he was the new American record holder at 8:06.81. By the end of the year, he was an Olympic finalist and ranked in the top 10 in the world.
Jager returns to the steeple for the first time in 2013 on Saturday. As a result, we expect the fact that there is only one American currently under the IAAF “A” standard of 8:26.00 to change.
In terms of the future of the event overall and not just in the US, we said after the steeple Diamond League opener in Shanghai that we felt like the future of the event had arrived in the form of Conseslus Kipruto. As a 17-year-old, the 2011 World Youth and 2012 World Junior steeple champ ran 8:03 last year and then in Shanghai he won in 8:01.16, beating Paul Kipsiele Koech in the process, and Kipsiele Koech always seems to own the steeple early on the DL circuit. Kipsiele Koech is in Eugene as well, hoping to get revenge.
While Kipruto may be the future of the event, the question is, “Is he also the present?”
We may start to find out on Saturday as as all three London medallists are in the field, led by the current ruler of the event in Kenya’s first double Olympic steeple champ, Ezekiel Kemboi. Kemboi is making his 2013 steeple opener at Pre. When at his best, the charismatic Kemboi seems unbeatable. Remember how much he destroyed everyone in kicks at 2011 Worlds and the 2012 Olympics? And it’s not like he’s only good in tactical races as he has a 7:55.76 PR as well. But Kemboi is 31 so you’d think he’d start slowing down eventually.
2008 and 2012 Olympic silver medallist Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad of France is also making his 2013 steeple debut at Pre after winning European Indoors in the 1,500 this year. 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Abel Mutai is also in the totally loaded field after finishing 4th in Shanghai.
Quick Take #1: Kemboi vs. Kipruto may be a battle we see all year long. Kemboi normally starts the season off pretty well: in 2009, he opened with a 7:58 win, in 2010, he opened with an 8:06 win, in 2011, he opened up with a 8:39 win which was followed by an 8:08 win in his only appearance in Eugene, and in 2012, Kemboi opened with an 8:10 fourth place showing in Doha.
QT #2: American fans will want to keep a close eye on 29-year-old Dan Huling. He comes into his 2013 steeple opener after earning a big PR in the 5,000 at Stanford (13:18 from 13:24). In 2010, when Huling went into the year after a 5,000 PR in California, he ended up running his 8:13.29 steeple PR. We definitely expect him to be the second American in Eugene.
QT #3: The third American in the field, Ben Bruce, has only run 8:40 in his two steeples so far this year.
QT #4: An amazing field overall. The 3 medallists plus Kipruto, Kipsiele Koech and Jager. Bravo.
1:24PM Pacific Women’s 1,500: Faith Kipyegon Looks For Her First Diamond League Victory
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On paper, the 2013 Pre Classic women’s 1,500 seems poised to serve as the first Diamond League victory for 19-year-old Kenyan Faith Kipyegon, who emerged as a professional star in less than four minutes in the DL opener in Shanghai, when she ran a huge PR of 3:56.98, setting Kenyan national and national junior records in the process.
Kipyegon is still pretty inexperienced, so a victory isn’t guaranteed. There actually are two other women in the field with better PRs than her in 30-year-old Russian Yelena Soboleva (3:56.43) and 28-year-old Maryam Jamal of Bahrain.
The cheat Soboleva, who was busted for substituting urine samples, is the indoor world record holder in the 1,500 (3:58.28) and she ran 4:00.09 last year but luckily was left off the Russian Olympic team as she was 4th at their champs. It’s a disgrace in our minds that she’s even in the meet – let’s hope she doesn’t win.
The 2007 and 2009 world champ Jamal is making her 2013 debut at Pre, after winning Olympic bronze last year, which may soon be elevated up to silver (or possibly gold) when WADA gets done with the suspicious Turks.
Kenyan’s Hellen Obiri was the runner-up in New York last week. If anyone without a 3:56 PR wins, we’d think it would be her.
If one expands the annual battle for top American honors to top former NCAA runner honors, it gets real interesting as there are a lot of candidates to choose from in Hannah England (GBR, FSU), Anna Willard (USA/Michigan/Brown), Treniere Moser (USA/Georgetown), Sheila Reid (CAN/Villanova), and Katie Mackey (USA/Washington). Mackey, the least credentialed of the bunch, has actually run the fastest of them all so far this year.
Quick Take #1: We always pay close attention to people making their seasonal debuts in a race as it’s the only time there is a lot of mystery in track and field, as you really have no idea what to expect. As a result, we’ll be keeping close tabs on Willard and England in terms of top former NCAA runner honors, as well as Jamal and Soboleva for overall honors. Soboleva did run a lot indoors and was only 6th at Europeans thankfully. The 3:59 performer Willard did get back to 4:05 last year after struggling for a while. It will be interesting to see how she does.
QT#2: We’ll repeat it. It’s a disgrace that Soboleva is even in this meet.
1:55PM Pacific: Women’s 800: Olympic Champ Mariya Savinova Tries To Hold Off Montaño And Niyonsaba As Mary Cain Goes For Sub-2
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There are a two fantastic story lines here – a great battle for the win between many of the world’s best and the drama of possibly the first sub-2 in US high school history.
The US media will be focused on 17-year-old US sensation Mary Cain, who goes for Kim Gallagher‘s 31-year-old HS record of 2:00.07. Earlier this year, Cain rain 2:01.68 in San Diego when she was a 4:10.77 1,500 runner. Since then, she’s improved to 4:04.62 in the 1,500. How much will her 800 come down as well?
That’s certainly worth paying attention to, but the actual race for the win in this race may be even better. Cain breaking Gallagher’s record is a possibility but her contending isn’t. This field is stacked with some of the world’s best 800 stars, and in San Diego, Cain showed she’s got a ways to go to even be one of the US’s best.
The field up front is led by 2010 world indoor, 2011 world outdoor and 2012 Olympic champ Mariya Savinova of Russia, who is making her 2013 debut at Pre. It seems in recent years, the media has been focused on what Pamela Jelimo and Caster Semenya haven’t been accomplishing rather than what Savinova has been doing, which is beat everyone when it matters most.
History shows that Savinova often runs a Diamond League meet in late May/early June but a victory is far from assured for her. In 2010, she won at Pre, but that year she was very race sharp as she also was the world indoor champ. In 2011, she was second in Oslo and last year third in Rome in her DL openers.
If Savinova doesn’t win, then who does? Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba is a good candidate. She was one of the revelations of the 2012 season as she got down to 1:56 as a 19-year-old during her first year on the circuit. This year, she seems well on her way to another great year as she won DL opener in Shanghai.
The US’s Alysia Montaño also is in the field and she often starts her season on fire. This is her 2012 individual opener but her 1:58.6 Penn Relays split on the 4 x 800 is by far the best 800 run by anyone in the world so far this year. Fellow American Brenda Martinez, who has been enjoying a stellar 2013 so far (and would be the world leader had the ReRun event in San Diego had a curb on the track, as she ran 1:59.59 there and beat Cain by more than 2 seconds in the process), is in the field as well. However, a Diamond League win would be WAY above and beyond anything she’s ever achieved so far.
Niyonsaba, Montano and Savinova are three of the very best in the world at 800 and we certainly expect one of them to win.
Quick Take #1: We think it’s great that Cain’s in this race but think it’s an absolute travesty that 2012 world junior champ Ajee’ Wilson of the US isn’t also in it. Unless Wilson specifically asked to be in the “B” heat on Friday night, she belongs in this race if they are going to put Cain in it. Like Cain, Wilson also is a teen phenom who won a US indoor title this year (Cain won the 1,500, Wilson the 800). She’s also undefeated on the year and was much better last year at the junior ranks (gold in 800 versus Cain’s sixth in the 1,500). She’s also beaten people this year who have beaten Cain at 800 this season.
Why isn’t she in the race? We guess because she runs for adidas. If you know of another reason, please email us or post about it on the message board.
QT #2: Savinova normally loses a few races each year so we guess we expect her to be “upset” here.
2:20PM Pacific: Women’s 5,000m: Tirunesh Dibaba Show
Tirunesh Dibaba is arguably the greatest female distance runner to ever put on a pair of spikes and this is her first 5,000m of the year. The three-time Olympic champion is in good form as last weekend in Manchester, she ran 30:49 on the roads for 10,000m. She’s rightfully the heavy favorite here.
Linet Masai was the world 10,000m champion in 2009, but this is her first race of 2013. There doesn’t look on paper to be anyone to challenge Dibaba. Gelete Burka has had success in the past and Mercy Cherono was 4th in Shanghai at 5,000m in the only other Diamond League race this year.
If you want someone to challenge Dibaba, it may be Hiwot Ayalew of Ethiopia. Ayalew is a young steeplechaser making a rare appearance at 5,000m. She turned heads with a silver medal at World XC earlier this year. Expect her to lower her PR for sure.
On the American front, Olympian Kim Conley leads the charge. Julia Lucas, who missed out on the Olympics in the cruelest way, and Neely Spence, who was 13th at World XC, will hope to challenge for first American honors. 1,500m runner Shannon Rowbury actually has the fastest PR of the bunch (15:00.51). For the Americans, anything sub-15:10 should be considered a strong run, sub-15:00 would be fabulous.
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2:40PM Pacific: Men’s 800: David Rudisha Comes To Eugene As Five Of London’s Top Six Square Off
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Update: David Rudisha is now out with a knee injury.
This race isn’t technically a Diamond League event at Pre, meaning no season points can be earned, but you’d never know it by looking at the start lists as this is a STELLAR field which includes five of the top six from last year’s Olympics (everyone but silver medallist Nijel Amos) and is headlined by Olympic champ and world record holder David Rudisha.
Rudisha is a perfect two-for-two on the year at 800 but hasn’t run faster than 1:43.87 so far this year. Look for that to change on Saturday as we’re sure he’s anxious to put up a good time assuming the weather is good.
The two US 1:42 guys from last year’s Olympics are here as well. Nick Symmonds has been running well at 1,500 so far this year so we expect him to run well here in his 800 opener, but we don’t expect him or Duane Solomon to challenge Rudisha.
The only man likely to spoil Rudisha’s Hayward field debut in our minds is the only man to beat Rudisha in both 2011 and 2012 – Ethiopian national record holder Mohamed Aman. In the DL opener in Doha, Aman was right on Rudisha’s shoulder heading into the homestretch, seemingly poised to pull yet another shocker. But Rudisha pulled away for victory there and we expect him to do it again in Eugene.
QT #1: If we’re going to criticize organizers for leaving out Wilson (see above), we’ve got to give them and meet director Tom Jordan a ton of credit for bringing in the adidas-sponsored athlete David Rudisha to Eugene for this non DL event, as it’s loaded.
QT #2: It shouldn’t be forgot that 22 or 23-year-old Kenyan Job Kinyor ended up just .03 behind Aman in Doha (we say 22 or 23 as the start list says he’s 23 but tilastopaja.org says he’s 22). He’s also in the field.
QT #3: 2011 World Youth champ Leonard Kosencha, who ran 1:43.40 last year for second in Monaco at age 17 after running 1:44.08 as a 16-year-old, also is in the field making his 2013 debut. We certainly don’t expect Rudisha to lose, but if he did go down, we’d think it’s much more likely that a freak like Kosencha is the winner than, say, any of the Americans.
QT #4: Poland’s Adam Kszczot, who was sixth at 2011 Worlds at age 21, is making his 2013 outdoor opener in the race.
QT #5: One person we don’t expect to be in the mix is 2012 bronze medallist Timothy Kitum, who hasn’t been running well early this year.
QT #6: We believe 19-year-old Abraham Rotich is now running for Bahrain even though he’s listed for Kenya above. A guy of that name got 2nd at the Arab Champs earlier this year.
2:47PM Pacific: The Super-Stacked Bowerman Mile
It doesn’t get much better than this.
The world’s greatest miler, Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, versus the Olympic champ, Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria, would be good enough on its own right. Then throw in nearly every other top miler in the world for good measure.
At one point last week, this race had all the Olympic finalists from 2012 in it (so that means all the medallists for those of you who are a little slow), and all the world’s top 10. Now a few guys have dropped out because of injury (Nick Willis for one), but this field is absolutely stacked.
Picking a favorite, however, is not hard. Asbel Kiprop of Kenya is your favorite. The 2008 Olympic Champion has been running great in 2013 (2-for-2 in Diamond League races with an incredible come-from-behind win in Shanghai) and he loves running at Pre.
The only knock against Kiprop is sometimes he falls asleep tactically, but at Pre, he’s raced 4 times, gone sub-3:50 each time, and won 3 times. Very impressive (although his race in 2011 was a tactical disaster).
What about the Olympic champion Makhloufi? Well, this is his first race of the year. Thus we’d be surprised if he won. He showed last year he is a tremendous talent, but winning this one with no rust busters is a tall order.
There are a slew of guys who could challenge Kiprop. Bethwell Birgen was second to him at Doha and Mekonnen Gebremedhin was second in Shanghai. Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti and Celeb Ndiku of Kenya are 20-year-old phenoms.
The Olympic bronze medallist Abdelaati Iguider was not good in Doha but improved to 4th in Shanghai.
The big question mark is Silas Kiplagat of Kenya. The 2011 world silver medallist has struggled so far in 2013 (10th in Doha, 6th in Shanghai). He’ll be running with something to prove here and if on, he’s one of the few guys who can beat an in-form Kiprop. While Kiplagat “struggled” in Shanghai, he still ran the equivalent of a 3:51 mile, so don’t be surprised if he’s a factor here.
Leo, Centro, And Lopez The American Chasing 3:50
That brings us to the Americans. Leo Manzano beat everyone but Makhloufi at the Olympics to get the suprise silver medal. The Manzano story of 2013 is that he still does not have a shoe contract. A big run here could help the negotiation process.
Two spots behind Manzano was Matt Centrowitz, the 2011 World Champs bronze medallist. Centro is in the Bowerman mile for the first time, as last year he was in the “B” race coming off of injury.
Lopez Lomong rounds out the American contingent. Lomong, the new American record holder indoors at 5,000m, will along with Centro and Manzano be trying to become just the 7th American under 3:50 in the mile.
Manzano, Centro and Lomong all raced at the Occidental meet. They finished within .23 of one another with Leo in 4th, Lopez in 5th and Lomong in 6th. They’d probably be satisfied with those places here as it might get them under 3:50.
Prediction: Kiprop wins, Kiplagat sub-3:50, One American shocks with a sub-3:50.
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