Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Josh Kerr, & Yared Nuguse Will Race Bowerman Mile at Pre Classic on May 25

This will be the first race between Ingebrigtsen and Kerr since the 2023 World Championship final in Budapest

We will not have to wait until the Olympics for one of the most-anticipated matchups of the 2024 track season. On Tuesday, the Prefontaine Classic announced the three headliners for the Bowerman Mile at this year’s meet, which will be held on May 25: Josh KerrJakob Ingebrigtsen, and Yared Nuguse.

That’s the reigning world champion against the reigning Olympic champion with the American record holder thrown in too. Regular-season track does not get better than this.

The three men have all had intriguing recent head-to-head clashes. In August, Kerr famously upset Ingebrigtsen to win the 1500m world title in Budapest. A month later, Ingebrigtsen held off Nuguse to win the Bowerman Mile in Eugene, 3:43.73 to 3:43.97, as they became the third- and fourth-fastest milers in history. Most recently, Kerr and Nuguse went 1-2 in the 3,000 meters at the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow on March 2.

Given the war of words that has unfolded betweeen Kerr and Ingebrigtsen over the last six months, the hype for this race will be off the charts. Here are five quick thoughts on what promises to be one of the races of the year (assuming all three men make it to the start line).

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1) Kerr vs Ingebrigtsen: it’s happening

It is often said that the best athletes in the sport need to race each other more often. Case in point: after Worlds last year, everyone wanted to see a Kerr vs Ingebrigtsen rematch at the Diamond League final at Pre. It didn’t happen — Kerr decided not to run.

So the fact that they have committed to racing each other before the Olympics is a win for track fans everywhere. The Bowerman Mile is always great, but given the quality of the athletes and the fact that it is the first Ingebrigtsen-Kerr matchup since Worlds, this will be one of the most anticipated races in meet history.

Kerr sprung the huge upset the last time he raced Ingebrigtsen (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images for World Athletics)

The best athletes do not need to race each other every week. If Kerr and Ingebrigtsen faced each other five times before Paris, it would actually dull the anticipation for their race at the Olympics. But, properly timed, a head-to-head showdown can stoke that anticipation. And the timing of Pre is perfect.

Think of how much has changed since the last time Ingebrigtsen and Kerr raced. Ingebrigtsen has gotten injured and has yet to race at all in 2024. Kerr, meanwhile, has gone up a level, setting a world record of 8:00.67 for 2 miles and posting a dominant victory in the 3,000 at World Indoors. How do they match up against each other now? We will find out in two months.

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In an ideal world, Ingebrigtsen and Kerr would race against each other three times during the outdoor season: once at Pre ahead of the Olympics, once at the Olympics, and once at the Diamond League final. They would be racing enough to keep fans invested, but the encounters would be spread out enough to allow anticipation to build and for each matchup to feel special.

2) Kerr is the surprise entry here

It is not a surprise to see Ingebrigtsen at Pre. He made his Pre Classic debut as a 16-year-old in 2017 by becoming the youngest sub-4:00 miler in history and has returned every year since. It is not hard to understand why: Ingebrigtsen is one of Nike’s most prominent athletes, and Nike is a longtime sponsor of the Pre Classic. Many Nike contracts include a requirement that the athlete must compete at Pre if they are healthy.

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The meet is also a no-brainer for Nuguse. Nuguse and coach Dathan Ritzenhein like to run on the Diamond League circuit — Nuguse competed in five DLs in 2023 — and it will be valuable for the 24-year-old Nuguse to gain experience racing against some of his biggest rivals ahead of the Olympics. Plus the Pre Classic is America’s only Diamond League meet and it’s an easy trip from Nuguse’s training base in Boulder.

Kerr, meanwhile, has never run at Pre since turning pro in 2018, even though it would be a quick trip from Seattle or Albuquerque, the two US cities in which he splits his time. Kerr, who is more selective with his races than Ingebrigtsen and Nuguse, only raced one Diamond League in his first three years as a pro from 2019-21, though he ran three each in 2022 and 2023.

Perhaps Kerr, riding a wave of confidence as double world champion, figures he has nothing to lose by running Pre. While Kerr will obviously want to beat Ingebrigtsen in Eugene, Kerr has long maintained that the only races that matter to him are major championships — in 2023, Kerr was soundly beaten by Ingebrigtsen in Oslo and Lausanne but got the last laugh at Worlds. Whatever the reason, it is great to see Kerr sign up for this race.

3) How does Ingebrigtsen look in his return?

Jakob Ingebrigtsen edges Yared Nuguse at 2023 Pre Classic 1500 Ingebrigtsen has not raced since the last Pre Classic in September (Kevin Morris photo)

Jakob Ingebrigtsen has not lost a Diamond League race since September 2021. He won all four of his DLs in 2022 and all eight in 2023, including a remarkable 3:43/7:23 mile/3,000m double at the Pre Classic in September. But he has dealt with an Achilles injury this winter that caused him to miss the European Cross Country Championships in December and the entire indoor season. The Bowerman Mile will be his first race back.

Ingebrigtsen is nearly back to full training, but the question remains: what version of Ingebrigtsen will we see?

The man himself is confident (shocking, I know). In an interview with The Times last week, Ingebrigtsen said, “I’m at a significant level with my intervals. Not where I want to be but probably better than the rest of the world.”

4) 2024 is going to be busy for Jakob Ingebrigtsen

On the same day Ingebrigtsen was confirmed for Pre, Norwegian media reported that the Ingebrigtsen brothers will star in a new documentary series produced by Amazon Prime. No word on the release date, but between the Olympics and the birth of Jakob’s first child (his wife Elisabeth is due in June), 2024 promises to be a big year for the Ingebrigtsens.

This is not the family’s first documentary series. Previously, they starred in Team Ingebrigtsen, which was broadcast on Norwegian TV station NRK from 2016-21 and made the brothers big stars in their home country. The move to Amazon Prime for the next series suggests a desire to spread their story beyond Norway to a worldwide audience.

5) Can Nuguse and Kerr improve their dismal head-to-head records against Ingebrigtsen?

Though Ingebrigtsen is a year younger than Nuguse and three years younger than Kerr, he has dominated both men throughout their careers. Ingebrigtsen is 4-0 against Nuguse lifetime and 10-1 against Kerr. It is worth noting, however, that their most recent encounters were the most competitive. Ingebrigtsen beat Nuguse by just .24 in their last race at the Pre Classic in September, while Kerr defeated Ingebrigtsen in their most recent encounter in August in the 1500m final at Worlds.

It’s also worth noting that Nuguse won the two Diamond League 1500s last year in which Ingebrigtsen did not feature, including a head-to-head victory over Kerr in Zurich.

Discussion on our forums: It’s happening: Kerr v Ingebrigtsen v Nuguse at 2024 Pre Classic

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