EUGENE, Ore. The annual Prefontaine Classic, which has been ranked as the No. 1 invitational track and field meet in the world by All-Athletics.net, the official services provider of the IAAF Diamond League, will make its 40th appearance at Hayward Field this evening.
The first event is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. with the women's discus. Other events scheduled for Friday night include the women's long jump, the women's 800 meter, the men's 800 meter, the men's shot put and the men's 10,000 meter race.
In total, the field will contain over 250 athletes over the course of 24 events. There are 41 athletes in the competition who received medals from last year's World Championships in Moscow, Russia.
The 2014 Prefontaine Classic will feature several decorated Oregon alums.
Making a scheduled appearance in the men's 100-meter hurdles is current Decathlon world record holder Ashton Eaton. He set the record with 9036 points during the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, breaking Roman Sebrle's 11-year-old mark by 13 points.
Eaton has run his two fastest 110 meter hurdle races at the Prefontaine Classic.
"Being in Eugene is always really special to me," Eaton said. "I always love to return to my hometown where I went to school. Tomorrow is going to be a very special say for me. When I run on Hayward Field, it always feels like home to me."
The Prefontaine Classic is hosted in honor of former University of Oregon standout Steve Prefontaine, who according to many helped redefine the sport of running during his tenure as a collegiate and international athlete.
Prefontaine died on May 30, 1975, after crashing his car into a rock on Skyline Boulevard, just north of Hendrick's Park in Eugene. Following his death, the running community of Eugene dedicated that rock, and the Prefontaine Classic, to the legacy and world records he left behind.
"I think that for every sport, it's important to have evolution, and Prefontaine definitely brought that to the table," Eaton says. "Pre definitely deserves to have this event honored after him. The way he ran really helped change the way we think about track and field."
A rock has been installed at the site of his death, and fans often leave memorabilia at the plaque in honor of Prefontaine.
Matthew Centrowitz will also be joining the ranks of Oregon alumni during the Prefontaine Classic and is scheduled to compete in the Bowerman Mile. Centrowitz was a seven-time Division I All-American during his tenure at the University of Oregon.
Eaton and Centrowitz will be joined by Galen Rupp, a six-time USA Outdoor 10,000 meter champion, English Gardner, the 2013 USA Outdoor champion, Allyson Felix, the a Six-Time USA Outdoor 200 meter champion, and Jordan McNamara.
In addition to these Oregon Alumni, several decorated international athletes are scheduled to compete. Bernard Lagat, the 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist in the men's 1500 meter competition, is scheduled to toe up to the line during the men's 5000 meter competition.
Reese will be joined by Olympic gold medalist Justin Gatlan, who will be competing in the men's 100 meter sprint. Gatlan currently holds the world record in the 100 meter sprint.
"For my 100 tomorrow, my only goal is to run faster than I have ever run tomorrow," Gatlan said.