The University of Oregon's historic Hayward Field is the place to break a track and field record. Just ask Galen Rupp, who broke his own American record for the 10,000 meters on Friday night at the 40th annual Prefontaine Classic.
"It was a great way to end the night," said Rupp, who ran 26:44.36 for 6.2 miles—the fastest time in the world this year for that distance. His previous record was 26:48.0, set at the Memorial Van Damme meeting in Brussels in 2011. "It really shows you how special this place is—to get this many people coming out who are this enthusiastic about a 10K. They love track here."
Many consider the Pre Classic to be the best track meet in the world thanks to its high-caliber athletes, 13,000 enthusiastic fans, and location in Eugene, Oregon, aka Track Town, USA. Of the athletes who gave post-race remarks, nearly all credited the crowd's energy with helping them succeed. "So much fun to race at Hayward," says Shannon Rowbury, who ran a personal best time in the women's two mile. "I think Hayward is part of the reason I was able to accomplish it today. The crowd is so great, and the excitement is just palpable. It really makes a difference."
Like Rupp, Rowbury set a new American record in her event, finishing fourth in 9:20.25 and breaking the previous record of 9:21.35 set by Amy Rudolph in 1998. "I thought I'd have a shot at the record," Rowbury says. "The last 100 meters, I knew it was going to be close. I heard the announcer, and I just tried with all my might to close in time. I've been on the other end of it when I've just come short. It's always a nice feeling to accomplish those goals."
In addition to Rupp's and Rowbury's records, 13 world-leading times were posted and six meet records were broken in front of the sold-out crowd of 13,158. Here are some of the highlights:
Leo Manzano won the men's International Mile crown in a then-world lead of 3:52.41. "It was just incredible," says Manzano, who has his sights set on the Fifth Avenue Mile in September. "I haven't been in an individual race in a while … I didn't really show what I was capable of, but today was just amazing." About two hours later, however, his time was bested by Ayanleh Souleiman, who posted a meet record time of 3:47.32 in the Bowerman Mile.
Justin Gatlin captured his third Pre Classic title in the men's 100 meters in a wind-aided 9.76 (+2.7). Fellow American Michael Rodgers finished a close second. "I looked up at the scoreboard and saw my time, my competitors' times, and they're definitely right there with me," Gatlin says. "I'm just happy to come out here and be healthy, be in good shape, and to be able to perform in front of a crowd like this."
Outside cover guy Ashton Eaton raced the 110-meter hurdles, placing sixth in a personal best time of 13.35.
Women's 200-meter winner Tori Bowie found out two days before the race that not only would she be she'd be running, but also that she'd be in lane one. "It's kind of a scary feeling to be in lane one," she says. "So I went out there and my main goal was to be the first person to come off the curve. I didn't want anyone to pass me. I just kept running and running; it paid off." Bowie posted a new lifetime best and world-leading 22.18 in what was only the second 200 of her career. Three-time Olympic champion Allyson Felix was third in 22.44.
Full results are available on the Diamond League website.