Justin Lagat wrote this piece on the Pre Classic, held at Stanford University this past weekend. The Pre Classic at Stanford showed that a DL can be held in US outsde of Eugene, and they did it with style.
Here’s Justin’s thoughts on the distance events in Palo Alto!
Not sure if it was because the setting and lighting was different from the other Diamond League races, given that it happened in broad daylight as opposed to others that happened mostly in the evening, but this year’s Preclassic diamond league was mesmerizing to watch!
A Crazy and exciting women’s 3000m steeplechase race that left the field in a single file within the first kilometer was the first distance event in the sunny and clear afternoon at Stanford. Beatrice Chepkoech chose a strategy that works best for her; she broke away from the group from the start. The chasing pack regrouped itself again in the last stages of the race and there was a different championship caliber race (complete with former and reigning world champions in it) for the second place as Chepkoech ran her own different race at the front.
Emma Coburn and Hyvin Kiyeng finally broke away from the chasing pack in the last two laps and it was the reigning world champion who managed to outrun the former champion in the end to finish second in 9:04.90 against Kiyeng’s 9:05.81.
Chepkoech ran a world-leading, a seasons best and a meeting record time of 8:55.58 as though to show that she was not so pleased with her second place in the last race in which Norah Jeruto had beaten her.
As though it was a day for revenge, Joshua Cheptegei looked so focused on beating Selemon Barega in the men’s 2-mile race that he stuck behind him and allowed a big gap to develop between them as Barega tried to break away with two laps to go.
The two engaged in a sprint for the finish with about 150m to go and it was as though Barega had spent all his strength in his first attempt to break away and Cheptegei overtook him in the last 50m. Paul Chelimo came so strongly as well to overtake Barega and almost caught Cheptegei as he settled for the second position in 8:07.59 against Cheptegei’s 8:07.54. Barega finished third in 8:08.69.
Caster Semenya came back to her winning ways in the women’s 800m as she ran 1:55.70. Ajee Wilson was second in 1:58.36 followed by Raevyn Rogers in 1:58.65.
Faith Chepngetich, the reigning Olympic and world champion came back in time to give hopes to Kenyans fans of a gold medal for the country in Doha in the women 1500m event. Running a fast time of 3:59.04, she demonstrated that she is still on top of her game and hasn’t forgotten how to win big races. Laura Muir finished second behind her in 3:59.47 ahead of Shelby Houlihan in 3:59.64.
Another crazy, hotly contested and thrilling race was the women’s 3000m in which ten athletes recorded their personal best times. Much credit goes to Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey who took to the front and maintained a fast pace acting as a pacesetter for the rest, although she later faded to 3rd place in the end.
Sifan Hassan made the right move at the right time that resulted in her winning the race in a world-leading time, meeting record, personal best time, area record, national record and diamond league record of 8:18.49! Konstanze Klosterhalven surprised many in her second place finish in a personal best time of 8:20.07 ahead of Gidey who also ran a PB of 8:20.27. It was also a personal best for Genzebe Dibaba at 8:21.29 in fourth place.
Timothy Cheruiyot won a loaded Bowerman mile in a world-leading time of 3:50.49. Ayanleh Souleiman finished second in 3:51.22 while Filip Ingebrigtsen ran 3:51.28 to finish third slightly ahead of his brother Jacob who finished fourth in 3:51.30.