FLEMING ISLAND - Fleming Island master's running stalwart Shelly Allen put her legs to the speed test against some of the best milers in the country and came home with an age group win in the prestigious New Balance 5th Avenue Mile held Saturday in New York's Central Park.
Allen, 55, ran a five minute, 44 second time to win her 55-59 age group convincingly with runner Denise Iannizzotto of New York second in 6:12.
"I ran this same race two years ago and finished in third Place in my age group in 5:52, so the 5:44 yesterday is a nice improvement, especially given that I’m two years older," said Allen, noting the mile is a straight one mile sprint alongside Central Park. "The race is fun and exciting - the course is lined with spectators cheering the whole way, so there’s a lot of energy."
Allen finished in 1,251st place out of 9,275 finishers for the entire event; all age groups.
In August, Allen also ran the Michigan Mile as part of the Bobby Crim Running Festival and finished with a 5:52 time for third place in her 55-59 age group; 11th overall. The 55-59 Age group winner was Marisa Sutera Strange, 56, in 5:28.
"The Michigan Mile has more hills and turns and I didn’t have the new, fast New Balance FuelCell 5280 racing shoes yet," said Allen. "That may account for the time difference of eight seconds."
The Michigan Mile masters' women race was won in 5:06 by Sonja Friend-Uhl, 48, of Boca Raton, the current world record holder for the women's masters indoor mile.
Winning overall titles in the thrilling Fifth Avenue Mile were Jenny Simpson, an American world champion at 1500 meters and also a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist in four minutes, 16.1 seconds in a run that bettered her own event record of 4:16.6, set in 1990. The win was Simpson's eighth title and seventh straight Fifth Avenue Mile title.
In the mens race, Nick Willis, 36 and a two time Olympic medalist from New Zealand, won in 3:51.7 to win over Chris O'Hare, 28, of Great Britain, who was clocked in 3:51.8.
The 5th Avenue Mile is a straight one mile road race with a slight hill in the middle on the outskirts of New York's Central Park. This year's event staged 29 heats of racing emcompassing all age groups and numerous specialty miles including a George Sheehan Memorial Mile (60-plus aged runners) that had a 99 year old finisher.