Monday, May 30, 2016

Prefontaine Classic 2016

I arrive in Eugene on Friday having flown from Seattle. My carefully planned schedule works like a charm in spite of the Memorial Day weekend travel challenges thrown its way. I park at my motel a few blessed blocks from Hayward Field, open my car door, and find myself looking directly at Alberto Salazar, who is standing no more than five feet away.

You’ve gotta love Eugene - they’ve got the welcoming committee bit nailed.

There was some danger in having the wind go out of the sails of this year’s Classic. The star power was diminished considerably with the withdrawals of Genzebe Dibaba, Allyson Felix, Galen Rupp and Matt Centrowitz. Each of their races was memorable nonetheless, but one can only wonder what having someone to run with so deep into the women’s 5,000m would have meant to Dibaba’s final time. And Centrowitz vs Kiprop? Rupp vs Farah? Felix vs Richards-Ross? Seems a little was left on the table in this Olympic year.

This did not in any way diminish the on-the-track performances, where two American records were set and two world records barely survived. Emma Coburn had previously set the steeplechase AR, only to have it invalidated when she was not drug-tested after her performance. Her 9:10.76 will stick this time, however, in a race which featured the #2 and #3 performances of all-time: Ruth Jebet (BRN, 8:59.97) and Hyvin Kiyeng (KEN, 9:00.01).

Similarly, Harrison set the 100m hurdles AR in 12.24, smashing the previous record of Brianna Rollins (12.26) and scaring Yordanka Donkova’s (Bul) world record of 12.21.

The Bowerman Mile was won in 3:51.54; the international mile in 3:52.64. It’s just not the Bowerman Mile anymore if it’s not sub-3:50. Guys, would you get with the program?

It strikes me that the international mile must be the greatest developmental event in the world – for men. Am wondering why there is not an equivalent event for women. Doesn't have to be the mile - how about the 100m hurdles, likely the deepest event for women right now.

Coolest moment every year: announcement at 1:00pm that the international television feed is joining us. Suddenly, millions of like-minded appreciators of the sport have joined the athletics festival unfolding before of us. 

Welcome one and all.

Memorable moment: Kenyan Julius Yego appears in the hotel lobby. We make a connection and I indicate I’ve written about him – on the day he won the World javelin title, becoming the first man from Africa to do so. It’s a short piece and I read it to him. 

He bows in gratitude.

In the local color department, a man near me in a restaurant was devouring rather enthusiastically his root beer float. Then his enormous dinner arrived. 

I could learn from him.

That’s it from Eugene where the trees are green, the grass is greener as well as for sale, and greenest of all are the false start cards.

The Yego article:

No comments:

Post a Comment