2013 Pre Classic Distance Night: Farah vs. Bekele at 10,000? Ajee’ Wilson Gets Snubbed, Alan Webb Returns To The 1,500

by LetsRun.com May 30, 2013 Editor’s Note (11:20PM Thursday): We initially wrote this preview before the news came out about Mo Farah‘s switch from the 10k to 5k. The 2013 Pre Classic is going to be stellar once again. The meet actually takes place over two days with most of the marquee events taking place on Saturday […]

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by LetsRun.com
May 30, 2013

Editor’s Note (11:20PM Thursday): We initially wrote this preview before the news came out about Mo Farah‘s switch from the 10k to 5k.

The 2013 Pre Classic is going to be stellar once again. The meet actually takes place over two days with most of the marquee events taking place on Saturday in front of a large crowd and live international television audience.

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On Friday night, there are eight events. As you can see from the schedule below, four of the eight events are mid-d or distance events but given Eugene’s fondness for distance running the night is considered to be ‘Distance Night’. Saturday’s action is live on NBC from 4:30-6pm Eastern. Friday’s action will be livestreamed at this link on Runnerspace.com tarting at 10 pm eastern/7 pacific. 

2013 Pre Classic ‘Distance Night”
All Times Pacific









Hammer Throw Women


Entry list



Shot Put Women


Entry list




Long Jump Men


Entry list




Javelin Throw Women


Entry list




National 1500m Men


Entry list



National 800 m Women


Entry list



International Mile Men


Entry list



10,000m Men


Entry list

We preview three of the four below. The International Mile field isn’t out on the Pre-Diamond League website as of 11:49 am ETon Thursday) below. Update at 12:20 pm ET: Actually, we just found it on the  Pre Classic page on runnerspace (why do they have two different websites?) so we’ve added it to the bottom of this article.

There is a women’s 800 and men’s 1500 that should certainly intrigue US fans to a great extent and then ‘Distance Night’ at the 2013 Pre Classic might end with a special race. We preview them in reverse chronological order for you before adding in the International Mile.

7:50 pm Pacific: Men’s 10,000: Mo Versus Kenenisa at Hayward Field!!! 

Mo Farah versus Kenenisa Bekele at 10,000 at Hayward Field. Does it get much better than that?

(Ok we’ll admit it would be more salivating if American Galen Rupp was in the race but we don’t want to be greedy. And if the early season match-up of Bekele vs Farah in a sport where the stars generally don’t race each other seems too good to be true, it may be as there is an unconfirmed report on the message boards that Farah isn’t racing the 10k. As of 1pm Eastern on 5/30/2013 he’s still listed on both (here and here) meet website start lists.)

You have the 2011 World 5,000 and 2012 Olympic 10,000 champ (Mo Farah) versus world record holder and 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 World and 2004 and 2008 Olympic 10,000 champ (Kenenisa Bekele) at one of the most historic venues in the sport.

As for who has the upper-hand, it’s hard to say based on 2013 results as both men have kept things extremely low key, largely only showing up to pick up easy road race wins.

One thing is certain. Bekele is trying to defeat recent history. Our stat of the week shows that once the previous former great Ethiopian ruler on the track, Haile Gebrselassie, lost it, he never truly got it back:

Stat of The Week

1 – number of losses that Haile Gebresasslie suffered at 10,000 from 1993 to 2001. It’s also the number of wins Gebrselassie has had since 2003 at 10,000.

Bekele hasn’t touched gold since 2009

Starting with his world championship win in 1993 in Stuttgart, Haile Gebreslassie went eight years without losing a 10,000, 14 wins in a row counting heats all the way up to his third place championship showing at the Edmonton World Champs when he was 28. Since then, Gebrselassie has run nine 10,000s and won exactly one of them.

Bekele hasn’t touched gold since 2009.

Bekele was equally dominant early in his career. Up until the his DNF at the 2011 Daegu world champs at the age of 27, Bekele was undefeated, a perfect 12 for 12 at 10,000.

Since then, he’s actually won twice at 10,000 and lost only once – but that loss was a big one as finished fourth at the London 2012 Olympics.

Overcoming injuries has been the constant recent theme for Bekele. In 2011, he made his debut for the year at the Daegu World Championships where he was a DNF in the 10,000, but was still able to get in good enough shape to run a world leading time (dispatching eventual 2012 Olympic silver medallist Galen Rupp when Rupp ran his American record of 26:48.00 in the process) of 26:43.16 in Brussels a few weeks layer.

Bekele was unable to make similar progress last year. He did progress a lot from May to July as he started at 7:40.00 for 3000 in Doha and ended up at 12:55 for 5000 in Paris, but in the end he ended up only fourth in the 10,000 in London.

Can Bekele rise again?

Will he be able to do what the great Gebreslassie was unable to do – return to the top on the track after being defeated?

Had you asked us that last week, we’d be inclined to say no, particularly since Bekele had barely made a peep all of this year. His only appearance was a comfortable 17-second 28:51 win at the SPAR Great Ireland Run in mid-April.

But then we heard that Bekele wants the pace makers to run 13:18 for the first 5,000 – See:  Bekele request 13:18 first 5,000m pace at Pre 2013 – and thought, “Wow, maybe he can do it.”

Questions about Farah as well 

As for Farah, there is little reason to doubt his fitness this year other than the fact that he admitted early in the year he was behind where he was the year before and that he hasn’t put up any super fast times so far this year. But truth be told, if he’s trying to peak in August, he shouldn’t have run any big-time times so far this year. Farah showed last year that you don’t need to be in top shape in March to win in August as he was double Olympic champ after only getting fourth in the 3000 at World Indoors.

Farah did run a 60:59 half-marathon in February to prove he was relative fit way back then. He also easily won the 5000 at the USATF Occidental High Performance meet in 13:15.68.

Given Farah’s success the last two years, he has to be considered the favorite. It still is surprising to see his big time track debut be versus Bekele. A big thank you to Nike if this match-up actually takes place.

Who else?

The race is full of talent – there are six other sub-27 performers entered including Kenenisa Bekele’s younger brother, Tariku, who beat big bro to grab bronze in the 10,000 at the 2012 Olympics.

Given it’s early in the year, it’s possible someone not named Farah or Bekele gets the win. Take a look at the rest of the field. The guys in bold are the guys we could somehow imagine winning it if Farah or Kenenise Bekele don’t get the job done.

Men’s 10,000 Meters Personal Best       Comment
Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia) 26:17.53  World record holder.
Sileshi Sihine (Ethiopia) 26:39.69 30 year old has 5 World Championship silvers. 2013 debut. Ethiopia should have taken him to London instead Gebremariam. 27:03 last year.
Mo Farah (Great Britain) 26:46.57 Double Olympic champ
Imane Merga (Ethiopia) 26:48.35 2011 World 10,000 bronze medallist got silver at world xc this year. First track race of 2012.
Paul Tanui (Kenya) 26:50.63 Japanese based 22 year old won World XC silver in 2011. Beat Karoki in 5k in April 13:16 to 13:17.
Emmanuel Bett (Kenya) 26:51.15 30-year old didn’t show up in results until 2010. Ran world leader in Brussels last year. Made $9500 for winning in Des Moines and being runner-up at Bloomsday this year.
Vincent Chepkok (Kenya) 26:51.68 Runner-up in 5000 in New York last weekend. 2009 World XC bronze. 12:51 5000 pb. 2nd fastest in world last year.
Yigrem Demelash (Ethiopia) 26:57.56 19 year old, 2012 world jr champ has been struggling in 2013 – only 7:59 in 3000 in Doha on May 10 and only 69th at World XC. Ethipian junior record holder at 26:57.56. 13:03.30 5000 pb.
Tariku Bekele (Ethiopia) 27:03.24 Seasonal debut for Kenenisa’s 26-year old younger bro who got bronze in London.
Bidan Karoki (Kenya) 27:05.50 In 2011, he stole show at Stanford in race where 3 Americans broke 27:30 for 1st time. 5th in Olympics last year.
Kidane Tadesse (Eritrea) 27:06.16 2008 double Olympic finalist seems to be past his prime. Only 4th at Des Moines road 10k last month where Bett beat him by 19 seconds.
Teklemariam Medhin (Ethiopia) 27:16.69 2010 WXC Silver and 2013 WXC bronze. We loved meeting him in Poland this year. 13:05 5000 pb. 23 years young.
Abera Kuma (Ethiopia) 27:18.39 5th at 2011 World Champs in 5000. 4th at Healthy Kidney a few weeks ago.
Leonard Korir (Kenya) 27:29.40 Former Iona star was 2011 NCAA champ at 5000i and 10,000.
Bouabdellah Tahri (France) 27:31.46 2009 world championship bronze in steeple is getting up in age (34). Didn’t compete on track in 2012.
Daniele Meucci (Italy) 27:32.86 27-year old European silver medallist was 2nd in NYC half in March but only 8th in 5000 in New York last week.
Mohammed Ahmed (Canada) 27:34.64 Former Wisco star is just 22.
Arne Gabius (Germany) none 32 year old is make his 10,000 track debut (13:13.43 5k). .
Birhan Tesfaye (Ethiopia) none 19-year young. Was 6th at world juniors in xc (13:21.39 5k)
Goitom Kifle (Eritrea) none 19 years young. Was 7th – 1 spot behind Ben True at world xc (13:22.92 5k).
Timothy Toroitich (Uganda) none 21 year old doesn’t even have a 5000 pb. Was 5th at 2013 WC XC – one spot ahead of Ben True. 8:22 steepler.
Atsedu Tsegay (Ethiopia) none Hasn’t done much since his shocking Ethiopian 58:47 Half-Marathon national record in Prague cold and windy conditions last March 31st at age 20. Only 10th at World’s Best 10k this year in February.

Bidan Karoki at Stanford in 2011

Quick Thought (QT) #1: Between Farah and Bekele, age shouldn’t be an issue as if Bekele is too old then so is Farah as both are 30.

QT #2: We know Emmanuel Bett had the world leading time last year but if he can’t win the Lilac Bloomsday road race, then how can he win the Pre Classic 10,000?

QT #3: We only put Yigrem Demelash in bold because he’s the Ethiopian junior national record holder and if you said, “The Ethiopian junior national record holder and 2012 world junior champ won the 2013 Pre Classic 10,000,” that sounds like a logical statement to us, but he’s really been struggling so far this year.

QT #4: Someone asked us, “Why do you think Farah is running this race? He’s already in World’s as the defending champ. Why would he do it if he might lose?”

Two answers popped into our head.

1) You make a good point – so he must be in good shape and expecting to win.

2) Nike made him do it, although if this was the case, you’d think he’d just run the 5000. That being said, we’re wondering if coach Alberto Salazar is trying to keep the training partners Rupp & Salazar apart in races until they get to Moscow.

3) And then there is possibility #3 that they aren’t going to race.

QT #5: As for who is going to win? Logic tell us to pick Farah but it would be great for the sport if Kenenisa Bekele won. We don’t feel comfortable making a prediction. Our only prediction is going to be – we will not try and completely lose it if this messageboard thread turns out not to be true and Farah doesn’t race.

7:34 pm Pacific: National Women’s 800: Why Isn’t Ajee Wilson In The Main Heat?

AKKAOUI Malika 25.12.1987 MAR 01:59.54 02:01.49
ANDERSON Gabriele 25.06.1986 USA 02:02.83
BISHOP Melissa 05.08.1988 CAN 01:59.82 02:01.54
GALL Geena 18.01.1987 USA 01:59.24 02:01.11
MACKEY Katie 12.11.1987 USA 02:02.23
PRICE Chanelle 22.08.1990 USA 02:00.15 02:01.52
THOMAS LaTavia 17.12.1988 USA 01:59.67 02:00.68
WILSON Ajee 08.05.1994 USA 02:00.91 02:01.08
WRIGHT Phoebe 30.08.1988 USA 01:58.22 02:00.58

This certainly is a very high quality ‘B’ race as there is an ‘A’ race on Saturday as well.

Olympic semifinalist Geena Gall is in this race as is 2013 US #2 Phoebe Wright (2:00.58, or #3 if you count Brenda Martinez’s 1:59 which the IAAF isn’t recognizing), who was fifth at the US Olympic Trials last year.

The race also features two Americans with the ‘A’ standard in the 1500 for 2013 Katie Mackey and Gabriele Anderson.

That brings us to a former teen phenom, Chanelle Price, and current teen phenoms, Ajee’ Wilson, and Mary Cain.  Cain, the 17 year old high school junior who has been setting the running world on fire in 2013, is in the 800 “A” race in Saturday, and she deserves it, regardless that the 800 is not her main event.

Price, who ran her high school PB of 2:01.61 in the main race at Pre Classic in 2007, recently beat Cain in an 800 in San Diego as shown by the following results:

1 Brenda Martinez 1:59.59 WL
2 Chanelle Price USA 2:01.20
3 Treniere Moser USA 2:01.65
4 Mary Cain USA 2:01.68 WJL
5 Phoebe Wright USA 2:02.05
6 Geena Gall USA 2:02.25

Yet we’ve got no problem with Price being in the “B” race and Cain in the “A” race. Cain is one of the most popular names in the sport right now, continues to improve, and deserves the limelight.

However, we’ve got a huge problem with another current teen phenom Ajee’ Wilson being in the “B” race. Wilson, who just turned 19 this month, was the World Junior Champion last year at 800. Last year at World Juniors, Cain was only 6th.

Instead of running collegiately this year, Wilson went pro and signed with adidas. The results? Very good. Check out Wilson’s 2013 results.

Ajee’ Wilson in 2013
2:05.54i 1 New York NY 1 Feb
2:05.54i 1 Coll Inv New York NY 2 Feb
2:04.76Ai 1h1 NC Albuquerque NM 2 Mar
2:02.64Ai PB (25) 1 NC Albuquerque NM 3 Mar
2:04.35 1 Ellis Princeton NJ 19 Apr
2:01.08 SB (16) 1 Ponce GP Ponce 18 May

Ajee’ might be wearing the wrong clothes for this one

She’s undefeated in six races, with an indoor pr, and an indoor USATF national title in the mix. In Ponce two weeks ago, she beat Price (who already beat Cain) convincingly (.44). Tell us again why Ajee’ is not in the ‘A’ heat? Unless Ajee’ requested to be in the “B” heat, if Cain is the “A” hear, Ajee’ deserves it as well.  Put her in the “A” heat.

Quick Take (#1): If you are going to put Cain in the main 800, which we are glad they are doing as it will be one of the big focuses of the meet, then you need Wilson to be in there as well. You can’t tell us if Wilson’s sponsor was Nike and not adidas that she wouldn’t be racing on Saturday. There are only eight lanes at Hayward field but already nine entrants in the ‘A’ 800 so people are going to be sharing a lane. Let the two teen phenoms share a lane.

QT #2: One novel idea would be to let the borderline people race it out here and then put the winner in the ‘A’ heat the next day.


7:25 pm Pacific: National Men’s 1500Alan Webb and Many Former College Stars Battle

The Bowerman mile on Saturday traditionally ends the Pre Classic and this year that race is arguably better than an Olympic final. On Friday night, there is a National 1,500 and International Mile.

This is the Natioanl 1500 which features many former US collegiate stars and is headlined by US mile record holder Alan Webb who returns to to the 1,500 after struggling so far in his attempt move up to the 5,000/10,000. In two 5,000s this year, Webb hasn’t broken 13:30.

Take a loot at the entries in the Men’s National 1500 meters.

We start with the American mile record holder Alan Webb out of respect for his past accomplishments and then list the guys in terms of how they’ve been doing this year, considering also their past 1500 accomplishments.

Alan WEBB (USA) – American record holder is looking for answers after not breaking 13:37 in two 5000s.
Garrett HEATH (USA) – 
Road mile champ ran 3:37.47 at Oxy.
Ciaran O’LIONAIRD (IRE) – 
Former FSU runner surprisingly made 2011 world 1500 final after not scoring at NCAA meet that year in 5,000/10,000. Ran 3:52 mile indoors at Millrose. 3:58.7 split at Penn Relays.
Jonathan KIPLIMO (KEN) – 3:39.5h. Don’t know anything about this guy other than his hand-time PR but if he came on a plane from Kenya, we assume it wasn’t to finish poorly.
Jordan MCNAMARA (USA) – Former Oregon star ran 3:35.63 last year, only 3:39.25 at Oxy.
Liam BOYLAN-PETT (USA) – former Columbia star has 3:38.26 at Oxy. 3:37.05 last year at Swartmore.
Miles BATTY (USA) – 2011 NCAA mile champ only ran 3:41.91 at Oxy after being injured in winter.
Elliott HEATH (USA) – 3:39.85 pb at Oxy for 13:26 5000 runner.
Ben BLANKENSHIP (USA) – 3:37.23 last year. This year 3:39.39 for former Minnesota runner.
Chris SOLINSKY (USA) – Speedwork for 26:59 10,000 meter man as he gets ready for 5000 at USAs.
Brett JOHNSON (USA) – Big improver this year from 3:44 to 3:38.91.
Andrew BUMBALOUGH (USA) – Speedwork for 5000 guy as well (3:37.15 pb). 27:56 10,000 at Stanford.
Trevor DUNBAR (USA) – 3:40.06 pb for 22-year old who we think is red-shirting for Oregon.
Andrew J ACOSTA (USA) – Former Footlocker champ who lead preps in mile and 2 mile in 2006 hasn’t run faster than 4:05 for mile this year.

Quick Take #1: We’re mad at ourselves for not looking at the start lists. Don’t always believe “A Duck” or twitter as we fell for this post and originally wrote a whole preview thinking Andrew Wheating was for some reason in this race. Wheating is racing Friday night, but not in this race, but in the International Mile.

QT #2: Alan Webb still fascinates us and will be our number one focus. Webb is certainly hoping to regain his old magic here.

We know it’s a REAL long shot as he hasn’t run a truly good race in five years but we’ll have our fingers crossed hoping some of the old magic re-surfaces. Anyone remember when Jimmy Connors came out of nowhere to make the US Open semis when he was 38 or 39?

QT#3: After Webb, we’re focused on Solinsky. One of the greatest distance talents in US history, who is on the comeback trail from injury, Solinsky at Stanford (13:23 5000) and perhaps then got his expectations ahead of his training, as Oxy was a disappointment (13:27). Does he get it going in the right direction again here?

QT #4: It would be good to see some of the young US talent, who are capable of getting the ‘A’ based on what they did last year guys like Batty, McNamara, etc., take a step towards that after starting the year a bit slowly.

7:41 pm Pacific: International Mile: Andrew Wheating’s Not In The Bowerman Mile?

We won’t go into this one in too much depth because of time. If we didn’t know this race was occurring from looking at the official Diamond League website, then we figure many others didn’t either, but we’ll do our best.

Men’s International Mile
Daniel Kipchirchir KOMEN (KEN) – Ran 3:29.02 in 2009. 3:33.05 this year.
James Kiplagat MAGUT (KEN)
– 2008 world junior silver. 3:33 last year. 3:35 in Shanghai.
22 year old was 5th at Olympics last year at age 21 in pB of 3:35.43. Ran 3:39.05 at Stanford this year. 3
Will LEER (USA) –
won biggest race of his carer last time out at Oxy.
Mohamed AL GARNI (QAT) –
20 year old ran 3:35.88 for 13th in Shanghai.
David TORRENCE (USA) – 3:34 pb, 3:35 last year, 3:#8 at Oxy.
3:30.90 pb. 2:52 split at Penn. 337 at Oxy. We don’t know why he’s in this heat unless he’s been hurt since Oxy. Wheating was last in the Bowerman mile last year, so maybe that is why.
Olympic semifinalist at 21 last year – 3:34 pb last year.
Russell BROWN (USA) – 3:34.11 last year. 3:36 at Oxy.
Matt MINER (USA) –
3:59 miler ran at Dartmouth. Now at Oregon.
33 year old was a DNF in New York 5000 last week.
Alfred Kirwa YEGO (KEN) –
2007 world champ at 800 won 800 in Beijing las week in 1:46.43. 3:33.68 pb from 2009.
Bernie MONTOYA (USA) –
High School stud ran 4:01.32 last year. Only fourth in 4:0.65 at adidas Dream Mile last week.
Donald CABRAL (USA) –
Olympic steple finalist.
Mark WIECZOREK (USA) – 800 guy.

QT #1: We are big fans of the Bring Back The Mile movement but this is a ‘B’ heat on a Friday night and should be a ‘1500’. The guys in this heat need the IAAF ‘A” standard of 3:35.00 and until the IAAF starts accepting mile conversions (which they should do), races should be run at 1500 unless they are big media spectacles like the Bowerman mile. Someone like Will Leer has been searching for that ‘A’ for years and isn’t allowed to get it here unless his mid-way 1,500 split is under 3:35.00.

Leer, in his last race at Oxy, picked up the biggest win of his career as beat who won the biggest race of his career as he beat Rupp, Wheating, Manzano, Lomong.

QT #2: This race gets us depressed about track and field. Seriously. It just reminds us of the stupidity of chasing As and Bs and what not. Qualifying for nationals should be on a per country basis.

Ingebrigtsen is the perfect example of that. The IAAF ‘A’ standard is 3:35.00 for Moscow. At age 21, Ingebrigtsen finished 5th in the Olympics. What a performance. Guess how many times before the Olympic final he’d run under 3:35.00? Zero.

And the IAAF wants you to have run that to even show up at Worlds? Even in the Olympic final, he only ran 3:35.43.

QT #3: We’re surprised Wheating is in this race.  Wheating, who is looking to regain the magic of 2010 when he was double NCAA champ outdoors at 800/1500 and set PBs at 800 (1:44.56) and 1500 (3:30.90), has been doing well this year. A 2:52 1200 split at Penn and then he beat Manzano, Lomong and Centrowiz at Oxy by running 3:37 and they are all in the Bowerman Mile and he’s in this ‘B’ race.  Unless he’s been injured since then, it seems like his coaches are purposely trying to keep him in a lower key race, maybe because Wheating got last place last year in the Bowerman mile.

QT#4: Avoiding the limelight isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We believe that if 2013 adidas Dream Mile winner Ben Saarel was in this race that he would break four. But that just puts a lot of pressure on you as you head to college. The fifth placer from that race this year – Bernie Montoya – is trying again for HS sub-4 here. If he does it, unless he goes way under 4:00, it won’t change our mind. We know who the best high school track runner is this year – Ben Saarel who has already beaten Montoya three times this spring.

Editor’s note: The Pre Classic is an advertiser on LetsRun.com this week. This preview is not part of any advertising package.

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