Before we even start, let's all tip our hat to the Millrose staff. They have not only assembled one of the all-around greatest meets in quite some time, but they've systematically released specific information about each event that lets the average fan get a feel for everything.
The two-mile and mile field were easy, but we've had people ask about the lesser-publicized events just because they were singled out and rightfully highlighted. You have to smile when a non-track fan is interested in the pole vault or high jump.
Then, when the elite fields were finalized, they added a little extra emphasis and personal flair to each athlete. First, just in case you weren't convinced, they can say, "Oh, look at the silly amount of Olympians we have competing" by adding a little UK flag next to each athlete's name.
But how often do you see a start list with each athlete's Twitter linked to their name? In an age where fans can easily talk to (though are often ignored) celebrities and companies, this adds a little bit of personality to everyone who will be at the Armory. #Class.
Plus, it doesn't hurt to have a few new Twitter followers. That's how success is measured, right?
The combination of well-timed press release (well before the event, might I add) and the presence of board members who know the celebrities that people want to see, well, you deserve a thunderous round of applause.
If the atmosphere in the Armory is anything like last year, then "thunderous" is going to be an understatement.
All personal bests are based on IAAF.org and are indoor bests, unless indicated otherwise.
Taylor Milne, New Balance (Canada) - 7:54.26 3k (Brasschaat, 2008; outdoors) / 3:56.40 mile (Boston, 2012)
Bernard Lagat's American indoor record trophy case is almost perfect. The mantle has a spot for every event from the 1500m to 5000m, except for one spot that hasn't been dusty for too long. It's only been a year, but Kip is about to take back his American indoor two-mile record.
If people are impressed by Deena Kastor making the World Cross team on the eve of her 40th birthday, then what do they think of Kip running 7:34.71 at age 38?
The sixth-fastest 3000m in American history (closing in 26.x) should be enough to explain that Lagat is poised for another record run at Millrose.
This time, he won't have the same reaction when he broke the American indoor 5k record. What you can expect is another victory lap where he, in traditional Kip charisma, stops to high-five everyone around the track.
Behind him is a of a jumbled mess of guys who used to be milers, mileage legends, and one other record attempt.
The Schumacher duo of Evan Jager and Andrew Bumbalough were nearly inseparable last week at the UW Husky mile. Bumbi nipped Jager at the line to take the win in 3:56.12 to 3:56.14. So who will it be this week?
In a toss-up, we'll give the edge to Jager based on 3k / 2-mile personal bests. After feeling good, he took the lead from roughly 400m out and just missed closing out the win. Bumbi doesn't want to take fourth this year, but this is a step down in distance for him.
Then there's a whole bunch of wild cards. Cam Levins was fit when we visited him, but he was beat by another Millrose 2-mile entrant, Craig Forys, at the NACAC XC. Last year, Levins ran the mile at Millrose (3:57.16), but that was before he emerged from his cocoon and became the NCAA champ, Olympian, and Bowerman award winner we all know.
Unfortunately for Oklahoma, Riley Masters is out of indoor eligibility. Even if the rest of the team is on the #kevinwilliamsbandwagon, he's coming off a 3:56.25 mile personal best from the Tyson Invitational and should be ready to roll. In the very least, he'll break his official two-mile personal best of 9:38... from high school.
There's another miler who just ran 3:56, but he has some credentials at the double distance. Will Leer just took second to Matt Centrowitz at the NB Indoor Grand Prix, but isn't a stranger to the two-mile; he's run 8:19.11 outdoors. As always, the stache and the hair ooze pure class. Even though he's a miler, don't count him out.
Last but not least (though he may be in the back), is Edward Cheserek. King Ches is eyeing the oldest high school record, indoor or out, of Gerry Lindgren's mark of 8:40.0 from '64. Just like Lagat, Cheserek set a 5000m record one year ago at Millrose.
Can he do it again this year? He hasn't run anything that's indicated that he's ready to do so (2:27 for 1k, 4:10.94 for the mile closing in 2:00), but that doesn't mean lightning can't strike twice.
The Women's Wanamaker Mile
Sarah Brown, New Balance - 4:29.72
Mary Cain, unattached - 4:32.78
Emma Coburn, University of Colorado - 4:33.24
Abbey D'Agostino, Dartmouth College - 4:34.14
Delilah DiCrescenzo, unattached - 4:32.11
Kate Grace, Oiselle/NJ-NY TC - 4:39.52
Jordan Hasay, University of Oregon - 4:33.01
Ashley Higginson, Saucony - 4:43.01
Emily Infeld, Nike Oregon TC - 4:36.83
Sheila Reid, Nike (Canada) - 4:30.41
Hilary Stellingwerff, New Balance (Canada) - 4:28.62
Renee Tomlin, Nike - 4:34.39
Sara Vaughn, Bowerman AC - 4:34.29
This is arguably the best race we'll see at Millrose. In an effort to explain the underlying story lines, we've created a Seven Degrees of Mary Cain chart below.
Just in case you're wondering what the above phrase just meant, our chart is parallel the Six Degree of Seperation (or Kevin Bacon, whatever): No one is less than six of few links away from anyone else in the world.
We'll start with Jordan Hasay. Hasay is coming off a 15:46 win the UW Husky Classic, where she glided away with the win over the over the last few laps. The mile used to be her marquee event, but a move up in distance (she's expected to run the 10k outdoors) makes this a nice "return to roots" race.
However, Hasay's record against the field isn't as positive as she may like it to be. In terms of cross country kicks, there's Villanova alumnus Sheila Reid.
Reid has had Hasay's number for the last few years in cross and indoors and looks to be in top mile form. The Canadian Olympian is coming off a big mile debut with her 4:30.41 win at the Penn State National Meet.
One other girl that was in that fabled homestretch in Terre Haute was Georgetown alumnus, Emily Infeld. Infeld is coming off a strong performance at the USA Cross Country Championships (fourth in 26:47.7 for 8k) and now drops back down to the mile.
The one girl who finished between Infeld and Hasay in Terre Haute that year was someone who's raced Hasay quite a bit in the last few months, Abbey D'Agostino. A few weeks earlier at the Dempsey, Hasay had to settle for fourth behind her fellow collegian rival as D'Agostino took third in 8:55.41. This big 3k came after running a blazing flat-track 4:34.14 earlier this season at her home invitational.
Then there's the mile specialist who finished in front of D'Agostino at the Dempsey, Oiselle's Kate Grace. We didn't get to catch Grace at the Dempsey for a post-race interview after her 8:55.06, but we'll make sure to keep an eye out for her (and the exit) in New York.
If we go back to the Trials, Grace is connected to another Millrose Games and Trials 1500m competitor. Grace finished 20th in the Trials 1500m semifinal while Sarah Brown (formally Bowman), finished sixth. This indoor season, Brown been on a tear with a big 4:31.61 win at New Balance Games. She enters with the second-fastest personal best in the field.
While Brown may have taken the win, the spotlight was on third place and Mary Cain. After her 4:32.78 at the NB Games earlier this season, but in every post-race interview, her and her coaches have said that she's been more concerned with the win.
If she continues her historical season, she could once again break the high school record. But she's not going to win, right? Right? ... right?
Our best guess is that the nod should go to Sarah Brown. Okay, that's not much of a declarative sentence. Who do you think will take the win in the women's mile?
Note: We could have taken one step from Hasay to Cain, but that wouldn't have been as fun.
The Men's Wanamaker Mile
Robby Andrews, adidas - 4:01.55 / 3:34.78
Liam Boylan-Pett, NJ/NY TC - 3:58.19
Donn Cabral, Nike - 3:56.41
Matthew Centrowitz, Nike - 3:52.4 / 3:31.96
Ryan Gregson, Nike (Australia) - 3:52.24 / 3:31.06
Garrett Heath, Saucony - 3:54.4
Ryan Hill, North Carolina State University - 3:56.78
Lawi Lalang, University of Arizona (Kenya) - 3:55.09
Lopez Lomong, Nike Oregon TC - 3:53.18 / 3:32.20
Chris O'Hare, University of Tulsa (Great Britain) - 3:56.48
This is the tale of one race, but two stories. In the front, we'll have Matthew Centrowitz going for the win and the Millrose record. He'll be challenged in his mission to repeat, but his competition isn't the other half of this tale. Two collegians who should be right behind him, Ryan Hill and Lawi Lalang, are also looking to repeat something from last year.
Centrowitz is looking for two things at Millrose: the win and the record. Even though Lagat ran the record on the legendary 160m boards at Madison Square Garden, it's still the general meet record of 3:52.87. Last year, Centrowitz took home the big win in a cool 3:53.92.
If the mile specialist is any sort of mile shape like his training partner Galen Rupp, then yes, it will go down.
But the record isn't Centro's main concern. In an interview with Runner's World, Centrowitz has restated that his primary goal is to secure the win. When the rabbit dropped out at the NB Grand Prix, Centrowitz was hesitant to go to the front. Eventually, he assumed his rank among the milers and narrowly took the victory.
If he wants the record, he'll have to take the lead earlier than he may like to. If not, he'll be content sitting in fourth place until he's ready to pounce.
Centro's move to the front may not be as decisive as it may seem. Two big performances out from the UW Husky Classic make this an interesting race. Donn Cabral's 3:56.41 was surprisingly his first official time that he's gone under 4:00 and could be in the hunt.
The big concern comes from the now 5000m specialist, Lopez Lomong. Lomong flashed some speed out at the Dempsey last week with his 1:46.5 win at 800m. For someone who's concentrating on much longer distances, that's some serious speed.
Then there's a few mystery men in Olympians Ryan Gregson and Ciaran O'Lionaird. In the past, the two have popped big races (outdoor for Gregson, indoor for O'Lionaird) and could be in the mix. Both have struggled with some injuries (some more recent than others), but hey, they're risk takers.
The other story involves two big collegians, Ryan Hill and Lawi Lalang. Last year, Miles Batty of BYU set the collegiate indoor mile record of 3:54.54. That isn't the only all-time best thing we received that evening - BYU's reaction video is absolutely priceless.
Earlier this week, we tried to figure it whether it would be Hill, Lalang, or neither to break the record. Reports from both camps state that the two are in absolutely monster shape. They sold it so well, that we don't know which one will emerge his name inscribed in the record book.
If we're going off confidence, then we'll give the nod to Hill. Even though Lalang ran 7:42 for 3k earlier this season, he looked like he was deep in the hurt locker at the Dempsey when he ran 1:48 (he broke out the half-tights for the speed).
Hill, on the other hand, just ran an easy 7:49 at the Dempsey and should be riding high. Can Lalang bounce back or will Hill continue upward? We'll find out.
Erik Sowinksi, - 1:16.91(adidas Classic, 2012 )1:15.9 Edit: Sorry
Julius Mutekanga, New Balance (Uganda) - 1:01.26 (Boston, 2008) / 1:48.00 (New York, 2012)
Michael Rutt, NY/NJ TC - 1:02.56 (New York, 2008) / 1:47.11 (Boston, 2012) / 1:45.20 (New York, 2012)
Just as it was becoming one of the best middle-distance rivalries in recent memory, one of the two top American 800m runners is moving up in distance. Bummer.
Let's not think about the potential bad times ahead, but the good times that are right in front of us. This Saturday, both Symmonds and Solomon are eying the Millrose 600m record of 1:15.80 set by Chip Jenkins in '87.
Solomon's confidence has to be at an all-time high this indoor season. He's not only coming off a historic Olympic Games where he ran the second-fastest 800m by an American (1:42.82), but he just ran the American record of 1:15.70 out in Glasgow. His coach, the legendary Johnny Gray, said that that race was supposed to be a bit of an early season rust-buster.
If that was unexpected, then what's going to happen when Solomon has a goal in mind and strong competition to push him the whole way?
We may very well see the world record of 1:15.12 by Nico Motchebon fall.
Odds and Ends
The Millrose Games is more than a track and field competition. Located in the heart of, yes, the greatest city in the world, is an event that brings the best out of track and field. Below are some other events that you should not and cannot miss at the Millrose Games.
Jeremy Bascom, CPTC New Balance (Guyana) - 6.70 (New York, 2012)
Richard Browne, unattached - Paralympic Games silver (100m)