Jenny Simpson’s AR over two miles, photo by PhotoRun.net
Are you a fan?
Brenda Martinez passes Nicole Tully: race is over after you pass the finish, WR DMR!
photo by PhotoRun.net
For me, I have a list in my mind of the perfect concerts and near perfect track meets. My perfect concert was July 1977, in Oakland, where I saw Tower of Power and Blood, Sweat & Tears. A great evening of music shared with a wonderful friend, weeks before I was entering the seminary to become a Jesuit priest (well, that did not happen, but, yes, it was part of my journey).
I now have a near perfect indoor track meet in North America. The 2015 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix had World records, an American record and five or six Meet records. But for me, the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix will be remembered for the efforts of the athletes and how they were embraced by the crowds.
From John Trautmann’s opening salvo, a meet record Master’s Mile in 4:18.35 to Jenny Simpson’s two mile AR triumph, the meet was, well, breath-taking. Trautmann ran as if he in childbirth, the effort showing, a remarkable transformation for the 1992 Olympian over the past six years.
John Trautmann, finding your inner miler,
photo by PhotoRun.net
But, the athletes were the show!
In the Women’s DMR, it literally came down to the final meters, as NB USA’s Brenda Martinez went by the New York All-Stars Nicole Tully, who had charged to the lead with two laps to go. Finely timed, the last seventy meters had the entire Reggie Lewis crowd lifting the rafters, as they willed Martinez to take the lead. The World Champ bronze medalist caught Nicole Tully just before the tape, putting both the New Balance USA team (Sarah Brown, Mahogany Jones, Meghan Krumbach, Brenda Martinez ) and the NY All Stars, 10:42.57-10:42.79.
Matt Centrowitz: winning is key, fast times are also cool, photo by PhotoRun.net
Matt Centrowitz won the 1000 meters, in a near AR, but definitely a MR of 2:17.00. Centrowitz told media on Friday that ” Alberto (his coach) and I, before this season knew my 5000m PB was near my competitors, but my 800m PB needs to improve. Kiprop has run 1:43, so I need to work on my speed.” Centrowitz, possessed of a quite confidence, wonderful form, and if needed, strong elbows, looks even stronger than before. Perhaps it is the 18 months of core work that coaches Salazar and Julian have worked with Centrowitz on to insure he is prepared for all racing situations.
The women’s 1000 meters featured Mary Cain, Molly Beckwith-Ludlow, and Treniere Moser. The largest applause, by high school kids, was for Mary Cain, who ran in second for most of the race. Cain, who suffered through a bit of the flu this week, ran better than Armory Track Invitational, was poised to win. Treniere Moser had a different script and charged by, around 150 meters to go, using the precision of a veteran campaigner, to win the 1000 meters in fine form and to find applause and appreciation for her effort. Mary Cain took second, again, a nice improvement over her last week of racing.
Ryan Whiting is a shot putter. The 2012 and 2014 World Indoor Champion, and 2013 World Outdoor silver medalist, Whiting possesses a big heart, a great smile and the speed of a well trained giant. Don’t let the smile fool you, Whiting is all about the throwing. Ryan had just returned from throwing in Germany and Poland against the world’s best, from Germany’s David Storl to US’s resurging Christian Cantwell. Whiting is about 6-4 and 295 lbs. Cantwell is 6-6 and 330 lbs. These guys are big guys throwing metal balls. Next to milers and sprinters, track fans get shot putters. The histrionics, or grunts in the vernacular, attract many young kids to the big guys throwing metal balls 20 plus meters. Quite frankly, the shot put is so much more fun than watching Monster Trucks or pro Wrestling. But, I have digressed.
On this evening, Whiting and Cantwell, coming back from injuries, were the class of the field. Christian was happy with his 20.83m throw (68 feet, 4 inches). Just before his last throw, Mr. Whiting, either with huge amount of confidence or just screwing with Cantwell, queried his manager, also meet director, Mark Wetmore. The conversation was not about the next throw as Wetmore would have thought, it was to make sure Wetmore had a dinner reservation for Mr. Whiting and his entourage after the event.
Getting into the ring, Whiting released. If you have not had the pleasure of hearing the indoor shot on the Reggie Lewis floor, you have missed something. A loud “thud”, and then, a Zen bouncer, Whiting had just thrown his best throw of year, a 21.43 meters ( or for those who still do not get metrics, 70 feet, three and half inches). The shot then bounced over the wooden partition, providing some more entertainment for the crowd. Next came dinner.
Nick Willis setting MR, to the roar of the Reggie! photo by PhotoRun.net
The mile is one of the most popular events in North America: it is not a 1,500 meters. The field at the Reggie this year was quite good: Nick Willis, Ben Blankenship, Abdalaati Iguider, Craig Huffer, Riley Masters and Ciaran O’Lionaird.
The pace chores were done admirably by Shawn Roberts who took Willis, Iguidar, O’Lionaird, Masters and Huffer through 58.79 and 1:56.40. Iguidar, who possesses gold, silver and bronze from the World Indoors, an Olympic bronze, and racing savvy that would make most milers squirm, lead with Nick Willis, 2008 Olympic silver medalist, on his shoulder.
is is, quite frankly, one of the best milers in the world. I am not sure he realizes that at times. He may think that type of confidence is untoward, not civilized. The issue is, a miler is a warrior. Like his compatriot under Ron Warhurst, Kevin Sullivan (fifth in 2000 Olympic 1,500), Willis trains hard, races hard, enough said. Coached by the legendary Ron Warhurst, one thing is for certain: Warhurst teaches all of his milers how to race.
O’Lionaird dropped out before 1200 meters. Exhausted from his fine race in Armory weekend before, still tired from some hard sessions in week after, Ciaran spent most of the past twenty-four hours in airports as flights were delayed. Watch for Ciaran, who is doubling at Irish Indoor nationals, to race well in Prague at the European Indoors (March 5-7).
Willis, coming down from some fine training with Will Leer and Ben Blankenship, among others, just looks fit. When Willis took off, the party was over. Blankenship followed Willis past Iguidar, who ran his indoor PB, but was not fighting for the big banana any longer.
Nick Willis, in full flight, is efficient as a tiger on the hunt. His knee lift, his arm list, held to close scrutiny, shows no wasted motion. But, it is his speed, his just flowing, frightening speed, over the last 200 meters that showed Willis knew he was fit, and making no apologies, he was going to run a mile for the ages.
As Willis came off the final turn, the crowd was cheering, and Ben Blankenship, who looks like Quentin Cassidy in cult book Once a Runner, was digging in, and not giving up. It was just that Nick Willis, with his wife and son in attendance, was having that perfect storm: health, fitness, family and fans all there, willing him on!
Nick Willis set a meet record with his 3:51.61!
Sprints have always been an after thought in Reggie during New Balance indoor. This year, we had one of the best fields EVER in men and women’s 60 meters.
Asafa Powell, running pretty darn well indoors,
photo by PhotoRun.net
Asafa Powell, a man who has run over 100 sub ten second hundred meter races, finished second tonight. Trell Kimmons surprised and won in 6.51. Mike Rodgers finished third, in 6.53, not accelerating out of the blocks. But Asafa Powell, runs indoors much better than I would have expected for a man of his stature. He races the 60 meters like the little engine that could (remember the kid’s book, oh come on!).
Dejan Gebremeskel catching Bernard Lagat,
photo by PhotoRun.net
Dejan Gebremeskel set the 3000m record in Reggie in the famous race in 2011, where he lost a shoe and outkicked Mo Farah. Dejan has won an Olympic medal now and ran 12:46 for the 5,000 meters. A kinder and more thoughtful young man is hard to find. When I see him, there is always a smile and gracious discussion, as Dejan has worked on his English and is quite conversant.
Bernard Lagat is the ” old man on the track” now. But be careful, after last night, where Lagat charged to the front at the 2600 meter mark, and made a race of it, as Dejan Gebrmeskel had to sprint madly to go by on the straight, to the absolute delight of the track mad crowd! Will Leer followed in close attendance, as Lagat destroyed the Masters WR with his 7:48.
Bernard is racing the Millrose Mile next weekend, looking like a good effort could set a new Masters’ WR for the mile. I will see him in Birmingham, England on Feb. 21 as he races two miles there! Dejan told me this morning, ” No more racing now until Carlsbad. I want to run very fast there!”
And then, if there ever was a race to end a meet with, it was the Women’s two mile!
Jenny Simpson; the perfect sixteen laps,
photo by PhotoRun.net
Last year, Jenny Simpson took off a lap early in the two mile, and sprinted to the finish past Sally Kipyego, thinking she had won. She started back up and finished second, running 9:26.
This year, with a tougher field, Jenny Simpson hit 71 for the 400 meters, 2:22 for the 800 meters and 4:42 for the 1600 meters. With a 400 meter to go, Jenny Simpson was four seconds off pace, hitting the 1 3/4 miles in 8:14.
Running a penultimate lap in 33, Jenny Simpson dug down and ran the final lap of the new Mondo 200 meter track in 30.6 for a new American record of 9:18.35.
For me, the record was heartfelt. Jenny Simpson has elevated herself to being the second longest enduring American woman miler in history. Her two World Championship medals, a gold and a silver, and her brilliant 2014 season, just missing Mary Decker Slaney’s AR by .10 of a second.
Jenny Simpson: pretty good January shape!
photo by PhotoRun.net
The two junior miles were magnificent. Ryen Frazier, who I met in civilian clothes at the Lennox City Table restaurant, is one of the most able racers I have seen. She reminds me of the late Steve Prefontaine, her style is relaxed and suggests tremendous ability over longer distances (5,000 and 10,000m).
Ryen Frazier, on owning the mile, photo by PhotoRun.net
Oh, quick rant. Why do athletes think that running a marathon at 21 is such a good thing? Get your track speed up to snuff, let your body mature, and then, go after a fast marathon time. Okay, digression over.
Ryen was off on her own, running a Meet record of 4:44.02 for the mile. Her smile as she walked off the track with her trophy said it all. A young women miler, who we should see grow into a fine world class middle distance runner.
The Boy’s Junior mile put five top milers under 4:11, won by Logan Wetzel in 4:08.75 in the final steps! Fantastic high school miling. Nice to see Tommy Ratcliffe, who ran a solo 9:16 for two miles a couple of weeks ago, keep the race honest, and run a nifty 4:10.50 for fourth! (Tommy’s father, a 2:14 marathon and manager at KIMbia Athletics recently helped product a fine movie on the four minute mile-a must see).
Bernard Lagat: a racer looks at 40, photo by PhotoRun.net
Michelle-Lee Ayhe and Tianna Bartoletto battled over 60 meters, 7.15 to 7.19. Mary Saxer won the pole vault on misses, with Jenn Suhr in third, all three at 4.50 meters. Suhr is beat up following a bout with the flu. The first and only American woman over sixteen feet, an Olympic gold and silver medalist, and WC silver medalist, Jenn Suhr has one thing on her mind: Beijing in August for the World Champs.
That is the underlying theme for all track athletes this year: Beijing 2015 is in August and in the Birds’ Nest Stadium, which hosted the 2008 Olympics, the crowd will see the best of track & field battle.
The 2015 New Balance Indoor GP is the beginning of the journey in 2015 for many on the road to Beijing.
For Global Athletics, the team who manages and owns the meet, it was a job well done, after a year of preparations. For New Balance, it was money well spent. NB has shown how a brand which prides itself on being founded on running’s highest ideals, supports the major indoor event in their hometown.
As Mark Wetmore, the director and founder of the 2015 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix told me a few weeks ago, ” Boston is a sports city.” Correct that, sports-mad city.
And five thousand plus sports fans were entertained for three hours at the Reggie Lewis Center, as the fans did their part, screaming to shake the rafters as athlete after athlete willed themselves to throw farther, run faster and jump farther than they have ever done before.
And the track gods smiled, as this athletic pilgrim saves this article, packs his bags, heading for the next city, and next indoor track, searching for the perfect track meet.
Jenny Simpson, after the perfect sixteen laps,
photo by PhotoRun.net
New Balance Indoor Grand Prix
Boston (Roxbury), MA, 07/02/2015
60 Metres – Men Final &
1 Kimmons , Trell USA 6.51
2 Powell , Asafa JAM 6.52
3 Rodgers , Mike USA 6.53
4 Morris , Joseph USA 6.54
5 Haynes , Akeem CAN 6.56
6 Bracy , Marvin USA 6.57
7 McLean , Sean USA 6.58
8 Adams , Harry USA 6.67
60 Metres – Men Heats Race 1
1 Rodgers , Mike USA 6.52
2 McLean , Sean USA 6.60
3 Morris , Joseph USA 6.61
4 Bracy , Marvin USA 6.62
5 Adams , Harry USA 6.66
6 Adams , Antoine SKN 6.66
7 Su , Bingtian CHN 6.71
60 Metres – Men Heats Race 2
1 Powell , Asafa JAM 6.57
2 Haynes , Akeem CAN 6.60
3 Kimmons , Trell USA 6.62
4 Bailey , Ryan USA 6.67
5 Headley , Stephen BAR 6.78
6 Randall , Woodrow USA 6.94
Barnes , Winston JAM DQ
1000 Metres – Men
1 Centrowitz , Matthew USA 2:17.00
2 Casey , Patrick USA 2:18.30
3 Sowinski , Erik USA 2:19.12
4 Abda , Harun USA 2:20.33
5 Martin , Ryan USA 2:22.58
6 Loxsom , Casimir USA 2:22.80
7 Guerrero , Daniel USA 2:24.65
Berian , Boris USA DNF
One Mile – Men
1 Willis , Nicholas NZL 3:51.61
2 Blankenship , Ben USA 3:53.13
3 Iguider , Abdalaati MAR 3:54.41
4 Masters , Riley USA 3:56.15
5 Huffer , Craig AUS 3:58.44
6 Mangan , Steve USA 4:16.61
7 Bleday , John USA 4:20.40
O’Lionaird , Ciaran IRL DNF &nb
Roberts , Shawn USA DNF
3000 Metres – Men
1 Gebremeskel , Dejen ETH 7:48.19
2 Lagat , Bernard USA 7:48.33
3 Mead , Hassan USA 7:48.72
4 Leer , Will USA 7:48.80
5 Dunbar , Trevor USA 7:52.24
6 Elliott , Matt USA 7:52.67
7 Lowry , Dan USA 7:56.33
Stockberger , Daniel USA DNF
Shot Put – Men
1 Whiting , Ryan USA 21.43
2 Cantwell , Christian USA 20.83
3 Rodhe , Justin CAN 19.99
4 Hunter , Nate USA 18.64
60 Metres – Women
1 Ahye , Michelle-Lee TTO 7.15
2 Bartoletta , Tianna USA 7.19
3 Owusu-Agyapong , Flings GHA 7.26
4 Lee , Muna USA 7.27
5 Bayne , Chauntae USA 7.42
6 Solomon , Shalonda USA 7.42
7 Mahan , Shayla USA 7.44
300 Metres – Women
1 Townsend , Tiffany USA 36.74
2 Hastings , Natasha USA 36.80
3 Beard , Jessica USA 37.32
4 Kelly , Ashley IVB 38.24
5 Dorr , Wendy Fawn CAN 39.16
1000 Metres – Women
1 Moser , Treniere USA 2:37.86
2 Cain , Mary USA 2:38.25
3 Beckwith-Ludlow , Molly USA 2:39.16
4 Brown , Stephanie USA 2:39.64
5 Verstegen , Sanne NED 2:39.66
6 Uceny , Morgan USA 2:39.99
7 Lagat , Viola KEN 2:43.08
8 Lipari , Emily USA 2:45.79
McDonald , Kimarra JAM DNF
2000 Metres – Women
1 Seyaum , Dawit &nbs
p; ETH 5:35.46
2 Kipyego , Sally Jepkosgei KEN 5:40.35
3 Coburn , Emma USA 5:41.11
4 See , Heidi AUS 5:43.82
Salerno , Melissa USA DNF
Wallace , Lauren USA DNF
Two Miles – Women
1 Simpson , Jennifer USA 9:18.35
2 Ejigu , Sentayehu ETH 9:27.05
3 Diriba , Buze ETH 9:29.03
4 Gebreslase , Gotytom ETH 9:31.41
5 Garcia , Stephanie USA 10:04.14
Wilson , Heather USA DNF
High Jump – Women
1 Lowe , ChauntÃ© USA 1.88
2 Frederick , Priscilla USA 1.84
3 Kovalenko , Iryna UKR 1.84
4 Pressley , Maya USA 1.75
Pole Vault – Women
1 Saxer , Mary USA 4.50
2 Gergel , Melissa USA 4.50
3 Suhr , Jennifer USA 4.50
4 StefanÃdi , EkaterÃni GRE 4.40
5 Nageotte , Katie USA 4.40
Distance Medley Relay – Women
1 New Balance USA USA 10:42.57
2 New York All Stars UND 10:42.79
3 New Balance Ireland IRL 11:03.07
4 Harvard University USA 11:22.53
5 Boston College UND 11:24.67
6 Northeastern UND 11:50.74
Larry Eder has had a 50-year involvement in the sport of athletics. Larry has experienced the sport as an athlete, coach, magazine publisher, and now, journalist and blogger. His first article, on Don Bowden, America's first sub-4 minute miler, was published in RW in 1983. Larry has published several magazines on athletics, from American Athletics to the U.S. version of Spikes magazine. He currently manages the content and marketing development of the RunningNetwork, The Shoe Addicts, and RunBlogRun. Of RunBlogRun, his daily pilgrimage with the sport, Larry says: "I have to admit, I love traveling to far away meets, writing about the sport I love, and the athletes I respect, for my readers at runblogrun.com, the most of anything I have ever done, except, maybe running itself."
Theme song: Greg Allman, " I'm no Angel."
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