Reigning world champions Genzebe Dibaba and Hellen Obiri headline a titanic match-up in the Prefontaine Classic women’s 5,000 metres on Saturday.
Obiri won last year’s World Championships and IAAF Diamond League Trophy in the 5,000m, along with last month’s Commonwealth Games, but Dibaba has come back from an off year with an historic 1,500/3,000m double-gold performance at the World Indoor Championships in March.
They are two of only five women to break 14:20 in the 5k and both have set multiple Pre Classic records. Their clash of skills includes speed – Dibaba even owns the 1500m world record – and they will have unique company in Sifan Hassan, last year’s world leader in the 1500m who won gold at the 2016 Portland World Indoors and now trains in Oregon. This will be the first time all three will race together at the 5,000m distance.
Also in action is Kenya’s Lilian Kasait Rengeruk, 21, runner-up in last year’s Pre Classic 5k – chopping almost a minute off her personal best time.
The two-day meeting starts on Friday.
Dibaba, 27, owns seven world records or bests and her dominance is well known at Hayward Field, where last year she won the Pre Classic 5k for a second time by over 10 seconds. In 2015 – the year she was named Woman of the Year by Track & Field News – she outran the pacesetters and clocked 14:19.76, the fastest ever run in the US.
Obiri, 28, is the Kenyan record holder in the 5000m, an event she took up seriously only after childbirth in 2015. Her personal best of 14:18.37 puts her at number 5 on the all-time world list. A 1500m specialist with a bronze from the 2013 Moscow Worlds, she jumped to the 5000m in 2016. She now has an Olympic silver from Rio and last year’s World Championships gold. Last month, she won the Commonwealth Games 5000m.
Obiri can tangle with the best – she owns a career 8-7 head-to-head record against Dibaba over all distances (dating back to 2011), and in the 3000m her 8:20.68 personal best is the Diamond League record and the fastest run in the new millennium.
Obiri’s record at the Pre Classic is as good as it comes – in four races at Hayward Field she has three wins (all PBs) and her only loss was to last year’s 1500 world champ, Faith Kipyegon, who this year is on maternity leave.
Hassan, 25, has successfully entered new territory again. Born in Ethiopia, she has earned all five of her major medals as a Dutch citizen. After her first gold in the 2016 Portland World Indoor 1500m, she later changed her training address to be with the Nike Oregon Project – with room for a new event. The 5000m may never be the same.