The 2017 New Balance Indoor Grand prix was an amazingly successful meeting. I believe it was the best organized and most concise indoor meeting in North America, that I have seen in two decades. The NBIndoor Grand Prix has upped its game.
This is Jeff Benjamin’s feature on the meet, which has some fascinating information for those looking for the upcoming 2017 NYRR Millrose Games, coming Feburary 11.
Here is Jeff’s fine piece on the New Balance Indoor and his support of the father and son duo Centrowitz new book offering! Enjoy both!
A packed yours came into Boston’s Reggie Lewis Arena on January 28, 2017 for the New Balance Grand Prix Meet. They did not leave dissappointed.
With hungry athletes prepping for their first high-level meet of 2017, combined with a loud, electric and knowledgable rowd, Mark Wetmore’s (CEO of Global Athletics & Marketing) Saturday night production was nothing short of slam-bang action from the beginning to the end.
Beginning with the U.S. national anthem presentation, follwed by a salute to Rio Sportsmanship award winner Abby D’Agostino, the crowd’s anticipatory build-up to the upcoming events left nothing to be desired.
Here were some of the happenings:
Happening 1: In the women’s 800 meters, Winner Charlene Lipsey, who credited her new coaches and training group (“we are very competitive”) was overshadowed by the presence of former Russian doping whistle blower Yuliya Stepanova. Stepanova, who finished last in the race, attributed her performance to being injured last summer and going through a rehab period.
One has to wonder, if the stress of living in hiding with her husband and child has not affected her as well. Still, Stepanova sounded optimistic. Under the guidance of a new coach, Alexander Seeger, noted Stepanova, ” I have been ready to run 2:05 today and that is what I did. I believe that I will improve.” As far as her safety, Stepanova did say that, “In the United States, I feel safe, and, with my new training, I hope to improve.”
Happening 2: The men’s 600 meters seemed to be a welcome comeback for Duane Solomon. However, Solomon (who coach is still 800 meter legend and Olympic bronze medalist, Johnny Gray) made the fundamental error of not staying in his lane before the merge, and, although holding off Donavan Brazier off the final turn to break the tape, the veteran was, indeeed disqualified. “I also kind of knew, ” said the new pro, Brazier, of the veteran’s mistake. “But, it happens to the best of us.”
Happening 3: Shannon Rowbury’s third place 8:41.94 effort behind Kenyan Hellen Obiri (8:39.08) and European champion Sifan Hassan (8:40.99) in the women’s 3000 meters showed her that her training is going in the right direction. ” It is my first race of the season, ” she said, also noting that she had just come down from altitude training in Mexico City. ” I’m excited for the indoor season and I want to really fo for it at the Millrose Mile in two weeks, ” she said of trying to break the American record.
Happening 4: In the Men’s 3000 meters, American Paul Chelimo (U.S. Army) stayed relaxed and surged at the right time to take tht title in 7:42.39, holding off the tactics of Scotland’s Andrew Butchart (7:42.97), Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhewit (7:43.04) and new pro Eric Jenkins (Nike Oregon Project, 7:44.26). While Butchart can take solace in the fact that he set a new Scottish record, Jenkins was disappointed in his race. ” I can not afford to be bumped around like that, ” said Jenkins, who tried to steal it with a surge with 2 laps to go. But, like many successful athletes, Jenkins was already focusing himself on the Millrose Wanamaker Mile, to be held in two weeks. ” Hopefull, at Millrose, I will have some pop!”
Happening 5: As Olympic gold medalist Matthew Centrowitz awaited his turn in the mile, he and the crowd observed the Women’s Distance Medley. The loaded New Balance team (called the USA All Stars) was one of true all-star caliber, but the question was could they break the WR time of 10:42:57? Olympic steeplechase bronze medalist Emma Coburn lead off with a 3:18.40 first leg of 1200 meters, who then passed it off to Olympic 400m hurdles semi-finalist Sydney McLauglin, who ran 52.32 for the two lap, 400 meter leg. McLaughlin then handed off to 2013 World Championship bronze medalist Brenda Martinez, who then ran an outstanding 2:01.94. The crowd was in a loud frenzy, as Martinez passed off to Olympic bronze medalist at 1500 meters, Jenny Simpson.
Running pretty much on her own, Simpson, inspired by the deafening crowd, dug in, to clock 4:27.66 1600 meter split, giving her team a new World Record time of 10:40.31. “The crowd was amazing!,” said Simpson, who echoed the statements made by her three teammates.
Happening 6: The Matthew Centrowitz Show. He does make it look easy (editor’s note: and it is not easy!). After taking over from the pacemaker halfway en route to his 3:55.78 victory over Kenyan Vincent Kibet (3:56:09), Brit Jake Wightman (3:57.24), and five others (of which all but one broke four mintues), Centrowitz, once again, showed the crowd (in which his father was also present) his uncanny ability to anticipate all race moves taking place behind him, and act decisively and successfully to counter them. ” I was sluggish early on.” said the Olympic champion. “It’s not the time I wanted to, but, I got the win.” He went on to say that, ” I am doing lots of 3k-5k workouts, so I do not yet have the speed endurance yet,” as he prepares for the Millrose 2 mile (February 11, 2017). ” I know that I am jumping up, but I am looking to be competitive.” The discussion also went in the direction of the new book about his dad, ” Like Father, Like Son.”
Link to purchase: https://.www.amazon.com/dp/1542655048/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485564092&sr=1-1&keywords=matt+centrowitz&&linkCode=sl1&tag=letsruncom&linkld=dcf662e7488f95f35b9dbba113a2e564
“I haven’t read all of it yet, ” said the younger Centrowitz, ” My best friend, Chris Kwaitowski wrote it.”
As far as his new mantel, the crowd definitely realized what they were witnessing as throngs of mostly high school kids mobbed the champion at the end of the meet, and, as with the New Balance World Record holders, he obliged everyone of them. “That was the longest time I have had with fans'” said Centrowitz. “The selfies and autographs, it is just really neat to see everyone get into it, and I am really appreciative of it.”
As far as Centrowitz’ record-setting outdoor goals, including the national records of Bernard Lagat’s 1500 meters in 3:29.30, and Alan Webb’s 3:46.91 mile, ” I think that I can go 2:50, and then go 56 seconds for the last 400 meters, ” he said. However, noting that the mile is a scarce event on the world scene these days (something this writer hopes, with others, will change soon), Centrowitz did conclude that he may have a better chance at the 1500 meter AR, “because of all the quality of Diamond League competitors.”
Then, it was off to join his NIKE Oregon project teammmates for a post race workout in the empty arena, which only minutes before, buzzed with the hope of a renaissance of track fans straight off the success of Rio. Hope sprang for a few hours at the New Balance Grand Prix. Now, it is on to NYC!