2014 Millrose Games Preview: Bye-Bye Alan Webb, Hello Teen Phenoms, Record Attempts Galore

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by LetsRun.com
February 14, 2014

The historic NYRR Millrose Games take place on Saturday before a life national television audience on the NBC Sports Network from 3 –  5 pm ET. The action promises to be special as there are a slew of great events to watch. At Millrose this year, Alan Webb is retiring, Mary Cain, Alexa Efraimson, Nick Symmonds and Robby Andrews are going for records, Nick Willis and Kim Conley are trying to stay in the winner’s circle, the US meets Iceland’s Mary Cain and Bernard Lagat looks for perhaps a final Millrose victory.

The action is so good it’s almost made us forget that a Millrose not at Madison Square Garden is like going to a Red Sox home game not at Fenway. Seriously this may be the last year we beat a dead horse on that front as we are excited to see Saturday’s action – so excited we’ll be there in person to cover it for you.

You can see the whole schedule of events here but below we preview the professional mid-d and distance events that occur during the tv window. There also are two high schools miles and a collegiate men’s 4 x  800 which we don’t preview. Entries are here though if you want to preview it for yourself.

We present the events in the order that they occur so you can think of this as an unofficial program. We just saved you $10 bucks – you’re welcome.

3:29 pm Women’s 3,000: Can anyone stop the Kim Conley express?

AthleteTeamComment
Areson, JackieUnited States of America25-year-old has an outdoor PR of 8:58.23 from 2012. 4:42 mile this season.
Avery, KateIona College3rd placer from NCAA XC ran a PR of 8:58.90 last summer.
Bates, EmmaBoise State UniversityTook 2nd at NCAA Cross in the fall. Ran 15:52 5k for a season opener.
Conley, KimNew BalanceOlympian and WC team member has a PR of 8:47.95 and has been on fire this season with wins of 4:24.54 for the mile and 5:41.10 for 2k against crack fields.
D’Agostino, AbbeyDartmouth CollegeThe NCAA’s top runner has a 3k best of 8:55.41 and is fresh off a 4:28.31 mile PR.
Felnagle, BrieAdidasFormer NCAA 1,500 champ (2007) sports a PR of 8:51.38 for 3k.
Gregson, HeidiFurman EliteMore of a 1,500 specialist with a 4:13.86 from last year.
Grunewald, GabeBrooks Beasts4:01.48/8:42.64 (outdoors) performer ran a 6th-place 9:55 2-mile at NB Boston on Feb. 8.
Hall, SaraAsicsVersatile performer from the 1,500 on up ran a 73:38 half marathon in Houston this Jan. PR of 8:52.35 for 3k.
Magnani, MargheritaFiamme GialleComing off an Italian NR in the 1,000 (2:39.94) in January and an indoor PR in the 1,500 (4:09.27) on Feb. 1.
Saina, BetsyAmerican Distance ProjectFormer NCAA champion in XC, indoors (5k) and outdoors (10k) ran a winning 15:28 5k season opener on Jan. 31.
Schappert, NicoleHoka/NJ-NY TC27-year-old opened the season with a 3rd-place 4:32.37 mile on Feb. 7. Outdoor 1,500 best of 4:06.87.
Van Buskirk, KateCanada26-year-old has a strong PR of 5:40.70 for the rarely-run 2k, worth about 4:25-high for the mile. Ran 4:34.19 for 8th in the mile at NB New York this season.
Van Dalen, LucyNew BalanceThe 2012 NCAA indoor mile champ for Stony Brook has a PR of 8:56.77 for 3k. SBs of 4:32 for the mile and 5:47 for 2k.
Vaughn, SaraBrooks BeastsSteeplechaser with a 9:47.58 PR has a SB of 4:35.07 for the mile.

The professional distance events get started with the women’s 3000.

In our minds, there is a clear favorite. No it’s not reigning NCAA indoor 3000 and 5000, outdoor 5000 and cross country champion Abbey D’Agostino. D’Agostino comes into this race in good form as she’s run a 4:28.31 mile pb this winter but the favorite is 2012 Olympian and 2013 World Championship team member Kim Conley. Conley has been on fire so far in 2014 having earned dominant victories in the mile (4:24.54) and 2000 (5:41.10) so far this year and she has a 3000 pb that is much faster than D’Agostino (8:47.95 to 8:55.41).

If Conley doesn’t win, we’d be shocked but who else besides D’Agostino could pull the upset? Former NCAA star Betsy Saina, with her 31:15 10,000 pb can’t be ignored but 3000 is short for her. The good news for Saina fans is she’s in good shape as she’s run 15:28 already this winter. The field also includes some middle distance runners testing their endurance including Gabriele Grunewald, Brie Felnagle, and Italian Margherita Magnani, who recently set the Italian 1k record.

LetsRun.com Prediction: Conley FTW. If she doesn’t win, then D’Agostino is your winner.

In case you are wondering, the collegiate record for the event is 8:42.03 (Jenny Simpson). the American record is 8:33.25 (Shalane Flanagan). Both of those seem safe.

The collegiate #1 mark for 2014 is 9:00.76. That should go for sure.

3:56 pm: Paavo Nurmi 2,000m run: Can Bernard Lagat do it yet again at Millrose?

AthleteTeamComment
Bumbalough, AndrewNikeHas PRs of 3:37.15 for 1,500 and 8:13.02 for the indoor 2-mile. Last year’s road 5k national champ. Fresh off an indoor 3k PR of 7:37.62 for 5th at the super-competitive NB Boston meet.
Cabral, DonnNike8th in the 2012 Olympic steeple final. Amer. Coll. record of 8:19.14. Set his indoor 3k PR of 7:51.47 at NB Boston earlier this month.
Huling, DanNike30-year-old is a former national champ in the steeple (8:13.29 PR). Other PRs of 3:37.53 and 7:44.42. Ran a 3:58 mile on Feb. 1.
Jager, EvanNike6th placer in steeple at 2012 Olympics. American record holder (8:06.81). PRs of 3:36.34 / 7:35.16. Opened season with a 3:58 mile.
Kisorio, SilasCodrington Elite31-year-old has PRs of 1:47.11 and 3:39.32.
Lagat, BernardNikeNow 39 years old, Lagat has amassed 12 medals in global championships, including 5 golds (3 indoors, 2 outdoors) from the 1,500 to the 5,000. His 4:55.49 2k PR came way back in 1999, but he PRed as recently as a year ago at Millrose with an AR (broken this year by Galen Rupp) 2-mile time of 8:09.49. A 7:38.51 3k this Feb. 1 shows he’s still got a good bit left in the tank.
Levins, CamNike Oregon ProjectDouble NCAA outdoor champ in 2012. Has good range from 1,500 (3:36.88) to 10k (27:27.96) and represented Canada at 10k in the 2012 Olympics. Set PR of 7:41.59 this Feb., but 8:14.69 2-mile at Millrose last year is superior.
Mahoney, TravisNew Jersey-New York TCRecent steeple All-American for Temple is now out of college and running well with PRs of 3:58.61 for the mile and 7:52.09 for 3k this season.
McGregor, PatNew Jersey-New York TCU. of Texas grad has set PRs this season with 3:58.70 for the mile and 7:57.59 in the 3k.
Torrence, DavidNikeLots of speed with a 1:45.14 800 PR. Also 2:17.46 (outdoors) for the 1k, 3:33.23 for 1,500 and 7:40.78 (outdoors) for 3k. Recently part of the new indoor WR of 7:13.11 for the 4 x 800.

The story line for the men’s 2000 is Bernard Lagat, the eight time Wannamaker mile champion, looks for Millrose glory one more time at age 39.

Yes 39.

Lagat is not going to have an easy time of it as this features a fantastic field of some of North America’s top talent. Lagat has run 7:38 so far this year for 3000. 10 years ago, that would easily make him the #1 in the US. Not in the year 2014. Andrew Bumbalough ran 7:37 last week in Boston. That being said, Lagat has to be favored over Bumbalough. Why? Because Lagat is 7 and 0 lifetime when racing Bumbalough.

That streak has to end at some point, maybe Saturday, but to say Bumbalough is favored because he’s run faster at 3000 would be incorrect.

The only other guy in the field we think might win this race is US steeple record holder Evan Jager who has a 7:35 outdoor 3000 personal best. Still just 24, he’s about to enter the prime years of his career.

The field has lots of other talent including 3:33/13:16 man David Torrence, who ran on the world record 4 x 800 team last week in Boston. 2000 might be an ideal distance for him. But Torrence didn’t look great in a 1500 in the UK in January so we don’t think he’s the winner here.

Prediction: This is a tough one for us. The end has to be near for Lagat soon. We’ll give him one last victory here but a victory by Jager or Bumbalough wouldn’t surprise at all. We’re very tempted to pick Jager but just remembered that last year Lagat set the then 2-mile American record of 8:09.49 at Millrose. Last year’s results were as follows:.

1Bernard LagatUSA12 Dec 748:09.49ARPB
2Andrew BumbaloughUSA14 Mar 878:13.02PB
3Cam LevinsCAN28 Mar 898:14.69NRPB
4Evan JagerUSA8 Mar 898:14.95PB

The Canadian Cam Levins is racing here again this year. If it was 3000, we’d feel confident in Lagat, but 2000 is short for him at age 39. This one should be tight.

Note from LetsRun.com stat/coaching guru John Kellogg: The 2,000 is rarely contested, so many people may not know how to pace it the first time they do it. But expect the times to be about 28% slower than an equivalent mile time. A 4:55 2k is therefore equal to about 3:50 for the mile, 5:00 for 2k is about a 3:54 mile equivalent, and 5:05 is worth about 3:58.

Steve Scott‘s indoor 2,000 American record of 4:58.6 would be a 3:53 high mile equivalent.

4:18 PM Women’s NYRR Wanamaker Mile: A Totally Loaded Field With All Eyes on Teen Sensations Mary Cain and Alexa Efraimson

AthleteTeamComment
Brown, SarahNew Balance3rd at NBIGP and New Balance this winter. 2:36.9 1k and 4:29.62 mile. 4:05.27 PR at 1,500.
Cain, MaryNike Oregon Project17-year-old has run 2:35.80 and 4:24.11 this winter. 4:04.62 PR.
Coburn, EmmaNew Balance2013 NCAA mile champ ran 5:47.20 for 2k last week. Told us she wants to set mile PR. Mile PR is 4:29.86. 1,500 PR is 4:06.87.
Efraimson, AlexaUnited States of AmericaWorld Youth bronze medallist is still just 16. Has 4:16.00 PR but just broke Mary Cain’s HS 3,000 record at 9:00.16.
Kampf, HeatherAsics2006 NCAA 800 champ ran 4:30.14 at Armory last month. 4:08.37 1,500 PR.
Lipari, EmilyVillanova University4:43 and 909 this year. 4:12 1,500 PR.
Mackey, KatieBrooks Beasts1st race of 2014 that we are aware of. 4:04.60 last year.
McGee, CoryFlorida Athletics Club2:07 and 9:18 this year. 4:06.67 last summer for NCAA 3rd placer
Moser, TreniereNike Oregon Project2:39 and 2:37 in 1k this year. 4:02.85 PR last summer.
Schneider, RachelGeorgetown University2:07/4:37 this year. 4:10.53 PR for 1,500.
Sifuentes, NicoleSaucony2:05 and 4:29.40 this year. 4:04.64 1,500 PR last year.
Uceny, MorganAdidas2:04.85 and 4:30.57 earlier this year. 5:49 2k last week (worth about 4:32-mid for the mile). 4:00.06 1,500 PR for 2011 World #1.
Winslow, AmandaOiselle/NJ-NY TC2013 NCAA mile runner-up is on fire. 4:26.28 mile at BU last week. 8:56 3k in Seattle.

The women’s Wanamaker mile promises to be a real treat. The favorite has to be last year’s runner-up Mary Cain. She missed the world junior mark by .01 in her last mile in Boston when when she ran 4:24.11. We’re glad that’s the case as she’ll now likely get to break it in front of tens of thousands on a live national tv versus doing it on front Mom, Dad and Grandpa on a pay per view Internet telecast.

The US record is held by Mary Slaney at 4:20.5. To us, that’s a nearly impossible quest for Cain at this point. She keeps getting better and better but do we think she’s 3.5 seconds better than she was 3 weeks ago? We doubt it (well maybe if they had Genzebe Dibaba here to rabbit the whole thing for Cain) but Cain continues to defy expectations.

Mary Cain getting the win in Boston last week *More New Balance Boston Photos

Can anyone beat Cain? We don’t think so. If she does lose, it probably will be to teammate Treniere Moser, who nearly beat Cain in a 1k earlier this winter and ran aggressively early in Boston last week before fading, or the New Jersey/New York Track Club’s Amanda Winslow (Oiselle). Winslow has been on fire this year. The 2013 NCAA runner-up comes in after two big PRs.

There are a lot of other story lines to watch besides who wins, however. The big one is can 2013 NXN winner Alexa Efraimson beat Mary Cain’s 4:28.25 age 16 world’s best that Cain ran here last year. Efraimson already has beaten Cain’s age 16 3000 (and US HS) record this winter. We’ve also heard rumors that Florida’s Cory McGee is dreaming of Jenny Simpson‘s collegiate record of 4:25.91. At a minimum, McGee has got a shot at D’Agostino’s 2013 collegiate leader of 4:28.81. And we’ll be paying attention to the comebacks of Olympians Morgan Uceny and Emma Coburn here as well. Does Uceny take a step forward from the 4:30.57 she ran in NY a few weeks ago. Can Coburn break her 4:29.86 PR?

LetsRun.com Prediction: Cain FTW in a new world junior mark. Efraimson under Cain’s mark from last year.

If Efraimson somehow wins this race, people will be going crazy and saying, “Mary who?””

Messageboard Discussion: Cain and Efraimson will Race Soon, What if Cain Loses???

Random Fact: The Wanamaker Department stores ceased to exist in 1995. The women’s mile started being called the Wannamaker Mile last year. We’re all for equality but some might say that’s bordering on stupidity.

4:32 Mel Sheppard 1000m: An Assault on the 2:17.86 American Record

AthleteTeamComment
Ambroise Bosse, PierreNike21-year-old was 7th at Worlds last year. No races this year. 1:43.76 PR.
Andrews, RobbyAdidasHS record holder at 1k ran 1:47.07 last week. 2:17.90 1k PR.
Mulder, TylerOregon Track Club1:44.34 pb and 2:17.91 1k PR. Ran 2:21.77 for 1k and 1:48.59 so far this year.
Rutt, MikeHoka/NJ-NY TC1:46.71 indoors this year. 2:18.27 1k PR. 1:45.08 outdoor 800 PR.
Scherer, MattBrooks BeastsProbable rabbit.
Sowinski, ErikNike1:45.21 PR. 1:46.84 indoors this year. 2:21.51 PR.
Symmonds, NickBrooks BeastsWChampionships silver medallist. 2:16.35 PR at 1k. 1:48.64 last week.
Webb, SharifFit Fast1:47.04 PR, 1:49.75 indoors.

David Krummenacker‘s American record is 2:17.86 and this is hyped as an AR attempt for Nick Symmonds, who has run 2:16.35 outdoors. The 1k seems like an ideal distance for the world championship silver medalist who isn’t real speedy over 400. As good as Symmonds is at 800, one might think he’d even be better at 1k. However, last week, Symmonds told us he banged up his knee a little bit (and while running behind, he only split 1:49.37). It’s hard to break an American record unless you are 100% on top of your game.

Could anyone else break it? Yes. Robby Andrews ran 2:17.90 last year in New York and just missed Krummenacker’s mark. Andrews is the high school record holder in the event and seems ideally suited for the 1000. He’s been struggling in recent years at other events but not the 1k. He ran well last week – an indoor 1k pb of 1:47.07.

This whole field is FULL OF QUALITY. Pierre Ambroise Bosse has run 1:43.76, Tyler Mulder has run 1:44.34 outdoors, Erik Sowinski just anchored a team to a 4 x 800 world record last week and Mike Rutt, Andrews’ teammate, just ran 1:46.71 last week. But none of them are accomplished as Andrews at 1k.

LetsRun.com prediction: Robby Andrews is officially back. American record.

PS. If Andrews gets the American record, can someone petition the IAAF and please tell them he should be considered to have the qualifier for World Indoors event though he hasn’t run 1:47.00 this year.

PPS. Update: We’ve just read Lotsbom’s pre-race preview and he has quotes from Symmonds about the AR here. Symmonds says the record will go down and reports his teammate Tyler Mulder wanted to go out in 1:47-8. Symmonds thinks 1:49 is better. Reading Symmonds talk about the record going down makes us very nervous picking against him as he’s by far the most accomplished guy in the field. ” But the article reminds us that last year Symmonds ran Millrose hoping to get the 600 AR and Erik Sowinski got it. Will history repeat itself?

4:38 PM Road To Rio Women’s 800: The Battle of the Teen Sensations

AthleteTeam
Eccleston, AmandaUnited States of America
Westaway, JennaCalgary International TC
Lipsey, CharleneAdidas
Hindriksdottir, AnitaIR Sports Club
Wilson, Ajee’Adidas
Goule, NatoyaJamaica
Cruz, DianaCPTC New Balance

Are you a fan of Mary Cain? What about teen phenoms? Then this race is for you.

This race on paper seems to be a battle between America’s 19-year old sensation Ajee Wilson, who with less fanfare last year placed higher in the 800 at Worlds than Cain did in the 1500 (6th versus 10th) and Iceland’s now 18-year old sensation Anita Hindrikstdottir, who ran 2:00:49 last year at age 17 , and 2013 NCAA indoor and outdoor champion Natoya Goule (formerly of LSU), who ran 1:59.43 last year. Canadian 19-year old Jenna Westaway, who has run 2:02.57 this year, has an outside shot as well.

Who has the edge? It’s hard to say as it’s the first 800 of the year for both Goule and Wilson so we guess Hindriksdottir, the world Youth champion. It’s hard to say.

LetsRun.com prediction: We’re very excited to see Hindriksdottir race for the first time in person. We’ll pick “Iceland’s Mary Cain” for the win as Wilson was way back in the 1k last week in Boston (2:48).

4:48 pm: Men’s Wanamaker Mile: Alan Webb Says Goodbye – Nick Willis Tries To Stay Hot

AthleteTeamComment
Batty, MilesAsics2011 NCAA indoor mile champ has PRs of 3:36.25 and 3:54.54i.
Brannen, NateSauconyWC finalist at 1,500 last year. 3:34.22 / 3:52.63 PRs. Has two 3:58s this season, including a 3rd place at NB in Boston last week.
Erassa, KirubelOklahoma State University3:58.24 PR for the several-times All-American Okla. State Cowboy. Won a 7:54.05 3k at Arkansas earlier this month.
Gagnon, BrianNew Jersey-New York TCFresh off a 4 x 800 that broke the previous indoor WR with a 7:13.22 but lost to a new WR of 7:13.11. PRs of 3:38.36 and 3:57.91i.
Garn, JesseBinghamton UniversityBinghamton runner set a PR of 2:21.99 for the 1k last week.
Gregorek, JohnnyColumbia UniversityPart of Columbia’s solid mid-d crew, the highly-pedigreed Ivy League steeple champ just ran 4:01.65 two weeks ago. Outdoor PR of 3:42.72.
Lalang, LawiUniversity Of ArizonaAn NCAA champ at the mile, 3k, 5k, 10k and XC. PRs of 3:33.20 / 3:54.56i. Has a 1:51 800 at altitude and a 7:44 3k win this season.
Leer, WillNikeUSATF indoor mile and 3k champ last year. 3:35.27 / 3:55.66i PRs. SB of 7:42.95 3k in Boston.
Manzano, LeoUnited States of AmericaNoted for being up and down. When he’s up, he’s really up (Olympic silver medal in 1,500, several times national champ) but when he’s down, he’s equally down (lots of last place finishes, including last week with a 4:04 mile at NB Boston). PRs of 3:32.37 / 3:50.64.
Miller, CraigNew Balance2012 national road mile champ has PRs of 3:35.48 and 3:56.41. Has run 3:57.69 and 7:49.05 this season.
O’Hare, ChrisScotland2012 NCAA mile champ and 2013 WC 1,500 finalist has PRs of 3:35.37 / 3:52.98i. 2nd at British indoor champs 1,500 this season after winning the title last year.
Webb, AlanBowerman Athletic ClubPerhaps the last season as a full-time track athlete for the now 31-year-old mile AR holder (3:46.91), 4-time national champ and 2-time WC 1,500 finalist as he moves to the triathlon after a career of both super highs and frustrating moments on the track. Has run 4:02 and 4:03 for his mile races this year.
Willis, NickAdidas2008 Olympic silver medalist and several-times global championship finalist at 1,500 has PRs of 3:30.35 and 3:50.66. Won last week at NB Boston with a 3:57.41.

Millrose will come to an end (the main part of the meet anyway) with a fantastic Wanamaker mile.

We’ll talk about the contenders for the win in a moment. But the eyes of many, including us, will be focused on someone finishing in the middle, actually probably back of the pack.

This race is the last race of the professional track career for Alan Webb. It’s only fitting that Webb’s track career (he’s moving to the triathlon) end at the Armory because the Armory is in some ways where the phenomenon that is/was Alan Webb began in 2001.

Because he is the American mile record holder at 3:46.91, Webb would be somewhat famous but he has been a phenomenon that has kept track fans fixated on virtually all of his performances for the last 13 years because of his high school exploits. Alan Webb is Alan Webb because he was a HS phenom. In January of 2001, Webb became the first US preps to break 4:00 in the mile in 34 years by running 3:59.86 (finishing just ahead of a guy in a letsrun.com singlet). He then became a celebrity by running 3:53 outdoors that summer.

Webb has run two miles this winter. A 4:02.81 on January 18th and a 4:03.52 on February 1st. The story book ending is for him to break four one last time here. He’s going to really need the fans help to do it. Even if he doesn’t, we will give him a standing ovation. No cheering in the press box? We’ll skip that rule on Saturday.

Ok, now onto handicapping the race. Up front, 2008 Olympic silver medallist Nick Willis is in fine form and is the favorite. Willis may only be 3 months younger than Webb but you’d never know that if you watched him race last week in Boston where Willis won easily and then post-race he told us he’s been enjoying some of the best workouts of his life.

Chris O’Hare after setting the collegiate record last year. 2013 Millrose Photos

Can anyone beat Willis? We doubt it but the top contenders are Arizona’s Lawi Lalang and former Tulsa runner Chris O’Hare. O’Hare ran a collegiate record of 3:52.98 last year at Millrose and comes into this race after finishing second at the British champs.Lalang, who ran 3:54.56 last year at Millrose, just ran 7:44 for 3000 so we know he’s fit and he’s run a 1:51 for 800 already this winter as well. With a 13:00 5000 pb, there is little doubt in our minds that Lalang is one of the best runners in the world. He potentially could break O’Hare’s collegiate record from last year. But the mile isn’t Lalang’s #1 event and Nick Willis is one of the best milers in the world.

LetsRun.com Prediction: Willis FTW. Webb over 4.

PS. We’ll be paying close attention to Leo Manzano here. This is a BIG race for him. Still sponsorless, he doesn’t want to start the year with a second straight disaster.

PPS. The Wanamaker mile used to be always be run at the end of the meet – at 10 pm to appear live on the local news. The event still comes at the end of the main portion of the meet but well before 10 pm. Fans rejoice, it will give you way more time to have a romantic dinner with your significant other in case every place was booked on Valentine’s Day.

PPS. Nick Willis is a TOTAL CLASS ACT. Check out what he said about Webb at the press-conference, ““Alan ran his first ever sub-four minute mile on this track, and that was the exact same day I ran my 4:01 mile in New Zealand, a high school record as well. This is going to be his retirement race and we get to run together. We’ve been good friends over the years. We didn’t run at [the University of] Michigan together but we have the [coach] Ron Warhurst relation. It’s a real honor to be in the same race as him.”

 

 

 

 

 


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