Pre Classic Preview: Mo Farah (10K), Geoffrey Kamworor (5K), Asbel Kiprop (Mile), Faith Kipyegon (1,500) Among Many Stars At Hayward Field This Weekend

  • submit to reddit

By LetsRun.com
May 26, 2016

The greatest two-day meet on American soil — the Prefontaine Classic — kicks off on Friday night in Eugene, Ore. Once again, the fields are outstanding, even with high-profile scratches such as Allyson FelixGenzebe Dibaba and Matthew Centrowitz in the days leading up to the meet.

The distance races are packed with stars. Boris Berian takes on the men’s 800 field (and Nike, Inc.) after being served last week; what singlet will he wear? Geoffrey KamwororCaleb Ndiku, Yomif KejelchaMuktar EdrisRyan Hill and Ben True headline a loaded 5,000, while Mo Farah runs in the 10,000 on Friday night. Asbel Kiprop faces a stacked Bowerman Mile field that includes high schooler Drew Hunter, while Faith Kipyegon tackles Jenny Simpson and Shannon Rowbury in the women’s 1500. Molly Huddle and most of the U.S.’s top 5,000 women are ready to chase a fast time in that event on Friday. Plus Emma Coburn‘s first steeple of 2016.

The sprint and field events have also attracted top talent from the U.S. and around the world. Jamaica’s Omar McLeod will look to keep rolling in the men’s 110 hurdles. American high schooler (and world indoor champ) Vashti Cunningham headlines the women’s high jump. Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt will duel in the men’s 400 for the fifth year in a row (they’re 2-2 against each other at Pre, with James taking the last two encounters). The women’s 200 is stacked with the Netherlands’ world champ Dafne Schippers taking on Elaine ThompsonTori Bowie and Jenna Prandini. The men’s 100 is also intriguing featuring Justin GatlinTyson GayAsafa PowellAmeer Webb and Andre De Grasse. World outdoor champ Joe Kovacs battles world indoor champ Tom Walsh in the men’s shot put. Christian Taylor (TJ), Renaud Lavillenie (PV), Dafne Schippers (200), Keni Harrison (100 hurdles) are other stars who will compete at Hayward Field this weekend.

We break down all of the mid-d and distance action for you below. Our  Pre Classic event page with all links on the meet is here and the IAAF full meet preview  is here.

What: 2016 Prefontaine Classic

Where: Hayward Field, Eugene, Oregon

When: Friday, May 27 – Saturday, May 28.

How to watch:

Friday, May 27
On Friday, while the meet is free to attend, it’s going to cost you to watch it live. You can watch live online on as part of USATF.TV + which cost $12.99 per month (USATF members will get 10% off that price). The broadcast begins at 11:20 p.m. ET.

Saturday, May 28
3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. ET:
Live on NBC Sports Network/NBC Sports Live Extra
5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. ET: Live on NBC/NBC Sports Live Extra

Schedule/entries/results * TV/streaming information

Friday night events

Farah won a thrilling 10k at Pre last year

Farah won a thrilling 10k at Pre last year

Friday night, aka Distance Night, is free for fans to attend and features a women’s 800, men’s 10,000 and women’s 5,000 along with high school 400’s and some field events. But it might better be referred to as Mystery Night. As of Thursday morning — one day before the races, if you’re scoring at home — we still don’t know who’s running in the women’s 800 or the men’s 10,000. We even emailed the meet’s press director and asked to see the fields in order to write this preview but were told no.

Call us crazy, but it might be easier to attract fans to an event if they actually know who is competing in it. Right now, we know one name: Mo Farah, as announced by meet director Tom Jordan to the Portland Tribune. Though the article lauds the 10,000 field as world-class (“these guys are not ham-and-eggers, they’re the top distance runners in the world,” Jordan said), we have no way of knowing if that’s true right now. And considering Farah’s top 10k competition — Kenyans Geoffrey Kamworor and Paul Tanui — are in Saturday’s 5,000, it would qualify as a major shock if anyone beat Farah.

Likewise, we have no clue who is in the women’s 800 or Saturday’s National Mile (the B heat behind the Bowerman Mile) except for high schoolers Michael Slagowski and Austin Tamagno. Slagowski has already broken 4:00 this year while Tamagno ran 3:44.14 for 1500 last week at Oxy.

UPDATE: Start lists are now up for all mid-d/distance events. You can view them here: M 10,000 * W 800 * National Mile

Along with Farah, Eric Jenkins, Chris Derrick, 2011 world champ Ibrahim Jeilan, 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Tariku Bekele and Zersenay Tadese are all entered in the 10,000. Talk about it on our messageboard: MB Discuss: 2016 Prefontaine 10,000

Fortunately, the start lists for the rest of the meet are out. We preview the mid-d/distance action below.

Women’s non-DL 5000 (Friday night, 11:52 a.m. ET)

Name Country PB SB
Mimi Belete Bahrain 14:54.71
Gelete Burka Ethiopia 14:31.20
Irine Cheptai Kenya 14:50.99 15:08.28
Mercy Cherono Kenya 14:34.10
Vivian Cheruiyot Kenya 14:20.87
Kim Conley USA 15:08.61 15:12.73
Marielle Hall USA 15:06.45
Alemitu Haroye Ethiopia 14:43.28 14:43.58
Molly Huddle USA 14:42.64
Heather Kampf USA
Viola Kibiwot Kenya 14:29.50 14:29.50
Sally Kipyego Kenya 14:30.42 14:58.60
Hellen Obiri Kenya 15:21.8h 15:21.8h
Belaynesh Oljira Ethiopia 14:58.16
Alexi Pappas Greece 15:28.38 15:33.78
Betsy Saina Kenya 14:39.49
Nicole Tully USA 15:04.08 15:04.08
Lauren Wallace USA
Ababel Yeshaneh Ethiopia 14:41.58
How will Huddle fare against top-tier global competition on Friday?

How will Huddle fare against top-tier global competition on Friday?

Technically, this event isn’t a DL event but the field is loaded.

In an ideal world, we’d see Almaz Ayana against Genzebe Dibaba in this race, but that’s not happening because Ayana raced on Sunday in Rabat and Dibaba withdrew due on Tuesday to a toe injury. The silver lining to their absence is that the race should be more competitive. Run a 5,000 with both of them in it and it’s going to be super entertaining. Run a 5,000 with only one and you’ve got a chance at a world record but not much of a competition for first place.

While no one in this race will be breaking the world record, we should still see some fast times in Eugene as it should actually be quite cool during the race. Weather.com is predicting a temperature of around 56-57 – basically perfect for a distance race. All four Kenyans from last year’s World Championship 5,000 are entered here (they finished 4-5-6-7 in Beijing), led by Viola Kibiwot, whose 14:29.50 in Rabat last week ranks her #2 all-time among Kenyans. The only Kenyan who has run faster is 2015 10,000 world champ Vivian Cheruiyot, who also happens to be entered here. Gelete Burka (second at Worlds last year in the 10,000), nine-time Diamond League winner Mercy Cherono and 3:57 1500 runner Hellen Obiri (running her first DL 5,000) are other big names who should be in contention.

There are also four brilliant Americans in Kim Conley, Marielle HallMolly Huddle and Nicole Tully (we assume Heather Kampf and Lauren Wallace are pacers). Conley, Huddle and Tully have all won national championships on the track in the past two years and have demonstrated good fitness so far this year. Conley ran 15:09 indoors, less than a second off her pb; Huddle ran 14:57 indoors and picked up two road wins at the NYC Half (67:41) and B.A.A. 5K (15:14) while Tully is coming off a 5,000 pb at Payton Jordan (15:04). Hall, meanwhile, was second at USAs in the 5,000 last year and ran a stellar 31:37 in her 10,000 debut at Stanford.

For all four women, this race represents a good opportunity to PR. With this much international talent in the field, the pace up front should be quick enough for Huddle to challenge her American record of 14:42.64. The only question is whether Huddle has the sharpness to do it; she’s spent the last month in a hard training block in Flagstaff. Conley, Hall and Tully will all have a shot to break 15:00 and might consider working together to do it depending on how fast the leaders go out.

Conley views the race as a great opportunity to lower her two-year-old PR, which she has become sick of having next to her name.

“I ran 15:12 at Payton Jordan, which is not a PR, but is 10 seconds faster I’ve opened before in the 5,000,” Conley told LetsRun. “It certainly wasn’t a great race but it was a pretty good starting point for me…I just ran 4:09 at Oxy and I felt like I closed really well there and I feel like it was a good speed stimulus going into Pre. I feel like I’m building good momentum now and I’ve had a good block of training.

“The 5,000 [at Pre] is pretty hot. [I’m] definitely hoping to lower my PR. My PR is 15:08 and that is a time I’ve felt pretty unsatisfied with for a while. In 2013, I ran at Pre in similar type of field and I was in the very back just hoping to catch a few people at the end. But I’m hoping I can get on the back of the train this time and ride it through the race.”

Aside from Conley and the Americans chasing PRs, there will be two key things to watch for: 1) Can Huddle hang with Burka and Cheruiyot, who beat her out for 10,000 medals in Beijing and figure to be among her main competition again in Rio this year?; 2) How does Obiri fare in her first DL 5,000? Obiri ran 15:28 and 15:21 at altitude in Kenya earlier this year (smashing world steeple champ Hyvin Kiyeng by 24 seconds in the first one) and has PRs of 3:57 and 8:20. The 1500 likely remains her best event (she was second in Shanghai two weeks ago) but she’s certainly got potential in the 12.5-lap race.

LRC Prediction: Kibiwott just ran 14:29. Only nine people in world history have run faster than so she would be the safe pick. But we don’t think she’s the winner. Vivian Cheruiyot beat her in the 3k in Doha and has a better pedigree. Plus it’s got to be hard to run two 5000’s in the span of six days – one in Rabat and one in Eugene – neither of which is an easy place to get to. And if you like long shots, Hellen Obiri‘s entry fascinates us. She’s already run 3:59 for 1500 this year.

Cheruiyot FTW. Huddle gets the American record. Rarely do distance runners get to race top fields in perfect temperatures. Speaking of Huddle, pay attention to how Kipyego looks as that may impact Huddle’s medal chances at 10,000.

PS. Here are the 8 women who have run faster than 14:29.

1    14:11.15   WR          Tirunesh Dibaba                ETH  
2    14:12.88               Meseret Defar                  ETH 
3    14:14.32               Almaz Ayana                    ETH 
4    14:15.41               Genzebe Dibaba                 ETH 
5    14:20.87   NR          Vivian Cheruiyot               KEN 
6    14:23.75   AR          Liliya Shobukhova              RUS 
7    14:24.68   NR AUR      Elvan Abeylegesse              TUR 
8    14:28.09   AR          Jiang Bo                       CHN
9    14:28.39               Sentayehu Ejigu                ETH

Women’s 3000 steeplechase (Saturday, 4:12 p.m. ET)

Name Country PB SB
Sofia Assefa Ethiopia 9:09.00 9:21.07
Beatrice Chepkoech Kenya 10:41.3h
Lidya Chepkurui Kenya 9:12.55 9:36.47
Emma Coburn USA 9:11.42
Tigest Getent Ethiopia 9:20.65 10:02.68
Ashley Higginson USA 9:27.59 9:42.18
Ruth Jebet Bahrain 9:15.98 9:15.98
Purity Kirui Kenya 9:17.74 9:22.47
Hyvin Kiyeng Kenya 9:07.42 9:07.42
Gesa Krause Germany 9:19.25
Genevieve Lalonde Canada 9:35.69 9:38.88
Virginia Nyambura Kenya 9:13.85 9:21.15
Leah O’Connor USA 9:31.03
Coburn won her fourth U.S. title at Hayward Field in 2015

Coburn won her fourth U.S. title at Hayward Field in 2015

This is a quality field, with four of the top five finishers from Worlds last year (only silver medallist Habiba Ghribi or Tunisia, who typically bypasses much of the DL circuit until later in the season, is missing). That makes it a trial by fire for Emma Coburn, who has not run a steeple since the Diamond League final in Brussels last year. Coburn ran solidly last week at Oxy (her 4:06.92 was almost four seconds faster than she ran at the same meet last year) so expect to see her be among the leaders at Pre. Fellow Americans Leah O’Connor (who just missed her 1500 pb of 4:11.04 in Jamaica on May 7 and finished a solid 4th at USA Indoors in March) and Ashley Higginson (coming off a massive 3.46-second 1500 pb of 4:08.13 at Oxy) also appear to be fit but even in a best-case scenario it will be tough for either of them to challenge Coburn.

And even if Coburn runs well, she’ll have her hands full with world champ Hyvin Kiyeng, who is most definitely the favorite here after moving up to #6 all-time with her 9:07.42 win in Shanghai on May 14. You never quite know what to expect in the women’s steeple but it would certainly qualify as an upset if Kiyeng lost here. If she loses, we feel confident it will be to Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet. Remember in Shanghai, the 19-year old Jebet had 2-3 second lead on Kiyeng at the bell before Jebet totall hit the wall, even falling on the last lap but still manazing to run 9:15.

LRC Prediction: Kiyeng and Jebet both seem to be in great shape but Kiyeng FTW.

Men’s 800 (Saturday, 4:26 p.m. ET)

Name Country PB SB
Harun Abda USA 1:45.55 1:47.42
Mo Aman USA 1:42.37
Nijel Amos Botswana 1:41.73 1:47.34
Boris Berian USA 1:43.34 1:47.29
Timothy Kitum Kenya 1:42.53 1:44.51
Adam Kszczot Poland 1:43.30
Ferguson Rotich Kenya 1:42.84 1:45.69
Amel Tuka Bosnia & Herzegovina 1:42.51 1:45.41
Wesley Vazquez Puerto Rico 1:44.64 1:44.75
Andrew Wheating USA 1:44.56

For a race that lasts barely more than 100 seconds, there are certainly a lot of storylines. Let’s run them down, one at a time.

Will Berian dare to run in his NB kit at the birthplace of Nike?

Will Berian dare to run in his NB kit at the birthplace of Nike?

1) What does Boris Berian wear? And how does he run?
Berian, the world indoor champ, was served by Nike at last week’s Hoka One One Middle Distance Classic in a lawsuit asserting breach of contract. You can read an explanation of the situation here but one of Nike’s biggest issues is that Berian has been competing in New Balance gear (supplied through his club, Big Bear Track Club) even though Nike claims he should still be under contract with Nike.

It will be interesting to see if Berian continues to defy Nike by wearing NB gear at Pre (we most definitely think he will), a Nike-sponsored event in Nike’s backyard. It will also be interesting to see how he handles a world-class field. Berian lost his outdoor opener to NCAA indoor champ Clayton Murphy (no slouch himself) at Drake last month. Can he rebound against studs like Adam Kszczot (silver at Worlds last year) and Ferguson Rotich (winner of Shanghai DL, 4th at Worlds last year)?

2) Can Adam Kszczot and Ferguson Rotich keep rolling?
As we pointed out in our Rabat preview Poland’s Kszczot has been on a tear since earning silver at Worlds last year, winning three of his final four 800’s of 2015 and all five of his indoor 800’s (none slower than 1:46.23). We didn’t get the answer in Rabat as Kszczot was a late scratch after forgetting his passport; hopefully he’ll remember it for the trip to Oregon.

Rotich, meanwhile, took advantage of the starter’s error in Shanghai to hand David Rudisha a defeat and win in 1:45.68. Rotich may not have won had the race started properly, but he should not be taken lightly as he beat Rudisha at the Kenyan World Champs Trials last year and was fourth at Worlds.

3) What’s up with Mo Aman and Nijel Amos?
It’s too early to panic about either of these guys, but there is some cause for concern heading into the meet. Aman was not his consistent, dominant self in his first year with the Oregon Track Club in 2015 and returned to Ethiopia to train over the winter. He entered World Indoors as the two-time defending champion at 800 meters, but didn’t look great in Portland and only finished fourth in the final. With that said, he opened up in 1:47 last year before winning two straight DL 800’s, including this very race. We’ll reserve judgment for a few weeks at least.

Amos’ final 100 in Rabat last week was ugly, as he fell from second to sixth in 1:47.34, a positively glacial time by his standards. Though Amos is still only 22 years old, he’s been around on the circuit long enough that he should know how to measure his effort, so to see him fall apart so badly was a little jarring although it seems to us that he only knows one way to run – to try tow in. But that was just one race. Amos has earned the benefit of the doubt; another few bad ones and we’ll be worried.

4) Is Timothy Kitum back?
The Kenyan Kitum was officially only 17 years old when he ran 1:42.53 in London in 2012 to take Olympic bronze. But rather than follow the path of Amos, who used his breakthrough silver medal in London as a springboard to Diamond League success in 2014 and 2015, Kitum has flashed potential but lacks consistency. In 2013, Kitum ran seven Diamond League 800’s but recorded an average finish of 6.4. In 2014, Kitum didn’t race until July, ran a sensational 1:43.65 in his opener but struggled the remainder of the year. Last year, he had an SB of 1:45.0h (his slowest since 2010, when he was 15 years old) and was only eighth at the Kenyan World Champs Trials. The good news is that Kitum has already eclipsed this mark this year, running 1:44.51 to take third at the Kenyan Defense Forces Championship. Can he get back on track in an Olympic year?

5) Is Andrew Wheating going to be a factor in 2016?

Wheating is a fascinating guy in this field. Wheating is still just 28 and a two-time Olympian. That being said, his pro career has largely been a disappointment as he’s failed to live up to the great promise he showed in that 3:30.90 run in Monaco in 2010 when he was just 22.  After an encouraging indoor season, Wheating lost to the likes of Hassan Mead, Colby Alexander and Jordan Gusman in his outdoor opener at Oxy a week and a half ago where Wheating ran 3:38.60. It’s important to note that while Wheating didn’t run great at Oxy, he is ahead of where he was in 2012. In 2012, he opened with a 3:44 win in early May in Eugene before finishing dead last in the Bowerman Mile at Pre (admittedly dead last sounds a lot worse than 3:56).

Australia’s Ryan Gregson, who was just behind Wheating in Monaco in 2010, has turned it around of late this year. Can Wheating do it as well?

LRC Prediction: Kszczot FTW – He isn’t race-sharp but he’s got extra motivation given the passport fiasco.

Men’s 5,000 (Saturday, 4:43 p.m. ET)

Name Country PB SB
Mo Ahmed Canada 13:10.00
Yenew Alamirew Ethiopia 12:48.77 13:08.70
Sam Chelanga USA 13:09.67 13:27.53
Paul Chelimo USA 13:21.89 13:36.63
Joshua Cheptegei Uganda 13:00.60 13:00.60
Muktar Edris Ethiopia 12:54.83 12:59.96
Othmane El Goumri Morocco 13:13.72
Hagos Gebrhiwet Ethiopia 12:47.53 13:04.12
Yasin Haji Ethiopia 13:10.67 13:19.50
Ryan Hill USA 13:05.69
Geoffrey Kamworor Kenya 13:12.23
Cornelius Kangogo Kenya 13:11.14 13:46.9h
Yomif Kejelcha Ethiopia 12:53.98 13:03.29
Isiah Koech Kenya 12:48.64 13:44.7h
Bernard Lagat USA 12:53.60
Clement Langat Kenya 13:15.81 14:19.3h
Cam Levins Canada 13:15.19
Thomas Longosiwa Kenya 12:49.04 13:01.69
Hassan Mead USA 13:02.80
Caleb Ndiku Kenya 12:59.17
Edwin Soi Kenya 12:51.34 13:07.68
Paul Tanui Kenya 12:58.69 13:20.77
Ben True USA 13:02.74

This race is stacked, and though it’s missing a couple of guys who figure to be present during the Olympic final (notably London 2012 gold and silver medallists Mo Farah and Dejen Gebremeskel), most of the other major players are present. In fact, this race is actually much deeper than what you will normally find in a World/Olympic final given there are no country restrictions, allowing Kenya (8) and Ethiopia (5) to enter as many athletes as they’d like.

Based on his run in Shanghai two weeks ago, Muktar Edris is the man to beat. He beat many of these same names in that race, closing his 12:59 run in 55.5 for the final 400 while fist-pumping toward the end of the race. Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei, the 19-year-old who was the world junior champ at 10,000 in 2014 before finishing 9th in the 10,000 at World last year, was second in that race (and PR’d by 28 seconds to run 13:00) and should also be a factor here. He’s clearly working on his speed as he even ran a 1500 – last week placing third in the Nethelands in 3:37.82.

But we’re more interested in the guys we haven’t seen yet outdoors. Let’s begin with a trio of Kenyans. First, there’s Caleb Ndiku. Ndiku first demonstrated his 5k chops by winning this race two years ago, and wound up winning everything in sight that year, claiming African, Commonwealth and Diamond League titles. That set him up well to challenge Farah in 2015, but he has dealt with a few nagging injuries since then (he didn’t debut until July last year and said he was still having trouble generating power off his left leg at World Indoors this year where he was just 5th). Still, Ndiku has put together some impressive results considering the amount of training he’s missed (silver at Worlds last year, 5th at World Indoors) and Saturday’s race will let us know if he’s healed up in the two months since his last trip to Oregon.

Last time we saw Kamworor, he was dominating the world in the half marathon

Last time we saw Kamworor, he was dominating the world in the half marathon

Ndiku will be joined on the start line by fellow Kenyans Paul Tanui and Geoffrey Kamworor. They went 2-3 in the 10k at Pre last year and flip-flopped at Worlds, with Kamworor taking silver to Tanui’s bronze. Kamworor, especially, is a threat to Farah in the 10,000 and he showed off his ridiculous strength by destroying Farah in one of the greatest half marathons ever run at the World Half Champs in Cardiff in March. Kamworor hasn’t run an international 5,000 since 2011, when he finished 9th at the adidas Grand Prix in New York, and he’s clearly a far better runner than he was five years ago. Add in the fact that he ran the NYC Marathon last November and was focused on the World Half Champs this winter/spring and it’s impossible to say where his track speed is at right now, which makes his showing here very intriguing. In the year 2016, marathoners simply don’t run 5000s on the track – but Geoffrey Kamworor does.

Then you’ve got the Americans. In Ryan Hill and Ben True, you’ve got the 2015 U.S. champ and runner-up. Add in Hassan MeadBernard LagatPaul Chelimo and Sam Chelanga and you’ve got a good chunk of (but not all of) the contenders for this year’s Olympic team. What bears watching is not just how these guys stack up against each other, but how they stack up against top international talent. Both Hill (silver at World Indoors in the 3k) and True (won NYC DL, 6th at Worlds in ’15) have both been able to mix it up with the top Africans recently, albeit in slower races. Challenging for the win here would likely require more — being able to run a time in the 13:00’s and closing hard off of it. That’s not something either has been able to do against top-tier competition in the past.

Mead (who surprisingly won the 1500 at Oxy last week in 3:37), Lagat (4th at USA Indoors) and Chelimo (2nd at USA Indoors) could all certainly challenge Hill and True on their best day but have a bit more to prove, especially to take down Hill, who was near-unbeatable indoors (albeit at his preferred 3k distance). A strong showing by any of them would obviously be a great sign for their Trials chances. Chelanga lacks the closing speed to be a factor at 5k but has a shot to make the 10k team.

Anytime you get a field this deep, there’s a shot at a sub-13:00, something only six Americans have accomplished. True, Mead and Hill are 9-10-11 on the all-time list, and in the right race may be able to do it this year. But considering this race will be run in the middle of the afternoon on a sunny, 70-degree day (per Weather.com’s forecast), it would take a truly special run to see an American break 13:00. Why this event isn’t run on “Distance Night” on Friday is beyond us. The top pros on the circuit rarely get a chance to run 5000s in “Stanford-like” conditions. It’s a shame they aren’t doing it on Friday.

LRC Prediction: Before we make this pick, let us say that we believe if Kamworor somehow wins this race, we think Mo Farah is definitely going down in Rio.

That being said, we don’t think Kamworor will win. We think the favorite on paper is Edris based on his Shanghai win. But our pick is “Edris doesn’t win.” It’s very hard to win these stacked men’s 5000 races and in recent years no one, save Mo Farah, has been winning with regularity. Just looking at the last two years of results, no one has won the men’s 5000 in back to back Diamond League events where it’s been contested. In 2015, six different men won the seven DL 3000/5000s. In 2014, five different men won the seven DL 5000s.

Edris may also not even run this race as he’s listed on the start list for both the 5,000 and 10,000 at Pre.

Hill is our pick for top American. We don’t think he’ll break 13:00 as it’s virtually impossible to do that as an American in the middle of the day.

Given the fact that True was banged this winter, we’d expect Mead to beat him here and were tempted to pick Mead to beat Hill as well as we were shocked that he won his 1500 heat at Oxy.

Women’s 1500 (Saturday, 5:22 p.m. ET)

Name Country PB SB
Alexa Efraimson USA 4:03.39 4:08.37
Axumawit Embaye Ethiopia 4:02.35
Linden Hall Australia 4:04.47 4:04.47
Faith Kipyegon Kenya 3:56.82 3:56.82
Brenda Martinez USA 4:00.94 4:14.21
Treniere Moser USA 4:02.85 4:11.92
Renata Plis Poland 4:03.50
Chanelle Price USA 4:16.52 4:17.59
Sheila Reid Canada 4:02.96 4:05.74
Shannon Rowbury USA 3:56.29 4:06.58
Dawit Seyaum Ethiopia 3:59.53 3:59.87
Jenny Simpson USA 3:57.22 4:04.56
Gudaf Tsegay Ethiopia 4:02.73 4:02.73
Laura Weightman Great Britain 4:00.17

2015 World Champs silver medallist Faith Kipyegon utterly destroyed the women’s 1500 field in Shanghai two weeks ago, setting a Kenyan record of 3:56.82 and winning by 2.52 seconds. Neither of the two women who could conceivably challenge her — fellow 2015 medallists Genzebe Dibaba and Sifan Hassan will be running at Pre, so expect to see another big win from the 22-year-old Kenyan on Saturday.

Simpson won at Pre last year but repeating will be a challenge

Simpson won at Pre last year but repeating will be a challenge

More interesting will be the battle for second, one which figures to feature Americans Shannon Rowbury and Jenny Simpson. After opening with a strong win at the Drake Relays on April 29, Simpson looked uncharacteristically outclassed in Shanghai, as she was just sixth in 4:04.56. For most Americans, finishing sixth in a Diamond League race is not too shabby, but for Simpson, it was her worst DL showing in 13 outings, dating back to her 10th-place finish in Brussels in September 2013 (a race in which she fell). Simpson got a big win here last year and while beating Kipyegon on current form would appear impossible, she should close the gap from Shanghai.

Rowbury enters on a more optimistic note. After a terrific indoor season that saw her claim bronze in the 3000 at World Indoors, Rowbury opened up outdoors last week at the Hoka One One Middle Distance Classic. While her 2:05 800 was nothing to get excited about, her 4:06 1500 less than an hour later was very solid on tired legs. Look for her to battle Ethiopian World Indoor medallists Dawit Seyaum and Gudaf Tsegay for runner-up honors.

Rowbury and Simpson are probably your U.S. 1-2 in some order in this race, but it will be interesting to see if 19-year-old Alexa Efraimson or 2013 World 800 bronze medallist Brenda Martinez can challenge them. Efraimson has run great in her last two races, winning a 1500 in Jamaica by three seconds in 4:08 on May 7 and PR’ing in the 800 at the Portland Twilight meet on May 15 in 2:00.99. Last year, she set a high school record of 4:03.39 racing against the big names at Pre; can she make another breakthrough on Saturday? Martinez, fifth at World Indoors in the 1500, is coming off a narrow loss to the red-hot Laura Roesler at Oxy (2:00.15 to 2:00.18) and can never be counted out.

LRC Prediction: Kipyegon FTW.

In terms of top American honors, Rowbury is our pick.

Men’s Bowerman Mile (Saturday, 5:51 p.m. ET)

Name Country PB SB
Ben Blankenship USA 3:54.10
Jakub Holusa Czech Republic 3:53.46
Drew Hunter USA 4:02.36
Abdelaati Iguider Morocco 3:49.09
Evan Jager USA 3:53.33
Vincent Kibet Kenya 3:52.15
Silas Kiplagat Kenya 3:47.88
Asbel Kiprop Kenya 3:48.50
James Magut Kenya 3:49.43 3:59.83
Taoufik Makhloufi Algeria 3:52.16
Elijah Manangoi Kenya
Andrew Rotich Kenya 4:10.14 4:10.14
Ayanleh Souleiman Djibouti 3:47.32
Aman Wote Ethiopia 3:48.60

As always, the Bowerman Mile will be one of the highlights of the meet (even though it’s the last event at Pre, it’s not a DL event this year), though it lost a little luster when Ken Goe broke the story that World Indoor champ Matthew Centrowitz of the U.S. will not be running due to a stress reaction in his left leg.

Kiprop has three Bowerman Mile titles but none since 2012

Kiprop, shown here in London last year, has three Bowerman Mile titles but none since 2012

Still, there’s plenty of intrigue in this race. By definition, any time Asbel Kiprop is on the line, a race is worth watching as you never quite know what you’re going to get from the three-time defending World champion. Some days, it could be a tactical disaster, some days it could be a display of singular brilliance, and some days it could be both. Kiprop has been killing the competition so far in 2016, running to an unchallenged 3:32.15 and his recent training suggests something very fast could be in the offing on Saturday: look for him to challenge his 3:48.50 PR from this meet seven years ago. For an inside look at Kiprop’s last two workouts before the Bowerman Mile, please check out Andy Arnold‘s terrific article here: LRC A Week With The World’s Best Miler: An Exclusive Look At Asbel Kiprop’s Last Two Workouts Before The Pre Classic. Our man on the ground in Kenya just watched Kiprop start off a workout with a 2:47 1,200 at 7,000+ feet of altitude!

Kiprop is the favorite in any 1500/mile race he enters, though it should be noted that he hasn’t won here in his last three attempts (he did grab titles in 2009, 2010 and 2012, however). One of the men he should watch out for Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman, who has defeated Kiprop to win the past two runnings of the Bowerman Mile. Though Souleiman struggled to a last-place finish at World Indoors in the 1500 (he was battling a cold) he should be in better form on Saturday in his first outdoor race since March 31st. 2012 Olympic champ Taoufik Makhloufi, who ran 1:44.91 in his outdoor opener to take second in Rabat last week, wasn’t in the Doha field either and should provide a challenge, though he’s said in the past that he prefers the shorter 1,500 to the mile.

American-wise, it would have been a treat to watch Centro take on the world’s best on home soil and perhaps chase that elusive sub-3:50 clocking. With him out of the race, Evan Jager and Ben Blankenship are the men to watch. Jager, who ran 3:32 for 1,500 last year, looked spectacular in closing the last lap of his steeple at Oxy in 57.3 (over barriers) last week and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him smash his 3:53.33 PR. Blankenship simply crushed the competition in his last race at the U.S. Road Mile Champs on May 12. He probably won’t challenge the likes of Kiprop or Elijah Manangoi (2nd to Kiprop at Worlds and in Doha three weeks ago) but has a chance to be competitive and lower his 3:53.13 pb here.

Oh yeah, and there’s an American high schooler in this race. Don’t worry Drew Hunter fans, we haven’t forgotten about you. We will have a separate article on Hunter’s Bowerman Mile prep with insight from his coach Tom Schwartz which you can read here. A sneak peak: Hunter is focused on qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Trials, which when done at the mile distance is harder to do than 1,500. It takes a sub-3:54.00 mile to qualify for the Trials versus a 3:38.00 1,500 and we equate a 3:54.00 mile to 3:36.63 for 1,500 using the 1.0802 conversion. Alan Webb‘s US HS record of 3:53.43 record could be in jeopardy.

LRC Prediction: Kiprop wins and breaks his PR. Webb’s record survives. It needs to be remembered that Hunter isn’t a miler. He’s 2-mile/5k guy.

Can we jsut say it’s ridiculous that USATF just doesn’t convert all 1500/mile times using the 1.0802 conversion (or something close to it). If Hunter runss 3:54.5 and doesn’t end up in the Trials, USATF can blame itself for track’s struggle for popularity.


Advertisement


Never miss running news.

Sent once a week or when breaking news breaks.
(We don't spam or sell our list)