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Fast Times, 4 World Leads at Payton Jordan

SPRINT FINISHES, FAST TIMES HIGHLIGHT PAYTON JORDAN CARDINAL INVITATIONAL
By David Monti

(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(Used with permission)
 
PALO ALTO (04-May) — In wonderfully cool and dry conditions for
distance running, athletes achieved fast times –including four world
leads– at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational tonight at Stanford
University.

In the much-anticipated men’s 5000m, former
Dartmouth standout Ben True came away with a narrow victory in a
world-leading 13:02.74, a personal best. True, 28, who runs for
Saucony, stayed near the front of the 25-man field which was paced by
steeplechaser Dan Huling through 3400 meters. True kept his eye on
Bowerman Track Club teammates Evan Jager, Lopez Lomong and Chris
Derrick who were all in the lead group, but wasn’t as focused on the
Oregon Track Club Elite’s Hassan Mead.

But after Jager took the
bell, Mead started to assert himself and pushed into the lead at the
top of the backstretch. True knew he needed to react quickly if he
wanted to win the race.

“He’s quick,” True told Race Results
Weekly about Mead. “I was trying to battle Chris (Derrick), Jager and
Lopez and he comes blowing past. I was like, oh no! I’ve got to find
another gear.”

True, who grew up in Maine and also competed in
cross country skiing, found that gear and managed to get around the
charging Mead who finished second in a huge personal best 13:02.80,
just 6/100ths behind True. Mead, who said he had trained hard under
coach Mark Rowland all winter, said he was ready for tonight’s race.

“You
know, I know I was fit,” said Mead as he took off his Nike spikes.
“Coach and I knew what I had been doing all winter. I mean, 13:02 is
nice, but I knew anything inside of 13:10 would be very reasonable.”

Lomong
got third in 13:07.95, Derrick fourth in 13:08.18, and Jager fifth in
13:08.63. Seventeen men ran 13:30.00 or faster, by far the most of any
race in the world so far this year.

The women’s 5000m played
out in a similar fashion. Twenty-one year old Sifan Hassan –who
represented Ethiopia until last November but now runs for the
Netherlands– won an all-out last-lap sprint against another former
African, Meraf Bahta of Sweden (originally from Eritrea). Following the
strong pace set by American Laura Thweatt, the two Europeans both
turned a sub-62 second final lap, with Hassan getting the win, 14:59.23
to 14:59.49. Hassan’s time was a world-leader.

“I’m happy,” Hassan told Race Results Weekly, trying to catch her breath.

Behind
them, both Katie Mackey (15:04.74) and Thweatt (15:04.98) set big
personal bests, as did Britain’s Emelia Gorecka in fifth place
(15:07.45) and Stanford’s Aisling Cuffe (15:11.13). Mackey was
particularly pleased with her performance.

“This is something
I’ve been trying to do for a couple of years, have a breakthrough race
in the 5-K,” Mackey told Race Results Weekly. “I’ve felt like my
fitness has been there, I feel like I’ve been able to do it. But, you
have to get in the right race on the right day with the right ladies.
Honestly, I was super-excited coming into the race tonight.”

In
the women’s 10,000m, there were also world-leading marks. Kenya’s Sally
Kipyego, also part of the Oregon Track Club Elite, made a largely solo
run to win in 30:42.26. American Molly Huddle trailed Kipyego through
the entire race, but keyed off of her and clocked a personal best
30:47.59, making her the second-fastest American of all-time behind
Shalane Flanagan. Both Kipyego and Huddle had built up strong endurance
in the winter, and finished first and third, respectively, at the NYC
Half-Marathon in March.

“I was trying to run 73’s throughout,
and close hard. But today, it was kind of hard to get that,” Kipyego
told Race Results Weekly. “I didn’t feel as sharp as I would like to
have felt. I just felt a little bit rough.”

Huddle was
satisfied, but saw that she could improve further. “I was hoping to get
up and stay up with Sally at some point rather than float in the
middle, but it was just a little hard too early for me,” Huddle
explained. “I tried to find my pace and keep her within reach.”

Finishing
third was former Iowa State star Betsy Saina, who also clocked a career
best time of 30:57.30. Former Oregon Duck Jordan Hasay was fourth in
31:39.67, also a personal best. Eight women broke 32 minutes.

The
other world-leading time came in the men’s steeplechase, where Olympian
Billy Nelson –now sporting a full beard– clocked 8:28.49.

The
men’s 10,000m turned out to be more of a tactical affair, with no
pacemaker and a slow 2:50 opening kilometer. But things picked up in
the second half, especially in the final lap. With about 250 meters to
go, Italian Olympian Daniele Meucci made a big move for victory,
surging to the front. But, he was quickly overtaken by Mexican Olympian
Juan Luis Barrios, who dusted the field in the last 200 meters to win
in 27:34.40. Canadian Olympian Cam Levins got second (27:36.00),
followed by Belgium’s Bashir Abdi (27:36.40). Meucci ended up fourth in
27:36.53.

“When I got to 5-K I saw the time, and it’s for
27:30,” Barrios told Race Results Weekly. He continued: “In the end,
the last 200 meters, I feel so good and I take the race.”

In
other middle and long distance events, Middle Tennessee State’s Eliud
Rutto recorded the fastest time in the men’s 800m: 1:45.37. Canada’s
Karine Belleau-Beliveau had the fastest women’s time in the two-lap
race: 2:01.46. The top sections of the 1500m were won by Kate Grace in
4:07.35 and Riley Masters in 3:38.42. In the women’s contest, high
schooler Elise Cranny ran the second-fastest time by an American prep
athlete: 4:10.95.

“I was looking around 4:10, so it was right
there,” Cranny told Race Results Weekly. “It was hard. When I got to
800 I was like, oh gosh, my legs are getting a little tired. But, it
was good.”

Shalaya Kipp of the University of Colorado won the women’s steeplechase in 9:39.12.

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