So, who will it be today? Nick Willis, who has won here three times, Galen Rupp, fresh off ARs at 5,000m and two miles, Leo Manzano, who can kick with the best of them, or Lopez Lomong, who ran 3:51 and 13:07 last season indoors?
SPECTACULAR MEN’S MILE ON TAP AT NEW BALANCE INDOOR GRAND PRIX
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission.
BOSTON (08-Feb) — Today’s 19th New Balance Indoor Grand Prix will feature a spectacular men’s mile which includes three Olympic silver medalists: Nick Willis, Galen Rupp and Leo Manzano. Laban Rotich’s 2005 meet record of 3:53.18 is likely to be broken given the excellent early season form shown by both Willis (3:55.98 mile, unpressed), and Rupp (American indoor records at 5000m and two miles).
“This is a great opportunity to race on a familiar track,” said Willis, the 2008 Olympic 1500m silver medalist for New Zealand, who will compete at today’s meet for the seventh time. “I’ve won this race twice before so I’m going to try to get my third one.”
Rupp, who ran 13:01.26 for 5000m and 8:07.41 for two miles at the Boston University track last month, said he’s also ready to go. Although primarily a 10-K runner, Rupp has greatly improved his speed which he said is necessary to win big 10,000m races like the Olympic Games and World Championships. He ran a 3:50.92 indoor mile last year, the fastest by any American. Rupp had considered a world indoor mile record run this weekend at the Boston University venue, but switched to this meet in order to get in a strong head-to-head race in advance of the USA Indoor Championships at the end of the month.
“Obviously, my initial plan to was to go after the world record, American record in the mile,” said Rupp, who won the silver medal at 10,000m in the 2012 London Olympics. “But, after thinking things over and talking with my coaches we got down to what the ultimate goal for the indoor season was going to be. For us, it was the world indoor games and the U.S. Championships in Albuquerque. We took all that into consideration and… I need to get into a competitive race and not keep running by myself, record attempts.” He continued: “It’s going to be a great race.”
Manzano, the 2012 London Olympic 1500m silver medalist who is now self-coached, is coming off of a high-altitude training stint in Mexico. He has yet to race this season, but said he did a 1000-meter time trial in 2:20.9 and said he’s fit.
“I’ve been in Mexico for about a month for training, and just last week I had a time trial in 2:20.9,” said Manzano who is from Austin, Tex. “I think I’m in a good place in my training; I’m really excited to be coming here and racing against these guys.”
Another danger man is two-time Olympian Lopez Lomong, who won the Wanamaker Mile at the NYRR Millrose Games last year in a career best 3:51.21. Like Rupp, Lomong is preparing for the USA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, and recently ran a 4:00.69 mile there (Albuquerque is 1490m of altitude). The always modest Lomong, whose foundation has raised over $500,000 for clean water projects in South Sudan, said simply that he was ready to be competitive today.
“I think, myself, I’m just going to go out there and run with these guys.” He continued: “I think I’m in pretty good position now to go out there. Again, it’s a great field, it’s going to be good times. I’m just going to go out there and put myself in a good position to run a mile.”
At yesterday’s press conference here, none of the four athletes would readily take the mantle of favorite. However, all said they were confident. Rupp best summed up the quartet’s feelings about coming into the race.
“I think we’d all bet on ourselves,” he said.