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Willis, Kampf Lead Fields at Medtronic TC 1 Mile

Published by
RunnerSpace.com/RoadRacing   on May 7 2014, 03:19 AM

$25,000 on the Line in Minneapolis Thursday Evening

By Scott Bush

With $25,000 on the line, deep and talented men’s and women’s fields toe the line in downtown Minneapolis Thursday evening, ready to challenge for the win at the Medtronic TC 1 Mile.

Olympians and defending champions define the men’s field. 2013 Medtronic TC 1 Mile champion, and 2008 Olympic 1,500m silver medalist Nick Willis is set to defend his title. Willis ran away from the field in the final 200 meters of last year race and hopes to carry the momentum he built winning the BAA Mile last month. One of the most experienced milers in the world, the New Zealand native is considered the pre-race favorite.

Running on Willis’ heals, former University of Michigan teammate and fellow Olympian Nate Brannen, along with Americans Will Leer and David Torrence, look to be the strongest competition for Willis. Brannen comes off of a strong indoor campaign, running 3:54.32 for the mile. Relatively quiet during the outdoor season thus far, you can bet the Canadian is ready to race.

Meanwhile, Leer is coming off of a big 1,500m win at the Jamaica International Invitational last weekend. After running to a runner-up finish at the USA Indoor Championships over 1,500m and running a blazing 3:52.47 mile to win the NYRR Millrose Games Wannamaker Mile (where he bested Willis), Leer is ready to roll outdoors.

Torrence and fellow American Craig Miller won the Medtronic TC 1 Mile from 2009-2012. Torrence, who is a late entry in this year’s field, took home top prize from 2009-2011, while Miller used a furious kick to take home gold in 2012. While Miller ran 3:55.09 for the mile indoors this year, Torrence ran on the world record indoor 4x800m team and is running as strong as ever. Both athletes should vie for the win Thursday evening.

Jack Bolas and Jeff See are two other athletes worth keeping an eye on. Bolas is having a terrific 2014 season thus far, having run 3:58.53 for the mile in mid-April, while placing fourth at the USA 1 Mile Road Championships. See finished sixth in those same USA 1 Mile Road Championships.

Other notable competitors include Minnesota natives Ben Blankenship, Travis Burkstrand and Rob Finnerty, along with Tony Jordanek, who placed sixth this past Sunday in the second heat of the Payton Jordan 1,500m. With 15 sub-4 milers in the field, expect an incredible finish and some surprising results.

On the women’s side, reigning USA 1 Mile Road champion Kampf leads the way, but there is plenty of competition to keep her from running away with it. Kampf enters simply on fire. Her USA 1 Mile championship title shows just how fit she is, but she also placed third at the Drake Relays in the 1,500m in a new personal best of 4:07.15. Add in her runner-up effort at the BAA Mile, along with the hometown crowd for the Team USA Minnesota team member, and you can see why she’s considered the favorite.

2013 Medtronic TC 1 Mile runner-up Nicole Sifuentes comes off of a 4:09.43 1,500m performance at Payton Jordan this past Sunday, while allowed her to place fourth. The Canadian Olympian is an experienced road racer and is showing she’s ready to challenge her PRs this season.

Arguably the most versatile American distance runner, Sara Hall enters Thursday’s race coming off of a strong 9:42.10 steeple performance at Payton Jordan. Hall has raced numerous times already on the roads this season, including a third place effort at the USA 1 Mile Road Championships and a fourth place effort at the BAA Mile. The 2011 Medtronic TC 1 Mile winner is sharp.

If there’s one athlete in the field not to overlook, it’s Laura Thweatt. While Thweatt is more of a strength based runner if her results over the past two years have proven anything, she’s coming off of a phenomenal 15:04.98 5,000m performance at Payton Jordan. Such success, along with her fifth place at the USA 1 Mile Road Championships, means she’ll definitely be in the mix with a quarter mile to go in downtown Minneapolis.

Hometown favorite Gabriele Grunewald looks to regain her miler form this time around. Having struggled ever so slightly since the dramatic USA Indoor Track and Field Championships, where she won the women’s 3,000m, Grunewald has to be eyeing the win. She placed second over 3,000m at the Jamaica International Invitational last weekend.

Additional top entries in the field include Nicole Bush and Amanda Eccleston, both of whom are coming off solid outings at the Payton Jordan Invitational. Bush ran 15:31.43 for 5,000m and while she’s not considered a miler, she certainly will position herself to challenge for top three. Eccleston finished seventh in the top heat in the 1,500m with a 4:11.21 effort.

The Twin Cities are considered one of the best distance running communities in the United States. On Thursday evening, the Medtronic TC 1 Mile will once again showcase what makes the area so special.

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