The 2016 TC 1 Mile Recap – The Pride of Minnesota
On Thursday May 12, the 2016 TC 1 Mile was a showcase of Minnesota running talent. Ten of the 19 elite athletes have ties to our great state in the North.
From the women’s field, both Gabriele Grunewald and Maddie van Beek hail from Perham, Minnesota. Gabriele was also an accomplished Golden Gopher. Further strengthening the field were Meghan Peyton and Katy Moen, teammates on Team USA Minnesota. And let’s not forget the Queen of the Road Mile, Rosemount native, the most decorated Golden Gopher Track and Field athlete, Team USA Minnesota team member, and four time champion of the USA 1 Mile, Heather Kampf.
From the men’s field Ben Blankenship, a Stillwater native, and Travis Burkstrand, from Apple Valley, are both former Gopher standouts. Team USA Minnesota had two competitors in this fast field with Jon Peterson and Biya Simbasa. Garrett Heath, a Winona native, and defending TC 1 Mile champion, rounded out the Minnesota native elite field.
TC 1 Mile Race Recap
The race began outside the Mill City Museum, taking runners by the Guthrie theater, around Gold Medal Park and finishing along the Mississippi Riverfront with the river and Stone Arch Bridge as a backdrop.
The first half of the course has a slight incline, but all that gain, and then some, is lost at the half mile turn. After the incline, the back stretch curves along the riverside, lined with screaming crowds, powering burning legs through a mostly flat stretch of road to the finish.
At the press conference, I spoke to the coach of Team USA Minnesota, Dennis Barker. I asked him what Heather’s goals were and he simply said to “to win”. He also told me that the other representatives from the team were going out primarily to test their fitness and just hold on to the strong pace.
I also asked about the kinds of strategies he and Heather worked on and if he had any tips for applying those strategies for us in the open field. Coach Barker told me they made mental cues for certain parts of the race, single words to remind Heather where she was and help her keep focused — that’s definitely an easy protip we all could use! He also said to push harder at halfway, then more at the ¾ mark, telling me the intensity will continue to increase, even though the pace may not. But consciously pushing, especially at ¾, will prevent you from slackening the pace, or even just coasting in.
His parting words for me were,
It’s five minutes of pain. Only five minutes. Make it your best five minutes.
*Insert your time here, it makes for a great personal mantra!
At the starting line, the ladies looked like they were having fun. Sure, there were the stony looks of the focused competitor, but every now and then one would break out into a silly dance with the music, garnering smiles from the field.
When they lined up for the starting horn, it was all business. They took off at a pace I can only describe as “insane” with long, loping strides that made the insanity seem graceful and easy.
Dashing to the finish, I saw Kampf come in unbelievably strong, absolutely dominating the field with a finishing time of 4:34.2. The crowds were roaring cheers for their hometown Queen!
For the men’s race, I was able to catch a glimpse of them across Gold Medal Park, and a glimpse is all I would get. If the women’s pace was insane, the men’s was something else entirely incomprehensible!
Ben Blankenship came around the final bend in the lead, putting on a dominating performance of his own. He broke the course record of 3:56.1 with his 3:55.8 victory. About breaking the record, Blankenship said:
At 1200-meters I knew I had a little bit of leeway, but not enough. I didn’t want to break it by too much, if I come back again next year.
My 2016 TC 1 Mile Race
I told myself I had no expectations for this race, but I’m too competitive for that. While I had performed some workouts to push my speed, I hadn’t done much mile specific work since I’m preparing for Grandma’s Marathon. Regardless, I set my sights on breaking the 5 minute barrier, a goal I’ve longed to smash for some time now.
When the horn sounded, everyone reached for their red line instantly. It didn’t take long before my legs were burning and my lungs and heart were working over time.
I remember seeing the first two clock and hitting my splits. I have no idea what the ¾ mile clock said, I was too consumed with clinging on to the pace with every ounce of strength I had. With 200 meters left I pulled ahead of some woman, and if she’s reading this, I want to both thank her and apologize to her. Every time I caught a glimpse of her in my periphery, I was able to kick just a bit more — Thank you for pushing me. I was also yelling at myself, no words, just a roar to kick up what adrenaline I had left — I apologize if it seemed like I was yelling at you!
I crossed the line angry, as I thought I saw the clock say 5:02. I know I left everything out there. That’s no comfort really; however, it lit a fire to go out and train harder and to take time and enjoy the shorter, more intense distances and learn to run through a whole other world of intensity (and pain). As it turns out, my official time was 4:57!
The Need for Speed
I spoke to a couple friends after the race, asking them how things went. Responses ranged from “Pretty much what I expected” to being surprised by their mile fitness. The consensus seemed to be that people enjoyed the course and couldn’t believe how fast a mile went by!
If you enjoyed your foray into the mile distance, here are two upcoming 1 Mile events:
- Richard A Hoska Midsummer Mile at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on July 6, 2016
- 10th Minnesota Mile in Duluth on September 11, 2016.
To learn more about this iconic American distance and its history, checkout Bring Back the Mile.
I want to give a quick shout out to the Twin Cities in Motion crew — Virginia Brophy Achman, Charlie Maher, Sara Welle, Vanessa Graetz, and Breanne Hegg — for a great event and helping us with everything along the way!
Also, to my good buddy Mike who is fairly new to running. I asked him what his goal was, to which he told me he’d like to break 8 minutes. Goal shattered: 6:45. Congrats buddy!
How did your Race Go?
Share it below. We’d love to celebrate or commiserate with you.