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Millrose Games Celebrates 100th Birthday as Track’s Most Prestigious Indoor Event
I think you have to be a fan to appreciate the Millrose Games, which celebrated its 100th run over the weekend at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The Millrose Games are not only the most prestigious indoor track meet in the world, but also the most prestigious indoor and outdoor event in the world. As a high school and college athlete, you dream of running on the field at the Millrose Games in Madison Square Garden just as a football player dreams of playing in the Super Bowl.
Track and field has fallen on hard times in America these days, which is why the 100th running of the Millrose is so special. Only the 2007 Millrose Games, Dick Patrick wrote in USA Today on Thursday (2-1-07), “have survived the collapse of a circuit in the past hosted by the USA. “
Patrick is right.
Not only did Camelot lose its luster with the tragic death of President John F. Kennedy, the Millrose Games lost their heyday but continue to flourish thanks to the famous Wanamaker Mile race and the many athletes of the world to reach 2 hours. of live coverage by ESPN2 on Friday and 1 hour by ABC Saturday.
I was attached to the television for two shows.
Many fans watch Millrose matches on the tube and wouldn’t do so if it weren’t for sportswriters like Dick Patrick. His pre-conference coverage of the event in USA Today was interesting, informative and comprehensive.
Millrose Games was started in 1908 by John Wanamaker of the Wanamaker department store group and first gained popularity in the 1920s. Herb Schmertz, who worked for Wanamaker’s department store in New York, became the Millrose event manager in 1934, and managed the Millrose games for 40 years, until 1974, when his son Howard, a New York City attorney, took over in 1975 and continued. until 2003.
The Schmertz family has run the Millrose Tournament for 69 years, and Howard Schmertz has continued as event director for 100 Millrose tournaments. The new meeting director is Mark Wetmore of Global Athletics Management.
John Wanamaker of Wanamaker stores is a giant in American retail. He opened the first Philadelphia department store in 1861 and eventually had 15 more stores in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware.
Wanamaker is considered the father of modern advertising in America. He was the first to copyright his ads, the first to guarantee his products and offer refunds, he created the price tag we know today, and he was the first to invent restaurant in his shop.
Wanamaker was ahead of his time as the first store with electric lighting (1878), the first store with a telephone (1879), the first store to incorporate pneumatic tubes to carry money and documents (1880). and the first shop and elevator ( 1884).
It’s no surprise that John Wanamaker sponsored a major sporting event, and the Millrose Championships were born. As supporters, meetings and attendances began to decline in the 1990s, Europe became increasingly dependent on indoor sports; however, the Millrose Tournaments continued to be owned by the Schmertz family.
Three Madison Square Gardens, two world wars, one Great Depression, and the Millrose Tournament lives on to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
This year’s centennial meet saw 40-year-old Gail Devers, the meet and American record holder in the hurdles, win the event in a time of 7.86 seconds. fastest in the world this year and nearly two seconds better than the current world record. for the elite (40+) players at 8.71.
Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva set a Millrose Games record as she competed for the first time on American soil. Isinbayeva is a 17-time world record holder; he broke his own world record and made his last attempt at Millrose but missed.
At the famous Wanamaker Mile on Saturday, four-time winner Bernard Lagat battled Craig “Buster” Mottram, the 6-foot-3 Commonwealth Games champion, and Alan Webb, the new “home grown” champion. of America. Lagat, a Kenyan runner, appears to have become an American citizen.
Lagat’s legacy has been cemented as he is a two-time Olympic 1,500 meter medalist. Webb became the first American high school senior to break 4 minutes for the indoor mile (3:59.86), and at the outdoor Prefontaine Classic in Eugene (OR) ran 3:53.43 to break the school record. national runner-up Jim Ryan, 36 years old. record. In 2004, Webb won the 1,500-meter Olympic Trials, and ran the outdoor mile in 3:48.92 that year.
The Wanamaker Mile is unique and difficult because the 160-yard track at Madison Square Garden is a banked course compared to the 200-meter indoor track. Because the turns are shorter and harder, there are 11 turns instead of 8.
In this year’s race, Alan Webb was ahead behind Pacemaker Moise Joseph’s 1:54.99 half mile, then Bernard Lagat, the defending champion, until Australian Buster Mottram sprinted ahead, 4 laps to go.
Mottram knew that Lagat thought it was important to take the lead with two laps to take the win, so Mottram poured it on and continued to lead on the last lap. Lagat entered another gear and won with a better finishing speed of 3:54.26. Mottram was second in an Australian record 3:54.81, with Webb a disappointing fourth.
I really loved Alan Webb. He is very mentally to do better with Lagat. In an interview with Lagat before the match, the announcer reminded Webb that Lagat had beaten him many times and asked how Webb was going to beat him this time. My heart.
I’ve run too many races and know how the announcer seals Webb right there. I don’t think Webb was ready to answer that question right before the race, and he couldn’t have mentally adjusted before his race.
Webb’s response to the reporter was “he needs to be stronger” when a better answer would have been “he needs to know better,” especially since Webb ran a tactical race and knew his leg speed was good enough for him. Lagat in the competition. stop.
If not, there’s no way he could have won without a preemptive push in hopes of catching Lagat. Lagat is Kenyan, not a turtle. He can fly and run. Webb’s best indoor mile was a 3:55.18 win a short week ago in Boston.
Remember, Lagat won in 3:54.81, only 37 hundredths of a second faster. I think Webb is physically ready, but it’s going to take emotional and mental work to beat Lagat, it’s better to be tough, brave and brave.
They run the Wanamaker Mile for the same reason they run the Super Bowl. You can say all you want about who’s going to win or whatever, but the winning team has to prove the game day narrative.
Dick Patrick ended his pre-conference speech with this excellent aside:
Howard Schmertz was 7 years old when he saw his first Millrose game in 1933, with his father, and met manager Herb Schmertz.
Howard Schmertz, who succeeded his father as manager in 1975, only missed two Millrose events while fighting in World War II. (Here’s Howard) Schmertz’s greatest Millrose moments:
10) Bernard Lagat won the Wanamaker Mile in 2005 in a Madison Square Garden record 3:52.87.
9) Suleiman Nyambui won the 1981 5,000 (meter race) after defeating Alberto Salazar, winning the New York Marathon. Nyambui’s world record 13:20.4.
8) Ireland’s Eamonn Coghlan won a record seventh Wanamaker Mile in 1987, ahead of Marcus O’Sullivan (another Irish runner).
7) In the long jump in 1984, Carl Lewis first placed second and achieved a world record of 28 feet, 10¼ inches.
6) Marine Corporal John Uelses, using the newly invented fiberglass mast, was the first person to clean 16 feet in a mast.
5) In 1974 Tony Waldrop recorded the first sub-4-minute mile in Millrose history.
4) Mary Decker won the 1,500 (meter race) by 80 yards in 1980, setting a world record of 4:00.8.
3) In 1955 Gunnar Nielsen of Denmark retook his mile record from Wes Santee in 4:03.6. Meanwhile, Fred Dwyer was driven off the track on the final lap, and Santee struggled down the home stretch at Nielsen’s track.
2) In 1942, Cornelius Warmerdam, using a bamboo pole, was the first person to clean 15 feet in a museum. He broke the Millrose mark of 14-3, held by Sueo Ohe, who died a few weeks before Japan invaded the Philippines.
1) In 1959 John Thomas, 17, became the first person to clear 7 feet in the high jump, and Charlie Dumas became the first to clear 7 feet outdoors.
Hats off to Dick Patrick for bringing back some great memories. And hats off to the Millrose Games, the best indoor games in the world.
Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley
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