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World Leading Times at Adrian Martinez Meet

WORLD LEADING TIME AND THRILLING FINISHES HIGHLIGHT ADRIAN MARTINEZ CLASSIC
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom

(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(Used with permission)

CONCORD,
Mass. (05-Jun) — With heavy rains coming to a halt mere minutes before
the elites took to the track, the Adrian Martinez Classic rose to new
heights here 15 miles northwest of Boston, playing host to a pair of
especially exciting miles. With support from shoe company Hoka One One
and athletics initiative Bring Back The Mile, the event featured
professional fields for the first time, giving way to a world leading
mark and exhilarating finishes.

Kenya’s Violah Lagat set a
world leader of 4:29.43 in the women’s mile, while Team USA Minnesota’s
Eric Finan was the surprise men’s mile winner, setting a six-second
personal best and breaking four minutes for the first time. Also in the
men’s contest, Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano finished fourth in
3:59.31, while high school senior Garrett O’Toole ran a New England
record of 4:01.89.

For Lagat, 25, it took a finely-timed
finishing kick to track down Morgan Uceny and claim top honors. After
going out in roughly 67 seconds for the opening lap, it was Uceny, the
top-ranked 1500m runner in the world for 2011, and Oiselle’s Amanda
Winslow trailing the pace setter out front. Passing 800m in 2:14, a
lead group of Uceny, Winslow, Amanda Eccleston, Lagat, Lauren Johnson,
and collegian Katrina Coogan had emerged, strung out little by little.

With
200 meters remaining, Uceny held on tight for first, hoping to pull
away around the final bend. But, Lagat would not be shaken.

Coming
down the homestretch, it was Lagat overtaking Uceny in the final 20
meters, going on to win in a world leading 4:29.43. With her time,
Lagat became the first woman to dip under 4:30 this season.

“I
just trusted my fitness and I know I was ready to run fast,” said
Lagat, sister of four-time Olympian Bernard Lagat. “The past few weeks
and past few races I’ve been having a good kick at the end and so I
trusted myself that I was going to do well and I just went for it.”

Uceny’s runner-up mark of 4:29.89 was encouraging, said the 29-year-old, though she wanted badly to hold on for first.

“The
race kind of went how I expected, really even [splits],” she said. “I
made a decent move with 200m to go to get to the lead then just kind of
ran out of gas. The straightaways are so long and the last 50 I was
just really hurting, trying to keep my legs moving. Violah had a great
race and props to her for having a good kick.”

The most
exciting race of the day turned out to be the men’s mile, headlined by
Olympic silver medalist Manzano. Debuting the first ever pair of Hoka
One One racing spikes, Manzano went right toward the front, taking
prime position behind the rabbit. There he would stay through 400
meters in about 61 seconds and 800m in roughly two minutes. Trailing
Manzano was a large group, all with eyes on the clock and hopes of
breaking four minutes.

Among them were Finan and New Zealand’s
Hamish Carson and Julian Oakley. Neither Finan nor Oakley had broken
four minutes for the mile before.

With determination on their
side, all three hung tight until 200 meters remained. By that time,
Manzano was starting to falter, and the win was up for grabs.

“I
saw the clock with three minutes on it and I knew I had at least a 59
in me,” said Finan. “Out of my peripheral vision I could see that I had
passed Leo, but then Hamish pulled up. All I could think was I’m
beating Leo.”

Hitting the tape, Finan, Carson, and Oakley were neck and neck. No one was quite sure who had won the contest.

“Did
I win? Did I do it?” Finan could be heard asking, awaiting any sign of
confirmation. Within a few moments, Finan got the answer he wanted to
hear. He had won with a time of 3:58.73

“I’m so excited. It’s
something I’ve been dreaming about since high school. For it to finally
come to fruition, it is so exciting. The last full mile I ran was in
2010 and so four years later, I finally got my chance and tonight was a
perfect night for it,” said Finan, who attended the University of
Cincinnati. “Everything came together, I’m just so excited.”

Finan
told Race Results Weekly that his recent training under coach Dennis
Barker with Team USA Minnesota gave him the confidence that he could
break four minutes. That he did, improving more than six seconds from
his previous personal best mile — a 4:04.94 showing indoors.

Following
Carson in second (3:58.74) and Oakley in third (3:58.89), Manzano
crossed the line in 3:59.31. The 29-year-old said the race was good
until the final lap.

“After that I kind of lost it a little
bit. But hey, it was a great race,” he said. When asked if his legs
felt heavy because of last weekend’s Prefontaine Classic –where he ran
3:52.41– Manzano said no. “Every race has to have a purpose and I
think today definitely served what I needed out of it.”

Perhaps
the biggest finish of all came from Middlesex School’s Garrett O’Toole,
a high school senior. On the 50th anniversary of Jim Ryun becoming the
first high schooler to break four minutes for the mile, O’Toole took a
stab at becoming the sixth prep to join that exclusive club. He’d come
up just 1.89 seconds shy, finishing in 4:01.89. The time, fastest ever
by a prep in New England, ranks 14th all-time for high schoolers and
first in the nation this year, according to Dyestat.com’s Doug Binder.

“I’m
really excited. You know, it was just such a great opportunity to come
here,” said O’Toole, who will take another shot at the mark at the
adidas Grand Prix’s High School Dream Mile. O’Toole will run for
Princeton University next year. “I was able to come out here, work
hard, and get a good time. It was really exciting for me.”

Also part of the Adrian Martinez Classic were elite 800m and 5000m contests.

Casimir
Loxsom of the Brooks Beasts won the men’s 800m in 1:46.31, a season
best. Executing his pre-race strategy to perfection, Loxsom set himself
right up behind the rabbit early and never looked back. He’d finish
ahead of Ryan Martin (1:46.58) and Brian Gagnon (1:46.62).

Dana
Mecke, formerly of the University of Texas at San Antonio and now
competing unattached, nipped New Jersey/New York Track Club’s Stephanie
Charnigo and Canadian Olympian Nicole Sifuentes at the line for the
women’s 800m crown. Her time was 2:02.85.

Amy Hastings won the
women’s 5000m with ease, going on to time 15:25.94. Hastings plans to
race the NYRR Oakley Mini 10-K a week from Saturday on June 14, in New
York City.

Behind her were Alexi Pappas (15:43.72), Emily Sisson (15:45.64) and Angela Bizzarri (15:54.55).

Travis
Mahoney of the New Jersey/New York Track Club passed former Iona Gael
Mitch Goose and charged home with a fast final 400 meters, crossing the
line in 13:59.13 to Goose’s 14:04.63.

The Adrian Martinez
Classic was held in honor of Adrian Martinez, a former miler at
Concord-Carlisle High School who passed away from sudden cardiac arrest
after graduating from Williams College.

PHOTO: Garrett
O’Toole of the Middlesex School poses with Olympic silver medalist Leo
Manzano after running a New England high school record of 4:01.89 for
the mile at the Adrian Martinez Classic in Concord, Mass.

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