Monday, June 6, 2011

Haron Keitany Claims Victory in Pre Classic Bowerman Mile

The great mile races around the world have a special cachet in the sport, thanks to the superstars who have won them in the past, and the difficulty in winning them in the present. Like the Bislett Games Dream Mile, The Bowerman Mile at the Prefontaine Classic has earned a sterling reputation thanks to a history that features wins by Olympic Gold Medalists and World Record holders like Noah Ngeny, Daniel Komen, Hicham El Guerrouj, and Asbel Kiprop — now The “One and Only Land Cruiser,” Haron Keitany, joins those ranks with an impressive win on Saturday.

The meet started off for KIMbia’s team with a 3:56 from Evan Jager in the International Mile, good for 7th place. This time last year, Jager watched the race from the “Bowerman curve,” wearing a boot. He later said with slight frustration that the race was not particularly fun, but his performance was still less than two seconds away from the 3:54.35 he ran in 2009 on his way to making the US World Championship team for Berlin.

Next, Jager’s teammates Matt Tegenkamp and Andrew Bumbalough lined up for the two-mile, with Tegenkamp showing a spark that had not yet been fully evident this season. “Teg,” the American Record holder for this distance, made a bid for the lead with one lap to go, and stayed in the mix until about 130m remained. Even then, he hung on and finished just two seconds behind race winner Bernard Lagat, closing in an unofficial 1:55 for the final 800m and placing 5th. Bumbalough gamely stuck with the pack early, but faded to 10th.

As is so often the case at “Pre,” it was the final four laps of the day that delivered some of the biggest thrills. That International Mile held earlier in the program — appetizer to the Bowerman Mile entree — had produced a World Lead of 3:53, augering a barn-burner at meet’s end. A loaded field featured reigning Olympic Gold and Silver Medalists, the fastest 1500m-man of 2010, and others. At the bell, the whole of that field was at Keitany’s heels, and holding the lead for a full 400 meters seemed a tall order. Sure enough, Silas Kiplagat, a 3:29 to his name, came around the Br. Colm O’Connell-coached KIMbia athlete on the backstretch, and the field seemed about to swallow up Keitany with 200 meters to go.

However, Keitany had something held in reserve — he was mindful of Kiprop’s searing late kick, he said later — and he blew back into the lead down the homestretch using the inside lane to pass Kiplagat for the biggest victory of his career. Watch the race video below, and check back soon for an exclusive post-race interview with the 2011 Bowerman Mile Champion.

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One response to “Haron Keitany Claims Victory in Pre Classic Bowerman Mile”

  1. […] Haron Keitany Wins Bowerman Mile at Prefontaine Classic with 2011 World Leader Keitany’s 3:49.09 would prove the fastest Mile performance of 2011. With good showings in Hengelo and Oslo (2nd at both) and Zurich (3rd), The Land Cruiser would […]