The Prefontaine Classic
After waking up bright and early to watch Roger Federer win the French Open I headed to Hayward Field for an amazing track meet. The meet itself was very well run. I was astounded by the efficiency of the officials and the organizers. The events ran seamlessly one into the other.
Top Five Prefontaine Moments 2009
# 5: Men's 3000 metres
It is amazing how fast these men run. The winning time was 7:35.92 by Bernard Legat. To watch a multiple Olympic gold medalist race is a rare opportunity. To watch an Olympic gold medalist run as fast as he did and make it look like a walk in the park, priceless.
#4: Women's 800 metres
This race was wonderful because of it's unpredictability. The winning time was not overly fast, 2:00:18, but the winner was; Maggie Vessey of the USA. Two things made this race remarkable. First was the crash and burn of Jelima. Last year she was almost undefeated and won the million dollar Golden League Championship. At Prefontaine she went out hard and died hard over the last 200 metres finishing in last place with a time of 2:05.57. To put this into perspective I ran 2:05 for 800 in my workout on Saturday. The second remarkable aspect of this race was the kick of the winner. She ran from back of the pack to win. The roar of the crowd and shear joy in her reaction to winning was marvelous.
#3: Women's 1500 metres
Again there was a great kick in this race by another American , Jenny Barringer, to run 3:59.90. It turns out Barringer came up short and was second to Gelete Burka of Ethiopia who ran 3:59.89. This was a very exciting finish and it was hard to tell who won. To have two women under 4 minutes is crazy!
#2: Women's 100 metre Hurdles
My girl Priscilla won the bronze! Perdita also ran well finishing fourth. I was a proud Canadian in the crowd. The winner of the race was Michelle Perry of the US in 12.74 and Damu Cherry, a tie! Priscilla ran 12.75 and Perdita ran 12.78. What a close race. The thing about the hurdles is they go by so fast. Here and then gone!
#1: Bowerman Mile
By far the highlight of the meet for me was the Bowerman Mile. The field for this race was world class with the likes of Alan Webb and Asbel Kiprop running. Nate Brannen ran an amazing race. I was worried by the start as there was a lot of pushing and shoving and also that the pace went out a little hard for our Canadian.
With 800 metres to go the field was starting to get strung out. Brannen is towards the back of the pack in 8th or 9th through 800. On the back straight of the last lap he got boxed in and looked to be in a bit of trouble. He was another runner who put in a great kick and ran through the field to claim bronze with a time of 3:52.63. I was so excited, I was screaming like a little girl in the bleachers. Kiprop of Kenya won the race in 3:48.50 with another Kenyan, Haron Keitany in second with a time of 3:48.78. I have to argue that the mile/1500 is the most exciting race in track and field. It is long enough for strategy and kicks with building tension and excitement yet short enough for my fleeting attention span. As an added note there were 13 men under four minutes for the mile, WTF?
This is Nate talking to the man in black and in the yellow is Alan Webb going over to congratulate him. Another cool aspect of the meet was the camaraderie of the runners. They are like a fraternity of lean mean running machines.
So those are my highlights of the Prefontaine Classic Track Meet, 2009. This was my first major international track meet to watch besides the Pan Am Games in 1999. Hayward Field was a wonderful venue in which to watch the action with a knowledgeable and eager audience. Eugene, known as 'Track Town USA', is fabulous for running and runners. I felt so normal there, like I was just one of the gang. Every once in a while it feels really good to be in a crowd of people who know the value of a good long run and say Fartlek without laughing. Truly inspirational.
The last highlight I should mention was my afternoon long run along Pre's Trail. My 12 miles felt great on soft wood chip trails. The trails were also serving as a training site for some of the elites from the pre Pre meet. It was neat to see some hot track stars out for their Sunday long runs too!
I hope to make the Prefontaine Classic a yearly ritual. As I mentioned in previous blogs I hope to possibly race next year in a B or C heat in the pre Pre meet. I will also spread the trip out over a few more days. I want to explore the coast and take some time to slow down to enjoy the view.