Payton Jordan always delivers memorable races, whether they be fast times, breakout performances or upsets, but one race that sticks out from the past few years involved a lap-counting mishap between two professionals. In 2012, Lopez Lomong
and David Torrence
were running 1-2 in the fastest section of the 5k on Cobb Track when Lomong, on world-lead pace, stopped prematurely, unaware that he had one lap to go. Torrence in the next position was following the leader in an explosive kick to finish the race. The crowd roared, telling the two athletes to continue running. Despite clocking a 59-second penultimate lap, Lomong somehow gathered enough energy to still win the race in a world-leading time (13:11.63), and Torrence was able to post a new personal best of 13:16.53, good enough for seventh-place.
On Saturday, Lomong and Torrence will return to Payton Jordan and compete against each other in the 5k for the first time since that memorable race three years ago. Despite the embarrassment of miscounting, Torrence's mark of 13:16 still stands as his fastest 5k ever, and Lomong's 13:11 is now his second-fastest outdoor mark in the event. His standing personal best of 13:07 was clocked at Payton Jordan last year.
Since that race, Lomong has competed in the final at the London Olympic Games and posted personal bests in nearly every event from the 800m up to the 5k. Torrence captured an American Indoor record in the 1000m (2:16.76), a new personal best in the 1500m (3:33.23) and mile (3:52.01), and multiple wins as a member of Team USA relay squads. Both are set to toe the line once again in the stacked field that is section 1.
Diego Estrada will take another crack at the 5k distance after winning the Mt. SAC Relays race in 13:31. In a recent attempt to move up in distance, Estrada also captured the Houston Half Marathon title in 60:51. His 5k personal best (13:15) is from the 2013 Payton Jordan Invitational.
Two-time Mexican Olympian Juan Luis Barrios will return to Cobb Track after wowing the crowd at the Stanford Invite with a solo effort 10k win in 28:12. Barrios is coming off of a stellar road racing campaign that saw a personal best in the half marathon (60:46) in Marugame, Japan. The Olympic finalist holds a 5k personal best of 13:09, which was set in 2011 at the adidas Grand Prix.
Brooks Beast Garrett Heath is set to tackle the track after spending the majority of the spring and winter training at altitude in Arizona. The Stanford grad posted a win on the cross country course early on in 2015 at Great Edinburgh, a fourth-place finish in the two mile at the USATF Indoor Championships, and a third-place finish at the Grand Blue Mile in Des Moines, Iowa. His 5k personal best of 13:16 was also set at Cobb Track last year and could be improved upon this weekend.
Will Leer is another competitor that brings speed to the table with a 1500m personal best of 3:34 and a 5k personal best of 13:21. 2015 has yet to take shape for Leer, who has yet to post performances close to his top marks, but the setting of Payton Jordan may prove well for the World Indoor finalist.
A slew of other notable professionals occupy the field, including Paul Chelimo, Trevor Dunbar, Jeff See, Riley Masters
and many others
. But only one collegiate was able to crack the list of top competitors and that lucky athlete is Arkansas' Kemoy Campbell
The Jamaican long distance runner is returning from an NCAA indoor season that saw a runner-up finish in the 5k and a fourth-place finish in the 3k. Since his indoor campaign, the Razorback clocked a new personal best in the 10k (28:45) at the Stanford Invitational and a season's best 1500m mark of 3:42.30 at Mt. SAC. The 5k field assembled should be the perfect opportunity to improve upon his 13:32 5k personal best from 2013.
With hours until the gun goes off, we can expect one thing from the pack of runners set to toe the line: the race will be fast and it will deliver an exciting 12.5 lap show. Payton Jordan always does.