Olympic years are great for the obvious reason that we get to watch the Olympics and see all the top athletes show up in peak shape. That’s exciting and makes the Olympic cycle worth it on its own, The Olympics are the gift that keeps on giving. Part of the benefit of making sure everyone is in racing shape at the same time is the rush of quality competitions in the weeks following the Games.
The Olympics are giving us another gift on Saturday with the fields of the 5th Avenue Mile that were announced Monday morning.
We’ll preview the event in full later in the week, but what I find particularly fun about both of these fields is that they bring in athletes from many different events into one race.
The men’s field is obviously good with two medalists from Rio—Centro in the 1500m and Murphy in the 800m. Those are joined by steeplechasers like Donn Cabral and 5000/10000m runners like Eric Jenkins.
I’m more excited by the women’s field though. Jenny Simpson and Laura Muir don’t need me to write words about them to convince you they’re compelling participants. It also has Amanda Eccleston, who missed out on a trip to Rio on a diving finish. But, it’s most fun where it goes off the board a bit. Heather Kampf seemingly has won every U.S. road mile championship of all time, but has never looked comfortable on the track. Now the track runners are coming to her turf.
You also get Emma Coburn, who is now the American Record holder in the steeplechase and the only American woman to ever medal in the event. Kate Grace made the Olympic finals of the 800m, and impressed at the U.S. Trials with her kick.
Most exciting, though, is Shelby Houlihan. At Arizona State, she was an NCAA Champion in the 1500 and holds the ASU records in the 800, 1500, mile, and 3000m. You’ll notice that none of those distances are the one she competed in at the Olympics—the 5000m. Coming off an Olympic appearance in the 5000m, she’ll be going back down to a distance that was her specialty as recently as, well, before she made the U.S. team in the 5000. How her success at longer distances will translate back to the mile will be interesting to see.
The New Balance 5th Avenue Mile will take place on Saturday, September 3rd and will be broadcast for free on USATF.TV. The women’s race will start at 1:15pm (EST) and will be followed by the men at 1:30pm (EST).