It didn’t take Mary Cain long to start looking ahead to the NYRR Wanamaker Mile.
“I know there’s going to be a lot of good competition,” said Cain on Saturday night, soon after obliterating the U.S. high school indoor record for two miles at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston. “I’m just excited to see what I can do if I really run hard. [Since] my last mile we’ve done a lot of working on getting better at my starts and my race plan.”
Standing nearby, Cain’s coach, Alberto Salazar, called the shorter distance “her sweet spot.”
In that previous mile, Cain broke the 41-year-old record U.S. high school indoor mile record when she ran 4:32.78 at the New Balance Games. On Saturday night in Boston, the 16-year-old from Bronxville, NY, broke Melody Fairchild’s mark of 9:55.92 for two miles by more than 17 seconds when she scorched the Reggie Lewis Track & Field Center’s track with a time of 9:38.68. She finished third behind three-time Olympic gold medalist Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia (9:13.17) and Sheila Reid, a five-time NCAA champion and 2012 Olympian from Canada (9:37.97).
“Having Dibaba next to me on the line was really cool,” Cain gushed afterward. “I was kind of laughing to myself when I started because I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I’m beating an Olympian for like two seconds!”
The Boston mile winner was U.S. Olympian Matthew Centrowitz, who will return to defend his men’s NYRR Wanamaker Mile title at the Millrose Games on February 16. Centrowitz broke the tape in 3:56.26, with eight men finishing under four minutes.
“I had Will Leer on my shoulder,” Centrowitz said of the last lap. “He definitely kept it honest. I knew it was going to be someone; I just didn’t know who … I was going to sit there until I had someone on my shoulder to make me finish that hard.”
Leer was runner-up, in 3:56.35.
At Millrose, Centrowitz will face a NYRR Wanamaker Mile field that includes Americans Lopez Lomong and Robby Andrews and Irish Olympian Ciarán O’Lionáird.
Cain is expected to line up against a trio of top collegians—Abbey D’Agostino, Jordan Hasay, and Emma Coburn—as well as Reid and Sarah Brown.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg