© Copyright – 2022 – Athletics Illustrated

Canada’s Mo Ahmed owns the 11th fastest 5000m time in history. It is also the fastest by a North American of all time. At 12:47.20 only four faster athletes in the world are actively racing the distance. One of them is Uganda’s Joshua CHeptegei who owns the world record of 12:35.46.

The Prefontaine Classic, a Diamond League meet, that took place last week in Eugene, Oregon featured both athletes as well as Ethiopians Selemon Barega (12:43.02) and Berihu Aregawi (12:50.05). Oddly, Cheptegei ran a different race in a promoted world record attempt. The results from the other 5000m race included Ahmed, Barega, and Aregawi.

Results

1 Berihu AREGAWI ETH 12:50.05

2 Samuel TEFERA ETH 13:06.86

3 Selemon BAREGA ETH 13:07.30

4 Mohammed AHMED CAN 13:07.85

5 Getnet WALE ETH 13:11.68

6 Matthew RAMSDEN AUS 13:17.11

7 Brett ROBINSON AUS 13:21.59

8 Sam PARSONS GER 13:21.85

9 George BEAMISH NZL 13:29.88

10 Richard YATOR KEN 13:31.88

11 Luis GRIJALVA GUA 13:36.93

Bethwell BIRGEN KEN DNF

Paul CHELIMO USA DNF

Craig NOWAK USA DNF

Cheptegei didn’t run fast enough to win the other 5000m event. He finished in the time of 12:57.99. Not even close to his own world record. The second-place finisher was well back. Milkesa Mengesha of Ethiopia clocked a 13:01.11 finish time. His personal best isn’t even close to Cheptegei’s at 12:58.28. Daniel Ebenyo of Kenya finished third in 13:10.62. His best is more than eight seconds slower than Ahmed’s at 12:55.88.

For a meet that had athletes that could push Cheptegei to a faster time, what were they thinking?

Finishing second behind Cheptegei was Milkesa Mengesha.

Rather than race competitive athletes, he may have planned to race the clock. But he was so far off that goal, it doesn’t seem possible.

Ahmed told LetsRun that he had asked to race Cheptegei. And added, “Maybe I wasn’t good enough.”

He also said in a post-race interview that he “wished that he had responded earlier.” As if his fourth-place finish was a tactical error.

At the end of the day, the fans lost out on an opportunity for a great race both on television, and live stream, as well as for those who showed up to the new Hayward Field, which will be home to the 2022 World Athletics Championships.

The sport of athletics needs help. The Prefontaine Classic lived up to most of its hype, but dropped the ball on the men’s 5000m.

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