Prefontaine Classic race recaps

I’ve written some race recaps for the Canadians. I’ll put them up here when they are complete.

Race Recaps

Women’s 800m National.

Canada was represented by two women in this race, Ottawa’s Melissa Bishop, and Repentigny’s Annie LeBlanc. LeBlanc, who runs for the local school, was charged as the rabbit, her collegiate season having just ended at NCAA Regionals last week. She took the lead from lane 8, while Bishop tucked nicely in the pack. The pace through 400m was 57.58, just what the women were looking for. Chantelle Price took over the lead and went through 600 in 1:28.98. I’m not sure if she was meant to be a second rabbit, but unfortunately she faded to 9th at the end. It’s an unfortunate thing that leading a race early doesn’t often turn into a good placing. Indeed, that’s what made Steve Prefontaine’s front running so thrilling: he could keep his spot.

Meanwhile, Bishop was working her way to the front. She was well set up on the final straight and had an open lane to kick. She outlasted all but Phoebe Wright of the USA who ran 2:00.85 for the win. Bishop’s time of 2:01.16 is good for a B standard. Now both she and fellow Olympian Jessica Smith (2:01.17) have the B, and with the 800m growing into a strong event for Canada, the national championships in Monton are shaping up to be a true trials, as the spots for Moscow will likely be decided there. There are many more opportunities to race, however, and we will certainly see Bishop, Smith, and others take a crack at going sub-2, perhaps next at the Toronto installment of the National Track League on June 11th.

Men’s 10000m International.

Olympian Mohammed Ahmed, red-shirting his season with the Wisconsin Badgers, headed into this race with hopes of improving his personal best of 27:34.64 from last year, or at least getting under the Moscow A standard of 27:40. Things looked good in the first half of the race, as he latched onto the pack that went through 5k in 13:33, lead by world record holder Kenenisa Bekele. Mo was through in 13:37. He said he saw the time and thought it was a little quick, and the pack surged at that moment, so he backed off, hoping a few would come back to him. At 6k it looked like Tahri was going to join him, but then the Frenchman stepped off the track, leaving Ahmed in no-man’s land for the rest of the race. Juan Luis Barrios closed hard, but Mo held his own, closing with a 2:11 800, and finished in 27:50.7, good for B standard.

After the race, he noted that it had been a tactical mistake to let the pack go. They did not speed up as much as he thought, and even slowed down a little. The group of Bett, Toroititch and Kifle were under his PB, and Tariku Bekele finished in 27:38, under the A standard. While the elder Bekele won in 27:12.8 and the lead pack was mostly through in under 27:20, Mo felt like he could have held on longer to the secondary group. “I wasn’t really hurting until 5 laps to go.”

A frustrated Ahmed will run for the win in Moncton, and then try to find another 10000m before the end of July. There’s word the Ethiopians are looking for another shot, so he’ll hopefully be able to jump on that train.

Women’s 1500m National

Hellen Obiri was the only runner to go under 4:00, as she won the race in 3:58.58, but Sheila Reid ran a great tactical race, taking advantage of a fast pace to run the Canadian A standard, and lower her PB by 5 seconds to 4:02.96. After the race, Reid said she went by feel, and didn’t know any splits. (For the record, she was 48, 66, 66, 63.) Reid is no stranger to front running, as she is a 5-time NCAA individual champion, including an historic 1500/5000 double in 2011. But she understands she’s at a different level now, and she waited out a fast race at the back of the pack, but finished strong in 6th place.

“I’m at the stage in my career where, the women who run under four, like Kipyegon (ed. 4:01.08 for 2nd) I have to let them go.”

She let them go at first, but moved up very strong on the final lap to ensure the A standard. Next up for Reid will be the NTL meet in Toronto, and then Moncton for the national championships. For now, only Reid and Nicole Sifuentes have the A standard, so they would both have to finish in the top 3 at the trials. Hilary Stellingwerf hasn’t hit the standard yet, but she was in London last year, and is always dangerous in championship races.

Men’s 5000m Diamond League

Despite a personal best time of 13:15.19, Cam Levins was disappointed with the way his race went. He was able to get on the back of the train as the pack rolled on 13:00 pace for most of the race. Garret Heath provided excellent pacing, going through 1k in 2:36 and 2k in 5:15. Gideon Gathimba took over and pulled the group to 3k in 7:55.

With 800m to go, his teammates Mo Farah and Galen Rupp, surged to the front, but it was Edwin Soi who pulled out the victory, edging Farah by a second. Americans Lagat, Rupp and a surprising Chris Derrick were all under 13:10, but Levins’ signature kick was nowhere to be found. Levins said he thought there was something wrong, as he had trouble with his breathing.

He’ll have a chance to improve on his PB again in Monaco, perhaps, but first, Moncton for the Canadian trials.

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