Leer surges to Wanamaker Mile win in year's best time

Sat Feb 15, 2014 7:41pm EST
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. champion Will Leer put on a brilliant closing kick to overtake Lawi Lalang and Nick Willis and win the featured Wanamaker Mile in a season leading time of three minutes, 52.47 seconds at Saturday's Millrose Games.

Leer, who also won the 3,000 meters at last year's U.S. indoor championships, was way back in the pack before making his move, charging to third place and then finishing with a stirring sprint to win the famed mile race.

"I kind of just lost track of the laps, you couldn't hear a split," the bearded Leer said after victory in the 107th Millrose Games in front of a noisy crowd of about 5,000 at The Armory.

"It was so loud in here, everybody was going nuts. I was moving up and then all of a sudden I heard ding, ding, ding, ding (for the bell lap) and I said 'I gotta go, I've got a lot left.'"

Lalang, of Kenya and the University of Arizona, held the lead until the last straightaway and finished second in 3:52.88 to set a U.S. collegiate record.

Two-time Olympian Willis of New Zealand tried to pass Lalang on the inside going down the stretch but was boxed in by the Kenyan and finished third in 3:53.02.

"Will (Leer) ran a fantastic race," said the gracious Willis. "I just got beaten by a much better runner on the day."

Missing from the race was world silver medalist Matthew Centrowitz, who withdrew due to an upper respiratory problem.   Continued...