May 14, 2014
For Immediate Release

Eugene, Oregon – A new wave of the world’s best distance runners seeks to run the fastest women’s 2-Mile ever on American soil. Most are young, and all will be the first women to race an American classic distance at the Prefontaine Classic, set for May 30-31 at Hayward Field.

The 40th annual Pre Classic 2-mile field is led by several distance-rich countries –especially Kenya and Ethiopia—whose athletes could possibly better the fastest time ever run on American soil, 9:10.47 by Ethiopia’s Meseret Defar in 2007. Given the right conditions, the field could even challenge the World Record of 8:58.58 set by Defar later that same year.

Mercy Cherono is a new-wave runner. The 23-year-old Kenyan earned silver last year in the World Championships 5000 meters, but she is used to winning gold. Her distance has grown from 3000 meters (two World Junior golds, plus a World Youth gold way back in 2007). She even earned gold at the 2010 World Junior Cross Country Championships.
Cherono ran a PR 8:21.14 3k last week in the IAAF Diamond League kickoff meet in Doha. She became the second-fastest Kenyan of all time, about half a second behind new record setter Hellen Obiri (8:20.68). Obiri’s time is the fastest run outdoors in 20 years, and Cherono’s the 2nd -fastest. Obiri will run in another loaded event at the Pre Classic, the IAAF Diamond League 1500.

Viola Kibiwot is also from Kenya and looks for a major medal. Since she won World Junior golds at various events, she has been oh-so-close to the senior variety, including a 4th-place finish in last year’s World Championships 5000. She was 4th in last week’s Doha 3k.

Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana, only 22, is already a World Championships bronze medalist, from the 5000 in Moscow last year. That was her first major medal. She finished fifth in last week’s scorching race in Doha.

Buze Diriba, also of Ethiopia, is just 20 years old. She is the reigning World Junior gold medalist at 5000 meters and a World Championships finalist, finishing 5th in Moscow last year.

One of the race favorites lives and trains in Eugene. Sally Kipyego won silver medals at the London Olympics and 2011 World Championships in the 10,000 meters and was ranked No. 2 in the world both years by T&FN. But she also knows how to step on the pedal in shorter distances, setting the Pre Classic 3000 meet record in 2012 at 8:35.89.

Distance fans won’t overlook two-time 1500-meter World Championships gold medalist Maryam Jamal of Bahrain. The London Olympic bronze medalist is now 29, but still able to medal at the recent World Indoor Championships, earning bronze.

So how likely is a record? The women’s 2-Mile is a rarely run event, the international equivalent being the 3000 meters, which is about a half lap shorter. There’s no official conversion standard between the two distances, but the commonly accepted one is 8%, meaning you multiply a 3000 time by 1.08 to project its value as a 2-mile.

Clearly, this world-class field is capable of some major history-making.

In the anticipated Women’s 2-Mile evemt:

3000m Personal Best

  • Mercy Cherono (Kenya) 8:21.14
  • Viola Kibiwot (Kenya) 8:24.41
  • Almaz Ayana (Ethiopia) 8:24.58
  • Maryam Jamal (Bahrain) 8:28.87
  • Mimi Belete (Bahrain) 8:30.00
  • Sifan Hassan (Netherlands) 8:32.53
  • Sally Kipyego (Kenya) 8:35.89
  • Margaret Muriuki (Kenya) 8:37.97
  • Buze Diriba (Ethiopia) 8:39.65
  • Susan Kuijken (Netherlands) 8:39.65
  • Renata Plis (Poland) 8:40.42
  • Belaynesh Oljira (Ethiopia) 8:40.73
  • Bethlhem Desalgen (United Arab Emirates) 8:46.14
  • Jordan Hasay (USA) 8:46.89
  • Chelsea Reilly (USA) 8:47.34
  • Alia Mohammed (United Arab Emirates) 8:48.27
  • Betsy Saina (Kenya) 8:50.60i
  • Brianna Felnagle (USA) 8:51.38
  • Irine Cheptai (Kenya) 8:56.20
  • Laura Thweatt (USA) 9:01.58

Fans can follow the event lineups as all announced fields are posted at

Tickets for the 40th annual edition of the Prefontaine Classic, to be held May 30-31 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., are available now from and from 1-800-WEBFOOT. Sponsored by NIKE continuously since 1984, the Prefontaine Classic will be shown live to an international audience and by NBC Sports from 1:30 till 3:00 p.m. PT on Saturday, May 31.

The Prefontaine Classic is the longest-running outdoor invitational track & field meet in America and is part of the elite IAAF Diamond League of meets held worldwide annually. Last year’s Pre Classic was scored highest in the world by, the official data partner of the Diamond League.