It's OK to play in the house on winter days. Proof is the Millrose Games, ready for a 107th annual demonstration of elite running, jumping and throwing Saturday at the Armory in Upper Manhattan.
Among this year's headliners are celebrated Millrose stars (eight-time mile champion Bernard Lagat, in the 2,000 meters this year), Olympic champions (decathlete Ashton Eaton, in the 60-meter hurdles and pole vault), world champion medalists (Eaton's wife, world heptathlon silver medalist Brianne Theisen-Eaton, in the 60 hurdles and high jump), and a loaded women's mile featuring teen sensation Mary Cain.
Cain, a 17-year-old senior at Westchester's Bronxville High School who finished second in the event last year, recently set an American junior indoor record in the 1,000 meters. Among her challengers is this year's high school phenom, Alexa Efraimson of Camas, Wash., who has her eyes on Cain's 4-minute, 28.25-second effort of a year ago.
Also in the field, a mix of professionals, collegians and the two preps, Cain and Efraimson, is Roslyn's Emily Lipari, a Villanova senior who seeks a qualifying time in the mile for next month's NCAA indoor championships.
For Cain -- who already has turned pro but will attend college in Portland, Ore., next year to be close to her Eugene-based coach Alberto Salazar -- the Armory offers a homey setting. Her father, an anesthesiologist, works across the street from the Armory at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital.
Cain has been racing and training at the Armory since eighth grade. Although this year, she said: "I haven't gotten there because it's been so bad. I'm been training on my treadmill downstairs [at home].
"That's only during the crazy winters," she said. "It's been so bad that I'd rather be on a treadmill than potentially hurting myself. I've had to do pretty long runs on that."
Far from feeling the wind in her hair and the grass under her feet, Cain has had workouts on the treadmill that last up to an hour and a half.
"But luckily, I have a TV in front; that changes the whole game. One day, they had, like, a [Steve] Prefontaine movie on," she said of the 1970s U.S. distance star who died in a car crash at 24. "I'm like, 'Oh, I can get inspired here.' "
With friends and family in the crowd, Cain can expect a lively atmosphere like last year when Millrose fans afforded her the loudest ovation of the night when she challenged professional Sheila Reid down the homestretch.
"When you're kind of running on your own, and you're hurting," Cain said, "then you have all these people screaming at you, you need to go. So it's definitely great."