David Torrence remains the king of the road or, more specifically, the Nicollet Mall.
Torrence, 25, won the USA 1-Mile Road Championship on Thursday for the third consecutive year. He raced from 3rd to 14th Street, through the middle of downtown Minneapolis on the mall, in 3 minutes, 58.4 seconds.
His time broke his course record set two years ago by nine-tenths of a second and earned him a second $10,000 bonus for breaking 4 minutes.
"This is like [my] home course, basically," said Torrence, of Oakland, Calif. "I really enjoy the fact that the course hasn't changed, and I know it pretty intimately. The last couple years I have ran it about three, four times each trip" to prepare for the actual race.
This year his only training run came Thursday afternoon, a few hours before the 8 p.m. race.
He had his race strategy all planned.
"I knew the last 200 [meters] is where it mattered because it is uphill and it can take it out of you," Torrence said. "I was biding my time, biding my time. When I made that turn [which gives runners a view of the finish line], I put the hammer down and I guess no one could respond."
Torrence, in third place at that last slight bend, quickly passed two runners about a meter ahead of him and pulled away. Finishing almost three seconds behind him was Aaron Braun (4:01.2) of Flagstaff, Ariz. Craig Miller of Madison, Wis., was third in 4:01.3.
"I saw the clock [at the tape] and I was way under," Torrence said. "It felt amazing. I got the three-peat and I got 10 grand."
He also earned $4,000 simply for winning the race.
The top runners ran the first quarter mile in about 58 seconds, Torrence said, and he had to hold off hard moves with 800 and 400 meters left by two different runners.
"They were afraid of my speed, so they wanted to run it out of me," he said. "I thought it worked for a while. I was getting real tired."
Until he got to stretch and finish. "The last 30, 40 meters was celebration," he said. "This year I submitted myself in history a little bit. They [U.S. track and field officials] were saying that nobody had won three road championships before. I think I was the first one to do it."
Other Hall in spotlight
Sara Hall, the wife of Ryan Hall, the top U.S. marathoner, came into the women's USA 1-Mile Road Championships as the favorite and, like the men's winner, also won easily. Hall, second two years ago, finished in 4:30.8 to earn $14,000 also. She needed to break 4:32 for her $10,000 bonus.
Heather (Dorn- iden) Kampf and Gabriele Anderson, both former Gophers living in Minneapolis, finished second and third in 4:36.3 and 4:36.9, respectively.
"It is not the best [weather] for running a fast mile," Hall said. "But the crowd support was incredible. I was really shocked how many people would be out here in the cold and rain. I am really impressed by these tough Minnesota people."
Hall, of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., was second in the 5th Av. Mile in New York City last September, and won the Grand Blue Mile on April 26 in Des Moines.
Ryan Hall took fourth in the Boston Marathon last month but in his first mile since 2006, finished well back.
The two U.S. mile road racing championships were the last two races of seven on the Nicollet Mall. The entire event was called the Medtronic TC 1 Mile, and even the slowest runners were cheered by the crowd in the final stretch.
As was Sara Hall.
"The crowd was so loud, I thought maybe there was someone catching me and they were excited about it," she said. "But I think they were just excited that I was close to breaking the record. It was a relief to cross the finish line."