SPRING STREET MILE ATTRACTS REGIONAL TALENT; OFFERS UNIQUE PRIZE MONEY STRUCTURE
Connecticut’s fastest mile is quickly becoming a regional highlight for its deeply talented fields, fast times, and its many unique offerings. The Spring Street Mile, hosted by Manchester Running Company (MRC), will be run for the fifth time on June 11th in Manchester, CT and race director Patrick Byrne has thought of everything a runner might want in an event.
The Spring Street Mile is, appropriately named, a one-mile assault down Spring Street in Manchester, CT. While Manchester is home to one of the largest races in New England (the Thanksgiving Day Manchester Road Race), the Spring Street Mile offers a much quieter setting in a residential area of the town of 55,000. The mile event, on a USATF certified course, is a point-to-point course with a drop of 135 feet in elevation. After an initial ascent for the first 100 meters of the course, runners are treated to a gentle rolling course that, while very fast, is also very runnable.
“We wanted a course that would be fast, but not injure someone,” said Byrne. “You don’t want to be running so fast that you need throw on the brakes in order to not fall over, this course offers you the chance to be really smooth, but also very fast.” Though Byrne admits the very last 100 meters of the course is the steepest and thus the most challenging, it also makes for an incredibly fast finish.
The winner of the 2015 edition of the race was NY/NJ Track Club star Erik Berg, who covered the course in 3:55, and the last quarter in 56 seconds. Central Connecticut State University alum Elizabeth Eberhardt has won the race the last two years – last year she ran 4:42, running away from her competition in the final 400 meters. The race also serves up some great team competition as it plays host to the USATF-CT Road Racing 1-Mile Championship.
Prize Money & Talent
For a smaller race, Manchester Running Company attracts big talent. In addition to Berg, in 2015 the men’s side featured studs Dan Vassallo, Pat Fullerton, Patrick Hubbel and Austin Trainor from outside of CT, in addition to all the local talent. In the last two years, 24 men have broken 4:20 and Berg’s 3:55 is the fastest mile ever run in Connecticut; three men broke four in 2015.
On the women’s side, Eberhardt has had her way the last two years, but she’s faced plenty of competition from the CT ladies. Seven women have broken five minutes in the last two years and four were under 4:50 a year ago.
MRC rewards that competition with a $1,250 individual prize purse, another $2,100 is available for USATF-CT teams. $300 goes to the winner, $150 for second and $75 for third – not bad for a race with less than 200 people. Masters winners are also rewarded with a $50 check to the winner.
In 2016, MRC is upping the ante and making the race more interesting by offering intermittent prize money ($25) for the first runner in each race to pass through the half mile and ¾ mile mark. Byrne claims, “we wanted to make it just a little more interesting and see if it changes the way moves are made in the race, potentially a winner could take home $350 if they led the entire second half of the race.”
Separate Men’s and Women’s Races
When organizing a race that was so fast, Manchester Running Company decided to make two separate races for a number of reasons. The women run first at 9:00 a.m. and the men are sent just ten minutes later.
“First and foremost, it was for safety,” said Byrne. “We didn’t want to mix so many speeds together all on one starting line, having two separate races makes it exponentially safer for everyone.”
In addition to safety, Byrne claims it’s much more fun for everyone to have the separate races. While the men are warming up, they can watch the women’s race unfold. When the women are cooling down, they can see the men going. If you’re going to pay the entry fee (which isn’t much – only $20) you might as well get some entertainment value for your investment.
The separate races also allows MRC to film both races and offer commentary which you really only see at major international competitions. “If you started everyone together, you really are only filming the men’s race, you might see the women way in the background, but you can’t see what’s going on,” said Byrne.
Finally, the two different races offer a unique championship experience you don’t often see on the roads. The Spring Street Mile is the only USATF-CT Grand Prix race that is a true men’s championship and women’s championship, you won’t get help from teammates of the opposite sex.
Byrne concludes by saying, “I can’t really speak for the ladies, but I would be intimidated and grossed out if I was a woman, having to step on the line with a bunch of hairy, sweaty men every week. The mile is a race where I hope the start is just a little more relaxed for both genders.”
With a race designed with the competitive runner in mind, the Spring Street Mile is worth the trip to Manchester – even if you don’t win, there is something for everyone at this race. Say you don’t have a great day at the mile, the event also features the Life Without Limits 5k Run, Walk & Roll right after it. So stick around and watch the inspiring duo of Rick & Dick Hoyt (along with many of their friends) take to the streets to benefit United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Hartford.
For complete race information visit www.springstreetmile.com