2024 Boston Marathon

'Turn And Burn.' Krissy Gear Wins Second B.A.A. Mile Win, Comber Kicks Late

'Turn And Burn.' Krissy Gear Wins Second B.A.A. Mile Win, Comber Kicks Late

Looking for inspiration, HOKA Naz Elite's Krissy Gear chatted with her coach ahead of the B.A.A. Invite Mile. She received some sage advice.

Apr 13, 2024 by David Monti

BOSTON -- Casey Comber came to last year's B.A.A. Invitational mile hoping to win but was passed on the inside in the last 200 meters by Hobbs Kessler.  

That loss stung a bit for the former Villanova University athlete who won two Big East Conference indoor titles during his collegiate career.

"I just didn't quite take the second turn tight enough and he just got inside, gave me a nice little shoulder," Comber told Race Results Weekly a year ago.  "Just a good race move by him."

With Kessler not competing on Saturday, Comber got another chance to shine.  

The Under Armour-sponsored athlete stayed patient while Britain's Henry McLuckie built up a four-second lead on the pack after two of the race's three laps. Comber waited for the final lap to strike. 

This time, as Comber readied for the first of two corners -- first onto Exeter Street then onto Boylston Street -- he made sure he was in the right position. 

"You know it's funny," Comber said, "I thought about Hobbs passing me on that corner over there and kind of got on the inside." He continued: "I was able to close on McLuckie right at the second to last corner here, which I refer to as really like the end of the race.  I've never seen anyone get passed in this last stretch.  Glad I wasn't the first one."

Comber was timed in 4:08, well off of Nick Willis's 2013 course record of 4:03.3, but that didn't matter. He got the win, which was his second of this nascent outdoor season.

"I knew I did what I wanted to do and give myself every chance to win," Comber said.  "As my coach would say, you've just got to see it through that last 150 meters around that turn."

Aaron Ahl of Canada was second in 4:09 while Vivien Henz of Luxembourg got third in 4:10. McLuckie, who led for three quarters of the race, was fourth in 4:11.

In the professional women's competition, Krissy Gear of HOKA Northern Arizona elite, the race's defending champion, executed a text book race to win again in 4:43. Gear, the reigning USATF steeplechase champion, ran on (or near) the front for the first two laps, then had to battle with Sweden's Yolanda Ngarambe of the Atlanta Track Club over the final 250 meters.  

Gear passed Ngarambe before the final left turn onto Boylston Street and won by slightly more than a second.  

Third went to British steeplechaser Lizzie Bird (Asics) in 4:45.  She just edged first-year pro Micaela Degenaro (Puma) by 16-hundredths of a second.

"I had the pleasure of being a little under the radar last year," Gear told reporters. "That's not the case this year.  I think that's very good practice for the position I'm going to be at going forward.  I just kind of kept telling myself to stay calm, know that you have another gear in case you have to use it."

Gear, who ran collegiately for the University of Arkansas, kept a mantra in her head she got from her coach Jack Mullaney before the race: "Turn and burn."

"I asked my coach, can you give me a word or phrase?" Gear said.  "Something like 'peace' or 'calm.'  He was like, 'Turn and burn.' So like the whole race I was like, 'Turn and burn, turn and burn.'"

Both Comber and Gear won $3,000 in prize money.

In the scholastic miles for high school students, the wins went to Sasha Lamakina of Framingham on the girls side (5:23) and Eli Merritt of Wellesley (4:37) for the boys. Also, Lamakina's little sister Daria won the girls middle school mile just a few minutes before.

"It's pretty fun," said the older Lamakina when asked about her race.  "I really wanted to win."

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* Story written by David Monti of Race Results Weekly