We asked Mark Winitz, long time correspondent for American Track & Field and California Track & Running News, to provide his eye witness account of the Payton Jordan Invitational this past weekend. Here is how Mark saw the tremendous performances:
Bevy of World-Leading and World Champs Qualifying Marks
at Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational
By Mark Winitz
April 28, 2013
STANFORD, Calif. – Historically, the evening distance carnival at Payton Jordan attracts top-notch competition seeking fast times in the early outdoor season. This year was no exception as elite athletes converged on Cobb Track and Angell Field, many of them with aspirations of scoring qualifying marks for the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow. Under ideal, windless conditions starting in the mid 70s (Fahrenheit) for the middle distance events and lowering into the low 60s for the distances, the 18th annual competition lived up to its reputation. By the end of the day, 13 World Championship ‘A’ standards, four world-leading times, five meet records, and two stadium records were recorded.
The meet’s marquee race, the men’s 5,000, was so thick with running talent that the top 10 finishers all went under the previous best time in the world this year. Former Dartmouth star Ben True beat a loaded field by out-sprinting U.S. steeplechase champion Evan Jager and smashing his own personal record by seven seconds. After navigating 3,000 meters in 8:02, pacemaker Chris Derrick made an exit at 3,200m leaving True, Jager, Kenya’s Leonard Korir, and others to battle over the remaining 4-1/2 laps. True used a strong finishing kick to record a narrow 13:14.44 win over Jager’s 13:14.60 second place performance. Both men scored personal bests and World Champs “A” standards. 2012 Mexican Olympian Diego Estrada followed in third at 13:15.33, also a PR, just outside the 13:15.00 standard. A hefty 15 men bettered 13:30.
“The steeplechase is my main event and I have to improve a bunch to compete with the best in the world,” said runner-up Jager, a Portland, Ore. resident who is currently training at altitude in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. “Being able to compete in a good 5K is really going to help me for that.”
Said Estrada: “This time of year I’m not too concerned about times. I’m just setting myself up for the future. Today was a PR for me, but it’s not what I wanted. I have a semi-guarantee from Mexico to run the 10,000 in Moscow, but I’d rather run the 5,000. I’m not really a 10K guy.”
The women’s 5,000m race was won by 2012 Olympian Kim Conley in 15:22.07–a tad slower than the 15:18.00 “A” standard she was seeking to qualify for a possible trip to Moscow. Katie Mackey (2nd, 15:23.65) and Julia Lucas (3rd, 15:23.77) closely followed.
“Today we were hoping to get the standard,” said Conley who set her PR of 15:14.48 in a preliminary round at last year’s Olympic Games in London. “It didn’t quite work out today, but I was able to finish hard. I was happy the with way I opened the season at Mt. SAC (PR of 4:10.03 in the 1,500m) and my 10-mile win (at the Credit Union SACTOWN 10 Mile). I feel strong, and I feel good about what I should be able to do in the 5K right now, but I have to put it together.”
Australian Ben St. Lawrence scored a world-leading time of 27:37.55 in the men’s 10,000m by overtaking the Japanese pair of Suguro Osako (2nd, 27:38.31) and Yuki Sato (3rd, 27:39.50) on the final straight. All three men hit the World Championships “A” standard of 27:40.00. Fourteen men bettered 28:00 in the race. St. Lawrence returned to the Stanford meet after running his PR of 27:24 here two years ago.
“‘I really only needed to run the “B” standard to make our (Australian) team for the World Championships, so there was no need for me to be at the front pushing the pace,” said St. Lawrence who is currently training with a group of Melbourne Track Club athletes at Mount Laguna, east of San Diego “I came here just to win and hanging back really helped. I slowly picked my way through field, hung on, and managed to kick away for the win.”
In the women’s 10,000m, NCAA Division I Cross Country Champion Betsy Saina (Kenya) of Iowa State University traded the lead with New Zealand’s 2012 Olympic marathoner Kim Smith, going through 5,000m in 15:40.44. Saina took the lead for good at about 8,000m and proceeded to victory in 31:37.44, a World Champs “A” qualifier. Kenya’s Obare Doricah was second in 31:44.92, also hitting the standard. Smith faded to fourth (31:46.37).
In a competitive women’s 3,000m steeplechase, University of Colorado’s Emma Coburn, a 2012 Olympic finalist, passed leader Jamie Cheever on the last lap and won in 9:28.26, hitting the world ‘A” standard, breaking the meet and stadium records, and recording a world-leading time. Cheever (2nd, 9:29.13) also went under the “A” standard (9:43.00).
“My goal was to get a good (season-opening) time,” said Coburn, who placed 8th in the 1,500m two nights earlier at the Drake Relays. “I was a little fatigued with 11 hours of traveling and layovers. I went out a little aggressively and died the last half. I’m looking forward to six more weeks of collegiate racing, finishing off my collegiate career, and then a summer of racing.”
In the men’s steeplechase, Venezuela’s Jose Pena, who went into the meet with a world-leading time of 8:27.66, did much of the work at the front, accompanied by Kenya’s Haron Lagat and Canadians Matt Hughes and Alex Genest. At the last water jump Hughes swept by Pena and proceeded to an 8:21.34 win and a world-leading time. Hughes, Pena (2nd, 8:22.56), Genest (3rd, 8:23.42), and Lagat (8:24.90) all went under the World Champs “A” standard of 8:26.00.
“I saw Pena a couple of weeks ago at the Mt. SAC Relays and he made a strong move with about 1K to go in that race,” said Hughes who was a two-time NCAA Division I national steeplechase titlist at the University of Louisville. “So, I set up my race today behind him to see what he was going to do. I’m looking forward to the Canadian trials for the World Championships at the end of June.”
In the women’s 1,500m race, Treniere Moser (Nike) recorded a 60.9-second last lap in route to a 4:06.40 win, a meet record and the #3 time in the world this year. U.S. collegiate indoor mile record holder Chris O’Hare (University of Tulsa) from Scotland won the men’s 1,500m in 3:38.48.
In other action, 41-year-old Kevin Castille (Kentucky) ran 28:53.54 in section 2 of the men’s 10,000m, bettering his U.S. men’s age 40-44 record that he set on the Stanford track last year by four seconds. Decathlon world-record holder Ashton Eaton was third in the pole vault (16-0 Â¾).