Jenny Simpson Runs 4:19.3 To Win 2013 5th Avenue Mile, Nick Willis Wins Men’s in 3:52.1

By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved.

NEW YORK (22-Sep) — Jenny Simpson and Nick Willis were all smiles crossing the finish of the NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile presented by Nissan here today, winning handily under perfectly blue skies. Running away from the field at halfway, Simpson cruised to her victory in a very fast 4:19.3, while Willis waited until the final 600 meters to separate from the field. His winning time was 3:52.1.


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Jenny Simpson didn’t waste any time asserting herself at the front of the women’s contest. Soon after hearing the starter’s gun, the 27-year-old found herself leading the pack of 15 alongside Australia’s Zoe Buckman. Spread out across two lanes of Fifth Avenue yet still bunched close together, the group would reach the first quarter mile mark in 65 seconds, a step behind the 2013 World Championships silver medalist in Simpson.

Jenny Simpson on her way to winning her second Fifth Avenue Mile in three years in 4:19.3, the fourth-fastest time in event history (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

Jenny Simpson on her way to winning her second Fifth Avenue Mile in three years in 4:19.3, the fourth-fastest time in event history (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly) Click for photo gallery

It was in the second quarter mile, rising up a slight incline, that Simpson gritted her teeth and began to separate from the bunch. Passing halfway in 2:14, the 2011 IAAF World Champion was only getting started.

As she would tell New York Road Runners President and CEO Mary Wittenberg, “I didn’t want it to be close. That’s how a medalist runs.”

“I kept telling myself to be relaxed at halfway,” explained Simpson. “My thought was when we hit the descent at halfway, just run hard the rest of the way. I was pleasantly surprised how well it worked out for me.”

From there on, it was the solo Simpson show. Gradually step by step the gap back to chasers Morgan Uceny and Violah Lagat lengthened from five to ten meters. Splitting 3:18 at three quarters of a mile, Simpson had a four second advantage on the group.

“I didn’t know how much of a lead I had, I just kept focusing on the car ahead of me,” she would say with a laugh.

With 200 meters remaining and the crowd noise growing, Simpson allowed a smile to come across her face, knowing she had a kick left in her to finish the job. Stopping the clock at 4:19.3, Simpson earned her second victory here in three years and extended America’s winning streak to five.  Hers was the fourth-fastest time in the history of the race.

“This is a good feeling. In some ways this is the simplest race of the season, a straight line you just run as hard as you can and see how everything shakes out,” she said.

Second went to Uceny in 4:23.4, her second straight week with a podium finish at a road mile.

“I’m really happy with my finish,” said Uceny, 28. “Jenny Simpson ran a great race. She was really aggressive and made a break early on. Just the way my season’s been going, I wasn’t ready to cover that move but I finished strong and was happy with the race. It’s a great day and a great event.”

Rounding out the top five were Dutchwoman Susan Kuijken (third, 4:24.2), Kenyan Violah Lagat (fourth, 4:25.1), and Italian Margherita Magnani (fifth, 4:26.5). American Olympian Shannon Rowbury placed tenth in 4:28.3.

In the end, the day belonged to Simpson, who was swarmed with autograph-seeking kids soon after the race.  She won $6000 in prize and bonus money, including a $1000 prime for leading at halfway.

“When you can do well at the World Championships [silver medal], that’s the most important thing of the season. But finishing off the season with a win in the United States and a city like New York, that’s like food for your running soul. That leaves me going into my break with a really good feeling going into next year,” said the champion.

Fifth Avenue Mile Professional Women
Pl. Bib First Last Age City State Country Affiliation Time
1 32 Jenny Simpson 27 Boulder CO United States New Balance 04:19.3
2 42 Morgan Uceny 28 Plymouth IN United States adidas 04:23.4
3 40 Susan Kuijken 27 Melbourne Netherlands Nike 04:24.2
4 44 Violah Lagat 24 Colorado Springs CO Kenya adidas 04:25.1
5 45 Margherita Magnani 26 Ostia Italy New Balance 04:26.5
6 34 Hannah England 26 Birmingham United Kingdom Nike 04:26.8
7 38 Charlene Thomas 31 Menston 0 United Kingdom New Balance 04:26.9
8 37 Heather Kampf 26 Minneapolis MN United States Asics 04:27.8
9 39 Katie Mackey 25 Seattle WA United States Brooks 04:28.1
10 33 Shannon Rowbury 29 San Francisco CA United States Nike 04:28.3
11 36 Gabriele Anderson 27 Minneapolis MN United States Brooks 04:29.0
12 46 Sara Vaughn 27 Beaverton OR United States unattached 04:29.8
13 35 Zoe Buckman 24 London Australia Nike 04:30.0
14 41 Chelsea Reilly 24 Oakland CA United States Bay Area Track Club 04:30.8
15 43 Eilish McColgan 22 Carnoustie United Kingdom Nike 04:30.9


The men’s contest began similar to the women’s in that the first quarter mile featured a group closely bunched together with a pair out front. Bernard Lagat, the 2011 Fifth Avenue Mile champion, and Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano pulled the 20-man field along with Will Leer a step to their left.

As the group rose the hill culminating at East 75th Street, Leer, 28, made a move to be the first at halfway ($1000 bonus), taking the outright lead in a matter of seconds. The break served to wake the field up.

“When Will Leer took a lead after half, that is when I thought ‘this is good, someone is making a break,'” said Lagat, noting that the field had began to bunch and slow.

Leer would be first across the halfway mark in 2:00 –earning the $1000 prime– before the race really got interesting. In the third quarter mile, it was New Zealand’s Willis moving up on the outside, escaping a brief period of being boxed in. Also making contact with the leaders was Australia’s Collis Birmingham.

As the clock read 2:57 with a quarter mile remaining, Willis simply turned to another gear. The only one to respond immediately was Garrett Heath, though by the time he could begin his kick Willis was three steps ahead.

Urging the crowd to cheer with about 100 meters to go by waving his arm, Willis already knew he would break the tape with his second win here in five years.

“I found myself in the lead and my legs were rolling pretty good so [I said] I feel good I’ll go all the way to the finish,” said Willis, who also won the event in 2008 after winning his Olympic silver medal. “I wanted to enjoy the crowd the last 100 meters.”

Nick Willis Wins

Nick Willis Wins (Click for Photo Gallery)

The battle for podium spots, however, was just heating up, with Heath trying to fend off a hard charging Lagat.

“When Nick took off I thought I have to go with him but he made a huge break and from there I wanted to see and chase the other guys,” said Lagat.

After Willis crossed the line in 3:52.1, the next four finishers would all come in within two-tenths of a second of one another.

Lagat managed to overtake Heath for second, 3:52.9 to 3:53.0, with Ryan Hill sneaking in for fourth in the exact same time as Heath. A tenth of a second later came Leer in fifth.

But, topping them all was Willis, who said the win was a bright spot in his 2013 campaign. After being sidelined with a hamstring injury for most of the outdoor track season, Willis and coach Ron Warhurst agreed that the 30-year-old was at a different part of the training cycle than most of the field, the majority of whom ended their season here.

Where most are wrapping up their hard training, Willis is only getting started in his buildup for the IAAF World Indoor Championships.

“Next year is the World Indoor championships, maybe my last chance to do a World Indoors,” he said. “I’m treating this little bit that I’ve done now as an indoor season, and I’ll treat the indoor season as an outdoor season. So my goal is to kind of replicate the times I run outdoors on an indoor track.”

In total, 16 men broke four minutes for the event, which is slightly downhill from start to finish. Interestingly, Willis’s 70-year-old coach, Warhurst, ran the 70+ division and earned a net-time of 8:01.

Fifth Avenue Mile Professional Men
Pl. Bib First Last Age City State Country Affiliation Time
1 8 Nick Willis 30 Ann Arbor MI New Zealand adidas 03:52.1
2 2 Bernard Lagat 38 Tucson AZ United States Nike 03:52.9
3 10 Garrett Heath 27 Palo Alto CA United States Saucony 03:53.0
4 15 Ryan Hill 23 Raleigh NC United States Nike 03:53.0
5 7 Will Leer 28 Marina Del Rey CA United States Nike 03:53.1
6 6 David Torrence 27 Oakland CA United States Nike 03:53.2
7 11 Craig Miller 26 Madison WI United States New Balance 03:53.7
8 17 Collis Birmingham 28 Ballarat 0 Australia Nike 03:54.3
9 16 Matthew Elliott 28 Rock Hill SC United States Brooks 03:54.7
10 14 Ben Blankenship 24 Eugene OR United States Nike Oregon Track Club 03:55.7
11 3 Leonel Manzano 29 Austin TX United States Austin Track Club 03:56.0
12 20 Ben St Lawrence 31 Centennial Park 0 Australia New Balance 03:56.2
13 9 Evan Jager 24 Portland OR United States Nike 03:57.6
14 12 Ryan Gregson 23 Wollongong NS Australia Nike 03:58.1
15 18 Daniel Huling 30 Portland OR United States Nike 03:58.1
16 22 Andy Baddeley 31 London 0 United Kingdom New Balance 03:58.7
17 4 Nick Symmonds 29 Eugene OR United States Nike Oregon Track Club 04:00.1
18 21 Brett Robinson 22 Ballarat Australia New Balance 04:02.0
19 5 Lopez Lomong 28 Beaverton OR United States Nike 04:02.9
20 19 Pablo Solares 28 San Francisco CA Mexico 04:05.3

*2013 5th Avenue Mile Photo Gallery

5th Avenue Mile Photo Gallery

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