New York, USAAt the 31st Fifth Avenue Mile on Saturday (24), Americans Jenny Simpson and Bernard Lagat triumphed over some of the strongest competition in race history. It was the first double American victory here since Jason Lunn and Kim McGreevy topped the podium in 2000.
Simpson, 25, the 2011 IAAF World Championships 1500m gold medallist, was challenged by some of the world’s best in her final race of the season. In her Fifth Avenue Mile debut, Simpson scored a 4:22.3 convincing win over Sally Kipyego of Kenya and Hannah England of Great Britain, who went 2-3 in one of the closest finishes in race history; both posted times of 4:22.6. England was the World Championships silver medalist behind Simpson in Daegu earlier this month; Kipyego won silver in the 10,000m.
“I was focused on the World Championships this year, and that was a huge confidence booster for this race,” said Simpson, of Monument, Colorado, also the 2011 USA indoor champion and 1500 and 3000m. Today’s win was her second in New York this year; she took the New Balance Games Mile title here in January in a world-leading 4:28.60.
“This was the year with a brilliant women’s field, and what an amazing season-capping race this was today,” said NYRR president and CEO Mary Wittenberg.
The men’s race saw Lagat, of Tucson, Arizona, turn the tables on defending champion Amine Laalou of Morocco. Lagat—second here last year, fourth in 2009, and second in 2008—finally broke the tape, clocking 3:50.5. Laalou was the runner-up in 3:51.7 and American David Torrence was third in 3:52.4.
“I wanted it so bad,” said Lagat, 36, a two-time Olympic medallist and multiple World Championships medallist. “I told myself I would take off at 50 metres [to go]—that’s when I wanted to go all out, and I did it.”
The 2011 Fifth Avenue Mile, a New York Road Runners event, offered a total prize purse of $30,000, with the men’s and women’s winners each receiving $5,000. The event also included heats for runners of all ages and abilities and had more than 4,700 finishers.
Rachel Wallack (New York Road Runners) for the IAAF