Olympic 10,000 silver medalist Paul Tanui faces a stern test in the two mile race at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene on May 26.
Tanui, who is also the world 10,000m bronze medallist faces a quality field in the event including compatriot Ronald Kwemoi, world 5000m champion Muktar Edris of Ethiopia. Kwemoi won the Bowerman Mile last year while Edris ended Mo Farah’s reign last summer at the World Championships.
The Ethiopian beat Farah, always a fast finisher, at his own game with a ferocious 52.4 last lap. For Edris, the gold was his first track major medal of any color – his only other medal being the bronze he earned at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships in China.
Meanwhile, his Ethiopian teammate, Yomif Kejelcha, raced to a second successive world indoor 3000m title in Birmingham last month. Kejelcha, 20, has twice raced to unprecedented feats at Hayward Field. In 2014, he became the youngest ever 5000m winner at the World Junior Championships, in Eugene. In 2015 he made his biggest splash, winning the Pre-Classic and becoming the youngest 5000m winner by four years. A fantastic season saw him winning the Diamond League as well with a 12:53.98 PB. He’s also the fastest in the field at 3000m with 7:28.19, the current world U20 record.
The youth fountain from Ethiopia continues with 18-year-old Selemon Barega, who became the youngest indoor 3000m medallist with his silver medal finish behind Kejelcha in Birmingham. He won the world U20 5000m title in 2016.
The field also includes Paul Chelimo, the only racer in the field with medals from Rio and last summer’s World Championships. Both –Rio silver and London bronze — came with thrilling finishes and are among the best ever by a US athlete.
Newly-crowned double Commonwealth Games champion Joshua Cheptegei is also in the mix. He was second over 10,000m at last year’s World Championships and the world junior champion over the distance in 2014. Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed is also in the field, the double silver Commonwealth medallist after finishing runner-up behind Cheptegei in both track races in Gold Coast.
Others in the field include Bahrain’s Albert Rop, who has a 12:51.96 5000m lifetime best, Ryan Hill, the 2016 world indoor 3000m silver medallist, who has a 7:30.93 personal best over that distance, Eric Jenkins, 26, who won indoor NCAA titles for Oregon over 3000m and 5000m, Hassan Mead, the US 10,000m champion, Shadrack Kipchirchir, the US road 5km champion; and Australian Patrick Tiernan, the 2016 NCAA cross country champion.
The 2-mile distance comes in a year with no major international championship 5000m races outside of the annual IAAF Diamond League, which incorporates the two mile and 3000m into its point standings for the 5000m. The-Pre Classic two mile record of 8:03.50, set in 2007 by Australian Craig Mottram, remains the fastest run on US soil.