BOSTON — It’s not exactly the Super Bowl of track and field but it’s a pretty big deal. Some of the biggest names in the sport will be in Boston this weekend for the 18th annual New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. The meet, which sold out in record time, will be held Saturday night at the Reggie Lewis Center at Roxbury Community College.
Among the world-class athletes running on the 200-meter track are Galen Rupp, who brought home a silver medal from the London Olympics when he finished second in the 10,000-meter race last summer. Rupp warmed up for this meet by running the second fastest-ever indoor mile by an American last Saturday on the Boston University track.
On Saturday, Rupp will be running the 3,000-meter race in a field that includes Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia, the silver medalist in the Olympic 5,000-meters in London. In last year’s Boston indoor meet, Gebremeskel defeated double-Olympic champion Mo Farah while wearing just one shoe. He lost it after being stepped on early in the race. The men’s 3,000-meter race will also include Hagos Gebrhiwet, the World Junior Record-holder at 5,000-meters and also the world’s second-fastest man at the distance in 2012.
The women’s field includes Olympic pole vault champion Jenn Suhr, who set an American record with a 16-foot vault at this meet last year. She has a long-time connection to Boston and this meet. Suhr won her first national title in the Reggie Lewis Center in 2005. While Jenn Suhr is a veteran, Mary Cain might seem like a rookie, but the high school whiz kid from Bronxville, N.Y., is having a breakout indoor season. Last weekend, Cain broke the 41-year-old record for an indoor mile with her time of 4:32:78. She will run the 2-mile in Boston and could also add that record to her high school resume. Cain is being coached by Boston Marathon legend Alberto Salazar, who also coaches Galen Rupp.
The really big name in the women’s 2-mile race is Ethopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba, a three-time Olympic champion in the distance races. Dibaba is scheduled to move up to the marathon this spring, running the race in London in April.
One athlete who will not make it to the meet in Boston this weekend is 110-meter hurdles Olympic champion and world record holder Aries Merritt. He had to pull out after an injury in training this week.
If you don’t have tickets, the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix will air live on ESPN3 from 6 to 8 p.m. and will be rebroadcast on ESPN2 on Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.