Emily Lipari isn’t intimidated by the bright lights of the Millrose Games. At this point, competing at the annual local jewel of the indoor track season is somewhat of a tradition. The former Roslyn High School standout has fond memories of running in high school events back when the meet was held at Madison Square Garden. Even last year, with the games fully staged at its current home — The Armory in Manhattan — Lipari competed in the 3,000 meters and placed ninth. But, this year, Lipari will step onto the track when the lights are brightest and the stakes are highest.
The 26-year-old, who now lives in Seattle, will return home to run in the NYRR women’s Wanamaker Mile at the 112th running of the games Saturday. The draw puts Lipari right in the center of the marquee women’s event of the meet.
“I was here 10 years ago and here I am still running, but at a different level,” Lipari said. “It’s a pretty special thing, because you have this amazing facility and this really nicely run meet that’s basically in my backyard.”
The Wanamaker Mile isn’t part of the vast preshow event that consists of high school, youth, and masters races. No, the Wanamaker Mile is the show.
“I had gotten into Wanamaker my first year out of school, but I decided not to do it because I wasn’t ready for the pace it was going to be going through at,” said Lipari, who graduated from Villanova in 2014. “But now, after four years of post-collegiate running under my belt, I finally feel ready for the type of field it’s going to be. I’m really excited.”
Lipari, whose personal best mile time is 4:31.68, according to the Millrose Games website, has no intention of being window dressing. The field is a good one, with defending champion Colleen Quigley and last year’s runner-up Kate Grace returning to replay a battle that went straight to the tape. But Lipari, ever the competitor, expects to be right in the mix.
“When you get into these big races, you don’t just want to be a participant there,” she said. “Everybody there is working hard and putting their heart and soul into the sport. I’m going in there with the hope of being top three. I don’t worry about the time too much because if you race well and place well, the time will come on its own.”
Lipari, a professional runner with an adidas sponsorship, competes for the Mission Athletic Club, based in San Diego. Lipari said she commutes between Seattle and San Diego often, sometimes spending a month at a time on the road,
On her way to the summer running circuit in Europe, she often stops to visit her family in Roslyn. She said she comes home to Long Island "every couple months." Lipari expects a lot of that support system will be rooting for her on Saturday as she runs one of the bigger races of her career about 35 minutes from where she grew up.
“I have a big support system in New York,” she said. “It kind of feels like you’re racing in front of a home crowd. I have a lot of friends from college that live in the city now, so a lot of them are coming out to watch. I’m hoping I’ll have some good energy in the stands. I’m really pumped about that.”
It should be a big Saturday. And to think, Lipari started running just to stay in shape for soccer. Yes, the same runner who will be toeing the line in one of the most prestigious indoor races of the season raced at Roslyn with an eye on a future in a different sport.
“For a long time, even as a senior, I thought I’d be playing soccer in college,” Lipari said. “I was talking to schools that were looking to allow me to do both track and soccer, but then it ended up going the track route and I was really happy with my decision.”