Women’s Prefontaine Recap: Hassan Wins Greatest Clean* Women’s 3000 Ever, Faith Kipyegon Returns in Style, Caster Semenya Wins Again, Houlihan, Coburn Impress

By LetsRun.com
June 30, 2019

STANFORD, Calif. — Below we recap and analyze the tremendous action from the women’s portion of the 2019 Pre Classic, the first time the meet was held outside of Eugene, Oregon, as Hayward Field is being rebuilt.

While the hotly anticipated sprint match-ups fizzled a bit, the distance action more than delivered on its promise and we lead with that. The recap of the men’s meet is here: LRC Pre Men’s Recap: Chelimo is Back, Centro Debuts, Cheptegei and Cheruiyot are the Kings, and Coleman is Very Fast

Full 2019 Prefontaine results here.

Women’s 3000: Sifan Hassan runs 8:18.49 as women’s top 10 list gets rewritten

Fans at Stanford didn’t get to see the fastest women’s 3000m ever, but they may have seen the greatest clean women’s 3000m race ever as Sifan Hassan of Netherlands ran 8:18.49 for the win, Konstanze Klosterhalfen of Germany ran 8:20.07 for second, and Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia 8:20.27 for third, the three fastest non-Chinese outdoor times ever.

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Hassas wins a great one (photo by Phil Bond)

The fastest women’s 3,000m race ever was in China in 1993, where Wang Junxia ran an incredible 8:06.11 world record as three women went sub-8:20 in what is widely believed to be a drug-fueled race. This race wasn’t as fast up front, but it was super impressive and the women need to thank Gidey for the fast times.

Shannon Osika rabbitted the field the first 1000 (2:45.75) and then Mary Kuria took over through 2000 (5:36.15). Kuria picked up the pace as she went down the backstretch to hit 2000, and once she stepped off the track Gidey kept the pace going. Gidey went from running 67- and 68-second laps to 65.03 with two laps to go as only Genzebe Dibaba was within a second of her. A 65.88 penultimate lap gave Gidey a 1.14-second lead at the bell over Hassan, who had passed Dibaba just before the bell as Dibaba was fading.

However, Gidey was slowing too. She stumbled around the first turn and took a step on the inside of the rail before regaining her balance. Hassan would pass her on the backstretch and continue on to the dominant victory. Klosterhalfen would pass Dibaba on the final turn and Gidey right before the finish for 2nd as Klostehalfen’s last lap was 64.40 to 66.31 for Gidey.

The first five women all set outdoor PRs.

3000 Metres - Women  - Diamond Discipline
    1 Hassan , Sifan                   NED    8:18.49          8
    2 Klosterhalfen , Konstanze        GER    8:20.07          7
    3 Gidey , Letesenbet               ETH    8:20.27          6
    4 Dibaba , Genzebe                 ETH    8:21.29          5
    5 Weightman , Laura                GBR    8:26.07          4
    6 Obiri , Hellen                   KEN    8:27.26          3
    7 Tirop , Agnes Jebet              KEN    8:27.51          2
    8 Kipkirui , Caroline Chepkoech    KEN    8:31.45          1
    9 Worku , Fantu                    ETH    8:32.10           
   10 Kipkemboi , Margaret Chelimo     KEN    8:32.96           
   11 Teferi , Senbere                 ETH    8:36.26           
   12 Rengeruk , Lilian Kasait         KEN    8:37.31           
   13 Feysa , Hawi                     ETH    8:40.79           
   14 Schweizer , Karissa              USA    8:42.15           
   15 Scott , Dominique                RSA    8:43.88           
   16 Chebet , Beatrice                KEN    8:53.60           
   17 Kelati Frezghi , Weini           ERI    8:53.89           
   18 Ayana , Almaz                    ETH    8:57.16           
      Kuria , Mary                     KEN        DNF           
      Osika , Shannon                  USA        DNF

QT: A great day for the NOP

Hassan and Klosterhalfen are both NOP athletes and now they have the two fastest non-Chinese outdoor times ever. Super impressive. Hassan said after the race they haven’t been training together because Hassan was focused on the roads and longer distances earlier in 2019, but she thinks that will change moving forward.

QT: Drugs have an effect

To show the lasting damage drugs have on the sport, think what the suspected drug use of the Chinese did to the results today. As impressive as the runs today were, they weren’t even close to the world record. The Chinese times taint the sport over 25 years later.

Hassan’s time was the fastest ever outdoors (Dibaba ran 8:16 indoors in 2014)  that wasn’t run by a Chinese woman in September 1993. Asked whether she considered it the clean world record, Hassan said that no matter what advantages the Chinese may have had, runners today have some advantages that runners 26 years ago did not have.

“It doesn’t matter how they did very good job also because at that time, they don’t have better shoes like us, and they don’t have better physio, better training,” Hassan said. “It doesn’t matter how, I think it’s amazing how they did…I think we can run the time they run. It doesn’t matter what they run.”

But there’s a HUGE gap between 8:18 and 8:06. When we told Hassan the world record is 8:06, she seemed surprised to realize it was that fast.

“It is very hard,” Hassan said, “I don’t really think about it. I don’t want to think about it, I want to just improve. Because if I think about that, I’m not gonna work hard.”

Hassan has run PRs at both 1500 (3:55) and 3000 this year, and while she said 3000 is her best distance, that’s not an event that will be contested at the World Championships. Instead, she’ll try the 5k/10k. Why that instead of the 1500? Well, Hassan wants to double, and the 1500 and 5k finals are on the same day. The 5k/10k double is the only one that is realistic — even though Hassan has run just one 10k in her life.

QT: The PB of the night went to Laura Weightman

Weightman ran 4:00 back in 2014 and also in 2017, but had never done anything to suggest she’d run 8:26 for 3000m. Prior to today she had never broken 9 minutes and only had a 5,000 PR of 15:08.

QT: Almaz Ayana was a total nonfactor

10,000 world record holder Almaz Ayana was racing for the first time since November 2017 after undergoing knee surgery last year. The last time she came back from a lengthy injury layoff, she won the 10k world title by 46 seconds. Today was the opposite as she ran at the back for the entire race and finished DFL.

Women’s 800: Caster Semenya wins what could be her final DL women’s 800

Caster Semenya wins (photos by Phil Bond)

If this was the last 800 of two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya’s career, it was a good way to go out as the South African dominated the field, winning by more than 2.5 seconds in 1:55.70, the fastest time ever recorded on US soil (previous best time in the US was Semenya’s 1:55.92 at Pre last year).

Three Americans went 2-3-4 as Ajee Wilson was the best of the rest finishing second in 1:58.36 ahead of training partner Raevyn Rogers (1:58.65) and Hanna Green (1:58.75), who ran a massive pb as coming in her pb was just 2:00.09.

Semenya went out in 56.73 for the first lap, slightly faster than Jarmila Kratochvílová (56.82) when Kratochvílová set her 1:53.28 world record in 1983, but by 600 it was clear there was not going to be a world record. Semenya slowed dramatically running into the wind during the third 200 as she hit 600 in roughly 1:27 flat.

When asked on NBC after the race if the WR was ever on her mind for this one, Semenya said “Not really. It’s not easy to run here. I’m still sleeping at home [due to the time change].”

800 Metres - Women  - Diamond Discipline
    1 Semenya , Caster                 RSA    1:55.70          8
    2 Wilson , Ajee                    USA    1:58.36          7
    3 Rogers , Raevyn                  USA    1:58.65          6
    4 Green , Hanna                    USA    1:58.75          5
    5 Alemu , Habitam                  ETH    1:59.25          4
    6 Goule , Natoya                   JAM    1:59.82          3
    7 Wang , Chunyu                    CHN    2:05.68          2
    8 Prishchepa , Natal?ya            UKR    2:50.33          1
      Williams , Chrishuna             USA        DNF

QT: No matter what happens around her, Semenya remains at home on the track

Semenya has lived her life in the spotlight for the last 10 years, and rarely has it shone as bright as in 2019. This was Semenya’s first race in the 800 since the Swiss Federal Tribunal re-suspended the IAAF’s SYS DSD regulations, and Semenya was once again the center of attention among the assembled journalists at Stanford. It seemed as if everyone with a press pass was jammed into the mixed zone for Semenya’s interview, and press chief Jeff Oliver had to use a microphone so that Semenya’s answers could be heard through a portable speaker.

Yet for all this attention — and all the time Semenya and her team have dedicated to ensuring that she can continue to compete — her performance on the track has been unaffected. Two days after CAS ruled against her in May, Semenya hopped on a plane to Doha and won in dominant fashion. Today, Semenya dominated once again, running 1:55.70 to win by almost three seconds and lower the meet record she set last year.

“I don’t think that it’s hard to be a runner,” Semenya said. “I think that it’s hard to manage time. But for me, I think I’ve studied that, I know how to plan for situations, I know how to manage my time, I know how to focus on what I’m doing. I think other people’s perceptions of me is not my problem.”

“…When I run, I forget about everything. It’s just all about me. It’s all about me being free. It’s all about me doing what I love.”

Currently, Semenya is the only one affected by the suspension of the XY DSD regulations — other XY DSD women such as Francine Niyonsaba and Margaret Wambui cannot compete in the women’s 800. Semenya said she didn’t know that when her lawyers appealed to the Swiss Federal Tribunal that the exception would only apply to her. She just wanted to do what she had to do in order to fight the CAS ruling.

“I cannot say it’s fair,” Semenya said. “I cannot say it’s unfair. It’s about who’s fighting the battle, you understand. So obviously when the legal team had an application, they were doing it for me, so you understand. So probably the supreme court have their own way of doing things. So at end of the day, I would say I’m a commander, I’m alpha. I’m the one who leads at the moment. I’m fighting for them at the end of the day.

“So I think this is a good step. So they must just be patient. And then obviously [if] this thing has got a positive outcome after all, after this battle is being won, then they’ll be able to do whatever they want to do.”

Quick Take: When an athlete who is XY and responds to testosterone competes against XX women, the results are predictable

This was Semenya’s 31st win in a row at 800.

Quick Take: Ajee’ Wilson reiterates support for Semenya

If XY women weren’t able to compete, Wilson would be working on a perfect season right now as she was 3rd behind Semenya and Niyonsaba in Doha and second behind Semenya today — her only defeats of the season. But Wilson, who last year said she was “glad” Semenya was able to race, reiterated her belief that Semenya should be able to compete in the 800 meters.

“Absolutely I think she should be allowed to run,” Wilson said. “…I think everybody should be allowed to participate. The parameters surrounding that, I’m not sure about, but I definitely think she should be able to do what she wants.”

Quick Take: Big props to Hanna Green

During her NCAA career at Virginia Tech, Hanna Green was a three-time NCAA runner-up and had a collegiate best of 2:01.28. Last year, her first as pro, she made her first US final (7th) and improved to 2:00.09. This afternoon, in her first DL appearance, she made the most of it and skipped the 1:59s completely, running 1:58.75.

It appears that Green benefitted from some serious strength work as this year she has lowered her 1500 pb from 4:15.08 to 4:06.66 this year.

Green is teammates with Francine Niyonsaba and said that Niyonsaba has continued to train with her even though she can’t race her preferred 800 meters at the moment. Green said Niyonsaba was hoping to run the 3000 today at Pre, but did not due to “complications.”

“I would have loved to have her out here today,” Green said. “…Francine’s a great person. She’s one of the hardest workers I know. She inspires me every day, just practicing with her.”

Women’s 1500: Olympic champ Faith Kipyegon returns in style

Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon had not raced since winning the Diamond League title in Brussels on September 1, 2017. She returned in style at Pre by getting the win.

Kipyegon is back!!! (Photo by Phil Bond)

No one wanted to go with the rabbit and that meant there was a pack together at the bell. Laura Muir led, but in close pursuit were Kipyegon, 2018 NCAA champ Jessica Hull, Gudaf Tsegay of Australia, and Winny Nanyondo of Uganda, with a gap to Gabriela DeBues-Stafford and Shelby Houlihan. Kipyegon stalked Muir around the final lap and then struck on the homestretch to get the lead. Kipyegon looked to be in control and looked to her left and then her right and victory was hers, even though behind her Houlihan was closing fastest of all.

Houlihan ran the final lap in 60.54 (to Kipyegon’s 61.23), but it was not enough and she had to settle for 3rd in her first race of the outdoor season. Hull would fade the final lap but her aggressive running early on rewarded her with a huge 4:02.62 pb, while Kate Grace of the Bowerman Track Club also got a PR one spot behind in 8th in 4:02.99. NCAA 5k champ Dani Jones also PR’d but in a more modest 4:07.28.

1500 Metres - Women  - Promotional Event
    1 Kipyegon , Faith                 KEN    3:59.04           
    2 Muir , Laura                     GBR    3:59.47           
    3 Houlihan , Shelby                USA    3:59.64           
    4 Tsegay , Gudaf                   ETH    3:59.85           
    5 Nanyondo , Winnie                UGA    4:00.09           
    6 DeBues-Stafford , Gabriela       CAN    4:02.06           
    7 Hull , Jessica                   AUS    4:02.62           
    8 Grace , Kate                     USA    4:02.99           
    9 Hailu , Lemlem                   ETH    4:06.61           
   10 Efraimson , Alexa                USA    4:06.77           
   11 Arafi , Rababe                   MAR    4:06.78           
   12 Jones , Danielle                 USA    4:07.28           
   13 Embaye , Axumawit                ETH    4:14.47           
   14 Chebet , Winny                   KEN    4:24.51           
   15 Hall , Linden                    AUS    4:24.78           
      Côté , Laurence                  CAN        DNF           
      Harris , Jessica                 USA        DNF

QT: Kipyegon looked as if she had never left

When we last saw Faith Kipyegon, in 2017, she was dominating the world’s best 1500 meter women. Twenty-two months passed between her last race and today, during which she gave birth to a daughter, Alyn, in June 2018, but it was hard to tell that based on how she raced today. Once again, Kipyegon was simply too good over the final lap and wound up a comfortable winner in the end.

QT: Shelby Houlihan is in a good spot

Houlihan had to take six weeks off after the indoor season after a stress reaction in her navicular bone in her foot, but said that there are worse times to get injured than the end of indoors in a year in which Worlds runs into October.

Houlihan’s race today looked very similar to her win at Pre last year as she made a late charge over the final 200. She just wasn’t quite good enough to get the win this year — 3:59.64 with a 60.54 last lap in 2019 vs. 3:59.06 with a 59.86 pb in 2018. Still, Houlihan’s last lap was the fastest in the field — no one else broke 61 — and she feels that she’s in a good spot.

“I’m happy with where I’m at right now and I think there’s a lot more to be done,” said Houlihan.

The biggest difference between Houlihan of 2018 and 2019 was the uniform. Nike athletes ranked #1 in the world by Track & Field News in 2018 get custom kits — Houlihan’s had a gold swoosh — something that Houlihan was not aware of until she showed up to practice one day.

“I didn’t know I was gonna get it and I got this box in the mail with this kit and I was like, oh they must have made a mistake, they sent me the wrong jersey,” Houlihan said. “So then I went to practice and told my teammates. They’re like, that’s your World #1 ranking jersey.”

Houlihan still wanted to rep Bowerman, however, so she got a golden Bowerman B added to the right side of the jersey.

QT: Jessica Hull was utterly fearless, runs another big pb

Hull, who has turned professional but is yet to sign with a sponsor, ran a brave race in her pro debut to take 7th in 4:02.62, a big improvement on the 4:06.27 pb she ran at NCAAs (which in turn was a big improvement on her previous pb of 4:08.76). But while Hull may have surprised some by being in contention with a lap to go, she did not surprise herself as her goal was to run 4:02 coming into the race.

Hull isn’t technically a collegian anymore, but her time today was significantly faster than all but one collegian has ever run — Jenny Simpson remains #1 at 3:59.90 (also at Pre) in 2009. Sinclaire Johnson is the next-fastest thanks to her 4:05.98 at NCAAs earlier this month.

Hull plans to stay in the United States to train professionally and is currently searching for a shoe company/training group. We imagine her asking price just went up today.

Women’s Steeple: Chepkoech Cruises, Coburn Overcomes Fall to Run 9:04.90 for 2nd

Photo by Phil Bond

World record holder Beatrice Chepkoech, who lost her last DL race in Oslo, showed absolutely no vulnerability this afternoon as she won the women’s steeplechase easily in 8:55.58, the 5th-fastest mark ever recorded and a US all-comers record. Once the rabbit Caroline Tuigong dropped out a 1000m, Chepkoech took over and would lengthen her lead to nearly 10 seconds at the bell. Everyone else was racing for second at that point.

Despite hitting a hurdle and falling before 2k, American Emma Coburn was in a battle for second at the bell with 2015 world champ Hyvin Kiyeng and Daisy Jepkemei, and she was clearly best over the final lap and finished in a season’s best of 9:04.90 ahead of Kiyeng.

Behind Coburn in 7th was World Championship silver medallist and American record holder Courtney Frerichs, who had the fastest final lap of the day (Chepkoech ran 69.75 on the last lap, Coburn, 69.67 and Frerichs 69.17). NCAA champ Allie Ostrander PR’d to finish 13th in 9:31.44 (previous PR 9:37).

3000 Metres Steeplechase - Women  - Diamond Discipline
    1 Chepkoech , Beatrice             KEN    8:55.58          8
    2 Coburn , Emma                    USA    9:04.90          7
    3 Kiyeng , Hyvin                   KEN    9:05.81          6
    4 Jepkemei , Daisy                 KEN    9:08.45          5
    5 Frerichs , Courtney              USA    9:09.75          4
    6 Jeruto , Norah                   KEN    9:10.61          3
    7 Quigley , Colleen                USA    9:11.41          2
    8 Chespol , Celliphine Chepteek    KEN    9:12.37          1
    9 Yavi , Winfred Mutile            BRN    9:12.98           
   10 Chemutai , Peruth                UGA    9:24.32           
   11 Chepkurui , Mercy                KEN    9:25.32           
   12 Chepngetich , Roseline           KEN    9:27.10           
   13 Ostrander , Allie                USA    9:31.44           
   14 Lawrence , Mel                   USA    9:33.48           
   15 Krause , Gesa Felicitas          GER    9:35.67           
   16 Xu , Shuangshuang                CHN    9:49.80           
      Tuigong , Caroline               KEN        DNF

QT: This event is Chepkoech’s to lose

Chepkoech was beaten by Norah Jeruto in Oslo this year, but today’s run showed she has improved since then. Remember, she ran 8:44 last year. No one else who has not been busted for drugs has ever run under 8:58.

QT: Americans rounding into form

This was a good run for the Americans. Coburn had a season’s best and most importantly second place finish despite the fall. This was Frerichs’ season opener in the steeple but the 9:09 was much better than her 9:20 opener in Oslo last year. Quigley nearly got a PB (9:10.27) and her 9:11 was much better than her 9:20 opener last year. Plus Ostrander PRd even though she was 23 seconds behind Quigley, showing what a jump it is to the pro ranks.

Coburn knows that Chepkoech has been on another level the last two years, but Coburn is the world champion and she doesn’t want to give up that title. She used today as an experiment of sorts, going out faster than she ever has (2:56 for the first kilometer) and seeing how she responded.

And all things considered, Coburn responded pretty well, despite the fall, which she credited to a momentary lapse in concentration. Her time today was the second-fastest of her life, and she outfought 2015 world champ Hyvin Kiyeng for second, with her superior water jumps playing a large part in that.

“I was really trying to challenge [myself] more on the mindset side of that and putting myself out there and getting myself in debt early on and seeing how I physically cope,” Coburn said. “I definitely died the last kilometer but even though I was slowing down, I still felt decent.”

Coburn remains in the thick of the medal hunt in Doha, but the gap between Chepkoech and her grew significantly from Oslo (4 seconds) three weeks ago to today (9 seconds). She has three months to close it.

Frerichs said that she was pleased with where she’s at at this point in the season as this was her fastest opener ever by a significant margin. Frerichs has confidence in her ability to peak under coach Jerry Schumacher, and her results the last two years back it up — she ran a 16-second PR in the 2017 World Championship final, and ran 9:00 last summer after opening up in 9:20. The plan is to do the same again in 2019 — only faster.

QT: What has happened to Celliphine Chespol?

Two years ago, Chespol won Pre in 8:58, defeating Chepkoech, despite having to stop and put back on her shoe. Last year she was world junior champ, but didn’t break 9:01. This year she’s yet to go under 9:11.

Women’s 100: SAFP and Sha’Carri Richardson Fizzle

The pre-race focus in this non-DL event was on 10.7 100m runners in 2019 Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Sha’Carri Richardson squaring off. Neither were a factor in this race as Marie-Josee Ta Lou held off Aleia Hobbs for the win in a modest 11.02.

100 Metres - Women  - Promotional Event         Wind: +0.3 m/s
    1 Ta Lou , Marie-Josée             CIV      11.02           
    2 Hobbs , Aleia                    USA      11.04           
    3 Daniels , Teahna                 USA      11.13           
    4 Richardson , Sha'Carri           USA      11.15           
    5 Ahye , Michelle-Lee              TTO      11.23           
    6 Gardner , English                USA      11.24           
    7 Bowie , Tori                     USA      11.30           
    8 Fraser-Pryce , Shelly-Ann        JAM      11.39           
    9 Kambundji , Mujinga              SUI      11.42

Women’s 200: Blessing Okagbare upsets Elaine Thompson and Dina Asher-Smith

Blessing Okagbare hadn’t run under 22.58 this year at 200 but did win the 100m in Rabat before Pre. She took it to another level as she defeated 2019 DL 200 leader Dina Asher-Smith and double Olympic champ Elaine Thompson for the win.

200 Metres - Women  - Diamond Discipline               Wind: +1.9 m/s
    1 Okagbare , Blessing              NGR      22.05          8
    2 Thompson , Elaine                JAM      22.21          7
    3 Asher-Smith , Dina               GBR      22.42          6
    4 Naser , Salwa Eid                BRN      22.51          5
    5 Prandini , Jenna                 USA      22.53          4
    6 Schippers , Dafne                NED      22.62          3
    7 Brown , Brittany                 USA      22.99          2
    8 Jefferson , Kyra                 USA      23.07          1
    9 Lalova-Collio , Ivet             BUL      23.12

Women’s High Jump: Vashti Cunningham finally goes 2.00, Mariya Lasitskene stays undefeated

Cunningham jumped 1.99 back in 2016 when she was in high school, which was the year she won the world indoor title. She had never jumped higher until today when she cleared 2.00, but that was not enough to beat Mariya Lasitskene, who remained perfect on the year by clearing a meet record of 2.04. Lasitskene has cleared 2.00 in each of her last four competitions.

High Jump - Women  - Diamond Discipline
    1 Lasitskene , Mariya              ANA       2.04          8
    2 Cunningham , Vashti              USA       2.00          7
    3 Mahuchikh , Yaroslava            UKR       2.00          6
    4 Levchenko , Yuliya               UKR       1.95          5
    5 Kinsey , Erika                   SWE       1.95          4
    6 Spencer , Levern                 LCA       1.92          3
    7 McDermott , Nicola               AUS       1.88          2

Women’s shot put: Lijiao Gong dominates

Gong had four legal throws better than everyone else in the competition. Her best was 19.79m in round five.

Shot Put - Women  - Diamond Discipline
    1 Gong , Lijiao                    CHN      19.79          8
    2 Thomas-Dodd , Danniel            JAM      19.26          7
    3 Ealey , Chase                    USA      19.23          6
    4 Dubitskaya , Aliona              BLR      18.98          5
    5 Schwanitz , Christina            GER      18.77          4
    6 Carter , Michelle                USA      18.21          3
    7 Ewen , Maggie                    USA      18.04          2
    8 Guba , Paulina                   POL      17.54          1
    9 Márton , Anita                   HUN      17.46

*While we can’t prove this race was clean, we’re pretty certain the Chinese race was dirty, and the drug testing is much better now than it was 26 years ago.

The recap of the men’s meet is here: Pre Men’s Recap: Chelimo is Back, Centro Debuts, Cheptegei and Cheruiyot are the Kings, and Coleman is Very Fast

Full 2019 Prefontaine results here.

Talk about the meet on our fan forum / messageboard.

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