Prefontaine Classic

Rage Event Report: 2001 Prefontaine Classic (Eugene)

Historic Hayward Field

Historic Hayward Field, Looking at the South Bleachers

Oh, track fans…was this ever one for the ages.

Alan Webb acknowledges the Hayward Field crowd,

Alan Webb Acknowledges the East Grandstand Crowd

Eighteen 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.

How 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 rival. Wow.

Webb 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.

Before 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.

For 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.

Even the news media was not speculating on the possibility.

After 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.

Then, 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?

"I 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?

"He don't look like no high school dude," said Maurice Green. No kidding.

While 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.

Susie Favor Hamilton  wins 1,500 meters in 4:06:93

Hichem

Mile World Record Holder, Hichem El Guerrouj of Morroco

El Guerrouj on his way to the fastest

El Guerrouj on his way to the fastest mile ever on US soil (3:49.92)

Favor Hamilton takes the lead

Favor Hamilton takes the lead with 300 meters to go. Hamilton (right) victory lap.

Suzy Favor Hamilton

• 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 races.

Maria Mutola

Maria Mutola with 300 meters to go.

Marla Runyan

• 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).

Luke Kipkosgei makes move on Bob Kennedy

Patrick Jarrett enjoying the fans and • 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 left.

• Patrick Mduwimana (Burundi) won the men's 800 meters with a time of 1:44.93. · Bernard Williams (US) won the men's 200 meters (20.18).

Terrance Trammell

• 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 establishing a new Hayward Field

Stacy Dragila

Stacy Dragila pausing to acknowledge the fans

Doloreen Ennis-Londo

Doloreen Ennis-Londo, enjoying the Hayward Field hospitality

Discus winner Virgilijus Alekna and high jump winner Amy Acuff (above right).

Marion Jones strolls to the start of • 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".

Finally, 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.

 

 

 

Jogglers on Hayward Field Track

The "Jogglers"

Now it doesn't get any better than that.

And that's The Truth.


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