July 18, 2014
The world record of 3:26.00 remains safe, but the much-hyped men’s 1,500 delivered, producing one of the greatest races in the history of the event.
Where to begin? With the 3:27.64 winning time by Kenyan Silas Kiplagat, the fastest time in the world in 10 years? The world junior record of 3:28.81 by his countryman Ronald Kwemoi? What about the seven men under 3:30 or the four national records? Or the PRs from Americans Leo Manzano and Matt Centrowitz?
The Race (Video highlights at bottom)
The race was billed as a world record attempt and unsurprisingly, Asbel Kiprop got out hard, sitting in second place behind rabbits Anthony Rotich and James Magut. Rotich passed 400 meters in 54.08, ahead of world record pace (54.93), but that not much of a problem for Kiprop who was a few tenths of a second behind Rotich. Kiprop came through in 53.5 last year when he ran 3:27 and he prefers to go out quick. The record attempt was most definitely on.
Behind Kiprop, the pack was single file at 400 meters. Ayanleh Souleiman was the second non-rabbit and after a gap of a meter or two, he was followed by Kwemoi, Kiplagat and Centrowitz. Chances of a world record evaporated during the second lap, however, as the pace slowed considerably.
Rotich continued to run in front and passed 800 in around 1:49.9. Behind him, there was a 3-meter gap to Magut and then Kiprop, who hit 800 at 1:50.7, for a second 400 of about 56.4 seconds. Souleiman remained in second, with a gap on Kwemoi. Kiplagat was in fourth and came through in 1:51.5. Centrowitz and Manzano were in seventh and 10th, respectively.
After Rotich dropped out at 800, Magut assumed pacing duties and continued to press over the next lap. Kiprop still looked comfortable but behind him, Kiplagat was moving up and by the time Kiprop hit the bell in 2:33.4 Kiplagat was in third, about four meters behind Kiprop, with Kwemoi fourth. Further back, Centrowitz came through at about 2:35.7 with Nick Willis right behind him. Manzano was in second-to-last, almost a second back of Centrowitz.
As the second rabbit dropped and Kiprop came through 1200 at 2:46.7, it was clear the record attempt was off and it was going to be a battle for him to hold off the likes of Souleiman, Kiplagat and Kwemoi for the win.
Kiprop was pushing on the back stretch, getting 2-3 meters on the field, but as soon as he did, Kiplagat moved passed Souleiman with 200 to go and began to close down on Kiprop. With 100 to go, the Kenyan rivals were level and with 50 meters left, Kiplagat had moved into the lead. Kiprop, spent from the hard early pace, could not respond and had to settle for second as Kiplagat pulled away for the win in 3:27.64 (fourth all-time), a Diamond League record and the fastest time in the world since 2004.
Kiplagat got the win by closing in a stellar unofficial 53.5 (26.4 last 200).
The fast pace resulted in a slew of fast times behind the leaders as nine of the top 10 set personal bests including Ronald Kwemoi who suffered his first loss as a pro, but was rewarded with the world junior record in 3:28.81. Behind him, Ayanleh Souleiman got the Djibouti national record, Aman Wote got the Ethiopian record, and Nick Willis was the most ecstatic 7th place finisher with a 3:29.91 Kiwi record. Leo Manzano and Matt Centrowitz did not get national US records, but they both got PRs. More analysis and video below.
Race video for USA visitors.
Quick Take #1: This was the deepest 1,500 ever.
We saw a historically great mile at the Pre Classic in May and this race in Monaco was the equivalent for the deeper 1,500 meter event. Prior to Friday, no more than three runners had ever gone sub-3:30 in the same race. Seven men accomplished that in Monaco, leading to all-time marks for places 4 through 10.
Souleiman, Aman Wote, Willis and Henrik Ingebrigtsen of Norway all set national records, and 18-year-old Ronald Kwemoi smashed the world junior record of 3:30.24 by running 3:28.81 (T-7th all-time).
Quick Take #2: Asbel Kiprop deserves credit for taking a shot at the record.
Kiprop has been talking about the world record for a year and he gave it his best shot today, even if he came up a few seconds short. 3:28.45 is still incredibly quick (only five men have run faster in history) and there’s no shame in losing to someone who ran 3:27.64.
With Kiplagat and Souleiman running so well this year, losing the race was always a risk for Kiprop, especially since a world record would require Kiprop to do a lot of work up front. Kiplagat will take the glory for the win, but Kiprop deserves credit for making the race fast and chasing the record even if it might have cost him the win.
Quick Take #3: Watch out for Ronald Kwemoi.
Kwemoi won his first career DL 1,500 in Lausanne two weeks ago. In his second one, he ran 3:28.81 to become the seventh-fastest man of all time. And he’s still only 18 years old. In a way, we’re glad he’s not running World Juniors next week as he’s now 10 seconds faster than any other junior athlete in the world this year. It wouldn’t be a race so much as a procession.
Kwemoi PR’d by 3.12 seconds in Lausanne and by 2.67 in Monaco and is now over a second faster than every other junior in history. Could he be capable of even more in the future? If you’re looking for a world record in the 1,500, Kwemoi might have the best chance of anyone in the coming years.
Quick Take #4: A great showing from the Americans.
Leo Manzano and Matt Centrowitz don’t always run well on the Diamond League circuit, and while they were only eighth and ninth in this race, they both set PRs today. This was the first PR for Manzano since 2010 and the first one for Centrowitz since 2012.
They’re now fifth and seventh all-time on the U.S. list, with Manzano becoming the fifth American to break 3:31. That’s a nice reward for him as he wasn’t even entered in the meet until earlier this week.
“It’s almost kind of unreal,” Manzano told Flotrack after the race, “I’ve been working very hard these last couple months and all of last year to regroup myself.” Manzano added that he had been trying to get into the meet since April but he didn’t officially get added to the field until Wednesday. As soon as he heard the news, Manzano flew in from Stockholm and 48 hours later he has a new 1,500 PR.
Centrowitz, on the other hand, was disappointed even though he ran fast because he feels that he is still capable of more. Centrowitz has been trying to get closer to the front in Diamond League races and in that respect he took a step backwards today (he was seventh in Lausanne, 1.22 seconds behind the winner but was only ninth in Monaco, 3.45 seconds behind the winner). Still, he’s now the fourth-fastest American-born runner of all time. Not a bad consolation.
Quick Take #5: There were some crazy splits in this one.
We had Kiplagat at 3:24.1 at the bell, meaning he closed his final lap in 53.5. That broke down to 27.1 for the first 200 and a staggering 26.4 final 200. That’s incredibly difficult to do after you’ve already run 1,100 meters at an average of 56.03 per 400.
Another crazy stat: Matt Centrowitz closed in 55.4 and was passed by multiple runners over the last lap. Manzano finished ahead of Centrowitz but we couldn’t even get a split for him at the bell because he was so far back of the leader at that point in second-to-last. Manzano likely was no faster than 2:36.5 at the bell and he finished in 3:30.98, meaning he ran his last 400 in around 54.5 seconds.
Nick Willis was fastest of all (except Kiplagat), as he ran his last 400 in 54.1 to set a national record of 3:29.91 (he was just behind Centrowitz at the bell). 2014 has been a big year for Willis as he’s now broken 3:50 in the mile and 3:30 for 1,500 for the first time at age 31.
Quick Take #6 Dreams Become Reality
Nick Willis was the happiest 7th place finisher ever. He talked in the flotrack interview below about how he didn’t believe it when the BBC told him he ran 3:29. He did a victory lap to celebrate and broke down in tears after.