Nick Willis celebrates his 1500m gold - Melbourne 2006 (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News New York, USA

Eight Olympians entered in Fifth Avenue Mile

U.S. Olympians Adam Goucher, Gabe Jennings, Anthony Famiglietti, and Carrie Tollefson will be joined by New Zealand Olympians Nick Willis and Kim Smith along with Canadian Olympian Kevin Sullivan in the 2006 Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile, a New York Road Runners event on Saturday 30 September.

Nearly 3000 people are expected to line up for event which has been run every year since its inception in 1981. Sydney Maree of South Africa set the men’s record of 3:47.52 at the Fifth Avenue Mile in that year, while PattiSue Plumer of the United States established the women’s mark of 4:16.68 in 1990.

The Fifth Avenue Mile begins on Fifth Avenue near East 80th Street and finishes one mile south on Fifth Avenue at East 60th Street.


Goucher, who currently resides in Portland, Oregon, ran the 5000m at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. This year, he won the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships 3000m (7:49.78) and the USA Cross Country Championships 4K (10:50). His personal-best time in the mile is 3:54.17.

Jennings, of Mammoth Lakes, California competed in the 1500m at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. He has had an impressive season so far this year with a second-place finish at the USA Track & Field Championships 1500 meters (3:39.42) and a fourth-place showing in the same event at the IAAF World Cup in Athletics (3:55.09).

New York City resident Famiglietti stepped back from his trademark event, the 3000m Steeplechase, which made him a U.S. Olympian in 2004, and explored different distances in 2006. The move resulted in some of the best running of his career, and he established seven personal bests on the roads and tracks. He finished fourth in last year’s Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile, passing Olympic medalist Rui Silva in the final metres. Famiglietti’s personal-best mile time of 3:55.71 was set in New York earlier this year at the Reebok NYC Grand Prix mile.

Sullivan competed in the 2004 Athens Games in the 1500 metres and is back after placing eighth in the event last year (4:01.4). Willis captured 1500m gold at this spring’s Commonwealth Games in Australia, beating out friend and training partner Nate Brannen of Canada, who is also entered in this year’s race. A sub-four-minute miler (3:59.85) in high school, Brannen owns the Canadian record for the indoor mile (3:55.11), which he set in Boston in 2005.

Other men challenging for this year’s Fifth Avenue Mile title include Jason Lunn (Longmont, Colorado), who won the event in 2000 in a time of 4:03.9; Matt Tegenkamp (Madison, Wisconsin) who earlier this year became the first athlete to break the four-minute-mile barrier in the state of Wisconsin, running 3:56.38, and in July became the fourth-fastest U.S. 5000m runner ever (13:04.90) at the DN Galan meeting in Stockholm; Kenya’s Elkanah Angwenyi, the 2006 World Indoor 1500m bronze medallist and top returnee from last year’s Fifth Avenue Mile (third, 3:54.3); and 2004 U.S. 1500m Olympian Grant Robison are also slated to run.


On the women’s side, Tollefson was the fourth-place finisher at last year’s race. The St. Paul, Minnesota, resident was a 2004 Olympian at 1500m in Athens. She recently finished third at the USA 5K Championships in Rhode Island (15:50).

Other top women’s contenders include Smith, New Zealand’s 5000m Olympian who holds New Zealand records in the mile (4:30.61) and four other distances; three-time U.S. 1500m champion Treniere Clement (Knoxville, Tennessee), who is looking to extend her outstanding season; 2006 national champions Sara Hall (Mammoth Lakes, California) and Lauren Fleshman (Mammoth Lakes, California), who will step down from their 5000m specialty; 2005 NCAA champion Megan Metcalfe of Edmonton, Ontario; Russian 2000m record holder Yelena Kanales; and 2006 USA Indoor Championships bronze medallist Jenelle Deatherage (Minneapolis, Minnesota).

Kerrin Perniciaro for the IAAF