May 31,2013 (The Oregonian)EUGENE — They called it Distance Night in Eugene so perhaps it was appropriate that dozens of fans stayed after the final race and lined a walkway just to get an up-close look at Kenenisa Bekele.
Bekele, the Ethiopian world record holder in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, was the rock star attraction at Hayward Field on Friday at the Prefontaine Classic. As he turned out of an interview tent, the throng cheered him and sought his autograph.
Even without the anticipated matchup with double-Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah, who switched out of the 10K to run in Saturday’s 5,000, Bekele felt it was important to run well and win.
“It’s a very special place,” Bekele said. “I’ve very happy to run here.”
Five years ago at the Pre Classic, in his first Hayward Field appearance, Bekele ran 26:25.17. It was within eight seconds of his world record and the fastest ever run in the United States.
On Friday, the pace was not as torrid. But Bekele mastered a top level group of East African runners and won in 27:12.08 — the best time in the world so far in 2013.
Bekele, 30, called it “a nice atmosphere” and was undeterred by the absence of Farah, who succeeded him as Olympic champion in the 10K last summer.
“We will have many chances to run together,” he said.
Huge throws: Christina Obergfoll of Germany established a new Pre Classic and Hayward Field record in the women’s javelin with a mark of 222 feet, 1 inch.
The Olympic silver medalist got her best throw on her fourth attempt and won the competition by nearly 13 feet.
“I knew I was in really good shape,” Obergfoll said. “I had really bad (weather) conditions in Germany two weeks ago, we had rain and storms. And then we had the same last week (in New York). So I was happy that the weather was fine. I can throw deep.”
She threw deep, alright. And she knew it was a big one as soon as she let go.
“If it’s going easy it’s usually a good throw and if it’s going hard and strong it’s probably not so good,” Obergfoll said. …
Meanwhile, Olympic champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand overtook China’s Lijao Gong on her fifth attempt to win the shot put competition by about an inch, with 66-1.50.
And Betty Heidler of Germany, bronze medalist in the London Games, won the hammer with a best of 246-9. She missed the meet record by two and a half feet.
Long jump: Russian Aleksandr Menkov won the men’s long jump with a world-leading mark of 27-6.50. He beat a field that included Olympic champions from 2012 (Greg Rutherford, Great Britain), 2008 (Irving Saladino, Panama) and 2004 (Dwight Phillips, U.S.).
New sensation: Mary Cain of Bronxville, N.Y., who recently turned 17 years old, will take on an international field in the 800 meters Saturday and could become the first U.S. prep to dip under two minutes flat.
Cain, who trains outside of her high school team with cross-country advice from Alberto Salazar, has obliterated high school records since the indoor season in January. The latest was a 4:04.62 clocking in the 1,500 meters at the Oxy High Performance Meet in Los Angeles.
Galen Rupp, who has trained under Salazar since he was at Central Catholic, has an understanding for what Cain is going through.
“She has unbelievable potential and a great head on her shoulders,” Rupp said.
“(Alberto) will use the same long-term approach that he used with me. She’s already gotten off to a great start.”
Rupp stopped short of making comparisons to his own career.
“She’s a lot better than I was coming out of high school, that’s for sure,” Rupp said. “She’s definitely on a roll, and she’s only a junior. It’s going to be fun to see her continue to grow.”