The world’s most iconic indoor athletics meet: Millrose Games

No annual indoor athletics event quite holds the status of the Millrose Games, so it would be remiss of SPIKES not to take a nosy at what we can see this year.

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Tight for the tape: France’s Linda Ferga-Khodadin edges the USA’s Danielle Carruthers for the 60m hurdles win in 2005.

What’s the big deal with this event?

Celebrating its 106th edition this year, the Millrose Games is quite simply the most iconic indoor athletics meeting on the planet. It was first organised in 1908, when employees at the New York branch of the Wanamaker department store formed the Millrose track club. The event has attracted many of the world’s greatest athletes over the years, including the flying Finn Paavo Nurmi, sprint and long jump king Carl Lewis and multi-event superstar Jackie Joyner-Kersee. This year’s event is staged at the Armory.

Hold on, wasn’t this event associated with the historic Madison Square Garden for years?

Yes, it was. The Garden staged every Millrose Games from 1914 to 2011. It was traditionally staged on a Friday evening, and even the officials wore tuxedos! Last year, Millrose president Norbert Sanders shifted the event to the Armory in upper Manhattan. It has also switched to a Saturday event, and last year was declared a big success.

So what have we got to look forward to in the 2013 edition?

A traditional highlight is the legendary Wanamaker Mile. Previous winners of which read like a who’s who of middle-distance running. Kip Keino, Filbert Bayi, Noureddine Morceli and Ireland’s “Chairman of the Boards” Eamonn Coghlan. The most successful man in the history of the race is American Bernard Lagat, who has won a staggering eight times.

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Wanna make it nine, Bernard? Not this year, he says.

And what about this year’s race?

Well, Lagat has opted not to compete in the mile. This year he has entered the two-mile race, more of which later. Last year’s mile winner, the 2011 world bronze medallist Matt Centrowitz, has been in mixed form this season. Expect his countryman Lopez Lomong, the 2012 Olympic 5000m finalist to feature, with Australia’s Ryan Gregson and Ireland’s Ciaran O’Lioniard leading the overseas charge.

So Lagat is in two-mile action, eh?

Yes, he is. He currently holds seven US records and he will be looking to reclaim this one from the young pup Galen Rupp, who recorded a time of 8:09.72 in Arkansas last year. Lagat is a Millrose master, so expect something special from the super-smooth 38-year-old who just keeps on going. US steeplechase record holder Evan Jager is also entered.

Anything else tickle the fancy, so to speak?

For a rip-roaring head-to-head battle, it is hard to look past the 600m showdown between Duane Solomon and Nick Symmonds. The pair finished fourth and fifth respectively in the 2012 Olympic 800m final, becoming the second and third US athletes in history to dip below 1:43. Solomon showed his aptitude for 600m by setting a US record 1:15.70 in Glasgow last month.

That’s quite enough of the men. What about the women?

The Wanamaker Mile for women sees US high school prodigy Mary Cain in action. The 16-year-old, who is coached by the great Alberto Salazar, has been ripping up the record books throughout this indoor campaign. Cain is aiming to better the US High School mile record of 4:32.78 she set in Boston last month but will first have to beat Canada’s two-time NCAA champion Sheila Reid.

I quite like my field events, too…

That’s lucky, as we have two US 2012 Olympic champions on show. Pole vault gold medallist and New Yorker Jenn Suhr is the hot favourite in the chicks with sticks battle. The USA’s world and Olympic champion Brittney Reese meets her compatriot Janay DeLoach, the Olympic bronze medallist, in a high-class long jump and Olympic silver medallist Brigetta Barrett goes in the high jump.

Where can I catch the action?

The event will be broadcast live on ESPN3, a web-based service on February 16. The main events start from 7pm (Eastern Standard Time) and re-broadcast from 8-10pm on February 17 on ESPN.