Ann Arbor Olympian organizes top milers for rare event

Ann Arbor Olympian organizes top milers for rare event

By Steven Marcinkowski,

On Sunday August 4th, a field of national and world class men's milers will assemble at Saline High School for one race, and one race only. The Running Institute Mile features a remarkable field of 10 of the nation’s fastest milers, eight of whom have run sub-four minutes in the mile.

Towards the end of June, a Facebook event started circling around among high school, collegiate and elite runners. The event, "The Running Institute Mile" has been spearheaded by Nick Willis, a two-time Olympian and 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist in the 1500 Meter Run for his home country, New Zealand.

Willis, the former University of Michigan Track and Field great, still lives and trains in Ann Arbor under the guidance of former Michigan head coach, Ron Warhurst. Warhurst guides Willis and other elite runners as part of the team at the Running Institute, a service that offers highly specialized injury assessment, treatment and training for runners.

While attending Michigan, Willis compiled a hefty list of accomplishments including being a five-time NCAA All-American, six-time Big Ten Champion, and two-time NCAA Champion in the Mile and Distance Medley Relay.

The 2013 competitive season for Willis on the track has been a bit of an adventure, however. Currently, he is working through an upper calf strain that he suffered in training. Combining that with the recent birth of his son, Nick has not been able to pursue the racing exposure that most athletes experience going into a World Championship event. Nick is set to compete at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships held in Moscow, Russia on August 10-18.

Along with the other athletes and staff at the Running Institute, Willis was determined to help provide a world-class race while staying close to family.

As the typical American track season is catered towards the high school and collegiate seasons, there aren’t too many races that are held in late July and early August, let alone of this caliber. Another key component that Nick considered when choosing the venue was race simulation. As he is used to training at the University of Michigan, a race at Ferry Field on campus would not give him the race simulation he is looking for. With a strong connection with the Saline High School track and field coach, he chose Saline High School as the site for the event.

This race will surely not disappoint. Key competitors include Liam Boylan-Pett of the New Jersey, New York Track Club. Boylan-Pett is a graduate of Bath (MI) High School, Josh McAlary (Michigan State University, Jackson Lumen Christi), Miles Batty (Brigham Young University) and various other high profile runners.

Another scheduled competitor, Dan Clark, who also trains with the Running Institute in Ann Arbor, recently won the high profile Ryan Shay Mile in Charlevoix on July 27 and is looking forward to the race on the fourth.

"He (Willis) has assembled a great field and we're all looking forward to competing there and running fast for our coach," Clark said.

Willis is definitely excited about the competition and field being assembled for this event and the chance for a fast time.

"It won't be easy, but (there are) plenty of guys in the field with a shot at beating the record," he said.

All these runners will be attempting to run the fastest mile ever run in the state of Michigan. The fastest mile run in Michigan was 3:55.87 by Kevin Sullivan at a similar event in June of 2000. Sullivan is also a former Wolverine standout and a three-time Olympian, representing his home country of Canada. is looking forward to this exciting event and from the response we've seen on Facebook, the entire racing community are as well.

More information:

What: The Running Institute Mile
When: Sunday, August 4th at 8:00 p.m.
Where: Saline High School, Saline, Michigan
Admission: Free

Competitor Prize Money:

1st-$1000, 2nd-$500, 3rd-$250, 4th-$150, and 5th-$100

Current entries with best mile times (or 1500 equivalents):

Nick Willis, Ann Arbor, MI - 3.50
Jordan Macnamara, Eugene, OR - 3.52
Liam Boylan-Pett, New York,NY - 3.54
Joshua McAlary, East Lansing, MI
Brian Gagnon, New York, NY - 3.55
Dan Clarke, Ann Arbor, MI - 3.56
Macklin Chaffee, CO - 3.56
Miles Batty, UT - 3.54
Ian Boyle, Brighton, MI
Kenyon Neuman, CO

For additional information on the event, see the Facebook event page for updated content.