Updated – see below
You guys! My track geekery is going to explode from my chest like one of those weird alien babies except it’ll be all lean and complaining about lane draws and probably have personalized spikes and try to drag my burst chest along for a 4 x 800 workout. My geekery is an asshole, you guys. Anyway, I don’t usually blog about track here, but nobody reads my track blog, so the hell with it. I’ll do it here.
On Saturday, I’ll be in Eugene for the Pre Classic, a Diamond League track meet in its 36th year (first as a Diamond League event, essentially joining it to what used to be the European circuit), and named in honor of Steve Prefontaine – read about my track hero here. And you can see the Pre Classic live on NBC at 1:00pm PDT (look for me near the finish line!)
So here’s how this works: I’m a track geek, but I’m not all professional like my friend Ann, who puts up real previews with all sorts of useful info. I just write about stuff I like and what I think, so my predictions are often pure shit. And I know fuckall about discus and javelin, so sue me. But I’ll do my best to provide some useful info, and maybe a grown-up track person will link to me and I’ll be famous.
Here’s the (provisional) start list. I’m just going to stick with the format for the most part (with a couple exceptions).
Men’s 200 Meters:
Loaded, but any sprint without Usain Bolt these days feels oddly anti-climactic. Tyson Gay is scheduled to appear, but he’s had a balky hamstring lately, so we’ll see what happens. If he comes, and the hammy holds up, he’s a clear favorite. The man’s capable of a 19.5. Besides him, though, at least two others who’ve run sub-20 are on the board, and both Shawn Crawford and Walter Dix are capable of producing 19.7 if things go right, so we’ll see a fast race no matter what! I predict Gay/Dix/Crawford if Tyson makes it, Dix/Crawford/Thompson if not.
Men’s 110 Meter Hurdles:
Again, WOW! David Oliver, Ryan Wilson, Ronnie Ash, David Payne, Ryan Brathwaite, Terrence Trammell – let’s see, a guy who’s run sub-13 three times this year including a 12.93 into a headwind last week (Oliver), the reigning World Champion (Trammell), and four other guys who can threaten 13? Yeah, this should be a good race. Smart money’s on Oliver, and he looks primed to pop something big this summer. Could it be Saturday?
Men’s 1000 Meters:
Here’s where it gets good. Eugene, Hayward Field, and the Pre Classic are really about distance and middle-distance events. This one could be a doozy. Khadevis Robinson is going to pace them through 800m in 1:45 (!!), in Abubaker Kaki’s attempt at the world record of 2:11.96. Nick Symmonds is also along, as are Boaz Lalang and Alfred Yego, sub 1:44 guys all, and all with a shot at that record. I’d say the fastest 1000 on US soil (2:15.97) is going down for certain, and Nick has a really good shot at the American Record at a minimum (2:13.9). I think 2:11 may be a tough one, but it should be in the 2:13 range, for sure.
Men’s 5000 Meters:
Are you kidding me??? Kipchoge, Merga, Ebuya, Tegenkamp, Solinsky, Salel, Bekele, Mutahi…yeah, my geekery is starting to pound on my chest wall now. Ten guys in the starting field have run sub-13:00 either this year or last year, including two Americans. Yeah. Read that again. The weather will be sunny and 70, so the first sub-13:00 on US soil will happen. Mark it on your calendar. And it’s realistic to say Tegenkamp or Solinsky could be in the money here. This race is truly wide open, although I’m going to lean on Kipchoge or Merga for the win. With Tegenkamp and Solinsky living in Oregon, I’ll definitely be pulling for the guys with home cooking in their bellies, though!
Update: Alistair Craig has been added to the field – don’t know how much he’ll be in the mix, but he was smoking it during the indoor season.
Men’s Shot Put:
C’mon. Christian Cantwell is unbeatable this year, and he loves throwing in Eugene. I’m only mentioning this event because I look forward to making fun of Tomasz Majewski’s hair in person. Cantwell wins, Majewski, Hoffa and Nelson fight it out for 2nd and 3rd, with Ryan Whiting being an interesting dark horse.
Women’s 100 Meters:
Possibly more star power here than in the men’s 200. Carmelita Jeter, Shelly-Ann Fraser, Veronica Campbell Brown, LaShauntea Moore and Kelly-Ann Baptiste headline – this race could fly. Jeter and Fraser most likely duke it out for 1st, but any of these women could pop a fast time. I expect sub-11 by at least two.
Women’s 800 Meters:
Ohboyohboyohboyohboy!! Yeah, this and the steeple are where I get excited! (Okay, and the men’s 5000 and mile) Sub-2:00 seems very possible, as everyone in this race has run under 2:00 this season or last, including last year’s surprise winner (and my current track crush) Maggie Vessey, who dropped a 1:57 on the world last year. Janeth Jepkosgei looks to be in 2007 form, meaning really tough to beat, but she’ll be pushed hard by Anna Pierce, Mariya Savinova (the best 800 runner in the world when she runs in Russia), Maryam Jamal, Alysia Johnson, Kenia Sinclair and Shannon Rowbury. Pamela Jelimo is in the field and is rounding back into form, but is nowhere near her 2008 self yet, and I don’t see her challenging.
And yeah, that’s me and my atrocious haircut from earlier this spring, looming awkwardly over poor Shannon Rowbury after she ran a season-opening 800 at the UW Indoor Preview.
Update: Nancy Langat! She’s been added to the field – I’m pulling hard for Maggie, and this made a super exciting race even more super exciting!
So I’m totally biased here. I’m a Lisa Aguilera groupie, and you should be too. But this race, like a lot of women’s steeples in the last couple years, is loaded. The top three, Marta Dominguez, Yuliya Zarudneva and Milcah Chemos, have all run under 9:10, Assefa and Aguilera have run in the 9:20s, while Bridget Franek and Nicole Bush are just on the cusp of some breakout times. Expect this to be quick, as Chemos likes to push the pace, and Dominguez and Zarudneva won’t let her get away. My only gripe here is that Chemos’ form over the hurdles makes my brain hurt, and I contend puts other runners at risk in close quarters (she pulls both legs over sideways at the same time, rather than using traditional hurdle form – it takes up at least 18 inches to her right, and causes her to stop all momentum when she lands. It’s a testament to how fast she’s running between hurdles, but it’s a matter of time before she causes a crash). My new friend Shayla Houlihan is very excited to be running in this race in her fancy Brooks gear. Team Houlihan!
Women’s 400m Hurdles and 400 Meters:
I don’t have a start list for these yet, but I know we’ll see Lashinda Demus, Sheena Tosta and Josanne Lucas square off. Demus is HOT this year, so we’ll see what she can roll.
I haven’t seen a start list for the women’s javelin, either, but you know Kara Patterson will be there, fresh off her unexpected American Record in Des Moines next week, so the crowd should be juiced for her!
This race traditionally closes the meet out, and it’s going to be a doozy this year. Seven of the top 10 milers from last year. Two World Champions, an Olympic Champion, two sub 1:44 800m guys. Think they’ll get it going? I’d love to see them get under 3:48 for the first time at Hayward, but that’s a rare event; we’ll see. One thing I know, this is never a tactical race, it’s all about time. Asbel Kiprop, Youssef Kamel, Haron Keitany, Bernard Lagat, Mohammed Moustaoui, Nicholas Kemboi, Amine Laalou, Daniel Komen, Gebremedhin Mekonnen – good lord! Throw in Leo Manzano and Lopez Lomong to round out the US group, and this is definitely going to put an exclamation point on the meet. The question for me is not if we’ll see a sub 3:50, but how many guys will go sub 3:50.
Update: Andrew Wheating, after skipping the US Championships last week (boo, Andrew!), has been added to this. With all the talk of Andrew being the next great American miler, is this his first shot at the big time?
Okay, that’s it. I’ll post pics and try to blog from Eugene, and if you want from-the-track updates, be sure to follow me at Switzerblog!