Matthew Centrowitz won the men’s NYRR Wanamaker Mile title in the 108th NYRR Millrose Games, but it was eight-time champion Bernard Lagat who garnered a larger spotlight and louder applause at the packed Armory New Balance Track & Field Center Saturday night.
Lagat, 40, finished fourth in the Wanamaker Mile but turned in a time of 3:54.91, a masters world record eclipsing Eamonn Coghlan’s previous mark of 3:58.15 in 1994. Coghlan, owner of seven Wanamaker titles, was one of the first to congratulate Lagat.
“Being able to run my best and run with the young guys, to me that’s a humbling experience,” Lagat said afterward. “For people to yell `Go Kip, Go Kip,’ that really touches me and I want to show them that I can perform very well.”
“Age is just a number and I believe that …I had a lot of plans for this event. I’m leaving here knowing I achieved everything I wanted to do,” Lagat added.
Centrowitz, the 2012 Wanamaker Mile champion, battled New Zealand’s Nick Willis down the stretch. His winning time of 3:51.35 was good enough to edge Willis (3:51.46) at the finish line.
“I didn’t look behind me at all the whole race, but it definitely felt fast at the start. I wanted a faster time for myself, it wasn’t ideal for me to run an xyz, but it was my best effort. It’s a big deal for me to win a second title out of my three attempts at the Wanamaker Mile.”
Ten of the 12 men runners in the race turned in sub-4 minute mile performances, including Chris O’Hare (3:55.35) who became the 100th person to post a sub-4 minute mile at The Armory.
Two-time Olympian Shannon Rowbury continued her strong performance of late to capture the women’s NYRR Wanamaker Mile with a 4:24.32 time ahead of runner-up Treniere Moser (4:27.49) and Stephanie Charnigo (4:28.02). Defending champion Mary Cain finished eighth with a 4:31.31.
“I am disappointed,” Rowbury said. “I knew I had an American record in me today. I’d love to have another opportunity to go after it because I know I’m capable.”
The American record is 4:20.5 by Mary Decker in 1982.
Lagat wasn’t the only one to achieve a world record. Brycen Spratling established the world's best in the 500m with a 1:00.06 time, ahead of Ken Lowery’ 1987 mark of 1:00.17.
“I didn’t know I was on pace (to break the record) honestly,’’ Spratling said. “I felt like I relaxed a little too much early on in the race. When I saw the time, I mean I looked disappointed. I really wanted to go 59 (seconds). But if that’s the best ever ran and then I just missed out, then I’m OK with it.”
Local favorite Phyllis Francis recorded a memory for the scrapbooks in her professional debut, overtaking 2012 Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross at the finish line with a 53.14 time. Richards-Ross turned in a 53.71 time.
“This is mind blowing right now,” Francis said. “I wasn’t expecting run that time. I told myself to go for it (down the stretch). If I pass out then I’ve got medics right there. So I said to myself to just go for it and I did. I’m lost for words right now. I’m ecstatic and happy. (Richards-Ross) is an amazing competitor. I looked up to her as a little girl and my parents told me to look at Sanya … for me to be running at that level and to be running with her is an honor,” Francis added.