2018 Pre Women’s Distance Recap: Shelby Houlihan Runs Massive 4+ Sec PB To Shock The World, Caster Semenya and Genzebe Dibaba Continue To Roll

By LetsRun.com
May 26, 2018

EUGENE, Ore. — The final Prefontaine Classic at the original Hayward Field didn’t disappoint in terms of the women’s distance events the women’s 800, 1500 and 5000 all produced a world-leading time. We recap all three events for you below starting with the women’s 1500 where American Shelby Houlihan pulled off a big upset.

Women’s 1500: Shelby Houlihan Runs Massive 4+ Second PR And Wins The First Diamond League Meet of Her Career

shelby-houlihan-359American Shelby Houlihan earned the biggest win of her career in scintillating fashion as she came from way behind to win the women’s 1500 in 3:59.06, a 4+ second pb for Houlihan (previous pb of 4:03.39). 9th with a lap to go, 8th with 300 to go and still just 6th — a full second behind leader American Jenny Simpson — with 200 to go, Houlihan got the win thanks to a blazing final 200 of 28.9 (59.86 final lap).

Simpson had the lead for most of the final lap but she actually ended third in 3:59.37 just behind Brit Laura Muir (3:59.30), who started the final 200 just ahead of Houlihan and ran a great final 200 and moved from 4th to 2nd in the final 20 meters of this one, just getting by Simpson (3:59:37) before the line. Moroccan Rababe Arafi also broke four in fourth (3:59.51).

1500 Metres - Women  - Diamond Discipline *Lap by Lap Splits
    1 Houlihan , Shelby                USA    3:59.06          8
    2 Muir , Laura                     GBR    3:59.30          7
    3 Simpson , Jennifer               USA    3:59.37          6
    4 Arafi , Rababe                   MAR    3:59.51          5
    5 Chebet , Winny                   KEN    4:00.60          4
    6 Hall , Linden                    AUS    4:00.86          3
    7 Martinez , Brenda                USA    4:02.65          2
    8 Seyaum , Dawit                   ETH    4:02.81          1
    9 Chepkoech , Beatrice             KEN    4:05.36           
   10 Kuria , Mary Wangari             KEN    4:06.07           
   11 Grace , Kate                     USA    4:07.10           
   12 Weightman , Laura                GBR    4:07.48           
   13 Buckman , Zoe                    AUS    4:08.75           
   14 Cichocka , Angelika              POL    4:11.50           
      Jones  , Danielle                USA        DNF           

Quick Take: Shelby Houlihan has arrived

Here’s the complete list of American women to have won a Diamond League 1500 (points-scoring events only):

Jenny Simpson (four times)
Morgan Uceny (three times)
Shannon Rowbury (once)
Shelby Houlihan (once)

That should show you the significance of what Houlihan accomplished today. Even if some of the big names from recent years were absent (Kipyegon, Hassan, Dibaba), she beat out the World Indoor silver medalist and the World Outdoor silver medalist in the home straight to win with a stellar kick. That is some running.

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Houlihan said there’s nothing special behind her development over the last few years, which has taken her from an NCAA champ for Arizona State in 2014 to the US champ over 5,000 last year to a Diamond League win today.

“Consistent training is a big thing,” Houlihan said. “I’ve never really had a huge injury that has taken me out for more than a couple weeks. And so I’ve just been able to build on training each year and kind of pulling the mileage together and everything’s kind of coming together at the same time.”

Houlihan is the seventh American woman to break 4:00, joining Rowbury, Simpson, Mary Decker, Suzy Favor Hamilton, Anna Willard, and Christin Wurth-Thomas.  

MB: Shelby MF Houlihan – Unreal. She runs a 28.9 final 200 to PR by 4+ seconds and win Pre in 3:59.06!!

Quick Take: Laura Muir is ready to focus on running full-time

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Muir has spent the last few years studying to become a vet, and she got the good news last week that she had passed her final exams. Though Muir has continued to race (and race well) as she’s studied, she admitted that the last few months have brought a lot of stress and affected the quality of sleep she has received.

As a result, she was very happy to have run 3:59 for 2nd in her outdoor opener. Now that she’s passed her exams, Muir says she wants to focus on running full-time as she knows that she only has a limited window to do so and can always become a full-time vet once her running career is over.

“I want to try and keep the veterinary going a little bit, but certainly [at] a lot less capacity than what it’s been recently,” Muir said.

Jenny Simpson interview

Women’s 800 Meters (DL): The Caster Semenya show rolls on as Wilson beats Niyonsaba

In perhaps her final Prefontaine Classic as a dominant athlete (assuming the IAAF’s new hyperandrogenism regulations aren’t overturned), Caster Semenya was magnificent as she pulled away from world indoor champ Francine Niyonsaba over the final 100 to win in a meet record of 1:55.92, after running a nearly dead even race – 57.93 for the first lap, 57.99 2nd last lap (unofficial 28.2 final 200).

Finishing second behind Semenya was American Ajee Wilson, who was nearly as good as Semenya over the final 100, moving from fourth to finish second in 1:56.86 (58.46-58.40), just ahead of Francine Niyonsaba who was third in 1:56.88. 20-year-old Ethiopian Habitam Alemu was fourth in 1:57.79.

Today race marked the first time in Wilson’s career that she’s ever beaten Niyonsaba over 800 meters (0-8 prior to today) and it also is just the third time she’s ever broken 1:57.00 (Wilson’s pb is 1:55.61).

The Race

Olympian Chrishuna Williams served as the rabbit and did a masterful job early as she hit 200 in 27 high with Semenya right behind her but then Semenya didn’t stick to her and at 400 (57.25) there was a gap to the racers (57.93 for Semenya). Semenya was the top racer from start to finish. Coming off the final turn, the order was Semenya, Niyonsaba, Alemu, Wilson but Wilson moved up to grab second.

Women’s 800 Results *Lap by Lap Splits
    1 Semenya , Caster                 RSA    1:55.92          8
    2 Wilson , Ajee                    USA    1:56.86          7
    3 Niyonsaba , Francine             BDI    1:56.88          6
    4 Alemu , Habitam                  ETH    1:57.78          5
    5 Lipsey , Charlene                USA    1:58.35          4
    6 Wambui , Margaret Nyairera       KEN    1:58.67          3
    7 Rogers , Raevyn                  USA    1:59.36          2
    8 Sum , Eunice Jepkoech            KEN    2:00.41          1
    9 Büchel , Selina                  SUI    2:03.15           
      Williams , Chrishuna             USA        DNF

Quick Take: Wilson (finally) beats Niyonsaba

Since the start of 2016, the women’s 800 has been the most predictable event in track and field. Aside from the 2017 Pre Classic (where Niyonsaba was third behind Margaret Wambui and Semenya), Semenya has won every 800 she’s entered and Niyonsaba has either won or finished second behind Semenya. Not today, as Wilson ran down Niyonsaba in the home straight, thanks in part to the advice of her coach Derek Thompson, who advised her to stay patient.

After her run last week in Boston, we wondered if Wilson had closed the gap to Semenya and Niyonsaba. Semenya still looks untouchable — she beat Wilson by almost a second today — but after running Niyonsaba close a few times last year, she got over the hump today. When Semenya and Niyonsaba began dominating the event in 2016, it looked like no one else would beat them for a long, long time, so congrats to Wilson for finally breaking up the big two.

Wilson had to dig very deep today and was clearly exhausted after the race — normally she is poised and upright in the mixed zone, but after today’s race she was breathing heavily and hunched over, leaning on the rail for support.

The good news for Wilson is that, as fast as she ran today (this was her third-best time ever), she was not perfect. With 200 to go, she was in third but allowed herself to be passed by Alemu. Wilson had to expend extra energy to get back around her and briefly lost her balance while making the pass.

“The last 2[00], I didn’t execute it too well,” Wilson said.

Quick Take: We want to see Semenya get out hard at least once this year

Semenya celebrates the earliest 1:55 of her career Semenya celebrates the earliest 1:55 of her career

Believe it or not, this was only the 8th time Semenya has broken 1:56. She did it once in 2009, then three times in both 2016 and 2017. That being said, this is by far the earliest in the year she’s ever broken 1:56 as her previous earliest day was July 15th in 2016.

So it’s well established that she can run 1:55. We want to see if she can 1:54 (her pb is 1:55.16) or even approach Jarmila Kratochvílová’s presumably doped-up world record of 1:53.28, but a 1:53 is never going to happen if she only goes out in 57.9.

Since this may be Semenya’s last year as a dominant force on the circuit, she may have more motivation than in the past to try to run fast as meets and shoe companies pay out large bonuses for world records. She may want to try to maximize her earnings this year in case the IAAF’s new rules stick.

Women’s 5000: Genzebe Dibaba Wins As Expected

1500-meter world record holder Genzebe Dibaba got the win in the women’s 5000 as expected in a world-leading 14:26.89 thanks to a 61.70 final 400 (30.5 final 200) that proved to be too much for 20-year old Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia. Gidey, who was 11th at Worlds last year, was second in a pb of 14:30.29 (previous pb of 14:33.32) with 2017 5000 world champ Hellen Obiri third in 14:35.03 – the only other woman under 14:50.

The lone American in the field, Lauren Paquette, finished last in 15:15.23.

5000 Metres - Women  - Diamond Discipline *Lap by Lap Splits
    1 Dibaba , Genzebe                 ETH   14:26.89          8
    2 Gidey , Letesenbet               ETH   14:30.29          7
    3 Obiri , Hellen                   KEN   14:35.03          6
    4 Tsegay , Gudaf                   ETH   14:51.30          5
    5 Rengeruk , Lilian Kasait         KEN   15:01.15          4
    6 Kipkemboi , Margaret Chelimo     KEN   15:01.98          3
    7 Bahta , Meraf                    SWE   15:10.20          2
    8 Scott , Dominique                RSA   15:10.23          1
    9 Nabeshima , Rina                 JPN   15:10.91           
   10 Nawowuna , Alice Aprot           KEN   15:11.00           
   11 Paquette , Lauren                USA   15:15.23           
      Busienei , Selah                 KEN        DNF           
      Hilali , Siham                   MAR        DNF           
      Koster , Maureen                 NED        DNF           
      McGee , Cory                     USA        DNF

More: LRC 17-Year Old Jakob Ingebrigtsen Runs 3:52 Mile at Prefontaine Classic, And Oh Yeah Timothy Cheruiyot Wins in 3:49 The final pro race at the original Hayward Field will long be remembered as 17-year old Jakob Ingebrigtsen topped Alan Webb‘s legendary 3:53 from high school with a 3:52.28 clocking.
*MB: Alan Webb move over. A high schooler just ran 3:52 at Pre!!! Jakob Ingebrigtsen 3:52.28!!! We guess to be PC we should point out that officially Samuel Tefera is 18 and he ran 3:51.26.

Pre Classic on The Messageboard

MB:  Official 2018 Pre Classic Discussion Thread
MB: NOAH MF LYLES!!!!! Can you say 19.69 wind legal?
MB: Shelby MF Houlihan – Unreal. She runs a 28.9 final 200 to PR by 4+ seconds and win Pre in 3:59.06!!
MB:Unheralded Ben Kigen BLOWS AWAY Kipruto and Jager at Pre, closes in 57.89 — fastest steeple closer ever?
MB: Centro will NOT make the 2020 olympics
MB: Where the %#*^ is Levins? 

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