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Posted: April 19, 2009  :

(RRW) Athletics: Brown And Willard Win Inaugural B.A.A. Mile

From David Monti

© 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

BOSTON (19-Apr) -- Darren Brown and Anna Willard won the elite divisions of the inaugural B.A.A. Mile here today, thrilling a sizable crowd which filled the Boston Marathon finish line bleachers on Boyleston Street. The mile, which also had high school divisions, was part of a new Sunday morning event program created by the Marathon's organizer, the Boston Athletic Association, and also included a 5 kilometer run.

Brown did the best job of judging his effort for the unusual three-lap race which was contested in cool but very windy conditions. After the second lap, about 1100m into the race, 5000m Olympian Ian Dobson surged to the lead. Brown was off of Dobson's shoulder, and Ireland's Alistair Cragg and Providence's Patrick Tarpy were still in contention at that point for the win.

"In front of the crowd you have to make a move," said the bearded Dobson.

Brown, who like his late father Barry Brown is sub-four minute miler, waited until about 250 meters to go before taking the lead on the third of the four turns on the course. He wasn't sure if his lead would stick.

"I'm freaking out to where everybody is," he explained.

Making the final left-hand turn off of Exeter Street back on Boyleston with about 100 meters to go, Brown had a three-step lead then broke the finish tape about two strides ahead of the sprinting Dobson in 4:11.6 to Dobson's 4:12.1. Cragg was able to hold off a surging Rob Myers to take third, six-tenths of a second behind Dobson.

"That was awesome," said a smiling Brown, who finished seventh in the 1500m at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships last year for the University of Texas at Austin. "It was a lot of fun. It's different from the track."

Willard's victory was less of a surprise. Drafting U.S. 5000m and 10,000m national record holder Shalane Flanagan for the first two laps, the 2009 USA indoor 1500m champion was well-positioned to surge past her Nike teammate in the final quarter to get the win. Knowing Flanagan's capabilities, Willard said she wasn't sure she had the race won until she hit the finish tape.

"I didn't really (know) until the end," she said. "I'm not a big fan of looking back."

Willard clocked 4:38.6 to Flanagan's 4:40.2, reasonable times given the strong winds and the course's tight turns. Amy Mortimer, who was in third place on the second lap, held her position to the finish and was timed in 4:42-flat.

Both Brown and Willard earned $3000 in prize money.

The high school heats, which were sponsored by adidas and featured athletes from the seven towns through which the Boston Marathon passes, played out quite differently. In the girls race, Newton teammates Margo Gillis and Carolyn Ranti finished 1-2, with Gillis leading from gun to tape and winning by more than three seconds in 5:10.6.

"Everybody was cheering," said Gillis as she caught her breath after the race. "It was so cool."

The boy's race was much closer and featured several lead changes. Boston's Omar Abdi and Ahmed Abdi took the field through the first quarter in 68 seconds trailed by Brookline's Ryan Hardiman. But Newton's Daniel Hamilton, who later said he didn't think he would even finish in the top-5, was leading Abdi and Ali after the second lap with Hardiman in fourth. Hardiman reserved his best stuff for the last 200 meters, and rounded the final turn with the race well in hand. He won in 4:37.3, with Hamilton 7/10ths behind. Abdi got third.

"It was very cool," said Hardiman who was sporting a spiked-up Mohawk hairstyle. "The fans were amazing."

When asked whether he had gotten the Mohawk just for today's race he said he had not. "I did it three weeks ago," he explained. He smiled and added: "I think it's coming off today."

Triathlete Jarrod Shoemaker (14:29) of Maynard, Mass., and local road racer Maria Varela (17:37) of Brighton, Mass., won the 5 km race which kicked off the morning's racing program with 3524 finishers. Several former Boston Marathon champions also took part, led by two-time (1979 and 1983) champion Joan Samuelson, 51, who finished fourth overall in the women's race in 17:43. Ingrid Kristiansen, 53 (1986 and 1989 champion) clocked 22:32; Greg Meyer, 53 (1983) ran 20:59; Neil Cusack, 57 (1974) ran 27:00 and Lorraine Moller, 53 (1984) ran 26:59.

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