When the starter’s pistol sounds and Patrick Muturi springs into the 3,000 meters during tonight’s Vandal Indoor Invitational track and field meet in Moscow, Idaho, he may expect his biggest challenge to come from Bernard Lagat.
Instead, both will be trying to keep up, at least figuratively, with the speed of light.
That’s because the Kibbie Dome track will be fitted with a KipPacer - an electronic contraption designed to set a faster pace.
It’s a relatively new adaptation of an old idea, and it will allow runners of the men’s and women’s 3,000 meters to choose from four speeds.
Idaho coach Mike Keller explains:
“It’s the electronic version of a rabbit, it’s on a computer disk and it has a light system that goes around the track. And you can set it any speed you want. It’s the only one in the country.
“It’s legal - there’s no rule against it. A guy in Israel invented the thing and brought it over here to me and we’re trying it out.”
The KipPacer was used during last week’s Idaho Scoring Meet, also in the Kibbie Dome, and it may have helped Lagat and the WSU men run a school-record 9 minutes, 41.55 seconds in the distance medley relay.
The Vandals won that meet, defeating the Cougars in a dual meet for the first time since 1946. There will be no team scoring tonight.
In addition to the 3,000, tonight’s key events include the men’s 55 meters, featuring Idaho’s Niels Kruller, a provisional NCAA qualifier.
The Vandal Indoor traditionally draws athletes from WSU, Idaho, Eastern Washington and other Northwest universities, in addition to many unattached competitors.
For the first time in years, however, Olympic decathlon champion Dan O’Brien will not compete. O’Brien recently moved from Moscow to Arizona, where he finds it easier to train.
Muturi, a former WSU athlete and a winner of the San Francisco Marathon, will run unattached.
Youth hockey tournament
A dozen youth ice hockey teams from throughout the state will compete in two divisions of the USA Hockey Pacific Northwest District state B championships Saturday through Monday in Spokane’s Eagles Ice-A-Rena.
Spokane American Youth Hockey Association serves as host of the three-day event. Play begins Saturday and Sunday at 8 a.m. and runs through the evening.
The bantam championship match will be played Monday at 1:45 p.m. The midget title will be decided at 3:45 p.m.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.