Fully-loaded field features a host of World and Olympic champions.
Written by: Mario Fraioli
The distance races have always been the ones to watch at the annual Prefontaine Classic track meet at historic Hayward Field, and this Saturday’s Bowerman Mile is certainly no exception.
Meet director Tom Jordan has assembled perhaps the deepest field ever to contest the fabled four-lap race, bringing in seven of the top 10 milers in the world from last year. Expected to compete is the 2009 world champion, Youssef Kamel of Bahrain, along with the defending Olympic champion in the 1,500 meters, Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, who has already has a sub-3:50 clocking to his name this season. Bernard Lagat, the 2007 world champion at 1,500 meters who broke the American 5,000-meter record earlier this season, is also on the start list and will be looking to win his third Bowerman Mile. He ran 3:34.36 for 1,500 meters earlier this season to finish fifth at the adidas Grand Prix in New York. In that race, Lagat finished a second behind fellow U.S. Olympian Leo Manzano and a tick ahead of countryman Lopez Lomong. Lomong and Manzano, who finished first and second, respectively, in last weekend’s U.S. Track & Field Championships, are also amongst the entrants in this weekend’s race.
Haron Keitany, Nicholas Kemboi and Daniel Komen round out the field’s Kenyan contingent. Keitany was the gold medalist in the 1,500 meters at the 2008 World Athletics Final, while Kemboi notched a personal best of 3:33.29 to win the 1,500 meters at the adidas meet in June. Komen still holds the record for the fastest mile ever run on American soil — a 3:48.28 win at the Bowerman Mile in 2007. Ethiopian Gebremedhin Mekonnen, who ran a personal best of 3:49.83 at the Bislett Games in May, and Moroccans Mohammed Moustaoui and Amine Laalou, fill out the remainder of the field.
With two pacers expected to tow the field through a fast first three laps, a record-setting race is certainly a possibility on Saturday. Komen’s record is in danger of going down, but he likely won’t be the man to do it. One of his countrymen — or former countrymen — however, just might fill that role.
Kiprop, whose 3:49.56 ranks him just above Mekonnen as the current world leader, is also number two on the 1,500-meter list this season and should be considered the pre-race favorite. Mekonnen might challenge for the victory, but Kamel –formerly of Kenya — is worth keeping an eye on, too, as the defending world champion in both the 1,500 and 800 meters, is the fastest finisher in the field. Lastly, the ageless Lagat should not be forgotten about, especially if things turn tactical. The two-time Bowerman Mile winner would love to add a third victory to his resume, and his race savviness could go a long way on a slow day.
Bowerman Mile Predictions
- Asbel Kiprop (KEN) — 3:47.86
- Gebremedhin Mekonnen (ETH) — 3:48.37
- Amine Laalou (MAR) — 3:49.44
- Lopez Lomong (USA) — 3:50.41
- Bernard Lagat (USA) — 3:51.16
- Youssef Kamel (BAH) — 3:51.97
- Leo Manzano (USA) — 3:52.36
- Daniel Komen (KEN) — 3:54.73
- Nicholas Kemboi (KEN) — 3:54.78
- Haron Keitany (KEN) — 3:55.88
- Mohammed Moustaoui (MAR) — 3:59.92