By Taylor Dutch
The Payton Jordan Invitational has a long history of bringing some of the biggest names in distance running to the starting line of Cobb Track. This Sunday will deliver another year of stacked fields, highlighted by a freakishly fast lineup in the women’s 10k. [Full list of entries]
With World standards and U.S. championship qualifiers on the line, fast times are to be expected. But a preview for a race with this much potential is best told through the words of the women lacing up their spikes.
“I have a good feeling that I’ll PR (32:00), but it would also be nice to get the standard out of the way,” Conley said. “Hopefully I can run a bit faster than that, so I would say my goal is definitely to break 32:00 and as close as I can get to that 31-minute barrier after that.”
Thus far in 2014, Conley set personal bests in the 800 (2:05.92), 1500 (4:05.7), and the mile (4:24.54), making her the fourth-fastest U.S. female miler in history. The Sacramento native entered a rebuilding base phase after the indoor season to lead up to the 10k at Payton, but feels ready to tackle the longer distance.
“In the winter, we devoted it to working on that speed. We made the [winter] its own season and brought me to a peak, then took a little time off,” Conley said. “Started rebuilding into a base phase, which I think is better for the 10k anyway so in that way preparing for the 10k has been good.”
Hitting the World qualifying standard is within range, but the 2012 Olympian is also focused on competing at the U.S. Championships in Sacramento June 26-29.
“Ideally I knock out the USAs qualifier (32:58) and then I would plan on running the 10k as USAs so that’s kind of a good thing not having worlds this year,” said Conley. “I’m looking at U.S. championships especially with them being here in Sacramento.”
“It’s pretty meaningful to me so I’m getting really excited for that.”
“I would just like to go in and be competitive and come out with a PR,” Hasay said. “I ran so many 10k’s last year since I was still in college, so it’s really nice to be going into this race fresh both mentally and physically.”
Hasay opened her outdoor season April 18 at Mt. Sac with a personal best of 15:34 in the 5k after a strong indoor showing that included a fourth place finish in the 3k at the 2014 U.S. Indoor Championships and personal bests in the mile (4:28.37) and two mile (9:36).
“This week has been a good week of training and now I’m starting to cut back a bit before Sunday,” Hasay said.
With a personal best of 31:46 in the 10k, which was set last year in Portland, the Nike Oregon Project standout looks to be in the mix on Sunday and beyond.
“After this 10k, I would like to try for some fast times in the shorter races. I’ll race at the Pre Classic in the two mile next,” Hasay said. “After that, I’m unsure of my schedule for the rest of the spring and summer but you’ll likely see me in some 1500’s, 3k’s and 5k’s.”
“I am really looking forward to being part of it, running with the group of really good women, and just enjoying that and having fun doing that, and have fun running fast!” Kipyego said.
Sunday will be Kipyego’s first outdoor track race since September 2012 when she broke her foot in the 5k at the Van Damme Memorial Diamond League meeting in Brussels. It was a devastating end to a year that included a silver medal in the 10k and a fourth place finish in the 5k at the 2012 London Olympics. But Kipyego has left that far behind her.
“This season is just about getting fit, running fast, getting comfortable with running with fast women and just enjoying the season and appreciating the fact that I had a really rough year and a half, but I’m on the other end of the tunnel now,” said the Marakwet, Kenya native who trains and competes for the Oregon Track Club.
On March 16, Kipyego made her debut in the half-marathon by winning the NYC half in 1:08.31, breaking Firehiwot Dado’s course record by four seconds and taking down second-place finisher Buzenesh Deba by nearly 30 seconds. The 10k at Payton will be another stepping stone in the long-awaited comeback.
“I just want to run the race to the best of my ability, see what result comes out, and use it as a benchmark to prepare for the summer season.”
Taylor Dutch is a recent Cal grad and sports writer living in the Bay Area. She ran cross country and track and field for the Golden Bears and can be seen running around San Francisco yelling, “Go Bears!” to random people wearing Cal gear. Her work has been featured on Pac-12.com, CalBears.com, the Cal Sports Quarterly, Running Times, Competitor Magazine, and Flotrack.org. Follow her on Twitter @taylordutch.