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10 Break 4-Minutes in Falmouth Mile

BLANKENSHIP, MACKEY TAKE FALMOUTH MILE TITLES
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom

(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(Used with permission)

FALMOUTH,
MASS. (10-Aug) — The 2013 Falmouth Mile proved exciting once again
here at Falmouth High School on Cape Cod. Americans Ben Blankenship
(3:56.27) and Katie Mackey (4:41.39) earned $2,000 a piece with their
wins under the lights.

BLANKENSHIP LEADS TEN MEN UNDER 4:00

Ben
Blankenship sure is happy he chose to run the Falmouth Mile here on
Saturday night. Coming away with the victory in 3:56.27, the
23-year-old was elated and a bit surprised.

“Biggest celebrity in the world right now,” he said with a joking smile, posing for pictures with fans after the twilight win.

Ten
days ago, Blankenship said he wasn’t even considering racing the mile,
held at Falmouth High School’s James Kalperis Track on the eve of the
New Balance Falmouth Road Race. Asked by his manager, Stephen Haas, if
he wanted to take part in the event’s 19th running, Blankenship
originally said “no.”

“I said no, I really didn’t want to run.
My season kind of went like shit all year,” he told Race Results
Weekly, explaining the situation. “After a few workouts last week I
felt really good about it and I came out and ran well.”

Ran
well indeed. After pacesetters Cas Loxsom and Danny Stockberger
stretched the field out over the first kilometer, Blankenship sat back
behind fellow Americans Andrew Bumbalough, Garrett Heath, and 2012
champion David Torrence. At the bell, the field were just shy of three
minutes, beginning to bunch up for the final push home. That’s when
things got interesting.

First Heath surged, then it was
Torrence making a move on the backstretch. With 200 meters to go,
Blankenship sat on the pair’s outside shoulder; seconds later, the
University of Minnesota graduate took over just as he saw daylight open
up.

“I kinda just kept moving up,” said Blankenship. “I found a really good open slot and just held on for dear life.”

Powering
down the homestretch with the standing crowd cheering, Blankenship only
looked back once to see where Will Leer –who went from fifth with 200
meters to go to second on the homestretch– was as the two approached
the finish.

In the end it was Blankenship, timing 3:56.27 to Leer’s 3:56.45.

“A
win is always a great thing lining up against this caliber of guys, you
never know what’s going to happen,” said Blankenship, with sweat still
coming down from his long hair. “That last lap got a little shaky and
could’ve gone any way. I just walked out of it a little bit.

“I wanted to end my season on a good note and this definitely was,” he said.

Leer was pleased with his placing, though said the late night conditions may have played a factor in the race’s outcome.

“You
know, it was like running through tunnels. You get these stretches of
light down the straightaway and then you hit the dark and everyone’s
like running blind. You can’t really see your spikes and it’s crazy.
But it was a really fun atmosphere and great crowd for being so late
the night before an early morning road race,” he said. “Very fun event.”

Rounding
out the top five was Matt Elliott (3:57.45), Jack Bolas (3:57.49), and
Elliott Heath (3:57.91). Torrence finished sixth in 3:58.14. In total,
each of the ten athletes who finished the race broke four minutes. It
is the second time in three years that the event has seen ten men
finish under the famed barrier in one race; in 2011, ten men went under
four minutes led by Jordan McNamara in an event record of 3:54.89
(including Christian Hesch, who subsequently received a drug ban for
EPO in 2012).

MACKEY CONTINUES TO IMPRESS WITH VICTORY GOING AWAY

With
the sun setting over Falmouth High School, Katie Mackey was able to
claim victory in the women’s elite portion of the Falmouth Mile thanks
to experience gained racing this summer.

After slow opening
laps of approximately 78.6 and 72.0 seconds, the 25-year-old University
of Washington alum trusted her gut to wait one more lap before going to
her kick. As the field of nine took the bell together, Mackey remained
calm and recalled the USA National Championships, where she finished a
disappointing ninth in the 1500m final.

“When I was at USA’s I
started my kick too early, then I tied up and was bouncing all over the
place like a little ping pong ball, and that’s just not smart. You have
to be strong and smart to run a good race,” she said.

Over the
course of the spring and summer, Mackey’s focus on tactics and
perfecting her strategy has paid off; since April she has set personal
bests at 800m, 1500m, and 5000m. She waited until 300 meters remained
to overtake Heidi Gregson in front. Turning to a gear no one else could
match, Mackey came down the homestretch with a comfortable lead, timing
4:41.39 ahead of Heather Kampf’s 4:42.93.

“This has really been
a good learning year for me, and I have just really been focusing on
not wasting energy during the race, being more gradual during the race
and having that strong kick when it counts,” she said with a smile. “I
was really excited I could pull it together tonight.”

Mackey
noted how her recent race at the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games IAAF
Diamond League meet gave her added confidence. In London, she finished
as the top American over 1500m, defeating both Mary Cain and Morgan
Uceny.

“I could not have imagined up that scenario in London
even if they would have asked me to, it was out of my wildest dreams,”
she said, noting the fire filled pyrotechnics and meeting Usain Bolt in
the call area, two things that made the meet even more memorable. “That
experience was one of the coolest that I ever had.”

More than anything, Mackey feels 2013 has helped her gain confidence and develop into a true professional runner.

“Coming
into this part of the season and still feeling strong, and being able
to finish races and being able to handle travel, I can tell this is my
third year as a pro,” she said. “I can handle things that I maybe I
hadn’t been able to handle my first couple years as a rookie. I’m kind
of growing into it. You know, the last couple years I would describe
myself as a rookie but now I don’t feel like a rookie anymore. I feel
like I’m getting used to being a professional runner and that’s
exciting for me.”

Kampf’s runner-up finish was very good
considering she won the GNC Live Well Liberty Mile roughly 24 hours
prior in Pittsburgh. Traveling here to Cape Cod proved challenging for
the 26-year-old, as she got sick on her flight and had to take a four
hour bus ride that on a normal day would’ve taken two hours.

“It
was different than usual but I think it was a good time to be able to
test what you’re made of even in unusual situations, and I’m happy with
how things turned out today,” she said.

Sara Vaughn was third, followed by Heidi Gregson and Jessica Tebo.

In
the Tommy Cochary High School miles, Stella Worters and Garrett O’Toole
came out victorious on the girls and boys sides, respectively. Both won
going away, timing 5:14.01 and 4:25.46.

NOTE: The Falmouth
High School track does not have a curb, and only very small cones were
used on the turns. As such, the times are not valid for world list
purposes –Ed.

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