BY LARRY EDER — The Paavo Nurmi 2 mile is one of the highlights of the NYRR Millrose Games. In 2017, it may have been the best race of the meet. A great field, with it all coming down to Andrew Butchart, Mo Ahmed, Ben True and Ryan Hill...
Indoor distance races can be full of drama. They can also be dreadfully boring. The 2017 Paavo Nurmi 2 Mile was one of the finest middle distance races that I have seen in a long time. Here is what I saw:
Andrew Butchart, the Scottish star, has come into his own. A fine sense of humor, great racing skills and a soul that needs to compete, Butchart is now a factor in any race he runs. He has run a fine 3000 meters, a 3:54 mile and now, an 8:12 two miler!
Mo Ahmed, the fine Canadian runner, who matriculated at the University of Wisconsin, battled Mo Farah and Paul Chelimo in the Rio 5000 meters, where he finished fourth. Mo Ahmed is fast and gutty. Again, like Andrew Butchart, two of the fine global distance runners who are beginning to stake claims to top positions in distance running.
Then, you have Ryan Hill, a U.S. champ, a World Indoor silver medalist, who knows how to kick like few others. Ryan was lining up for his first race of 2017. Oh yes, he is an NC State alum ( respect to Rollie Geiger).
Ben True was running his second indoor race. Seriously. His coach, Tim Broe, wanted Ben to get some races in. It allows the native New Englander to compete over shorter distances and get some speed work in. On January 28, Ben True ran against Matt Centrowitz at the 2017 New Balance indoor grand Prix, where True ran a 3:57 mile for fourth, and Centrowitz won.
In the Paavo Nurmi 2-mile, Ford Palmer took the field out fast, but the field did not follow. Pacing had the mile at 4:07.4. Ryan Hill was at 4:10, with Butchart and Ben True, who moved up from very back, hit the mile in 4:11.
Andrew Butchart pushed the pace with seven laps to go. The pace began to pick up, as Ryan Hill, perfectly positioned and Mo Ahmed, were right behind Butchart. Ben True got up on his toes and began to really move with 800 meters. By then, Matt Centrowitz was having a tough time and would finish in 8:21.
With three laps to go, Butchart, Hill Ahmed and True were all there. With one lap to go, Hill took the lead, and True followed him, with Butchart and Ahmed following.
The last lap was fantastic. As Ryan Hill went into full gear, True was on his shoulder. Early in the season, Ryan's final 200 meters was not his end of season European racing final kick. Ben True used his strength down that final, fast stretch and went all out, as did Hill. Just with 20 meters to go, Ben True matched Ryan Hill's speed and as Ryan faltered, Ben True went by for the win, suprising himself a bit too.
Watch these two guys, Ryan Hill and Ben True. Class acts, brilliant runners and two who could provide the US with some serious firepower over 5000 meters.
For Hill and True, this is the beginning of a redemptive season. Both had tough experiences at the Olympic Trials. 2017 should be years for Ben True and Ryan Hill to show what they are truly made of: huge lungs, great speed, huge desire and the need to run a perfect 5000 meters.
But for now, rewatch the race. Note that Ben True is not mentioned before the race, but how he moves through the crowd. Then, note how True and Hill duke it out. The Paavo Nurmi 2-mile would have made the Flying Finn very happy, with such an exciting battle.
Pl. Athlete / Team Cnt. Birth Result Score
1. Ben TRUE USA 85 8:11.33 1245 WL, PB
2. Ryan HILL USA 90 8:11.56 1244 PB
3. Andrew BUTCHART GBR 91 8:12.63 1237 PB
4. Mohammed AHMED CAN 91 8:13.16 1234 PB
5. Lawi LALANG KEN 91 8:18.70 1201 PB
6. Garrett HEATH USA 85 8:19.61 1196 PB
7. Matthew CENTROWITZ USA 89 8:21.07 1188 PB
8. Morgan PEARSON USA 93 8:26.17 1158 PB
9. Ben BLANKENSHIP USA 88 8:27.10 1153 SB
10. Andrew BAYER USA 90 8:30.42 1133 PB
11. Brian SHRADER USA 91 8:35.45 1105 PB
12. Donald CABRAL USA 89 8:38.60 1087 PB