This was the third session of the 2024 NIKE Pre Classic, which lived up to much of the hype. Jakob Ingebrigtsen, 2021 Tokyo Olympic champion, 1,500m; Josh Kerr, 2023 World Champion, 1,500m; and Yared Nuguse, AR holder at the Mile and silver medalist, World Championships Indoor, 3000 meters. 

Jakob Ingebrigtsen struck me as a guy who is two to three weeks away from racing top fitness. Jakob was pretty conciliatory, considering some of the trash talk that has gone on this winter. He did note that the competition is what it is all about. Expect to see Jakob compete well but perhaps not be able to push it at the end; he is just not there. Jakob will compete in 1,500 and 5,000 meters at the 2024 European Championships in Rome from June 7-12, 2024. Jakob and his wife are expecting their first child. He did make a good point that they need more races where they all show up.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen, May 24, 2024, NIKE Pre Classic Presser, photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun 

Josh Kerr is the 2021 Olympic Bronze medalist. In 2023, Josh Kerr took gold in the 1,500 meters, much to the chagrin of Jakob Ingebrigtsen. Josh Kerr took gold in the 3,000 meters at the World Indoors in Glasgow in 2024. Josh Kerr has a quiet confidence about him. He also has an edge, which is honest. Josh demands respect, and the issues this last winter, reported in many media sources, seemed to annoy him. He does not care to be his competitor’s friend; he wants to race well, and he is focused, with his coach, Danny Mackey, on winning gold in Paris 2024. Recently, Josh Kerr ran a 1:45.8 for the 800 meters, and this mile will give him and Coach Mackey a good indication of what he needs to do before Paris.

Josh Kerr, May 24, 2024, NIKE Pre Classic presser, photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun

Josh Kerr reminds me of 1976 Olympic gold medalist John Walker. Walker trained hard for Montreal, once running 23 miles of a marathon at a five-minute pace, the same week he had soloed an 8:40 two mile on the track. Walker was tough. Walker felt the pressure of the world, but also New Zealand, on his shoulders as he held off the first milers in the world in that tight, tactical Montreal final.

A few minutes after the presser, Josh Kerr told me that he had enjoyed the half marathon he raced in December and hoped to do more long races, but he has this little three-and-a-half-minute race coming up in Paris before anything else.

Yared Nuguse is the most mild-mannered of the three but also, I believe, the biggest spoiler. Yared has great speed, and his computer game nerd demeanor and knowledge of Taylor Swift should not discount that he is one of the top three milers in the world and an incredible threat not only to medal in the Paris 1,500 meters but also to win the whole show in Paris.

Yared Nuguse, with Geordie Beamish leading, May 24, 2024, NIKE Pre Classic warm-up session, photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun 

Yared Nuguse is a consummate middle-distance runner. He is coached by Dathan Ritzenhein and his comrades on OAC push him daily to be his very, very best!

Yared Nuguse has not found his perfect distance or his perfect face. This guy has the talent, drive, and focus to be an Olympic champion.

This mile has a tremendous field, with eight of the fifteen with sub 3:50 PBs!

Holding the best until the very last will be exciting in Hayward field, exciting on television, and crazy fun to watch!

The Mile is four wonderful laps that test every middle-distance runner’s endurance, fitness, speed and drive. The Bowerman Mile is a tradition at Hayward Field. Some of the very greatest of all time, Hicham El Guerrouj, Alan Webb, Richie Boulet, and Jakob Ingebrigtsen, have all won here.

Who will be joining them tomorrow, May 25, 2024?