The Stanford Invitational, and then, the Payton Jordan Invitational, have, over the past two decades, changed the nature of distance racing on the West Coast of North America. Giving credit where it is due, Vin Lananna and Mike Reilly developed the meetings under their tenure at the Farm in Palo Alto, CA. The current management has done a tremendous job to develop the events and build on the stature previously created.
The Stanford Invite had been around, but, with the development of the Payton Jordan and added significance of the Stanford Invite, distance runners had a chance to race 5000 meters, 10,000 meters and steeplechase, along with 800m and 1,500m at key times of the season.
Super cool watching the races at the legendary Payton Jordan invite tonight pic.twitter.com/qrmsFSURPo
— Dan Feeney (@Dfeeney31) May 4, 2018
They are now the standards by which other meetings are judged. The amazing Highgate night of 10,000m PBs looks to Palo Alto for inspiration, as Europe needs meetings such as Payton Jordan. adidas provided such an event on its campus in 2016 in Herzogenaurach, Germany, when the 10,000m there lead the world.
Payton Jordan was moved to Thursday, May 3, different from its iconic Friday nights, but, the gods of distance running (several are probably graduate students at Stanford), breathed, and a cool, clear evening graced the campus.
Here are our lessons from this year’s Payton Jordan:
73 men have run sub-27:47 since 1999 at the #PaytonJordan Invite.
— Jonathan J. Marcus (@jmarpdx) May 3, 2018
1. The 10,000 meters for men and women both provided additions to the global lists, but the fields were down. While the times were modest in comparison to past years, there were good battles and some terrific performances. The men’s 10,000 meters featured 4 men under 10,000 meters, with Shadrack Kipchirchir taking the win. On the women’s side, Jessica Tonn lead the five women under 32 minutes. The near perfect conditions, and early May timing are a great test for a distance runners fitness. Get in the groove, with appreciative fans, and you can run really fast in Palo Alto.
2. Jakub Ingebrigtsen is a phenom. The Norwegian family has three brothers who have picked up European and World hardware. Jakub may be the finest of the three, and his 3:39.06 win was impressive, especially if you consider that he took down Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo and Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz. Whatever Jakub is doing, his ability to race from 800 meters to cross country, is quite impressive. The Norwegian’s effort in Palo Alto opened a few eyes-he is racing in the Bowerman Mile on May 26!
3. Henrik Ingebrigtsen may have found his distance. For a guy who has won gold, silver and bronze over European 1,500 meter titles, and silver and bronze over European Indoor 3000 meters, the older brother of Jakub used a 56.9 last lap to close and hold off Riley Masters in Master’s super 5000 meters! 13:16.94 is impressive for any time of the year.
4. Be careful how much change you try, because you can mess up a good thing. Moving the meet to a Thursday night probably cut many of the potential athletes out of the program. One of the reasons that the Millrose Games was destroyed at the Madison Square Garden was moving of the classic Friday night format. Change is good, if it does not affect the success of the original event.