The NYRR Millrose Games will be held on Saturday, February 9, 2019 at the NYC Armory, the house that the late Dr. Norb Sander built. The New Balance Track & Field Armory puts on 85 plus meets a year and supports the activities of 165,000 athletes. It is a sanctuary for athletics. r
In that light, Jeff Benjamin, East Coast senior writer for RunBlogRun and ambassador for Staten Island, put together this piecer on some of the NYRRR Millrose Games elite and their beginnings in our sport. We hope that you enjoy this trip down athletic memory lane.
There are always consistent themes which resonate at the NYRR Millrose Games. In it’s century old event, this upcoming 112th Edition will no doubt keep one particular tradition “running along” as well, and that is the melting pot concept of the young athletes mixing in with the Elites.
Meet Director Ray Flynn continues to make sure that youth, high school, collegiate and open club athletes share next Saturday’s stage at the Armory’s New Balance T&F Center In NYC throughout the day with some of the best in the world. . Yet, just like those young athletes who are new to the Sport and the Millrose experience, the Elites have not forgotten where they have come from as well.
Here are some Elite Athlete recollections on how they began in the Sport which has brought them to the heights of excellence, a standard which the younger athletes hope to aspire to in the future.
Donavan Brazier: “I got into running at a very young age. Like the rest of the elementary school kids at the time, twice a year we would have to run a mile. At the time, running a mile, seemed like a marathon. We would run this mile and year after year I would come in first and improve my times. So I always knew that I could be good at running because of early indicators like that. I didn’t get into track though, until about 8th grade when I was placed in the 800m event. I wasn’t the best at the time, even struggling to make the 4X8 relay. But as I developed more going into high school, my freshman and sophomore year I really started to get the swing of things.”
Heather Kampf : “I originally thought I was a gymnast (I had done it 3rd grade to senior year of high school), but during my freshman season my coach had us do sprinting races through the basement of the high school. He was pretty fast so he liked to give the girls a head start and then chase them down. I, however, was the first girl on the team who could give him a head start and still catch him. He suggested I try track, which turned out to be a fitting place for my competitive spirit!”
Emma Coburn: “I started running because track was the only spring sport that my school offered in middle school. I signed up to be on the ‘distance team’ because my older brother and sister had signed up for that as well. Had my older brother signed up to be a sprinter, I would have done that. I didn’t really know what I was doing and didn’t know the growth and opportunities ahead.
Lauren Paquette: “I got into the sport as a junior in high school because the xc team at my high school was one person short to run at state (one girl was sick) and they recruited me to fill in for her. I was known as having some speed from fast-pitch softball and Tag in mini-Olympics.”
Kim Conley: “I joined the Santa Rosa Express Track Club in 1998 when I was in 6th grade. I played many sports growing up, but by high school decided to narrow my focus to cross country and track.
Will Leer, photo by PhotoRun.net
Will Leer: “I got into the sport when I realized I was NOT a very good tennis player and wanted to find another spring sport my sophomore year of high school. I’d always been one of the faster guys on the soccer field so I knew I could move well but it wasn’t until my first meet that I really fell in love with the sport.”
Ajee’ Wilson: “I got into the sport following behind my little sister Brietta. She started first and loved it – she’d come home gushing about how fun it was, and I started shortly after.”
Ryan Hill: “Running was clearly what I was best at growing up. I had such a love for sports that pursuing whatever I was best at was a natural choice. I joined a youth club in 7th grade in Hickory, NC.”
Craig Engels:” I got into track and field my sophomore year of high school. I started with high jump and realized I was never going to be good, so I started jogging with the distance guys. I started running full time my junior year when I got kicked off the soccer team for behavioral issues and never looked back.”
Jeff Benjamin with Jacob Thomson, photo by Jeff Benjamin
Jacob Thomson: “Running was more or less something that I was forced into at a young age. My mom made me run for the grade school cross country team starting when I was in 4th grade. At the time I had much more interest in other sports and competed in baseball and basketball along with cross country and track until I got to high school. I had (or still have) quite the temper, growing up, so mom wouldn’t let me play football, as she was afraid I wouldn’t take too kindly to being tackled and that I’d pick a fight with someone. I didn’t like running much until 8th grade. It was freshman year when I started to get pretty good and win some races. From there I haven’t looked back.”
Robby Andrews: “My Dad was a high school coach when my sister and I were born. we naturally spent a lot of time at track meets but also watching my dad compete. From there getting into running was a choice my sister and I made without much thought, it felt comfortable for us to be running.”
Erik Sowinski: “I ran a little bitr growing up, but did not really start to take track and field or cross country seriously until my sophomore year of high school. I was big into soccer, but after my freshman year, I was told that I was too small to play on the varsity team. I decided to go out for cross country instead, and the rest, is history.”
For more information on the 112th NYRR Millrose Games and to purchase tickets please go to www.nyrrmillrosegames.org.