This weekend in TrackTown some of the best track and field athletes in the world will compete at Hayward Field. The Prefontaine Classic is one of the premier meets in the country — perhaps even in the world – and today’s news is all about “the Pre.” There will be a special Friday “Distance Night in Eugene” that includes the seldom run 25K and 30K races. But the raison d’être is world record attempts in the men’s 10,000 meters and the women’s 5K.
According to the Pre Classic meet director, American Record holder Chris Solinsky and former Oregon Duck Galen Rupp will join a stellar field of Ethiopians (including Imane Merga who won the Rome 5k last week in a world-leading time of 12:54.21) and Kenyan Micah Kogo the 10,000m Olympic Bronze Medalist in Beijing. You can find the entire list of entrants on the Pre Classic website.
The women’s 5,000 meters also looks to be an incredible match up as World record holder Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia competes against Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya who is the reigning World Champion, with the fastest time in the world last year. Local favorites include OTC Elite’s Sally Kipyego and Nike star Shalane Flanagan.
Curtis Anderson focuses on the men’s 800 meters: “This year’s men’s 800 at the Pre Classic has a hometown flavor. Besides Symmonds, three of his OTC Elite teammates are expected to compete: Andrew Wheating, Tyler Mulder and Australian Lachlan Renshaw.” But it is not only the locals competing: “The 800 features three international stars in Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki (1:42.23), Kenya’s Boaz Lalang (1:42.95) and Kenya’s Jackson Kivuna (1:43.72).”
Ron Bellamy remembers veteran meet announcer Scott Davis, who died last August at age 66. “He was everything you’d want in a meet announcer — he had a great voice, he did his homework, he had a wonderful sense of timing, and a flair for the dramatic. You listened to him, and you knew he loved the sport and knew the sport and didn’t want you to miss the smallest detail.” There will be a formal remembrance honoring Davis at the meet on Saturday.
Although many fans focus solely on the track, the throwing events at Pre are known for outstanding performances. This year should be no different: Each of the four throwing events features the number 1 ranked athlete in the world, and 3 of the 4 include the reigning Olympic or World Champion. Competition will include men’s shot put, men’s and women’s discus and women’s javelin.
The jumping events should also be full of highlights, with the world’s top-ranked competitors in the men’s high jump, men’s long jump (Dwight Phillips) and women’s pole vault (Fabiana Murer) coming to Eugene. The men’s high jump field boasts the top two jumpers in the world: Russia’s Ivan Ukhov and TrackTown’s own Jesse Williams. Ukhov has a best of 2.38 indoors this season, but has not competed outdoors yet; while Williams has equaled his outdoor-PR of 2.34 and is undefeated in two outdoor meets this spring.
Friday night racing starts with the 25K/30K at 6:30 p.m. followed by the women’s 5K (8:25 p.m.) and men’s 10K (8:50 p.m.) Saturday’s meet tips off at 10:00 a.m. and will include the following events:
Men: 100, 200, 400, 800, International Mile, Bowerman Mile, 2-Mile, Steeplechase, 10000, 110 Hurdles, High Jump, Long Jump, Shot Put, Discus Throw
Women: 100, 400, 800, 1500, 5000, 400 Hurdles, Pole Vault, Triple Jump, Shot Put, Javelin Throw