Queen of the Front Street Mile returns
She has dominated the Front Street Mile like no other elite athlete, man or woman, in the event’s history.
Now, after a two-year absence, American Heather Kampf is back to challenge for a fifth title.
Her four back-to-back wins from 2013 to 2016 put her ahead of all others in the Front Street Mile. Jamaica’s Kenia Sinclair achieved three wins, while no elite man has won more than twice.
The 31-year-old from Minneapolis is a four-times US one-mile road champion and represented her country in the 1500m at the 2014 World Indoor Championships. She is also a former US Olympic trialist.
Her lifetime best for a road mile is 4min 19.8sec, while her best time in the Front Street Mile is 4:44, which she ran in 2014.
She had an injury in 2017 which lingered into 2018, however she said: “My training is going pretty well. I’m finally back on my feet, feeling really good, and getting in good training. Since I haven’t raced as often in the past two years, I’m hoping this first race of my 2019 season will be a confidence builder in how far I’ve come.”
Kampf is also the star of one of most inspiring videos on the internet. Competing in the 2008 Big Ten indoor event in Minneapolis, she tripped and fell during an indoor 600m track final. At the time she had been leading, but by the time she got back to her feet the other three competitors were more than 20 metres ahead on the final 200m lap.
Her race appeared over but Kampf, running under her maiden name Dorniden, knew every point would count for her team and set off in pursuit of the others.
She kept pushing, and in the final metres drew level with her team-mate before inching to victory with her final stride of the race. In her own words the performance made her an unexpected “YouTube sensation”.
The most open titles achieved by an individual at the Bermuda Marathon Weekend is eight. Norwegian running legend Grete Waitz, chalked up the record tally during the 1980s when she dominated the 10K. Kampf is now within striking distance of that record, having achieved six titles: four in the mile, along with wins in the 10K and half-marathon in 2015.
“I would love to come back and extend my record for number of victories for the mile,” said Kampf. “I intend to run all three races but my primary focus will be on running my best mile, and then I hope to enjoy the 10K and half marathon a little bit more leisurely.”
And she has enjoyed her four previous visits to the island. She said: “I have always felt truly embraced by the friendly community of Bermuda when I come to race. Race weekend happens to coincide with my birthday and I remember one year I even got a small gift (A Bermuda magnet!) and card from one of the hotel employees that I had gotten to know when I was there.
“The last time I was there I made a friend during the 10K race, another runner who was going about my pace. It was really windy that year and going up the final hill he stepped in front of me to help block some of the wind and said ‘Come on, let’s get her’ referring to the only other female athlete in front of me. Together we powered up the hill and passed the other woman, so he helped me win the race. It’s that kind of personal connections I’ve made with people there that makes a place feel special to me.
“Beyond that, it is just such a beautiful place, especially in comparison to Minnesota in the wintertime, so coming to Bermuda in January feels like a tropical escape.”
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