Veterans Jenny Simpson, Nick Willis Win Again At 5th Avenue Mile

Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly Jenny Simpson, Nick Willis
By Rich Sands, @sands
(c) 2017 Race Results Weekly, used with subscription

NEW YORK (10-Sep) --
Experience counts on 5th Avenue.

Jenny Simpson and Nick Willis proved that here today with emphatic wins down the famed New York City boulevard. Simpson scored a record sixth title at the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile shortly after Willis notched his fourth victory in the event, staged by New York Road Runners on a picture-perfect day.

With the temperature at 70 degrees, low humidity and a generous wind at their backs, both the men's and women's professional races were exceptionally fast. Willis broke the tape in 3:51.3 while Simpson clocked 4:16.6 to equal the venerable event record set by PattiSue Plumer back in 1990.

In the men's race, defending champion Eric Jenkins and Robby Andrews took the early lead for the opening downhill blocks. Craig Engels and former Oregon star Edward Cheserek, making his professional debut, joined them on the front line as they hit the first quarter in about 59 seconds. As the course flowed uphill, 800-meter specialist Drew Windle jumped out front, eager to snag the $1000 bonus given to the first runner to hit the half mile. He dueled with Engels and even dipped at the marker to hold a tiny edge as they came through in 1:58. (Alas, Engels would take home the prize, after Windle faded badly and didn't meet the requisite 4:00 finishing time needed to collect.)

Engels opened up a gap on the field during the third quarter as the road sloped down, but he was swallowed by the pack shortly after the three-quarter mile mark (2:56). Brits Chris O'Hare and Jake Wightman surged ahead, but Willis smoothly positioned himself towards the center of the pack, before launching a perfectly timed kick in the final 100 meters to grab the win.

​Nick Willis after winning his fourth title at the 5th Avenue Mile:



"I think I ran over one of the manhole covers with 30 [meters] to go and I was already at my max so I was worried that I was gonna fall over there," said the 34-year old New Zealander, who previously won this race in 2008, 2013 and 2015.

O'Hare (3:52.0) held on for second, ahead of Ben Blankenship (3:52.3), with the next five runners separated by only three-tenths of a second and a total of 19 men clocking sub-4:00 times.

​Chris O'Hare after taking second to Willis:



"We had a really strong field, so I knew that I'd have to use my experience on this course to run my best," said Willis, who had run conservatively in the middle of the pack for most of the race. "I knew I had to wait and wait and wait and wait and be the last person to make the move. The finish line always looks closer than it really is, so I used the 1500-meter mark as my gauge to when I really got into fifth gear. I was able to slingshot off of them right at the end and thankfully it was enough."

A two-time Olympic medalist in the 1500, Willis placed a disappointing eighth at the recent IAAF World Championships in London. "This was a great way to finish what has been a pretty trying season for me with a lot of hiccups with injuries along the way," he said as he points to the 2018 Commonwealth Games in April where he is likely to move up to the 5000-meters.

Simpson took a more assertive strategy than Willis, immediately going to the front of the women's race. A pair of Brits, Laura Weightman and Jessica Judd, quickly joined her up front through a 62-second opening quarter.

Nobody seemed terribly eager to snag the halfway bonus, so Judd made a last-second decision to go for it, splitting 2:10 and picking up the extra cash (which she says she'll put towards her upcoming vacation to Hawaii). She continued to force the pace until Simpson and Weightman caught her about 200 meters from the finish. The American cruised home comfortably, with Weightman taking second in 4:17.6 and Judd holding off a late-surge from Brenda Martinez for the final podium spot, 4:18.3 to 4:18.4. In a mass finish similar to the men's event, 16 women broke 4:30.

​Brenda Martinez after placing fourth:



"This race can be really different if the wind is at your back or in your face, and the road can be really uneven, and so just knowing how to time yourself and know when to look up at the finish and when not to look at the finish is really important part of timing it right," said Simpson, who took silver in the world championships 1500 last month, the fourth international medal of her career. "So over the years I think I've just gotten it down to a science. And the beautiful thing is, with 5th Avenue, when the road is clear it's pretty much the same every year, so I know where I want to put in my surges."

This was Simpson's unprecedented fifth straight victory down 5th Avenue, dating back to 2013. Her first win came back in 2011, but despite all that success, she knows she's going to be challenged. "The first quarter mile you're headed downhill and there's always this sense in your mind that maybe it'll feel easy," she admits. "And then it doesn't. And then you think, these girls are gonna make me run so hard this year. As I get farther into the race I believe more and more, the crowd gets incrementally louder and louder and I just can't let people down."

Simpson will resume training after a 10-day break, and this fall she'll take her first vacation since 2010 when she and her husband, Jason, spend a week in Hawaii prior to the wedding of her friend Emma Coburn, who finished ninth on Sunday.

Both Willis and Simpson earned $5000 for their titles, which capped a day of 23 heats featuring a record 7664 finishers over a variety of age groups and abilities in the 37th running of the event.

Human, Or Super Saiyan? Grant Holloway Keeps The World Wondering

Florida Athletics Grant Holloway.jpg

By Zach Dirlam

Area code 757, tattooed on Holloway’s left wrist, services the southeastern-most portions of Virginia, covering the Virginia Peninsula, Eastern Shore and Hampton Roads.

Big 12 Preview: Divine Oduduru's Coming Out Party, NCAA Record Chase In HJ

http://texastech.com Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 6.28.03 PM.png

The Big 12 is one of the most well-rounded conferences in the NCAA, with solid sprint matchups, distance races, and even a potential high jump collegiate record battle set to go down in Ames, Iowa, this weekend at Iowa State's 300-meter track. Read on for a rundown of the top events to watch.

14 Athletes Set To Represent Canada At 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Untitled design (6).png

Feb. 14 release courtesy of Athletics Canada:

House Of Run Podcast: Coleman, Nelvis, Brazier Show Out

© Nick Fojud-USA TODAY Sports USATSI_10637940_168383134_lowres.jpg

On this week's episode of the House of Run Jason and Kevin discuss Christian Coleman's world record, Sharika Nelvis's American record, the doubles by Shelby Houlihan and Paul Chelimo and all the other action from the 2018 US Indoor Championships.

Star-Studded 3K, 60mH Tiebraker Headline 2018 MPSF Indoor Championships

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Track and Field: Pac-12 Championships

By Taylor Dutch

Powerhouse teams from the Pac-12 and West Coast Conferences come together this weekend to compete at the 2018 MPSF Indoor Track and Field Championships, which you can catch LIVE on FloTrack.

Teahna Daniels Set To Extend Texas Sprints' Legacy At Big 12s

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Track and Field: 90th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays

By Lincoln Shryack

Texas sprinter Teahna Daniels wasted no time in becoming the fastest woman in Big 12 history. Less than two months into her NCAA career, back in 2016, Daniels won the 60m NCAA crown in 7.11 — the fastest ever by a freshman and then the fourth-best performance in collegiate history. She hadn’t even won a Big 12 title yet, but it was clear that the Longhorn freshman would soon dominate the conference.

The Best Races From The 2017 Big 12 Indoor Championships

© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports USATSI_9899787_168383134_lowres.jpg

This weekend Ames, Iowa, will play host to the 2018 Big 12 Championship. Like 2017, FloTrack will have live coverage of the meet as teams chase a conference championship and qualifying marks to the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships. 

On The Run: NCAA Mile Champion Josh Kerr | Ep. 75

Kirby Lee USATSI_9935150_168383134_lowres.jpg

NCAA mile and 1500m champion Josh Kerr of New Mexico joins Jojo and Kevin to discuss his approach to this weekend’s Mountain West Conference Championships, how his life has changed since he finished second at the Millrose Games, beating Edward Cheserek in the mile, following the collegiate scene growing up in Scotland, and choosing to attend New Mexico before he even visited the school. 

Cas Loxsom On Depression And The Realities Of Chasing The Running Dream

Anthony Alvarez cas loxsom

We caught up with Cas Loxsom at this past weekend's USATF Indoor Championships in Albuquerque after the American indoor record holder dropped out of his race. 

Josh Kerr, Ednah Kurgat Highlight Mountain West Championships

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports USATSI_10111911_168383134_lowres.jpg

Some of the nation’s top distance runners will be action during the distance medley relay at the Mountain West Conference Championships. Ednah Kurgat, Allie Ostrander, Dillon Maggard, and Josh Kerr are all expected to play pivotal roles in their team’s chances on Thursday night. Outside of the distance medley relay, the four are expected to be in action throughout the three day meet which you can watch live on FloTrack.