Lopez Lomong won the 5000m in 13:11.63.
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
PALO ALTO, Calif. — Sally Kipyego’s solo 14:43.11 for 5000m was just one of six world-leading marks set in the middle and long distance events at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational at Stanford University on Sunday night. Athletes enjoyed near-perfect conditions: warm in the late afternoon for the middle distance races, and cool at night for the longer events.
Kipyego, last summer’s IAAF World Championships silver medalist at 10,000m, surged immediately away from the field after the gun, getting to 1000 meters in 2:58.4, and 3000 meters in 8:55.5 with a commanding lead. She said it was important to her to feel comfortable in a fast rhythm in advance of the Kenyan Trials in June which will pick her nation’s Olympic team.
“This is the only 5K I will run before the Trials,” Kipyego told reporters. “We talked with coach and we thought –I thought– that I needed to run 71′s, or close to that pace, because I needed to get my body to realize that in a month or so I’ll have to be able to run that with maybe ten girls in the race. I needed to get comfortable and test the way that I am.”
Sporting a new shorter haircut, the former NCAA champion for Texas Tech kept in the 70 to 71 second range for most of her laps, then sprinted home in 65.2 to get the win. Her time was also a stadium record, breaking Sonia O’Sullivan’s 2004 mark of 14:58.43.
Behind Kipyego, her Nike Oregon Track Club teammate Julia Lucas had her best track race in years, and probably of her career. Lucas lopped 25 seconds off of her career best time, clocking a USA-leading 15:08.52, well inside of the IAAF Olympic Games “A” standard of 15:20.00. Her run was particularly satisfying because she had battled injuries for several years.
“I was just injured in so many ways,” Lucas lamented. “I was a mess.”
American Julie Culley (15:13.87), Britons Barbara Parker (15:14.26) and Steph Twell (15:15.24), and Jessica Tebo (15:19.43) also finished within the Olympic “A” standard.
In the men’s 5000m, USA Olympian Lopez Lomong provided the small crowd with a different kind of thrill. Making his 5000m debut on the track, Lomong scooted away from the field with a 53.2-second penultimate lap, then spread his arms as if he had won and stopped running, even though there was still one lap remaining in the race.
“When somebody say you got one more lap to go, I was like, huh?” an embarrassed Lomong said.
Despite the long pause, he nonetheless ran 66.3 seconds for the final lap to win in a world-leading 13:11.63. Kenya’s Kevin Chelimo got second (13:14.57) and Matt Tegenkamp third in 13:15.00. In all, seven athletes got under the Olympic “A” standard of 13:20.00.
The women’s 10,000m race saw a spirited battle between Iowa State star Betsy Saina and marathoner Amy Hastings which resulted in yet another world-leading time. Lisa Uhl of the Nike Oregon Track Club set a fast early pace, passing through halfway in 15:39. She was still leading with nine laps to go, but was overtaken 200 meters later by Hastings and Saina.
“Unfortunately, I just didn’t have it today,” said Uhl who would nonetheless run 31:35.50, well under the Olympic “A” standard of 31:45.00.
Hastings and Saina ran together for most of the final eight laps, until Saina pulled away with 250 meters to go to get the win in 31:15.97, a new collegiate record, to Hastings’s 31:19.87, a personal best. Ireland’s Fionnuala Britton finished third in a career best 31:29.22. Saina said she drew inspiration from Kipyego’s record-setting race which came earlier in the evening.
“I was just, like, I’m going to do my best,” Saina said. “I think I got a lot of motivation from her race. I love watching her race. I hope one day, one time, I can run with her.”
After Saina, Hastings, and Britton, Britain’s Julia Bleasdale (31:29.57), America’s Janet Cherobon-Bawcom (31:33.50) and Uhl (31:35.50) all got under the Olympic “A” standard. Former American-record holder Deena Kastor got close in her first track race in five years, clocking 31:49.23 in seventh place.
“I really thought I could get the ‘A’ standard today,” Kastor said. “I was a little panicked in the beginning, getting a really terrible start. I just tried to maintain my composure and gradually get up with a pace that I felt good with. But, I think that the start really threw me off, and I just need to get back to the aggressiveness of the track which I am lacking.”
The men’s 10,000m turned into a rollicking contest between two collegiate athletes, Southern Utah’s Cam Levins and Stanford’s Chris Derrick, and former Liberty University star Sam Chelanga. Derrick took the lead with seven laps to go, but when the pace slowed to a 67.5 second lap, Chelanga took the pace down to 64.9 seconds, then 63.7 for the penultimate lap. Levins was planning his next move.
“I felt like I had a good shot with a few laps left,” Levins said. “I didn’t know how strong the other athletes were, or how they felt. So, I was just hanging around preparing to respond to whatever happened.”
Levins was only running third at the bell, but blasted a 55.8-second final lap to shake Chelanga and clock a world-leading 27:27.96 in his debut at the distance. Chelanga got second (27:29.82), while Derrick notched an American collegiate record of 27:31.38 in third place, despite being spiked repeatedly on his shins.
The other two world leaders came in the 1500m races. In the men’s contest, Britain’s Andy Baddeley closed very strongly in 3:35.19 to get the win and narrowly beat the Olympic “A” standard of 3:35.50.
“How do you like them apples?” Baddeley quipped. “I felt so good. That’s the best I felt in years.”
Twelve men broke 3:40.00, including American mile record holder Alan Webb who clocked 3:38.86.
Anna Pierce won the women’s 1500m with a powerful kick from 150 meters out. Sweeping wide on the final turn, she passed Brenda Martinez and Canadian Hilary Stellingwerff to win in 4:07-flat, her best time since her 2010 season.
“I felt supremely comfortable,” a delighted Pierce said. “I think when I go into a race and say to myself, ‘this is going to be very hard, it’s always hard at the beginning of the season, just prepare yourself, it’s going to be rough.’ I just went into it; it’s going to be a fight. Someone’s going to punch you, you punch back. So, I didn’t give up any space. So, with 500 to go I felt really good. You know, it’s a great feeling.”
In the other distance events, no Olympic “A” standards were achieved. Prince Mumba (1:47.04) and Morgan Uceny (2:02.46) won the 800m, and Kyle Alcorn (8:26.66) and Shalaya Kipp (9:43.09) won the steeplechase events. Kipp missed the “A” standard by 9/100ths of a second.