Despite the quality that lined up for the women’s Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games on Saturday night, there was only ever going to be one winner and it was indeed, almost inevitably, Shannon Rowbury, who recorded a comfortable win in 4:24.32.
Her closest competitor was Nike Oregon Project teammate Treniere Moser, who finished second in 4:27.49. Jordan Hasay stuck with Rowbury past the halfway mark before soon finding herself detached and eventually faded to fourth.
The pace, from the start, was conservative, with the field passing 400m in 64.53 and 800m in 2:11.62. From there, once Melissa Salerno had stepped aside, Rowbury quickly sped clear, with Hasay running a solo race in second. At the 1200m mark, which Rowbury passed in 3:18.15, it appeared as if the American record was in threat, but as Rowbury entered the final 100m, she soon found her legs buckling as her previous exertions came back to haunt her.
It looked, for a moment, as if Rowbury had sustained a serious injury, but she explained afterwards it was nothing more than overwhelming fatigue. She stumbled several times up the home straight, just about holding it together to cross the line in 4:24.32, well clear of teammate Treniere Moser in second (4:27.49) and Stephanie Charnigo in third (4:28.02).
“It was just me getting tired, nothing more,” said Rowbury. “There’s nothing hurt. I just had that elephant on my back the last 50 meters. It was a question of mind over matter, just trying to keep my legs moving. I’m disappointed with the time, but happy with the win. I thought I had an American record in me today.”
Hasay finished fourth in 4:28.27, with Mary Cain running well below par back in eighth, finishing in 4:31.31. “The goal was to stay with Shannon,” said Hasay, “I knew she was in really good form going in. The pace was really hot at the start. I’m more of a 5k/10k athlete, so this was just about working on my speed, and every year it’s getting better, so I’m pleased. I’ll probably double in the mile and 3k at Nationals.”
As for Rowbury, she will now turn her attention to next week’s Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix, then return home for the USATF Nationals before continuing her preparations for the outdoor season. There, both the 1500m and 5,000m will feature in her plans. “I’m going to try do both,” she said. “I love the 1500 and to be competitive at the 5k I have to run about 20 seconds faster, so I want to have a sense of what’s my best shot at a medal at Beijing and Rio and then work towards that.”
Rowbury was quick to credit the benefit she has received from training with Mary Cain, Jordan Hasay and Treniere Moser over the past year. “All four of us train together daily,” she said. “All of our hard sessions are together. It’s great, each of us brings a different asset to the table. It’s made me faster, it’s made me stronger and a better athlete overall. I know I’ve to bring my A-game when the rest of the Oregon Project toes the line.”