The 2016 Prefontaine Classic
TrackTown, USA: Dave and I threw a
few things together Friday afternoon and drove two hours south to Eugene, Oregon to attend the
Prefontaine Classic track meet. But the meet is never called the
Prefontaine Classic, it is always referred to as "The Pre" and is the
athletes most favorite meet of the season.
The past few years, the event organizers have included a "distance carnival"
(lots of longer distance races) the night before the meet. The temperatures are
cooler in the evening (conditions favored by racers), but mostly because the
Prefontaine Classic is televised and not many television viewers would sit
through runners making left turns for thirty minutes - so the meet organizers
stage these races the night before the Pre Classic, throw-open the gates to
Historic Hayward Field and invite everyone to attend, free of charge.
We were there front and center to catch every
This is what happens on a Friday night in a college town? Yep. Thousands of
people show up to watch distance races. 100m dash down the straight-away? That's
for wimps. Try running over six miles on the track.
Not too many track fans would miss the chance to watch the world champion
run 10000 meters. England's
Mo Farah finished in
26.53 minutes - that's about 64 seconds per lap - for 24 laps! Mr. Farah won
gold medals in the 5000 and 10000 meter races at the London Olympics and
also won both events at the World Track & Field Championships last summer in
Beijing, and two years prior at the Moscow championships. He is the King of
Distance. The King. Farah lives and trains in Portland, Oregon. He is
married, with four children.
The Friday night Distance Carnival included a women's 5000m, won by Kenyan
Helen Obiri in 14 minutes, 32 seconds and several high school races.
Also this evening, a very select group of gentlemen gathered in Eugene.
Anyone who had run a sub-4-minute mile while being coached by
Bowerman was invited.
(NOTE: Before I get a emails... Bowerman had retired before DT
arrived to run for the University of Oregon. Dave was coached by
Dellinger and was not a miler. DT raced 5000 and 10000 meters and cross
Saturday morning (we had a hotel room across the street from the
University), we were back at the track to watch the Prefontaine Classic.
But first a little fuel. Little? I couldn't eat half of this
football-size omelet. And how about a little garnish? A few parsley flakes?
Something? Anything? Not even the obligatory orange slice graced this plate.
The weather was perfect - warm and sunny, and just the hint of a breeze. The
best athletes in the world had gathered in Eugene. The grandstands were
We had seats just above the finish line and high enough to
witness every step, jump and throw. It was another amazing meet (complete
results here), but some of my favorite memories have nothing to do with
results. 41-year-old American distance star, Bernard Legat, dropped-out of
the 5000m in front of the finish-line. He received a standing ovation. The
eventual winner, Muktar Edris of Ethiopia, was not interviewed by the
infield announcer. But Legat was, and after telling the crowd he would return
for the Olympic Trials, Legat was given a second standing ovation. For
dropping out? Along the same theme, Sanya Richards-Ross (retiring after this
season) finished last in the 400m, and was interviewed by the infield
announcer. Another standing ovation. Dang, Eugene track fans love their
American Tori Bowie won the 200m dash, racing under 22 seconds for the first
time in her career. Kendra Harrison set a new American record (12.24) in the
women's 100m hurdle event. Emma Coburn set an American record (8:59.97) in
the steeplechase. Two convicted-and-sentenced drug cheats raced in the men's 100m and one of
The premier event in this premier meet is the Bowerman Mile. Only
the fastest men in the world are invited to race. Reigning champ Asbel
Kiprop of Kenya won his third-straight Bowerman mile in 3:51, leading all
twelve competitors to finish in under 4 minutes. One of the racers was
Andrew Hunter, a high school senior from Virginia. Hunter will run for the
Ducks next year.
Speaking of the University of Oregon... France's Golden Boy, pole vaulter
Renaud Lavillenie, competed in a
University of Oregon unitard... and really... if you say the word
unitard with a French accent it does not sound too ridiculous.
Several Duck alums were competing today. English Gardner won the 100m sprint in 10.81, Cyrus Hostetler
finished fifth in the javelin throw. There were two Duck alums in the
"National Mile" - Jordan McNamara finished third behind the
winner, England's Charlie
Grice, and Mac Fleet was ninth. Four racers finished under four minutes in
the National Mile. Andrew Wheating finished
tenth in the 800m.
Another wonderful Prefontaine Classic in the books. The organizers did a
splendid job and, again, the competitors were the best in the world.
When the races finished, we drove back to Portland and took Lisa's godmother
Until my next update, I remain, your "that was fast" correspondent.
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