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Virtual Brooklyn Mile Yields Surprisingly Competitive Results

This virtual mile with age-graded prize money drew nearly 700 runners from 8 countries and produced remarkably fast times.

The Virtual Brooklyn Mile, held from June 19 – 21, attracted 659 entrants from eight countries and produced surprisingly fast times, especially by age-group athletes. Performances were allowed either on standard tracks or road courses, but elevation loss on road courses was limited to just one percent of the race distance. Athletes were scored by both absolute performance (finish time) and also on their VDOT O2 levels, which measures aerobic effort on a  scale of one through ten. The event also raised money for COVID-19 relief in New York City.

In absolute performance terms, Ryoji Tatezawa, 23, of Yokohama, Japan, and Lianne Farber, 28, of Boston, Mass., were the stars. Tatezawa clocked 4:01 and Farber ran 4:39. Both athletes ran on standard, 400-meter tracks at sea level. In all, five men broke 4:10 and four women broke 4:50.

Ryoji Tatezawa
Ryoji Tatezawa running 4:01 for the Virtual Brooklyn Mile Photo: Courtesy VDOT O2

But under the the VDOT O2 scoring system, Tatezawa and Farber only registered the second and fourth-best performances, respectively. Ryoji had a VDOT score of 76.17 which, for a 23 year-old, was a level-9 performance according to the VDOT O2 scale. Farber scored 64.47, a level-8 performance for a 28 year-old woman.

The very top performance in terms of VDOT O2 score was the only level-10, “gold” mark, earned by an eye-popping 4:52 run by 61 year-old Dan King of Boulder, Colo. King’s achievement is even more remarkable given Boulder’s high altitude.

While no women managed a level-10 performance, three older athletes hit level-9: Sue McDonald, 57, 5:34; Susan Lynn Cooke, 61, 5:57 and Lesley Hinz, 62, 6:10.

The virtual event replaced the regular Brooklyn Mile produced by the Brooklyn Running Company (BRC). BRC founder Matt Rosetti wanted to offer runners something exciting to do even though he couldn’t stage his regular event because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lianne Farber virtual mile
Lianne Farber running 4:39 for the Virtual Brooklyn Mile Photo: Courtesy VDOT 02

“We knew probably a month ago at least that the June event had no chance, and not just from a legal perspective but from an operational and planning perspective,” Rosetti explained in a telephone interview last month. “You can’t pull it off, or execute it anywhere near as highly as you want to with (only) four to eight weeks of planning.”

In staging the virtual version of the event, Rosetti did not take a race management fee, and committed to donate 80 percent of the race’s entry fees to New York City’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund while holding back 20 percent for an age-graded prize purse. Athletes who ran level 8, 9 and 10 performances will split the prize money. Based on the race entry totals, about $8000 was raised for COVID-19 relief.

“When the world turned upside down we essentially wanted to quickly create some virtual racing options for coaches and athletes on the platform,” said Brian Rosetti, Matt’s brother and the founder of the VDOT O2 coaching platform which routinely puts on virtual running challenges. “Athletes are able to run any distances and we can score them based on their VDOT.”

Top Results:


1. Ryoji Tatezawa, 23, Yokohama, JPN (DeNA RC), 4:01

2. Collin Leibold, 27, North Grafton, MA (Ocean State/New Balance), 4:09

3. Rikuto Iijima, 22, JPN (Ami AC), 4:09


1. Lianne Farber, 28, Boston, MA (New Balance Boston), 4:39

2. Ran Urabe, 25, JPN (Sekisui Kagaku), 4:41

3. Aisling Cuffe, 26, North Grafton, MA (Saucony), 4:46


1. Dan King, 61, Boulder, CO, 4:52 (VDOT 61.24/level 10)

2. Ryoji Tatezawa, 23, Yokohama, JPN (DeNA RC), 4:01 (76.17/level 9)

3. Sean Wade, 54, Houston, TX, 4:39 (64.49/level 9)


1. Sue McDonald, 57, T.H.E. Track Team/rabbitELITE, 5:34 (VDOT 53.66/level 9)

2. Susan Lynn Cooke, 61, FL, (New Balance Tampa Masters RT), 5:57 (48.87/level 9)

3. Lesley Hinz, 62, GA (T.H.E. Track Team), 6:10 (56.95/level 9)