The Millrose Games, now in its 115th year was a focus for many in this very short North American elite indoor season. The USATF Indoors are next weekend, February 16-18. But the Millrose Games were spectacular. From the 60m to the shot put, from the pole vault to both 3000 meters, the meet entertained a global TV audience as well as the five thousand fans in the Nike Track & Field Armory.
This is the piece by David Monti on the middle-distance races that make up a major part of the 115th Millrose Games.
AMERICAN RECORD FOR NUGUSE IN WANAMAKER MILE
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2022 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission.
NEW YORK (11-Feb) — Yared Nuguse of the On Athletics Club capped an electric 115th Millrose Games at the Nike Track & Field Center at The Armory this afternoon with a history-making run in the Rudin Wanamaker Mile, smashing Bernard Lagat’s American record by more than two seconds and running the second-fastest time in history: 3:47.38. He missed Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha’s 2019 world indoor record of 3:47.01 by just 37/100ths of a second.
“Coming down the line –I thought it was kind of funny– there was like this one person kind of standing in front of the middle number (of the race clock), so I couldn’t see how close I was (to the record),” Nuguse told a clutch of reporters after the race. “I thought I was close. To be that close was kind of interesting. It shows me that next year… I might actually be able to get it.”
Nuguse benefited from pitch-perfect pacemaking by Erik Sowinski who was asked to go through the halfway mark at 1:53 (the split clock showed 1:52.99). At that point, Nuguse was sitting in fourth place behind his training mates Mario Garcia Romo of Spain and Oliver Hoare of Australia (Hoare was the race‘s defending champion). Nuguse felt very comfortable with his position, and the race was playing out just as he had hoped.
“Running that race the way we did, with… all three of us right there up front for that first half of the race kind of felt good,” Nuguse explained. “Knowing that I had my closest guys having my back.
Sowinski stepped off the track on the backstretch, and the pace immediately sagged. The third quarter was covered in only 59.4 seconds, and Britain’s Neil Gourley had caught up with the On team and was now running second. It was going to take a mighty final quarter to get below 3:50, but Nuguse was ready. He surged at the end of the penultimate lap, opened up a gap before the bell, then charged full speed ahead into the final lap.
“That last part was just giving it everything I had,” said Nuguse, who ran his final quarter in 54.3 seconds. “I was able to close in something crazy and get it.”
Gourley, who won the mile one week ago at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston, closed in 56.1 to get second in 3:49.46. That made him just the ninth man in history to run sub-3:50 indoors (Nuguse is the eighth). Hoare took third in 3:50.83, New Zealand’s Sam Tanner got fourth in a personal best 3:51.70, and Garcia Romo finished fifth in 3:51.79, a Spanish indoor record.
Nuguse, who is just 23, ran the USA indoor record for 3000m two weeks ago in Boston, clocking 7:28.24. The previous record was held by Galen Rupp, so that means that over a span of two weeks, Nuguse has taken national records held by two of America’s greatest-ever runners, both multiple Olympic medalists. Nuguse now has to be considered an early medal contender for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
“I’m still super-happy to get that record,” Nuguse added. “I’m always excited to see what I can do next.”
Alicia Monson, one of Nuguse’s OAC teammates, also set a national indoor record here today. Monson, 24, took control of the women’s 3000m after the first kilometer (2:48.80), and hammered the remaining ten laps ahead of the field to clock a sizzling 8:25.05. That shaved 65/100ths of a second off of Karissa Schweizer’s 2020 record of 8:25.70.
“This was a goal that I’ve been working towards,” Monson said after the race. “It feels good to actually do it.” She said that she didn’t mind doing it from the front where she could work on pushing herself. “I think it’s a good way to run just because I’m looking at us Americans being competitive on the world level,” she added.
Elise Cranny of the Nike Bowerman Track Club was with Monson after two kilometers but faded in the final third of the race to finish fifth in 8:37.17, still a personal best. Whittni Morgan rallied in the last kilometer to move up from third to second and finish in a career-best 8:30.13, about five seconds ahead of North Carolina State’s Katelyn Tuohy who smashed the collegiate record (also held by Karissa Schweizer). Tuohy was timed in 8:35.20 and was particularly excited to set the record in the Armory, the track where she did most of her best running in high school. She grew up in Rockland County, just north of New York City.
“It means a lot,” Tuohy told reporters. “A lot of my family and friends were here today, my coaches, some alumni. So, it was really special to do it here. When they announced my name, the crowd kind of roared a little bit. I felt it in my heart, so it was awesome that I could do it here.”
In the men’s 3000m, Tokyo Olympic 1500m bronze medalist Josh Kerr put on a master class in an event he hasn’t run in ten years. Kerr, a 25-year-old Scotsman who runs for the Brooks Beasts Track Club, stayed well off of the lead for most of the 15-lap race (he was only in sixth position at 2000m). But in the 13th lap, he moved up to third, behind Hoka One One athlete Luis Grijalva of Guatemala and Joe Klecker, another OAC runner. Kerr took the lead at the bell, then blasted the final circuit in 27.0 seconds to win in a meeting and facility record of 7:33.47. Grijalva got second in 7:33.86 (a national indoor record), and Klecker third in 7:34.14, a personal best.
“That’s what we’ve been working on, that last close,” Kerr told Race Results Weekly. “It felt comfortable, so… I just wanted to wait as long as a I could.” He added: “That’s the first 3-K I’ve run in ten years. That’s over a minute PB. You can’t hear that from many clean athletes these days.”
Scotswoman Laura Muir (Nike) won her second top-level mile in New York City, backing up her New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile win last September with a convincing 4:20.15 win here in the women’s division of the Wanamaker. She got a strong fight from Josette Andrews (née Norris) of the OAC who took the lead at the three-quarter mark and was actually in front at the bell. But with about 110m to go, Muir went around Andrews and wouldn’t be caught. Still, Andrews ran a strong 4:20.88 to get second. Great Britain’s Katie Snowden (UA Mission Run/Dark Sky) finished third in 4:21.19 and Canada’s Lucia Stafford (Nike) finished a strong fourth in 4:22.72.
“I eased off the second half,” Muir said, explaining that the first half split of 2:08.4 by pacemaker Charlene Lipsey was a little hot for her. She added: “I felt strongly that last lap to go for it. I’m just really, really happy with the win today.”
Although Olympic gold medalist Athing Mu (Nike) scratched from the 600m earlier in the week, the race was still exciting as Ajee’ Wilson (adidas) came from behind to beat hurdler Shamier Little (adidas), 1:24.85 to 1:26.16. Wilson allowed Little to get a one-second lead after the first 200 meters but used her strength to close down her rival in the final lap when Little began to fade in what was an over-distance race for her.
“I like racing. I like getting out there and mixing it up,” said Wilson, who is the reigning World Athletics indoor champion at 800m. “I was super nervous today going against Shamier knowing how fast she’s run this year already (a world-leading 1:24.65 for 600m), and just her quarter (mile) speed and also her strength of running hurdles.”
Kenya’s Noah Kibet of the Nike Union Athletics Club scorched the final lap of the men’s 800m in 26.91 seconds to win in a world-leading and personal best of 1:44.98. Kibet, who is just 18, had to get past Isaiah Harris of the Brooks Beasts Track Club who led at 600 meters and ran a personal best of 1:45.64.
“I’m happy,” Kibet told Race Results Weekly. “First of all, I give thanks to God. Today I did my personal best. I am preparing for the next (Olympic) championships in Paris.”
The Nike Girls’ Mile was an interesting race. Kate Putnam of Syracuse, N.Y., allowed Zariel Macchia of Mastic Beach, N.Y., to lead the first three-quarters of the race, before surging away to win by nearly two seconds in 4:45.35. Macchia, who will run in the U20 division of the World Athletics Cross Country Championships next Saturday in Australia, got second in 4:47.00.
“I think the first 1200 meters was a fight; we are all together,” Putnam told Race Results Weekly. She continued: “It’s unbelievable. I’ve dreamed about this for years.”
In the other distance races on the program, Austin Miller of Tinman Elite won the George Hirsch Mile in a personal best 3:57.89 over Jack Yerian of the Oregon Track Club (3:59.59). Collin Boler of Morristown, N.J., won the Nike Boys’ Mile in a close race over Devan Kipyego of Pawtucket, R.I., and Clay Shively of Wichita, Kansas. The three athletes finished within a span of just 56/100ths of a second, clocking 4:09.15, 4:09.66, and 4:09.71, respectively.
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