LA Grand Prix Day 1: Selemon Barega & Elle St Pierre Win 5000s As Ceili McCabe Breaks Canadian Steeple Record

Barega won in 12:51.60 as St. Pierre Ran 14:34.14 with McCabe Clocking 9:20.58

By Cathal Dennehy for
May 18, 2024

LOS ANGELES — The first night of action at the USATF Los Angeles Grand Prix saw a horde of US and global stars in action highlighted by the men’s 5000m where a field worthy of an Olympic final was assembled. We recap the best of the action below.

*Full compiled Day 1 results can be found here. *Video interviews of the people quoted below plus many others appear on our YouTube page

Men’s 5000m: Barega kicks to victory as Fisher, Teare, and Hocker go sub-13

The best race of the night, featuring three global champions, was unfortunately watched by a crowd of just a few hundred spectators despite admission being free on the night. Part of that was undoubtedly due to a lack of promotion. As America’s best took on the world’s best, you had to wonder how many in the track & field or road running community across Los Angeles even knew this race was happening. This was a field worthy of an Olympic final, competing in the host city of the 2028 Games. Organizers had done the hard part in assembling a field of such caliber. But it was a great shame they made little or no effort to tell people it was happening.

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Anyway, to the race: The tempo was steady for much of the first 3k (7:47) with the Western runners up front and the stars from Africa in the back before they let the pace lights (set to 12:54 pace) go clear of them during the 4th km (10:25). But then the wheels began to turn, Olympic 10,000 champ Selemon Barega, the 2024 outdoor world leader coming in for 5000 at 12:55, reeled off a 2:25 final kilometer and a 54.15 final lap to hit the line in 12:51.60 ahead of fellow Ethiopian Berihu Aregawi (12:52.09), who was running his first race since winning silver at World Cross Country. Olympic 5000 champ Joshua Cheptegei, who made up several meters in the last 200, took third in 12:52.38. World Cross Country champion Jacob Kiplimo was fourth in 12:52.91, with Grant Fisher fifth in 12:53.30. 

Further back, Cooper Teare (12:54.72, 9th) and Cole Hocker (12:58.82, 11th) both joined the sub-13 club and got the Olympic standard, with Teare going fourth on the U.S. all-time list.

“I left myself a little bit too much space with 200m to go,” said Fisher, who added he’s “really happy” with his current fitness. Fisher is putting equal focus on the 5K and 10K for the Olympic Trials. “It’s May, and to run 12:53 off a lot of 10K training and tempos is really good. I want a medal (in Paris) and that wasn’t a medal performance, so I’ve got to get closer.”

Barega said he’s chiefly targeting the 10,000m in Paris but that he hopes to double with the 5000m if the Ethiopian federation allows him. Cheptegei said he also plans to double at the Games. “Most importantly I want to win the 10, that’s my special distance,” he said. “If I win the 10K, I don’t care about the 5K.”

The Ugandan will be part of a loaded 5000m field at the Oslo Diamond League next month but when asked whether it will be an attempt on his world record of 12:35.36, Cheptegei said: “I don’t know who is going to run that, but I wish them the best of luck. For me, I wouldn’t want to go fast, especially being Olympic year.”

Place Athlete Country Result Additional Info
1 Selemon Barega Ethiopia 12:51.60 OLY STD, SB
2 Berihu Aregawi Ethiopia 12:52.09 OLY STD
3 Joshua Cheptegei Uganda 12:52.38 OLY STD
4 Jacob Kiplimo Uganda 12:52.91 OLY STD
5 Grant Fisher United States 12:53.30 OLY STD
6 Biniam Mehary Ethiopia 12:54.10 OLY STD, PB
7 Mohammed Ahmed Canada 12:54.22 OLY STD, SB
8 Sam Atkin Great Britain 12:54.66 OLY STD, PB
9 Cooper Teare United States 12:54.72 OLY STD, PB
10 Stewart McSweyn Australia 12:56.07 OLY STD, PB
11 Cole Hocker United States 12:58.82 OLY STD, PB
12 Morgan McDonald Australia 13:00.48 OLY STD, PB
13 Anthony Rotich United States 13:15.25 OTQ
DNF AJ Ernst United States  

In the B section of the 5000m, reigning US champion Abdihamid Nur powered to victory in 13:04.40 to dip under the Olympic standard of 13:05, which he’d already ticked off indoors, with Drew Hunter setting a huge PB in second of 13:08.57. “At this time of the season, I’m just practicing tactical races,” said Nur. “I just want to put myself in uncomfortable positions to learn how to close races, attack at the end and learn how to win.”

Nur had been in the A race earlier in the week but said he switched because his coach Mike Smith “didn’t think it was necessary” and their emphasis was to just “practice closing hard.” Given his current fitness, is Nur confident he can make the Olympic team? “Hell yeah,” he said. “That’s what I do the sport for – to make teams and do it at the highest stage.”

Women’s 5000m: St. Pierre goes #5 on U.S. all-time list with 14:34.12

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In her first race since winning the World Indoor 3000m title in Glasgow in March, Elle St. Pierre picked up right where she left off, reeling off a 2:45 last kilometer and 63-second last lap to win with a 24-second PB in 14:34.12, putting her fifth on the U.S. all-time list.

Venezuela’s Joselyn Brea had a huge run in second, carving 11 seconds off her own South American record with 14:36.59 and getting the Olympic standard. Britain’s Hannah Nuttall was third in 14:57.91 with Ella Donaghu fourth in a PR of 14:58.39.

“I came out here to get the Olympic standard and coming off a big stint in Flagstaff feeling pretty fit and I’m just excited for next weekend,” said St. Pierre, who will race the 1500m in Eugene next Saturday. “I hadn’t run a 5K in a long time so it sounded really long, but I was just trying to get the Olympic standard and leave some opportunities open for me.” Purrier said her preparation is “mostly a 15 focus” and things have been going well since the indoor season. “I feel aerobically I’m pretty fit but I’m going into (the 5K) without a lot of expectations.”

In the B section of the 5000m, Lauren Gregory (15:22.48) and Jennifer Randall (15:25.13) both set personal bests up front.

Place Athlete Country Result Additional Info
1 Elle St. Pierre United States 14:34.12 OLY STD, PB
2 Joselyn Brea Venezuela 14:36.59 OLY STD, NR
3 Hannah Nuttall Great Britain 14:57.91 PB
4 Ella Donaghu United States 14:58.39 OTQ, PB
5 Allie Buchalski United States 15:01.75 OTQ, SB
6 Abby Nichols United States 15:03.17 OTQ, PB
7 Bethany Hasz United States 15:05.80 OTQ, PB
8 Whittni Morgan United States 15:11.35  
9 Elena Henes United States 15:12.69 OLY STD
10 Annie Rodenfels United States 15:13.30  
11 Katherine Wasserman United States 15:14.15  
12 WuGa He China 15:15.35  
13 Natalie Rule Australia 15:17.38  
14 Erika Kemp United States 15:37.63  
15 Briana Scott Canada 15:57.18  
DNF Jenny Blundell Australia  
DNF Taylor Werner United States  
DNF Gemma Finch Great Britain

Men’s 800m B section: Kessler kicks to PB

Hobbs Kessler took the brave man’s route to victory, the 21-year-old world indoor 1500m bronze medallist darting up the inside in the dying strides to clock 1:45.07 ahead of Mexico’s Jesus Tonatiu Lopez (1:45.23) and Kenya’s Festus Lagat (1:45.28).

Kessler’s previous best was the 1:45.80 he ran in New York last June and he had a sluggish start, going through 200m at the back of the field before moving up to fourth at the bell, which he hit in 51.29. He was still fourth with 200m to go but then had to engage his arms to forge a gap and he showed impressive gears to get to the front just before the line.

“It was a lot of pushing and shoving that I’m not proud of, but happy to have the fitness,” said Kesssler, who was running his first track race of the outdoor season. “I haven’t done any 800m work, that’s off pure strength – not to be the just-wait-til-I-do-speedwork guy – but it was a big surprise. I’m really happy.”

Kessler said things have been “super smooth” since World Indoors and he feels confident he can handle whatever comes his way at the US Olympic Trials,.“I’m not saying it’s going to be easy though. There’s so many super good runners that I respect so much so (it’s) not a lock but I’ve got everything in my control to get on the team.”

Sam Ellis won the C 800m in 1:47.09, with Spain’s Mario Garcia Romo fifth in 1:48.31, while Grant Grosvenor took the D section in 1:48.82.

Place Athlete Country Result Additional Info
1 Hobbs Kessler United States 1:45.07 OTQ, PB
2 Jesus Tonatiu Lopez Mexico 1:45.23  
3 Festus Lagat Kenya 1:45.28 SB
4 Reece Sharman-Newell Great Britain 1:45.50 SB
5 Abraham Alvarado United States 1:45.62 OTQ, PB
6 Josh Hoey United States 1:45.65 OTQ
7 Luciano Fiore United States 1:46.45  
8 Ronaldo Olivo Spain 1:46.47 SB
9 Alex Amankwah Ghana 1:47.12  
10 Navasky Anderson Jamaica 1:50.65 OLY STD
DNF Zack Shinnick United States  

Men’s steeple: Desgagnes catches Wilkinson as Jager trails home 14th

Canada’s Jean-Simon Desgagnes, who was eighth in the world final last year, showed he’s well on track for a similar showing in Paris this summer with a flying finish to snatch victory in 8:16.49 ahead of Matthew Wilkinson, whose PB in second of 8:16.59 marked him out as a big contender for US Trials. Alec Basten also broke new ground in third with a PB of 8:19.96.

“This is really encouraging, it’s by far my fastest season opener, I’m way ahead of where I was in May last year,” said Desgagnes. “I feel like having a fast (last) 600, 400 is one of my signature marks and being able to finish those races that fast is a quality I need to keep up if I want to do well at major championships.”

Wilkinson said he was “stoked” with his run even if it fell just shy of the Olympic standard of 8:15. “If I run the Olympic Trials like that, get a little bit more fit, I’ve got a good chance to make the team which is crazy to say. I’m going to just try and keep getting better every day. I was a D3 runner, never made the state meet in high school, so this is new to me.”

There were worrying signs, though, for Evan Jager. He fell off the pace in the second kilometer and finished 14th in 8:35.99, slower than the 8:33.19 he’d run six days earlier in LA in what was his first steeplechase since 2022.

Place Athlete Country Result Additional Info
1 Jean-Simon Desgagnes Canada 8:16.49  
2 Matthew Wilkinson United States 8:16.59 OTQ, PB
3 Alec Basten United States 8:19.96 OTQ, PB
4 Zak Seddon Great Britain 8:20.77 PB
5 Derek Johnson United States 8:20.90 OTQ, PB
6 Joey Berriatua United States 8:21.98 OTQ, PB
7 Duncan Hamilton United States 8:23.10 OTQ
8 Matthew Clarke Australia 8:24.37 SB
9 Isaac Updike United States 8:25.88 OTQ
10 Daniel Michalski United States 8:28.07 OTQ
11 Christian Noble United States 8:28.29 OTQ
12 Benard Keter United States 8:30.19  
13 Ryoma Aoki Japan 8:33.47 SB
14 Evan Jager United States 8:35.99  
15 Carson Williams United States 8:38.30  
16 Ben Buckingham Australia 8:39.81 SB
17 Travis Mahoney United States 8:40.33  
DNF Awet Yohannes Sweden  
DNS Anthony Rotich United States OLY STD

Women’s steeplechase: McCabe sets Canadian record as Jeruto returns

The top five all ran under the Olympic standard of 9:23, led by Ceili McCabe, who set a Canadian record of 9:20.58. She was followed home by Madison Boreman who set a PB of 9:21.98, while 2022 world champion Norah Jeruto of Kazakhstan, having led for much of the race, could only finish third in 9:22.45. Germany’s Lea Meyer (9:22.51) and Poland’s Alicja Konieczek (9:22.52) also dipped under the standard.

Jeruto is clearly not the athlete she was in the summer of 2022, when she won the world title in Oregon in 8:53.02. This was her first race since February last year and she’s had lots going on off the track since then, with her presence at the Paris Olympics still hanging in the balance. The Court of Arbitration for Sport will hear an appeal by World Athletics on June 17 against a ruling last year that cleared her of blood doping. Jeruto had argued ulcers and a bout of Covid-19 led to the irregular readings in her athlete biological passport, which saw her suspended in April last year before that was later overturned by a disciplinary tribunal. She declined an interview request after the race in LA.

McCabe, meanwhile, was thrilled with her national record and to secure the Olympic standard. “In the last few years we’ve been working towards being able to run these types of times and today I was lucky to have the field that was conducive to doing that,” she said. “The last few years I’ve been plagued by a few injuries but this has been the most consistent build-up I’ve had.”

Boreman was delighted with her PB in second and said she’s been reaping the benefits of moving to Flagstaff two months ago. “I’ve been mixing it up with new people in a new environment,” she said.

Place Athlete Country Result Additional Info
1 Ceili McCabe Canada 9:20.58 OLY STD, NR
2 Madison Boreman United States 9:21.98 OLY STD, PB
3 Norah Jeruto Kazakhstan 9:22.45 OLY STD
4 Lea Meyer Germany 9:22.51 OLY STD
5 Alicja Konieczek Poland 9:22.52 OLY STD
6 Angelina Ellis United States 9:25.25 OTQ, PB
7 Logan Jolly United States 9:26.23 OTQ, PB
8 Amy Cashin Australia 9:26.85 SB
9 Lizzie Bird Great Britain 9:32.95  
10 Lexy Halladay United States 9:39.26 OTQ
11 Grace Fetherstonhaugh Canada 9:39.62 SB
12 Carmen Graves United States 9:43.40  
13 Kayley DeLay United States 9:46.71  
14 Tugba Guvenc Turkey 9:53.47  
15 Brielle Erbacher Australia 9:56.30  
16 Alycia Butterworth Canada 9:59.17  
17 Tatiane Raquel da Silva Brazil 10:27.60  
DNF Regan Yee Canada

Women’s B 1500m: MacLean coasts to victory in 4:02.49

Heather MacLean was a class apart in this, powering away from the field with 600m to run and coming home a clear winner in 4:02.49, which is 0.01 under the Olympic standard.

“I honestly didn’t know what to expect,” said MacLean, who said she’s “very grateful to not be injured anymore” after missing much of last summer due to a stress reaction in her tibia and femur. “I wasn’t able to cross train much with the injury I had so I did a lot of lifting and strength to speed really paid off. It’s been a great transition and I’m really thankful.”

Australia’s Lauren Ryan set a PB to win the 1500m C section in 4:08.15 ahead of Grace Barnett (4:09.27) and Eleanor Fulton (4:10.85).

Women’s 800m: Kate Grace makes winning return

In her first race since September 12, 2021, Kate Grace clocked an impressive 2:01.93 to take the D section of the 800m in a comfortable victory. The 2016 Olympic finalist passed 400m in a swift 58.75 and looked strong as she powered to the finish in splendid isolation.

“My main goal was just to race, there were tons of nerves,” said Grace, who gave birth to her son last year and doubled back with a 4:11.92 1500 on Friday 90 minutes later. “Ideally I’d have liked to qualify for the Trials, which I was off, but generally for me starting with a 2:01 is very good. I’m very much gearing my training towards the Trials to make a shot at the Olympic team.”

MB: Kate Grace 2:01.93, 4:11.92 in first races since 2021

Samantha Watson claimed the B section of the 800m in 2:00.73, while Charlene Lipsey won the C section in 2:02.16.

*Full compiled Day 1 results can be found here. *Video interviews of the people quoted below plus many others appear on our YouTube page

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