Laura Muir Crushes Record, Jake Wightman Wins as Scots Sweep at New Balance 5th Avenue Mile
By David Monti, @d9monti, with analysis by Noah Jampol
September 11, 2022
NEW YORK (11-Sep) — In a steady rain Britain’s Laura Muir and Jake Wightman capped their medal-winning seasons with impressive victories here today at the 41st running of the New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile, the world’s largest and most prestigious road mile. Muir, the 2022 World Athletics Championships 1500m bronze medalist who also won the European and Commonwealth 1500m titles this summer, blasted away from the field at halfway to win in a new race record of 4:14.8. Wightman, the 2022 world 1500m champion who also won a 1500m bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games and an 800m silver medal at the European Athletics Championships this summer, waited until the last stages of the race to slip ahead another Briton, Jake Heyward, and win his third Fifth Avenue title in 3:49.6. A total of 8501 runners finished the race, the second-highest total in event history.
Muir, who like Wightman represented Scotland in the Commonwealth Games, carefully planned her attack with coach Andy Young. They decided to bluff the field midway through the race where Muir would appear to be going for the halfway prime of $1000 before she would surely slow down to her regular race rhythm.
“We went out yesterday and looked at it and marked out where the halfway point was,” Young told Race Results Weekly. “I said, ‘if you go here (you) break the field apart. If you do that, it’s like a double bluff. The people will think you’re going for the halfway mark. You’re going to catch them by surprise and keep going.'”
Muir did exactly that. She rapidly built a huge lead and her key rivals realized quickly that she wasn’t coming back.
“I was like, well, Laura really wants the halfway bonus,” said American Nikki Hiltz who finished second in 4:17.4, a time which would have won every previous Fifth Avenue Mile on the women’s side except three. “I thought she was just going to skirt ahead to get the bonus, but she just never looked back.” Hiltz added: “I was like, she’s not slowing down.”
Just before breaking the finish tape with her victory well in hand, the exhausted Muir eased up her pace just slightly. Had she slowed just a bit more she might have missed breaking Jenny Simpson’s event record of 4:16.1 set in 2019. She said later that the win was all she wanted today.
“With the conditions, I wasn’t thinking about times at all,” Muir told Race Results Weekly. “I didn’t realize it was that fast; I didn’t actually look up at the clock when I crossed the line. I would have been disappointed, but the main thing was for me to win today, and I was just so chuffed that I could do that.”
Third place went to unsponsored Eleanor Fulton, who ran a superb 4:18.0 to cap off a season where she set personal bests at 800m (2:00.45), 1500m (4:03.03), mile (4:23.65), and 3000m (8:44.68). Jemma Reekie, another Scot who was the race’s defending champion, finished fourth in 4:18.3. Adelle Tracey, who was raised in Britain but now competes for Jamaica, got fifth in 4:19.2. Also of note, Japan’s Nozomi Tanaka finished sixth in 4:19.3, the fastest time and highest place ever by a Japanese woman at the race. A total of 20 women competed in the elite race today, and 18 of them ran sub-4:30.
Top Female Pro Results (More here)
(Interviews and analysis at bottom below men’s recap)
1. Laura Muir (GBR), 29, Nike 4:14.4 CR* $5000 + 1000p
2. Nikki Hiltz, 27, lululemon 4:17.4 3500
3. Eleanor Fulton, 29, Unattached 4:18.0 2500
4. Jemma Reekie (GBR), 24, Nike 4:18.3 1500
5. Adelle Tracey (JAM), 29, Hoke One One 4:19.2 1000
6. Nozomi Tanaka (JPN), 23, New Balance 4:19.3 750
7. Sage Hurta, 24, On Athletics Club 4:19.6 500
8. Helen Schlachtenhaufen, 27, Nike 4:19.9 250
9. Melissa Courtney-Bryant (GBR), 29, New Balance 4:20.9
10. Lizzie Bird (GBR), 27, Asics 4:21.9
11. Emma Coburn, 31, New Balance 4:22.8
12. Cory McGee, 30, New Balance 4:23.4
13. Ellie Baker (GBR), 24, New Balance 4:24.9
14. Sinclaire Johnson, 24, Nike Union Athletics Club 4:25.0
15. Allie Wilson, 26, Atlanta Track Club Elite 4:25.0
16. Heather MacLean, 27, New Balance 4:26.0
17. Ciara Mageean (IRL), 30, New Balance 4:29.7
18. Hannah Nuttal (GBR), 25, New Balance 4:29.8
19. Susan Ejore (KEN), 26, Under Armour 4:37.2
20. Aisha Praught-Leer (JAM), 32, Puma 4:41.7
Wightman Waits and Caps Epic Year with Win
Wightman, a master tactician, did not concern himself with the halfway prime, and did not react when Germany’s Sam Parsons scooted ahead to collect it. Instead, he stayed on the west side of Fifth Avenue close to the front of the pace and waited. And waited. And waited.
“All the advice I’ve ever had, and all of my own advice, is you can never leave it too late here,” said Wightman, who won in both 2018 and 2021 in 3:53.5 and 3:49.5, respectively. “This is the biggest key. I didn’t leave it too late because I won.”
Indeed, as his 20 rivals ramped up the pace in the final quarter Wightman simply stayed with them until it was time to seal the win by accelerating in the final 100m, veering to the center of the roadway to break the tape. He was confident of his speed just having run three consecutive fast 800m races, including a personal best 1:43.65 in Brussels on September 2.
“The one good thing about running 800’s the last few weeks is I knew my speed was as good as anybody’s in the field. So, if it came down to the last 200 I should be able to hold on strong enough.”
Heyward, who took fifth in the Commonwealth Games 1500m for Wales, was keying off of Wightman and was keen to win. He executed his strategy perfectly, but just couldn’t match Wightman‘s sizzling top speed at the end.
“This is my second time here,” said Heyward, who finished third at Fifth Avenue in 2021. “Last year, I judged it slightly wrong. Obviously, Jake’s quite quick at the end. When he gets going, it’s really hard to get back on his terms.”
In the blanket finish which followed Wightman, American Sam Prakel got third in 3:50.4, Canadian Will Paulson finished fourth in 3:50.7, and American Cole Hocker got fifth and was given the same time as Paulson. Every man in the 21-athlete field broke four minutes.
Wightman, who upset Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen to win the world 1500m title, has had a dream season. In addition to winning medals at all three of this summer’s championships, he lowered his 1500m personal best to 3:29.23, his mile best to 3:50.30, and his 3000m best to 7:37.81 (indoors). Winning again on Fifth Avenue was the perfect way to end his season.
“I couldn’t have asked for it to have gone better,” Wightman said of his 2022 season. “To finish here, like, this is probably my favorite meet of the whole year. So, to be able to win it just makes it sweeter.”
After today’s race, Sydney Maree’s event record of 3:47.52 has now stood for 41 years. Maree set that mark in the very first edition of the race in 1981.
Male Pro Results (Full results here)
1. Jake Wightman (GBR), 28, New Balance 3:49.6 $5000
2. Jake Heyward (GBR), 23, Nike Oregon TC Elite 3:49.9 3500
3. Sam Prakel, 27, adidas 3:50.4 2500
4. Will Paulson (CAN), 27, Nike Oregon TC Elite 3:50.7 1500
5. Cole Hocker, 21, Nike 3:50.7 1000
6. Geordie Beamish (NZL), 25, On Athletics Club 3:51.0 750
7. Matt Stonier (GBR), 20, Nike 3:51.1 500
8. Luis Grijalva (GUA), 23, Hoke One One 3:51.1 250
9. Paul Ryan, 25, adidas 3:51.4
10. Josh Kerr (GBR), 24, Brooks Beasts 3:51.7
11. Sam Parsons (GER), 28, adidas/Tinman Elite 3:52.9 1000p
12. Joe Klecker, 25, On Athletics Club 3:53.0
13. Jye Edwards (AUS), 24, adidas 3:53.5
14. Johnny Gregorek, 30, Asics 3:53.9
15. Eric Holt, 27, Empire Elite 3:54.1
16. Andy Coscoran (IRL), 26, New Balance 3:54.5
17. Eric Avila, 32, adidas 3:54.8
18. Charles Philibert-Thiboutot (CAN), 31, New Bal 3:56.5
19. Josh Thompson, 29, Nike Bowerman Track Club 3:57.1
20. Craig Engels, 28, Nike Union Athletics Club 3:57.7
21. Adel Mechaal (ESP), 31, New Balance 3:59.3
Quick Takes by Noah Jampol
Laura Muir Is a Workhorse – Despite a packed racing schedule, Muir grinded out a Course Record and dispatched a top field. Next year, she’s excited to run the 5,000 again as well as more races on the circuit.
Laura Muir Thinks Faith Kipyegon Is the GOAT (Man or Woman) – Muir thought the 1500m World Record was gone in Monaco and revealed her admiration and fondness for Kipyegon. She says the only way to beat her will be to get a lot of faster, and she’s excited to race in the era of an athlete at Kipyegon’s level.
The USA Women’s 1500m Field Is Loaded – Eleanor Fulton and Nikki Hiltz’s podium finishes show that we might be due for some surprises in an extremely deep 1500m field
Sage Hurta, Like Us, Isn’t Sure of Her Event –Hurta’s run in the race was affected by a near-fall by Ciara Macgeean at the start. After the race, she was unsure of which way she’ll go, but thinks long-term she will end up in the 1500.
Ciara Mageean Is Thrilled with Her Season– While she slipped at the start and didn’t run up to her standard here, she said that won’t overshadow a brilliant season. She says there’s no secret to her breakthrough but credited her new coach and improvements in her mental game.
Jake Wightman Knows Jakob Is Coming – Jake first dispelled any notion that he won’t look to race Jakob on the circuit next year crediting his early-season defeat in Oslo with helping him in Eugene. He also said Jakob is fully capable of countering his style of racing, so he’ll need to get stronger to beat Jakob again next year.
The 800 Double Is a Maybe for Wightman – The schedule is doing him no favors with the 800 heat the day before the 1500 final, but Jake’s not ruling it out if he runs very well at British Trials and feels he can contend.
OTC Elite’s Jake Heyward and William Paulson Are Following Mark Rowland – Both guys are really happy with the past year, and are looking to follow Rowland to Victoria, BC as of now. Heyward admitted the state of UK 1500m running is “crazy” but he thinks the extra spot next year really helps his chances against a loaded field.
FYI: Noah Jampol is one of the top posters on the LetsRun forum but wants his screen name to remain anonymous
-She wasn’t going for a time at all, but she thought the “double surge” move was a good way to cut off the people who might go for the halfway bonus
-Laura was excited about the prospect of completing some “unfinished business” in the 5,000 with just one championship on the horizon in 2023
-She is planning on running European Indoors
-While she never got to meet the queen due to COVID restrictions and the like, she admitted it was very sad news to hear finding it out directly after her 1500m DL final
– She called Kipyegon the GOAT 1500m runner (male or female) and admitted that there was no real obvious way to beat her besides just getting faster
-On her newfound championship consistency, since Tokyo she’s just felt more confident, but a lot of it was being 100% healthy for the first time in Tokyo unlike in past champs
– She is not sure if she will do double next year, but thinks her focus will primarily be on the 1500 at Worlds
-The fact that she was able to shake off injury early this year and still run so well, gives her a ton of confidence no matter the circumstances leading into races
Wightman highlights: -He was happy with his performance and time in the conditions and that the Brits did so well
-If anything he thought he might have left it late, but that was his plan going in
-The Worlds timetable is “not the nicest” in his estimation for the 800/1500 double, which was a bit discouraging as far as the prospects of doing it
-Still if he runs well at British Trials in the 800 and doesn’t just squeak into top 3, he will definitely consider the double if he feels he’ll be competitive
-Doesn’t want to damage his 1500 potential with a double
-He expects Jakob and himself to square off multiple times at the 1500/mile before Worlds, says the shift to 800 was always planned and he was pleased to get near his potential there
-Mentally he was done with 1500s after the Commonwealth Games
– Losing to Jakob in Oslo was a positive in letting him know he had to improve a lot to beat him later
– Will need to “step up” his game to beat Jakob next year, who will likely be even better
-Thinks Jakob has “every ability” to attack his own 1500m game plan, so he’ll have to get stronger to be able to hang with him and “get the jump” on him
-He’ll always have the better 800 time than Jakob, but that superior speed/finish only matters if he’s there with him
-This winter will be much of the same from last year, will “sadly” have to race another 3K which is “disgusting” and he hates (this is so relatable for me)
-Strength work last year allowed him to have the season he did, so he’s got to do it
Sage Hurta Highlights:
-Time she was happy with, but placing was just OK
-Got stuck behind Mageean on the line who slipped, putting Sage in the back and trying to pick people off from there
-So far back, she didn’t even see Muir or the move and didn’t know she was out there until a quarter to go
-800 or 1500m question “hasn’t been made any more clearer,” though she wants to keep up the 800m success either way
-Never got a super-serious 1500m race but still ran 4:01, “eventually” she thinks the 1500 will be her event
-4 spots for the USA in the 800 is a factor but Allie Wilson and US depth means making a team won’t get much easier
-OAC success is the super-positive culture
-TBD on winter plans
Ciara Mageean Highlights
– “Little disappointing” to finish with a subpar 5th Ave (she candidly called it s—)
– Legs were feeling all the recent races in Europe
-Still an “amazing season” and this won’t take it away from it
-Doesn’t know what the “secret” is to the big breakthroughs this year
-New coach (Heather Clitheroe) this season due to British Athletics hiring her old coach, able to hit the ground running and Heather has done big things for her mentally
-Finishing second at the Diamond League Final gives her a lot of confidence after a “rocky senior” career and a great junior career
-“Finally hitting potential” with sub-4, Irish Record and being competitive in top races
-Goes into races with some scenarios, likes being at the front in races, thinks she’s really good tactically and can read what’s going on mid-race
-Not afraid to get in the mix, has the confidence to challenge in the final lap
Nikki Hiltz Highlights
– Wanted to build confidence after USAs, just focus on competing and thinks it’s been really successful
– Had a ton of fun traveling the US and visiting running spots and racing
-Focused on Top 3, said Laura was gone and from there she was just racing the people around her
-Really happy to finish second in a topflight field
Eleanor Fulton highlights:
-“Little bit of disbelief,” “pumped with the race” and “might cry later”
-Didn’t want to go with Laura’s move, trying to figure out what was going on and stay calm within the race
-Sponsorship is “out of her control,” loves doing this and wants more, really encouraged by how she’s doing
– Thinking 1500, though she is “5K-curious”
William Paulson highlights:
-Pleased with the race in some ways, but wanted a bit more maybe going too early in the last 200
-Happy with how he and training partner Jake Heyward have run, pleased to run at Worlds and Commonwealths, not exactly the results he wanted (especially at the Worlds)
-Thinks he could’ve gotten quicker this year had things broken differently
-Planning to follow Mark Rowland to Victoria, BC with Jake Heyward, really believe in him as a coach, very pleased with results of the last year
-Thinks the 1500 improvement in Canadian running is notable with 3 guys competing at Worlds, a case of everyone lifting each other up
-Helps to compete against each other (CPT in particular) in big meets