Last Saturday I had the extreme pleasure of attending the Millrose Games, my favorite running event. Each year I go to watch incredible high schoolers, collegians and professionals, and to feel the magic of Millrose.
The 2013 Millrose Games have been called “the best of all time,” and it’s hard to decide where to begin. Olympic sprinter Darvis “Doc” Patton set the fastest time this year for the 60 meter dash in 6.50 seconds, and set a new Armory record. Erik Sowinski, an All-American at Iowa, took the men’s 600 meter crown from two Olympians and set a new American record by running 1:15.99. The women’s 600 meter record was completely destroyed by Alysia Montano, who ran a 1:23.59, and was followed by 18 year-old Ajee’ Wilson, who ran a world junior record.
Four-time Olympian Bernard Lagat set an American record in the men’s two mile, in 8:09.49 (and waved to me when I maniacally screamed his name during his second victory lap). Also in the men’s two-mile was Edward Cheserek, a Kenyan citizen attending high school in Jersey, who broke a 49 year-old American high school two-mile record by under one second.
And those were only a handful of the events from that historic day at the Armory. Insanity.
One of the most anticipated events was the traditionally showcased event, the men’s Wanamaker Mile. The 2013 field was stacked. Fans expected an exceptional battle for first, and there certainly was.
The 2012 victor, Nike’s Matt Centrowitz, fell to Nike Oregon’s Lopez Lomong by less than a second, and claimed the meet facility record. (Until 2012 the Millrose Games had been held at MSG.) Irish Olympian Ciaran O’Lionard took third place, and fourth went to a student-athlete from Scotland, Chris O’Hare, who broke the collegiate indoor mile record.
After the race, O’Hare gave insight into the mental battle with which he struggled in the last 300 meters of the Wanamaker Mile:
“You’re having an argument with either side of your brain. This side is like, ‘I’m tired. I want to stop.’ And then this side is like, ‘Look what you’d be giving up if you gave up right now, all the things you could achieve. Why are you thinking like that?’ So in a split second, within about five strides, you’ve gone from, ‘I’m really tired,’ to, ‘What the hell are you thinking? Get on it! Stop being a girl and go!’ “
Waiiiiit, wait, wait. I watched every millisecond of that race and he looked pretty consistent. When was he “being a girl?”
Had O’Hare been checking himself out on the infield screens, fixing stray hairs and adjusting his race bib for a perfect finish line photo? Did he notice a cutie at the long jump pit and get distracted by thoughts of the grandiose wedding ceremony he’s dreamed of since childhood? Did he break a nail at the start and run each lap shrieking, “O.M.G. Does anyone know a good manicurist in the Bronx?!?!?” Or perhaps he was simply crying, overcome with the pain of running something so physically taxing for a fragile, dainty female body.
Clearly I wasn’t watching the race closely enough.
Thankfully O’Hare manned up and finished strong, running an unbelievable 3:52.98. In addition to breaking the NCAA record, he also became the fastest Scottish miler in history.
Imagine he had continued his “girly” mile? He may not have even finished the race! After all, how can you look pretty when you’re all sweaty? Eew!
Speaking of girly miles, it’s a miracle anyone finished the women’s Wanamaker Mile, which had captivated Millrose spectators an hour prior to the men’s mile. Twelve women on a track at the same time?!? Risky! You’d think catfight, right?! I know! ME-OW!
But there was no catfight in the women’s mile. There wasn’t any crying. Race officials didn’t have to lure the women to the finish line promising chocolate and roses. No one fainted from exhaustion or collapsed from menstrual cramps. No one said, “Go ahead of me. Your eyeliner is just divine! You deserve the win today.”
Give me a break.
In fact, the women’s Wanamaker Mile was one of the greatest races of the night. Mary Cain, a high school junior from Bronxville, NY, ran a 4:32.78 and broke the girl’s high school indoor mile record in late January (two weeks after breaking the indoor 3000m record), causing Millrose meet directors to move her from the girl’s high school mile to the women’s Wanamaker Mile.
Cain competed against eleven collegiate and professional milers, including three women from the awe-inspiring NJ NY Track Club and Olympian Sheila Reid. Reid took a conservative start and stealthily worked her way into the lead to win the race in 4:27.02, a new PR and Armory record, with Cain a close second in 4:28.25. She bettered her own national high school record, blowing the entire stadium away with her initial lead and gutsy kick. And she’s only a high school junior.
The entire field finished within nine seconds of Reid, who asked the ecstatic Cain to run a victory lap with her. It was glorious. Sheila Reid later said she is “in awe” of Mary Cain, and finds it cool that she’ll one day be able to say she ran with such an amazing athlete when Cain was only in high school. This is the stuff track & field fans live for.
If anyone ever says that you “run like a girl,” think of these ladies and feel absolutely honored.
Or maybe the women did have a catfight on the track and I just wasn’t watching closely enough. Thankfully all races can be relived here for us gals who were too distracted by runners’ shiny new spikes or spent the meet Googling spring nail color trends.
Congratulations to all who ran, jumped, vaulted, or threw in the Millrose Games this year. You are a true inspiration for athletes of any sport by going after your goals so fiercely and with such sportsmanship. You each made the 2013 Games absolutely unforgettable.
See you next year, Millrose!