Casey Comber took the time to take in the sights and sounds that surrounded the array of races at Saturday’s BAA Invitational Mile.
Comber had just finished a strong second to Hobbs Kessler in 4:08.27 and his comments echoed those of several athletes who competed in the three-lap race on Commonwealth Avenue and Boylston Street.
“It’s definitely different from the track, but it’s fun, said Comber, a five-time All-American at Villanova. “This is what racing should be. It’s an interesting course and there’s a ton of people out here cheering. I loved it.”
Comber had to work his way from the back to battle Kessler to the marathon finish line on Boylston Street. Kessler was a step ahead at the finish with his 4:07.91 and crowd favorite, Johnny Gregorek, who attended Seekonk High and Villanova, clinched third in 4:09.19.
“I was almost in last on the first lap,” said Comber. “What I really wanted to do was work that last lap to get to the front and give myself a chance. I did that, but like I said Hobbs is a savvy racer. I gave him just an inch of space on the inside. I tried to get back there but just couldn’t. It was a solid run though and I’m pretty happy.”
Kessler, who runs for Adidas, took the lead for good on the last lap and used his strong finishing speed to garner the win.
“I was a little nervous but I think my form was there,” he said. “It’s my biggest pro win. I didn’t think my form was going to be there from my training. It’s nice to have a win. I took the lead going into the third to last corner. I kind of pushed people away on the last lap and tried to be fast and relaxed on the back.”
There was a cluster of runners at the front of the women’s professional race and the winner didn’t emerge until the final straightaway. Arkansas Razorback Krissy Gear surged hard and put daylight between herself and runner-up Elizabeth Bird of Great Britain. Gear was clocked in 4:39.98 and Bird registered a 4:42.37. Kenya’s Susan Ejore was third in 4:42.57.
“We emphasize racing and having fun in the process,” said a beaming Gear. “We’re really not heavy into track training yet, but this was a good start.”
Newton South standout Amelia Everett was back on the starting line of the scholastic mile event after winning the 3,000-meter race as an eighth-grader. Everett led from the gun and ran a controlled 5:10.85. Newton North’s Ciara Evans, who ran a personal best of 5:01.5 on Wednesday in a dual meet against Brookline, pulled away from the chase pack to take second in 5:15.30.
For Everett, who will attend Stanford, the nostalgia of coming back to race five years later was not lost on her.
“It’s kind of like I’ve come full circle because I ran it in eighth grade and now I’m running it my senior year,” she said. “It’s so so fun. It’s a really cool event. It’s a road mile so I knew it would feel pretty different so was kind of like let’s take it as I feel run fast and see what happens. I just decided to go. I really had no expectations.”
Evans made it a point to get away from Sasha Lamakina of Framingham, who finished third in 5:24.35, and get as close as she could to Everett.
“I’ve never run a road mile before so I wanted to enjoy it and see what I could do,” Evans said. “I had a group of girls with me so I wanted to keep pushing and use them to go faster.”
The scholastic boys race turned into a runaway as Brimmer & May’s Brian Gamble just missed the division record. Gamble pumped a fist into the air and was all smiles as he broke the tape in 4:27.83. Brookline’s Declan Mulligan of Brookline was second in 4:38.83 and Newton’s Alex Hrycyszyn clinched third in 4:29.19.