Brussels Diamond League Final Preview: A Loaded Men’s 1500 (featuring Galen Rupp) and Women’s 3000, Plus Evan Jager in the Steeple

September 4, 2014

The second Diamond League Final — and the last Diamond League meet of 2014 — will be held on Friday at the Memorial Van Damme in Brussels’ King Baudouin Stadium and, just like the first DL Final in Zürich last week, there are some incredible fields.

The Diamond League Final is all about the $40,000 Diamond Race. The first Final in Zürich crowned champions in 16 events; 16 more champions will be crowned on Friday in Brussels. In case you’re a little unclear on how the Diamond Race works, here’s a quick primer.

– Each event is contested as a Diamond League event seven times over the course of the season. Some events, like the men’s 800, are run at more than seven DL meets, but only seven count as official Diamond League events (e.g. the Monaco 800 was a non-DL event).

– In the first six meets, athletes receive 4 points for a win, 2 for second and 1 for third. In the final, all point totals are doubled (so 8 for a win, 4 for second, 2 for third).

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– If two or more athletes are tied in the standings after the Final, the tiebreaker goes to the athlete with the most victories in that event this season. If they’re still tied, the winner is whoever finishes higher in the Final.

– The winner of the season-long Diamond Race receives $40,000 and an automatic spot at the 2015 Worlds in that event (as long as the reigning world champion is not from the same country). Second place in the Diamond Race gets nothing, though second place in each race in Brussels is worth $6,000, like every other DL meet.

Distance fans should be excited about this one as there are some great races on tap. Silas KiplagatAsbel Kiprop and Ayanleh Souleiman will battle in a winner-take-all 1500, with Americans Galen Rupp and Leo Manzano also entered. Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad and Evan Jager will try to stop Jairus Birech in the men’s steeple and Ajee Wilson and Brenda Martinez will battle Eunice Sum and Lynsey Sharp in the women’s 800, though Birech and Sum have already clinched the Diamond Race in those disciplines. The final distance event is the women’s 3,000, which pits many of the world’s top 1500/5,000 runners against each other, including Sifan HassanMercy Cherono and Genzebe Dibaba. Americans Jenny Simpson and Shannon Rowbury will also square off after tangling at the finish last week in Zürich.

As usual, the men’s high jump is stacked, led by two of the four best performers in history, Bohdan Bondarenko of Ukraine and Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, each of whom can clinch the Diamond Race with a win. There’s also the best men’s 100 field of the year (unfortunately, no Usain Bolt) as five of the top six fastest men in 2014 will compete, led by world leader Justin Gatlin. Gatlin will certainly be favored but he’ll have his hands full with rising star Kemar Bailey-Cole of Jamaica, who has won his last five races, including the Commonwealth Games, Birmingham and Zürich.

We break down the mid-d and distance action for you below since we believe track and field is way more exciting when you know what the hell you are watching. For each event, we assess the current state of the Diamond Races, but since only the winner of the Diamond Race receives a prize, our standings only include athletes still capable of winning the Diamond Race (all athletes must compete in the Final in a bona fide way to be eligible for the title).

Schedule / Full startlists *TV Streaming Info

Men’s 1000 (2:33 p.m. ET)

The first mid-d/distance event isn’t actually a Diamond League event but it should still be an interesting race. Top 800 runners such as world champ Mo AmanFerguson Rotich Cheruiyot and Euro champ/Stockholm DL winner Adam Kszczot will race in the two-and-a-half lap event which also features U.S. 800 runner-up Cas Loxsom. Loxsom has struggled since USAs (he hasn’t broken 1:48 in four 800s since) and he tends to be more of a 400/800 type than 800/1500 so this 1000 might not be the best distance for him.

A good race should see Aman or Kszczot threaten Ilham Tanui Ozbilen‘s world-leading 2:15.08 from June.

LRC Prediction: We see this one comign down to Aman and Kszczot. We love the 1k distance.

AMAN Mohammed ETH 2:16.33 2:16.33 8th at DL 800 Final in Zürich; won in Berlin on Sunday in 1:43.52
BETT Reuben KEN 2:19.11
CHEMUT Anthony KEN 2:18.20 2:18.20
CHERUIYOT Ferguson Rot KEN 4th in Zürich; won 800 in Zagreb on Tuesday
CRONJE Johan RSA 2:18.56 Strange that WC bronze medallist is in 1000, not 1500
HATHAT Yacine ALG 2:16.76 2:16.76
KITUM Timothy KEN 2:17.96 Olympic 800 bronze medallist only ran 1:49 in Zagreb on Tuesday
KSZCZOT Adam POL 2:16.96 2:16.96 Euro champ was 7th in Zürich, 3rd in Berlin
LEWANDOWSKI Marcin POL 2:15.76 6th in Zürich, 4th in Berlin
LOXSOM Casimir USA US 800 runner-up was just 5th in an 800 in Italy on Tuesday in 1:48.57
OLIVIER Andre RSA Commonwealth bronze medallist was 9th in Zürich, 2nd in Zagreb
ROBINSON Paul IRL 2:17.93 2:17.93
SOM Bram NED 2:17.01

Men’s 1500 (2:53 p.m. ET)

Diamond Race standings

1. Silas Kiplagat, 12 points

2. Asbel Kiprop, 11 points

3. Ayanleh Souleiman, 9 points

The Big Three of Kiplagat, Kiprop and Souleiman have dominated the event this year, so it’s only fitting that the DL Final is a winner-take-all battle between those three. Each can clinch the Diamond Race — and a $50,000 payday –by winning in Brussels. There have been eight 1500/miles contested at Diamond League events this year (though the ones at Pre and Glasgow did not count in the DL standings) and Kiplagat (3), Kiprop (2) and Souleiman (2) have combined to win seven of the eight. The only other person to win on the circuit this year is 18-year-old Ronald Kwemoi, who took the victory in Lausanne on July 3. Kwemoi is not entered in Brussels; we’ll get to that later.

The winner in Brussels is almost certainly going to be one out of Kiplagat, Kiprop and Souleiman. The question is, which one?

Kiplagat exulted after his 3:27.64 in Monaco, the fastest time in 10 years Kiplagat exulted after his 3:27.64 in Monaco, the fastest time in 10 years

Silas Kiplagat: How will Mr. Consistency respond to a 10th-place showing in Birmingham?

Prior to the Birmingham Grand Prix two weeks ago, we extolled the consistency of Kiplagat, who had finished in the top two in his previous nine DL races. Of course, Kiplagat then proceeded to run his worst race of the season in Birmingham, getting 10th in 3:53.52. The question now is how does Kiplagat respond?

Kiplagat didn’t run at the Commonwealth Games or the African Championships, so Birmingham was his first race in over a month. It’s certainly possible that his poor finish in Birmingham was due to rust, but Kiplagat took a similar break after Rome on June 5 and ran well at his next race in Lausanne on July 5. More likely, Kiplagat’s performance was just a bad day. Prior to Birmingham, Kiplagat hadn’t had a bad race on the DL circuit since May 18, 2013, when he was sixth in Shanghai. It’s hard to run consistently well week after week unless you’re far and away the best in an event. That said, Kiprop and Souleiman have both run better than Kiplagat recently, so it’s hard to pick him over those two right now.

Ayanleh Souleiman: Continental champ has speed to burn

Souleiman raced four times in August and ran well each time. He beat Kiprop to win the African Championships on August 14 and followed that up with seconds at the DL events in Stockholm (800), Birmingham (mile) and Zürich (800). The latter was incredibly impressive as all the world’s best 800 guys were racing in Zürich and Souleiman defeated all but one of them, running a quick 1:43.93 (and was gaining on winner Nijel Amos at the end).

In the 1500, one of Souleiman’s preferred tactics is to run at or near the front for most of the race and make a hard move with 300 to go to break up the field (he did this to win at Pre and at the African Champs; it almost worked two weeks ago in Birmingham). It’s a really hard tactic to beat because most runners aren’t as strong as Souleiman and are thus unable to hold on at that kind of pace for the full 300 meters. The other benefit it offers Souleiman is that he doesn’t have to run any extra distance over the final turn.

In Birmingham, Kiprop was clearly the best guy in that race, but he wasn’t in great position on the final turn. It took Kiprop a long time to finally pass Souleiman in the home stretch because Souleiman had much better positioning than Kiprop. In the end, it didn’t matter, as Kiprop was close enough to Souleiman that he was still able to reel him in, but if the last 200 meters is crowded in Brussels and Kiprop gets stuck in traffic, Souleiman stands to benefit.

Asbel Kiprop: Coming off a commanding win in Birmingham, the world champ will be tough to beat

Yes, Kiprop didn’t run great in the Zürich 800 last week (he was last in 1:45.26), but he looked so good in the mile at Birmingham that it’s hard not to pick him as the favorite here. The 6’3″ Kiprop can use his Stretch Armstrong limbs to lengthen his stride more than anyone else in the field. At his best, he can do that without sacrificing turnover, making it impossible for anyone else in the field to catch him. Just watch the last 100 meters from Birmingham; once Kiprop hit full speed, long arms pumping straight ahead, no one was touching him.

Of course, Kiprop doesn’t always get it quite right and, as mentioned above, he could be in trouble if he isn’t near Souleiman when the kicking begins. And even if he is, he’s not guaranteed to win. At the African Champs, Kiprop had a clear lane to open his stride and accelerate by Souleiman, but Souleiman held him off for the win.

Still, Kiprop is a two-time World and one-time Olympic champ for a reason. He has the highest ceiling and, as we argued after Birmingham, he may have quietly been the world’s best 1500 guy over the past two months. Look for him to close out the Diamond League season as he began it in Doha on May 9 — with a win.

Where have you gone, Ronald Kwemoi?

Kwemoi, 18, set a world junior record of 3:28.81 at Monaco and has been one of the top five 1500 runners on the planet since making his DL debut with a win in Lausanne on July 3. He was the silver medallist behind James Magut at the Commonwealth Games and took bronze at the African Champs behind Souleiman and Kiprop. Unless Kwemoi is injured (and we can’t find any evidence that he is), it doesn’t make sense why he wouldn’t have run the mile in Birmingham two weeks ago or the 1500 in Brussels. He’s the only guy with a legitimate shot to win other than Kiplagat, Souleiman and Kiprop and he can still technically win the Diamond League (though it would be unlikely).

Rupp beat Manzano at 1500 at Oxy last year Rupp beat Manzano at 1500 at Oxy last year

Galen Rupp returns to the 1500

Perhaps the most intriguing name on the Brussels startlist is Galen Rupp, who will be looking to lower his 3:34.75 PR from 2013. Though Rupp is known as a 10,000 specialist who is gradually developing as a 5,000 runner, he’s actually run quite a few 1500/miles over the past three years — this will be his 11th since the start of 2012 (including indoors).

Rupp’s performances at the shorter distances have been up and down. He ran a spectacular 3:50.96 mile indoors in 2013 (making him #5 all-time indoors) and was a respectable 5th in the DL mile in London last year (albeit against a relatively weak field). Other times, the 1500/mile has not gone well for Rupp, though, as his body has not always cooperated. In his last mile, at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston in February, Rupp dropped out with 450 meters to go with left leg soreness. Rupp also dropped out when he ran the 1500 in Lausanne in 2012 in his first race after the Olympics.

Rupp won’t contend for the win in Brussels, but will still be worth watching as he has a chance to defeat 2014 U.S. champ Leo Manzano. Manzano is 4-2 against Rupp in his career on the track (all races were 1500s or miles) and though Manzano technically beat Rupp at the New Balance Grand Prix, he lost to him in the last race they both finished, at Oxy in 2013 (he also lost to Rupp at Oxy in 2012 before going on to win Olympic silver in the 1500 later that year). Manzano is certainly favored over Rupp as he’s an Olympic silver medallist in the event and has a 3:30.98 pb in the event from last month, but Manzano’s mile PR is barely faster than Rupp’s (3:50.64 to 3:50.92) and Rupp has had the best year of his career at 5,000 in 2014. It actually could be a great race within a race for American fans.

The messageboard has been going ga-ga over this race: MB: Galen Rupp is running 1500 in Brussels! How low can he go? *Juicy 1500m field, kiprop won’t win.

LRC Prediction: We think Kiprop is your winner but we have a guarantee. Galen Rupp will not break 3:30. People on the messageboard talking about a 3:29 simply don’t know what they are talking about.There are two reasons why Rupp won’t break 3:50. 1)  The race is unlikely to be super-fast as the stars will be worried about the $50,000 for first and 2) Rupp’s 3:50 indoor mile which comes in time trial type conditions is only equivalent to a 3:33.8 for 1500.

CHEBOI Collins KEN 3:31.53 3:32.29 6th in last 4 DL 1500/miles, most recently in Birmingham on 8/24
HANNES Pieter-Jan BEL 3:34.49 3:34.49
IGUIDER Abdelaati MAR 3:29.83 3:29.83 Oly bronze medallist was 6th at Berlin ISTAF on Sunday
INGEBRIGTSEN Henrik NOR 3:31.46 3:31.46 Euro silver medallist was 7th in Birmingham
KIPLAGAT Silas KEN 3:27.64 3:27.64 World leader has wins in Rome, Glasgow, Monaco, but just 10th in Birmingham
KIPROP Asbel KEN 3:27.72 3:28.45 World champ looked great in win in Birmingham mile; 11th in 800 at Zürich
MAGUT James Kiplagat KEN 3:30.61 3:30.61 4th in Birmingham & Berlin last two weekends
MAKHLOUFI Taoufik ALG 3:30.40 3:30.40 Olympic champ coming off 1:43.53 800 in Berlin
MANANGOI Elijah KEN 3:35.0h 3:35.0h
MANZANO Leonel USA 3:30.98 3:30.98 8th in Birmingham; won 800 at DecaNations in France last weekend
ROTICH Andrew Kiptoo KEN 3:43.43
RUPP Galen USA 3:34.75 3rd in DL 5000 Final in Zürich; hasn’t raced a 1500 since May 2013
SOULEIMAN Ayanleh DJI 3:29.58 3:29.58 African champ has finished 2nd in last three DL races, most recently 800 Final in Zürich
TESFAYE Homiyu GER 3:31.98 3:31.98 5th in Berlin 1500 on Sunday
WOTE Aman ETH 3:29.91 3:29.91 World indoor silver medallist was 2nd in Berlin

Men’s 3,000 steeplechase (3:23 p.m. ET)

Diamond Race standings

1. Jairus Birech, 20 points (clinched title)

Birech has won five of the six DL steeples this season and will win the Diamond Race simply by starting in Brussels. All of his DL wins have been by big margins (an average of 6.6 seconds, none less than 4 seconds) and that’s likely to continue in Brussels. Birech’s domination has made the men’s steeple one of the least interesting events on the circuit this year and even though he’s winning every race, he hasn’t been able to lay down a truly fast time (his best is his 8:02.37 from Oslo on June 11).

For a distance race to be interesting, you need to have one of the following three things:

1. Someone running a really fast time

2. A bunch of guys fighting it out for the win late in the race

3. Something crazy happens

The men’s steeplechase has struck out badly on #1 and #2 this year, but it has owned #3. Two weeks ago in Birmingham, Birech found a creative way to go over the final barrier: after starting his run-up too late, he had to brace himself on the barrier and then went over sideways, using his left arm to support himself. Oh yeah, he still won the race.

But that wasn’t even the strangest way an athlete crossed the final steeple barrier last month. At the European Championships final in Zürich, France’s Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad removed his singlet and ran the final 100 meters shirtless, putting his singlet in his mouth to hurdle the final barrier. Of course, he won the race too (though he was later DQ’d and stripped of his title for stripping).

sadfsadfsadfasd Which was weirder, this…
Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad of France clearing the final barrier of the steeplechase at the 2014 European Championships in Athletics. He finished first, but was later disqualified for removing his shirt in the final 100 meters (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly) …or this? (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

Neither Birech nor Mekhissi-Benabbad has raced a steeple since their crazy finishes, so, if nothing else, their race in Brussels will be worth watching to see how each chooses to hurdle the final barrier. But Mekhissi-Benabbad also offers possibly the best chance for someone to beat Birech in a DL race. Yes, Mekhissi-Benabbad’s stunt in Zürich was crazy, but he also won that race very easily and came back three days later to win the 1500 easily as well, defeating solid runners such as Henrik Ingebrigtsen, Chris O’Hare and Homiyu Tesfaye in the process. Mekhissi-Benabbad has raced just one steeple for time this year, running 8:07 in June in a race he won by seven seconds. He still seems to be in good shape and with everyone else in the event failing to take down Birech (save for his upset loss to Jonathan Ndiku at the Commonwealth Games, though Ndiku won’t race in Brussels), Mekhissi-Benabbad seems like the best bet to challenge him.

Another positive sign is that Mekhissi-Benabbad wants to go after his own European record of 8:00.09 and become the first European to break 8:00. If that’s true, #1, #2 and #3 from the list above could all be in play on Friday.

What will Jager do?

Since winning USAs on June 29, Jager has raced just twice: an 8:15.49 3,000 steeple in Monaco on July 18, where he faded from second to sixth on the last lap, and a 3:39.68 1500 in Antwerp two weeks ago, where he finished behind Lawi Lalang and Ryan Hill. Neither performance was great by Jager’s standards (his 1500 PR is 3:36), but with so little data to go off, it’s hard to predict how he will run in Brussels.

One thing Jager has going for him is that he has a history of running well late in the season. In 2012, his last race of the year was in Stockholm on August 17, where he ran a six-second PR of 7:35 for 3,000. Last year, his final track race was at this meet in Brussels on September 6, and he ran a 12-second PR of 13:02 for 5,000. A PR in his specialty event, the steeple, might be too much to ask from Jager, but given that we don’t know a lot about his fitness right now, it cannot be ruled out.

Discuss this race in our messageboard: Brussels Steeple – impressive start list.

LRC Prediction: We wonder what the betting odds are for this race as we imagine Birech is a big favorite, but in our minds the winner will be the two-time Olympic silver medallist Mekhissi-Benabbad. If you live in Europe and can find the odds, please email us as this seems like easy money. We really want Jager to get the AR but we doubt it happens.

BAYER Andrew USA 8:25.71 8:25.71 Brough PR down to 8:25 in Lucerne last month but ugly 8:50 in Birmingham on 8/24
BIRECH Jairus Kipchoge KEN 8:02.37 8:02.37 Only loss since May 21 was at Commonwealth Games
CHAVKIN Nikolay RUS 8:22.81 8:25.59
HUGHES Matthew CAN 8:11.64 8:12.81 2-time NCAA champ at Louisville was 4th at Commonwealth Games and Monaco DL
HULING Daniel USA 8:13.29 8:15.87 U.S. runner-up was disappointing 12th in Monaco
JAGER Evan USA 8:06.81 8:06.97 U.S. champ was 6th in Monaco; ran 3:39 for 1500 two weeks ago
KEMBOI Ezekiel KEN 7:55.76 8:04.12 Winner of last 4 global champs has raced sparingly; bronze at CG+African Champs but no DL races since June 5
KESKISALO Jukka FIN 8:10.67 8:29.89
KIPRUTO Brimin Kiprop KEN 7:53.64 8:04.64 2008 Olympic champ was 2nd in Birmingham
KIPRUTO Conseslus KEN 8:01.16 8:09.81 World silver medallist was 5th in Birmingham
KOECH Paul Kipsiele KEN 7:54.31 8:05.47 4th in Zagreb on Tuesday in 8:24
LAGAT Haron KEN 8:15.80 8:19.00
LUKYANOV Ivan RUS 8:18.97 8:26.19
MEKHISSI BEN. Mahiedine FRA 8:00.09 8:07.45 Won Euro steeple before being DQ’d; first DL steeple of 2014
NGANGA Bernard KEN 8:05.88 8:15.01
YEGO Hillary Kipsang KEN 8:03.57 8:09.07
ZALEWSKI Krystian POL 8:16.20 8:16.20 4th in Birmingham, 3rd in Zagreb; five top-5s in DL races this year

Women’s 800 (3:38 p.m. ET)

Diamond Race standings

1. Eunice Sum, 20 points (clinched title)

This is another race where the Diamond Race is already over: Eunice Sum will clinch her second straight DL title as long as she runs in Brussels. If it seems surprising that Sum is that far ahead, it should be: she hasn’t won a DL 800 since July 3rd. But she won the first four events of 2014 (Doha, Rome, Oslo and Lausanne) before finishing second in Monaco and Lausanne. Between Monaco and Lausanne, she earned two wins at the Commonwealths and Africans.

Despite the losses in her last two DL races, , all things considered , Sum has clearly been the world’s best 800 runner in 2014, but losses to Ajee Wilson (in Monaco) and Lynsey Sharp (in Birmingham) have made her appear vulnerable.

Sharp, who was second behind Sum at Commonwealths and also took silver at Europeans, has had a breakout year, dropping her PR from 2:00.65 to 1:58.80 in 2014. She looked strong in beating a similar field in Birmingham two weeks ago and certainly has a shot to repeat that feat in Brussels.

One woman who did not look strong in Birmingham was world leader Ajee Wilson of the U.S. Until that point, Wilson had been on a roll, winning her previous four races and looking like the world’s top 800 runner. She was never competitive in Birmingham and will look to turn it around in the DL Final. Wilson is still only 20 years old and has had a long season, so it’s possible that she will struggle as she did last year in Brussels, where she ran the 1000 and was just 12th in 2:44.

Finally, there’s Brenda Martinez, who is running well again after a poor middle of the season. Martinez took an almost two-month break from racing after she was 5th at USAs in the 800 and it has looked like a smart decision, as she was third in Birmingham and followed that up with a 4:01 1500 in Zürich and a 4:05 1500 win in Zagreb on Tuesday. Martinez will enter riding a wave of confidence and has shown that she has the ability to run 1:58 and challenge for the win here.

LRC Prediction: Upset city. We think Martinez will be the top American and she might even win it. No one but Sum has consistently been good enough in 2014 to be picked as #1 but since she’s not been winning of late, we’ll go with Martinez.

ARZAMASOVA Marina BLR 1:58.15 1:58.15 Euro champ was 3rd in Berlin on Sunday in 2:00.40
ASSEFA Tigist ETH 1:59.24 1:59.24 4th at African Champs; won in Berlin in 2:00.16
JEPKOSGEI Janeth KEN 1:56.04 1:58.70 2007 world champ was 2nd in Berlin
KUPINA Yekaterina RUS 1:59.21 2:00.12 5th at Russian champs
MARTINEZ Brenda USA 1:57.91 1:59.24 3rd in Birmingham; won 1500 in Zagreb on Tuesday
NANYONDO Winnie UGA 1:58.63 1:58.63 Commonwealth bronze medallist was 3rd in Monaco
SEYAUM Dawit ETH World Junior champ/African silver medallist at 1500 has run 3:59
SHARP Lynsey GBR 1:58.80 1:58.80 Commonwealth/Euro silver medallist won in Birmingham
SUM Eunice Jepkoech KEN 1:57.38 1:57.92 World champ hasn’t finished lower than 2nd in an 800 since May 2012
WILSON Ajee USA 1:57.67 1:57.67 World leader was only 6th in Birmingham

Women’s 3,000 (3:46 p.m. ET)

Diamond Race standings

1. Mercy Cherono, 14 points

2. Genzebe Dibaba, 10 points

The great thing about the 3,000 is that it’s short enough for 1500 runners and long enough for 5,000 runners. When there’s a top quality one, you get the best runners from each event, and that’s exactly what will happen in Brussels. 1500 specialists Sifan Hassan and Jenny Simpson are entered as well as 5,000 studs Almaz Ayana and Mercy Cherono. And then there’s runners such as Shannon Rowbury and Genzebe Dibaba, who have proven themselves at both 1500 and 5,000 but aren’t quite sure which event is their best (though it’s become apparent this year that Rowbury remains a better 1500 runner than 5,000 runner) — the 3,000 is perfect for them.

The startlist in Brussels is swollen, with 20 names on it including the rabbits, but for the purposes of the Diamond Race, only two matter: Cherono and Dibaba. Cherono is in a better position as she will clinch the title as long as Dibaba doesn’t win the race. Cherono is not a lock however, as if Dibaba does win the race, she will win the Diamond Race regardless of where Cherono finishes.

The key to picking a winner might come down to the distance. Unlike the men’s side, where all seven long-distance races were 5,000s, the women’s long distance event on the DL consists of four 3,000s, two 5,000s and a 2 mile. Dibaba won both of the 5,000s, but Cherono has outperformed her in the shorter distances so far, winning three of the four events and finishing second in the other to Hellen Obiri (the season-opening 3,000 in Doha). She’s also coming off a win in the Birmingham 2 mile (Dibaba was only 4th), so Cherono is also in better form.

Dibaba’s 1500 PR (3:55) is way faster than Cherono’s (4:02), so normally the solution would be for her to hope for a slow pace and sit and kick on Cherono. But Dibaba tried that very tactic against Cherono in Lausanne on July 3 and was outkicked in the final straight in a race that was won in just 8:50. When you factor in Cherono’s dominance of the shorter events on the circuit this year, the 3,000 distance clearly favors Cherono.

Who will be the top American?

Simpson asfdas Simpson and Rowbury both went down in Zürich

Jenny Simpson may be the best 1500 runner in the world right now, but she was barely the top American finisher in Zürich last week as she edged Shannon Rowbury at the line by .01 seconds to win in 3:59.92. When we spoke to Simpson after the race, she said she didn’t even realize that Rowbury was coming, but we expect that she’ll be prepared for her countrywoman in their rematch in Brussels.

This will be the 30th meeting all-time between Rowbury and Simpson and Simpson has compiled a 19-10 record in that span. Rowbury has an a 4-2 edge in races longer than a mile, however, but the last time they met in a longer race, the 2 mile at February’s New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, Simpson destroyed Rowbury and beat her by 26 seconds.

Of course, that race has little impact on what will happen on Friday. Simpson beat Rowbury in Stockholm and Zürich, but those races were both at 1500 and she barely won the latter. Rowbury also ran 14:48 for 5,000 in Monaco (Simpson’s PR is 14:56 from last year) and her training is probably geared more toward the 3,000 than Simpson’s (Rowbury has run seven races longer than a mile in 2014; Simpson has run just one, and that was in February). Then again, it’s hard to bet against Simpson as she is the world’s best at 1500 right now.

Initially we thought Simpson and Rowbury squaring off against a fast field would give them a shot to break the American record, but after doing a little research, that is unlikely to happen. First of all, the record is 8:25.83 (by doper Mary Slaney), a time that no other American has come within five seconds of (Rowbury is #2 at 8:31.38). Second, races rarely go that fast. Aside from that freak Doha race, where eight women ran 8:30 or faster, no woman had broken 8:30 outdoors since 2010. The fastest time outside of Doha this year is only 8:39. 8:25 is very, very fast (the Purdy equivalence table says it’s worth a 3:53.14 1500) and even if Simpson or Rowbury has a great race, it will be tough to break Slaney’s record.

Given the contact between the Rowbury and Simpson and the fact that the two didn’t seem to speak to each other after the fall, this race is garnering a lot of buzz on the messageboard:

MB: Shannon Rowbury and Jenny Simpson rematch in Brussels *How close will Jenny come to breaking Mary Decker-Slaney’s US 3000m record of 8:25.83?

LRC Prediction: Ayana, who dominated Dibaba at the African champs, wins the race but Cherono wins the DL. In terms of first American, we think Rowbury has the clear edge in this one given her 14:48 5000.

AYANA Almaz ETH 8:24.58 8:24.58 WC bronze medallist won African Champs 5k; 2nd in Monaco 5k in 14:29
BELETE Mimi BRN 8:30.00 8:30.00 7th in Zürich 1500
CHERONO Mercy KEN 8:21.14 8:21.14 Just 5th in African Champs 5k but won 2 mile in Birmingham
DIBABA Genzebe ETH 8:26.21 8:26.21 African 5k silver medallist was 2nd in Stockholm 1500 but just 4th in Birmingham 2 mile
FERNÁNDEZ Nuria ESP 8:38.05 8:51.54
GEGA Luiza ALB 9:09.74
HAROYE Alemitu ETH 8:45.93 8:45.93 World Junior champ at 5k was 6th in Birmingham
HASSAN Sifan NED 8:32.53 8:45.24 1500 world leader was 4th in Zürich 1500 last week
JELAGAT Irene KEN 8:28.51 8:28.51 3rd in Birmingham
KIBIWOT Viola Jelagat KEN 8:24.41 8:24.41 2nd in Birmingham; 3rd in Zürich 1500
KISA Janet KEN 8:51.63 8:53.66
KUIJKEN Susan NED 8:39.65 Former NCAA champ at Fla. St. took bronze in Euro 5k; 7th in Birmingham
NDIWA Stacey Chepkemboi KEN 8:48.30 8:48.30
NENGAMPI Perine KEN 8:51.60
PLIŚ Renata POL 8:40.42 8:52.55
ROWBURY Shannon USA 8:31.38 U.S. runner-up at 5k has run very well recently; 2nd in Zürich 1500
SAINA Betsy KEN 8:40.65 8:40.65 Former NCAA champ at Iowa St. was 5th in Birmingham; won Falmouth RR and ran 14:39 in Monaco
SIMPSON Jennifer USA 8:48.72 World silver medallist won last two DL 1500s in Stockholm & Zürich
WELLINGS Eloise AUS 8:41.78 9:39.67

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