Monday, May 16, 2011

Lagat among headliners at Nike Prefontaine Classic; Patterson to defend javelin title; remembering Wanjiru...

In what is shaping up to be one of the most competitive fields, Washington State grad Bernard Lagat is one of the headliners in the two-mile run at the Nike Prefontaine Classic on June 4th at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.

Among those confirmed are Tariku Bekele of Ethiopia, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, Mo Farah of Great Britain, Nike Oregon Project teammate Galen Rupp, and the Oregon TC Elite duo of Chris Solinsky and Matt Tegenkamp.

According to the press release, it may take something faster than Craig Mottram's 8:03.50 meet record at the 2007 edition of this meet to win this year's race.

You can read the full release here.

Among those with Washington ties who are listed entries at the Pre Classic include defending javelin champion Kara Patterson of Vancouver, and former WSU standout Ian Waltz.

The preliminary entry list for the Nike Prefontaine Classic stop on the Samsung Diamond League tour is available here.

Upon landing in Seattle Sunday evening, I was a bit disturbed and saddened to see a series of tweets reporting the death of 2008 Olympic marathon gold medalist Sammy Wanjiru (left/photo by Paul Merca) of Kenya at the age of 24, who either committed suicide or fell off a balcony to his death in Nyahururu, Kenya.

I had the opportunity to cover the final marathon that he ran, which was last fall's Bank of America Chicago Marathon, which called a race for the ages.

On the streets of Chicago, Ethiopia's Tsegaye Kebede, who won London earlier in the year, thought that he had gotten rid of Wanjiru not once, but twice in the 26 mile, 385 yard battle.

But Wanjiru somehow willed his way to catch up with, pass, and defeat Kebede, breaking the tape in 2:06:24, leaving Tsegaye 19 seconds behind to claim not only the $70000 first place check, but the $500,000 check for winning the World Marathon Majors series.

In the last few months, Wanjiru was involved in a car accident, arrested on attempted murder against his wife, assault of a body guard, and illegal firearm charges. I got the sense that most of his non-running issues began after he moved back to Kenya after winning the Olympic marathon (he was training for at least six years in Japan)

In 2009, I interviewed him, along with a group of reporters in San Francisco at a Nike media event.

Here is the video:

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