Two new USA 1 Mile Road Champions will be crowned tonight in downtown Minneapolis at the Medtronic TC 1 Mile held on the Nicollet Mall ... and one of them could be Team USA Minnesota's Heather Kampf.
The former University of Minnesota star and a field of aspiring athletes will race for $22,500 in prize money, plus a pair of $10,000 course record bonuses.
The Medtronic TC 1 Mile, which features an evening of races for runners of all ages and abilities, hosts the USA 1 Mile Road Championship for the fourth-straight year. Racing kicks off at 6:50 p.m. and culminates with the USA Championships races at 7:53 p.m. (women) and 8:03 p.m. (men).
Kampf of Minneapolis, the runner-up in last year’s women’s championship race, aims to become the first Minnesotan to win a USA 1 Mile Road title. The former NCAA 800-meter champion and nine-time Gopher All-American will tangle with a deep field that includes steeplechaser Mason Cathey of Indianapolis, Indiana, Olympic Trials marathoner Alisha Williams of Denver, Colorado, and nine-time NCAA All-American Nicole Blood of Annandale, New Jersey.
Also populating the women’s field are Kampf’s Team USA Minnesota teammate Meghan Peyton of Minneapolis, the seventh-place finisher in the race last year, former University of Michigan star Danielle Tauro of Detroit, former Villanova All-American Frances Koons of Annandale, New Jersey recent Loyola Marymount graduate Tara Erdman of Tucson, Arizona, and Kellyn Johnson of Flagstaff, Arizona. Milwaukee, Wisconsin's Gwen Jorgensen, a member of this summer’s U.S. Olympic Team in the triathlon and a former Big Ten track champion, offers additional spice to the race.
In all, fourteen women will race down Nicollet Mall in pursuit of the $4000 champion’s prize and a shot at the $10,000 on offer, if the winner breaks Sara Hall’s Medtronic TC 1 Mile course record of 4:30.8 set last year.
In men’s competition, a dozen men will race for their own $4000 winner’s check and the chance to earn $10,000 for breaking three-time champion David Torrence’s 2011 course record of 3:58.4. Last year’s runner-up Aaron Braun of Flagstaff, Arizona, will vie with 2011 third-place finisher Craig Miller of Madison, Wisconsin and the rest of the well-balanced men’s championship field. Braun is known for his success over a wide range of racing distances; Miller won the Grandma’s Minnesota Mile in Duluth last fall and recently ran a PR 3:37.13 1500m on Monday in Philadelphia.
Joining last year’s medal-winners on the starting line this year are Ben Bruce of Flagstaff, Arizona, one of the country’s top steeplechasers, Jordan Horn, Bruce’s and Braun’s teammate with the McMillan Elite program and the third-place finisher in Medtronic TC 1 Mile in 2010, and veteran road racer Christian Hesch of Hollywood, California, the runner-up at the 2011 Grandma’s Minnesota Mile. Team USA
Minnesota’s Chris Rombough of Minneapolis, a former Golden Gopher All-American, is the local favorite – he finished seventh in the race a year ago – and Darren Brown of Knoxville, Tennessee, fourth at the TC 1 Mile in 2009, Bobby Mack of Raleigh, North Carolina are likely contenders as well.
Down the Backstretch will be on the scene at the Medtronic TC 1 Mile tonight. We'll post finish line updates via our Twitter feed and have a full wrap-up of the championship races on Friday morning.