(08-Sep) -- After a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile will return to New York City for its 40th edition on Sunday. The straight-line and slightly downhill race, which stretches 20 blocks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Grand Army Plaza, will once again feature a top international field, including several international medalists. The event was founded by New York Road Runners in 1981.
PHOTO: Matthew Centrowitz leading the field at the 2016 New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
On the men's side, Olympic medalists Matthew Centrowitz and Paul Chelimo lead the field. Centrowitz, the 2016 Olympic 1500m champion, won on Fifth Avenue in 2012 clocking 3:52.4. He nearly won again in 2016 but was pipped at the line by his then Nike Oregon Project teammate Eric Jenkins and finished second. Centrowitz, who did not make it out of the semi-finals of the 1500m last month at the Tokyo Olympics, will be running running on Fifth Avenue for the sixth time.
"I'm excited to return to New York for my sixth race down Fifth Avenue, a race I first won nine years ago," Centrowitz said through a statement. "Heading back East and ending my season there is like a great end-of-summer tradition, and I'm looking to show the rest of the guys I've still got a step or two left in 2021."
Chelimo, who won silver in the 5000m in Rio in 2016 and bronze in the same discipline in Tokyo last month, has never run on Fifth Avenue before. However, he has finished on the podium before in two road races in New York: the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5-K in 2018 (first place, 2018) and United Airlines NYC Half (third, 2019).
"I've already run a 5-K and half marathon in New York, so now I just need to check the mile and the marathon off my list," Chelimo said through a media release. "Running a straight line down Fifth Avenue is very different than running laps on a track, and I've got more road racing experience than the other guys in this field. I'm confident in my finish, so if I can keep it close through halfway, I think I can beat the milers at their own game. Go hard or suffer for the rest of your life."
Clayton Murphy, the 2016 Olympic 800m bronze medalist, is also in the field, as are 2017 European Athletics Indoor Championships 3000m bronze medalist Adel Mechaal of Spain, and 2018 European Athletics Championships 1500m bronze medalist Jake Wightman of Great Britain. Wightman won the race in 2018.
Five-time winner Nick Willis of New Zealand, the reigning champion, is not competing. He ended his season after finishing ninth in his semi-final at the Tokyo Olympics last month.
Britain's Jemma Reekie leads the women's field. Reekie, who finished fourth in the Tokyo Olympics in the 800m, has both the fastest mile (4:17.88i) and 1500m (4:00.52i) personal bests in the field. This will be her first run on Fifth Avenue.
Shannon Osika, fourth at the 2021 USA Olympic Team Trials 1500m; Britain's Amy-Eloise Markovc, second in the 2021 British Olympic Trials 5000m; and Nikki Hiltz, 12th in the 2019 World Athletics Championships 1500m, are the other leading contenders.
Reigning champion and eight-time winner Jenny Simpson will not be competing. Instead, the 35 year-old, four-time global medalist, will be running in the USATF 10-Mile Championships at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Miler the same day in Washington, D.C.
In all, 20 different sections of the race will be contested for runners of all abilities. In one of those heats, runners from the New York City Police and Fire Departments will compete to commemorate the 20th anniversary of their heroic responses the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"The New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile is an iconic race which invites people of all ages and abilities to run down one of the most famous streets in New York City," observed Ted Metellus, who will direct Sunday's event for race founders New York Road Runners. "This year will be incredibly exciting with a number of Olympians joining us after their top performances in Tokyo, and we are looking forward to showcasing the city's resiliency and honoring the work of those participating in the FDNY/NYPD heat to mark 20 years since 9/11."
The full elite fields are below with mile and 1500m personal bests.
Hillary Bor, USA, 4:03.43i / 3:44.30
Geordie Beamish, NZL, 3:54.86 / 3:37.57
Matthew Centrowitz, USA, 3:49.26 / 3:30.40
Paul Chelimo, USA, 3:55.28 / 3:34.57
Vincent Ciattei, USA, 3:55.96 / 3:34.57
Mason Ferlic, USA, 3:58.05 / 3:35.45
Johnny Gregorek, USA, 3:49.98i / 3:34.49
Charlie Grice, GBR, 3:52.64 / 3:30.62
Jake Heyward, GBR, 3:52.15 / 3:32.82
Ollie Hoare, AUS, 3.51.63 / 3:32.35i NR
Eric Holt, USA, 3:56.68 / 3:36.52
Tripp Hurt, USA, 3:56.02 / 3:36.83
Joe Klecker, USA, 4:01.00Ai / 3:37.00
Adel Mechaal, ESP, 3:53r / 3:30.77
Clayton Murphy, USA, 3:51.99 / 3:36.23
Charles Philibert-Thiboutot, CAN, 3:52.97 / 3:34.23
Sam Prakel, USA, 3:50.94i / 3:35.66i
Jake Wightman, GBR, 3:54.20 / 3:33.48
Dani Aragon, USA, 4:31.66i / 4:05.09
Alli Cash, USA, 4:36.32 / 4:05.90
Eleanor Fulton, USA, 4:29.46 / 4:05.33
Nikki Hiltz, USA, 4:24.45i / 4:01.52
Marisa Howard, USA, 4:45.00i / 4:08.85
Sage Hurta, USA, 4:26.76 / 4:07.50
Dani Jones, USA, 4:23.33 / 4:04.26
Amy-Eloise Markovc, GBR, 4:27.13 / 4:09.31
Alicia Monson, USA, 4:38.14i / 4:07.09
Shannon Osika, USA, 4:25.47 / 4:00.73
Taryn Rawlings, USA, 4:28.93 / 4:05.02
Jemma Reekie, GBR, 4:17.88i NR / 4:00.52i
Helen Schlachtenhaufen, USA, 4:27.09 / 4:01.09
Julie Anne Staehli, CAN, 4:32.61i / 4:04.82
Kate Van Buskirk, CAN, 4:26.92i NR / 4:05.38