Augustine Kiprono Choge on his way to a world leading 1500m mark and a PB in Berlin
The ExxonMobil Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway, which this year takes place on Friday 3 July, and is the second leg of the six meeting ÅF Golden League, annually hosts one of the most famous races in world, well it is much more than a race its an athletics tradition.
The history of this great sporting spectacle speaks for itself, the British greats Seb Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram each established new World records whilst contesting “The Dream Mile” in Bislett, and the marvellous Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj, the now retired World record holder (3:43.13, Rome 7 July 1999), holds the Oslo track record at a phenomenal 3:44.90, the third fastest time he ever ran and the fifth quickest all-time in the world.
Of course the Dream Mile has always produced it’s fare share of surprises, who can ever forget in 1981 when the American pacemaker Tom Byers who had a 70 metres lead entering the final lap, spurred on by the Bislett crowd managed to hold on to defeat a field that included many of the greatest runners of the era, Ovett, John Walker and Steve Scott.
Quality race cards have always been a mainstay of the Dream Mile and this year’s field looks to be no exception combining established stars with highly talented youngsters.
Kenyan Augustine Choge has been in magnificent form this season with fast victories over 1500m in Doha (3:30.20) and at Berlin’s ÅF Golden League (3:29.47), the latter a personal best for the distance, something which he has also achieved this outdoor season at 800m in Ostrava (1:44.86).
The 22-year-old Kenyan who was a Beijing Olympic 1500m finalist (10th) has a personal best for the Mile of 3:50.30, a time he set when coming fifth last year in Oslo.
Ethiopia’s World Indoor champion Deresse Mekonnen who was third last year in Oslo in a national record of 3:49.72 is another top candidate for honours. The 21-year-old has run his 1500m PB this season (3:33.28), and has won over 1500m in Rabat (23 May) and was second in Hengelo (1 June) both in 3:34 times.
Also entered is the highly talented 25-year-old Bahraini Bilal Mansour Ali (former Kenyan John Yego) who has a personal Mile best of 3:52.35 which he set in Oslo in 2007 when coming fifth.
Canada’s Nate Brannen, 26, has continued his emergence in high quality events and recently recorded a new personal best of 3:52.63 when placing third over the Mile in Eugene, while Nicholas Kemboi, 19, and William Biwott, 19, two 19-year-old Kenyans having a growing appetite for success. Kemboi was recently in fifth in the Prefontaine Mile in a PB of 3:53.43, and Biwott showed his potential with a quality third place in Berlin over 1500m (3:32.34 PB).
And do not dismiss the tall Australian Jeff Riseley. The 23-year-old national champion has been clocking up PB’s this year with 1:45.48 for 800m (Ostrava 17 June), 3:35.71 for 1500m (Brisbane 21 March), and 3:54.24 for the Mile (Christchurch 13 March).
What ever happens on Friday, no matter how fast they run, one thing is for sure, this race will again form part of the absorbing history, tradition and entertainment that is the Dream Mile!
Chris Turner for the IAAF