Reigning world champions Genzebe Dibaba and Hellen Obiriheadline a titanic matchup in the Prefontaine Classic women’s 5000 meters.
Obiri won last year’s World Championships and IAAF Diamond League Trophy in the 5000, but Dibaba has come back from an off year with an historic 1500/3000 double-gold performance at the World Indoor Championships in March. They are two of only five women to break 14:20 in the 5k and both have set multiple Pre Classic records.
Their clash of skills includes speed – Dibaba even owns the 1500 world record – and they will have unique company in Sifan Hassan, last year’s world leader in the 1500 who won gold at the 2016 Portland World Indoors and now trains in Oregon. This will be the first time all three will race together at the 5k distance.
Genzebe Dibaba, 27, owns seven world records or bests and her dominance is well known at Hayward Field, where last year she won the Pre Classic 5k for a second time by over 10 seconds. In 2015 – the year she was named Woman of the Year by Track & Field News – she outran the pacesetters and clocked 14:19.76, the fastest ever run in the U.S.
The Ethiopian has roared back to life after the 2017 season found her without a major medal for the first time since 2011. In March, she became the first 1500/3k double gold medalist at the World Indoors. She has yet to lose this year and even owns the world’s best 1500 time at 3:57.45 from the indoor season.
Genzebe is not the only Dibaba family member to be T&FN Woman of the Year or to appear at the Pre Classic. Her older sister, Tirunesh, earned the same title in 2008, the year she set the still-standing 5k WR of 14:11.15. Both sisters are part of the Pre Classic magic – neither has lost in a combined five appearances.
Hellen Obiri, 28, is the Kenyan record holder in the 5k, an event she took up seriously only after childbirth in 2015. Her PR of 14:18.37 puts her at No. 5 on the all-time world list. A 1500 specialist with a bronze from the 2013 Moscow Worlds, she jumped to the 5k in 2016. She now has an Olympic silver from Rio and last year’s World Championships gold. Last month she won the Commonwealth Games 5k.
Obiri can tangle with the best – she owns a career 8-7 head-to-head record against Dibaba over all distances (dating back to 2011), and in the 3k her 8:20.68 PR is the Diamond League record and the fastest run in the new millennium.
Obiri’s record at the Pre Classic is as good as it comes – in four races at Hayward Field she has three wins (all PRs) and her only loss was to last year’s 1500 world champ, Faith Kipyegon, who this year is on maternity leave.
Sifan Hassan, 25, has successfully entered new territory again. Born in Ethiopia, she has earned all five of her major medals as a Dutch citizen. After her first gold in the 2016 Portland World Indoor 1500, she later changed her training address to be with the Nike Oregon Project – with room for a new event.
The 5k may never be the same. She PRed in last year’s Pre Classic and earned bronze at the World Championships. Hassan’s range is impressive – she was world ranked by T&FN at No. 2 in the 1500 and No. 5 in the 800 last year (plus No. 3 in her 5k debut). Three weeks before her World 5k bronze, she lowered her 800 PR to 1:56.81. Three weeks after the London 5k bronze, she finished as runner-up in the Diamond League 1500 to Kipyegon. In March she joined Dibaba as a double medalist in the 1500 and 3k.
As usual, the Pre Classic women’s 5k also brings an exciting cross-section of talent from around the world, some making their debut at the distance and/or at Hayward Field and some returning to a place of past success.
Two who have won NCAA titles at Hayward Field include 26-year-old Marielle Hall and South Africa’s Dominique Scott, 25. Hall – the lone American in the field – won the NCAA 5k in 2014 as a senior at Texas. She twice made the U.S. team at Hayward Field – in 2015 in the 5k and in 2016 for the Rio 10k. Scott last appeared at Hayward Field with a 5k/10k double championship in her final races for Arkansas at the 2016 NCAA. She has set PRs this year in the 1500 and 3k, where she was a finalist in the World Indoor.
Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi, 25, of Kenya was 5th in last year’s World Championships and debuted at No. 6 in the T&FN world rankings. She was silver medalist earlier this year in the African cross-country championships and the Commonwealth Games 5k.
Letesenbet Gidey, 20, made the powerful Ethiopian team as a teenager last year, finishing 11th in London and world ranking No. 8 by T&FN. She lowered her 3k PR to 8:30.96 for 5th in Friday’s Doha Diamond League meet. This will be her first race in the U.S.
Kenya’s Lilian Kasait Rengeruk, 21, was runner-up in last year’s Pre Classic 5k – chopping almost a minute off her PR – and won her first Kenyan 5k track title, ending the season No. 9 in the T&FN world rankings. She was bronze medalist in the World Cross Country Championships last year. The World Youth gold medalist at 3k in 2013, Rengeruk was 3k silver medalist behind American Mary Cain at the 2014 World Junior Championships at Hayward Field.
Alice Aprot Nawowuna, 24, of Kenya just missed medaling in Rio and last year’s World Championships, finishing 4th each time in the 10k, where her best of 29:53.51 is the 5th-fastest time ever. She was silver medalist in last year’s World Cross Country Championships. This will be her first race in the U.S.
Sweden’s Meraf Bahta, 28, was also a finalist in Rio and last year’s World Championships – in the 1500, where she has run 4:00.49. In the 5k, the Eritrean-born Bahta won the 2014 European Championships and took silver in 2016. A double finalist at the World Indoor Championships, she won last week’s Payton Jordan Invitational 5k at Stanford after taking the 10k title last year.
21-year-old Konstanze Klosterhalfen is Germany’s 2nd-fastest-ever 1500 runner with a best of 3:58.92 and will be running her first race in the U.S. A finalist in the World Indoor 3k, she was silver medalist in last year’s European Indoor 1500 and bronze medalist in the 2016 World Junior 3k.
Gudaf Tsegay, 21, was announced earlier as part of the Pre 1500 field, but the Ethiopian has switched to the 5k for her track debut at the distance. She was silver medalist in the 2014 World Juniors at Hayward Field and earned bronze at the 2016 World Indoors in Portland, both in the 1500. She has a 1500 PR of 3:59.55 and has been world ranked No. 6 by T&FN the last two years.
Rina Nabeshima, 24, is Japan’s 10th-fastest-ever 5k runner and ran her PR 15:11.83 in the London heats in her first major world appearance. She has raced the last two years in the Payton Jordan Invitational 5k at Stanford and will be racing for the first time at Hayward Field.
Youngest in the field is 19-year-old Fantu Worku of Ethiopia who will be debuting in the 5k in her first U.S. race. The 2016 World Junior silver medalist at 1500 was the Ethiopian 1500 champ last year and ran her PR 4:05.81 in the London heats. She was 6th in the World Indoor 3k in March.
|Women’s 5000 Meters||Personal Best|
|Genzebe Dibaba (Ethiopia)||14:15.41|
|Hellen Obiri (Kenya)||14:18.37|
|Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi (Kenya)||14:32.82|
|Letesenbet Gidey (Ethiopia)||14:33.32|
|Lilian Kasait Rengeruk (Kenya)||14:36.80|
|Alice Aprot Nawowuna (Kenya)||14:39.56|
|Sifan Hassan (Netherlands)||14:41.24|
|Meraf Bahta (Sweden)||14:49.95|
|Konstanze Klosterhalfen (Germany)||14:51.38|
|Marielle Hall (USA)||15:06.05|
|Rina Nabeshima (Japan)||15:11.83|
|Dominique Scott (South Africa)||15:20.10|
|Gudaf Tsegay (Ethiopia)||None (15:37 road)|
|Fantu Worku (Ethiopia)||None (8:39.55 3k)|
Tickets for the 44th annual edition of the Prefontaine Classic, to be held May 25-26 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., are available now at www.GoDucks.com as well as from 1-800-WEBFOOT. Sponsored by NIKE continuously since 1984, the Prefontaine Classic will be shown live to an international audience by NBC.
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 seven years by All-Athletics.com, the official data partner of the Diamond League.
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 18 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.