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September 14, 2022

Scotland Sweeps 5th Avenue Mile Titles With Laura Muir, Jake Wightman Victories

For reasons I can only assume are related to New York City’s current municipal staffing shortages, the stretch of 5th Avenue from 80th to 60th Streets has not been renamed “Wee Scotland.” Nevertheless…

There’s only one way to tie a bow on the 2022 track and field season — with a road race! The beautiful tradition of the 5th Avenue Mile is that after a year of butting heads against one another, athletes can show up in one of the least stressful race settings they’d hope to find and enjoy a good old-fashioned foot race.

With the finish-line appearing like a mirage in the distance with a half mile to go, even more so than on the track, the event caters to true racers. The people who don’t need splits or lines on the track thrive. Here, more than almost anywhere else, it’s only about beating the people next to you — there is no consolation prize of a personal best when you lose.

There is a clock, but it doesn’t really matter what it says unless it’s quite fast. Which, in the case of Laura Muir‘s course record of 4:14.8, it was. So I suppose in this instance the clock does matter. (Sorry for contradicting myself.) But finishing anywhere between 4th and 20th here might as well be the same thing because the depth chart is quite forgettable.

It was also a great day for Nikki Hiltz, who finished second to wrap up a fantastic summer racing domestically, picking up lots of momentum, cash, and wins along the way. And not far behind them was Eleanor Fulton, a fan-favorite here at The Lap Count, who continued her ascent as a world-class athlete despite a lack of sponsorship, a full-time job, and a remote coach. Fulton ran personal bests for every distance she competed in this year, 800 all the way up to 5,000m.

And as we move onto the men’s race, let me reiterate that the clock doesn’t matter —, oh wait… apparently Jake Wightman’s winning time was 3:49.6, and if I may contradict myself some more, this was the deepest mile field ever assembled: the entire field of 21 men broke four minutes!

In second place was the Welshman Jake Heyward, in what will be his (or anyone’s) final race in an Oregon Track Club Elite uniform. This is a tragedy for two major reasons. It’s such a beautiful design with an iconic history behind it. But perhaps more significantly, the team will not be continuing in its current capacity. Both Heyward and Will Paulson are following coach Mark Rowland to Victoria, Canada.

(Watch many of our athlete interviews from the weekend.)

As a thank you for the access and interviews all year long, the CITIUS MAG team then threw a proper after party for the athletes in Midtown, since Coogan’s is gone forever. Despite their best collective efforts, the assembled lightweights could not rack up a big enough tab to completely bankrupt us. But maybe it’s still a good idea for me to link to our Patreon and remind brands of the sponsorship opportunities so we can financially recover before next year…

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