Distance fans should once again thoroughly enjoy the Prefontaine Classic's ‘Distance Night in Eugene on Friday as the men’s 10,000m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting revives a duel between the reigning Olympic gold medalist and the current world record holder.
Great Britain’s Mo Farah, London 2012 Olympic Games 5000m and 10000m gold medalist, who trains in nearby Portland under the tutelage of Oregon legend Alberto Salazar, will face Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele.
Farah won last year’s 5000m in 12:56.98, the fastest time ever on US soil and he set a European record over 25 laps of the track in 26:46.57 when winning the 10000m in 2011.
However, Bekele has run even faster at Hayward Field and produced the current US all-comers best of 26:25.17 at the 2008 Prefontaine Classic. He is the world record holder at 26:17.53 and has 3 Olympic gold medals.
The pair have a long history. Now both 30, they first raced against each other as 17-year-olds in 1999 at the inaugural IAAF World Youth Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, over 3000m.
Bekele earned the silver medal while Farah finished sixth. At 100000m they’ve only met twice, with Farah besting Bekele both times. Brilliant kicking, even off the stiffest of paces, is the hallmark of these two superstars. Many of Ethiopia’s other top 10000m runners have also been confirmed as part of the stellar field, including Tariku Bekele, Kenenisa's younger brother.
He earned the bronze medal in London, behind Farah but just ahead of Kenenisa in his first year of running the distance. In 2010, he won the Prefontaine Classic 5000m in 12:58.93, which was the meeting record until Farah broke it last year.
Ethiopia’s Imane Merga is also in the field and the 2011 IAAF World Cross Country Championships gold medalist, and runner up to Farah in the 2011 Prefontaine Classic race, is returning to top form after injury ruined his Olympic chances, demonstrated by him taking the silver medal in the defence of his cross country crown back in March.
Strong Kenyan contingent
Top Kenyans in the field include Bidan Karoki, third at last year’s Prefontaine Classic and Kenya’s highest finisher in London with fifth place; Emmanuel Bett, who ran 26:51.15 at the Diamond League final in Brussels to be the fastest man in the world in 2012; and Vincent Chepkok, who clocked 26:51.68 when finishing just behind Bett in the Belgian capital.
In the women’s 1500m, Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon will make her US debut after shattering the World junior record* earlier this month by nearly three seconds, reducing it to 3:56.98, also grabbing the Kenyan record. The previous World junior record had stood since 2005 and the previous Kenyan record since 1998.
Kipyegon has an incredible record already. She won at the 2011 IAAF World Youth Championships and 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships; earlier this year she defended her World Cross Country Championships junior women’s title.
However, the Prefontaine Classic will present an interesting challenge for the young Kenyan. She faces a world class field that features her compatriot Nancy Langat and Bahrain’s Maryam Jamal. Langat won the 2008 Olympic gold, while Jamal won at the 2007 and 2009 World Championships.
The field also includes two of America's fastest in Anna Willard and Treniere Moser, the former being the fastest American at 1500m since 2000, and Willard’s 3:59.38 best trails only Mary Slaney and Suzy Favor Hamilton among US 1500m runners.
Organisers for the IAAF
2013 IAAF Diamond League calendar
Doha, QAT – 10 May
Shanghai, CHN – 18 May
New York, USA – 25 May
Eugene, USA – 1 Jun
Rome, ITA – 6 Jun
Oslo, NOR – 13 Jun
Birmingham, GBR – 30 Jun
Lausanne, SUI – 4 Jul
Paris, FRA – 6 Jul
Monaco, MON – 19 Jul
London, GBR – 26-27 Jul
Stockholm, SWE – 22 Aug
Zürich, SUI – 29 Aug
Brussels, BEL – 6 Sep