Repost: July 15, 2019
additions and corrections
The Nike Pre Classic was held on June 30, 2019. It was a fun meet and there were some excellent performances. Rai Benjamin blew my mind, his 47.16 shows that the 400m hurdlers in Doha should be a true highpoint. The Nike Pre Classic has the deepest fields of any DL event, year in and year out. For Nike, it is the yearly affirmation of the support that Nike gives to global athletics and a living, breathing legacy to the late Steve Prefontaine, AR holder, 2000m-10,000m, and guiding spirit in the brand’s early years.
Here are my five lessons from Stanford, or Pre in Exile.
1. It’s not about the race, stupid, its about the drama!
One of the finest races of the day was the women’s 3,000m steeplechase. Beatrice Chepkoech, the WR holder ran the fastest time EVER in North America. But the reason that the race attracted attention was due to WC Emma Coburn falling at 1900m, getting up and battling back to second place. Most American fans know squat about the steeple. Put an American into the race, and they stumble, fight back, hell, that’s a Kodak moment ( sorry that’s a reference to a platform used to make photographs prior to Iphones).
Consider the 2 mile as well for drama!
The men’s 2 mile, had the closest finish of the day! Joshua Cheptegai had just taken Selemon Barega when Paul Chelimo mounted a charge and nearly came home with the win! Fast time on a strange distance for the world, but scintillating finish!
2. American sprinters continue to impress!
Christian Coleman did it. 9.81 for the 100m on the notoriously slow for sprinters’ Stanford track. And Justin Gatlin, at 37, ran 9.87! Add these two with Michael Rodgers, Mike Norman, Noah Lyles, among others and you see the absolute health of American male sprinting. On the women’s side, Aleia Hobbs, She’Carri Richardson, Tori Bowie, Jena Prandini, among others, shows that the USA sprinting machine is strong.
3. Best event of day: Women’s 3,000m!
The women’s 3,000 meters was one of the deepest 3000 meters ever. Consider this: Sifan Hassan ran 8:18.48, and besides Dibaba’s 8:16.60 WR Indoor, only the Chinese Whimsical times of 8:06 -8:12 are faster. The racing was swift, brutal and unforgiving, with Dibaba in 4th and Obiri in 7th. Eighth place was 8:31.45! That last lap showed the Sifan Hassan has been doing her homework. Both Hassan and Klasterhalfen are trained by Nike Oregon Distance Project, and it shows, they are racing the entire distance.
4. Bowerman Mile still brings them in!
Fourteen men under 4 minutes, plus a WL of 3:50.49 still gets fans in North America. Timothy Cheruiyot, Ayanleh Souleiman, Mattew Centrowitz, Jakob and Filip Ingebrigtsen and Samuel Tefera, WR indoors at 1,500m. Craig Engels runs a 3:51.60 in fifth. Big miles still do it in U.S. I would have loved the International mile as well, but they had a schedule to keep.
5. Stanford should have a permanent Diamond League meet.
8,128 paying fans at Stanford is huge. Most importantly, they can fix the things that need to be corrected. A sound system that can not be heard in non permanent seats. A wifi system that the media can rely on. The wifi was infuriating, considering that we are in Silicon Valley. But the issues were all fixable, including finding an offiical hotel not half hour from Palo Alto. Diamond League needs new sponsors, and if they are serious, then put an event in Silicon Valley and do it right.
A special note of thanks to Tom Jordan and the Nike Sports Marketing team. The meet was doubly difficult with the “meet in exile”. Yet, the crowd is one of the finest one could find in the world, and also probably set a record for computer geeks at a track meet.