Muktar Edris wins the 5000m at the 2016 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene (© Kirby Lee)
World 5000m champion Muktar Edris will head a strong field in a rarely-held two mile race at the Prefontaine Classic, the third stop of the 2018 IAAF Diamond League, in Eugene on 26 May.
The event will reunite five of the top six from last year’s thrilling World Championships 5000m final. It also will be a homecoming for Edward Cheserek, an Oregon legend who won five of his record 17 NCAA titles at Hayward Field. Cheserek, this year’s fastest miler at 3:49.44 indoors, will be joined by Ronald Kwemoi, the winner of the Bowerman Mile last year, the meeting's signature event, in a race that has all the makings of a classic.
The 2-mile distance comes in a year with no major international championship 5000m races outside of the annual IAAF Diamond League, which incorporates the two mile and 3000m into its point standings for the 5000m. The Pre Classic two mile record of 8:03.50, set in 2007 by Australian Craig Mottram, remains the fastest run on US soil.
Edris, 24, ended Mo Farah's reign last summer at the World Championships, winning the global 5000m title that Farah had owned since 2011. The Ethiopian beat Farah, always a fast finisher, at his own game with a ferocious 52.4 last lap. For Edris, the gold was his first track major medal of any color – his only other medal being the bronze he earned at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships in China.
Meanwhile, his Ethiopian teammate, Yomif Kejelcha, raced to a second successive world indoor 3000m title in Birmingham last month. Kejelcha, 20, has twice raced to unprecedented feats at Hayward Field. In 2014 at age 16, he became the youngest ever 5000m winner at the World Junior Championships, held in Eugene. In 2015 he made his biggest splash, winning the Pre Classic and becoming the youngest 5000m winner by four years. A fantastic season saw him winning the Diamond League as well with a 12:53.98 PB. He's also the fastest in the field at 3000m with 7:28.19, the current world U20 record.
The youth fountain from Ethiopia continues with 18-year-old Selemon Barega, who became the youngest indoor 3000m medallist with his silver medal finish behind Kejelcha in Birmingham. He won the world U20 5000m title in 2016.
The field also includes Paul Chelimo, the only racer in the field with medals from Rio and last summer’s World Championships. Both --Rio silver and London bronze-- came with thrilling finishes and are among the best ever by a US athlete.
Cheserek, 24, is on fire as the world’s fastest miler this year, but his incredible racing stretches to the long distances and among the best ever seen in the U.S. His speed is no secret to the Hayward Field faithful who have seen him kick 53.1 for the first of a record three NCAA 10,000m titles.
Kenyan Paul Kipngetich Tanui can also boast strong credentials. The Rio Olympic 10,000m silver medallist, the 27-year-old won a third straight world 10,000m bronze last year in London.
At the moment, nobody brings better momentum to the line than 21-year-old Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei, who'll arrive fresh off of an impressive 5000m/10,000m golden double from the Commonwealth Games. He was second over 10,000m at last year's World Championships and the world junior champion over the distance in 2014. Canada's Mohammed Ahmed is also in the field, the double silver Commonwealth medallist after finishing runner-up behind Cheptegei in both track races in Gold Coast.
Others in the field include Bahrain's Albert Rop, who has a 12:51.96 5000m lifetime best; Ryan Hill, the 2016 world indoor 3000m silver medallist, who has a 7:30.93 personal best over that distance; Eric Jenkins, 26, who won indoor NCAA titles for Oregon over 3000m and 5000m; Hassan Mead, the US 10,000m champion; Shadrack Kipchirchir, the US road 5km champion; and Australian Patrick Tiernan, the 2016 NCAA cross country champion.
Organisers for the IAAF
2018 IAAF Diamond League calendar
4 May – Doha, QAT
12 May – Shanghai, CHN
26 May – Eugene, USA
31 May – Rome, ITA
7 Jun – Oslo, NOR
10 Jun – Stockholm, SWE
30 Jun – Paris, FRA
5 Jul – Lausanne, SUI
13 Jul – Rabat, MAR
20 Jul – Monaco, MON
21-22 Jul – London, GBR
18 Aug – Birmingham, GBR
30 Aug – Zurich, SUI
31 Aug – Brussels, BEL