Tonight the first Monument Mile Classic event will take place at the University of Stirling track.
The event, organised by Michael Wright and a team from Central AC, wants to help boost distance running in Scotland.
The mile is an event cemented in running history, still very popular in the US, but under represented in the UK in recent years. It was 18 months ago that Wright and another Central AC club member set the wheels in motion on the idea.
“We’ve had fantastic athletes like Andy Butchart coming through the club in recent years and we wanted to do something to help promote other such runners coming through too” said the Central AC man. “We’ve got a decent price structure too. £100 a piece for the men’s and women’s elite races but additional cash for fast times”.
“Any man in the elite race running under 4:05 or woman running sub 4:40 gets access to an additional £400 prize fund, so it’s £1000 in total for those two races. If just the winner is the only one under those times then they will get £500 each, if there are more under the time barrier then the additional fund is split.”
As we spoke Wright was getting the gazebo set up and University of Stirling were having the track cleaned for the first race at their venue. It’s great to see a sporting university like Stirling getting behind grass roots events like the Monument Mile.
Race 12: Elite Women
The elite races are lining up to be competitive too. The women’s field has reigning Scottish National XC champ Mhairi MacLennan who will be looking to turn early season cross country success into a victory over the mile tonight. The Inverness Harrier ran a 10k PB of 33:28 at the Night of the 10,000m PBs recently.
Steph Pennycook of Fife AC was second behind MacLennan at the XC but has a much faster PB of 4:15 over 1500m and will possibly be looking for revenge on the track. Jenny Selman, also of Fife AC, has a 1500m PB of 4:20 and will be hot on the heels of her club mate.
There isn’t a pacemaker in the women’s race as no pace was requested so it may play out differently to the men’s event with a more tactical event, but this may change with the prizes for fast times on offer.
Race 13: Elite Men
Ben Greenwood of Perth Strathtay Harriers will be following behind Central AC’s pacemaker who has been asked to pace 2:30 for the first kilometre in the hope of seeing a sub 4 minute mile. The Scottish International has already run a blistering 3:48 1500 season opener at Stratford and the U23 athlete will be gunning for the win.
Central’s Jamie Crowe, currently on a scholarship with Lamar University in Texas, has made big inroads since going stateside in Autumn 2017, including a 14:06 5k in March and a 29:39 10k in April.
The fastest 1500m PB in the race belongs to Central AC’s Alistair Hay, who ran for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Doha in 2010. Although not as fast as that currently, the mile is a tough race physically and mentally. Could this play into Hay’s hands?
Dale Colley, another Central AC athlete, is Scotland’s reigning 1500m champion from 2017 and has a 3:48 1500m PB that certainly can’t be ignored. It’s the same PB as Greenwood, but with the former being a 800m specialist might a strong finish come into it or will the mile distance play into the hands of others?
There is a host of talented athletes toeing the line in both the mens and females elite fields, as well as the 11 other races. Juniors taking on their first mile event can then watch those inspirational figures taking the field afterwards first hand.
Hats off to Michael Wright, Central AC and the University of Stirling for putting on an event to help develop Scottish and British distance running in years to come. Whilst Hawkins, Muir, Butchart and McColgan lead the current charge, the next generation won’t be far behind.
Full race information and start lists can be found on the Scottish Athletics website.