Event Report: 2001 Prefontaine Classic (Eugene)
Historic Hayward Field, Looking at the
track fans…was this ever one for the ages.
Alan Webb Acknowledges the East Grandstand
year old Alan Webb, a senior at South Lakes High School
from Reston, Virginia, ran a 3:53.43 mile to break Jim
Ryan's 36 year old national high school record (3:55.3),
once thought to be untouchable.
good of race was it? He basically stole the show from
the best track athletes in the world. World record holder,
Hichem El Guerrouj (pronounced "Heeshum El Garoosh")
ran the first sub-3:50 mile ever on American soil, which
amazingly, played second fiddle to the kid four spots
behind him. El Guerrouj even downplayed his own acheivement.
Instead, he joined the rest of the appreciative Hayward
Field crowd celebrating the high-schooler's accomplishment,
raising the young runner's arm and presenting him to
the south bleacher fans. In this reporter's opinion,
it was one of the most selfless and class gestures I
have ever seen in any competitive sport. El Guerrouj
said the young runner could very well become his chief
came to the Pre Classic under what otherwise would have been
smothering expectations for anyone his age, coming off of
a sub-4:00 indoor mile…another national high school record.
He smiled his way right through all of the pressure. When
asked by El Guerrouj if he wanted to run 3:55 in a hotel lobby
meeting a few days before, "Hell, yeah!" was his response.
the race, he looked relaxed and loose as he warmed up, seeming
to savor the atmosphere in the House That Pre Built. I yelled
to him "Go, Alan!" from my third row seat, and he looked over
and gave me a smile and a nod. After the race, he shook every
hand extended to him, looked everyone straight in the eye
and flashed what will undoubtedly soon become a very famous
smile on the world stage.
Pre Classic veterens, Race Director, Tom Jordan summed up
the race perfectly: "In terms of thrills for one race, this
has to be the greatest in Pre Classic history." No one would
have predicted that Jim Ryan's record would be broken; not
his coach, not Alan Webb.
the news media was not speculating on the possibility.
a torrid first lap, he was running last. Unlike one television
commentator who suggested the possibility of a last place
finish, the trained eyes of his coach and the knowledgeable
Hayward Field crowd recognized the discipline in Webb's opening
lap, resisting the temptation to go out with the leaders…and
the rabbits who went out way too fast. "Smart kid," his coach
and about 10,000 others were thinking at about that time.
His split was at 58 seconds. Right where his coach wanted
him. He reached the halfway point at 1:57 and looked in control,
now having moved up a couple of spots. On the third lap, he
continued to run smart, as El Guerrouj, looking like he was
not even working, continued to widen his lead.
Webb went to work, while this reporter went to sleep (e.g.
I confess I was focusing on the guy about to break 3:50 for
the first time on American soil). From where I was, I couldn't
see history in the making across the track as Webb started
his surge. He began his 55 second last lap by immediately
moving into lane two on turn seven and passing a couple of
runners. On the back stretch, he passed a couple of other
surprised runners and one even more surprised 10K Truth photographer,
who was busy snapping shots of El Guerrouj. On the last turn,
he continued to pick off runners, finishing in an amazing
5th place, even wishing he'd held on to fourth. "I can run
with these people. I was passing as many people as I could.
I didn't know who I was passing, I just wanted to try to catch
as many as I could. Now, I want to beat some of these people."
Remember that the person talking here is in high school?
ran pretty fast. Today was a very good day, and I'm glad to
have done it on Hayward Field. This means everything to me.
I did it on the track where Pre ran. He was my hero." No chest
pounding. No strutting around the track high-fiving anyone
in sight. In fact, on his way around the track, he had the
presence of mind to maintain his respect for the other athletes,
yielding to competitors in the pole vault and the start of
the women's 200 meters. Is that any good, or what?
don't look like no high school dude," said Maurice Green.
Alan Webb might have stolen the headlines, there was a lot
more going on at the Pre Classic:
Suzy Favor Hamilton, pictured below, (US) won the 1,500 meters
in 4:06.93 (the second fastest in the world this year), with
the 32 year-old calling the win "…the toughest race of my
career…" following her collapse in the final 200 meters at
the Sydney Olympics. Photo by Jeanie Dunn.
Mile World Record Holder, Hichem El
Guerrouj of Morroco
El Guerrouj on his way to the fastest
mile ever on US soil (3:49.92)
Favor Hamilton takes the lead with 300
meters to go. Hamilton (right) victory lap.
Maria Mutola (Mozambique) won the 800 meters in 1:58.90 (best
in the world this year) for her 10th win in 11 Pre Classic
Maria Mutola with 300 meters to go.
Marla Runyan (US) won the woman's 3,000 meter race in 8:44.69
(the second fastest outdoor time this year).
Runyan pictured above.
Luke Kipkosgei (Kenya), winner of three of the last four Pre
Classic races (and holds the Pre Classic record of 13:07.83)
beat two of his countrymen and American record holder Bob
Kennedy in the men's 5,000 meters. Kennedy, coming off a year
of injury resulting from an automobile accident which knocked
him out of Sydney, appears to be on his way back, finishing
fourth in a time of 13:19.02. A Pre Classic crowd favorite,
he gave the crowd a thrill as he took the lead with two laps
to go, only to inevitably get out-sprinted by the Kenyan's
with 300 meters to go. Kipkosgei won in 13:13.27.
Luke Kipkosgei and his two countrymen prepare
to make their move on Bob Kennedy (below).
Patrick Jarrett (Jamaica) got an undetected head start resulting
in an unexpected win (9.89) over seven other fast dudes, including
Maurice Green (US) in the men's 100 meters. Jarrett pictured
Patrick Mduwimana (Burundi) won the men's 800 meters with
a time of 1:44.93. · Bernard Williams (US) won the men's 200
Terrance Trammell (US) won the men's 110 meter high hurdles
with a wind aided time of 13.34. (Pictured right, Shawn Logan
in blue shirt prepares to slap hands with Terrance Trammell).
Doloreen Ennis-Londo (Jamaica) won the woman's 100 meter hurdles,
beating Gail Devers (US) in a time of 12.68 (second fastest
in the world this year).
Stacy Dragila (US) won the women's pole vault (15' 1 ˝") establishing
a new Hayward Field record (Stacy in flight, below).
Stacy Dragila pausing to acknowledge
Doloreen Ennis-Londo, enjoying the
Hayward Field hospitality
Discus winner Virgilijus Alekna and
high jump winner Amy Acuff (above right).
Marion Jones (US, pictured left) won the women's 200
meters in a wind-aided time of 22.26.
Amy Acuff (US) won the women's high jump (6'6")
and established a new Hayward Field record.
Virgilijus Alekna (Lithuania) won the discus with
a toss of 220' 5".
what did not make the sports page was the results
of the 200 meter "joggle." (e.g. running while juggling).
The winner finished in an impressive 26 seconds and
some change, and none of the five competitors dropped
any balls! But what did make the sports page of the
May 28 issue of Eugene's local newspaper, The Register-Guard,
which published the story of Jim Ryan's record being
broken, also carried the results of the Rhody Run!
Pick up an issue, and when you're done reading all
about the above, flip back a few pages and check out
T-Bone and The Rage, baby.
Now it doesn't get any better than that.
that's The Truth.