The Prefontaine Classic is back at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., after a year hiatus due to COVID-19, and it’s more blinged out with decorated names than ever. Competing in the historic meet will be 47 medalists (who collectively won 62 medals in Tokyo (26 golds, 18 silvers, and 18 bronzes).
The meet will begin tonight Friday, Aug. 20 at 9 p.m. PDT with the North American women’s 1,500m, the men’s international mile, the women’s 2-mile, and the women’s 5,000m. Most of the races taking place on Saturday, Aug. 21, are part of the Diamond League circuit — an annual series of 14 elite track and field meets typically held in Europe. The Pre Classic will be the only U.S. meet in the series. So it’s kind of a big deal.
What and Who to Watch
Headlining the meet will be U.S. 100m Olympic Trials champion Sha’Carri Richardson (who was not allowed to compete in the Tokyo Games due to a positive cannabis test), triple Olympic medalist Sifan Hasan in the women’s 5,000m, 800m gold medalist Athing Mu in her signature event, and 1500m gold and silver medalists Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Timothy Cheruiyot.
Here are the most anticipated distance races of the meet.
Sifan Hassan’s Attempt to Break the 5,000m World Record
When: Friday 10 p.m. PT/Saturday, 1 a.m. ET
Dutch distance legend Sifan Hassan, who managed to win two Olympic gold medals (5,000m and 10,000m) and one bronze medal (1500m) in Tokyo, is hungry for more, and this time she’s after a world record in the 5,000m. Currently that record is 14:06.62, and Hassan is certainly talented enough to snag it. She’ll go for it Friday evening in Eugene where the weather conditions should facilitate that kind of record breaking performance.
Faith Kipyegon and Laura Muir in the Women’s 1500
When: Saturday, 5:12 p.m. ET
1500-meter gold and silver medalists Faith Kipyegon (Kenya) and Laura Muir (Scotland) will line up again for a rematch in the Pre Classic 1500m. Other shiny names in the race include Linden Hall, Jessica Hull, and Gabriela DeBues-Stafford. We’ll also see U.S. runner Josette Norris, who has been something of a breakout star this year. After lowering her PB to 3:59.72 in the 1500m last month she got an invite to race at Pre.
Athing Mu in the Women’s 800m
When: Saturday, 4:48 p.m. ET
19-year-old American phenom Athing Mu will line back up in the 800m after her gold medal and American record-setting performance in Tokyo. It will be exciting to see whether Mu can go faster than her 1:55.21 Olympic performance and move up on the All Time list (she is currently the 11th fastest woman in history) for the event. The race will also include five out of the eight finalists in Tokyo, including silver medalist Keeley Hodgkinson of Great Britain.
Star-Studded Men’s 2-Mile
When: Saturday 4:56 p.m. ET
Set to be one of the most talent-packed races of the meet, the men’s 2-mile will include the Olympic 5,000m champ (Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei) taking on the Olympic 10,000m champion (Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega). It will also include American Olympians Paul Chelimo, Grant Fisher, Joe Klecker, and Woody Kincaid.
Courtney Frerichs Returns in the Steeple
When: Saturday, 4:12 p.m. ET
American Olympic silver medalist Courtney Freichs will return in the steeplechase taking on the gold medalist Peruth Chemutai again. Here in the States, we’ll be eager to see if Frerichs can become the first American woman to crack the 9-minute barrier in the event. (Her current PB is (9:00.85) Unfortunately for American fans, the race will not feature the country’s other star-steepler, Emma Coburn, who is still recovering from a disastrous showing at Tokyo, and withdrew.
Jakob Ingebrigtsen vs. Timothy Cheruiyot vs. Matthew Centrowitz in the Bowerman Mile
When: Saturday, 5:52 p.m. ET
The men’s mile will include olympic 1500m gold medalist Jakob Ingebrigtsen taking on his rival and olympic 1500m silver medalist Timothy Cheruiyot again after a thrilling showing in Tokyo in which Ingebrigtsen broke the Olympic record for the event. It will also include American and 2016 1500m Olympic gold medalist Matthew Centrowitz, who will get a chance to redeem himself after failing to: 1. Make the Olympic 1500m final in Tokyo last month and 2. Break Alan Webb’s American record (3:46.91) in July 2007. As both Ingebrigtsen and Cheruiyot have run 3:28 this year, a 3:44 mile equivalent, it should help Centro finally break Webb’s record though it’s unlikely he will win. This has all the elements for a wicked fast race. (Sadly, American up and coming phenom Cole Hocker will not be in the race.)
Bonus: U.S. champion Sha’Carri Richardson Returns from Suspension in the 100m
When: Saturday, 4:41 p.m. ET
Okay the 100m isn’t a distance race but we can’t not mention the most-anticipated race of the Pre Classic: The women’s 100m featuring U.S. sprint star Sha’Carri Richardson back from her marijuana suspension. Richardson vs. Elaine Thompson-Harah was billed as one of the most exciting races of the Olyimpcs before Richardson’s suspension nixed her from the start line.
Now she and the three Jamaican 100m Tokyo medalists — Thompson-Herah, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Shericka Jackson — will go head-to-head in the event at Pre.
How to Watch
In the United States
You’ll need two different streaming services in order to watch the entire meet.
To watch the events on Friday evening live, you will need a RunnerSpace+ membership, which requires a subscription. Watch here.
Events happening early in the day on Saturday, 4-4:30 p.m. ET / 1-1:30 PT, will only be shown on Peacock for U.S. viewers.
Most of the premier races (save for Sifan Hassan in the women’s 5,000m) will take place during the NBC window from 4:30-6 p.m. ET / 1:30-3 PT on Saturday.
For Canadian and UK Viewers
If you live in Canada, the Pre Classic can be streamed live through CBC Sports.
In the UK, the meet can be watched on either BBC1, BBC2, on-demand BBC iPlayer service.
Schedule (PDT; GMT-7 hours)
Friday, Aug. 20
8:52 p.m. Women’s 800 (North America)
9:01 Women’s 1500 (North America)
9:12 Men’s International Mile
9:22 Women’s 2-mile
10:00 Women’s 5,000
Saturday, August 21
1:03 Men’s 800
1:12 Women’s 3,000 steeplechase
1:33 Men’s 200
1:41 Women’s 100
1:48 Women’s 800 (elite)
1:56 Men’s 2-mile
2:12 Women’s 1500 (elite)
2:24 Women’s 400 hurdles
2:33 Men’s 100
2:45 Women’s 200
2:52 Men’s Bowerman Mile