There's rain, but thankfully no thunder forecast for the Medtronic TC 1 Mile this evening in Minneapolis. The only "fireworks" appears to be set for the top placings in the elite men's and women's races, which are designated as the 2015 USATF road mile championships.
Winona native Garrett Heath and Gopher/Rosemount grad Heather Kampf are the favorites "on paper," but they'll be racing in the streets where anything can happen. It's a new course, running right through the downtown Minneapolis' "Theater District(sans Guthrie, Mixed Blood, etc.)" along Hennepin Avenue.
Heath, who has run the second fastest time in race history on the old course, said at the pre-race press conference: "I like the cold, adverse conditions. Maybe it's because of my (high school) cross country skiing." When asked about their goals going into the race all the runners declared that they go into a race with wanting to win at the top of their lists.
The 2012 TC Mile men's champ Craig Miller got some laughs by adding that if he didn't win, he'd like to finish second, if not second, then third...Gopher grad John Simons said that the men's race was wide open after Heath and that he was ruing the fact that his Achilles tendon had flared up right before the race and he couldn't risk making the injury worse by racing on it.
It was not an easy decision because of the "hometown crowd" and the opportunity to place well as he felt that his training had been coming around after recovering from recent surgery to remove his tonsils. Heath and Kampf both noted that running in front of the "hometown crowd" could be inspiring as well as increasing the pressure to perform well.
Another of the men runners tagged to finish well, Jeff See, described the allure of running the mile on the road instead of the track. The mile, See said, was "one of the most pure distances you could race.'' The roads simplified the impact of tactics of positioning during the race. This induces the runners to think more about just racing than where you have to be at a given time or place on the course.
Kampf noted that on the track runners often end up running single file in a line to avoid running extra distance in lanes two or three. On the roads, those same runners usually spread themselves across the road which creates a pack of leaders who stay in contact with one another instead of being caught in the middle or near the back of a line of runners, thereby risking losing "contact" if a runner up front makes a sudden big move in an attempt to "steal" the race. .
Kampf added that the new course was pretty much a straight shot from start to finish, whereas the old course had a sharp, left turn with less than a quarter to go. The old course design, she added, encouraged the lead runners to wait until that turn to make a decisive move. You can see the finish much sooner on the new course, she said, which may encourage someone to make a move earlier.
However the races unfold, the objective is still to get to that finish line before everyone else you are racing. Be it among the elite fields or among the members of the 52 corporate teams or in the other four waves that will be a part of the event. Races start at 6:50 PM and finish with the last two waves, the women pros at 7:54 PM and the men at 8:06. The Awards Cermony is scheduled for 8:30 at Kieran's Irish pub located near the finish line.
Pioneer Press feature on Kampf is HERE
Strib story on Garrett Heath is HERE