2022 Oslo DL Preview: Ingebrigtsen Headlines Dream Mile; How Fast Will Klecker & Monson Run in 5Ks?
By Jonathan Gault
June 15, 2022
Believe it or not, the 2022 Diamond League season is almost halfway over: Thursday’s Bislett Games in Oslo and Saturday’s Meeting de Paris will be the sixth and seventh meets of the 13-event series. What have we learned so far? The men’s steeplechase is back, Keely Hodgkinson and Athing Mu are still incredible, and we still have no idea what’s going on in the men’s 800.
With the US outdoor championships just eight days away, there aren’t many Americans competing in Oslo on Thursday, but those who are there bear watching. Devon Allen is running the 110 hurdles just four days after his 12.84 in New York, which means we’re officially on world record alert. The On Athletics Club’s Alicia Monson and Joe Klecker are also entered in what should be some fast 5,000-meter races. That demonstrates a nice side benefit of staging the US 10,000m trials as a separate meet: Monson and Klecker have the opportunity to head to Europe to run a 5,000 at near-peak fitness knowing that they’re already on the World Championship team. Both are also entered in the 5,000 at USAs next week, but OAC coach Dathan Ritzenhein said he’s not sure if either will end up racing there.
“We’re just going to race this and see how it goes,” Ritzenhein said. “I think if they run really well, they won’t run USAs. That was one of the nice things about the 10k — we knew if we qualified we weren’t going to double at the World Championships. I wanted to give them an opportunity to run something fast [in Oslo] because I know they’re really fit.”
The Bislett Games was meant to conclude with a showcase of Norway’s two incredible Olympic champions, Karsten Warholm in the 400 hurdles and Jakob Ingebrigtsen in the Dream Mile, but only Ingebrigtsen will compete on Thursday; Warholm withdrew after injuring his hamstring in Rabat on June 5. But Ingebrigtsen will try to make up for it by going for the European record.
Women’s 5,000 (2:19 p.m. ET): Gidey vs. Tsegay vs. McColgan; how fast can Alicia Monson go?
A few interesting things to watch here. First is the battle for the win. World record holder Letesenbet Gidey is in the field, so the instinct is to anoint her as the favorite, but here’s the thing: she doesn’t win many 5,000-meter races. Since the start of 2017, Gidey has raced the distance 14 times and won just once, her 14:06.62 world record in Valencia in 2020. She was beaten by Gudaf Tsegay at the Ethiopian champs in her only 5,000 of 2021, and in her first 5,000 of this year, Gidey finished a well-beaten second to Ejgayehu Taye at the Pre Classic once Gidey’s world record attempt fell short.
Taye isn’t entered here, but Tsegay is, and she has been in good form this year, winning World Indoors in the 1500 and running 3:54 at Pre. She is a huge threat to defeat Gidey and should probably start as the favorite.
This race will also be a serious test for Great Britain’s Eilish McColgan. Nine days ago, she ran away with the 10,000 in Hengelo in a huge pb of 30:19, finishing 23 seconds ahead of Gidey and Taye. Yet because the race doubled as the Ethiopian 10,000 trials for Worlds, the Ethiopians were only concerned with beating each other, not McColgan. That likely won’t be the case in Oslo, which means we will get a chance to see how McColgan truly stacks up against some of the top 5,000 women in the world. Considering McColgan ran her pb — and the British record — of 14:28.55 in this meet last year, and considering McColgan has been in the shape of her life in 2022 (she also ran a 66:26 British record in the half in February), expect something very fast from her on Thursday.
There are a number of other quick Ethiopians in the field, including former 10,000 world record holder Almaz Ayana, Fantu Worku (14:26 pb), Tsigie Gebreselama (30:06 10,000 pb), and Dawit Seyaum (8:23 3,000 pb), which should mean there will be a lot of women trying to run fast.
That’s good news for Alicia Monson because she looks to be in PR shape right now: remember, she ran 14:59 for the second half of her 30:51 at the US 10,000 champs. Monson’s personal best is 14:42 from Brussels last year, and only three Americans have ever gone faster: Shelby Houlihan (14:23), Karissa Schweizer (14:26), and Shannon Rowbury (14:38). Catching the first two might be a stretch, but with the talent assembled in this race, Monson will have a terrific opportunity to run fast and move into the top three all-time in the US.
Ritzenhein told LetsRun the race will be rabbitted at 14:30 pace and thinks that if Monson just goes out and tries to race well, a fast time will follow.
“The field is really good,” Ritzenhein said. “It’s almost like the World Championship final. I think she can handle that pace. She ran until the last k in Brussels, low-14:30 pace. The wheels came off a little toward the end but she closed the last lap well and she’s a lot stronger [now] than she was [in 2021].”
Men’s 5,000 (2:49 p.m. ET): Can Klecker join sub-13:00 club?
The main players from last week’s super hot 5,000 in Rome aren’t entered here (frankly, they deserve a rest), so don’t expect another sub-12:50. But there’s enough talent here that we could still see a sub-13:00 winning time.
Assuming they all run (more on that later), Ethiopia has the top entrants in this race. Telahun Bekele is the fastest man in the field by SB after running 12:57 in Rome, while Getnet Wale (12:53 5k pb) is also entered after running 8:06 in the steeple to finish 3rd in Rome. The most intriguing entrant is champion Samuel Tefera. Even though Tefera is the two-time defending World Indoor champion at 1500, he hasn’t raced that distance at all outdoors. Instead, he opened by running his first-ever 5,000 at Pre and impressed by running 13:06 and defeating Olympic 10,000 champ Selemon Barega (Tefera finished second in that race, which was dominated by Berihu Aregawi). World U20 XC champ Milkesa Mengesha (13:01 in the Friday section at Pre, 13:02 in Rome) should also be in the mix.
Unlike the women’s race, which is very likely to go faster than Monson’s 14:42 pb, it’s possible the winning time in the men’s 5,000 in Oslo is above 13:00 considering the three guys in the race who have broken 13:00 before (Bekele, Wale, Mengesha) all raced hard in Rome last week. But if one of them (or Tefera) gets after it, Joe Klecker has a great chance to become the 11th American in the sub-13:00 club. Remember, he ran 13:04 at the Track Meet on May 6, but that was his first meet back after a long injury layoff. After taking down 12:53 man Grant Fisher to win the US 10,000 champs, Klecker is ready to rip a fast one, but it’s dependent on how the race plays out in Oslo.
While Diamond Leagues attract more top-end talent than your typical Stanford/Sound Running Meet, the incentives are a bit different. Unlike those West Coast meets, where the sole goal is to run fast, Diamond Leagues offer prize money ($10,000 for first) and prestige for winning. As a result, many athletes are hesitant to keep the hammer down during the late stages of the race, lest they serve as a sacrificial lamb for the rest of the field. (That’s why Rome went so fast last week — Yomif Kejelcha didn’t care about losing to the Kenyans as long as he ran fast). If someone is keen to get after it and keeps pushing at 3k when the rabbit steps off, Oslo should go fast and Klecker will have a shot at sub-13:00. If not, he may have to settle for another time in the 13:00s — even if he’s fitter now than he was a month ago.
It’s possible that many of the top Ethiopians mentioned in these two 5,000 previews don’t run. On Monday, the Ethiopian federation announced its World Championship team and once again they foolishly don’t have anyone doubling. Why a federation wouldn’t let its very best double is beyond my comprehension. And the Ethiopian federation also attached this message saying anyone who competes in an international distance race after June 13 will be kicked off the team (That makes some sense — there is no need to prematurely name the team unless you are going to ban people from racing. Personally, I’d rather wait until the last minute to pick the team).
And guess what — the top four Ethiopian men entered in this 5000 are already on the Ethiopian WC team — Milkesa Mengesha (10k), Telahun Bekele (5k), Getnet Wale (steeple), and Samuel Tefera (1500). So will they all DNS? Or will Ethiopia backtrack? For the women, three 5,000 runners in Oslo are on the Ethiopian team — Letesenbet Gidey (10k), Gudaf Tsegay (5k), and Fantu Worku (5k). We have no idea why Worku is on the team as Lemlem Hailu has run faster this year (14:47 vs 14:44 and it was in the same race at Pre). Plus Hailu is the world indoor 3000 champ. As usual when it comes to Ethiopian selection policies, there is a lot of confusion but people like Moh Ahmed and the Americans dreaming should be thankful as it makes it much easier to medal.
Men’s 110 hurdles (3:13 p.m. ET): Allen goes again
I believe it’s called “striking while the iron is hot.” When you come .04 shy of the world record in the hurdles, you want to give yourself as many opportunities as possible to break that record, hence why Allen hopped on a plane after Sunday’s NYC Grand Prix and headed to Oslo. Who knows whether he can match his incredible weekend breakthrough (12.84 is .15 faster than Allen had ever run before), but I can’t wait to see him try.
Women’s 800 (3:25 p.m. ET): Can anyone challenge Keely Hodgkinson?
There’s a simple rule in predicting the women’s 800 meters: is Athing Mu or Keely Hodgkinson in the race? If so, pick them to win. Hodgkinson, who has opened her outdoor season with commanding Diamond League wins in Birmingham and Eugene, is on the start list in Oslo (Mu is not), so on paper this should be fairly simple. But there are two other women worth monitoring closely in this race.
The first is 20-year-old Diribe Welteji of Ethiopia. Two months younger than Hodgkinson, Welteji won the World U20 title in 2018 and made the Olympics last year at 1500 (3:58 pb). This year, she’s already broken 4:00 twice and picked up 1500m wins at the Kip Keino Classic and Ostrava Golden Spike meets. More relevant to this meet is the fact that Welteji dropped her 800 pb by more than a full second to 1:58.28 on June 5, defeating Jemma Reekie in Chorzow. Welteji is still discovering the extent of her powers and the challenge of Hodgkinson could bring out an even higher level.
The other woman to watch is Laura Muir. By her own high standards, the Olympic 1500 silver medalist has struggled in her specialty event this year, finishing 11th at Pre and 3rd in Rome (though she did win in Birmingham). But on Tuesday, she ran 1:57.23 for 800 at the British Milers’ Club event in Stretford, her best performance of the year in any event. If she runs that time again on Thursday in Oslo, she should be in the mix for the win.
Men’s Dream Mile (3:50 p.m. ET): Ingebrigtsen looks to win Dream Mile for Norway
The first Oslo Dream Mile was run in 1974 and won by a Norwegian, Knut Kvalheim, in 3:56.2. Forty-eight years later, he remains the only Norwegian to have won it*. On Thursday, that could change as Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen will be favored to prevail on home soil.
*Technically Ingebrigtsen won the “Dream Mile” in 2017, but that race was restricted to U20 athletes and the field was far weaker than the 1500 held in the same meet.
An Ingebrigtsen win is the smart bet. In his last mile, at the Pre Classic on May 28, Ingebrigtsen opened up a gap early in the last lap and floated away from the rest of the field, totally unchallenged over the final 400. That race showed there is a gap between Ingebrigtsen and every other miler on the planet right now. But the runner-up at Pre, Olli Hoare, has a plan to close it — one that he shared publicly on this week’s Coffee Club podcast:
“My race plan is to get as close to Jakob as I can, and then from 300 out I’m going to try and squeeze,” Hoare said. “Because I feel like with Jakob, there’s no shocking 100. It’s very gradual, build up every 100, which gets really lethal. But if I can get a jump on him, maybe I’ll come around…That could be a way to challenge him, is he’s not used to someone being able to have the strength to keep going. And I think I could potentially have that. But who knows? I’ve gotta get there first.”
Huge props to Hoare for being bold enough to share his strategy publicly ahead of the race — and it’s a solid plan, in theory. The problem is running fast enough to get around Ingebrigtsen in the first place. Hoare was nowhere close to Ingebrigtsen with 300 to go in a 3:49 race at Pre, and the Dream Mile is expected to go even faster. Ingebrigtsen is expected to target Steve Cram‘s European record of 3:46.32 (set in Oslo in 1985). No one has run a 3:46 mile since Alan Webb‘s American record in 2007, but Ingebrigtsen, who ran 3:47.24 at Pre last year, seems like the perfect candidate to do so.
Hoare appreciates the significance of what a win in Oslo would mean. And even if he falls short, Stewart McSweyn‘s Australian record of 3:48.37 (set — where else? — in Oslo last year) could be in danger.
“If you love middle-distance running, the Dream Mile’s such a big event to go to,” Hoare said. “It’s one of those events, too, that has so many international records set there for the mile.”
Hoare may not even be Ingebrigtsen’s biggest challenger in this race, though. Great Britain’s Jake Wightman looked great on June 5 in running 3:32 to win in Rabat and owns a 3:29 1500 pb from 2020. He’ll get his first shot at Ingebrigtsen this year in Oslo though the more likely scenario is that he and Hoare are battling it out for second down the home straight.
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