Eugene, Oregon – The lights will be shining bright for the world’s best athletes in search of fast times at the Prefontaine Classic’s Distance Night in Eugene.
Distance fans don’t want to miss this one.
Sifan Hassan’s attempt for the world record in the 5000 meters has already been announced, but even that race has additional world-class talent ready to sample some magic at the re-imagined Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus.
An eye-opening women’s 2-mile and a special appearance of the International Mile are also on the menu, the latter bringing additional history to a great home for milers.
The Pre Classic’s distance night began as an annual tradition in 2011, but this will be its first return to Hayward Field since 2018, some 3 years and 86 days before this Friday night.
Festivities for the entire meet – including a long-awaited opening celebration for the re-imagined Hayward Field – are scheduled to begin at 8:50 p.m. Pacific Time.
The women’s 2-mile is another headlining event.
Letesenbet Gidey, 23, broke Hassan’s 10k world record in June at 29:01.03 and she also owns the 5k record at 14:06.62. The Ethiopian has been impressive ever since a pair of World U20 cross-country golds in 2015 and ’17. By 2019, she earned bronze at the senior level and a silver in the track 10k at the Doha World Championships. She was bronze medalist in Tokyo in the 10k.
Hellen Obiri, 31, is also impressive. The Kenyan record holder in the 5k won gold medals at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships. She also won gold at the 2019 World cross-country championships as well as way back in 2012 in the World Indoor Championships in the 3k. Obiri has won three Pre Classic titles (once in the 5k and twice in the 1500). She was silver medalist in the Tokyo 5k.
Elise Cranny, 25, won the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 5k. She has PRed this year in the 1500, 5k and 10k and ranks No. 3 all-time U.S. in the 10k and No. 7 in the 5k at 14:48.02.
Konstanze Klosterhalfen, 24, set the German 10k record this year and was the bronze medalist in the 5k at the 2019 Doha World Championships. Her 5k PR is 14:26.76.
Amy-Eloise Markovc, 26, is a Briton better known in the U.S. as Neale, the name under which was NCAA cross-country runner-up in 2017 while at Washington. She has PRed in the 5k and 10k this year as is looking for her first sub-15.
Ethiopia has another great one in Senbere Teferi, 26. She was 6th in the Tokyo 5k but ran 14:15.25 earlier this in the 5k. Her 1500 best is 4:01.86.
Also keep an eye out for 20-year-old Ethiopian Lemlem Hailu. She’s a Tokyo 1500 semifinalist who already owns two Ethiopian titles in 1500 and ran 4:00.35 earlier this year.
A familiar name to Pre Classic fans is Francine Nyansaba, 28. She won the 2013 Pre Classic 800 in 1:56.72, a meet record that has since been broken. The Rio silver medalist in the event has moved all the way up to the 10k, finishing 10th in Tokyo with a Burundi record 30:41.93. She also has the 400 Burundi best at 53.48.
The women’s 5k race will certainly have attraction with Hassan’s attempt at the WR, but the race is set to include many others attempting fast times. Fantu Worku, 22, set a PR of 14:26.80 in July but couldn’t make the tough Ethiopian team for the Olympics. Her range includes a 4:05.81 PR in the 1500.
American Rachel Schneider, 30, will return to the site where she made the Olympic team in both the 5k and 10k. A former Georgetown All-American, she has fastest 1500 PR of the Americans in the field at 4:02.26.
Emily Infeld, 31, was bronze medalist in the 10k at the 2015 World Championships and was also 6th in 2017 as well as 11th in Rio. A former NCAA indoor 3k champ for Georgetown, she won the 2018 U.S. cross country title.
Abbey Cooper, 29, just missed the U.S. team for Tokyo with a 4th-place at the U.S. Olympic Trials after clocking a solo 15:07.80 in the heats just to get the Olympic standard and has since run sub-15. As Abbey D’Agostino, she made the Rio team and earned international respect for assisting another runner as both fell in the 5k heats. As a collegian, the Dartmouth grad won seven NCAA titles including cross-country and indoor and outdoor track.
Alicia Monson, 23, earned a U.S. berth in the 10k for Tokyo. A former NCAA indoor 5k champ and cross country runner-up for Wisconsin, Monson has PRed four times over three distances since December, including a 5-second improvement to 4:07.09 in the 1500.
The International Mile is unique to the Pre Classic and was born in 2010 when the Pre Classic was overwhelmed with interest in its famous Bowerman Mile. It has since become a world-class race featuring established milers as well as rising stars.
This year’s entrants are worthy of the event’s best.
Craig Engels, 27, is the reigning U.S. road mile champ and owns a mile PR of 3:51.60 as the top American from the 2019 Bowerman Mile.
Sam Prakel, 26, has an indoor PR of 3:50.94 and was 2nd in a recent fast road mile in Cleveland at 3:50. An Oregon grad, he has yet to race in the Pre Classic.
Henry Wynne, 26, won the U.S. indoor mile title and was also an NCAA indoor mile champ while at Virginia. His PR is 3:51.26.
Eric Avila, 31, was an NAIA 1500 champion while at Southern Oregon. His mile PR of 3:55.43 takes backseat to a 1500 best of 3:35.60.
Vincent Ciattei, 26, has never competed in the Pre Classic but has twice been NCAA runner-up while at Virginia Tech in the indoor mile and outdoor 1500.
Geordie Beamish, 24, won the 2019 NCAA indoor mile title while at Northern Arizona and will be making his Pre Classic debut.
The race is likely to provide history with perhaps the 200th miler to record a sub-4 mile in the Pre Classic. We’re standing at 197 and 8 of the entrants are making their debut at the Pre Classic in any event.
An intriguing women’s 1500 of North American talent features uncanny depth currently in the U.S.
Nikki Hiltz, 26, owns a best of 4:01.52 from her semifinal in the 2019 Doha World Championships semis.
Helen Schlachtenhaufen, 26, lowered her PR to 4:01.09 this year.
Dani Jones will turn 25 on Saturday. The Colorado grad has a career triple NCAA crown of individual titles – 2017 indoor 3k, 2018 cross country and 2019 outdoor 5k. She lowered her PR to 4:04.26 this year.
Sage Hurta, 23, won the NCAA indoor mile crown this year while at Colorado. She ran her 800 best of 2:00.08 in the heats of the Olympic Trials.
Rebecca Mehra, 26, is a Stanford grad on a tear. She PRed twice last weekend in Memphis, first at 4:04.90 with a 60+ last lap in the 1500, then a 2:00.82 the next day in the 800.
The full list of entrants in all events for the Pre Classic is available HERE.
Distance Night in Eugene at the Prefontaine Classic will exclusively be broadcast live on USATF.TV on Friday, August 20. The worldwide broadcast will only be available to +PLUS subcribers. Sign-up here for +PLUS.
Fans can follow the event lineups as all announced fields are posted at PreClassic.com. The direct link to current start/entry lists is HERE and will include updates to all announced fields.
Tickets for the 46th edition of the Prefontaine Classic, to be held August 20-21 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., are available at GoDucks.com.
Accreditation requests for bona fide members of the media wishing to cover the Prefontaine Classic can be placed online at portal.diamondleague.com. Media accreditation questions and other inquiries can be sent to media. @preclassic.com
The Prefontaine Classic is the longest-running outdoor invitational track & field meet in America and is part of the elite Wanda Diamond League of meets held worldwide annually. The Pre Classic’s results score has rated No. 1 or No. 2 in the world 8 of the last 9 years it has been contested. The meet has been sponsored by NIKE continuously since 1984, the longest running title sponsorship of a single sports event in the United States. The NIKE Prefontaine Classic will be shown live to an international audience by NBC on Saturday, and live-streamed on usatf.tv on Friday night.
Steve Prefontaine is a legend in the sport of track & field and is the most inspirational distance runner in American history. He set a national high school 2-mile record (8:41.5) while at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay, Oregon, that is the fastest ever in a National Federation-sanctioned race. While competing for the University of Oregon, he won national cross country championships (3) and outdoor track 3-Mile/5000-meter championships (4), and never lost a collegiate track race at any distance. As a collegiate junior, he made the 1972 U.S. Olympic Team and nearly won an Olympic medal, finishing 4th in the 5K at the 1972 Munich Olympics, at age 21. After finishing college in 1973 and preparing for a return to the Olympics in 1976, he continued to improve, setting many American records. His life ended tragically on May 30, 1975, the result of an auto accident, at age 24. The Pre Classic began that year and had been held every year since, until 2020 when it fell victim to the pandemic.