Mikey Brannigan looked on in awe as Eric Jenkins lifted the Wanamaker Mile Trophy after winning the Millrose Games’ signature event in three minutes, 53.23 seconds Saturday at the Armory in Manhattan. The race is the final, and most anticipated, of the historic games, and Brannigan wants in.
“I want to run in the Wanamaker mile soon,” Brannigan, 20, said. “I’ll save that for a couple of years [until] I get more race experience racing against pros. It’s a fast field out there.”
The Northport native has never been shy about his goals and, if history is any guide, he usually achieves them. The Wanamaker features some of the best indoor milers in the country, if not the world, and Brannigan believes that he can one day run among them.
He’s already well on his way, having achieved so many other lofty goals. Brannigan, who won 1,500-meter gold at the Paralympic Games in Rio last summer, broke his own 1,500 meter Paralympic World Record in the Invitational Men’s Mile, ran some three hours before the Wanamaker starting gun.
Brannigan, who is autistic, placed seventh in 4:04.26 in the open-field race. California’s Cristian Soratos, 24, won in 3:54.23. Brannigan ran a 3:45.5 1,500 meter split, en route to the mile time, besting his previous 1,500 world record of 3:48.85, set in 2015, coach Sonja Robinson said.
“I executed well,” Brannigan said. “That last 400 was tough.”
It is the second Paralympic record Brannigan has broken this month. He smashed the 3,000 mark (8:07.64) at the Armory Track Invitational last weekend.
As for Jenkins, he caught Dix Hills native Kyle Merber, 26, with 100 meters to go and drove to victory. Merber took third in 3:54.67. Ohio’s Clayton Murphy, 21, snuck in between the winner and Merber to place second in 3:54.31.
“When it came down to two laps to go, I wanted to make sure I was in a good position to press a little bit,” Jenkins, 25, who grew up in New Hampshire, said.
Merber took the lead as the final lap began, but Jenkins was able to fight back.
“It’s hard for me to kick and stretch it out from the front, so once he passed me and I was able to respond, it felt really good,” Jenkins said.
Despite being 200 meters away from a Wanamaker championship, Merber’s post-race sprits were high.
“I’m really happy with it,” Merber said.
Sifan Hassan, 24, of the Netherlands, won the woman’s Wanamaker mile in 4:19.89.
Homegrown Olympian Maria Michta-Coffey, who grew up in Nesconset, lives in Farmingville, and placed 22nd in the 20-kilometer racewalk at last summer’s Olympic Games in Rio, won the one-mile racewalk in 6:31.85.
“I think I closed really well,” Michta-Coffey, 30, said. “I started in the eighth position. I’m not used to that. I didn’t really get into a good rhythm at the start. I kind of fell asleep in the middle of the race. But then I picked it up with about 500 meters to go.”