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Symmonds, Simpson Lead Fifth Avenue Mile Field

The Americans bring a strong field to this year's race in the heart of Manhattan.

The Americans bring a strong field to this year’s race in the heart of Manhattan.

(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

The New York Road Runners, organizers of the NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile presented by Nissan, announced the professional fields for the Sept. 22, contest today, led by IAAF World Championships silver medalists Nick Symmonds and Jenny Simpson. A total of 14 Olympians will toe the starting line in New York City in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the world’s largest road mile.

Headlining the men’s race is Symmonds, who is coming off a breakthrough track season that saw him break 1:44 for 800m five times, in addition to earning his world championships runner-up finish. Symmonds, 29, will try to become the third consecutive American winner of the event.

“I am extremely excited to be returning to the New York City Fifth Avenue Mile this year,” said Symmonds, who finished 17th in the 2011 edition. “I will be bringing with me a new personal best in the 1500m and am sure to need my new found strength in order to compete with the incredible field you have assembled.”

Among the field of 19 elite men are 2011 race champion and two-time Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat, Olympic medalists Leo Manzano and Nick Willis, as well as 2013 USA Road Mile champion Garrett Heath. Seven members of Team USA from last month’s IAAF World Championships will be racing, including Symmonds, Lagat, Manzano, Ryan Hill, Daniel Huling, Evan Jager, and Lopez Lomong.

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Other Americans entered are recent Grandma’s Minnesota Mile champion Ben Blankenship, 2013 national indoor mile and 3000m winner Will Leer, and three-time national road mile champion David Torrence. Craig Miller and Matthew Elliott round out the U.S. entries.

Notable international runners joining Willis, who was sixth in 2010, are Australians Collis Birmingham, Ryan Gregson, Ben St. Lawrence, and Brett Robinson, and Mexico’s Pablo Solares. Solares recently got engaged to American miler Shannon Rowbury, who will be contesting the women’s race.

“As is always the case, the Fifth Avenue Mile is a perfect way to finish off a long season,” Symmonds added. “The fun, energetic atmosphere of the event combined with the amazing cultural opportunities to be had in New York make it a must-run-race for me!”

The women’s elite field is nearly as deep as the men’s, with two-time worlds medalist Simpson leading the American charge. Simpson won the race’s 2011 edition in 4:22.3, and seeks to extend America’s winning streak at the event to five this year.

“I can’t wait to return to New York City to once again wrap up my season at the Fifth Avenue Mile,” said Simpson, 27. “Returning to the U.S. after the summer circuit and world championships, Fifth Avenue will be both one last chance to compete and a celebration of what has already been one of the best seasons of my career. The New York Road Runners have created such a special event. It is a favorite among American middle-distance runners.”

Simpson will be joined on the line by American Olympians Rowbury and Morgan Uceny, as well as Briton’s Hannah England and Eilish McColgan. Rowbury won both the 2009 and 2010 Fifth Avenue Miles, while England placed third at last year’s race and a heartbreaking fourth at the IAAF World Championships 1500m.

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In addition to Simpson, Rowbury, and Uceny, Gabriele Anderson, Heather Kampf, Katie Mackey, Chelsea Reilly, Nicole Schappert, and Sara Vaughn make up the American contingent at the race, in its 33rd year. Anderson is coming off a course record victory at Sunday’s Grandma’s Minnesota Mile (4:21.3), while Kampf was the 2012 USA Road Mile champion.

Former NCAA standouts from overseas will also be competing: Zoe Buckman, a University of Oregon alum who finished seventh at the 2013 IAAF World Championships 1500m, will be racing, as will former Florida State Seminoles Susan Kuijken (Netherlands) and Violah Lagat (Kenya). Lagat is Bernard Lagat’s sister.

Italy’s Margherita Magnani, who also competed in the recent IAAF World Championships, rounds out the field.

The Fifth Avenue Mile race records stand at 3:47.52 for men, set by Sydney Maree in 1981, and 4:16.68, for women, run by PattiSue Plumer in 1990. The Fifth Avenue Mile runs 5,280 feet down a 20-block stretch of Fifth Avenue in the heart of Manhattan, adjacent to Central Park. It is the world’s largest road mile, boasting 7,313 entrants in 2012.