American ace Pifer among the best in strong elite fied
A competitive field of overseas runners, including sub-four minute milers, are set to make this Friday’s KMPG Invitational Elite Men’s Mile a thriller when they come up against three of Bermuda’s best middle-distance specialists.
American Stephen Pifer, 29, could be the man to beat and he is no stranger to Bermuda having won the 2007 Athletic Club 5K race during a brief visit to the Island.
The Illinois-born runner was a big name in the Colorado running scene for many years and has a mile best of 3.56.12, which he ran in Oregon in 2010.
Last November Pifer, who now lives in Florida, won the Rock n’ Roll Savannah Half-Marathon in an impressive 1.05.31.
Kenyan brothers Julius and Emmanuel Bor will also present tough competition. The pair have both competed at the highest level as runners for the University of Alabama.
Julius, 26, has run the mile in 3.58.72, and is a past two-time NJCAA national champion at 3,000 metres. Younger brother Emmanuel, 24, has run a mile in 4.01 and won All-American honours as a cross country athlete for the University of Alabama.
Another runner who has knocked on the door of the magic four-minute mile is Zambia’s Jordan Chipangama. As a college athlete in Arizona he excelled as a track runner, running 1.49 for 800m and 4.00.69 for the mile. The 29-year-old was awarded All-American honours after a top five finish in the NCAA Cross Country championships in 2009.
One of America’s best 3,000m steeplechasers, Ben Bruce, 29, is another contender in the mile race. The Californian has a steeplechase best of 8.19 and was ranked number two in the US in 2011. Fellow US runner Darren Brown, 29, believed to be another sub-four minute miler and former Front Street Mile champion Shadrack Biwot (Kenya) round off the list of overseas elite runners in the race.
Bermuda will be represented by the talented middle-distance running trio of Lamont Marshall, Chayce Smith and Shaquille Dill. In last year’s race Smith made it to the podium after finishing third in 4.20.6.
Seven runners, including Bermuda’s Tamika Williams, will battle it out in the elite women’s race.
American Heather Kampf will be a tough competitor to beat. She is the reigning American one mile road champion, running a time of 4.27 last year. The Minnesota athlete reached last year’s US Olympic Trials finals as an 800m competitor.
Sarah Brown (US) is another formidable miler with a best of 4.29, while fellow countrywoman Renisha Robinson ran a metric mile (1500m) in 4.20 last year.
Jamaica is represented this year by Mardrea Hyman. The country has produced the two previous elite women’s champions, Korene Hinds and Kenia Sinclair. Hyman is a two-time Olympian and a former Carifta Games champion at 3000m. She has a mile best of 4.33.9.
Olga Romanova (Ukraine) is competitive from one-mile upwards. Her fastest 1500m is 4.14. She has run 32.38 for 10K and 1.12.11 in the half-marathon.
Ethiopia’s Muliye Gurma was runner-up in last year’s Front Street Mile and she is returning to race again.
Bermuda’s Williams has been a regular competitor in the Front Street Mile races over the years, rising through the ranks and winning last year’s local women’s mile title.
This year is the 25th anniversary of the KPMG Invitational Front Street Mile races. The races, which start and finish at the Flagpole, are due to begin shortly after 6.45pm on Friday with Bermuda Triangle Challenge competitors first to run, followed by the schools’ races, local men and women’s races and finally the elite races.