It started on Distance Night in Eugene.
In the high school girls mile, .04 separated winner Ryen Frazier and runner up Danielle Jones. It continued throughout the Prefontaine Classic on Saturday: exceptionally close, thrilling finishes, time after time, seemingly one after another.
In fields this deep, finishes this close should not be a surprise; the sheer quantity of them stretched the vocal cords of Hayward Field’s capacity crowd.
It was the number of them that was a surprise:
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce 10.81
Murielle Ahoure 10.81
Tori Bowie 10.82
W 100 B
English Gardner 10.84
Elaine Thompson 10.84
Eunice Sum 1:57.82
Ajee Wilson 1:57.87
M International Mile
Ben Blankenship 3:55.72
Jonathan Sawe 3:55.76
Timothy Cheruiyot 3:55.80
M Bowerman M Mile
Ayanleh Souleiman 3:51.10
Matt Centrowitz 3:51.20
Asbel Kiprop 3:51.25
Silas Kiplagat 3:51.92
M 400m hurdles
Johnny Dutch 48.20
Bershawn Jackson 48.22
M 3,000m Steeplechase
Ezekiel Kemboi 8:01.71
Jairus Birech 8:01.83
Next to finish were Conselsus Kiprotu and Evan Jager, separated by .08, 8:05.20 - .28.
Even the women’s javelin was exceptionally close, with a scant 9 inches separating the top 3.
Christina Obergfoll 206’ 11”
Kara Winger 206’ 2”
Madara Palameika 206’ 2”
Finally, does .02 in the men’s 100 count as close? Probably not.
Tyson Gay and Mike Rodgers: 9.88/9.90
Not to be outdone, finishing in a three-way tie for last in the high jump were Donald Thomas (Bah), Jesse Williams (US), and Derek Drouin (Can) at 7’ 4 ¼”.
Meanwhile, a tip of the hat to Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross for taking each other on, time and again, no matter what the possible personal cost in terms of annual rankings.
It’s a rivalry that defines contemporary track and field, and has the possibility of generating interest of the kind Vin Lananna seeks for the sport, far beyond its current - sometimes cozy - confines.
Does Ayanleh Souleiman's 3:51.1 Bowerman Mile winning time sound familiar?
It was once Jim Ryun's world record time.