In the 1980s Alcoa ran commercials near the end of NFL games showcasing “fantastic finishes” of prior events that came down to the wire. They were great commercials because the thrilling endings were the exception, not the rule. Even the weekend’s highly contested Super Bowl, which seemed primed for such a fantastic finish, ended anticlimactically. By contrast, the 115th Millrose Games — as the meet does year in and year out — packed fantastic finishes one after another in world class running races.
In setting an American mile record of 3:47 — the second-fastest indoor mile ever — Yared Nuguse led an astonishing 9 runners under 3:55. The 23-year old breakout star beat the prior meet record set by Yomif Kejelcha in 2019. Whereas Kejelcha had gapped the field early and with relative ease, Nuguse had to fend off On Athletics Club (OAC) teammates, including defending Wanamaker Mile champ Ollie Hoare, who finished 3rd in 3:50, setting a new Australian record. Nuguse took flight over the last lap, running it in less than 26 seconds.
The women’s mile was even more exquisite. Rarely in a mile does a front runner get passed by several others with 400 meters to go, only to storm back and win. Scotland’s Laura Muir, an Olympic silver medalist, showed her world class by opening up and accelerating past Josette Andrews on the backstretch of the last lap. Andrews (nee Morris) also finished second last year.
The meet’s longest races, the 3000s, played out in parallel fashion. An OAC runner, Alicia Monson, 24, ran away with an American record, while a Scot, Josh Kerr, showed his Olympic mettle with a barn-burning win.
Monson has now won this event at Millrose three times (her first was in 2019 as a senior at the University of Wisconsin), and her 8:25 sliced six seconds off her winning time last year. Her last two laps were the race’s fastest, taking her under the American record by a fraction of a second. The top eight finishers in the race all set personal bests or national records. NC State’s Katelyn Tuohy, 20, set an American collegiate record, running 8:35.
Kerr, runner-up in the mile last year, showed his strength by moving up in distance and outkicking runners who are more accustomed to the 15-lap indoor race.
Another year, another win for Ajee Wilson at Millrose, this time in the 600 meters with a time of 1:24. Ajee calmly closed the gap and made the pass on Shamier Little, who had jumped out to a considerable early lead. It was Wilson’s 8th consecutive win at Millrose — the last time she didn’t win was in the 600m in 2013, when she ran 1:26 at the age of 18.
Speaking of 18 year-olds, in the 800, youngster Noah Kibet perfectly timed his move, passing Isaiah Harris on the straightaway of the backstretch to win in 1:44.
Photos by Brenn Jones & Siobhan Crise