Pro Fields Set as Runners Vie for USATF 1 Mile Road Championships
St. Paul, Minn. - May 10, 2016 - The Medtronic TC 1 Mile, which already enjoyed a rich Minnesota flavor with a pair of locally grown defending champions, gained more Minnesota seasoning with the late addition of two strong local challengers. Joining the pro fields are former University of Minnesota stars Ben Blankenship and Gabriele Grunewald.
Blankenship, a Stillwater native with a mile personal best of 3:52.7, will seek his first USATF 1 Mile Road Championship crown in Thursday eveningís race in downtown Minneapolis. The former Big Ten champion returns to his home state after a runner-up finish in the Kawasaki Seiko Golden Grand Prix 3000-meter in Tokyo on Sunday.
Grunewald, a Perham native who won the USATF Indoor 3000-meter title in 2014, returns to the Medtronic TC 1 Mile after finishing third in the event in 2011. Grunewald, a cancer survivor, will open her 2016 season at the race. She is a two-time winner of Duluthís Minnesota Mile, where she is the course record-holder for women.
The pair join defending Medtronic TC 1 Mile menís champion Garrett Heath, a Winona native, and defending and two-time womenís champ Heather Kampf, a Rosemount native who starred at the University of Minnesota and now trains with Twin Cities In Motion-supported Team USA Minnesota as race favorites.
Menís and womenís professional fields are now set for the event which moves to a new Minneapolis riverfront course this year. In all, 13 men and 13 women will race in the USATF 1 Mile Road Championship waves which culminate an evening of racing where more than 2,200 runners will compete over one of the sportís signature distances.
Other contenders joining Heath and Blankenship in the menís race include 2012 Medtronic TC 1 Mile champ Craig Miller (Denver, Colo.), Chad Noelle (New York, N.Y.) the winner of the Grand Blue Mile in Des Moines last month, Riley Masters (Seattle, Wash.), a third-place finisher at the Grand Blue Mile, and Travis Burkstrand (Seattle, Wash.) a former University of Minnesota star.
Looking to challenge Kampf and Grunewald in the womenís field are Rebecca Addison (Spring Lake, Mich.), runner-up at last yearís Medtronic TC 1 Mile, her training partner Brook Handler (Adrian, Mich), winner of last monthís BAA Mile held in conjunction with the Boston Marathon, and Kristen Findley (Portland, Ore) the fourth-place finisher at last yearís race.
A menís and womenís combined prize purse of $25,000 awaits the championship fields. Race winners who better the existing event records will earn a $10,000 bonus in addition to the winnerís prize of $5,000. Sara Hall set the womenís event record of 4:30.8 in 2011; Nick Willis set the menís standard in 2013 at 3:56.1.
This year marks the sixth time the Medtronic TC 1 Mile has hosted the USATF 1 Mile Road Championships. The event is also a stop on the Bring Back the Mile Grand Prix Tour which offers a $10,000 tour prize purse. Kampf is a three-time Bring Back the Mile Grand Prix Tour winner.
The Medtronic TC 1 Mile, organized by Twin Cities In Motion, features an evening of races for runners of all ages and abilities. Action kicks off at 6:30 p.m. CDT and culminates with the USATF Championship races at 8:01 p.m. (women) and 8:13 p.m. (men). The USATF Championship races will be shown live on USATF.tv (paid subscription required.)
About Twin Cities In Motion (TCM): Twin Cities In Motion organizes the regionís premier running events, including the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, a Top 10 U.S. Marathon. With a mission of promoting healthy lifestyles through running events and community outreach, TCM contributes a portion of every race dollar to local youth and professional athletes and helps raise more than $950,000 annually with its charity partners. For more information, visit us at TCMEvents.org, or find us on Facebook and on Twitter @tcmarathon.