Simpson to Headline First Wanamaker Metric Mile for Women

World 1500m champion Jenny Simpson will headline the first-ever Wanamaker Metric Mile for Women at the 105th Millrose Games at the Armory in New York City next February.  Simpson’s participation in the meet was announced in a joint statement released by the Armory Foundation, which owns the Millrose Games, and the New York Road Runners, which will be sponsoring and organizing both the traditional Wanamaker Mile for men and the new Metric Mile (1500m) for women.

“I am really looking forward to coming to New York for the first ever Women’s Wanamaker Metric Mile in February,” Simpson said through a prepared statement. “It will be the highlight of my indoor season and at one of my favorite running venues.  It’s great that the New York Road Runners has gotten behind this meet.”

The meet, the oldest indoor track meet in the United States, is scheduled for Saturday, February 11, and will feature high school action in the afternoon followed by elite competition in the evening.  The 2012 edition of the meet will be the first at the Armory, which boasts one of the country’s fastest 200m, banked indoor tracks.  Bernard Lagat set the American two mile record on the track there last February.

Simpson, 25, has already enjoyed competitive success at in New York this year.  She won the mile at the New Balance Games last January in a world-leading 4:28.60, then after her gold medal run in Daegu, Korea, at the World Championships last August, she won the Fifth Avenue Mile last month in 4:22.3 in her first-ever road mile.  Meet director Ray Flynn thinks that Simpson is just the first of a string of top athletes who will be competing at the Millrose Games.

“We want to announce that the Millrose Games at the Armory will be an outstanding meet that will attract the world’s great track & field athletes,” said Flynn, who is still the Irish record-holder for the mile 3:49.77 personal best.  “The first-ever New York Road Runners Wanamaker Metric Mile for Women will help to achieve that.”

The New York Road Runners have long stood for gender equity, producing the first-ever road race for women, the New York Mini-Marathon in 1972.  President and CEO Mary Wittenberg saw an opportunity to expand the Wanamaker Mile to include women.  With Flynn, she chose the 1500m distance for women to allow fans to see a race at a different distance, and to tie back to the meet’s historic connection to the four-minute mark (the first sub-4:00 mile at Millrose was 3:59.7 by Tony Waldrop in 1974).  The meet did have a 1500m for women in past editions, and the meet record is 4:00.8 by Mary Decker set back in 1980.

“We are pleased to be partnering with the Armory in helping bring the best in our sport to New York City by taking an active role in assembling the fields for the Wanamaker Mile,” said Wittenberg.  “It is high time that there was a women’s Wanamaker mile and we are especially excited about making that happen.”

The Wanamaker Mile for men has been held every year since 1926, and is named after Rodman Wanamaker of the now-defunct Wanamaker’s department store.

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