My excellent adventure, The Payton Jordan (May 4)

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Ben True, Lopez Lomong, Payton Jordan 5,000 meters, 
photo by Kirby Lee/Image of Sport

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Molly Huddle, Payton Jordan 10,000m, 
photo by Kirby Lee/Image of Sport

This is the continuing of my excellent adventures! 

I had spent the weekend of May 1-4 in Spokane, WA for the RRCA Convention. I represent Club Running magazine, the second largest running magazine in the country (177,000 paid subscribers, print and digital). Their convention, with representatives from 1900 plus clubs, showcases the largest grass roots running group in the U.S. Managing 9000 races and nearly 1900 clubs, RRCA is my first weekend in May. 

So, to get back to SFO for the Payton Jordan Invitational, I took a 6 am flight from Spokane to Denver, then, Denver to SFO. I grabbed a nap at my parents house, and then, revitalized, I want to Stanford to enjoy one of my favorite meets and sit at the 100 meter starting line with some old friends, the Aggies. 


The Payton Jordan Invitational has become the place where most North American distance runners open up. Wanting to get an A standard for the Worlds, Olympics or US champs, plus European Champs, the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters have showcased some of the top talent in the world. 

The Kim McDonald Invitational 10,000 meters were named after iconic athlete manager and coach, Kim McDonald, who died in 2000. McDonald, who developed KIM management, managed many of the key athletes in our sport in the 90s. McDonald was tough, but also believed that the sport needed to be moved into the current century, kicking and screaming as some groups do. McDonald managed Bob Kennedy, Moses Kiptanui among many others. 

It was in the Kim McDonald 10,000m in 2001 that Meb Keflezighi broke the longtime AR held by Mark Nenow. I remember being in the center of the field, watching the race develop, and taking splits. It was a wonderful night as Meb ran 27:13 with two men in front of him. 

It was at the Kim McDonald 10,000m in 2010, that Chris Solinsky became the first non African to break 27:00 for the 10,000m. In fact, in that race, both Chris (26:59.6) and Galen Rupp (27:10.8), broke Meb's record. 

Most years, I would travel out from Wisconsin for the meet. But this year was different, I was back in my hood. Sitting with the ASICS Aggies, and seeing old friends for the first time in a few years was fantastic. Sharing it with my son, Adam, and his partners in the Shoe Addicts, Mike Deering and Algernon Felice, as well as my brother, Brian, made it all the more better. 

The night was full of racing. It was great to see Matt Centrowitz win the 1,500m in 3:35.44. Matthew is a fine athlete, with keenly honed racing skills. Centrowitz, like his father, makes few errors in racing. Two world championship medals show that when it comes to racing, Matthew Centrowitz is becoming one of our best middle distance runners ever. 

The 5,000 meters for men was a fantastic race. Fast pacing, hitting the two miles in 8:34, and there were still five men racing. 

All during the race, my eyes were on Ben True and Evan Jager. Both can float along, in good position. I did not even consider Hassan Mead until the last lap--I won't do that again. 

Mead took on Ben True and had him, until 50 meters to go, when Ben True, who had reportedly been told to not lead, took the lead, just in time, setting a huge PB and a running the World Leader. Hassan Mead also ran a super PB. Watch for both of them at Pre on May 31. 

13:02:48 is damn fast for the 5,000 meters. The five thousand meters is nearly the perfect distance race. Twelve and one  half laps on a 400 meter track, the place where the real studs and the pretenders to the throne meet. If you are a miler,  you hope for easy pace until it is time to smell the finish and kick for dear life. If you are a distance runner, you put as much crap into the legs of said miler as they can. If you run that 2000 to 4000 meters really hard, most milers won't know who their mother is any more, much less remember how to kick. 

This was a curious race. Ben True has developed that ability to stay up front, but out of trouble, something Evan Jager has been doing for awhile. Five of the top six men in the race set PBs. Lomong, Derrick, Mead, True, Heath, just not Jager-he's run 13:02 at end of last season in Brussels. Jager wanted to win here, more than run a PB. He took his shot, but perhaps, it was too early in the season. 

Ben True is on form. His 15k win over Derrick in March. His 5k close one with Gebremeskel in Boston and now, his 13:02.48 Pb and World leader energized the crowd at Angell Field. 

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The final stretch, True and Mead, 
photo by Kirby Lee/Image of Sport

In the women's 10,000 meters it was Sally Kipyego leading, Molly Huddle back 30 meters, then, 20 meters, then, five seconds at the finish. A fine 30:42 for Sally and 30:47 for Molly leads the world and the US. Sally Kipyego is back from injuries in 2013 that held her out of competition and Molly Huddle is coming off a fine half marathon pb, a Boston 5k win, and now, her 10,000m pb by 28 seconds! 

The men's 10,000 meters was the most fun to watch, as Juan Luis Barrios of Mexico used a 200 meters of about 26 seconds to win the race, with Cam Levins right behind. It was fun because the crowd got into it, or my crowd, making pithy comments on Cam's Canadian afro and other keen observations on the sport. 

The Payton Jordan, for me, is the opening of outdoor season. Normally, I am back from Boston and with spring marathon season over, outdoor track and field is right around the corner. 

I was glad that I waited, and glad, that, I am back in California. 


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