5 Thoughts on Day 1 at Pre: The Stars Delivered and We Can’t Wait for 2024

Day 1 of the 2023 Prefontaine Classic — which serves as this year’s Diamond League final — certainly delivered. It started off with a bang, as Rai Benjamin ran an incredible final 100 to run a Diamond League record 46.39 and upset Karsten Warholm in the 400 hurdles, and ended with a bigger bang in the Bowerman Mile where Jakob Ingebrigtsen ran 3:43.73 to hold off Yared Nuguse’s 3:43.97 American record run.

The mile gets its own recap here, but below we give you five takeaways on the rest of the action at Pre. Full day 1 results are here.

1) Karsten Warholm actually has a losing streak, Rai Benjamin ends the season with a bang

Warholm Leads Rai Benjamin

Warholm’s big lead heading into hometstretch wouldn’t last over Benjamin (Kevin Morris photo)

Karsten Warholm has accomplished a ton in the sport in recent years: three world titles, two world records, and an Olympic gold. After winning gold this year in Budapest, Warholm suffered a rare defeat in Zurich, beaten by silver medallist Kyron McMaster. This afternoon in Eugene, Warholm lost again — this time the win went to bronze medallist Rai Benjamin of the US, who ran a world-leading and Diamond league record time of 46.39, as he ran down Warholm with ease after the final hurdle. Warholm actually ran significantly faster in defeat in Eugene (46.53), than he did in winning the world title in Budapest (46.89). Warholm ran very well today, he just got beat. And that makes the event even more interesting.

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Warholm hadn’t lost back-to-back 400 hurdle races since July 5, 2018. And he had only lost once in his life to Benjamin, in last year’s Worlds final when Warholm was still recovering from a hamstring injury.

We can’t wait for 2024. Some view the 2021 Olympic 400 hurdle final at the Olympics as the greatest race ever run, but could 2024 be even better?

(If you can’t see any of the videos below you need a VPN. The one we recommend is here)

2) Christian Coleman defeats Noah Lyles and we can’t wait for 2024

Christian Coleman wins 2023 Prefontaine 100m in 9.83

Christian Coleman is back (Kevin Morris photo)

Warholm wasn’t the only sprint world champ to lose today. In fact, every sprint world champ that raced today lost. In the men’s 100, Noah Lyles had a horrible start and rallied but ended up 2nd in 9.85 as Christian Coleman won in 9.83. In the women’s 100, Shericka Jackson was the winner in 10.70 as Sha’Carri Richardson was fourth 10.80. It’s worth noting that four-time Olympic champ Elaine Thompson Herah ran her best race of the year, 10.79, to finish third.

Before we get to our analysis…thank you Noah for showing up and racing. When the stars of the sport compete, it makes the sport a lot more interesting.

As for analysis, how exciting is 2024 going to be? In all of the sprint events held today (in the men’s 400 which was won by Kirani James in an sb of 44.30, world champ Antonio Watson wasn’t in the field), you’re going to have all-time great(s) competing at the Olympics in 2024 and we don’t know who is going to win. 

In the 100, the last three world champions are three different Americans and it wouldn’t surprise us if one of them doesn’t even make the Olympic team. It’s going to be amazing. 

3) Did Faith Kipyegon just complete the greatest season ever by a distance runner?

Faith Kipyegon dominated 2023

Faith Kipyegon dominated 2023 (Kevin Morris photo)

Faith Kipyegon ran away from the field and the pacing lights (which were set at the Pre record of 3:52.59) over the final 700m  of the women’s 1500m to dominate and set a meet record of 3:50.72.

While she is slated to run the inaugural road mile world championships next month, we debated on the live LetsRun.com post-race podcast something Jon first heard on the House of Run podcast: was this the greatest season ever by a distance runner?

It’s easy to argue that Kipyegon’s season in the 1500/mile was the greatest 1500m campaign ever. She not only was undefeated and won the World Championships but she shattered the world record in the mile (4:07.64) and became the first woman to go sub-3:50 for 1500 (3:49.11). There has never been a female miler do anything close to what Kipyegon did this year.

But also in her side project, the 5000m, Kipyegon broke the world record, running 14:05.20 in her first 5000m since 2015, and became the first woman to pull off the 1500/5000 Worlds double.

What distance season has been better than Kipyegon’s 2023 campaign? Heck, what season by any athlete has been better? If you can think of any, discuss them here.

4) Winfred Yavi runs 8:50.66, the #2 time ever, and the women’s steeplechase is reaching a new level

Prefontaine Women's Steeplechase final water barrier

Women’s steeple was close at final water barrier (Kevin Morris photo)

Winfred Yavi survived a challenge from world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech coming off the final water barrier and powered away to the Diamond League title in a super quick 8:50.66, the #2 time ever in the world. Only Chepkoech’s world record of 8:44.32 from 2018 is faster. Chepkoech finished second in 8:51.67, which until today was a time only she had run faster than.

Faith Cherotich broke the 9:00 barrier for the first time in 3rd in 8:59.65.

While the final times were impressive, perhaps even more impressive was how they were run. The field hit 2k in 5:58.8, yet Yavi still ran 8:50. Yavi and Chepkoech blasted the final kilometer and final lap. Yavi’s final lap was unofficially 65.5 (for reference at Worlds her final lap was 68.6).

With women running sub-3:50 for 1500m and nearing 14:00 for 5000m, we’re not surprised the steeplechase now has a second woman nearly going sub-8:50. However with the recent history of doping in this event if people want to remain cautious about these times, we understand. Of the four Olympic champs in this event, two have been suspended for drugs and another was Russian. Last year’s world champion Norah Jeruto is currently provisionally suspended for an Athlete Biological Passport violation. Yavi and Chepkoech’s performances on the track were amazing today. Hopefully, they are viewed that way years from now.

5) Double world champ Chase Ealey has world-leading, meet record, American record throw and is now tied for the 529th best throw of all-time

It was easy for the field events to be overlooked at Pre with all the action on the track, but double world champion Chase Ealey’s performance in the shot deserves a mention. She heaved a huge PB of 20.76 (previous best 20.51) to break Michelle Carter’s American record of 20.63 from 2016.

For those of you wondering how close Ealey is to the world record, think again. She is nearly two meters behind it (22.63) and this moved her into a tie for the 529th farthest throw of all-time and to being the 40th best thrower of all-time.

PEDs worked really well in women’s sports. Ealey is dominating the shot put right now and is an afterthought on the all-time lists.

We get to do it again tomorrow. Could the world record fall in the 200?

We mentioned it above, but Shericka Jackson defeated Sha’Carri Richardson for the first time this year in the 100. She’s running the 200m in the final event of the meet, the women’s 200m, and the only reason the women’s 200m is going last is because of the possibility FloJo’s (Florence Griffith Joyner’s) that world record could fall. Will it? Tune in from 4-6 p.m. ET on NBC to find out.

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