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Young are Restless to Race Vets at Pre Classic 5K

May 19, 2014
For Immediate Release


Young are Restless to Race Vets at Pre Classic 5K


            Eugene, Oregon – The fastest young talents in a decade are ready to challenge a 28-year-old defending champion and 39-year-old gold medalist at the Prefontaine Classic in one of the best 5000-meter fields ever assembled in the United States.

            The landmark 40th Pre Classic will be held May 30-31 at historic Hayward Field.  The 5000 is the event in which namesake Steve Prefontaine was famous for running at a feverish pace from the start.

            Two veterans in the prime of their careers are Yenew Alamirew of Ethiopia and Edwin Soi of Kenya.  Alamirew, who was No. 2 last year in the prestigious Track & Field News world rankings, will be 24 on race day.  He won the Shanghai Diamond League race this past weekend in 13:04.83.  Soi, 28, earned bronze in the 2008 Olympics and won last year’s Pre Classic 5k.  He was ranked No. 4 last year in the world by T&FN.

            Perhaps the most consistent challenger will be ageless Bernard Lagat, who has won five times at the Pre Classic, but never in the 5000 meters.  He is 39 years old and owns five major gold medals.  Lagat earned silver in March at the World Indoor Championships.  That was in the 3000 meters, giving him 13 major medals throughout a career that spans 1500 to 5000 meters over more than a decade. 

            Enter a new era of amazing talent, led by Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia.  Now 20, Gebrhiwet ranked No. 3 in the world last year by T&FN.  He shattered the World Junior Record with his 12:47.53 last July, then earned the silver medal at the World Championships in August in Moscow.  Only four others of any age from Ethiopia have ever run faster, including two legends who set world records – Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebreslassie.

            Isiah Koech, 20, also represents a country with great tradition.  Kenya leads the world in sub-12:50 runners (8), and Koech is their youngest of all.  At 19, Koech earned a bronze medal last year at the World Championships.  He already had incredible international experience, finishing 5th as an 18-year-old at the 2012 Olympics after placing 4th in the 2011 World Championships as a 17-year-old (the youngest-ever finalist).  His 8:14.16 in the 2011 Pre Classic 2-mile garnered him 3rd, making him the world’s fastest-ever 17-year-old at that distance.

            Many more in the world-class field are in their early 20s.  That includes Albert Rop, 21, of Bahrain and Muktar Edris, 20, of Ethiopia.  They ranked No. 9 and 10, respectively, in last year’s T&FN world rankings.  Rop, a native Kenyan, is part of the recent Junior rampage, becoming No. 3 on the World Junior all-time list at 12:51.96 (behind only Gebrhiwet and Koech).  Edris is the defending World Junior gold medalist who was a finalist in last year’s Moscow World Championships.

            The fastest outdoor time in the world this year is by American Ben True, a 28-year-old Dartmouth grad who flashed a 13:02.74 earlier this month at Stanford’s popular Cardinal/Payton Jordan Invitational.  Inches behind him was another American, Hassan Mead, who ran 13:02.80.  Mead, 24, was a multiple Big Ten champ while at Minnesota.

            More Americans committed to the field include 24-year-old Ryan Hill, a finalist in last year’s World Championships, and 23-year-old Chris Derrick, a top-10 finisher in last year’s World Cross Country Championships.  Hill is from North Carolina and graduated from North Carolina State, while Derrick is from Illinois and graduated from Stanford.

            Another graduate from an American college is Canada’s Cam Levins, who won the 2012 NCAA title for Southern Utah at Hayward Field.  He was an Olympian in the London 10k at age 23, after winning an incredible 5k/10k double at the NCAA Championships.

            Kenya has even more superb athletes capable of winning this race.  Caleb Ndiku, 21, is the reigning World Indoor Championships gold medalist at 3000 meters. He is also only the second Junior to ever break sub-3:50 in the mile (2011 Pre Classic), and some of the sport's cognescenti believe he is the darkhorse to win the 5k at Pre.  John Kipkoech, 22, is a sub-12:50 runner who earned silver at the 2010 World Junior Championships.  Augustine Choge is still the World Junior 3k record holder from 2005, and ran 3:35.5 to edge out Ndiku at 1500 meters in Kenya this past weekend.

            Honorary Starter for this year's IAAF Diamond League 5000 Meters will be last year's No. 1 at the distance, Mo Farah of Great Britain. Farah is still recovering from his debut at last month's London Marathon, where he ran 2:08:21.

Men’s 5000 Meters

Personal Best

Hagos Gebrhiwet (Ethiopia)



Isiah Koech (Kenya)



Yenew Alamirew (Ethiopia)



John Kipkoech (Kenya)



Edwin Soi (Kenya)



Albert Rop (Bahrain)



Bernard Lagat (USA)



Augustine Choge (Kenya)



Ben True (USA)



Hassan Mead (USA)



Muktar Edris (Ethiopia)



Caleb Ndiku (Kenya)



Chris Derrick (USA)



Collis Birmingham (Australia)



Juan Luis Barrios (Mexico)



Ryan Hill (USA)



Cameron Levins (Canada)




            Fans can follow the event lineups as all announced fields are posted at PreClassic.com.  The direct link to current start/entry lists is HERE and will include updates to all announced fields.

            Tickets for the 40th annual edition of the Prefontaine Classic, to be held May 30-31 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., are available now from PreClassic.com and from 1-800-WEBFOOT.  Sponsored by NIKE continuously since 1984, the Prefontaine Classic will be shown live to an international audience and by NBC Sports from 1:30 till 3:00 p.m. PT on Saturday, May 31.

            The Prefontaine Classic is the longest-running outdoor invitational track & field meet in America and is part of the elite IAAF Diamond League of meets held worldwide annually.  Last year’s Pre Classic was scored highest in the world by All-Athletics.com, the official data partner of the Diamond League.

            Steve Prefontaine is a legend in the sport of track & field and is the most inspirational distance runner in American history.  He set a national high school 2-mile record (8:41.5) while at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay, Oregon, that is still the fastest ever in a National Federation-sanctioned race.  While competing for the University of Oregon, he won national cross country championships (3) and outdoor track 3-Mile/5000-meter championships (4), and never lost a collegiate track race at any distance.  As a collegiate junior, he made the 1972 U.S. Olympic Team and nearly won an Olympic medal, finishing 4th in the 5K at the 1972 Munich Olympics, at age 22.  After finishing college in 1973 and preparing for a return to the Olympics in 1976, he continued to improve, setting many American records.  His life ended tragically on May 30, 1975, the result of an auto accident, at age 24.  The Pre Classic began that year and has been held every year since.

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