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Women’s 2 Mile: Dibaba’s WL Captures Race; Cain’s HSR Captures Hearts

While a relentless, whipping arctic wind held the greater Boston area in its icy grasp, a capacity crowd was warmed by several sizzling performances Saturday night at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix at Roxbury’s Reggie Lewis Center.

Track & field’s royalty put on quite a show as the gathering of international athletes – including several reigning Olympic champions – made it clear that the focused preparation for Moscow is underway.

The women’s 2 mile – the meet’s penultimate event – was the zenith of the evening. It was, perhaps, a rare opportunity to see a distance running legend at the apex of her career and an immensely talented youngster who may be giving us a glimpse into the future. Tirunesh Dibaba convincingly won the race, but high-schooler Mary Cain, track & field’s newest darling, won the hearts of all in attendance. Ethiopia’s Baby Faced Destroyer lived up to her name – annihilating the field. All alone after a kilometer, Dibaba was left to soldier on, finishing in a world-leading 9:13.17. “I thought the pacemaker would go faster. But that didn’t happen,” the Olympic 5000 champion explained. “I could have run faster – 9:03 or 9:04.” Meanwhile, back in the chase pack, Cain put together negative mile splits, competed gamely, and finished third in 9:38.68 – taking down Melody Fairchild’s 1991 HSR of 9:55.92 “I told Mary ‘I don’t care what your time is today, I just want you to compete and do the best that you can,’” explained Alberto Salazar. “And we don’t worry about times. I told her to forget about the first couple of girls. ‘Your job is to compete in the second race.’” An effusive Cain – oblivious to her spike-marked calves – was pleased with her showing. “I definitely felt really strong,” reflected the new record holder. “It was cool having Dibaba next to me on the line. It was really an honor to run against her.”

The evening closed with the men’s 3000. Precise dual rabbiting was employed to set up an assault on the American record. When the mile was passed in 4:02.2 – right on pace – a fully-shod Dejen Gebreskel fell off the pace, leaving his countryman Hagos Gebrhiwet – a finalist in the Olympic 5000 – and Galen Rupp to battle for the win. A strong move by the young Ethiopian after 9 laps opened up a gap on Rupp which he could not close notwithstanding his valiant effort over the final two laps. Gebrhiwet’s winning time of 7:32.87 set a new junior world record – by .02 seconds. Rupp closed on Gebrhiwet to finish in 7:33.67 – missing Bernard Lagat’s AR by little more than a second. “Galen would like to break that American record. But he is just going to go in and compete. And if the race is right, he might be able to break it,” offered Salazar. “But he is not going to go in with the idea of breaking the record and then losing the race, perhaps, as a result.”

A healthy Jen Suhr shows she is ready to compete with the best this year. After clearing a winning height of 4.76 meters [15’7¼”], the Olympic champion made two unsuccessful attempts – the first one was close – at the AR height of 4.90 [16’¾”] . “Honestly, the first attempt was really good. I was a little bit short, so I figured that I would just go into the pole a little more, and I vaporized it,” stated Suhr, who passed on her final AR attempt. “I am looking forward to Millrose,” she smiled.

In other headliner events, a cruise-controlled Matthew Centrowitz held off a spirited charge by a plucky Will Leer to win the mile in 3:56.26 as he led 7 other runners under 4:00. Phoebe Wright, summoning an eye-popping burst over the final 40 meters, grabbed the 800 win at the line. And the Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure captured the 60 in the world-leading time of 7.07.

2013 is just starting to unfold, but if Saturday’s performances at the Reg are any indication, this world championship year could prove to be very special.

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Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.


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