Like the women’s version of the metric mile, the men’s 1500 final in Daegu was a far cry from the way the season itself played out. Not to mention the difficulty in sorting things out due to the constant change in leadership on the track.
Things got crackin in earnest in Doha as young Nixon Chepseba (KEN) torched the track for a WL 3:31.84 to win over Silas Kiplagat (KEN, 3:32.15), Mekonnen Gebremedhin (ETH, 3:32.28), Caleb Ndiku (KEN, 3:33.05) and Haron Keitany (KEN, 3:33.39)- showcasing Kenya’s depth, and signaling that making the Kenyan team for Daegu would be extremely tough. A little over a week later, Chepseba torched the field in Shanghai in a 3:31.42 over Asbel Kiprop (KEN, 3:31.76), Gebremedhin (3:32.36). Kiplagat (3:32.70) and Augustine Choge (KEN, 3:33.38).
The Prefontaine Classic would showcase the mile with Keitany turning a WL 3:49.09 defeating Kiplagat (3:49.39), KIprop (3:49.55), Gebremedhin (3:49.70) and Ndiku (3:49.77). Oslo would also feature the mile and this time Kiprop crossing the line first in 3:50.86 ahead of Keitany (3:51.02) and Gebremedhin (3:51.30) – with Chepseba in 6th at 3:53.36. Things would change completely in Paris as some non-milers got involved, half-miler Amine Laalou winning in 3:32.15 over Kiprop, and Bernard Lagat (USA, 3:33.11). But the key race during the month of July was the Kenyan Championships where Kiplagat (3:31.39 WL), Kiprop (3:32.26) and the surprising Daniel Komen (3:32.47) would earn berths to Daegu, while young stars Chepseba (6th, 3:33.96) and Ndiku (7th, 3:35.50) could find no room on the bus – giving me yet another reason to wish we had a “true” World Championships!
When things resumed in Monaco, KIplagat would lower his world best to a sizzling 3:30.47, with Chepseba recovering from his Nairobi defeat in 3:31.74, and half miler Abubaker Kaki (SUD) running a PR 3:31.76 and Kiwi Mick Willis getting an NR at 3:31.76 – easily the best race of the year. London, featuring the mile, would be the final race before Worlds and would find Americans Leo Manzano (3:51.24) and Bernard Lagat (3:51.38) controlling the race in the absence of the top Africans. And so we headed to Daegu.
In Daegu the form charts held for the first two positions as Kiplagat and Kiprop controlled the race and came home with gold and silver. What followed was a totally surprising bronze medal from Matthew Centrowitz (USA), as unexpected names populated the results sheet from 3rd through 6th where Gebremedhin finally crossed the line in 7th place.
Post Daegu racing would begin in Zurich where Chepseba (absent from Worlds) would once again cross the line in first (3:32.74) ahead of Kiplagat (3:33.56) as gold medalist Kiprop faded badly in the final stretch run (7th 3:34,89).Kiprop would regain form in Rieti scorching 3:30.46 to win going away from Willis’ 3:35.52. The Berlin 1500 would find Choge winning in 3:31.14 over Abdelaati Iguider (MOR, 3:31.60) and Chepseba (3:31.66) – closing out the season with yet another swift race.
Now to try and sort it all out, as this was one of the tougher calls I’ve had to make.
Silver medalist in Daegu, Kiplagat gets the runner top spot here. While he did not have the best win/loss record on the season, he was 3 – 2 over my runner up, and took silver in Daegu. His season record of 5 – 7 included wins in Eugene, Monaco, Stockholm. and the big Kenyan Nationals race. He was also runner up in Doha and Zurich. A fine record overall, as well as a solid performance at Worlds.
Chepseba’s season record of 9 – 4 was easily the best on the year. And it was done with little padding as he won in Doha, Shanghai, Zurich and Zagreb, with a runner up in Monaco and a 3rd in Stockholm. He was 2 – 3 with World silver medalist Kiplagat – including the Kenyan Trials race that knocked Chepseba out of Worlds – but his seasonal record overall was just too good to be overlooked.
A tough call for the World Champion, but his season record of 3 – 7 just didn’t hold up against the top two in spite of the Daegu win. He also won the fast Rieti race, however, And was runner up in Shanghai, Paris and Stockholm. Good enough for the third spot here.
Another tough call here for 4th and 5th but a pair of runner ups in Hengelo & Oslo, combined with a pair of 3rd place finishes in Eugene and Zurich edge Keitany ahead of my #5.
A win in Oslo; runner up in Eugene; and third place finishes in Doha, Shanghai and Hengelo land Gebremedhin here.
Next I’m going to detour off the track for a bit and begin to examine the field events.