CLASSIC BOWERMAN MILE FIELD
Eugene, OR--Start with the No. 2, No. 4, and No. 8 milers in the world from last year, as ranked by Track & Field News magazine, add in the reigning Olympic Champion, plus a half-dozen other athletes with a lifetime best under 3:54, and two high school runners with legitimate chances to break the 4-minute barrier, and you have a classic Bowerman Mile field in the Prefontaine Classic on May 24th.
Led by a contingent of Kenya's strongest milers--Bernard Lagat (#2 in the world), Cornelius Chirchir (#4), Laban Rotich (#8), and Noah Ngeny (2000 Olympic Champion)--the field is guaranteed to be fast and competitive. Lagat has a lifetime best of 3:47.28, and an even faster personal best at 1500 meters (3:26.34, equal to a mile under 3:43!). Chirchir, Rotich and Ngeny all have run metric equivalents of sub-3:50, and Ngeny, of course, won the Olympic gold medal at 1500 meters in Sydney, defeating Pre Classic meet recordholder Hicham El Guerrouj, who will not be coming to the Pre Classic this year in order to prepare for a world-record attempt at 5000 meters in early June. Morocco will still have a representative in the meet, however, as Abdelkader Hachlef, currently No. 8 on the IAAF World Rankings list, will compete.
U.S. Olympian Michael Stember, 2002 U.S. outdoor champion Seneca Lassiter, and U.S. indoor champion Jason Lunn lead the American contingent, while national recordholders Hudson De Souza of Brazil (3:51.2) and Kevin Sullivan of Canada (3:50.26) have both recorded strong races outdoors this season.
As much attention as the race up front will get, the back of the pack will be of interest, too. The fastest high school miler in the nation, Steve Magness, and Oregon's Mike McGrath, who just surpassed Steve Prefontaine on the State's all-time mile list, have both accepted invitations to compete in the Bowerman Mile. Magness has run the 1600-meter equivalent of a 4:02.99 mile, leading the race wire-to-wire. On May 3rd, McGrath ran a gutty 4:05.28 for second place in the Bill McChesney Jr Twilight Mile, despite being buffeted by strong winds and rain. Both will aim to break 4-minutes as preps, a feat last accomplished in high-school record style (3:53.43) by Alan Webb in the 2001 Prefontaine Classic. Webb will decide after this coming weekend whether he will compete in the Bowerman Mile on May 24th.
Tickets for the 2003 Prefontaine Classic are on sale from 1-800-WEBFOOT. More meet information is available from www.preclassic.com