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On Sunday, Sept. 12, the iconic New Balance 5th Avenue Mile will celebrate its 40th anniversary. The 20-block race down the east side of Central Park in Manhattan will feature 15 Tokyo Olympians (three of them medalists) in the NYRR Road Mile Championship races beginning at 11:35 a.m. ET.
“This year will be incredibly exciting with a number of Olympians joining us after their top performances in Tokyo,” said Ted Metellus, Vice President of Events, NYRR and Race Director, TCS New York City Marathon.
Who to Watch in the 5th Avenue Mile
Matt Centrowitz vs Paul Chelimo Showdown
Matt Centrowitz, a three-time U.S. Olympian, 2016 1500 gold medal winner, and 2012 5th Avenue Mile champion will close out his season by headlining the professional men’s race. He’s the likely favorite to win entering the race with a 3:49.26 mile PB — the best in the field.
“Heading back East and ending my season there is like a great end-of-summer tradition, and I’m looking to show the rest of the guys I’ve still got a step or two left in 2021,” said Centrowitz, who had a disappointing showing at the 2020 Tokyo Games where he failed to make it into the final round.
He’ll go head-to-head with U.S. Olympian Paul Chelimo, who won bronze in the Tokyo Olympics 5,000m. Chelimo is no stranger to road racing, having run a 5k and half-marathon in NYC.
“Running a straight line down 5th Avenue is very different than running laps on a track, and I’ve got more road racing experience than the other guys in this field,” said Chelimo. “I’m confident in my finish, so if I can keep it close through halfway, I think I can beat the milers at their own game.”
The race will also feature the 2016 Olympic 800m bronze medalist Clayton Murphy, who should put up a fair fight against the distance runners, boasting a mile PB of 3:51.99.
Scottish Star Jemma Reekie Looking to Dominate
The favorite to win the women’s professional mile race will undoubtedly be Scottish superstar Jemma Reekie. At just 23, Reekie holds Great Britain’s National Record in the indoor mile with a blistering fast 4:17.88. In Tokyo she placed 4th in the women’s 800m, so she’ll be difficult to beat if the race comes down to a kick.
Her biggest challenges may come from Shannon Osika, the USATF Road Mile Championships runner-up, and possibly Nikki Hiltz who came up short at the United States Olympic Trials where she failed to qualify for Tokyo in either the 1500m or 800m. She’ll be looking for redemption in New York.
OAC Olympians Making a Debut
Tokyo Olympians and On Athletic Club members Alicia Monson, Joe Klecker, Oliver Hoare will be making their 5th Avenue Mile debuts.
Hoare should put up a competitive fight in the men’s professional race with his 3.51.63 personal best mile time and fresh off a successful first-ever Olympic Games in which he made it into the 1500m finals. More recently, he placed fourth in Zurich’s Diamond League Final 1500m this week in a 3:32.66 PR.
Monson will take a whack at the mile after her highly successful summer in longer events — qualifying for the Tokyo in the 10,000m and recently clocking a 14:42.56 5K in Brussels.
Olympic Steeple Chasers Take It to the Road
After competing for Team USA in the 3,000m steeplechase in Tokyo, Mason Ferlic’s season is continuing as he returns to compete in his third 5th Avenue Mile. Joining Ferlic will be fellow U.S. Olympic steeplechaser Hillary Bor (a two-time Olympian in the event), competing for the first time in the road event. Ferlic and Bor, whose respective mile PBs are 3:58.05 and 4:03.43, aren’t favored to be in the hunt for a win, but it will be entertaining to see how the two fare against both each other and the rest of the field in a mile race.
How to Watch the 5th Avenue Mile
The 5th Avenue Mile professional races will be livestreamed on USATF.TV beginning at 11:35 a.m. EST. Live streaming will be free, but to watch the webcast replay you’ll need a USATF.TV+ account.
Get up early (7:10 EDT) and watch Jenny Simpson go against Sara Hall at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler — also livestreamed on USATF.TV.