Jenny Simpson adds to her array of honors


Simpson_Jenny-5thAve16.JPGJenny Simpson, photo by

Updated December 19, 2017

I was thinking how extraordinary of a year that Jenny Simpson had. Her finish in the Rio 2016 1,500 meters was perfection. Her move into the bronze medal position, in a race with the absolutley fastest women in the world, was a true highlight of her career.

Last weekend, I watched Jenny Simpson and Emma Coburn, via Skype, cheer on the FootLocker finalists, as their sponsor, New Balance was sponsoring the event for the first time. This got me rereading Elliot Denman's article and I thought it would be a good read this morning!

Jenny Simpson won the bronze medal in Rio with an amazing come from behind final last 200 meters. Everyone was amazed by her run, but it was something that Jenny Simpson has trained for all season, and actually, quite longer.

In her run on Fifth Avenue, Jenny followed the amazing Laura Muir, who has made that big step to greatness this year. Laura Muir has run some fast times and made some big wins. With less than 300 meters to go, Jenny Simpson made her big move.

Jenny Simpson won her fifth NB Fifth Avenue Mile. How appropriate that the first athlete signed by New Balance in the modern era (2010), continues to excell and won the first American medal at 1,500 meters ever!

And what a wonderful end to 2016, with her New Balance Fifth Avenue victory!

Here's the column by our senior writer, Elliott Denman.


NEW YORK - No runner, male or female, had ever won the New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile more than four times.

Simpson_Jenny1b-5thAve16.JPGJenny Simpson, photo by

Until Saturday, the third of September, "on the Avenue, Fifth Avenue," at the very core of the The Big Apple, Jenny Simpson ran her way into the New York Road Runners' history books with her oh-so-arrow, final-strides, 4:18.3 triumph over Scotland's Laura Muir (4:18.4) with Minnesota's Heather Kampf (4:19.7), Michigan's Amanda Eccleston (4:20.8) and Sacramento's Kate Grace, the Yale grad and Olympic 800-meter finalist in fifth (4:22.7.)

Fresh from her brilliant, bronze medal-winning Olympic 1500-meter run, Simpson simply keeps on running brilliantly. You can say she took the Road to Rio, made a U-turn when done in Brazil, and is back doing what she's been doing for a decade, and that's starring on home turf.

She'd led the way on Fifth Avenue in 2011 (4:22.3); slumped to 10th in 2012 (4:29.9) in a race won by Brenda Martinez; but now has won the last four - 2013 (4:19.3), 2014 (4:19.4), 2015 (4:29.0) and with this 2016 edition in 4:18.3 now ranks third on the all-time Fifth Avenue charts, back only of Stanford alumna Pattisue Plumer (4:16.68) and Russia's Natalya Artyomova (4:17.49), both marks dating back to 1990.

The former Jennifer Mae Barringer really was an All-America runner in college, and now she's a young woman for all America to cheer - born in Iowa, schooled (through high school) in Florida, trained collegiately at the University of Colorado, and still based in the Centennial State, where her coach continues to be U. of C. mentor Mark Wetmore, whose own roots stretch back to New Jersey.

Now a three-time Olympian (ninth in the steeplechase at Beijing in 2008 and 1500 semifinalist at London before her Brazil bronze), Simpson is well on her way to all-timer status.

Keep this up, Jenny, and they'll have to rank you right up there with the greatest women's middle distance and longer distance runners the nation has ever produced. Fact is, she's probably "right up there" already.

And, having turned 30 just 11 days before the Fifth Avenue win, she's planning to continue in the running game for years and years.

For sure, some days her training miles do turn into a chore. Sure, there are days she asks herself "am I going to be doing this forever?" Sometimes the travel is a grind, as it was this weekend.

She'd run fourth in the Zurich Weltklasse Diamond League 1500 meters Thursdaynight (a race won by USA co-star Shannon Rowbury in 3:57.85 with Muir a close second in 3:57.85) then jetted the Atlantic to make it to Fifth Avenue in the nick of time.

To all these "why, why?" questions, she answers herself right back.

"Some days, when I have a small injury or something, when those days do get me down, I think about what I do love, and that's out there running.

"Okay, I've trained to be in this position today, so I can continue working hard and improving. It's easy sometimes to be dragged down, say when you've had a hard race, but still didn't reach your top goal, and weren't completely satisfied."

So her bottom-line message to herself is always: "Forget those days, and keep on keeping on."

After a brief two-week respite, Simpson will resume preparations for a big 2017 season that she hopes leads to brand-new PRs at all distances, high placings in all the majors, and a spot - maybe even the top spot - on the podium at next August's World Championsips in London.

She says all this with a special passion, knowing that she knows "exactly what it's going to take."

Eric Jenkins is six years Simpson's junior, but he's learning the very same things quickly.
Jenkins_EricFHH-5thAve16.JPGEric Jenkins wins NB Fifth AVe Mile, photo by

He wouldn't let his spirits sag after a frustrating fourth place in the 5000-meter final at the U.S. Trials in Eugene. He wasn't go to dwell on all the might-have-beens. He's quickly letting all his bygones be bygones.

He's got all his "ports" lined up.

The Portsmouth, New Hampshire product now calls Portland, Oregon home and continues adding to his portfolio of major honors.

His 3:49.4 Fifth Avenue Mile closely followed the Simpson script. It, too, was a race determined in the final strides. Newly crowned Olympic 1500 king Matthew Centrowitz, a Jenkins training partner under coach Alberto Salazar at the Nike Oregon Project, settled for second a half-stride back in 3:49.5, with Colby Alexander third (3:50.3), Olympic 800-meter bronze medalist Clayton Murphy fourth (3:52.3) and Canadian Olympian Charles Philibert-Thiboutot (3:52.5) fifth.

With 17 of the 19 starters breaking four minutes, it was one of the greatest mass finishes in history.

The other sub-fours: Chris O'Hare 3:53.0, Ford Palmer 3:53.3, Ben Blankenship 3:53.9, Leonel Manzano, 3:54.4, Kyle Merber 3:55.3, Nate Brannen 3:55.7, Riley Masters 3:55.8, Donn Cabral 3:55.7, Daniel

Winn 3:56.6, Cory Leslie 3:58.2, Jake Weightman 3:59.7 and Mason Ferlic 3:59.7.

O'Hare, Blankenship, Brannen and Cabral, like Centrowitz, are just back from Rio. Manzano, with his silver-medal 3:34.79 1500 at London in 2012, remains the fastest-ever American at the distance in Games' history.

But Jenkins, whose college career started at Northeastern and finished at Oregon, wasn't caught studying anyone other runner's credentials. He was too busy building his own.

Together, the women's and men's races constituted a superb Daily Double.

But neither winner could better the Fifth Avenue course records.

Jenkins couldn't beat the 3:47.52 Sydney Maree ran in 1981 and PattiSue Plumer 4:16.68 in 1990's was beyond Simpson's reach.

That's another beauty of this sport. There's always a "next year."

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