2016 Pre Meet

EUGENE, Oregon - As the greatest invitational track meet on U.S. soil, the Nike Prefontaine Classic has long delivered the best track & field performances the world has to offer.

As the final stop of the USATF Championship Series prior to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, Saturday was no different. A crowd of 13,223 fans saw two American records fall, eight world-leading marks set, clashes of titans in several marquee events, and two high school boys dip under 4:00 for the mile in two separate races.

1.Eugene Prefontaine ClassicUSA27-28.0586925(1.)8460(1.)95385

Another star-studded Prefontaine Classic is in the books and if you like races with hurdles, you got your money’s worth today. Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet led the way in a historically fast women’s 3000 steeplechase (recap here), narrowly missing the world record with her clocking of 8:59.97. Even though Jebet became just the second woman ever to break 9:00, she was in danger of losing the race as Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyegon finished just behind her in 9:00.01. In the women’s 100 hurdles, Keni Harrison blazed to a 12.24 American record, the #2 time in history.

In other action, Boris Berian got a big win in the men’s 800 (recap here)Asbel Kiprop won an underwhelming Bowerman Mile (Drew Hunter was last in 3:58.86), Canadian Mo Ahmed led until 150 to go in the men’s 5,000 before he was overhauled by Muktar Edris and Tori Bowie cracked 22 seconds to defeat Dafne Schippers in the 200.

We recap all the Saturday action below except the women’s steeple and men’s 800 which get their own recaps.

*Post race video interviews here

Mile: Asbel Kiprop Wins His Record 4th Bowerman Mile as a Fast Pace Sizzles Away Again at Pre

With the talent assembled at Pre every year and how common sub-3:30 1500s are these days, you think Pre would regularly be won in sub-3:50. Think again.

The hope for a super fast time in this one went out the door on the first lap. 409 meters was reached in a modest 58.5 (high schooler Drew Hunter was roughly 61 mid). World beater Asbel Kiprop had talked of a fast pace, haddone some tremendous workouts and was right on the rabbit, but the rabbit wasn’t going that fast.

See thread: Bowerman Mile Pacers Should Be Shot!!!!

Battle down homestretch

Battle down homestretch

Kiprop was still behind the rabbit at 809m (1:56 for Kiprop) as the field was still together with high schooler Hunter in the back of the pack. American Ben Blankenship was in the top 5 and at the bell (2:56.9 for Kiprop), Blankenship was in second. On the final lap, Kiprop would give up the lead and drop back to 4th before righting himself for the final kick as he battled Morocco’sAbdelaati Iguider. It came down to Kiprop and Iguider the final 100m and as it usually is with Kiprop, it was no contest. Kiprop got the win in 3:51.52 to Iguider’s 3:51.96. Blankenship faded to 7th, American Evan Jager was 8th and Drew Hunter rounded out the field in 12th in 3:58.86.

QT #1: If you want a fast time, the rabbits have to do better
It’s not that hard for the rabbit to hit the right pace. Station someone with a watch 100m and 200m into the race. Also, give the runners say a $50,000 bonus for a sub-3:46 and we bet you see it assuming the weather cooperates.

Drew Hunter at start

Drew Hunter at start

QT #2: What’s next for Hunter?
This was the first race in which Hunter was totally outclassed this year, but we knew that was the case coming in. Guys like Leo Manzano were in the “B” mile here. 3:58 is very good for a high schooler, and with better pacing Hunter would have likely run faster. A race like this might be good for Hunter as it reminds him how far he has to go to be a factor as a pro. Succeeding on that level is the ultimate goal for Hunter; now he has to figure out the best way to do that as his high school career is almost over.

Bowerman Mile                                         

    1 Kiprop , Asbel                   KEN    3:51.54                   
    2 Iguider , Abdalaati              MAR    3:51.96                   
    3 Manangoi , Elijah Motonei        KEN    3:52.39                   
    4 Kibet , Vincent                  KEN    3:52.71                   
    5 Makhloufi , Taoufik              ALG    3:52.95                   
    6 Wote , Aman                      ETH    3:53.23                   
    7 Blankenship  , Ben               USA    3:53.83                   
    8 Jager , Evan                     USA    3:54.21                   
    9 Kiplagat , Silas                 KEN    3:56.60                   
   10 Magut , James Kiplagat           KEN    3:56.89                   
   11 Holuša , Jakub                   CZE    3:58.34
   12 Hunter , Andrew                  USA    3:58.86
      Kivuva , Jackson Mumbwa          KEN        DNF                   
      Rotich , Andrew Kiptoo           KEN        DNF

*Note- post race interviews with Kiprop and Blankenship and Hunter here

Women’s 1500: Faith Kipyegon Breaks the Kenyan Record Again

Faith Kipyegon is on another level in the women’s 1500 right now, at least until world indoor champ Sifan Hassan or world outdoor champ Genzebe Dibaba decide to open up. Just as she did two weeks ago in Shanghai, Kipyegon destroyed the field over the final lap, winning in 3:56.41, 1.69 seconds up on runner-up Dawit Seyaum. World indoor bronze medallist Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia was third in 4:00.18, while Jenny Simpson was the best of the rest in fourth in 4:01.57. American record holderShannon Rowbury struggled and was only 10th in 4:04.65.

The pace went out quickly, with rabbit Chanelle Price towing the field through in just under 63 seconds at 400 and 2:07 at 800 (all splits from this race are approximate as the NBC camera was all over the place during the race). By the time Price dropped out at 1000 meters, Kipyegon, Tsegay and Seyaum were running 1-2-3 in single file and had six meters on the chase pack, led by Rowbury. By the bell, that lead had almost doubled as Simpson moved up into fourth ahead of Rowbury. On the backstretch, Kipyegon and Seyaum pulled away from Tsegay, opening up a massive gap on the chasers as Kipyegon hit 1200 in 3:11 (around 64 for the last 400). Seyaum was still on Kipyegon’s shoulder on the back stretch, but began to crack on the final turn. That crack turned into a major fissure on the home stretch as Kipyegon pulled away with ease to earn another dominant victory in 3:56.41 thanks to a 60-second last lap. That makes two Kenyan records in two races for Kipyegon this year.

Further back, Simpson, Brenda Martinez and surprising Aussie Linden Hall rounded the final turn three-wide in the battle for fourth; Simpson came out on top, just holding off Hall, 4:01.57 to 4:01.78.

QT #1: American medal hopes in this event in Rio may hinge on which other athletes show up

Kipyegon soundly beat everyone today and Seyaum and Tsegay (medallists in the 1500 at World Indoors this year) were also well ahead of the top American, Simpson, in fourth. And it’s very hard to envision any American beating Sifan Hassan (world indoor champ, bronze at world outdoors last year) or Genzebe Dibaba if both are in top shape in Rio.

Now Diamond League 1500s are not the same as Olympic 1500s, but when you crush the field by as much as Kipyegon has in the last two weeks (2.52 seconds and 1.69 seconds), it doesn’t really matter. The silver lining for Simpson and the other Americans is that Dibaba has been dealing with a toe injury this year and even if she is close to 100% in Rio, she may not even run the 1500. Likewise, Hassan has not raced since world indoors, but we don’t know whether that’s because she’s hurt or merely resting. If either Dibaba or Hassan isn’t in the field in Rio, the medal chances for Simpson, Rowbury and others go way up. Overcoming the Ethiopians is tough, but beating Dibaba is close to impossible.

QT #2: A step in the right direction for Jenny Simpson

The three women who beat Simpson today all beat her in Shanghai two weeks ago as well, but it’s clear that this was a much better effort by Simpson overall. She was 4th today vs. 6th in Shanghai and ran almost three seconds faster (4:04.56 to 4:01.57). The gaps between Simpson and the women in front of her also shrunk considerably. Check it out:

Faith Kipyegon

Time ahead of Simpson in Shanghai: 7.74 seconds
Time ahead of Simpson in Eugene: 5.16 seconds

Dawit Seyaum

Time ahead of Simpson in Shanghai: 4.69 seconds
Time ahead of Simpson in Eugene: 3.47 seconds

Gudaf Tsegay

Time ahead of Simpson in Shanghai: 1.83 seconds
Time ahead of Simpson in Eugene: 1.39 seconds

The gap to Kipyegon is still massive and she’s still a fair amount behind Seyaum, but with 11 weeks to go until the Olympics, Simpson has some time to dig into that deficit. Simpson afterwards said she’s moving in the right direction and noted in season’s past she’s opened in the 4:08 range. She wants to be at a point where she can run in front of a race but isn’t there yet. *Post race interviews here

QT #3: Linden Hall’s breakout 2016 continues

Hall was only 8th at NCAAs last year for Florida State and entered 2016 with a pb of 4:10.41. Good for a collegian but not competitive on the global stage. But she was 2nd at the Australian Championships in April, ran a massive PB of 4:04 at Payton Jordan in May and went even faster today, running 4:01.78 to become the third-fastest Australian of all time. After two huge PRs, shaving off any more time will be tough, but Sarah Jamieson’s 10-year-old national record of 4:00.93 should certainly be on Hall’s radar.

QT #4: A bad outing for Shannon Rowbury

Rowbury so rarely has bad races that it’s jarring when she runs poorly. But she did today, as she fell apart over the final 400, finishing a well-beaten 10th in 4:04.65. Not counting Oxy the last two years (where Simpson was coming back on tired legs due to a same-day double), this was the first time Rowbury had lost to an American other thanJenny Simpson in a 1500/mile since April 2014. Of course, most Americans would kill for Rowbury’s “bad day” time of 4:04 but the world indoor bronze medallist will hold herself to a higher standard.

1500 Metres - Women                                           
    1 Kipyegon , Faith Chepngetich     KEN    3:56.41         10        
    2 Seyaum , Dawit                   ETH    3:58.10          6        
    3 Tsegay , Gudaf                   ETH    4:00.18          4        
    4 Simpson , Jennifer               USA    4:01.57          3        
    5 Hall , Linden                    AUS    4:01.78          2        
    6 Weightman , Laura                GBR    4:03.04          1        
    7 Houlihan , Shelby                USA    4:03.39                   
    8 Martinez , Brenda                USA    4:03.57                   
    9 Reid , Sheila                    CAN    4:03.96                   
   10 Rowbury , Shannon                USA    4:04.65                   
   11 Moser , Treniere                 USA    4:07.04                   
   12 Efraimson , Alexa                USA    4:08.81                   
      Embaye , Axumawit                ETH        DNF                   
      Plis , Renata                    POL        DNF                   
      Price , Chanelle                 USA        DNF                   


Men’s 5000m: Muktar Edris Turns Back Kamworor; Mo Ahmed (!) Takes the Lead at the Bell

This one went out fast (2:04 at 800, 4:10 for 1600) and then slowed a little (8:22 at 3200). By 2 miles, the pace was taking its toll as American Bernard Lagat stepped off the track (hetold reporters afterwards he was suffering from a cold). There was a pack of 12 up front that included all the main contenders, plus Americans Hassan Mead and Ben True, who was struggling to stay on the back.

With 800 to go (11:01), the pack was down to 9 and still included Mead. Geoffrey Kamworor had been leading since the rabbits dropped out. At the bell, there was a huge surprise. Mo Ahmed, the Canadian and former University of Wisconsin runner seized the lead. Only Kamworor and Mutkar Edriscould go with him. Ahmed led until halfway around the final bend when both Edris and Kamworor went by him. They would battle down the homestretch for the win with Edris pulling away to win in 12:59.43, a 2016 world leader (barely ahead of his 12:59.96 from Shanghai).

QT #1: The 10,000m is the Event Kamworor Might Challenge Mo Farah In, Not the 5000
Kamworor tried to push the pace here a little bit, but this race reminded everyone he’s a longer distance runner. If he’s going to win the Olympics on the track it will be at 10,000 not 5,000m.

QT #2: Huge PB for Ahmed

Ahmed, who is a member of Jerry Schumacher’s Bowerman Track Club, already had the Canadian record of 13:10.00 but his 13:01.74 today was way, way more impressive than that. Not only was this race in worse conditions (sunny, middle of the day, temps in mid-to-high 60s), but he was actually battling for the win against a couple of studs, making a huge move that left DL veterans Thomas LongosiwaEdwin Soi and Yenew Alamirew in the dust. The 25-year-old Canadian reached a totally new level at Pre.

QT #3: Is It Time for Ryan Hill Fans to Worry?
This was Hill’s first race since his silver medal at World Indoors and he definitely wasn’t sharp, only managing a 13:35. Ben True managed a more respectable 13:12 here (.02 behind Caleb Ndiku), but Hassan Mead continues to be the top American distance runner outdoors in 2016 as he followed up his Oxy 1500 win with a 13:04 here.

5000 Metres - Men                                             
    1 Edris , Muktar                   ETH   12:59.43         10        
    2 Kamworor , Geoffrey Kipsang      KEN   12:59.98          6        
    3 Ahmed , Mohammed                 CAN   13:01.74          4        
    4 Longosiwa , Thomas Pkemei        KEN   13:02.91          3        
    5 Soi , Edwin Cheruiyot            KEN   13:03.26          2        
    6 Mead , Hassan                    USA   13:04.17          1        
    7 Alamirew , Yenew                 ETH   13:04.29                   
    8 Cheptegei , Joshua Kiprui        UGA   13:07.53                   
    9 Koech , Isiah Kiplangat          KEN   13:08.34                   
   10 Ndiku , Caleb Mwangangi          KEN   13:12.25                   
   11 True , Ben                       USA   13:12.67                   
   12 Tanui , Paul Kipngetich          KEN   13:15.22                   
   13 Chelimo , Paul Kipkemoi          USA   13:21.61
   14 Levins , Cameron                 CAN   13:26.79
   15 Hill , Ryan                      USA   13:35.74
   16 Chelanga , Samuel Kiprono        USA   13:46.84
      Haji , Yasin                     ETH        DNF                   
      Kangogo , Cornelius Kipruto      KEN        DNF                   
      Lagat , Bernard                  USA        DNF                   
      Langat , Clement Kiprono         KEN        DNF                   
      Gebrhiwet , Hagos                ETH        DNS

“B” Mile –National mile: High Schooler Michael Slagowski Goes Sub-4:00 Again, Beats Leo Manzano; Charlie Grice Wins in Second PR in Two Weeks

2015 World Championship finalist Grice’s U.S. tour continued in fine fashion, as he dominated the field to win in 3:52.64, slicing almost two seconds off his pb. That came on the heels of a 1:46.96 800 pb at the Hoka One One meet last weekend. Perhaps Grice’s only complaint is that he didn’t get to face the best of the best at either meet (he was in the third-best heat at Oxy and the B heat here). Perhaps after those results, he’ll be able to get into some better races when he heads back to Europe.

Both high schoolers in the race, Slagowski (4th in 3:59.78, .25 off his pb) and Austin Tamagno (6th in a pb of 4:01.04) acquitted themselves well. Two-time U.S. champ Manzano improved slightly on his last place finish at Oxy last week, finishing fifth in 4:00.27, but he still has a lot of work to do between now and the Olympic Trials.

Quick Take #1: NBCSN did not show this race for reasons beyond comprehension

Rather than show the race, NBCSN aired a live interview with USATF CEO Max Siegel. And as if that weren’t enough, you could see snippets of the race in the background as Lewis Johnson interviewed him. NBCSN, it’s simple: anyone who decided to spend the Saturday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend watching track and field wants to see races, not a pointless interview with Max Siegel. At a bare minimum, at least show the video of the race while the audio of the interview plays on top of it. Not showing the race at all is inexcusable.

One Mile - Men Race 1                                         

    1 Grice , Charlie                  GBR    3:52.64                   
    2 Wolde , Dawit                    ETH    3:55.80                   
    3 McNamara , Jordan                USA    3:58.28
    4 Slagowski , Michael              USA    3:59.78
    5 Manzano , Leonel                 USA    4:00.27
    6 Tamagno , Austin                 USA    4:01.04
    7 Hughes , Matthew                 CAN    4:01.98
    8 Cabral , Donald                  USA    4:02.29
    9 Fleet , Mac                      USA    4:06.10
   10 Sawe , Jonathan Kiplimo          KEN    4:08.22
      Kemboi , Edward Kibet            KEN        DNF                   
      Wieczorek , Mark                 USA        DNF                   
      Casey , Patrick                  USA        DNS                   


Women’s 100 Hurdles: Keni Harrison Breaks the AR, Gives the WR a Scare and Moves to #2 All-Time

When someone gets on a tear in the high hurdles, they’re usually tough to beat and Harrison has certainly done that in 2016. Her 12.36 opener on April 8 tied her for ninth all-time and since then, Harrison had added victories at the Drake Relays (12.56) and Cayman Invitational (12.42). Conditions were near-perfect for hurdling today with a slight tailwind (0.7) and Harrison responded by running a near-perfect race, taking down Brianna Rollins’ American record by running 12.24 to get the win today.

Harrison got a great start and her form was immaculate over every hurdle as she stormed away from the field. Only Bulgaria’s Yordanka Donkova has ever run faster (she set the world record of 12.21 in 1988). It’s up to you if you want to believe whether a world record by a Bulgarian in the 1980s is legitimate.

QT #1: A truly amazing run for Harrison, but she’s still not a lock for the U.S. Olympic team

If we were to pick a favorite for gold in Rio right now in the women’s hurdles, it would definitely be Harrison, but to even make it out of the U.S. trials will still be a challenge. Remember, last year Sharika Nelvis ran 12.34 (then #7 all-time) in the prelims at USAs and came within .01 of missing out on the team entirely. Jasmin Stowers, who was setting the world on fire early in 2015 (running 12.35 in Doha last may, which was then #7 all-time), was only 5th in the final at USAs. When one hit hurdle could be the difference between a U.S. championship and staying home for the summer, it doesn’t take much for a favorite like Harrison to be upset.

100 Metres Hurdles - Women                                    Wind: +0.7 m/s
    1 Harrison , Kendra                USA      12.24         10        
    2 Rollins , Brianna                USA      12.53          6        
    3 Stowers , Jasmin                 USA      12.55          4        
    4 Ali , Nia                        USA      12.72          3        
    5 Nelvis , Sharika                 USA      12.82          2        
    6 Talay , Alina                    BLR      12.85          1        
    7 Porter , Tiffany                 GBR      12.90                   
    8 Harper Nelson , Dawn             USA      13.01

More coming below. Flash recaps.

Women’s 200: Tori Bowie Gets a Big PB, Takes Down Dafne Schippers in 21.99

World champ Schippers got off to a good start, but coming off the turn it was Bowie in the lead just ahead of world silver medallist Elaine Thompson of Jamaica. Schippers, to their outside, tried her best to run them down and wound up getting Thompson before the line, but Bowie was too good, getting the victory in 21.99. A friendly +1.9 wind helped shed .19 of a second from her personal best as Bowie set a new world leader.

Bowie was extremely pleased with the victory, telling Lewis Johnson afterwards that her coach was “sick and tired of seeing me run 22 seconds.”

200 Metres - Women                                            Wind: +1.9 m/s
    1 Bowie , Tori                     USA      21.99         10        
    2 Schippers , Dafne                NED      22.11          6        
    3 Thompson , Elaine                JAM      22.16          4        
    4 Prandini , Jenna                 USA      22.61          3        
    5 Atkins , Joanna                  USA      22.62          2        
    6 Whitney , Kaylin                 USA      23.17          1        
    7 Duncan , Kimberlyn               USA      23.20                   

This may not have been the fastest women’s steeplechase ever, but it was the greatest.

Kenyan-born Ruth Jebet of Bahrain became the second woman to crack the 9:00 barrier, running 8:59.97, just holding off a furious challenge on the final lap by world champ Hyvin Kiyeng, who was 2nd just .04 back in 9:00:01. American Emma Coburn broke the American record in third in 9:10.76.

Shalaya Kipp rabbited this one until 5 laps to go and then Ruth Jebet did just what she did in Shanghai: she took the lead and pushed the pace. In Shanghai, Jebet kept the lead until she fell apart the final lap, falling on the homestretch but still finishing second in 9:15.98.

Super tight finish

Super tight finish

Here Jebet was going even faster than she was in Shanghai as she was on world record pace. She started to slow a little and after roughly a 73-second penultimate lap, Jebet had 3.5 seconds on Kiyeng in second and needed roughly a 68-second final lap to get the 8:58.81 world record of Russia’s Gulnara Samitova-Galkina.

The chase was on, Jebet for the world record and Kiyeng for the win. Jebet’s hurdle form is not the best, and though she held up well here, Kiyeng was closing like a rocket. After the final barrier, Jebet still led but Kiyeng was closing. Jebet just managed to beat her to the line. Another two meters and the win would have been Kiyeng’s. However the race is 3000m long, not 3002.

Jebet rested her head on a hurdle just past the finish and then thrust her hands into the air to celebrate her first Diamond League win and the second sub-9:00 clocking ever. Her bravery was rewarded here. Kiyeng just missed getting the win and the sub-9:00 as the clock showed 9:00.01 for her.

Coburn moved up well for 3rd and her 9:10.76 was not only an American record (Jenny Simpson held the old mark of 9:12.50) but the the fastest ever run by an American (Coburn ran 9:11.42 in Glasgow in 2014 but did not take a drug test afterwards, so it could not be ratified as an AR).

QT #1: What a Steeple
A sub-9:00 in a super competitive race. You can’t do better than that. Jebet and Kiyeng are pushing each other and the event to a new level this year.

Big Lead at Bell for Jebet

Big Lead at Bell for Jebet

QT #2: AR for Coburn 
The American record is officially Emma Coburn’s. Not only did Coburn run fast here, she did it in her first steeple of the year. She said to NBC, “I feel like I’m going to cry. I’m so happy…I really had an interrupted fall and winter with injury, so to come out here and set the American record in my first steeple is just something I could not have hoped for.”

She told LRC after that her coach though sub 9:20 would be a good performance but that she got out there and felt great. “I felt really good. I felt I could have gone another lap,”

If World Indoor champ Boris Berian was distracted at all after being served a lawsuit by Nike last week, he didn’t show it. Berian ran a superb race to beat a solid field in 1:44.20 to earn his first-ever DL victory.

Berian tried to get out into second behind rabbit Harun Abda during the first 200 meters, but Kenya’s Ferguson Rotich, who won in Shanghai two weeks ago, beat him to the punch. Instead, Berian merely waited until the home straight to move into the lead, and he passed 400 in front in 50.4 seconds with Rotich in second.

With 300 to go, 2013 world champ Mo Aman moved into second. Adam Kszczot, who was extremely impressive indoors, was toward the back of the field and had to drift out into lane three on the backstretch to start moving up.

Coming into the home stretch, Berian still led with Aman second; Kszczot, with great effort, had managed to move up into third. Berian remained a step or two ahead of Aman until the final 40 meters, when he began to open a gap, powerfully striding to victory in 1:44.20. Rotich, moved up well to pass Aman for second in the final meters but was never close to threatening Berian in the home straight. Kszczot, who had spent a lot of energy getting in position to kick at the end of the race, did not have anything left to challenge for the victory over the final 100.

1BERIAN BorisUSA1:44.20
2ROTICH Ferguson CheruiyotKEN1:44.56
3AMAN MohammedETH1:44.70
4KSZCZOT AdamPOL1:44.99
5KITUM TimothyKEN1:45.30
6TUKA AmelBIH1:45.90
7VÁZQUEZ WesleyPUR1:46.04
8WHEATING AndrewUSA1:48.09

Quick Take #1: This was a really good sign for Boris Berian, who joins Duane Solomon and Khadevis Robinson as the only American men to win a DL 800

Watching Berian defeat this field wasn’t entirely shocking; after all, he is the world indoor champion. But the 800 is a much different race indoors than it is outdoors, and to see Berian translate that success – especially after losing to collegian Clayton Murphy at the Drake Relays last month – was a terrific sign. He beat two of the three medallists from last year’s outdoor worlds (Kszczot and Amel Tuka) as well as Rotich, who won the first DL 800 of 2016 in Shanghai.

Not only did Berian win this race, but he did it mostly from the front. He measured his effort well and had a gear no one else could match over the final 40 meters. Remember, last year was Berian’s first running at an elite level and he didn’t even make the final at USAs. Running (and winning) against top-level competition like this is exactly what he needs to contend for a medal at this summer’s Olympics.

For the record, Berian was still wearing his New Balance Big Bear Track Club singlet in this race.

Men’s 10,000m: Mo Farah Withstands Attacks From Kenyans Nicholas Kosimbei and William Sitonik To Repeat in Pre 10,000

On paper, no one in this field was capable of challenging Mo Farah over 10,000 meters and the results bore that out, as Farah won here for the second year in a row in a world-leading 26:53.71. Though the time was not a PR for Farah, whose best is 26:46.57 (it was also slower than the 26:50.97 he ran to win here in 2015), it reaffirmed that the 33-year-old Brit is the man to beat over this distance until proven otherwise. During the second half of the race, relatively unknown Kenyans Nicholas Kosimbei (who led from 6600 to 8800) and William Sitonik (who led with 100 to go) both sought to challenge Farah, but the world’s best distance runner never looked flustered, even when Sitonik took the lead on the back stretch of the bell lap. Farah merely waited until the home straightaway to shift into top gear, and as soon as he did, it was game over. Sitonik, the World Youth champ in at 3k in 2011 and the World Junior bronze medallist at 5k in 2012, earned a big 26-second PR of 26:54.66 in a race that saw five men dip under 27 minutes, the most in a single race since 2011.

Farah wagged his finger at the finish to swat away all challengers

Farah wagged his finger at the finish to swat away all challengers

The Race

Farah had been hoping to run a PR according to commentator Steve Cram and he wasted no tie getting out behind the rabbits early. By 800 meters, the field had already separated into two groups: the majority ran behind rabbits German Fernandez, Vincent Yator and Albert Rop, while the second group included top Americans such as Eric Jenkins and Chris Derrick plus a few others.

By 1400, Farah made it clear that he felt the pace was too slow and moved up next to Rop encouraging him to pick it up; Farah hit 1600 in 4:18 (26:52 pace). The next 1600 was slightly faster (4:17.5) and just before 4800 (12:52 for Farah), Rop decided to make an effort to pick it up before his pacing duties were finished. But no one went with him and by 5k (13:24 for Farah and the main pack, which was down to 10), Rop had a lead of 20 meters on the field.

Any chance of a truly fast time went out the window by 5600, when Farah decided to slink back in the pack, leading to a 67-second lap for the chasers. Had Farah punted on a fast time entirely to focus on the win?

Not exactly. By 6100, he was back in the lead again, leading the field through 6400 in 17:15 (4:23 for the last 1600) and shortly after that, he passed Rop. The first major move of the race followed shortly thereafter as little-known Kenyan Nicholas Kosimbei made a bold bid for the lead. The 19-year-old Kosimbei, who entered with a PR of 28:38 at altitude and earned bronze at World Juniors in the 10k in 2014 (but had no results listed since then) was not the man anyone expected to be leading at this point, but he quickly put 10 meters on the field from 6600 to 6800 and held it for the next two laps. With six to go, Farah and Stephen Sambu began working together to close the gap on Kosimbei and caught him by 7900 meters only for Kosimbei to attack again and hold the lead for another two laps.

Farah, as is his style, went to the lead with 1200 to go in order to control the race from the front over the final laps. But Kosimbei still wasn’t licked and retook the lead at 9k only for Farah to seize it back to him with 800 to go.

Farah Trailing on Final Lap

Farah Trailing on Final Lap

This time, Kosimbei truly was vanquished and it was a four-person race, with Farah leading Sitonik, Sambu and Ethiopian Tamirat Tola. A 63 dropped Sambu and 100 meters into the bell lap, Tola fell off as well. Sitonik, feeling good, upped the pace further on the backstretch and moved into the lead, turning his head to stare down Farah as he did so. Farah did not fight hard for the lead, but did look behind to see if anyone else was there. There wasn’t. Sitonik had to figure Farah was far from done, and looked back no fewer than three times on the final turn to check whether he had dented Farah’s reserves. He hadn’t.

What happened next was vintage Farah if you saw him in 2015. He sat on Sitonik before moving to the outside as they turned onto the home straight. Then Farah accelerated, quickly and easily, throwing a look at Sitonik just like the one he had received 200 meters earlier. The Kenyan, like so many before him, was powerless to respond and Farah coasted to victory in 26:53.71 thanks to a 59-second last lap (4:12 last 1600). Sitonik, for his part, was proud of his runner-up finish (deservedly so), pumping his fist as he crossed the line in second. Tola, Sambu and 2011 world champ Ibrahim Jeilan — the last man to beat Farah in a 10,000 — followed Farah under 27:00.

Farah Goes by for the Win

Farah Goes by for the Win

Quick Take #1: Farah used his preferred strategy from 2015 — let the challenger lead until the final 100

In the DL opener in Doha last year, Farah tried to counter a move from Yomif Kejelcha but wound up going too hard, too early and lost to Hagos Gebrhiwet. Farah learned from that race. He has the best final 100 of any 5k/10k guy in the world. He might as well use it. When Kejelcha pulled a similar stunt in Lausanne, Farah was ready for it and allowed Kejelcha to take the lead without a fight before blowing him away over the final 100. It was a similar story at the World Champs in Beijing; Farah didn’t have the lead entering the home straight in the 5,000, but he was right on Caleb Ndiku’s tail and emerged victorious once again.

With that said, it was a little odd to see Farah gapped in the second half of a race by a no-name, especially one in which Farah apparently wanted to run fast (again, according to Cram). But we can do little more than speculate why Farah let Kosimbei open up the gap. Perhaps he wasn’t feeling great aerobically but had confidence in his kick if it turned into a close race. Perhaps he assumed Kosimbei would die and didn’t want to be left all alone up front if he decided to go with Kosimbei’s move.

The fact is, Farah looked good over the final 100 and got the win, and that was the most important thing tonight. And you could tell he enjoyed putting Sitonik in his place at the end as the cameras caught Farah doing a Dikembe Mutombo-style finger wag shortly after crossing the finish line.

Post-race Farah was quoted by the IAAF and Register-Guard as saying:

“I finished the race and didn’t feel too tired. When you finish a race, you’re tired, you’re knackered. I feel alright so that’s a positive thing. … I didn’t know who he (William Sitonik) was. It was just very surprising to me. In Daegu (the 2011 world championships) I remember (Ibrahim) Jelian, I had never heard of him or anything and then come to the world championships in the 10K he ran past me. You can’t take it for granted, you gotta know who’s who. … To be honest, I am kind of disappointed. I was hoping to run a lot faster than that. I am in great shape. … It’s good to win the race, but at the same time it would be good have some stronger guys. But that’s what it is, you just deal with it.”

QT #2: Farah Looked Good the Final 100m, but Sitonik is No Geoffrey Kamworor; In Fact He Got Beat by Bernard Lagat at Stanford in His Last 10,000m

First, some props to both Sitonik and Kosimbei. They had had some junior success but have never raced on the pro circuit. They did not let the moment overwhelm them and tried to take it to Mo Farah. The sport needs more of that.

Having said that, we were astounded to find out Sitonik was 7th at the Stanford Payton Jordan 10,000m earlier this month in 27:56, beaten by 41-year-old Bernard Lagat by nearly 7 seconds. It is amazing that less than four weeks later, Sitonik was leading Farah with 100m to go in a 10,000m and running sub-27.

That shows Farah still has a lot of work to do. Run like he did today vs Geoffrey Kamworor and it’s likely Farah gets beat.

QT #3: Eric Jenkins Gets Olympic Qualifier

Eric Jenkins went out with the second pack and it was mission accomplished as he ran 27:48, well under the 28:00 Olympic qualifying time. Fellow American Chris Derrick continued to struggle in return from injury, getting lapped in 28:38.

or a breathless moment, triple jumper Will Claye almost made news in a women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase race that turned out to have perhaps the most compelling finish in the event’s history with the second- and third-fastest times ever as well as an American record.

Claye had just taken the lead in the triple jump on his last jump (only to lose it to Christian Taylor on his last leap) and in his excitement he dashed onto the Hayward Field track right in front of the early leaders in the steeplechase.

The women did not appear to be affected by Claye’s exuberance, but his fleeting presence in their race did not go unnoticed.

“It’s a little bit frustrating when the race is interrupted by another athlete,’’ top American Emma Coburn said. “I was far enough back in the pack it didn’t bother me.’’

Coburn’s early frustration melted into joy at the end of the race as she finished third in a loaded field and broke the American record with a time of 9 minutes, 10.76 seconds in surpassing Jenny Simpson’s time of 9:12.50 from 2009.

Coburn thought she had broken the American record in 2014 when she ran 9:11.42 in Glasgow, Scotland. However, Coburn didn’t realize that for her time to count for record purposes she had to take a drug test; instead, she simply left without providing a urine sample.

Ahead of Coburn on Saturday in the Pre Classic were Ruth Jebet of Bahrain in 8:59.97 and Hyvin Kiyeng of Kenya in 9:00.01. Those are the Nos. 2 and 3 times in history, trailing only the 2008 world record of 8:58.81 by Russia’s Gulnara Galkina, as well as Bahrain national, Hayward Field, Pre Classic and American all-comers records for Jebet.

Harrison crushes 100H field, AR

Keni Harrison was quick out of the blocks and kept putting distance between herself and a stacked field in the 100 hurdles. Coached by University of Kentucky head coach Edrick Floreal, the Team USA men’s head coach at the 2015 World Championships, the 2015 NCAA champion finished in 12.24 to break the American record of 12.26 held since 2013 by Brianna Rollins. It was the second-fastest time in history and the fastest ever on American soil. Rollins finished second in 12.53, with Jasmin Stowers third in 12.55 to round out the top three. Only Yordanka Donkova’s world record of 12.21, set in 1988, is faster than Harrison’s winning time.

Harrison’s performance also etched another record in the stat books. Hayward Field now claims the title as the fastest straightaway in track & field history, as measured by combining the fastest times run on a track in the men’s and women’s 100m dash, women’s 100 hurdles and men’s 110 hurdles. With a cumulative time of 45.61, it overtakes the 2012 London Olympic Track as fastest sprinting strip in history (45.65).

Coburn claims SC AR

The women’s steeple provided sweet vindication for Emma Coburn. Long the top U.S. athlete in the event, Coburn ran inconspicuously at the back of a large lead pack for most of the race, then began moving up. With the eyes of most Hayward Field fans on Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet and Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng battling for the victory, Coburn kept moving up in the race to finish third in 9:10.76, claiming the American record. Jenny (Barringer) Simpson’s 9:12.50 at the 2009 World Outdoor Championships in Berlin stood as the official American record until Saturday. Coburn ran her personal best in 2014 with a time of 9:11.42 - also faster than the old American record - but the mark was unable to be ratified. Her performance at Pre shed the asterisk and gave her the outright record. Jebet held off Kyeng for the win, with a world-leading time of 8:59.97 to Kiyeng’s 9:00.01.

Taylor wins battle with Claye

The men’s triple jump saw Olympic gold medalist Christian Taylor and two-time Olympic medalist Will Claye do battle, round by round, as two former Florida Gators showed a return to top form. Taylor held the lead with a world-leading 17.46m/57-3.5 in the third round, but Claye in the sixth and final round popped off a mark of 17.56/57-7.5 to storm to the top of the leaderboard. With just one jumper - Taylor - left, the crowd clapped in unison. The No. 2 jumper all time and reigning world champion didn’t disappoint, soaring 17.76m/58-3.25 for the victory and a world-leading mark. American Omar Craddock, another University of Florida product, was third with 17.15m/56-03.25.

Mile races provide elite, high school highlights

Filling its traditional slot as the final event of the meet, the Bowerman Mile featured  2008 Olympic gold medalist and three-time defending World Outdoor champion Asbel Kiprop. The lanky Kenyan came through, pulling away easily in the final stretch to win in a world-leading time of 3:51.54, to relegate Abdelaati Iguider of Morocco to second in 3:51.96. Ben Blankenship of the U.S. was the top American, seventh in 3:53.83, while Virginia high schooler Drew Hunter was 12th in 3:58.86.

Hunter was the second American prepster to break 4:00 at Hayward on Saturday. In the international men’s mile earlier in the meet, Idaho high schooler Michael Slagowski ran 3:59.78 to place fourth.

In the women’s 1,500m, Chanelle Price turned in brisk pace-setting duties through 800 meters, helping Faith Kipyegon of Kenya to a U.S. all-comers and Hayward Field record of 3:56.14, which also stands as the 2016 world leader. Dawit Seyaum of Ethiopia also broke 4 minutes, placing second in 3:58.10. Jenny Simpson was the top American finisher, fourth in 4:01.57.

Sprinters slug it out

Tori Bowie passed go to collect a women’s 200m world lead with her 21.99 finish. The 2015 World Outdoor 100m bronze medalist changed gears on the straightaway to gain a strong win over defending World Outdoor 200m champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands and Elaine Thompson of Jamaica. Schippers finished second in 22.11 with Thompson third in 22.16; American Jenna Prandini was fourth in 22.61 with Joanna Atkins fifth in 22.62.

Justin Gatlin turned in a wire-to-wire win in the men’s 100, blasting out of the blocks and finishing in 9.88, by far his fastest time of the year, with a tailwind of 2.6 meters per second. His fellow former world record holder, Asafa Powell of Jamaica, was second in 9.94, with Tyson Gay third in 9.98. The win was Gatlin’s sixth career title at Prefontaine, as the two-time World medalist from Beijing has five 100m victories and the 2015 200m win to his credit.

In the women’s 100, University of Oregon alumna English Gardner was first out of the blocks and kept cruising, turning in a scorching 10.81 to win the women’s 100m on her favorite track. Tianna Bartoletta began closing late in the race to finish second in 10.94, with the Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure third in 11.01.

400 fireworks

The men’s 400 provided a familiar sight, with 2008 Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt and 2012 gold medalist Kirani James duking it out in the final straight. The two men ran shoulder to shoulder for most of the race, but James pulled away down the stretch and locked up the win with 40 meters to go. Already the world leader, James stopped the clock ini 44.22 to Merritt’s 44.39.

In women’s 400m, Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas took control of the race over in the final 100 meters to finish in 50.15 with Americans Francena McCorory second in 50.23 and Natasha Hastings third in 50.86.

All McLeod in men’s hurdles; other track highlights

Jamaica’s Omar McLeod made it a one-man race in the 110-meter hurdles, finishing well ahead of the field in 13.06. Americans placed second through fifth, with David Oliver second in 13.38, Jeff Porter third in 13.48, Aries Merritt fourth in 13.51 and Jarret Eaton fifth in 13.52.

The men’s 400 hurdles provided a who’s who of U.S. hurdling over the past decade. 2007 world champion Bershawn Jackson got out strong and 2009 world champion Kerron Clement had the lead coming off the curve, but 2012 Olympic silver medalist Michael Tinsley took the reins when Clement stutter-stepped before the last hurdle, moving up to win in 48.74. Clament finished second in 48.87 with Jackson third in 49.04.

In the men’s 800, World Indoor champion Boris Berian fought off Ferguson Roti Cheruiyot of Kenya and Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia to break the tape in 1:44.20. Cheruiyot was second in 1:44.56 and Aman was third in 1:44.70.

Lowe still jumping High in return to form

American record holder and 2016 world leader Chaunte Lowe was flawless through five rounds in the women’s high jump. She had no misses throughout the competition and needed only one jump to clear the winning height, 1.95m/6-4.75.  Lowe attempted a new world lead at 1.97m/6-5.5, but missed all three attempts. World Indoor champion Vashti Cunningham finished fifth at 1.92m/6-3.5 in her first professional meet.  

Other Prefontaine winners included Renaud Lavillenie of France in the pole vault with a 5.81m/19-00.75 clearance, Muktar Adris of Ethiopia with a world-leading time of 12:59.43 in the men’s 5,000, and Ihab Abdelrahman of Egypt in the javelin with a Hayward-field record and 2016 world leader of 87.37m/286-7.

Kovacs posts world lead and Reese gets American lead at Nike Prefontaine Classic

EUGENE, Ore. -- A brisk Friday evening at the Nike Prefontaine Classic produced fiery field events as long jumper Brittney Reese and shot putter Joe Kovacs proved why they’re both world champions.
On what is traditionally known as “distance night” at Hayward Field, Alysia Montano was the top American finisher on the track with a victory in the women’s 800 meters.
Men’s shot put
Reigning Diamond league and world champion Joe Kovacs was the toast of the evening as he improved every throw throughout the competition. Each toss above 20 meters, culminating with a world-leading final effort of 22.13m/72-07.25 for the win. Reese Hoffa was third in his final appearance at the Prefontaine Classic with a best of 20.58m/67-6.25. 
Women’s Long Jump
Defending Olympic gold medalist Brittney Reese wasted no time proving her dominance in long jump. She leaped an American-leading 6.92/22-8.5 on her first trip down the runway, clinching the first Prefontaine victory in her storied career. Olympic bronze medalist Janay Deloach was sixth with a jump of 6.59m/21-7.5; World outdoor champion Tianna Bartoletta was seventh with 6.48m/21-3.25.
USATF Women’s 800m
Alysia Montano led from wire to wire in the USATF High Performance women’s 800 meters as she came through 600m at 1:28.8 en route to a 2:00.78 finish. Last week’s Hoka One One 1,500m champion, Kate Grace, was second in 2:01.16 with Chrishuna Williams third in 2:01.69.
In the women’s 5,000m, whose pace was as brisk as the evening air, Molly Huddle was the top American finisher, placing 11th in 14:48.14. Hellen Obiri of Kenya won going away in 14:32.02.
Other winners included Pawel Fajdek of Poland in the men’s hammer with a throw of 80.28m/ 263-5 and Sandra Perkovic of Croatia in the women’s discus with a mark of 68.57m/225-0.
Mo Farah won the men’s 10,000m, the final event of the evening, in 26:53.71 as five runners finished under 27 minutes and eight men went under the world lead.