Men’s Mile: Ayanleh Souleiman Notches Another DL Win As Nick Willis And Germany’s Homiyu Tesfaye Join The Sub-3:50 Club

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Matt Centrowitz Sticks His Nose In It Early, But Pays In The End Fading To 8th And 3:52

June 11, 2014

Ayanleh Souleiman continued his impressive season by winning the 2014 ExxonMobil Bislett Games Dream Mile in Oslo tonight in 3:49.49, holding off late challenges from a fast closing Nick Willis of New Zealand and Homiyu Tesfaye of Germany who both ran sub-3:50 for the first time. Further back, Matt Centrowitz had a disappointing final 300 as he was right with the leaders throughout the race, until when it mattered most, as he faded over the last 300 to finish 8th in 3:52.23.

The Race

3rd turn of men's mile. Nick Willis is 3rd to last in orange.

3rd turn of men’s mile. Nick Willis is 3rd to last in orange.

The rabbits were out hard from the start of this one as they went through the first 409m in 55.09 (about 53.8 first 400). As a result, the field was immediately strung out behind them. Souleiman sat in third behind the rabbits with Centrowitz fourth. Way back roughly 3 full seconds off the leaders, a group which included Willis and Tesfaye had already been gapped as Tesfaye was in last place and Willis second to last.

The rabbits took the field through 809m in 1:53.52 (58.43 for the second 400) and they were 2:53.62 at the bell. This meant that the third 400 was run in a very slow 60.10 as the rabbits and the field suffered from the fast first lap. Meanwhile, two people who weren’t suffering were Willis and Tesfaye who were still almost 3-seconds back after both lap 1 and lap 2, but then were able to make a ton of ground up on the leaders on the third, as they entered the bell just over a second behind the leader.

Souleiman held them off on the final lap thanks to the fact he was able to rally to a 55.5 last 400 and show why he’s the best in the world right now.

Willis kept charging all the way to the line though and leaned as he clearly wanted and got the first sub-3:50 of his career. He just nipped Tesfaye by .03 and the man behind them in fourth, Henrik Ingebrigsten of Norway, crossed the line with his arm up in celebration as he gave the crowd a new Norwegian national record of 3:50.72.

Quick Take #1: Souleiman was good here, but not as good as he was at the Prefontaine Classic 11-days ago where he won in 3:47.32. However, that can largely attributed to the way too fast first lap.

He got another Diamond League win to his name, but didn’t have to deal with the likes of Silas Kiplagat or Asbel Kiprop who are the only two people to beat him in a mile or 1500 in 2014 (Souleiman was 2nd to Kiplagat in Rome 6-days ago and 3rd in Doha losing to Kiprop and Kiplagat.) Still, 3:47, 3:31 (1500) and 3:49, an impressive string of races over 11-days.

Nick Willis leans to make sure

Nick Willis leans to make sure

QT#2: A much deserved PB for Nick Willis who broke 3:50 for the first time.

His previous best of 3:50.66 came from way back at the 2008 Pre Classic and his 1500 best is from 2012. The 31-year old has been saying since indoor that he was in great shape this year, but this is the first time he’s really showed that he’s potentially in the best shape of his life. Here he ran a slight negative split and was rewarded with a second place finish as he passed almost the entire field in the second half of the race. You can see in the photo of the right how hard he was digging at the end to get that sub-3:50.

Willis did a good job on pacing this one. A rough guess on his laps – his first 400 in about 56.8, his next in about 58.4, his third in about 58.5 and his last in about 55.0. Warning, that’s a ROUGH guess.
*MB: Nick Willis 3:49.83 Welcome to the Sub 3:50 Club

QT#3: Meet Homiyu Tesfaye.

You might not know much about Ethiopian-born Homiyu Tesfaye who gained German citizenship last year after he claimed political asylum in 2010. Since then he’s really excelled finishing 5th at the 2013 Moscow World Championships, 7th at World Indoors, and ran a big 1500 PR of 3:31.98 6-days ago when he finished 4th in Rome. He’s listed as 20 years old, but has previously been accused of age fraud as he bears great resemblance (both in name and appearance) to an Ethiopian runner Henok Tesfaye Heyi who is 4 years older than him and competed at the 2007 World Junior Championships. Coincidentally Heyi’s results stop in 2010 and Tesfaye’s don’t begin until after he claimed asylum in 2010.

The one thing we’ll say, Tesfaye definitely ran a lot smarter tactical race than most 20 year olds would, hanging in last place on the first lap and coming through with a 3rd place finish and sub-3:50 clocking in the end.
*MB:Age fraud in Germany?
*Wiki article on Tesfaye and alleged age fraud
*Profile Pic Comparison Between Tesfaye and Heyi

QT#4: Centrowitz is unlikely to be happy with this one as he was disappointed after his 8th place finish and 3:50.53 clocking at the Pre Classic and here he was the same place in a less impressive field with almost a 2-second slower time.

Unlike Pre, he went for it here from the get-go and got up front at the start. He ran well until the last 300 when the damage from the blistering first lap became apparent and he began to fade. He looked great in this race at the start and if he gets in a better paced race could be the next one to join Willis in the sub-3:50 club.

Messageboard Talk about this race: Nick Willis 3:49.83 Welcome to the Sub 3:50 Club 

Video Highlights for USA Visitors (USA Visitors who want to watch the meet on demand (or live) on the internet, can subscribe to Dish World for $9.99 a month)


Intermediate times:
409m SOM, Bram (NED) 55.06
809m SOM, Bram (NED) 1:53.52
1209m RONO, Geoffrey Kipkoech (KEN) 2:53.62
3rd turn of men's mile. Nick Willis is 3rd to last in orange.

3rd turn – Nick Willis is 3rd to last in orange.

Centro starts to lose ground on backstretch

Centro starts to lose ground on backstretch

The final turn, Nick Willis sniffs the sub-3:50

The final turn, Nick Willis sniffs the sub-3:50

Souleiman wins and Willis goes sub-3:50

Souleiman wins and Willis goes sub-3:50

Nick Willis leans to make sure

Nick Willis leans to make sure

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