Friday, May 13, 2011

2011 One Mile Road Race Championship

RunMinnesota Writer Patrick O'Regan filed this report from the One Mile Championship race on Thursday, May 12, 2011

The USA 1 Mile Road Championship races were again run this year on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. For a fan of running, it was a thrilling evening of entertainment. Wave after wave of runners – friends and family, corporate, team circuit, masters – thundered down the Mall past cheering hordes from starting line to finish. The last races were the highlights – the women’s and men’s USA 1 Mile Road Championships.

With $4,000 going to the men’s and women’s winners and the chance of a $10,000 bonus to the first male breaking 4:00 and the first female breaking 4:32, the championship races, in money, as well as prestige, attracted some of the best milers in the country. David Torrence had won the race the past two years, setting the course record (3:59.3) in 2009. He ran 4:04 last year.

As an added attraction, Ryan Hall, one of the best marathoners in the world, stepped way down to the mile for the first time in five years for this race.

* * * * * *

I attended the pre-race press conference in the Millennium Hotel on the Mall. (I might note that I happened to sit next to Ryan and Sara Hall during the preliminary lunch. Sara Hall is one of the best women milers in the country. Ryan Hall is coming off the fastest marathon ever run by an American – 2:04:58 at Boston. He also holds the American record in the half marathon. He is taller than I would have thought and very thin. He agreed with my assessment that Americans are coming close to winning major marathons. Desiree Devila was 2nd at Boston by two seconds. As Ryan Hall had said in the paper, “We are knocking at the door.” I asked him if he had changed his training for this race. He said he had – more track work. But, he added, he does a lot of interval training for marathons. “Do you run repeat 200’s in training for a marathon?” I asked. “Yes,” he said, “more volume, though.”)

Virginia Brophy Achman graciously hosted the press conference, ably handling the introductions of the panels of men and women runners. The women’s panel included:

Sara Hall

4:31.50 mile

4:08.99 1500

Amy Mortimer

4:32.90 mile

4:06.55 1500

Gabriele Anderson

4:31.05 mile

4:12.06 1500

Gabriele Anderson, a member of Team USA Minnesota, is a University of Minnesota alumnus and a graduate of Perham High School in Perham, Minnesota, some 60 miles east of Fargo-Moorhead.

The men’s panel included:

David Torrence

3:54.47 mile

3:34.25 1500

Aaron Braun

1:52 800 m

7:50.11 3000 m

Ryan Hall

4:05.50 mile

3:42.70 1500

All the speakers are wonderfully friendly and engaging. These people love to run.

* * * * * *

After the press conference, I interviewed one of the women runners – Lindsey Allen. Lindsey is a 24-year-old graduate of Stanford (Biology degree). She has been a professional runner for three years, having turned pro right after graduation. She runs for Team USA Arizona, under Coach Greg McMillan. Lindsey’s 5000 m time is an outstanding 15:48.97, but her specialty is the 3000 m steeplechase. Her PR of 9:40.83 in that race ranks her as the 10th fastest American steeplechaser ever.

When did you start running?

I started running in 5th grade, but I only began running seriously when I got to high school.

Did you run the mile in high school?

Yes. I ran 4:48. That’s still my PR. My specialty is the steeplechase. I’ve run 9:40.

(This is by far the best steeplechase PR among the women in the field.)

Did you run the mile at Stanford?

Sometimes, indoors. But the high school PR is still my PR.

Did you make the NCAA finals in the steeplechase?

Yes. I ran in the finals twice. As a senior, I was 4th in the steeplechase.

Describe a typical day of hard training.

We (Team USA Arizona) show up at the track at 8:30 in the morning. We’ll do a lot of fast tempo runs and repeats. If we do repeat 400’s, we’ll run 8 to 20 of them at 65 to 80 seconds. Once a week we do a long run of 12 to 18 miles.

Do you have a favorite track workout?

I like the repeat 400’s.

How do you see the mile as a race? Is more about speed? Or stamina? Or conserving energy?

The mile is a speed race, not so much stamina. On the road it changes, though, and stamina is more of a factor. Then you can go out hard and hold on.

In the Olympic 1500 finals in Barcelona (’92), the men basically jogged the first two laps…

They were all thinking they had great speed, so they were not going to push the pace.

Yes. How would you handle that kind of race?

If the pace was real slow, I might push the pace… If it was my race (the steeplechase)… I’d go to the front and try to stay there. I wouldn’t be afraid to set a fast tempo… In the US, though – not at Worlds…

What are your running plans?

Well, this summer is the World Championships. The (Olympic) Trials are in 2012.

* * * * * *

David Torrence won the men’s race for the third consecutive time. Finishing in 3:58.4, he picked up the $10,000 bonus for going under 4:00. Craig Miller was second in 4:01.1 and Aaron Braun third in 4:01.9.

In the women’s race, Sara Hall won in 4:31.5, also taking home the $10,000 bonus. Heather Kampf was second in 4:35.9 and Gabriele Anderson third in 4:37.5.