Fast times have become a self-fulfilling prophecy in the 10,000 meter races at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational. Not only have two of the last three American records for men and women been run at Stanford but the meet’s reputation has attracted runners from all corners of the globe to Palo Alto to contest the 25 lap race.
Stanford senior Chris Derrick will toe the line at Cobb Track for the final time in the Cardinal red and white on Sunday. Although Derrick has thus far gone his career without a NCAA title, he has amassed a resume that few can match – four top seven finishes at the NCAA cross country championships and 13 All-American certificates. Derrick has a modest personal best of 28:26.65 but will take his first shot at a fast rabbited 10k. Like many others in the race, he’ll be gunning for the Olympic ‘A’ standard of 27:45.00 having already hit the ‘A’ mark in the 5000 meters.
A host of top American-based athletes will join Derrick in the field. Sam Chelanga set the NCAA record of 27:08.39 back in 2010 while at Liberty and now competes for the Oregon Track Club-Eugene.
The sponsor-less Scott Bauhs, a 2011 World Championships competitor, will look better his PR of 27:46.08 from 2008. The Chico State grad ran 61:30 for the half marathon earlier this year in Houston. Bauhs’s Mammoth Track Club teammate Alistair Cragg can all but clinch a spot on the Irish Olympic team if he dips under the 27:45 ‘A’ standard. Cragg ran 13:03.53 to break the Irish national record for 5000 meters last year and set the European road 5k record of 13:26 at the 2012 Carlsbad 5000.
Oregon Track Club-Portland teammates Tim Nelson and Brent Vaughn are both stepping back onto the track after marathon preparation in the winter. Nelson was a 2009 World Championships qualifier and owns a 27:28.19 personal best. Vaughn, the 2011 U.S. cross country champion, has a relatively modest 28:05.33 10k best but more notably ran 13:18.46 at Payton Jordan in 2008 to finish second behind Bernard Lagat while a senior at Colorado.
Aussies Collis Birmingham and David McNeill can better their chances for Olympic selection with fast times. Birmingham, who boasts a personal best of 27:29.73 from 2009, recently won the BAA Road Mile in 4:06, while McNeill finished third in the 5000 meters at Mt. Sac last Friday in 13:19.31.
Sunday’s race will serve as the unofficial Canadian Olympic trials as three of the nation’s finest will face off in attempt of the ‘A’ standard. Simon Bairu has returned to the track after several disappointing attempts at the marathon distance. He is the Canadian record holder for 10k at 27:23.63. Southern Utah senior Cam Levins ran 13:18.47 to win the Mt. Sac 5000 last weekend, a time that was not only enough to win over three-time NCAA champ Lawi Lalang but also bettered Canada’s A+ Olympic standard and will likely send him to London. Wisconsin junior Mo Ahmed, the fifth place finisher at the NCAA cross country championships, is also in the mix for the ‘A’ standard.
Joining Derrick, Levins and Ahmed on the start line are fellow collegiates Luke Puskedra and Diego Estrada. Puskedra, a senior from Oregon, has not raced in the Duck singlet since finishing sixth at the NCAA cross country championships but did run a successful half marathon debut of 61:36 this January in Houston. Estrada is currently redshirting from Northern Arizona. He is a seven-time All-American with personal bests of 13:26.94 for 5k and 28:40.19 for 10k.
The deep international contingent also features accomplished Kiwi Adrian Blincoe (13:10.19 5k best), Italians Stefano LaRosa (13.23.58 5k at Mt. Sac last week) and Daniele Meucci (27:44.50 PR) and Japanese standouts Tomoyuki Morita (2:09:12 marathon best), Yuki Sato (27:38.25 PR) and Tsuyoshi Ugachi (27:40.69 PR).
Other notable Americans in the field include Aaron Braun (six-time Division II national champion, 27:57.88 PR), Brett Gotcher (fifth at Olympic Marathon Trials, 28:09.21 PR), Bobby Mack (2012 U.S. cross country champion, 28:11.00 PR), Brian Olinger (28:07.52 PR), Ben True (recent BAA Road 5k champion, 28:16.65 PR) and Ryan Vail (2:12:43 marathon debut at Olympic Marathon Trials, 27:57.42 PR).