It's a new twist on an old Long Island favorite.
The 3,200 meters and the 3,000 will undergo a makeover Thursday in the Cougar Invitational track meet at Bellmore JFK. For the first time in Long Island history, both races will feature a "last man standing" survival component, turning long and calculated races into dramatic dashes.
Nine runners will start the boys Cougar 3,200 and the girls Cougar 3,000. As the number of laps dwindle, so will the field, as the last-place runner will be taken off the track after each time around. On the bell lap, there will just be two runners left, setting up a 400-meter shootout for the victory.
"It's more than just a typical distance race," Bellmore JFK coach and meet organizer Chris Mammone said. "It's who's the fittest one out there, who can kick it in midrace and stay strong."
Mammone got the idea for the races after watching a YouTube video of the Puma Battle Royale, a last-man-standing 5k. After making sure that he could legally do the same at the high school level, he decided to bring the concept to his school's invitational.
"I thought to myself, 'If I was in high school, I would have loved to be in -- or even just watch -- a race like this,' " said Mammone, a former distance runner for Valley Stream South.
The 3,200 and the 3,000 are traditionally slower races in which runners pace themselves until the final few laps. With the survival aspect, however, there is an added level of strategy.
"Do you start out strong and make the field stay honest?" Mammone said. "Or do you stay toward the back and just rely on your kick every lap?"
In addition to bragging rights, the winners also will receive a nice piece of hardware -- a 37-inch trophy