29 MAY 2009 General News Eugene, Oregon

World champions Jamal and Lagat head Eugene distance fields - IAAF World Athletics Tour

Maryam Yusuf Jamal holds off the much-improved Shannon Rowbury in the women's 1500m (Getty Images)Maryam Yusuf Jamal holds off the much-improved Shannon Rowbury in the women's 1500m (Getty Images) © Copyright

How good have the distance races been in the 35-year history of the Prefontaine Classic?  Good enough that the fastest times ever run on American soil in two of the three endurance races in this year's Pre Classic were recorded in prior editions of the meet.  How good will they be on Sunday, 7 June at Hayward Field?  Good enough that all three records - in the women's 2000m and men's 3000m and 3000m Steeplechase - are in serious jeopardy.

The Prefontaine Classic is a Grand Prix status meeting as part of the 2009 IAAF World Athletics Tour.

In the women's 2000m, 2007 World 1500m champion Maryam Jamal of Bahrain plans a pace that would bring her under 5 minutes, 30 seconds.  The "American All-Comers Record" is 5:32.7, set 25 years ago by the incomparable Mary Slaney. This will be no solo run, however, since Kenyan 5000m specialists Vivian Cheriuyot are in the race.  New York Marathon third-placer and 2007 World Championships bronze medallist in the 10,000m Kara Goucher is also scheduled to compete, along with No. 2 American Jen Rhines, and NCAA cross country champion Sally Kipyego of Kenya.

One competitor in the 2009 Pre Classic men's 3000m race is very familiar with the fastest time ever run on American soil.  Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya set the record of 7:35.44 in the 2005 edition of the meet.  Kipchoge has to be rated the favorite, but only slightly over double World champion and two-time Olympic silver medallist Bernard Lagat of the U.S., Beijing Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Sileshi Sihine, Moses Masai of Kenya, and 3000m Steeplechase World record holder Saif Shaheen of Qatar. The planned pace for the first mile is 4:01, and they'll have nearly another mile to go!

In the 3000m Steeplechase, 2008's fastest steepler Paul Koech of Kenya leads the field. The American All-Comers best is 8:04.51, set by Brahim Boulami in 2002. American Olympians Billy Nelson and Josh McAdams are also in the field. 

Olympic Medal Total:  with 12 events announced, the number of Beijing medalists in the 2009 Prefontaine Classic now stands at 19, with the Sprints and Jumps still to be announced.

NB: Updated at 16:00 CET.

Organisers for the IAAF

2000 METERS (WOMEN)

**Maryam Jamal (Bahrain)
**Linet Masai (Kenya)
**Vivian Cheruiyot (Kenya)
**Pauline Korikwiang (Kenya)
**Jen Rhines
**Sara Hall
**Sally Kipyego (Kenya)
**Marina Muncan--pace
**Amy Yoder-Begley
**Arianne Lambie
**Kara Goucher

3000 METERS (MEN)

**Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya)
**Bernard Lagat
**Sileshi Sihine
**Moses Masai (Kenya)
**Abreham Feleke (Ethiopia)
**Matt Tegenkamp
**Juan Luis Barrios (Mexico)
**Chris Solinsky
**Jonathan Riley
**Leonard Komon (Kenya)
**Ian Dobson
**Matthew Kisorio (Kenya)
**Saif Shaheen (Qatar)
**Brent Vaughn
**Alistair Craig
**Steve Scherer--pace

STEEPLECHASE (MEN)

**Paul Koech (Kenya)
**Ezekiel Kemboi (Kenya)
**Billy Nelson
**Willy Komen (Kenya)
**Kyle Alcorn
**Dan Huling
**Josh McAdams
**Roba Gary (Ethiopia)
**Ben Bruce
**Tom Brooks
**Steve Slattery
**Brian Olinger
**Luke Watson--pace