Nick Willis Coasts to 5th Avenue Mile Victory; Jenny Simpson Repeats Over Shannon Rowbury

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September 13, 2015

Nick Willis and Jenny Simpson, 5th Avenue Mile veterans, both used late kicks to win again in New York this afternoon. Willis destroyed the men’s field over the final 100 meters, throwing his arms up in celebration a full 50 meters from the finish line to earn his third title in 3:54.9. Simpson, who was fourth in the Diamond League final in Brussels two days ago, used a late move to emerge victorious in a three-way kick over Shannon Rowbury and Susan Kuijken, claiming her fourth title (and third consecutive) in 4:29.1. Simpson is just the second person (and first female) to win four 5th Avenue titles, joining Spain’s Isaac Viciosa.

In other news, Meb Keflezighi also announced on the ESPN2 broadcast that he will be running the TCS New York City Marathon on November 1 (just as we predicted).

Men’s race

Willis was celebrating well before the finish line

Willis was celebrating well before the finish line

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The men went out relatively conservatively (61 at the quarter) and the racing began when Ford Palmer started to attack for the $1,000 prime that would go to the leader at halfway. Riley Masters was the only man to challenge him, but couldn’t make up Palmer’s headstart as Palmer led at halfway around 2:02. Because the halfway leader had to finish under 4:00 to earn the prime, neither Palmer, (4:00.9) nor Masters (4:00.2) grabbed the cash. The prize instead went to Garrett Heath.

Palmer ran far to the left of the pack for the next quarter mile (3:02 at 3/4), gaining about 10 meters of separation before the rest of the field began to kick and reel him in. Dan Huling, fifth at Worlds in the steeple last month, was the first to take a bid with around 300 to go and held the lead briefly before Brit Chris O’Hare, who ran 3:43 for 1500 in Brussels two days ago, passed him. Willis followed O’Hare and with around 150 to go, passed O’Hare and immediately gapped the field. The Kiwi was moving so much faster than everyone else by the end that he had time to encourage cheers from the crowd by throwing his arms up well before hitting the finish line in 3:54.9.

A win for Willis in New York

A win for Willis in New York

O’Hare hung on for second in 3:55.9 as there was a wild finish for the next few spots, as Norway’s Henrik Ingebrigtsen (3rd, 3:56.1), American Matthew Centrowitz (4th, 3:56.1) and Aussie Ryan Gregson (5th, 3:56.3) all crossed within four-tenths of a second.

After the race, Willis told ESPN2’s Lewis Johnson, “I wanted to make a move once I saw everybody else had hit their maximum speed so that if I was able to go to the next gear, I knew that nobody else would be able to match that again.”

Willis, a Michigan alum, also joked that he had planned to wear khakis to honor the first victory by new Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh yesterday but that he decided to go with running shorts in the end due to the warm temperatures.

Top results *Full Results

  1. Nick Willis, New Zealand 3:54.9
  2. Chris O’Hare, Great Britain 3:55.9
  3. Henrik Ingebrigtsen, Norway 3:56.1
  4. Matthew Centrowitz, USA 3:56.1
  5. Ryan Gregson, Australia 3:56.3

Women’s race

Simpson was pumped to win this one

Simpson was pumped to win this one

After a 68-second first quarter, 800 specialist Alysia Montano went to the front; no one would challenge her for the halfway prime (2:20.3; though because Montano couldn’t break 4:32, Rowbury took the bonus). Just after halfway, Rowbury joined Montano at the front with experienced road miler Heather Kampf on Rowbury’s shoulder. On the right side of the pack, Simpson ran perhaps half a stride behind Rowbury and Montano.

Knowing she couldn’t afford to leave it late, he Netherlands’ Susan Kuijken, who doubled up in the 5,000 (8th) and 10,000 (10th) at Worlds, began to push at the three-quarters mark, and with 200 to go, she, Simpson and Rowbury had gained separation with Kampf a stride or two behind them. With under 100 to go, Simpson pushed for the lead and pulled away just before the line to take her third straight victory in New York in 4:29.1.

Rowbury claimed second in 4:29.4 with Kuijken third in 4:30.0.

Simpson explained after the race to ESPN that with Brussels in her legs, she wanted to wait until the final 10 seconds to move and she did just that.

Click for Photo Gallery

Click for Photo Gallery

Top results *Full Results

1. Jenny Simpson, USA 4:29.1
2. Shannon Rowbury, USA 4:29.4
3. Susan Kuijken, Netherlands 4:30.0
4. Heather Kampf, USA 4:30.3
5. Heather Wilson, USA 4:31.8

Quick Take #1: No one had any problems rebounding from the Diamond League final in Brussels

In the women’s race, the top two finishers raced two days ago in Brussels (Simpson and Rowbury), while O’Hare took second today despite finishing 10th in Brussels. Simpson and Rowbury’s performance wasn’t that surprising considering that they were the two best women in the field on paper, but O’Hare deserves a lot of credit for bouncing back strong after a disappointing result.

Quick Take #2: Jenny Simpson wins the season series over Shannon Rowbury

Simpson lost narrowly to Rowbury on Friday in Brussels (4:22.10 to 4:22.18) and got her revenge today, prevailing in another close race. That was enough to clinch the seasons series over Rowbury (they were 3-3 against each other before today). Simpson, 29, dominated Rowbury (who turns 31 on Saturday) in 2014 but they were much closer this year and Rowbury also holds the trump cards — an American record (3:56.29 in Monaco) and a better performance at Worlds (though Simpson did lose a shoe in that race). Watching these two women continue to battle in 2016 will be a real treat.

*RRW Recap of Race *Full Results

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