Jordan Invitational — A Good Night For Norway’s Ingebrigtsen Brothers

Published by BronsonDiaz
May 11, 2018

Stanford, California, May 03—While Stanford’s annual Payton Jordan Invitational distance extravaganza played out less extravagantly than in some past years due to the absence of an imperative for athletes to chase World or Olympic qualifying marks in the “off year,” the meet nonetheless delivered 4 U.S.-leading marks and 3 collegiate leaders.

Two of the three brothers Ingebrigtsen of Stavanger, Norway, however, put on a stupendous show that father Gjert will certainly add to the family highlight film if he had time to video his sons’ races during a busy evening of competition coaching.

Prime focus here went not to ’17 World Champs 1500 bronze medalist Filip Ingebrigtsen—who is also the reigning Euro champ—but first to the baby of the bunch, 17-year-old Jakob, who last summer ran the fastest mile ever by a 16-year-old (3:56.29).

Lined up for the 1500 in Jordan-normal mid-50s near-motionless air, the teen faced a field that included Olympic champ Matthew Centrowitz and Paul Chelimo, the U.S.’s Rio 5K silver medalist.

This early in the pro season, the pacing from two rabbits was more tuned to rust removal and domestic qualifying than records of any stripe—3:38–3:39 tempo through 1200 (2:42.8 for pacer Daniel Herrera).

The racers never pursued Herrera with vim or vigor but with 300 left the chase for the line was on as Chelimo and Centro moved up front down the backstretch. Young Ingebrigtsen, however, had a clear inside line and just before 200-to-go rushed into the lead and away.

The teen entered the last turn 2m ahead of Chelimo, with Centrowitz showing more rust to bust, and built his margin to more than 5m at the finish for a 3:39.06–3:40.16 win over the U.S. Army’s star.

Behind Ingebrigtsen’s 55.24 finish, Centro’s Nike Oregon Project mate Eric Jenkins grabbed 3rd in 3:40.28 (56.09 last lap) as Colby Alexander 4th (4th in 3:40.42, 55.90 final circuit) and Craig Engels (5th in 3:40.45, 55.83) also displayed early sharpness.

Coming down for his first outdoor race of the year from an altitude camp in Flagstaff, Ingebrigtsen said, “I was actually expecting someone to pick up the pace a little bit and starting to run fast it seemed like they were tired, all of them so I just decided to go inside of Chelimo and I started running [for] the finishline.”

The precocious Norwegian became the youngest-ever sub-4:00 miler with his 3:58.07 at last year’s Pre Classic and went on to win Euro Junior titles in the steeple and 5000 before making an appearance in the Worlds steeple heats in London (8:34.88).

He has run beyond his years against elite adults. Is he now ready to start beating them? “I’m probably not winning the most difficult ones,” he said, “but at least I’m running faster than I have done before and probably will be able to compete with the best guys.”

Jakob’s target for ’18 “is to get to the final in the [Euro Champs] 1500 so if I manage to do that I’ll probably hope for something even bigger but I’m just really looking forward to racing this season.”