I guess you’d have to be a runner to appreciate the Millrose Games, which celebrated its 100th edition over the weekend at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
The Millrose Games cannot be said to be the most prestigious indoor track and field competition in the world; in fact, it is THE most prestigious invitational indoor track and field competition in the world. As a running back in high school and college, you dream of running the boards at the Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden the same way a football player dreams of playing in the Super Bowl.
Track and field has fallen on hard times in the United States lately and that’s why the 100th Millrose race is so significant. Only the 2007 Millrose Games, as Dick Patrick wrote in USA Today on Thursday (1-2-07), “have survived the demise of a once-vibrant indoor circuit monopolized by the US.”
Patrick is right.
Not only did Camelot lose its shine with the tragic loss of President John F. Kennedy, the Millrose Games have lost some of their flourishing, but may yet flourish thanks to the famous Wanamaker Mile competition and enough world-class athletes to deserve 2 hours. . of live coverage on ESPN2 on Friday and 1 hour on ABC on Saturday.
I was glued to television for both shows.
Many runners who would watch the Millrose Games on the subway wouldn’t if it weren’t for sportswriters like Dick Patrick. USA Today’s pre-meeting coverage of him was interesting, informative, and plentiful.
The Millrose Games were started in 1908 by John Wanamaker of the Wanamaker department store chain and first rose to prominence in the 1920s. Herb Schmertz, who worked for the Wanamaker department store in New York, became the director of the Millrose meeting in 1934 and ran the Millrose games for 40 years, until 1974, when his son Howard, a New York City attorney, took over in 1975 and continued until 2003.
The Schmertz family ran the Millrose Games for 69 years, and Howard Schmertz continued as meeting director emeritus for the 100th Millrose Games. The new meeting director is Mark Wetmore of Global Athletics Management.
John Wanamaker of Wanamaker Department Store was an American retail giant. He opened Philadelphia’s first department store in 1861 and would eventually have 15 more stores in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware.
Wanamaker is credited with being the father of modern advertising in America. He was the first to copyright his ads, the first to guarantee his products and offer exchanges and refunds, he created the price tag as we know it today, and he was the first to place a restaurant inside his department store. .
Wanamaker was ahead of its time as the first department store with electric lighting (1878), the first store with a telephone (1879), the first store to install pneumatic tubes to transport cash and documents (1880), and the first store with an elevator ( 1884).
It’s no wonder John Wanamaker sponsored a major sporting event and spawned the Millrose Games. As mainstream sponsorship, fixtures and attendance began to fade in the 1990s, Europe became a much bigger indoor player; however, the Millrose Games continued thanks to the Schmertz family.
The Millrose Games have been through three Madison Square Gardens, two world wars and a Great Depression and still survived to celebrate their 100th anniversary.
At this year’s centennial meet, 40-year-old Gail Devers, already a competition and American record holder in the hurdles, won the event in 7.86 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year and almost a full second. better than the mentioned world record. for master athletes (40+) at 8.71.
Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva set a record at the Millrose Games while competing for the first time on American soil. Isinbayeva is a 17-time world record holder; she continually breaks her own world record and attempted her last attempt at Millrose, but failed.
At the famed Wanamaker Mile on Saturday, four-time winner Bernard Lagat was up against Craig “Buster” Mottram, the 6-foot-3 Commonwealth Games champion, and Alan Webb, the new “raised in house” from the United States. Lagat, a runner from Kenya, has apparently become a US citizen.
Lagat’s legacy is already assured as he is a two-time 1,500m Olympic medalist. Webb became the first American high school student to break 4 minutes per mile indoors (3:59.86), and at the outdoor Prefontaine Classic in Eugene (OR) he would run 3:53.43 to break the 36-year-old national high school by Jim Ryan. Registration. In 2004, Webb won the 1500-meter Olympic Trials and ran an outdoor mile in 3:48.92 last year.
The Wanamaker Mile is different and difficult because Madison Square Garden has a 160-yard banked board track compared to the normal 200-meter indoor tracks. Because it is shorter, the turns are more difficult and are 11 turns instead of 8 turns.
In this year’s race, Alan Webb led behind Pacemaker Moise Joseph’s 1:54.99 half-mile, and then Bernard Lagat, the defending champion, took over until Australian Buster Mottram ran in front with 4 laps to go. final.
Mottram knew that Lagat considered it vital to lead with two laps to go in order to win, so Mottram pushed on and still led until the final lap. Lagat then switched gears and won with a best finishing speed of 3:54.26. Mottram was second in an Australian record of 3:54.81, with Webb a disappointing fourth.
I really felt sorry for Alan Webb. I was so excited to do better against Lagat. When he interviewed Lagat before the race, the announcer reminded Webb that Lagat had beaten him several times and asked how Webb would beat him this time. My heart sank.
I’ve run too many races and I understand how the announcer could have sealed Webb’s fate right then and there. I don’t think Webb was prepared to answer that question right before the race, and he couldn’t fit in mentally before the race.
Webb’s response to the announcer was that he “needed to be tougher” when a better response would have been “he needed to be smarter”, especially if Webb had run a more tactical race and knew his leg speed was as good as Webb’s. Lagat on the run. finish.
If not, there’s no way he could have won without pushing harder earlier in hopes of wearing Lagat down. Lagat is a Kenyan, not a turtle. He can fly as well as run. Webb’s best indoor mile before was a 3:55.18 win a week ago at Boston.
Remember, Lagat won in 3:54.81, just 37 one-hundredth of a second faster. My guess is that Webb is physically ready, but he has some work to do emotionally and mentally to beat Lagat, whose hardened, winning experience and confidence showed better.
They run the Wanamaker Mile for the same reason they play the Super Bowl. You can talk all you want about who will win or why, but the winning team will have to prove any claims on game day.
Dick Patrick ended his pre-meeting story with this remarkable sidebar:
Howard Schmertz was 7 years old when he saw his first Millrose Games in 1933, accompanying his father, he met director Herb Schmertz.
Howard Schmertz, who succeeded his father as director in 1975, has since missed just two Millrose bouts while fighting in World War II. (Here are Howard’s best Millrose moments) Schmertz:
10) Bernard Lagat wins the 2005 Wanamaker Mile with a record time of 3:52.87 at Madison Square Garden.
9) Suleiman Nyambui wins the 5,000 (meter) race in 1981 after a duel with Alberto Salazar, after winning the New York marathon. Nyambui sets a world record 13:20.4.
8) Irishman Eamonn Coghlan wins a record seventh Wanamaker Mile in 1987, beating Marcus O’Sullivan (another great Irish runner).
7) In the 1984 long jump, second place Carl Lewis takes first place and sets a world record of 28 feet, 10¼ inches.
6) Navy Corporal John Uelses, using a newly designed fiberglass pole, becomes the first to clear 16 feet in the pole vault.
5) In 1974, Tony Waldrop records the first mile under 4 minutes in Millrose history.
4) Mary Decker wins the 1500 (meter race) by 80 yards in 1980 and sets a world record of 4:00.8.
3) In 1955, Dane Gunnar Nielsen regains his mile world record from Wes Santee in 4:03.6. Meanwhile, Fred Dwyer, forced off the track on the final lap, and Santee all but battled down the stretch behind Nielsen.
2) In 1942, Cornelius Warmerdam, borrowing a bamboo cane, becomes the first to clear 15 feet in the vault. He broke Millrose’s record of 14-3, held by Sueo Ohe, killed several weeks earlier in the Japanese invasion of the Philippines.
1) In 1959, 17-year-old John Thomas becomes the first to clear 7 feet indoors in the high jump, beating Charlie Dumas, the first to clear 7 feet outdoors.
Kudos to Dick Patrick for bringing back some great memories. And congratulations to the Millrose Games, still the best indoor games in the world.
Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley