The Fifth Avenue Mile Presented by Nissan, an annual NYRR event since 1981, once again brought thousands of runners out to test themselves over the short and exciting one-mile distance. On a cloudless, cool morning on the first day of autumn, runners had the wind at their backs for an extra push toward new personal bests.
The course, a straight shot down Fifth Avenue, takes runners from the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 80th Street to Grand Army Plaza at 60th Street.
A heat for wheelchair and handcycle athletes started the morning on a speedy note followed by a series of nine races for various age groups. Between races, Cheer New York, along with a group of break dancers, kept fans near the finish entertained and the energy high.
The mile is the distance that most American runners relate to (few are asked, “What can you run a kilometer in?”), and the race brought out athletes of all ages to compete. In that field, local favorite Sid Howard stepped out for his 31st consecutive run down Fifth Avenue. “I’ve been injured,” he said after the race, “but I had to keep the streak going.” The day’s most experienced competitor, 94-year old William Benson of Valley Stream, NY, crossed the line in 14:46.
After the age-group races, some of the tri-state area’s top athletes competed in the NYRR Road Mile Championships. On the women’s side, Nicole Schappert of the New Jersey–New York Track Club broke the tape in 4:34.3. In the men’s race, Westchester Track Club member Harbert Okuti led the way, finishing in a time of 4:03.3.
Women’s and men’s races featuring some of track and field’s top professional athletes followed, and the pros returned to the course afterward to cheer on young runners of ages 8–14 in the Kids’ Race.
With only 5,280 feet to cover, the mile is a distance that runners of all abilities and ages can enjoy, and Fifth Avenue has provided them the chance for more than 30 years. What can you run a mile in?