Mile News

Veterans Simpson, Willis champions again at New Balance 5th Avenue Mile on record-setting day

September 08, 2019

In thrilling finishes, Jenny Simpson breaks event record by clocking 4:16.1 to edge Elinor Purrier, while Willis wins in photo-finish over Chris O’Hare & Sam Prakel; event & world record 9,275 participants raced across the 24 heats at the world’s most iconic road Mile


NEW YORK – American Jenny Simpson won her record-extending eighth title in an event record time and New Zealand’s Nick Willis won his record-breaking fifth title in a photo-finish at the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile on Sunday. In total, on a beautiful late summer day, 9,275 runners raced across the day’s 24 heats, the most ever in the history of the event since it began 1981 as well as the largest competitive road Mile ever.

Simpson, 33, a Rio Olympic bronze medalist from Boulder, CO, clocked a 4:16.1 for her seventh consecutive and eighth overall victory. Her time bettered the previous event record of 4:16.6 that she shared with PattiSue Plumer. Her New Balance teammate, 24-year-old Elinor Purrier took a close second in 4:16.2, with 24-year-old Rebecca Mehra completing the American sweep in 4:22.0 to finish third. Overall, 10 women went sub-4:30, the Mile's benchmark for women.

"It really feels like the ownership of this strip of Fifth Avenue belongs to me," Simpson told NBC's Lewis Johnson post-race.

In the professional men’s race, the two-time Olympic medalist Willis, 36, pushed past Great Britain’s Chris O’Hare and the United States’ Sam Prakel at the very last second to take the tape in 3:51.7, adding to his victories from 2008, 2013, 2015 and 2017. With his fifth win, Willis surpassed Isaac Viciosa of Spain for the most career male wins on famed 5th Avenue. O’Hare clocked the same time as Willis in the blanket finish, with Prakel right behind in 3:51.8. Overall, 18 men went sub-4 minutes, the historic standard for men.

Overall, $34,000 was awarded in prize money, including $5000 for each pro race champion.

The New Balance 5th Avenue Mile stretches 20 blocks down Manhattan’s most famous thoroughfare and also included specialty heats for youth and seniors. In 2019, NYRR is celebrating 20 years of providing free youth running programs, which now serve 250,000 kids around the country. To mark the occasion, the event’s first Back to School Mile took place shortly before the professional athlete races and was free and open to New York City’s Department of Education teachers and staff. Taking part was NYRR Team for Kids Ambassador Meb Keflezighi, the only person ever to win the New York City Marathon, Boston Marathon and an Olympic Marathon medal.

Complete results for the 39th edition go to:

Photo credits: NYRR

Tags: sam prakel (35) , rebecca mehra (5) , nick willis (109) , jenny simpson (138) , fifth avenue mile (35) , elinor purrier (29) , chris o'hare (18)

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