NEW YORK CITY, September 10 — Scotland’s superiority in Manhattan continued with a sweep of the 5th Avenue Mile titles, with Jemma Reekie and newly crowned world champion Josh Kerr navigating steady rain and a slippery course to come out on top over impressive fields in the 20-block race, pocketing $5000 each. This marked the third year in a row that Scots topped both podiums.
The women were up first and Melissa Courtney-Bryant of Great Britain was at the front of a tightly bunched pack, flanked by Reekie (who won this race in 2021) and U.S. indoor record holder Elle St. Pierre — racing for the first time since giving birth to her son Ivan on March 04.
Kaela Edwards surged to the front just before halfway to collect a $1000 leader bonus, then just as quickly backed off and rejoined the group. She ended up finishing 13th but finished under the 4:32 required to collect that prize.
The racing began in earnest moments later when Reekie, Australian Jessica Hull (two days removed from a 4th-place finish in the Brussels DL) and U.S. 1500 champion Nikki Hiltz accelerated to the front.
Reekie, who finished 5th in the 800 in Budapest, gradually opened up a slight gap on the field, but just before 1500m Ireland’s Sarah Healy snuck through on her right to take a brief lead. A final burst from Reekie put her comfortably back up front and she crossed the line in 4:19.4, well shy of Laura Muir’s course record 4:14.8 from a year ago.
“With 800m to go, I thought, ‘That’s my distance,’ and I was like, ‘I can run 800m pretty hard,’” she said with a laugh. “I was quite confident and I knew I had that kick in my legs for the end.”
Healy (4:20.0) took 2nd, followed by Courtney-Bryant (4:20.6), who snuck up on Hiltz (4:20.7) at the tape. St. Pierre showed that her fitness is returning nicely with a 7th-place showing in 4:23.3.
Reekie, who split with longtime coach Andy Young in March, now works with Jon Bigg. “We’re really focusing on that 800m, so I think we’ll see the benefits of that indoors and outdoors next year,” she said.
A few weeks removed from his astonishing upset victory in the Budapest 1500, Kerr came to New York looking to settle what he called “unfinished business.” Erasing a disappointing 10th-place showing on 5th Avenue last year was sufficient motivation for the Seattle-based Kerr, despite exhaustion from post-Worlds media commitments and a draining run in Zürich, where he came up short on his aggressive bid for a UK Record.
He put himself near the front in the early going, along with France’s Azeddine Habz and American Johnny Gregorek. U.S.-based Kenyan Amon Kemboi sprinted to the lead at halfway to collect $1000 (he would finish 11th and comfortably run under the 4:00 needed to pocket the bonus).
Kerr briefly lost his position at the front but used the downhill portion of the course to slip ahead of Great Britain’s George Mills. From there he gradually increased his lead, looking back several times in the final 100 meters for a threat that never materialized. His winning time of 3:47.9 came tantalizingly close to the event record 3:47.52 set by Sydney Maree back in ’81.
“It’s a very different effort to run a mile down a street in flats versus running around the oval with spikes on,” Kerr said. “Those guys are really good, but it’s the end of the season so everyone’s tired. But I was really excited to go out and run hard. My body was able to be capable of it, but I’m pretty wrecked right now.”
Mills (3:49.9) barely held off New Zealand’s Geordie Beamish (3:50.0), who had been back in 9th with a quartermile to go. Vincent Ciattei (3:50.3) came on strong for 4th as the top American.
For Mills, the race capped an intense season-ending tour of 4 races in 11 days, including a world-leading track time of 3:49.64 four days earlier in Pfungstadt, Germany, and a 1500 PR of 3:30.95 in Zürich.
“We have a long-term plan and it’s just taken a long time to show the form that we believe that I can get to,” he said of a summer that saw him place 3rd at the British Championships but miss selection for the Budapest roster. “But these last few weeks have been really fun.”
Kerr, citing mental and physical exhaustion, has opted to skip the DL Final and will instead turn his focus to rest before beginning his build-up for the Paris Olympics, where he’ll aim to upgrade from the bronze he won in Tokyo.
“I’ve been training and racing for a long time this year and I was glad to put out a performance like that today,” he said, “but I can’t imagine performances like that are going to continue if I keep pushing my body.”
5th AVENUE MILE RESULTS
1. Josh Kerr (GB) 3:47.9; 2. George Mills (GB) 3:49.9; 3. George Beamish (NZ) 3:50.0; 4. Vincent Ciattei (US) 3:50.3; 5. Azeddine Habz (Fra) 3:50.5; 6. Sam Prakel (US) 3:50.5h; 7. Johnny Gregorek (US) 3:51.2h; 8. Kasey Knevelbaard (US) 3:52.0h; 9. Cooper Teare (US) 3:52.2; 10. Henry Wynne (US) 3:52.5; 11. Amon Kemboi (Ken) 3:53.4h; 12. Thomas Ratcliffe (US) 3:54.0; 13. Morgan Beadlescomb (US) 3:54.5; 14. Woody Kincaid (US) 3:55.2; 15. Eric Holt (US) 3:55.3h; 16. James West (GB) 3:58.0; 17. Olin Hacker (US) 3:58.6; 18. Charles Philibert-Thiboutot (Can) 3:59.6; 19. Erik Sowinski (US) 4:01.9.
1. Jemma Reekie (GB) 4:19.4; 2. Sarah Healy (Ire) 4:20.0; 3. Melissa Courtney-Bryant (GB) 4:20.6; 4. Nikki Hiltz (US) 4:20.7; 5. Adelle Tracey (Jam) 4:21.3; 6. Jessica Hull (Aus) 4:21.6; 7. Elle St._Pierre (US) 4:23.3; 8. Nozomi Tanaka (Jpn) 4:23.4; 9. Katie Snowden (GB) 4:23.8; 10. Laura Galván (Mex) 4:23.9; 11. Dani Jones (US) 4:24.7h; 12. Carina Viljoen (SA) 4:27.7; 13. Kaela Edwards (US) 4:29.7; 14. Helen Schlachtenhaufen (US) 4:30.4h; 15. Susan Ejore (Ken) 4:30.6; 16. Emily MacKay (US) 4:31.8; 17. Gaia Sabbatini (Ita) 4:32.3; 18. Vera Hoffmann (Lux) 4:34.0; 19. Regan Yee (Can) 4:35.5; 20. Courtney Frerichs (US) 4:38.2.