A Glimpse at Greatness as Kerr, Ingebrigtsen, and Nuguse Shine at the Prefontaine Classic

by Thomas O'Grady

After the fast Bowerman Mile, are we on the verge of seeing a new World Record in the Mile this summer? The Prefontaine Classic Mile, held this May, provided an extraordinary display of middle-distance running prowess as Josh Kerr, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, and Yared Nuguse put on a show, and delivered stunning performances.

Kerr claimed victory with a remarkable time of 3:45.34, closely followed by Ingebrigtsen at 3:45.60, and Nuguse at 3:46.22. These times are exceptional (the 10th, 11th, and 14th fastest-ever run), especially considering the early season timing of the event.

Early Season Brilliance

To put these performances in perspective, it’s crucial to note the timing of the Prefontaine Classic. Last year, the event took place in September, giving the athletes a full summer of competition on the Diamond League Circuit to fine-tune their form and peak for this race. Ingebrigtsen and Nuguse both came tantalizingly close to breaking the world record last year, with times of 3:43.73 and 3:43.97, respectively. The duo ran the 3rd and 4th fastest times ever and joined Hicham El Guerrouj and Noah Ngeny as the only people to have run 3:43 for a mile.

The world record of 3:43.13, set by Hicham El Guerrouj in 1999, still stands (after 25 years) as the benchmark for the mile. El Guerrouj’s record-breaking race occurred in July, allowing him and his competitors to benefit from several months of preparatory races. This context underscores the impressiveness of Kerr, Ingebrigtsen, and Nuguse times this May — they are running at near-peak levels well before the height of the racing season.

The Competitive Edge

Kerr’s victory over Ingebrigtsen adds an intriguing layer to their rivalry. Kerr is clearly in top form. In addition to this performance, Kerr is coming off of an indoor campaign in which he ran 8:00.67 for two miles (nearly becoming the third person in history to run under eight minutes). Both Kerr and Ingebrigtsen are known for their competitive spirits and have exchanged verbal jabs in the past, further intensifying their on-track battles. Ingebrigtsen, who was dealing with Achilles tendon issues early in the year and missed some early spring races, now has additional motivation to reclaim his dominance on the track. The narrow margin of his second-place finish to Kerr will undoubtedly fuel his drive in upcoming races.

Prospects of a World Record

Given the current form of these athletes, the prospect of a new world record in the mile seems within reach if a late summer race were scheduled. Kerr, Ingebrigtsen, and Nuguse have shown they possess the speed and endurance to challenge the longstanding record, and with additional months of racing to fine-tune their skills, the likelihood of a historic performance increases significantly.

The potential for a new world record is heightened by the rivalry between Kerr and Ingebrigtsen. Their competitive dynamic pushes each runner to new heights, as evidenced by their performances at the Prefontaine Classic. Ingebrigtsen, in particular, is not used to losing and will be eager to respond to his narrow defeat and prove his mettle against Kerr. The trio will likely clash at the Paris Olympics in the 1,500 meters. Hopefully, this showdown helps catapult the runners into one final end-of-season showdown in the mile.

The Prefontaine Classic Mile has set the stage for what will hopefully be an exciting middle-distance season ahead. Josh Kerr, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, and Yared Nuguse have demonstrated their extraordinary talent and competitive spirits with early-season times in the mile that hint at the possibility one of them could potentially break the world record if given the right opportunity. The one wild card in this season’s scheduling is the Olympics. As the season progresses and these athletes continue to sharpen their form, the track and field world will be eagerly anticipating a couple more races for the ages.

This article was first published in Runner’s Life: https://medium.com/runners-life/a-glimpse-at-greatness-as-kerr-ingebrigtsen-and-nuguse-shine-at-the-prefontaine-classic-982177c69d69

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