The B.A.A. Invitational Miles became a real institution at the Boston Marathon on the Saturday prior. The Mile always follows the B.A.A. 5k, where 9000 runners run a 5k, and then hang out on Boylston Street and environs to watch juniors and elite run a fast street mile! 

I love to watch the miles right from the Lenox Hotel entrance, walking down the street to capture the flavor and excitement! 

David Monti did this piece for Race Results Weekly, one of our long time partners in the coverage of distance running. Enjoy the photos from Jane Monti as well! 

 

COMBER, GEAR VICTORIOUS AT B.A.A. INVITATIONAL MILE
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2024 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission. 

BOSTON (13-Apr) — Casey Comber came to last year’s B.A.A. Invitational Mile hoping to win but was passed on the inside in the last 200 meters by Hobbs Kessler.  That loss stung a bit for the former Villanova University athlete who won two Big East Conference indoor titles during his collegiate career.

“I just didn’t quite take the second turn tight enough, and he just got inside and gave me a nice little shoulder,” Comber told Race Results Weekly a year ago, shaking his head. It was just a good race move by him.”

This year, with Kessler not competing, Comber got another chance to shine.  The Under Armour-sponsored athlete stayed patient while Britain’s Henry McLuckie built up a four-second lead on the pack after two of the race’s three laps.  Comber waited for the final lap to strike.  This time, coming around those last two corners, first onto Exeter Street, then onto Boylston Street, Comber ensured he was in the right position.  He moved to the front and held his place right to the line.

“You know it’s funny,” Comber began. I thought about Hobbs passing me on that corner over there and got on the inside.” He continued: “I was able to close on McLuckie right at the second-to-last corner here, which I refer to as really like the end of the race. I’ve never seen anyone get passed in this last stretch. I’m glad I wasn’t the first one.”

Comber was timed in 4:08, well off of Nick Willis’s 2013 course record of 4:03.3, but that didn’t matter.  He got the win, his second of this nascent outdoor season.

“I knew I did what I wanted to do and gave myself every chance to win,” Comber said. As my coach would say, you’ve just got to see it through that last 150 meters around that turn.”

Aaron Ahl of Canada took second place in 4:09, and Vivien Henz of Luxembourg took third in 4:10. McLuckie, who led for three-quarters of the race, was fourth in 4:11.

In the professional women’s competition, Krissy Gear of Hoka Northern Arizona elite, the race’s defending champion, executed a textbook race to win again in 4:43.  Gear, the reigning USATF steeplechase champion, ran on (or near) the front for the first two laps, then had to battle with Sweden’s Yolanda Ngarambe of the Atlanta Track Club over the final 250 meters.  Gear passed Ngarambe before the final left turn onto Boylston Street and won by slightly more than a second.  Third, went to British steeplechaser Lizzie Bird (Asics) in 4:45. She just edged first-year pro-Micaela Degenaro (Puma) by 16/100ths of a second.

Krissy Gear takes BAA MIle, photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly, used with permission

“I had the pleasure of being a little under the radar last year,” Gear told reporters.  “That’s not the case this year.  That’s very good practice for the position I will be at going forward.  I just kept telling myself to stay calm, know that you have another gear in case you must use it.”

Gear, who ran collegiately for the University of Arkansas, kept a mantra in her head that she got from her coach, Jack Mullaney, before the race: turn and burn.

“I asked my coach, can you give me a word or phrase?” Gear recounted.  “Something like ‘peace’ or ‘calm.’  He was like, ‘Turn and burn.’ So, like the whole race, I was like, ‘turn and burn, turn and burn.’”

Both Comber and Gear won $3000 in prize money.

In the scholastic miles for high school students, the wins went to Sasha Lamakina of Framingham on the girls’ side (5:23) and Eli Merritt of Wellesley (4:37) for the boys. Also, Lamakina’s little sister Daria won the girls’ middle school mile just a few minutes before.

“It’s pretty fun,” the older Lamakina said when asked about her race. I really wanted to win.”

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