BY PHIL GROVE
Miller, Kampf Victorious in GNC Live Well Liberty Mile
It wasn't Hollywood's Batwing but rather the winged feet of some of America's fastest milers that were zipping through the streets of Pittsburgh on Friday.
These middle distance standouts saved their best for last in each of the elite races of the inaugural GNC Live Well Liberty Mile as Heather Kampf and former Manheim Township standout Craig Miller closed the best to reach the finish first.
With darkness setting in, Miller led a trio under 4 minutes with a winning effort of 3 minutes, 58.4 seconds, while Kampf captured a women's race that had the top three separated by just eight-tenths of a second.
"I kind of like having a very long finishing straight, I think that kind of helps (me)," Miller said, alluding to one of numerous difference between a road mile course and running the distance on a track. "A lot of people go too fast and they kind of die at the end. If you can pace yourself over the last 300 meters, you can hopefully finish well. The finish line was so far out, it's not like on the track (where) you come around the last turn (and) it's only 100 meters to go."
The men's race, which featured three finalists from the Olympic Trials 1,500 meters, followed an honest pace from the start as Tony Filipek was the early leader. Towing the other dozen in the men's race through a 58-second first quarter and a 1:59 half mile, Filipek had a slight lead as the
course made its only turn - a slight right-hander - for the drive to the finish.
Former Ohio State teammates Jeff See and Cory Leslie moved from the front of the chase pack to the lead as the field fanned out for a clear shot at the tape. Leslie, a steeplechase finalist in Eugene, was the first to move in the final 440 yards, with Trials 1,500 finalist Jordan McNamara staying close and then beginning a drive that did not hold up in the final strides.
"Today was a personal best on the roads by 5 seconds," said McNamara, who was the runner-up in 3:59.1. "Coming in I checked out the course and saw that it had the potential to go quick, but you never know until you get out there. I think what ended up getting me today was I kicked too early. I saw the finish, but my eyes were bigger than my stomach.
"With 50 meters to go I realized I totally mistimed it. That's just part of the game. I knew Craig was really experienced on the roads, he is national champion. You can't make any mistakes with him. It's a great race, nice to see a couple guys go under 4 minutes, give the crowd a good race. I loved it."
See, who was ninth in Eugene to Miller's 8th and McNamara's 7th, was the last under the historic barrier at 3:59.8.
"It was kind of cool," he said of the darkening skies present for the 8:20 p.m. start. "It made you feel like you were going a little faster since there was not as much light around."
Chemtai Rionotukei of Kenya needed only a few strides to gain the lead in the women's elite race. Her 67-second opening 440 yards was good for a gap of 10 to 20 yards on the other nine competitors.
"She went out a little bit hard, and to be honest, she went out in probably what we should have been going out in," said Sarah Bowman, who finished sixth in the Olympic Trials 1,500. "Nobody went with her, and I really dont know why. We just let her go and just started racing our own race."
Rionotukei still had a comfortable lead through a 2:19 midpoint and was holding on to the lead after a 3:30 first three-quarters. Closing fast, however, were Kampf, Bowman and Gabriele Anderson, who was fourth in the Eugene metric mile.
The lead finally changed hands with slightly more than 220 yards to go as Rionotukei glanced over her left shoulder for her challengers as they moved up in a hurry on her right.
"A lot of times no communication goes on between racers, but I think we all had this general feeling that OK, let's just stay strong and continue to build as we follow through this race and we'll get her," said Kampf, who like Miller was the victor in the 2012 USA 1 Mile Road Championship in Minneapolis. "It was nice to have her out there pulling the race along. I wouldn't say it was an exceptionally fast first 3 quarters of the race even but nice last quarter."
Kampf, who was seventh in the Olympic Trials 800, had the best finishing speed, crossing the line in 4:35.8. Anderson was next at 4:36.3, with Bowman right behind at 4:36.6.
"This was a fun race to be in for me especially as an 800-meter runner," the winner said. "I really love the road miles because I feel strong enough to stay in the race for as long as possible and then just try to kick it down at the end with all I've got with a quarter to go. It was really fun, the atmosphere was awesome and it was fun to be under the lights of the city."
The elite runners weren't the only ones hoofing it down Liberty Avenue as almost 900 competed in a variety of mile groupings. Former North Allegheny standout and 2010 state cross country champion Ryan Gil was second in the competitive mile preceding the elite runners, covering the distance in 4:18.9 to Erik Anderson's 4:16.3.
Record-setter Sonja Friend-Uhl was the overall champion in the masters race with a 4:47.0 clocking.
"This is a fair, honest, good course," she said. "I am past the end of my season, so I can gut out a mid 4:40, but it will hurt. I felt really good tonight ... so I was pleasantly surprised."
August 15, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kelsey Jackson, Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc., 417-425-9400
Inaugural GNC Live Well Liberty Mile Draws Top Field in Pittsburgh
2012 USA 1 Mile road champions Miller, Kampf headline; $25,000 prize purse with $4000 for each Open race champion
PITTSBURGH, PA – Runners in inaugural races have no race records to break or past champions to beat. At the GNC Live Well Liberty Mile on Friday, August 17, top American milers, known for chasing big dreams one mile at a time, are guaranteed to make history in Pittsburgh in the country’s newest Mile race.
The 2012 USA 1 Mile road champions Heather Kampf and Craig Miller headline the deep elite field. Miller, who finished 9th in the 1500 meters at the recent Olympic Trials, will compete against other sub-4:00 American milers, including, AJ Acosta, Cory Leslie, Jeff See, Jordan McNamara, Christian Hesch and Liam Boylan-Pett.
For the women, Kampf will face tough competition from Gabriele Anderson, who finished 4th in the 1500 meters at the Olympic Trials, and Sarah Bowman, who finished 6th in the 1500 meters at the Olympic Trials.
“For years, GNC has been the leader in providing the fuel for runners to achieve their goals, and we believe it’s time that we bring the quickly emerging world of one-mile road races to Pittsburgh, our home town,” said Jeff Hennion, EVP - Chief Marketing Officer & eCommerce at GNC. “To make that happen, we are proud to sponsor the inaugural GNC Live Well Liberty Mile and launch it in a way that we expect will immediately make it one of the nation’s largest.”
The inaugural GNC Live Well Liberty Mile will take place on Friday, August 17 on Pittsburgh’s Liberty Avenue. The point-to-point course has a gradual rise for the first half and then rounds a slight curve toward a downhill finish. The race offers a guaranteed prize purse of $25,000 – one of the largest for the distance, including $4000 for the first place finishers in the men’s and women’s elite heats.
“We are thrilled to host yet another successful race, which will showcase our 'most livable' city to even more visitors and prove that we are one of the world's best running towns," said Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. “I want to thank the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc. for their hard work and dedication. They continue to raise the bar on just how big of a race town our city can become."
The Liberty Mile is a partner of the Bring Back the Mile campaign, www.bringbackthemile.com, a national movement to return the Mile to prominence in the American sports and cultural landscape by elevating and celebrating the iconic distance.
Visit www.LibertyMile.org for more information.
About Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc.
Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc. is a non-profit organization that promotes the love of long-distance running and enhances community involvement in fitness activities through high quality events open to a wide variety of ages and ability levels.
NOTE: An updated list of the elite field for the GNC Live Well Liberty Mile is below.
GNC LIVE WELL LIBERTY MILE ATHLETE LIST
(as of August 16, 2012)
NAME COUNTRY PERSONAL BEST
Gabriele Anderson USA 4:27.94
Sarah Bowman USA 4:29.72i
Heather Kampf USA 4:30.95
Kellyn Johnson USA 4:34.41
Karly Hamric USA 4:37.35
Chemtai Rionotukei KEN 4:39*
Jamie Cheever USA 4:39.54
Stephanie Charnigo USA 4:41*
Risper Gesabwa KEN 4:44.79**
Karaleigh Millhouse USA 4.46
Stephanie Bonk USA 4:54.0
NAME COUNTRY PERSONAL BEST
AJ Acosta USA 3:53.7
Jordan McNamara USA 3:54.89
Jeff See USA 3:55.24
Cory Leslie USA 3:56.85
Liam Boylan-Pett USA 3:58.19
Christian Hesch USA 3:58.68
Craig Miller USA 3:58.98
Abiyot Endale ETH 3:59.4
Daniel Clark USA 4:00.14
Donald Cowart USA 4:00.62
Tony Filipek USA 4:02.8
Brian Harvey USA 4:07.97
Clay Burnett USA 4:09.72
*denotes converted 1500m time.
**denotes converted 5000m time.