Tuesday, May 10, 2011

USA 1 Mile Championship Field Announced;
Defending Champ Pierce a Late Scratch

Talented men’s and women’s fields will race to become the country’s champion road miler at the USA 1 Mile Road Championships held in conjunction with Thursday’s Medtronic TC 1 Mile in downtown Minneapolis.

Aspiring Olympic athletes will race for $22,500 in prize money, plus a pair of $10,000 time bonuses.

In the men’s race, a pack of hungry contenders – including an unlikely challenger -- seek to dethrone two-time USA Champion David Torrence of Oakland, California, the only athlete to break the four-minute barrier on the Nicollet Mall course.

13.1 Mpls

In women’s competition, thanks to a late scratch by defending champion Anna Pierce, a new USA Champion will emerge from a talented field eager for glory at the sports’ signature distance.

Racing kicks off at 6:50 p.m. on Thursday, May 12, culminating with the USA Championships races at 7:53 p.m. (women) and 8:03 p.m. (men).

Two-time men’s champion Torrence has established a special bond with the Medtronic TC 1 Mile course. After a surprise USA Championships victory on it in 2009 – a sub-four-minute win that launched his professional running career – Torrence returned in 2010 to confirm his position as one of the country’s top milers. The savvy racer is the favorite for a third-straight title and another shot at the $10,000 bonus reserved for a sub-4:00 champion.

Torrence will face a field of challengers eager to topple the defending champion and advance their own careers. 2010 USA 1 Mile third-place finisher Jordan Horn of Flagstaff, Arizona returns to improve upon his 4:05.7 clocking a year ago. Craig Miller of Madison, Wisconsin, who finished third at April’s Boston Athletic Association Mile, held in conjunction with the Boston Marathon, should also vie for the USA title.

But the most intriguing race entrant is undoubtedly Ryan Hall of Mammoth Lakes, California. Only 24-days removed from running the fastest marathon ever by an American, Hall, who hasn’t raced the mile distance since 2006, will attempt to trade strides with race-sharpened mile specialists.

Hall has miling success in his background, however: he ran the 1500-meter equivalent of a four-flat mile as a high school senior. Whether he can find that ability after such a long layoff from the event -- and so soon after his all-time best 2:04:58, 4th-place finish at the Boston Marathon on April 18 -- is a captivating question.

If there’s a favorite in the women’s, it’s probably Ryan Hall’s wife Sara Hall. The runner-up at the 2009 USA 1 Mile Road Championship held at the TC 1 Mile, Hall is fresh off a road mile win last month at the Grand Blue Mile held in conjunction with the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa. In the race, Hall out-ran four women who are slated to compete in the USA Championships, including last year’s USA 1 Mile 4th-place finisher Amy Mortimer, the Grand Blue Mile champ in 2010.

Morgan Uceny, who trains in Mammoth Lakes, California where the Halls live, can’t be excluded from the favorite’s list, however, despite racing in only her first Medtronic TC 1 Mile. Uceny comes to Minnesota after ripping through a winter racing season in which she established new indoor personal bests at 800m and 1500m. If there’s a big pack approaching the finish line, Uceny’s half-mile speed – she’s run 1:58.67 for 800-meters – could be a difference-maker.

In the deep pack of contenders are five Minnesota-affiliated runners who could make a national-class mark in their home state. Team USA Minnesota runners Gabriele Anderson, Meghan Peyton (Armstrong), Jamie Cheever and Heather Kampf (Dorniden) are entered in their home state race. Joining them is Burnsville High School alumnus Laura Januszewski. Last year Kampf finished 6th in the race.

The women’s field will also race for a $10,000 bonus if the champion runs under 4:32.

Find complete elite start lists HERE.

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