Millrose Games, version 106: Lagat sets 2 mile AR, Sowinski sets 600m AR, Montano sets 600m AR, Mary Cain runs Mile HS AR, and fantastic MIles! by Larry Eder

It is 10:48 PM EST, and the 150 media here is down to 30 hardcore. The meet is over, the signage is being taken down. Outside of the media area, Pascal Dobert, physio for Jerry Schumachers Nike Oregon TC group, and Jim Estes, USATF Event Manager, are chatting away as a few of us are trying to describe one of the most exciting meets that we have seen in a long time. 

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Mary Cain, photo by

While many will speak for weeks about Mary Cain's fantastic American high school record in the mile of 4:28.25, there were five other moments that I will share with you as well. Cain is the Mary Decker of her generation, but with better coaching, and much better focus. 

Bernard Lagat ran a gutty two mile, setting an AR of 8:09.50 with a last mile in 4:04, and a last lap in 59. Eric Sowinski surprised most with his 1:15.61 AR. Alysia Montano ran a brilliant AR, of 1:23.59 for the 600 meters, coming oh so close to the world record. And then, there was the men's mile, where five were together with three laps to go, and Lopez Lomong ran 3:51.21 for the win, with Matt Centrowitz in second , running 3:51.34!

The women's Wanamaker mile had Sarah Vaughn as the pacemaker, taking them through 65.9 for the 440, 2:15.08 for the 880 and 3:24.25 for the 1,320. 

At that point, Sheila Reid, the fearless Canadian runner, who runs for Villanova, took the lead and ran hard, developing a lead that she held until the finish, running 4:27.02, for the world leader.  As Sheila was running her race, Mary Cain was charging from fifth to second, running a fine 4:28.25, which broke her three week old American high school record and also gave her the fastest mile by an American women in 2013. 

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Sheila Reed,2011 NB GrandPrix, photo by

The men's 600 meters was fascinating. Duane Solomon, who had run 1:15.70 just weeks before in Scotland, took this race out hard. Many thought that Duane would smash his AR, perhaps breaking the WR as well (1:15.12 by Nico Motcheban). 

Solomon hit the 200m in 23.2, and the 400 meters in 48.34, way ahead of his record pace and looking great. But, looking better was Erik Sowinski, who had not even been told he was running until Wednesday. Sowinski went by Solomon with fifty meters to go, and with Solomon spent, Erik Sowinski took not only the win, but also the AR, running a fine 1:15.61. Sowinski told the onfield interview, " I knew I could run that fast, as workouts had been going well, but I only found out that I was in the field on Wednesday."

Duane Solomon, photo by

Alysia Montano runs like the wind. Her front running astounds and confounds. In an interview with RBR on Thursday, Ms. Montano explained that she began using that tactic in college, and it has been her modus operandi ever since. 

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Alysia Montano, 2012 Olympics, 
photo by

Erica Moore, the 2012 World Indoor bronze medalist took the lead through the 200 meters, and Alysia Montano went by just after the turn, leading the 400m in 53.44 and not looking back. Continuing to fly, Montano broke the 32 year old AR by over three seconds, running a brilliant 1:23.59. 

Right behind her, WJR holder and new professional runner Ajee Wilson was moving through the field. " I just ran my race and felt real good near the finish." Wilson went by a struggling Erica Moore with fifty to go, and went on to run 1:26.45, a new World Junior record. Erica Moore finished third in 1:26.48. 

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Bernard Lagat, with his son, 2012 USA Indoors, 
photo by

The men's two mile was an out and out record attempt. Last year, on this track, Bernard Lagat had run 13:05.71, setting a new AR. Minutes before, in LIttle Rock, Arkansas,  Galen Rupp had run 8:09.72 for two miles, taking an AR away from Bernard. 

This year, Bernard wanted the record back. 

It was a tough race. "Bernard was behind pace until the very end, that is a hard race to run, " commented Coach Li, Bernard Lagat's long-time coach. Lagat hit the 880 in 2:02, the 1,320 in 3:04.4  and the mile in 4:05.4. Lagat is smooth and methodical, but the pacemaking, after the mile was his, and his alone.

Evan Jager, who was running second to Lagat, told RBR this, after the race: "  I tried to stay with Lagat, but he is one of the best ever. With about two laps to  go, I was wiped. With 150 meters to go, Andy Bumbalaugh went by, then, Cam Levins, and I lost two seconds over the last lap. I have to remember to be tough over that last 150 meters." 

Evan Jager, 
photo by

Jager is the AR holder in the steeplechase, and this guy is fearless. He will take the lessons from tonights race and put that AR down to eight minutes this summer. 

Bernard Lagat was being tough. He ran the last mile in 4:04, the last half just under two minutes and required a 59.5 for the last 400 meters to get the AR, to the roar of the crowd! 

Running 8:09.50, Bernard Lagat showed that he is, at 38, one of the most brilliant racers in our sport. 

The Wanamaker Mile gives me goose bumps, and this year, with eight guys under 3:55.92, we were treated to a real horse race.

Brian Gagnon hit the 400 meters in 53.6 and the 800 meters in 1:53.26, and then Ciaren O'Lionaird went to the front with 600 meters to go, with Lopez Lomong, Matt Centrowitz, Chris O'Hare and Lawi Lalang all there. The lead changed several times, as Centro took the lead at 1,200 meters and Chris O'Hare took it from him with 300 meters to go. At the lap, O'Hare, O'Lionaird, Centro and Lomong were all there! 

Matt Centrowtiz, New Balance GP, 
photo by

Coming down the final backstretch, Lopez Lomong wound up and went by Centrowitz, who was not giving up. But neither were Ciaren O'Lionaird or Chris O'Hare! 

Lopez Lomong, who had run a fine 1:46.23 for the 800 meters the weekend before, took the win in 3:51.21, the second best time EVER by an American. Matt Centrowitz, the defending champion, ran 3:51.34 for second place, the third best time EVER by an American. 

In third, Ciaren O'Lionaird ran 3:52.10, ironically just behind the indoor Irish mile of one Ray Flynn, the Millrose meet director. Chris O'Hare, of Scotland, ran 3:52.98, a new collegiate record. When asked where he stood on the Scottish mile record list (I believe Graham Williamson is ahead of him), he said, " much farther up that before the race." Chris will be on a twelve hour bus ride to Alabama for his conference meet tomorrow. 

Lopez Lomong, 
photo by

Garrett Heath, who finished seventh in 3:55.55, walked by me, just after the race and noted, " I need an extra gear". He will develop it.

The Millrose Games was saved by its move to the Armory last year. In its 106th year, the combination of Dr. Norb Sander's Armory, the support of sponsors like New Balance, the TV support from USA Track & Field and the meet direction by Ray Flynn have put new life into this meet. And kudos to David Monte on supporting athletes. 

We have seen, tonight, Bernard Lagat at the age of 38, and Mary Cain, at the age of 16, and both kept the fans on their feet! What a night of great racing! 

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