Millrose Games

Elle Purrier runs second-fastest indoor mile in history

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NEW YORK — Elle Purrier ran the second-fastest women’s indoor mile in history, breaking a 37-year-old American record with an eight-second personal best at the Millrose Games on Saturday.

Purrier came from third place going into the final lap to win in 4:16.85, taking seven tenths of a second off Mary Slaney‘s national record. Only Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba‘s world record was faster — 4:13.31 from 2016.

She had no idea of the history she made until her trackside TV interview with NBC Sports’ Lewis Johnson.

“I held on for dear life, kicked as hard as I could,” Purrier said after winning the Wanamaker Mile at the Armory in Manhattan’s Washington Heights. “I’m still trying to grasp it. I’m just so surprised.”

Purrier, 24, came into the meet expecting to lower her personal best of 4:24.88 from last year. The 2018 NCAA indoor mile champion for the University of New Hampshire made her first world championships team last year in the 5000m, finishing 11th in Doha.

“I don’t know if I’m a miler or 5000m runner,” she said before Millrose. “At heart I’m a miler but really enjoying the training for the 5k.”

Purrier, who grew up milking cows on her family’s century-old Vermont dairy farm, set one of three American records at Millrose. The others came in the 800m from world champion Donavan Brazier and world bronze medalist Ajee Wilson.

The indoor season wraps up with the USA Track and Field Indoor Championships in Albuquerque next weekend, airing on NBC Sports.

The world indoor championships, traditionally in early March, were postponed due to the coronavirus in host nation China.

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Donavan Brazier, after another U.S. 800m record, looks to David Rudisha

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NEW YORK — Donavan Brazier lowered the U.S. indoor 800m record again at the Millrose Games, but he’s hoping later this year to achieve a career first: line up in a race with David Rudisha.

Brazier, who won the world outdoor title in 2019 to stamp himself as Tokyo Olympic favorite, clocked 1:44.22 at the Armory in New York City on Saturday. He previously lowered a 26-year-old American record at last year’s Millrose Games, when he ran 1:44.41.

“When I saw the clock going 1:42, 1:43, I was like, oh, I have a chance,” Brazier said Saturday. “To get it by point-two seconds, there’s really not much room for error there.”

Brazier wasn’t the only American record-breaker Saturday. Ajee Wilson lowered her national 800m record from 1:58.60 to 1:58.29. Elle Purrier took down Mary Slaney‘s 37-year-old U.S. indoor mile record, clocking 4:16.85, the world’s second-fastest time in history.

Full Millrose Games results are here.

The indoor season wraps up with the USA Track and Field Indoor Championships in Albuquerque next weekend, airing on NBC Sports. The world indoor championships, traditionally in early March, were postponed due to the coronavirus in host nation China.

Indoor success is fantastic, but in an Olympic year the focus is outdoors. Last Oct. 1, Brazier broke a 34-year-old American outdoor record to become the first U.S. man or woman to win a world 800m title.

It came in the absence of Rudisha, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion and world-record holder who hasn’t competed since 2017, partly due to injury. Rudisha’s 2012 Olympic title, when he set the outdoor world record of 1:40.91, is considered by many the greatest race in the sport’s history as he carried the rest of the field to the fastest times in history for each placement.

Brazier, who was 15 in 2012, said he couldn’t remember watching that final live. But he said he’s watched it dozens of times on replay, more than any other race.

“It’s a work of art,” Brazier said. “He was probably in sub-1:40 shape.”

Brazier can’t fathom running as fast as Rudisha, whose world record is 1.43 seconds faster than Brazier’s American record. But he’s carried a simple mindset since being eliminated in the first round of the 2016 Olympic trials, when he was ranked third in the world for the season as a college freshman.

“If I can work as hard as I was the year before, I’ll just naturally get faster,” said Brazier, who last year ran the fastest indoor 600m in history, in addition to breaking the U.S. indoor and outdoor 800m records.

The success puts pressure on Brazier to become the first American to win an Olympic 800m title since Dave Wottle did so wearing a hat in Munich in 1972.

“I think the target’s on my back just because I won 2019, but it’s definitely not as big of a target as [Rudisha] had on his back post-2012,” Brazier said. “I’m not thinking that I’m like this David Rudisha takeover because I’m not really damn near close to his times, but I think, for now, I’ve got that small target on my back. I guess I’m just trying to make it as big as possible.”

Rudisha, if he returns to racing this year, looks questionable to defend his Olympic gold medals in Tokyo. Five of the nine fastest men in the world last year were Kenyans, and only three can go to the Games.

“He’s a hell of a racer,” Brazier said. “I don’t know how fast he’s going to be if he comes back.”

In other events Saturday, nine-time Olympic medalist Allyson Felix took sixth in a 60m won by American Javianne Oliver in 7.13. Felix’s time — 7.32 seconds in an off-event for her — was .03 faster than she ran last Saturday.

Felix is bidding to race the 200m and 400m at June’s Olympic trials, where her better chance is in the 400m, where at least six women will make the Olympic team due to the 4x400m relays.

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Allyson Felix headlines NYRR Millrose Games, live on NBC Sports

Allyson Felix
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Allyson Felix leads a host of Olympic medalists at the world’s top annual international indoor track and field meet, the NYRR Millrose Games, live on NBC Sports on Saturday.

Felix, the most decorated female Olympic track and field champion with nine medals and six golds, competes in the 60m at the Armory in New York City. She takes on a field including U.S. 100m champion Teahna Daniels and 17-year-old Jamaican phenom Briana Williams.

NBC and NBC Sports Gold air live coverage of the Millrose Games on Saturday from 4-6 p.m. ET. Full start lists are here.

Athletes are preparing for the USA Track and Field Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., the following weekend, and the Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., in June. The world indoor championships, traditionally held in even years, have been postponed due to host nation China’s coronavirus.

Felix is racing indoors this season for the first time since 2016. She missed the last indoor season following the birth of daughter Camryn. Though Felix is predominantly a 400m sprinter, she said in the fall that she plans to be ready to race the 200m at the Olympic trials. The 200m comes after the 400m at trials, so it could be a safety net if Felix is unable to make the team in the 400m.

In other Millrose Games events, the 60m hurdles features the two fastest 110m hurdlers from last year — world champion Grant Holloway and Daniel Roberts, both Americans.

Friday update: Holloway was unable to get a flight out of Florida in time to compete.

World champion Nia Ali and world-record holder Keni Harrison are entered in the women’s 60m hurdles.

Another world champion, Donavan Brazier, leads an 800m field that includes fellow U.S. Olympic team contenders Bryce Hoppel, Brannon Kidder and Isaiah Harris.

In field events, Olympic champion Ryan Crouser takes on world champion Joe Kovacs in the shot put. Olympic silver medalist Sandi Morris headlines the women’s pole vault.

Action concludes with the Wanamaker Men’s Mile. Two-time Olympic 1500m medalist Nick Willis of New Zealand aims to win that race for the first time.

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