Kipyego shows her range, clocks another world-leading mark

A week after clocking the world-leading time in the 1,500 meters, Oregon Track Club Elite’s Sally Kipyego grabbed another world-best mark, this time in the 10,000, with a blistering mark of 30 minutes, 38.35 seconds to win the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford University on Sunday night.

Running the 25-lap event for the first time since setting the NCAA record of 31:25.45 three years ago, Kipyego traded leads with OTC Elite Portland’s Shalane Flanagan and bettered Flanagan’s kick down the home stretch to take home the win.

Kipyego’s time, which came only nine days after she ran a world-leading 4:06.23 in the Oregon Relays 1,500, was well below the IAAF World Championships ‘A’ Standard of 31:45 – a barrier cleared by eight runners in the stacked race.

“Our biggest objective was to get the qualifier, and we wanted to make sure she didn’t run too quickly,” OTC Elite coach Mark Rowland said. “I haven’t seen her run (a 10k) before, and she looked strong. We’re not sure if that’s the event she’ll go for (at the Kenyan team trials). She’ll run the 5k at Prefontaine and then we’ll see.”

The men’s 10k was a little more “nerve-wracking” for Rowland, though OTC’s Chris Thompson and Kevin Chelimo were right in the mix from the start – going for the World Championships and Olympics ‘A’ Standard of 27:40. Thompson also had the United Kingdom record of 27:18.14 in his sights, but, according the Rowland, that was third on his list of priorities.

A national record was not to be for Thompson on Sunday, though both he and Chelimo dipped well below the ‘A’ Standard. Thompson came through the finish line in fourth place at 27:27.36, and Chelimo was ninth in 27:30.50. Chelimo’s mark took nearly one minute off his PR, while Thompson’s time bettered the 27:29.61 PB he ran at Stanford a year ago. In all, 13 men nabbed the qualifying time.

“It was nerve-wracking,” Rowland said of the men’s 10k. “The discrepancies of the qualifier were tighter, it was big field, and we didn’t want (Thompson) to get sucked into running too quick. He had to deal with challenges during the race, but he felt comfortable through it, and he did a very professional job.”

“Getting a PB from it was a bonus really,” Rowland added. “I know he was thinking about going for the British record, and if the pace had been such then so be it, but it was third on the list of priorities.”

Second on Thompson’s list was to better fellow Brit Mo Farah’s best 10k time (27:28.86), which he accomplished.

For Chelimo, the 10k was a huge breakout. His previous best of 28:21.29 was recorded over four years ago.

“The race worked perfectly for Kevin,” Rowland said. “The depth and numbers assisted him and when the pace softened it enabled the secondary group to lock onto the back (of the lead pack). He was disciplined in his approach, and it was a massive improvement.”

Ben Bruce started Sunday evening off for the OTC Elite crew with an 8:26.90, third-place finish in the 3,000 steeplechase. It was Bruce’s fastest opening steeple ever and nearly two seconds faster than the 8:28.76 he clocked at Stanford last year. He did just miss the IAAF World Championships ‘A’ Standard for steeple though – which is 8:23.10.

“Ben had to do a lot of the early work,” Rowland said. “Not getting the qualifier tinged it a bit, but he got the ball rolling. It was his first chase of the year, and I’m happy with his shape.”

Bruce will get another shot at the qualifying time in the Shanghai Diamond League meet on May 15. Then he is slated to run the steeplechase at the Prefontaine Classic on June 4.

In the women’s 1,500, Geena Gall took eighth in the ‘A’ Section with a personal-best time of 4:12.23; Bridget Franek was sixth in the ‘B’ Section with a mark of 4:18.13.

“It was encouraging,” Rowland said of Gall’s performance. “It was a solid run, and I’m comfortable with where she’s at right now.”

Rowland was also encouraged by Franek’s result and is looking forward to seeing her opening 3,000 steeplechase this coming Friday at the Oregon Twilight.

In the men’s 1,500, Stephen Pifer clocked a 3:42.02 to take seventh.

“Pife ran exceptionally well,” Rowland added. “This is a transition year for him. He’s trying to see if he’s capable to do the (steeple) chase, but he’s in good shape, he ran solid and closed well”


 On Saturday at the Penn Relays, three more OTC Elite athletes competed in the USA versus The World Distance Medley Relay. Russell Brown anchored the USA Red team to a third place showing with a 3:57.36 split in the mile, while Nick Symmonds ran the 800 leg for the USA Blue team. Running for second-place Australia was OTC’s Lachlan Renshaw, who clocked the fastest 800-leg of the night with a 1:46.29.

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