Simpson Leads Fast Fifth Avenue Mile Field

Jenny Simpson earned her second Fifth Avenue Mile victory last year. Photo: www.photorun.net

The American is seeking her third victory at the annual dash in New York City.

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

Reigning champion and recent IAAF Diamond League series winner Jenny Simpson will headline the 34th NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile on September 13, organizers announced Thursday. Simpson, 28, will be joined by IAAF World Junior 3000m gold medalist Mary Cain and IAAF World Championships bronze medalist Brenda Martinez among a very strong field of 19 women.

American Matthew Centrowitz, winner of the 2012 edition, and Kenya’s Augustine Choge lead the men’s field, which includes eight sub-3:53 milers.

“A dash down New York City’s Fifth Avenue is the perfect final mile to my season,” said the Boulder, Colo.-based Simpson, who is still in Europe. “It will be fun to return home and do what I do best: the mile, in front of American fans.”

Simpson capped her 2014 outdoor track season with a thrilling victory at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Zurich on August 28, solidifying her spot as the top women’s 1500m runner in the world this year. Simpson was crowned IAAF Diamond League Champion, adding to her 1500m national title from earlier in the summer.

The 2011 world champion at 1500m has won a pair of NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile titles in the last three years. In 2013, Simpson ran with gusto out front, powering away from the field to claim the win in 4:19.3. Simpson also was the 2011 victor with a time of 4:22.3.

Never has a woman won three NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile titles. Simpson is among a group of seven women to have earned two wins, a list that includes Paula Radcliffe, Regina Jacobs and Shannon Rowbury.

The hometown favorite will be Cain, the Nike Oregon Project athlete who recently began classes at the University of Portland in Oregon. Cain, 18, has not raced since her 3000m IAAF World Junior Championships victory on July 24, and will be making her NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile debut. Toeing the line alongside Cain will be her Nike Oregon Project teammate Treniere Moser.

“I am very excited to be coming home for the Fifth Avenue Mile!” said Cain, who was raised just north of New York City in Bronxville, N.Y. “It’ll be my first time competing in this historic road race, so I can’t wait! I’m feeling really strong right now—training’s going well and I have started to acclimate to living at the University of Portland! No matter what, this will be a lot of fun!”

RELATED: Mary Cain To Run Fifth Avenue Mile

Martinez, 26, is coming off a 1500m victory at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Zagreb, where she ran 4:05.46. Fellow Americans Sarah Brown, Morgan Uceny, Heather Kampf, Brie Felnagle and Ashley Higginson are also entered.

Laura Weightman will try to become the first Briton since Lisa Dobriskey in 2008 to break the tape first adjacent to Central Park. Weightman earned a pair of medals at 1500m championships this summer, taking silver at the Commonwealth Games in July and bronze at the European Championships in August. Fellow Briton Hannah England will toe the line as well.

Sally Kipyego, this year’s NYC Half champion and event record holder, Kenya’s Violah Lagat and Norway’s Ingvill Makestad Bovim will vie for the $5,000 first-place prize as well.

PattiSue Plumer has held the NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile event record for women since 1990, when she ran 4:16.68.

Centrowitz Leads Men

Two-time IAAF World Championships medalist Matthew Centrowitz will try to claim his second race title in three years, entering with the second fastest personal best in the 17-man field.

“I’ve only had the privilege to race the Fifth Avenue Mile once in my professional career, and I can safely safe it’s one of the most exciting races I’ve been part of,” said Centrowitz. “New York has always been a second home to me. Winning in 2012 was one of the highlights of the season and I’ll be looking for the same result this year.”

Kenya’s Choge, the fastest miler in the field with a 3:50.01 personal best, is aiming to become the first champion from Kenya since John Itati in 2003.

Joining Centrowitz and Choge on the line will be six other men who have gone under 3:53 for the mile: Will Leer, David Torrence, Ciaran O’Lionaird, Jordan McNamara, Ben Blankenship and Lawi Lalang.

RELATED: Centrowitz Earns Worlds Silver

Other notable entrants include Garrett Heath, Kyle Merber and Ryan Hill.

The men’s event record of 3:47.52 was set by Sydney Maree in 1981.

“The mile is a very familiar distance in running and serves as the backdrop for one of NYRR’s most unique and celebrated events, the Fifth Avenue Mile,” said Mary Wittenberg, President and CEO of the New York Road Runners. “In a footrace from the Met to Grand Army Plaza, Jenny, Mary, Matthew and the rest of the professional field will take center stage on one of the world’s most popular streets as they headline a celebration of running with thousands of others of all ages and abilities, from the kids in our youth mile, to the seniors in the George Sheehan Memorial Mile.”

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