By Maddie Lang
Just one week after smashing the world record in the 2,000 meters, his second world record of the Diamond League season, Jakob Ingebrigtsen is gearing up for another historic event: the first time the Diamond League final will be a mile instead of a 1,500, specifically the Bowerman Mile on Saturday afternoon at The Prefontaine Classic.
In 2017, Ingebrigtsen made a name for himself at The Prefontaine Classic by competing in the International Mile, which is a B race for up-and-coming runners. Then 16 years old, Ingebrigtsen became the youngest person to break the 4-minute mile with a time of 3:58.07.
In 2021, at the new Hayward Field and a couple of weeks after winning gold in the Olympic 1,500 meters, Ingebrigtsen won his first Bowerman Mile with a time of 3:47.24. He defended his title last season with a time of 3:49.76.
“This definitely feels like a home meet for me in the mile,” said Ingebrigtsen, who finished second in the 1,500 meters at the World Athletics Championships and came back to win the 5,000. “I've had a lot of good memories and achievements running the mile.”
Ingebrigtsen is doubling in the mile on Saturday and the 3,000 meters on Sunday but said Friday during the pre-meet press conference that the mile is his priority.
He received an international wild card to enter the 3,000, which he did not run during the Diamond League season and which is being contested instead of the 5,000 meters. Ingebrigtsen ran the 1,500 five times during the Diamond League regular season, and he won all five events.
“First I’m prepared to run the mile,” he said. “That’s the most important objective.”
The Bowerman Mile field also includes two Americans. Yared Nuguse, in particular, may have a chance at beating the American record of 3:46.91, set by Alan Webb in 2007. The U.S. champion at 1,500 meters, Nuguse finished fifth at the World Athletics Championships and won two Diamond League regular-season events (the two in which Ingebrigtsen did not compete.) He was second overall behind Ingebrigtsen in the points standings.
“I’m a big proponent of ‘last one, best one,’” Nuguse said.
The other American, former Oregon runner Cole Hocker, trains in Eugene with the Oregon Track Club. He did not compete in a Diamond League meet but finished seventh in the 1,500 at worlds and received a wild card as a runner from the host country.
“It's been a weird season for me here, and it’s kind of worked out toward the end,” Hocker said. “I felt like myself, and I feel like, in my mind, it’s the perfect ending to the season.”
The field includes two runners who along with Ingebrigtsen and Nuguse have broken 3:50 in the mile – Stewart McSweyn and George Mills. Erik Sowinski will be pacing the race.
Ingebrigtsen did not disclose what pace he asked for, however, and he said that running a fast race at Hayward can be difficult depending on the conditions, particularly a headwind on the backstretch.
“It can be a little bit tricky so it all depends on if we can get lucky,” he said. “I think we’re going to have to be able to run fast to be able to win, so it’s gonna be a big race.”
Nuguse explained how adding the extra curve to the race changes pacing and starts.
“I know it’s only 109 meters, but 109 meters makes a difference,” he said. “In the 1,500, you have to start out so fast. You have to do that in the mile too, but since it’s a curve it kind of collapses immediately, and there’s less fighting for it.”
Nuguse ran a 3:47.38 mile at the Millrose Games in February to set the U.S. indoor record, and he ran 3:29.02 for the 1,500 meters earlier this season at the Oslo Diamond Meeting.
“I’m feeling really good and really confident,” Nuguse said. “I feel like I have had an amazing season, and I really just want to end it in an amazing fashion as well.”
Which could mean the American record.
“I think that if the race goes out nearly as fast as any other Diamond League has gone out, then I’m sure that is something that could be managed,” Nuguse said.
Ingebrigtsen joked that he can set the pace for that time.
“Just stick to me as long as you can and we’ll get you sub-46,” he said to Nuguse with a grin on his face.