I asked Dave Hunter to write a piece about the 2013 New Balance Indoor Games, and he did it with relish. The following piece gives you another man’s view of what I see as the official starting place of the 2013 Indoor elite season. The problem is, there have so many amazing performances this season, in a season where many of the top athletes in the world are staying at home, waiting for Moscow.
New Balance Indoor Grand Prix
Track & Field Rocks The Reg
Top Performances Spice Boston Indoor Meet
February 3, 2013
Just in case there was any doubt, Saturday’s performances at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix made it abundantly clear that the buildup heading toward the Moscow World Championships in August is well underway. A star-studded and international field–featuring numerous London medalists–posted several impressive marks which effectively announced: “It’s on.”
The women’s two mile proved to be the meet’s jewel as Tirunesh Dibaba–the Baby Faced Destroyer–showed how she earned that nickname. Left all alone in the lead after the rabbit retired at one kilometer, Dibaba continued to churn out sub-35 second laps as the sellout crowd exhorted her onward. Reflecting on her world-leading winning time, Dibaba suggested in a post-race interview that faster times are ahead. “With this first race, I am happy. But I could have run faster with better pacing–9:03 or 9:04. I would have liked to have broken the meet record, but I am OK with this,” explained the Olympic 5000 champion. “Running alone is a bit tough. When I broke the world record at 5000 meters, I had good pacemakers. And that helped me.”
While Dibaba sailed on to her solo win, the real race was in the chase pack. Prep Mary Cain– unfazed by Olympian competitors–ran a heady and unintimidated race. Competing gamely, track & field’s new darling put together negative mile splits to finish 3rd in 9:38.68–easily taking down Melody Fairchild’s 1991 two mile HSR of 9:55.92. Cain’s 3000 split of 9:04.51 also set a new HSR along the way. Unconcerned by her spike-marked calves, an enthusiastic Cain offered an upbeat post-race assessment about her performance. “I wasn’t really keeping track of laps, so I just kind of kept going and going,” a radiant Cain confided. “I definitely felt really sharp. I felt like I was trying to stay in the race as much as I could.”
A stacked field in the men’s 3000–showcased as a head-to-head duel between London silver medalists Galen Rupp and Ethiopia’s Dejen Gebremeskel–closed the show. The race was carefully staged–complete with a skillful rabbiting duo–to provide the athletes the opportunity to go after Bernard Lagat’s indoor 3000 AR of 7:32.43. With precise pacing, the second rabbit led the trio of Rupp, Gebremeskel, and his 19 year-old countryman Hagos Gebrhiwet through the first 1600 in 4:02.2. Just as the rabbit stepped off after four laps, the record tempo proved too much for Gebremeskel who quickly fell off the pace–leaving Rupp and the young Gebrhiwet to battle for the victory. When the Ethiopian junior–who made the 5000 final in London–surged during the 9th lap to open a 20-25 meter gap on Rupp, the race appeared to be over. But America’s rising distance star was not done.
go with it. So everybody was kind of looking at me,” Centrowitz explained. “So it was either I sit in the pack and we start running 31’s and 32’s, or I use Scherer for as much as I can. So that was the decision and we made up the time.” As the race heated up over the final 600, several game attempts by Will Lear to wrest control of the race were masterfully thwarted by Centrowitz’s subtle pace changes. In complete command and looking unfazed, Centro cruised to the win in 3:56.26 as he paraded 7 other milers under the magical 4:00 barrier. So Centro, what about that unflappable mid-race demeanor? “Yeah, I fool a lot of people that way,” he smiled.
As the evening ended, there was an enthusiastic buzz as the upbeat crowd poured out of the Reggie Lewis Center to brave the winter winds. Clearly, the throng had enjoyed the carefully-scripted and tightly-presented 3-hour indoor performance by some of the sport’s finest. There are more than a few track & field old-schoolers who would tend to downplay the indoor season as some sort of unworthy step-child of the more pure, outdoor edition of our sport. Yet there no longer seems to be any authentic reason to be dismissive of this exciting, close-to-the action version. Just as golf tournaments are held on different courses and championship tennis is played on several surfaces, so too can world-class track & field offer varying platforms for its athletes to display their talents. Indoor track & field isn’t inferior to the outdoor version. It’s just different. And, as Saturday’s big show at the Reg proved, sometimes it can rise up and be even better.