New York vs. Boston, America vs. France

June 01, 2012

Thank you to Hakon DeVries who wrote a blog post in response to our call for 'most memorable mile' submissions in 359 words or less. His story was originally posted on his blog at Hakon is currently an Associate at Asset Management Ventures and an Assistant Track and Field Coach at Stanford University.

My most memorable mile, without a doubt, took place on February 6th, 2004.  The track was set for the 97th edition of the Millrose Games, held in the most famous arena in sports, Madison Square Garden.  I knew each of my competitors from previous races at the Armory on W168th Street.  As race time approached, we were herded into the staging area, then onto the track.  As I walked up the stairs, an usher motioned for me to come over.  He says, “Take a quick stride on the turn, don’t want to fall in front of all these people.”  I sheepishly took him advice and the rest of the field followed.  As I walked toward the start line on the 160-yard oval, I looked to my left to see track fan Bill Cosby, itching to say “good luck.”  I shook his hand quickly then focused my attention to the race.

After the gun went off I remember sprinting to keep up with the Boston via France native Victor Gras.  I heard 60.7, “Phew, it’ll slow.”  After two more quarters in 67.x, we found ourselves separated with three to go.  The banks were too steep to pass, so I had to make a go in the straightaway.  Tries number one and two failed; he was ready for me.  Try number three; I go for it, all I have, and got the corner.  Coming around the bend the bell sounds, goosebumps on my body and sprinting with everything I have.  One corner down, too scared to look over my shoulder I shift into another gear, second corner down and I can see the tape.  The roar of the 14,000+ crowd was deafening as I crossed the line in 4:14.29.  My coach would tell me after the announcer, Ian Brooks, had gotten a rise out of the crowd by proclaiming, “It’s New York versus Boston, America versus France, come on New York.”  It wasn’t the fastest I ever ran, but certainly my most memorable.  Now when I watch the Millrose Games on ESPN I know a high schooler is going to experience what I did, not a better feeling in the world.

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