Eugene: Edris Tops Sizzling Pre Classic 2-Mile Field
The event will re-unite five of the top six from last year’s thrilling World Championships 5k. It also will be a homecoming for Edward Cheserek, an Oregon legend who won five of his record 17 NCAA titles at Hayward Field. Cheserek – the year’s fastest miler at 3:49.44 indoors – will be joined by reigning Bowerman Mile winner Ronald Kwemoi in a race that has all the makings of a classic.
The 2-mile distance comes in a year with no major championship 5k except the annual IAAF Diamond League, which incorporates the 2-mile and 3k in its point standings for the 5k. The Pre Classic 2-mile record of 8:03.50 – set in 2007 by Australian Craig Mottram – remains the fastest run on U.S. soil.
Muktar Edris, 24, ended the reign of Mo Farah last summer at the London World Championships, winning the global 5k title that Farah had owned since 2011. The Ethiopian beat Farah, always a fast finisher, at his own game with a ferocious 52.4 last lap. For Edris, the gold was his first track major medal of any color – his only other medal being the bronze he earned at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships in China.
Edris won the 2012 World Junior (U20) 5k and entered the Track & Field News world rankings for the first time as a 19-year-old in 2013 at No. 10. He rocketed up to No. 3 in 2014 when he set his 5k PR of 12:54.83. In 2016 he won the Pre Classic and world ranked No. 4 – the same place he finished in Rio before being disqualified for running inside the rail for a few steps.
Ethiopian teammate Yomif Kejelcha, 20, has already raced to unprecedented history, and twice it was at Hayward Field. At 16, he was the youngest winner ever in the 5k at the World Junior Championships in 2014, held at Hayward Field. In 2015 he made his biggest splash, winning the Pre Classic and becoming the youngest 5K winner by four years. A fantastic season saw him winning the Diamond League as well with his PR 12:53.98.
In the 3k, Kejelcha’s best of 7:28.19 is not only the fastest in the field but also the World Junior record. Last month he won 3k gold at the World Indoor Championships, matching the title he won in 2016 at Portland, where he now trains with the Nike Oregon Project. In January he joined the sub-4 mile club with a 3:56.95 win in Seattle.
The youth fountain from Ethiopia continues with 18-year-old Selemon Barega, who became the 3k’s youngest medalist last month at the World Indoor Championships with the silver behind Kejelcha. Last summer as a 17-year-old he PRed by 25 seconds in his first 5k Diamond League race and ended the season No. 5 in the T&FN world rankings. Barega joins Edris and Kejelcha as a 5k World Junior champ, winning in 2016. This will be his first race in the U.S.
Paul Chelimo, 27, is the only racer in the field with medals from Rio and last summer’s World Championships. Both came with thrilling finishes and are among the best ever by an American. His Olympic 5k silver was the first by an American since Bob Schul won the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. In London, Chelimo matched the blazing final lap of Edris for a bronze.
Chelimo joined the sub-4 mile club in a unique way this winter. Less than an hour after winning the 3k, he toed the line for the Camel City Mile in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and lowered his best by almost 5 seconds to 3:58.59 behind the year’s hottest miler.
Edward Cheserek, 24, is on fire as the world’s fastest miler this year, but his incredible racing stretches to the long distances and among the best ever seen in the U.S. His speed is no secret to the Hayward Field faithful who have seen him kick 53.1 for the first of a record three NCAA 10k titles.
Cheserek, born in Kenya, came to the U.S. in 2010 as a 16-year-old in New Jersey and forged legendary accomplishments. He broke Gerry Lindgren’s almost 50-year-old high school indoor 2-mile record, then became Oregon’s most successful distance runner since Steve Prefontaine, even matching Pre as a 3-time NCAA cross-country champ.
Reigning Bowerman Mile winner Ronald Kwemoi adds wonderful excitement. The 22-year-old Kenyan with a 3:49.04 mile best has the second-best 3k best in the field at 7:28.73. His 10k best is 27:33.94.
Joshua Cheptegei, 21, of Uganda brings impressive 5k and 10k gold medals from the recent Commonwealth Games. In the 10k, he earned silver at last year’s World Championships and was only 19 when he finished 6th in the Rio 10k and 5th in the 5k. He won the World Junior 10k gold in 2014 at Hayward Field.
Mohammed Ahmed, 27, claimed a pair of silver medals behind Cheptagei at last week’s Commonwealth Games. The Canadian was 4th in the Rio 5k for his country’s best finish in the event. He was third in the 2016 Pre Classic 5k.
Albert Rop, 25, has the fastest 5k PR in the field at 12:51.96. He will be running in his seventh Pre Classic. Born in Kenya, his 7th-place finish in the Rio 5k is best ever for Bahrain in this event.
Ryan Hill, 28, earned a silver medal behind Kejelcha in the 2016 Portland World Indoor Championships after winning his second U.S. title at the 3k/2-mile. He is the fastest American in the field with a 7:30.93 3k PR, equivalent to a 2M time a shade faster than the American Record of 8:07.07. The North Carolina State grad was runner-up in the 2013 NCAA Indoor mile.
Eric Jenkins, 26, won NCAA titles for Oregon in 2015 indoors in the 3k and 5k and last year won the famous Wanamaker Mile in the Millrose Games in 3:53.23. A former teammate of Cheserek, the New England native this weekend ran his first race in eight months, taking 4th in the BAA 5-miler in Boston.
Hassan Mead, 26, won his first U.S. title last year in the 10k with a strong 55.2 last lap. The Minnesota grad who trains in Eugene was 11th in the Rio 5k and also a finalist in the 2015 World Championships as well as last year in the London 10k.
Shadrack Kipchirchir, 29, won his first U.S. title last fall in the New York road 5k. Born in Kenya, the NCAA 10k runner-up for Oklahoma State in 2014 has made every U.S. team he has attempted since 2015 in distances from 3k to 10k. In January he joined the sub-4 mile club in Boston with a 3:55.52 a day after setting his 3k best of 7:42.71.
Ben True, 32, has finished as high as sixth in the World Championships 5k (2015) and World Cross Country Championships (2013). He won the New York City half-marathon title earlier this year in his debut. The Dartmouth grad was runner-up in both the 5k and 10k at the 2015 US Championships.
Australian Patrick Tiernan, 23, won the 2016 NCAA cross-country title for Villanova, squelching Cheserek’s bid to become the first four-time winner. He set his 5k PR of 13:13.55 at last year’s Pre Classic.
Paul Kipngetich Tanui, 27, earned Olympic silver in Rio at the 10k and took a third-straight World Championships bronze last summer in London. The Kenyan can boast more than 100 laps of Pre Classic racing and his three sub-27 10ks have all come at Hayward Field.
|Men’s 2-Mile||3k PB||2-Mile PB (+=converted)|
|Paul Kipngetich Tanui||Kenya||7:46.61||8:23.94+|