Friday, May 3, 2013

Festival of Miles announces elite field of nine 4-minute milers


Aaron Braun, winner of the GO! St. Louis half-marathon, 
is scheduled to return to St. Louis for the elite race 
in the  Big River Festival of Miles.
We remember a time when witnessing a 4-minute mile in Missouri seemed about as likely as the Blues winning a Stanley Cup. That was until 2009, when Leo Manzano entered the elite field for the Big River Festival of Miles and ran the first sub-4 in the state since 1963.

Manzano went on to win the silver medal in the 1,500 in London. In the ensuing years, the Festival of Miles has become one of THE races for middle-distance runners. Eight other runners have followed Manzano in the ensuing years, and the race's reputation has attracted nine sub-4-minute (or its equivalent) performers for this year's festival, scheduled for May 30 at the St. Louis University High School track.

We're still waiting, Blues.

Race director Ben Rosario said he had commitments from the following athletes:

Stephen Pifer, a native of Edwardsville, who has run a 3:56 mile.
Aaron Braun, record holder of the GO! St. Louis half-marathon, and a 3:39 1,500.
Pablo Solares, a native of Mexico who has run 3:54.
Duncan Phillips of the Austin Track Club, 3:58.

Tommy Schmitz, the runner-up at the 2010 Festival of Miles, 3:58.
Jordan Horn, another veteran of the Festival of Miles, 3:58. 
Daniel Clark, who has run a 3:39 1,500.
Colton Tully-Doyle, who ran a mile split of 3:58 in a 3K.
Graham Morris of the University of Illinois, 4:00.
Dan Stockberger, who has run 3:42 in the 1,500.
Scott Smith, who has run the 1,500 in 3:44.

"With the continued growth and popularity of the meet, it was actually really easy to put this field together," Rosario said in a statement. "Most of these guys came to us because they know the Festival of Miles is a place where people run fast and where the atmosphere is electric."

The promoters have added incentives for the field, which could total $4,000 for the winner: $1,000 for the victory; $1,000 for winning in less than 4 minutes; $1,000 for breaking Manzano's meet record of 3:55.29; and $1,000 for winning the XS Energy battle of the sexes. The last pot goes to the victory of either the men's mile or women's 800, depending on who has the better time, according to IAAF scoring charts.

Proceeds from this year's festival will benefit Brad Eastman, a runner who was diagnosed with a brain tumor and is facing a long recovery.