Mo Farah will add to his incredible legacy as one of the all-time distance greats by headlining a loaded 10,000-meter field at the Prefontaine Classic.
For the sixth-straight year there will be no admission charge as fans can enjoy the best deal in sports – the Friday night portion of the Pre Classic known as Distance Night in Eugene. It is a collection of world-class events provided for free by Nike, a gift to the best and most passionate fans anywhere.
The 10k has always been the cornerstone of Distance Night in Eugene. In 2011 a record nine runners ran sub-27 (no other race has more than six) and last year all 19 finishers ran sub-28 – the only race with more was the 2008 Olympics in Beijing with 20.
Mo Farah, 33, of Great Britain proved to the world he is still the world’s dominant long-distance track runner, sweeping the 5k and 10k at last summer’s World Championships in Beijing, matching sweeps at the 2012 London Olympics and 2013 World Championships in Moscow. He has not lost a 5k race anywhere since his 2nd in the 2012 Pre Classic 5k and a 10k race since his silver medal in the 2011 World Championships.
At the Pre Classic, Farah also has a golden touch. He is the only two-time 10k winner in meet history – the 2011 and ’15 races with his only sub-27 clockings, including his best of 26:46.57 in ’11, which at the time was the fastest in the world dating back to the 2008 Pre Classic (Kenenisa Bekele’s U.S. all-comers record 26:25.97).
He is the fastest British runner in history at every championship distance from 1500 meters (3:28.81) to the marathon (2:08:21).
Zersenay Tadese, 34, of Eritrea is the fastest in the field at 26:37.25 and has amassed six World gold medals – four in the half-marathon, where he is the world record holder at 58:23. The 2004 Olympic bronze medalist in the 10k, he was a high finisher in every major 10k final from 2003-12, topped by a silver in the 2009 Berlin World Championships. Since the London Olympics he has run almost exclusively on the roads, where he also owns the 20k world record at 55:21.
Ibrahim Jeilan, 26, of Ethiopia is the last runner to defeat Farah in a 10k, winning the gold medal in the 2011 World Championships in Daegu over Farah’s silver in a last-lap thriller between two incredible kickers. Jeilan also claimed the silver at the 2013 Moscow World Championships and but is looking to finish his first 10k since. Incredibly, his PR is almost 10 years old – 27:02.81 set as a 17-year-old that still rates as the World Youth record.
Ethiopian teammate Tariku Bekele, 29, is yet another major medalist in the field, earning bronze in the 2012 London Olympics 10k and gold in the 2008 World Indoor 3k. He won the 2010 Pre Classic 5k in 12:58.93, the meet’s first sub-13 and lasted as the Hayward Field record until 2012, when Farah ran 12:56.98 at the Pre Classic. Bekele, the young brother of legendary Kenenisa Bekele, owns a PR of 27:03.24.
Imane Merga, 27, is also a medalist from Ethiopia with a silver in the 2011 Daegu World Championships. He is the third-fastest in the field at 26:48.35, finishing second to Farah in the 2011 Pre Classic, and was also runner-up in the 2013 Pre Classic (to Kenenisa Bekele). Merga won the 2011 World Cross Country title and was second in 2013.
Josphat Kipkoech Bett, 25, of Kenya has run three of his four fastest 10k races at Hayward Field, topped by 26:48.99 in 2011. The only non-Pre in his top 4 came in winning the 2008 World Junior Championships. Bett was ranked No. 3 in the world in 2014 by Track & Field News after a summer that included the Kenyan national title, a silver at the Commonwealth Games, and a bronze at the African Championships.
Kenya’s Emmanuel Kipkemei Bett, 33, is the highest-finishing returner from another famous Pre Classic 10k – in 2012, when Kenya’s 15 best were the only entrants to decide its Olympic team. There were no pacers, no lapped runners, and no one dropped out in a fast, thrilling race. Bett finished 4th, missing the Olympics by 2 seconds. Later that summer, he ran his PR 26:51.16, the world’s fastest that year. This will be his sixth Pre Classic, 5th in the 10k and all of his previous were sub-27:30.
Stephen Sambu, 27, of Kenya is a former NCAA runner-up while at Arizona who set his PR 26:54.61 in the 2014 Pre Classic.
Leonard Barsoton, 21, of Kenya will be running his first race in U.S. He was 5th in last year’s World Cross Country Championships and won the 2014 African cross country title. In 2013 he was Junior silver medalist at the World Cross Country Championships. His 10k best is 27:20.74.
American Chris Derrick, 25, is one of just six cross country runners with four Top-10 NCAA finishes (the first was Steve Prefontaine). He is a two-time U.S. cross country champion. In 2009, Derrick broke a 44-year-old American Junior 5k best held by the amazing Gerry Lindgren. The Stanford grad is the fastest American collegian ever in the 10k at 27:31.38, set in 2012 and still his PR.
Eric Jenkins, 24, of the U.S. won two NCAA titles for Oregon last year. His 10k PR of 28:59.13 was set as the runner-up in last year’s NCAA. With a 5k best of 13:07.33, Jenkins is eager for a fast 10k.
America’s Best Women Seek to Break 2 Minutes in USATF 800 Meters
A loaded field of Americans is looking to record the year’s first sub-2:00 in the USATF Hi-Performance women’s 800 meters. While 7 in the field of 9 are knocking on the 2-minute door, five have lifetime bests under that barrier. The fastest is Alysia Montano, 30, at 1:57.34 and a five-time U.S. champ and finalist at the 2012 London Olympics and the 2013 and 2011 World Championships, where she finished in 4th place twice. Chanelle Price, 25, was the 2014 World Indoor gold medalist and owns a best of 1:59.10. Laura Roesler, 24, was a finalist at the World Indoor Championships in Portland and is a former NCAA champ for Oregon with a best of 1:59.04.
Kate Grace, 27, is the fastest American this year at 2:00.05 and has a PR of 1:59.47; last week she lowered her 1500 best to 4:05.65. Molly Ludlow, 25, has the second-fastest PR of the field at 1:58.68. Others scheduled to toe the line are Crishuna Williams (2:00.58), Charlene Lipsey (2:00.60), McKayla Fricker (2:00.81), and Stephanie Brown (2:02.88).
Slagowski and Tamagno Spice Up National Mile
Two more high school stars are looking to run a sub-4 mile at the Pre Classic, joining Drew Hunter, who will compete in the Bowerman Mile. Earlier Saturday afternoon two more prep stars will compete in the National Mile alongside a superb field that includes Olympians Leo Manzano and Andrew Wheating.
Michael Slagowski, a senior from Idaho, joined Hunter as the only sub-4 preps this year (and two of nine ever) with a 3:59.53 in Portland in late April. He is also the fastest prep 800 runner this year at 1:48.36. Austin Tamagno, a senior from southern California, decided to bypass defending his state title, instead jumping into the 1500 meters at last week in Eagle Rock, Calif., running a 3:44.44 that is roughly equivalent to a 4:02 mile.
Fans can follow the event lineups on eugene.diamondleague.com. The direct link to current start/entry lists is posted HERE and will include updates to all announced fields. Additional news, photos, and videos may be found on PreClassic.com, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Tickets for the 42nd annual edition of the Prefontaine Classic, to be held May 27-28 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., are available now at www.GoDucks.com as well as from 1-800-WEBFOOT.
The Prefontaine Classic is the longest-running outdoor invitational track & field meet in America and is part of the elite IAAF Diamond League of meets held worldwide annually. The Pre Classic’s results score has rated No. 1 or No. 2 in the world in each of the last five years by All-Athletics.com, the official data partner of the Diamond League. Sponsored by NIKE continuously since 1984, the Prefontaine Classic will be shown live to an international audience and by NBC and NBC Sports Network.
Steve Prefontaine is a legend in the sport of track & field and is the most inspirational distance runner in American history. He set a national high school 2-mile record (8:41.5) while at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay, Oregon, that is the fastest ever in a National Federation-sanctioned race. While competing for the University of Oregon, he won national cross country championships (3) and outdoor track 3-Mile/5000-meter championships (4), and never lost a collegiate track race at any distance. As a collegiate junior, he made the 1972 U.S. Olympic Team and nearly won an Olympic medal, finishing 4th in the 5K at the 1972 Munich Olympics, at age 21. After finishing college in 1973 and preparing for a return to the Olympics in 1976, he continued to improve, setting many American records. His life ended tragically on May 30, 1975, the result of an auto accident, at age 24. The Pre Classic began that year and has been held every year since.