Baddeley and Donohue Win New Balance Games Miles

By Peter Gambaccini
(c) 2010 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

NEW YORK (23-Jan) -- With the challenge of the Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games looming just six days ahead, Britain's Andy Baddeley showed impressive early season form as his 3:55.64 win at the New Balance Games here came close to erasing Mark Carroll's Armory Track & Field Center record of 3:54.98.  Erin Donohue was a virtual wire-to-wire winner with her 4:28.92 mile, though she did get a late challenge from an unexpected source.  Both athletes set indoor personal bests.

After pacemakers Chris Spooner and Rob Novak peeled off, Baddeley, who won the Continental Airlnes Fifth Avenue Mile here last September, went through three-quarters in 2:58.  His triumph was never really in doubt.  He did glance back several times "just to see how close they were," but he left the impression that he could have run faster if circumstances required it.  Ricky Stevenson (3:56.31) and Mark Draper (3:56.80) made the race a 1-2-3 British sweep.  They also ran career best indoor times.

"I'd like to think I did have gears left," Baddeley said of his performance.  "I think I can go a bit quicker."  He's been forced to do more treadmill training than he'd like during an unusually rough English winter (he's based in Twickenham) but notes that his treadmill is "not too bouncy so it's a bit more realistic."

Baddeley will soon be on his way to altitude training in Australia, followed-up by a 5000-meter race in Melbourne.  But first he has that Wanamaker Mile, and New Yorkers may spy the buzzcut Briton training in Central Park this week.  It will be his first venture on an 11-lap-to-the-mile track.  If he could upset Bernard Lagat and deny him a record eighth Wanamaker triumph "I might tell him I feel guilty, but I think I'd be pretty excited," quipped Baddeley.

Donohue, a 2008 U.S. 1500-meter Olympian from Haddonfield, N.J., led her mile after taking over from pacesetter Lesley Higgins of the New York Athletic Club.  After a 3:25 three-quarter split, Megan Wright, who as Megan Metcalfe, won an NCAA 5000-meter title for West Virginia, seemed ready to pounce and possibly poach a victory.  But the Canadian Olympian came mysteriously unglued (she faded to tenth, and later smirked "something jumped on me").  Another Canadian, Nicole Edwards, who competed for the University of Michigan, mounted a serious challenge with a move into second place with 300 meters left.  But Donohue held on for the victory in 4:28.92, with Edwards a close second in a personal best 4:29.42 and Sarah Bowman, the former University of Tennessee star who is now a New Balance-sponsored professional, third in 4:32.14.

"Fortunately, the speed was still there at the end," observed Donohue, who said her goals for this mile were "to be strong enough and to be able to respond to anyone at the end."  She accomplished that.  Next, she'll run at 800-meters at the B.U. Terrier Classic in Boston next Friday "to be 100 percent ready to go for the 1000" at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games on Feb. 6.

The Varsity Boys Invitational Mile was a virtual one man show; Chris FitzSimons of Hamden, Conn., seized the lead with 500 meters remaining and staged a runaway, clocking a 4:17.33 to runner-up Miles Schroeder's 4:21.77.  Heavily favored Emily Lipari of Roslyn, N.Y., took the lead in the Girls Mile from the outset, but she did get reeled in by Joelle Amaral, who pulled ahead slightly with 300 to go before Lipari found another gear and reasserted herself and won, 4:53.84 to 4:56.81.

"I saw her come up," said Lipari who also is a top soccer player.  "I saw her body language and she looked strong.  She helped me get an extra second wind."

The New Balance Games also featured two elite 400s, with Natasha Hastings (52.68) and Miles Smith (46.70) taking the wins.



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