Pre Classic (Eugene Diamond League) 2024

Josh Kerr's Triumph in the Bowerman Mile Headlines Prefontaine Classic

Josh Kerr's Triumph in the Bowerman Mile Headlines Prefontaine Classic

A showcase Bowerman Mile stole the show, while Keely Hodgkinson may have just stepped into the spotlight as an Olympic gold medalist threat.

May 27, 2024 by Tim O'Hearn

The Bowerman Mile at Saturday’s Prefontaine Classic lived up to the billing. 

The anticipated top four of Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Josh Kerr, Yared Nuguse and Jake Wightman ran strongly behind the pacer, but it was Kerr who took over with 600m to go, a move that even he said later was a bit "dumb." 

Still, he never looked back. 

His performance of 3:45.34 is a new national record for Great Britain.

Meanwhile, before the television window began, Kenya’s Beatrice Chebet spoiled Ethiopian Gudaf Tsegay’s 10,000m record attempt with a monstrous 28:54.14. 

With that, she improved the world record by almost seven seconds. She led seven women to personal bests.

In addition to these performances, the meet produced world-leading marks in the men’s 10,000m, women’s 5K, men’s 110m hurdles, women’s 3k steeplechase, men’s shot put and women’s 800m. 

Many athletes also improved their world rank and ran under Olympic qualifying standards as Pre proved to be one of the most exciting Diamond League meets this season.

The Surprise 10K Races

Prior to the start of the Diamond League events, the Prefontaine Classic featured the men’s and women’s 10,000m. These races served as the Olympic trials for Athletics Kenya.

Before this race, only four women had ever broken 29:30 in the 10K. In this race, four women broke 29:30 in the 10k, including Beatrice Chebet's world record time of 28:54.14.

This being the longest race on the track, performances are particularly volatile due to temperature and pacing. Championships occur late in the summer and don’t include pacers, so the fastest performances tend to occur at one-off meets in the early summer, such as this one.

If compared to others by a measure such as median or average World Athletics points amongst finishers, this 10K would be a candidate for the highest quality track race of all-time.

Behind Chebet -- scratch that, way behind Chebet -- were seven other personal bests: Gudaf Tsegay's 29:05.92, Lilian Kasalt Rengeruk's 29:26.89, Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi's 29:27.59, Janeth Chepngetich's 30:04.97, Emmaculate Anyango Achol's 30:06.43, Catherine Reline Amanang'ole's 30:07.42 and Uganda's Sarah Chelangat's 30:24.04. 

Though there were six DNFs, 13th place was an incredible 30:52.43.

The only good news for 10K medal hopefuls is that Kenya can only send a team of three to the Olympics. 

Beatrice Chebet raised the bar with her incredible world record performance.

The men’s 10K was contested entirely by athletes from Kenya as part of that country’s trials. Daniel Mateiko ran a personal best of 26:50.81 to snag the world lead. He’s now the 36th best of all-time in the event. Behind him, seven personal bests were set.

Christian Coleman Can Breathe A Little Easier 

With Fred Kerley recently having withdrawn from the Stockholm Diamond League and Christian Coleman having a season best of just 10.04 going into this meet, there was renewed discussion regarding who might be named to the U.S. men’s team for the Olympics. 

Then Coleman beat Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala 9.95 to 9.98 to come away with the win. 

He expressed relief.

Despite a 1.2 m/s tailwind, the high school senior Christian Miller is still tied for the world lead of 9.93 -- though as a qualifier, Akani Simbine's time of 9.90 from the Atlanta City Games remains unratified by World Athletics.

Grant Holloway Controlled The Men’s 110mH

Billed as a refresh of the 2022 World Championship final, Grant Holloway ran away with this one. His time of 13.03 beat his training partner Daniel Roberts by a tenth of a second. 

Defending Olympic champion Hansle Parchment had a poorly executed start and was never really in the race, running 13.28 for fourth. 

Cordell Tinch and Izumiya Shunsuke finished way back, running 13.38 for ninth and 13.33 for seventh, respectively.

Though a satisfying Diamond League debut for Holloway, this race still doesn’t cement him as an overwhelming favorite to win Olympic gold. 

More On The Women’s 5,000m

Ethiopia's Tsigie Gebreselama broke her personal best by more than 25 seconds to win a tight race over her countrywoman Ejgayehu Taye–14:18.76 to 14:18.92. 

Ethiopia took the first six places, showcasing impressive depth. In seventh was defending world champion Siffan Hassan who was likely satisfied with dipping under the Olympic standard of 14:52.0. 

America’s Weini Kelati-Frezghi and Japan’s Nozomi Tanaka also earned the standard.

A Dominant 3,000m Women's Steeplechase Result

The steeplechase was intriguing because it presented two races: the race for outright dominance and the race for next-up American. 

At the front, the pace was absurdly quick. Pacer Logan Jolly was passed early and had four women in front of her even as she gapped the wavelight. 

Peruth Chemutai of Uganda won the battle of the home straight against world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech, who ran aggressively and led for most of the race. Chemutai ran a personal best and world lead of 8:55.09 while Chepkoech ran 8:56.51.

American women finished in fifth through eighth, led by Val Constien’s 9:14.29. She was closely followed by Courtney Wayment. These two have established themselves as likely candidates for the wide-open spots on the U.S. team in the shadow of Emma Coburn and Courtney Freirichs’ injuries.

Hodgkinson's Showing Confidence, Momentum

Even without Athing Mu, who was a late scratch, the women’s 800m proved to be one of the most exciting races of the evening. With a field very similar to last year’s championship final, the main takeaways were that:

  1. Many of the women appeared to be in better shape than at this time last year, with almost the whole field under 1:59.
  2. The race tactics reflected elite women’s increased understanding of each other’s racing styles, especially the style of Mary Moraa.
  3. There is still a “big three” in this event. Despite not having raced yet, Athing Mu is a medal contender. Still, she would need to dip under 1:55 again to reestablish herself as the gold medal favorite.

Great Britain’s Keeley Hodgkinson left Mary Moraa to her usual frontrunning. Off the final turn, Hodgkinson unleashed a perfect kick to beat Moraa by almost a full second. 

Moraa’s tactics were predictable and Hodgkinson capitalized on this. Still, Moraa’s finishing time of 1:56.71 was excellent – especially after she opened with a 56.2 – and nobody aside from Hodgkinson had the fitness to chase her down.

Great Britain’s Jemma Reekie ran 1:57.45 for third. 

American Nia Akins, the reigning U.S. outdoor champion, was fourth in 1:57.98. It's a result that not only gives her confidence, but probably reaffirms that she has put herself in a position to make her next U.S. team in June at the U.S. Trials.

The Bowerman Mile Turned Into An Epic Display Of Showmanship

Kerr winning the Bowerman Mile would have changed the narrative. 

Now, Kerr winning the Bowerman Mile with a national record 3:45.34?

That may have established him as the favorite to win the men’s 1,500m at the Olympics. 

He proved that his trash talking was not a bluff and his record-breaking performance at the Millrose Games was not a fluke. Kerr’s 0.26 second margin of victory over Jakob Ingebrigtsen was enough to make the Norwegian second-guess his "blind-folded" declaration in February. 

Kerr oozed confidence, moving to the lead as soon as the pacer stepped off at 1,009m. 

While Ingebrigtsen tracked him, he could not reel him in over the final stretch. 

It seemed Ingebrigtsen was resigned to second-place, as he didn’t move wide to attempt to pass Kerr. The fast time of 3:45.60 is remarkable for an athlete who lost much of his winter training block to injury, but 3:45.60 for second is also sobering for an athlete who has dominated his competition over the last few years.

Yared Nuguse, billed as the likely third-place finisher here, hung on for third. He struggled to keep up with Kerr and Ingebrigtsen, but had a solid kick to leave daylight behind him. 

Nuguse, who beat a host of promising Americans in this race, is an overwhelming favorite to win the U.S. Trials and earn the opportunity to rematch Kerr and Ingebrigtsen.

Speaking of other Americans, Hobbs Kessler was tripped on the back stretch on lap two. Though he remained on his feet, he stepped inside the rail and decided to drop out of the race. 

Cole Hocker, who stumbled ahead of Kessler to trigger his trip, ran a decent race but was off his PR and was never in a position to outkick the leaders. He finished as the second American.

American Matt Centrowitz, who desperately needed to hit the Olympic standard or improve his world rank, scratched from the race and was replaced by fellow American Cooper Teare. 

Teare, coming off a fantastic 5K in his last race, faded and finished at the back of the field. Abel Kipsang, who led behind the pacer for the early race, was punished for his bravery and finished in 3:51.82.

Jake Wightman, the Brit who beat Ingebrigtsen in the 1,500m at the World Championships in 2022, held on to fourth for most of the late race. He never looked like he had the gear to go for the win, though, and he ended up getting edged by countryman Neil Gourley, 3:47.74 to 3:47.83.

The Bowerman Mile was a race for the ages that helped define expectations for the 2024 season. Kerr seems like the man to beat. 

The Kerr-Ingebrigtsen rivalry now moves into high gear, with Ingebrigtsen separated from last summer’s record-setting shape by at least one training block. Nuguse still seemed to be primed for a major breakthrough. It is yet to be seen whether other Americans have what it takes to qualify through for the final in Paris.

What's Next For International Athletes

For some athletes, Pre will be the last meet before the Olympics. It’s likely that Ingebrigtsen will run the 1,500m in Oslo on Thursday. 

It’s equally likely that Hodkinson and Reekie will run the 800m at the London Diamond League in late July. 

As these two events have emerged as must-see races at the Olympics, the women’s 10,000m now has considerable buzz as well. 

FloTrack Is The Streaming Home For Many Track And Field Meets Each Year

Don’t miss all the track and field season action streaming on FloTrack. Check out the FloTrack schedule for more events.

FloTrack Archived Footage

Video footage from each event will be archived and stored in a video library for FloTrack subscribers to watch for the duration of their subscriptions.

Join The Track & Field Conversation On Social