The Prefontaine Classic is the longest-running outdoor invitational track and field meet in America, and it’s happening this Friday and Saturday. The meet is also the Diamond League’s only stop in North America. The meet is named after Steven Prefontaine, a legendary and charismatic American distance runner who died tragically at the age of 24 in a car accident in Eugene, Oregon. “Pre” as he was known, held six American records at the time of his death. He was fourth in the 1972 Olympics.
This year’s event has brought in some of the best in the world to compete at arguably America’s most famous track meet.
The international mile is a unique event – the race invites some of the best milers in the world to run against rising stars in the event. Brodey Hasty is the 18-year old high school star on the start list for Saturday. Hasty is looking to break four minutes for the first time, after narrowly missing the mark at the Millrose Mile this winter. Hasty will compete against big names such as: Kyle Merber, member of the World Record setting DMR (distance medley relay) team, and Morocco’s Fouad El Kaam who was a 1,500m World Championship finalist last year. A last minute entry of note is 17 year-old Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway, who beat Paul Chelimo and Matt Centrowitz to win the Payton Jordan 1,500m three weeks ago.
The women’s 1,500m sees American, and Olympic bronze medalist Jenny Simpson go up against Laura Muir of Great Britain. Muir was a finalist in Rio and fourth at the 2017 World Championships. Simpson has the fastest incoming seed at 3:57.22.
The women’s 800 has Caster Semenya, Ajee Wilson and Francine Niyonsaba all on the start list. All three women have lifetime bests of 1:55; for context, the world record in the event is 1:53.28. Semenya is coming off a win in Doha where she also smashed the South African 1,500m record. Wilson was third at the 2017 World Championships in the 800m, and second at the 2018 Indoor World Championships this past winter.
The Bowerman Mile is the last race of the evening. The race has seen 399 sub-four minute mile performances, and is sure to hit over 400 after this year’s race. Men to watch are Ayanleh Souleiman, Aman Wote, Samuel Tefera, and Matt Centrowitz. Souleiman has the fastest incoming seed time and was fourth at Rio in 2016. Wote is coming off a strong indoor season, finishing fourth at the Indoor World Championships this past March. Centrowitz is the 2016 Olympic gold medalist. He had a tough 2017, but ran an impressive double last week at the USATF Distance Classic. Tefera is the 19-year old 2018 Indoor World Champion, and is making his mile debut this weekend.
Solid day @ Oxy tonight. Ran 1:48.4 in the 800 and came back an hour later to run 3:38.9 w/ 54.3 last lap. Pre Classic on deck next week 👊🏽
— Matthew Centrowitz (@MattCentrowitz) May 18, 2018
The event will be broadcasted on CBC. The complete schedule of events as well as start lists can be found here.