2012 Nike Pre Classic: Hot Women's steeplechase and 3,000m, release, note by Larry Eder

Thumbnail image for Kipyego-FlanaganH-Payton11.JPG

Photo of Sally Kipyego, Shalane Flanagan,  by PhotoRun.net

The distance races at the Nike Pre Classic always bring out the best and 2012 is no exception.

In the women's steeplechase, the top athletes in the world have gathered, as well s some new faces.  I remember seeing Milcah Chemos, tearing up the track in Rome last year. Adding 2008 Olympic silver medalist Eunice Jepkorir, with a pb of 9:07.41, could shake up the form chart.

The women's 3,000m will feature Sally Kipyego, who has the world leader at 5,000m. Linet Masai, the silver medalist at 10,000m (Kipyego was the silver medalist at the 5,000m in 2011) in Daegu. Also watching Molly Huddle, Jackie Areson, Lisa Uhl battle should be fun!

Runblogrun will be there covering all thungs Pre on our Live blog!

May 25, 2012
For Immediate Release

Pre Classic Women's Steeplechase and 3000 Meters:  STILL MORE WORLD NO. 1s TO BE CHALLENGED BY WORLD-CLASS FIELDS

              Eugene, Oregon - Two more No. 1 athletes in the world add two more world-class events at the 38th Prefontaine Classic.  The latest are the women's 3000-meter steeplechase and women's 3000 meters.

             The Pre Classic is a major stop on the road to the 2012 London Olympics and part of the elite Samsung Diamond League of international meets.  This year's Pre event will be held over two days, June 1-2 at Hayward Field.

             The Pre women's steeplechase field includes five highly ranked runners from distance-rich east Africa: Kenyans Milcah Chemos, Mercy Wanjiku Njorge, and Lydia Rotich, and Ethiopians Sofia Assefa and Hiwot Ayalew, giving the field five of last year's top seven in the world.  Adding an element of mystery is 30-year-old Kenya's Eunice Jepkorir, silver medalist at the 2008 Olympics and bronze medalist at the 2007 World Championships.  Her PR of 9:07.41, set in 2008, makes her the second fastest in the field, and she is racing at the Prefontaine Classic to begin her comeback.

             Chemos was the bronze medalist in the steeple at last year's World Championships as well as in 2009.  Ranked No. 1 in the world by Track & Field News in 2010, she is history's sixth-fastest ever in the event at 9:08.57.  Njoroge was ranked No. 4 in the world last year by T&FN after finishing fourth in last year's World Championships; her best is 9:16.94.  Rotich was ranked No. 6 in world last year by T&FN after finishing fifth in last year's World Championships; her best is 9:18.03.  Assefa was ranked No. 5 in the world last year by T&FN; her best is 9:15.04.  Ayalew is the youngest of the group at 22 and has run 9:23.88.

             USA will be represented by last year's top two ranked Americans, and three of the top five in Emma Coburn, Bridget Franek, and Sara Hall.  Coburn, 21, swept last year's NCAA and USATF championships and made the World Championships final en route to being ranked No. 1 in the U.S. by T&FN; she improved her best to 9:37.16, making her the seventh-fastest American ever.  Even faster is Franek at 9:32.35, making her sixth-fastest American in history.  Franek, 24, was runner-up in the USA Track & Field Championships last year and was ranked No. 2 in the U.S. by T&FN.  Hall, 29, had a major breakthrough last year in her first serious year in the event, running 9:39.48 to become the tenth-fastest American ever in addition to winning the Pan-American Games gold medal.  She ranked No. 5 in the U.S. last year.

             An exciting 19-year-old highlights several others from around the world.  Gesa Felicitas Krause of Germany, last year's European Junior gold medalist, was a World Championships finalist last year.  Krause's best is 9:32.74.  Another up-and-comer is 24-year-old Russian Lyudmila Kuzmina, who has run 9:26.03.
Women's 3000-Meter Steeplechase
Milcah Chemos (Kenya)
Mercy Wanjiku Njoroge (Kenya)
Sofia Assefa (Ethiopia)
Lydiya Rotich (Kenya)
Hiwot Ayalew (Ethiopia)
Gesa Felicitas Krause (Germany)
Barbara Parker (Great Britain)
Lyudmila Kuzmina (Russia)
Sara Hall (USA)
Emma Coburn (USA)
Brdget Franek (USA)
Beverly Ramos (Puerto Rico)
Mardrea Hyman (Jamaica)
Eunice Jepkorir (Kenya)
            Eugene-based Sally Kipyego of Kenya, the silver medalist from last year's World Championships 10K will have her hands full with the field in the women's 3000 meters. Ranked No. 2 in the world at 10K and No. 3 at 5K last year by T&FN,  Kipyego has run at Hayward Field many times, including last year's Oregon Relays, where she showed her amazing range by winning the 1500 in a PR 4:06.23.  Her 3K best is 8:47.91, set indoors this year.

             Her prime challenger will likely be Linet Chepkwemoi Masai, also of Kenya. As a 22-year-old Masai won the 2009 World Championships 10K at age 19. She introduced herself to the world in 2007, when she ran her still-standing 3k PR of 8:38.97 at age 17.  A year later she set a World Junior Record in the 10K (30:26.50) when she finished fourth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  Last year in Daegu, she attempted a 10K/5K double, earning bronze in the 10K before finishing sixth in the 5K.

             Masai will be joined in the 3000, a non-Olympic distance, by many other 5K and/or 10K runners stepping down in distance as a test of speed in preparation for the 2012 London Olympics.

             Yet a third Kenyan attracts interest: 18-year-old Purity Rionoripo.  The 2009 World Youth under-18 gold medalist at age 16, she has a best of 8:44.54.

             Seven Americans are slated to toe the starting line, including Amy Hastings, who finished a heart-breaking fourth at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in January.  Hastings, a consistent sub-33:00 10K runner, was ranked No. 3 in the U.S. last year in the 5K by T&FN.  Her 3K PR is 8:58.45.

             Two other Americans have broken 9:00 in the 3K:  Elizabeth Maloy, with a best of 8:56.89, and Molly Huddle, with a PR of 8:57.30.  Huddle was ranked No. 5 in the U.S. last year at 5K by T&FN after making the World Championships team.  Huddle is the American record holder in the 5K, having run 14:44.76 in 2010.

             Lisa Uhl, a former 5K/10K NCAA champion while at Iowa State as Lisa Koll, is the seventh-fastest American ever at 5K at 14:55.74; her 3K PR is 9:05.62.  Jackie Areson, a member of the U.S. team at last year's World Championships in the 5K (lowering her PR to 15:14.31 last week), has a 3K PR of 9:01.91.  Julia Lucas is the fastest American this year at 5K (15:08.52) and has also lowered her 3K PR this year to 9:01.16.  Brie Felnagle, who has lowered her 5K PR to 15:22.39 this year, has a 3K best of 9:00.31.  Angela Bizzarri was a member of the U.S. World Championships team last year, and has an indoor best of 8:57.40.

             Four other entrants have more success on the shorter side, thus stepping up from the 1500 meters.  Fastest is Morocco's Mariem Alaoui Selsouli with a 3K best of 8:29.52 in 2007, the same year she finished fourth in the 1500 at the World Championships.  Last year, Alaoui Selsouli lower her 1500 PR to an impressive 4:00.77 and was ranked No. 6 in the world by T&FN.  Kenya's Eunice Sum has a 1500 PR of 4:05.99 set earlier this year, and Adrienne Herzog of the Netherlands has a 1500 best of 4:06.07.
Women's 3000 Meters
Sally Kipyego (Kenya)
Linet Chepkwemoi Masai (Kenya)
Amy Hastings (USA)
Molly Huddle (USA)
Elizabeth Maloy (USA)
Purity Rionoripo (Kenya)
Brie Felnagle (USA)
Julia Lucas (USA)
Jackie Areson (USA)
Lisa Uhl (USA)
Angela Bizzarri (USA)
Mariem Alaoui Selsouli (Morocco)
Adrienne Herzog (Netherlands)
Eunice Sum (Kenya)
             With the addition of the women's steeplechase and 3000 meters, 78 athletes in this year's Pre Classic have won 97 Olympic or World Championships gold medals.  Meet organizers expect the greatest collection of talent ever for an invitational on this continent, as the 78 athletes account for 224 medals (97 gold, 66 silver, 61 bronze).  And more events are still to be announced.
            Tickets for the 38th annual edition of the Prefontaine Classic, to be held June 1-2 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., are on sale now from www.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 on NBC from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 2.

            The Prefontaine Classic is the longest-running outdoor invitational track and field meet in America and is part of the elite Samsung Diamond League of 14 meets held worldwide annually.  Last year's Pre Classic results ranked highest among all of the 14 meets, according to All-Athletics.com, the official data Partnerof the Samsung Diamond League.

            Steve Prefontaine is a legend in the sport of track & field and is perhaps the most inspirational distance runner in American history.  He set a national high school 2-mile record while at Coos Bay High School that lasted nearly two decades.  While competing for the University of Oregon, he won national cross country championships (3) and outdoor track 3-mile/5000-meter championships (4) every time he competed, and never lost a collegiate 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 soon after and has been held every year since.
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