How fast can you travel a mile in Manhattan? A minute or so on an express subway, a couple more in a taxi or rideshare without traffic, and seemingly eons when gridlock descends.
There was no traffic jam for Jenny Simpson and Jake Wightman, the winners of the 2018 New Balance 5th Avenue Mile. In just 4:18.8 and 3:53.5, respectively, they ran gutsy races to triumph over stacked fields in cool and rainy conditions. Simpson, of the United States, extended her 5th Avenue Mile victory total to a mind-boggling seven, while Great Britain's Wightman, the 2018 European Championships bronze medalist, scored his first-ever win here. Colleen Quigley of the United States was second to Simpson in the women's race; four-time champion and 2017 winner Nick Willis of New Zealand was second to Wightman for the men.
“It’s kind of slick, so I wanted to play into that apprehension and take it out hard and say, if you want to run this race, you’ve got to come with me,” Simpson (also the event record-holder) told NBC. “We’re going to risk it all, life and limb. Colleen was a really formidable opponent today. I saved a little for her.”
For most of the pro runners, the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile was their final race of the 2018 outdoor season.
The 22 one-mile heats featured age-group races for runners as young as 8 and as old as 90+, wheelchair races for youth and adults, and specialty heats for NYPD/FDNY and media, as well as five shorter Rising New York Road Runners events for children ages 2–10. Four invitational races featured professional runners from around the world as well as the NYRR Road Mile Championships for top-level local runners.
Many runners and their fans stuck around (never mind the rain) to watch the top locals and world-class pros compete over the 20 blocks they'd just covered.
With the action starting early in the morning into the afternoon, the 38th 5th Avenue Mile may have at times felt like a marathon to NYRR staff and volunteers. But the energy never faltered, on the course or on the sidelines, as 7,700+ participants of all ages and abilities continued to stream down 5th Avenue from East 80th Street to Grand Army Plaza.
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Members of NYC-area teams competed for points in the 2018 NYRR club standings; others earned credit toward their 9+1 program. Many simply embraced the opportunity to run fast. Melissa O'Brien, running her first-ever New Balance 5th Avenue Mile, set a 37-second PR. "I'd run a 7:45 mile as part of an interval working with NYRR Group Training, and I was hoping to go a bit faster than that, but to run 7:08 was amazing," she said. The best part? "I felt like I could have run even faster!"
What's your next racing challenge? Check out races of a variety of a variety of distances for all ages and abilities from now through December 31 in our calendar.