By Rich Sands, @sands
(c) 2024 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission

NEW YORK (11-Feb) – Josh Kerr broke the World Athletics best for two miles to highlight a thrilling afternoon of racing at the 116th Millrose Games. The Scotsman nearly became the first man to run sub-8:00 indoors, showing the same closing speed that brought him a World Athletics title in the 1500 last summer. His mark was one of several exceptional performances enjoyed by a raucous, sold-out crowd at the Nike Track & Field Center at the Armory.

Americans Elle St. Pierre and Yared Nuguse won the meet’s signature, Wanamaker Miles, with St. Pierre breaking her own American indoor record, while Nuguse narrowly missed his but easily defended his title.

Josh Kerr breaks 2 Mile World record with his 8:00.67, photo by Kevin Morris for the Millrose Games.

The men’s 2-mile has only been contested at Millrose once in the last 45 years, in 2017, though a 3000m has been held many times. The event was shifted to the longer distance so Kerr could target the world best of 8:03.40 set by fellow Brit Mo Farah in 2015.

Kerr, the surprise 2023 world champion in the 1500, has impressed at longer distances. In addition to winning the 3000m at Millrose last year, he also clocked a 61:51 half marathon in December, albeit downhill.

After pacers Hazem Miawad and A.J. Ernst set a quick tempo (Ernst came through 1600 meters in 4:01.88), American Grant Fisher took over at 2000 meters. The U.S. record holder in the 3000, 5000, and 10,000 meters continued to increase the pace but could not shake Kerr. With 300 meters to go, Kerr, who is a member of the U.S.-based Brooks Beasts Track Club, surged to the lead and used an impressive kick to seal the win over Fisher.

Kerr hit the tape in 8:00.67, the fastest ever indoors. (The world outdoor best of 7:54.10 was set by Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen last year.) “It was so hard,” Kerr admitted to reporters. “You know, Grant was always going to be stronger than I am, and hopefully, I was going to have more legs in the last 600. And I was hurting through, maybe, eight laps to go. I decided I wanted to go early, but I just couldn’t.”

The experience humbled the outspoken Kerr. “Running two four-minute miles back-to-back is harder than people think,” he said. “I’m so happy to come off with not only the win but the record.”

As for the question of whether he’ll run the World Athletics Indoor Championships next month in Glasgow, Kerr gave a glimmer of hope to Scottish fans. “I think I need a couple of days to make that decision,” he said. “I’ve shown I’m in great shape. I’m in great shape. If my legs hold up, then why not?”

Grant Fisher runs AR for 2 Miles in 8:03.62, photo by Kevin Morris/Millrose Games

Fisher was rewarded for his hard work with an American record of 8:03.62, taking down the 8:07.41 run by Galen Rupp in 2014. “This was a race, as you can probably tell, where my strategy was to just get on the rabbits and go,” Fisher said. “The rabbits did a great job. I was giving it everything I could. I judged my effort correctly, I just didn’t have any gears at the end.”

The women’s 2-mile featured a different kind of drama when Scotland’s Laura Muir was declared the winner after crossing the finish line second. Ethiopia’s Medina Eisa had surged past Muir in the final sprint to the tape but was disqualified for cutting in from the outside lane too early, just after the start. “I knew from two steps in” that Eisa had cut in too early, Muir told Race Results Weekly. “I could see she was a bit confused at the start, and I tried to show her.”

Laura Muir runs 9:04.84 for 2 Miles, 116th Millrose Games
The Armory, New York, NY, USA, photo by Kevin Morris

Muir’s winning time of 9:04.84 is the second-fastest ever indoors, behind Genzebe Dibaba’s 9:00.48 from 2014. But the more important time for her was the 8:31.45 split at 3000 meters, which is well under the 8:37.00 qualifying time for the World Athletics Indoor Championships. “The mission was to come here and get the job done,” said the 2021 Olympic 1500m silver medalist, who was originally announced for the mile but changed events in pursuit of the Glasgow qualifier.

Melknat Wudu of Ethiopia finished second in 9:07.12, while Alicia Monson (9:09.70) broke the U.S. record. Monson had set the pace for most of the way, but couldn’t quite match the closing speed of Muir and the Ethiopians. “I wanted to push the whole way, and I didn’t have it at the end,” she said after breaking the national record (9:10.28) run by St. Pierre in 2021. “I was just trying to attach to them, but my legs just couldn’t quite turn over,” Monson said. “I knew the American record was still in reach, so I tried to give it all I had at the end.”

Elle St. Pierre breaks AR and wins the Millrose Games, photo by Kevin Morris

While St. Pierre may have lost her 2-mile record today, she was able to bolster her claim as the U.S. indoor best athlete at half the distance. She flew past Australian Jessica Hull at the bell of the Wanamaker Mile and sprinted home in 4:16.41, a slight improvement over the 4:16.85 standard she set while winning the race in 2020 just before the pandemic shutdown.

This was the third Millrose title for St. Pierre (she also won in 2022), who missed last year’s meet while pregnant with her son Ivan, born in March. “I’m just happy to be here,” she said. “It’s been four years since I broke that record, and I was obviously thinking about that coming into the race.”

Elle St. Pierre, 116th Millrose Games
The Armory, New York, NY, USA, photo by Kevin Morris

She was also pleased to turn the tables on Hull, who out-kicked her in the 3000m at last weekend’s New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston. “That was my first race in a while, so it was good to get the rust busted and remember what it feels like the last few laps,” she said. “But getting out-kicked definitely gave me some motivation this weekend.” Hull finished second in 4:19.03, an Australian record.

There had been some talk that Nuguse might try to break the world record in the men’s Wanamaker Mile, but he had to settle for defending his title in one of the sport’s most prestigious races. He took over in the second half after the pacer dropped out and was never seriously challenged. A third quarter of 59.38 essentially put the record out of reach, but Nuguse kicked hard to clock 3:47.83, the third fastest indoor clocking of all time, behind Yomif Kejelcha’s world record (3:47.01) and Nuguse’s winning time (an American record) from a year ago (3:47.38).

Yared Nuguse takes Millrose Mile, photo by Kevin Morris

“Above all, I really wanted to win this race,” said the lanky Nuguse, who also holds the U.S. outdoor record (3:43.97). “I wanted to focus on that more than anything. I knew it was going to be hard because it was going to be most likely me hammering it the whole way, and that’s what it was. I’m still really happy with how I ran that race, and I don’t feel like I’m necessarily at my peak anyway.”

Hobbs Kessler (3:48.66) out-kicked Great Britain’s George Mills (3:48.93) to finish second and become the fourth American to break 3:50 indoors. Britain’s Adam Fogg also broke 3:50, clocking a personal best of 3:49.62.

Kessler’s training partner Bryce Hoppel won the men’s 800m in 1:45.54, a USA season leader, after battling Kenya’s Noah Kibet on the final lap. “I was coming into this really confident,” said Hoppel, a five-time U.S. champion (three times indoors and twice outdoors) who has been working with Kessler and the Very Nice Track Club in Flagstaff, Arizona, for the last few months. “I knew I had the strength and I just wanted to make sure I executed. It’s always interesting to get on those curves and try to make moves. When Kibet went by I just tried to stay composed and I knew I could get him on the last straight.”

Allie Wilson won the women’s 800, passing Olivia Baker in the final strides to grab the win, 2:01.61 to 2:01.91.

The high school miles were won by Samantha Humphries of Flower Mound, Texas (4:41.43) and Riley Smith of Gainesville, Florida (4:05.05).