Monaco DL Preview: Oh Baby What A Meet – Evan Jager goes for the AR in men’s steeple, the American women take on the world’s best at 800 & 5000, and a high jump for the ages

  • submit to reddit

A Fan’s Guide To The 2014 Monaco DL Meet

July 17, 2014

Officially, the 2014 Monaco Diamond League stop — the 10th in track and field’s four-month journey around the world — is known as Herculis. But we’ve got another name for it: The Greatest 3 Hours in Track & Field. Unlike other Diamond League meets, there are no age-group 4x100s or master’s miles. There are only 16 Diamond League events and one loaded non-DL event — the men’s 800.

We’ve already previewed the men’s 800 and a world record attempt in the men’s 1500 separately but every other running event is similarly stacked.

There’s the season debut of world champ Zuzana Hejnova in the women’s 400 hurdles; LaShawn Merritt against Botswana’s breakout start Isaac Makwala in the 400; Americans Tori Bowie and Allyson Felix against Jamaicans Veronica Campbell-Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100; Americans Molly Huddle, Shannon RowburyKim Conley and Jordan Hasay taking on Genzebe DibabaMercy Cherono and the world’s best at 5000; world record holder Aries Merritt in the 110 hurdles; Ajee Wilson and Laura Roesler vs. Eunice Sum in the 800; the “Drug 200” with Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin trying to take down Panamanian stud Alonso Edward; and, finally, Evan Jager trying to break his own American record in the steeplechase against Kenyan phenoms Jairus Birech and Conseslus Kipruto.

All of that will unfold over the course of two hours at Monaco’s Stade Louis II, while on the infield, the greatest high jump field ever assembled (five guys over 2.40 meters!) will take aim at Javier Sotomayor‘s 21-year-old world record of 2.45 meters. Even in a World Championship year, you won’t find a single day of outdoor track and field with as many high quality events as there will be in Monaco. Read our preview below, park yourself in front of the TV (or computer) at 2 p.m. ET on Friday and enjoy the show.

We don’t cover all of the events below, just the distance events we haven’t already done and the high jump. The IAAF’s preview of the full meet is here: MONACO LOOKS SET FOR ANOTHER THRILLING EVENING – IAAF DIAMOND LEAGUE.

Our previous coverage is here: World Record Alert Men’s 1,500:Can Asbel Kiprop Get The World Record? Will He Even Win Against A Loaded Field?
*LRC Men’s 800: What A Race: David Rudisha Looks For Revenge Against Nijel Amos And Mo Aman + Duane Solomon 

Schedule and full start lists

Women’s 5000 (2:55 p.m. ET): Cherono, Dibaba and Hissan Battle For Victory; Americans Huddle, Rowbury, Conley and Hasay Battle for US Supremacy (and maybe more)

(Note: The full field appears at the bottom of each preview)

This is really two races: there’s the race for the win, and then there’s the race for top American. Let’s start with the actual race.

There are three women who we think could win: Genzebe Dibaba, Mercy Cherono and Sifan Hassan. Dibaba won the only 5000 on the circuit so far this year, running a world-leading 14:34 to break the field in Rome. Since then, she came up short in two world record attempts at 2000 meters (running 5:27 and 5:29; the record is 5:25) and was outckicked by Cherono in a tactical 3k in Lausanne on July 3. Though she’s no longer unbeatable as she was indoors, setting world records at 1500, 3000 and 2 miles, she’s still very good, though it’s not a good sign that Dibaba, a 3:55 1500 runner, was outkicked in Lausanne by the 5k specialist Cherono.

Cherono was just fourth in the 5k in Rome on June 5 but has been unstoppable since then, winning the Kenyan championships at 5000 and DL 3ks in New York and Lausanne. She’s also the reigning silver medalist at Worlds. Considering her pb of 14:35.13 is right in line with Dibaba’s (14:34.99), Cherono deserves to be a slight favorite over Dibaba in Monaco.

The wild card is the Netherlands’ Hassan, who over the past two weeks has staked her claim as the world’s best 1500 runner. Hassan beat a great field in Paris in a world-leading 3:57.00 and followed that up with a win over world indoor/outdoor champ Abeba Aregawi in Glasgow last week. According to, Hassan has run just one 5000 in her life, a 14:59 win at Payton Jordan in May. Back then, her 1500 PR was still just 4:03.73 so it’s a good bet that she’ll run a lot faster here in Monaco. If she’s there with 200 to go, Hassan will be very dangerous considering she’s got the best top-end speed in the field. But remember, kicks don’t necessarily come down to who is the fastest, but rather who has the most left.

A Great Chance for American PRs – A Possible American Record?

Huddle barely held off Rowbury over the final meters at USAs

Huddle barely held off Rowbury over the final meters at 2014 USAs

This race is a treat of fans of American long-distance running as the four best women on the track right now will all square off over 5000 meters. The favorite has to be Molly Huddle, the American record holder at 14:4.76 and the only one of the four Americans to ever break 15:00. Huddle won her second US title last month in Sacramento and has been running great in 2014, setting PRs at the mile, 10k and half marathon. She ran 14:55 to finish seventh in Rome on June 5, a solid performance, but she should be disappointed if she can’t better that in Monaco.

Huddle is by no means a lock to finish as top American, however, as the other three Americans in the field — Shannon Rowbury, Kim Conley and Jordan Hasay — have all been enjoying great years as well. Conley (15:08.61) and Hasay (15:28.56) have both set PRs at 5000 this year and Rowbury barely missed hers, running 15:01.71 to finish just behind Huddle at USAs. Rowbury is the most dangerous of the three at 5000 as in addition to having the best 5000 pb, she also has the fastest PR and is coming off a 3:59 1500 in Paris. She’s a good bet to break 15:00 here while that’s a big ask from Conley and, especially, Hasay, who have PRs of 15:08 and 15:28, respectively. Both Conley and Hasay are in shape to run PRs, especially Hasay, who could slash as much as 20 seconds off of hers, but there’s a reason they chose to run the 10k at USAs instead of trying to challenge Huddle or Rowbury at 5000. Expect a bevy of PRs if the pacing is right and look to see if Rowbury and Conley can join the sub-15:00 club.

Only three times in history have three or more Americans run sub-15:00 in the same year; 2014 could be the fourth.

 LRC Prediction: Cherono Wins, Huddle is top American as three Americans break 15:00!!

Discuss this race in our forum: Jordan Hasay Monaco DL *Monaco DL: DREAM FIELDS AT 800,m 1500m, AND 5000m.

AYANA Almaz 21.11.1991 ETH 14:25.84 14:37.16 WC bronze medalist was 2nd in Rome 5k on June 5; 5th in Lausanne 3k on July 3; #2 time in world
BELETE Mimi 09.06.1988 BRN 15:15.59  NA 3rd at Pre 2 mile on May 31; 4:00.08 1500 in Paris on July 5
CALVIN Clemence 17.05.1990 FRA 15:07.58 15:07.58
CHECA Dolores 27.12.1982 ESP 14:46.30 15:20.93
CHERONO Mercy 07.05.1991 KEN 14:35.13 14:43.11 WC silver medalist won Kenyan champs at 5k; won DL 3ks in NY + Lausanne
CONLEY Kim 14.03.1986 USA 15:08.61 15:08.61 US 10k champ is in the form of her life; PR’d for 5k in Rome; 4:09 for 1500 last week in Belgium
DIBABA Genzebe 08.02.1991 ETH 14:34.99 14:34.99 2014 world leader won DL 5k in Rome but outkicked in 3k in Lausanne
HASAY Jordan 21.09.1991 USA 15:28.56 15:28.56 US 10k runner-up coming off big 1500 PR in Glasgow last week
HASSAN Sifan 01.01.1993 NED 14:59.23 14:59.23 1500 world leader moves up to 5k after DL wins in Paris + Glasgow
HUDDLE Molly 31.08.1984 USA 14:44.76 14:55.90 US 5k champ coming off 4:26 mile PR in Dublin; 14:55 for 7th in Rome on June 5
JELAGAT Irene 10.12.1988 KEN 15:01.73 15:01.73 4th in Lausanne 3k; 5th in NY 1500
KIBIWOT Viola Jelagat 22.12.1983 KEN 14:33.48 14:40.05 3rd in Lausanne 3k and Rome 5k
KIPYEGO Sally 19.12.1985 KEN 14:30.42  NA Olympic 10k silver medalist makes 5k season debut after 8:43 3k in NY
KISA Janet 05.12.1992 KEN 14:52.59 14:52.59 6th in Lausanne 3k; 5th in Rome 5k
ROWBURY Shannon 19.09.1984 USA 15:00.51 15:01.71 US 5k runner-up cracked 4:00 for 1500 in Paris and will look to break 15:00 in Monaco
SAINA Betsy 30.06.1988 KEN 15:12.05  NA 8:40 for 2nd in NY but just 9:00 for 12th in Lausanne
TVERDOSTUP Tamara 17.07.1979 UKR  NA Rabbit

Women’s 800 (3:25 p.m. ET)

Wilson, Roesler and Beckwith-Ludlow will meet again in Monaco

Wilson, Roesler and Beckwith-Ludlow will meet again in Monaco

Unlike the 5000, the top American in the women’s 800 will definitely be in contention for the win, though it will be tough to beat Russia’s Olympic bronze medallist Yekaterina Poistogova and the invincible Eunice Sum, who hasn’t lost an 800 in over a year and is 4-for-4 in DL 800s this year. Though it appears that Brenda Martinez is a late scratch (she was originally entered but her name wasn’t on the start list as of Wednesday), the top three from USAs — Ajee Wilson, Laura Roesler and Molly Beckwith-Ludlow — will all be on the line in Monaco.

It’s hard to imagine anyone beating Sum, but the hope is that the quality of the field will produce quick times throughout. As we mentioned in our women’s 800 preview for USAs, there’s been a distinct lack of fast times in the event this year. The only person to break 1:58 this year is 18-year-old Cuban Sahily Diago Mesa, who ran 1:57.74 in Cuba in May. If that time holds up, it will be the slowest world-leading mark since 1975.

If the rabbit goes out quickly, this race should produce a world leader. Sum ran a season-best 1:58.48 to win in Lausanne two weeks ago with Poistogova not too far back (1:58.79). With Wilson (who ran 1:58.70 to win USAs) and Roesler in the mix now, the winner in Monaco will have to be in 1:57 shape. The World Championship final produced five of the top nine times in the world last year. This field is as close to World Championship-quality as there has been in 2014 and represents the best chance yet of an extremely fast clocking.

A win here by Wilson and she can lay claim to being the #1 woman in the world as she comes in after a win in Glasgow last week.

LRC Prediction: Sum tied up badly in Lausanne so we’re tempted to big Wilson for the upset. Why not? Wilson FTW!!!

Discuss this race in our forum: Monaco DL: DREAM FIELDS AT 800,m 1500m, AND 5000m.

BECKWITH-LUDLOW Molly 04.08.1987 USA 1:59.12 1:59.30 3rd at USAs; SB in Lausanne on July 3; 4:07 1500 in Italy on July 8
FEDRONIC Justine 11.05.1991 FRA 2:00.97 2:01.50 Former Stanford runner was 2nd at French champs last week
JEPKOSGEI Janeth 13.12.1983 KEN 1:56.04 1:59.73 2007 World champ was 6th in Lausanne, 4th in Oslo on June 11
JERUTO Agatha 02.04.1994 KEN 2:00.95 2:00.95 Likely rabbit
JUDD Jessica 07.01.1995 GBR 1:59.77 1:59.77 PR in Oslo; 3rd in Glasgow last week
LAMOTE Renelle 26.12.1993 FRA 2:00.56 2:00.56 French champ entered year with 2:02.40 PR
NANYONDO Winnie 23.08.1993 UGA 1:59.27 1:59.27 20-year-old PR’d to win in Ostrava on June 17
POISTOGOVA Yekaterina 01.03.1991 RUS 1:57.53 1:58.55 Olympic bronze medalist was 2nd in Lausanne in 1:58.79
ROESLER Laura 19.12.1991 USA 1:59.04 1:59.04 NCAA champ and USAs runner-up won pro debut on Monday in Austria
SUM Eunice Jepkoech 10.04.1988 KEN 1:57.38 1:58.48 World champ has won 12 straight 800s
WILSON Ajee 08.05.1994 USA 1:58.21 1:58.70 US champ looked relaxed in winning in Glasgow last week

Men’s 3000 steeplechase (3:45 p.m. ET)

Before the Diamond League meet in Oslo last month, we made the case why Evan Jager was ready to break his own American record of 8:06.81. One month later, after just missing with an 8:06.97 to take second in Oslo and winning his third straight US championship, Jager has done nothing to convince us that he’s not in PR shape. Plus this week, we’ve mathematically determined the AR may be a little bit soft and should be right around 8:04 flat.

So you heard it hear first, the American record is going down. Just like Emma Coburn last week in Glasgow, we expect Jager to set the American record in the steeplechase in Monaco on the same track where he set the record two years ago. Like Coburn, Jager wasted no time going to the front in his last DL race in Oslo but his pacing was too aggressive, passing 1k in 2:39 (7:57 pace). Jager described the race as a “controlled blowup” and it’s likely that he’ll aim for slightly more conservative splits in Monaco.

If, as expected, Jager runs in the low-8:00 range, he’ll be in contention for the win. He’s #5 on the 2014 world list right now, but three of the men in front of him ran their season bests in Doha on May 9 and haven’t been able to capture that form since. The two guys Jager should be concerned about are Kenyans Jairus Birech (world leader and winner of the last 3 DL steeples) and Conseslus Kipruto, the silver medallist at Worlds last year who was second behind Birech in Lausanne. Birech has crushed everyone on the circuit recently, winning by four seconds in Rome, four seconds in Oslo and eight seconds in Lausanne, going out with the leaders before breaking the field over the last half of the race. The 19-year-old Kipruto was second behind Birech in his season debut Lausanne and should be closer this time out after two more weeks of training.

Birech is the heavy favorite to win again, but Jager should challenge Kipruto for second and has a great shot at the American record if he gets his pacing right. Jager’s Bowerman Track Club teammate, Dan Huling, should also be in the mix for a PR in Monaco. He gave Jager all he could handle at USAs last month and came close to his 8:13.29 PR in Oslo (8:15.87). Running a PR (and possibly becoming the fifth American to break 8:10) would be a nice birthday present for Huling, who turned 31 on Wednesday.

LRC Prediction: Jager gets the AR, finishes second and gives Birech a scare. Huling PRs.

BIRECH Jairus Kipchoge 14.12.1992 KEN 8:02.37 8:02.37 2014 world leader has DL wins in Rome, Oslo and Lausanne
GARCÍA Víctor 13.03.1985 ESP 8:15.20 8:17.40
HUGHES Matthew 03.08.1989 CAN 8:11.64 8:29.65 2-time NCAA champ at Louisville was 6th at Worlds last year
HULING Daniel 16.07.1983 USA 8:13.29 8:15.87 7th in Oslo; 2nd at USAs
JAGER Evan 08.03.1989 USA 8:06.81 8:06.97 US champ narrowly missed PR in taking 2nd in Oslo on June 11
KEMBOI Clement Kimutai 01.01.1992 KEN 8:16.96 8:16.96 9th in Lausanne; coming off 8:21 win in Switzerland on Tuesday
KIPRUTO Brimin Kiprop 31.07.1985 KEN 7:53.64 8:04.64 2008 Olympic champ ran 8:04 in May but hasn’t cracked 8:11 since; 4th in Lausanne
KIPRUTO Conseslus 08.12.1994 KEN 8:01.16 8:11.93 WC silver medalist was 2nd in outdoor opener in Lausanne; 3:40 1500 on July 12
KOECH Paul Kipsiele 10.11.1981 KEN 7:54.31 8:05.47 Veteran was 2nd in Rome, 4th in Oslo, 8th in Lausanne
KOECH John 23.08.1995 BRN 8:16.96 8:19.99
KOWAL Yoann 28.05.1987 FRA 8:12.53 8:25.50
LAGAT Haron 15.08.1983 KEN 8:15.80 8:20.01
MUTAI Abel Kiprop 02.10.1988 KEN 8:01.67 8:15.83 Olympic bronze medalist was 7th in Lausanne
NDIKU Jonathan Muia 18.09.1991 KEN 8:07.75 8:10.72 3rd in Lausanne in 8:12
NGANGA Bernard 01.01.1985 KEN 8:05.88 8:17.29
TALEB Brahim 16.02.1985 MAR 8:07.02 8:15.48
YEGO Hillary Kipsang 02.04.1992 KEN 8:03.57 8:09.07 Top-five in 3 DL races in ’14 including 5th in Lausanne

Men’s High Jump (2:05 p.m. ET)

Bondarenko cleared 2.42 meters, tied for second all-time, to win in New York

Bondarenko cleared 2.42 meters, tied for second all-time, to win in New York

We’re not experts on the high jump, but the competition in Monaco is so good that we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention it in our preview. Consider it a reward for reading this far down.

Entering 2014, only nine men in history had ever cleared 2.40 meters. Fifty percent of the ten person field in Monaco has accomplished that this year!

The Diamond League’s Monaco page has had a graphic saying “Mission: World Record!” for months now and the chances of a world record in the high jump are as good as (or better) than in the men’s 1500. Javier Sotomayor’s record is 2.45 from 1993 and it has never been in more danger. Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko and Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim have both jumped 2.42 this year, the closest anyone has come to the world record since it was set. Russia’s Olympic champ Ivan Ukhov went 2.41 in May, while Ukraine’s Andriy Protsenko and Canada’s Derek Drouin have both cleared 2.40 in 2014. All five 2.40ers competed two weeks ago in Lausanne, with Bondarenko claiming the win as both he and Protsenko cleared 2.40.

The record may not go down in Monaco, but the fact that so many men are pushing each other is good for the sport and increases the chances of a record. Prior to 2013, only seven men had jumped 2.40. By the end of the year, the total was up to nine, and midway through 2014, it’s at 12. The top guys have to clear higher heights to win and that means more attempts at the world record.

It reminds us of the long jump at the World Championships in 1991. Entering the competition, Bob Beamon‘s world record of 8.90 meters had stood since 1968. In the fourth round, Carl Lewis jumped 8.91 (wind-aided) only for Mike Powell to jump 8.95 (wind-legal) the very next round. When you’ve got all-time greats pushing each other in an event, the chances of a historic performance go way up.

LRC Prediction: No World Record.

BARSHIM Mutaz Essa 24.06.1991 QAT 2.42 2.42 T-2 all-time; world indoor champ/world outdoor silver medalist; won in Rome
BONDARENKO Bohdan 30.08.1989 UKR 2.42 2.42 T-2 all-time; world champ last year; won in Lausanne and New York
DMITRIK Aleksey 12.04.1984 RUS 2.36 2.29
DROUIN Derek 06.03.1990 CAN 2.40 2.40 Former NCAA champ at Indiana took bronze at ’12 OG, ’13 WC
FASSINOTTI Marco 29.04.1989 ITA 2.28 2.28
KYNARD Erik 03.02.1991 USA 2.37 2.37 US champ is reigning Olympic silver medalist
PROTSENKO Andriy 20.05.1988 UKR 2.40 2.40 T-7 all-time but just #2 in Ukraine
TOBE Naoto 31.03.1992 JPN 2.31 2.31
UKHOV Ivan 29.03.1986 RUS 2.41 2.41 T-5 all-time; Olympic champ; won in Doha
ZHANG Guowei 04.06.1991 CHN 2.34 2.34

More: 2014 Herculis Monaco DL Special section
*World Record Alert Men’s 1,500:Can Asbel Kiprop Get The World Record? Will He Even Win Against A Loaded Field?
*LRC Men’s 800: What A Race: David Rudisha Looks For Revenge Against Nijel Amos And Mo Aman + Duane Solomon