Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Nick Willis to Defend Medtronic TC Mile Title

Olympic silver medalist Nick Willis will return to Minneapolis on May 8 to defend his Medtronic TC Mile title.Willis, a New Zealand native who ran for the University of Michigan and was runner-up at 1500-meters at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, will target the course record of 3:56.1 he set last year and the $10,000 bonus that comes with bettering it.

Willis(51) makes his break in last year's race. Photo by Gene Niemi
After last year's race Willis was asked why he let up as he approached the finish and he responded that he knew he had the record and he didn't want to break it by too much and make it too difficult to break again if he returned next year.  US high jumper Dwight Stones and Ukrainian pole vaulter Sergei Bubka were famous for taking a similar approach to setting world records in their events.  Instead of trying higher heights, they would stop jumping once they set a new record so they could collect a bonus from their sponsors for setting a new record the next time they had the opportunity.

The 10th annual Medtronic TC Mile, will be held just two days after the 60th anniversary of Roger Bannister’s breaking of four-minute barrier in the mile. In honor of Sir Roger's feat, London is hosting their first road mile, the Westminster Mile, which, like the Twin Cities race will be made up of many races done in the center of the city, near Buckingham Palace.  Both the Westminster Mile and the TC Mile are expected to draw large crowds to the downtown areas to watch the events and cheer on the runners of all ages and ability levels.

“I'm excited to be returning to the Twin Cities to defend my title in the Medtronic TC Mile,” Willis told race organizers. “I was blown away by the size of the fields that went before our elite race, and it really pumped me up to run fast despite the cold temperatures last year.  It is a fun event with one of the best prize purses available in our sport, so I hope to continue making it part of my yearly schedule.”

A men’s and women’s combined prize purse of $25,000 awaits the professional fields at this year’s race.  Race winners who top the existing course records, will earn $10,000 in addition to the winner’s prize of $5,000.

Last year, Willis outran runner-up Garrett Heath, the reigning USA Mile Road champion, and the surprising Macklin Chaffee to win the event.  In women’s competition last year, former NCAA champion Sarah Brown edged Canadian Olympian Nicole Sifuentes, who won a bronze medal in this year's IAAF World Indoor Championships in Poland,  in the race’s final strides to win her first Medtronic TC Mile title.

“We’re pleased that Nick will be running with us again this year,” Twin Cities In Motion executive director Virginia Brophy Achman said. “It’s always special welcoming our champions – and record holders – back to our races.  Nick’s a great ambassador to the sport and the mile distance.  We can’t wait to see what he has in store this year!”

The Medtronic TC 1 Mile is the second stop on the 2014 Bring Back the Mile Tour, a nationwide Grand Prix with more than $90,000 in total prize money and a $7500 grand prize purse. The Medtronic TC Mile, organized by Twin Cities In Motion, features an evening of races for runners of all ages and abilities. Races begin at 6:53 p.m and culminates with the professional races at 7:51 p.m. (women) and 8:03 p.m. (men). Start times subject to slight change.

In the coming weeks, Twin Cities In Motion will note additions to the field and make other announcements about the professional races via its Twitter feed, @tcmarathon, or with additional media releases. You can follow news about the event at #TC1Mile.

Article on Willis' plans for the upcoming season is HERE.

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