Eugene, Oregon – There will be no need for introductions when Faith Kipyegon and Laura Muir line up for the women’s 1500 meters at the Prefontaine Classic.
The pair’s 14th and most recent meeting came in Tokyo, when Kipyegon led Muir for the top two medals in the Olympic 1500 meters. Actually, all three medalists from that race will be running at the Pre Classic, but bronze medalist Sifan Hassan – also gold medalist in the 5000 and 10,000 – has opted for the 5k (a field still to be announced).
This will be the third meeting on U.S. soil for Kipyegon and Muir but like many the first at the re-imagined Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus. Their other two races were also at the Pre Classic, with Kipyegon winning both.
A deep field accompanies the two headliners as eight of the top 12 at the Olympics are entered and a total of nine have run sub-4. The most ever under 4:00 in one race in the U.S. is five, achieved at the 2014 Pre Classic.
Faith Kipyegon, 27, became just the second woman to win two Olympic gold medals in the 1500, taking the Tokyo race with an Olympic record of 3:53.11. A month earlier the Kenyan record holder was exactly 1 second off the world record at 3:51.07 to become No. 4 all-time.
This will be Kipyegon’s 7th Pre Classic. A three-time winner of this event, her first victory came in 2016 at 3:56.41, which remains not only the meet record but also the fastest run on U.S. soil. She has won or finished second in every major championships she’s run since she was 20 in 2014.
Laura Muir, 28, earned her first Olympic medal with the silver from Tokyo, running a British record 3:54.50. The Scottish native has won the Wanda Diamond League trophy twice, the most recent coming in 2018.
Muir’s silver in Tokyo wasn’t just her first Olympic medal – it was her first major outdoor medal. At the 2017 London Worlds, she made two finals, taking 4th in a wild 1500 finish (just .07 seconds short of a medal) before a 6th in the 5k. This will be the fourth Pre Classic for Muir.
The next-highest finisher from Tokyo is Canada’s Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, 25, who formerly trained in Scotland with Muir but now is based in Oregon with the Bowerman Track Club. DeBues-Stafford was 5th in Tokyo, moving up from the 6th she took in Doha at the 2019 World Championships when she set the Canadian record of 3:56.12.
Her fastest this year – and second-fastest ever – is 3:58.28 from the Tokyo semifinals. She made her first Olympics in 2016 at age 20 and first ran at Hayward Field in 2014 at the World Junior Championships, finishing 9th in the 3000.
Cory McGee, 29, was runner-up at the U.S. Olympic Trials in a PR 4:00.67 and also made the final in Tokyo, finishing 12th. She is a former two-time SEC indoor mile champ from Florida who was runner-up at the 2014 NCAA Outdoor 1500 held at Hayward Field.
Shannon Osika, 28, just missed making the U.S. Olympic team, finishing 4th at the Trials. A former Big Ten 1500 and indoor mile champ for Michigan, Osika will be racing in the Pre Classic for the first time since pacing the 2019 3k, a race that resulted in a Diamond League record 8:18.49.
Another American in the field is 25-year-old Josette Norris. After an 8th-place finish in the Olympic Trials, Norris joined the sub-4 club in July at 3:59.72 a week before PRing in the 5k at 14:51.32. The Georgetown grad’s PRs before this year were 4:10.82 (1500) and 15:29.34 (5k).
Two Australians made the Tokyo final and each is familiar with Hayward Field’s previous configuration. Linden Hall, 30, earlier this year became the first Aussie to run sub-4 at 3:59.67 and bettered that time in Tokyo with a 6th-place finish in 3:59.01. The Florida State grad has PRed in two of her previous four Pre Classics.
Gaining the Australian record in Tokyo was former Oregon star Jessica Hull. She finished 11th in the Tokyo final after running her record 3:58.81 in the semifinals. Hull, who earned her first Australian record last year in the 5k (14:43.80), won two individual NCAA titles for the Ducks and ran on two winning distance medley relay teams.
Winnie Nanyondo, 27, owns Uganda’s national record at 3:59.56 and attempted an 800/1500 double in Tokyo, just missing the final in the shorter event. She made both finals in the 2019 Doha Worlds, taking 4thin the 800 (an event in which she also owns the Ugandan record at 1:58.63).
Rababe Arafi, 30, is the Moroccan record holder at 3:58.84. She also attempted an 800/1500 double in Tokyo but missed both finals, though she made both finals in Doha. A Rio 1500 finalist, she ran her first sub-4 at the 2018 Pre Classic.
Gaia Sabbatini, 22, is the youngest in the field, and ran her lifetime best 4:02.25 in Tokyo, an improvement by over 3 seconds.
Pacing duties will be courtesy of Chanelle Price a day before she turns 31. Price, a former World Indoor champion in the 800, was 5th in the 800 at the Olympic Trials in a PR 1:58.73 and notably paced this year’s fastest 1500 at the Monaco DL in 61.41 and 2:03.55.
Women’s 1500 Meters
Faith Kipyegon (Kenya)
Laura Muir (Great Britain)
Gabriela DeBues-Stafford (Canada)
Jessica Hull (Australia)
Rababe Arafi (Morocco)
Linden Hall (Australia)
Winnie Nanyondo (Uganda)
Josette Norris (USA)
Cory McGee (USA)
Shannon Osika (USA)
Gaia Sabbatini (Italy)
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.