2014 Pre Men’s 5,000: Americans Ben True And Hassan Mead Hope To Join Sub-13:00 Club, As The Six Fastest Men From 2013 And Bernard Lagat Battle

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Shanghai DL Winner Yenew Alamirew Faces Worlds Silver Medalist Hagos Gebrhiwet, 2013 World Leader Edwin Soi, World Indoor 3k Champ Caleb Ndiku, Bernard Lagat And Many More

By LetsRun.com

After Ben True outkicked Hassan Mead, 13:02.74 to 13:02.80 to win the Payton Jordan 5k on May 4, fans immediately began salivating about the chances of the next American going sub-13:00 at Saturday’s Prefontaine Classic. The prospect of True, Mead and fellow American Chris Derrick challenging to become the seventh (and eighth? and ninth?) Americans to break 13:00 is exciting, but given the quality of the men’s 5k field at Pre, it’s something that will likely happen a few seconds after the actual winner crosses the line. We’ll get to the Americans later, but to us, the biggest question is this:

Who will win?

This field is absolutely loaded. It features eight guys with PBs under 12:54, 7 of the top 10 from last year’s world championships final in Moscow and the six fastest 5k guys from 2013. Add to that Kenyan world indoor 3k champ Caleb Ndiku and you’ve got the potential for an incredible race. The only guys missing are’11 worlds/’12 Olympics/’13 worlds champ Mo Farah (still recovering from the London Marathon), Olympic silver medalist Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia and Olympic bronze medalist Thomas Longosiwa of Kenya.

There are a lot of guys capable of winning, so let’s break them down by categories.

The favorite

Yenew Alamirew Usually Is Up Front the DL

Yenew Alamirew Usually Is Up Front the DL

Yenew Alamirew
Credentials: Won Shanghai DL two weeks ago; 3 DL victories at 5k last year; 9th at ’13 worlds; #3 5k in ’13 (12:54.95); #9 all-time at 3k (7:27.26)
PB: 12:48.77

The more we reflect on it, the more impressed we are by Alamirew’s win in Shanghai on May 18. Typically, championship 5ks close in about 52 or 53 seconds, and Alamirew closed in 53 to win in Shanghai. The difference is, he did it in a 13:04 race, while the last four global finals have been won in 13:26, 13:41, 13:23 and 13:17. That sort of close (he ran the last 1000 in 2:26 or slightly faster) indicates that Alamirew is ready to go well under 13:00 if the pacing is right at Pre. He doesn’t quite have the championship credentials of the rest of the field, but he won twice on the Diamond League circuit at 5k last year. Last time we checked, this is a Diamond League race, so we like Alamirew’s chances here considering he handily beat several of his top competitors two weeks ago.

The strong challenger

Hagos Gebrhiwet
Credentials: ’13 worlds silver medalist; 2 DL victories last year (3k/5k); #4 5k in ’13 (12:55.73); 5th at world indoor 3k; 3rd at Shanghai DL
PB: 12:47.53

Compared to their countrywomen Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba, who seem to dodge each other at every opportunity, it’s nice to see Gebrhiwet and Alamirew race so frequently. This will be their 14th encounter since the start of 2012, with Gebrhiwet holding an 8-5 advantage.

Here are their results against each other over the last two years at 5k:

Race Date Alamirew Gebrhiwet
Rome DL 6/6/2013 12:54.95 (1st) 12:55.73 (2nd)
Birmingham DL 6/30/2013 13:14.71 (2nd) 13:17.11 (3rd)
Lausanne DL 7/4/2013 13:06.69 (1st) 13:07.11 (2nd)
Moscow WC 8/16/2013 13:31.27 (9th) 13:27.26 (2nd)
Brussels DL 9/6/2013 12:58.75 (1st) 12:59.33 (3rd)
Shanghai DL 5/18/2014 13:04.83 (1st) 13:06.88 (3rd)

As you can see, these guys are remarkably consistent on the circuit and the winner of their matchup usually wins the race (unless Mo Farah is involved). Alamirew may have gotten the best of Gebrhiwet in Shanghai, but history suggests it will be another close battle for the win between these two at Pre.

The other very fast men

Albert Rop
Credentials: #2 5k in 2013 (12:51.96); 7th at Shanghai DL
PB: 12:51.96

Edwin Soi
Credentials: #1 5k in 2013 (12:51.34); ’08 Olympic bronze; 5th at worlds in ’13; 2 DL wins in ’13 (3k/5k); #10 all-time at 3k (7:27.55); 5th at Shanghai DL
PB: 12:51.34

These two were both several seconds back of Alamirew and Gebrhiwet in Shanghai, but both are extremely fast and more than capable of winning this race. Soi actually did win this race last year, handing an under-the-weather Mo Farah his only loss at 5k in 2013. Rop doesn’t have quite the pedigree of Soi, but he was just a second and a half behind him in Shanghai and as the fastest man in the world in 2013 shouldn’t be discounted. These guys might not win but, they’ll still probably get under 13:00 if the pace is fast.

The indoor world champ

Caleb Ndiku
Credentials: Won all three of his 3ks indoors, including world indoors; #3 1500 last year (3:29.50)
PB: 13:03.80

Ndiku had a great indoor season and ran very well outdoors in 2013 with PBs of 3:29/13:03. He’s really more of a 1500/3000 runner – he’s run just three 5ks in his life, and two of those were Japanese university meets in 2010. No doubt he’s got the talent to step up in distance, but we don’t feel comfortable picking him for the win over a bunch of 5k studs.

The 39-year-old

Ndiku won indoors over Lagat and Gebrmeskel

Ndiku won indoors over Lagat and Gebrmeskel

Bernard Lagat
Credentials: Too many to list, so we’ll limit it to the last two years. World indoor silver; #6 5k in 2013 (12:58.99); 6th at worlds in ’13
PB: 12:53.60

Lagat’s been quiet since taking silver at world indoors; his only race was a second-place finish to Dejen Gebremeskel at the Carlsbad 5000 on March 30. Aside from a loss to Rupp at the 2012 Olympic trials, he’s been the king of the 5k in the U.S. for quite some time now, and his form indoors suggests his reign will continue into 2014. He’s the best hope for an American win here.

The other Americans

The big storyline for the other Americans is: Can anyone go sub-13:00? You might think that since True and Mead both ran 13:02 at Payton Jordan, they’re a lock to break it in a fast race now that they have four more weeks of training. We wouldn’t be surprised if they did it, but we’re not considering it a given for the following reasons.

-Breaking 13:00 is really hard. Only six Americans have ever done it: Lagat, Rupp, Chris Solinsky, Dathan Ritzenhein, Bob Kennedy, Matt Tegenkamp. True even admitted after Payton Jordan that he thought he was in around 13:00 shape last season but things never quite lined up for him to go under.

-Payton Jordan had perfect weather (basically no wind) and good pacing. Those times were run under ideal conditions.

-Even if you win a Diamond League race, it doesn’t guarantee a fast time. There have been 20 Diamond League 5ks since the beginning of 2011. Nine of them have been won in slower than 13:00; another four have been won at 12:58.75 or slower. That’s 13 of 20 races (65%) where no one broke 13:00 or where you had to finish within a second of the winner to get under.

With that said, we wouldn’t be surprised to see True place highly in this field and run sub-13:00. He’s the current world leader, has improved every year since 2011 and has experience against the best. He almost beat eventual worlds 10k silver medalist Ibrahim Jeilan in the adidas Grand Prix in New York last year (and did beat Gebremeskel) and Gebremeskel narrowly outkicked him to win the B.A.A. 5k in April. True likely doesn’t have the wheels to close with the top guys in this field (3:40 1500 PB), but he’s the best bet out of the True-Mead-Derrick trio to go sub-13:00 here.

Derrick rarely has two bad races in a row and since he considered his 13:08.18 effort at Stanford a “bad” race, we’d expect him to get down to the low 13:00s if the conditions are good. We don’t see Mead going under for the reasons listed above, but he does train with the Oregon Track Club so he’ll have the comfort of sleeping in his own bed the night before.

Name DATE OF BIRTH COUNTRY PB SB Comment
ABADIA BECI Antonio 02.07.1990 ESP 13:52.17 Ran 7:46 for 3k indoors; didn’t make final at world indoors 3k
ALAMIREW Yenew 27.05.1990 ETH 12:48.77 13:04.83 Worlds 9th-placer coming off big DL win in Shanghai over a good field
BARRIOS Juan Luis 24.06.1983 MEX 13:09.81 Ran 27:34 to win Payton Jordan 10k; 8th in 5k at ’12 Olympics, 7th in ’08
BIRMINGHAM Collis 27.12.1984 AUS 13:09.57 13:18.57 Ran 13:18 to take down Galen Rupp at Oxy; split 3:38 at World Relays
CHOGE Augustine Kiprono 21.01.1987 KEN 12:53.66 Ran 2:24 marathon in Paris last month so interesting to see how much speed he has
DERRICK Chris 17.10.1990 USA 13:08.04 13:08.18 Said he was in PB shape at Payton Jordan — gets second crack at it here
EDRIS Muktar 14.01.1994 ETH 13:03.69 20-year-old was 7th at worlds in 5k last year; ’12 world junior champ
GATHIMBA Gideon 09.03.1980 KEN Rabbit
GEBRHIWET Hagos 11.05.1994 ETH 12:47.53 13:06.88 WC silver medalist was 3rd in Shanghai 5k two weeks ago
HILL Ryan 31.01.1990 USA 13:14.22 13:14.31 Like Derrick, just missed his PB at Payton Jordan; 3:37 at Oxy two weeks ago
KIPKOECH John 29.12.1991 KEN 12:49.50 13:08.23 Went out in heats at worlds last year; 4th in Shanghai 5k
KOECH Isiah Kiplangat 19.12.1993 KEN 12:48.64 13:29.05 20-year-old took bronze at worlds last year
LAGAT Bernard 12.12.1974 USA 12:53.60 39-year-old shows no signs of slowing after silver at world indoor 3k
LEVINS Cameron 28.03.1989 CAN 13:15.19 13:49.40 Chasing Canadian record of 13:13.96; 2nd at Payton Jordan 10k in 27:36
MEAD Hassan 28.08.1989 USA 13:02.80 13:02.80 After breakthrough race at Payton Jordan, can he become 7th American sub-13?
NDIKU Caleb Mwangangi 09.10.1992 KEN 13:03.80 Fantastic indoor season saw him win 3k gold at world indoors; outdoor opener
ROP Albert 17.07.1992 BRN 12:51.96 13:10.38 21-year-old is a big talent but was only 7th in Shanghai
SOI Edwin Cheruiyot 03.03.1986 KEN 12:51.34 13:08.79 Handed Mo Farah his only loss at 5k in this race last year; can he repeat? #1 time in the world in 2013.
TRUE Ben 29.12.1985 USA 13:02.74 13:02.74 Ran world-leading 13:02.74 at Payton Jordan. Is this the race he goes sub-13?