Sifan Hassan, Karsten Warholm and Ryan Crouser, three of the hottest names in the sport at the moment, top another impressive bill for the 59th edition of the Golden Spike in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on Tuesday (8), the next stop on the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting circuit.
Hassan, the reigning 1500m and 10,000m world champion, will race near the middle of that range when she headlines the 5000m just four days after breaking the world record in the one-hour run at the Wanda Diamond League fixture in Brussels.
Hassan reached 18,930 metres in her 60-minute effort, beating the previous mark of 18,517 metres set by Ethiopia’s Dire Tune in Ostrava in 2008. That translates to roughly a 1:06:53 pace for a half marathon. How quickly she can recover from that is anyone's guess but prior to her record-setting exploits on Friday she did indicate that her ambitions in Ostrava include an assault on the 14:30.18 meeting record set by Meseret Defar in 2007.
Hassan, the European record holder over the distance at 14:22.12, is the class of the field but could be tested by 21-year-old Ethiopian Tsehay Gemechu, who sped to a 14:29.60 lifetime best last October to finish fourth at the World Championships, and Turkey's Yasemin Can, who has a 14:36.82 best to her credit.
All eyes on Warholm
Warholm meanwhile, has made his few appearances during this Coronavirus pandemic-shortened season count, scorching to a 47.10 performance in Monaco on 14 August, his first 400m hurdles race in 10 months, before a stunning 46.87 run in Stockholm nine days later to solidify his No2 position on the all-time list. His famously aggressive style and continually improved fitness is now turning his every appearance into a serious assault on Kevin Young’s 46.78 world record set at the 1992 Olympics.
He too is a class apart, just like Crouser who once again displayed sensational form at the Skolimowska Memorial on Sunday, sending each of his five measured throws well beyond the 22-metre line. His shortest was 22.42m, a distance nobody else has come close to this season and his longest 22.70m, a distance only seven other men have ever surpassed.
Crouser, who improved his career best to 22.91m earlier this season, said jetlag left him a little sluggish on Sunday. He should be better adjusted on Tuesday, where he's set to face Italy's Leonardo Fabbri and Pole Michal Haratyk, currently No2 and No3 on the season's list with 21.99m and 21.88m, respectively.
Barega’s season’s debut
The men's 5000m should attract some attention as well with World Championships silver medallist Selemon Barega making his first appearance of the outdoor season. Keep an eye on 19-year-old Ugandan Jacob Kiplimo, the silver medallist in the senior race at last year's World Cross Country Championships, who will be making his first track appearance since July 2018. Italy's Yemaneberhan Crippa, who improved his 1500m best to 3:35.26, could be a factor.
The men's 1500m should also be competitive with a field that includes Australian Stewart McSweyn, who lowered his career best to 3:31.48 earlier this season, world bronze medallist Marcin Lewandowski, and two-time world indoor 3000m champion Yomif Kejelcha who'll be making his second 1500m start of the year.
The men's 800m features Briton Elliot Giles, who improved to 1:44.68 in Marseille on 3 September, Frenchman Benjamin Roberts, who lowered his best to 1:44.46 in Monaco, and last year's world championships silver medallist Amel Tuka.
First 2020 1500m race for Kipyegon
Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon will make her first outing over her favoured distance after fast back-to-back victories over 1000m. She'll face rapidly improving Briton Jemma Reekie and Ugandan record holder Winnie Nanyondo, who will make her first outdoor start of the year.
Laura Muir, who has produced the season's two fastest 1500m performances, will step down in distance to the 800m where she'll be equally difficult to beat. She's clocked 1:59.54 this season, marginally faster than Irishwoman Ciara Mageean, who has improved to 1:59.69. The field also includes Pole Sofia Ennaoui, who produced her first sub-4:00 in Silesia where she clocked 3:59.70 behind Muir.
Daniel Stahl will once again take centre stage in the discus throw where the world champion will look to extend his unbeaten streak to 14. Kristjan Ceh of Slovenia, who was second to the Swede in Silesia, returns to action as well along with 2017 world champion Andrius Gudzius.
In the women's javelin, Silesia winner Maria Andrejczyk returns to action after her 65.70m season's best, which moved her up to No4 on the 2020 world list. She'll face Czechs Barbora Spotakova, the world record holder, and Nikola Ogrodnikova. The men's field includes top Czech stars Vitezslav Vesely and Petr Frydrych.
And rounding out the throws, world leader Auriole Dongmo heads the field in the women's shot put, back in action after her victory in Silesia. The 30-year-old threw 19.53m at home in Lisbon in March.
Zango, Taylor and Pichardo together again
The triple jump features another face-off between the event's rising star, Hugues Fabrice Zango of Burkina Faso, the world leader at 17.43m, four-time world champion Christian Taylor (17.34 SB) and 18-metre man Pedro Pablo Pichardo (17.28 SB). All three reached their season's best at the Continental Tour Gold meeting in Szekesfehervar, Hunagry, on 19 August.
Maksim Nedasekau of Belarus, the world leader at 2.33m, leads the men's high jump field, taking on Italy's Gianmarco Tamberi, who's topped 2.30m this season.
The men's pole vault wars continue with world champion Sam Kendricks taking centre stage a week after his 6.02m leap in Lausanne. He'll be looking to bounce back from a 5.72m runner-up performance up the road in Silesia. Olympic champion Thiago Braz also returns to action.
The women's field includes Stockholm winner Holly Bradshaw and Swede Michaela Meijer who has improved to 4.83.
Both men's and women's programmes feature a rarely-run 150m race, with 2017 world 200m champion Ramil Guliyev and US journeyman sprinter Mike Rodgers leading the men's field and Silesia 100m winner Dafne Schippers and Ajla Del Ponte, the 100m winner in Monaco and Stockholm, heading the women's.
Femke Bol, this year's top 400m hurdler, will try her luck in the 300m hurdles, another rarely-contested event. She'll face European champion Lea Sprunger and two-time world champion Zuzana Hejnova.
Current restrictions on public gatherings in place due to the Coronavirus pandemic will limit the crowd to about 5000 spectators. The forecast calls for sunny skies and pleasant conditions with daytime high reaching 22 C.
Bob Ramsak for World Athletics