JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT Elle Purrier was a 5000 specialist, the New Hampshire grad stamped herself as a burgeoning 1500 threat with an epic mile at the Millrose Games. A perfectly executed final lap brought her home in an American Record 4:16.85 that rates as the second-fastest indoor time in history and was a whisker shy of the absolute AR.
The pace was hot from the start, with Megan Mansy towing the field through the halfmile in 2:08.4. German star Konstanze Klosterhalfen took over at that point, with Canada’s Gabriela Debues-Stafford, Britain’s Jemma Reekie and Purrier trailing as the rest of the field lost contact. Purrier passed Reekie into 3rd at the bell and moved ahead of Debues-Stafford at the top of the backstretch. Coming off the final turn she swerved into lane 2 to slingshot past Klosterhalfen and sprinted home to pull off the shocking upset.
Purrier, who won the ’18 NCAA Indoor mile title, shattered Mary Slaney’s 38-year-old indoor AR (4:20.5) and just missed Slaney’s absolute AR 4:16.71 from ’85. Only Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba (4:13.31) has run faster undercover. “I wasn’t looking at the splits,” Purrier admitted after the race, still in disbelief at the time. “I kinda heard a few things here and there but I was just focused on competing.” (Continued below)
Behind her, Klosterhalfen (4:17.26), Reekie (4:17.88) and Debues-Stafford (4:19.73) all set national records, moving to Nos. 4, 5 and 8 on the all-time world list. En route, Klosterhalfen also set an NR at 1500 (3:59.87), while Purrier’s 4:00.20 just missed Regina Jacobs’ USATF-ratified AR 3:59.98, which T&FN does not recognize.
Purrier, who finished 11th in the world champs 5000 in October (8 places and nearly 30 seconds behind bronze-medalist Klosterhalfen), had a feeling she might PR, but was unaware just how fast they were running. “Honestly this is only my second race indoors so far [this season], so I wasn’t really sure of my fitness,” said the Vermont native, who won the 2M at the Boston GP on January 25. “My race two weeks ago went pretty well, but I haven’t really been running the mile or 1500 as much so I wasn’t really sure.”
While Purrier already seemed like a decent bet to make the U.S. Olympic team in the 5000 this summer, she admitted this result means she will “definitely take it into consideration” whether to go for a spot in the 1500. She heads to Albuquerque next weekend for the USATF Indoor, where she’s contemplating a 1500/3000 double. ◻︎