Josh Kerr Defeats Ingebrigtsen In A British Mile Record In Eugene

Josh Kerr defeats Ingebrigtsen in a British mile record in Eugene

Kerr takes down Steve Cram’s 39-year-old national mark with 3:45.34 at the Prefontaine Classic as Keely Hodgkinson also enjoys a big win

The Bowerman Mile at the Pre Classic was dubbed the mile of the century and it didn’t disappoint as the world champion Josh Kerr broke Steve Cram’s long-standing British record to beat Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen.


With 3:45.34, Kerr beat Cram’s 39-year-old mark of 3:46.32. The 26-year-old did it in similar style to Cram’s iconic run in Oslo in 1985, too, confidently taking the lead a long way out and bounding down the home straight in a way that suggested he had more in the tank.

Runner-up Ingebrigtsen was pleased to run 3:45.60 after an injury-hit winter. The Norwegian will likely improve as the summer unfolds, building to a climactic Olympic final showdown in Paris in August and, who knows, maybe a tilt at Hicham El Guerrouj’s long-time world record of 3:43.13.

Behind the big two there were a host of fast times with nine men inside 3:50. Yared Nuguse of the United States once again showed his great consistency with 3:46.22 in third. Neil Gourley of Britain returned from injury and reminded us why he’s a top-flight contender as he clocked 3:47.74 in fourth. Fellow Brit Jake Wightman, the 2022 world champion and also on the comeback trail, was fifth in 3:47.83.

“I felt very strong through the first (kilometre) and I was like, you know what, it’s time to press and push and see what these guys have got,” said an ebullient Kerr.

Josh Kerr leads Jakob Ingebrigtsen (Jan Figueroa)

As the race got underway, Ingebrigtsen settled into third at the end of the first lap behind Abel Kipsang of Kenya and pacemaker Abraham Alvarado of the United States as Alvarado passed the first 400m in 55.91. Kerr, meanwhile, was content to stay back in eighth.

Approaching 600m there was a moment of drama as Cole Hocker stumbled and it affected fellow American Hobbs Kessler, the latter stepping off the track, his race over. By 800m Alvarado still led in 1:52.74 from Kipsang and Ingebrigtsen with Kerr up to sixth, a stride behind Wightman.

Alvarado then began to draw away by a few metres and, as the main field began to slow and bunch a little, Kerr took the opportunity to move into the lead at 600m to keep the tempo going, with Ingebrigtsen, Nuguse and Wightman following in his slipstream.

It was a bold and surprising move and at the bell, reached in 2:50.70, this quartet had got a little daylight over the rest of the field led by Hocker. Usually we would expect to see Ingebrigtsen in the lead at this stage but instead it was Kerr, who later described his tactics as a “dumb move” and against the orders of his coaching team. “I prefer to follow my instincts,” he said.

Down the back straight for the final time and Kerr opened up his stride with Wightman and then Nuguse starting to lose ground. Ingebrigtsen was still digging in doggedly, though, as the two men rounded the final turn. After a winter of trash talk and heated anticipation, this was the clash everyone wanted.

Ingebrigtsen held Kerr down the home straight but the Norwegian was always a metre or two behind as he struggled to pass the Briton. It was Kerr’s day as he powered through the line, taking off his glasses briefly and congratulating his rivals one by one before taking the applause from the Hayward Field crowd.

“I thought, you know, why not take it on and press and scare myself a little bit,” said Kerr. “You need to take the lead at some point in the race to go out and win it. So why not take it out when, you know, it’s early in the season and everyone’s kind of not trusting their instincts quite yet.

“If anyone’s going to do it, I’m going to do it. These guys I’m racing against are going to get better and better each month and I need to do the same to try and stay ahead.”

“I tried to fight him,” Ingebrigtsen said of Kerr, “but today for me was more of a time trial.

“Of course, we’re racing, but it’s definitely some differences in terms of approach into this race because this, for some people, this is their final test, even before the Olympics in Paris. But this is not my final test. I think if anything, this is going to be an exciting summer. For myself, I think it’s very good.”


Keely Hodgkinson and Jemma Reekie (Jan Figueroa)

Like Kerr, fellow Brit Keely Hodgkinson was in brilliant form as she clocked 1:55.78 to beat world 800m champion Mary Moraa, the Kenyan clocking 1:56.71 as Hodgkinson’s team-mate Jemma Reekie was third in 1:57.45.

As the pacemaker went through the bell in 55.22 followed by Moraa, Hodgkinson sensibly stayed off the pace and in fact was slightly dropped before beginning to make up ground down the back straight and the moving decisively into the lead around the final bend, consolidating her lead in the home straight to finish with a flourish.

She said: “I knew I was in this kind of shape coming into it, but it doesn’t really matter when you’re racing these girls. It’s all about what they’re going do, what are you’re going do and all the tactics.

“I just learned to enjoy it. I think that’s a big part of it and I just can’t wait to keep coming out here, producing good times, producing good races and just being consistent. I think that final in Paris is going to be insane.”

Laura Muir also enjoyed a decent run as the Briton ran 3:56.35 in a top-class women’s 1500m won by Diribe Welteji of Ethiopia in 3:53.75.

Runner-up Jess Hull of Australia ran an Oceania record of 3:55.97 with Elle St Pierre of the United States third in 3:56.00.


Elle St Pierre, Jess Hull and Laura Muir (Jan Figueroa)

Katie Snowden was seventh in 4:00.24 and Georgia Bell eighth in 4:00.41 as the two Brits were narrowly outside the four-minute barrier.

On a day that saw Beatrice Chebet beat Gudaf Tsegay in a world record-breaking 10,000m race, the women’s 5000m saw Tsigie Gebreselama of Ethiopia take eight seconds off of Tsegay’s previous world-leading time to win the 5000m in 14:18.76. Ethiopians finished in the top six places, with Ejgayehu Taye second in 14:18.92 and Birke Haylom of Ethiopia running a world under-20 record of 14:23.71 in fifth. Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands was a well beaten seventh in 14:34.38.

Another world lead was set in the women’s 3000m steeplechase after Peruth Chemutai ran a Ugandan record of 8:55.09 ahead of Beatrice Chepkoech, the Kenyan clocking 8:56.51.


Sha’Carri Richardson (Jan Figueroa)

Sha’Carri Richardson won a stacked women’s 100m in style as the American clocked 10.83 (1.5) ahead of world indoor champion Julien Alfred of Bahamas, who ran 10.93.

In third and fourth, British duo Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita clocked 10.98 and 11.00 respectively although it wasn’t a good night for multiple Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah as the Jamaican ran 11.30 in ninth.

In the men’s 100m Christian Coleman of the United States held off Ferdinand Omanyala of Kenya to win in 9.95 to 9.98.

In the women’s 100m hurdles, rising star Cyrena Samba-Mayela won in 12.52, equalling her own French record ahead of Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, the Puerto Rico athlete clocking 12.54.

Despite the withdrawal of world record-holder Ryan Crouser in the shot put, Joe Kovacs threw 23.13m – the second best throw of the American’s career.


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